Book Review – Tender Wings of Desire

TITLE: Tender Wings of Desire
AUTHOR: KFC (YUM Brands claims the copyright)
PUBLISHED: 2017
FORMAT: E-Book

“For mothers everywhere, I dedicate this to you – a brief escape from motherhood into the arms of your fantasy Colonel, whoever he may be.”

Lady Madeline Parker doesn’t want to marry the man who her parents have given her hand to, so she runs away the night before her wedding and finds work in a tavern, and finds love in the arms of a sailor (also running from his responsibilities) named Harland Sanders.

No, this is not a joke. For Mother’s Day, KFC put out a romance novel, complete with redhead in jeans, accessorized by a purse and a chicken drumstick, in the arms of a rather buff and sleeveless Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC. As the e-book was free*, I picked it up, and figured it would be a light read where I would giggle at the tropes I often encounter in romance novels. Oh no.

Whoever wrote this did no research into whatever era they placed this in, given the mistakes they made in forms of address for peers, most of which can be found with a quick internet search, or a character calling another a “dish”, as well as a lot of little things that just read like nails on a chalkboard to me. The plot was trite and, really, nothing was done to make us really care about Madeline, or, dare I say it, Harland. While there may be eleven herbs and spices in the Colonel’s secret recipe, they were all lacking from this book and these characters.

Which brings me to the biggest issue I had with this book – Colonel Harland Sanders. KFC/YUM Brands stuck a disclaimer in the beginning that “characters are fictitious or used in a fictitious manner.” But this is nothing more than someone at (or hired by) KFC writing real person romantic fan fiction about the founder of the restaurant. Frankly, the real Colonel Sanders, and yes, he was a real, actual person, deserves better than to be reduced to this, a bland caricature of a man running away from his responsibilities to his restaurant empire. While the real Colonel Harland Sanders’ rank was more honorary as a member of the Kentucky Colonels (an honor he shares with persons such as Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, several former U.S. Presidents, and Betty White), he was an actual human being, not just an actor in a white wig, and reading about his romancing this fictional woman just put me off this book entirely. I kept reading in the hope it would get better, and sadly, it never did.

I have to give it 1 out of 5 pages.

*As of today, it’s now $0.99 on Amazon for the e-book, unless you have Kindle Unlimited.

Book Review – Raising Hell

TITLE: Raising Hell
AUTHOR: John G. Hartness
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2015

Okay, full disclosure because I believe in that kind of stuff. I happen to know John because we travel in the same extended circles. So when I stepped up to his table at Con Carolinas to say hi to him, he told me to buy a book, I told him to give me one to review, and after pimping the blog, I ended up with a copy of this in my hot little hand. Mostly his choice, although I did request something short.

This is a novella that follows around a demon hunter named Quincy, who happens to know Dracula. Yes, that Dracula. From what I gather, it’s the 2nd in the series, but I didn’t really need the first one to understand anything happening here.

In this book, Q has to get a demon out of a teenage girl who is too far gone already and then gets revenge for the girl by the frat boys that turned her and their uber rich father who lets it all happen.

I’m not a huge fan of horror (which is funny because the story I finished writing not 24 hours ago was a horror story for a charity anthology), but this one wasn’t bad. I liked the length, which I guess means less novels and more novellas or even novelettes for me, mainly because my brain is often mush after work and I liked being able to read this in a short amount of time and actually get through it unlike the book I’ve been reading since January and am still not halfway.
There was some gore in this one because, well, exorcism and demons and the like, but it wasn’t too over the top (Side note – all gore feels over the top to me. I really am not into that sort of stuff), and it all felt necessary. For the most part, it was more about a bad dude versus a badass, so I was okay with that.

I think there are a few places that could be polished, and I’d like a few things fleshed out a wee bit more. Even for the length, there were a couple places that I seriously wanted to have a few more paragraphs added in. I think 500-1000 more words over the course of the book would have made it awesome.

But, if horror is your genre or you just really like seeing frat boys and their rich daddies get their just desserts, you should check this book out. It’s good for what it is. And for that, 4/5.

Writer Wednesday – Herika R. Raymer

1. Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
Herika R Raymer reporting!

2. What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Right now writing short stories and working on my first novel and novella.

3. What do you want to pimp right now? (May it be your newest, your work-in-progress, your favorite or even your first)
Have some short stories in several anthologies, the newest being:
Children of Ghennharra in Luna’s Children – Full Moon Mayhem
Piasa Remains in State of Horror – Illinois

4. What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
Traveler in Black by John Brunner
E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
Mother – this means keeper of schedules (bedtime everyone!), forager of foods (preferably sweets), driver to fun places (grandparents the most popular), tolerant of whines, healer of boo boos, maid, breakfast short order cook, and censor of movies.
Also wife (hehehe)

6. What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
Website – http://herikarraymer.webs.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Herika-R-Raymer-WriterEditor/218450834882572?fref=ts

 

 

 

*****

How To Take Critique

The hardest writing lesson I had to learn was how to take critique. I would ask for it, listen, and then hide the piece of work before anyone else had a chance to rip it apart. I really had to learn that if I was to get better at writing, then I needed a thicker skin. Yes, all my stories are my darlings, but if I want them to be the best I can make them I have to learn to listen when someone is offering critique – especially if it is from an author I respect. It took years, but I finally learned and I like to think my writing improves with every story because of this.

