Monthly Archives: September 2015

Downstream

downstream_charleswinstanley.jpg

By Charles Winstanley

NHS LOTHIAN

NHS LOTHIAN

http://www.amazon.com/Downstream-Charles-Winstanley-ebook/dp/B00XU687WO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433381775&sr=8-1&keywords=downstream%2C+winstanley

Plot

Terrorists poison Manchester, England’s water supply and threaten worse if their demands aren’t met. Special Branch officer David Rockbourne teams with MI5 agent Laura McAllister to stop them. In their quest, they must deal with a stubborn Home Office Minister and a developing romance.

Thrillers usually make for a good story. Terrorists poisoning the water sounds good. Agents on the go trying to stop them are the ones to cheer for.

However, as mentioned below, this is the basic plot with hardly any sidelines, scant details about bad guys their background, and quick chapters.

Characters

Gary Charles Potter: 50, thinning hair, a bit overweight, married with daughters, Minister of State for the Environment

David Rockbourne: 42, 6’2”, police officer in the Special Branch, in the middle of a divorce, dark hair, parents dead, attended Cambridge, was in the intelligence corps, scar on forehead

Laura McAllister: 32, MI5 agent, long brown hair, has a brother, attended Queens University, parents dead, has a degree in mathematics,

Yuri Datsik: has a daughter, gray hair, weathered skin, blue eyes, former Speznaz Lt. Colonel,

Chris Stirling: 40, married with daughter, works for Clean Flow PLC, attended Cambridge, author, PH.d

Richard Richardson: England’s PM

Characters are pretty basic. The main players each have a short intro chapter with a limited dossier version of physical, employment, and academic details.

Dialogue

In the file that I read, there was no comma before many of the tag lines. At least in one instance there is a single quote to dialogue while most are double. I don’t care which but it needs to be consistent. Conversations didn’t wander and explanations were almost too succinct. Part of my problem, explained below, is that I didn’t see the emotional reaction to the dialogue. I heard Potter’s frustration and dismissal of what authorities were telling him, but that was about it.

No real voices come through other than Potter’s. I certainly didn’t hear the Russian voices.

The interrogation between the good guys and one of the terrorists was not believable, especially in light of the crisis. Too bland. Hardly any emotion shown.

Writing

Titled chapters. Short chapters. A couple bits of missing, incorrect, and misplaced punctuation. Some repetitious words or phrasing close together. For instance the terrorist’s emails are unnecessarily repeated.

Okay, let me try to explain my biggest problem with the story. First, let me say, that, as mentioned above, it’s a good plot. Oft seen thriller, yes, but still good. However, the writing style is basic. Chapters are short and therefore, do not go into too much depth or detail. It’s basic information about character, scene. Emotional and action-oriented depth are lacking. I didn’t feel close to the story. Sentences were basic: (not an actual example, but close enough) Yes, he knew the danger was near. However, he was attracted by her beautiful eyes.

The romance was pat, expected, not enough resistance or tension. Both Laura and David, conveniently, had just gotten out of troubled relationships and too quickly felt attraction for one another.

What’s not quite believable is how calm and casual the characters who are in London remain or seem to act. Some are ‘concerned’ but it’s more of a frustrated discussion type of attitude. Not to play spoiler but approaching the half way point in the story, the plot would have seen riots and chaos throughout the city and elsewhere. At least that would seem the logical outcome of events. But there’s nothing. No showing how the population reacts.

Other scenes aren’t believable. In one, the good guys know that one terrorist is going to fire off a missile with nerve gas but there are several targets. Immediately, all top government officials would have been notified and moved to safety, (some were) but the royal family isn’t swept up until after the attack. Some

With only a bit more than 47,000 words, this is novella territory, which is fine if that’s what the author wanted. However, this could have been much longer story with more punch. I debated between two ranks and although there were no misspelled words I noticed, the story became less believable as it went along.

My Rank:

Yellow Belt

Yellow

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Lunar Rampage

Lunar Rampage

by Samantha Cross

Samantha Cross

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X68H7BS

Plot

Cora Nash is vacationing with her grandmother in woodsy upstate Michigan. Soon after her arrival she hears animal noises outside the cabin. Then a tree-hugger disappears and lumberjacks are attacked. What chased Cora through the woods one night? A bear? A wolf? Something bigger and deadlier? Hmm? Could it be a…you-know-what that howls at the full moon? Hmm?

Ah yes, another werewolf story. Oops, did I leak a spoiler? Lol. So, here’s my rule on stories with vamps/zombies/werewolves: I have read enough of them that they have to be something different or unusual for me to accept them. So, what does that tell you about this one? Yes, different. A light-hearted and amusing little tale that, at times brings to mind a certain Grimm tale. I mean, look at the characters below. A young woman, a grandmother, and a hunter. Duh! Lol.

