The sound of balanced writing

Author Unpublished:

A great article on punctuation and what it means to your writing in terms of pauses.

Originally posted on Zen|Xen:

An uninspiring choice of image

An uninspiring choice of image

Having been inundated with editing jobs, I’ve come to realize that my corrections aren’t entirely based on grammar. Apparently, there are unwritten laws that also govern our writing. These laws are perhaps the difference between a good writer and a genius wordsmith. What follows is advice that could put me out of the job.

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Book Review: Ivory Guard

 

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Title: Ivory Guard [The Guard Duet 1]

Author: Natalie Herzer

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

One peaceful afternoon Lillian finds two angels in her living room – wings and gloriole and all – telling her she is an Ivory. Half human and half angel she is born to fight for humankind and to guard the hellholes where the membrane between worlds is at its weakest.
She, an important warrior? Yeah, riiiight.

Raz might be an angel but he doesn’t do compassion. His job is to train her, to make her a leader and that’s what he will do. So Lillian will just have to suck it up when she discovers the deadly truth behind his words. When she does exactly that, he has to admit there’s more to the bookworm than he thought. Much more. But there’s one thing he shouldn’t forget – in his world feelings come with a price. Is he willing to pay?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I got a hold of this book by sheer luck—literally, I won it in a giveaway—and boy am I glad. Ivory Guard was a fantastic read by the very creative Natalie Herzer. At it’s core the story is a battle between good and evil, and the gray area that inevitably falls in between. It is the story of Lillian, a young woman who one day discovers that she is half-angel. She is quickly recruited into the Ivory Guard, a group of half-angels that defend the souls of the Earth from demons that spill out of hell and onto our plane from hellholes scattered around the world, and adventure ensues. If anything, it is a lesson that the world isn’t black and white, but shades of gray. Sometimes Demons aren’t evil, and sometimes Angels aren’t good.

The narrative of Ivory Guard was engaging, fast paced, and filled with snarky character-driven comments that kept me smiling throughout. There were moments of danger and tension, moments of steamy romance, and heart-breaking sadness. There was friendship, love, and betrayal. I honestly can’t imagine this story having been written any better than it was.

As for the characters, I loved them all—even the evil ones. The author had a way of making her characters seem not only believable, but real. I wanted them to succeed (except maybe Micah). The cast was small, but very personal, and it was fun to get to know the different personalities of the characters as the story unfolded. Lillian was both strong, stubborn, quick-witted, and intelligent. She didn’t whine or throw herself into danger—she was what every heroine should be. Likewise, Raz, though a bit broody, was a nice change from your usual angelic character. He wasn’t perfect and didn’t seem alien (as most books tend to Make angels seem). He was a very real character with wants and desires despite his divine origin, and it was nice to see the story delve into the gray areas of his relationship with Lillian.

The lore/world building was fascinating. I’m glad it didn’t step too far into being super-religious. This wasn’t about religion. It was about the battle between good and evil and the gray areas that lay in between. It was about defining what was right and wrong, and what a person would do if suddenly the line between them wasn’t so clear. The characters didn’t operate on blind faith. They questioned and made up their own minds—and I think that’s why this story worked so well. We all struggle through life trying to understand and follow our moral compasses, and sometimes part of that process is figuring out how far we should push the line between the two. I think it’s something any reader can relate to.

The only drawback of this story, unfortunately, was the technical aspect. Though the story was engaging, the narrative had some definite problems with structure. Throughout the book I found dozens of misspelled words, incorrect words, missing punctuation, and strangely structured sentences that at times, made it hard to grasp the meaning of what I was reading. I really wish a good editor could have given the book a look-over before it was published, because it was distracting. It didn’t break the story for me though. Once I got used to skimming over the sometimes convoluted sentences or miss-used words, the story kept me quite entertained. Though the errors were frequent, they weren’t obtrusive enough to have me put down the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Had it not been for the multitude of editing problems, I would have given it an easy five stars. I’d definitely read it again. Would I recommend it? Yes. Ignore the errors, the story is worth it. Anyone who enjoys YA, New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, or Romance will like this book, and I strongly recommend you give it a try. My only advice to the author is that the next time around, they invest in a professional editor because whomever edited my copy missed a lot of blatant problems.

