Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diane Dean Epps; Kill TV

Leslie Loyd has had a bad day. her boss is dead, it's tax day, she's missed her hair appointment and she's the prime murder suspect. Her bad day becomes a bad week as the rest of her news crew team start to become the news. She tries to hold it all together with caffeine and a possible new love interest while trying to solve a new and very close to home string of deaths.

Kill-TV is written in the internal dialogue of Leslie, we follow her most intimate thoughts as her mind wanders while her body blunders through life. Leslie's voice is what truly carries this book, every woman is a little like her, and we all have a friend she will remind us of. Her honest voice makes reading this book similar to listening to a hilarious and yet disturbing story being related to you over coffee by one of your girlfriends. Leslie is constantly having very entertaining mental battles with herself she has to come to terms with disturbing event after disturbing event. Written much like a murder mystery, the candid mind of Leslie never lets the reader sink too deeply into the tension of the plot. We all know she's innocent, but then who among
the lively crew of news people she works with - isn't so innocent? Who is it with blood on their hands, and are they gunning for Leslie next? The assembled cast of characters is for the most part very believable and fairly well fleshed out. The dialogue is spot on, even when Leslie places her foot in her mouth time and time again, the reader cringes with her.

This is one of the most well written indy-authored books that I have read, and with it being from a small press there are only minor printing issues that may or may not annoy the reader. One is that the font is small with wide spacing between the lines, I had no problem with it, but I cannot see anyone in the 50 and up crew reading it without the aid of a pair of readers. The second is simply that the justification used makes the final sentences of some of the paragraphs space way out. Nothing major, and if these are the only complaints I
have about the book then you know the author is doing something right.

Though I wouldn't say this book is for everyone, the audience it is for has a lot to look forward to. This book is geared more toward female readers, specifically those that like a little humor and a little mystery and have had their fair share of ups and downs in life. I can honestly say that I hope a large publishing house picks this book up and gives it the physical polish that the tale contained within deserves. So if you don't mind a few typesetting issues, pick up a copy of this to read while relaxing and enjoying a cappuccino.

Author: Diane Dean Epps
Perfect Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Hope Springs Eternal Press; 1st edition (April 14, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981482902

Friday, September 19, 2008

A.K. Kuykendall; Conspirator's Odyssey

The government is evil, they are sneaky, they are hiding things and we had all better beware. Starting in the future, and then leaping back and forth through the past, we follow Kalista Flaker, a special Ops soldier who has risen in rank due to her ferocious demeanor and obsessive nature. When she and her team are deliberately sent on a suicide mission, Kalista begins to dig into the nature of the government beast that has been controlling her for all of those years, and uncovers a disturbing truth. Determined to bring down the system and expose the lies, she makes it her mission to obtain proof of the vast conspiracy.

Kuykendall has a very distinct voice and an excellent writing style. For conspiracy theorists that border on obsessive, this book will be a goldmine. Beginning with the Area 51 cover up, to the Bay of Pigs, to the tragedy of 9/11, it almost feels as though the author was determined to cover every conspiracy known to man. The author has done their historical research, and much of this book does read as though you are in a history class, giving you almost too much background on events like the Bay of Pigs, or the History of different military groups. But the author weaves his own take on the events into the tale, giving the "truth behind the conspiracy" that he has invented, some times they are intriguing, other times they seem to go a bit overboard.

The opening of the book is a bit muddled in that we leap around in time so much that if you don't carefully read the dates at the top of thechapters, it will be easy to find yourself perplexed. When you get past the initial history lesson, and into the story of Kalista and her team,the book really gets moving. I flew through the middle of the book, which reads like a military espionage tale. I was a very happy readeruntil about the last 30 pages of the book, when the tale went a bit sideways in my mind. Truly, the Sci-fi aspect had been there from thebeginning, we are reading about an alternate reality... the government has created a serum from alien DNA to create super soldiers... I boughtit all, but when we came to the end my suspension of disbelief wouldn't stretch that far. I don't want to spoil it, but it seemed almost as ifit was a throwaway ending that dumped way too many new conspiracies and sci-fi aspects on the reader out of nowhere.

Now I'm not saying that it's a bad ending, it just wasn't to my taste. I can probably name a handful of people who will absolutely love theending of this book. Also the book leaves the ending open enough to imply that this may be the beginning of a series, following Kalista andher brother in their attempts to save mankind from ultimate destruction. I would be interested in reading additional entries in this series, the author's writing style is very fluid, and apart from a few lines that irked me this is a very well written book (on of my biggest pet peevesin reading is when siblings address each other as "Brother" or "Sister", I've never in my life heard anyone calling their sibling that).

Final summary: Though I would not recommend this book across the board, I would recommend it to the military/sci-fi crew and to the fans ofconspiracy theories. If this becomes a series I can see this book developing a small but rabid fanbase.

