Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Chest of Wishes" -Book Review

"Chest of Wishes" is  listed as a paranormal romance novella  by Natashiah Jansen and Zhu Hsia. It is also the first novella I've ever read. I prefer full length novels myself because you can really get to know the characters and get immersed in their world. Which is why I have to say this story would've been better as a novel. As it is it's a fun quick read with an intriguing premise that catches you up in it's tale right away. However to make it a novella a lot of details were smudged over and a great deal of the story was told to us rather than shown. Since I'm a novelist myself I am unfamiliar with novella writing etiquette, although telling instead of showing is considered a "No, No" with traditional novel writing. I feel like the author could have shown us the portions that were simply told and the story would have been richer, and the mystery aspect of it more intense.

A personal pet peeve of mine is when the characters are never physically described, which is the case with this story. I had to go a long just imaging generic people in the roles rather then feeling like I was reading real flesh and bone individuals. I still enjoyed the story despite this but some description would have made this story just a little bit better.

I am unfamiliar with modern day Egypt society so I was confused as to weather it's normal for Egyptians to have western names like Adam, Mark, George and Mary. It took me a bit out of the story as the love interest was named Isis and her mother and father had Egyptian sounding names. Every one else's names made them sound like they were English or American not Egyptian. Again like I said maybe this is normal in Egypt today. However it seems really out of place for the wealthy Egyptian family to have a daughter named Isis and a son named Adam.

I enjoyed the back story twist that involved Mark's mother. It added a whole other layer of intrigue which I think was nicely done. Overall I really enjoyed the tale of "Chest of Wishes". I just wish it had been told with more attention to detail while keeping the energy level building to the finale. I would recommend it to anyone who likes quick, fun, reads with an element of magic and history.

Now go forth and pick it up for yourself. It is available now for just .99 cents. You can get it here.

Till Next time,
R.J. Craddock

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Princess and The Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist - Book Review

Nowadays there are as many different kinds of books as there are readers. Furthermore, there are many different ways to publish a book in today's ever-growing digital age. Besides the big publishing houses, we now have smaller presses and many self-publishing options for the modern author in which to choose. This book in particular was published by a small Utah press called Trifecta books.

First off, the cover and title did little to peek my interest, both unimaginative and typical of the YA market. However, I decided to look passed this and give the book a chance.

The Pros:
The concept is clever and wildly imaginative putting a twist on my favorite fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty"and combining it with time travel and the old classic "The Prince and the Pauper." The book begins with  Jenny a typical teenage girl from present day USA who wakes up to a prince kissing her, in a mid-evil castle discovering that she has switched places with Princess Genevieve who happens to be the real life person the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale was based on. This gives the story two interesting settings and concepts. The plot is fast-paced for younger readers, and the story is not too predictable with some good plot twists.

The Cons:
I desperately wanted to love this book because of the "Sleeping Beauty" element, but alas I just couldn't and I'll tell you why. First off the inciting incident happens too fast. We're only a few pages into the book, we've barely even met Jenny, and we're suddenly thrust into another time when she awakes as princess Genevieve. We don't have time to care enough about her before her life gets turned upside down. Generally the industry experts will tell you to introduce the inciting incident early in the book, but I feel in this case this idea was taken to an extreme. There is little to no description or world building which made it a very bland read. For me the beauty is in the details. One can get away with little description in a modern timeline but typical Fantasy readers expect to be drawn into a whole new world. Descriptive writing that creates atmosphere is how this is done. Because of the lack of detail this book reads more like a first draft then a finished novel. Everyone has heard the saying "Show, Don't Tell" well... this book tells and never shows. The dialogue is basic giving little to no sense of the characters' personality. Some plot points are weak and unbelievable such as: Jenny's parents are far too willing to believe that their daughter has been replaced by a mid-evil princess. I would've liked to have seen a little more skepticism on her parents' part. I have a hard time imagining any reader over twelve really enjoying this book. I, myself, never got emotionally involved with the characters perhaps because they were two dimensional and never felt real. In the end the villain is defeated too easily, the ending wrapped up too fast, and a solution to the main conflict of the book solved too conveniently. Had the ending been better I would've given the book another star.

Also, I noticed nine missing or misused words. Had this been self-published I would've dismissed this but as a professionally published novel this looks bad. As a self-published author I know my books have a few mistakes in them. Whereas I don't have the resources to hire a team of editors to find every flaw in my novels, this book, being published by a press, that claims to have experience should not have this many mistakes.

"The Princess and the Prom Queen" is a creative tale with a decent plot that just didn't reach it's full potential. I give it two stars. So low a rating I have never given a book in my life. I generally don't like to leave a bad review. As an author myself I know what it feels like to receive a review like this. However, I feel so passionately about my bad experience with this book I feel I owe it to other readers to share my thoughts and feelings. On the upside a few bad reviews lends a book more credibility for perspective readers. When a book has only five and four star reviews one can't help but wonder if they're all written by friends and family. As a close I want to add that as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so merit is in the mind of the reader. What was an unsatisfying reading experience for me might be a great experience for another reader. To best judge if you would agree with my critique of this book I would recommend reading my other reviews or just plain reading the book for yourself. Click here to get "The Princess and the Prom Queen" 

Now go forth and read and then read some more!
Till Next time,

R.J. Craddock

Idle Revolution by Lucid 8 - Music Review

A few years ago I would've said that Lucid 8's unique style was too different from the mainstream to be radio worthy. Their talent as musicians is undeniable and their musical chemistry is unlike anything else out there. Now with the release of their new album “Idle Revolution” (which is superb in its quality of sound recording), and with the shift in the music industry leaning more toward the eighties and nineties sound, it seems that perhaps Lucid 8's day in the limelight is finally at hand.

As an album “Idle Revolution” is a solid piece of work for this Utah band, flowing from one track to the next with seamless procession, making it a great experience for the listener. Two tracks stand out as obvious radio contenders.
Track number two on the album "The Truth" really packs a punch. This up-tempo tune has a catchy melody, great music, and clever lyrics with a theme that is relate-able for anyone who's ever dealt with a deceitful friend or lover who let them down one too many times. Track five "Pieces" is a heart-felt alternative rock ballad that will strike a chord with anyone who has kids, or has felt the loving support of good parents. 

As for the rest of the songs they all have a little something special that makes them memorable. As a whole I'd say that this album would fit nicely with the modern musical trend, with eighties and nineties influences, strong guitar work, excellent drums, and good vocals. It's hard to compare this band to any other, but I'll say that they can stand toe to toe with other well-known Utah bands such as Royal Bliss and American Hitmen. You can get Lucid 8's new album “Idle Revolution” at or on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Now go forth and pick up a copy or find them on your favorite online retailer and give these guys a listen. Till next time.

 R.J. Craddock