Catherine G.


I'm a writer and book lover. I have eclectic tastes and love reading books of many different genres.

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Smashwords book reviews by Catherine G.

  • Shimmer: A Faerie's Tragic Tale on July 06, 2014

    I think that this short story is an interesting display of love between faerie, faerie and human. Ariane and Aureliam have an good relationship and know that they'll always be together, but that is soon destroyed when someone else intrudes. My only problem is that it's a little bit too short for me. I'd absolutely love to read more into this and I'd certainly enjoy a novel length version!
  • The Left Leg on July 28, 2014

    This short story is kind of sick, but is really kind of sweet as well. In many books I've read, characters have had problems with their surroundings, their family or even the circumstances they're in. However, in The Left Leg, the main character has a problem with their very body. The character has a huge love for his family. He's really trying to be a good husband and a good father. Yet, the one thing that he can't deal with is his left leg. It has some particularly sad moments, but it's particularly touching that he cares so much for his family.
  • Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend on July 28, 2014

    I got this for free on Smashwords. Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend by John H. Carroll tells the story of a fast food employee who meets an alien girl. She's surprised because people aren't usually meant to see her, yet, for some reason he can. They talk to each other about their lives. I kind of liked it, but it was a bit dull and the story didn't really lead anywhere interesting. I liked the premise of the story, but I just feel like not enough was explained. For that reason, I didn't particularly like any of the characters, but didn't particularly dislike them either. There just wasn't much to go on. As a story, I think it has all the intention of being memorable, but it's just not interesting enough to be that way.
  • James and the Time Patrol Agency on July 28, 2014

    I got this story for free on Smashwords. This is quite an interesting story. It begins with the death of an official at which point, an officer gets himself sent through time. He joins the TPA, an agency which investigates time crimes. I don't want to spoil it, so I won't go further into that. As a short story, it's actually somewhat intriguing and works quite well without explaining a lot of details. For important things, the author explains things well, even if they're a bit complicated. Things such as time travel are summarised to a point where I think anyone can understand it. A lot of information is implied in some cases where going into detail might take a while, though these cases don't deter from the story. I actually really like this story. I think it's an interesting plotline. It has some interesting characters and themes. I think it's well worth a read and certainly deserving of five stars, in my opinion.
  • Life Blood (Cora's Choice #1) on Sep. 04, 2014

    I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest review. Though, it's available for free on Amazon anyway. This review will likely contain spoilers and will be cross posted to Amazon and Goodreads. I really feel that Cora was kind of... unbelievable. She was essentially kind of stupid and it didn't seem at all as if she cared about her potential death. From the very beginning, I could have understood that she was just remembering things about herself, being that she'd already dealt with those sorts of things. However, she didn't seem at all upset about her life span being even more shortened when the first doctor informed her of the news. Later on in the appointment, the doctor informs her that they've made a referral to some new doctor. After this, Cora goes and immediately makes another appointment. Only that this new appointment, they're instructing her to go outside and then later get into a car. She texts her friend the last number she'd rung and what was going on. This was a particularly stupid thing to do in my opinion, despite it meaning for her to look smart. Realistically, any decent hospital would have security cameras overlooking the emergency room entrance and car park. Not to mention, phone records would searched if something were to happen to her, finding that very phone number. The police would find out soon enough, regardless of the message she'd sent her friend. It just made her look stupid; she knew that these people were suspicious and there was a danger by getting into the car. If she really did feel that something were to happen, she likely wouldn't have gotten into the car. Later on, after the car ride, she meets Mr. Thorne and can't take it seriously at all. This is a life changing decision and all she can think about is how good looking the man is. Umm... What? This is life or death! It kind of seems as if she's oblivious as to medical happenings as well. She finds it "unconventional" to have her blood drawn in an office. It's not that uncommon. Many doctors have examination areas within their own offices and it's not uncommon for people to be examined or even have tests (or samples for testing) taken in their offices. I guess that the author was trying to add an air of mystery, but it really just seemed like a stupid comment to make on the part of the character. Surely, after all the medicals tests she would have gone through in her illness, she would know better... As the blood test goes on, she continues more about how good looking her is, begins thinking about his cologne and his age. It just seemed like she didn't care at all about her condition. Lisette, the friend Cora has texted earlier with the phone number, doesn't seem to care either. As soon as Cora gets home later, they begin talking. Through the conversations they go through, it just doesn't seem like Lisette has any feelings either. She supposedly text and tried calling Cora multiple times in the time that she had been at the appointment. Yet, when Cora gets home, she's a very casual person. Though they have a conversation about the day's events, Lisette is very bland about it, doesn't question Cora very much. A little later, Lisette makes the suggestion that they go and watch movies or play games. I guess that this was meant to seem as if she were distracting Cora from the illness. However, to me, it just seem like she didn't care and she wanted to do something interesting. Next, Cora waits for her test results from Thorne. There's about a page and a bit of Cora considering the upcoming results. Yet, it just seems like a portion of useless text as it's pretty obvious that she'll be allowed into the trial. Weirdly, she decides to dress up for the appointment, something I don't quite understand as she'd been dressed regularly for her first appointment with the man. She goes on to explain that her Gramma had "used to break out her heels and her full palette of makeup whenever she had an important meeting at work or with the school." Though, surely if Cora were to follow the same philosophy, she'd be wearing really nice cloths to every single one of her appointments as any of these meetings might be life changing to her. It just seems, to me, as if she's being pretentious. Mind you, it's just as well that she dressed up as they ended up going to what the author thinks sounds like a really nice restaurant. Yet it just sounds like just about any other restaurant. Dorm food is somewhat cheap if you spend your money wisely, by the way. On that note, making a reservation one month in advance is pretty common. A wait list for a really, really, super nice restaurant would be months in advance, sometimes even a year. Mr Thorne is a pretty unprofessional person. It's meant to be a medical consultation and any information they would need to discuss would be private and not the type of thing to be discussed in a restaurant. I'm sure the other diners would not appreciate hearing about some random woman's illness, either. It's yet another portion of unnecessary text and I rather felt as if it were meant to seem like her was splurging, spending his money on her and being somewhat generous. Really, he was being generous enough to offer to treat her in the first place. After this meeting with Mr. Thorne, Cora comes home and all her friends are now worried about her well being, after being gone for only four hours. The boy from before, Geoff had seen Cora get into a strange car and this worries other people. Yet, earlier when Cora had texted Lisette that she was getting into a strange car with complete strangers, Lisette was completely uninterested when Cora got home. Sure, she had texted Cora multipl times during that event, but she didn't seem scared for her friend at all, or even relieved when Cora had gotten home. Four hours is not a long time to be gone. Especially considering that they're in school, it would be entirely possible that Cora could have gone to a bar, the library, shopping or even to see a movie during this time. It seems as if Lisette's personality has changed within the week and she's unnecessarily worrying when her friend hadn't been gone for such a phenomenal amount of time. Overall, I think the author needs to pay more attention to the characterisations. Any feelings expressed in the story just seemed unreal. Many actions from the characters expressed unintelligence, even when it was meant to seem as if they were being smart. I was quite surprised when reading this story to find most of the people or scenes to be completely illogical considering the prior information or actions introduced to us. In retrospect, it took me far too long to read it. Originally, when entering to win it through a Goodreads giveaway, I thought that it sounded pretty interesting. Yet, I found the overall story to be poorly rendered. The author had a good concept, yet it was poorly rendered. I think that, with a little bit more work and practical thinking, the story could be improved. I rate it at one and a half stars. I wasn't impressed. I likely will not be reading more stories by this author in future.
  • The Silent Deal: The Card Game, Book 1 on Nov. 02, 2014

