Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Simon Townley's The Dry Lands: A Journey of Survival in Prehistory

Author’s Synopsis: Isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a band of prehistoric humans faces starvation. The tribes have grown too big. They've hunted too fiercely, and the animals are gone. The waterholes are dry, the rains don't come. Their world has changed, and they need a way out.
As the young men of the tribe go in search of a new home, Temfe, the chief's son, must learn to lead his clansmen, before they betray him. To survive in a harsh world, surrounded by enemies, he must gather new allies. Discover new weapons. Learn new ways of seeing the world.
In the African rift valley, 43,000 years BCE, a spark of consciousness flares into life. The dawn of human culture, the fire that will reshape the world. 

The Dry Lands, by Simon J. Townley, is a well-written tale of courage and survival set in prehistoric times. I would almost describe it as a fable. It is the story of a damaged chief’s son. His wounds are both external and internal, who as the sole surviving son of the chief, must rise to many challenges to assure his own survival and that of his tribes. Other characters, including his intended, his father and the antagonist have clear challenges and issuers to either overcome or to which they must surrender.
The main characters are well developed with clear goals and motivations. The plot has a solid arc and is well planned with no holes or sudden “reveals”. The editing is solid and I found no stray point-of-view shifts (a pet peeve of mine).
If I had any suggestions, it would be in certain areas where I felt the writing did not convey the tension that was underlying the scene. In a few places, the sentence structure and dialogue did not heighten the emotional level that the action would have implied. These however a not major flaw, but did take away a bit from the power of the story.
Overall this was however a very good book and I look forward to reading more of Mr. Townley’s work.
I give The Drylands: 4.5 triskeles.


Simon Townley is the author of the acclaimed slipstream / speculative novels 'Lost In Thought' and 'Ball Machine', and has written a range of cross-genre novels for both adults and young adults, including prehistoric fiction series 'A Tribal Song - Tales of the Koriba'. The first novel in the series, 'The Dry Lands,' was published in 2012, with the second, 'Caves of the Seers,' scheduled for release in early in 2014. His sci-fi thriller 'Outlivers,' again written for both adults and young adults alike, is to be released in Autumn of 2013. This will be followed by the post-global warming, high-seas adventure 'Among The Wreckage.'   

Simon has also written non-fiction, in particular on the subjects of copywriting and search engine optimization. He studied English literature at the University of York in the UK and has worked as a journalist and copywriter for the past twenty years. He currently lives in Devon, England, with a woman, three cats and two Airedale terriers. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: NYPD Detective Kelli Storm Returns in Storm Warning by Kenneth Hoss

Author’s Synopsis: When her new partner is shot during a botched robbery, Detective Kelli Storm never expected that the trail of the shooter would lead her to Colombian drug lord Miguel Garcia; the man who’s cousin she had killed months earlier, and had made numerous attempts on her life. A man she had believed to be dead.

Detectives Kelli Storm and Eric Ryder follow the bloody trail of a notorious drug kingpin from the streets of Washington Heights, New York and south to Medellin, Colombia.
When the suspect in her partner’s shooting is killed while in custody, the man makes a startling deathbed confession. With this revelation, Kelli finds herself unwillingly thrown back into the world of the drug cartels. With the aid of DEA Special Agent Gregory Larsen and Narcotics Detective Javier Vasquez, Kelli works to stop the Cartel’s operations in the city, and bring down the notorious drug lord.

Storm Warning is the second book in the Kelli Storm Series. The first in series, Storm Rising was previously reviewed here. In Storm Warning, we meet again Kelli Storm, NYPD detective with a complicated personal life, and her new partner, Eric Ryder. The action kicks of immediately with Ryder being shot in what at first appears to be a robbery gone wrong. But nothing is ever simple for Storm. This seemingly freak event opens an investigation that resurrects a supposedly dead drug lord, Miguel Garcia, who is hell-bent on killing Kelli and anyone else in his way.
If I had to suggest areas for improvement it would be in pacing and, in particular, tension. There are key scenes where the writing is more laid back than it should be. Tension can be created by the artful use of shorter sentences, clipped dialogue and vivid verbs. I found the ending to not be the climax I was hoping for in terms of tension and action. I wanted to be more on the edge of my seat and right there with Storm.
However, the action scenes are vivid without being as gory as they could be. Mr. Hoss, to these non-expert eyes, seems to have a handle on police procedure and daily life issues. The plot proceeds logically without any holes. There are no noticeable unnecessary point of view slips and with the exception of a few errors it is adequately edited, although it could use a second read through.  Kelli Storm continues to unfold as a three dimensional character and I hope to see her “issues” rise even further to surface in the future.
I give Storm Warning 4 of 5 triskeles


Kenneth Hoss was born at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas in 1957 to Albert and Mary Hoss. He served a combined total of fourteen years on active duty from 1974 to 1987 in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. His tour in the Army took him to Frankfurt, Germany where he had the opportunity to
travel Europe. While in the Navy, Kenneth spent most of his time stationed in San Diego and Long Beach. His Navy travels took him to Hawaii, Guam, The Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Okinawa, the Middle East and Pakistan. He has lived in several States, including South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington and California.
Storm Rising - A Kelli Storm Novel is a Police Procedural and is the first book in a three book series. Storm Warning, book two in the series is now available on Amazon. Deadly Storm, book three has just been released and is now available on Amazon.
Kenneth currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
Blog: http://kenhoss.blogspot.com
Twitter: @kenhoss
Independent Authors Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/kenneth-hoss.html