Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Impression of The Former Hero by Jeffrey Mays

The Former Hero relies heavily on the plot and writing to bring the reader through the book.  I have found a few things I really enjoy and a few things which I believe detract from the work.  I found the beginning of the book was captivating.  Mays really throws it down and sucks the reader in allowing them to be in the shoes of a parent with their child kidnapped.  Fear, anger, and confusion seeps from Moria.  The biggest plus to the beginning is it feels real.

As I began digging deeper into the novel I began running into issues.  Mays creates this town where corruption is running rampant through all levels of administration throughout the city.  Moria calls the police over and over, but they don't respond.  After a terrorist attack everything falls apart.  Now this in itself I have no issue with, but where I find the loss is the fact the society has not collapsed.  We have seen what happens in cities when structure can not be implemented.  This woman Moria is able to travel about through the city without problems yet there is no law enforcement. 

Besides this little piece that doesn't sit well with my logic I have found the book very emotional and enjoyable.  Mays takes a big risk by switching from character to character.  I think this really pays off and keeps the plot rocketing forward.  So far I have enjoyed reading this book even with the small flaws I have found within the plot.  I understand as a writer creating the perfect pretend world is nearly impossible if it is not a world that you have lived in and experienced.  You must think of every possible detail and make sure nothing over laps.  You must also make this world believable to someone who has never experienced such a place.  

Just a little update with my novel Death's Fallen.  I have completed the book and I am no proof reading.  I am unable to afford a professional editor so it will still be some weeks before the release.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review of Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck

Rating: 8.5/10

Readers: Minimum should be 10th grade reading level.  One must remember that Steinbeck wrote in the early 1900’s which makes it difficult for those with a lower reading level.  Great book for those who are trying to read difficult material.

Summary: The book centers around the character Henry Morgan.  After doing a bit of research I found that the alcoholic drink Captain Morgan was named after this pirate.  The main focus is Henry Morgan sacking Panama and lusting after a woman who was believed to be the most beautiful in all the world.  This was Steinbeck’s first novel published long before of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.  This book was written to loosely follow history making it a mix of fiction and history.

I found the story quite enjoyable.  I have always enjoyed pirate literature and found this to be a very exciting novel.  You live the life of Henry Morgan and it is clear Steinbeck is a masterful story teller.  Follow Morgan as he grows up in a simple village.  He dreams and desires a life on the sea and the first chance he gets he find a spot on a ship and is sold as a slave.  From servitude he is able to work himself up and once free is able to get a ship and begin attempting to sack the cities of Spain.

Positive:  The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the writing.  Steinbeck takes a story which does not carry much excitement.  The book has a very historical feel, but with the description and the emotion Steinbeck uses he takes history and breathes fire into it.  I found even when the book hit a spot with little action the writing of Steinbeck is able to carry you through.

Negative:  The biggest problem with this book was the lack of stability within the story.  I am not sure if Steinbeck did this on purpose or not, but when Morgan would remember something in his childhood it would not be what he wrote earlier in the book.  The story is a bit slow as well.  Even with his writing this book was difficult to stay interested in.

Writing: The writing is some of the best I have read.  I was really surprised to learn that this was Steinbeck’s first work.

Quote: “Why, to speak truthfully, Robert, I have taken it into my mind several times – but always there were to many things to think about.  I could not take the time to die. If I did, I might not be able to think ever again.” -Merlin

Final Thought: This book is an essential read.  After reading this novel I hit the library once again to pick up The Grapes of Wrath.  Steinbeck is an amazing story teller who reaches into the depths of humanity.

Next Up: I am reading a couple books right now.  On kindle I have The Former Hero by Jeffrey Mays and like I said earlier I will be reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review of Dance With The Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This was a very decent Dark Hunter novel I would give it 8/10

I would first like to point out everything I disliked with this novel.  My only other experience reading this author was Devil May Cry.  It was a book a little further along in the series.  Devil May Cry blew this book away with action.  I found Dance With The Devil extremely slow.  The majority of the book is Zarek and Astrid in a cabin both wanting to have sex, but scared to act.  With the universe Kenyon has created I feel in both books I have read of hers the romantic parts tend to hurt the story rather than help.  The action she does create is solid and she has created one of the best mythological universes I have read, but when half the book is filled with sex rather than expanding the created universe the novels suffer. 

The absolute best thing about this book was the depth she gave Zarek.  In no other book that I have read has the author gave a character so much history and personality.  The man was a roman slave during his mortality.  The torture is amazingly vibrant and frequently I found myself becoming outraged at the poor treatment of this man.  She allows you to walk in Zarek's footsteps forcing the treatment he suffers to poor out through the pages into the reader.  This feat is extremely difficult to pull off.  Most authors are quite pleased when they create a character that the reader feels something for.  Kenyon does this and more with her writing.  The only other time I was this shaken up while reading about torture was when I read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and he described his time in a concentration camp.

