Queen of Spades
There are different components to the writing anatomy which creates Queen of Spades—part passion of a poet and part cadence of a storyteller.
Since the age of eleven, Queen of Spades' blood flowed with the rush of ideas that dripped in a rhythm inundated with stanzas. She first made her writing debut as a presenter and poet in the collective, Soulful Branches: Words and Sounds. Her other poetic writes include Reflections of Soul, the Eclectic collection (Skin Edition and Beyond the Skin), Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations, and Private Pain: Amidst these Ashes, as well as being a contributing writer in the April 2014 poetry collection Words of Fire and Ice by Durham Editing and Ebooks and The Sea of Conscience by M.J. Holman.
Reflections of Soul was selected as one of the top books by Koobug, and Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes hit the Amazon Best Sellers List in three categories—Contemporary Poetry, Women’s Poetry, and Biographical Fiction.
Shortly thereafter, Queen of Spades’ desire for storytelling decided to take spotlight alongside its poetic counterpart. Her first independent short story release “Taint on Religion” debuted in May 2014. Two other short stories “Mr. Bradley’s Garden” and “When Summer Lingers” were first in the June 2014 short story collection Summer Shorts II: Best Kept Secrets by Durham Editing and Ebooks prior to being released on their own.
The short story anthology Continuous Drips received distinction as an Amazon Best Selling Book and showcases three of her stories “Misfortune”, “Afro Shock”, and “Útil”. She also made an appearance in All Authors Publishing House’s 1st short story anthology, Concordant Vibrancy: Unity with her piece “The Authentic Snap.” Concordant Vibrancy: Unity joined Continuous Drips in that distinction in May 2015.
In addition, Queen of Spades was included in short story anthology Crackles of the Heart in July 2015, followed by a second poetry joint venture with MJ Holman "Waves to Light" in September 2015.
Future projects by Queen of Spades involve poetry collection Spaded Truths II: Life-o-Suction and participation in the short story anthology Concordant Vibrancy II: Vitality.
Some say Queen of Spades is a Poet of the People. Others label her a Life Writer. One thing remain constant in her delivery, whether it’s a poem or a story—it touches each individual in a sovereign way that lingers well after the diction is complete.
Where to find Queen of Spades online
Where to buy in print
VideosPrivate Pain: Amidst These Ashes
This is the book trailer for the poetic work, Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes by Queen of Spades.
"If the measure of one's ability to Love
Is contingent on the capacity to endure Pain,
Then hand over the Academy Award,
For the Soul overfloweth."Video Bibliography Queen of Spades
This is a collection of the work of Smashwords and Amazon Best Selling Author Queen of Spades.
Video produced by: All Authors Graphic Design, a subsidiary of All Authors Publications & Promotions (http://www.allauthorspp.net)Waves to Light (Teaser Trailer)
This is the teaser trailer to "Waves to Light", the highly anticipated follow up to The Sea of Conscience by M.J. Holman and Queen of Spades.Crackles of the Heart: Divergent Ink
Divergent Ink is the mesh of different frames of thoughts, various interpretations of one core question that yearns for universal expansion. Although the subject matter may change every year, the purpose of the Divergent Ink series will remain the same.
The first book in the Divergent Ink anthology series, "Crackles of the Heart", centers around the following question: Can the hot, handsome guy fall for the average awkward woman?
When Summer Lingers
by Queen of Spades
Dahna is quite comfortable in her role as an outcast. Her favorite activities are painting her nails and hanging out on the beach. An observation by the quirky Carr leads to an endearing friendship between two unlikely people.
Note: This short story was first featured in Summer Shorts II: Best Kept Secrets by Durham Editing and E-books.
Mr. Bradley's Garden (a short story)
by Queen of Spades
The bond between Mr. Bradley and granddaughter is put to the test when it coincides with his dedication to share the bounty of his garden with others in the neighborhood. When the deliveries start to dwindle down, how does the neighborhood react? Find out in this short story.
Taint on Religion
by Queen of Spades
After experiencing tragedies that lead her to a checkered life, Natasha has decided to go on the path to redemption. There is promise with her membership at Reverend Jamison’s church. When discoveries are accidentally made, does Natasha stay mum about what she’s learned or does she place a taint on religion? (short story)
Disclaimer: Deals with adult situations.
Themes and Proclamations (Spaded Truths, #1)
by Queen of Spades
Indulge in Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations-a delectable mix of creative uses of the letters A-Z with social and political viewpoints from the twisted mind of Queen of Spades. This dish is engineered to provoke multitudes of reactions to reach the ultimate pinnacle: mental stimulus and satisfaction.
Eclectic: Skin Edition
by Queen of Spades
There are so many layers to the skin but how many dare to lift and peel? Queen of Spades extends a formal invite, using a combination of different forms of poetry and prose, to give you a VIP pass into her inner thoughts. Expect the unexpected and discover why this work is indeed Eclectic.
Disclaimer: Some language and topics may not be suitable for younger audiences.
Eclectic: Beyond the Skin
by Queen of Spades
Dare to take a journey Beyond the Skin in this Deluxe edition of Eclectic. Eclectic: Beyond the Skin includes a bonus section, Deep Tissue, containing the short story "Misfortune", which will be featured in Queen of Spades' upcoming short story collection.
Disclaimer: This collection has strong language and deals with issues which may not be suitable for a younger audience.
Queen of Spades' tag cloud
Queen of Spades' favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Queen of Spades
- 5 Days
on May 24, 2013
At the core, a very good story with non-stop action. With more character detail, formatting of dialogue, and tying of loose ends, it could have been even greater.
