Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More excuses...

Sorry authors, I'm overwhelmed. I'm working through it tiny bit by tiny bit--I have your books, but it's going to be a while before I can actually sit and finish them. I'm the lone reviewer, trying to find time to write myself, to commute, to work at my job, and to deal with all the craptastic wonders of my life. But fear not... I will post again soon.

I hope you all had a delightful holiday. Let's hope this new year will bring something good for all of us.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Layton Green; "The Egyptian"

Dominic Grey is at it again, hunting after the mysterious. In The Egyptian, a secretive substance connected to aging has been stolen from a lab, and Dominic has been hired to find it. Once more, Dominic is carried to all sorts of unexpected places around the globe, and once more, the author hints at the paranormal. He has a new lady-lead, and he is still a slick, modern-day gumshoe with the same demons and the same gritty past driving him forward.

I confess, I was not quite as absorbed in this book as I was in The Summoner. I’m not sure if it’s just my personal stress-levels lately, or it’s just that the suspense was quite as intense as it was in the previous book. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good book. Layton Green did not disappoint me. He upholds his high standards as an independent author, and once again this book is as professional a package one could hope for. Edited beautifully, written beautifully, presented beautifully. Even the cover is better this time around.

Once more, his characters are creepy when they need to be creepy, they’re intriguing when they need to be intriguing, he leaves a great deal to the reader’s imagination, which is wonderful because it plays with the reader’s own demons; which makes it all the more compelling to read. His characters are motivated, written with depth and interest, and yes, sometimes a smidge cliché, but with paranormal gumshoe novels, you have to have a little of the traditional mixed in for good measure. Heh! I enjoyed this book, in spite of my taking forever to get through it (along with all the other books I’ve accepted for review recently).

As an independently published author, Layton Green is quickly establishing himself as a sure thing when it comes to producing a quality product for your bookshelf or your eReader. You can’t go wrong with this author. He cares about what he’s writing, he cares how he writes, he cares about how the manuscript is treated, and he cares that his readers, who he appreciates as his bread and butter, receive something of quality from him so they come back. That puts him in a special class of Self-Published author. These guys are few and far between, so if you find an independent author that does it right, stick with them. I can say that for all the five-medallion authors on Odyssey.

I give this book five medallions. I didn’t give it all the bells and whistles that The Summoner earned, because I just didn’t get quite as absorbed in this book as I did the Summoner. I blazed through that book and was watching the little progress bar move towards the last page with increasing sadness. But The Egyption still earned five Odyssey medallions nonetheless—and it comes highly recommended regardless of my own lack of enthusiasm these days.

Note to authors and readers:
I am slowly plugging my way through a short list of books as we speak, but things are slow-going these days when I don’t have backup reviewers nor the time to spend reading. But I am working on it, I promise. Authors who have submitted materials waiting, I do have your stuff, I am reading, but it’s going to be a bit before I can find my stride again. Life gets in the way sometimes. Sorry.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marcia Colette; "Bittersweet"

It can’t be said that Bittersweet lacks originality—because it certainly does not. With concepts like demon-like hags, demon-demons, psychokinetic powered-schizophrenics, voodoo priestesses and all number of other supernatural things, the book has its own flavor, for sure. A lot of the familiar, overly-covered stuff are just peripherals in this book on the most part. Vampires and werewolves are mere mentions. This book focuses on a whole new crowd of big bad.

Phaedra is a teenaged girl burdened with the responsibility of being the parent in her household, which is a difficult weight to bear on its own. She takes care of her little sister and her mother. However the challenges don’t end there. For this unfortunate girl, her mother is a crazed schizophrenic with psychokinetic powers who must be locked in the attic because consumed by her madness; she is bent on harming her children. In her brief moments of lucidity, she works with Phaedra to help arrange for finances and planning but leaves everything mostly up to her daughter. Phaedra too shares the same powers which she can barely control. She fears her future holds little more than succumbing to same madness as her mother and dismisses any hope for herself, moving forward only for the sake of her little sister.

The only thing that brings normality to the household and gives Phaedra a break are the Bittersweet leaves that she obtains from a magical healer. They bring her mother respite from her madness only temporarily, but Phaedra and her little sister can enjoy a brief taste of what life could be like were they normal. Abandoned by the eldest son and the father, the three women manage to scrape by on their own. This is largely due to Phaedra’s efforts to construct a façade of normality. They avoid raising too many eyebrows or attracting attention from the real world. But everything is tenuous at best.

