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Seeing the Author with James Mutumba (November Author Spotlight)

revmutumbaJames E. Mutumba
Amazon Author Page | Twitter @RvJamesEMutumba

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to feature another author for the month of November, James Mutumba.  This interview will be conducted by our very own Nikki Vision.  Find out what she uncovers in “Seeing the Author”.

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1:      When did you decide to become a writer, and why?

My mother (RIP) told us stories every moon-lit evening or at the fire side as she cooked supper. This made me like stories and storytelling. I loved reading story books right from primary school.

Source: bookshybooks.blogspot.com

In secondary school, Charles Dickens’s books like Oliver Twist and The Great Expectations raised my reading interest higher. The African Writer’s Series came next, followed by other books.

My interest in reading apparently created the inspiration to write. My first book Treasurable Thoughts was published 1999. However, for various reasons I did not write again until 2012 when I decided to come back actively, but this time with a reason. My writing bears a Christian message aimed at inspiring readers to connect with God for success in life.

2:      With five children, three grandchildren, and your pastoral counseling work, how do you find the time to write?

The secret is in time management. Having a programme and following it as much as possible helps me to be able to write. Moreover, writing takes a lion share of the programme. Good enough we don’t have babies except when our last born (she is fond of coming home) and the grand children are visiting. Being the two of us with my wife at home eases time management.

Monday is for rest. Tuesday and again Thursday and Friday are for wring. Wednesday is reserved for pastoral work. Saturday is for recreation, and Sunday for worship and church ministry.

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3:      What motivated you to edit, translate, and put together the truly inspirational collection of stories from Aids survivors in Smiling through the Storm?

At the time I received the stories, I was editor of the New Century, a Church of Uganda monthly publication. The Manager of Church Human Services sent to me some AIDS patients with their stories (some were written and some verbal) for possible publication. The stories moved my heart so much that I wished many more people than the audience of New Century could read them. It is the bravery with which the patients went public and the touching content of their stories that motivated me to put them together as a book.

4:      Would you consider doing a follow up book on the lives of the people featured in Smiling through the Storm - just to see how they are getting on?

No, such a book is unviable since most of the people featured in Smiling in the Storm have died. If anything such a book would contain interviews with relatives of the deceased to show how those people finally ended. But those interviews too would only interest people who have read the original book.

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5:      What was the inspiration behind Lukiya’s Lover?

As you must have seen, Lukiya’s Lover is mainly for youths and young adults. These people almost all over the world get little mentoring about courtship, sex, and preparation for marriage. I meant Lukiya’s Lover to be a kind of class room.

6:      The sections in Lukiya’s Lover that deal with university, were for me the most vivid and detailed passages in the book. Did you take any of that from your own life and years in higher education and college?

Not exactly. But as I have observed generally, it is at that level that most young people get most arrogant, adventurous, and in fact it is at that level that many get messed up socially. I deliberately concentrated on the section.

7:      You are a very spiritual person with a strong faith. It is clear from your writing that you wish to share this positive attitude with others. How do you go about doing this, other than with your writing?

Thanks for the compliment. Glory be to God for your observation. I sincerely wish to inspire others to have faith in God and to cultivate a good relationship with Him for the worship He deserves and the wonderful companion He can be on our life’s path. Apart from writing, I do preach in churches and schools and teach in Bible Studies and fellowships.

8:      What has publishing your books meant to you as a writer and spiritual leader?

My ebooks are not successes yet, and since I have not put them in print for the Ugandan audience, I am not yet proud of them at home here. However, there is a book Treasurable Thoughts I published years ago. Although it is out of print, people still remember it and I meet many who publically make good comments and give testimonies how it helped them. This gives me encouragement and motivation for more writing. As spiritual leader I have noticed that writing adds to one’s credibility.

9:      What are your writing influences, and do you have a favourite author?

Presently my favourite author is Rick Warren. His The Purpose Driven Life is a big influencer. Otherwise I have read a number of books which have made a collective writing influence. The writers of Our Daily Bread, a devotional published by Radio Bible Class has inspired me a lot.

10:    Where do you write? Can you describe your writing day?

I usually write from home on the days I mentioned above. Our day begins with Christian devotion ─ a measured time of prayer, sharing, and Bible study. Next we take breakfast, and then the writing begins. I writeup to 11:00 pm, of course with the interruptions of lunch, a break, TV news or a trending programme, and supper. There may be other interruptions, but we minimize these as much as possible.

11:    What do you do to relax?

Monday is my day off. Apart from some study, resting is the dominant item on the day’s programme.

12:    What is next for you and your writing?

Right now I am working on two new books and looking for a traditional publisher to do a print version of one of my old ebooks. I have unpublished two ebooks which I am polishing further for the purpose.

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Thanks so much for your time, James as well as all those reading material on The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a wonderful day!

Featured post

Kent Sync: Ramsey Isler (November Author Spotlight)

profileRamsey Isler
Facebook | Twitter
Blog | Wattpad

Greetings!  The Review Board here.  All of you are in for a special treat.  Making her interviewing debut is Harmony Kent, and on her first episode of Kent Sync she sits down with Ramsey Isler one of our November Author Spotlights.

Harmony, your public awaits!  Let’s get the show on the road.

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1.  Ramsey, nice to have you here. First up (being real cheeky here small_smiley ): Pen name or real name? And why?

I’m keeping it real SnippetCompilerIcon. These books take a lot of time and energy to write, you know. I’m going to make sure people know exactly who toiled for all those hours to bring the stories to life. Also, my family and friends get a kick out of seeing my name out there, and when you’ve been gifted with a name as unique as mine you have to use it.

2. You have four books published so far: do you have any more in progress?

I do! I’m currently working on a short novel trilogy that blends contemporary fantasy and sci-fi. The first book should be out by December 2014, if everything works out.

3. Which is your greatest love: your work as a product marketing/management consultant or a novelist? And why?

I love both, but in different ways. It’s kind of like how our love for our pets is different than the love we have for our spouse, which is different than the love we have for our siblings. Both of my professions require a lot of creative thinking and problem solving, so in that regard it’s a tie. I do enjoy the financial flexibility that consulting provides, and it’s a career that has taken me all over the world. But when it comes to which one gives me the most satisfaction, nothing beats the special joy that writing gives me.There’s something remarkable about reaching out to an ordinary reader, asking them to take a gamble on your book, and they come back and say they loved it. It’s not just about the pride of a job well done; there’s also a unique and powerful personal connection. The words you wrote, these simple little symbols strung together in a certain order to convey your own thoughts, had an impact on someone else. As Stephen King says, writing is the closest thing we have to telepathy, and when it all works perfectly it’s magic.

ghostsofarcadia4. Did you know that GHOSTS OF ARCADIA was the first book that ever achieved top marks on TRB when reviewed by me? How do you feel about that? (I’m a real tough reviewer!)

That was a real treat for me. I was probably one of the first people to see that review, and it was fun to read your reaction. As a reviewer of books and film myself, I always saved top marks for the truly special works that deserved it, so I can fully appreciate receiving a stellar review from people with tough standards.

5. Do you have any particular writing processes or rituals? Favourite music to listen to … that type of thing?

I’m not really a creature of habit, and my writing process is greatly affected by the other things going on in my life (work, friends, family, etc.). If I’m really busy I just grab writing time whenever and wherever I can. When I actually have the opportunity to just write, most of the time you’ll find me writing with the TV on (which some people find surprising or even perverse). I’ll usually have some kind of educational channel on in the background. I write sci-fi and fantasy, and much of my world building relies on fascinating things that are real but stranger than fiction.

6. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I’m a very forgiving and tolerant person, so there’s not much that really grinds my gears, so to speak. I guess my one true pet peeve is when people misinterpret what I say, whether purposefully or unknowingly. I usually put a lot of effort into meaning what I say and saying what I mean, so when people twist my words into something I didn’t mean it can be a little annoying.

7. Do you hold a grudge or let it all go?

Let it go! Let it gooooooo [breaks into song]

8. Married? Single? Other?

Happily coupled.  romantic-smileys

9. Are you a couch-potato or a workout nut? Or somewhere in between?

I exercise every day, and I make it a point to stand up and move around periodically so I’m not totally sedentary while I’m working. However, I do love my naps.

10. When did you start to write, and what got you going?

Here comes the embarrassing part. The first thing I ever wrote that wasn’t for school was….wait for it….

Harry Potter fanfiction.

I was young(ish). I was experimenting. I wanted to write but didn’t really know how to build a world from nothing. I wasn’t even a huge Harry Potter fan, but Rowling’s seemingly effortless writing style and her mastery of magical realism really drew me in. At the time I had just finished The Order of the Phoenix and had a long wait before the next book was out. So I took a stab at writing my own version of the next book, but writing it as JK Rowling would have based on the story up until that point. In retrospect, it was kind of odd that I’d tackle a novel-length work to start, but it was a very fulfilling and entertaining experience, and I’ve been writing ever since then.

But no more fanfiction.

11. Do you take much notice of reviews on your books?

I read each and every review. Authors can’t work in a vacuum. You have to know if the message is getting across. I don’t peruse the reviews for praise (although that is nice); I’m looking for valuable feedback that lets me know if what I’m doing is effective or not. You can’t please everyone, of course, and opinions will vary. But sometimes people write things that put opinion aside and go into analysis. Even a negative but well-written review can be very useful if it offers insight into something I had not realized or confirmation of something I was concerned about.

12. Do you always leave a review on a book you’ve read?

I try to. These days I’m reading more independent authors and little-known traditionally published authors, and I know how important reviews are to them. I do have a couple of reviews still waiting for books I finished months ago, but I’ll get to them in time.

13. Is there any person in particular who has inspired you in your life and/or writing?

I can’t really pinpoint it to any one person. My writing and life influences come from a variety of sources, and each of them were equally important in helping to shape the kind of stories I write. My style is a little bit of Stephen King’s horror, a little bit of Rowling’s magic, a lot of the smart ass wit I developed in high school, some Maya Angelou poetry, nights of debauchery with friends,some conversations I overheard in coffee shops and airports, Carl Sagan’s sense of scientific wonder, a bartender in Tokyo, and many more. In short, I draw inspiration from everyone, because everyone is amazing and infinitely interesting in their own ways.

14. What would you like to be doing in ten years’ time?

If you had asked me this question ten years ago when I was 24, you would’ve gotten a response that differs dramatically from the life I have now. And if you’d asked my 14-year-old self what I’d be doing at 24, he would’ve been way off too. And you know what? I like that. It shows that I’m always changing, always growing, and always open to becoming more than what I once thought I was capable of.

So the short answer to your question is: I have absolutely no idea.

Thanks so much for your time Ramsey.  Also congratulations are in order for your most recent honor: being the 2nd All Authors Certificate of Excellence winner for your work on Ghosts of Arcadia!

Source: All Authors Magazine

We appreciate those who check out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a terrific day!

The Wordsmith of Harmony on Gravettian Goddess

gravettiangoddessGravettian Goddess
B. Alexander Howerton
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Note: The copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Historical Fiction (as well as Spiritual Thriller/Suspense) 

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to share our thoughts on Gravettian Goddess.  Before we jump into the contents, let’s check out the blurb provided by Amazon:

What if the Holy Grail were real? What if people could truly live forever? Gravettian Goddess will appeal to fans of both The Da Vinci Code and Clan of the Cave Bear. It is the story of Greg Janeszco, a self-made internet multi-millionaire with a penchant for archaeology, who discovers a mystery that reaches back into the dim mist of prehistory, when humans first migrated into Europe at least 40,000 years ago during the ice age and created the wondrous cave paintings found there. Can he solve the ancient riddle before the pursuing members of a shadowy international organization, who want to exploit the find for their own dark purposes?

First we have Wordsmith Andi.

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When I received word that Gravettian Goddess was on my list of books scheduled for review and learned the text was 1299 pages long I almost dreaded approaching the read. I thought I hope this is a good book worthy of such length otherwise this is going to be a nightmare. Fortune was with me, and the author, when finally I did start reading.

The cover is vibrant and lush with imagery from the story, calling to mind exactly what the blurb promises: elements that hearken to The Da Vinci Code and Clan of the Cave Bear. The mystery is how two seemingly disparate books and ideas come together to tell the story of Greg Janeszco, the main character. I was immediately intrigued since I immensely enjoyed both novels for the individual merits.

Howerton doesn’t disappoint in his either completely insane or utterly revolutionary presentation of what I came to believe was a plausible theory and explanation of, well… everything. Reaching far, far back into nearly prehistoric times in order to set the stage for the drama that unfolds, Greg’s story is one I truly did not expect. The text is definitely information-heavy, sometimes feeling like a history lesson rather than a fictionalized story, but I love a book that teaches me things I didn’t know before. The two novels the blurb references were also information-rich, and like the authors of the aforementioned books, Howerton delivers his history lessons in admirable ways, mainly through dialog but also through action, drama, intrigue and romantic connections. What I also didn’t expect was this beautiful, almost genuine spiritual reverence underpinning this fantastic tale. This isn’t just a complex cobbling together of historical fact, mystical conjecture and conspiracy theories; it’s a piece of Howerton’s soul.

I connected immediately with Greg. Even though he’s super rich, he’s also immensely educated and successful but he doesn’t put these qualities or aspects of himself forward in any domineering or prideful way. While Greg has opinions and states them, he is the means through which we learn so much history. His development and growth across the board is the transporting vehicle for everything. I couldn’t help but be swept up into the whirlwind of his initial activity as the drama and intrigue unfolded, be just as confounded as he was in being drawn deeper into mysticism. Many times throughout the story I was moved, inspired, and awed. Just as Greg’s perspective is shifted and broadened through his strange journey and education into the mystery of all mysteries, mine was too. I had a moment when I was perhaps ¾ through the reading when I broke off from reading, dragging myself up and back into my reality, and almost wept with the realization that I was, in a large way, reading a story about a man’s becoming. Just as we are formally educated in school, it takes life experience, good or ill, and the lessons the people around us have to share and teach us about life and relationships, to propel us ever forward, so too it takes Greg the loss of love, threat of mortality, unexpected saving, recuperation, and environs and inclusion in the deepest of holy secrets to transform his entire being. Quite inadvertently, through pitfall and peak, Greg finds his sense of self and divine purpose.

Whether insane or revolutionary, Gravettian Goddess filled my head with facts and plausible theories, gave me food for thought, and most importantly, inspired a paradigm shift. Once seen; never again unseen. I think this is Howerton’s intention since the book; The Overview Effect by astronaut Frank White is referenced throughout.

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There were, unfortunately, a few notes that detracted from the reading.

The visual appearance of the text gave me the impression that the copy I received was either an early, unformatted draft or formatted for e-publication sans mark up. There were no headers or attempts to finesse the visual appeal, just plain text on the page. Font size was the culprit in why the book totaled 1299 pages. Had it been reduced to something even half the size I was presented with I might not have been so daunted by the length. (As a positive addendum, once I was caught up in the story the pages flew by and I only noticed I’d read hundreds of pages when I finally paused at the end of the night). Each chapter ended and the next began on the same page, making me long for page breaks for that mental pause between segments.