- Without a Word
on July 09, 2013
This work starts off with great potential. Two strangers meeting across the way, the eyes meeting, desire rising. It was just hard for me to get behind the premise that no words were spoken during the entire time, especially in Chapter Two when they were solidifying the bond. For the fantasy romantic, this has heart melting potential, yet the final chapter lacked the spark of the first two.
on Aug. 14, 2013
I applaud what you were trying to do in adopting the style of acrostic poetry for conveyance. However, I seek more concreteness to tie all of the lines to the central theme of each poem. More splashes of punctuation within the writings would have aided in the read being smoother, so that the sentences didn't seem like run-on sentences. In short, it looks like you, like the pieces, are still trying to find your way.
An extended version of my review can be found on The Review Board:
- Late Night Snack
on Aug. 14, 2013
With witty dialogue, steady pace, and it’s “straight to the action” approach, Late Night Snack made an enjoyable short story. An easy read for the fan of vampire genre with a few atypical twists.
My extended review can be found on The Review Board:
- Chance Encounters - Preludes to Love & Death
on Aug. 17, 2013
This work really roped me in based on the very first paragraph when Chase's situation was discussed. I was seeking a tie in between the first paragraph and the rest of the story, which I did not get. It did read as a long prequel with a lingering effect with that paragraph still in the fray. However, if it is taken out, then Chance Encounters reads as a short story, which is what the copy I have is advertised as.
I applaud the amount of detail in the characters and their development, especially Rayqelle and Iesha. I'm also a fan of how well paced this work is as well as the action. You were also very descriptive in your imagery of the erotic scenes, but the scene that captured my attention the most was Rayqelle's experience as she was trying to go to the bathroom. I felt like I was there, feeling the disgust and aggravation.
One thing I would like to point out is some fine tuning. I'm not speaking of the dialect but more of some misspellings and missing and improper punctuation that didn't get caught in the final submission. In edition, there was a paragraph in Chapter One that got repeated which escaped detection. I can even see it in the Kindle preview of this. It's important to utilize extra eyes in the final cut. The delivery and language in this is a winner but a final copy with lots of flaws may put off potential and current readers if not careful.
Extended Review can be found on The Review Board:
- Love Like This - Black Family Series
on Aug. 20, 2013
Hi, No Labels Unleashed, part of The Review Board. I am posting on behalf of fellow board member Mr. Controversy regarding his views on your book. For the extended (full version) of the review, please come to this link: http://wp.me/p30Uww-7w
Avid Reader Review stated that, “Sylvia Hubbard is one of the best Authors I’ve ever read!”
Seeing this statement on the front cover of her book got me thinking, “Hmmm. Let’s see if this statement is true….”
I haven’t read her other works as far as the characters, yet I was able to keep score as far as the characters in this short novella which I completed in about two and a half hours. Also, I am happy that she lets the readers know up front of the revisions that she has made to this story.
The story’s first two paragraphs got me hooked INSTANTLY! It completely sets the mood for what was about to unfold. Ms. Hubbard has a way of describing characters, what they are doing, and their facial expressions in her story has kept me turning the pages to see what happened next.
“Love Like This” reads like a “D” Movie on Cinemax where unknown actors can successfully raise the Believability of the story to an excellent level.
Allow me to be PERFECTLY CLEAR: This is NOT a bad thing at all! Several movies with unknown actors have indeed gained credibility in the movie industry. Ms. Hubbard’s “Love Like This” has GREAT POTENTIAL to be made into a Premium Cable Channel movie. This is one of those stories that WILL NOT be shown on Lifetime.
Despite Ms. Hubbard informing her readers that there were revisions made to “Love Like This”, there are still a few errors (I.E.: Bryon vs. Byron at the start of Chapter 2, sentence structure, few grammatical errors). Also, some of the dialogue between the characters in several paragraphs was jumbled together, causing a bit of confusion (TO ME). However, if the reader(s) follow closely with what is/was discussed between the characters, this can be overlooked.
Ms. Sylvia Hubbard has a vivid imagination, and can tell a very good and solid story. Ms. Hubbard shows not only promise, she also shows dedication to what she does in her writing abilities. As long as she has an extra set of eyes on her artwork to keep uniformity and errors to a minimum, she will continue to go far in her writing.
Pick up “Love Like This” for a shocker of a great time!
- Prisoner of The Game
on Aug. 29, 2013
Extended Review can be found on The Review Board:
I am posting this on behalf of fellow TRB member, Mr. Controversy, who had the opportunity to read this book:
“Prisoner of the Game” is the type of story that’ll have people confront their Inner Demons, as well as face a plethora of Uncomfortable Truths about themselves.
The story revolves around Carter Frye: the Main Character’s assumed name. He is a man who has barely started living life. Carter Frye, in my honest and most humble opinion, is the textbook definition of being a "Ticking Time Bomb". His only solace is the CLICK-click of his pen; a sentimental writing utensil which calms and soothes his nerves. This particular action aides him in gathering his thoughts, and soothes the savage beast that resides within him.
Mr. Provance uses an Unorthodox style of writing which exercises Current Time and Flashbacks of the events which ultimately merge together towards the end. Mr. Provance’s style of writing and vividly brilliant imagination leaves the reader(s) AND MYSELFwanting, desiring, and craving more. When readers are wanting more, this is the VERY REACTION that EVERY Author needs to Master, and C. Kevin Provance has mastered this technique magnificently.
Proofing needs are evident later in the story: repeating of words, as well as spelling errors.It is at a minimum, and did not deter me from the overall quality of the story.
Overall, “Prisoner of the Game” possesses an enthralling storyline, and paintbrush beautiful description that’ll keep the pages turning. The Epilogue spoke volumes also, and gave some of the most incredible twists I have ever read in modern storytelling.
