Book Review of the Week Poll

The results are in. I will be reviewing, The Du Lac Devil, by Mary Anne Yarde. Look for it in your email, or here. Review will be posted to Amazon on 5/26.

NEXT POLL OPENS 5/21

Vote for the book you most want to see a review of in the 5-26-2017

CJ’s News & Reviews Newsletter.

Authors: To have your book included in the vote, click on the Newsletter or HookReview FAQ link at the top of the page. I will email you once a week with a review, an update about my projects and upcoming reviews, and occasionally a raffle for an Amazon Gift Card.

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The results are in. I will be reviewing, The Du Lac Devil, by Mary Anne Yarde. Look for it in your email, or here. Review will be posted to Amazon on 5/26.

Review of Dragons of Autumn Twilight – a personal favorite…

A personal look at Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

In 1991 Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman changed my life. I was in the midst of a deep depression that began in 1989 when my mother died of AIDS in a hospice hundreds of miles away.

I lived in a fantasy of pain, daydreaming about my mother and reliving every moment I could remember with her. I walked around in a trance, living in the days when she used to sing “Little Bunny Foo Foo” to me before bed, before alcohol, drugs, and disease took her away from me.

I had always loved fantasy movies, but I didnt even know books could be written by anyone other than Stephen King. When a friend loaned me Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I almost laughed. “Of Autumn Twilight? Kind of a lame name… and written by two girls?” (Forgive me, I was only 13. I would later learn that “Tracy” was a man – blew my little 13 year old misogynistic mind.)

I read it when I got home. I skipped dinner to keep reading – citing illness. I skipped sleeping most of the night with a flashlight under the covers and making constant trips to the bathroom to splash water on my face. Since I wasnt really sick, I went to school and read DoAT during my classes. I went to detention, (I always went to detention) finished the book there, and then walked straight out of detention with the teacher yelling behind me. I went downstairs to the library, and found the fantasy section. The glorious, glorious fantasy section – my escape from a reality of misery.

For the first time in 2 years, I felt something other than pain and loss. Tasslehoff made me laugh, Raistlin made me wonder, Caramon fought away my demons with his heroism, and the list goes on…

I found new people (characters) to love, and a drug that no test could detect but would stay in my veins for life. Without THAT book, my life could have gone in a very different direction. Even when I ran from home repeatedly, I stayed in shelters and read more fantasy. I lived in the woods – and still I had this book. It went everywhere with me and I must have read it 20 times… It kept me out of real danger, and kept me sane. (Well, maybe not ENTIRELY sane.)

Looking back now and rereading the Dragonlance Chronicles (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Winter Night, and Spring Dawning), this one is definitely the roughest read. It starts off a little slow and shaky, but getting 5 main characters at the same table and the story started was no small task for a Book 1.

Its a 4 star book that will always have a 5 star place on my shelf. I love the story, the characters, and the fact that it may have saved my life.

Review of the The 3 Egos, by David Dunwoody

The Author’s Voice:

Dunwoody paints a picture of Hell like I have rarely seen in any book, apart from Dante’s Inferno. He writes his characters with a confidence that makes the reader do more than suspend disbelief; he makes you believe you’re getting the inside scoop on God, Satan, Christ, and the war between Heaven and Hell.

He seamlessly blends sci-fi, fantasy, and religion into a story without becoming nihilistic, preachy, or pushing any agenda – his only purpose is the story. Normally, when you see Hell in a story it becomes a political statement, or so pessimistic that it’s hard to read. (The worst offender being Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk)  I loved the purity in the storytelling.

5 Stars

_____________________________________________________

The Plot

3 Men (The “Egos”) make a pact with Satan to start a war in exchange for immortality and power. Rather than fulfill their end of the bargain, they all go into hiding,  (Who doesnt know that Satan is a liar?) and live as immortal fugitives running from agents of Hell.

It sounds like a few other stories Ive heard before, and parallels can be drawn from a multitude of sources; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dante’s Inferno, C.S. Friedman’s Crown of Shadows, and even Wrist Cutters: A Love Story. Dunwoody seems to have drawn from everywhere to populate Hell and Purgatory – all of it feels familiar.

