K. Mathur’s vivid descriptions bring the college and its students to life. Immensely pleasurable and thought provoking.
When longtime friends Binaifer and Louella meet Shalini Dyal at Gyan Shakti College, Gyan full knowledge and Shakti full strength, a true friendships that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian, Binaifer, Parsi and Shalini, a Hindu.
“To me the book is a mixture of history, cultural information and a lovely story all rolled into one.”
- Sarah, UK
“I was in a style trick about my college days after reading about the three friends from different backgrounds.”
“Khoty has written a beautiful story… I dare anyone to read Never Mind Yaar and not come away with some insight.”
- Rita’s Book Reviews
This writer has a lively and individual voice and handles her male characters quite well: they are all distinct and believable, and work well together. Her female characters aren’t so finely drawn, however, and the writer’s tendency to head-hop makes the scenes in which they appear jumbled and confusing. It’s a shame, as there’s something I like about this writer’s voice: but the writing wasn’t clear enough for me to be to recommend it.
There was a scattering of punctuation problems; and Never Mind Yaar would be much easier to read if the paragraphs were indented; but for me, the overwhelming problems with this book are the writer’s tendency to overwriting, and the lack of clarity in her prose. I’d like to see what Ms Mathur could achieve once she gains a better understanding of point of view; and once she learns how to edit more ruthlessly, with clarity and pace in mind.
I was also disappointed by the slowness with which the story developed. I read fifteen of this book’s two hundred and thirty-two pages and no real conflict had been established by then: all I knew about the story is that it takes place in a university with a grumpy administrator, and that the young women who have just arrived are pleased to be there.
A quicker start to this book would grasp the reader’s attention, and make them eager to read more. If this were combined with a crisper, cleaner prose style this book might well have great promise: as it is, it’s a slow, confusing read which gives just the smallest hints that with a little more guidance this writer might do right rather well.
When Bruce Dinkle takes up the cause of eating only local food, his zeal badly exceeds his judgement. After alienating his family by enforcing a strict locavore and urban agriculturist lifestyle, he abandons them by bicycle on a quixotic quest to learn where food comes from. He quickly becomes enmeshed in a small Michigan farming community where he goes to work for a large crop farmer, meets a sagacious veterinarian, and falls for a randy goat lady, all part of a sprawling cast of characters who enliven this often hilarious, mix of food, family, sex, and a little violence down on the farm. Think Michael Pollan meets James Herriot and Carl Hiaasen.
James W. Crissman is a veterinary pathologist and former large animal veterinarian. He is the author of a 1998 Pudding House Publications chapbook, Jailbait in Holy Water, and has won numerous prizes for his poetry. His short story, Wallhangers, won the 2007 Dirt Rag literature contest. Root Cause: the story of a food fight fugitive is his first novel. Jim and his veterinarian wife Jill live on a small farm in central Michigan where they’ve grown three children and much of their food for more than twenty years.
“We know there is tragedy and drama in obsession, but sometimes we forget that there can be something wonderfully comic in it, too. James Crissman reminds us of this with Bruce Dinkle, the richly weird protagonist of ROOT CAUSE, who sacrifices everything from family to dignity in his effort to find the right way to live. He is Don Quixote for our time — silly, misguided, and just maybe absolutely necessary.”
Keith Taylor, Creative Writing Coordinator, University of Michigan and author of If the World Becomes so Bright.
There is much to like about Root Cause: its characters are reasonably well-drawn, the premise is interesting, and it’s full of black humour which is quite delicious at times. But all these things are overshadowed — not to a great degree, but enough to be significant — by problems which could easily have been fixed with a rigorous edit.
There were a few typos and punctuation errors: Mr. Crissman is over-fond of commas; and he is prone to overwriting and to writing complex sentences with long words when simpler and shorter would be better. Many of the pages that I read were given over entirely to exposition, and to telling the reader what was happening and how the characters felt, rather than showing us the nuances that makes reading so much more rewarding.
