Thursday, April 19, 2012


A. Rosaria

One chapter, thank God. Ten minutes that I'll never get back again.

Here's a tip: learn how to spell and learn how to properly develop a character while not being over-descriptive about everything.

Wow. . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Liquid Lies

By: Lois Lavrisa

A Compelling Story of Lies and Deadly Consequences
One dead body.
One girl with a deadly secret.
Body count rising.
Can she find the killer before she’s the next target?

Determination.  Determination can be a positive thing. It can drive people to excel at their chosen vocation, it can create heroes out of ordinary people, and it can even help people develop healthy lifestyles that cause them to shed unwanted pounds. However, there is a bad side to determination.  That negative can cause division within families if one sibling is determined to be 'right' regardless of the familial cost. Negative determination can cause companies to go bankrupt due to the CEO refusing to admit a wrong decision.  And finally, negative determination can drive a reader to endure a horribly written book because "I'm going to finish it, at all costs!"
Sometimes it's better to just cut bait than force yourself to be subjected to bad writing. Do yourself a favor, don't read Liquid Lies by Lois Lavrisa. It's that bad.

Liquid Lies follows the story of one Cecelia Coe (CiCi for short) as she muddles through her life on virtual autopilot - haunted by the ghosts of a bad decision.  Without warning, her past catches up to her and she is forced to make a split second decision. The consequences of her choice have unexpected repercussions and she unwittingly finds herself caught in a web of lies that began four years prior.  Can she catch a killer before it's too late?

There, you're welcome. That was infinitely more interesting and well written than the entirety of Liquid Lies.  Lavrisa has successfully defined the word "contrived", but it took her about a hundred thousands words to do it.   The book starts out intriguing and the first few sentences gave me hope that there might be something good once I got past the terrible morass of the rest of chapter one, but that respite never came.
The story itself is interesting: a girl and her best friend, out on the best friend's 18th birthday, find themselves in a bad situation. In the process of defending themselves from assault, a death takes place, and that changes their lives.  The best friend moves to Europe, and CiCi tries to get on with her life while keeping the secret. Fast forward four years and everything comes crashing down when the best friend comes back to town, and with her comes a flood of unwanted memories and a blackmailer demanding money.  This was the point that I figured out what was going to happen and who it was that made it happen - and that was in chapter three.
The dialogue was forced, the plot was pushed, and Lavrisa teetered on the edge of a deus ex machina to finish the tale. I cannot count how many times I exclaimed, out loud (resulting in quizzical looks from my co-workers), "oh, come on!" How can one not find themselves incredulous when they are forced to read lines such as:
"I sucked at finding justice for {character name}. If {suspect name} was telling the truth, then I had to find another suspect." (Ya' think?
"I felt so low that I could walk under a pregnant ant." (That's pretty low.)
"I heard a slap or clap.  Maybe, like all guys, they probably high fived each other." (I loved this one because, well, stereotypes are always a good thing, right?)
"My reasoning had some big leaps of faith and I stretched some logic and facts. But somehow I knew I was onto something big." (I'm sure that if things happen in the exactly perfect way, I can figure this whole thing out.)
""Listen, I don't want you to worry.  I've got the mayor on my side. No one is going to kill anyone, anymore. Got that?""(Got it! I think. . .)
""They'll hurt anyone who gets in their way. It's like they're obsessed. People don't mean anything to them. Its like people are dispensable pawns on their way to get obtain power." (This one obviously eluded the editor. Perhaps this part came at a bathroom break when they had their Kindle read it to them.)
And now for my favorite one:
"The mayor must be under tremendous pressure and might not be thinking clearly at this point. He is so not going to be governor." (This so doesn't need any explanation or, like, anything attached to it. It so speaks for, like, itself.)

The spelling and grammar errors were rampant throughout Liquid Lies. It was like the editor fell asleep, and forgot where they left off.  More than one time, I had to check and double check that my e-reader wasn't missing something. Thoughts were incomplete and sentences simply didn't make sense.

All in all, I can't believe I actually made it through. It's something I will try not to ever do again.  I've had such good luck with free books from Amazon, I guess it was only a matter of time before I found a dud or two.  I think part of the problem was that I had just finished a really good book and when I started the next one, it was really bad. So bad, in fact, that I stopped after chapter three. I didn't want this one to be another book I started and didn't finish, so I trudged ahead, ignoring my instincts.  Next time, I will listen to my gut and run. . . Screaming.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Voynich Cipher

By: Russell Blake

When a sacred relic is stolen from its subterranean guarded vault, Dr. Steven Cross, amateur cryptographer, becomes embroiled in a deadly quest to decipher one of history's most enigmatic documents - a 15th century parchment written entirely in unbreakable code; The Voynich Manuscript. Stalked by secret societies, and aided by the daughter of a murdered colleague, a trail of riddles catapults Cross from England to Italy to the Middle East, where a Byzantine web of ancient secrets leads him to a revelation so profound it will change the world order.

Another one of my Amazon Kindle free finds, The Voynich Cipher looked like a decent read and, apparently, I caught it at a perfect time as it's now around $3 for the Kindle version. It pays to check Amazon often and to sort by price.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, this book was a really good read.  Lately, I have been finding myself reading through archaeological novels, and The Voynich Cipher just so happens to be another of that genre - though written from a decidedly different perspective. I normally read books by Christian authors, but I have lately been grabbing anything I can from anywhere I can, just so that I can have a diversion at work. This book fit the bill perfectly. Almost too perfectly. I found that I didn't want to put it down. I actually downloaded Kindle for PC onto my laptop so that I could continue reading this book without having to drain my phone battery.

The Voynich Cipher follows the story of Dr. Steven Cross as he becomes entangled in a mystery, wrapped in danger, and delivered by a stunning beauty. Cross finds himself willingly giving up his business and his life to go off in search of an unknown treasure that can only be found after breaking a code that is unbreakable. Along the way, the fires of romantic passion are rekindled and he must decide if the object of his desire is who she claims to be.

As an aside, this book is the second in a series of books involving Dr. Steven Cross - however, I wasn't aware of that until well after reading The Voynich Cipher. You don't have to read the first one to understand this one, but I am going to be looking for the first one because I really like this character.
Blake really roped me in with this story. The plot is believable, the characters connect with you, and the first few chapters pique your curiosity like no other. I dove in and from the moment I finished the first chapter, I knew I was going to enjoy the ride.
That's not to say that it didn't have it's moments of predictability. I did see some of the twists a chapter or two ahead of time, but it wasn't enough to ruin the story, believability, or enjoyment of the book itself.  There was also some sex scenes and references that I could have done without, but again, it didn't ruin anything for me.

Blake is no amateur, and it shows with his writing style. The Voynich Cipher is well paced and everything from the dialogue to the events that play out have a natural feel. Nothing seems forced.  The only real drawback for me was that, though the history seems to be well researched, it seems that Blake should have dug a little deeper into the Bible for information on one character. If Mr. Blake ever reads this, Jesus didn't have any bones broken or crushed.

All in all, I found The Voynich Cipher to be an excellent read. I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone.