Tag Archives: Indie

Review of Welcome to the Madhouse, by S.E. Sasaki

I won a copy of S.E. Sasaki‘s Welcome to the Madhouse through Goodreads. The ebook was also free at the author’s website and Amazon at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
Doctor Grace Lord, a lieutenant in the Conglomerate Medical Corps, has come to the medical space station, the Nelson Mandela, as the new surgical fellow under the renowned Doctor Hiro Al-Fadi. Though she earned her commission as a combat surgeon in the field, she is unprepared for the scope and pace of what awaits her in the Conglomerate’s Premier Medical Space Station. The countless cryopods that come into the Nelson Mandela are filled with the casualties of the Conglomerate’s animal-adapted military forces. Traumatically injured and disfigured in campaigns spread across the galaxy, it is up to the staff of the Nelson Mandela to patch up the wounded combat soldiers for redeployment. For Grace, it is a trial by fire, as she familiarizes herself not only with the routines and protocols of life on the Nelson Mandela, but also with the eclectic community of professionals with whom she works – not the least of which is an android that has taken an almost human interest in her. When disaster strikes the space station, the Nelson Mandela must race against time to stave off annihilation, and it becomes clear that, regardless of the outcome, nothing will never be the same again.

Review:
Going into this book, I didn’t expect it to be a comedy. The humor was a pleasant surprise. At times it reached a little too far and came across as trying too hard to be funny, but it usually managed to walk the line and I enjoyed it.

I liked all the characters too, Bud especially. The back and forwards banter between the surgeons was amusing and was nicely balanced with the obvious affection the characters had for one another. Grace was a little too perfect in all ways, but I managed to look over her lack of faults.

However, I thought the whole plot-line with the closest thing to a villain the book has was unnecessary, distasteful, distracting, and predictable. It was painfully obvious who they were from the first moment they were introduced. Their character lacked depth, was evil just because they were evil and their plot arc didn’t tie well into the primary plot-line. In fact, it had nothing to do with it and was an unappreciated distraction that was wrapped up too quickly and easily to fee satisfying in any way.

Further, I felt the introduction of inferred rape and mental abuse (described as easy, at that) was unnecessary and detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I am so sick of victimized women as plot-points that I almost just gave up on the book after reading the prologue. I was pleased the subject didn’t come up again. I understand that this particular plot-point probably just set up the sequel, but I REALLY wish this book had done without it. In fact, it reads like it did and the author went back and added it just for book two.

The writing/editing was unusually good for an indie. I did think some of the dialogue was on the stiff side, even when allowing for android-speak and there was an excess of exclamation marks. But I was mostly pleased.

All in all, however, I enjoyed the book. I laughed and was interested enough to read until the end. I’d happily read book two to see how Bud progresses.


What I’m drinking: Bentley’s Oolong tea.

Review of Branded by Flames (Dragon Soul #1), by Sean Michael

Branded by FlamesI received a copy of Sean Michael‘s Branded by Flames from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
For years, dragon-shifter-slash-firefighter Jake has been searching for his mate, but he’s beginning to tire of the search. Maybe soul mates are only for the lucky few. 

Then he meets Shae. 

A former navy welder, Shae is handsome, talented, into power play and rough sex, and covered in dragon tattoos. All of this suits the shape-shifting dragon just fine—until he finds out that Shae literally has Jake’s family crest already tattooed on him. A coincidence? Or something more… 

Jake must convince Shae to trust him as a man and as a Dom before the heat between them burns out of control. Becoming a dragon’s mate is not without danger, and Shae will need Jake’s guidance—and love—if he’s going to make it through alive. 

Review:
This has dragon shifters. Dragon shifters! I should have loved it. But I’m afraid I just didn’t. The book is too long by half and it’s all sex. I mean ALL SEX.

I understand that it is erotica, not romance. (Though, I didn’t realize that when I requested it from Netgalley.) So, it’s fine that the focus is on sex not relationships, but it is not enough to carry such a long book. I got so tired of sex scenes. You wouldn’t expect them to bore a person, but when it’s just the same thing on repeat, that’s what it is, boring. I literally fell asleep at one point!

And it was painfully repetitive. I mean, there are only so many ways to describe two men having sex. The word ass is used 168 times and cock 202 times, in the novel. Now, the book is 216 pages long. That means that once you take out the front and back matter, it’s basically once per page. So, you can estimate how much non-sex plot there is. Hint: essentially none. It might have worked for 75-100 pages, because Shae and Jake are likable, but not 200.

It also uses one of my personal pet peeves. I hate the whole ‘boy’ thing in BDSM books. Totally personal, that; probably doesn’t annoy others like it does me. But it’s nails on a chalk board, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s because I’m from the American South and, while there is definitely a traditional power play involved in the term, it’s not one I find sexy in the least. In fact, I always unconsciously read it with an unnatural emphasis that rips me right out of a narrative. I just really hate it.

I also disliked that Shae started the book as a somewhat butch, tattooed, pierced, ex-Navy welder and as soon as Jake showed up, he turned into a rather camp ‘queen.’ Either would be fine, but the personality shift was jarring.

Outside of these irritants the writing is fine and there is some humor in the book. Plus, I rather enjoyed Jake’s uncertainties, though I also thought they didn’t match the rest of his character. I appreciated that Shae was supposed to be almost 40. It’s so rare to find older romantic leads. And, of course, the whole this is about dragons, which is always a plus for me.

In the end, I think this may just be a case of a poor pairing between a reader and book.

Review of Perdu (Redire de Vampyrus, #1) by Raeden Zen

PerduI’ve had Perdu (by Raeden Zen) for quite some time, having picked it up from the Amazon free list over two years ago.

Description from Goodreads:
Ruth and Eugene Flowers desired the American dream: two kids, a big house, and a dog. But it wasn’t meant to be–at least not initially. When a surprise package literally fell into their laps, however, the Flowers would finally get their wish (sort of). Soon, it all goes awry, as mysterious deaths followed by a disappearance permanently disrupt their lives. Meanwhile, many years later, a grown-up Valerie Green, a nearby neighbor’s daughter and high-school sweetheart of their son, Zan, hits it huge in the Big Apple, first landing at Columbia University, then at the New York Pioneer, the hottest online periodical in the city. When she is forced to cross the path of hotshot FBI special agent, Dr. Devean Rasr, she doesn’t realize she is also wading much deeper into the biggest, most dangerous, and most challenging killing spree in the history of NYC.

Review:
This book is a mess. There’s no identifiable main character. It has no consistent timeline. Characters make absolutely unfollowable leaps of logic. Clues conveniently pop out of nowhere. The villain is a character that literally isn’t in the novel until the reveal and then isn’t in it after, so a nobody. There are several info-drops, most of which is pointless information that is never utilized. There is constant head hopping. Characters appear and disappear as needed. No one have believable emotions. The dialogue is stilted. The love is unfounded and baseless. Pretty sure I have nothing positive to say about any of it….Ok, it was short and I like the cover.