Characters

Cora Nash: 26, photographer, chestnut colored hair, blue eyes, vegetarian, drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, can play the flute and clarinet

Wendy Nash: Cora’s grandmother, puffy short light blue hair, has memory problems

Priscilla: 28, store clerk, dresses Goth

Henry: overweight, works in the grocery store

Max: shoulder length brown hair, hunter, drives a pickup

Joe: nicknamed Hippie Joe, brown hair, nature lover

Owen: blue eyes, dark hair, has a sister, parents dead

Jason Wilson: deputy, dark hair, dark eyes, married

Interesting cast. A variety of personalities, all with just a bit of…strangeness. Not totally, just a layer here and there. Which is not bad. It definitely raised an eyebrow because while I could see a store cashier and a hunter and maybe even an environmentalist, the way they acted was just a bit…off, as mentioned below in the dialogue. Again, this is not to say the character styles didn’t work, but they were different.

Dialogue

Some unnecessary tag lines with ‘ly’ adverbs. A lot of the dialogue from every characters was a bit…off. Not that it wasn’t believable, but just…off. Not completely ridiculous for the characters, just…you know. The conversations didn’t proceed like I would have expected from the character types. A lot of cynicism and sarcasm, one liners, especially from Cora but others, too. Molly’s and Priscilla’s voices came through pretty well.

One tag line mistake. A sentence was tagged by the incorrect person.

Writing

First person from Nash’s POV. Profanity.

At the beginning, Cora mentions a store clerk’s name is Priscilla, but mentions it before she is told.

Almost a third of the book goes by with little tension. Sure, Cora hears things, but some real meat doesn’t happen for a couple days.

When action does happen, it’s tense. The ending is…well, not so amusing and light-hearted anymore. It’s fast, fierce, and frenetic.

This is a fine read with some good characters, good back and forth dialogue, some romance, and something a little different from the usual wolfie type story.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

Sade Evans

Sade Evans Book Cover

by Tonne Odom

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http://www.amazon.com/Sade-Evans-will-kill-happy/dp/1494891174/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432254365&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=shade+evans%2C+odom

Plot

Sade Evans is a teenager with an abusive father and a despicable stepmother. Some classmates hate her. So, she decides to kill those who are against her. All of them. Thus, her life spirals out of control with events playing out that cause her pain…and further her killing spree.

I think the plot is okay, but the way it all played out, it became a mish-mash of stuff. A bit of paranormal or psychological insanity, a bit of religion, a bit of sex, and a whole lot of murder. There were too many things wrong with this to make it enjoyable.

Characters

Sade Evans: black, smokes, hazel eyes, attractive, long dark hair, 5’7”, wealthy, father is an attorney, mother dead, drives a red Lamborghini,

Vita: black, Sade’s stepmother, 5’4”, dark curly hair

Tia Cox: black, Sade’s friend, smokes

Shawn Johnson; black, plays football, parents own a restaurant

The problem with Sade is that the narrator doesn’t ever ‘go close’. The reader is told what she feels instead of shown. I don’t feel her pain at being beaten (or the pleasure in her having sex). I don’t see her anger or depression. Most of the others are surface characters. Sade drives a very expensive car which doesn’t make sense that her father would either buy one for her or allow her to have one with the way he hates her so much.

Some of the characters aren’t believable in their actions. Tia goes off on a little girl at a funeral and Sade’s grandmother, who surely must have overheard the exchange, doesn’t reprimand her. The grandmother does in a later scene.

Continuity error: Most of the book one of the detectives is named Simms, but in other scenes, he’s named Simmons. The cops certainly are not believable in their roles.

Dialogue

The author tries to capture the ‘black street voice’ and does okay, but sometimes it’s a little much. Many of the characters sound alike, no distinctive voices. The author has a white cop sounding black. The cops themselves don’t speak like actual cops. “We have to ask this last question. We can’t get fired now.” No cop says that.

The dialogue just isn’t natural. The dialogue during the sex scenes sounds like something from a cheap porno.

Writing

Chapters are titled.

The writing is very loose. A lot of extraneous words: They lived on top of a hill in one of the most gigantic mansions that anyone would ever want to see with their very own eyes. Another example: She opened up the door. ‘Up’ is not needed. A third example: The reason that it was her favorite necklace is because of the fact that her late grandfather had it custom made for her when she was ten-years-old. ‘Because of the fact’ is not needed.

One word used way too much is ‘that’. This is a word that needs to be pruned from the manuscript unless absolutely needed.

