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Robin Peacock (Bangkok. Thailand)

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Oscar: Part One: Volume 1 (Going Underground)
Oscar: Part One: Volume 1 (Going Underground)
by L N Denison
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars Tortuous tripe., 5 Aug. 2016
There is not one redeeming feature in this story. Not one character that I could care about and not one description of any event worth reading. The story is told, and I mean told, in the manner of a fourteen year old boy who has been tasked with making up a really, really nasty horror story to tell around the camp fire. Sadly, there is no horror since there is no sympathy for any of the very stupid people who populate the country. The only character with an ounce of interest was Sam and he didn’t last long when confronted by the almost imbecilic Miriam.
I am amazed that this story is the prelude to a series. I will not be reading it and I hope never to have to read such poorly written and shoddily constructed books in the remainder of my lifetime. The use of the word, was, constantly and repetitively, made the whole effort of reading this extremely unpleasant. It is a badly written litany of very poorly described torture.
Chapter one tells us of the events of Oscar’s parent’s capture and his survival.
Chapter two describes in great detail how Oscar’s father is mutilated and slowly murdered. I assume we are meant to believe that the camp is not a happy place but the telling, the constant telling, fails to convey any sense of dread. We are told the guard is a nasty man, we are told the boss of the camp is a nasty man but neither of them is described in any way.
Chapter three is more of Oscar’s travels.
Chapter four takes us back to Ms Saracen and her trials at the camp. She is repeatedly raped after inviting the men to do so, rendering the rapes less than uncomfortable for her.
Chapter five sees the pointless and inhumane treatment of Oscar’s only friend and his eventual execution which seemed frivolous and contrived just to insert another violent episode.
Chapter six sees Ms Saracen eventually dying but the whole episode seemed surreal and again, pointless. Torture needs a purpose otherwise it is self-gratification of an abject kind which is meaningless, as is the story so far.
Chapter nine has to be the most stupid bit of writing I have read in years. The members of the group have no plan, no weapons and no idea what to do. The Independent Mind, a bunch of morons with no leadership walk aimlessly to their certain deaths as if they are zombies. Maybe a zombie in the story would help it along!
Chapter thirteen, the final chapter, relies on the telling of a gruesome execution. First it was to be a burning at the stake but then the author forgot about that and had a partial hanging followed by disembowelment and then beheading followed by quartering with a chain saw.


From A to Zoe
From A to Zoe
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainingly different and original., 5 Aug. 2016
This review is from: From A to Zoe (Kindle Edition)
Marie-Jo Fortis has written an original, wry, and off-beat novel that drew me in and held my interest right the way through the book. The trials and tribulation that befall ZZ, Zoe, are unexpected and unusual. I don't think I've read another book with the same subject matter dealt with in such a manner. Anyone who fears cancer and the consequences of it should read this, even if only to be amused by the alternative approach adopted by Zoe to her predicament. I liked the style of storytelling, the dialogue and found the story believable and well structured. A well deserved 4 stars.


Year of the Cat: The Thirteenth Realm (Part 1)
Year of the Cat: The Thirteenth Realm (Part 1)
Price: £2.40

3.0 out of 5 stars A long preface., 1 Jun. 2016
This is a very long introduction, a preface, to what will inevitably be a saga of GofT proportions. The story revolves around Cat, who is a goddess made flesh, returning to Heaven for an interrogation. She has a mission, often hinted at but never fully explained. This book is chapter one on the road to repairing all the ills on Earth. Since there are so many, it will inevitably go on, and on, and on.
I felt cheated after 260 pages when we arrive at a point where the preface, the introduction, is not yet complete. There is no sense of a story, just a long list of events. There is no drama, no danger, no surprises, nothing happens for 260 pages and then it abruptly stops before anything has happened. There is one episode of rather abrupt and almost nondescript sex but it did nothing to further the story.
The writing is let down somewhat by the frequent use of the word, ‘was’, (around 500) and the use of the passive voice. For example; Standing before them was a garden atrium.
Why, when in a realm, do we have to use archaic language and why are they using parchment and not iPads? My lady? Should be, My Lady.
Some words seem to be used incorrectly; Obscurity? I think the author means, Isolation?
Integrity? A better word would have been, Intuition or instinct, perhaps.
We have opaque light. Only a substance can be opaque, not light. There is a lot of sage. I assume this refers to the color?
Some grammatical and tense errors crept in; I have so much to teach you before you return to the Cathedral. As it were, Brogan only gave us three days.
If the story had gone somewhere rather than on a lengthy and directionless preamble, I might be more generous but the lack of a story; beginning, middle, and even a rudimentary ending means that is not a good use of my precious reading time! I understand that this is part one of a series but every book must stand alone. This book leans very heavily away from being anything like complete and falls down when scrutinized for a story.


