Posted in Reviews

Introduction and Counts

Alright, I’ve obtained a copy if the first book in the Dark Hunters Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon: Fantasy Lover. 

I’ll preface the reviews I do of Kenyon’s work by saying that I think she has some genuine talent and that I wish that these books lived up to their full potential. Unlike the Anita Blake series, which makes me growl and grind my teeth in frustration, I can sometimes see why people like this series. I was unfortunate enough to come into this series with what are, in my opinion, the two worst in the series. I’ll let you know if my opinion changes at any point while reading the rest of this series. There’s a lot of material to cover, and I don’t expect this list to be all encompassing. I’ll add counts to the final list if I need them. I just have a few basic counts that are going to apply to this book, as well as future books I review.

SADLY MYTHTAKEN 

This trope isn’t exactly original, as I’ve noted by adding the hyperlink. Some of my count names come directly from TV tropes. I’ll link them where I find them. Now when writing in a religion or culture that already has an existing canon, you’re bound to get some shades of this. I’m not going to be anal about it, because of course depicting Gods in modern day is going to require some adaptation, but I’ll point it out when I see it.

WHAT AN ACHOLE

This one is going to come up in Styxx a lot, but it may spring up here and there as Acheron is an author’s pet and a recurring character in the series as a whole.

IT’S OVER 9,000!

This is also one that I made for Styxx, because the use of rape as a plot device is simply appalling there. I said to my husband that if the answer to how many times has he/she been raped in this story could honestly be “Over 9,000!” something is terribly wrong. Is it in poor taste? Definitely. But so is the massive overuse of rape to further the plot.

FUCK. YOU.

This one is sort of a ripoff of Das Sporking, who use this to speak to a character or the author directly (usually they do Fuck. You. Whore.) when the character or writer have said something so blatantly insulting or otherwise horrible that there’s nothing else to say.

AERITH AND BOB

This one crops up when the author mixes in ridiculous or really uncommon names among the Janes, Sallys, and Harrys of their mundane world. Anita Blake is the worst offender I’ve ever seen for this, but Kenyon can slip into it as well.

IT IS TO LAUGH

When the humor falls flat on its face. Again, Anita Blake is a much worse offender for this, but it crops up sometimes in Kenyon’s work. Generally though, I find Kenyon funnier than Hamilton. Keep in mind this one is completely subjective as it relies on my sense of humor.

ILL LOGIC

Another from Das Sporking. Ill logic crops up when the characters actions are completely incomprehensible or don’t follow any line of reasoning a human could follow.

ANACHRONISM STEW 

This one will come into play when the characters use words or concepts that aren’t proper for the time frame. This is particularly egregious in the books that take place largely in the past.

TOTALLY TUBULAR DUDE!

This count will keep track of songs, fashions, sayings, or other things that really date a work. (i.e. if a character uses radical or epic as a descriptor.)

PUNY GOD

It can be hard to write Gods, but one of the worst things you can do is make your godlike beings weak or inconsistent depending on what the plot needs. If any of the Gods are particularly weaksauce, I’ll be pointing it out with this.

AUTHOR’S PET PHRASE

Every author has one, trust me. But many people figure it out and remove them to make the work more readable. If I spot a description, word, or phrase that is overused, it will go under this.

PROTAGONIST-CENTERED MORALITY

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

QUESTIONABLE CONSENT

Sadly, I also have to use this count for cases where consent is never given verbally or otherwise but it is not meant as an outright rape as far as I can tell. This one gets pretty squicky when it happens between the main leads.

BABIES EVER AFTER 

This is a fairly common romance trope, so I’m not as mad at this one, but it just gets my goat that every single couple has to have a baby to be happy in these books. I am looking forward to children myself, but that doesn’t mean all women do. It’s sort of implied that you need children to be happy in your life, which isn’t true for everyone.

And that’s all I have for now folks. If you have suggestions, please comment and let me know. I’m hoping to get the first chapter  review of Fantasy Lover out this week or next. Thanks for reading.

