S. E. Smith’s Ha’ven’s Song (Curizan Warrior Book 1)

Lots and lots of readers give S.E. Smith’s books five-star reviews. Honestly, I just could not do that. This is my first read of one of her many novels. Really, there is much to like in it, including a heroine who needs so much that the reader wants her to finally have her HEA. Her life on earth went from great to troubled to “get me outta here,” and somehow she was brought to another planet (universe?) I’m not sure; that part was kinda fuzzy to me. However, there is plenty of action. Still, this is more fantasy than sci fi. There are auras, a goddess blessing the union, yadda, yadda. I’m a fan of science fiction, which has lots of themes, but I am not much of a fan of fantasy. Remember in the original Star Wars (now episode 4) where Han Solo tells Luke he’d rather have a blaster instead of relying on the Force? I am a blaster kind of gal.

Basically, it is a romance wearing SFF garb, with and emphasis on the second F. Oh, and if you like lots of good loving (with some sex) then this might be a treat. For me, sex is not a spectator sport.

Some characters and situations appear to be borrowed from other novels by this author, so fan of Smith might enjoy those, but it is a bit like being a friend at a family reunion. The book does stand alone, but some of the clutter of characters could be eliminated.

Only Human— a review

Only Human is my second Chris Reher novel, but this is actually book 3 in the series, which features  Nova Whiteside, a military pilot in some future universe. For me, neither the plot nor the characters were as novel this time as they were in the first one, but this is a good book. It begins with Nova being rather bored at a training facility; however, readers are briefly introduced to her father, Colonel Whiteside. Before readers have a chance to get bored along with Nova, she is transferred (perhaps a bit of a promotion, but no change in rank) to the Vanguard, and she is specifically assigned to a Delphian officer, and they are off on a journey. At first they don’t get along so well, but as the action develops, so does the main character’s affection for her commander.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, I’ll just close by saying the main character is engaging, and there is a good bit of action and suspense. Fans of hard science fiction may have trouble with this story, as some aspects are rather like Star Trek, but that usually doesn’t bother me. There are enough editing glitches to keep this from being a five star novel, but for an indie author, it is quite good. Fans of military fiction and/or strong heroines should enjoy the further adventures of Nova Whiteside.

Sky Hunter— a review

Sky Hunter coverThere are taboos in writing fiction, including this one: female characters can’t be raped. I don’t approve of this crime, any more than I approve of murder, of child molestation, of armed robbery, of well…lots of felonies. Still, crimes do happen, and if a novel is to keep it real, sometimes bad things happen to the main character. Still, rape is taboo. As a writer, I have paid the price for violating that taboo. And, this isn’t much of a spoiler, but in Chris Reher’s Sky Hunter, the heroine does have that experience, early in the novel. But, this is a serious tale of warfare in space, and bad things happen, including the afore mentioned violation.

Now that I have that out of the way, let me say that Reher’s Sky Hunter is a very, very good space opera. The main character is one I wanted to see overcome the difficulties of the opening chapters. Caring about the heroine is absolutely necessary, especially when a book isn’t a light-hearted romp. The other characters, at least some of them, also enjoyed significant development, and the plot twists like a scenic mountain road. Reher’s world building is pretty good, too. For military buffs, there is action aplenty, and enough political intrigue to keep the reader guessing.

Right now, this book is free as a Kindle title, and I highly recommend it to fans of military fiction. But, if you’re a whimp, don’t bother.

Black Hole Bounty— a review

Black Hole Bounty coverRecently, I read Sienna Bronwyn’s Black Hole Bounty, which was a little more erotic than the romances that I normally read, but this one was quite good. The heroine, Jerusa, is different (an albino of Central American origin) who wears a nose ring and is scared of heights. Actually, she’s scared of lots of things…but that’s what a big part of what makes her an interesting heroine. She’s already married and has a daughter, and that’s atypical as well. The plot is not as far from the norm (for science fiction romance) as are the characters, so I’ll call it character driven fiction. It’s also rather funny, because the POV character is, well, quite a character. Still, this story is an action/adventure, and Jerusa never runs out of beings who make her afraid. Often, she has every reason to be scared silly.

As some of the reviewers stated, the worst thing about this story is that it is first in a series and the other entries are not yet available. Some authors are great at writing a series where each story can stand alone, but lots of writers are not bothering with that these days, and that’s annoying, but again, not unusual.

If Ms. Bronwyn can get part two of this series out before I forget all about the story, then I will be happy to purchase it. So, dear author, get busy.

