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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

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Most Disappointing Series

Edited Review: Spook Squad

I spent my birthday with a new series (for me) that I was really enjoying. The Spook Squad by Keri Arthur. The premise and story are fascinating, involving a close-to-us parallel world where nonhumans live alongside normal in an uneasy balance. They are policed by the SIU, a shadowy group set up to police nonhumans.

The main character in the book is Sam Ryan, a State Police Officer. As far as Sam is concerned, she is fully human – but is she truly? With no memory of the first 14-years of her life, Sam is an exemplary officer, but she is also a haunted woman, searching for her life before she awakened in a foster home at 14.

zero In Memory Zero we first meet Sam as she is set to meet with her partner, Jack, in a dark and stinking back alley of Melbourne. Jack – who has been missing for over two weeks, supposedly the victim of an unknown cop killer. Called to the alley by the missing Jack, having promised to tell no one, Sam finds much more than she expects as the Jack she meets is no longer human, but instead is a vampire. And something else – something much, much worse. Killing the man who is her partner, and yet not, Sam is pulled into a whirlwind of terror which begins to pull her history from her own mind, opening doors that should have stayed closed.

18Generation 18 is the second in the series, and continues Sam’s story. Now a member of the SIU, she is partnered with Assistant Director of the SIU, Gabriel, the two are neck deep in the investigation of a serial killer who is targeting a seemingly unrelated group of victims, whose only link is that they are all adopted, and all have red-gold hair. We learn a lot more about Samantha in this volume, and I really came to admire and like her, though not Gabriel, a cold and isolated man, determined to shake Sam off as his partner. He is determined to never have a partner again after the death of his former two partners, one of whom was his mate, Andrea. That loss, when he was 18, has set in his mind that he will never allow anyone close to him again, not even his twin brother. Struggling to catch the killer, the invisible Sethanon, Sam has to fight not only her growing memories, and her jackass of a partner, but also a growing threat against herself and who she may, or may not, be.

pen Penumbra is the third book in the trilogy, and builds up the series to a massive head, as Sam finally realizes who, and what she is. And who Gabriel is supposed to be to her – though he desperately fights it. Tracking a mix of clones, shapeshifters and shapechangers, the murders come fast and furious as the military comes closer and closer to achieving their goals of an unstoppable army, and Sam comes to realize that her dreams of her twin are not only real – but that they are much more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

I was really liking this series. I mean, really liking it – enough that I sat other things aside and continued reading through all three books without stopping, other than to do what I absolutely had to.

EDIT TO REVIEW:

It appears that the whole “won’t be publishing any longer” wasn’t actually Keri’s fault. Here is a note from here. I really loved the books, Keri, and will be updating all my reviews. I also just finished Full Moon Rising and will be writing a review on that one too. Loved it.

Sorry I’ve upset you by not finishing the series…but the reason is not as simple as I didn’t feel like finishing it. I had planned a 4th book, but the Riley Jenson series came along and given it was my first major book contract (along the publisher’s decision to release the first 4 books in one year), I had to give priority to that series rather than the Spook Squad novel. And I’m afraid that several years away from the Spook Squad world meant I was no longer immersed in it. I’d rather leave a series unfinished than make a total and utter mess of it.

However, with Bantam re-releasing the series in paperback in the US, I did write a brief (5 page) epilogue that gave some closure on the relationship aspects. The rest of the plot (and the war) does remain unfinished.

Again, sorry to upset and disappoint you. I wish I could finish the series, too, believe me, but there’s just too many other books I have to write.

So, now we know why Spook Squad was never finished – the demands of Publishers! I am updating and reposting my reviews everywhere to take her note into account.

So, my apologies to Keri for losing my temper and being a snot!

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Review: Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

bonesIt has been a long time since I read a Kathy Reichs book. I used to wait breathlessly for each one to come out, but at some point, I backed off, and I don’t even remember why. The last I actually tried to read was 206 Bones and I don’t know why, but I stopped listening (it is an Audible edition) less than half way through the book and the marker is still sitting there, so I never picked it up again.

