Wordsmith World of Discovery Presents October Author Spotlight Alessandra Torre

AT headshot couchAlessandra Torre
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Greetings!  The Review Board here with our next episode of Wordsmith World of Discovery.  This time in the hot seat (or warm couch) we have the first of our two October Author Spotlights, Alessandra Torre.

Now here is our interviewer, Wordsmith Andi.

WordsmithLogo

Hello Alessandra! Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you for The Review Board’s October Author Spotlight! I have to tell you that when No Labels communicated your acceptance of the spotlight feature I was ecstatic to be asked to be your interviewer. Having previously read Sex Love Repeat and reviewed it with top rating, I am now most eager to delve a little (or a lot, depending on the question) deeper into the mind that wrote such a fantastic (and super steamy) novel.

A lengthy visit to your website provides oodles of information about you as an author, including an in-depth look at the entire process you go through from inception of the story idea to final product. As a fellow author this insight was most appreciated. As a fellow erotic wordsmith, I am most curious about the source of your inspiration(s). What aspects of your personal or even professional life have led you down the road of erotica and erotic fiction?

I have always read – but my interest were more along the thread of suspense, rather than romance. My erotic reading was limited to ‘Penthouse Forum’ type books bought at the local sex shops. It wasn’t until I read Fifty Shades of Grey (and saw its immense popularity) that I realized that explicit sex could be merged with intensive plots. That is how my journey down the road of erotica began. small_smiley

What literary works, and their authors, have given you the courage to add your own voice to the genre?

E.L James, for the reasons stated above. Also – Jennifer Crusie, her mysteries always have a sharp edge of sex, and I loved them. I think that CD Reiss is very brave and unique and rides the hell out of her words – she is a great role model in this genre. I also respect Mia Asher, who wasn’t afraid to write an unorthodox heroine.

Sex Love Repeat was, for me, a most unexpected look into the world of polyamory and sexual partners. I enjoyed the dichotomy of relationships between Paul and Stewart, two men of opposite temperaments and life goals, and the mysterious figure of Dana and how she played into the whole storyline. Your work bears a heavy leaning into confronting or examining what some would consider controversial or even taboo topics and sexual situations. How has the overall public received such controversial subject matter?

blindfoldedinnocenceBlindfolded Innocence (Book One)
Masked Innocence (Book Two)
End of the Innocence (Book Three)

My most controversial subject matter was probably attack in my Innocence Trilogy – where the male lead, a cocky attorney, leads an intern into the world of threesomes and swinging. I dove pretty deep into the reasons of swinging, and tried to paint the world as I see it – which isn’t sleazy or greedy but can be – in some ways – healthy. I was expecting a strong push-back from readers, but I have been shocked, with each and every one of my books, at my readers’ open minds and willingness to listen and experience, before judging.

On the heels of this question, and coinciding with your inclusion in the article by Dr. Laura Berman, entitled “35 to Read After 50″ in which she recommends your book Blindfolded Innocence as a follow up read for fans of EL James’ Fifty Shades of Gray, what are your thoughts on the growing profusion of erotic works in the literary field?

I think that mainstream literature could use a little more sex. Reading is meant to involve the senses and few things are more effective than arousal. Sex can convey so many emotions and conflicts – if written properly it can be an excellent tool in drawing the reader further in, in pushing their boundaries, in connecting them to a character. My book, The Girl in 6E, is one of the few books that is solidly in the erotic suspense category. I am hoping that it paves the way to more erotica in suspense. Only time will tell if that is the case.

Do you think sex is something we’ve always wanted to read or write about but, as a society built upon the ideas of sexual repression and subsequent exploitation, have been ashamed to openly admit? Correspondingly, what do you believe your candid look into such “taboo” topics has added to the American perspective on love, intimacy, sexual expression and identity and how they all intermingle in forming human connections?

I think, prior to Fifty Shades, a lot of women didn’t even realize what reading erotica could do – they didn’t know that door existed and – once they walked through it – were ravenous for more. I think the immense popularity of Fifty Shades removed some of the stigma that, had these new readers discovered erotica on their own, might have been attached to it. Fifty brought into mainstream erotica and made it socially acceptable to both read and discuss it. Fifty and the resulting erotica trend reduced some of society’s sexual oppression, but it still exists. There is still a hesitation on the part of readers to openly discuss their reading choices. I am hoping that – with time – our society will grow both more confident, and more accepting.

In regards to affecting the American perspective, every book that a reader picks up has the opportunity to affect that reader. Change their perspectives. Cause them to have a discussion that might change another individual’s perspective. Writing erotica gives me, and every other author, a voice that can affect society’s views. It is a great opportunity, one I hope that I will one day use properly.

You recently released your newest book, Black Lies, on August 25, 2014. The synopsis provided on your website reads as:

Brant: Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years.
Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee: Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Beyond the blurb provided, can you share more about Black Lies and the story it tells?

Black Lies’ blurb is very cryptic, and it was written that way intentionally. If you read reviews for Black Lies, the common thread among readers is that you should go into it blind. To that note, there isn’t much I can say about Black Lies without giving away too much.