How to write a bad book review

DIYYep, that title was carefully phrased to have dual meanings. I’ve been a book reviewer and an author. Sometimes, as a book reviewer, I just didn’t like a book. That’s tough. Sometimes, as an author, readers don’t like what I have written, and that is tougher, because a one star review can cause book sales to plummet. Well, unless the reviewer is an obvious nut-case, and in that instance…it still hurts.

First, let’s deal with how to review a book that isn’t just want the reviewer/reader wanted. If writing for a site or magazine, the best thing is for the reviewer to just pass on it. Let’s face it, not everyone likes every book. Really. I’ve read classics and wondered, how the heck did this book even get published, much less remain after its fellows all ended up in the landfill? So, it really is best to pass it to another reviewer who might be more amenable to the book. But, if it is absolutely necessary to review it, begin with what isn’t wrong with it. Surely there is something— good prose, interesting setting, an absence of poor spelling and/or grammar. Find something good. Then, state the objection(s) clearly, and then explain the obvious— that others might not agree. If five stars are available, then rate accordingly, and there really should be more than one star clicked. Because whatever the reviewer found that was good probably warrants a second or even a third star.

A really, really bad book is going to be rife with problems— spelling, grammar, formatting; or lackluster characters, a plot that moves more slowly than molasses on a cold winter’s day; or even inconsistencies (such as a character with blue eyes in chapter 1 and brown ones in chapter 8). In such cases there is no need for the reviewer to get emotional and resort to “I”, “me”, or “my” because the author burdens the work with too much evidence that the book is indeed bad. There, and only there, might those one and two star reviews be warranted.

If the book is an eBook, and the reader purchased it from Amazon, there is a return feature. Did you know that? I didn’t, until recently. Anyway, the other day I returned a highly rated sci-fi novel. I did not write a bad review, because I wasn’t about to waste enough time to read it and then review it. Those who slog all the way through a Kindle title only to write a one star review must have intense masochistic tendencies.

Finally, I’ll deal with the second interpretation of my title. Sometimes readers do write really bad reviews. Readers (hopefully not reviewers) who write bad reviews seem to have a tantrum while sitting at the keyboard. The most prominent word in the review is probably a first person pronoun, such as “I” or “my” or “me” because such reviews are not written for other readers, but to express the emotions of the reviewer. In short, bad reviews begin with a lack of objectivity. Then the bad reviewer indulges in emotion, from boredom to revulsion, but the writer of the bad review seldom mentions any positive(s) in the book. Finally, writers of bad reviews usually need a reason for the hissy fit, so the review ends with a warning, guised as altruism to save potential buyers from a book that took months (or even years) to write and costs less than a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

Do it yourself book reviews are just as much a part of modern life as kids who commit suicide because they can’t handle what their mean peers write about them online. Authors just have to be tough.

A Galaxy Unknown— the sequels

Jenetta Carver image

This is an update as well as a review. A while back, I read Thomas DePrima’s A Galaxy Unknown, and despite some serious flaws, I was so taken with the main character and the “universe” of its setting that I immediately began reading the sequels. Somewhere around book five, I had had enough. The main character seemed way too perfect and the rest of the characters were just there to heap praise upon her. So, I read lots of other stuff, but after running out of new stuff, one night I began re-reading the series. And, when reading them back to back, they seemed a bit better. Or maybe, I got used to the annoying stuff. Anyway, having caught up with where I left off, I just downloaded book 7, so I am clearly enjoying the series.

Space opera, especially the theme sometimes called “galactic empires” is a favorite of mine. Lots of indie authors give this genre a try, so I seldom run out of reading material. However, some of it isn’t particularly entertaining. Jenetta Carver’s exploits clearly owe something to another favorite character (Honor Harrington) but while David Weber’s works have become ever so much complex, DePrima’s stories have not. So, these novels are certainly light reading, but for me that is a plus. If I want to think, think, think when I read, I can always pick up one of hubby’s law books.

If you like space opera with a dash of romance, do try Trinity on Tylos, my stand alone novel. (Right now, it is cheap, too!) But, if you want a series, with very little romance, but a strong heroine, DePrima’s A Galaxy Unknown (and its many sequels) is pretty good.

Coolest cover art

I’ve been looking online for information about the new versions of David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels— there’s a video game, comic books, and a forthcoming movie! While the news is interesting, the art files coming from the comic books are seriously cool. I am looking forward to all of it, especially the film version, because Honor is one of my favorite characters of all time.

But, I saw some cover art files from an artist in Europe who is absolutely nailing the image I have of Honor and her universe in my miid. Wonderful, powerful images. Check this out, HH fans!

honor_among_enemies_2_by_genkkis-d5c6lhm honor_harrington___field_of_dishonor_by_genkkis-d72fwyj honor_harrington_war_of_honor2_by_genkkis-d2mtz6ahonor_harrington_flag_in_exile_by_genkkis-d2mty9d

There are more files, as well as some interesting discussion between fans and the author over at Deviant Art.