The story didn’t actually get going until page seventeen, which is far too late: and by that time I’d already been lectured at several times as Mr. Crissman banged his point home and then repeated himself, just to be sure we got it. Scenes which should have been sharp and pacey (for example, pages twenty six to twenty nine, if anyone’s counting) felt rushed and flat, and were unsatisfying as a result.
These points are not minor but they could be addressed by a ruthless rewrite. It would vastly improve this book which, despite all the flaws I’ve listed, has great potential. I came so close to recommending it but decided not to because there are so many issues with it: but I’m convinced that beneath all the clutter there’s a good novel here, from a clever writer who is bound to get better. I read thirty pages out of this book’s three hundred and eight. Mr. Crissman mighth like to read Alice Monroe and Carol Shields so that he can see what to aim for: and I look forward to watching his talent develop in the years to come.
A house cleaner becomes the muse to a crazy trophy wife and then finds her status threatened by a newcomer.
A Personal Recommendation
A bright student will do whatever it takes to pay for her education.
You Never Know
The eccentric subjects of a documentary offer more strange behaviour than the filmmakers expected.
Next to Nothing
A bitter catering company employee reaches the breaking point during a party at a wealthy client’s house.
Some siblings live large and others are born to clean up the mess. (Idiot Boy was originally published by Identity Theory.)
First, the bad news. The back cover copy for this book tells me nothing about the book or its author and needs to be substantially reworked; the layout of the front matter needs addressing; and the image on the jacket is muddy and dull, and could be vastly improved (it would help, too, if the title were easier to read). All these things do affect sales, and with self-published books being so difficult to sell it seems foolish to me that so many writers shoot themselves so firmly in the foot by producing covers and layouts which are below par.
And now, on to the writing. The short story is a very difficult form to master. There’s no room for even a single mistake: every word has to earn its keep, and in an anthology every short story has to work alone and in conjunction with the others that it shares space with.
In Red Poppies there are a few glitches in punctuation which I mostly ignored, because I found the writer’s voice so clear and compelling; some of the plots felt a little trite; the writer has a tendency to exposition which on occasion chopped into the flow of text. However, if she continues to refine and improve her work, and reads widely in the genre, I suspect we’ll see more from Ms Miskowski in the future. This a good collection, which could do with a little more polishing and a few more stories: but which nevertheless carries with it echoes of Grace Paley and Aimee Bender. I read it all, and recommend it.
HISTORICAL FICTION It was the biggest sailing vessel ever built and the world’s first supertanker. In the winter of 1907, the T.W. Lawson, a four-hundred foot schooner with seven masts, makes her first transatlantic crossing with more than two million gallons of kerosene to be delivered to London. With almost fifty years of sailing experience, Captain George W. Dow Is not intimidated, despite the Lawson’s checkered history. But hurricane winds and an angry sea conspire to defeat man and machine. Bereft of her sails, the giant ship is trapped in treacherous shoals off the southwest coast of Britain. Seventeen lives are lost, including a local pilot trying to avert disaster. Now, Captain Dow is called to account—most especially to himself. Leviathan’s Master is a true story, transformed into a gripping historical novella by the captain’s great, great nephew.
- “Master storyteller, David Quinn, erases time…. To transport the reader is the writer’s job. Quinn does just that.” Mary Sojourner, Novelist and NPR Contributor
- “A beautifully written historical novel filled with excellent research and characters! Highly recommended!” USABOOKNEWS.COM
iUniverse Editor’s Choice
This is a momentous day for, after more than a year of reviewing books here, I have finally found a self-published writer who understands the difference between the hyphen and the em-dash. Hurrah! Here ensues much rejoicing.
Right. That’s quite enough of that. Because apart from Mr. Quinn’s impeccable em-dashery Leviathan’s Master: The Wreck of the World’s Largest Sailing Ship fails on the same old points: his writing just isn’t strong enough. His dialogue is wooden, and veers queasily between an oddly-formal, Hollywoodesque archaic pattern and a more modern idiom: he uses dialogue to present great big chunks of exposition, so reinforcing its woodenness; and I found several contradictions, lapses of point of view and tense, and problems with logic: for example, the narrator describes the house he is in from various points outside; but he is bed-bound, and was brought to this house following an accident: he can’t even walk to his bedside chair, let alone walk around the outside of the house; so how could he possibly know what the house looks like from the outside?