Monsieur Touton Parisian Gigolo Extraordinaire
Monsieur Touton Parisian Gigolo Extraordinaire
Price: £2.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Let down by poor editing., 10 Mar. 2016
This is simply a pillow book; designed to titillate, amuse, and arouse the reader. I found it succeeded well in those respects. It is not meant to be a literary masterpiece but an erotic trinket. It is short enough to read in one sitting but that would detract from its purpose; it needs to be sampled sparingly, since it does tend to repeat itself but that is the nature of such books.
This is the story of Raphael, or is it Randolph? The author swaps the name regularly but I suspect it is meant to be Raphael as that is the first used. Raphael is the proud owner of a prodigious member and a prehensile tongue which become the talk of the town and the most sought after entertainment in Paris. The story has no plot other than the retelling of the sexual exploits of the hero. He begins with a chamber maid and proceeds to the dizzy heights of the most famous and beautiful ladies of France.
The story is told very much tongue in cheek and in the style of nineteenth century prose. The entertaining language in the dialogue is Frenglish and full of excessive but not improbable hyperbole. There are frequent uses of the French word, qui, which I understand to mean, who, in English. However, the word is misused. I assume the author means, oui, yes, rather than who. After the twentieth example, it grated and became a distraction for me.
There were numerous typos. I list just some of them below. Befo9re. Vgolition. Its rising as I speak. Nipple’s, when it should be the plural, nipples.
A good editor would have picked up on these. Many self-published authors skimp on the skills of a good editor but here is another example of penny wise, pound foolish. If an editor has been employed then I suggest you find another!
I found the book easy to read with some entertaining passages. I thought it would have been improved with some more extensive descriptions of the dress, buildings, and furnishings of the people and locations to generate a little more atmosphere.
The typos and the errors of the name and strange use of qui merit the loss of at least one star.
I will give it a generous four but only just!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2016 8:01 AM GMT


A Turbulent Affair
A Turbulent Affair
Price: £2.02

2.0 out of 5 stars A hit with several misses., 8 Mar. 2016
My review of A turbulent Affair. Sarah Doebereiner

Two young female besties discover feelings for each other after Sylvia’s break up with Jason, a battered boyfriend who obviously didn’t fit the criteria of submissive partner. The story revolves around the gradual realization of mutual feelings of love, lust, domination and submission between the two girls. The story inevitably leads us to the final resolution in a romantic cabin in the woods. I don’t think that constitutes a spoiler!
The story is told in the third person, omnipotent, looking at the action from a short distance, observing everything as it happens. The difficulty with this technique is that the writer must have complete and strict control over the thoughts and the POV of the two characters. Sadly, the author jumps from the mind of one to the other in mid paragraph, sometimes changing several times, back and forth, in a single paragraph.
I found myself having to reread passages to see who was thinking what. This makes for a very frustrating read. The author should be the one doing the hard work on any book, not the reader. This merits one star less.
There are several instances of inexplicable or simply incorrect word usage; There is a door knob that turns callously. Precedence should be precedent. Later should be latter. I am surprised these slipped through the editing process! This merits one star less.
Some of the dialogue was, for me, simply unreal. Sylvia tells Crystal, ‘Heat spread over my body. Anger numbed the feeling in my hands’. Said out loud that simply sounds ridiculous to me.
There is a lot of telling. The verbs, ‘was, did, and had’ occur too often on every page. If something needs to be explained then it is simply lazy to say; it was red, or it was beautiful. If these errors and to my mind, omissions could be corrected then this would probably make a satisfying read, delving into the minds of the two protagonist and their dominant/submissive roles. As it is, it bogged me down in the constant POV changes and the rather stilted dialogue. This merits another star less.
I regret that I cannot award more than two stars as it is written at the moment.