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Posted in Ghostwriting Advice, Home

An Invitation to Indie Writers

I’m not really sure what this is, so I’m just going to put it out there. If there are any indie writers out there who would like me review their books, I’d be happy to do so. Now I’m not going to spend an outrageous amount of money for your book. I’ve got to keep the purse strings tight for now, but I will pay ten or less for a copy.

I will give honest reviews. If I liked it, I will say so. If I didn’t, I will say so. But I will give articulate reasons why and I will offer my opinions on how it can be improved. You can take these with a grain of salt because they are of course my opinion and not gospel. I don’t have an incredibly large audience, and I can’t say how many people will see it. However, I am in the industry. I am a ghostwriter for many indie writers who can market and need talent, or who cannot keep up with demand at the rate expected to make a living and hire me to pick up the slack. I think it gives me an interesting take on the whole thing.

I am going to pay for your book, so you win either way. I’m not asking for a free book in exchange for a flattering review. I’m asking for a chance to read your book, assess it on its own merits and feature it on my book blog.

So if anyone is interested they can use the details listed on my contact page to message me and ask for a review. If not, well at least I put it out there.

Posted in Home, Reviews

Sporking Update: The Dark Hunters Series

Since I didn’t get anyone commenting or recommending which I do, I have decided I’ll spork the Dark Hunters Series instead of Anita Blake. I have mocked both in the privacy of my own home, or to my husband, but decided that Dark Hunters was going to take priority. Why? Well because I have actually seen several good sites that have picked apart reasons why the Anita Blake Series is bad. I intend to be one of them eventually. However, I have rarely seen people pick apart the Dark Hunters Series with the level of scrutiny I think it deserves.

It suffers from some of the same problems as the Anita Blake Series, and some that are uniquely its own. The posts might be less frequent than I like because I need my husband and sister-in-law,  who hold history and archaeology majors respectively,  to help me pick apart all the historical wrong in this thing. We spotted several in Styxx and Acheron, which are a lot further along in the series. It could be laziness, or her editor not catching things, but I suspect there are a lot of them in the series. I’ll let some slide, because we cannot all be history majors, but many will be counted.

In any case, I hope to be posting the first reviews in the Dark Hunters Series soon. I’ll announce the counts after reading the first entry in the series Fantasy Lover. 

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Posted in Recommended Titles

Blogger’s Guilty Pleasure: Fireblood Dragon Series

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The Fireblood Dragon Series is totally a guilty pleasure read for me. I recommend it for lovers of romance, but I think of it as mostly a potato chip book, as my mother calls them. It’s a light, entertaining read you  can finish off in a day. There’s nothing super challenging in these books, but there’s nothing very offensive in them either.

I actually bought this book as an assignment for my first long-term ghostwriting project. I had very little familiarity with the shifter genre before starting the contract, and my client wanted me to get a feel for it. So I bought five books assigned that were in the top one hundred best-selling amazon books and wrote up book reports on them, identifying commonalities and tropes I liked and disliked. I ended up writing a bear shifter story instead of dragons, but this book stuck with me. Of the five I read, it was the only one I was intrigued by enough to continue the series.

Like the Demonica Series by Larissa Ione, my fascination is more about the world building than the characters. World building is something I personally struggle with, and there’s little I like more than a good solid world. That said, there are a few things that strain my suspension of disbelief.

Without going too deeply into spoiler territory, this story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. No, we didn’t nuke ourselves. The apocalypse was caused by a rift that opened between our world and the home of the dragon shifters. The dragons ate people and destroyed a lot of our civilizations. It’s dangerous to be outside the protection of human “forts” which are small pockets of survivors. But it’s not safe inside the cities either. Many are run by despots.

However, the state of the world outside the forts should not be as cozy as it is for our heroines and their dragon men. Maybe it seems like a silly quibble in a world where dragons can turn into men and fall in love, but it chafes at me. I see this a lot in post-apocalyptic stories. Even though the world has gone to hell in a hand basket, somehow the heroes find a place that has all the creature comforts that they missed from their life before.