Once again, then, this is a story with potential let down by lacklustre writing. A better editor would have picked up these mistakes: but then a better writer would not have made them. I did my best to be kind, and managed to read fourteen pages out of one hundred and nine.
The day the Berlin Wall came down, Jennifer returned to England, leaving her week-old daughter, Szandi, to grow up on a Hungarian vineyard with 300 years of history. Now 18, Szandi is part of Budapest’s cosmopolitan art scene, sharing a flat and a bohemian lifestyle with her lover and fellow sculptress, Yang. She has finally found a place in the world. Then a letter arrives that threatens everything, and forces her to choose once and for all: between the past and the present; between East and West; between her family and her lover.
Quirky, contemporary, and ultra-cool; sensuous, seductive, and heartbreaking: Songs from the Other Side of the Wall is a coming of age story that inhabits anti-capitalists chatrooms and ancient wine cellars, seedy bars and dreaming spires; and takes us on a remarkable journey across Europe and cyberspace in the company of rock stars and dropouts, diaries that appear from nowhere, a telepathic fashion mogul, and the talking statue of a bull.
I found a few things to criticise in the production of this book: its cover image is far too low-resolution to work well; its front-matter and end-matter are jumbled and unfocused and so fail to do their jobs properly; but the typesetting of the main text is elegant and spacious and very readable, which immediately set it apart from most of the books I have looked at for this blog. Some of the characters used in the italic fonts were overly heavy and so distracting, and really should be corrected; but that’s a tiny thing which I hope will be resolved in subsequent editions of this book.
And now onto the really important stuff.
Dan Holloway writes with a wistful, writerly tone which he handles with great skill. However, he hasn’t edited this book rigorously enough and so at times his writing is overly complex or descriptive (or both), which drags down his pacing. He risks losing his readers’ attention because of this which would be a shame: but it could be easily fixed if he could force himself to be a more ruthless editor. I would also like to see more variation in tone: while wistful is good it can get rather wearying if it’s not lightened occasionally with joy or laughter of some kind, and I wonder if this is something that Dan might find more difficult to fix.
Please don’t think that I’m dismissing Songs From The Other Side Of The Wall: I’m not. Despite my criticisms I think that this is a lovely book written in that rare thing: beautiful, lyrical prose. Dan Holloway is a writer of talent and great potential who we should hear more from. I read it all and recommend it.
An Illustrated Novel-Encyclopedia By David Roman
Eternal Horizon is a science fiction saga about a secret brotherhood of ten men with psionic powers and their internal conflict that decides the fate of an entire galaxy. It’s a tale about war, love, adventure, and the relentless hunger for supremacy. The story follows a man bent on recreating reality, a general seeking redemption for his past sins, a loyalist, a megalomaniac, two brothers, and a mysterious man from an unknown system called “Earth.”
CHARACTERS, + STATS & BIO, SHIP DIAGRAMS, + TOP & REAR VIEW
Eternal Horizon incorporates sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and role-playing-game elements to bring you the very first novel-encyclopedia. Aside from having a powerful tale that will take you beyond the stars, Eternal Horizon has more than 70 illustrations.