From takeoff to landing, “Prisoner of the Game” is DEFINITELY one to have on any AND every bookshelf. If you like Karmic Flow as well Karma Cutting, THIS STORY RIGHT HERE is the one you Need!
- New Girl
on Oct. 25, 2013
This actually rates closer to a 3.5 than a 4. (Extended Review can be found on The Review Board: http://wp.me/p30Uww-dS)
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to team with someone you have never been teamed with before? It can be kind of awkward. This is what Liz, the main character, faces when her teammate, Kim, gets injured, and Nina, the new girl, has to play in her place.
There are a few stereotypes that are played on in this particular work. One pertains to the assumption that female athletes are into each other on an intimate level. Another is the assumption (which was thwarted to some degree) that a woman who's never been with another woman is clueless and doesn't behave as the aggressor.
In terms of the intimacy at play, there's nothing bells and whistles. This isn't for the person who wants unorthodox or hard core sexual activity. The tone of New Girl is more like one female crushing on another female, in contemplation of whether things should go full bloom. Despite these things, I did enjoy the buildup, especially Liz's introspective speak in regards to Nina, as well as the pacing of the story.
If there was more metaphorical depictions and a bit more straying from the usual one-on-one lesbian affair, this had the potential to be rated much higher.
on Oct. 30, 2013
The perfect balance between comedy, reality and desire. I found myself relating to Minnie in so many ways, desiring the handsome guy yet doubting he would even give her the time of day. This really made me reminisce. The descriptiveness of the dream sequences really made the story pop. It seemed to end way too soon, almost as if I were in a dream myself.
on Nov. 13, 2013
Extended Review can be found here: http://theunleashedreviewboard.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/truth-unleashed-speaks-on-toomfoolery/
Ben Hammond is a man who is used to having things in order. It throws him off that certain items have been moved around and normally clean clothes are in the hamper. Is he being haunted by a ghost? It does seem to start out that way.
Tomfoolery has plenty of different scenes that trigger a variety of emotions. I found myself relating to Ben’s situation at the workplace. The head management isn't listening to the hands-on people, and as a result, things are falling behind. Yet, sometimes, it’s the simple things that provide relaxation. Ben’s relaxation from his stress comes in the form of a cat named Rupert.
In addition, Ben has another dilemma: how to approach this person that he has a crush on. Eventually, he gets in a situation where he can talk to the guy (named Tom), and they hit it off rather well. I will not give away too much, only that the world is much smaller than it seems.
Tomfoolery is a combination of comedy, romance, and paranormal activity. The pacing of it was very steady and kept me turning the pages. Spelling and grammar errors were slight to nonexistent. Although predictable, a very enjoyable read!
- Loving... them!
on Nov. 26, 2013
I really like the comedic take on the search for love. I could definitely relate to the main character's plight. The only thing I do wonder is if the character is learning from each disaster or will the mantra of "I'm done" just serve as something that's appropriate to say yet with no follow through.
I feel no matter what wars the character has been through, she is ultimately a Soldier of Love. I am cheering for her to find her way, regardless of whether it's with Wade or not.
Content wise-a winner!
- The Pilates Class
on Jan. 07, 2014
*Extended review can be found on "Unleashed Speaks on The Pilates Class" (http://wp.me/p30Uww-j6)*
I was first introduced to this writer when she submitted her work, The Porn Detective for The Review Board to review. Not too long ago, I saw her latest work, The Pilates Class was available so I decided to grab it based on my enthusiasm for her previous work.
Disclaimer: Slight spoilers
Blurb: The Pilates class is a humorous look at the lives and loves of several different characters attending a Pilates exercise class for the first time.
There is a bit more than meets the eye with this blurb, and that is what I adore about this short, yet delightful write.
Pleasant Hook: I really like how the author doesn’t waste any time in luring the reader into the story, yet she is able to outline each of the main participants in the story without it feeling overly rushed.
Consistent Conflict: Amidst the comedy, there was quite a bit of individual conflict with the characters as well as group conflict once certain characters began getting deeply involved with each other.
Engaging Characters: I really like that a lot of the characters went beyond how they were stereotyped by Petra (the fitness lady). I loved Roger. He was rough around the edges, yet I really adored how down to earth he was. He never censored himself for the sake of others. I had a lot of respect for Neville’s character. You hear so much about guys that don’t care about the substance of a woman if she tends to look good. He really seemed to know what he was looking for. I’m also glad that the author dared to make him a virgin. You rarely hear about guys his age being one. Each character invoked some type of emotional response from me, and that is a sign of awesome writing.
Setting/Mood: As I was reading this work, I found myself trying to pull “in my navel” and “my pelvic floor”. (Well, the mental image of me was trying to.) That is how engaged I was in the book. I was actually at the Pilates class, watching Roger tumble off his ball, and Edith looking in disdain.
The comedic value, intermingling storylines, and inviting characters make The Pilates Class a definite win for me. Although it is marketed as women’s fiction, I could see something in there for the men, too, due to how narrative strength of the male characters.
From her bravery to address the issue of pornography in The Porn Detective to the lighthearted zeal of The Pilates Class, Stevie Turner is effectively demonstrating her range as a writer. She is definitely an indie writer to be on the watch for, and I will wait in anticipation for her next work.
on Jan. 24, 2014
There are many different things I enjoy about A.L.O.M.
This is the type of read that anyone can enjoy--even if science fiction is not your primary go-to genre. Some parts you almost feel as if you are in science class, looking at the Discovery Channel, yet you can clearly understand the jargon and relate to the excitement that Vlad and the rest of the team are feeling as they go through the process of creating the machine.
