Friday, July 10, 2015

BoTB results and Book review

Long, slow month. Is it only the tenth? All this waiting I'm doing in my day life makes the days feel sluggish. Not that I'm normally at a decent pace . . .

I was surprised by the results of July 1 Battle of the Bands results: Lee Greenwood 26, Beyonce 6. I was sure Beyonce would steal the show. Go figure!

I'm not sure I will be posting anything on the 15th; might be out of town for the week and I don't like using my cell phone for blogging. If I don't go - its been my experience that if you lay out money for a possible job you usually end up just losing your money - I will likely chain my ass to a chair and try to make headway on that new story idea. It may end up being left as unfinished as the rest of the ideas, but at least I will have something written. Regardless, I have an itch to write, or edit.

During this latest sluggish  period I read two books, and finished reading one more. I'm hoping to complete James Garcia's DANCE ON FIRE over the weekend.

First completed book is the short story anthology THE DRAGON CHRONICLES, compiled and published by Samuel Peralta. From his author page at Amazon: Samuel Peralta is a physicist and story teller. As well as his own work, he is known as the creator and driving force behind the Chronicles short story anthologies - including the Future Chronicles - whose titles hit as high as #6 on the Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers list. Recognized in Best American Science Fiction, he has ranked as one of Amazon's Top 5 SF Authors, Top 40 Authors in e-books, and Top 100 Authors overall.

If you are a fan of Dragons you'll love this anthology. The stories range from YA to adult in fantasy, sci fi, urban fantasy. The personalities include teaching Dragons, fierce dragons, changelings, young martyr's, to wise old philosophers. Dragons are magical in all their forms with abilities that range from time travel, fire breathing, precognition, and a twisted form of addiction when eaten. This anthology was an adventurous read, reminding me of earlier stories by authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Robert Jordan. The human heroes were every bit as engaging as the Dragons they fight or partner with.

Some of the submissions appeared to be segments of larger works, and others were companion short stories that explore certain characters. All stories worked well as shorts, however, and I did like reading the author bio's and how the stories came into being. Several of the author's intrigued me enough to want to read more of their writings. Let me repeat: if you love Dragons and adventure, you'll want to add this anthology to your well read list.

Then I moved on to Lorelei Bell's first Sabrina Strong novel ASCENSION (formerly titled Vampire Ascending. From her Amazon author page: Lorelei has always rooted for Dracula/vampires to be the romantic hero in books and movies before it was "cool". Now an Indie, Author of the Sabrina Strong (Urban fantasy) series, Zofia Trickenbod (fantasy) series, and an assortment of short stories available, Lorelei has been writing for over 40 years and is looking forward to her retirement years so that she can devote more time to it. Baby Boomer, avid bird watcher, naturalist, and member of Writers of Mass Distraction, lives on a prairie reserve in the Midwest with husband of 26 years and three feral cats.

Sabrina Strong is a 22 year old touch clairvoyant who answers an ad for an employer looking for a clairvoyant. She can tell over the phone the employer is a vampire, but this does not scare her off. Being essentially jobless and penniless, she is desperate enough to suspend disbelief that her skills could actually earn her a living. She is bitten by a werewolf as she arrives at the interview, and her potential vampire employer arrives at her rescue and sucks out most of the werewolf venom. The experience leaves her fainting into the arms of the most handsome male she could ever dream of meeting, and of course he and his minions are smitten by her sweetly tasty blood and alluring aura. She wakes in her vampire rescuer's bedroom, although he has not acted upon his desires as he needs permission from his vampire master to make her his. As the story progresses, Sabrina is consistently the target of lust from each alpha she meets (vampires, shifters, were's, but not the Fae) and each is more gorgeous and powerful than the last.

This is a simple urban fantasy, populated by all manner of paranormal creatures. Sabrina is a poor, young, innocent girl, thrust into the clutches of the billionaire vampire leader Bjorn Tremayne to solve the mystery of who murdered his life-mate by using her previously untested clairvoyant powers. She is offered a sign on bonus too large to refuse, a yearly salary bigger than she could make working part time for her sister in law's thrift store, and perks such as a car and cell phone of her very own. Plus, every hot guy in the Tremayne Towers lusting after her blood, both for eating and sex.

For me, this story was a combination of Fifty Shades and Charlain Harris' Dead And . . series. Lorelei is skilled at crafting a mystery and leaving subtle clues to point the reader to the obvious conclusion, and the development of the world and its rules was well paced and at times unique. Her characters were engaging with interesting back stories and continuing character plots. The novel stands alone, but leaves a number of unanswered questions for sequels to fill in.

While the story concept itself was interesting, and the writing style easy to read; the story was over written, sometimes repeating information (and mystery clues) as much as four times as the main character Sabrina, frequently forgot details and had to be reminded by other characters; and the step-by-step mannerisms and descriptions used a lot of unnecessary word count. There were also an extreme amount of misspelled and misused words, and prolific and inappropriate use of commas that consistently pulled me out of the story; even during the most action and sexual scenes. The ending rushed through a summation of events after the climax, leaving an unfinished vibe to the characters.