In every story the women seem to find places with running water and food that hasn’t spoiled. I can believe that non-perishables, some canned goods, and things absolutely stuffed to the gills with preservatives might have survived for seven years (which is how long it’s been since the rift opened in the books). I cannot however believe there is any running water. It takes a lot to keep indoor plumbing going, and even if by some stretch of the imagination water was still being pumped around (which would be a massive effort that you wouldn’t think people would risk their lives for) it wouldn’t be sanitized and therefore unsafe to drink. Everyone should die of dysentery.

I think this is mostly to spare the author and audience the unpleasantness of the girls having to do their business in an outhouse or in the bushes. There could have been several ways to get food and water to the girls that were more believable. Aforementioned preserved food, discovering a doomsday prepper’s home, someone’s garden growing out of control with no one alive to tend it. As far as water goes, there are lakes, rivers, and the ocean to bathe in. Obviously don’t go drinking sea water, but any fresh water found could be boiled to kill the organisms living in it.

But yeah, it’s just one thing that bothers me. Overall, the books were alright, and I do buy the new ones when they come out. Ruby Dixon updates regularly and has several series under belt. This is one indie author I tend to like. She also has all but her newest books on Audible if you prefer audiobook.

I give this book a six to seven out of ten. It’s above average, and I do like several of the books. Mostly, I just like the premise and wish the books were a little more high stakes. But hey, it’s a romance, so its main focus is going to be on that element. What do you think of it? Feel free to comment below.

Posted in Recommended Titles

Recommended Titles: Scythe

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Some spoilers ahead.

I’m a little late on this one, I’ll admit. In the past year or so, reading has not been super high on my priority list, for reasons I’ve discussed in my update post last October. I’m not going to be giving hot takes on every new book that comes out. Between ghostwriting and trying to raise a family, I just don’t have enough time to do the weekly read through and critical thinking that an endeavor like that would require. I’ll be posting what I can manage to squeeze into my life in-between tasks and only then if I really do like them or find them laughably bad I just have to share.

I’m glad to say that Scythe falls in the former category for me. I started Scythe yesterday morning while I was cleaning the house. I listened to the audiobook the whole way through. It was ten hours and thirty two minutes long in total, and I could not put it down for long. This was my first time reading Shusterman, though I’ve been aware of another series of his, the Unwind Dystology for some time. I’ll have to pick them up and read them sometime soon. I will definitely be reading Scythe‘s sequel Thunderhead soon.

I found the world building in this book fascinating. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for YA dystopian fiction, if it’s done well. I like speculative fiction, and exploring the dark and twisted parts of the human psyche. It’s a part of my predilections that my mother didn’t like, always afraid it would take me down a dark road. I find it rather cathartic to see it expressed. In the world of Scythe death has been mostly eradicated. Only fire and the Scythes (essentially appointed grim-reapers) are the causes of death. People can regress in age back to twenty-one, whenever they like. Pain does not last long, and death is almost never permanent.

Our two main characters are selected by a Scythe called Faraday to be trained as Scythes. At the end of a year, one will become a junior scythe, the other will leave in disgrace and return to normal life. But soon the competition turns deadly, and their very lives depend on winning the title of Scythe.

This book is a drama, a murder mystery, a love story, and a look at human nature all in one. For some, that might be a detractor, but for me it always struck the right balance without feeling too preachy or too slow. The pacing was a little off at times, but never so much it pulled me out of the narrative. I found both main characters compelling for different reasons. Their voices felt distinct and I felt for both. This book does tend to jump perspective, which is also something that could distract readers. I found it pretty easy to follow, but it is a concern.

If you don’t like philosophical discussions and just want to get to the action, then the journal entries that start each chapter will grate on you as the book goes on. I found them thought-provoking and interesting. The point the book tries to strike home, which I think it does well, is that without the fear of death and pain–which are all but gone in this world–our emotions are shallower, and we don’t live as freely as we once did. Without the fear of the pain, we do not feel joy as acutely. Death is so uncommon, no one has any urgency to do things.