A few editing misses:

Page 298: “That is popular in folklore,“Malenka contined, (missing a space, making the quotation mark incorrect; misspelled word, continued)

Page 446: When I get to Toulouse, I press zero, then punch in Louis Roux.” (missing beginning quotation mark)

Page 637: “This is where I was originally planning to meet you,” said Paul. (missing quotation mark) My flat is nearby. We’ll stay there for the night.”

Page 685: “Here, take my hand,” Zorion said. (missing quotation mark) I will guide you.”

Page 1010: They spend (tense confusion, spent) a good portion of the afternoon wandering all the paths and passageways of the cave. “I know you can’t possible (possibly) memorize it all, but it is good to know that it’s all here. It may help you, even save your life.”

Page 1078: Then it suddenly struck Greg where he had seen here (her) before.

Page 1115: “If you even (ever) trusted me, trust me now. Come!”

Page 1209: She was the daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine, whosae (misspelled, whose) lands encompassed much of our ancient homeland in the south of France and the Pyrenees.

Despite the issues with formatting, font size and editing misses, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a thick, deep read that engages and educates. Abstract thinkers, intuitive, history buffs, skeptics and dreamers will pull more from the history and ideas Howerton presents than those readers looking for a quick, action heavy, little back story novel.

This is a book I would buy in paperback and shelve next to my copies of The Da Vinci Code and Clan of the Cave Bear, easily accessible for reference and discussion with someone else with a decidedly Ondorengoei outlook.

Gravettian Goddess earns 9 out of 10 stars for me.

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Now with her review, Harmony Kent.

harmonykent

Gravettian Goddess is a book about the search for the key to eternal life. Self-made millionaire, Greg Janeszco, gets involved when an old colleague goes missing and his assistant asks Greg for help.

Despite the length of this book, there is very little in the way of world building or character and plot development. Instead, we have page after page, and chapter after chapter, of information dumping that pretends to be dialogue. I know a few academics, and they just don’t interact in this way. The only time they speak like this is when they are giving lectures, and even then there would usually be some backwards and forwards between the teacher and the audience.

The book, Sophie’s World, does a fantastic job of sharing knowledge within a fictional setting, and this is the closest approximation to Gravettian Goddess I can come up with right now. However, where Jostein Gaarder does this seamlessly and in an entertaining fashion, I am afraid I cannot say the same for this book. I have read history books with more life.

The main character, Greg, doesn’t become apparent as the main character until 25% of the way into the book. Instead, we meet bit-part people first, who fizzle out pretty much around the time we are properly introduced to Greg. Even though all the characters are one-dimensional, it still isn’t good to read this much about them, and the whole drama around them, to then have them all killed off and the plot and storyline move into a completely different direction from where it started out heading. This can’t even be called a plot twist, because it just wasn’t.

In the infrequent sections where we do have fictional elements, and an attempt at plot and character development, the writing is unsophisticated and repetitive. But, to be fair, it is very difficult to get into anything offered in the way of storyline, when it is interrupted with this much information dumping. On the whole, it felt as if the fictional bits were really just filler and links to lead in to the next bit of info dumping.

I was asked to read this book on behalf of The Review Board, and this is the only reason I finished this book, otherwise I just would not have persevered with it. To do itself justice, the book needs to be either a fictional offering, or an academic type history book—it cannot be both, not as it stands.

The writer is obviously intelligent and knows their history/pre-history well. So all kudos for that.

Harmony’s Verdict

2outof10harmonygraphicI offer 2 out of 10 stars using the TRB rating scale.

Now taking the two ratings and dividing by two, The Review Board gives Gravettian Goddess 5.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.

5.5stars5.5 out of 10 Stars

Thank you for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a terrific day!

Unleashed Speaks on WWE Survivor Series 2014

nolabels-tftsGreetings!  No Labels here to discuss Surprising (oops, I mean Survivor) Series 2014.  Before I jump into the fray, Mr. Controversy and I did discuss on who we thought would win the five matches that we knew about.  In addition, I’d like to include predictions from another person who also likes wrestling (JS).

Survivor Series Logo 2014Survivor Series Predictions

Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Tag Team Championships
JS: Miz and Mizdow
Mr. C.: Miz and Mizdow
Unleashed: Gold and Stardust (wild card pick)

Why the “Dusts”: Although in my heart I want WWE to do the right thing by Damien Sandow, they have missed the boat before.  If this is the case, then they will keep the belts on Gold and Stardust.

Divas Traditional 4-on-4 Survivor Series Elimination matchup
JS: Team Natalya
Mr. C.: Team Natalya
Unleashed: Team Paige

Why Team Paige: As much as I love Natalya, the WWE hasn’t necessarily been very kind to her on the big stage.  I really want Natalya to win but on the same token, WWE is still trying to decide how to push Paige.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
JS: Bray Wyatt
Mr. C.: Dean Ambrose (although pulling for Bray to win)
Unleashed: Dean Ambrose

Why Ambrose: It looks as if they are still pushing Ambrose, yet I am not feeling Bray coming back simply to lose.  Citing Creative’s track record, I don’t see them letting Bray come out on top.

Divas Championship Match (AJ Lee vs Nikki Bella)
JS: Nikki Bella
Mr. C.: AJ Lee
Unleashed: AJ Lee

Why AJ: I don’t actually want to see Nikki with the belt.  Plus, there was this whole thing where Vince originally said that divas who were part of Total Divas were not in the running to hold the Divas belt.  We will just have to see if that is actually true or if he decided to change his mind.

Team Cena vs. Team Authority
JS: Team Cena
Mr. C.: Team Cena
Unleashed: Team Cena

Why Team Cena: Because I am beyond sick and tired of the Authority storyline.  Yet I do sense that Big Show will do a double cross on Team Cena because of the thing with Triple H firing members of Team Cena if Team Authority comes out victorious.


Confession: I came into Survivor Series not feeling overly excited about it.  Only 5 cards announced for the PPV.  No defense of the WWE Championship belt, which I still feel like was a ball drop on the side of WWE.  It limits the chances of Money in the Bank winner Seth Rollins to cash in, plus it doesn’t seem fair for a part timer to hold the belt when WWE has contended the belt has to be defended every thirty days.  Guess that shows the rule doesn’t apply to every superstar.

FandangoI did not get a chance to look at the pre-show but did get a look afterwards at the new Fandango.  I guess that kills all the speculation that he was on the chopping block, although if he was, I wouldn’t have been overly sad about it.  Despite his revamp, which works better for him as well as for Rosa, it’s going to take a miracle for me to get behind him.

Bad News AgainYet I am glad that Barrett is on his way back to the fold.  His Intercontinental Championship reign got cut way too soon due to injury.  We just have to see how fast WWE puts him back in the championship picture.

Now on to the nitty gritty.

Dropping an extra bomb
Survivor Series started out with Vince McMahon coming out and introducing The Authority as well as John Cena.  Stephanie seemed very confident that even if The Authority wasn’t in front of the camera (if they lost), they could still have some type of power behind the scenes.  Mr. McMahon nipped that in the bud very quickly when he decided to #RaiseTheStakes.  Yes, they would have desk jobs but they wouldn’t have any control whatsoever over the lives and careers of the WWE Superstars.  On top of that, if The Authority lost the only one that could bring them back into power would be the new Hulk Hogan (oops, I mean John Cena).  Would John ever do that?  He borrowed a line from Vince: “No chance in hell.”