In addition, A.L.O.M. has sprinkles of comedy. I'm sure all can relate to having a boss that really has no idea what goes on "at ground level" to being so preoccupied with the bottom line and issues "from a managerial perspective".
A.L.O.M. can easily stand on its own, but I would love to follow Vlad on his adventures. This could easily play out as a series or full fledged novel.
From conception to resolution, A.L.O.M. is a work of beauty and enjoyment. I highly recommend it.
- The G Particle
on Jan. 24, 2014
A delightful snap shot that reads like "a day in the life". Cool twist at the end of this micro short.
- A Tragedy: The Short Story of Fox & Tango
on April 24, 2014
Note: There was a weird blank page in the middle of the work. It didn't deter my enjoyment of this work but I wondered why it was there.
The cover did make me wonder. What in the heck happened to the M&M's especially the blue ones! Those are my favorite.
But this wasn't about M&M's at all.The blurb kept me wondering about what happened with Fox and Tango. So I dived in.
Fox and Tango's interaction with each other mirrored the connection of teenage love. I found Fox's aggressiveness quite entertaining--a welcomed switch from the guy being dominant in the relationship. The action sequence was well thought out and it moved like a play-by-play recap. The mystery element caught me a bit off guard but I dug the sneak up effect. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author.
- Crimson on a Black Rose
on May 18, 2014
C. Desert Rose has a knack of pulling you in right away, so much that you never want the action to end. I could really relate to Rayne's daydreaming and the tug of war inside her as it pertained to Jay.
- Vocal Remedy
on May 19, 2014
The element of the unexpected in this story was terrific. I liked the fact that nothing was completely laid out. Still you are left to use your imagination with the back story. If the author decided to do an extension of this one, I wouldn't say no. I look forward to reading even more from this author.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 rounded to 5.
- Between the Pages: Sedge and Akiva
on June 02, 2014
You don't feel like you are reading erotica when reading "Between the Pages". There is something wonderfully deliberate about the way this author puts her words together. Tender, teasing, and tantalizing all culminate into a delectable demonstration of heat which makes one simply smile.
Note: I would have liked the cover art to have gone slightly more abstract but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the read.
on June 23, 2014
I was given this book in exchange for an HONEST review. (Abbreviated review, full review found on The Review Board website)
Warning: Even though this may have slight spoilers, it doesn’t matter because the construction is a hodgepodge of horror.
When it comes to something being out the box, it tends to be something I gravitate towards. One of the main things I look for is something that is original yet entertaining. Although I was not originally assigned to this work, it had a few unorthodox qualities that warranted I at least give it a whirl.
I got whirled all right! Whirled into where I sought alcoholic solace, and I am not even a drinker. Usually I’m the DD (designated driver) while everyone else gets sloshed.
Let’s set the pros out here now because there aren’t many.
• Out of the box attempt
• Glossary at the end of the book
Appearance wise, Phantasy is the most atrocious display of syntax I have ever witnessed. I swear, some of the punctuation was made up. Dashes with ellipses. Exclamation points with ellipses. Commas with ellipses. (You get the point.)
This author has a love affair with ellipses. Almost every sentence had them. In the majority of the cases, a period was needed instead of all of the ellipses. Did periods and commas do something to where this author decided he would swear them off forever? Did he think he could do something experimental and make the reader’s brain work overtime to decipher his Morse code of punctuation?
Punctuation was not the only thing haywire in Phantasy. There was a gross exaggeration of italics and capitalization. Either one is used for the purpose of emphasis and importance. Both used in the same sentence continuously is overkill. The author would do much better just picking certain words or phrases to give spotlight to as opposed to big blocks of caps and italics.
Although the author claims the italics were to separate the narrator’s secret thoughts from spoken thoughts, in many places it caused way too much confusion and the lines between the two became blurred very often—within the same context numerous times. It would have been better to use a different method (utilization of spacing or even a different font) to make this separation clearer.
There were sprinkles of spelling errors in this work. (fully pointed out in the full review on The Review Board)
All of the major characters in this work I hated because they were annoying and they didn’t have proper names (which I’ll speak on later). None of the characters exhibited any growth in one way or another. The narrator’s Mom (aka Connoisseur of Complaints and Chaos) stayed cranky and argumentative without any real glimpse as to why she’s cranky and argumentative. The narrator’s Dad (aka Balls Serrated After Wedding Vows) stayed passive aggressive without any motion to rise to get out of his situation.
Dick (the name I opted to give the narrator because his lack of name irked me) shows no admittance, apologies or advancement in any aspect to his approach to anything or anybody. He demonstrates a total detachment from his own reality. His lunacy damn near drove me to want to get drunk.
In most writes, the main characters in the work have names. In Phatasy, the ones that have proper names are the supplemental characters who play little to no role besides someone for the narrator to spar back and forth with. Even if they are talking to each other, not once is the narrator referred to by his actual name.
The reason why the absence of proper names bothers me is because it is an indicator as to how well one can keep up with the dialogue. This is particularly helpful when the author switches from screenplay style to when the main character is working on the manuscript for Phantasy. In the manuscript itself, my brain almost hurt as I had to re-read certain lines over again to ensure which character was saying which thing.
It would have been easier for the author just to make a decision on whether to write this as a full novel or write this as a full screenplay. If he wanted to do a hybrid, then he should have ascertained the reader’s visual capacity at it pertained to proper (as opposed to imaginary) methods of syntax as well as sufficient white spacing in this work.
With its current anatomy, there is absolutely no unity in any of the thoughts. Not just with the dialogue but also in the actual manuscript Dick (the narrator) is composing. A pregnant ghost and an archangel are brought up but one has no clue as to what occurs with them next. There’s also an unexplained time warp and conflict thrown in the story that mimics B grade movies.