ROBOTS, VEHICLES, CHAPTER OPENERS, TROOPS, & MORE
Chronicles of Vincent Saturn
Oryon Krynne, a dissident member of the brotherhood, is ambushed by the evil general Zeth on his covert mission. Fatally wounded, Oryon makes it to his ship and blasts off, heading for an unknown direction…
Vincent Saturn is a spontaneous federal agent who’s investigating a crashed alien vessel. His brief contact with Oryon changes his life for ever. Vincent wakes up on a distant planet with a hazy memory and falls into the hands of Oryon’s cohorts—a faction determined to free the galaxy from a terrible regime called “Imperial Republic.” Lost, vilified, and dubbed a liar, he follows the colorful group on their trek across multiple worlds. Refusing to accept that he’s stranded and the idea that some bizarre power is boiling in his veins, Vincent struggles to find his way home, all the while getting closer to his companions and a beautiful alien princess…
I can sympathise with this writer: I have a strong tendency to overwrite, just as he does. The difference is, though, that over the years I’ve learned to recognise some of my worst excesses and to correct them before I let even my closest friends read my work: whereas Mr. Roman has made his book available to the world in all its overwritten glory.
It’s a shame. There’s a tension to his writing which hints of greater things to come from him: he might not yet have acquired enough skill or experience to self-edit effectively, but he does demonstrate a raw talent that most others lack. I’d advise him to join a writing group, to find good writers who are willing to give him some advice (as always, Absolute Write is a good place to start), and to read as much as he can if he really wants to improve.
It wasn’t his writing that really let Eternal Horizon down, though: its cover is quite embarrassingly bad. The artwork for the front cover doesn’t fit the book’s format, leaving a band of plain black along the bottom of the book; all of the artwork is low-resolution, and can’t stand up to the scrutiny of being reproduced at this size so it’s fuzzy, and the text is all out of focus; the black-and-white illustrations on the back are muddy and grey; and the layout is amateurish and unattractive.
Add to that a lamentably bad blurb, which I found confusing and full of cliches, and you’ll understand how I found my first ten problems on the cover, despite several attempts to be generous.
I read less than one full page of this book but would probably have read quite a few more pages if the jacket had shown even the slightest nod towards professionalism. This is a poor result for a writer who does show signs of talent; but a perfect demonstration of how self publishing is often a poor choice for a writer to make.
The breathtaking mystery of the Irish Claddagh unraveled!
On a fire singed wall not so far away from the tragedy, a collage of photographs shaped the heartbreaking desperation of a city in search of missing love ones. A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of hundreds of Irish CLADDAGH rings uncovered from the collapsed World Trade Center at Ground Zero. The legend of the CLADDAGH’S origin entwines with romance of love tales, perilous adventures, mystery and royalty. A distinctively unique, timeless and honoured treasure of Irish heritage that is no stranger to love, tragedy and triumph. FOR IT WAS ONCE UPON A TIME, a sigil painted on an exclusive white sale of the Fisher King Ship marked with a crown, a pair of hands clasping the escutcheon of Nassau, evident of the crest of the royal house to which Liam, the King of CLADDAGH belongs, was recreated into a great spherical gold brooch to adorn the velvet lavender cloak of his future queen: Rowena, a descendant of ancient Ireland’s fiery crimson-haired goddess Macha, who wreaked a terrible powerful curse upon the northern kings of Ireland’s bloodline. An Irish phenomenon: its famous adage of “Let Love, Loyalty and Friendship Reign,” still eloquently resonates to this day.
Ruby Dominguez, creatively inscribes a link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy; capturing the essence of her vision. She also penned, THE PERUKE MAKER -The Salem Witch Hunt Curse. Both are Fiction Romance/Mystery/or/Drama/Tragedy Screenplays of a CURSE TRILOGY. The Peruke Maker was professionally reviewed by LEJEN Literary Consultants and attained a Good Script Coverage/Analysis. “Visually compelling, provocative, suspenseful, memorable, smooth pace with excellent twists and turns. By LEE LEVINSON
Ruby Dominguez is a brave woman: she is only the second person to have sent me more than one book to review. Her first book, The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse, had little to recommend it; and Romancing the Claddagh: The Curse of Macha, her second, is probably even worse.
I shan’t comment in detail about the back cover copy which is quoted in full above: it stands for itself. It’s jumbled, confusing, and tells me nothing about the book which would encourage me to buy it. The jacket design is a disaster: it’s strangely off-putting, and I wonder if that the girl in the image really is old enough to pose naked (and assuming she is, why does she look quite so sweaty?). I’d have preferred a more legible font for the title, too.