 

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Book Review – a Richard Russo two-fer

Title: The Whore’s Child
Title: Horsemen

Author: Richard Russo
Written: ?  Published: 2012
Format: Paperback

Note:  These stories were (I think) originally published in a greater volume, but have then been published alone, even though they’re really short.  On with the reviews.

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The Whore’s Child

Okay, The Whore’s Child is, um, interesting. First of all, the story, by my estimate, is about 7500 words long, making it the long end of a short story, dancing on the cusp of being a Novellette. I’ll call it a short story. And some how, this has managed to get published as a stand alone book.
The narrator of the story is a college professor who is only professor-ing because he managed to publish a book, even though the book has apparently not sold. And the main other character is a Nun. Capital N, Habit and Robes, Catholic Nun. Who is the cause of the title, herself being the child of a whore.

The story now goes downhill (somewhere around page 10), and starts in on the Nun writing and having her memoir and having it edited in class (it was a fiction writing class). In fact, that was the only conflict in the whole story. A page or two about the guy not knowing what to do about having her in the class without having signed up for it, without having taken the prerequisites, and without having a fiction project. yeah. That could have totally been not in the story and we wouldn’t have cared.

Oh, and the end of the nun’s story?  One simple question from a chick in the class and the question she has is answered and oh, lookie, there we go.  The only thing that gave her courage in her life and it’s all done like that.  (snap fingers here).  Gah.

My problem is that the story is, well, boring. I mean, stuff happens, but it happens mostly in narration/recap. And then that’s it. And while the sentences were technically written well (properly), and I commend his use of words being of the appropriate length, there’s nothing going for it on a ooh, fiction level. Yeah. Onto the next story.

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Horsemen

So, in Horsemen, our FMC, who is a writer (is this a trend with his stuff?  Because I really hate writers writing about writers) and college professor (ahem) has just caught a student cheating.  She also has a poem going through her head.  And we also flash back between grad school and now (some number of years later, although I can’t tell if its 2 or 10 the way its written.  I’m sure somewhere it gave the age of her son, but the timeline is a bit murky).

And as we go back and forth, we get a story of her bad marriage (current) and the day she left a blind guy in the rain to find his white cane under the bumper of her worst professor’s Mustang.  (wtf?)

And she keeps repeating lines from the poem.

So. This one, by my estimate, is at the end of the range for a Novelette (around 15k), and also published like a standalone book.  And, um.  Same thing as before.  The lines are technically right.   Punctuation is where it should be (although I found a mistake, but only one).  But there’s not that much gripping.  I actually put the story down for two days and had to remind myself what it was about because I couldn’t remember.

The end of the story felt rushed, too.  There was a distinct point about four pages from the end where I realized the author was wrapping up, then there were two page long paragraphs, and… a few things needed a bit of logic and review to link together (like the poem she kept reciting).  I think the story would have benefited from another thousand words.  But there was a little more going on than the last one, so it has something going for it there.


End result?
The Whore’s Child – 2 out of 5
Horsemen – 3 out of 5

Book Review – Worlds Collide by Shannon McRoberts

Title: Worlds Collide: a crossover novella
Author: Shannon McRoberts
Written: 2010
Published: 2012
Format: Print* – please note, my review copy was an uncorrected print proof and the novella is currently only available for purchase as an eBook; print books are expected to be released soon

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Words Collide is a short novella.  It’s listed at 48 pages on Amazon (my proof is 40 pages), but as I look at the formatting, I’m actually questioning if this one isn’t more of a novelette [note: novelette 7500-15k, novella 15k-40k].

In this novella, novelette, story, a group called the N’Loron is about to break into Athene’s world, and she has to chose between this group of creatures and her own life.

So, I’ll admit that when I started reading, the book did exactly what I don’t want to see in fantasy – big words for no reason other than big words, somebody immediately doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, Gods used in funny ways, etc – and all in the first page.  But the book flows well enough, so I kept reading.

We follow a line of chaos pretty much the whole story, and there’s a lot of telling rather than showing, which I think weakens the whole story line.  For instance, the first paragraph says that the character, Nike, enters a place she shouldn’t have been after searching for a while.  Show us the searching.  Give us a paragraph of walking for a long time (or flying, Nike has wings after all), sweat, whatever.

Another issue I had was that there are a lot of “fantasy-ish” names – you know, stuff that looks made up.  A’tiasul, N’Loron, etc.  And a lot of names that are similar.  Nike/Nikeda.  I don’t know about you, but when I read names like that, I sort of stop comprehending who is who and have to slow down and pay more attention, meaning I don’t get as lost in the story as I would like to.  (Also, several are repetitively used – there’s a paragraph near the end, for instance, where every sentence uses N’Loren in it at least once.)

Also, the God(s) used… are sort of used in name only.  Athina, for example, is the daughter of Zeus, not the granddaughter of him.  Nike is not a dark anything.  But they are in this book.  So if you’re really into mythologies, be aware of that going in.

In the end, overlook the theft of names to make characters, and give yourself a few pages to get into the book.  It’s entertaining enough, and at the short length, it’s good for when you don’t want a novel.  Like I said, by my estimation, this is more a novelette than a novella, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time to get through it.

The story’s there, so I’ll give this one a three.  Pick it up if you want something shorter, but if you’re really looking for a novel, don’t feel guilty skipping it.

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I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book in conjunction with  First Rule Publicity and the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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