Okay, Survivor Series, you have my attention.

Fatal 4 WayComing Full Circle
The action in this match was relatively good, although it wasn’t the focal point of excitement.  All eyes were on one guy: Damien Mizdow.  For a while, it seems that he’s been given the short end of the stick: a bit of creative purgatory, it seems.  Yet this teaming with Miz has rebirthed him in some way.  I do not like Miz in the least bit.  Never have, never will.  But if Sandow has to really do this, then I’m willing to pretend I don’t see Miz.  The final moments of the match were excellent.  After all of the times Miz kept Mizdow from being in the match, Mizdow took initiative, tagged himself in, and covered Goldust for the win.

Miz and MizdowWinner (and the NEW Tag Team Champions): Miz and Damien Mizdow
My Reaction: Glad I was wrong about my pick and it’s about time.

 

DivasNot a Bathroom Break
Usually when it is time for a Divas match, most folks deem it a “bathroom break” or they change the channel because “there’s nothing to see here”.  Yet, this particular match was not the case.

Surprisingly good performances: Emma and Naomi (aka Thickums).  When Emma is not acting like a full goofball, she actually has some moves.  Naomi is very athletic but still has to work on her timing, yet she put on quite a performance overall and secured the win for her team.

Glad she finally got her respect: I love Nattie and have loved her ever since she got into the business.  In my eyes, she is what a true champion looks like, yet for the most part, WWE has never seen her in that way.  I am very glad that she won because I had become weary of seeing her on the big stage just to lose or put over newer divas.

Team NatalyaWinner: Team Nattie
Reaction: Oh my god!  A Divas match worth taking a look at.  Awesome sauce, and yes, glad I was wrong.

 

Ambrose v WyattThe Battle of the Crazies
For me, this match was a test to see who was the most psychotic.  I really liked the match and both Bray and Dean were pulling out all the stops.  However, they must have been doing a bit too well (one not being able to pin the other) because Bray grabs a microphone and starts cutting a promo.  Was he tired?  Did they run out of ideas?  In a move that made me scratch my head, Dean hits Bray with a steel chair, leading to Dean getting disqualified.  Then Dean brings in a table, positions Bray on the table, and leaps from the rope onto Bray’s body on the table.  Then more chairs and even a ladder is brought in the ring where Dean is standing on it as if he was the victor.

I shouldn’t feel like Dean won when really he lost.  Why does Bray seem like a loser, even though he won the match?  Hell, they didn’t even announce that he won! Although this sets up TLC next month for Bray vs. Dean, I don’t like how this match ended.  I would have preferred it clean.

Winner (by disqualification): Bray Wyatt
Reaction: Yeah, he won but he still looked weak in his comeback.

Impromptu Match: Adam Rose and the Bunny vs. Slater Gator

I’m not even going to put up a graphic because WTF cares.  All I’m saying is that I knew Adam Rose and that Bunny were going to find some way to get on the pay per view.  I know eventually they are going to come to blows but this drama is better saved for an episode of Main Event.  I don’t even think it’s RAW or Smackdown worthy.

Winner: Adam Rose and the Animal Showoff (the Bunny)
Reaction: We didn’t know, and I don’t care.

AJ v NikkiIf You Sneezed or Blinked, You Missed It
No, seriously.  First, Nikki and Brie came out to the ring— Brie almost at the end of the servitude stipulation.  Then, AJ came out to the ring.  What happened next reminded me of a certain match in Wrestlemania 28:

Yet for those who remembered what happened, this looks to be a bit of irony (or even payback) all rolled into one:

Brie (now Bryan’s husband) kisses AJ (former love interest in a previous storyline), providing just enough distraction for Nikki to capitalize and get the victory before you could go to the bathroom and come back.

Winner (and New Divas Champion): Nikki Bella
Reaction: WWE, WTF? Ugh!

Cena v AuthorityHe’s Here to Show the World (and it’s not who you think)
Finally, the main event.  The tension in the air was thick.  You can tell everyone had their game faces on.  It reminded me of “West Side Story”, even the scene in “Beat It” by Michael Jackson where everyone is sizing each other up.

Face OffOkay, so Big Show has already decided he was going to start for Team Cena.  Mark Henry was getting a big pep talk from Team Authority before he got down to business.  Just as he turned around, Big Show nailed him with the knockout punch.

Big Show KO ImpactBig Show KO“Mark Henry has been eliminated.”

hewasntreadyTeam Cena was looking very strong in the beginning.  Rusev, in his zest to take out Ziggler (and at Triple H’s insistence), put everything out on the line as he attempted to leap on top of Ziggler (spread out on the announce table) and missed horribly.  Ziggler makes the 10 count.  Rusev, well…

“Rusev has been eliminated.”

Vladimir is really not pleased.

Vladimir is really not pleased.

So the guys that were considered the two biggest threats to Team Cena are gone.  It looks like Team Cena is a shoo-in to win.  Then, the very thing I hinted at earlier in this post happened.

Big Show DoubleCrossZiggler hadn’t fully recovered from the beat down he had taken from Rusev.  Cena was feeling a bit weary.  Then, in a move that caused some jaws to drop (although I exclaimed, “I knew it!”), Big Show (#TurnCoatBitch) gives a knockout punch to Cena and he is pinned, leading to Superhero Cena to getting eliminated.  Then Big Show shakes Triple H’s hand and exits the ring, leading to a count out.

Now there’s just Ziggler and Seth Rollins, Kane, and Luke Harper.  What’s a Showoff to do?

Survive.  And survive he did. 

He got enough of a second wind to take out Kane and Luke Harper, setting up quite a showdown between he and Seth Rollins.  Just when it looked like Ziggler had him beat, Triple H pulls the 1st ref out of the ring and nails him.  Ziggler launches another comeback, attempts the pin.  A second ref comes out and Triple H nails him.  With all of the referees out of the way, Triple H decides to take a further hands on approach to taking care of business (ala Pedigree) and then invites Scott (the ref the Authority has in their back pocket) to come down and make the pin.  Then, the strangest thing happens.

*YES: THIS REALLY HAPPENED!*

Awesome Tweet

*Special Thanks to @deathintwosteps on Twitter for the Tweet Heard Around The World*

I know it has been rumored for years but this particular thing, I had to see it to believe it.  I’m not quite sure what his purpose will be (although Authority replacement would be a good option) but I’ve always admired Sting’s wrestling ability, whether in the pastel colors or the black and white.  That Scorpion Death Drop was heard around the world.

Sting Triple H FaceOff Scorpion Death Drop

Sting Saves the Day

After Triple H and the crooked ref were successfully taken out of the picture, Sting drapes Dolph Ziggler’s arm over Seth Rollins, giving the original referee of the match ample time to count to three.

 Ziggler Winner*TRULY EARNED AND DESERVES THIS MOMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE STACKED DECK WIN*

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Winner: Team Ziggler (because Ziggler was the true superhero of the team, NOT John Cena)

Reaction: YES!  YES!  YES!  I liked this match because it didn’t fully evolve around Cena towards the very end.  I would have loved to have seen a bit more from Mark Henry because I really thought he got the short end of the stick.  Harper and Rowan didn’t get as much of a chance to shine as I wanted, and Seth did more sneak attacks and saving people’s asses than actually doing a whole lot of wrestling.  Plus, it was worth Stephanie McMahon channeling her inner Vickie Guerrero once realization hit that she was indeed fired.


 

Prediction Wise: I didn’t do so well on my picks this time around but I’m glad that I did lose on most of them.  Mr. C. scored 3, and our guest predictor (JS) got all five.

