Monthly Archives: November 2015

Calhoun: Sacrifice

cover

By Joe Mansour

http://www.amazon.com/Calhoun-Sacrifice-Mystery-Thrillers-Book-ebook/dp/B00YPV0R7G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439531207&sr=8-1&keywords=calhoun%3A+sacrifice

Plot

James Calhoun, former soldier. Members of a strange cult have killed his ex wife’s husband and threatened his daughter. They want to use her in a ritual sacrifice. However, they have made an offer to Calhoun: bring them another girl to replace his own. How far will Calhoun go to save his daughter?

Hmm, very interesting. A little suspense, mystery, thriller, maybe something else in the mix. I think the premise is good, but there’s not much support throughout.

Characters

James Calhoun: Black, former soldier, has prosthetic legs and partial prosthetic hand, anger problems, divorced with daughter

Rhonda: James’ ex wife, married, blonde

Graham ‘Mac’ Mackenzie: former soldier, smokes, drives a 4×4 truck, black hair, brown eyes, married, tattoos

Kate Delaware: brown eyes, gray hair, elderly

There are a few more characters. A problem I had with the characters: physical descriptions on some of the supporting characters but not much on the main one other than the injuries suffered. No hair or eye color, weight, height, build. Ditto on the girl chosen for the sacrifice. The other problem I had was the characters didn’t act like they probably should have. For instance: Rhonda just learned her husband was killed and her only child threatened. Yet, she doesn’t sound very frantic over the phone and when Calhoun arrives at the house, takes time to make coffee. Then she spends a long time getting to the point of the situation regarding her daughter. The girl chosen for the sacrifice, Sarah (not Calhoun’s daughter), who is around six or seven, should be absolutely terrified when being kidnapped and locked in a car trunk, but accepts a stranger’s (Mrs. Delaware) friendship pretty quickly after being handed over. Sarah should be crying and screaming for her mother but accepts cocoa without a fuss. Later in the book, the girl is able to sleep with multiple gunshots resounding throughout the house – not believable.

Dialogue

Problems with punctuation. i.e.: “I guess it is.” He said… There should be a comma after the word is and the H should be a small letter. This was done throughout the book.

Actually, except for some explanation of the cult, I found the dialogue irritating, some of the profanity forced.

Writing

Other punctuation mistakes. Unnecessary profanity. Run on sentences. Two or three put together and separated by commas when they should have been individual statements

The kidnapping should have been more drawn out with more emotion felt by Calhoun before, during, and after. Other scenes went by too fast, especially the actions scenes.

The suspense was lacking, the danger. I had expected the girl to be in mortal danger when the rescue happens, but there was a strange twist in plot that threw me and the ending fell flat. This book could have been so much better had the author drawn out the scenes, added much more tension and heightened the danger.

As with a previous book, the only thing keeping this out of the lowest rank is no spelling errors.

My Rank:

Orange Belt

Orange

Deadly Justice

511XzHv-GdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

By Darrell Case

photo

http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Justice-Darrell-Case-ebook/dp/B011RL0I3E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438159680&sr=8-1&keywords=deadly+justice%2C+case

Plot

Alison Stevens is an FBI agent who’s on the edge of losing her job. She’s assigned to investigate a series of murders of convicted criminals. What she doesn’t know is that the man behind the murders is the most powerful man in the country. Who can she trust when the justice system is against her? How can she prove who the killer is, especially when she becomes the number one suspect?

To tell you the truth, when I read the Amazon blurb, I curled my lip in disbelief. However, I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. But with a major mistake at the beginning, cracks developed and worsened, and finally, the story fell apart into something that couldn’t happen.

Characters

Jerold Robbins: wealthy, Senator, running for U.S. President (at the beginning of the book), serial killer

Tony Steel: FBI director, married, graduated Harvard

Alison Stevens: FBI agent, parents murdered, pointy nose, large lips, thin cheeks, grew up on a farm in Indiana

Gene Drummy: attorney, connected with the Mafia, divorced, drives a Jaguar

Rome Jorgenson: FBI agent, former FBI instructor, mother left when he was ten

Barney Gibbons: counsel to Robbins

Keaton Wallace: late 50s, Attorney General, overweight

Sean Waller: hitman, formerly with the CIA, nicknamed the Shadow, owns a Ford Taurus

Jackson ‘Jack; Alexander: U.S. Vice President, former Alabama governor, married

A lot of characters, many bad guys. Not many physical descriptions. One jolt for me was a new assassin is mentioned late in the story and brought in all of a sudden, with no build up, no foreshadowing. Many characters just weren’t believable in their roles.