But things get a lot worse when Phaedra’s brother reappears. He claims to know a cure for their mother’s illness and brings Phaedra a promise of a future she is to incredulous to hope for. Phaedra discovers that Kurt’s promises of positive change come with a price; for at his heels; an army of trouble and danger have followed in his wake threatening to destroy everything and everyone.

One thing I can say outright is that Miss Colette is an excellent writer. She is by far a better writer than Amanda Hocking or Lauren Burd. However, she is not always consistent and that is a bit of a bummer. It took me a while to work my way through this book. It had its moments where I couldn’t put it down, and moments when I could barely keep my interest engaged and found myself skipping pages of conversations and realizing that even doing that, I was still not losing any vital information in the progression of the story; which isn’t good. But she is not the first author to make this mistake.

It’s a lesson all indie authors should learn: scenes are deleted for a reason. Sometimes authors get too hung up on interactions between characters; they work too hard on the smoldering attractions, the exchange of witty banter or whatnot and they lose track of the story and often numb the reader’s brain and lose their interest. Authors who write for themselves rather than their readers often make this blunder. Edit yourselves! Read and cut out what isn’t immediately relevant to your story, cut out what has already been established, cut out the conversations and interactions that add nothing to the character’s personalities, story or the whole. If the story can live without it, and the characters lose nothing if it’s taken away, then it probably shouldn’t be here. That’s my advice.

In this book there are some editing issues, however they are fairly minor. Some misused words, some missing words; a couple sentences that look like chunks of them were accidentally cut out. But all in all, as packages go; this one is professional and the writing is quite high-quality. There’s a gritty quality to it that brings it down to the real world. Phaedra’s motives are believable, and the characters are who the author says they are and remain so throughout the book.

Don’t get me wrong, Bittersweet is not a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t a knock-your-socks-off excellent OMG I can’t believe this is an indie-book. But what I think does stand out is the author’s skill with language and description. I’m confident that the author’s future endeavors will only get better and better. I give this book 4 medallions.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Being a cry-baby will not sell books.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been sent links to various negative review articles by other reviewers where the authors being reviewed popped a vein in reaction to it. This is a rare occurence at Odyssey Reviews, mostly because of our policy of not posting reviews for anything that earns only 2 medallions or lower. I'm sure if we panned the bad books in our posted reviews, we'd get more negative reactions from some authors. I usually just tell the author in the kindest way that their book was not readable. I did however have one author react like such a big baby to the review; I changed some of the ways we do things around here at Odyssey Reviews, starting by disabling comments and writing this rather harsh post:

The hard truth is this; if you write to publish, you are exposing yourself to opinion. Period. If you don’t like negative opinions, then you should either make sure that you write like Austen, Steinbeck, Twain, Shelley, Dickenson, Whitman, Keats (None of whom were immune to criticism and negative reviews, by the way), or don’t write at all. My point is... Criticism Happens people! You are giving your work to the public and they are going to read it. Some may love it, some may despise it; it is par for the course; and authors, if you are not prepared to take criticism, you shouldn’t be publishing your work! It’s as simple as that.

It does absolutely NOTHING for your credibility to send lengthy, whining emails to your reviewers listing all the wonderful things other readers said or trying to sway the opinion of your reviewer by imposing other views on them. It’s not going to happen; you can’t MAKE someone like your stuff. I can assure all authors that reviewers are not purposefully sitting about, wringing their hands and smacking their lips; delighting in the notion of tearing your book to shreds for no good reason. If a reviewer is making a criticism, it’s 99.99999999% likely they have been given a reason to. Some reviewers might be more finicky than others, granted, but they are not setting out to make you cry. They are setting out to give an objective, but still personal view of a book.

Posting lengthy diatribe-comments on blog-reviews, or writing novella-length blog posts in rebuttal, arguing with the reviewer’s final opinion makes you look like a huge, snotty-nosed, blubbering baby and the readers who come along will be doubly-convinced not to buy your book. I personally have been known to buy a book in spite of some harsh reviews.

Let’s face it, if everyone listened to negative reviews, would Stephanie Meyer be a successful as she is? I don’t think so. People are still downloading Jessica Black's 'Friday' song in spite of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of well-deserved negative reviews.