Source: familyfeudSurvey says based on the 5-point “Things that are not Books” scale:

4-Stars4 Stars

Survivor Series 2014 did indeed shock me.  I enjoyed most of the matches as well as a few of the twists.  They took what many considered to be a weak card and made it work.  Plus it appears as if someone is paying attention (at least for the moment) to what the fans want.

What didn’t quite get Survivor Series 2014 to 5 Stars were:

  • Lack of WWE Championship Match
  • Rose and Bunny were a waste of PPV space
  • The ending to the Divas title match
  • The abrupt ending to the Ambrose vs. Wyatt match
  • No Randy Orton (I was very disappointed that Randy didn’t show up at the PPV.  I wanted him to come out and deliver some RKOs but hey a girl can dream)

Thanks for checking out the media segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment.  Have a great day!

Truth Vision Unleashed on Circadian Circle

circadianCircadian Circle by Alesha L. Escobar
The 3rd Book in The Gray Tower trilogy

Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Note: This, along with the other two books of this trilogy, was given in exchange for an honest review.

Greetings!  The Review Board is here to discuss Circadian Circle by Alesha L. Escobar, the final book in The Gray Tower Trilogy.

First with her thoughts, Mini Truth.

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This will probably be the quickest review I’ve done for TRB (or on my own) to date.

I was disenchanted with this trilogy as a whole. From the first book I found way too many things that I felt were not kosher with the series.

First, I must say this; I am a lover of fantasy fiction, and I realize that in books of fantasy fiction the truth must be stretched to make way for the fictional aspect of the story. However, the trick to a good fictional story is to make it believable, and I felt that the Gray Tower Trilogy failed in that aspect. This is a grand shame because the elements of the series could’ve made for an outstanding trio. Yet, the lackluster articulation made this collection highly unattractive to me.

Following are the elements that I did not like about Circadian Circle:

  • Still I did not take a liking to the character of Isabella. I still felt that she was obnoxious and temperamental, as well as immature. One would’ve expected there to be some sort of maturity in the character considering that this was the third part of the series, but there wasn’t.
  • I cannot believe that she got over the loss of Ken so quickly. That bothered me quite a lot.
  • There was way too much additional dialogue and narrative in this book which made it twice as long as it needed to be. It was way too wordy and I felt as though the majority of it was there just to elongate the story, and for no other reason and truthfully had no place in the book.
  • The beginning of the story starts just like the first book is the series, full of action but lacking true reason. Then the story drops in action and becomes boring… again.
  • There is tons of magic, demons and things of the sort–it kind of felt like an episode of Charmed at times–but I feel that as a whole, the handling of these elements were mediocre.
  • Another thing that bothers me is that throughout the series we find a ‘set in stone’ implementation of ‘rules’ as it pertains to magic and the otherworldly being, however time and time again, it seemed as if those rules did not apply to Isabella the MC. Basically, I kept feeling like these laws were broken just to get Isabella out of trouble. That bothers me. Because a rule is a rule for a reason. It cannot be broken, not even by the MC.
  • The ending, to me, was unbelievable and anticlimactic. As the matter of fact, I had to read it twice and still I didn’t get the full gist of it. I was fully frustrated.

As a whole, I’d like to reiterate that I was not impressed with this story, or the trilogy for that matter, and was very let down… AGAIN.

Unfortunately, because I’d hoped that this book would make up for the shortcomings of the rest, yet didn’t, my rating for this one is even lower than the others.

I’m sorry, but the Gray Tower Trilogy was just not what I expected it to be at all.

Truth says… 3 TRB Stars.

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Now let’s discover what Nikki sees in the story.

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Okay, so in the third book of this trilogy, Isabella has to crank up her powers and learn how to harness them to save the world, whilst holding on to her humanity in order to finally defeat the evil Octavian. In order for Isabelle to complete her mission though, she is forced to make a deal with a demon that puts her relationship with her friends and allies into question. When the Cruenti Master kidnaps her beloved family, she must do all in her power to save them.

But, I knew that she would, and that was the problem for me, the element of danger just wasn’t there because the previous books have her doing much the same thing. I liked the twist when her father and mentor, hatch a scary alternative plan should her Drifter abilities fail. I won’t say what it is, because that would spoil it for future readers.

Again the opening is exciting and Isabelle has to do a spot of magic to get herself and her companions out of another life threatening situation. I really didn’t want to read any more of the same old stuff, and although there are some newish adversaries, the action and terror, was similar to the previous books. I’m not sure what else I can say that I haven’t said before, but here goes. There are lots of magical stuff and creatures such as demons, warlocks, evil wolves, telekinesis, mind reading, a living statue, tarot stuff and so on, then – enter a dragon. Phew, with so much going on, can there be any room left for a story line? I mean, a different-ish one? Not really.

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After the opening action, more long sections of plot recap and exposition. I wanted something different to keep me interested in the story and not scream at the page, “Get on with it!” There still isn’t much of a Nazi WW2 storyline. They do come in and out of the plot here and there, but there wasn’t enough actual historical detail for me. I think it could do with some cutting down and sharpening of content to make it less similar to the first two books.

On a more positive note, there were a lot of good action sequences that were quite well paced and full of tension. Most of the characters are well defined, but again I would have preferred a few less so that I could focus on the main protagonists and learn more about them. Hence the reason I haven’t singled any one out in particular to talk about. Isabella’s character began to irritate me after a while. She came across a little whiny in this third outing and I didn’t really believe in her vulnerability, or her emotional concern for her family enough to make her actions totally convincing.

I found some of the descriptions too wordy and almost like stage directions, and I became bored with so many of them. Again wanting Alesha to get on with the story and not have to read in minutia exactly how A gets to B physically. It left nothing to the imagination.

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There was an awful lot of eating going on too. However, Escobar does have a good narrative style on occasions that really comes alive when she gets into the action sections. This is largely due to the short sentences construction and chapter lengths.

Vision Verdict: 5 TRB Stars

The ending was a little flat for me since the previous action was quite thrilling. Also, I’m not sure if the ending is a conclusion, or just a break until the next time. I don’t think that I would care to read another instalment if the plot remains the same. However, lovers of urban fantasy and magic may enjoy this book and its over-complicated storyline.

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Now, thoughts from the Unleashed One.

Unleashed Speaks

I know you guys are probably wondering why I’ve put in what appears to be a musical commercial break speaking of an emotional roller coaster.  It is because that is the best way to describe what this book (as well as the other two in The Gray Tower Trilogy) has taken me on.

Before I dig all these feelings out of the deepest darkest corners of my being, let me share what brought out some snapshots of happy.

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Happy Happy, Joy Joy (Pros)

1. Syntax stayed the course.  There were very few mistakes to be seen in the .mobi copy I had for review.

2. Abstract covers remained in unity for the presentation of the trilogy.

3. There were actually a few characters that I got a chance to know, amidst all of the narrative, dialogue and action.  One character I liked from the start was Gregory, despite him being distrusted by everyone.  Another character I found enticing was Ammon.  Yes, I know it is strange because he is the one the reader is supposed to hate, yet there was something cunning in the fact that he seemed always one step ahead.  Finally, there’s Nikon: the more I discovered about her, the more I admired her “this is how I am, no apologies”.  There is this resolve and tenacity in her that garnered my respect.