3.5 of 5 Medallions

Conspirator's Odyssey: The Evolution of the Patron Saint (Paperback)
227 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (March 3, 2008)
Language: English ISBN-10: 1604742755

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bernard Steele; Death in Small Doses

Steele is a first time author who has developed a very entertaining and complicated plot involving terrorist, the DEA, Cocaine and a nasty terrorist plot. Though the concept of drugs being smuggled next to bomb making materials and becoming irradiated has been done before in several other novels (see "Atomic Lobster" by Tim Dorsey for a comedic example) it is only a small trigger piece to a much more involving plot.

The Good: The plot is engaging and well thought out. The terrorists are once again planning to harm the residents of NY and we have all of the government agencies working to stop them. There are a few fire fights for those of you who enjoy a bit of action in your books and we also have a kidnapping, a poisoning or two, and a handful of drug dealers.

The Bad: Steele has difficulty in truly fleshing out his characters and making them believable personas. We have a lot of "he said" and "she said" but no real description of physical characteristics, character traits, tics, or even differentiating speech. The dialogue is extremely forced and often reads similar to a technical manual rather than individuals having a conversation. Often one individual will make a speech stating events then we cut to another chapter. There is very little true human interest, though it is obvious that the attempt to
interject some romance was made, because the reader is not able to "see" the characters through the writing it comes across as effective as simply writing "they went on a date". Still there is a lot of promise in this writer once he has delved more deeply into the human state of affairs rather than the technical side. A different issue that many readers will have is that the book comes across as preachy; several characters have paragraph or longer dialogue simply to put the author's opinions on drugs, evolution, racism, education, Muslims, or terrorism
on the table. No one argues with them and the dialogue reads as more of a thesis argument rather than people truly having a philosophical discussion or debate.

The Ugly: I am assuming that this is not the fault of the writer, but the editing of this book is non-existent. There are misspellings, bad grammar, words in the incorrect order, apostrophes used incorrectly, strange usage of italics, chapter breaks where there shouldn't be, and chapter breaks missing from where they should be. In the beginning of the book, there is a chapter break almost every two pages, towards the end of the book the focus shifts from the terrorists to the DEA agents, and back to the terrorists with no break or notification to the reader that we are shifting to a completely different location and group of people. It is not until the names change that the reader is able to catch on that the focus has shifted again.

It is my suggestion (and a humble one at that) that the author would be benefited by a very strong editor who is willing to work with him to clean up the printing issues and to assist him with cutting some of the unnecessary chapters in order to make room for fleshing out the main characters more. I cannot in good faith, with the grammar and printing issues in this edition, suggest it for purchase as is. I truly hope to see this book re-worked and edited because it is a strong story at it's

2 of 5 medallions.

Death in Small Doses
Paperback: 308 pages
Publisher: Trafford Publishing (September 20, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1425139108

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Keith Knapp; Moonlight

Though Keith Knapp's debut novel Moonlight is almost 500 pages long, don't let that deter you from reading it. There is a lot of space and the font is large. If "Moonlight" had been printed by most of the mass market crew this book would probably be in the 330-350 page range. Beyond that...the almost 500 pages of this book are very good and the author managesto entertain from beginning to end.

Short Plot Summary: The power goes out, and along with it everything else stops working from cars to watches to anything you depend on formodern civilization. As if that isn't enough, suddenly people aren't acting right... in fact they have become downright homicidal, and for some reason when you knock them down, they just keep getting back up,alive or not. We follow a band of survivors as they try to figure out what is going on and how they are going to live through the madness.

Meanwhile we have the dark man in the trench coat who isn't thrilled about our crew of scrappy survivors. With echoes of "The Stand" and "The Rising" this novel takes off quickly.

"Moonlight" is a very easy read, it flows well and although at first it appears that this might end up being something we've all read before, it quickly turns down a different path. The author does a good job of keeping the tension up and not spoon feeding the reader all of the truth as to what is going on too quickly. I also really appreciated that no-one in the book immediately had the answer.

There were guesses all over the ball park, which is far more realistic than many other horror novels where someone always seems to know exactly what the problem is right from the get go. Knapp also does a wonderful job with his characters. Though I won't say they were all multi-dimensional, the ones we needed to care about, he was able to evoke enough emotion for.

The reader will be concerned for many of them, and not all of them will make it. Though for the most part it is pretty clear who is going to live and die, there were a few stray deaths in there that I wasn't expecting (which is always good). As far as the ending... It could haveu sed a little more umph and fireworks but other than that, I closed the book and felt satisfied with what I had read. My only real issue with the book was the title, which really didn't have anything at all to do with the story. In fact many readers may be confused at the lack of werewolves in the story.

Oh and a warning for those of you who are not familiar with the horror genre, there is a good bit of gore in this book and there IS profanity, though I didn't personally find it excessive or out of place. I would suggest this book to the standard horror fans (King, Koontz, Matheson), I don't know that the extreme horror crew will find enough of the truly disgusting moments to keep them satisfied. Also this book is PG rated when it comes to the nudity and sex aspect (which I was completely happy with) but if that's what you are looking for, head for some Laymon or Lee rather than this novel. I really enjoyed this read and will pick up others by this author when they come out. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Outskirts Press (October 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1432715658
ISBN-13: 978-1432715656