Monthly Archives: January 2016

One More Step (Flash Fiction)

 

 

One more step…

Dalia bit her lower lip in an attempt to stop it from quivering too much. Tears were rolling down her face as she stared into the vast emptiness before her. Locks of her brown hair were gently brushing her face. The teenager gulped and passed her tongue over her teeth, her mind reeling with all the countless possibilities and consequences of her act. Would she do it? Could she, really? She couldn’t see anything apart the big black void and, somehow, it seemed to try and attract her into its very center.

‘’I can’t!’’ she screamed.

Dalia turned round, her hands covering her face as she cried. She could hear the sound of metal screeching and it terrified her. This emptiness… Was she that desperate? Then, she heard the voice of the only person there with her.

‘’Go on. Jump!’’

She wished he hadn’t talked. Oh, why did people feel the need to talk in such dire moments?

‘’But I’m scared!’’

‘’Everyone is scared at this point,’’ he said, his tone of voice more serious.

Dalia clenched her fists and turned round again, only to face the darkness. Her breathing was shallow and quick and her eyes just wouldn’t leave the void. Where had it gone wrong?

‘’Go on!’’

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  She had to regain her composure before the final act. As calmly as she could, Dalia looked up and jumped at the right time.

‘’Gotcha!’’

Dalia beamed up as her hands firmly caught his. Her body was swinging rapidly above the net as her best friend was keeping his legs tightly wrapped around the trapeze. She had made it!

‘’I told you I would catch you,’’ Antoine said. ‘’I’ll always catch you.’’

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Black Wings is Landing Here

Do you remember that awesome novel that should be a bestseller I talked to you about a few days ago?

Yes, that very same Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs.

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But first of all, what is it really about? It is a science fiction and fantasy romance novel, to be precise. Here is the intriguing summary:

A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war.

The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain.

Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured.

Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?

I figured it was time for you all to get an insight (more than just a review!) just so you can see if it suits your fancy or not.

So, here is an excerpt I picked for you:

She grabs the bottle and drinks rapidly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink so quickly.

“Don’t eat the bottle!” I joke, hoping to put a smile on her face. She thanks me with a small smile. Suddenly the door opens, and our moment of joyful peace is broken. Lucas walks in. He comes over and grabs my hand.

“You will pay for that, damn girl!” He threatens as he hauls me off my bed.

“What did I do?” I shout at him, confused, and draw back.

“You—trying to be so nice…helping your poor beat up friend who is not supposed to have water!” He’s yelling, taking the blanket and dragging me to the door.

“Leave her alone!” Kate screams at him, jumps up to stop him. The Varkin turns around and hits her so hard she falls to the floor. Holding my hand tightly, he walks me to the elevator. As we walk in, he presses the SS button. I barely get right in before the elevator door closes, almost pinching my leg. He pushes me against the opposite wall.

“Where are you taking me?” I demand, but I’m panicking—I’m in trouble.

“Relax,” Lucas puts his cold arms around my waist. “You might still have a chance to change things…”

He pulls me close to him. I feel his ice cold lips on my neck. I close my eyes, disgusted as never before. He pushes me to the wall with his body and rips my shirt from my back.

He’s going to beat me. I’m not going to make it easy.

I shove him away. He picks me up, throws me against the wall. He slaps my face, his nails scratch my cheek.

“Stupid, damn Anlight! You will get it good this time! I promise!”

His tone brings chills, all the way down to my legs.

When the elevator stops on the SS floor, he drags me down the hallway, the blanket in his hand. My ripped shirt is left lying in the elevator. All I have on is a dirty old black brassiere that’s seen better days. He looks back, and catches a glimpse of my stomach. A couple of days ago I’d been given a deep scratch, and he’s just noticed the scratch has gone.

“What happened to your scratch? It could not possibly heal so fast!”

Lucas takes me to the room where Victorius beats me if I don’t do what they tell me. We walk in and there are about twelve other Varkins in groups. Red lights and smoke make the place into a horror scene.

“She needs punishment like never before!” he screams, tossing me like a grubby rag to the middle of the room. All the Varkins turn and look. Glowing eyes look at me—without a shirt—as I try to break my landing.

