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Lucy Pireel's All That's Written

All that is written has my attention. I love books, reading and writing them as well as promoting authors and their work.

Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook by Kelly I. Hitchcock

Portrait of Woman in Ink - a Tattoo Storybook - Kelly I. Hitchcock

This collection of short stories surprised me by how the author managed to incorporate real life drama and joy into a work of fiction. I liked very how she linked the stories together by using the way the lives of the characters touch each other. It made the whole seem more of a complete, work rather than a collection of unrelated stories.

The downside was that neither story had a real resolution. We are shown the why of things but rarely how things pan out in the end. Not that they feel unfinished, but still I would have liked to see a real ending to each one.

 

I could have done without the lengthy and rather spoiler filled foreword, as well as the many samples of other books at the end, but that is an aside and as such has no impact on my opinion of the stories this collection consists of.

 

There are quite a few typos and missing, or double words (like the one in the title), but that could be because I had an ARC to review, so I have no idea if the final product got another round of editing which this version certainly needed.

 

With regards to the characters and their stories, I got sucked in soon enough and rooted for each and every character in all stories alike. Nothing ever felt contrived or unreal, so kudos for that. I actually thought it could just as easily be all real life stories rather than a fictionalised version of the real stories of these women.

 

Why I won't give it a 4 or even a five star rating? Well, it was good, but just not that gripping that it made me want to recommend it to whomever wants to listen to me. I feel there could have been more to the stories than the author has written now. Sometimes it felt as if she took a shortcut rather than show us all there was to a particular story.

September Again by Hunter S. Jones

September Again (September Stories) - Hunter S. Jones;An Anonymous English Poet

Once again this author manages to capture and hold my attention the full 97 pages with a story of love, despair, hope, and joy.

In this second September story we continue to follow the life of Liz and her daughter after the death of the great poet Jack O. Savage. Things aren't easy and the author has managed to bring all the struggles alive in a way that makes the reader root for the characters. The fine details show that the author has either done her research really well of writes what she knows from experience. Either way, it makes for a book with real living characters and scenes.

Her dialogues are never once contrived or stilted and each character speaks how you would expect a person from that age, gender, or social group would.

There is enough detail to the scenes to make them more than just a stage for the characters to play on, but never so much that it drowns out the story. A perfect balance between setting a scene and telling the story from within the character's point of view.

The only downside to this great story is that I read it way too fast, or it was too short. On the other hand, it was complete. Had the author written more detail in it, or added scenes to make it longer that would probably have ruined what is now a perfect story.

Would I recommend this book? The answer to that is a big, fat YES! And I cannot wait to read the prequel to this all. 

 

Annoyingly Funny Babe

Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book - Babe Walker

First let me tell you I haven't laughed and was so annoyed at the same time with a character as with Babe while reading this book. Wonderfully witty, and insanely shallow, exactly how I imagine a too rich, spoiled young adult living the high life would be. Is that good? Or is it stereotyping? I have no idea what is good is that this book read like a breeze and at no point there was anything that threw me off, or made me want to stop reading. 

The characters were all very much alive and realistic. I loved the face that the main character throws names, places, and brands in the mix and then just says, "Google it." Makes you as a reader feel that she knows you're reading her story, and she's in a dialogue with you. That she's actually telling her story to you. Very cleverly done that.

 

The end was a nice conclusion of the whole messed up affair that Babe's life was, while there is room for more to come, or she might just be alright and we never hear from Babe again. I would feel sorry for her if things go wrong again and Babette returns to haunt her, but then again it would make for new material for another book to enjoy.

Could have been a great novel with better editing

OCEAN OF FEAR - Helen Hanson

This techno thriller has a great story premise, but there's too much that needs correction before any serious, or critical reader can finish it without scratching their head.

The author often uses words or expressions that are just off the mark.
Like crank on instead of crank up. He wended his way (really?) and putted up (eh? I have no idea what verb this is supposed to be, but the author uses is on more than one occasion to convey movement, however to putt is a golf term and has nothing to do with travelling at any speed) the Empire Grade.
It gets even weirder. Bikes and backpacks bumped uphill on their own. There is the closing of the sun (sunset). She gives Lidocaine (which should not be written with a capital since it is not a proper noun) time to make magic. Just a few examples.

