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!