The story is extremely small.  Very little is solved and action is at a minimum.  The majority of the story like I said earlier is Zarek and Astrid the two main characters stuck in a cabin.  Kenyon really took a risk by doing this and I think she made it work.  There is enough action to stay interested.  The book is separated by a few chapters of characters then one chapter of action.  The character depth reaches deep enough to allow for a slow paced story line.

Another piece of this book I enjoyed is the mythology.  Kenyon does an amazing job bringing greek gods to life.  The two main gods who are the focus in the series are Artemis and Acheron.  Kenyon does a good job keeping true to the mythology considering this is a fiction novel.  She makes sure to introduce Apollo as brother to Artemis and has the gods show respect to Zeus who is always throwing parties.  There may be some things that are not 100% accurate, but overall I find it close enough to be believable.

Even with the romantic aspect of this book I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys supernatural or mythological books.

Thanks for reading the review.  Next up I am going back to classic and reviewing Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck.

I would like to say I had no idea that this book was so pricey.  The novel is only 187 pages and is between $7.00-$15.00.  I personally picked it up for free at the library so I recommend trying to get it there unless you got the money to spend on books.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review of Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Overall I would give this book 7/10

R.L. Stine was by farm my favorite author as a child.  I read every goosebumps and even now I think back to how scared I was while reading those old books.  When I picked this one up I had extremely high expectations and was very disappointed.  As I read through the book it was easy to see Stine's career had been geared to children.  The writing was very simplistic.  My guess is this work would be considered to be in the 8th or 9th grade reading level.  

Getting past the simple writing I found the story enjoyable.  The two demon children were very well developed and had mannerisms which felt real.  I absolutely loved when they said "Don't you know?" after every comment.  Something this small may not seem like character development, but it really added to the life of the children.  The grownups were decent, but not nearly as developed as the children.  I really didn't like the fact they were both writers.  I felt an author writing about two authors was lacking creativity.  

The story line was very impressive in the beginning.  He jumps about midway through the book and gives the first chapter.  Then he drops back in chapter 2 starting from the beginning.  This gives you a reason for reading since the beginning is really slow.  I wouldn't be this harsh on a less famous author, but like I said previously I was expecting this novel to blow me away.  

There was another thing I enjoyed about this book.  Lea the mother of the family was a blogger.  Some of the chapters rather than being fiction writing were blog posts.  As a blogger myself I found this very interesting and enjoyable. 

The saving grace of this book was the ending.  I will not get into what happens, but I will say the ending in itself saved this book from a much lower rating.  Personally with my experience in literature I have found it easy to guess the end, but this book blew me away.

The next review will be Dance With The Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How to Successfully Publish Your Book

If you have spent a couple of years or months writing a fascinating book and it’s finally ready for the world to read, you must first be well-informed about the publishing industry before making any moves, as it is a very difficult business to get into. Only a certain number of books are published every year (there are some publishing companies that only print 30 titles a year). There is a lot of competition; therefore, you must play your cards right for the sake of your one-of-a-kind book.

Before you begin your publishing journey, you must make sure that your book's word count meets the requirements of most publishers so that you can avoid getting rejected right away. If your book is an adult novel, approximately 80,000 or more words are the ideal word count that you should aim for. On the other hand, if your book is about sci-fi or fantasy, you should aim somewhere between 100,000-115,000 words.
Middle grade books should be 20,000- 55,000 words, and upper middle grade books should be between 40,000-50,000 words. If your book is geared toward young adults, try to aim for 55,000-69,999 words. For picture books, about 500 to 600 words would be perfect. Western books must contain between 60,000-80,000 words. Memoirs should have a count of 80,000-89,999 words.

Once you have your book's word count on track, it is time for you to write a query letter in which you will try to convince a literary agent to take a chance on your work. If you don’t know how to write a good query letter, Google examples of query letters that have helped authors attain book deals so that you can have an idea of the kind of persuasion route you should take. You can also opt to purchase books that provide more insight on query letters, such as ‘The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.’

A literary agent will basically act on behalf of you when it comes to dealing with publishers. Most agents have years of experience in this arena, so they will work hard and make the correct calls to try to get you a book deal in a short period of time. To find credible agents that have a good track record, it would be a great idea if you could purchase the ‘2014 Writer’s Market.’ This book, which is constantly being updated, is one of the most trusted guides to finding the right literary agent and to getting published.