I will tell you this. Black Lies is a roller coaster. It is one where you will curse me at times. Hate me at others. Be teased and provided clues to the puzzle at every opportunity. It is not a complicated read. There are not complex plot details for you to remember. You should enjoy the roller coaster without thought. Just know, at one point, you will set down your Kindle and have a WTF moment. This is the best twist I have EVER written. This is the best book I have EVER written. Find a friend, read it together, because you will need someone to hold your hand through it. You will need someone, once the secret is revealed, to call and freak out with. Trust me. This is not a book you have read before.

Among your many books and their myriad characters, do you have a favorite and why?

Brad De Luca from the Innocence Trilogy is my favorite character. If you have read the series you know why. He is an unapologetic sexual demon. He is an alpha that owns half of my heart and will never give it up. No contest – he’s my favorite.

Are any of your characters based more on your personality than a potential cobbling of characteristics?

Julia from the Innocence Trilogy is me at 21, when I met my husband. She’s a little frustrating at times, but she grows up a lot during the trilogy, as I did.

Whose books are you currently reading? Is there any particular book or series that you’re anxiously awaiting? Why?

I’m halfway through 53 Letters to my Lover. Honestly – right now – any spare time I have is sucked into rewrites and writing. I’d love to read more, I just can’t right now. My plan is to take the month of January off and read and sleep. small_smiley

Since you originally published your Innocence series independently and were eventually picked up by Harlequin, and have published The Girl in 6E through Hachette’s imprint, Redhook, can you speak to the differences (both pros and cons) of indie vs traditional publishing? Do you recommend one over the other and why?

It really comes down to control, but here is my breakdown:

Traditional Publishing:
Pros:

-upfront advance, if you can get it. This takes a lot of the risk out of a non-published work but can hurt you if the book hits bigger than you expected.
-higher potential for foreign deals. Girl in 6E got some amazing foreign deals when pitched by Hachette. I couldn’t have gotten those deals as a self-pubber
-marketing opportunities. Every publisher is different. Hachette got me exposure in Huffington Post, booked a radio tour, sent me to independent bookstore events. It is never a guarantee, but being with a publisher might give your books more FaceTime with readers.
-prestige. Books on shelves. Additional income from your book being in stores around the country.

Cons:
-lack of control over ANYTHING except the words in the book. Little to no say over the cover. Pretty much no say over pricing or discounting. Release date? Out of your control. The description on the Amazon listing? Often written or decided by someone else.

Self-Publishing:
Pros:
-Complete control over EVERYTHING. Want to hold a 99¢ weekend sale? Go for it. Want to change the book title three months into publication? Sure. Cover not working? Replace that bad boy.
-Money, money, money. The publisher will pay you about 18% of list price on your ebooks. As a self-pubber you’ll get 70%. No advance, but in the long term, you’ll most likely earn more. I have to sell 3x more publisher copies to make the same amount as my self-pubbed stuff. That’s a big deal.

Cons:
-you have to do everything yourself. Cover. Edits. Formatting. Uploading to retailers.
-limited to mostly ebook income. I have very little print sales through Amazon.

My personal opinion is that being a hybrid (half traditional, half self-pub) is best. You get the meaty power of the publishers, but you have the freedom of self-pubbing. IF I HAD TO PICK ONLY ONE: I’d go with self-pubbing.

For those authors looking to break into the genres of erotica and/or erotic fiction what advice do you have to offer?

It is not easy. Write erotica because you enjoy it, NOT because you need the income. It is very very very hard to get a book to stand out. Most self-pubbed books sell less than a hundred copies a year. Keep that in mind. That’s about $200 a year, without considering any expenses. Our market is saturated. We have too many books and amazing books often get overlooked. Write for yourself, create a quality product, and then write another one. Be prepared to market your ass off. I spent 4 hours a day marketing. Be prepared to work and accept that you might not see a return. It is a difficult business but a worthwhile one. Should your books succeed, it is the best job in the world. Just be prepared that it will take a lot of effort to get there.

I’d like to wholeheartedly thank you for your time in answering these questions. I can’t wait to read more of your books, having absolutely loved Sex Love Repeat. Congratulations on your nomination for our October Author Spotlight and may the words always be with you!

Thank you for having me on!!

Thanks everyone for checking out another Wordsmith World of Discovery.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment.  Have a terrific day!

Unleashed Exclusive: Alberto Del Rio, Accidental Activist?

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Greetings!  No Labels here.  I don’t know if I should deem this a review (although it does talk about wrestling), but I will be covering the following things and ranking them on a 0-5 scale (0 being bad, 5 being excellent), not necessarily in any set order:

  1. Was Alberto Del Rio (now El Patron) justified in his action as it pertains to hitting Cody Barbierri?
  2. Did WWE handle the situation appropriately the first time?
  3. Did WWE handle the situation appropriately the second time?
  4. Should Alberto Del Rio be the spokesperson for racism in the WWE?
  5. Did Del Rio actually become more popular as a result of the controversy?