Apparently, a lot has happened since my last reading. Relationships have changed, and I missed what sounds like some serious action where Temperance was apparently kidnapped and nearly burned to death, and Ryan’s drug addicted daughter died, sending Ryan off the edge. This information is lightly covered so that you know what happened earlier, but you aren’t hit over the head with it. This storyline itself shows the police procedural and lab knowledge Reichs is known for. However, there were things that totally turned me off about the book.

The language is stiff, awkward and completely without flow. Honestly, it feels like the work of a freshman author, not the well known author with over 20 books to her name I know her to be. I seriously wondered, and still do, whether the book was written, as apparently is the case with other “names” by a new author, hired on the cheap. I don’t remember her books being this awkwardly written, in a “See Jane, See Jane Run, Run Jane Run” style. Needless to say,  where I would normally read the book cover to cover in at most two days, I found that it took me two weeks. Pick it up, read a few pages, get bored and put it down, then pick it up again later on.

I became terribly disenchanted with the TV show Bones based on the novel series, over a year ago, when Tempe gets pregnant. At that time, for some totally weird reason, the TV writers seemed to think that dumbing Tempe down was the thing to do if she was actually going to be living with that idiot Booth, Mr.” I Am Dumb As A Post But The Hot, Brilliant Doctor Still Let Me Knock Her Up.” I stuck with it for a short time after the dumbing down, but couldn’t stomach it any longer. I did watch the “Christmas Baby” scenario and was so disgusted that it took me a week to get over being pissed at how incredibly CRAPTASTIC it was! Haven’t watched it since.

I was pleased to be offered the book by the publisher. I had really hoped that Reich’s writing had not fallen into the “Dumb Tempe Down” trope. Sad to say, I can’t say that I was impressed – not by a long-shot. It’s a shame, but maybe Reichs is simply burned out? Whatever the case, I can’t give this any more than three stars, and that is based strictly on the storyline itself, not on the writing.

This book was received by Bantam Publishing in return for a realistic review. All thought are my own. Tentative on-sale date s September 23, 2014. If you are a loyal reader, I am sure you will add it to your shelf. If not, I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, read her earlier works, which were quite good.

Review: Hour of the Lion by Cherise Sinclair

hourofthelion
And another book with potential bites the dust. Sigh.

2.5 stars

The Urban Fantasy field used to be a lot more interesting. Strong storylines, terrific, strong female characters with heart and mind and soul and strength. A lot of fighting, a bit of sex – it was fantasy writing at it’s best.

I don’t know when that changed – I know it was before “50 Shades of Horrifically BAD Writing” but since then, it seems that the world of Urban Fantasy written by women has become UF written by stupid, sexist, hormonal women with no taste and less capabilities. Basically really badly written porn.

Don’t get me wrong. There is still some really bad crap in Hour of the Lion by Cherise Sinclair. As well as some really bad logic on the part of the main character, Victoria. For a big, strong, Marine/CIA spy, she pulls some real boners when it comes to thinking things through. And, come ON people – can we STOP with the BDSM sometime? Like SOON?! This whole idea of “the guys love me so they are going to tie me up and beat the shit out of me and humiliate me as they parade me naked in front of all their buddies and people they never even heard of and then lets them screw me to prove it” thing is sick, disgusting, and makes me want to vomit. This book wasn’t on the ‘heavy’ side of the whole sicko thought process, but there was enough “I am going to hold you down and control you and force you to let me do whatever I want to do to you whether you like it or not, and you are going to like it (and, of course, she gets all hot and bothered and buys into the whole thing — gag) to make me roll my eyes and scream at the heroine. Stupid bitch. Took my original, ‘Oh, goodie, I may like her nearly as much as Kate Daniels” thought process and flushed it down the crapper. But be that as it may . . .

But, what I did like about the book is that it has a real storyline, with an actual setup, confrontation, and resolution. There are multiple plotlines without going overboard and being totally confusing, and the characters are, mostly, likable while the bad guys are truly bad, pointing out just how much humans may think the weres in the story to be monsters – but pointing out in great detail how it is humans who are truly the monsters. Monsters who should be put down with extreme prejudice as quickly (and painfully) as possible.