This genre is not my normal reading - I won the book in a giveaway - but I would recommend this book, and the series, to anyone who adores HOT, alpha vampires and shifters, a sexy female protagonist, and billionaire play boys.

Finally, I finished reading George RR Martin's GAME OF THRONES, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE book 1. It has taken me about two months to read the entire book of 807 pages, but not because the story was uninteresting or too long. My son gave me the complete set of five books for Mother's Day after I watched a marathon of the HBO seasons 1-4, and the HBO episodes follow the book quite closely, so when I put down the book to do other things it did not feel as if I was missing out on reading the next event. But of course, the book is much much better than the TV!

Most of the male actors tend to look alike in the show (beards, armor, and lots of attitude) and it was hard for me to keep track of which house the fighters belonged to in the first few episodes. Reading the book, with its maps and appendix (which I studied before reading the first pages) allowed me to fully immerse in the world. Mr. Martin does not need my review, so all I'll say is FABULOUS.

The story itself is inventive, unique, well told; the characters well developed and engaging. The thing I like most about Martin's writing though is his excellent use of voice. The voice of each perspective character is so unique that even without the heading, I know who's perspective I'm in as the story progresses. This is a valuable writing lesson for me, as I struggle with creating a unique voice for my characters in my own writing. Probably why I use only a single perspective, but I do need to stretch my writing ability and learn to successfully write multiples.

It may take me most of this year, but I am looking forward to reading the other four novels. Does anyone else speculate that Jon Snow is not Eddard Stark's bastard; but is actually Lyanna's son, the product of being raped by Rhaegar Targaryen?

Well, I'm off to start reading Dance On Fire; my Kindle will appreciate me actually reading on it instead of just charging and letting the battery slowly die with disuse. I hope ya'll have a great weekend. And if I don't see ya for a week or so, wish me luck in getting some writing done.


35 comments:

Denise Covey said...

Hiya Donna! Hope your weekend is great! I'm just back from hols and ready to start work Monday.Catch up blogging today. :-)

mike spain said...

A lot of reading! Nice battle

mike spain said...

A lot of reading! Nice battle

mike spain said...

A lot of reading! Nice battle

Lexa Cain said...

I'm surprised the dragon one is considered SF. But I guess Anne McCaffrey's were. (Love her, btw.) I'm heard bad things about Ms. Bell's books. Your reviews were excellent. Thanks!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

DONNA ~
Lee Greenwood made that song famous, so I'm not surprised he trounced Beyonce.

I just got hired for a job I wanted, and I hope you have similar luck!

~ D-FensDogG

Ted Cross said...

I'm so glad you liked A Game of Thrones! It's one of my favorite books of all time. Martin is truly amazing. And of course thank you for reading The Dragon Chronicles!

DEZMOND said...

we do love anything about dragons!
Can't stand Martin, he is a sick man who never grown out of his puberty and is trashing the world with his torture porn.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Really dig the show, but not sure I'd ever read the books. I think after Wheel of Time, I'm burnt on long, epic fantasy series. But the show is just amazing. Torture porn? No way - the movie Saw is torture porn.
Curious what you think of James' book.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Donna!

How are you?

Seems like you up to your usual tricks...reading/reviewing... How you get some AMAZING writing done this week.

I'm gearing up for LA.... YAY!!! I'm so excited to be attending the SCBWI conference... Wish you had time to DROP IN. Since I will be IMMERSED in the conference for days, I have no time to drive up to see you, although I would LOVE TO! I need to back to Chicago to start a NEW project, which I will email you about later...

The fun news is, I decided to resurrect AMBER... and I mean a TOTAL Change. Title, physical traits, names... I am just going to focus on the PLOT... a first for me. LOL. Cutting out lots of my beautiful descriptions and lyrical writing and keeping just THE STORY... SHOCKING, isn't it!

Heres the new title and Amber's new MO...

WYNDYLYN SPARKS-AKA PROTECTOR OF THE WHISPERING WILLOWS. Amber transformed into Wyndylyn. She dropped shyness and is real force to be reckoned with. LOL. Would LOVE to send you the first few chapters to see what you think...

Anyway... HOPE all is well... Enjoy your free writing time!

Pat Hatt said...

That was quite the blowout. I tried to read GOT once but it is so bogged down with description.

Olga Godim said...

Your reading life seems to be eventful and fun. Good luck with your writing itch.

dolorah said...

Welcome home Denise :)

Mike: it is!

Alexa: not much fantasy to the Pern series. Dragons were bio-engeneered, the threat was a form of space alien, and the settlers were fleeing Earth. Ascension has story potential, just needs some editing.