    I received an eBook version of this in return for an honest review. Also, a warning that there might be a few spoilers in this review, though I'll try to avoid including anything like that. The Silent Deal is about a Russian town, Aryk, in the nineteenth century. One of its inhabitants, Viktor, witnesses a hanging at a young age. It forever haunts him, as well as the reason for it. Cards. How, you might ask, could a card be so dangerous? Well, Viktor doesn't know either. He meets another boy, Romulus, and together, they hunt for the truth about the town. The Silent Deal is perhaps the only thing that might save them and their fellow citizens. I quite liked this book. The setting was pretty enjoyable. The author uses description well to introduce us to the town. The history and mysteries surrounding The Silent Deal and town were quite interesting as well. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat. My only real problem with the book is that there are a few too many characters to follow. In the beginning, I was a little bit lost because it wasn't clear to me when Viktor was introduced so soon after the baby being found in the forest. I was sort of under the impression, in the beginning, that Viktor was that child. Though, I was thankful when it was explained a bit better later on. There were several times where I forgot certain characters or felt that they weren't particularly useful. Though, I did like how the author kept on referring back to many of them and found uses for all sorts of varying people. The most amusing bit, to myself, was when Romulus was taking Viktor to meet his grandmother. I felt, at the end, that Romulus' back story wasn't completely explain. So I hope that we learn more about his past in the future. Overall, I liked many of the characters and enjoyed that each of them had all sorts of things to do throughout the novel. I thought it kind of sweet how Romulus and Viktor became friends. Their relationship felt completely natural and I thought it quite interesting that each boy was teaching the other various skills that might aid them in future. I liked their inventions and the way that each of them might have some basis in reality, though with a few being a bit farfetched. Otherwise, I felt many of the scenes heartwarming and all of the worries surrounding the townspeople felt quite natural. Their fears for The Leopard and cards felt somewhat genuine. I felt it quite worthy of five stars and intend to read more of the series, especially considering there are a few more things I'd really like to know.
  • Barnaby's Shorts (Volume Nine) on Jan. 09, 2015

    A few months ago, I started trolling Google and various websites for coupon codes to books on Smashwords. This is, I think, how I obtained this copy of Barnaby's Shorts (Volume Nine) By Barnaby Wilde. It's only fair that I give an honest review in return for getting the opportunity to read it. I started reading the book soon after. It's essentially a book comprised of several short stories. Being that it's various short stories, I don't particularly know what I ought to rate this, but I'll try to explain my feelings on the matter soon enough. "The Dandy Horse" is about a group of people who discuss bikes. I didn't particularly like this short story; I kind of felt it was a little bit dull and the punchline relied on a joke I didn't find to be funny. "The Man Who Wasn't There" is about a police officer looking into the disappearance of Stanley Northbridge. It was an alright story. Overall, I guess I kind of liked it as it had a vague mystery to it. However, the ending was not completely explained. "The Bo" is simply described on the contents page as "the coming of the rainy season" which I don't think to be a fully appropriate description. It's not exactly explained in the beginning of the story, so my best guess at that point was that they were extremely stupid people who seemed to just point and grunt rather than communicating properly. It took some time to realise that they were some sort of version of cavemen (and women). I didn't like it; I just didn't find it interesting. "The Problem with Beans" features a woman, Emily, who seems to have had prior experience in these types of novels. In this short story, she finds a real man. I thought this story to be kind of interesting and kind of sweet at the end. I think I would like to read more of her adventures, I guess. "Visitors" is about alien visitors. I didn't particularly find it interesting. "Wheels" is about a man in a wheel chair who looks back on how important wheels have been to him in his life. I thought this to be dull. "Davey's Field" is a story about a man who has ruins in his field and uses them to his advantage. This story had an interesting premise and I think that I could have liked it if it were written differently. Though, I honestly found this story to be more annoying than interesting in this case. The main character has some sort of accent and because the author has chosen to feature this accent as part of the plot, it becomes kind of distracting to read. I had to stop every few moments to try and figure out what had been said. "300 Things a Boy Can Do" is a book written by a young boy who hopes to encourage other boys to do (dangerous) things in their lives. I think this is another one that has an interesting premise. Though, the way it was written didn't particularly appeal to me. "Whichcraft" is about a janitor who spies the goings on in a secret laboratory. Again, this is another one with an interesting premise. I think that this storyline might have appeared in prior short story books by the same author (though I don't know for sure). I think it would be interesting to start from the beginning. It's interesting, but starting from some sort of mid-way, I don't get all the information. "Ripple" is a tale about a couple who notice several ghosts in their home. I thought this story to be somewhat interesting. It's quite an original plot with some sort of scientific basis. It's difficult to explain without going too much into it. However, I thought it was a great story. Overall, I liked two of the stories very much. I sort of liked a further two. As for the other six, I guess they weren't to my taste. They aren't terrible stories. They were written reasonably well and I can see how some people might like them. However, they just weren't for me. My overall rating, being that I didn't like more than half of the stories, woud be a two star. However, since I thought other stories were pretty brilliant, I'll knock it a star higher because the two stories I did really like kind of redeems the book. If given the chance, I guess I would like to read more from the author. They clearly have eclectic tastes in writing, being that many of the stories have varying genres, and I think I might like more of their work.
  • The Ninja Librarian on Jan. 15, 2015