These are extra filler words that unnecessarily lengthen the book. These kinds of sentences are throughout along with repetitious words. I knew this was going to be a difficult read from page ten.

Too much unnecessary profanity.

Most of this book was written very poorly. I had to struggle throughout to work my brain around the meaning of the sentences. Once I did, I had to shake my head at how the sentence was formed, the word order, and how I shouldn’t have had to work so hard at reading.

Misspelled words including: The beautiful woman that stood at five-eleven was a breathtaking site. Not unless this woman was a building or a scenic landscape. In two sentences, Sade has only one breast. (She does have two, but the s is missing both times.)

Graphic sexual scenes.

Not believable scene: Sade lies to her grandmother about being raped and beaten and the grandmother tells her to go to bed, that they’ll go to the police in the morning. Uh, no. They would first go to the hospital-right away-and then contact the police. Grandma doesn’t even tend to the girl’s injuries. Then the following morning they don’t go to the police. Grandma goes to work and Sade goes to school. The subject of the rape doesn’t come up until days later. Huh?

Not believable scene: The school kids all talk about the accident of two of their classmates which made the news but say nothing about her house burning down and her parents dead inside? That didn’t make the news?

Not believable scene: Where detectives interview Sade. Cops don’t act like the two in this book. They a would have known that Sade’s parents had been murdered before the fire unless the fire destroyed all evidence which is unlikely. They would have questioned Sade earlier than they did and not just because relatives sent them.

Not believable scenes: Any of the scenes where Sade sees and speaks to the dead. I comprehend the idea behind them, but they’re so over-the-top, they become almost silly.

This entire book is a mess with countless errors and weak writing.

My Rank:

White Belt

White

When A Drone Strikes

drone

By Alex Castillo

http://www.amazon.com/When-Drone-Strikes-Alex-Castillo/dp/0996140700/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432013317&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=when+a+drone+stirkes

Plot

Coping with the effects of a tragic mission for the CIA, Alexia Castillo takes a job with a national forest in Utah. There, she is partnered with her ex boyfriend from high school, Cody Grant. Cody is also suffering PTSD after a mission in Afghanistan. While both are trying to put their lives back together, and explore the possibility of further romance, Castillo discovers the corpse of an Indian youth. What’s the mystery all about? Precious stones? Or something much worse?

Interesting plot with some possibility. A story of what happens after a dangerous mission with a little mystery thrown in.

Characters

Alexia Castillo: ex-CIA, aka Annabella de la Cruz, father died on 9/11, owns a Glock. .44, brown hair, mother dead, works as a geologist for a National Forest, suffers from PTSD

Cody Grant: ex-Army, Alex’s ex boyfriend, tall, dark haired, blue eyes, chiseled face, owns a Toyota Tacoma, works with Alexia, battle scars, suffers from PTSD

Faisal Al Saleem: green eyes, shoulder length black hair, works for the CIA, fluent in several Middle Eastern languages, majored in criminology

Farzan Abdul Ghazel: terrorist, thick curly hair, has had plastic surgery, owns precious jewel mines

Kandy Sweat: Alexia’s boss, owns an F-350, hunter, wears glasses

Gregory ‘Ham’ Hamilton: wears glasses, thin, graduated Columbia with a Ph.d in Geology, owns a black Chevy truck

Except for Alexia, I had a mental picture of the rest of the cast. Alexia didn’t have too much description. I thought the characters worked well together. I don’t have a specific reason or can point to something missing, but I just didn’t get a ‘closeness’ to Alexia. Not for lack of trying, either, as there were some fine aspects about her and her history.

Dialogue

Most of the dialogue where the sentence should end in a comma before the tag line end in a period. Some of the internal dialogue from Alexia is too long and not the normal way a person thinks. Her thoughts could be her as the narrator without the italics designating internal dialogue. Some of the dialogue is unnatural, not how people speak. In the lengthy conversation between Cody and an Indian chief, there are a lot of repetitious words.

Writing

Chapters are headed by featured character (most of them are Alex) and date and location. Most chapters are first person POV. Present tense. A couple misspelled words. A few too many ‘ly’ adverbs. No profanity.

Throughout the book are flashbacks to the deadly missions both Cody and Alexia were involved with. These work well sprinkled here and there.

I have to go back to the italicized thoughts from Alexia as they are so prevalent. I think these could have been tighter and many weren’t thoughts people have. What I mean is, people don’t think in the lengthy sentences that are written here. Some work, others clearly don’t. Because of this I was a bit jolted when they occurred because, as mentioned above, much of the internalization could have been written as Alexia the narrator.

The murder gets shoved to the back burner for much of the story and is mentioned occasionally. I thought the intrigue with the bad guys would have played a bigger part.

Still, a fairly decent story.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt

Camo