My Computer Died. Again.

This is a bit of a public service announcement. Sadly, I woke up this morning to find my computer locked up on the sign-in screen. Figuring a good reboot would solve the problem (as it often does), I restarted my computer… and it never came back on. Somehow, magically, my video card died. Le sigh. I’m sure everyone remembers that I only just recently got my computer back after having the hard drive fail—I mean, it was less than a month ago.

Unfortunately, my husband (who deals with the computer company for me because IT guys never take women seriously when they call), is out of town for the week, so I can’t even get it taken care of until next week. We’ll probably end up sending the whole thing to the computer company this time (though, omg, my computer is huge and heavy and shipping will be ridiculously expensive).

What this all boils down to, is that I won’t have my computer, and my files, back for another several weeks.

Again.

Meanwhile, luckily I still have the laptop I used the last time, and because it’s been less than a month, it’s already set up with all of my programs, which makes things a little easier. Right now I’m currently planning to continue doing reviews, free fiction fridays, and weekend wrap ups—so things shouldn’t change too much. It’s just a little harder without my files. I will also continue to take review requests and emails about copyediting/proofreading—so do hesitate to send them!

Anyways, that’s all for now. I just wanted to let everyone know why there may be a delay or missing posts here and there depending on file/time constraints. I’m hoping I won’t miss any—but you never know. Homeschooling at my house starts tomorrow morning, and working out my new schedule is already giving me a headache.

I hope you all have a great week!

Book Review: Trapped On Draconica

review-cover-trapped on draconicaTitle: trapped on Draconica

Author: Dan Wright

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Ben was just your typical teenager – loud, obnoxious and always getting himself into hot water. Coming from a troubled household, it’s no wonder Ben’s been on the wrong side of the tracks lately. Ben thinks that his troubles can’t possibly get any worse. How wrong he is… Not long after being mysteriously teleported to the world of Draconica, Ben gets caught up in a Baalarian invasion – who are hell-bent on capturing him. But what did Ben ever do to upset them? With no idea how he got here – and with intentions only on getting home, Ben embarks on a fantastical journey. Joining forces with the Dragonkin sisters Daniar and Erowin, Ben must help them take down the Empire before their dark grasp tightens across the land. Little does Ben realise that his role in this battle is far more vital than he realises – and that his coming here was no accident. Written by new author Dan Wright and featuring incredible artwork by Alexis M. Centeno, Trapped on Draconica is an epic adventure that takes you on an incredible journey that you want to visit again and again. Join in the trails, tribulations, laugher and heartbreak as you follow Ben on an epic adventure that will change his life forever.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wish I had liked Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright more than I did, but honestly… It just wasn’t for me. The narrative style of the story was as if the reader were watching a cartoon,  or reading a comic, rather than a novel. The story, characters, and dialog were dramatic and grand in an almost over-blown sort of way that probably would have worked well for a children’s book or a cartoon… but the content was more young adult/adult, and I don’t think the combination of melodramatic writing fit the older audience. It just didn’t work for me.

The writing was clear and easy to follow, but there were some questionable moments with the punctuation, spelling, and tense. It wasn’t too distracting, and it didn’t make the narrative difficult to read, but it is worth mentioning. The dialogue, however, was hard to push past. The characters spoke in a very melodramatic and scripted way that didn’t seem natural. There were some pretty cliché’d moments where the characters said things that made me cringe. (“Nice doggie…” for instance).

Overall, I just found it hard to be engaged with the story. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but I don’t know that the style in which the book was written fit the age group it was catering too, and personally, I didn’t care for the style as a whole. I think in other formats it would have worked well, and I’m sure there will be readers out there that will be totally engrossed in the plotline. Personally, I couldn’t get past it. I picked it up, set it down, picked it up again. For months I struggled to get into this story, but in the end, I had to tap out. There’s only so much you can push yourself to read before you just have to admit defeat. I truly wish I had liked this more, but I don’t think I was the right audience for it. If you tend to like really dramatic writing that’s easily to follow, full of colorful characters and a fun, quirky sort of world building, I’d recommend you give this a try. If you tend to like more gritty fantasy that takes itself a little more seriously, you may want to let this one pass. It isn’t going to be for everyone.

Weekend Wrap-Up #11

What I Read

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It’s been a really long week reading wise. I’m currently in the process of catching back up on my reading from the weeks I missed due to computer problems. I’m also working to whittle down my current TBR list, most of which has been sitting around for well over a year. The problem with this, of course, is that a lot of what’s still on my TBR list are books that I started to read… and didn’t want to finish. Unable to get past the first 10% of most of the books, I set them aside to try again later. Now is later. The problem with this of course, is that there’s probably going to be a lot of 1-star reviews coming up because I am scraping around what’s left of the barrel. I’m trying to keep my mind open and unbiased… but there’s only so many technical errors I can ignore sometimes.