If the author has sold the package to me correctly, then even with a few negative words about it, I will still take that extra step and decide for myself. Amanda Hocking’s troll books are a perfect example of that. I read a number of bad reviews before I got them. But buy them I did. I downloaded all three books and found them worthy of 4 medallions. But if one of those bad reviews had a personal response from Amanda Hocking in the comments, decrying the review and proclaiming that the reviewer is victimizing her by forming and declaring unjust opinions about her work, and following her comments with nine more comments which are pastes from other reviews that were positive... Yeah... I’d arch my brow and shake my head and NOT buy anything by her ever again.

By acting that way, the author is blatantly telling their potential readers that they don’t trust them to decide for themselves and what’s worse; they are telling the reader that if they don’t like the book and they think it was bad, then the reader is wrong, wrong, wrong... Not exactly the best weay to show respect one's readers, is it?

If someone gives your book a negative review, to coin a perfectly apt internet acronym... STFU. Let your book stand up for itself. One or two negative reviews isn't going to be its end. If it gets nothing but negative reviews... then maybe that is destiny telling you that you should take up some other form of creative art.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bring 'em on, authors. :)

Layton’s ‘The Summoner’ is certainly a hard act to follow; this I know. It was AMAZING. I *still* can’t believe that’s a self-published book, it was so excellent. I am now reading in tandem, ‘Blackroot’ by Miranda Mayer and ‘A Discovery of Witches’ byDeborah E. Harkness. Blackroot is short and I am almost finished with it. It’s a rush-job book, unedited (but still fairly decently written despite some glaring issues with timeline, some full-on name-errors and other things). The story is really raw and gory in places and quite erotic in others. It’s like an outline rather than a story—it needs padding and some character development. It’s also kind of all over the place. I plan to give the author a full report of this; she published it to Smashwords.com—but I think she needs to take it down and submit a revision. She didn’t submit it for general review to me, she talked about it with me during writing group. She said it was the source of many themes for Tinna’s Promise, a book reviewed by an Odyssey reviewer from Florida who gave it five medallions and an excellence award. MM and I got into a little tiff on Twitter about it being unedited, so I told her I’d read it and rip it to shreds. I'm still working on the reading part, the shreds bit might come later. Blackroot is no Tinna’s Promise by any means. It’s like a shadow of it. But I can’t deny that MM knows how to write compellingly. If you like dark fantasy mysteries with a touch of erotica, then go to Smashwords and find it. Even at in its rough form; 99¢ doesn’t seem so bad to spend on it. Besides, you’ll have access to any revised versions made by the author once you buy it. That goes for all Smashwords books you buy.

A Discovery of Witches is a commercially published book, and is just wonderful so far. Yes, it’s formula, yes it’s predictable, but yes, it is also well-written, gloriously edited and it is the package one expects from a traditional publisher. I can’t believe I paid $14.00 for it as an e-book, but what the hell... I had a gift card. I have a hard time putting it down at night, even though my eyelids are heavy with sleep and I have to be up for work in four hours. I’ve a ways to go to finish it, but so far, I’m delighted. So a recommended read in either format, for sure.

Other e-books I’ve been reading lately; I devoured the books by HP Mallory. This includes two books of the Jolie Wilkins series (Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble and Toil and Trouble) and the book To Kill a Warlock. The freakin’ brilliant covers aside (beyond excellent choice of cover artist on the author’s part) these self-published books are excellent. There are a few editing points here and there, but ultimately, they are wonderfully packaged. They sell off the ‘e-shelf’ and I can see why. They’re quirky, fun, well written and occasionally inappropriate in a good way. It’s not my usual genre... I do like Fantasy, and vampirey things can be fun to a point... but these books were so fun and campy it was a light and quick read. I recommend all three of these books quite highly. The first two-book series is about a witch named Jolie and her romantic trials between her hot warlock boss and a sexy vampire. Annoying love triangle! Oh, there’s a whole war thing over her as well, but that’s an aside. The second book is about a fairy detective named Dulcie. Really cute.

After that, I have Jean Auel’s final book in the Earth's Children series to read, once it’s fully released (I pre-purchased the e-book). I am hoping I’ll get something tasty from Odyssey Reviews to follow. Come on Authors... Bring ‘em on. Where are the good books to follow in Layton’s footsteps? I haven’t got any really compelling queries lately. If you think your book is good, and you know it can stand up for itself, then here I am, waiting to review it.