    The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca Douglass is a story told in the perspective of Big Al, the local school teacher of Skunk Corners. They have had a lot of trouble with librarians, many not lasting long because of the conditions within the small town. With the new librarian, Tom, there's bound to be trouble. Not necessarily because of the librarian, but because there's been bets going on about how long he'll last. Join Big Al and The Ninja Librarian to see what happens! I got it for free from Smashwords, via a free coupon provided in December 2014. Regardless, this is my honest opinion about the book. I quite enjoyed it. The book is essentially a bunch of short stories centering around the two main characters, Big Al and Tom. Overall, it's more about Big Al and her school. Her pupils often have troubles, such as not having enough food, warm cloths, etc. At these points, Big Al turns to Tom for the answers to her questions, many of these answers can often be found in books or Tom's training. I quite like the way they use knowledge in the town since the librarian's arrival. It's quite special that the townspeople now use books to find the answers to their questions and that the kids in Big Al's class will know that for their future. As for the people, I think Douglass has set up some great and unique characters. I think that the author did not introduce more than necessary and each of them had their proper uses. I did quite like how Wild Harry Colson and Crazy Jake kept on making appearances and doing their best to help the town at certain points. My only problem is that sometimes the accented speach becomes annoying ("She done run off to hev her bebby.") and it can occassionally take a few moments to figure out what they say. I'm thankful that not all characters speak like that the whole time, but the few times some do, can be distracting. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. It's great for both kids and adults with amusing plots and great characters. Five stars, definitely.
  • Go Home, Oaxaca. You're Drunk. on Jan. 22, 2015

    Last year, I was given the opportunity to read the author's other book, Spritzerville,...Ohio?, which I quite enjoyed. So, when I saw he had another book, this one, available, I went to look at prices. I was happy to find this on Smashwords for free. This book is non-fiction, a sort of adventure where Jason and Cherry (his wife) visit Oaxaca, Mexico. When I first read the blurb and various descriptions of the book, it sort of sounded something like a little travel guide, but it doesn't read like that. It's more of a diary. It has funny bits. Well, to me they were. I dare say that not everyone will appreciate the author's snappy kind of humour. It's also helpful if you'd like to know which days the author experienced food-induced diarrhea and the nights he was kept awake by the people in neighbouring hotel rooms. Though, I will say that it was quite interesting to read about the many tourist attractions they did visit, though they sort of stopped that later on in the book because they'd settled down. Because of the diary-like set up of the book, some pages are fairly bare. Some entries are only a couple of sentences, some a paragraph or two and some run over to a second page. Overall, the book doesn't feel like I want to visit the place. It was written reasonably well. However, as I said above, it's more about the author's personal experiences, and as a reader, I might not experience the same things if I were to go. I don't think I particularly enjoyed the book, but it was quite reasonable.
  • Illusion in the Storms on Jan. 23, 2015

    When I received an email newsletter saying that Illusion in the Storms by Rebecca A. Rogers was free (might still be right now; I download the Smashwords version). So I rushed over and grabbed it. It's a short book of poetry. The description claims it's contemporary poems about "the storms weathered in both life and love". To me, the majority of the poems have kind of a depressing feel. They're about things like break-ups and friends with poor qualities. It's not a very uplifting book; though the theme is storms (low points) in a person's life, not many of these poems really show the theoretical person overcoming these points. Many of them simply look upon certain situations and focus on the negative points without any growth or change for the better. Overall, it's just kind of sad, however they are written reasonably well. That's just my opinion, though.
  • Dumb Deutsch: Absurd German Language Errors (auch für deutsche Leser geeignet) on Jan. 25, 2015

    I picked this book up from Smashwords with a free coupon yesterday. Regardless of receiving a free copy, these are my honest thoughts and it's just my opinion. I'm not particularly good with languages. I can actually imagine myself making most of these mistakes if I were to learn (and speak) German to people. I was commenting about this book to my sister, reading the occassional phrase to her, and she made the same comment as well. Though I don't particularly understand all of the points, I found most of them amusing and laughed out loud to many of them. It's a great compilation with a lot of varying words and situations. I quite enjoyed it.
  • A Heart's Journey Through Poetry on Jan. 25, 2015

    I obtained A Heart's Journey Through Poetry by Shannan Lee Williams for free when a coupon code for Smashwords was available. This review is just my honest thoughts. Many of the poems are quite simply written, but the author has a beautiful way with words that provide a large range of emotions. Many of the poems are very thought provoking. The poems range from things such as love and loss, first moments and last. My favourite is "Falling Out Of Love".
  • Out of the Picture and Into the Picture on Jan. 25, 2015

    Out of the Picture and Into the Picture is a short book that I obtained for free using a coupon code on Smashwords last month. It tells of the story of a father, a son and a painting. He falls asleep by it and, he is soon woken by a plane emerging from it. It had been piloted by his son who has also come out from the picture. I think that the story is reasonable, though far too short. It presents the occurence as an event of a problem with the fabric of space-time. However, due to the short length of the story, there's not really enough opportunity to discuss it properly and so it kind of leaves me bewildered more than intrigued. It's an interesting story in theory, but not well executed. A longer story might have provided them with a better opportunity to explain theories better. Also, the story presents various other ideas for this occurence, also being that it might be God's will. I like the idea of the story, I really do. However, if we look at the story in its entirety, it's essentially just about a plane in trouble and then emerging from a picture. After a little while, the plane then goes back into the picture and then somehow meets Cain, son of Adam. None of it is explained particularly well, though presents some interesting ideas. They're all interesting theories, but none are particularly discussed properly.
  • Astro is Down in the Dumps on Feb. 12, 2015

