Viable Hostage by Audrey J. Cole is a tidy, fast-paced medical crime novel sure to please fans of this genre. Unfortunately the book and I were not a good fit.
What I liked best:
- I love reading books in which the author knows her subject matter well. Ms. Cole clearly brings a lot of medical expertise to her writing, and a knowledge of the Seattle area to this novel.
- The book is well-paced. It moves seamlessly from crime to solution and delivers enough of the unexpected to be satisfying.
- There is a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and a quite likeable main character.
- Multiple points of view (particularly that of the killer) are done well, and provide suspense without giving away the ending.
What I struggled with:
- Some of this novel is downright grisly and I happen to be a reader who shies away from such things. In fact, I’m so squeamish I don’t even want to hear about medical details. So, while I admire Ms. Cole’s expertise, I’d steer those of my ilk away from this book.
- I felt the book would have benefited from more character development in general, and especially more depth surrounding the main character. She appears to be a fascinating young medical student, yet we learn almost nothing about her other than her devotion to her missing friend.
I do, however, recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys stories that live at the intersection of solving crimes and of performing medical research. I think this is a tough place to write with both accuracy and suspense, and Ms. Cole is to be commended for doing both.
A personal note:
Why did I pick this book to review? Well, my own book One of One is about a young woman who is taken hostage and rescued by women who care about her. I’m always looking for kindred spirits, writing-wise, and this seemed to be about something similar. Cool, I thought.
Even though the book didn’t quite turn out to be about what I thought, I do think it is good to get out of your comfort zone and read different types of things.
Also, I received a free electronic copy of this book, which would never be enough to make me write a better review for anyone.
For the full blog post giving more information about the book, its author, and the Goddess Fish promotional tour I originally wrote the review for, please see Viable Hostage.
You see, I’m not a person who likes to be told what to do. I’ve had a problem with TSA and airport security since the start of this millennium, largely because of what I considered petty enforcement of rules taking priority over common sense. (You’re going to take away my tube of mascara? Why? Oh it’s a 3.6 ounce container and 3.4 is the limit. Right.)
Read more about how my fascination with empathy may have kept me out of serious trouble at
In contrast, Facebook offers the promise of being able to select potential ad readers with a LASER like precision. Oh boy.
For my first novel, I sought out mature women who liked science fiction and fantasy, were interested in telepathy and (I’d been told this was very important) liked or owned a kindle. Wahoo. This group was going to LOVE my spec fiction e-novel about Lola, a forty-something telepath. I mean, how many of those are out there?
It took no time at all for me to have 4823 such women view my ad 10,527 times and click on my link 275 times. It took no time at all for me to spend $48.98 to make this happen and to sell, you guessed it, not a single book.
Read more at Can you sell books on Facebook? Can I?
I’m back to doing the occasional review, and hope to do many more after I get my own book number six out there.
My latest is for a short, fun story called “Fresh Off the Starship” by Ann Crawford.
I intended to read this book over a few days, but laid it aside reluctantly on day one (company was coming) and zipped thru the rest on day two. I applaud (and thank) the author for creating a world that held me spellbound and happy for many hours.
Read all about what I liked a lot, and not so much, at Fresh Off the Starship.
This thought sends my mind spinning off onto all the lists I read on other peoples blogs. 10 ways to make your hair behave. 14 things you cannot live without.
So? What are other things that improve almost any bad situation.
Read the full list at 5 things that always help.
When I first wrote One of One (called x0 at the time) I was obsessed with giving form to my mental picture of Lola, the main character. I wished I could draw well enough to show the world how she looked. I can’t, so I scoured Shutterstock for artists images that captured what I was seeing in my mind. These were some of my favorites.
Read more at How does she really look?
Do you get what you want, or do you get what you need?
I had a spirited discussion about this once with a psychologist. I was praising the wisdom of the Rolling Stones; she was sharing her professional observations. We were at a party and it was lucky no nearby cynic entered the conversation arguing people don’t get either.
It is a conundrum, though, isn’t it. You ask for something you think you want, only to discover….
Read the latest update on the saga of the search for the perfect cover at Watch what you ask for.
Note the story ended well. I’m delighted with the final cover, shown here.
I’ve been holding my breath for months now (metaphorically) as I worked to release my first novel with a new title. I could hardly be blamed. The first title had an exponent in it. (Yes, as in the letter x raised to the power of zero.) If you’re not mathematically inclined, trust me it was clever, but no one could fault me for wanting a title that was easier to pronounce, market and search for.
Read the full story of how it went when I republished the old x0 under the new name One of One at It worked!
You know, get rid of some of those lingering adverbs. Reduce the he saids, and make the he pondereds, he chuckleds and he exclaimeds go almost completely away.
She has been doing that, and found more than I expected, but that wasn’t enough. She’s decided to look at every sentence and demand to know what it is doing in my book. Does this matter? Who cares about this? Why is this in here?
Read more at Bitchy Editor says this is it!
I had great fun working with a pro to design a new, genre appropriate cover for One of One. Here’s what the first draft looked like.