Two of the Egos are caught (read: killed) and taken before Satan. They are offered a second deal; help Satan collect the third Ego, and earn a place in Hell. (You know, a title where you serve more, and suffer a bit less.)

From there, it’s off to Purgatory and worlds beyond with a Werewolf, a chain-smoking detective out of a noir novel, 2 immortals (Egos) representing the East and West, and Satan’s girlfriend Sue Christmas (aka “Suicide”).

5 Stars

The Technical Stuff

While Dunwoody’s fearlessness in his writing makes for an amazing look behind the curtain of death, it has consequences. He bravely jumps from character to character expecting the reader to keep up with every transition. In one portion of one chapter the reader was put into the drivers seat of four main characters. I had to go back and read several sections over again because the narration switched perspective and I didn’t pick up on it fast enough.

While 80% of the time the descriptions are smart and well placed, sometimes, I couldnt tell where people were. This might have something to do with the “head hopping” that happens throughout the book. It happens often enough to distort understanding of the backdrop of the scene. Sometimes, it’s just because it was omitted or forgotten.

I spotted a few spelling mistakes, but nothing tragic. The formatting seemed to be alright, and grammar/punctuation/structure was good. (I say “good” because it’s better than mine, and I’m not really qualified enough to say anything better or more pointed.)

It’s really the head hopping that hurt the read. I wanted to finish the story, but I kept putting the book down to come back to it another time.

2 1/2 Stars

Overall

Overall I think the story was AMAZING – if – you can tolerate the perspective switching between paragraphs. Switching between chapter breaks is fine, and sometimes it’s alright mid-chapter with a little

*****

to cue the change or a double

space, or something. Anything other than doing it from one paragraph to the next in a scene with a lot of information, dialogue, or action. (And all of the scenes have all three in spades.)

The perspective switching mid-paragraph, or head hopping, could have been fixed with the help of a good editor and is the biggest failing of the book. Dont get me wrong – I loved the story. Some of it was just plain genius. Unfortunately, it got really hard to read at times making it so that sometimes my focus was on figuring out who the POV character was instead of on what makes the book truly fantastic – David Dunwoody’s ability to make you have sympathy for the Devil. (Well – some of his agents, maybe not the big guy himself – but it sounded way better to say it that way.)

Again I have to say that this is a 5 star story, that’s going to end up with a score lower than it deserves. I believe that many (if not most) people will be able to get through the rough patches – and will want to – to get to the end of this incredible story. The pay off is worth it, but the struggle is very real at times, so I had a hard time deciding between 3 1/2 and …

4 Stars

Get it HERE!

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,778 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Review of Good Sister, Bad Sister, by Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

Good Sister, Bad Sister 

By Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

The Author’s Voice:

From the first few paragraphs I could tell this book had a fairy tale feel to it which suits the book, and me, just fine. The narrative language is suited to the time period, with a vocabulary that shows good research and a love of historical fantasy. I would have to call it a historical fantasy fairy tale tone.

The dialogue struck me as highfalutin early on, but the family is high society, trusted and loved by Kings and Queens – so it works for them. If everyone in the book had spoken that way, it would have ruined it, but they dont. Every race, and region has it’s own style of language making each creature, and person as unique as the first ones you meet.

While the dialects and language of the various races and characters is a strength, it also makes it a bit uncomfortable to read at times. Example:

“Then as hit thinks me, sitting over here you will need to be before to you the rest of hit I can for to tell.” – Meri Greenwood

Now, granted, I took this completely out of context 2 pages into the dialogue with Razzmorten. The reader does have a bit of a chance to grow acquainted with Meri’s style of language – but not much. I had to read that sentence about five times to know what the little Yoda-esque guy was talking about. That ripped me away from the book for minute and was frustrating. It happens a few times throughout the book.

4 Stars

____________________________________________________

The Plot

The story starts with the return of the black plague, which has not afflicted the land in over 200 years. I sensed a little of Terry Goodkind’s influence here, as the story has hints of his fourth book in the Sword of Truth series, Temple of the Winds. But the plague itself is not the plot, it’s a portion thereof.