An Unknown Place
An Unknown Place
Price: £2.10

2.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the Jungle of dreams, 6 Mar. 2016
This review is from: An Unknown Place (Kindle Edition)
Before I begin reading another ‘romance’ novel, I need to express a few thoughts on the subject. Bearing in mind there are tens of thousands of aspiring authors in this genre, producing hundreds of thousands of novels, it need to be outstanding before it can hit the headlines and become the next Wuthering Heights or Gone with the Wind.
My observation is that the genre is predominantly written by women who are wishing, with all or part of their being, to live in all or part of the fantasy world they create on paper. There is nothing wrong with that. We all deserve to live our dreams. There is an inherent difficulty in writing a novel like this. It needs to remain a fantasy, unless you are writing a paranormal fiction, but it must also remain believable.
The more perfect the story becomes, the more difficult it is to separate reality from fantasy. The opposite is also true; if the characters stray too far from reality then the reader will feel cheated. If any authors really believed that the gorgeous, well-muscled and often well-hung, almost always a billionaire if not very rich, slightly roguish hero is going to come and sweep them off their feet and whisk them off to the fabulous life of happiness and glamour they have invented, then better she go out and find it in one of the locations in the novel, rather than sit at home and write about it. If she did find her man this way in reality then I am guessing the book list on Amazon would be about half as big as it is now.

The much overused hero; tall, dark, rich, handsome, devilish, dark eyed, dark-haired, misogynist (up to a point) strong, brooding, mysterious, sinister, of dubious background and family problems with an abusive parent, difficult childhood, must be getting tired of appearing in so many novels. I have yet to see a thin, short, blonde, sensitive, fragile, insecure, ill-educated, slightly morose, unambitious man feature in a novel where the strong woman brings him to maturity and molds him to fulfill her own fantasy. Please, one of you write such a novel!
Unless a romance novel is something special, with well-developed, believable characters and a sensible, exciting plot that stays within the realms of realistic fantasy, rather than stepping outside them, then it has a chance of getting through my very tightly drawn guidelines for the genre. As I say, 90% fail miserably. Let’s see if this is one of the 10%. I hope so.
This story relates the exploits of Mac, a twenty something woman who has suffered a traumatic rape in her past and escaped to a quiet life in LA. The hero is a rich brewery mogul who sweeps her off her feet and takes her back to his nefarious family in Maryland. There is inherent danger in doing this since the rapist is still resident in the coincidental home town they share. (is Maryland really that small?)
Spelling, word use, structure and grammar must always be 100% spot on so any failures or defects in either will immediately put me on alert to a badly written book. The excessive use of the verbs, was & had, is also an irritant and is a sign of lazy, ‘I will tell you the story’, writing. Let us begin.

The verb, was, appears 1075 times in this book of 63300 words. It appears 11 times in the 2 page prologue and 30 times in the first 4 page chapter! Had appears over 1100 times in the book. It appears 10 times in the prologue and 41 times in the first chapter. Far too much telling.