The book gets no better inside. It begins with a prologue which is just as confusing as the back cover copy:
Guardedly, I listened to the echoes of my heart, yet fervently chased it down the deep recessions of a dark sacred chamber, where unspoken intimate emotions of agony and ecstasy come to surface.
Like a goldsmith, I creatively hammer down a precious link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy.
Herein pressed between the pages is the essence of my vision.
That’s on page i; then on the next page we have a single paragraph (which is repeated in full a few pages later, in a different context) with the title Time Period, which reads:
A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of HUNDREDS of Irish CLADDAGH RINGS recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center, at ground Zero.
Is this part of the setup information or has the screenplay begun? Despite it reading like a scene description, I have to assume that it is part of the setup, because the pages which follow contain character lists and locations. Page numbering then begins again, and we have a montage set before us which includes the following quotes:
An unforgettable stark landscape of inferno, pandemonium and death is broadcasted on TELEVISION and RADIOS across a horrified nation and to the shocked world.
ASH-MOLTEN ROADS are creased with GRIEF-STRICKEN FACES, engulfed with sorrowful CRIES of the CLADDAGH ring as a frame of reference to help find and identify love ones.
On this page alone I found fourteen mistakes. I already had more than enough to base this review upon, but something compelled me to read on. The screenplay continues to page five; then on page six we have this:
CLADDAGH VILLAGE 17TH CENTURY
Fishermen leave the safety of the stony shores, love of family and comfort of home to set out to sea to make a living, in spite of the danger of abduction by seafaring pirates and treacherous weather.
Hence, to live in Claddagh is to be a fisherman, or starve.
Or to be abducted by treacherous weather, perhaps.
Some of you might notice that the conclusion there does not follow on from the paragraph which precedes it; so this is a fallacious argument. It’s not part of the action of the screenplay so what’s it doing here? And why is it followed by a list of characters and locations? We have five more pages of such setup before the screenplay begins again.
I’ll admit: I’ve read on through this, to try to make sense of it: but I failed. It’s jumbled, confusing, and at times cringingly badly written. All of the segments I’ve read show a sentimental affection for a non-existent, stereotypical, Hollywood kind of Irish; and what little I’ve read of the historical sections are very ill-informed. In addition, stage directions are used to fill in the plot’s back story and background: it’s bad enough encountering information dumps on the page, but how is this information meant to be conveyed to the audience if this play is ever performed?
I’m very concerned that the Lejen Literary Consultancy has told Ms Dominguez that this book shows promise, because in its current form, it isn’t good at all. Based on its judgement of this book, I strongly urge all writers to avoid the Lejen Literary Consultancy and if you’re still not convinced, read this thread at Absolute Write. I read four pages out of a possible 130 and if I’d observed my “fifteen strikes and you’re out” rule strictly I would have not read even that far.
Journey to an island paradise, the heavenly city of Casilda, and the hideous pit called Marheon and observe the creatures that dwell there and in between. Explore the struggle of good against evil, with humanity caught in the middle, and know that some unseen forces desire the destruction of humans, while others strive for their salvation.
S A Davis, the author of Iman’s Isle – A Tale of Lost Treasures seems to be yet another self-published author who is determined to present his or her book as badly as possible. I can’t be sure of Davis’s gender, as he or she has omitted to include any information about the author in the book.
The back cover copy (reproduced in full above) is full of clichés and nonsensical statements. It gives me just one clue about the genre this book fits into: those odd place-names imply that this book’s genre is probably fantasy or SF. But the back cover copy doesn’t give me any idea of what this story is about, or why it should interest me: and so it fails in the task it has, which is to inform and intrigue the book’s potential readers.