“What did she do, my dear friend?” Victorius asks. He’s calm, still sitting in his chair.

“Her room-mate was not allowed to drink,” the Varkin replies. “But this one hid water and gave it to her friend. She stole this blanket, knowing she is not allowed to have one.”

Victorius’ face is serious as he listens closely. I get up, stand right in front of him. He stands, walks down to me, around me. I feel my pulse beating with each step he takes. My body tenses—I expect him to hit me any moment. I’ve been hoping I’d get used to this torture eventually, but every new punishment brings new terror and fear.

“Well, well…” Victorius stops in front of me. “Seems like I see your pretty face here more than other Anlights. We do not have many left…but I do remember you well…” He smiles. “Let me first inform you, this Varkin here is my ‘right hand’. The one I trust the most. And now he is telling me terrible things about you. Hmm…” he looks in my eyes, “…should I believe his tales?”

I know if I tell him the truth, no one will believe me for a minute. And it would make my situation even worse. I don’t think he’ll even let me open my mouth.

“Believe what you like.” I keep looking downwards, and the other Varkins whisper around us. They didn’t expect my careless answer. They’re probably trying to figure out why I won’t try protecting myself by finding excuses.

“Lucas!” he shouts and his right hand comes to him.

“Yes, my majesty.”

“What do you think we need to…do…with her, considering everything she has done?”

“Victorius, there is something interesting you might want to know about her…” Lucas said.

“What?”

Lucas comes up to me and points at my stomach. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’m shaking as I try to cover the healed scratch with my hands.

“Two days ago she had a long cut on her stomach. It was bleeding. Now it is not there anymore. It is healed. There is something going on with her.” Lucas pulls my hands away.

“It’s not true,” I burst out. “The cut was not too deep, and it was more than two days—” Victorius slaps me before I can finish talking.

“I have noticed things like that as well, but I thought it was just my mind playing tricks with me,” Victorius talks slowly, calmly, as he turns my face back toward him with his cold hand. “Now here is evidence.” He’s smiling, which isn’t necessarily a good sign.

“We need to take her blood, do tests on her,” Lucas suggests.

“My friend,” Victorius looks at him, “tests have killed almost all my Anlights. I cannot afford to lose any more of them. But we will surely take her blood and see why she is different.” Victorius comes to my side and puts his arm around my shoulders.

“But there is one test I can do right now…”

Now, if that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. I really hope you enjoyed the excerpt and got a better understanding of what is the story about. If you want to read more, you can buy Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs on Amazon or CreateSpace.

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Iryna K. Combs

 

 

 

A Good Start to Editing

Hamilton’s Power Editing for Fiction Writers! is an instructive writing tool. It contains several informative tips, including rhetorical devices (what they are and how to use them) and the number one tip to power up your own writing, which is considered by the author the best one. I have to admit that her advice is quite important on it, though. I’ve loved how punctuation was touched and that there were indications and examples (even some exercises to do) to make you better understand the topics seen. There is an author biography, an afterword, and even a list of interesting resources! She isn’t afraid of talking about other authors who have helped her in her writing endeavour, either from a reading a book of theirs or meeting them face-to-face. Hamilton’s book is helpful for any writers, but mostly indies as it tackles the topic of editing your own manuscript by yourself. Moreover, it’s a quick read much unlike all the other editing books I’ve read: it goes straight to the essential!

However, I’ve been personally bothered by her constant questions and expressions like ‘’I’ll show you (…)’’ or ‘’Are you still with me? Good!’’; these jumped out at me as condescending. Perhaps the author meant to entertain the reader and get close to us, but it feels to me as though she is a bit high on her horse, which is sad for the book is enjoyable. There are also a few missing words here and there.

Overall, I give Hamilton’s Power Editing for Fiction Writers! a 3 out of 5 rating. While the book is informative and gives you great resources, the never-ending ‘’haughty’’ conversations she seems to have with the reader really pulls out a lot of fun from the experience. Nonetheless, this book is a good way to start your journey into editing your own manuscript with more confidence and improving your writing.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.

powereditingcover

Bewitch Me (Witches: Tea Party)

I decided to read Witches: Tea Party by Mark Taylor for three reasons: it’s about witches and I’m drawn to everything that mentions them, it’s a novella (I don’t have much time on my hand so since this was short, it was perfect), and the cover is simply stunning. Here is the summary:
In Salem, 1692, Marie-Anne witnessed the death of her friend and confidant, Sarah Good. Charged with being a witch, Sarah goes to the gallows to protect Marie-Anne, a true witch. 