Vic is, as pointed out above, a Marine and CIA spy who is wounded in battle and, as happens in the military, is basically thrown aside as being, though previously useful, now damaged goods. Hurt, both physically and psychologically by the cold disregard of the mentor who she trusted, she finds herself going to the rescue of a woman under attack – and gets far more than she bargains for. Suddenly captured and at the mercy of sadistic humans trying to learn the secrets of previously unknown weres, Vic is thrown into the position of trying to rescue a young and very brutalized were. Rescuing him from the real monsters, she is forced to watch him die as they attempt to escape, his final words requesting that she travel to the home of his grandfather, to give word of his death.

Torn by her duty to her position and the dieing request of a child, she travels to Cold Creek, not knowing whom it is she is to contact, or what she will do when she gets there. The main storyline is exciting, well thought out mystery suspense, with a strong dose, of course, of UF, though at first the town seems entirely normal. As the UF storyline begins to grow, there is both good and bad to the story, as the weres try to retain their secrecy, and their safety, and Vic tries to decide if they are a danger to the US people, or if they deserve their privacy and safety.

The “Gathering” portion of the story, while logical in and of itself, was handled ridiculously badly by the author. I won’t even go into it. Suffice it to say, if you only read books for the sex scenes you will probably like it. If, instead, you expect logic and to have the main character going into a situation with good intel, well, sending someone you supposedly care about into a situation like that with as little intel as possible is not only stupid, but dangerous and again had me screaming out loud at the stupidity.

So, a better stab at good writing than normally found in this type of novel, but not exceptional. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend it to fans of ‘UF porn” as there probably isn’t enough porn to suit you, and I wouldn’t recommend it to readers of writers like Ilona Andrews or other exceptional UF writers because there is too Much porn. So, overall? Meh. I wish it had been better, though I am not surprised it wasn’t.

Now that is just mean . . .

I was on Goodreads earlier and came across a post entitled “Do people tend to criticize the books they read, in a rather destructive manner rather than constructive?”

Only a few responses are showing so far, but I find this question to be one I ponder quite often. What is constructive v.s. destructive “criticism.” One commentary by Feliks Dzerzhinsky was quite interesting and well thought out. goodreads

Click here to see the commentary.

The following is my own post in response. I will be touching on this question over time, but I wanted to share my thoughts here and see what you, as a reader, think about the original question.

A well written and thought out commentary. However, I believe that the question refers to the degree of cruelty that some reviews seems to take joy in pouring vitriol onto the heads of the author. There is a great deal of difference between criticism and chivvying the author and being obsessively destructive. I can write some blistering reviews. However, those reviews are always well-thought-out and give specifics for why I think the author should go flush their heads.

I.e., in the case of Twilight. It isn’t only the book itself I am blistering, it is the publishing industry for taking that horrifically substandard tomb and forcing it down the throats of the public. With all of the good books awaiting publishing, they chose to print and force down our throats a book with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Apparently because the writer is “connected”.

What I find offensive is the “reviewer” who rates a book low and yet gives no truly logical reasoning for doing so. They simply say something cruel and hurtful about the author or the book without any reasoning process behind it. I read a 1-star review the other day regarding one of my favorite authors where the person said “This is a children’s book.” Just that, and a one star. Come on! So it would be a great book for a kid to read. So? Does that make it a bad book? No, it just didn’t ring this person’s bell. But! Was it well written? Were the characters believable? Was the editing well done? All those things could have been addressed and the book could have been rated on an intelligent level. Instead, the ‘reviewer’ didn’t review the book at all, she/he was simply dismissive. In other words, why even do it if you aren’t going to do it correctly? Apparently, just to hurt the author and anyone else who reads, or considers reading, the book.

Yes, the Twilight writer deserves to be “punched out” for the garbage she wrote. But if you are going to take the swing, it is tremendously more adult and civilized to do so by writing exactly WHY she and her publishing gurus should take it in the face rather than simply throwing a fit and falling down in it.

