Novel Review: MacRieve by Kresley Cole


It’s probably been a year since I’ve read any books for personal pleasure. It’s odd. Reading had been such a large part of my life, I almost feel a since of wrongness by not doing it. A little straight talk before the review.

I officially log 2013 as the worst year of my life. I spent pretty much the first half of the year depressed and in tears. It’s amazing how depression can sap the motivation right out of a person. Though no longer depressed, I spent most of the last half of 2013 recuperating from the first half and trying to get my feet under solid ground.

And here we are today. I only mist a little when I talk about the first half of 2013. I love what the future holds. Lately, I’ve been reintroducing the things I enjoyed in the past into my life. I smile and laugh spontaneously. And now… I’m reading again.

Since I’ve been out of the book world so long, I didn’t want to ruin the experience by choosing just any book. So, I went with my favorite author… Kresley Cole. And, I tell you… she didn’t disappoint.

I picked up MacRieve last week and finished it this morning. So my thoughts.

This story didn’t progress The Ascension along as much as I’d hoped. In fact, I can’t say it did anything for the big picture. Well, I learned of a couple behind the scenes deaths… or maybe it was one. We get a bit of a cliff hanger of a major player from Torture Island. Other than that… nothing really to progress the overall plot.

As for the romance (Chloe & Will), there wasn’t anything unique or special about it. Nothing to stand out. It was Kresley Cole’s basic, guy finds life mate and screws things up royally with her. He treats her like trash because of his past but won’t give her up. Then he has to find a way to win her over again. Same old, same old. 🙂

The sex seemed a bit different. It was more like something I’d imagine in a porn movie. Spankings, dirty words, and rough.

So if nothing is unique about this book, why did I like it? Well, it wasn’t bad… just not overly special. I think I liked it so much because I’ve been out of the book world for so long. It’s like watching horror movies to the point that nothing phases you. Then going on a horror movies sabbatical for a few years, only to cringing at everything. I think that’s where I am.

So I’ll give this book 3.5 stars. It’s definitely not my favorite. However, it was well written and enjoyable.

On another note. I told my husband I wanted another book. He said, “Maybe you should savor books rather than reading it all in one sitting.” What gives?

Software Review: Using NaturalReader (Free Version) in Editing

*Recycled Post*

I have actually utilized text-to-speech programs in the past yet never ever as a device for editing. It wasn’t until a blogger discussed it in an online forum that I decided to give it a shot. So, first up, NaturalReader. The description from the developers:

NaturalReader freebox

“NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.”

This is a different type of review. Why? I’m also going to discuss the advantages of text-to-speech software applications instead of merely NaturalReader. Then I’ll get into the software application itself.

Editing

In another blog post, I asked Do Your Lips Move When You Edit? I’m discussing the technique of reading out loud. Numerous errors and funky phrasings appear when reviewing aloud, which do not take place when skimming or going through quietly. Now if you’re like me and attempt to review aloud, you might backslide into your quiet methods inadvertently. Other times, you might be so set on what you meant to read that you might ignore the actual words on the computer monitor.

NaturalReader

That’s where software like NaturalReader enter the picture. The application reads precisely what on the monitor, not what you anticipate to see. I definitely adored it! I downloaded the trial version of NaturalReader and need to point out, it’s amazing in terms of enhancing my writing — not only as a result of the program itself, but rather instead because of the concept behind reading aloud.

Allow me to clarify. NaturalReader includes two default voices, a male voice and a feminine voice. I invested bulk of my time with the male one. I found he mispronounced numerous words, missed articles and various other words, (which I really thought was odd), and failed to stop at some punctuation marks (eclipses and em dashes). The program also failed to distinguish between the pronunciation of words such as “read” (pronounced red in lieu of reed), without regard to the use in the sentence. I didn’t spend as much time with the women voice, however her accent seemed much higher quality. Nevertheless, the exact same problems as far as incorrect pauses still existed with the female voice. Over all, neither one of the voices were very natural sounding in my point of view. However, if the user upgrades the program, she or he gets additional voices, plus the ability to produce rules, which will address a few of the issues (at least I presume).