Book Review: Talia

 

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Title: Talia [Talia 1]

Author: Christy King

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Teenage queen, Talia, struggles with her own self-destructive ways, while trying to be a compassionate and fair ruler in a land of magic, werewolves, and vampires. Within her, lies a darkness—one that will endanger the very people of her kingdom. In an attempt to protect them, she makes a pact with the vampires in a bid for peace. In the end, the trust she offers may be the very thing that leads to her own demise.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Did. Not. Finish. I tried—I really did—I stopped and started this book half a dozen times in an attempt to get through it, but I stopped at 13% in (beginning of the fifth chapter). This story started off with promise. The narrative was clear and concise, and with few errors (I found three in the first five chapters). Unfortunately, that’s just about the only positive thing I can say about this book.

The narrative had a penchant for skipping large amounts of time without any indication of a time switch. Months, even years would pass within the same paragraph, sometimes even the same sentence. It became very tedious to follow the constant time jumps that seemed to occur for no particular reason. For the most part, the narrative came across as dry, and lifeless. Talia didn’t seem to have a personality. Most of the time she showed almost no emotional reaction or inner turmoil unless it was to burst into tears (which she quickly stifled). I didn’t feel like she even cared about any other human beings aside from her childhood friend Camon. When she started cutting herself “to feel something” I rolled my eyes. It made me angry on behalf of the people who actually do have a cutting problem that this bratty, unfeeling princess had been given this severe emotional problem for what? So that the reader would feel sorry for her.

From there, events seemed to tumble by as the story skipped ahead in quick succession—leaving the narrative feeling rushed. There was little detail put into the descriptions, and the dialogue didn’t seem to make an impact on the story… a lot of time was wasted just having characters greet each other and ramble on about unimportant day-to-day things.

I think the most aggravating thing about this story though, was that it was so unbelievable. I know this is a fantasy story, and there are vampires and werewolves—that’s fine. I can suspend my disbelief to a point, but there were moments where Talia and the other characters said/did things that seemed to come out of nowhere, and had little explanation.

  • One example I can give of this is when Talia became Queen. Her father’s funeral and her coronation were on the same day, but there was no mentioned grand ceremony or time set aside for her to mourn. Talia didn’t even seem to care that her father had been killed. She signed a document, sat in a chair for a few minutes, and then walked out of her own father’s funeral. That was the end of that. Even in a rushed situation, I don’t believe this series of events would have happened.
  • Why did her coronation and her father’s funeral have to be the same day?
  • Why did they have to be in the same location?
  • Why is she so soulless that she can just walk out of the ceremony?
  • Given that she’s a minor, why aren’t there any other relatives around to take over the throne?
  • Why isn’t there an interim King?
  • Why was there a treaty of peace between her kingdom and the one next door because her father had been killed in a war with the other country?

It didn’t make sense. There are just too many questions that were left unanswered, and it felt fake the way it was all set up.

Another example would be in Chapter 4, after the Vampire/Human Treaty meeting. A Vampire she hardly knows (she’s literally only seen him twice, both times for less than an hour) breaks into her palace bedroom, and she doesn’t freak out. In fact, she hugs him and he declares that he’ll always be there for her. I literally stared at my kindle and went W.T.F. I’m sorry, but I can’t suspend my disbelief that much.

In the end the book came across as boring and unbelievable. I didn’t feel engaged, and none of the characters stood out as having any depth—I couldn’t get past it. I did not like this book. Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? No. In my opinion it is sorely in need of a good set of beta readers to fix the plot holes and fill in the tensionless spaces. This book felt lifeless. I’m sure there are a lot of readers out there that will enjoy this book for what it is, but it wasn’t for me.