Without going into deep spoiler territory, I found this book a really interesting take on a supposedly utopian future. The benevolent AI called the Thunderhead was also really interesting to read about, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the sequel.

So I give it an eight out of ten, and I would recommend people read it. As always, I welcome comments. What did you think of Scythe? Let me know.

Posted in Home

Back to Sporking Soon, I hope.

Things have been a little crazy of late. I’ve taken up writing full-time, which leaves me with little time to read, let alone to read critically. I’m paring back my contracts and will hopefully have time to update more.

I’m thinking of doing something with counts à la Das Sporking . If any of you are familiar with them, you’ll definitely have heard of their Twilight and Fifty Shades Sporks. They’re very thorough and extremely funny, so I’m unfortunately not going to do my own spork of the rest of the series (except perhaps the Illustrated Guide, which I’ve not seen read and sporked all the way through.) I don’t think I can add anything that hasn’t been said. If you haven’t read Das Sporking, go take a look-see. It’s definitely worth the read. I like to put them through a text-to-speech converter while I clean or sew cosplays, but that’s just me. I’m an audiobook freak.

So, anyways, I’m thinking of introducing a new series to be sporked soon. I don’t know how many of you read these, or if you comment but if you can, please let me know whether you’d rather I spork Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake or Meredith Gentry series, or if you’re more interested in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series.

I got my first intro to Anita Blake through Cerulean Sins. I couldn’t in all honesty finish it. Not because it was revoltingly bad (though some of them are really, really awful) but because it was so damn boring. By chapter three I’d given up because nothing was happening. The pacing was as slow as a snail trudging through molasses. There was a lot of unnecessary padding, the only action was at the beginning or end, essentially acting as bookends to the whole lot of nothing in the middle.

I got my intro to Meredith Gentry through A Stroke of Midnight. While not as boring as Cerulean Sins, ASoM was almost entirely plotless and filled book cover to book cover with ikea erotica. Since it was my introduction to erotica as a genre, I have a little tiny bit of a soft spot for it and I did list it in my Blogger’s Guilty Pleasures section.

My introduction to the Dark Hunters Series was through the twenty-second installment published in 2013, I think. It was Styxx. Ugh. What a brutal way to get introduced to this series. Acheron and Styxx, which essentially tell the same story from two different brothers’ perspectives. They’re filled will a lot of rape, incest, and more torture than the human body should be able to take. After reading both, I honestly think that Styxx is the harder of the two to read. Both are torture porn. I went back to the beginning and read the first in the series that I could find at my library, and it was actually much, much easier to get through. Silly, rather than sickening. Still, in the same way that Meyer has Meyerisms, Kenyon has Kenyonisms. Rape and unnecessary or gratuitous murder are staples I’ve seen in everything I’ve read. Hamilton also suffers from this trope.

I am welcome to other suggestions, but I chose these two based on the fact that I so rarely find people sporking these chapter by chapter and picking them apart the way they deserve. So I’ll leave it up to you guys. If you don’t comment and put your two cents in, I’ll have to flip a coin and decide. I hope to announce the book and counts soon.

As always, thanks for reading.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Shameless Plug

Sorry to be spamming you all with this, but I’m going to. I’ve recently started a webpage, just to see if there is any interest.

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Book Outlines For Sale functions in essentially the same way as a cover making site, except that I make specialized book outlines. I also give short fiction prompts, opening sentences, and paragraphs for people who are struggling to start or continue a story. This isn’t just for ghostwriters, though that is who this site is mostly aimed at. For people who need a book idea, and don’t have the time to brainstorm a big elaborate world, I’m here.

I’m selling complete outlines for twenty or thirty dollars, depending on the length needed. Fiction prompts and starters are five dollars or less. Extensive world building and a glossary of characters and places will vary in price.

Currently I’m just trying to get my SEO up, since I’ve done all I can on the site itself. Feel free to ignore this if it’s not pertinent to you. If there is any interest, you can find my site here. I’d love to hear from you.

As always, thanks for reading.