I’ve been told I’m the harshest of all the Odyssey Reviewers by certain authors. I’ve been told that I am cruel. I don’t think honesty is cruelty. I think criticism is an opportunity for improvement. If you fear it, then you probably shouldn’t be publishing your work. It’s as simple as that.

Anwyay... bring those queries on writers. I need reading material.

Oh, and by the way... I REALLY NEED REVIEWERS! Life has been a greedy hog and stolen all my reviewers from me by throwing a bunch of challenges their way. So if you like to read, and you can write a somewhat coherent sentence describing your opinion of a book, then please contact me at herodyssey (at) msn dot com. I can' t do it alone, even with a Nook.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Layton Green; "The Summoner"

It isn’t often that I get really excited about doing a review. It isn’t often when doing reviews for Odyssey that I find myself forgetting that this is an independent author, that it’s an Odyssey review, and that it’s work. It isn’t often I get something of such quality; I truly believe it should be sitting on the shelf at any bookstore. But it happens, it does. Of all of the reviews I’ve done, I can count three or four books that are shining examples of independent publishing. The Summoner by Layton Green is one of those.

I’m going to be naughty and start with the not-so-good things, and that is one thing, and one thing alone... and that is the cover. I received the book in epub format and did not see the cover until I was preparing to post this review, and I was somewhat disappointed at the sight of it. It’s...well... self-publishy looking. Sorry. I imagined something quite sophisticated, based on the writing, and I was bummed. But hey, I’m here to tell you that you should not judge this book by its cover. The meat of this book is what makes it excellent.

By page 22, I knew this was going to be a five-medallion book. Editing aside (which was a marked win, by the way), the writing is unbelievably good. The description of characters for instance, is excellent... more than excellent. They paint three-dimensional images of characters with backgrounds, motivations, depth and significance. The book has that classic detective story feel to it. It has that mood... the jaded investigator, his complex and deliciously dark past, the dank and eerie places where the story and the clues lead him... Ugh, love it. But what makes this book really exceptional is the rugged African setting which is written with detail and vivid imagery. There are wonderful the cultural nuances. The author’s knowledge, experience and obvious careful and excellent research add interest and ‘texture’, bringing a new level of believability and realism. Of course, the paranormal side to it makes it all the more intriguing. I could hardly put the damned book down. I forced myself to leave my Nook at home so I wouldn’t be tempted to read on the clock at work. This book is going to stay in my Nook library.

The story is centered on the experiences of Dominic Grey, a dogged investigator for the Embassy/Consulate in Zimbabwe. He has been asked to look into the mysterious disappearance of an American diplomat. What Grey uncovers is a dark and terrible chain of clues and characters that lead him headlong into an encounter with the occult. From animal to human sacrifice, the Grey is drawn into a world of horrors he never knew existed. I will not elaborate more than that. The eerie tale aside, this story carries the reader smack into the meat of Zimbabwean culture, into the diplomatic communities, into the struggles between the privileged and the destitute. This book is a wonderful study of culture and anthropology alike, and this book is above and beyond in its narrative, its cohesiveness, the depth of its characters and the quality of the writing. This is one of the best books I've ever read for Odyssey Reviews. I didn't want it to end. This author should be on a big publishing house's frontlist. No doubt.

So naturally, and obviously, Layton Green gets five medallions for this book.

Oh, and also, to the author's editor I award him/her 5 medallions as well. That is top-of-the-line editing work.

In addition; a while back I began bestowing the Odyssey Reviews ‘Award of ‘Indie’ Excellence on books that were of exceptionally great quality and purchase-worthiness. Layton Green’s ‘The Summoner’ is a clear candidate for this award. This book is the kind of work that all self-published authors should strive to emulate—well, except maybe a little improvement on the cover. I truly look forward to more work by this excellent independent author.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sandra R. Campbell; "Butterfly Harvest"

Butterfly Harvest is admittedly not my cup of tea. It’s just not the kind of story I actively seek to read. BUT, I did read it, and I don’t have awful things to say about it.

The first thing that struck me, seeing that I am always looking at the whole package of a published book, was the cover. The design could have been distilled down to just the butterfly with the soft diffused glow on a black background with the title and it would have sufficed. There just seemed to be too many elements in the picture, the faded silhouette, the soft hit of a skeletal structure, the forest background, the foreground trees… I dunno… a little editing wouldn’t have hurt.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. Here are the positive points: It’s well written. The author is a good writer. The text is stunningly edited and it’s a clean, professional looking book. I didn’t find too many errors to halt my eye as I read. I was also compelled to read forward, even though the story itself wasn’t exactly the sort of thing I devour on a daily basis.

