Giggling Into the Pillow
on March 13, 2010
This is a compilation of articles from Bridges' weblog.
Nine pages of unnecessary "front matter" (including an "Introduction to the Introduction") were followed by two uninspired and uninteresting articles. I guess the author thought they were funny.
I didn't bother to see if any of the other 34 articles were any good.
Warning: Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
on March 13, 2010
The opening is a long series of disconnected, leaden paragraphs that called the same people different things. The opening left me completely confused as to who was who, how they interrelated, and what events had already happened and in what order.
I gave up.
on March 15, 2010
Interesting premise, gratuitous twist ending, but overall satisfying.
The Killing of Hamlet
on March 15, 2010
Pick this one! Pick this one!
A best-seller-grade 'cozy' mystery, well-written and well-plotted. Okay, some of the character names are a bit much: Sheil B. Wright as the lead, Constable Bully and Superintendent Squint at the police department, and Editor Holler and Mister Kleen at the newspaper. But for a story this good, written this well, I'll overlook that quirk.
Look In The Well
on March 15, 2010
Strong writing tries to save a well-worn storyline. I don't think it succeeded.
The Love Machine: The Erobotica Series (Novella One)
on March 15, 2010
A strong and interesting modern take on Frankenstein. If the description sounds interesting, I think you'll like this short story a lot.
A dinged it one star for not knowing when to stop. The denouement stretches into an epilogue that lets much of the power of the story drain away.
Meeting of the Minds
on March 18, 2010
Too much exposition and too little time spent with the characters, for my taste.
Others might well disagree and might rate it higher. Bernard is trying to do a fair bit of sci-fi world-building within a 5000-word short story, so the exposition is kind of difficult to avoid.
on March 20, 2010
An interesting story, worth the read.
The number of typos, misspellings, and the like, was distracting. There were also a couple of spots where the Point of View was vague. At least in the Epub version, the line spacing and font size often varied from paragraph to paragraph. These problems were relatively minor, though.
on March 20, 2010
A well-written entry in the genre (the first page aside).
I didn't get as much feeling for Jason Blue--the PI--as I thought I should have in a first-person detective story. I also found the ending a bit flat, but that may be the nature of the genre; I don't read much hard-boiled detective fiction.
A note: in keeping with the period, the story contains a number of racial slurs.
A Plague of Hearts
on March 24, 2010
An inventive, very well-written, but unfortunately flawed take on the world of Wonderland.
The opening is genius and promises a very amusing story, but that promise is not to be fulfilled.
The middle is a fantasy suspense as the March Hare is dragged deep into a web of political intrigue and sedition within a country at war. There is a brief comic respite in the show-trial scene, which is also the only scene in which Alice plays a part.
I didn't find the ending to be satisfactory. It certainly is an ending, it's an inventive ending, and it's an ending that legitimately follows from what precedes it. Unfortunately, it's poorly dramatized.
A really powerful ending has the protagonist faced with a moral dilemma. There certainly is a moral dilemma here, but by the time we're shown it, it's already been resolved and it wasn't resolved by the March Hare. In fact, the March Hare is pretty much missing from the entire climax, even though he's the character we'd been following all through the book. The climactic scene is pure action but the major characters are not involved and not at risk; they simply watch the carnage and destruction.
The March Hare briefly reappears for a denouement that seemed rather pointless to me since it involves a couple of characters that had no part in the story (they did appear earlier as 'bit players'). Those are just two of a number of characters that serve no real purpose and simply clutter the story.
The opening is 5-star, the middle is 4-star, and the ending is 3-star at best. With some rework, this could have been an outstanding novel. As it stands, it's very inventive but inconsistent.
Deadly Gamble: A Girl and Her Dog Cozy Mystery
on March 25, 2010
This title may be fifteen years old, but other than the absence of cellphones it doesn't really show it. (Gosh, how we've come to depend on those things.)
Well-written and well-edited. A likeable character and a coherent mystery story. You can't really ask for more.
Luckless Liz And The Lotto Dream
on April 03, 2010
Ann Morven's writing is as great as always, but the hackneyed story line needed a lot more imaginative twists than it got in order to be satisfying. Definitely not one of her best.
on April 03, 2010
A cute tale of eco-activism to protect a swamp that some say is magical. Ann Morven's writing is as solid as always.