For a while, Mr. Controversy and I discussed taking our talks about wrestling a little further than just our views on the pay-per-views coming out–more specifically, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).  The arrival of the WWE Network fell tremendously short of the company’s expectations and many changes had to be made, including letting go of employees that were part of the roster as well as the magazine segment of WWE.


In early August, an unexpected firing occurred.  Alberto Del Rio was released from WWE due to “unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee.”  As more investigation took place, the following details were discovered:

Alberto Del Rio has been talked about more in the past couple of months than he has for his entire stint that he’s been a part of WWE, in my opinion.  After the initial firing, it is reported that Triple H instructed Del Rio that if he “kept his nose clean”, WWE would rehire him within six months but by this time Del Rio had made it clear he would not be returning to the company.

There is a 90 day compete cause in the WWE contract after you’ve been released, which Alberto del Rio fought against and won.  Now he is in AAA, competing as El Patron.  With that victory in the bag, Del Rio is throwing gasoline onto the fire by retweeting claims of racism running rampant in the WWE.

And just like that, Alberto Del Rio has become an activist, saying WWE is racist at every opportunity.

I’m not going to address the whole racist angle because asking if WWE is racist is like asking me if my favorite drink is Dr. Pepper, or asking do I currently have locs in my hair.  (And even if you don’t know the answer to the first part of that statement, it is the same answer as the second part of that statement.)

My viewpoint has more to do is if Del Rio is really the person who is the appropriate spokesperson for racism in the WWE.

th_hmmm-anm-hmmm-female-smiley-emoticoIn my eyes, he really isn’t.

  • First of all, Alberto Del Rio did make it to the promised land.  The Promised Land=WWE Championship.  Not once, but twice.  True, the reigns weren’t for that long but he got there.  I know of way too many other superstars who didn’t get that far but that is to be revealed and talked about in other blog entries down the line.

rdFVh

  • Alberto Del Rio’s gimmick was one where he was allowed to showcase pride in being part of a Mexican aristocracy.  He wasn’t carrying around Coronas and the cars he had weren’t tricked out and on hydrolics.  Out of all the Latino representations in wrestling, his spiel was definitely more flattering than some of the others I’ve seen.
  • Plus, Del Rio wasn’t exactly the easiest man to get along with in the back.  His disputes with the actual Sin Cara went beyond storyline.  Batista was “not impressed“, and there were other WWE superstars that Del Rio necessarily get along with.
  • His contract was nearly up with WWE anyway and the character development particularly in the last year of his contract was shaky at best.  The firing actually ended up being the best thing for him because people are now talking about him when before, no one would have really noticed if he was away.

boredgirlWhen he was a part of WWE, his character bored me (although I dug the entrance music and his cars).  He is of great wrestling lineage but I didn’t feel like WWE gave Alberto a chance to really showcase what he could do.

Ricardo and Alberto were separated too soon in his character development without any concrete idea as to how to further advance his promo deliveries.

Source: iwanticewater.wordpress.com

Source: iwanticewater.wordpress.com

Alberto trying to trash talk was laughable at best.  I didn’t miss him the times when he missed action.  I didn’t care whether he was a heel or a face.  I can’t even say I was sad when he was let go–only the circumstances in which the entire thing happened.

The main thing I’m outraged about is what I deem “the misappropriation of repercussions.”  Here is what I mean:

  • Just like you aren’t supposed to cause physical harm to another employee, you aren’t supposed to say any racial or discriminatory language towards someone either.

As far as I know, the instigator of the whole altercation (Social Media Manager Cody Barbierri) was not punished in the least bit for his disrespect towards Alberto Del Rio–no suspension without pay, no loss of his job.  (If this changes, I’ll be happy to update.)  This is probably not the first nor the last time Cody has said something out of pocket about someone who’s background differs from his.  Yet why hasn’t any one else said anything about it (or at least gone on record publicly)? 

CM Punk Indian StyleThis brings me to my next food of thought:

  • Why was WWE scared of Cody’s lawsuit?

I’m not advocating anyone hitting anyone.  Yet, Cody acted like he was in the ring and got the cat piss beat out of him.  All the reports say it was a slap that knocked Cody down.  You mean to tell me that a lawsuit involving a slap spooked WWE enough to say, “You know what Del Rio, the suspension is not enough.  We’re firing your ass!”

SMH RamsaySorry.  Too suspect for me.

Is it really because Cody’s lips are puckered very close to the McMahon backside and he truly has immunity from backlash?  Does Cody have something on them that can make WWE look even worse than it is?  I’m leaning very close to the latter. 

Source: wrestlingwithtext.com

Source: wrestlingwithtext.com

WWE should have remained decisive on their punishment of Del Rio.  If they really felt that all Del Rio needed was to sit out until past Summer Slam, they should have stuck with it.  If they felt a firing was in order, they should have initiated that at the time of incident.  On top of that, the other guy should have gotten punishment, since WWE claims not to to “tolerate discrimination and racism at all”.  The lack of action against Cody clearly shows the opposite.