    I got a coupon code for Smashwords to get this book for free. These are just my honest thoughts on it. Told in rhyme, Astro is Down in the Dumps By Susan Day is a book about a dog who is feeling down. It's designed to encourage youngsters to try all sorts of new things when they're feeling upset or depressed. When Astro the dog is feeling down, he takes visits from all his friends who inform him what they do when they feel upset. By the end of the book, Astro is feeling much happier! It's a lovely book, with beautiful illustrations. Astro's story, though a little cliche, is well told and quite inspiring. I admit, I kind of thought it was rude for the friends to all visit and tell him what to do. I know that when I'm in that kind of mood, I don't like it when people tell me that I should be doing things I don't like/ or aren't good at. However, I know they were just trying to help and I admire Astro's patience with them. I think that the main reason Astro was feeling better was just the chance to have talked to his friends. It's quite a nice book.
  • 501 German Oddities - Observations from an Innocent Abroad on Feb. 15, 2015

    The book is more than five hundred observations about Germany, its people and culture. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of 501 German Oddities By Hermann Observer for free from a Smashwords coupon code. This is just my honest thoughts on it. It was an amusing book and I appreciated the author's outlook on the country. Many of the oddities were of interest to me. However, there were a few problems for me. These are mostly just my opinion. In some portions, the comments are poorly worded and don't always make sense. Furthermore, in some areas, the author uses German words in such a manner that it makes the sentence unreadable to me; as I don't speak German or understand many of the words. Many of these oddities don't seem to be factual; a lot of them are more based on the author's opinion. I don't know how true many of them are, admittedly. However, some are completely silly with others being kind of not true. The "Germany is also the only country" oddities are an example of this and they seem to be quite unfactual, just based on what I know of Germany and the rest of the world. In some ways, the book can also get repetitive; many of the oddities are mentioned over and over again. The author keeps on making mention to a hypothetical pair of the "Last Germans on Earth" and keeps on make comments about the weird German behaviour and how they would not get along. Another couple of these scenarios are that "a real German will always/ never", "fun German games you didn't know you were participating in..." or "Germany is also the only country on Earth that will..." In some cases, these observations are useless because the author later makes observations that render the former invalid (saying one thing for certain and then the complete opposite later). Other things that get repeated, quite regularly: Germans not being able to form a line (apparently), recycling old bottles, that Germans drive like they're constantly in a race (apparently), problems with public transport, and various mafia-like conspiracies that control various aspects of their lives... The chapters of the book don't really make sense to me and the facts don't have any real order. I think it's kind of deliberately like that because putting them in a proper order might disclose the repetition of these oddities, rendering them useless. The book was a little one note in some areas and kind of droned on sometimes. However, the overall book was quite alright. I liked it, for the most part, and I did appreciate that the author took the time to write down their thoughts... Even if portions of it got repeated several times over.
  • Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni on Feb. 15, 2015

    Moira, a young girl asks for her mother, Keita, to tell her a story. This book is about Boudicca who was queen of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. It's a quick read explaining brief moments in history. I obtained a copy of Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni by Laurel A. Rockefeller from a Smashwords coupon code at the end of last year. I'm pretty disappointed with this book. Though it has the interesting premise of history, I felt that this retelling was poorly planned and written. Events flash forward extremely quickly and we are left with little explanation as to what happens in each scene or between the scenes. It even flashes forward months and years at a time with barely any mention as to what happens in the missing portions. The characters, despite being based on real people, are lame representations. They do not feel even slightly genuine. The conversation between characters is unbelievable as well, moreso because the author has tried to base it on current day talk. Also, some characters act completely against the traits the author has given them. The document I have of this book has links to a website, though once I visit them I find that they're not availible. I think this is particularly impractical because the author seems to be using these links as some sort of reference material, though they fail to properly explain these portions in the book. Without the necessary information on the matter, the characters seem to be kind of meaningless and lack the proper explanation. The author gives us links (that don't work) and expects us to read into the material ourselves. It seems that even they don't respect these people or times, especially not enough to give decent explanation to their own writing. I find this to be quite a lazy approach to writing. Overall, I'm disappointed. Having read into the basic history of these people afterward, I feel that it could have been such a great story. Yet, as I've said above, the story has been poorly planned and written.
  • Dogs in Space! - Astro's Adventures on Feb. 19, 2015

    An evil cat, Speed Bump Charlie, has taken a trip out to a remote part of the ocean. He dives deep and soon finds the object he seeks. Meanwhile, in another part of the ocean, a group of dogs have just completed an assignment. They are part of The Organisation, a group of dogs which saves dogs from neglect, set them free from animal shelters and protect everyone from general mistreatment. Unfortunately, they've just received words from a superior that something has happened to the moon. It has somehow been destroyed and NASA now relies on this group of dogs to go into space to find a replacement. Have a read to find out what happens! The overall story relies on silliness rather than proper plot or character development. The characters are stereotypical. The plot has no proper explanation and makes little sense beyond the fact that dogs are now going to space with no training and little instruction, to steal a moon from another planet with no thought as to how it might affect either Jupiter or the aliens located on that moon. To be honest, it just seems kind of embarrassing to have Alfie save the whole crew by farting. It just seems like he was only there to provide some sort of sick humour; that the crew insist on bullying him he then saves the day by doing something embarrassing for everyone (so much so that "No one mentioned the incident again"). After he had saved all of their lives, they go right back to bullying him again. The bullying and ill feelings of other characters is fairly prominent. Some of the goings on in the book are a bit advanced for some children; the book derives several portions of the plot from real life events, like mention to "The Great War" and Speed Bump Charlie's part to play in it. Though, I think that in some ways it might be more appropriate for younger children; the overall story relies on silliness. Admittedly, it was an alright book if one completely ignores the ridiculousness of the writing. The thing is that I could probably accept dogs going to space, but not in such a silly manner. I could probably accept a cat trying to take over the world, but the book gives us little reason as to why he does it so it just seems silly. I could probably even accept that Furball might be the child of Speed Bump Charlie, but the story gives no proper explanation to the idea, so it just seems incredibly irrelevant. I'm could probably accept the book much better if many of the motives and actions were explained better the characters were less stereotypical. I think it's worth three stars. I know it's a book for kids, but there still ought to be some practicality in all of it. I obtained a free copy via use of a coupon code and this is just my honest opinion on it and I mean no offense.
  • Cleanse the Soul on Feb. 20, 2015
    (no rating)
    I managed to find a coupon code to get Cleanse the Soul, a short story by Nelson Lowhim, for free today. To explain a little bit about it. The story opens and we find a man called M, who is a captive in a particularly brutal prison. Waking one day, he has no idea why he has been brought here and his no idea about what he has done wrong. Tim comes along and the interrogation begins. M gets little impression of what he is supposed to have done wrong, but Tim pushes for a confession. I felt that this was written very well. Though I didn't feel connected with M or even completely understand what he was feeling, I think that the author has done a good job in relaying to us what type of condition he is in. It's kind of disgusting at times, but the author has obviously thought quite a lot about what M might be going through and his particular feelings at each point in time. We go through M's fears, confusion, desperation and depression. There are a lot of aspects that aren't explained by the end of the book, but I felt that very little information works well in this story. In a strange way, I think that makes it more relatable. When he mentions his missing family, he doesn't think about anything specific, so it could almost be anyone in that position, missing their family. With the little information we have about the arrest, it could almost be any one of us arrested under misinformation and accused for a crime we did not commit. Overall, I felt that it was a good work. 4 stars.
  • The Magic of Christmas on Feb. 28, 2015

