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Review of the Novel “Oracle” by JC Martin

About a month or so ago, I was sent a copy of Oracle by the publisher, and was asked to do a review.  It sat in my inbox for a while.  I had too many books that I WANTED to read, and I really didn’t want to trudge through a police-case style mystery.  Just not my thing, you know?

Honestly, reading the blurb, the story didn’t really interest me, but after reading a novel that I purchased because I wanted to read it–and being disappointed—I decided to give this one a try.

Once again, I will use the Oreo Cookie Concept for reviewing:  Start with the crunchy goodness, dig into the squishy bad, and then end on a crunchy good note.

To start, were there any explosions?  (mild spoiler)  Yep, there are.  Freebie cookie there. (Yeah, I know that’s not fair, but it’s my rating system)

What POV was it written in?  First Person “I”.

UGH!  I hate first person!  Lose half a cookie.

Wait a minute… it’s also in third person.  Huh?  Lose another half a cookie … Let’s get back to this in a little bit.

The Top of the Cookie:  The Crunchy Goodness:

The characters in this story are very believable.  We have a detective and his family facing his own personal problems who is put on a murder case that develops into a serial killer case.  JC Martin did a great job of portraying a man devoted to his family, but dedicated to finding a killer.  The sideline characters are also well played out.  None are stale and forgettable.  Even the rough and tough boss gets to show her soft side, giving us a giggle.  Well Done

The creamy filling… the bad stuff

I’ve harped on typos before.  I was delighted to not find any through most of my reading.  Then, unfortunately, BAM… there it is.  Now, I would have forgiven just one, but it was in the middle of the climax.  I mean, we’re in a life or death situation.  I am completely in the story.  Then SNAG.  What?  I had to stop and re-read the sentence.  I hate that.  The typo reminded me I was reading.  Sorry.  Lose half a cookie. If it were somewhere else, I may have overlooked it.

Points of view:  (Minor Spoiler) The novel starts in the POV of a magician.  It was fine, until the end of the first chapter.  Let’s just say he’s no-longer in the story anymore.  Okay… he’s dead.  I said it.  He’s victim #1.

From here, we are thrown into chapter #2.  This chapter is first person “I” from the POV of the detective.  To me, it was very jarring.  Moving ahead, we will be inside the head of the detective, the killer, and also in the POV of each victim right before they get killed.  After a while I got used to it, but it did bother me in the beginning.  (Cookie already subtracted above)

Now, there is one other POV in the story that I will keep to myself.  Even as I read it, it bothered me because I knew the author was “cheating”.  I cannot tell you more without spoiling the story, but I didn’t like it.  It was done just to add added tension, and I found it unnecessary.  Lose half of a cookie.


For the most part, the pacing was great.  Somewhere right before the climax, I was thinking.  “Wait, there’s gonna be another murder? Get on with it.”  Now, I am perfectly willing to admit that I read a few novellas before this, and may have become accustomed to a faster read… but I did get a little impatient in the middle of the story.  This could just be me, though, so I’m not subtracting a cookie for this.

The bottom of the cookie:  Ending on a good note.

Believe it or not, I Actually liked this novel.  Not loved, but liked it.  On a great note, I picked out the “killer” early on in the story.  (I tend to do this a lot)  And I thought I was right until the last few pages.  If I was right, I would have subtracted another cookie.  I really enjoyed that JC Martin gave enough plausible suspects to keep us guessing.  Well done.

POV Switching… while I didn’t like it at first, I did get used to the different POVs once I realized what she was doing.  If I was suddenly thrust into a random person’s head I thought:  “Okay, this one’s a gonner,” and I moved on.  It worked.

Writing style.  JC Martin’s style is sleek and very readable.  She pulls you in to the story, and keeps you reading.  Normally, I am a chapter a night kind of reader.  Frequently, I’d read for longer.  Especially during the climax.  I didn’t want to put the book down.  I kept jumping and biting my nails.  Nicely done.

So… how’d this all pan out?  She got one extra cookie for an explosion… that’s starting out with six cookies, but she dropped down to five because of the POV switching.  I took away half a cookie for the typo in the worst possible spot in the story.  I also took a half for the extra “cheat” POV that I thought was unnecessary.

So that leaves four out of five Oreos for JC Martin’s Oracle

Am I now a mystery fan?  Nope, I’m still not hoping on this bandwagon.

Would I buy another JC Martin novel?  Yes, if the topic seemed interesting.  I’ll have to see if she’d be willing to write something with dragons.  🙂


Book Review of THRONE by Philip Tucker

I will never read another book the same as I used to.  Every little thing that’s wrong JUMPS out at you when you become a serious Beta Reader.  Have you ever noticed that?

Anyway, let’s chat about THRONE by Philip Tucker.  I am going to use the general “Oreo Cookie” concept for reviewing this.  Start with the crunchy goodness, dig into the squishy bad, and then end on a crunchy good note.  Not actually hard to do on this one.

THRONE is one of those novels that starts you in the real world in someone’s everyday life, and then catapults you with a slingshot into a new world that you never knew existed.