The first book I picked up this week was Chimera by N.J. Tanger—which I started reading at the end of last week. I adored this book. It was complicated but interesting, and I loved all of the characters. You can look forward to the full review Wednesday.

The second book I picked up this week was Back Roads Kingdom by Christian O’Neill. Once again, this was a fantastic book. It was a little hard to follow at first, but the best comparison I can give it is Alice in Wonderland meets the Appalachians. Again, I loved the book, and that review is coming up next week.

The third book I picked up this week was Ukiyo by Mario Saincic. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by this one. It started off really strong, but slowly fizzled out by 20% in. Too many times I questioned the decisions of the characters, the logic of the world building, and the technical skill of the editor. Sadly, this one ended up being a DNF.

I just started reading Aisuru by Anma Natsu just this morning—and already I have high hopes. It’s easy to tell that the author spent a lot of time with their research and making the culture of the book accurate, and it’s made for some interesting reading. I’m only 6% in, but I’m looking forward to finishing this one up in the next day or two.

Review Dates Coming Up:

  • Monday, August 31 – Trapped On Draconica
  • Wednesday, September 2 – Chimera
  • Monday, September 7 – Back Roads Kingdom
  • Wednesday, September 9 – Ukiyo
  • Monday, September 14 – Aisuru

What Was Posted

What I Did

It was a long week, though not a lot happened. I spent most of my time trying to catch up on reading, and suffering from a weird sleep schedule. Summer is not my thing. I’m not built for the 100+ F temperatures of El Paso, TX. What this all boils down to is not being able to sleep at all once the sun goes down. With the AC on, it’s freezing once night falls, but without it? Humid and hot as hell. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and I end up being wide awake all night… which then makes me want to fall asleep standing up come 11 AM. I basically live on a graveyard shift right now, which is the complete opposite of everyone else in my household. I can’t wait for fall.

Tuesday, thankfully, was my birthday! I don’t particularly like birthdays—being a twin, they’re usually shared, and I hate surprises… so by the end of the day, I’m usually disappointed and stressed out. This year wasn’t so bad, though I did manage to burn my cake. I got a book I’d really been looking forward to, and a Steam gift card… so now I can play games while I’m up all night. *thumbs up*

On the less fun side of things, I managed to get food poisoning… again. From pizza this time, which was weird. I’m already over it, but it wasn’t a fun couple of days. Then, to top off the week, my toilet decided to leak and flood my bathroom this morning. It’s fixed (thank god), but it was certainly a long day.

Here’s to hoping that next week is a little less stressful! We’ll be starting up homeschooling for the year come Tuesday (because I’m nice and letting my daughter start 6th grade September 1st instead of August 24th like the local public school…) Starting school before my birthday is just ridiculous. *nod* It’s like… a holiday.

Image: Imhotep, Aka my fuzzy baby. He’s a Sokoke that’s about to turn 13.

Next Week

I have no plans for the upcoming week. Read maybe? Play some games? Force my 11 year old to learn 6th grade math? Sounds like a plan. My husband is out of town for work for the week, but I’m still kind of hoping that he’ll bring me back my late birthday present (an Amazon gift card) that I’ve been informed he owes me. I WANT BOOKS. That’s all for now—I hope everyone had a great week!

Free Fiction Friday #53

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #53! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday (okay, almost every Friday—I try), I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars with over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible)—so that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Phoenix Earth

review-cover-phoenixearthTitle: Phoenix earth: The Complete First Season

Author: Jaime Vendera, Melvyn Riley, Ronald Coleborn, Daniel Middleton

Genre: Science Fiction, Episodic

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

After the final cataclysm claimed Earth, and seeding failed on Mars, the surviving humans had only one choice—seek out a new planet or die. Eventually, the surviving humans discovered Malakar, a small planet millions of light years away. In time, the two races merged, creating a new breed called Maluan. However, racism soon spread throughout the planet and the human and Maluans faced total extinction by evil Malakarans known as Creks. In a politically charged move to sweep the planet clean of all non-purebloods, the descendants of the human race are forced off Malakar to relocate to a planet dubbed X67 by Malakaran authorities. What unfolds is a maniacal scheme to destroy the Maluans and humans before they reach their new home, forcing them to leap at the speed of thought to a dead planet no one has seen in more than five hundred years: Earth.

Phoenix Earth follows the lives of an eclectic group as they bond together to stay alive and begin anew as they discover new alien races and struggle to help Earth rise from the ashes.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Let me preface this review by saying right off the bat: This book just wasn’t for me. I’m a fan of science fiction, and I understand that this book and it’s “episodes” were meant to remind the reader of TV episodes in written form…I love science fiction TV just as equally as I love science fiction in novels… but this didn’t work for me. I tried to get into this book and its episodes. I read a bit, I put it down, I picked it back up… for well over a year I floundered with trying to push through Phoenix Earth. I just couldn’t do it.