    The Magic of Christmas & The Power of a Gift is a few short stories by Rebecca Besser, contained in one volume. The first book, The Magic of Christmas, features the time surrounding Christmas and the problems the elves and Santa face in order to get things done for such an important time. Royce, an elf in Santa's league, was bitten when he was out cutting Christmas trees one day. Soon, many elves have gotten ill and Santa's workforce might not be able to finish their work in time for Christmas. Santa's worries grow that he might not be able to spread joy to the children. When Christmas Eve finally does come, he is faced with even more trouble when a zombie sneaks into the sleigh. The second story, The Power of a Gift is about a small family. Lyle, his wife and child get the chance to visit Santa. Two of the three die from the zombie infection and Lyle finds he needs to save them by choosing an appropriate gift. I think that Santa's workforce is an interesting place for a zombie outbreak. Though, I think that there are areas where it's not explained particularly well. Because it's a short story, the author kind of glosses over a lot of aspects such as what made the elves sick in the first place (save for the bite Royce returned with), what happened to the elf that Santa had left while he was delivering presents, what happened to the elves that all died and even what happened to the mess Santa must have left at these houses. As for the second book, I didn't really enjoy it because it seemed kind of dull. Don't get me wrong, it was kind of sweet, but it just didn't really seem as interesting. I think that, for a book that combines the themes of zombies and Santa's elves, it was done reasonably well. It's a little bit preachy in some areas, such as where Hammond (one of the main elves) comments to himself that he had never seen such violence before; that's reserved for humans and not elves. In the same way, it's also a little bit tacky that the reason these elves and people are healed is because of the love another person has (hence the title, The Magic of Christmas). However, I do understand why the author included such things. Overall, the stories were alright. Three stars. I managed to gain a copy of this book via a Smashwords coupon code. These are just my honest thoughts on it.
  • Magpie & Jynx (The Twin Cities Series) on March 19, 2015

    Magpie & Jynx is a book in The Twin Cities Series which is authored by multiple people. J.B. Cameron writes this novel in particular. The Realms is a parallel dimension where mythical creatures roam about the city. Magpie is a shifter. Jynx is a siren. Together, they're trying to take down a human / fae trafficking ring which is run by the Yakuza. Things go wrong and Magpie soon needs to figure out what to do to help Jynx, who has been taken captive. I "bought" a copy of this via a coupon code on Smashwords. I haven't read any of the other novels in the series and couldn't even really determine which order they might be in. Actually, I didn't really understand many points in this book as they weren't properly explained. The author relies a little too much on the reader to know facts about The Realms. I actually had to go to the end of the book for a proper explanation about The Realms. It doesn't function as a standalone. My first thought about the book is that I don't think any of the characters were very well written. I have no empathy for any of them and they all just seem exceedingly stupid. Magpie and Jynx' entire plan, as I understand it, was for Jynx to get captured by the police officers who are then followed by Magpie to find out more about this criminal organisation. So, essentially, they deliberately put Jynx in danger and then act surprised when she is in danger. What... Idiots. Seriously. So, soon after that, Magpie needs to go and find information on who might be holding her captive- she went with them willingly, I might point out- and finds pleasure in abusing other people. Magpie acts overly tough and her pleasure in threatening and harming others is somewhat disgusting. She's really dislikeable. Jynx, on the other hand, is a stark opposite. She's made to look completely weak. As an example. She kidnapped and simply waits for Magpie to save her. I've not read the prior books (I don't know whether this pair are in others), but it seems like this is a common theme of there relationship. They both dwell on Magpie having saved Jynx from some sort of vampire captor and a drug addiction. The author places a huge importance on Magpie being dominant and controlling, with Jynx simply being needy. Other characters are just as stereotypical and dull. Actually, one thing that confuses me in particular is Corin, a vampire. The author makes specific mention that he "swore off mortal blood". The author also implies that he's a better vampire than any others, just because of this. Yet, later on when she asks him where he's been, he makes the comment that he was feeding on a rabbit. What? He swore off mortal blood... So are rabbits immortal now? The character is written with an incredible ignorance to vampires in particular. The book isn't really narrated very well. It's told from the perspective of Magpie. Yet it casually changes to a completely different narrator who knows intimate details about characters Magpie doesn't know. An example is when we meet Makoto Hayashi, an antagonist. His introduction is a ten paragraph narration of him. It features a few likes and dislikes. Yet, how is Magpie meant to know these things? It essentially has been swapped to an unnamed narrator who does know. Yet, in the last two paragraphs of this portion, it automatically switches back to the narration of Magpie who has disguised herself as a crow, sitting in the window. It's just confusing to have this swapping narration because the author does it on a whim and doesn't bother mentioning to the reader. It's mostly confusing because a huge amount of the book is told in Magpie's point of view and how is she meant to know which is Makoto Hayashi's favourite robe and that his sister bought it for him as a birthday present...? How is Magpie meant to know how much he hates The Realms...? In the very next portion within the chapter, we've switched to the unnamed narrator again, viewing the scene where Jynx is. This continues throughout the whole book and it is just annoying. I'd also like to talk about the magic and fantasy themes. I think they were predominantly irrelevant to me and so little of them seemed important to the novel, even with The Realms theme. It's essentially a book where a girl chose to get kidnapped, is followed by a friend to try and get her back. A separate party makes the offer that the friend goes and steals and artefact in return for the favour of recovering the kidnapped person. As a storyline, it would have stood up reasonably well as a novel. Yet the author keeps on trying to force these magical elements into it, shoving them where they don't belong. When she's trying to recover the artefact, she's fighting and a weapon morphs into water within her hands, just to try and give it some comical aspect. To try and make her look tougher, the author has Magpie "morphing" her cloths because of her shifter nature so that they look like she's wearing leathers- which I'd just like to point out is absurd. The author keeps on sticking in mythical creatures on a whim, with no regard as to whether they fit. I see no reason to have unicorns, werewolves and vampires as they pose no relevance to the plot and could simply be replaced by horses and random thugs. None of the characters introduced as werewolves or vampires have any real importance to the plot and it just seems that they're gratuitous, that just because they're in a magical realm the author thought it best to include them. Moving on, I think that the themes with the Yakuza didn't fit in either. Sure, the author has included Asian names and the essential points of very stereotyped characters like those that have been in similar Yakuza stories. Yet, none of it feels very fitting. It's obviously just that the author has gotten excited and shoved each reference in wherever possible, without even a thought as to whether it has a proper place in the novel. Overall, I'm unimpressed. I'm a huge fan of fantasy, yet this falls very short. The overall writing is kind of dull and the changing narration makes it quite bothersome. The characters lack any original qualities as do the magical aspects which are pretty gratuitous. It was a disappointing read. Though, considering that the other books are written by different authors, I might be interested in reading more into the series. For Magpie & Jynx? I reckon I wouldn't rate it higher than 2 stars. It was a great novel in theory, but pretty poorly executed.
  • Forgotten Soul (Book 1 of the Soul Reader Series) on April 25, 2015