It might have been a bit better if the heroine was more active rather than just along for the ride. Even so, it's a fun read.
on April 05, 2010
An interesting and inventive concept, fairly well written.
This is, in many respects, a 'literary' novel rather than a 'mainstream' novel. Some people will like this novel a lot. But the pacing is leisurely throughout. The tension level probably doesn't go above 10% for most of the novel, and the few times it *should* go higher it didn't work for me. The novel reaches its ending without any climax. The point of the novel clearly is the main character's story arc, but we're not shown anything to convince us that he's changed by the end of the book.
Read the preview and see what you think. The rest of the novel is very much in the same style.
Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter
on April 11, 2010
A humorous story that's actually funny! What will they think of next?
Not only that, but it's well-written and well-edited.
Oh, and you don't need to be a Twilight fan to enjoy this story. I don't know anything more about Twilight than I've seen on TV when people talked about it, and that was plenty.
For Sale in Palm Springs: A Henry Wright Mystery
on April 13, 2010
I gave up after two chapters, so I suppose there could be a good story here. All I know is that I can't deal with the writing any longer.
The blatantly ignorant misuse of commas was a major factor. Each paragraph averaged a half-dozen commas stuck in it that didn't belong there. I'm counting comma splices in that; I don't think that Mr. Simon has a clue what the proper ways to join two clauses together are.
And I thought that *everyone* knew that each person's speech gets its own paragraph. Putting an entire dialogue exchange into a single paragraph is confusing as heck.
The story-telling was also deadly. The first two chapters were almost entirely exposition and backstory. Not a hint of tension anywhere.
I recommend that you take a look through one of the 'View' links above and see what you think before you download this one.
Also, for some reason, the EPUB version of this wouldn't let me select the font to read it in. The only available font was a sans-serif.
Kill Him Sweetly
on April 13, 2010
Ann Morven's a fine writer, and Sheil B. Wright is an interesting character, but I think that this story illustrates that it's very difficult to write a cozy mystery in 3000 words.
That just isn't enough space to introduce a cast of suspects and their possible motives. I knew whodunnit after the first few paragraphs.
Something's Not Right
on April 13, 2010
To be fair, this collection pretty much delivers what it promises. So maybe I'm just not the right audience.
I just felt like the stories were 'unfinished'. Not just the endings, but the telling. For me, the material was fairly "Twilight Zone", but without the polish and without the impact.
The Widow's Golden Weeds
on April 18, 2010
Although Morven's writing is as good as always, the story ultimately let me down.
There was a good set-up, but the solution to the conflict came out of nowhere, and it left me wondering "What just happened here?" It's like there's an important bit right at the climax that's missing.
Spaceships & Brass Knuckles
on April 25, 2010
An anthology of short stories is hard to review, because there will always be some stories that you don't care for. But there weren't many here.
It's surprisingly hard to write a good SF short story, and Ellis has written a bunch of them here. The other stories range from okay to good, at least for my tastes. Others might like them better.
All-in-all, a fine collection of shorts.
on April 25, 2010
I often find Morven's short stories coming up short on the story, but this brief tale of Sheil B. Wright and a snake charmer is charming.
Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog
on May 06, 2010
Just what it claims to be. A wacky story riddled with word-play and with snarky asides from the author. There are some inside jokes in there, too, but you don't need to understand them to enjoy the story.
Who knew that a post-apocalyptic world could be this much fun?
I couldn't give the book five stars, though, because the editing got sloppy toward the end. The last third of the book contained typos, misspellings (even allowing for the British English), missing letters, missing words, and the repeated use of the apostrophe when forming plurals.
I also didn't think that the denouement worked very well, but it's just a denouement so not critical to the story.
on May 06, 2010
O'Kane has made some bold choices in his narrative style. Bold in the sense of "a burlap shirt is a bold choice". And like a burlap shirt, those choices continuously irritated me.
I gave up around page 30, because I couldn't stand to read any more. So I can't tell you if the story is any good or not.