Verdict is in:

  • The rise of Alberto’s name recognition: 5 Stars
  • The way WWE handled the situation the 1st time: 3.5 Stars (Not to say it’s cool to hit someone but there were other stars who got suspended for a similar offense so it was in line with protocol)
  • The way WWE handled the situation the 2nd time: 0 Stars
  • Cody still having his job: 0 Stars
  • Triple H trying to do “damage control”: 0 Stars (It sounded like he was saying, “I know we fucked up Alberto but we needed to keep everyone happy.  Keep your trap shut, let everything die down and you can come back.”  Um…dude please!)
  • Alberto’s legal savvy: 5 Stars
  • Alberto being an activist: 3 Stars (as indicated by earlier cited reasons)

In conclusion

Source: gorillapressonline.wordpress.com

I hope that Del Rio (now El Patron) definitely gets the respect he deserves at the new organization he is a part of.  I am just unwilling to get behind his stance as being an advocate against racism in the WWE. If racism was indeed the main culprit, Del Rio would have ultimately decided to leave anyway because even with suspension on the table, the other guy would still be around to say even more racist dribble.

If his punishment had just been not to compete at Summer Slam, then this narrative wouldn’t even be playing right now.  Del Rio would be negotiating with WWE about what would need to change about his character (since he did express displeasure at its direction), and WWE would have to figure out whether they would be willing to invest more in him or cut their losses.

kofikingston_1_full_20130815If Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston, and Big E Langston (current African-American WWE superstars) start talking about racism, then I will definitely be in attendance.  They have tasted some gold but not WWE Championship gold.  That is definitely worth some multiple blog spotlight.

jackson-eating-popcorn-oBut until then, I wish José Alberto Rodríguez all the best with his current endeavor and will munch on some popcorn while watching the fireworks.

Thanks for checking out this Unleashed Exclusive on The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a great day!

The Harmony of Controversy on Purified

purifiedPurified by Brian Robert Smith
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Genre: Horror, Fiction

Greetings!  The Review Board here to share our thoughts on Purified by Brian Robert Smith.  First up, we have Harmony Kent:

harmonykent

Robert Bushing died of cancer a year ago. Somehow, he is now running for his life. He claims a mad Doctor has come up with a drug called ‘Purify’ that brings people back to life. All Robert wants is to get back what the illness and his ‘death’ took from him. But, when he escapes the mad Doctor’s clutches, things go horribly wrong.

The premise of this story is a good one, and I love the book cover. The opening scene is full of action, and the rest of the book remains fast paced. Unfortunately, the characterisation could have been done better. The novel is in need of a thorough edit to weed out passive writing, split infinitives, comma splices, clumsy sentences, delaying action, filter words and other issues. There is a lot of name dropping which confuses already choppy narrative. All of this made it incredibly difficult for me to get into the book. There is a nice plot twist, but again this could have been done more smoothly.

Harmony’s Verdict

harmony5stars

All in all, this is a book that shows promise. The novel is intriguing and conceptually strong, but not particularly well executed. With a good edit and proofread this novel could be great. As it stands, I give it 5 out of 10 stars on the TRB rating scale.

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Now let’s hear from Mr. Controversy.

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WARNING

Spoiler Alert

*MILD SPOILERS*

Brian Robert Smith’s “Purified” centers around Mason Bushing, a man who has passed away from Cancer. After discovering that he is among the living once again thanks to Dr. Henry Harlow’s (AKA Dr. Frankenstein) creation of a miracle drug that he calls “Purify” which breathes Life back into the Deceased, Mason is trying to figure out how and why his life is the way that it is at this time.

Having to convince his old friends that he is INDEED their dearly departed compatriot, poor Mason finds that Life after Death S-U-C-K-S: people change, people move on, people show their true character in their adversity. Mason is on the run while trying to gain some sense of sanity, clarity, and peace.

I, like my dear associate Ms. Harmony Kent, certainly enjoy the “Silent Hill/Resident Evil” looking cover art. It tells me that I am about to get in to some downright weird stuff.

The story certainly has kept my attention as I turned page after page. Unfortunately as the story progressed, it left a lot to be desired. Granted, the pace is fast, yet a bit more TLC could have been put into the story line for a smoother experience.

syntax

As I always say, an extra pair of eyes for editing/proofreading purposes is indeed paramount. I have noticed the glaring misspelling of the word “compliment,” as it was spelled “complement” (defined as a thing that completes or brings to perfection). It is a common misspelling. Sentence structure is choppy, and comma placement is an issue.

Also, a lot of minor characters have been mentioned. This is alright, for as long as they contribute to the story’s progression in a pertinent manner. Yet, some of the minor characters could have been left unnamed in my honest opinion.

Source: familyfeud

Source: familyfeud

Survey Says: 6 out of 10

Mr. Smith’s “Purified” certainly has potential, make no bones about this fact. The story’s premise is indeed intriguing, and can indeed be something of great intrigue and interest as long as he gives it another look and has a couple more pairs of eyes on his novel.