    Forgotten Soul is the first story in the Soul Reader series by Natasha Duncan-Drake. It tells the events of a night when John McElroy visits the home of three vampires and the morning after... I liked all of the characters in this story. Though admittedly, I would have liked to know a bit more about Lisa and Nikolai. Other than that, I think everyone has a reasonably interesting background and part to play in the plot. I quite liked the little relationship between John McElroy and Michael Cooper. Right from their first meeting, they have an interesting chemistry together. It is a "love at first sight" type of romance, though it's a little more subtle and the author doesn't overplay it. The emotional connection between John and Michael really suits the story and by the end of the story, it's really quite obvious that they have feelings for each other. Even if they barely know each other, it really does seem as if they have a great level of concern for each other. I think that's the thing that I like most about the story. Their feelings are natural and they have reasons for being together, more than just a "we like each other, let's be together" type of thing. Their decision to stay together is properly justified and I do like them as a couple. The vampire and supernatural aspects of the plot are reasonably well used, though they aren't necessarily presented very well. I think the book would be a little better improved if we received a little more information about these vampires in the beginning and how John came to be a part of this world. Also, I think the introduction of his soul reader powers could have been better explained as well. However, I was pretty interested in the soul readings; it's a great power to have and I'd like to read more about it. Overall, I enjoyed the story. I liked the characters and plot, plus the soul reader aspect was particularly unique. I would definitely like to read more of this series.
  • Forbidden Soul (Book 2 of the Soul Reader Series) on April 27, 2015

    Forbidden Soul is the second book in the Soul Reader series by Natasha Duncan-Drake and the story continues on roughly three weeks after the first. Michael, a vampire who has recently saved soul reader John from a captured life, has been encouraging his lover to re-contact his family. Once a phone call has been made, both of them make a special trip up to Glasgow to see John's family. One of the things I enjoyed about the first book is the characters. The same with the second; I think that all of them have some fairly interesting portion in the story. However, like my point about the first book,I think that we just don't get to know enough about the characters. There are little touches which make them all somewhat special, but apart from John and Michael, we just don't get to spend enough time with a lot of the people. Though, having said that, I don't think I think John's family fit into the whole book. I think it was sweet how we got to meet them and they were very interesting, with the author's little explanations. However, I think their inclusion to some scenes made things a little bit strange. I understand that they were very caring for John and his healing from injuries... But the sexual scenes and references about the family home felt awkward, in my opinion. I was interested to see the other vampires and enjoyed seeing more of their culture. I'm still enjoying the relationship between John and Michael; they seem to have genuine feelings for each other and I think that the author has written their love for each other very well. I liked both of the plots in the book, the one with John coming back to his family and also with the kidnapping. Once John comes back to his family, he explains what has happened in his time away. Though, I think most of that was essentially a repeat of what we already knew and had found out in the first book. The same with the kidnapping plot; we didn't really find out anything new to the plot. However, I appreciated that there was some movement by his kidnappers and that they really did need John's power. But, ultimately, it was also just elements of things we had already known. Again, I liked the addition of the vampire and supernatural portions, but I just don't think that the story focuses enough on developing those bits. All of the books in the series (so far) are just so short, but I think they could work much better if a lot of these bits were focused on more and developed into a full plot line. It is well written and the author has a great style, but I just wish we got more development of the plot. Overall, I liked the story and will be reading the third book.
  • Pretty Pink Planet on April 27, 2015

    Pretty Pink Planet is a short story by Joy Smith which tells the story of Lori who has come to a planet, with the attention of finding out the real story of something that had happened to the race of Webbies, two of whom she has found in a hotel. she represents SOESFOL, an organisation who Search Out and Establish Sentient Forms of Life. It was an interesting book, though the plot was a little generic and preachy; humans have caused the destruction of something and the plot is to fix what has happened. Forgetting that, I think that it just doesn't work as well as it could. The story is just far too short and we have very little explanation as to what is going on, save for a little bit of lackluster narration telling only a portion of the events. For example, in the beginning, it's kind of confusing because we know the main character is searching for something or someone, but the narration doesn't explain who we're searching for. Even once we've found the Webbies, I just feel like the explanation to the events that have ruined there planet haven't been properly explained. I think that the story could work well, but it would need to be much longer; the events and characters need to be explained further. However, I did like it overall; the author has presented some reasonably interesting situations and a few interesting characters.
  • Hot Yellow Planet on April 28, 2015

    Hot Yellow Planet follows closely after Pretty Pink Planet, both by Joy V. Smith. In Hot Yellow Planet, we continue with Lori and the Webbies that she had met in the last book. I think that, like the last story, it was interest but a lot of elements weren't fully explained. I think that this, and the prior story, are definitely a pair that would benefit from a larger word count and a closer look at each of the events and characters involved. As it stands, the author writes well and has come up with a lot of interesting elements, but I would have appreciated a more in depth approach. Overall, it was decent, but it could have been better. That's just my opinion, though. Also, I will definitely try to read more of this author's work in future.
  • The Adventures of Felix Valentine, Gentleman Adventurer, volume 1 on May 20, 2015