Summary of Suggested Improvements:
Less is More: One can use emphasis without going overboard. Tone down on capitalization, italics, exclamation points, dashes and ellipses.
Use punctuation properly: In way too many parts of the book ellipses, exclamation points, commas and dashes were used when periods would have done the trick.
More balance with setting vs. dialogue: There was not enough detail in the settings to counteract the over surge of dialogue.
Show rather than tell: There was no set plot and too much dependence on the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. This made it hard to get into the book. Even being out the box has levels of methodology to the madness.
Firmness in flashbacks: Either have an adjoining thread to the flashbacks or cut down on them, particularly the flashbacks within flashbacks.
Page count decrease: Due to so many different elements being present in this work, perhaps dividing it up into miniseries would have gone smoother. One segment: being about the narrator’s work and how he lost his first job. The second segment could focus on his conflict with his family. There’s just way too much going on to cover in just one book.
Name the central character: It provides (1) importance and (2) ease of tracking.
Provide a resolution: No part of Phantasy (the screenplay segments or the manuscript segments) gave any conclusion to anything. Think guy walking around with his fly open but no one ever telling him about it. As long as this work is (well over 200 pages) it was still full of the spunk of incompleteness.
Inserting slang terminology into glossary: There’s a word Dick (the narrator) has constantly used in the work, the word “hawker”. Yet in the glossary section, everything else gets a definition instead of that one and the dialogue provides no clear context clues to decipher the meaning.
Revamping of the Author’s Note: It is not a good move to alienate a potential reader just before he/she reads your work (i.e. “…only people with brains should read it”). Helpful disclaimer is one thing: hurling insults before turning the page to the first chapter is another.
Unleashed Verdict: 1 out of 5
I cannot recommend this read for all of the things mentioned earlier. Yet if you want tirades of complaining and randomness tossed together, you may see some beauty in this. Right now, I just want to fantasize that I didn’t read this and write a story about not reading this.
- Camielle's Lights
on July 17, 2014
I can definitely relate to not being able to fit in and my reactions to certain things not matching up with what is expected. I do like the ambiance of wonder at the end. Who is Camielle really and are there others out there besides humans? Lovely use of words to establish imagery as well.
- A.L.O.M Episode 2: Stranded
on Oct. 02, 2014
After reading the first A.L.O.M. I wondered when this author was going to come out with the latest installment. Although one does not have to necessarily read the first A.L.O.M., the thought processes of Vlad and the development of the A.L.O.M. makes the reading adventure even more meaningful.
This work may be short but I could tell the author did her research in terms of ancient civilizations as well as the engineering and mechanical aspects involved in science. The behavior of Vlad was a little laughable at times but also extremely relatable.
This is an adorable series that keeps me wondering what happens next while not getting me too lost in technobabble and pretense. I almost forget I'm reading sci-fi and that is what I appreciate most about Y. Correa's sci-fi writes. Whether you are one who reads it consistently or one who likes it every now and again, she definitely has something for everyone.
All I ask is that she doesn't make us wait too long for Episode Three.
- The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1)
on Nov. 11, 2014
The best way to express my feelings about this book is to divide it into Pros and Cons:
Pros of this work:
1. I really like the abstract look of the cover. For me, it adds to the mystery component.
2. I will give lots of points for the attempt to put out something “out of the box”. Spies, wizards, World War II—so many different elements in one story. It does take a lot of gumption to try and have all of that within one work. That is worthy of some finger snaps.
3. There are a few characters that I really liked. Renee really stood out. I admired her wisdom and her quiet spirit. Ken was a character that really caught my attention along with the intriguing make up of Father Gabriel. The support and tenacity of Otto also warmed my heart and made me smile whenever he was mentioned.
Opportunities for improvement:
1. In The Tower’s Alchemist, new individuals were introduced in practically every chapter. Sometimes, up to five new people. All before we even get to the main ingredient in the recipe, as they say. Not only are they placed in the chapters, but it’s done in a way that’s a bit nonchalant and we don’t know what purpose the person serves until much later, if not at all. Maybe it was to keep the whole element of suspense going but there is a way of bringing new people in without it feeling overwhelming. From a reader’s perspective, there are way too many characters thrown into the mix.
2. The first four chapters of The Tower’s Alchemist was action, action, action with no clear indicators of the cause. Once Chapter Five arrived, the author slowed down the pace and began to drop in more narrative. However, those eye drops felt more like cement bricks, and even worse, they were placed in strange spots. Certain elements that were placed on one chapter were better suited to go along with the action that related to the back story in another chapter.
3. The Tower’s Alchemist is supposed to be set during the time of World War II. The thing which threw me off was that some of the dialogue didn’t quite fit the setting. Whether this a true detriment actually depends on the reader. For those who don’t weigh in heavily on dialogue matching history, this obvious glitch may not even register. For those who thinks that dialogue matching the proper times makes a story even better, this will stick out like a swollen thumb.
4. Isabella being an effective spy is NOT believable at all. What type of spy reacts to the bad guys calling her by her non-spy name? Don’t they give classes on maintaining your poker face and not blowing your cover? Yet on more than one occasion, and through one-on-one dialogue at that, the moment someone she thought she could trust says her actual name, it’s like all of that goes out the window and she is like, “How do you know about me? How do you know my real name?” Multiple times she gets herself in jams where she should know better, or where other people have to come in at just the right moments to save the day. I’m not saying Isabella can’t make mistakes but you would think she would learn after the first couple of times to put up a more effective guard, and even more so, rather than go into an operation all rogue, you employ back up in case somebody goes flip mode.