The slow reveal of the actual core plot is done well, but then the plague takes a back seat and is ultimately resolved in a way that is anticlimactic and leaves the reader to find out what happened second hand. Also, Ugleeuh’s disappearance for 5 years puts a hole in the book as far as Im concerned. It was too sudden and without enough explanation. Also, many things that I would have liked to have seen during those 5 years were simply glossed over or “told” rather than shown. Is it a major failing of the book? No, I dont think wishing for more out of a book is a major failing. It means you are enjoying it, and want more – but it also means I felt a little cheated. Just a little.

4 Stars

____________________________________________________

The Technical Stuff

There are some POV switches in mid chapter that are a bit confusing at times which tends to push the reader back out of the story. It took me a few moments to change gears internally and try to delve back in. It happens only a few times, but it is my biggest complaint about the book by far.

There were also some misspellings, and some formatting errors, but they didnt bother me much, save for once or twice when they happened in quick succession. You’ll find most of the issues in the middle of the book – dangerous territory to have problems.

The glossary was a great idea, and I recommend every reader bookmark it. However, I will say that if a fantasy novel needs a glossary, you might want to slow down with the amount of information thrown at the reader.

3 Stars

Overall

From start to end, Good Sister, Bad Sister held my attention. Even when it had its technical issues with POV and formatting, I kept reading in spite of its flaws. That’s where the mixed bag of reviews on Amazon comes from. This is another great book that is a victim of under-editing.

I loved the fairy tale style, and the shameless way it introduces high fantasy elements like fairies, elves, and magic. The world is well fleshed out, as are the people who live in it to the point that it would make a great Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. (Something for the authors to consider, in my opinion)  The only problem with the setting in MHO, is that with Razzmorten and other characters teleporting everywhere, I never really got a sense of its scope. I would have liked to see a map of the world to give me some perspective.

Would I recommend the book to a friend? Sure, but with a caveat. Some of my friends and family members have little patience for things like formatting and other errors, and I would feel the need to warn them. But overall, the story is what is important, and Good Sister, Bad Sister delivers a good one.

Will I read the next book in the series. Yes. I liked enough to keep going, so look for my Hook Review of Book 2, The Collector Witch.

4 Stars Overall

Get it HERE

Review of Motherhood, by Lindsey Williams (Horror, Sci-fi)

OMG. A sci-fi, horror, alien abduction story? Seriously?

Seriously.

I didnt want to reveal the idea that it is an Ailen abduction story, because I didnt want to prejudice readers, or give anything away. However, the tags are prominently displayed on smashwords, horror, sci-fi, ailens, abduction, motherhood – the whole premise in 5 words.

But really? A horror, sci-fi- alien abduction story? Havent we seen this before, in a million shows, books, and short stories? No. Dont say that – because you havent. Not yet.

First, the negative: – 1 Star
The only reason I took one star away (And I had to, which really pissed me off, Lindsey.) is because of some infrequent issues that crop up in terms of the novel’s editing and formatting. It terms of grammar, there are some obvious (maybe 8 -10) editing issues. (extra words, missing words, missing commas, and incomplete thoughts) As for the Formatting, there are pages with just the title of the chapter at the bottom, and a few with half a paragraph, like a poorly spaced word document. It didnt bother me, but I just couldnt let it pass. It looked unprofessional. A damn shame, because while this is a 4 star review – it is a 5 star story.

Now, the positive: 5 Stars
Lindsey Williams pulls no punches, she fully commits to the story. The author’s voice took a minute to adjust to, but by the end of the first chapter the author really hits her stride. I dont think it was the writing as much as it was me – needing a moment to get over myself long enough to accept that I was still reading – because I was hooked on an alien abduction, sci-fi horror story. I never thought I would see the day.

I wanted to not like it – really. The descriptions were sparse and the protagonist was a foul mouthed woman that I thought for sure I would not be able to relate to. But it couldnt be helped, I started to like Jessica, and admire her no bullshit attitude. Everyone loves a fighter. I started to believe the story, and found myself in sterile steel halls, running alongside her. I also found myself turning pages, until the book was done – in one sitting. That hasn’t happened to me in years.

I wish I had the words to describe the journey Lindsey will take you on – but only she has those. It starts with fear, isolation, and misery, before revealing hope, and unconditional love. And just when your heart cant get any warmer, the reader is plunged back into hopelessness and heart wrenching loss, before the most satisfying and “realistic” ending possible.

Highly recommended. Get it here. NOW!

4 Stars