The jacket illustration is another big problem (and before you protest that this blog is meant to review books, not criticise illustrations, despite the numerous issues I have with the illustration I’ve only counted it as one strike of the fifteen I allow each book). What is that big white thing? Some sort of fruit? Perhaps it’s half a radish; but it appears to be bleeding where that creature’s claws are digging into it; and what’s with the six hands, each with six fingers? Do they all belong to one animal? Or to three two-handed creatures? Or perhaps to two animals with three hands each? And while six fingers might come in handy for back-scratching if I were this creature I would willingly trade in half of them for a single opposable thumb. To make the worst of a bad illustration, part of the creature’s furry green tail has been cropped off over on the left-hand side. This surely wasn’t done intentionally, but it makes the whole front cover look even more slapdash.
Inside the book things are little better. I found several inconsistencies in punctuation, some run-on sentences, and a few very confusing lapses in logic. The text was dull and rather confusing. The three men who appear in the opening scene all share exactly the same speech patterns: they all report their dreams in the present tense, but fall back to oddly-formal and rather archaic phrasing in past-tense for everything else; and this lack of characterisation makes it just about impossible to distinguish between them.
There was a paragraph on the very first page which was unintentionally stiff with double entendres, a large and unattributed quote facing the table of contents, and some nonsense about “revised versions” on the copyright page (either the book is a new edition or it’s not): not surprising, then, that I read only two pages of this and will now never know what that creature on the cover was really meant to be. Somehow, that doesn’t feel like a loss.
A top secret agent comes off the assignment of his lifetime. He is having his face reconstructed for his next mission. Without his consent, he is forced to extract all high tech secrets hidden in the mind of a captured prisoner. Through technology the prisoner’s mind is directly wired into Derek’s mind. The prisoner is from the Roswell crash. Derek’s mind is instantly filled with everything the alien knows. Derek decides to run, and publish his secrets. I wrote this for Derek, wherever he is.
Poor old Gary Turcotte: he’s the only writer so far to send me two of his books to review, and I think they’re both just awful.
Carbon Copy: Alpha Man fails for the same reasons that his other book did: poor writing. The text is dull. Turcotte uses lots of short sentences, which leads to a choppy, disjointed style. He tells everything, shows little, but still manages to confuse which isn’t surprising considering how little he seems to know about the subjects he discusses: the surgeries he describes (both medical and cosmetic) are not believable; he seems to consider hypnosis sinister and irresistible, while little more than a stage act; he frequently contradicts himself; he misuses words; and his cover-art is adolescent at best.
I read just six of this book’s 160 printed pages, and that was at least five too many.
Who is the father of Charity’s Child? 16-year-old Charity Baker has her own crazy ideas but even her loyal friend Joanne find them hard to believe.
Attractive enthusiast Charity joins the Crabapple Christian Fellowship and a number of the ‘Crabbies’, including Alan the assistant pastor, fall for her charms. When Charity shocks everyone by revealing that she is pregnant, Alan is the prime suspect.
As the story reaches its disturbing climax, darkness is revealed in unexpected places and we learn with Joanne that many things in Charity’s life are not as they seem.
This powerful tale of teenage sexuality, religious fanaticism, self-harm and other highly topical issues explores the struggles of two young women striving to break free of cultural expectations and oppression.
I really wanted this particular book to do well: from email discussions with its author I knew Charity’s Child had an interesting central premise; and that she is a fluent, entertaining writer.
This is almost a good book, but it’s spoiled by duplications and lapses in logic. In the first three pages, when Charity is introduced, there are several passages which tell us how lovely she is: by the third one, I was irritated by the repetition, and consequently by her. And if the church around which the story centres only has a congregation of seven or eight people, how can it afford both a pastor and an assistant pastor, both with families, neither of whom seem to have any other means of support?
These problems, and the odd punctuation errors (an unnecessary question-mark on page two; a misused comma on page seven) meant that I had reached my quota of mistakes by page nineteen; but the potential of the story kept me reading a lot further.
I’d really like to see this book perked up: I wasn’t keen on the illustration used on the front cover, which is dark and muddy-looking; the back cover copy really needs to be re-written as it is full of cliché and does little to spark my interest. As for the text, it needs a strong line-edit and then it might just stand a good chance of commercial publication.