Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Exciting Experimental Book Review Format!

Okay, so here it is....

For all the YA readers out there, I'm trying a new book review format. At first I tried out some animation software, but it was incompatible with my old Vista operating system. So I tried POWTOON instead. It's actually presentation software I found on the web, and wow, does it work. I can't sing enough praises about it. I hope you'll check out the link below. It's an experimental book review for Hannah Kollef's Path of Needles. That's the first book in a series, and since I'm reviewing the second book in a week or two, I thought it would be a good choice. (It may help the author as well - depending on the feedback I guess!).

In the meantime, I'm also checking out other formats and tinkering around with different software. So if you're an avid YA reader who follows reviews, please check out this link to YouTube and let me know what you think. Comments here or on YouTube are welcome. I hope you enjoy it!

Buy it on Amazon (paperback or Kindle)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February Reads - last minute

Trying something new again...

Learning new software can be a bit like walking uphill in a blizzard. On an icy road. Without a hat. So rather than step outside and walk uphill through that raging blizzard (yes there really is one right outside my door today), I've opted for the learning curve. So please be patient with me as February is going to be a slow month. There are only 3 books selected for review on my agenda and I hardly know what to expect.

The first I hope to tackle is:

The Path of Pins by Hannah Kolleff
I have great hopes for this one as the first book in the series was captivating. It's YA urban fantasy that feeds on the orignal, terrifying versions of fairy tales.

Malakhim Volume 1: Here After by Aleph
Horror. No clue as to what I should expect.

Priceless by Crystin Morgan
Mystery, Short story, freebie

In the meantime I'll be figuring out a new program that may (or may not) help me create new and exciting book reviews. Here's to winter!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Two Indie Books for Younger Readers

Spear Bearer

 A very pleasant surprise! This story is a quick read with likeable characters and an interesting plot. It's a middle grade fantasy, has a steady pace and will easily appeal to a reading audience taken with books like the Spiderwick Chronicles or the Narnia series. Very few mistakes for an ebook. Recommended.

Here's the synopsis from Smashwords:

 Manuel is a soccer phenom on the field and off the field a magician’s apprentice—an apprentice to a real magician, not a pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat kind. This magician can knock things off the table from across the room using his mind. You see, the magician isn’t an ordinary human, and neither is Manuel.

Lizzie has long since figured out where the presents under the Christmas tree come from, and she knows that tiny, winged ladies with wands don't really pay cash for baby teeth. Only little kids believe in fairies and elves. But Lizzie's world is about to be turned upside down. She is about to learn that the legends of old are not all make-believe. She is about to discover the ancient and powerful artifact that is her family legacy. And she is about to join the family business--a never-ending mission to remove from Earth all fugitive spirits.

Manuel and Lizzie live worlds apart, but a sorcerer with plans to rule the world needs something they each have, and he is hellbent upon getting what he wants.

Smashwords Link


Not quite finished. Although I liked this one, I think it could benefit by a little heavy handed editing. There were quite a few mistakes that should have been caught and at a certain point it became distracting. The story has potential and the characters were appealing. Well paced, and I can't really complain about a free book.

From Smashwords:

In a world where all citizens are Perfects--people with genetically perfect DNA, Kristi can't help but feel like a sore thumb. She's an Accident--a child never meant to be born and therefore is not a Perfect. Just when she thinks her life couldn't get worse, it does, starting with the arrest of her adoptive parents. Now Kristi is entangled in a web of secrets she has to unravel.

Smashwords Link
When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

This was a tough one to review. There were so many expectations. The reviews sounded so promising, I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into a good thriller.

Although Hostile Witness is a legal thriller, calling it a legal drama might be a tad more accurate. Unlike many of the thrillers I've read, the suspense, twist and smattering of danger all make their appearances at the end of the story. So it would be difficult for me to put a thriller label on this anywhere but at the end. In fact, I was getting close to the end before I was interested in the story at all.

This all seems very negative for a book with so many good reviews. And it's not that the book is bad. It's really not. It just wasn't what I expected, so I was disappointed. The blame lies with me.

The first half to two thirds of Hostile Witness builds upon the main characters, their back stories and the oh so slow unfolding of the case against sixteen year old Hannah. Unfortunately, I disliked this first half immensely and nearly abandoned it. Halfway is my usual jumping ship point if I haven't been hooked, but for some reason, this time I persevered. 

Overall, the writing was clean, but I found the characters were stereotypical and not at all likeable. I found it very difficult to care what was happening in the story. Personal taste? Maybe. Luckily, the last third of the story picked up considerably with its courtroom drama and that tiny bit of danger thrown in. I believe that last third of the book  fits the legal drama (thriller?) genre well. Perhaps too well. 

To be fair, Hostile Witness is a solidly turned out, professional product - but I guess I was hoping for something unique.
On Amazon