The total stars given by our reviewers comes out to 11. Dividing this by 2…

5.5stars

 Overall, “Purified” receives a 5.5 out of 10.

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

KARR: Unleashed Speaks on Elixir

Elixir by Ted Galdi
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Greetings!  No Labels here.  Today in Kindle App Random Robin, I give my thoughts on Elixir by Ted Galdi.

I first got wind of this title as part of a group I’m in via Goodreads.  The author was offering ARC copies.  I took a look at the blurb and the scenarios presented caught my interest.

I was happy to see that the option to get a paperback copy was available.  Although I don’t mind .mobi or .pdf, sometimes I do take notes and it’s better for me to have a hard copy when I do that.  Plus, I have a weakness for hard copies anyway.

Elixir started off strong. Extremely intelligent kid solves a problem that unfortunately lands him in trouble with the government causing him and his family to get sent away under a new identity. Fast forward about four years, he falls in love but his girlfriend has a disease to which a cure must be sought. The remainder of the book explores how Sean goes about doing this.

The character development needs a bit of work. There were a few personality quirks that I still had questions about. How did the young Sean progress into the Sean that starts drinking and experimenting into drugs? There’s nothing that explains or pinpoints how that goes about…only that it happens. I found myself not liking the grown up Sean as much because I felt the author spent more time honing in the younger Sean.  The supporting characters felt thrown there just to support Sean, even the friends he made during his time in the States and Italy.  A major opportunity for the work to shine lost points here.

shocked-smiley-face-EEK
In addition, the way the girlfriend’s disease was presented, as well as the type of disease, was somewhat far fetched. What was even more over the top was how quickly Sean was able to debunk it. One chapter, two tops then bam! Problem solved.

whoareyou

Plus, it would have helped if the author would have decided which name he wanted to stick with once Sean moved to Italy. The potential for confusion is great, especially when the real name and the fake name get mentioned at the same time.

The end seemed a bit rushed. Did the author believe he had sacrificed conflict for narrative? In any event, a few times I had to re-read certain lines to make sure I was following all the action correctly. For me, the ending seemed way too tidy–although it delivers the message that unbelievable genius, as well as love, triumphs all.

6starsUnleashed Verdict: 6 out of 10 TRB Stars

With better development in main character, balance between conflict, dialogue and narrative, and more well thought out scenario in reference to the instigators of conflict, Elixir could have easily ranked higher.

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

Mini Truth Speaks on The Coal Elf

16090776The Coal Elf
by
Maria DeVivo
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Greetings!  The Review Board here.  Today we’ll get Mini Truth’s take on The Coal Elf by Maria DeVivo.  Before we get to her review, here is a summary of what it’s about.

Blurb Per Goodreads:

Ember Skye is a fed up teenage Coal Elf with a big ashy chip on her shoulder. Having been torn away from a carefree life and forced into a world of dirt and darkness has started to get the best of her. And being the only girl-elf working as a coal miner at the North Pole doesn’t help much either!
Then there’s Sturd: a power-hungry, twisted elf with a checkered past and a serious grudge against Ember. Slowly but surely, his maniacal tendencies are revealed, leaving Ember with the sacred “Naughty List” literally in her lap.
When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.
Yes! Santa is real. But this isn’t your childhood Christmas tale.

Okay Mini Truth, take it away.

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Truthful Takes:

Ember Skye is a rarity—she’s a female coal elf.

What is a coal elf, you ask? Coal elves are the elves that mine and collect the coal that will be distributed to all of the naughty children of the world on Christmas Day.

Why is Ember a rarity? Because the position of coal elf is typically reserved for male elves. If and when a female is sent to the mines as a Life Job, it’s typically as caretaker of the miners—this is not Ember’s job. She IS A miner.

Ember finds herself in a dark place in life, as she is struggling with her inner demons. She cannot understand why “The Boss” would put her here. As the matter a fact, she questions everything. She’s constantly haunted by her happy elven childhood, and is pestered by the fact that she has to be here (in the mines) as opposed to “Aboveground” where she grew up happily. Her family wasn’t perfect, sure. Her mother was uppity and her father a softy. Her sister was always teasing her, like all sisters do—this was the extent of hard times in her life as a child. She had a marvelous granny that loved her dearly and took great care of her. So, things weren’t really that bad. At least until the day she discovers the Life Job that The Boss assigned to her.

Her father tries to console her by telling her that she’s probably going to be a care taker, and that he was certain that there was a higher purpose, however at this point in Ember’s life, she’s already been mining for six years; so, what higher purpose could there be? None that she could see.

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This story is filled with colorful characters and prose. There are so many layers to this story that if I were to get into it, I might not complete this review. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it very much.

Following I’ll give you my thoughts in the form of Pros and Cons. I’ll start with the cons, as there are very few of them.

Cons:

  • My only complaint, if any, had to do with sentence structure issues. Now, bear in mind—this is very important—grammatically speaking, they were not incorrect. It’s more of a personal preference than anything else. Only because in constantly reading sentences like these, the reader can become exhausted.