Three hundred years later, Marie-Anne, under the name Mary Anson, vows to put things right. 

With a new coven – Dina, Excalibur, and Lady – Mary puts in motion the steps to right what went wrong…and what followers is a chase across the country, a chase against time, pursued by monsters and darkness… 

…will Mary put things right? 

…or will she die trying?

The cover really attracts the eye with this gorgeous witch clad all in black and those colours that fit together harmoniously, and the splotchy font used that reminds me of a cauldron’s stains (I don’t know why, sincerely). It is mysterious and really conveys what the story is about while being a marvel to the eye. Another fun note is that the chapters’ titles were written in a creepy font – quite fitting, if you ask me. This is the second novella I’ve read and so far, I’m loving it, however, I don’t know if this should be a positive point since I was left wanting more of the Witches! I quickly grew fond of the characters as they seemed real through Taylor’s light writing. It’s a very entertaining story with many characters and a touch of humour despite the dark of the topic. Speaking of the topic, witches and the devil are hard ones, but he manages to weave it wonderfully. He made the scenes of judgment and gallows real for the readers and his use of Latin is well-chosen and interesting. What I loved the most was how well the suspense was kept throughout the pages. Although there wasn’t much intrigue, the eerie feeling of urgency was present all the way. Next was how well-researched the ways of magic were – I’m well-versed in that area, so I was surprised to see a story where the witches’ methods (old and new) stuck to reality. For that I do a thumbs up to the author, Mark Taylor! Plus, there was an author biography ; I think those are important, so I’m always happy to see a book with one. Lastly (and ironically), the story starts right into the matter with the judgment of Sarah – I like it when stories start right away instead of delaying it.

Now, onto the bad sides. I know, it’s lame, but we all have to go through it at some point… The most crucial point is that there was NO disclaimer or warning (like a sentence in the summary) that the Devil would be an important character in the story or there at all! Some people are uncomfortable with the very thought of him… I have my own problems concerning him that I wished I could have avoided, but it was too late as I was already reviewing the book when I encountered him (theoretically). If I had known he was in it, I’d have thought twice before reading Witches because of my problems. Although, I must admit he was fun and a good addition to the story! Then, the thoughts are written normally, without any indication besides the use of ‘’I’’ that they are thoughts. So, I’d suggest the use of italic to differentiate them from the normal writing or perhaps the author should write ‘’she thought’’ at the end of the sentences. Otherwise, it’s very confusing and I had to re-read them twice to understand what they were. The next main point was the excessive use of ‘’…’’ (that one can already notice in the summary). It was rather unpleasant. I used to do write them into my stories all the time, but many people pointed it out. So, I am criticizing only because I learned from it myself. A lesser use the them would be interesting to read. Also, there were typos and missing words, such as ‘’one that hadn’t there a second ago’’. Where’s ‘’been’’ ? It happens a few times, although not enough to be really bad. But as a proofreader, I couldn’t help but notice. Lastly, there is no table of contents. Okay, I understand this is a novella, hence it’s short, but it’s no reason not to have one for even short stories have a table of contents.

I was plunged into the novella without even knowing what was happening to me, and that is what’s a good book! I was transported into Salem with the characters. Overall, it was one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time! I give it a rating of 3 out of 4. I would have loved to give this story a 4, but the small flaws made it impossible despite the amusement I’ve had. Once fixed, this novella totally deserves the highest mark (it was creepy, but oh so great!) I shall gladly recommend this novella to everyone I know and to other witches and dark stories aficionados (or anyone who wants a good suspense). Let me tell you that this story will leave you wanting more!

witches cover

 

Skeletal: A Bone-Chilling Tale

I have chosen to review Skeletal by Katherine Hayton.