But then there's the unbelievable things, things that make you think, "Hold on." Like the fact a character needs to chirp (?) his car alarm and trail the sound to find his ride. Can't he remember where he parked his car? Or silence spontaneously followed news, but the listeners are already silent while listening to the recap. However the news brought them back to discussion. Eh? As far as I've read there was no discussion, one told his version of the events and the others listened, in silence. But anyway then Baxter continued with the story. I'm pretty sure he wasn't interrupted in the first place.

Then there is the matter of punctuation and choice of words that is often off and combined with an overuse of the word that. To be honest more than once I thought there was a funny choice of words like when the mc stretched out a quaking hand. Why use fancy words to try and show me his hands trembled?

But then the story got me and lost me again when inconsistencies kept popping up such as, without going into detail, a person being with someone at one point and then a witness saying she hasn't seen that person for a while. The witness is an unimportant character and has no reason to lie. After fifty minutes of testing they stop the test, yet a few paragraphs later it's suddenly turned into two hours of testing. Which was the original plan, but like mentioned the test was broken of after fifty minutes.
And later on a character leaves on a very silent boat only to suddenly be back waiting for another at a rowboat, one the rescue team had no prior knowledge of. However a chapter later it is made to seem as if it had been the plan al along. It is plot hole repair at its worse.

Plus the occasional tense shift and usage of filters pulled me out off the story.

Yet, the novel as a whole was compelling enough to want to know more, so I kept reading. Like I said, great story premise, enough tension, at moments very well written, if only there hadn't been the separate issues that could have been solved before publication. I suspect another round of editing by a pro would have made this novel shine like it should have.

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons

The Murder Bag - Tony Parsons

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons

reviewed by Lucy Pireel

 

This crime novel isn't just a whodunnit, it has so much more than just a crime to solve. It has real life emotions in situations that could be all too real. It shows the lives of characters that do not only read as if they are be real, but this author completely made me forget he actually made it all up. 

The crime, the perpetrator(s), the victims, and the love interest all come to life while reading. I couldn't help shedding a tear at a particular part of the story. 

I wanted the crime to be solved, the baddie to be caught, and when I thought I had it all figured out there were twists I never saw coming. This author wove a story so complicated and yet so simple it made me want to read more of him. He even made me feel sorry for the ones I should want to hate. He showed several sides of society we rarely ever think about, or get a peek at if you're not a part of those shielded parts of our world.

 

This book reads like a breeze and leaves you happy and sad when you reach the end. A very well crafted end after a more than satisfying and intricately woven story that grabbed me from the start not to let me go until the end.

I'm glad I did go through the trouble of having to read it off screen rather than on my e-reader because I wouldn't have wanted to miss this great English crime novel.

The Baptist by Ruby Barnes

The Baptist - Ruby Barnes

I had flashes of Fight Club while reading this book and after a bit of a struggle to get into it, it grew on me. Actually, it got to the point where I no  longer noticed little flaws I did see in the first part which basically means the writing was solid and captivating.

 

The characters, especially the Baptist, are so real they come alive in their twisted reality. The scenery was well done, because without being too descriptive the author manages to paint the picture yet leaves enough to the reader's imagination.

 

There's a surprising twist at the near end that caught me off guard, well done that one.

The  only bit that left me unsatisfied is that the book feels unfinished. It is a proper cliff hanger and you can imagine what happens next, but it would have been better in my opinion if there had been a real resolution.

Tower In The Woods by Tara Quan - Disturbing at the start, more than a few errors, but still could be enjoyed, I guess, but not by me

Tower in the Woods - Tara Quan

I started out with high hopes since I love fairy tales, romance and a saucy read, but from the onset of the story it didn't quite sit well. Seeing as I'm a determined person and when I want to read for review I will finish a book where I would have put it away after the second chapter if I hadn't promised a review.

I'm glad I did, because it did turn out to be a reasonable read, but there's too much not quite right in it for me to recommend it or rate it high.

 

Now let's see what I found so disturbing.

 

The main character has been in the tower 11yrs, (since her teens) yet she knows she's one of the tallest members of WITCH? How can she know if she's not been in the community for that long?