Why I love audible.com

audible.com
audible.com (Photo credit: insidetwit)

Audible.com responded to my request for a refund right away. I wonder how many requests for refunds they got for Dead Ever After?

 

Dear Leiah,

Thank you for contacting Audible. My name is Cathy and I’m happy to help.

I understand that you were dissatisfied with “Dead Ever After” and would like to return it for your credit.

At your request, I refunded the credit that was spent on “Dead Ever After” back to your account. Your credit has been reinstated and it can be used towards the purchase of any alternative book at your convenience.

Thanks again for contacting Audible, I hope this was satisfactory and had addressed your issue.

If you have any other questions or run into any issues, feel free to use the reply feature above or call our customer care numbers at:

1-888-283-5051 (USA & Canada)

(US Country Code) 1-973-820-0400 (International)

We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

If you are satisfied with the extent of the service provided to you today; please answer the survey below.

Sincerely,

Cathy C

Audible Customer Support

Manure still doesn’t smell like roses . . .

gravestoneWhat it DOES smell like it Charlaine Harris giving her readers of the last 10-years, those who have made her rich, a great big steaming pile of dog crap and calling it the wrap-up of a series I have been calling a friend for all these years.

Rather than a review, I will point you to the exceptional one-star (can we PLEASE have negative stars????) reviews at Amazon.com and other places, and instead, copy you on the e-mail I sent to Audible.com:

“I put Charlaine Harris’ “Dead Ever After” on my preorder list, and was happy to receive it on the publication date. I have no problem with Audible. I have been a loyal customer for years. I have never asked for a credit back. Until now.

Harris purposely wrote a horrible ending to our 10-year journey with her character. She apparently did it to insult her loyal readers who have made her a very rich woman. I may have to suffer the indignity of an author insulting me, but I DON’T intend to give her yet more of my hard-earned money so that she can make money from doing it.

Please see the Amazon reviews for proof of Harris’ betrayal and the reasons behind it.

Again, I may have paid for some bad books during my years with Audible. That is on me, and I won’t quibble over the credit. But I am hereby officially asking for my credit back for Dead Ever After and for the book to be removed from my library on your site. I have removed it from my Audible Manager. Since my cancer, books are my only real treat for myself. The insult I feel by Harris’ actions is deeply painful. “

Enough said. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little – better get the Listerine. And the aspirin. Then I am going to go find a much loved book, draw a hot bath and settle in with a bottle of Pinot Noir and about five pounds of chocolate and try to get past the trauma.

Charlaine Harris and the final book

I received my download of Charlaine Harris’ last Sookie Stackhouse book, “Dead Ever After” from Audible.com. I just started listening to it and so far, I am not impressed. Even Johanna Parker seems bored and she is one of the very best narrators out there.

deadeverafterI try not to look at reviews before I read a book, as I don’t want to influence my own opinion. However, as I was looking at another book this afternoon, I came across this review by Kathryn, a favorite reviewer of mine from Bossier City, Louisiana. In part; “I honestly don’t believe Charlaine Harris wrote this book. I suspect she either supervised a ghost writer who needed a firmer editing hand, or she did write it and it’s just an early draft that she either didn’t care to improve or couldn’t because of other commitments.”

Well, it is her 13th, and final, book of the series. There has been a lot of negative commentary about her last couple of books and maybe that has something to do with her just giving up? Some reviewers can be absolutely vicious in their “reviews” and some apparently don’t have even the faintest concept of what makes an author a good writer. I remember one reviewer who was going on and on about how Charlaine wrote about “extraneous characters” i.e., the story lines containing anything other than Sookie and whomever she happens to be sleeping with at the time. Uh, does that mean authors should write books with only two characters in them?

Oh my GOD! Can we talk about something OTHER than who happens to be sleeping with WHOM??? Sigh. I will go there later.

Finishing up a couple of R4R books today, then I am going to sit down with my knitting and start listening. Will let you know what I decide later!

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