5. The length of the chapters were all over the place. A few were about ten to fifteen pages while a few were closer to thirty pages. Chapters 13, 16, 17, and 21 really stood out because the action in the chapters, rather than utilizing scene separations, should have just been another chapter instead.
6. In addition to her spy swag being less than mediocre (aka atrocious), I’m not a fan of Isabella's overall disposition. Isabella stays stuck in this rut and she comes off as pretentious and insensitive. Perhaps Isabella will gain more likability as the series continues but as it stands right now, I don’t find myself caring about what happens to her.
7. Through this entire story, the spy angle and the element angle seemed more in competition that flattering each other. Part of it is how the alchemist information was placed in this work--almost like an afterthought or some type of commercial break. This is a shame because the usage of the magic is what I found the most enjoyable. I could have easily done without the added layer of Isabella being a spy because I wanted to experience what she could do with her magic. The information involving the different stones and symbols could have been better served as a glossary at the beginning of the book as opposed to the lackluster interlink attempts in the gargantuan blocks of narrative.
Verdict: 2 out of 5 Stars
Despite the ambitious aim of this work, The Tower’s Alchemist does too much in its goal to be out of the box. Too many characters, lack of a tidied resolution, major fail of Isabella as a credible and engaging main character, and the disproportion of narration, conflict, information, and historically accurate dialogue really hurt the star power of this undertaking.
- Dark Rift (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #2)
on Nov. 23, 2014
This is the abbreviated version. For the full version, please check out The Review Board.
Note: This was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Circle of Cool Beans (Magic Spell Pros)
1. The abstractness of the cover still remains a top pro to me. It does help to tie together all the books in the series. Plus it does help that my favorite color is blue.
2. The significant decrease of double agent speak made it easier to keep up with characters, particularly Isabella.
Circle of Perturbness (Magic Spell Cons)
1. Circle of Repetitious Resolution: In almost every situation where Isabella meets with trouble, she immediately relies on one source for assistance. The scenes felt extremely anti-climatic because almost like a “train that is never late”, here comes the Circle of Protection. Just like John Cena and his five moves of doom, in order to keep Isabella interesting, she has to pull more out of her arsenal and a lot more often at that. The fact that this is the second book in the trilogy and we are still seeing the same magic tricks of the first is a bit disheartening.
2. Circle of Little Substance: Although Dark Rift didn’t have the sickening influx of characters like Tower’s Alchemist, all the introduced characters were treated as if they were passing by, including those who had significance in moving along the story. Not saying that the reader needs to know everyone’s back story but the main chemicals that are going to cause implosion, they definitely needed more exploring.
3. Circle of Malnourishment: I didn’t mind the Dark Rift being slower as long as one of the things achieved was improvement in the main character Isabella. If one was reading Dark Rift by itself, one would get annoyed at Isabella’s fits of temper, not thinking things fully through before she acts, and continuing to get in trouble time and time again. It’s even more painful when you’ve read the first book and realize that it’s practically the same Isabella only a different setting. Even when she is given instructions on what to do and told to be cautious, she’s acts like she’s listening but she really isn’t. In addition, her depiction of her emotions and experiences are very detached. In first person, I want to be able to feel the person’s triumphs and sorrows, and although she has lost many in not only this book but the previous book, I am not able to connect with her pain and her torment. I didn’t gain any likability towards Isabella and that spells trouble going into the third installment, since this whole entire trilogy is based on her coming into her own and for the reader to invest the time to ride things until the end.
4. Circle of Nonsensical Narration: I feel like a lot of the instructional information about the magic served more as fill in narration than adding to the actual movement or basis of the storyline. Dark Rift would have served as a better read if these teachable instances had been extracted.
5. Circle of Disbelief: For me, even a book that is based in fantasy has to have scenes implemented that have a sense of coherence. In other words, the author has to write it in a smooth pattern that makes the action I am seeing in front of me believable, despite the components being heavily rooted in magic. Circles of Protection were broken without explanations as to how a villain was able to do it. Other people are able to break through certain protections placed on Isabella without a smooth lead in as to how this would even play out. Isabella uses a power that she didn’t even have time to perfect and the reader is supposed to buy that she is becoming this awesome force to be reckoned with. It as if the author sat down and was like, “I’ll just throw a head scratching moment in right about now” and just leave the reader to figure it out.
Verdict: 2 Stars
I did want Dark Rift to serve as a better read for me than Tower’s Alchemist. Unfortunately it felt like “Same Script, Different Cast.” I am going to enact a Circle of Protection around my enthusiasm and hope all of the holes in the 1st and the 2nd books will be solved and conveyed better in the last book of this trilogy.
- Circadian Circle (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #3)
on Nov. 24, 2014
The best way to describe what this book (as well as the other two in The Gray Tower Trilogy) has taken me on.is an emotional roller coaster. Before I dig all these feelings out of the deepest darkest corners of my being, let me share what brought out some snapshots of happy.
1. Syntax stayed the course. There were very few mistakes to be seen in the .mobi copy I had for review.
2. Abstract covers remained in unity for the presentation of the trilogy.
3. There were actually a few characters that I got a chance to know, amidst all of the narrative, dialogue and action. One character I liked from the start was Gregory, despite him being distrusted by everyone. Another character I found enticing was Ammon. Yes, I know it is strange because he is the one the reader is supposed to hate, yet there was something cunning in the fact that he seemed always one step ahead. Finally, there’s Nikon: the more I discovered about her, the more I admired her “this is how I am, no apologies”. There is this resolve and tenacity in her that garnered my respect.