Book Review: The Supreme Moment

 

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Title: The Supreme Moment [Fractured Multiverse]

Author: C.G. Garcia

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Urban

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The moment a bunch of men with guns kicked in the doors of her house, eighteen-year-old Avery Morgan knew her estranged father’s gambling addiction had finally caught up to her family in the worst way. On the brink of doing something unspeakable to save her little sister from being taken, she is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Darrien Stathos, a business mogul whose true persona is rumored to be the lord of the criminal underworld known as Kairos. Darrien announces that he is also there to collect on a contract with Avery’s father—for Avery.

As she struggles with the reality of being the property of an alleged crime lord and the constant harassment of two FBI agents, several disturbing observations about Darrien’s eyes and the frightening, inexplicable ways he stops a couple of would-be assassins make Avery rethink her initial dismissal of some of the more outlandish gossip that questioned his humanity.

Add to that learning a disturbing and dangerous truth about herself, and Avery is ready to break, especially when the truth of Darrien’s identity is something that will shatter the very foundation of her understanding of reality.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Wow, what a book. Going into The Supreme Moment, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. It had a strange title, a stranger cover, and having blatantly ignored the synopsis, I wasn’t sure what the story was even about. Several chapters later? Mind blown.

Technically speaking, the book is very well written. I didn’t notice any punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes—the narrative was clean, concise, easy to follow, and engaging.

Though the book contained a rather small cast of characters, those that were pushed to the forefront felt well fleshed-out and real. Despite the absurdity of some of the events happening in and around Avery’s life, I felt her reactions—given her circumstance—were as genuine as could be portrayed… and let’s be honest, some seriously weird shit was going down. I spent a good portion of this book with my heart broken and twitching as I watched Avery’s life completely upended—and there was really nothing she could do about it.

This wasn’t your typical YA book where the main female lead is a whiny teenager intent on making brash decisions, putting herself and everyone around her in danger. No, Avery was a very real, very intelligent girl who took a good look at her circumstances, and made the best decision she could make. Sometimes that decision sucked—sometimes all the options sucked—but she did the best she could. Despite the fact that she didn’t have a particularly outgoing, bubbly personality, I fell in love with her character. I wanted her to succeed—because it was so tragic to watch her struggle through the impossible circumstances she’d been handed.

I’ll admit, as far as the world building goes, I was lost (and so was Avery!). All the talk about the multi-verse, echo universes, etc had my head spinning. It was a little much to take in over the short period of time where it was explained, but I think I got the general gist. The plot was an intriguing mix of mystery, action/adventure, thriller, and romance that I ate up with a spoon. Once I started reading, I almost didn’t want to stop (in fact, I ended up staying up four hours past my usual bedtime in order to read just one.. okay, maybe four, more chapters). I really enjoyed this book.

Now, I very nearly gave this book a 5 star rating, but if you look up there at the star rating, you’ll see that I didn’t. Here’s the thing: As good and engaging as this story was, I did feel that the romance aspect of this book could have been delved into a bit more. Here was this 18 year old suddenly living with this guy she’s expected to treat as her lover, and despite the fact that several chapters were dedicated to the awkwardness of their relationship and how she handled sleeping with him… that was basically it. Rather than a romance, it felt more as if Avery had Stockholm syndrome. At the beginning it was understandable: she didn’t know Darrien all that well and she was scared out of her wits, but it never seemed to push past that. She slept with him because she didn’t dare refuse him (and who would), but despite her admission that she loved him at the end of the book, it never felt like love. She didn’t seem to be particularly attracted to the guy after the first chapter, or even drawn to him sexually. There was all this tension built up in the first few chapters, and I waited, and waited with baited breath to see when she’d finally give in and really fall for the guy…. and it never happened. It was kind of like she just gave up and went “well, that’s a thing that happens now”. It was disappointing.

Also: The ending was a bit bittersweet. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but there were aspects of the ending that were both both long-awaited, and saddening. I’m glad this book ended the way it did, but it was a bit disheartening to see the continual suffering of the characters despite what should have been a happy ending.

