Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo Time

Hey everyone.

Thanks so much for your patience during these past couple of months. I know real life hits us all sometimes, and it took a little while for me to get everything back together. I'm still around, and life finally gave me a little breathing room so hopefully I can get a few things done, and a few more items off my reading list.

In case you haven't noticed, it's November. Yay! Which means NaNoWriMo time. NaNoWriMo, for those of you who don't know, is National Novel Writing Month, and is my personal favorite month. Basically, you spend one month and abandon all direction and just write. The goal is to reach 50,000 words in a month. It sounds crazy, but I love the inspiration I gain from it, even when I sometimes fail in spectacular ways (at least that's what it sounds like).

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I'd love to hear from you! What's your project, how can I keep you motivated? Even if I don't have a book review for you right away, I'd love to reignite this blog with some tidbits and updates to spur on the creativity. Even if we're all working hard, hopefully there is some networking to keep us together. And if you aren't doing WriMo this year, no worries! We can cheer you on with another project instead.

Ready, set, WRI-MO!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Update!

Hey everyone, in case you haven't noticed I am pretty quiet right now. Long story short life happened and I had to pick up a second job so I'm working a lot of double shifts right now. I'm still attempting to read but progress is really slow. I appreciate your patience during this hectic time!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Salem's Fury by Aaron Galvin

Salem's Fury
Author:   Aaron Galvin
Publisher:    Aames & Abernathy
Release Date: April 13th, 2015
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Sarah Kelly fears a father’s sins are revisited upon the children.
Her sister believes different. Adopted by the Miamiak and raised in the wilderness, Rebecca shares no such concerns. For her, memories of their early life and of Hecate’s attack remain dim.
But history condemns those who neglect the past.
When a war party brings news of a neighboring tribe attacked for harboring white folk, they demand the Miamiak aid in avenging their fallen brothers. With rumors the culprits were held in sway to a fearless witch on the rampage, Rebecca must decide whether to guard those she holds dear or seek vengeance upon a forgotten shade of Salem.

There was a lot I enjoyed with the first book in the Vengeance Trilogy,  but that feels overcast by how much I loved this wonderful follow up. Aaron Galvin takes us back into the world of the Salem Witch Trials, but this time, we see through the eyes of the Miamiak. 

Rebecca is a formidable spirit, with a wild nature that is easy to embrace and adore. While Sarah could sometimes be passive, Rebecca is anything but. I love when books have a strong female lead, but especially one that feels believable like this. Rebecca was skilled, but not unbeatable. She was brave, but not without fault. There is something very human and very complex about her personality that made her feel like a kindred soul.

I think Aaron did a good job of linking back to the first novel; it was done in a way readers who jump straight from book 1 to 2 don't get that "when we last left our heroes!" rush, but also left enough clues people who maybe took some space between the books (like me) could easily get back into it. While sometimes I dislike time jumps, this one felt satisfying. I liked seeing this startling growth in Rebecca, and liked seeing a new story taking place within an existing world. The old problems still exist, but it's someone else's turn to solve them. And not to knock Sarah, but I think Rebecca is much better equipped to handle it all. 

This book had plenty of twists and turns, and I won't lie, there were tears in my eyes at a few points. It had some of the dark spookiness from the previous books, but it felt very real. Personally, I like stories like this, where the dangers were things that honestly existed at the times. Yeah, there are terrible things happening here. But sometimes, life gets a little grim. 

Overall, this may be my favorite of Aaron Galvin's work. I just really relate to Rebecca, and like to think maybe there is a piece of her in me. That's the best sort of feeling you can come away from a story with, in my opinion. But how can you not like her? 

I guess my philosophy is something like this: some female characters are helpless, some are fighters, and some are phoenix; when you try to take down a phoenix, they just set the world ablaze. I'd put my bets on Rebecca. She's got her own spark, and I'm excited to see what it does next.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

NEW! Advertisement Opening

Hi authors, I just wanted to let you know I am opening up a little advertisement area over on my blogs sidebar. For $10 a month, or $3 a week, you can rent the ad space and promote your book! Rather than rent the space out to adsense, which could advertise anything from fashion to jail bonds, I figured this space could go back to authors and books, which is why we're all here. If interested in this space, please e-mail me at thecraftycoyote@gmail.com. I'll even help you format the ad so you make the best impression! Again, this is for book or author promotion only, and ads are subject to review.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright

H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath
Author:   Natalie Wright
Publisher:   Valknut Press
Release Date: January 7th, 2015
Source: Recieved from the author in exchange for an honest review.
H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill? 

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath started out pretty promising. I was drawn in by the first few pages and had high hopes for the rest of the story. But somewhere within the first or second chapter it fizzled just a little bit, and I never did get back to that same excitement. While the writing wasn't bad, it never wowed me. I think the author has potential, but there was room for improvement.

One of the primary problems I think with that lack of "wow" factor was just the general plot. H.A.L.F. 9 is an alien who escaped from an underground lab, and runs into Erika. Then there is an attempt to get away without freaking out the rest of the world about the existence of extraterrestrials. Which in itself could be eventful, if it hadn't been a sort of overused theme. When you encounter something that feels common like that, you unfortunately land in the "been here, done this" category. 