"Third-person omniscient" point of view is rarely seen in modern fiction outside of an occasional piece of literary fiction. Present tense is rarely seen in modern fiction, although a few authors do use it with first-person narrative. Third-person omniscient present-tense is just weird; it reads like a screenplay warped into narrative form, where the actors are being given stage directions.
The present-tense narrative is occasionally turned into Yoda-speak, with "says Mike" instead of "Mike says".
There is a *lot* of description. Mike enters a night club and we get treated to 850 words (about 4 pages) of description of the night club before action resumes. No wonder this novel came in about 50% over the typical 90,000 words.
Like I said, it reads like a screenplay for a 10-hour miniseries rather than a novel. Set descriptions, stage directions, etc.
Repeated misuse of participial phrases also made me wince, although in my experience most people wouldn't notice. Some wrong words (hey, they passed the spell checker) didn't help.
The e-book suffers from a serious 'mechanical' problem. Some of the paragraphs are misformatted so that the lines overlap each other, making them very difficult to read indeed. Click on the HTML 'View' link above and jump to page 13; you'll see what I mean. After trying to decode more than a half-dozen of those, including one that was critical to following what was going on, I'd had enough.
The Turtle Mound Murder (A DAFFODILS Mystery)
on May 08, 2010
A well-written and cleanly edited cozy.
I liked the genuine Southern flavor, but for me the three main characters had become a bit monotonous by the time the obligatory second murder was discovered. A little more depth would have been appreciated.
The characters also seemed to be not particularly "on the ball", overlooking things that were obvious to me. But the story still worked, so I can't complain too much.
I'm not sure that I'd agree with the description (above) that the story is 'hilarious'. It's a fairly light-hearted cozy, more quirky than menacing, and you might get a few giggles here and there, but it's not a comedy.
Meant To Be
on June 03, 2010
A solid story-line and a group of interesting characters make for good reading.
The writing isn't as artless as in many romance novels, but it still wasn't as polished as one finds in most other fiction genres. If you're just fine with how romance novels tend to be written, you might give this five stars. But I just couldn't overlook lines like this:
“This is getting annoying,” he said, obviously exasperated.
This book is quite well-edited. There are still a few incorrect words, notably "hawk" used to mean "hock". But those are notable because the rest of the editing is so clean.
on June 12, 2010
A good 'investigation' story. The beginning is bloated; the first 75 pages probably could have been written in about 10. But if you push on through that part, you'll find the rest of the book worth the effort.
From the description you might think that the plot delves into the metaphysical or mystical, but it doesn't really. The story is very much grounded in the material world, even if some of the client's members aren't.
There's a hint of deus ex machina in the resolution, but not so much as to be bothersome.
Blood On The Wind
on June 29, 2010
Morven's renowned folk-balladeer and not-so-renowned amateur sleuth Sheil B. Wright is in the outback of her native Australia for this short story about the gruesome murder of a Spanish diplomat. The first couple of sentences are an avalanche of Australian slang; that's quite appropriate under the circumstances but can still be a bit confusing to us Americans. Get past that, and it's fairly easy sailing.
Morven's writing and editing are, as always, first-rate.
on July 02, 2010
I didn't put a star rating because I didn't finish this book. I made it about 1/3 of the way through.
A very inventive Sci-Fantasy farce. Lots of good, original material here. But the style just didn't match my tastes.
My biggest problem is that I didn't care about any of the characters: I wasn't 'invested' in them. It's kind of like watching a Three Stooges or Marx Brothers film in that regard. I enjoy a good Marx Brothers movie, but I can only take it for so long. A typical-length novel (which this is) is about equivalent to an 8-hour movie. I couldn't deal with 8 straight hours of the Marx Brothers. I bailed out of this one at about the 2-1/2-hour point. The plot was still interesting and the events were still amusing, but I'd simply lost the last of my "give-a-darn" about what was going to happen next.
It didn't help that this novel is written in third-person omniscient viewpoint and present tense. I savaged the Smashwords book "Omaha" for using this bizarre combination, which is primarily used for stage direction in screenplays. Here, the material and the writing style somewhat compensates for the quirk, but not enough for me. This type of story could reasonably be told in third-person omniscient viewpoint, but from what I could tell there was no call for using present tense. Combining present tense with third-person omniscient is weird and distracting.