As we are all told, a good first line is always important in a novel, so this effort is a bit of a let-down.
I raised my hand to waive down the bartender.
Waive a bartender? Wave. Waive is to forgo or give up on something.
I noted every subsequent error of word usage, spelling and grammar and sadly, got well into double figures. Here are just a few of the more glaring instances; coup should be coop, Suma Cum Lade, should be suma cum laude, without CAPS, shoule instead of should, woah should be whoa, ousted should be outed and so on.
Grammar is more subjective but when you have instances such as these; I wanted tell him it was okay, they didn’t wanted to get involved, I never in a million years would I have guessed I would be… Lynn and I’s story, most officer’s (written as a plural), I called myself into the rug, I wasn’t incapable of sitting still, and this rather convoluted sentence; I’ve known Kellan since I was twenty-two, which I am now almost 30 and fresh out of college, then you can see I had good reason to be critical.
This book needs the skills of a good editor, not just a few beta readers. It has plot holes on the timeline. Kellan’s father drives three hours and arrives within minutes of being called after the kidnapping. Mac relates how she lived in a small apartment in LA and then relates how she lived on the streets for so long.
My main criticism of the book centres on Kellan. He is the typical hero in that he has a regular, almost daily string of sexual partners who he tells before the act that it is just for fun, so that they will not be disappointed when he makes them leave. Of course, all that changes when he meets Mac, the woman who will tame him and place him on the straight and narrow. He is an expert in seduction but somehow allows Mac to give him a blow job and then he returns the favor by going to sleep! He also does so many very stupid things after meeting her that he steps well out of the realms of fantasy straight into a horror story. He is abrupt, rude, angry, has a horrible temper, hits trees until his knuckles bleed for no apparent reason, hits his father for an even weaker reason and then when he finds his house broken into doesn’t have the intelligence to call Mac, who is eating lunch at the time. He calls the police instead.
Sadly, with so many flaws and such a poorly structured hero, who came across as really rather stupid in many instances, I find it difficult to say anything positive about this book. The two-handed POV changes works in some instances but this was not used consistently and quite often Kellan referred to himself as a girl, which confused the issue. The sequential changes in POV abruptly became parallel changes at the end of the story, breaking the rule set by the author.
Without an editor’s skilled touch and some serious re-writing, this book has gone the way of so many of its fellows, into the morass of Amazon’s lost jungle.

Two stars is generous, under the circumstances.


Broken & Damaged Love
Broken & Damaged Love
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly unpolished but provocative, 5 Feb. 2016
A powerful and deeply disturbing read, however...
The subject matter is considered taboo; incest and child sexual abuse, but it is dealt with in such a way as not to make it overtly sexual. While the details of the incestuous sexual encounters are graphic enough to be accurate and descriptive, they are in no way salacious or titillating. Many publishers will not touch such subject matter and even some on-line publishers forbid such stories in their terms and conditions. I have no idea if this book breaches those guidelines and it is not for me to pass judgement.
We meet Deborah and Dean, a conventional enough couple until their baby is born. Then the situation changes and we fast forward several years until Dean loses his job. The incestuous abuse begins soon afterwards and goes on for several years, until his daughter, Tina, is fifteen. When it is revealed, the passage of justice is swift, the trial speeds by and Dean goes to jail.
The remainder of the story centres on Tina and her development and education. She goes to University and meets new friends; she is attracted to a gay student who becomes her platonic pal. Eventually she meets a young man patient enough to take her lead and she ends up having gratifying sex and going on a naughty holiday to celebrate their new-found love.
The writing style is confusing; it is primarily the omnipotent, third person POV, looking down and seeing all the events unfold as narrated by the story-teller. Sadly, there is no discipline in the writing and we are often inside the heads of the characters, privy to their thoughts, as they continue the story for us. We even jump from the thoughts of one to another in mid-sentence. Such varied and rapid changes of POV make for a difficult read.
There is much telling and very little showing with almost no explanatory dialogue to move the story along.
The irregular line breaks and lack of paragraphs are simply grating and serve no apparent purpose.
Talking directly to the reader, as this author often does, makes it read like the script of a documentary, not a work of fiction.
In a book of 50k words, the use of the words; ‘was, were, did, had, and went’ over 2180 times means that the story is written predominantly in the passive voice. Passive voice is easy to write but difficult to read. It shows a lack of understanding of narrative, action, and pace. Everything is happening to the characters in the book rather than them doing the action. This needs to be addressed and overcome.
Just a few details jarred, but this is just my opinion. For instance, Frank didn’t know if Jake was gay? I think every gay man recognises a fellow gay man, instantly, in my experience. He must be the only gay man at Uni who thinks being gay is abnormal and wrong. Tina’s art is often mentioned but is ignored later in the story. I felt cheated!
Notwithstanding the subject matter, the writing style is lacking in discipline and is almost rooted in the passive voice, making for turgid and lethargic reading. The author would do well to read Stephen King’s book on writing and stick to the disciplines he so clearly explains. To make a start, try rewriting it and limit the use of the word; ‘was, had or did,’ to once per page!