It had to do with the excessive use of the “;” (semicolon).

semicolon
I suppose it’s best to show you rather than tell you.

Page 145 Reads as such:

She knew what she felt; she knew what her intentions felt like; she knew the desperation inside her when she looked at Banter sprawled out helplessly on his bed; she knew the dread she felt to think the same fate would befall Barkuss, or Tannen, or even herself.

Sentences like this were found time and time again throughout the entirety of the text. In my own humble opinion, the excessive use of semicolons could have been cut down by the simple implementation of periods and the starting of a new sentence.

This did not affect my opinion of the book.

So, that was it. No more cons.

Pros-300x286
Pros:

  • The author had an incredibly crafty way of writing her prose. There were so many great little tidbits in her writing style that made me chuckle in content. Following is an example—page 25 reads as such:

Alone, she collected her thoughts and tried so desperately to piece together some sort of meaning to it all.

Heave.

Break.

Heave.

Smash.

All day. Every day. For the List. Chosen by the Boss. Summoned by the Council. Hacking away at cave walls.

I absolutely adored this, because it not only demonstrated the thoughts, but also the actions. It was little things like this that made me smile throughout the story.

LannyWayneNoel

  • The characters were believable, as was the plot.

  • While the story was made for Youth/YA’s, it is definitely something an adult can enjoy. Or, the adult that’s a kid at heart.

  • The story line was intriguing and well thought out. It demonstrated the “dark” side of Christmas, and was portrayed well.
  • The invention of elven things like Coppleysites, Nessie Fruit, Graespurs and Grulish, were just so cute, well explained, and creative.
  • Each character description was on point, and helped the reader see the characters.
  • While this was a “dark fairy tale”, it wasn’t so ominous that it made one feel sad. As the matter of fact it did quite the opposite. Even while you were reading a “dark tale” you could still feel the Christmas cheer. I loved that about the story.

All in all, I absolutely loved The Coal Elf, and highly recommend it to anyone that is looking to read about the other side of Christmas.

My final score…

10 out of 10 TRB stars.

Well, this one will be easy to tally up. Survey says…?

Star Rating-1010 out of 10 Stars

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Unleashed Speaks on WWE Night of Champions 2014

Greetings everyone!  Unleashed here to give my take on WWE Night of Champions 2014.  Before I get into it, however, Mr. Controversy and I had a pow wow as to who we thought would win:

Tag Team Championship Match (Usos vs. Gold and Stardust)
Controversy: Usos
Unleashed: Usos

My pick rationale:  Gold and Stardust are definitely on their way and should wear the gold but thinks they should earn it on a more prominent pay per view.

US Championship Match (Sheamus vs. Cesaro)
Controversy: Cesaro
Unleashed: Sheamus

My pick rationale:  It is similar to my thoughts on Gold and Stardust–I’d like to see Cesaro capture it on a larger scale, similar to the Andre the Giant trophy achievement at Wrestlemania.  In addition, I fear that WWE still doesn’t quite know what to do with Cesaro so they may not be ready to put gold on him.

Intercontinental Championship Match (Ziggler vs. Miz)
Controversy: Damien Mizdow
Unleashed: Ziggler

My pick rationale:  I just never like it when Miz has the belt.  Besides, I want WWE to let Ziggler hold on to the belt for just a little while longer.  Each time Ziggler gets a title, he’s not allow to hold on to it for any amount of time.  True, one instance wasn’t entirely his fault (because of Jack Swagger) but it also makes you wonder if WWE doesn’t know what to do with Ziggler either.

Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
Controversy: Rollins
Unleashed: Rollins

My pick rationale:  Not saying Reigns can’t beat Rollins but Rollins needs the victory more, for credibility and story line purposes.

Mark Henry vs. Rusev
Controversy: Rusev
Unleashed: Rusev

My pick rationale:  For Rusev’s push to continue, it makes sense for Henry to lose.  It will set up for a Henry rematch or for The Big Show to step in next to challenge Rusev.

Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho
Controversy: Jericho
Unleashed: Orton

My pick rationale:  Randy may have been doing what was best for business with the last few pay per views but I think it is time for him to go into business for himself.  Nothing can be gained from him losing to Jericho, and if he wants to revitalize his character, he has to win this match.

3 Way for Divas Title Match (Paige vs. AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella)
Controversy: Paige
Unleashed: Nikki

My pick rationale:  Not that I’m a fan of Nikki but I want to see if any more is gained from this whole Nikki and Brie sibling rivalry angle.  Plus, how invested is The Authority in Nikki anyway?

WWE Championship Match (Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena)
Controversy: Lesnar
Unleashed: Lesnar

My pick rationale: For Brock’s dominance to maintain impact, he has to come through with a clean win.

So how did Mr. C. and I do?  Find out at the end.

nolabels-tfts

Okay now that the picks are all set, let us get to the action.