Overall? I really enjoyed the book—even more so than I expected. Would I read it again? Yes. Definitely. Would I recommend it? Again, yes. Though I’m still not thrilled about the title, the book itself was an enjoying read, and I’d be thrilled to pick up another book in this series. I think anyone who enjoys YA fiction—particularly in the fantasy, science fiction, or even paranormal genres—would enjoy this book.

Book Review: Fated Mates Box Set

 

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Title: Fated Mates Box Set

Rating: 3 Stars

Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Erotica, BBW, BDSM, Shifters

Description: The Fated Mates Box Set is a 12-book set of Paranormal, Shifter Romance books that cover a wide assortment of different ideas and topics. There’s a little bit of everything in this set, from BDSM, to BBW, slow-burn romances, to passionate fated couplings—all from some very talented authors. Below you will find a list of the included books (with links to the individual review articles).

Review:

I really enjoyed this box set. There were some really fantastic books included in the set, some that were so-so, and some I didn’t particularly care for, but overall, I think the amount of good books in this set makes the $2.99 (at the time this article was written) price well worth it. The stories tended to be on the short side, but there was definitely a wide variety included in the set that I think makes it so just about anyone could enjoy the set—there’s something in it for everyone. If you like Paranormal Romances about shifters, you will enjoy this set. There’s some real gems of fiction in here that I think anyone would love. The Star Rating I gave this set was produced by combining the individual star ratings of the books within the set and averaging them out.

Book Review: Resisting The Rancher

 

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Title: Resisting The Rancher [Three River Ranch 4]

Author: Roxanne Snopek

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Country veterinarian Celia Gamble is in trouble. A misunderstanding from her past is rearing its ugly head and the only person she can turn to is Jonah Clarke—her family’s lawyer and, as it turns out, her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush. She always wanted Jonah to see her as a bona fide woman, but as a woman who’s being blackmailed for seducing a married man? Not on her life.

Jonah is happy to help Little CeeCee Gamble, if only she’d come clean about why she’s being blackmailed. But with his best friend Zach’s wedding on the horizon, and Zach’s fashionista fiancée Desiree giving CeeCee a makeover, the little duckling Jonah remembers is turning into a definite swan. And the unwritten law on sisters is clear—hands off. Jonah must resist or lose the only true family he’s ever known.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAYE ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I loved this book. I was excited to find myself on the other end of an invitation to read another one of Ms. Snopek’s books. I’d read her previous title His Reluctant Rancher last year, and I’d enjoyed every moment of it.  The author has a flawless, clean, engaging, and fast-paced narrative voice that I find draws me right into the story. I fell into this story effortlessly and for a few short hours, lived in the world of the characters, not to emerge until the very last word.

Celia and Jonah were an adorable couple, and I thought Celia’s spit-fire stubbornness was the perfect compliment to Jonah’s cowboy-next-door. Their relationship was filled with ups, downs, misunderstandings, and steamy moments that had me outright giggling with glee. I’ll admit it: I laughed out loud a handful of times.

The plot itself was a mash-up of formulaic romance (hey, I enjoy a good formula romance… it’s comforting like hot cocoa on a cold winter’s afternoon) and thriller. There seemed to be just enough danger and mystery to complicate things and spice up the sometimes sweet, sometimes steamy romance between the main couple.

The characters were vibrant, full of personality, and close knit. Despite the amount of characters and how little time some of them got “on screen”, none of them felt needless or truly secondary. Rather than being 1-dimensional cast-offs that appear for a scene, react, and then disappear, the characters spattered across the canvas of the story like vivid droplets of paint, bringing it to life. By the end, I wanted to live in this town with these people.

Overall, I really liked this story. Yes, it is a formulaic romance, but I don’t count that against it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was quick, fun, engaging read, and I think if you like contemporary romance, you’ll probably enjoy it. Would I read it again? Definitely. Would I recommend it? Without question. If you’ve never read any of the author’s work, I highly recommend that you take a look. Ms. Snopek is a romance writer worth reading.

