Tag Archives: Indie

Review of Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense #1), by Sarah Madison

Unspeakable wordsI picked up a copy of Unspeakable Words, by Sarah Madison, as a Dreamspinner freebie over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Description from Goodreads:
Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn… and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.

I’d give this a 3.5/5 and then round up for sheer enjoyment. Sure, the plot is a little wonky. The fact that the men are FBI agents is basically irrelevant for all the investigating they do. The whole set up for the serial killer is literally just dropped in exchange for something different all together and never picked back up again. The two characters’ personalities aren’t really all that consistent from beginning to end. But despite all that, I enjoyed the book. It’s predominantly just the two main characters stuck together and getting to know one another. But it’s cute and a little funny. Actually, it’s a bit like a Mary Calmes book. Objectively I know it’s not really a very good book, but I still liked it and I’d read more.

Review of The Chorus Effect, by Russell Boyd

So, it’s Novemeber and I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo. I’m at just over 41,000 words right now. As you can imagine, that means I haven’t done a lot of reading lately. But I did manage one book, The Chorus Effect, by Russell Boyd. It was sent to me for review.

The Chorus Effect

Description from Goodreads:
Until recently, Chintz had been a relatively normal guy with a relatively normal cat. For example, neither he, nor his cat, had ever journeyed to a synthetic parallel universe. He had never encountered a teleporting baby or an emotionally mature computer. He could count on one hand the number of philosophical discussions he’d had with people holding multiple degrees in advanced physics. And thus far, his relationship with the voices in his head had been purely platonic.

Suddenly, Chintz finds himself working alongside a dysfunctional team of scientists and their astonishing creations, seeking answers to age-old questions — answers that could change our concept of humanity. Of course, that’s only if they can survive federal law enforcement, starvation, psychopathic figments of imagination, the hostile old man who lives across the street, and the end of the “known universe.”

Well, actually it’s the end of “a” universe, that “only some people know about.” But for Chintz, that may not be any better at all.

I suppose there will be an audience out there for this book. It’s trying very hard to be Douglas Adams-like and plenty of people (myself included) love Douglas Adams’ quirky humor. IMHO, this doesn’t quite make it though, as a Douglas Adam’s clone or on it’s own.

On a positive note, it’s well written and surprisingly well edited for a self-published book. There are some interesting, odd-ball characters and had the whole thing been a set up for Katie and Chintz’s last moment’s, I’d have called it a success. But it’s about 1/3 too long (if not more) for that to be the case.

If I had to condense this review to a few carefully chosen words, they would be presumptuous and self-indulgent. The author’s constant breaking of the fourth wall especially. As if the book wasn’t quite quirky enough the author/narrator had to stick his two cents in too. It was annoying and broke up the story.

It was this over the top quirkiness that eventually ruined the book for me. You have characters who speak in mixed up, nonsense for no apparent reason at all. You have POVs from the perspective of a cat. You have a narrative style dedicated to pointing out the absurd over the expected, which could have been great if not quite so over played. You have philosophy passed off as science and science of the hard-core hand waving variety. It was all too much for me.

And that is a shame; because Boyd’s descriptive ability is wonderful. I appreciated the distinct lack of alpha hero and the success of the socially anxious, nerd heroes. I liked that there was a strong female character (though I’m borderline on the fact that her sexuality caused such ruptions. I think the book skirted the cliché, but JUST BARELY). But there was just too much else crowding these good things out. In the end, I bored and just hoping to finish.

Review of Irons in the Fire (Chronicles of Talis, #1), by Antonio Urias

Irons in the FireAuthor, Antonio Urias sent me a copy of his novel Irons in the Fire for review.

Description from Goodreads:
The City of Talis is a fragile beacon of civilization on the edge of the Faërie Lands. Beyond lies a wilder world of dark enchantments and terrible wonders, but behind the city walls humans and faëries live together in uneasy peace—until an explosion rocks the city and long smoldering tensions threaten to ignite. 

As the Commandant of Police, Baron Hessing has maintained stability for decades. But with a murderer on the loose, an anarchist bombing the city, and rumors of a faërie uprising, he is starting to loose control. Hessing finds himself caught in a web of interlocking conspiracies and he may need to choose between saving his city or his family. 

Into this maelstrom appears the Countess. Trained from birth for a single purpose—vengeance—suddenly she’s everywhere from secret catacombs to the halls of power. Beset by enemies on all sides, it will take all her training to succeed in a city on the brink of revolution. Plans are in motion centuries in the making that will change the fate of Talis forever. 

This was almost a winner for me. It had an interesting world, interesting characters, a convoluted plot, and people/fairies doing things for deeply personal reasons. And for the most part, outside of some repetition, the writing was very readable. It could have been really really good. Instead, it was ok.

There were several reasons for this. One, there were about 4 billion characters, each with a plot thread of their own. It was too much and became confusing. Two, the narratives, from all these characters’ perspectives were often provided to the reader in very brief snippets. At one point we got about a page of one character getting sea sick and then jumped away again. It was jarring and not a particularly engaging way to read a story. (It made the book feel very long.) Lastly, the book, with all its many many plot points doesn’t wrap up. So, you’ve been presented with multiple mysteries, none of which are solved. This is a BIG no-no for me.

All in all, it has some fun fantasy characters and the beginning of what will probably be an intriguing storyline 1,000 pages from now. If you’re willing to commit to the long haul it’s worth picking up. I don’t know that I am.