Let’s start with the good sides. First of all, the idea of a dead girl telling us her real story while the scene unfolds is brilliant! It reminds me of the video game Murdered, where, as a ghost, you have to find your own killer. And it’s a great game, just like this novel. The book also offers different points of views and jumps from past to present with ease, leaving a few clues here and there, but never telling the whole thing. I simply loved how the mystery lingers, even though you get crumbs once in a while about what really happened. Moreover, I liked how the author wove the text so that we feel compassion for Daina, the poor bullied main character. Ms. Hayton writes the story in a way which makes us feel close to the character, as though she is directly speaking to us, telling us her story. It’s like she’s sharing a secret none else knows, and in a way, that’s the case for none knows the truth about her death but herself and the killer… I must admit this gave me chills down my spine and made me plunge deeper into the story. It was a very good and interesting idea to have her talk to us, readers. Plus, the author’s writing is fresh, making her characters stand out from each other and jump off the page. Lastly, the tale is a poignant one of bullying, and jumps from one shocking scene to another.

As for the bad sides… I didn’t really find ones besides some typos and mistakes. Perhaps an even more thorough proofreading job would be required as they appear often and somewhat confused me here and there.

Overall, this novel is a good and entertaining one, but mostly quite different from what I read so far (and I read a lot!). The lingering mystery and the manner with which the story is told (directly to us and from past to present and back and forth) are writing gems. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5 for its richness. It lost one point for the mistakes and typos. I will talk about this book and recommend it without a doubt! However, I strongly suggest a better proofreading job for it to be an even more pleasant read.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.

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Will You?

There’s one person who matters most in your life:

Yourself.

Keep that in mind, will you?

Black Wings: A Review

Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

I have chosen to review Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs. Here is the summary :

A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war.

The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain.

Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured.

Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?

I’ll start with the good sides. The first thing I’ve noticed is how imaginative her idea is! On one side, there are the Anlights, a good people with wings, and on the other, Varkins, a very bad people with enhanced strength. I must admit I simply loved how what’s inside one’s heart is shown by their appearance. It’s very original. The author uses a good and poignant imagery and has a knack for describing locations. The way she switches point of views is also to be noted as it does not leave a sour feeling of confusion but keeps you reading. The book is filled with action and romance – despite the latter not being of much interest to me, I must admit it was interesting and well-woven. The author makes use of good vocabulary, considering English is her third language. There is also her biography at the beginning of the book to explain why sometimes sentences can sound weird or unidiomatic – a wise decision, if you ask me. The cover of her book is worth mentioning: it is aesthetically beautiful, with a quote explaining the story, it is poignant, and it shows a special something that belongs only to Annabel… Could you find it? Last but not least, there are many twists and turns worth your time. I was surprised at one twist in particular, but don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you!

Now is the time for the bad sides. One thing that seriously bothered me was how Annabel is a courageous and strong woman at the beginning, but then as soon as she’s safe she starts acting weak, shy, and isolates herself. She doesn’t want to go anywhere or try anything different. She appears to be a totally different person… Only at the end does she go back to being the one she was when we first met her. I liked her a lot until she started acting so weirdly; she then became just a normal character, a flat one. Other than that, there is a lack of description of emotions. We barely feel what’s going on in Annabel’s mind and heart; more insight on this would be great! Moreover, the Anlights, the good people, are a little too good… and cheerful. After having lost most of their families and people, I don’t think they’d be so happy in general. I understand that they are meant to represent the goodness, but sometimes it’s a bit exaggerated as most people wouldn’t be so helpful or ready to help, or sensitive. I’ve also noticed there is no table of contents – one thing I particularly like in a book in order to know where I’m at and just to read the chapters’ titles. Call me curious and I’ll agree.

Overall, the story is an entertaining read. Considering that the author is Ukrainian and that Black Wings is her first book, one can overlook the mistakes and sometimes strange sentences for the sake of the story itself, which is very good. I give it a 4 out of 5 rating for the interesting story; the writing needs more practice, though. I sincerely believe, thanks to the creative story, that this should be a best-seller!

P.S.: I want to congratulate the author, Iryna K. Combs, once again on her first book! Also, I hope there is a sequel coming for it left me wanting more of Annabel, Dexter, and this new world.