4. Although the author (upon initial reach out) stated that these works couldn’t actually stand alone, for me they actually could. This is a plus to the reader who wants to read something without being lost, or to one who has read one book and opts not to continue with the rest of the books. In other words, one doesn’t feel as if he has to finish the whole thing. There is enough back tracking to fill in the gaps, even if you were to start with this book or with book two (Dark Rift), as opposed to book one (Tower’s Alchemist).
5. The author has a great way of describing the setting prior to some of the action sequences.
6. There was a better balance in chapter lengths.
Opportunities for improvement:
1. In Circadian Circle, I was trying to figure out the time line. Was it in fact still World War II? The setting wasn’t as prominent this time around. Some form of time stamping would have helped developing side stories make sense.
2. Predictable conflict: Have you ever looked at a show and thought, “Hey they used that same trick three seasons ago!”, or wanted to look at a new episode of a program, only to discover that you’re watching a rerun? That is the best way to discover the crisis cycle that is Isabella.
3. When 'Circle' turns into comedy: Circadian Circle has been deemed fantasy fiction, action adventure, and/or even a mashup. Who knew that it was a comedy book too? Wait, I wasn’t supposed to be laughing, was I? Well, let’s think. There’s a heroine that the reader is supposed to get behind that uses her temper more than her brain to make decisions, then thinks she is getting over on the bad guys but playing right into their hands. On top of that, the dialogue Isabella has back and forth between people makes me shake my head in confusion and disdain. Plus, she is supposed to have over the top powers but instead of being trained earlier in this book (hell, even the last book), Isabella wants to get down to business without reading the instruction manual on how to do things properly but behaves like a brat when things don’t go her way.
4. Not enough growth to get behind the main character: Yes, Isabella may be the high and mighty Drifter but her overall disposition didn’t grow with her powers. Her stubbornness and inability to really adapt hindsight and truly blossom caused me to disengage from her story. It’s hard for me to get behind three long books worth of a person who is the main focus if the progress is lackluster or nonexistent. I’m not saying a hero doesn’t make mistakes but the greatest of heroes uses unfortunate circumstances to not only persevere but flourish into a better person and not meet those pitfalls again. You don’t continue to make errors; you go outside yourself and think of the whole as opposed to your own selfish needs and wants. That’s the meaning of sacrifice and it doesn’t always make one popular. I found Isabella to care way too much about popularity and wanting to cheat her way to being powerful rather than learning to be accountable, responsible, and diligent in her resolve.
Verdict: 2.75 out of 5 (rounding up to three because there's no way to do a three-quarters star)
If you want to go on an emotional roller coaster ranging from confusion, shock, shaking your head, and all things in between, leading to a very eerie pounding in your head and heart, then by all means, go for it.
As for me, I’m glad to get off this ride. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. There are not enough Circles of Protection, mental locks, talismans, heart binds, and Zaman’s Fires to invest any further.
- The Rogue's Odyssey
on March 19, 2015
I am posting this on behalf of Review Board member Mr. Controversy. This title was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
“The Rogue’s Odyssey” is a very short, 800-word poem written by Louise Findlay.
While reading the introduction to our poem, there is an air of awkwardness as the feelings of run-on sentences happened again. Also, the second sentence concluding the Introduction has a question within its wording, which triggered my MS Word program to ask me if I desire to add a question mark after the word “high”.
One other item that I need to point out is the word “Poem” at the top of the poem just before it starts.
In its place, I would suggest replacing “Poem” with “The Rogue’s Odyssey”. It will look cleaner to your readers.
In regards to the poem itself, it is about a young rogue who is in possession of an orb received by magical means with a questionable origin. It is a vessel of Light and Hope for a Kingdom which is in great need of its light. With assistance from a mage, a wizard, and a warlock, the rogue must overcome obstacles in the form of corrupted knights which was instigated by the dark heart of Lord Caelin, and a fire-breathing dragon in order to reach the shrine of Luminos Dasos, located in the temple of Luna Moon. Within this temple, the shrine will house the magical orb and restore light to the kingdom.
The poem, overall, was pretty good.
The commas in the poem were a bit strange and alien to me at first. After speaking with Miss No Labels (as well as reading to poem to her), she and I agreed that the commas were used effectively, giving us the cue to breathe within the dialogue. Certain parts of the poem flowed B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L-L-Y where the commas were utilized to perfection.
Visually, the structure is on point in some places. For my writing style (when I use commas for poetry), I go to the next line. Ms. Findlay did not in some parts. At the same time, the poem still read nicely and gave me a sense of enjoyment and pleasure by the time I read the last line.
As far as Ms. Findlay’s book, it has a going price for $0.99.
Seeing this price reminds me of a poem I read last year. It had 6 or 8 lines, and was selling for the same price point. Although that poem was cute, I felt disrespected that it was priced at that price point where other poetry books were priced the same and offered more poetry for that selling price.
Despite “A Rogue’s Odyssey” is substantially longer than the poem that I referenced, I cannot help but feel disappointed that there are not any more poems being offered at this price in this eBook.
Louise Findlay’s “A Rogue’s Odyssey” is a fantasy filled poem that tells a very intriguing tale in a short time-frame of read. Think carefully about shelling out $0.99 for this book, yet at the same time I enjoyed her poem.
- Let's Play on Valentine's Day
on March 23, 2015
I’m not sure what genre classification would be proper for this work. It isn’t quite erotic, although some nice action involving light bondage is hinting at in this micro short. It’s not exactly ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ either, because although the reader is in essence the subject, the author is the master and sets the rules. Therefore, it is a guessing game.
The side of me that likes a bit of mystery almost wishes the author didn’t reveal the treat at the end. Yet, the other part of me likes the revelation because it is a test to how the sensual dirt that resides in a reader’s mind.