"The prophet once told Nel she had experienced the cruelty of men before she discovered Mother’s teachings,…" Somehow I thought Mother Gothel was the prophet, but this sentence makes me think it are two separate persons. So who's bringing supplies then the prophet or Mother Gothel, and who is the prophet? Who's Mother? And if there's no men in WITCH where do children come from?

Too many questions taking me out off what could be a great story, and then the no men and children situation is explained from the pov of the man. 

But the confusion about whether or not the prophet and Mother Gothel are one or not remains until later on Nel (the mc explains that Mother is a godlike entity she doesn't believe in)

Then there's the less than perfect choice of words "he filled his oversized jacket". If he fills his jacket it is not oversized.

There's punctuation missing here and there, or is there where it should not be. "… a few days' shelter…" 'days" should not have an apostrophe. 

And there's the contradictions, I'll point out one that stood out to me. 

"There was something about him, a sense of strength and the promise of protection that made her feel oddly safe, even though the truth was clearly the opposite."

This indicates he's clearly a danger to her, or so she perceives, but in the next sentence she thinks "…no reason to believe he had every intention of hurting her."

That contradicts the last, important fragment of the previous sentence. Threw me right out off the story.

And the author makes her character feel and realise a lot, taking me out off her head and no longer being there with the character, but looking in from the outside. I would have thought that a book published by a trade publishing house would not allow for this much use of filters or errors.

And then a scene I can only describe as possible leading up to a rape! I don't care there is described that the girl feels things which are supposed to make me think she wants this, his demeanour and her confusion can lead me to no other conclusion than that he he should not touch her, or even contemplating it! Full stop! Or Period, depending on where you are. And the next part, in his pov makes it even worse, because there it is explained that even though he doesn't call it rape, he full well knows she's confused and has no idea what she feels or how to react and even recognises her fear, he still goes for her! At this point I wanted to put down the book, but since I'm committed to review it, I had to read on. Luckily I did, because soon enough it became clear that even the author thought it might be a bit too much and changed her mind. No sex followed he 'merely' trapped her, but it was very unsettling to read. Not a good thing in my mind. Especially when he goes on to being an overpowering asshole who at that point still wants to take advantage of a clear weakness in his objective.

Right, back to the nit picks. Missing, and or strange actions. The man dropped her magazine from the Glock, hands back the weapon, but not the magazine and yet she reloads it hen he hands back the pistol. How can she without the mag?

Or when he needs to block a window with a bookcase and does so by pushing it along the floor. Yet the next sentence tells us it was light enough for him to have been able to pick it up and carry it over in no time. Why didn't he then?

Jeans are being taken off without removal of shoes, yet the socks are coming off. Where did the shoes go?

Then it turns out she's been 'had' against her will by her female best friend before she went to the tower too. What is this? The female lead is the eternal, stupid victim?

Then there's the typos.

page 40 "She eyes lost focus…"

page 48 "…for the it to almost …"

 

As you can see there's a lot of things that were there which had they not been made this a more than enjoyable read, but as is I can only say, missed opportunity. Or it might be I am just too nit picky, but hey, I like my romance reads to be crisp, clean, undisturbing and well edited. 

 

Third Degree by Julie Cross

Third Degree: Flirt New Adult Romance - Julie Cross

This YA medical, romance, coming of age novel captured me almost from the start. The mc is a girl who, as exceptional as she might be, still remains very relatable, or at least she is to me. As far as the other characters is concerned the author had me rooting for them too, even the ones that only play a small part in the whole.

 

The story itself did remind me a lot of popular medical TV series, especially with the mc calling herself 'Izzy' as Isabel from that most famous hospital series with Dr. McDreamy, but as distracting that was for a moment soon enough that little distraction faded to the background to be replaced by the story of this Izzy and her struggle to accepting herself and finding what she so longed for. What that is I will not reveal, you will just have to read the book.

 

To my utter surprise this YA had me laughing at one point, an awkward moment, but very recognisable, and had me shed a tear. Quite a feat for a genre I've long outgrown. Kudos to the author for breathing life in a genre that is mainly dominated by sighing, pining girls. Can't get over Bella and her obnoxious behaviour, but I do think Izzy is more than capable to make us all forget about that flat, cardboard character with her lively, deep, fully rounded and vibrant show of who she is and what she's all about.