Though I’ve not purchased it, the purchased version also features an add-in which allows NaturalReader to operate directly in MS Office Suite software, pdf files, e-mails, and various other digital software.

I can’t really say I give my thumbs up to NaturalReader at this point without attempting other text-to-speech software. Nevertheless, I absolutely recommend that authors give some type of text-to-speech software a try. It truly is amazing. As always, you don’t need to take my word on it. Attempt NaturalReader on your own.

Novel Review: Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter

Let’s be honest here. When it comes to books, I’m not always eager for review requests. You’ve probably noticed my reviews have been rather scarce these days. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading books though. I’ve just been quietly enjoying my reads. So when Thomas K. Carpenter asked me if I wanted to read Gamers, I was more than a little wishy-washy in my response.

I tell you, Mr. Carpenter hit me up at the right time though. I was at the tail end of my current read and wasn’t in the mood for searching for another book. So up next? Gamers. Before the review, how about the blurb?

Two points for brushing your teeth. Ten points for keeping your room tidy. Seventy-two points for the Bioeconomic Game Design pop quiz on the ride to school in your personal FunCar. Another thirty for making every hurdle in gym class. 

Life is a game, unless you’re not the one winning.

Gabby DeCorte, top student and reality-hacker extraordinaire, has been doing whatever it takes to keep her best friend, Zaela, from falling behind in LifeGame. Zaela has gifts of artistry that amaze Gabby, but none of those skills translate in LifeGame and with final exams coming up, they can’t afford to waste a single minute. But when a mysterious group called the Frags contacts Gabby claiming to know what really happens to the losers of LifeGame, she must choose between winning and what she believes in.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

First off, I want to say I’m so thankful Mr. Carpenter didn’t say, “Screw you” and not reply after my not-so-enthusantic response to his review request. Because this was definitely a book I’m glad I had an opportunity to read.

So… The style: Mr. Carpenter can be my Game Master any day. 🙂 The novel mixed the futuristic world with the gaming world. Basically, Gabby’s life was a game of racking up points in order to reach the next level. Talk about your rat race.

It totally took me back to my EverQuest addicted days. The game talk, the leveling, the never-ending pursuit to acquire more, whether it be points, gear, etc… I was there. But it was a bit more, especially in the final raid. It took online roleplaying and a paper DnD twist to it. I couldn’t help but think about:

Let’s move on, shall we?

The plot: The story was well-paced. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down, even going so far as taking it to the bathroom with me. Is that TMI? One thing I will say is Gamers seemed more like the beginning of something big. The major players were introduced but it didn’t have a sense of finality to it. It was more as if it set me up for the end of one adventure while opening the door for a whole new adventure. I haven’t read the full trilogy yet, but I definitely would say Gamers isn’t the book to stop on.

Okay… I really want to ruin this book for you with sentences that start with “like this one time…” But I know you’ll hate me for it. So… let’s talk about…

Characters: The novel was told from Gabby’s POV. She started out very much a part of the system, very focused on the end game, which in her case happened to be getting into the grand university. She reminded me a lot of the AP straight-A students I’d encountered while working in the high school. She knew what she wanted, how to do get it, and didn’t slack in reaching her goals. Yet she never acted like she was better than everyone else. She was just a regular kid (except for being a super genius) with typical problems…. well typical until the poo hit the fan. I liked her.

The other characters were rather fleeting. They didn’t take up much of my time, but each played important roles which pushed the plot forward or gave insight to an aspect of Gabby’s character of the total story. 🙂 To be honest, if you quizzed me, I wouldn’t remember a single name. That doesn’t say a lot though. I’m horrible with names and even had to read the blurb to remember Gabby’s. Still, I love the cohesiveness the characters brought to the entire story. Each was rememberable (not so much the names for me but the personalities definitely). I’ve snapped a photograph of each of them in my mind’s eye.

Final thoughts: Gamers had a few loose ends which gave the first book a cliffhanger feel to it. You all know how much I hate cliffhangers. Yet at the same time, I was satisfied with the ending, especially knowing the next two books are already available.

My score? 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. HIGHLY recommended for RPG-ers. Until next time, I leave you with our infamous friend Leeroy.

Anyone else in the mood for chicken?