Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Release Day for 'In Stone' by Louise Gornall!

Good morning Monday, and what do we have here? Looks like Louise Dornall's YA fantasy romance 'In Stone' hit shelves today, and To the Point is part of the release day blog tour! Haven't read it myself, yet, but take a look at the summary and cover below and you'll see why it's earned a spot in the TBR pile.  

Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife.

Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her.

Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'Smallworld: A Science Fiction Adventure Comedy' by Dominic Green

Official Summary:
Mount Ararat isn't your average extrasolar agrarian colony. A world the size of an asteroid yet having Earth-standard gravity, Mount Ararat plays host to a strangely confident family whose children are protected by the Devil, a mechanical killing machine, from such passers-by as Mr von Trapp (an escapee from a penal colony), the Made (manufactured humans being hunted by the State), and the super-rich clients of a gravitational health spa established at Mount Ararat's South Pole. But it soon transpires that the Devil is harbouring an ancient and deadly secret.

I expected great things from Smallworld. Something about the title, the cover, the description, billed as both a science fiction and a comedy smack in the title, and by a Hugo nominee no less - it felt like it could have been literary magic. At very least engaging. And at very, very least maybe deliver a chuckle or two.

So it's with a small amount of regret that I must report that Smallworld sucked.

From a character naming convention that was little more than a cheap way of telling the audience what the character should be like, rather than having the character filled out enough to come to that conclusion on your own all the way to scenes that were about as coherent as an SNL skit that falls apart somewhere in the middle and ends with the comics running around like chimps - suffices to say there was very little here that didn't make me feel like the idiot in the room missing the joke.

Who knows? Maybe I AM that idiot. Maybe this novel was absolutely brilliant and my plebian mind just couldn't wrap itself around the 'bone-dry satire' that at least one reviewer points to being this author's forte. By the mid-point I was actively forcing myself to the end because I thought it might all come together in some amazing ah-ha moment. Unfortunately, it ended in such a ludicrous, out-of-the-blue, anticlimactic way it made me wish time travel had been invented so I could go back and warn my past self to avoid this complete waste of time. 

Bottom Line: I usually love this stuff. I'm a Monty Python addict and have a near religious appreciation for author's like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and I just don't get this one. But then again, maybe I just don't get it or maybe it was the unreasonable expectations I had walking into it. Either way, save yourself the time and walk by this title.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

'Into the Dark' (Parts 1-4) by Milly Silver

Official Summary:
When seventeen-year-old Oxford student Emily Baxter steps forward to become part of the search and rescue team for her kidnapped family member, she sees it as her last chance to put things right. Despite her seizures and being ripped between parallel universes, Emily is determined to get back to living a normal life. But first Emily has to join forces with the mysterious Gifted & Talented set and the darkly beautiful Henry Seadon. And survive. Killing the Misery-Makers who get in their way is a necessary evil.

Into the Dark by Milly Silver is a series that could have been great. It has an interesting premise and some promising character dynamics but due to a few big issues the title ends up being little more than a big disappointment. 

The first criticism is that all four parts of this title really should have been delivered as a single book. In most cases this particular issue wouldn't have made it so far up the chain but here it means that you'd end up paying a grand total of seven dollars to get through all four parts. Before you start thinking that I'm being miserly* with my money, let's put that in a little perspective. Most unknown author titles (and this falls square into that category) go for around one to two dollars on Amazon for the WHOLE experience. For Into the Dark, Milly expects her readers to not only fork out admission at the door, but then she doubles the cover and scalps them every six or seven chapters. It's not right.

The second issue is dialogue that falls flat on its face, lacks personality and really drags down the pacing of this story. If you've ever taken even a high school level creative writing class your professor probably said something along the lines of "show the action, don't speak it." This title would benefit a lot from another edit that really embraces this advice. Getting rid of passages where the character announces that they're leaving and then they leave is nothing short of bad writing. Put another way, the dialogue was so bad in spots I felt challenged to stumble through it.

Last but not least, one of the biggest relationships in this book felt so fake and forced that every time it came up it made me question my ability to get through all four parts. It wasn't the main character Emily and her boyfriend, friends or uncle. It was Emily's relationship and her uncle's comatose fiancee Irene. Just thinking about it makes me roll my eyes. It was awful! It's like the author decided after writing part one, (where Emily makes a mind-bogglingly dreadful decision that lands Irene in the coma to start with) that Irene was going to play a bigger role in the story than was initially planned for and didn't want to go back and rewrite the first half so that the relationship made sense. By the time we get to the later-parts Emily now really adores this woman and visits her every day in the hospital, wishing she hadn't been so outrageously stupid selfish and will literally put her life on the line to get her mom sister uncle's fiancee (?!) back. Yes, showing a protagonist have a change of heart and emotionally grow during the course of a book is something most good titles, and all the great ones, seem to get right effortlessly, but trust me when I tell you this one didn't come close to effortless - there was definite effort there... and it chugged by at the speed and grace of a poorly fed coal engine.

Bottom Line: This title is rough around the edges and doesn't have enough polish rounds put in for it to be fit for public consumption yet. This series would be exponentially better if it were put in the hands of the right continuity and dialogue editor. If it ever gets one and is re-released I'd love to give it another shot because the premise really is intriguing. Until then my best advice is to steer clear or Into the Dark no matter what your 'bad dialogue' tolerance threshold.

*Disclosure: This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review.