Dialogue

Robbins shouts a lot. Otherwise, voices were average, conversations were quick, some lines were grade A- or B+.

Writing

Relatively short chapters. No profanity.

A smattering of Christianity sprinkled throughout.

Scene changes and POV shifts in some chapters are abrupt, confusing, and distracting.

A few punctuation errors.

Three things not believable: 1. Robbins is in his first year as President. At the beginning of the book (February) he is ready to announce his candidacy and thinks that by the end of the year, he will be President. No person would, or could, announce his candidacy in February of an election year. The announcement would be made the previous year. 2. The FBI director bugs the Oval Office. I’m sure that room is swept for electronic devices on a regular basis. 3. The President is ostensibly in a restaurant restroom for over half an hour without being checked on by the Secret Service.

Actually, there are more things here and there in this story that are not believable even by a stretch of the imagination.

There’s a time continuity error. In one scene, Alison meets a farmer. Later that night, a Senator is killed. In a scene that comes still later, the farmer talks of the Senator being murdered two days before. That night Alison is amazed at the farmer’s friendliness considering they had met less than a day ago.

There is a gun fight between Alison and the killer but how the killer found her days after the previous encounter is not explained.

Continuity error: A bad guy ‘sets the bird (helicopter) down behind a low ridge’. To me, that sounds as if he landed. Three paragraphs later, he’s still flying it and sets it down again.

There were so many areas that could have been strengthened. I don’t know if they would have made the story believable, but it would have made some of the aspects of character development a little better.

When I read a book for review, I can tell-for the most part, with exceptions, of course-what the rank will be at the end. Many times the rank will change as either problems pop up or the story becomes really enjoyable. With this one, I kept dropping the rank until I reached one that held because the lack of spelling and grammar errors kept it from being a total disaster.

My Rank:

Orange Belt

Orange

Mama Cried

cover

By Talia Haven

http://www.amazon.com/Mama-Cried-Talia-Haven-ebook/dp/B00S2RKNFU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437292133&sr=8-1&keywords=mama+cried%2C+haven

Plot

Little Jenny is enjoying her friends, her puppies, and the playground. Soon a monitor arrives and leads Jenny to a strange room. There, Jenny must witness an event, and make a decision that will affect others.

Okay, this is a short story and though it may seem like a children’s book, it’s not. Something about the blurb caught my attention even though it was a short story. Something tugged at me and I had to take a chance. I’m glad I did. I cannot reveal too much of the plot without playing spoiler. Just rest assured, this is one is a little eerie, a little sad, and tugs at the ol’ heartstrings.

Characters

Jenny: brown hair, owns puppies

Christa: owns puppies

Jamal: owns puppies

Theodore James Moore III: gray streaked hair, blue eyes, imprisoned

Azula: playground guardian

Not much description of the characters, but I don’t think much is needed here. You know the role each plays.

Dialogue

A couple tag lines that were capitalized. A couple tag lines that aren’t tag lines but action words. A couple errors of commas before dialogue that probably should be periods and periods where there should be commas. Theodore’s and Mama’s voices come through.

Writing

First person present tense from Jenny’s POV.

Some punctuation errors with semi-colons and ellipses. A couple capitalization errors. A couple misspelled words.

I was a bit confused when first meeting Theodore because it was such a shift and I didn’t quite understand at first. I also was wondering just what decision Jenny had to make, right up to the end when it was made.

Okay, this took me about ten minutes to read, and some may read it faster. But, there is a lot going on here and I commend the author’s imagination for creating an interesting and compelling story. I wish she had received a bit more editing before publishing. I tend to notice errors and one or two in a novel might be okay, but in a short, it’s very important to make sure everything is perfect in punctuation/spelling, etc.