There need to be something to set it apart. Maybe a character, maybe a twist. I'm not sure I found that in this book. 

Erika herself is pretty likable, as is our alien boy. But likable doesn't necessarily mean great. Erika is tough which is nice, but this instantaneous connection with H.A.L.F. 9 felt a little forced to me. H.A.L.F. 9 is well, an alien, so there is going to be a lack of connection there to begin with. 

Alien lands in foreign world, makes a ton of mistakes. Check. 

Actually a lot of things felt a little like a checklist. The plot felt predictable, despite some small moments when I thought it could be otherwise. Is it rude to say generic? Maybe? But really, I wanted something new here, like I hoped for in the beginning. I mean come on, girl offered tons of money to give birth to a baby which turns out to totally not be a normal baby! Where did that story go?

To sum it up, this was sort of your run of the mill, "conspiracy theories are totally the truth" alien story. I just feel like I've seen it handled in a much more creative manner to really applaud what I found in this book. I'm a Stargate fan, so I adore takes on aliens like The Asgards, where there is a little taste of existing conspiracies (Roswell Greys) while still having their own unique spin on it. I didn't get that same moment with H.A.L.F. We had the basic recipe: aliens caught, experiments, genetic research, whoops it's too powerful and escaped, enter love interest. By the hallway point, I really lost the motivation to pick up the book. It wasn't that it was terrible. I just didn't feel like I was really missing anything?

You know when you watch some T.V. shows, and you get distracted for a minute, come back, and you're okay with that. There's no desire to rewind to see what you missed. I never had that reaction to jump into this story and make sure I caught everything. If I have nothing else to read, yeah, it would take up the time. But would I run home to tell everyone to read it too? Sadly, I wouldn't. 

Natalie Wright has potential as a writer, but I'm not sure this story was the golden ticket to set her apart. 




Friday, July 31, 2015

Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

Freak of Nature
Author:   Julia Crane
Publisher:   Valknut Press
Release Date: February 2nd, 2013
Source: Free E-book off Amazon
Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

Freak of Nature is one of those books I liked in the beginning, then gradually lost interest in. A page turner until about the half-way point, I felt it was resolved a little early, then dragged into a stop. Most of the problems seemed to be due to plot choices, and while the writing wasn't bad, I felt like I could have just put it down halfway and felt satisfied. When the driving force, at least for me, was the romance, once that tension was released it just fell flat. The revelation of her past was sort of anti-climactic, and the conclusion felt a bit too easy. Overall, this was a book that needed a little re-arranging to maintain the easy nature it held in the opening. 


Kaitlyn and Lucas are likable enough, but the romance felt a little odd. Lucas seems to love her based on all the things he read about her, and how perfect she is now that's she's a robot. And I've never been a fan of the completely irresistibly beautiful girl. Of course she would be the one to turn into this robot, right? Now she's like, smart, beautiful, super-strong. And can put all men to shame. 

Not exactly relatable to the average person.

Kaitlyn is robotic, but still has these human thoughts and feelings. She can't feel pain, but she can still feel love, and she still feels pleasure. And no one knows she has feelings because she's hiding them, to maintain an element of humanity. She has this crush on the guy who treats her like a lab rat, and he has a crush back. It's kinda cute, but a little weird when you step back and look at it. Their eventual relationship makes it even weirder. It wasn't enough that she was perfect as a robot, but she was also perfect as a human too. and her heroic death felt really rushed and flat, as a side note. 

Oh, and the flashbacks, where she could see herself interacting with people? Pretty sure flashbacks are memories, so first perspective, you know? Definitely room for improvement. 

Clearly there were things that bugged me with this book. One of those "I'd rather be your beta than your reviewer" situations, sadly. It was nice for a quick airplane read, but it wasn't one of those "you have to read this!" stories. I'll pass on the sequel. 




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life Bank by Magus Tor

Life Bank
Author:   Magus Tor
Publisher:   Self-Published
Release Date: March 13th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Daniel has no money. Daniel needs some money. Daniel will sell his soul to get it. 

A modern day version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Life Bank is a stunning novella from author Magus Tor. A fatalistic sense of doom will pull you through this thrilling new morality tale about the evils that come with taking too much unearned pleasure from life.

I got this book in exchange for an honest review, so I'm going to be pretty honest: the plot didn't feel as original as a lot of people made it out to be. The general concept was pretty interesting, don't get me wrong. That's what made me pick it up in the first place. You write your name in a book, withdraw money. Give a little of your life and problems are solved! But the general pursuit of money, falling short, money is never the answer thing? That's a moral that unfortunately felt a little predictable to me. 


When you pick up a book like this, I think you can sense the downward spiral about to happen. You already know he's going to somehow take more out than he bargains for. And a lot of the "twists" didn't feel like twists to me, but maybe because it always seems to happen in stories like this. It's the allure of stardom. You chase a pot of gold a start leaving behind what mattered. So those aspects weren't like "oooo ahhhh". 

I did like the writing though. It was a short story but the flow was nice. It was a decent reflective reminder to pay attention to the important things. But it still had some room to grow.