4. Although the author (upon initial reach out) stated that these works couldn’t actually stand alone, for me they actually could.  This is a plus to the reader who wants to read something without being lost, or to one who has read one book and opts not to continue with the rest of the books.  In other words, one doesn’t feel as if he has to finish the whole thing.  There is enough back tracking to fill in the gaps, even if you were to start with this book or with book two (Dark Rift), as opposed to book one (Tower’s Alchemist).

5. The author has a great way of describing the setting prior to some of the action sequences.

6. There was a better balance in chapter lengths.

Pitcher-of-KoolAid

Okay, happy feeling dissipating.  Time to grab some a tall glass, put in a circle of Tropical Punch Kool-Aid and blend it with the slight powder known as sugar.  Maybe that will help me.

In The Tower’s Alchemist, I relied on spells.  In Dark Rift, I relied on circles.  In this rendition of written opportunities, I have decided to create some rifts.

The Dark Rifts (Cons)

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1. Rift of “Where in the Land of Oz Am I?”
In Circadian Circle, I was trying to figure out the time line.  Was it in fact still World War II? The setting wasn’t as prominent this time around.  If one was following the trilogy, there are certain events that happened in its predecessor that makes you wonder how current events could be taking place.  One is the connection between Isabella and Brande after a tragedy strikes with someone else she was close to.  Some form of time stamping would have helped developing side stories make sense.

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2. Rift of “In My (fill in the blanks) Accent”
Okay, should I put on my professional on-the-phone accent or my hanging out with the girls accent?  I admit, this is an Unleashed quirk but the reason I bring it up was because the repetition of this got me irked.  For example, one of the Master wizards Ekuweme, from my understanding, is Nigerian.  Why would it have to be emphasized that he’s speaking in a “Nigerian accent”?  Even if he isn’t, and he is someone who learned Nigerian as a language, it would just make more sense to speak Nigerian, as opposed to “in my ______ accent”.  The same thing was done with another wizard Cathana, giving great weight to her “Irish accent”. What does bringing spotlight to these accents have to do with the story, and why with just these two individuals and none of the others?  What in the name of Accent, Sazón, and Adobo is going on here?

3. Rift of “Sticky Situations TIVO”
Have you ever looked at a show and thought, “Hey they used that same trick three seasons ago!”, or wanted to look at a new episode of a program, only to discover that you’re watching a rerun?  That is the best way to discover the crisis cycle that is Isabella.  Here is the overall summary using my own made up actors:

Waver of Red Flag: He is mighty dangerous.
Fool Who Rushes In: I got this. All I need are my circles, my fires, my red lipstick, and the stuff that makes the most vicious villains go to sleep right between my cleavage.
(Fool realizes that she’s way in over her head too late.  Fades to black to wake up roughed up and tied up.  Trash talking with villain ensues.  Special fire and circle powers activate and just when Fool is at her weakest the cavalry, including Waver of Red Flag, saves the day in the nick of time.)

A few chapters later… wait, this again! No, trust me… the Zaman’s Fire is next.  Oh, there it goes!  Yes, the Circle (the Protection one) will arrive shortly.  Boom, there it is!

Unleashed, you don’t mean to tell me there will be a sneak attack.  Oh, my God, where did that thing come from?  A team of help?  Say it isn’t so; Unleashed, it’s like you’re a psychic!

Um, no, just that it happened in the other two books, and multiple times in this one.  It almost makes the conflict seem not that impressive.

Moving on.

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4. Rift of “Wait, did this turn into a comedy book?”
Circadian Circle
has been deemed fantasy fiction, action adventure, and/or even a mashup.  Who knew that it was a comedy book too?  Wait, I wasn’t supposed to be laughing, was I?  Well, let’s think.  There’s a heroine that the reader is supposed to get behind that uses her temper more than her brain to make decisions, then thinks she is getting over on the bad guys but playing right into their hands.

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On top of that, the dialogue Isabella has back and forth between people makes me shake my head in confusion and disdain.  Plus, she is supposed to have over the top powers but instead of being trained earlier in this book (hell, even the last book), Isabella wants to get down to business without reading the instruction manual on how to do things properly but behaves like a brat when things don’t go her way.

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If this isn’t Magic Bloopers 101, I don’t know what is.  This could also be called I Can Do Bad All By Myself (the Drifter edition), and even Stealthless, because most of Isabella’s “spy activity” result in epic fails.

5. Rift of “‘m Just Not that Into You”

Isabella, Isabella, Isabella!  So many high hopes.  At first, I was just saddened by your lack of spy swagger (1st book), then disappointed in your lack of opportunity to engage with your emotions (2nd book).  This right here is just stupidity.

Not Impressed

Yes, Isabella may be the high and mighty Drifter but her overall disposition didn’t grow with her powers.  Her stubbornness and inability to really adapt hindsight and truly blossom caused me to disengage from her story.  It’s hard for me to get behind three long books worth of a person who is the main focus if the progress is lackluster or nonexistent.  I’m not saying a hero doesn’t make mistakes but the greatest of heroes uses unfortunate circumstances to not only persevere but flourish into a better person and not meet those pitfalls again.  You don’t continue to make errors; you go outside yourself and think of the whole as opposed to your own selfish needs and wants.  That’s the meaning of sacrifice and it doesn’t always make one popular.  I found Isabella to care way too much about popularity and wanting to cheat her way to being powerful rather than learning to be accountable, responsible, and diligent in her resolve.  As my grandma would say, “She’s running around like a chicken with her head cut off.”

6.  Rift of “What is THAT doing there?”
Brande and Isabella, oh so adorable!  How did we get here?  That goes back to that 1st rift I mentioned.  How was there time to develop a love story among the Wolves, the Black Dragon, Ammon, saving people, developing maximized Drifter powers and Octavian?  The narration of it all was put together in a nice little “matter-of-fact” package.

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7. Rift of “Are You Serious?”
All I have to say is that the ending didn’t match the intensity of the action at all.  Even now, I still sit here stunned.

Unleashed Verdict: 5.5 out of 10 TRB Stars

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Now on to do some final thoughts on The Gray Tower trilogy (overall).

  • There was not enough differential between the three books to warrant anyone claiming they should be read together.  Reading Circadian Circle felt like I was reading The Tower’s Alchemist, only with less characters.  I just believe one is not missing anything crucial if one skips a book or just reads one book.
  • I know there is a propensity for good writing here.  The culmination of the action segments are extremely vivid, yet there is a dryness with the rest of the writing.
  • First person narrative was used with this whole trilogy, yet the main character did less than a stellar job with bringing me into her emotions.  For me Isabella lost this entire journey, there wasn’t anything that symbolized any type of break.  It was also difficult for me to really gauge what any of the other characters were like because Isabella’s depiction of people and events was so limiting.
  • Each book was trying to tackle on too much, especially The Tower’s Alchemist.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.
  • Too many characters were presented to the point where practically none of them stuck and I wondered and/or nearly forgot what purpose they served.  The major players lacked lucid descriptions and decisive maturation.
  • Dialogue didn’t ring natural, especially in The Tower’s Alchemist where the World War II setting was fully utilized as well as emphasized.
  • I also admit to not understanding why the books had to be set in World War II as opposed to any other historical time.  Why have a historical backdrop at all?  Also at war were the spy element and the magic element.  Quite honestly, I loved the magic element more and for me, reading about the spy information was a bit distracting.
  • Teachable (instructional) banter could have been discarded for the most part and aided to cut these lengthy books by about a third, yet the reader still would have known what the story was about.

To conclude, all I will say is this:

If you want to go on an emotional roller coaster ranging from confusion, shock, shaking your head, and all things in between, leading to a very eerie pounding in your head and heart, then by all means, go for it.