At the moment, approximately 80% of the books that the New York publishing houses have printed were referred by agents. For that matter, it is a great idea to find an agent, as they have inside contacts with specific editors and know what publisher or editor would most likely buy your particular kind of work. Agents are paid 15% of everything you are paid, so avoid sending your manuscript to agents who charge fees.
Read the submission guidelines of every agent who accepts your kind of genre and send your manuscript right away to them! If you are fortunate, you’ll get an agent and a book deal within a few weeks or months. If not, don’t be discouraged from rejection letters, as many successful authors, such as J.K. Rowling, received numerous of rejections letter before their masterpiece was finally accepted for publishing.

Go for it! Don't be scared about people's reactions to your book, as the only thing that matters here is that you believe in your work. Don't ever give-up. Keep trying and trying, even you get rejected 500 times, because sooner or later, your chance will come. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Impression of Red Rain by R.L. Stine

I picked this up being a huge fan of the goosebumps as a kid. When I was around ten these were what I would read till very late.  Picking up a R.L. Stine book written for adults I expected the same thrills I felt from years ago.  It may be because I just read Crime and Punishment, but this book uses extremely simple English.  That being said Stine still tells an amazing story.

The plot is on an island off the coast of the Eastern United States.  The main character Lea is a blogger (very relatable) who travels round looking for good places to write about.  One thing I really enjoy about Stine is his teaser.  That first chapter brings you into the depth of the book explaining why it is scary.  This sucks you in and you begin pounding out the chapters with interest.  

Five or so chapters in I found Stine had set the scene well giving life to the people on the island.  He also brings in support characters who reveal important parts of the story, but just with simple hints and jokes. I really like how he taunts the reader almost, but refuses to give any concrete information.  This writing style can be annoying since no actual story becomes revealed, but fits well in this story.  

Like I said earlier the writing is very basic making it easy to read quickly.  It seems like it will be a nice little novel once I complete it.  I am glad Stine stuck with the same style as his children's books it really takes me back.  Anyway look forward to the review on this one so far it has turned out to be a pretty decent book.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This book I give 9/10 (For serious readers only)

It is hard to begin reviewing a book of such intellect and foresight.  I guess to begin I will discuss what lead to me dropping a point.  The only reason I gave this book 9 rather than 10 was the translation.  This book originally written in Russian I found translates poorly into English.  Also the metaphors are difficult to understand and the average sayings in the book make little sense.  When reading this remember that it was published in the late 1800's the same time as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The setting represents the time period making it difficult for someone born a hundred years later and in a different continent to relate.

That being said I found Crime and Punishment absolutely enthralling.  The story is built upon the character called Raskolnikov.  He is your ordinary Russian with big ideas.  Throughout the story the author places the idea in his head that extraordinary people should not be held within the limits of law.  Some of the examples in the book were Newton and Napoleon.  For Newton he asks would it be morally wrong if Newton killed a man in discovering all his theories.  He also goes into the criminal aspects as well, but mainly sticks with the moral philosophy.

This is a really important aspect of the book.  The lead character feels he is allowed to kill and does.  Then as guilt sinks in and his mental faculties begin failing he begins coming to the conclusion he was not extraordinary and had no right to kill anyone. This is where the ideas in the book begin getting tangled.  The author does such a good job pointing out all the reasons why someone should be allowed to kill, but then incorporates the thoughts of morality and justice.  

To bring this thought process into the present I will lay out an example.  Let say a man who has figured out how to solve world hunger or how to harness an unlimited energy source must break the law while completing his task.  Yes it of course can be argued from both sides.  This is the argument Dostoyevsky brings to the table.  A man with this thought commits a crime then fights constantly with himself on the right or wrong of his action.

I also really enjoyed the characters.  The name Raskolnikov is not an easy name to remember, but I know for a fact if someone mentions that name five or ten years down the road I will remember Crime and Punishment.  The author does such an amazing job getting into the head of this man and letting the reader live through every action and thought he has.  The supporting characters are extremely memorable as well.  My favorite would be the anti-Raskolnikov named Porfiry.  Dostoyevsky brings the two men together who in their first encounter argue extremely intelligently over the idea described earlier. 

One thing that may seem lacking is the plot.  This book is a quarter million words which for a novel is very long.  If you are unable to get pulled in from the psychology of crime the author presents and are only reading for a fast paced action novel then you will be disappointed.  The novel stand firm on the presentation of ideas rather than story.  Looking through many novel lists and author lists this novel stands at the top and had been argued to be the best Russian novel ever written and in a few places argued that this is the greatest novel written of all time.  

For any true reader you need the hard cover book.  This is one of those books that deserves to be bought in print.