Book Review: The Alpha Claims A Mate

 

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Title: The Alpha Claims A Mate [Blue Moon Junction 1]

Author: Georgette St. Clair

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, BDSM

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

New Yorker Ginger Colby, half witch, half werewolf, all curves, has made an immediate and lasting impression on the Alpha of Blue Moon County. Unfortunately, she did it by publicly insulting him – she turned down the smug, sexy werewolf sheriff when he asked her to dance with him at the local honky-tonk.

Now the furious Alpha of her pack is ordering her to make amends with Sheriff Sexy – or risk igniting a war between the Red Wolves and the Gray. The Sheriff’s idea of re-establishing his dominance includes a bare bottom spanking, making her work for him as his new assistant, and flirting with her outrageously. But is he flirting with her just to get revenge for humiliating him – or does he want something more? And can a liberated big city werewolf find happiness with a dominant small town shifter?

With the mysterious disappearance of an archeology professor, and a jealous Alpha female stirring up trouble…Ginger may not have a chance to find out!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I read this book as part of the Fated Mates Box Set, so I am planning to give a review to each individual book in the set, and then the set as a whole at a later date. There are twelve books in the set, and it is currently for sale on Amazon for $2.99 at the time this review was written. This is book 12 of 12.

This book really wasn’t for me. Having received this book as part of a box set, unfortunately I wasn’t aware of the synopsis for the book or what it may entail (other than it was a paranormal shifter romance). BDSM isn’t something I’m into (but to each his own right?) so the sex scenes where stringing up girls and hitting them with paddles/whips etc occurred made me cringe. If that’s your thing, you may enjoy this book a lot more than I did, but going into this review, understand that a good deal of my negativity towards this book lays in part with that aspect of the book. I don’t have anything against BDSM for those that are interested in it, it just doesn’t interest me, so the sex scenes and dominant/submissive scenes made me want to skip pages. Other people may find those parts far more interesting than I did, but for me, a large part of the book wasn’t appealing.

That aside, there were parts of this book I liked, but there were more parts I didn’t. The dialogue was sometimes a little cliché and didn’t come across as natural to me. There was a lot of judgment getting thrown around between the characters, and cat fights seemed to be common. The characters seemed to be constantly bickering—and I think up to a point, that’s okay, but there was so much of it that it just got tiring after awhile.

Like the dialogue, the characters also came across as cliché. There was the self-righteous virgin, the slutty girl, the outgoing girl who thought she was too good for relationships, the meddling mother and grandmother, the boy-next-door southern sheriff, even the too-nerdy-to-understand-normal-people anthropologist…. I could go on for ages. The roles were all typecast. The character didn’t seem like real people, and there were so many of them that I never got a good feel for any of the characters individually. Most of the characters were small cameo’s thrown in for witty dialogue or drama, but overall didn’t have a huge impact on the story. I really almost wish the cast had been smaller so that the author could have fleshed out their depth a little more.

Another thing that stuck for me was the way the author handled the BBW aspect of the book. The main character was a larger girl, and that’s awesome—but the author made the choice to not only turn her weight into a positive, but pushed the issue so far over the line that it became unbelievable. For whatever reason, the entire town was infatuated with Ginger because of her weight. I think at the point  where people are drawn to the character just because she’s overweight, we’ve crossed the line. All you’ve done is trade out “skinny” for “overweight”. I wish instead, that Ginger’s weight issue would have been handled in a more positive, healthy way. Rather than making her the sexiest thing to walk into town, it would have been nice if people had been drawn to her due to other aspects of her personality, or people had fallen in love with her despite her weight, where her size just became a non-issue, or she became attractive because they were in love with her. As it is, people are still judging her on her size, and still objectifying all the other women in the book. I think this was more of a “wish fulfillment” situation that the bigger girl suddenly became the hot girl, but it makes the characters seem shallow.

Regardless, it was a funny, sometimes silly, book. It was short, it was cliché, and the characters were sometimes absurd, but it was still a fun read up until a point. Would I read it again? Probably not. I just didn’t care for how the story was handled. I’m sure there’s other people out there who would enjoy it much more than I did. This one just wasn’t my cup of tea.