Starving Review: Out of Ordure (The Fairies Book 1) by Ramon Terrell


Out of Ordure (The Fairies Book 1) by Ramon Terrell (Amazon, Goodreads)

Today’s selection from the literary pantry is a light, fluffy pastry of a novella, but the size of the meal is never a measure of culinary quality. To be more specific, Out of Ordure promises a mix of humor and fantasy with a tale of a most unusual fairy. Will Mr. Terrell dish out the perfect mix to fill that pastry or will it just be too little to be filling?

Before we take a bite, let’s recite the Starving Reviewer’s pledge:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible


Book News: Rune Service Is Now Available!

Finally, FINALLY, it’s here! Rune Service, the light-hearted urban fantasy and my … what? … 11th book?! is now available on Amazon as an e-book, with physical copies to be available soon! Check out the blurb and cover below!


Book News: Time for Some Rune Service! a.k.a. New Urban Fantasy Novel Coming!

So I’ve been working on several new projects lately and one is coming to fruition, hopefully to be released by the end of December!

A new, light-hearted urban fantasy set in Saginaw, Michigan, Rune Service follow the misadventures of four-foot tall convenience store clerk Mary Stone and her luxurious beard as she finds out that life is even stranger that hers already was when a literal Elf stumbles into the Easy-E-Mart after midnight. Within an hour, Mary finds out that magic is real, dragons are real, and that she is a Dwarf instead of a short bearded lady. Oh, also that her new Elven friend is on the run from thugs, a wererabbit bounty hunter, and a reptile man businessman. It might have been safer if she’d just stayed in the store that night!

The manuscript is over the half-way point and I’ve already been meeting with the cover artist for this one, the talented Kayla Suppapong, and there be sketches! Enjoy!

Starving Review: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole


A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Amazon, Goodreads)

What the deuce, you say?  The Starving Reviewer stooping to reviewing a classic?  Well, as I have talked about in the past, every chef needs to study the culinary masters to do the best possible job at their craft.  It was time I put my advice to others into personal advice.  That and Mr. Toole’s absurdist comedy of errors has been touted to me as one of those masterpieces worthy of the title.  Is this the brilliant and tasty feast it’s touted to be?

Before we crack the shell of this egg, let us review the Starving Reviewer’s creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible


Starving Review: Slabscape: Reset by S. Spencer Baker


Slabscape: Reset (Slabscape Book 1) by S. Spencer Baker (Amazon, Goodreads)

Delicious, savory science fiction!  It’s admittedly a favorite treat of mine, so I was quite excited to see today’s meal slid out in front of me (that and all I had for breakfast was a thin rice gruel).  It promised fascinating science fiction spices mixed with that dry British humor mix.  Did it deliver or did it just dry out in the oven?

Before we begin, put your hands over your hearts and recite the Starving Review oath:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible


Starving Mini-Review: Zombies In Love Audiobook by Nora Fleischer


So Ms. Fleischer decided to take pity on this poor Starving Reviewer and handed me a copy of her previously reviewed book, Zombies In Love, in its new audiobook edition (which you can lay your grasping claws upon here).  Finding the wisdom in feasting on literary bites with my ears while likewise feasting with my eyes, I can give a quick review on how this zombie-filled romantic comedy came together in the audio format.


Starving Review: Check Mate by Michelle Knight

Check Mate-front

Check Mate by Michelle Knight (Amazon, Fiction4All)

Happy coincidence has brought a recently-released dish onto this reviewer’s plate today.  The chef, Michelle Knight (interviewed here), was already in my review queue for some time now with an older recipe but, as her newest book came up for sale, I decided to take up this newest dish instead.  So is this near-future military sci-fi with a side of wit and comedy make for a fabulous meal or some bland tinned biscuits?

Before we cut open the MRE package, let us recite the Starving Review creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.


Starving Review: Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga Book 1) by J. Zachary Pike


Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga Book 1) by J. Zachary Pike (Amazon, Goodreads)

Everyone loves dinner with a show.  Well, as long as the food is good and the show is entertaining.  So, well, maybe, in the real world, we don’t love that many ‘dinners with a show’.  However, there are still the good ones.  Excellent literary meals mixed in with an extra dose of entertainment above and beyond the main course.  For tonight’s entree, we have high fantasy with a dose of satiric humor that is called Orconomics.  So, does this fantasy satire make for an excellent literary delight that made me laugh or did I ditch the tab and throw tomatoes at the comedian?  Read on, my friend, read on!

But before you do, let us remind ourselves of the solemn Starving Review vows:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.


Looking at Character: You’ve Been Designated, Hero!

After recovering from the horrible experience of trying to do a coordinated midnight release (which I will talk about in another blog post), it’s time to get back on track with what most people like to see here: talking about writing!  So, for today’s Looking at Character, we’re going to look at something that can either be a serious problem or a bit of clever writing: Designated Heroes and Villains (referred to for the rest of this piece as DHVs to spare my fingers).  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, DHVs are protagonists or antagonists that share few, if any, of the classic characteristics of their classification in the story, but is treated by the story and most of the other characters in it as the opposite of their actions.

For example, a DHV that is the ‘hero’ of the piece may commit multiple crimes, act like a complete jerk to his friends, and have several ‘kick the dog’ moments, but for some strange reason, his actions are heralded as heroic and his ‘victories’ are celebrated by the masses in the world of the book.  Simply flip the script for how a DHV that is an antagonist is portrayed: no matter how moral his/her actions and how much good he seems to do, the world treats him as the villain.  On top of that, in both cases, it is obvious that the author intends the reader to feel the same way.

On the surface, this looks to be just a case of very bad writing.  In some cases, it *is* just that: the DHV may be the result of a lazy writer who doesn’t want to actually portray his hero or villain as such or the author has a significantly different moral viewpoint than his readership, leading to a significant case of moral dissonance.  However, that isn’t always the case.

A good way to use the DHV can be to highlight characterization.  For instance, the ‘hero’ above may be celebrated early on because he/she hides his/her misdeeds behind good press or some legend or prophecy.  However, over the course of the piece, he/she begins to realize how horrible of a person they are and begins to rise to the expectations people place before them.   The ‘villain’ may likewise be obscured by societal expectations/bad reputation/etc. and over the course of the piece overcoming those barriers leads to an inversion of the book’s initial protagonist and antagonist.  In such a way, you can use these constructs for good dramatic and characterization effect.

Another possible way to use the DHV in an interesting fashion is in comedy and parody pieces, especially in deconstructions of older tales and themes that rely on DHVs.  I’m not a comedic writer myself, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I have seen such deconstructions and parodies be very funny and is a worthwhile use of the character construct.

So, when you write your protagonists and antagonists, make sure the consequences of their actions fits their deeds or at least be ready to explain why that isn’t the case, or you might wind up with a pack of characters designated into their roles.  If you aren’t going for comedy, you might find that your readers feel such a dissonance with the situation that they put don’t your book and don’t come back.  At the same time, don’t shy away from using DHVs if you utilize one of the dramatic or comedic structures to make them into truly interesting characters.

Feel free to comment and discuss below!