Tag Team Championship Match (Usos vs. Gold and Stardust)
At the last pay per view, I felt as if the Usos were losing their steam–mainly because of the number of times they had faced the Wyatt Family (Luke and Erick).  However, the rivalry with Gold and Stardust brought a renewed vigor.  Plus, I did appreciate the heel turn with Gold and Stardust.  I always felt both of them, particularly Goldust, were at their best being heels.  For me, this was the best match of the night.  Even the commentators had a bit of trouble keeping up.  Yet it was the ending that was the biggest shocker of them all.

Winner: New Tag Team Champions Gold and Stardust

I’m very happy for their victory but not sure whether giving it to them at this pay-per-view was best.

US Championship Match (Sheamus vs. Cesaro)
This match was a beauty to see.  Sheamus and Cesaro match each other beautifully in brute strength, and I was glad to see more of Cesaro’s arsenal as opposed to the Cesaro swing.  At one point, this looked more like brawling and a boxing match but it suited both of their styles.

Mr. Controversy deemed it the best match.  I say it came in a close second next to the Tag Team match.

They took each other to the limit, but in the end there could be only one winner.

Winner (and still champ): Sheamus

Although Mr. Controversy (and a lot of others) aren’t pleased with this verdict, I believe WWE is doing the right thing.  If they are really building up Cesaro for better, then it’s best they not put the belt on him at this time.  Yet, if it is the situation where they are in limbo on what to do with Cesaro, then that would definitely be a sign of another missed opportunity by WWE.  I’ll reserve further judgment until I see how things build for Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series.

mizvsziggler-nocPicture: courtesy Cageside Seats

Intercontinental Championship Match (Ziggler vs. Miz)
I feel like the announcers were not the least bit interested in this match because they were too busy talking to Florida Georgia Line about the album and the tour.

FGL_Hi-Res_Photo_8.29.12these guys

I should have realized that was the warning things weren’t going to go my way as far as my prediction.

It wasn’t the worst match I’d seen but it could have been better.  I expected R. Ziggler to get a bit more involved in the fray.  Although it was entertaining when Damien Mizdow got hit by Florida Georgia Line and chased to the back by R. Ziggler, it was quite disappointing when R. Ziggler didn’t make it back in time to assist Dolph when it counted.  In addition, the tights grab was so obvious that if it weren’t for the camera angle, one could see Ziggler’s full moon.  Seriously?

Winner (and new IC champion): The Miz

mizgirl
That’s my response and I’m sticking to it.  Really WWE?  You couldn’t let Ziggler hold on to the belt any longer than that?  Miz with the title is a frigging joke.  He’s got a lot of mouth but can barely wrestle.  His stunt double deserves the title more than him.  Let me go on to the next match.

Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
The day before the pay per view, Roman Reigns had to have emergency surgery to operate on an incarcerated hernia.  Therefore, Reigns was unable to compete for Night of Champions.  It is predicted he will be out for several months, so don’t count on him for Hell in a Cell either.  I want Reigns to be at one hundred percent, so if that means not seeing him until Royal Rumble, I’m good with that.  A hernia is nothing to play with.

Winner (by forfeit): Seth Rollins

What I am getting tired of though is this “forfeit” business.  Before WWE would just find another opponent rather than to call for a “forfeit”.  Yet Runaway Rollins (that’s my new name for him since he seems to spend more running than fighting) comes out once again and gets a win by forfeit.  Then he wants to act all big and bad to call out someone to wrestle.

Source: cagesideseats.com

Then, it’s a miracle!  Dean Ambrose has risen from the dead (finished filming a movie) and a repeat of Battleground ensues.  I say they should have just made it an impromptu match, but once again, missed opportunity by WWE to salvage a prime match between Rollins vs. Reigns for another prime match with Rollins vs. Ambrose.  All of this forfeiting= bad for business.

rusevhenrynocMark Henry vs. Rusev
Lilian Garcia has such a lovely voice on her.  When she was singing the National Anthem, I got chills.  When I saw Mark Henry shed tears, a part of me really wanted him to win.  Mark Henry looked rather impressive and was giving Rusev all he could stand until the mishap with his back.  Then it was all over but finishing up the last bit of popcorn.

Winner: Rusev

The only thing I have to say is “Who’s next?”.  I am sure that Mark Henry will want another shot at him but who will be next after Henry.  It would make sense for The Big Show to be next in line.  If the World’s Strongest Man couldn’t get the job done how about the World’s Largest Athlete?  Eventually the US vs. Russia angle is going to get played out, and when it does, what will be next for Rusev?

Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho
The story line of this is flimsy at best.  Randy wanted to make a statement.  The Jericho/Wyatt feud had run its course.  There was nothing about the match that really had me excited.  Don’t get me wrong.  Seeing Orton and Jericho work with each other is a lot better than say Orton and Cena working with each other.

There has been talk that Randy Orton feels disenchanted with the direction his character has taken.  I have to agree.  When people wanted Randy to go back to being a full heel rather than a tweener (face/heel mashup), WWE granted it but put him in this whole Authority angle–that would have worked had the Authority not recruited Seth Rollins to be “their future face”.  Then, before Batista left, Evolution got temporarily rebuilt.  So WWE did the switch but Randy’s back in the same limbo he was in before.