As for me, I’m glad to get off this ride.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this.  There are not enough Circles of Protection, mental locks, talismans, heart binds, and Zaman’s Fires to invest any further.

Closing all of the Rifts with my Add All Scores and Subtract by Number of Reviewers Circle:

4.54.5 out of 10

Overall, Circadian Circle receives 4.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a terrific day!

Unleashed Speaks on Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer

orionpoenewOrion Poe and the Lost Explorer
Will Summerhouse
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Greetings!  The Review Board here to share its thoughts on Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer.  Now without further delay, let’s see what the Unleashed One has to say!

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Unleashed Speaks

Before I proceed with my review, let me give the blurb via Amazon:

Eleven-year-old Orion lives with his stodgy grandfather in eastern Maine, where nothing exciting ever happens. But then a series of strange events draws him into the mystery of a lost explorer, and Orion is swept up in a whirlwind of adventure that takes him to the top of the world. To survive he must outwit a scheming treasure hunter, team up with a gang of flimps, and take on a tyrant with an anger management problem. Can Orion solve the mystery and get back home alive? And just what are flimps, anyway?

Orion Poe is about to find out. Join him as he laughs, cries, bluffs, and shoots his way to the heart of one of the greatest mysteries in the history of exploration. Along the way he discovers that the world is far bigger—and stranger—than he ever imagined.

The story began with Orion Poe taking over as the narrator of his own tale because the previous narrator got some parts of it wrong.  It definitely set the stage for the primary target audience of this work which is around middle school to young adult.

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First, I loved the external and internal visuals of this work.  It matched the ambiance of a big adventure on the water.  Since it is hinted there will be more of Orion Poe in the future, I hope to see this same type of alignment with book presentation in future editions.

Second, I applaud the way the tone of the book stayed in character.  Here is what I mean. I knew that Orion was narrating the story and I never felt like another individual or voice was trying to take over.  The dialect, perceptions and actions were never of a phony stunt double (aka “an adult pretending to be a kid”).  This added authenticity to the novel as a whole.

Third, there were some pretty likeable characters.  I adored the intelligence, self-reliance and savvy of Orion.  I appreciated the different personalities of the crew, in particular Peerless Jones who I had a love/hate relationship with.  I found myself wondering whose side was he really on through the whole narrative and it was great to have characters in a work who aren’t exactly cookie cutter good or decisively wicked among the rest.

Four, although there was plenty of action and conflict to go around, not one out showcased the other.  All of it worked together to achieve the final destination of the story.

Five, resolution was wonderfully tidy, even though there will be a second book.  I think by having a clear resolution to a presented crisis, it not only makes for a better read but it leaves the reader with the option to continue on with other books about Orion Poe without feeling like he/she has missed out on anything.

Six, very balanced chapter lengths made for quick reading so one doesn’t even realize the length of the book.

Seven, if there were any errors with spelling, grammar and punctuation they were slight or nonexistent.

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The only cons I had about Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer:

  • The adventure didn’t take place as soon as I would have anticipated.
  • The development of Orion taking center stage and being really invested in the events was slightly slow in relation to the length of the book.
  • More of the grandfather, since his quirky ways reminded me of my own grandfather in his heyday.

9.5starsUnleashed Verdict: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

If you are a fan of Treasure Island, Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer will definitely appeal to the need for sea adventure.  This novel also speaks to one’s own inner child looking for a heroic thrill.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a terrific day!

Truth Vision Unleashed on Dark Rift

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Dark Rift by Alesha L. Escobar
Book Two of The Gray Tower trilogy
Goodreads | Amazon

Note: This was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Readers and Followers,

Today The Review Board brings you their views on Dark Rift by Alesha L. Escobar, the 2nd book in her trilogy.

First, Mini Truth will share her Truthful Takes.

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Let me see… (insert thinking face here).

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Where can I start with this book?

I find myself in one of those situations where you want to say so much, but almost don’t have the strength—more so, the desire—to.

I suppose I’ll start by giving a bit about the premise. However, I’ve made up my mind that this review will be short and to the point. It’ll go something like this: explain the plot a tad, then give my overall thoughts.

Today I’ll be veering away from my typical ‘Pros and Cons’ bullets, as I feel like they won’t really be necessary. Mostly because a lot of my thoughts on this book are the same as my thoughts on the 1st in the series, with maybe one or two difference.

I’ll start by asking, have you ever read a series and thought to yourself “This one isn’t much better than the first, albeit for a couple of different reasons.”?

Basically it’s that thought of “What the first one lacked this one was a bit better on, but what the first one was better on this one lacked.” More specifically, it’s the feeling of being let down.

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Does that even make sense? I really hope it does.

Let me dig into the meat of this review for you as I really don’t feel like going off on a tangent. I want to keep this as short and sweet as I possibly can. Today Mini Truth, will keep her review short and honest, for my name sake.

The Dark Rift is the continuation of The Tower’s Alchemist, and instead of continuing where the last one let off, as presumed, it actually does not. It starts off some time later—not much, but certainly not where the last one left off.

Here Isabella George deems it necessary to sort things out by presenting the Master Wizard with the proof that the Drifter is humanities only salvation during this time of war and havoc.

Wizards, and Warlocks, and Magic, OH MY!

But, nope! This is definitely no Harry Potter type thing.

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Isabella is also dealing with the ramifications of the losses she had during The Tower’s Alchemist, and find it difficult to cope with them. In this story we see the return of a few of the characters in The Tower’s Alchemist as well as the presentation of new ones.

I find that the best way to describe the overall scheme of Dark Rift, is to say that it’s a magical (or so we hope) journey of personal discovery.

As with the first story in this series, I had some major problems with this read that really killed my gross enjoyment of it. To be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was flat out bored out of my mind.

Alright… I changed my mind.

I suppose I WILL be doing some bullet points after all, but not in the form of Pros and Cons, just general bullet points.

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  • Dark Rift is a story that is unfortunately too “preachy” for me. What do I mean? I mean that the book continually went into long segments of unnecessary information, all being told from a first person perspective which many times seemed very presumptuous.
  • I still didn’t like the main character. She really is just not very likable to me, unfortunately.
  • All of the “magical” elements of this story seemed like an after thought or just all out displaced—as if it just didn’t belong or wasn’t at all necessary.
  • While in Dark Rift there wasn’t as many characters introduced, the ones that were introduced weren’t all that interesting, and for the most part had blasé personalities.
  • I continually felt like the conflict wasn’t believable and lacked stimuli.
  • There were constant bouts of the author trying to plug in the magical/mythological explanations in awkward places. It was like the story’s progression would be halted so that the author could implement some miscellaneous magic lesson.
  • I can’t help but keep saying to myself, “One of these elements just isn’t needed. This should be either a magic story, or a war story, or a spy story and not all. They just don’t seem to mesh well. In wanting to have all of these aspects in the story, it seems as though they aren’t being told to their fullest capacity—so one takes away from the other, and in turn it is an all out put off.
  • The writing style is still a bit odd, but better than the last book. The syntax can still use a tad bit of work, but isn’t horrible.
  • I think that the story would’ve benefited from the exclusion or shaving of some excess scenes to help with the boredom aspect.
  • There was still the aspect of the unresolved issues in book 1, that weren’t resolved in book 2. And now book 2 has added more unresolved issues. I hope that book 3 does its job and seals the deal.

Due to holding the expectation that this one would rank higher on my Reading Richter Scale-—as it was the 2nd in the collection—but didn’t, I found myself feeling highly unimpressed with Dark Rift, and thus causing my ranking to mark even lower this time around.

My verdict?