The story started off with a lot of backstory, and it made it hard to engage right from the very beginning. Parts of the backstory were skimmed over, and it felt as if I were missing a lot of explanations about what was going on. Sometimes the explanations I was given, didn’t seem logical. The exchanges between the Malakaran’s and the Humans didn’t seem equal, but were treated as if they were. Radiation was treated as actual poison—which was only one of many instances in which the science was questionable.

To be blunt, the story tried too hard. The science wasn’t well thought out, the backstory was long and convoluted, the naming of both characters, groups, and locations was hard to remember and often sounded kind of hokey. (see: Correctors of Abomination and Dyzm’nd). There were a few instances in which I caught missing words, and sometimes entirely made-up words (that were treated as if they weren’t made up… see: bastages). Sometimes the punctuation was questionable and words were overused (delicacies seemed to be quite common in their universe). The dialogue seemed forced and reminded me entirely too much of some early episodes of Star Trek… just, overwhelmingly dramatic and impersonal. At times the author seemed to be holding the reader’s hand, explaining or qualifying events in such a way that it sucked the impact and tension out of the scene.

All of these things were small in and of themselves, but when compacted down into the first 6% of the story…. it was too much. When the book came to the point where the narrator was comparing the events in the book to the Jewish Holocaust (more than once), I put the book down. I couldn’t do it.

I think the idea behind writing a series of episodic stories that fall into a larger story arc (as with TV episodes) is an intriguing idea… but there were too many times where I sat back and questioned the logic of the characters, the science behind the world building, and the quality of the writing. It shouldn’t be that difficult to read 6% into a book. I didn’t feel sucked into the story or engaged by the narrative. It was all right—but it wasn’t enough to balance out the less attractive aspects of the writing, and in the end I couldn’t finish the book.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s someone out there that will eat this series up with a spoon…. it just wasn’t for me. I think to really get into the book you’re going to need a deep love for the science fiction as a genre, and the ability to turn off your inner science geek. If the accuracy of the science in science fiction is something you need to get through a novel, this isn’t going to be for you—but I think if you can turn that off and just enjoy the drama and entertainment value of the story, you’ll probably be able to enjoy it a lot more than I did.

Book Review: Independence

review-cover-independenceTitle: Independence [Significance 4]

Author: Shelly Crane

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the fourth and final installment, Maggie and Caleb must tie up all the loose ends of their lives and make a way to be together completely on their own. With everything that happened with Bish and Maggie’s father, she’s almost reluctant to move on and move out. And now she must figure out all of this…stuff…with Haddock. But of course, nothing can stay simple for the Jacobsons. Enemies who were thought to be dissolved have decided to not go down so easily. And old flames come calling for more than just Maggie. Caleb is torn between leading his family and personal wants. Maggie is torn between Caleb and being the leader of their people. But neither will let what they need most to be pushed to the wayside. They are determined to make it all work, design a plan toward destiny, and make everything right again for themselves and their family.

And then there’s a wedding…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Meh. That about sums up my feelings about Independence by Shelly Crane. I adored the previous three books in the series—absolutely loved them. So, going into Independence, I was certain that I was going to love this book equally as well. I didn’t. In fact, I’m not even sure I liked it (hence the meh.)

This book took me weeks to finish. For someone who reads 1-2 books a day, that’s a little crazy. I just couldn’t get into it. The format had changed from the previous books. Instead of one POV (Maggie’s), the book was written in a strange back and forth of Maggie/Caleb, that in my opinion, didn’t work. Caleb’s POV chapters were boring, and his voice was honestly a little irritating. Maggie’s were okay, but the narrative seemed to skim. A lot. Events were barely touched upon, and conversations that should have been delved into, were peeked at and set aside. The whole thing seemed incredibly rushed, and it made it very hard to follow.

By the time I was half way into the book, I was over it—but I pushed on. By 80%, I was done. I wanted desperately to set the book aside (and did, for three weeks), but I kept thinking “I’m almost done. You can do this.” I pushed on. Honestly, I can barely remember what the book was about at this point. Nothing seemed to happen. The tension and mystery of the previous books was sadly lacking from this one, and the narrative was overly sappy and lovey-dovey throughout. There were two epilogues (2 1/2 and 5 years after the story), neither of which added anything new to the story except the typical “and they lived happily ever after with children” ending that is so stereotypical of the romance genre.

Am I glad I read this book? Yes, because it was the last book in the series, it wrapped things up in a nice, neat little bow, and I was genuinely curious to see what was going to happen to the characters from the previous three books in the series. Did I like it? Not really. I don’t know what happened between the last book and this one. The previous three books were so good… but this one just…. lacked. It lacked engagement, tension, an in-depth plot… If this hadn’t been the last book in the series, I probably wouldn’t have gone on to read the next after this one. It just didn’t resonate with me.