THRONE takes you on an exciting and action packed journey in a very unique and eventful plotline with a very interesting premise.  Throughout the first half, you know the two main characters are going to meet, but how… and “who is who” is a mystery until it practically happens.

And once they do meet… strap yourself in, because the rollercoaster is heading up the hill, and the ride is about to begin. (I can’t really tell you more without spoiling anything)

The five phases of my monotonous reading mind….  Everything falls into one category:

Before I dish out the creamy filling on this novel, let me point out that I really liked it a lot.  Loved it?  No, because of what I’m about to discuss, but I would definitely consider reading another of  Philip Tucker’s novels.  I just need to pay closer attention when I start reading.  Let me explain…


Part of the top of the Oreo cookie is the amazing imagery in this novel.  I want to read some of it again because people have said that I use too little imagery  in my writing.  I want to study how the author did it.  The good part was that I knew exactly what the scenes looked like.  The reason why I am mentioning this in the “creamy filling” section is because the imagery went on for TOO LONG in almost every case.

I got a clear view of the scene, started skimming, and clicked my kindle three times to advance, and the character is still looking down the street.  – Again personal preference.  It was EXTREMELY well written, and I can learn a lot from this… it’s just too much for me personally.

Point of View Confusion

If you decide to read this novel (and yes, I would recommend it)  Keep in mind that it is written in two very regimented Points of View.  To be completely honest, I did not realize it was in two points of view until about 16% of the way through it.

The novel is written with one chapter in Maya’s POV, and then the next chapter in Maribel’s POV.  Then it interchanges back and forth.  For some reason, I did not pick up on this until 16% of the way in.  I thought it was the same character.  I thought one chapter was in the current time, and every other chapter was a flashback.  Yes, they have two different names, but for some reason that didn’t click.  Maybe it is because both names started with “MA” and one was older than the other.  I’m not really sure what happened, but for some reason I just didn’t “get it”.

Sooo…. You can imagine my confusion.  I was having trouble keeping track of what events happened to which character.  If you read this, keep in mind that there are two POVs and you will have no problem.

When your dog starts talking to you

My third problem is talking animals.  That is just personal preference.  Watership Down, Charlotte’s Web, Secrets of NIMH, Homeward Bound…No problem… but I just don’t like animals talking to people. (Totally a personal preference—I realize that)

Reactions to suddenly talking animals:  Place yourself in a city.  You are running from something freaky.  You hide in a building, and all of the sudden this fox pops up and starts talking to you…

I’m sorry.  No matter what is going on, if a fox starts talking to me I am going to be FREAKED OUT.  I didn’t buy the character’s reaction to this happening.  She was too quick to be okay with this.

Unanticipated change in Characterization

Another thing that disappointed me was the sudden change in one of the main characters.  Yes, it had to happen for the story to move forward, but after the detailed imagery and wonderful characterization throughout the novel, I felt a little cheated by this sudden change, and it seemed out of character to me.  If someone acts in one way, and then has an extremely DRASTIC turn in characterization, I need to SEE IT COMING to buy it.  Even after finishing the novel, I still don’t buy what happened right after the one character “changed”.  When she did “what she did” only seconds after the “change” I was stunned, and not in a good way.  She did remain in her “changed” state quite well after that, though.  It was just that transition that didn’t seem believable to me. (Gosh, I wish I could explain that better-but I don’t want to drop any spoilers)

After all this happens, jump on to the rollercoaster for a huge, and I hate to use a “trendy word” – EPIC battle scene.  This scene goes on FOREVER… and I mean that in a good way.  I was not bored for a single second.

At one point I thought the battle was going to be over in a very cliché way, but “Oh no!  It didn’t work!”  Run everybody run!  Get out of there!  WHEW!

The pacing was excellent, and I didn’t see the resolution to the conflict before it was in the process of happening.  Nicely done.

The close of the novel

The novel winded down and closed extremely quickly, in a slightly unexpected way, but very satisfying.  (To pop back over to the creamy filling, I would have liked one more chapter in the other Main Character’s POV, because I don’t think her story really closed enough to my satisfaction)

I would have liked a little more of a wind down, but again… I realize that is personal preference.  After being in the middle of that roller-coaster battle scene, I had a bit of that “whiplash” feeling when the high-speed coaster’s breaks hit the tracks.  BOOM!  Last page.  It’s over.  Get out.  You’re done.  A little too abrupt for me.  Again—not going to subtract a cookie for this, since that’s just my preference.

I will give this novel four out of five Oreos.  It loses one-half an Oreo each on two points… because I was confused to start… and it had too much imagery for my tastes.  From me that is a glowing recommendation.  I really liked it despite what bothered me about it.

This author is extremely talented and has a great writing style.  Great story, great premise, very nice execution.

I would recommend this to any writer looking for an example of well-written imagery (I’d just suggest cutting your imagery a little slimmer if you want people like me to read it.)

I’d also recommend it for anyone that would like to experience a GREAT battle scene… and I mean that.  You won’t just read it.  You will experience it.

Good stuff.