Second Time Around
on July 14, 2010
Um, wow. Time travel can be as confusing as heck. Which is kind-of the point here, I think.
I gave this story four stars for being inventive, amusing, well written, and well-edited, but I'm still uncertain as to whether the story actually makes sense in any consistent kind of way. Or whether "consistency" even has any meaning in a world with time travel.
That Lovely Feeling
on July 19, 2010
Here's an exotic location with a collection of oddball characters, and Morven's writing is as strong as always.
I had a little trouble keeping track of who was where at any given time. I also thought that the story rambled on too long after Sheil found out who the killer was, to no real effect.
There is a 'mechanical' problem with the e-book that results in text sizes changing ever few paragraphs. I found the size changes to be a real distraction, and they might have contributed to the difficulty I had keeping track of the characters.
on Aug. 15, 2010
Delivers exactly what the description promises: a comical look at a flawed attempt to create horror.
Djinnx'd (The Tamar Black Saga #1)
on Aug. 18, 2010
A fun and inventive story, well-written, but poorly edited.
Punctuation errors are rife, with often more than one in a paragraph. As Donna Jaske has noted, the dialogue is frequently paragraphed incorrectly. And the text size sometimes varies from paragraph to paragraph for no reason.
Properly edited, this book would be a grand-slam home run. The fact that I read it all the way to the end despite the editing problems is testimony to how much I enjoyed the story and the story-telling; sloppy editing is something I don't tolerate well.
on Aug. 22, 2010
What, no vampires? Just kidding. This is a really original story, very well told. If it sounds at all interesting--and if it doesn't then why are you reading these reviews--you should grab it.
The paragraph formatting is kind-of weird, and there's one misspelling that I saw, but otherwise it's very well-edited.
Better than Real
on Oct. 17, 2010
Wow. This cyber-future action thriller is almost perfect. The twists and turns of the plot follow naturally but surprisingly from the postulated tech advances. The pace never lets up from the opening line. The writing is solid, and the editing is squeaky clean. You can't do better than this top-grade novel.
on Jan. 08, 2011
An original and interesting cyber story, but the writing didn't really do it justice. On the other hand, I'm somewhat picky about writing craft, and many people aren't.
If you're looking for a cyber novel, take a peek at the preview and see how it feels to you.
on June 15, 2011
A good sci-fi/cyber story with an interesting heroine. Well-enough written for the overwhelming majority of sci-fi readers, and cleanly edited.
Julie Hartman, Julie Hartman
on June 16, 2011
A good short story, original, fairly well-written, and cleanly edited. However, I prefer that the protagonist drive the story. Things happen to Julie, things happen around Julie, but all she does about it is get drunk. She's sleeping it off while the pivotal events occur.
Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
on Aug. 13, 2011
As others have noted, this book is the inspiration for the movie, but other than some of the character names, there is little in common. The Toons in the book are from comic strips, not animation, and there's not the slightest bit of goofiness to be found here.
For that matter, their "Toon-ness" really doesn't figure into the story. Oh wait, yes it does, just a little bit, but not in a way that makes any sense in either the real world or the comic-strip world.
The mystery doesn't play fair with the readers (Cesare Falco's review below alluded to that), and that left me disappointed. The ending simply didn't live up to the book.
Bubba and the Dead Woman
on Nov. 28, 2011
THIS REVIEW IS FOR AN OLDER EDITION.
Very humorous, but the mystery part isn't satisfying because the author doesn't play fair with the reader. A number of pieces of critical information are withheld simply to keep the reader in the dark. For that matter, I'm not convinced that Bubba is stupid enough to have overlooked some of them himself. So treat the mystery as the vehicle for the humor.
Omniscient narration is rarely seen these days, because it doesn't usually work. Here, it works. There's an epilogue that seems to exist solely to explain the omniscient point of view, but personally I think it does more harm than good. The story is over, and I say the book should have stopped there.
There were some (small) editing problems in the edition that I read. A quick look at the current edition shows that at least some of those problems have been fixed, so I won't comment further on this.