The story is about sixteen-year-old misfit Seanna. A product of a dysfunctional home, Seanna has a hard time fitting in with life. She spends time rescuing animals, skipping school to day-dream and avoiding her less-than-stellar life with her food-addicted mother, alcoholic and abusive father and slightly slutty sister. In a moment of crisis during a violent encounter with her abusive father, a handsome, powerfully attractive figure comes to her aid. The fellow named Samuel manages to insinuate himself into her life, and in doing so, turns it into a surreal succession of catastrophes. She seems powerless against this creature, and as those around her fall, she seems further and further enmeshed in this bleak destiny at the side of this mysterious Samuel.

The story was a little all over the place. There were SO many characters that came and went it was hard to keep track of who was who and how they were significant to the story. There was also the fact that frankly, the heroine of this book is really not very likable. She is weak-willed, harsh and horrid about her mother's food addiction, self-absorbed and lacking some depth as a character. There were people who were crucial to the plot who I learned very little about, and some relationships that were suddenly remarkably close despite there being very little to motivate them to be so. The book seemed more like a framework rather than a completed work. The book could benefit from the author sitting down to pad it out some more with more descriptive writing, paring down her characters a bit, adding depth to those she does keep, and adding in some flesh around the bones of the characters' relationships.

In the end, it was still a really readable novel. For those who read King and Koontz, this thing might be right up their alley. I give this book a solid 4 medallions—I won’t dock it medallions just because I’m not a fan of thrillers/horrors. For a piece of independent work, it’s a professional, excellently presented package, and I recommend it to the fans of eerie books.

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: lulu.com (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0557584671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0557584673

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amanda Hocking; "Switched", "Torn, "Ascend"

In these three little novels, trolls exist (and we’re not talking the kind of troll you find on the internet trawling for attention…), they can pass for human except for their unique powers, and they are still switching out their babies for human ones as changelings where they are raised by rich families. The trolls are using humanity to sustain themselves. The troll changelings come of age and return to the Troll communities to bring their hefty inheritances home to fund the Troll communities that await them.

Wendy is such a changeling. She was raised by a mother that actually tried to kill her because she knew Wendy wasn’t hers. Sometime after her mother is placed in a mental institution and she becomes her aunt’s ward along with her brother, Wendy is astonished to discover she has a real mother who also happens to be Queen of the Troll ‘Trylle’ enclave. She discovers in book 1, that she is a princess and she has her own Tracker (protectors and servants of sort) named Finn with whom she finds herself enamoured., She also meets a human boy who turns out to be the foster-family’s child with whom she was switched. She also discovers that her new community over which she may reign someday is practicing traditions she’s ashamed of—and that she’s being hunted by another group of trolls from a different enclave known as the Vittra.

Wendy walks out of a difficult childhood into a confusing life with a mother who is cold and demanding, a future that is daunting and fraught with danger, and a bleak prospect for romance considering that trackers are untouchables to the royalty class.

These books are fun. I devoured them. I bought them with little hope for them being anything decent, but I was surprised. There is the taste of youth in the books, but they are not hideously written, and the writer has acquired the skill of drawing her readers in and keeping their attention. She does repeat phrases again and again sometimes, but her manuscripts are very well edited and clean, which is always a relief whenever I pick up an indie book. Thank you, Miss Hocking for being thoughtful and considerate to your readers.

The covers are wonderful in their simplicity and artfulness. I think they’re beautiful, and they don’t scream self-published like many others do. After a little poking about, it looks like Miss Hocking has a really great tact for being a prolific writer, for producing professional books, and for marketing herself nicely. She is actively managing a blog and website. It’s quite impressive, and I think a lot of indie authors could learn from what this young woman is doing. I think this girl has a strong chance of attracting attention from a traditional publisher.

There are some things about the books that do bother me, but that's likely because I'm not fourteen. The author's skill for description needs work, but that will come with more experience. These books read as very simple... the writing is basic. The stories are really fun and original... but these are definitely books for tweens and teens.