So, I have to reduce the rank a bit and I wish I didn’t because the story is very good.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

The Navarre Brotherhood

navarre

By Tammy Wunsch

Tammy Wunsch

http://www.amazon.com/Navarre-Brotherhood-Ms-Tammy-Wunsch/dp/1505441889/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436940593&sr=8-1&keywords=the+navarre+brotherhood

Plot

Professor Ella Chvalier is sitting at a cafe enjoying a book when bullets nearly kill her. She’s rescued by an enigmatic man who tells her someone is after her and what she knows about the treasure of the Knights Templar. Said treasure is the subject of her latest book. Soon, she’s kidnapped, rescued again, and off on an adventure that will take her to Scotland and France. She’s helped by a colleague and pursued by a ‘brotherhood’ determined to obtain the treasure and regain power.

Ah yes, another Templar quest. I’m always up for a good adventure and this one has the makings of a good one. Unfortunately, this is also strewn with problems. Even though the plot is fine-if familiar- it’s hampered by aspects that make the adventure of reading a rocky one.

Characters

Gabriella ‘Ella’ Chevalier: Medieval history professor at Columbia University, has a Ph.d, has a sister, long brown hair,

Callum Sinclair: Scottish, Columbia professor, owns a border collie, wears glasses (Callum, not the dog. Lol), owns a ship, has a Ph.d, has two brothers and a sister, attended Oxford

Jack St. Germaine: blue eyes, attended the Sorbonne

I like the characters, although I would have liked Ella a bit more if she had stronger fortitude (she tends to faint a lot). Callum’s family tree has branches all over the place and I didn’t bother trying to keep everyone straight. Several more characters come into play later on. Could have used a bit more physical description of Ella (and some of the others, too) as I didn’t have a good mental image of her.

Dialogue

A lot of action going on after the taglines that could be separate sentences. Some taglines that aren’t tags (…” she smiled. …” Ella distractedly waved… …” Ella nodded…). Smile and waved and nodded are actions, not vocalizations. A lot of ‘ly’ words describing how something is said. Action and the scene should show this.

Sometimes there are two tag lines. i.e. – “Do the police have the book?” he asked. “Are they testing it for gunshot residue or ballistics or anything else?” he asked anxiously. The second tag line isn’t needed and neither does the reader need to know he spoke anxiously. This is seen during the last couple of paragraphs. In one paragraph of dialogue and action, Ella is tagged three times.

Writing

Relatively short chapters. No profanity.

A lot of ‘ly’ words to describe action. A lot of repetitive words close together. i.e. Ella frowned in bewilderment… The next sentence has her staring in bewilderment.

A settlement on an island is spelled differently in two chapters.

Some sentences need re-working: i.e. – He removed his glasses and tried to smooth his hair into place with a sigh. How do you smooth hair with a sigh? i.e. As he took his chair, he leaned in and lightly grasped Ella’s hand as he murmured… One of the words to avoid if possible is ‘as’.

A lot of overwriting. Too many unnecessary words. However…

Save for some lectures on Templar history, this story lacks some details. People and events are skimmed over: Ella’s kidnapping ordeal was more ‘telling’ than ‘showing. Callum’s ship’s description is glossed over. So are a lot of action scenes. (Many times the rescue comes way too quickly after the bullets start flying.) I wanted to slow down and have a good mental picture of everything but found myself thrown into the next scene. The wonderful islands and cities that are visited are barely if ever described. The chapters bounce from scene to scene without ever pausing to let the reader enjoy the scenery.

I thought the ‘reveal’ of who characters were was done too early. There wasn’t time for me to get settled in before, BAM. And for such a serious mission, with danger at any moment, there is a lot of sex happening in a number chapters.

Here’s an interesting question – Ella and Callum leave New York in short order. They’re gone for several days. Does anybody at Columbia wonder where they are? Callum, I sort of understand since he had planned his vacation. Part of the question is answered later.

One of the frustrating things about stories with so many errors, is I catch them right away. For instance all of the errors I mentioned were in the first forty-five pages. I know when there are so many problems at the beginning, they are going to continue throughout. This makes the story difficult to read and less enjoyable.