The second draft was much closer, and needed only a few more tweaks to get there.
This final version combines the best of both, I think. I’ll be proud to release it, along with the streamlined and updated story, on January 17.
Check out my original two posts about this process of making this cover at Not My New Cover and Almost My New Cover
What prompts an author to kill her own book?
A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.
I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)
And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.
Read more at x0 will die.
#amwriting, #amwritingfantasy, better book, book, books, con, editing, fiction writers, independent writers, marketing, new book, self-publishing, selling books, writing, writing fiction
Next thing I know we’ve changed our route to have lunch because isn’t this amazing. Yes, it is great to see him, but throw in a little road construction and a couple of other longer stops than expected and we arrive well into the dark, 14 clock hours after we left.
Not a problem, except this Airbnb is along the unlit and poorly marked dirt roads west of Trinidad. Our host’s verbal directions are vague and once we make a wrong turn, my phone is so flummoxed it shows us heading across a pasture, which we clearly are not.
Frustrations are rising, so I call our host and describe our location. She talks us, landmark by landmark, to the edge of her long driveway where she meets us with a flashlight to guide us in. Some Airbnb hosts go well beyond the expected. Yay for nice people.
The frazzled nature of the day leaves me craving soft music and pretty sounds as I get ready for bed. I’m not particularly religious but my time on the road has put this song in my head. I turn to this amazing rendition, not knowing yet that it will help me get through the remainder of this journey, and soothe me for many more nights once I’m home.
Read the full post at Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and …. and enjoy.
There are no trees out here. Hell, there are hardly even bushes. We marvel at the wide expanse of nothing as we take turns driving, and treating ourselves to coffee, sodas and coconut water purchased at each gas stop as we whittle down the miles.
After a while though, all those liquid treats begin to catch up with us. An eager look at the map shows the next town is, well, quite a few miles a way.
“We can make it,” my husband declares. But after about twenty more minutes he is squirming in his seat, and finally he pulls over.
“Sorry,” he says. “I’ve got to go.” He steps off to the ditch and does what he needs to do.
Now, have you ever really, really had to pee and listened to somebody else take a leak that goes on and on and on? If you have, you’ll understand. There may be no bushes to hide in, but at that point, I don’t care. I join him on the side of the road, doing my thing the way I have to do it.
“That was kind of embarrassing,” he mumbles. I agree. But nobody passes us from either direction, so there are some advantages to a lonely stretch of highway.
Read how this ended, and enjoy the song of the day at Day 20. Someone to Help Me Get Home
This day is as dusty as yesterday, with short bursts of almost no visibility. I’m determined to survive in this and I fill the day with getting settled in to my camp and doing a little preliminary exploration. The beach bike I have brought to the playa is perfect, its fat tires riding smooth and sturdy over the desert.
As twilight comes, the winds stop, and the world takes on a carnival glow. Color is everywhere, blinking and twinkling in the most unexpected of shapes. My camp mates invite me out for a bike ride on the deep playa, that place away from the campers where art cars roam and art installations glitter, waiting to be admired.
Read more at Day 14: Magical ride
I hush myself. Rule six needs to be no second guessing, I decide. The cornfields are lovely. The trucks are few. Iowa stretches on out to the sky. The day is mild, so I roll my windows down low and turn my music up high. The corn won’t mind the noise at all.
Read more at Day 6. No Trucks. Just Corn.
My sister and I have gotten better at smoothing over those inevitable rough edges, I think, and it all boils down to a single word. I respect the person she is, and vice versa. She respects my beliefs even when she doesn’t share them. I respect her right to have different tastes. She respects my right to have different priorities. She gets to be her, I get to be me. And we both treat each other with — let’s spell it now — R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
It does wonders for us and I swear it would do wonders for the rest of the world too, especially in those areas where it is sorely lacking.
Read the full post at Day 5. Yes Aretha. Respect.
This visit was my fourth one. I come here to study qigong, an ancient Chinese form of moving meditation that emphasizes energy flow and has helped both my writing and my wholeness as a human being over the last five years. I’m a different person without qigong, and not nearly as pleasant a one.
Read more at Building Peace on Blue Mountain.
It doesn’t alter the fact that I’ve got this burning desire to tell the stories in my head, and soon as I get started telling them, this desire to make the world better kicks in while I’m at it. If I wrote for no other reason, I would write because it is my way of trying to improve things.
See the entire post at What’s the Point?
(Read more about why I write at The Number One Reason I Write Books, My Eye-opening Second Reason for Writing , I write because it’s cheaper than therapy, Nothing cool about modest ambitions, I love to be loved and Remember My Name.)
Review summary: Having not read any of the earlier Seamus McCree books, I began this one feeling somewhat disconnected from the main character. The plot was interesting, but the emotion was lacking. However, as the story progressed, the protagonist and his family came into better focus, while the action kept moving. By half way through the book I was fully engaged and by the end of the book I was ready to describe it as both entertaining and thought provoking, both heartfelt and action-filled.
Read my full review at Review: Empty Promises