Between Two Worlds, Christy Santo

Between Two Worlds, Christy Santo

Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds is a fantasy story, following the experiences of a woman whose concussion turns into a coma of several months’ duration. It offers an interesting perspective of a combination of the protagonist’s real life experiences of her coma and the events around her, observed as through from an out of body perspective, interspersed with the experiences of another older woman from her hometown.

While the idea was interesting, I experienced some challenges with the read. The book is written in a first person, present tense style that, as a reader, always makes me wince. Some of that is the jerkiness that it gives a book; I find it impacts the smoothness of the writing and keeps pulling my attention back to the writing rather than allowing it remain on the story. That’s a personal perspective.

From a more technical side, the level of description of trivia in the story often overwhelmed the events, and dulled the emotional impact that the scenes may have been intended to convey. There were also a number of punctuation issues that periodically forced me to stop and re-read to ensure I had the passage correctly, and combined with the rest, meant that the story didn’t really draw me in and hold my interest as I read.

Overall, I think that the basic idea was strong, but the book itself would benefit enormously from a strong developmental edit or critique.

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E., Sam B. Miller II

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E., Sam B. Miller II

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E. has a plot strongly rooted in classic science-fiction; flying saucers, reptilian aliens, top-secret military bases in the desert working in fields ahead of their time of which the uninitiated are entirely ignorant—you name it.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to really get into this book. The thing that initially threw me was a lack of depth and a certain fatal similarity across the character types; the sociopathic, flesh-loving aliens, the men who were easily identifiable as being in the military because of their square jaws and muscular builds, and the lady scientists in pretty lipstick and alluring hairstyles. I kept going anyway, because sure, sometimes a book takes a chapter or two to really get into the swing of the story, but unfortunately that particular element stayed constant.

Additionally, while the style of the writing was actually very apposite to the plot, the frequent, gung-ho references in the narration to things like preserving the land of the brave and free kept making me want to laugh in inappropriate places, which I don’t think was the intention. There was also a great deal of description, which I found impacted both the realism and the pacing of the story. I don’t need to know what a guy weighs when his primary contribution to the storyline isn’t in a wrestling match, or that the meeting room in which the fate of the planet is discussed has a dimmer switch.

I think that this book would benefit enormously from a strong critique, or better yet, a full developmental edit. There are undeniable strengths in the work, but they’re desperately undermined by other elements of the story and writing.

Amber in the World of Shades, J K Riya

Amber in the World of Shades, J K Riya

Amber in the World of Shades: The World of Shades Series, Book One

Featuring a cursed ring, an evil wizard, star-crossed true love, and a fairy princess, Amber in the World of Shades is a YA fantasy novella mixing many of the traditional elements of the genre. Despite the colourful backdrop to the story and the imaginative mix of secondary characters woven into the plot, I found that the read was lacking the substance that would have kept me hooked.

Among other things, I’m a sucker for a strong protagonist, and unfortunately Amber’s main strength proved to be in getting other people to mount a timely rescue. Without someone else’s intervention in the nick of time, our heroine would have died something like five times in the novella, which wouldn’t have been a problem for me if she’d actually contributed more to her own survival. Her main contribution to the plot was being the catalyst through which a secondary character took their moment in the spotlight, which made her hard for me to relate to.

The plot also felt a trifle simplistic as I read; notably, the level of cooperation to kill the evil wizard that suddenly materialised apparently simultaneously with Amber. Some of the secondary characters, including some fairly kick-ass magic users, had spent up to half their lives imprisoned by this wizard, but within a few months of Amber’s appearance, they’d all learnt to pull together and get rid of him. Between those elements, the story failed to really convince me, and so, with regret, I can’t give this more than two stars.

Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous: A Novel by Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous is the story of Miles, a nine-year-old boy thrown across a rift between worlds to a place where several species are in the middle of a war. Magically transplanted, Miles slowly develops a number of magical skills, increasingly making him a weapon against the danger dividing the kingdoms.

While I feel that this book could make a worthwhile novel for younger readers, as it tells the story from the point of a small child whose parents are in the midst of a divorce and interweaves scenes of the family divorce as the basis of Miles’s burgeoning magical skills, I didn’t find that it pulled me in.

Although the range of species was impressively varied, they were all, at heart, good old guys willing to spend more or less endless time and resources looking after a somewhat spoiled nine-year-old while in the middle of a war. I didn’t find that beyond the scene-setting, there was any exploration of differences between the species. In addition, the frog-like Rompun species spoke bad French, and unfortunately my sense of humour is a very small verging on non-existent target to hit, so this didn’t really do much for me. The final nail in the coffin for me in terms of plausibility was that at least two of the main players walked away from certain death to come back and provide vital support for our young protagonist. If this book was designed for a very young audience, I can see why that decision might have been made, but the implausibilities made the story impossible for me to get into.

Not yet released

The Chemist, Alan J Field

The Chemist, Alan J Field

The Chemist: Daniel Strong #1

Katelyn Currie is adopted, broken, and a genius. Under the thumb of her adoptive parent, she’s created one of the most powerful toxins ever seen; one that kills silently, and in seconds. As one of the main characters in The Chemist, Katelyn is skillfully written and fleshed out, more and more of her past coming to light in flashbacks through the story. Generally a high incidence of flashbacks makes me want to beat my head on the nearest solid object, but author Alan J. Field handles them particularly well in this book, the overall effect of sanity crumbling and letting the memories escape being one of the strongest elements of the story.

However, aside from the characters, the novel was a difficult read for me. From the technical aspect, a lot of the adjective and simile use was more than a bit over the top, which undermined the intended menacing effect in many of the passages. In addition, typos tripped me up on a number of occasions, pulling me out of the plot with (on a couple) unintended comedic effect. The combination of the two more or less shot the pacing in the foot as far as I was concerned, and rather than the breathless ride effect of a fast-paced thriller, I didn’t find my attention was held by this book.

There were also areas where sentences were repeated, or where two pieces of dialogue with much the same content but slightly different wording were jumbled together. It read rather as if the author had tried several different options for a particular line, but missed deleting the unwanted options – nothing that couldn’t be simply fixed, but jarring to come across mid-read.

Overall, I feel that this book would profit hugely from a ruthless copy-edit. It definitely has a lot of potential, but in its current form, it’s a very frustrating read, and it’s not doing itself justice.