The Carrot Man by Theo A. Gerkin

Finding that one perfect roommate is never easy. When a 30-something writer meets his new roommate, he’s in for a shock when he meets a carrot.

Not a literal carrot; but instead the human vegetable kind. Lazy, ugly, and broke.

Dishes pile up in the kitchen, the bathroom resembles a literal dump, and Carrot Man never takes out the garbage. All of these things begin to bother the author to no end until he finally seems to snap.

The Carrot Man is a short story provided to me by the author for review.

The Carrot Man is one of those stories that I find difficult to write a review for. Mainly because the experience I had while reading it is quite different than the majority of the reviews I have seen about it over on Goodreads. In cases like this, I find myself having to be blunt.

I did not enjoy The Carrot Man.

The writing itself is decent enough, it is the narrator himself that I took issue with. He comes across as very narcissistic and is very difficult to sympathize with. As he spends the majority of the story telling us how awful his roommate is, he himself becomes an awful person. His liberal use of disparaging remarks is off-putting, as is his usage of problematic terms such as “retard”.

At times the narrator seems to be trying too hard to make himself sympathetic and to paint his roommate in a negative light. This backfires in the way that both individuals become unlikable.

As grateful as I am for Theo for providing his story to me for review, I sadly cannot recommend it. Unfunny and offensive, I must simply advise my readers to skip this one.

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Operation Hail Storm (Hail #1) by Brett Arquette

Marshall Hail was a Physics Nobel Prize winner and multi-billionaire, but he was also a loving husband and father. When his wife and children were killed in a terrorist attack, he redirected his vast assets towards one purpose – eliminating every person on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

Calling upon help from his MIT colleagues, Hail designs and builds an arsenal of drones. Piloted by some of the best young minds, these drones are capable of going practically anywhere and creating devastation the likes few have seen. Under Hail’s guidance, the world will come to realize that no one is safe.

I received a copy of Operation Hail Storm from the author, Brett Arquette, in exchange for an honest review.

I generally don’t read books like Operation Hail Storm, so reading it was bit of a step outside the norm for me.

Hail Storm is one of those novels that takes modern day technology and pushes them in a “What if…?” direction. Yes, the ability to make drones smaller and smaller is possible. And yes, the other weapons and technology are in use in some places. So while Arquette got something right in his book, it is unfortunately about the only thing.

The characters are sadly, very one dimensional; many with clunky dialogue to match. While we are surely meant to sympathize with the main character, Marshall Hail, it is difficult when he comes across as arrogant. He believes himself above the law and acts that way on several occasions.  He says he is sad because his wife and children died in a terrorist attack, but his actions tend to speak differently. He believes he is enacting retribution on those who would harm others for money, but it is more like he is getting revenge.

Beyond the writing, Arquette has the unfortunate habit of plagiarism. Many of the descriptions he uses for the higher tech gadgets read as if they were pulled directly from their respective Wikipedia pages. And in one case, he actually quotes the Wiki page instead of trying to use his own words to describe the situation.

At the end of the day, while I am grateful to Mr. Arquette for a chance to read and review his work, sadly I cannot recommend it to my readers. With the help of some decent editors, perhaps one day this book will be ready for the general public. Just not today.

 

Fragments of Your Soul (The Mirror Worlds #1) by E.S. Erbsland

Since the death of her father, Arvid Bergen has worked hard to support herself and her mother. When she accidentally steps through a portal that leads to another world, her only thought is returning home. While she is told the task is incredibly unlikely, if not impossible, Arvid is undeterred.

Upon meeting the god Loke, she strikes a bargain with him. Too late she learns that Loke is a liar and a traitor, and one she should not trust. Still, Arvid is determined to get home one way or another, even if it means pairing up with a murderer.

I will be honest, dear reader, I was first drawn to Fragments of Your Soul because of the artwork. When I joined Tumblr, I saw some of Eleathyra’s artwork for the book and was intrigued. And while I eventually was able to obtain a copy of the book, it has only been recently that I was able to sit and read it.

With that out of the way, it breaks my heart to say that I did not enjoy this book. I tried so very hard to like it, but there were several times I nearly threw my e-reader across the room in anger and frustration.

Firstly, the English translation from the original German isn’t that good. There are times when the dialogue feels awkward and the action is at times clunky. It is also a rather long book, the Kindle edition I read was just over 400 pages. Unfortunately, this means that at times the story becomes kind of boring. There were times I had to force myself to continue just to find out what happened next.

Next, the characters. Arvid is a young woman in her mid-twenties, and like most her age she works a job she doesn’t particularly enjoy and has a strained relationship with her mother. She has anger issues which resulted in a broken hand at the opening of the book, and continues throughout the story. She also has a bit of a superiority complex, her way of thinking sometimes tends to follow the “my way is the only way”, especially when she is met with servants or those who are considered lesser than. When she inevitably tries to persuade them to rise up or act different, she is frustrated when they refuse. She seems unable to understand that just because she thinks one way, not every one around her does.

Loke is another character that quite honestly I did not like. He is cruel and manipulative, and a times even verbally abusive; not just to Arvid but to other characters around him. His past is used as an attempt to explain and even excuse his behavior and the love that Arvid develops for him somehow makes him a better man as if by magic. This, unfortunately, is a trope that has been used too often recently and with little to no success.

While Erbsland does an excellent job of building a world based on Norse mythology, an interesting world itself does not a good story make. There must be equally interesting characters; characters we develop feelings for and root for. Alas, while we have the first in Fragments of Your Soul, the second is severely lacking. I’m afraid I simply cannot recommend this one to my readers. Instead, I encourage them to head over to Eleathrya’s art page, enjoy the pictures there and make up their own stories.

Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura Thalassa

Callie – Callypso – Lillis is a siren with a rather large problem. A problem that stretches up her arm and seven years in to her past.

Seven years ago she began collecting the black beads that make up the bracelet on her wrist. Each bead represents a favor from The Bargainer; the man who can get you anything you want…for a price. Callie has racked up over 300 of these such favors and she knows one day she will have to repay every favor she has garnered.

When The Bargainer comes for Callie, she knows her time is up.

There are very few books that catch my attention from the first page, and Rhapsodic was one of them. Unfortunately, while it was advertised as a fantasy novel, it is more a romance novel with fantasy elements.

And that is what this particular book is, dear readers, a romance novel. Thalassa spends the majority of the book creating the sexual tension between the two main characters that there is little room for anything else. Even the main characters themselves don’t receive too much attention in regards to their respective pasts beyond when they meet. As far as the side characters, they are sadly rather one dimensional and not terribly interesting either.

This unresolved sexual tension takes over the plot of the story as well. So much so that what is supposed to be the main plot of the book takes a back seat and is almost pushed aside. The end of the book is quite rushed as well. Perhaps this is because there is a sequel to this first book and the big bad wasn’t quite vanquished.

Now I am not saying that I didn’t enjoy Rhapsodic, dear readers, because I did. I, however, would have liked more. More of the fantasy elements, less of the fluff.