Dimorphic
Dimorphic
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wham, Bam, Whoosh and no stopping!, 4 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Dimorphic (Kindle Edition)
This book tells the unusual story of a woman who has the ability to possess her dead brother's body while she is asleep. It managed to throw me off course right from the start. I had difficulty getting my head around the idea that someone could possess the actual dead body rather than the deceased's spirit. What was happening to the body and where was she keeping it hidden, considering it had been donated to the hospital for organ transplants? The story from then on is a wild dash around and over and through the city of Atlanta where we encounter a mixed bag of absurd, almost Lewis Carroll characters. Absurd in the sense that they make no sense, rather than silly. The plot is sometimes obscured in the frantic antics of the protagonists as they chase, lose, find and ultimately confused me with all the twists and turns occurring at such a frenetic pace.
There are some holes in the plot, mainly concerning Ethan's body and the POV shifts and goes places it shouldn't. The story is told in the 1st person but we know what people are thinking on several occasions. Other than these niggles, I enjoyed the story well enough and enjoyed the dialogue more than it deserved!


Mudd's Luck (The Blackfox Chronicles Book 3)
Mudd's Luck (The Blackfox Chronicles Book 3)
Price: £2.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced action thriller., 4 Jan. 2016
Review of Mudd’s Luck. T S O’Neil.
The title refers to the doctor who treated Lincoln’s assassin and neatly ties the loose ends of the story at the end of the book. The story revolves around a father and son who have been the wrong side of the law on several occasions, leading to several scrapes and now, due to an unforeseen accident, the targets of a villainous and prolific assassin. The story proceeds with the inevitable chase of the killer, who is as close to a well-drawn psychopath as you will meet in any thriller. Various minor characters come and go during this fast paced thriller. The locations and sense of timing are well drawn. Some of the conversation is a bit staged; the attempts at the Irish brogue fail badly on occasion.
The story is nothing new but then there are only so many plot-lines on Earth! This plot, however, gallops along and takes you exactly where you would expect, so if you enjoy military-style action, this will not disappoint. The sex is not graphic, unlike some of the violence but as an adult, I have read worse!
The book has about fifteen editing errors, about 15 too many! There are also detailed descriptions of meals and drinks that are simply superfluous; we don’t need to know how to pour a Guinness or how a meal has been prepared. Too many authors do it, and Mr O’Neil is also guilty of this bad habit, although not prolifically so!
All in all, I enjoyed this book and read it in two long sittings, always a good sign. With a good editor and just a few deletions this would have been a five star thriller. Because of the errors and the frequent confusion I struggled through with the rapid changes of POV in the middle of chapters, even within paragraphs, I have to deduct a star, sadly. I suspect the author was interrupted a few too many times and lost the flow. A good editor would have pointed these errors out to him.


Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction
Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction
by Carly Berg
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Random House should publish this!, 15 Dec. 2015
Coffee House Lies. Carly Berg.
This is an anthology in its purest form. The author has collected dozens of her own short stories, flash fiction, into a single volume and presented them in a seemingly random order to the reader. There seems to be no thread or vein that ties these works together; they are all so very different it is difficult to categorize many of them at all.
I found some of them interesting, some amusing, some surreal and some simply nonsensical to the point of absurdity. Edward Lear excelled at literary nonsense but I fear the author is not quite of the same caliber although she has flashes of inspiration in a few of the stories. She sideswipes us with extremes of emotion, absurd realities and thoroughly entertaining nonsense that leaves you lost at sea, adrift on a fragile raft of ideas that will simply not stand still. At several points the raft was in grave danger of foundering and I had to struggle to continue.
I could not read more than a few stories at a time; I was confused and befuddled if I tried to read more than about four at a time. Unlike a novel that generally leads you somewhere, this book has you jumping randomly from such varied fantasies that it is hard to assimilate so much variation in one sitting.
If you like flash fiction, then this is for you. I like my novels to have a more traditional structure but in this instance, because I was generally entertained by the book, I feel I should be generous and award it 4 stars.


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