    The Adventures of Felix Valentine is a set of short stories, the first book in the Gentleman Adventurer series by Timm Gillick. Timm Gillick presents us a world of steampunk and Felix Valentine, a gentleman who does his best to help those around him. The book gives us a varied range of experiences and takes several aspects of many other genres. The characters are reasonable, but I don't feel that I like any of them; none of them have any characteristics that are unique or even interesting. I can see that the author is trying to give us a reasonable range of characters to appreciate, but there are too many in some of the stories and it kind of muddles the stories. Even with Felix, I don't think that I enjoyed his character. His personality just seems to overly jolly and I feel like he doesn't take the situations very seriously. To explain, I don't mind him being a happy person, but it just doesn't work well for the plot considering he's in some very worrying situations and it depreciates the effect of any suspense or drama that the author creates. Angeline Hunter, Felix's lucky lady, is a bit of a dull person as well. She has some important moments in the plot, but her character importance seems to be constantly dwarfed by other characters getting attention. Just when you think that she's going to get an interesting or important bit of the plot, another character comes in and sort of takes it from her. It's kind of underwhelming because the author tries to make it out as if she's somewhat of a strong-willed, confident woman. Yet, she doesn't get parts in the plot that actually make her look strong. It gives the effect that her character is kind of insincere; that others have to do a lot of the hard work because they feel she can't, hence why they're always having to take over for her and she's left with lacking tasks. As for other characters, the majority of them are forgettable and I doubt I'll remember many within the next few days. Archer, the brother of Felix, has a somewhat prominant role. However, it oftens seems like he's there to save the day and steal the glory. I don't particularly find the personality of any of the characters to be attractive, but I guess that's because we have so little information about any of them. I hope that, if the author continues with these characters, that we get more information about them and get a better look at their personalities. One of my main problems with short stories is that a lot of the events aren't explained fully. This is definitely one of my problems with this book as well. Though the stories are interesting and the scenes provided are somewhat exciting in theory, we just don't receive enough information or explanations to some of the bits. We just have to rely on the minimal information the author does let us know. An example in the first story is that we meet a mysterious woman, Emma Whitestone. We get basics about the story with a very minimal history. However, not enough of the backstory is explained to inform us about why she was untrustworthy to Felix in the first place and what her plans were. Ultimately, it kind of makes Felix look bad because he essentially left a (suspicious) lady alone on an island. For all he knew, she could have been completely innocent; his only real reason was that he doesn't like her and saw her flirting with his brother... From what we see of her, the only reason she tries to harm them is because Felix treated her poorly in the first place, something that he effectively brought on himself. A similar thing can be said of the second story. We find the characters in the midst of a battle with some sort of octopus. Soon after, we meet Rekha who is apparently the daughter of its creator. Eventually we get a minimal explanation as to why this octopus exists. We get references to events which have happened with the creature, such as an incident with a cruise ship, the death of Rekha's father and the theft of supplies. However, it doesn't give a reasonable explanation to what was going on with this creature and why they (as opposed to someone else) were after it in the first place. There's basic information to these stories, but not enough to complete them. There's a lot of unintential mystery just because the author hasn't bothered to explain certain bits. Overall, I wanted to enjoy the book, but it felt kind of incomplete and was kind of disappointing. I definitely found my attention dwindling towards the end of it; I gave up for about a week once I'd started reading it before finishing it today. I think that it's the type of book that could have been brilliant if the stories were longer, the author giving us more details about characters and events. As it stands, it was a reasonable book, but it needed a lot of work. I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of this using a Smashwords coupon code.
  • Stepping Stones to Love Honor and Respect on May 31, 2015

    Today, I obtained a free copy of Stepping Stones to Love Honor and Respect By DM Yates from Smashwords. It's a book of poetry with work about the following categories: Love, Honor, Respect, New Age, Eclectic, Pain, Tales, Religious, Fun, Collections, and Earth. In some places, the word usage seems strange. For example, the poem "I am who I Am" seemed a little bit weird to me because I just don't think it flowed as well as it could have and the words don't seem to work well together. Though, that's just one poem out of many. Other than that one, I think Yates has a beautiful way with language. My favourite poem was "If Wishes Were Realities"; the lines all work well together. I also enjoyed "Alone I Walk This Earth in Chains" in particular; it contains such strong imagery and a great theme. I enjoyed a lot of the biblical elements and praises; I felt that the author has used them well and not in any sort of gratuitous manner. I also think that the author did well with common themes such as love; they've provided a new perspective and an interesting outlook. Overall, I'm fairly impressed with the author's work in this book. They've used a lot of beautiful language and imagery to present some fine poetry. The work is very structured, and adds some personal touches. a Just to warn some people who might have a problem with such a thing, the book does have a lot of religious references and dedications.
  • Tiger Has a Garden on July 03, 2015

    Tiger Has a Garden by Limpid Kenneth is a book about two tigers, Burton and Caroline. Burton has a garden and he one day receives Caroline as a visitor. She joins him for tea and a trip around the garden that Burton is so proud of. I quite like both tigers. They show kindness to each other and their friendship is very adorable. I very much appreciate that their continued time together isn't hindered by conflict. The end result is that we have a very warm, uplifting story about two tigers enjoying a few cups of tea together in a beautiful garden. I also enjoyed that the story even aims to teach the skill of making mint lavender iced tea, like they drink in the book. Though just as a note for parents, I think it would be best if adults supervised children making it and, even without supervision, some children might need a bit of help getting it right if they don't know how to make tea. Overall, it's a beautifully illustrated book. The story is charming and both tigers are a pleasure to spend time with. Any child is sure to enjoy this book!
  • Artist Mandarin Duck on July 03, 2015