So the best way to NOT make it seem like this with Randy was for the outcome to be in the Viper’s favor, which it was.

Winner: Randy Orton

Perhaps Jericho’s purpose in being brought back is to help other wrestlers–that is becoming more and more apparent.  Yet, real talk, Jericho could have so won the match.  He just took too much time on that top rope.

3 Way for Divas Title Match (Paige vs. AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella)

divaschampionship-nocLesbian lover type antics and a sister trying to get out of her twin’s shadow collide.  Or were supposed to.  The only reason why I gave a miniscule fig about this match was to actually find out if the airtime of family dirty laundry (Nikki and Brie) would actually be worth the while.  Also if Nikki and the Authority really had a deal, or Nikki just happened to get tired of Brie right at the moment Brie was beefing with Stephanie.

(sighs)  What a sorry excuse for a match!  I didn’t know whether Paige and AJ were going to hug, kiss, fight or a combination of the three.  The only two highlights were the torture rack action that Nikki performed and when she sneaked behind Paige and AJ while they were both on the rope and they came tumbling down.

No interference from the Authority or Brie, which would have given some type of credence to the segments on Raw leading up to the match, particularly the Jerry Springer one.

In the end, this match did end up just being between Paige and AJ, where Paige once again taps to the Black Widow.

Winner (and new Divas Champion): AJ Lee

As far as my reaction, it is as follows:
(1) Second worst match of the card
(2) Paige in limbo–I really felt like they put the belt of Paige too quickly to begin with, yet if they made a bad choice why not try to improve her once they put the belt on her instead of deciding it was just going to go back to AJ, anyway
(3) Best friend/lesbian angle: overplayed and stupid
(4) Nikki/Brie/Authority angle:  Did WWE creative forget what they wrote?  Seriously.  All of that promo cutting with Nikki and Brie should have been placed towards a match.

wthNow on to the main event.

nocbrockcenaWWE Championship Match (Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena)
We didn’t get to see sixteen German souplexes.  It wasn’t the massacre of Summer Slam.  But WWE sure knows how to mess up a main event.

SMH Ramsay
Let me explain.

It sure would have been nice if the whole premise, “to conquer a beast you must become the beast” would have been followed.  Similar to those teasers in Cena’s matches with Wyatt, it would have been nice to see some of that in his match with Lesnar.  Yet it didn’t happen.

Brock should have been able to give a clean decisive victory times two.  Yet that didn’t happen because of what I deem a #fail at the end of the match.Guys are you seeing this

Cena lands an AA to Brock Lesnar.  Just as the referee is doing the count, Seth Rollins hits John Cena with the MITB briefcase.  Then he gives a gay ass curb stomp to Brock Lesnar and says he wants to cash it in.  Just before the bell rings, John Cena hops up and starts beating up on Rollins.  Rollins runs like a scalded dog.  While Cena is watching Rollins run away, Lesnar gets up and hits him with a F-5.

Winner: John Cena
Yet still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar

yikes

  • Could WWE not bear to see John Cena look pathetic a second time?  Sure seems that way.
  • Also, what sense would it really have made for Seth Rollins to cash in on Brock Lesnar?  Particularly since Paul Heyman had gotten Brock Lesnar to be Option C for the Authority, so why the hell is Option A (Plan B, whatever the hell he is calling himself) trying to take advantage of Option C?  Guess we forgot that particular part of the story line prior to Summer Slam.
  • Even then, you mean to tell me that Paul Heyman was asleep and wasn’t going to try and stop the cash in…that really didn’t make sense to me either.  By that time, the match was over and Paul could have done what he wanted.
  • And let’s say I buy this whole Seth Rollins cashing in B.S.  (insert sarcastic tone here) Why in the name of sixteen German souplexes did he not hit Brock Lesnar with the briefcase?  He really thought that soft ass curb stomp was going to get the job done?  If one looks closely at the tape, Brock Lesnar was about to kick out of that AA anyway so he wasn’t nearly as weakened as people thought.

I’m sorry, the Authority dude trying to cash in on my dude means the former arrangement is null and void.  If Seth Rollins hadn’t made a run for it, I would have 16 German souplexed and 2 F-5’d his ass.

Guess WWE’s tag line should read:
Write
Sleep
Forget our own storyline
Repeat

So taking the rating scale of all things other than books, and subtracting one star for the Main Event, and 1/2 a star for the Divas match I have my verdict:

3.5outof5Unleashed Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 TRB Stars

Other than those two match, the majority of the matches were rather good.  Yet, failure on storyline delivery and hype (particularly on one of the most pertinent matches) is what hurt this pay-per-view.

So how did Mr. C. and I do on predictions?
Mr. Controversy got three correct, and I got four correct.  We were both wrong in our predictions for the Main Event, the Divas match and the Tag Team Match.  We were both right with our pick for Rollins (by default since Reigns couldn’t compete) and Rusev.

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