I debated between ranks, but remembering previous Camos I’d given I think I have to go with:

Yellow Belt

Yellow

Chaos Company

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

By Christopher Slayton

http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Company-Christopher-Slayton-ebook/dp/B00UG4RK9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436698819&sr=8-1&keywords=chaos+company%2C+slayton

Plot

They are an elite team of genetically enhanced soldiers. Each has special abilities, from telekinesis to healing injuries. Led by Lieutenant Tyler Young they handle the global problems that need ‘extra’ attention. When the team foils a plot against the President, they turn their attention to capturing another super-human.

It’s the makings of what could be a cool comic book and maybe an action movie. For a plot, I think it’s fine. There are superheroes and super villains. There are political ramifications and power plays. All expected in this type of story. Some areas are less believable than others, but the plot is fine. However, there are other, more serious problems.

Character

Desmond Striker: rank of Private First Class, enhanced soldier, brown skin, parents dead

Liam King: Australian, dirty blond hair, blue eyes, gun-for-hire, enhanced abilities, former military

Tyler Young: rank of Lieutenant, enhanced soldier, father and grandfather were soldiers, mother dead

Henry Wilbert: holds a doctorate, scientist

Anna Young: 5’9”, Tyler’s foster sister, enhanced soldier, Private First Class, trained in martial arts

Daniel Bishop: Colonel, pale, wrinkled

James Westfield: emerald eyes, former Marine, owns Armored Tempest, owns a helicopter

I can understand the personalities of the team members when they first get put together-a little joking, teasing, etc.-but after three years some joking is fine, but, at times, they all sound like they’re freshmen or sophomores in high school. Especially the guys. They certainly don’t seem like sound professionals with years of training, warfare, and conflict under their belts. Maybe this helps the ‘comic book’ ambiance, but for a novel, I don’t think it works.

Dialogue

Incorrect punctuation on tag lines. Periods where there should be commas. Commas where there should be periods (The tag line should be a separate sentence.) Too many adverbs describing how characters spoke, too many ‘ly’ words. Too many tag lines other than said. A lot of ‘roaring’ and ‘yelling’ and ‘screaming’ going on (even one character screaming to himself) when the action and tension of the scene should show how a character said words.

Writing

Chapters are titled. Profanity.

Incorrect words used. Misspelled words. A tense change in one paragraph from past to present. Punctuation errors.

In general, the writing was pretty weak. Shorter sentences needed for the action scenes. There were two or three or more actions going on in one action sequence. Tighter writing was needed in that there were a lot of unnecessary words. (i.e. – Kiyoko tightened her grip, and with her enhanced strength and the man’s body growing weaker by the second she crushed his neck within seconds, leaving the man to suffocate. – By this time, the reader already knows she has enhanced strength. The last part, ‘leaving the man to suffocate’ probably isn’t needed at best. At worst, the man doesn’t suffocate if his neck is crushed. He’s already dead.) (i.e. – She grabbed him by his tie and pulled him in for a kiss that seemed to last forever, all while softly placing a hand on his brown cheek with her other hand gripping his toned bicep. This sentence is too wordy. The first part is fine, but ‘all the while…’ doesn’t work because if the kiss lasts awhile, she is not still placing her hand on his cheek. The last part just adds to the run-on.)

Here’s an interesting visual that I can’t quite see happening: Vincent quickly used his enemy’s weapon against him by bashing the barrel into the man’s face. He then threw the man over his shoulder, holding onto his weapon and sprayed a few rounds into his chest.

There were several occasions of ‘killing him instantly’. Not needed. The act of shooting him or zapping him or whatever method used would imply that death is the result.

Like the dialogue, there are a lot of ‘ly’ words to describe action.

Not believable: In the scene with the President and the bad guy causes havoc, she (the President) is not going to order Secret Service agents and then take cover. The Secret Service would have a precise plan to remove her from danger and they would implement it.

Because of the mistakes and the other problems, this was a difficult read. The adequate plot saves it from the lowest rank.

My Rank:

Orange Belt

Orange