Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: Grace Lost, by M. Lauryl Lewis

Title: Grace Lost
Author: J.L. Bryan
Pages: 334
Format: Kindle Edition
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Star Rating: 1/5
Network: Shelfari Goodreads 
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Zoe and Boggs have been best friends since they were children. When Zoe's entire family was killed, Boggs was unavailable physically and emotionally, but now he's back and raging war against the zombies that have taken over the free world. In spite of his absence during a particularly trying part of Zoe's life, Boggs has developed a romantic (i.e. sexual) interest in his best friend and pursues her relentlessly when not fighting off the living dead.
My Review:

This was sincerely one of the worst books I've read in about three years. I hate giving such a negative review to a book when I know that the author put a lot of effort into it, but this book was a taxing read due to its heavy use of passive voice and the overall lack of a plot to drive the action. The author uses long descriptions of inane activities that don't move the story forward, and the romantic elements of the book are unrealistic. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that Boggs' manipulation of Zoe is sexual assault.

At best this book was gory. At worst it was truly disturbing. 

There's not much more to say about my opinions on this book, but you are as always welcome to read my full review of Grace Lost.

I would not recommend this book!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Problem of Passive Voice

Many novice and independent authors use passive voice in their novels. When I edit, both for myself and for others, I like to pick out passive voice in a novel and encourage the author to remove it. Passive voice is tedious and boring to read and will exhaust the reader. An author's goal needs to be keeping the reader with them through the novel and into its sequel or the next novel that she publishes. The use of passive voice may contribute to the loss of a reader. Remember that not every reader will review your work: If you're using passive voice, you are making the narrative tedious and you are losing readers who may otherwise have stuck with your book.

Moreover, many readers don't know what passive voice is, because, after all, they are readers and leave the writing up to you. They only know they don't like what they're reading. Imagine how many more positive book reviews you'll get if you cut down on the amount of passive voice you use in your books.

This article proposes to explain the active and passive voice to authors who may be reading this blog.

Let's begin by discussing the relationship between a subject and the related verb. If you're an author who has never diagrammed sentences or who doesn't understand all parts of speech, this is a time to lean the various sentence parts before continuing. I'll briefly explain what the subject and verb are, for those who don't have the grammatical lessons necessary to understand these sentence parts.

The subject of your sentence is the thing (or person) the sentence is about. It is usually the first noun in a sentence (in English).

The nouns of the sentence below is in bold.

Becki looked at Michelle and narrowed her eyes at her friend.

Do you know which noun is the subject? Remember, the subject of the sentence is usually the first noun in the sentence.

In this case, the subject of the sentence is Becki.

A verb is a word which describes what something or someone is or does.

For example, the verbs are bolded in the below examples:

Becki narrowed her eyes at her friend.

Becki is a good friend.

The above sentences are written in the active voice because the verb describes what the subject does.

In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by another agent.

The above sentences can be made passive as follows:

Michelle was looked at by Becki, whose eyes were narrowed at her friend.

Passive sentences are generally longer than active sentences and make for a good place to cut the fat from tedious text in your novel. Remember that you should always write your first draft big, then revise to make it smaller. Never use passive voice to make your novel longer. Whenever you can re-word your sentences to make them more active, you should. Your readers will appreciate the improved flow in your novel and will feel more connected with your characters.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Jenny Pox, by J.L. Bryan

Title: Jenny Pox 
Author: J.L. Bryan
Pages: 312
Format: Kindle Edition
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, New Adult
Star Rating: 3/5
Network: Shelfari | Goodreads |
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Jenny Morton has something evil lurking inside her. She cannot touch another person for fear that doing so will spread the horrible "Jenny Pox," a pestilence which can kill or merely severely maim those with whom she comes into contact. She's lived her entire life unable to make skin-to-skin contact with another person, until she learns that there are other people in her home town in South Carolina who harbor the same types of secrets she does.

My Review:

I liked the story in this book and the ending "wowed" me. I'd expected something entirely different and cliche, but J.L. Bryan came up with an ending which not only left the story open to a sequel (or three) but kept me wanting to find out more about who Jenny and Seth (and Ashleigh) are.