Ted: reading The Dragon Chronicles was sheer pleasure :)

Dezzy and Alex: oh but I love that soft porn that GoT and Ascension has going on!!

Alex: haha, I've not been able to watch the Saw movies. Definitely some torture porn going on there that turns me off. I'm hoping to really enjoy James' book.

Michael: I am hoping to get to LA while the conference is going on; just for the pleasure of meeting you :) I'll call you and see what date works. I'm sure there will be others to meet as well. And sure, send me the rewrite; thanks for the confidence in my opinion.

Pat: has description in all the right places for me :)

Thanks Olga :)

farawayeyes said...

BOTB as it should be. I really dislike Beyoncé.

Any chance your travels bringing you back this way? I'm around all next week and could meet you somewhere.

A Beer For The Shower said...

I do love dragons, so I may have to give that anthology a chance. Vampire love stories on the other end... strong pass. And I might be one of the few that likes the GOT TV show more than the books. The books aren't bad, but they're so longwinded, and he keeps introducing more and more characters, and at this point I'm not even sure he knows how to properly end it.

Romance Reader said...

I tried to read but couldn't get into it...yet my daughter loved it!

Rachna Chhabria said...

I finally bought the Game of Thrones first book. It will take me a few days to start reading it. Love the book covers of The Dragon Chronicles and Ascension.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I think that Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love and Jon Snow was the only thing that Eddard could come up with to save the baby's life. Eddard took the secret to his grave of course. I love dragons so I may end up picking up that short story anthology. It looks fun, and thanks for pointing it out.

dolorah said...

FAE: did not get the job. But I'm planning a day trip up there soon.

Beers: lots of people love the GoT TV show and have troubles reading the books. The books have sweeping descriptions and deep POVs which put a lot of people off. Easier to see that world building on the screen. Y'all don't love blood suckers? huh :)

RR: its not for everyone.

Rachna: I don't have that cover for Thrones, I have the blue one with the sword. I like that one better. Hope you enjoy the reading.

Mikey: Yeah, I was hoping you were on the same line of thought as me.

cleemckenzie said...

You're sure doing some great reading. It will stimulate the writing side of your brain. I'm sure of it.

VR Barkowski said...

I'm not surprised Lee took BOTB. He owns that song.

I watch GOT, but I don’t think I could ever commit to reading the series, though I like George RR. His book Fevre Dream is one of my all-time favorites, a vampire tale set in New Orleans and on a riverboat.

VR Barkowski

Chrys Fey said...

I am a fan of dragons. :)

I've never read any of the Games of Throne books. Or seen the show.

Medeia Sharif said...

Great reviews. I always like to see what everyone is reading. These posts always give me ideas of what I might read next.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I just got the paperback set of Game of Thrones, as well. I haven't started reading it yet, though. Looking forward to it!

mshatch said...

Love the Game of Thrones books and the show. I haven't read the latest one yet and I really need to. Can't wait for season 5 to come out on dvd!

Yolanda Renee said...

Wow, three reviews - that's amazing. Only ones I'd really love to read are the Game of Thrones books, don't watch the television version, but I liked your review of his technique. Good writing is always a pleasure to read.

Wishing you inspired writing - go for it!

Yolanda Renee said...

Oh, and just so you know I've Awarded you The Versatile Blogger Award, just something to let you know your presence here is noticed. But don't stop that writing to answer it. Just wait till you need a break...

Robyn Campbell said...

Wow, fantastic reading there. I have not read Game of Thrones books. But I think I need to.

Misha Gericke said...

One day, I'll have to read A Song of Ice and Fire. Given how people seem to lose it because he takes so long on each book, I'm thinking I'll wait until he's done. ;-)

dolorah said...

CLee: I hope so :)

VR: I'll put Fevre Dreams on my TBR list, thanks.

Chrys: who are you, lol.

Media: cool, hope you find something interesting.

Shannon: nothing makes me happier than a thick fantasy paper book. Except maybe Diet Pepsi :)

Marcy: is book six out now? I must find it.

Yolanda: Thanks for the award. And yes, sometimes its good to read best selling authors, helps me with voice and building tension. The world building in this series is amazing.

Robyn: Hello, I hope all is going well with your child and your writing.

Misha: that could be like when we were waiting for Stephen King to finish the Dark Tower series. Got twenty years :)

Arlee Bird said...

Not surprised that Greenwood ran away with this contest. Hard to beat tradition.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Debbie D. said...

Beyoncé isn't everyone's taste, it seems. ☺
Interesting book reviews; sure to be popular.

Jeffrey Scott said...

Looking forward to you next BOTB.

Cherdo said...

I think the BOTB results reflected Lee Greenwood's history with this song. He pretty much owned it.

Great post!

Deniz Bevan said...

Happy reading! I haven't watched any Game of Thrones yet because I'd rather read the books first -- but they're so big! They'll take up all of my time! I love big books but they require devotion :-)