4 TRB Stars.

I truly pray that the 3rd book is better.

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Next we’ll see what Nikki Vision has to say.

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The second book in the trilogy starts with an action packed sequence that doesn’t exactly follow on from the first book. Again, our heroine is in a life-threatening situation and again, casts her ‘Circle of Protection’ and is saved from the danger. Her Drifter training continues between bouts of Nazi demon searching, and Isabella has to learn more of her craft if she is to tackle the dark forces that threaten to destroy the world.

The action shifts around once more geographically and time wise, and Isabelle finds herself in a variety of European locations, such as Spain and England. In fact Isabelle visits Bletchley Park, so that we know that we are back in time. Again, I didn’t feel like I was reading a book set in the 1940”s as the dialogue and narrative voice was quite modern. There are still more nasty warlocks out to stop Isabella completing her mission, but hey, you know what, they are scuppered by not only her circle spell, but Neal’s powers also, which turn out to be the drawing of symbols and, yes you guessed it, the Circle of Protection stuff too.

Then we get back to her mission and the wizard Nazi scenario starts again. Isabella is once more in peril from a demon or possessed thing. When thick black gunge slips from the monster’s mouth, I was reminded of several episodes of the X files. Indeed it began to read like a script from that show with a bit of Supernatural thrown in for good measure. No I’m not saying this is a badly written book, it isn’t and is on the whole a good read, my gripe is that it has the same old stuff going on as in the first. I got tired of reading what I’d basically already read in the previous novel.

Alesha does excel when she writes action scenes. There are some good descriptive moments that were nail-biting and evocative. The scene with the Black Wolves was quite scary, and I really enjoyed the word usage such as: “They latched onto my Circle of Protection and began drinking iots energy like water.” Lovely!

The chapters when Izzy is reunited with most of her family were somewhat dull and slowed the narrative, which I felt was a little jumbled throughout. One minute it’s all fighting and near death action, and then long passages of exposition and backstory, then blam – another creature arrives to harm her. I think this book could do with a bit of editing to get the pace and flow more linear. The tension didn’t build systematically it went up and down like a roller coaster, which sometimes worked and more often than not, didn’t.

I liked the betrayal part of the story as it lent depth to the plot line and was something different from the usual battle between good and evil. Most of the confrontations with evil wizards and demons were basically the same, and there are so many of them. I got fed up with it after a while.

Characters were okay, mostly well defined, but there were so many that they did tend to blur on occasions, and that meant that I didn’t really identify or engage with them enough to care when they were killed or badly injured.

Nothing seemed to progress with this second book in the series. I thought there was too much exposition to get in the backstory of the magical themes, and to explain the history of the various demons and strange magical creatures. There was a lot of re-capping in the beginning that I didn’t feel was all that necessary, and after an exciting beginning, it slowed the narrative to a snail pace.

The ending was pacey on the whole, which I liked, and we do get back to the Nazi plot, which seemed to disappear for most of the book. I have to say that I wanted Izzy to get on with it, and was not too excited about reading the next book if it just carried on from this one.

Vision Verdict: 4 Stars

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Now, we have the Unleashed One.

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Note: It was asked of the author prior to the assignment of the titles if these were stand alone titles or not, and the answer TRB received is that they could not stand alone—meaning if someone were assigned the 2nd one, they’d have to read the first one, and one couldn’t get the understanding of the 3rd one without checking out the two previous titles.

Don’t worry; my mentioning of this does have a point.

When I opened Dark Rift, I expected an immediate continuation of The Tower’s Alchemist (aka picking up where it left off), yet the first chapter had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever.  In addition, the way that Alchemist ended, although a bit cliff hanger like, felt like it could have been a stand alone, like one of my fellow reviewers pointed out as well in her review.

With that being said, I will carry on with my thoughts.

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Circle of Cool Beans (Magic Spell Pros)

  • The abstractness of the cover still remains a top pro to me.  It does help to tie together all the books in the series.  Plus it does help that my favorite color is blue.
  • The significant decrease of double agent speak made it easier to keep up with characters, particularly Isabella.

Circle of Perturbness (Magic Spell Cons)

Circle of Repetitious Resolution: In almost every situation where Isabella meets with trouble, she immediately relies on one source for assistance.

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The scenes felt extremely anti-climatic because almost like a “train that is never late”, here comes the Circle of Protection.  Just like John Cena and his five moves of doom, in order to keep Isabella interesting, she has to pull more out of her arsenal and a lot more often at that.  The fact that this is the second book in the trilogy and we are still seeing the same magic tricks of the first is a bit disheartening.

Circle of Crazy Chapter Lengths: It could be an Unleashed thing but the variations in chapter length proved to be a challenge.  Quite a few chapters that had scene separators could have served as another chapter.  Other chapters could have been omitted—especially if they are orchestrated just to add length to a story that doesn’t need it.

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Circle of Little Substance: Although Dark Rift didn’t have the sickening influx of characters like Tower’s Alchemist, all the introduced characters were treated as if they were passing by, including those who had significance in moving along the story.  Not saying that the reader needs to know everyone’s back story but the main chemicals that are going to cause implosion, they definitely needed more exploring.

Circle of Malnourishment: I didn’t mind the Dark Rift being slower as long as one of the things achieved was improvement in the main character Isabella.  If one was reading Dark Rift by itself, one would get annoyed at Isabella’s fits of temper, not thinking things fully through before she acts, and continuing to get in trouble time and time again.

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It’s even more painful when you’ve read the first book and realize that it’s damn near the same Isabella only a different setting.  Even when she is given instructions on what to do and told to be cautious, she’s acts like she’s listening but she really isn’t.  In addition, her depiction of her emotions and experiences are very detached.  In first person, I want to be able to feel the person’s triumphs and sorrows, and although she has lost many in not only this book but the previous book, I am not able to connect with her pain and her torment.  I didn’t gain any likability towards Isabella and that spells trouble going into the third installment, since this whole entire trilogy is based on her coming into her own and for the reader to invest the time to ride things until the end.

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Circle of Afterthought: Although the magic was supposed to be at the forefront, I felt like it was conveyed miscellaneously, despite the fact that a lot of the spy ambiance wasn’t utilized this time around.  It’s another example where I feel like this can’t be a spy book and a magic book—that the author needed to make a choice.

Circle of Nonsensical Narration: I feel like a lot of the instructional information about the magic served more as fill in narration than adding to the actual movement or basis of the storyline.  Dark Rift would have served as a better read if these teachable instances had been extracted.

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Circle of Disbelief: For me, even a book that is based in fantasy has to have scenes implemented that have a sense of coherence.  In other words, the author has to write it in a smooth pattern that makes the action I am seeing in front of me believable, despite the components being heavily rooted in magic.  Circles of Protection were broken without explanations as to how a villain was able to do it.  Other people are able to break through certain protections placed on Isabella without a smooth lead in as to how this would even play out.  Isabella uses a power that she didn’t even have time to perfect and the reader is supposed to buy that she is becoming this awesome force to be reckoned with.  It as if the author sat down and was like, “I’ll just throw a WTF moment in right about now” and just leave the reader to figure it out.

Since it seems like all of us are on the same page, I’m just going to pull out the star graphic:

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Unleashed (and everyone else’s) Verdict: 4 out of 10 TRB Stars

I did want Dark Rift to serve as a better read for me than Tower’s Alchemist.  Unfortunately it felt like “Same Script, Different Cast.”  I am going to enact a Circle of Protection around my enthusiasm and hope all of the holes in the 1st and the 2nd books will be solved and conveyed better in the last book of this trilogy.

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