 

Not quite sure what the purpose of those random tweets is and why they sometimes start a chapter, then suddenly appear in the middle of one, and other times aren't there at all, but I guess they do show Izzy's character in a way. 

 

End 'verdict'? I liked the book and would certainly recommend it to any young adult, or even adults that like a coming of age romance. Would I read it again, do I feel the rue to run out and grab the first person I see to urge them to read this book? Probably not, hence my reason for giving this one a 4-star rating and not a 5.

The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman

The Ultimate Inferior Beings - Mark  Roman

I love laughing out loud when I read a funny book, that is if there's anything to laugh about. Unfortunately this book didn't even manage to get the smallest of smiles out of me. I had hoped it would be like Hitchhikers Guide, because that's what the title and cover reminded me of, but alas it came nowhere near that masterpiece.

 

Don't get me wrong it is decent in its writing, but for example, there's a lot of x'es, so much it feels contrived. There's a lot of 'badaboom' jokes that don't really work for me, and then there's the plot that to be honest takes a few tours into the unbelievable, asking more than a lot from the suspension of disbelieve.

 

On the other hand there's the sci-fi elements that work amazingly well. I could get into that side of the book, apart form the ending, but that's a whole other part of my review, I'll get to that later. The sci-fi elements are believable and in no way too far fetched. Technology and human interest work well together if not for the silly, falling flat jokes.

 

And then there's the ending that, again to me, felt like a cop out. All in all, I'm not quite sure what to say, like, or dislike? I guess this is very much a matter of taste, because technically there's not much 'wrong', but still I wouldn't recommend it or read more of this author.

 

Haven by Celia Breslin - A Captivating First of a Series

Haven - Celia Breslin

This novel had me puzzled a few times. Is the main character a young adult or is she fully mature and just out of character youthful? Especially one remark made me think that no adult would react like that.

"They'd even taken me to Disneyland. That rocked!"

I doubt an adult, or even a young adult would still think being taken to Disneyland would 'rock' more than seeing the world and discovering things about your life that are of greater importance than a trip to Mickey land.

Apart from that the writing is solid, scenes are masterfully set and even with the occasional out of character remark or action all players are fully developed.

I am a great fan of vampire novels and have read many of them, most are run of the mill and nothing special, but this one has some interesting twists. 

I love how the action is laced with romance and interracial (human-vampire relations could be seen as interracial so just let's call it that) struggles and how it all seems believable. How ever unbelievable that may seem.

There's good vs. evil, a love interest and twists that will keep you glued to the book.

Long story short, it grabbed me, maybe not from the start but soon enough I was well into the book and had to finish it.

 

Great read! Fortune Calling by Hunter S. Jones

Fortune Calling: The Story of Dallas Fortune. (The Fortune Series) - Hunter S. Jones

As per usual I had no trouble getting into a book written by Hunter S Jones. It is again very skilfully written. Even with the Southern vernicular used, it read easy. To be honest the Southern drawl was one of the reasons it appealed even more, made it even more real so to speak.
It's only a short short, and there's a very open end, which I''m normally not a real fan of, but in this case the open end had a feel of closure to it.

It's funny and captivating, the main character is a woman I could relate to and the choices she makes are very in character.

I will look forward to the next installment in this series.

Review Differential Equations by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica

Differential Equations - Julian Iragorri;Lou Aronica

I had trouble getting into this book. Don’t get me wrong it is skilfully written, it’s just the stories of four different characters in one book seemed too disjointed to me, Not until very late in the book it kind of makes sense, but by then I already was struggling to read on. Never once the book really captured my full attention.

So even if the writing is solid, scenes very well set and characters alive, and fully formed, I couldn’t get into it and was glad when I finally finished reading the book. 

Maybe if there had been more, or better foreshadowing to certain interlinking elements between the separate stories I would have been captured instead of distracted. Just when I was well into Alex’s story, Dro, Vidente, or Khaled took me out of it because they just don’t mesh in the beginning and it just takes too long to get to the point when it does makes sense.