It should be noted that this book isn't for teenagers. The book contains a lot of sex and drug use, some of which is clearly gratuitous. Concepts in this novel may be over the heads of some teenagers and I would recommend Jenny Pox only for people over the age of sixteen, as the disclaimer on the Amazon page indicates.

Serious readers may wish to note that the book contains many stylistic errors which detract from the reading of the novel. Not only is passive voice a problem, but the author uses too many "filter words" to describe the setting. It's clear that Bryan lacked confidence with this novel and could have done with a good third-party editor. 

In spite of its faults, however, the story was exceptional. Christians, Conservatives and Southerners should be warned of offensive content suggesting that they (we) are psychotic, deluded and bigoted. 

I would recommend this book!

You can read my full review of Jenny Pox on Hubpages.

Picking Back Up

Hello bookish friends and followers! I'll be picking this book blog up again over the course of the next few months, so please expect to see me back again!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Circle Trilogy, by Nora Roberts

All together now!

As I think I've said before, I didn't enjoy the circle trilogy the first time that I read it. I found it odd, especially for Nora Roberts. While I know that some other readers really loved this particular series and thought that it was right in line with what the author has always done, I thought that it was strange and over the top in a lot of ways. I also felt that this series was either too long or too short, depending on the perspective that you take.

Like most of the Nora Roberts series that I've read, I am re-reading this one. It is actually my current read (starting with Morrigan's Cross, which is taking me a while to get through). Interestingly, I'm enjoying the series more the second time around, when I am not beginning to read it with any sort of previous prejudice. Now that I feel as though I am essentially taking Nora Roberts out of the equation, I can read the novel as it may have been intended; as something entirely different from anything she's ever written before.

I confess that The Circle Trilogy is never going to be my favorite series by Nora Roberts. It probably will never rank high for me among paranormal romance novels either.

The Circle Trilogy review lenses on Squidoo are all completed now, and I would love it if some of you would take a look over there to participate in the interactive parts of the page that I can't put together as easily here on Blogger. (I love using Squidoo, for the record!). I hope that you'll enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Morrigan's Cross, by Nora Roberts

I am currently re-reading Morrigan's Cross, by Nora Roberts. This is the first in the Circle trilogy, and I remember that my first impression when I read it the last time was that some amateur was writing under the Nora Roberts name. I've read through some reviews on Amazon and it is very clear that I am not the only person who holds this opinion of the novel. It seemed that she was making an effort to borrow Anne Rice's style, steal some of the thrill of the current paranormal romance trend, and then pulling it all off... badly.

It was difficult to like Hoyt or Glenna the first time that I read their story. I found both of them pitifully boring and the romantic threads between them weak, at best. It was very difficult to force myself to read the second story in the series, though I am very glad that I chose to do it.

The problems with this book and the storytelling in it are rampant. Roberts hops from head to head at the speed of light, coming across as very amateurish (think Rowling in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) and inconsiderate of the reader. Not many readers, particularly of romantic fiction, want to hop around in the heads of the characters. God perspective isn't enjoyable for most readers.

I'm re-reading the story now and am finding the characterization a bit easier the second go-around because I know what's coming in the subsequent novels. That being said, this still is not one of Nora Roberts' best.

You can get more on my Morrigan's Cross review on Squidoo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Twilight vs. True Blood Debate

I know I said ages ago that I was going to post something about this debate, and I just never really got around to doing it or to reviewing any of the books. The Southern Vampire Mysteries series got too long at some point, and I was reading the books so quickly that it seemed pointless to review each of them individually, though I think that now I know why I want to do that.

Anyway, this is the perfect place to have a good debate. You can hop onto the page and cast your vote for Twilight or Southern Vampire mysteries right there on the page, and engage other readers. It should be a lot of fun, and I do hope that you'll join in the fray!

Twilight vs. True Blood

In the meantime, I'm re-reading Twilight at the moment. It's interesting to read the series for the second time, since it seems so different, and a bit slower moving. I'm thinking I might need to go back to reading Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles as well. We have several first editions from the series. I'd love to have Mrs. Rice autograph them for me!

School term started today, so I probably won't be here as much as I'd like to be. I need to start doing some memes again. Any suggestions?