This is a morsel of steamy sensuality—just enough to whet the appetite, without offending those who dislike imagery that is over the top or too blatant.
- Kona (a microshort story)
on April 21, 2015
This is about a 4.5 out of 5 for me.
The thing I liked the most about this microshort is you are left wondering who is the person having the daydream. On the first read, it seemed as if it was the gentleman. Yet, when I read it again, I had to second guess myself--could it really be the female instead?
Those little twists (the simple "ah-ha") makes Synful Desire a writer to watch. I hope that she makes the curves a staple in any and all future writings.
- Elven Jewel (book 1 in the Hunters of Reloria series)
on Aug. 18, 2015
I was supplied this title by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Things the author did well
(1) The author does a good job at setting up a scene, describing things in a way that makes the reader feel like he or she is there.
(2) There was some dialogue that made me chuckle here and there, particularly between the fairies and their owners.
(3) I did like the hues on the cover.
Things that were opportunities for the author
(1) I believe that too much was presented too soon. For me, I was fascinated by the initial threat of the Vergai and the elves yet soon these other elements got thrown into the mix and the core conflict I was invested in got lost.
(2) Too many characters are in the fray, to the point where it is quite easy to get one person mixed up with the other. Also, that happens when the characters' names too closely resemble each other or sound too much like each other.
(3) The chapters are too long. This is a detriment because it delays the action. Also, if there is pertinent information towards the beginning, there's no guarantee it will be remembered by the time you get to the end of that chapter, heading into the next one. By keeping the chapters shorter in a fantasy, action/adventure work such as this one, it keeps you in the thick of the action instead of dragging you along.
(4) In all of these action sequences, one thing is sorely missing and it is focus on the Elven Jewel, which is the title of this work. For me, if that is mentioned in the book, then at some point, it should be the centerpiece. Yet in the presentation in the book, the Jewel is more a side item. I honestly think in the aim to make this work more exciting, the author added so many layers that the core layer got neglected.
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Overall, Elven Jewel has potential with its premise, but here, less is more. The author should have taken more time to develop why the reader should really care about the jewel. Yet there are so many story lines presented. Since the author has made this a trilogy it is going to take a lot of diligence (as well as rushing) to tie up all the ends going into books two and three. For me, I would have preferred a sleeker story with less happenings than a whole ball of rush.
- Hunters' Quest (book 2 in the Hunters of Reloria series)
on Aug. 25, 2015
Note: This version of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. For the full review, please visit The Review Board website.
Hunters' Quest is the second book in The Hunters of Reloria trilogy. I did read the first book Elven Jewel to get the full effect of all that has gone on.
One of the things I tend to get asked as a reviewer is if the books in a trilogy can stand alone. Although one can read Elven Jewel and get the feel that it is a stand alone story, I cannot say for sure in reference to Hunters' Quest, simply because of the way Hunters' Quest ended.
Although the colors of the cover have a whimsical appeal, a few more illustrations as far as the journey would have been helpful. Yes, there was a map at the beginning of the book but no others sprinkled throughout. That way it would have shown the differences between different locations they were going to, as well as being provided more descriptions on what these lands looked like.
Whether the author intended the books in The Hunters of Reloria trilogy to stand alone or not, the descriptive component of locations and the new characters needed improvement. The way they were presented to the reader isn't an introduction that stands out; it came across more matter of fact than anything. There were bits of comic relief to break up the intensity of the quest yet the down moments threatened to keep one's attention off the main elements of the story. This author doesn't quite strike the balance between establishing local color and having excessive fluff.
There was great potential in a lot of the action sequence yet they were executed in a bit of a detached way. A dynamic tale such as this one should have the author showing the story—to the point where it plays like a movie inside of one's head.
The pace was excruciatingly slow. This was a flaw Elven Jewel also committed. I wanted to dismiss the slow pacing of the first as the author's attempt to establish build up, since it was such a long book. However, Hunters' Quest is about half the size of its predecessor, so why is the pace just as slow, if not slower in this rendition?
The chapters are way too long. They should be crafted in such a way that the action and flow of the story is immediate. When one is thinking to himself, "What happened at the beginning of this chapter?" or "Wait! I'm only on Chapter such and such?" it's a bad sign. When an author has written a riveting story, there should be a seamless transition and an eagerness to find out what happens next. There was not a huge urgency there for me in the first book and even less so for this one.
The main part of Hunters' Quest that delivered harm was the way the ending was delivered. I do not mind if there are incomplete threads in a series, just as long as one of the major threads that was presented to be solved has closure. Hunters' Quest ended abruptly, like that movie that is getting to the good bit, and then "To Be Continued" pops on the screen. I was highly disappointed.
If one is going to do a series, one should strive to have the next part of the series be just as good, if not better than the book before it. This author has a lot of work to do in order to get this one to that level.
- The Angel Ultimatum
on May 20, 2016
What the author does with this work, in short, is take certain passages in the Bible (the one he quotes from is the New International Version of the Bible) and invites the engagement of logic by asking a series of questions which render the passages … to put it nicely, confusing.
What I admire about this read is the author’s approach. He does not go out of his way to make those who are believers dumb, nor does he shame them into accepting an alternate point of view. Alexander Mann’s delivery is like sitting down at a round table for a discussion, even a book club meeting.
There was conciseness without a lot of filler and theatrics. He balanced presenting the information and presenting his series of questions—one didn’t overtake the other. This work kept me engaged, so chapter length was not noticeable to me. His sources were also well documented.
If you are the type of reader who is open minded to different schools of thought as it pertains to religion or spirituality, or even one who doesn’t believe and wants to cite possible reasons why, The Angel Ultimatum can serve as a welcoming, elementary introduction.