I give these books all a good, solid 4 medallions each -- I feel inclined to give one of them less than that, but I am rating them as a package. So 4 it is.

Lauren Burd; "Immortal"

The gift of a B&N Nook has been both a gift and a bane, because I find myself reading fifty times more than I used to; and my free time is already so limited. ::sigh:: I also tend to browse the nookbooks and buy whatever suits my fancy, since the nookbooks are so cheap and so easy to breeze through.

Immortal is one of four books I’ve read by independent authors that I’ve decided to do non-queried reviews on. The next three books will be done in one post because they are all three in one series. I already had an idea that Immortal would be very closely aligned to the Twilight saga. The story reflected much of Bella’s story.

* Pale, seemingly complicated heroine who has no idea how incredibly beautiful and attractive she really is, and thinks herself quite ordinary and plain against her friends [check]

* Parental relationship problems [check]

* Irresistible to supernatural creatures. [check]

* Misunderstanding and lack of communication. [check]

* Rivals fighting over her (what girl in her late teens and early twenties doesn't fantasize about that?). [check]

* Sudden threat appears in middle of book. [check]

There are some efforts to make this story its own ‘being’ so to speak, to separate itself from the collection of what is essentially Twilight fan-fic flooding the nookbook and kindle lists. It’s a tolerable story that I was compelled to read, so it shows that the author knows how to tell a story… and she knows how to draw in a reader. As independent books go, it's really readable. Like the three books to follow this review, I devoured it. That’s good, especially coming from me, considering that if a book doesn’t draw me in by the first few pages, I’ll huck it aside and forget about it. I’ll sometimes grudgingly drag myself through some particularly bad books, but rarely. If I already feel like I’m going to rip it to shreds with a scathing review, I’ll forget about it.

But what Miss Hurd has done that does make me bristle, is that she published something that was not polished or ready for publication. And this is my usual gripe about independent books… Authors… GET AN EDITOR! God damn it! It can take a good book and bring it down to nothing if you don’t have it polished. I don’t care what you do, take it to an old professor, do SOMETHING, but have it proofread. I simply despise reading along and coming along a ridiculous error that immediately ruins the experience. The flow of the writing is instantly marred when I come across typos, bad grammar (this is really irritating to me… the use of apostrophes is really not so complex as it cannot be learned), misused words, overly-repeated phrases and descriptions, and inconsistencies. It is my biggest pet peeve and it should be one of the primary considerations before anyone decides to hit that ‘submit’ button on PubIt!.

As for the story… well, I think the author needs to work a bit harder on adding a smidge more sophistication to her work, but I really cannot find too much fault with her writing in general. Sure she repeats a lot, sure it’s simplistic, as is most YA material… but it can be simple and still have a tiny shred of maturity to it. Also she should go back and secure the services of a good, experienced editor… and she should work harder to try to keep her story original. I imagine if Miss Burd was writing something that wasn’t based on the standard framework of the vampire teeny-angsty book, her writing style with some originality could really take her places.

I also am feeling a bit cheated. Miss Burd showed some promise at the beginning of her book, hinting at a complex relationship between Alina and her mother. It was the sort of thing I hoped the whole thing would be framed around… her choices, her reactions, her behaviours, influenced by her mother’s abandonment of her. But I was very disappointed. She never expanded upon it once she hinted at it. I wanted to know why they were not getting along—and how that affected Alina’s choices. It's like as soon as Alina left she completely forgot about her except to mention her a bit during one conversation. It was not explained at all, and I think it would have added some serious depth to what is a fluffy story otherwise. Her relationship with her father also… very vague.

I know it’s hard to juggle a lot of characters… and that’s something all independent and new authors have to think about. If you connect people with too many relationships, it’s impossible to carry them all through the story. You have to just drop people, and keep the story going, and leave the reader wondering what the hell happened to them. You should not invest your readers in someone, and then just forget about them.

This could be an excellent story if she took it down from web-sale, and sat down on a nice, warm weekend, and started padding out some of the bones of the story, adding some complexity to her characters, giving them depth and motivations, and raising it a level from the rest of the chaff. She could also work on padding out the brief encounters with the hero, so that the love that they feel for one another is actually based on more than a few chance encounters and chemistry (which the heroine seems to share with more than one fellow through the story) She could really do it too, because her writing is actually quite good.

This is why I’m not going to give the book a bad rating. It isn’t a bad book… it just needs more work. Four medallions.