Review: Discoredia by J. C. Michael

Discoredia by J.C. MichaelTitle: Discoredia
Author: J. C. Michael
Genre(s): Adult Horror
How To Purchase: Kindle | Kobo.com

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As the year draws to a close a mysterious stranger makes a proposition to club owner, Warren Charlton. It’s a deal involving a brand new drug called Pandemonium. The good news: the drug is free. The bad news: it comes at a heavy price, promising much but delivering far more. Euphoria and ecstasy. Death and depravity. All come together, at Discoredia.

Discoredia is the story of a rave gone awry, and I can’t decide what I think about it. While it’s well-imagined, it’s not well-executed. It’s visceral, but ugly. Pulse-pounding, but haphazard. I can’t decide if this book is what the author intended or if it’s something that got away from him.

First, I was distracted and dismayed at how grammatically error-ridden this book was: Misplaced commas, missing apostrophes, and incorrect homonyms (“heal” for “heel” is an easy one, guys). It distracted from the work, and sometimes I slogged when I should have glided. The blame for this I place squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Michael’s small press publisher, Books of the Dead Press. If this passed over the desk of a professional copy editor, which I doubt, I’d fire that person immediately.

*Steps on soap box*

I’m disappointed on behalf of authors everywhere, and on behalf of Mr. Michael, specifically. With traditional publishing more cut-throat than ever and self-publishing becoming a viable option, small presses need to work harder than ever to prove their worth. The non-existent editing in this manuscript tells me that this publisher isn’t serious about contending in the marketplace.

*Steps off soap box*

Besides that, I’m not the book’s intended audience. While I vehemently support freedom of choice in all hot-button political issues, I’m not interested in imbibing, swallowing, injecting, or snorting drugs. I will occasionally have one glass of wine too many, and the next day is enough to remind me why I do that once per year. This book was written to capture the adrenaline-laced, hallucinatory high that common rave drugs induce. I’m only mildly interested, mostly from an academic perspective. I don’t understand drug use, and consequently, drug users.

Ultimately, I didn’t like the haphazard storytelling. Too many things were left swinging in the wind: Unresolved back story, a plot that dragged for too long and ended too soon once things started getting interesting, dubious villain motivation, and a cacophony of characters that I couldn’t make sense of. Part of me wonders if those elements were purposeful, but part of me suspects it simply needed a heavy developmental edit along with its need for copy edits.

Despite the drawbacks, I never regretted reading this book. If, unlike me, you can remove the stick from your rectal orifice long enough to dive into the badass shit going down, you’ll enjoy this book. The writer has voice and potential.

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Review: Running Home by Julie Hutchings

Running Home by Julie HutchingsTitle: Running Home
Author: Julie Hutchings
Genre(s): New Adult Paranormal Romance with glimmers of Horror
How To Purchase: Kindle (Amazon) | Kobo.com
Author Website: deadlyeverafter

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Death hovers around Ellie Morgan like the friend nobody wants. She doesn’t belong in snowswept Ossipee, New Hampshire; she doesn’t belong in the frigging gift shop she works at, she doesn’t belong with people that death will always take from her, and she definitely does not belong at this black tie party with Kat. But that is where she is, and where he is. Nicholas French, the man who mystifies her with a feeling of home she’s been missing, and impossible knowledge of her troubled soul.

Nicholas followed an abomination that is one of his own, but soon finds fate has driven him to New Hampshire as more than a bystander. He reveals himself to Ellie as being of the Shinigami, a heroic vampire order that “save” their victims from more tragic ends. He knows why Ellie is human repellent, and why physical agony grips them when apart. The Shinigami are cornered into isolated human lives, plucked out when they have no one left to be created for their higher purpose. Ellie is destined to be a legendary Shinigami, and Nicholas her creator.

Nicholas and Ellie’s fates intertwine closer when his latest victim in waiting turns out to be the only person who tethers her to this world, Kat. Fate will not be ignored, and in the only real choice Ellie has made in her life, she must determine a horrifying path; let the vampire who would make her a hero wither to shreds or sacrifice the life of her closest companion.

As a paranormal romance, this book has a sexy love interest and a believable struggle. As a horror, it disappointingly picks up steam only at the end.

This is a story about Ellie, a woman who has lost nearly all of the important people in her life, save one. As she drifts, she’s drawn into a dark world of vampires–not the sparkly, gentle kind, but the ones who operate under fate’s command. The further in Ellie slips, the more macabre her story becomes. I loved the twists and turns, and as soon as I thought I’d figured out where the plot was going, it jolted me another way. The ending itself left me breathless. Simultaneously, I wanted to throw my Kobo at the wall and drive to Ms. Hutching’s house and sit on her until she finishes the sequel.

Part of the reason I gave this book three stars was my own preference for horror and the paranormal over romance and tingly love. The beginning drags, and the plot takes too long to get to the juicy parts. Running Home‘s strength lies in the chilly nighttime, but it spends too much time in the lazy afternoon. When the darkness hits, it’s too late and too short, and I found myself craving more.

As for the nuts and bolts of the writing, I’m disappointed in the publisher, Books of the Dead Press. Though Ms. Hutchings is a strong writer, the book could have used a more thorough developmental and copy-editing pass. Her descriptions were unique and interesting, but some of the sentence constructions and a few grammatical errors pulled me out of the writing. I’m critical of all published work, but especially small presses because of their responsibility to their writers. If self-publishers are hiring professional editors, small publishers must compete. Otherwise, why would us authors go with a small press?

I recommend Running Home, especially for those looking for solid paranormal romance fare. I can’t wait to see more from Ms. Hutchings and hope that its follow-ups descend deeper into the midnight that lurks at the end of this one.

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Update 10/14/13 afternoon: This week only, Running Home is $0.99 on amazon. Better snap up your copy.