    Artist Mandarin Duck by Limpid Kenneth is the story of a duck that can draw. One day, when it is soon to be eaten by an eagle, the duck announces its secret. It can draw! In exchange for not eating the duck, the eagle wants to be drawn. Though, the duck tries and can't get it right. After several attempts, the eagle starts getting other creatures for the duck to draw and the practice helps the duck improve. It's a very interesting story. I enjoyed the moral of it. I think all of the pictures are very beautiful. During the sketching phases of the duck's work, I think the illustrations really capture the duck's artistic attempts well. They're sure to give a child a good visualisation of some of the steps of drawing a picture and improving it. I also enjoyed that the duck's drawings helped bring many animals of the forest together and made the eagle somewhat nicer to them. At first, I admittedly didn't realise what the eagle was trying to do when he brought all of the animals; I just sort of thought that it was trying to gauge whether the duck was better at drawing other animals. Though, I thought it sweet that it was essentially practice for the duck and he was then able to present the eagle with a completed drawing. Some of the word usage doesn't seem proper, for example when the eagle will grab an animal, it will say: “Do my model.” Another example is when a deer approaches the duck to see what he's drawing; the narration mentions the duck being "ashamed". I think the term "embarrassed" might be more appropriate as he oughtn't be ashamed by his work. Overall, it's a lovely book which children might find very useful!
  • Little Bear's Cookie Day on July 04, 2015

    In Little Bear's Cookie Day by Limpid Kenneth we visit a forest where Little Bear lives with his parents. Upon reading a story book, Little Bear decides that he wants to eat cookies. With the help of his mother, he learns how to make cookies. First they get out the ingredients. Then she shows him how to properly mix together the ingredients. Once they're shaped (into fish!), they're baked and Mother Bear explains the way the heat affects them in the oven. It's fairly interesting and I enjoy that the author tries to teach the children something within the book. Not only does the story teach them about cooking, but Mother Bear's explanation of the cooking process gives children a very basic view of the science of it as well. The story is fairly sweet; essentially Little Bear takes inspiration from reading a book and it encourages him to take on an activity in real life. Hopefully such a story might inspire children who read this book to take on some sort of new hobby of their own. Overall, the book has plenty of adorable images and aims to give kids a bit of insight to learning something new. I imagine that many children will find this book to be a great read!
  • One Hundred Crazy Crazy Jokes on Oct. 18, 2015

    I got One Hundred Crazy Crazy Jokes, book #13 in a series of joke books, by Ebenezer Jackson-Firefly from Smashwords with the intention of a quick, entertaining read. With heaps of jokes, I found the majority of them to be a little bit lackluster. I had a few occassional chuckles, but I didn't find the majority of the jokes to be funny or clever. Many of them were also jokes that I've heard before. Though I didn't need it, I did like how the author thought to include an explanation portion at the end of the book to describe the humour to those who mightn't understand. Overall, I had a few laughs and it kept me company for a little while, but I just didn't find it as funny as I was hoping.
  • Winter's Homecoming and Other Poems on Nov. 30, 2015

    Winter's Homecoming and Other Poems is a book showcasing eight works by Robert Zimmermann. The author has a great grasp of language, manipulating ordinary scenes into wondrous and poetry. The author's work is effective and adds a lot of character to scenery. For example, the titular work "Winter’s Homecoming" conveys ordinary feelings one might endure at winter. However, the author uses these occurrences to reminisce of those feelings. Overall, these works are well done. It is a short, perfect read for those looking to get a little bit of enjoyment.
  • Tayla's Day Out -A New Zealand Photo-Story for All Ages on Dec. 31, 2015

    This book, by Caro Mundt, is about Tayla and features photographs of her adventure up Mount Taranaki (also known as Mount Egmont) with her aunt. It's very encouraging to children, teaching them little bits about the area and also showing them the various scenery of New Zealand. I think it might be very inspirational to kids as well, and could help children to adventure about the areas about their own home. At the end of the book is a little bit more information about the area and a glossary for words some might not know the definition of. As for the difficulty level of the book, it's only 800 words. Even if your child mightn't understand the words, there are plenty of images to denote the events. Overall it's a lovely little book. I'm sure that many children will love it!
  • The Transferred Ghost on Jan. 03, 2016

    The Transferred Ghost by Rafael Coira is a short story, an adaptation from a story by Frank R. Stockton, which I have not read, so I do not know the differences between that version and this. The story is about a ghost. It comes to talk to one of the inhabitants of a house, one day and explains its situation. You see, it had taken residence in the home at the near death of another of the occupants. However, when that person lived, the awkward ghost had nowhere to go. It requests help and offers a little bit of advice in return. It's an interesting little story and it runs at a reasonable pace. I really did quite enjoy it. My only problem is that the story ends quite abruptly when I feel like there's more to be told. Though it completes everyone's problems, I just don't think the ending is very fitting. Other than that, the characters and plot are all quite good.
  • A Thousand Tears on Jan. 04, 2016

    A Thousand Tears is a short story by J.C. Martin, 1780 words long. It's a very beautiful story, depicting a complicated relationship. It's very well written and shows us as much of the story as we need to know. As much as I wish there were more for us to read, I think the author has conveyed enough information to get a full picture. Though we don't know much about each character and their backgrounds, I think the author has left the majority of that to us where we can imagine our own characters and histories to them. Overall, it's very well done and quite enjoyable.
  • Ten Zany Birds on Jan. 10, 2016

    Ten Zany Birds is a short, beautiful book by Sherry Ellis with amazing illustrations by Charu Jain! It tells the story of birds in a tree through rhyme. As we follow the events, we encounter visitors to their home and what happens, counting down as each bird leaves for various reasons. The pictures are just gorgeous and are brilliant displays of colour, sure to please any reader. The rhymes introduce the children to varying colours, counting and actions. Overall, it's a very enjoyable book.
  • Mid Harvest Road (Jacob Kearns Series, Part I, The Prequel) on Jan. 03, 2017

    We begin our journey with Sarah who has just gotten a flat tire, early in the morning. Sarah is 22 years old and she talks to herself a lot. To me, she kind of seems very angry and violent. Of course, in the beginning, that's likely due to the events. However, she's even vicious towards her alarm clock; “She kicked it violently until it went silent.”. It's a somewhat messy novel. There are a lot of scenes that felt unnecessary, as well as dialogue and swearing. The bad language especially; at first it was fine because it's used to show her anger at the situation. However, later uses just get annoying and make her seem really rude, especially in conversation with others. To me, the author has paid too much time and effort trying to make Sarah good looking and sexy, rather than paying attention to setting up a proper plot and events. Overall, it was pretty dull and Sarah just felt like a really annoying character, despite being the protagonist. She's aggressive and overly sexual, neither of which have much appropriate explanation. I don't think I'll continue with the series as this still needed a lot of work.