Honestly, I am simply blown away by the talent and the skillful interpretation of the artist.

Lacuna— a review

Lacuna cover

I got Lacuna, by David Adams, as a Kindle freebie. Not because I write review, but because that’s the price. Really.

And, it is a space opera, which is among my favorite genres.

The description (blurb) from Amazon begins thusly:

“Never again attempt to develop this kind of technology.”

It is with these words that an unknown alien attacker destroys the Earth cities of Tehran, Sydney and Beijing. Fifty million people die… and nothing is ever the same again.

That’s a cool blurb, and the beginning of the book is riveting. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. (spoilers ahead) Many of the Amazon reviewers mention that the plot, especially the main character’s actions, are just not aligned with military protocols. Too true. Worse, the alien fighter pilot (a really cool character) is also not quite believable, either.

Honestly, there is much to like about this book, including plenty of action, a heroine who is dynamic and not American, and a reasonably good job of editing.  However, for readers who insist that plots and character development not require vast suspension of disbelief, then this book is not gonna work.

I’m tempted to buy book 2 in the series, which is no doubt why Adams is giving away book 1. But, if it is as out of touch with reality as the first one, I will probably be mad at myself.

Old News

Since the “new” version of my science fiction novel, Trinity on Tylos, has been repackaged for Kindle readers, I went looking for reviews from when it was first published— not the ones on Amazon, but the other ones. At that time, I sent out a lot of digital files, as well as a few print books, in hopes of getting some reviews. Here are some excerpts with links to the original posts:

Rob Preece of Books for a Buck stated: “Author Pamela J. Dodd builds on the conventions of old-time space opera (e.g., aliens wanting human women), creating a thoughtful vision of alien contact, of the Stockholm Syndrome, and of the both heroic and horrible attempt of one being to perpetuate his species, no matter what the cost. Dodd addresses these issues mostly in terms of relationships–especially the three way conflict between Venice, her human-husband Steve Dylenski, and Captain Azareel.”

Anita at The Romance Studio says in her review:The storyline is creative and filled with exciting action as one race fights another for their survival. Trinity of Tylos is a fascinating emotionally stirring space adventure that shows how far someone will go for someone they love.”

Jean at Fallen Angel Reviews was not only the first person to review the original novel, but she also gave it a “recommended read” accolade: “This is a great book for fans of science fiction and futuristic romance. I’m giving this story 5 angels and a Recommended Read, because it is so well written that it grabbed me at the beginning and kept me enthralled until the very last page.”

ToT_cover_final_webLG

Trinity on Tylos, Mulberry River Publishing edition

ToT_cover_final_webLGAfter six years, Trinity on Tylos is going to be available for  I’ve priced it at $2.99, the same price as my debut novel, The Gift Horse. For this new version, I went through a copy of the eBook and made every effort to eliminate some of the errors in the original. However, there are no substantial changes, as I was fairly content with it, apart from the proofreading, which was a problem with the original publisher.

The new cover was designed by Dawn Seewer, who did the cover for The Gift Horse. The background depicts the landscape of Tylos IV, with the ships in the sky. The models in the foreground are Venice and Azareel, and I think the artist did a good job. A few of the readers of the original printed novel told me that the cover didn’t really convey the serious nature of the novel, so I hope that this new cover touches the bases.

For those who haven’t read it, here is the original synopsis that I used when shopping the manuscript:

What sacrifices must an officer make to save her shipmates from certain doom? Venice Dylenski, the young security chief of the colonizing ship, Excalibur, is faced with this dilemma after her captain makes a critical error in judgement in an encounter with an alien with superior fire power and a hidden agenda.

Trinity on Tylos begins as Venice experiences an embarrassing moment on a survey mission, one which rules out yet another planet as a hospitable home for their colony. While continuing its search, the Excalibur encounters the Archeons, an alien race characterized by gray-blue skin and a facility for language. The interchange results in Venice and a crewmate, Alathea Duke, being taken captive by the mysterious Archeon captain, Azareel. In short order, he informs them that they will play a critical role in revitalizing his dying race, that of surrogate mothers to genetically engineered Archeon offspring.

Venice, reluctant “to be the next Archeon soccer mom,” strives to escape, but her companion seems all too willing to cooperate with their captor. Thus the stage is set for multiple conflicts between human and Archeon, human and human, and humanoids verses the hostile environment of their new planetary home in the Tylos star system.

Trinity on Tylos has the elements of a good space opera: complex characters faced with myriad problems to solve, set in a future where man may have escaped the bounds of his solar system, but not the bonds of human emotions.