The four stories flow slow and are more focussed on character than actions, which, to me, made it too slow to make me want to keep reading. That and the fact that for a long time it seems as if you are actually reading four books at once that have nothing to do with each other that put me off, and no amount of craftsmanship can make up for the lack of a compelling story.

Henry Wood Detective Agency by Brian Meeks

Henry Wood Detective Agency - Brian Meeks

This is what could be a really nice read if not for a sudden appearance of a time travel closet that delivers tools? Really? I mean, it distracted me immensely from the otherwise decent detective story. As if the author felt his book needed something more than the mob and a detective solving a case the ordinary way.

Don’t get me wrong, if you forget about the closet and the non-story related clues, this is an old-fashioned detective story. Think Philip Marlow or any fifties mob and detective movie kind of story, but instead of doing old-fashioned detective work, he gets clues, which aren’t really clues at all, from a closet.

Like I said if not for that, it would be a decent read. The characters are well set, dialogue works like a charm. I could imagine them having their discussions and see the scenes. Nothing wrong there, but that silly closet that doesn’t really have a purpose as I suspected from the start. 

Review Who Is Emily Dae? Volume 1

Who Is Evelyn Dae? Volume 1 - Sarah LaFleur

This short novella is a true YA. I guess that’s its strength and its weakness. Strength because it will most certainly appeal to the goal audience, and its weakness because adults will see the foolishness of it all. Which will allow them to see the overwhelming amount of sentences beginning with ‘I’.

Yes, it is written in first person POV and however much that works at times in the story, more often it does not and feels very self centred but most of all it reads very limited. But then again isn’t that a true young adult trait, being self centred? Still, even first person doesn’t need that amount of ‘I’.

There are a few typos and some misplaced punctuation, but that doesn’t really matter, since the story is captivating enough. Another gripe is that the story is cut in two while I can’t imagine why because the total is still not a very long one. And I am no fan of ‘forced’ series creating when one book would have been better.

A plus however is the fact that the author used ‘handwritten’  pages with drawings in the book to show the inner workings of the character.

All in all a decent read.

Perfection Unleashed by Jade Kerrion

Perfection Unleashed (Book 1 of the Double Helix series) - Jade Kerrion

This book is one that could be easily become reality in the not even too distance future and it freaked me out, in a good way though. Even the far fetched plot lines were brought in a way that made them believable.

The characters were all more than well developed and even the general, unimportant, minor ones had traits not uncommon to mankind; i.e. The whole population is a reflection of our current state of mind, and behaviour patterns. Even the mutants are what you expect, and do not stretch the suspension of disbelief. They are all fleshed out fully and alive. I rooted for them, all of them, even the scary ones made me feel sorry for them. It were the humans, bar a few exceptions, that were despicable. 

Plot? Great! I’m not going to give anything away but I will say that the conspiracy lovers will have a ball reading this book.

My one and only gripe is that it’s the first in a series and I loath serialised novels, but on the other hand I’m glad that it doesn’t end with this book because there’s more to this story than just told in part one. I can imagine the whole complex woven tapestry with all its twists and turns couldn’t fit into one book. By the by, it ends in a perfect cliff-hanger and I can’t wait to read book two. Luckily it is available for download and I don’t have to wait any longer than it takes to press ‘buy now’.

Review The Perfect Player by Devon Winterson

The Perfect Player (The Caendorian World) - Devon Winterson

It is obvious this author takes pride in not only writing a great story, a flawless great story, but she’s also very apt in creating a world you can fully believe is real. That said her creatures, character, major and minor, are all fully fleshed out. I rooted for them from the get go and really wished for good things to happen to the good. 

I had trouble putting the book down just because I needed to know what happened next, would the heroine be able to …., could it be possible that the bad guy turns around and show the good that has to be in him? No, I’m not going to give any spoilers, but believe me, you will want to know and like me be in awe of how completely, utterly captivating this novel is. How every word is in its proper place, how each and every sentence works and all the action, dialogue, and narration reads easy and feels real, even if it’s a fantasy novel.

You know what the most surprised me? How this author manages to rekindle my love for serialised fantasy novels, because I can’t wait for the next instalment to come available. Not that this one has one of those open ends that leaves you hanging, not at all. This novel is a full story with its own end, but there’s room for more and I want more!