Weekend Wrap-Up #10

What I Read

review-cover-sparkedreview-cover-independencereview-cover-phoenixearthreview-cover-trapped on draconicareview-cover-chimera

 

Wow, it’s been awhile guys. As I’m sure you aware, a couple of weeks ago (4? 5? I don’t even know anymore), my computer’s main hard drive decided to die a slow, painful death. The irritating aspect of this, of course, is that my computer is not that old. Months. luckily, the thing was under warranty, so I sent my drive in to the company I bought it from, and got a free replacement drive. This wasn’t without it’s troubles, the largest aspect of which, was the sheer amount of time it took to get the replacement sent to me.

For those who know me, you’ll know that I’m an admitted computer addict. I basically live on the internet… so not being able to not only use my computer, but also reach my files, was a painful and very specific sort of torture. Unfortunately, this also meant that I was unable to read and review books, or even do much more than check twitter and drop off the occasional message here on my blog. Luckily, it’s all fixed now, but the only thing I can say in my defense of the super long absence and lack of posts is: Blue Screens of Death are a plague the kind of which I would never wish upon my enemy.

So, because of my forced hiatus, when my computer was back up and running this week, I jumped at the chance to try and catch up on some reviews. I started with Sparked by Lily Cahill, which was only recently e-mailed to me. It was fantastic, if a little unique, and you can look forward to a full review at the beginning of October (or if you’re impatient, check out my Goodreads where it’s already up!)

I then went on to try and finish up Independence by Shelly Crane. I adored the previous three books in the series, but to be honest… I was unimpressed by the fourth. I don’t know what happened or where the author went wrong, but I was honestly bored. I very nearly didn’t finish the book.

The third book I finished up this week was Phoenix Earth, a compilation of episodic science fiction stories by various authors. The book was sent to me more than a year ago, and honestly, I just couldn’t get through it. The science was questionable, the backstory slogged, and by the third time the first author had compared the  events in the book to the Jewish Holocaust, I was over it. I wanted to like it, but I’m just too detail oriented to enjoy something that makes me question the author at every turn. I ended up DNFing it.

The fourth book I picked up was Trapped on Draconica by Dan Wright. Again, I desperately wanted to like it. The author sent it to me a few months ago, but try as I might, I couldn’t get through it. It wasn’t a bad book, but it just didn’t suit my tastes. The writing and the melodrama was a little too scripted and saturday-morning-cartoons feeling than what I’d expected out of a YA Fantasy book. I couldn’t take it seriously, and ended up DNFing it as well.

I’ve just started ready Chimera by N.J. Tanger, and so far? It’s fantastic. The world building is so detailed and vivid that I can’t help but reading further into the story. I’m only about 23% of the way in, but I can already tell that I’m going to like it (if I don’t get lost in all the science fiction technobabble).

Here’s the review dates coming up:

  • Monday, August 24 – Independence
  • Wednesday, August 26 – Phoenix Earth
  • Monday, August 31 – Trapped on Draconica
  • Wednesday, September 2 – Chimera
  • Thursday, October 1 – Sparked

What Was Posted

What I Did

To be honest, I did a whole lot of nothing while my computer was dead. I spent time with my family, took naps, cleaned my house… watched far too much Netflix. I took needless pictures of my 11 year old so I could post them on my blog in the future. Ha ha. She sleeps like a ballerina.

I did manage to get some outlining done on one of my more recent novel’s, The Night Parade—which I guess is a win.

The thing is, there wasn’t a lot I –could- do. I mange to wrangle a laptop to work from, but it didn’t have any of my files or games on it. The internet was spotty at best—in fact, we’re planning on replacing the modem this week because of how much trouble we’ve had.

That isn’t to say I haven’t been busy though. There’s been dentist visits, we bought a new SUV to replace our Civic Hybrid before it was out of warranty (those batteries are EXPENSIVE), and I even organized my bookshelves. (Look! I have space for more books!)

I even managed to get my school shopping done, which was well overdue. We’re doing homeschooling again this year (My daughter is now in 6th grade!). We started organizing our next trip to Disneyland (this upcoming October! Woot!). But really, I’m glad to be on the internet and back to my blog. I missed the routine of reading and writing reviews, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Next Week

This upcoming week is a special one. I am planning to get a lot more reading and reviews done—I am desperately trying to whittle down my TBR list and catch up on my reading quota, which is now several weeks behind… but more importantly, Tuesday, August 25th, is my BIRTHDAY. I’ll be 32, and so will my identical twin sister. Happy Birthday Jamie! (You can find her here.) I’m hoping for some new books *crosses fingers*. I’ll let you know if I get any! Here’s to next week—I hope it’s a good one!