Sunday, May 31, 2015

The CopyCat Murders - William Meikle

Well now. This must be the book equivalent of a bag of chips. A snack read. Not something you nibble at but something you demolish in one sitting. And just like a bag of chips, you pick it up without thinking. It's an impulse, just something you feel you need at the moment.

The CopyCat Murders is just like that. It's a novella, a total of sixty some pages, and it gives you a quick little story to fill the gap when you're on a commute or just have some down time. From learning about the book to downloading it to reading it... maybe an hour or an hour and a half at most? I saw the tweet for this freebie on my Twitter feed - it had a nice big image and was labelled as a mystery with a little occult thrown in. So I clicked the link to Amazon and added it to my cloud. I think that was the first time I found a book that I read completely while being on Twitter.

 The story starts out as a locked room mystery - always a fun read - but the mystery part is solved fairly quickly and it becomes more of a catch-the-bad-guy scenario. There's action, murder and even a splash of romance. So overall it was okay. Not great, not terrible, but okay. Like a bag of chips. The title was a little bit more of a mystery to me. Yes there was a series of murders, but I wouldn't say they were copycat. They may have shared the same modus operandi but they were definitely original to the one killer. So, would I recommend the book? Sure. It's free. It's fast. It's okay.

I think the real review here isn't the book though. It's something else. In the years I've been on Twitter finding authors, tweeting and reading tweets,  following and getting followed back, I've mostly ignored the many, many book tweets that flow in a never ending stream. Sure I'll click on some links to read book reviews sometimes, maybe even sample a book at the book store, but I've never clicked on a book link directly from Twitter. Why would I? There's just not enough information. It's social media. Why would I buy a book based on on 120 characters of synopsis? I'll read a few book reviews, maybe visit the odd book blog and check out the book stores where I buy books. But I've never even thought of picking up a book while I'm on Twitter or Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr or any other place I'm connecting with people. To me, the social sites just peak your interest. There's still all that research you have to do as to whether or not you actually want to pick up, buy and read that book. So this was an eye opener for me. Apparently it is possible to click on a book link from Twitter IF the book has a picture. IF the book is free. IF the book is short. And IF it's a genre I like. Of course that's a lot of ifs. No wonder I've never found a book on Twitter. But I guess... maybe...  it is possible.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton

Ghost Hand was a very entertaining YA book with a great idea. Imagine being born and growing up with a physical part of your body missing - but not entirely. It is replaced by a ghostly representation of that part, and although it can function like the missing part, it can also have unusual qualities. The author did a wonderful job of creating a world where this condition exists - and gave the condition a name: Psyche Sans Soma or PSS. It makes for a very unique tale.

There is quite a bit of action throughout the story and the book is fast paced. There isn't too much description  - which can be good or bad depending on what the reader is looking for in a story. I find that it happens more often that way in first person perspective (which this book has). The main character, Olivia, has PSS and as a result tends to be a little irreverent and headstrong. She has a strained relationship with her mother - a mother who has difficulty accepting Olivia's ghost hand to the point of being repelled by it. In fact, Olivia has a difficult relationship with people in general because having PSS isn't well accepted. Luckily, Olivia has a best friend who does accept her completely and when the new kid Marcus shows up, he too is drawn to Olivia (something Olivia immediately misinterprets). These relationships all become important once the plot starts moving - and the plot starts moving quickly. The fun begins when Olivia's ghost hand gets a mind of its own, deforms and goes into a classmate to extract something from her. It's a little strange but a great way to get the story going. In no time at all Olivia is in danger. She gets followed by a stranger, is hunted by a fringe group and betrayed by an important member of the community Olivia had known for years. Her weird hand isn't just ethereal energy with a nifty glow in the dark feature. It has weird powers - or you could say it causes Olivia to have weird powers.

Overall, the book was fun and the writing good. There was humour and one wonderfully creepy/tense scene involving hanging razor blades in a hidden basement dungeon accessed through a freezer (you'll just have to read the book to make sense of this sentence). I did flounder a bit with the book in the second half - I thought Olivia became wishy-washy in her decisions and a little annoying. And the real reason behind the CAMfers chasing the kids was a bit of a stretch for me, although there may be more to it in the next book. I did like the new characters in Marcus' group though (even the hot head Jason). As for the relationship with Marcus - I don't know that I really bought it. It's probably something the second or third book in the series will work out but it was a bit too quick to develop I thought. Also, I was hoping for more on the whole PSS thing. It was such a unique part of the book I had hoped the author would give the reader more details.

I do recommend the book to YA readers - it's kind of urban paranormal, action and romance. I loved the whole PSS idea and hope the author will expand on it in books two and three. All of the books can be found on Amazon and other online retailers. A link to Ghost Hand on Amazon is here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fabled Kingdom - A Comics-Prose Fairytale Adventure

Fabled Kingdom

Comics-Prose. Somewhere between a graphic novel and a  well illustrated novel, the Comics-Prose genre is a perfect choice if you're looking for something a little different. If you're an avid reader who also enjoys Manga, Anime, Cartoons and Comics (or any of those), this could be an opportunity to satisfy a couple of those hobbies at once. Fabled Kingdom is an adventure filled with fairytale characters and settings. Of course it's not Red Riding Hood - or even a re-worked re-telling - even if it does share many similarities (like grandmothers, a huge wolf, huntsmen and a girl in a red cloak). It's an original adventure that takes place in more than one fairytale setting. The characters are engaging and the artwork is great. I found the comic style to be very appealing and a wonderful compliment to the story telling. I can see it being popular with teenagers, particularly those who take in a fair amount of YA and love an adventure that pulls up all sorts of things from fairy lore.

Fabled Kingdom (Part 1) was a very polished product - professional from start to finish. So I have to admit, I was very surprised to find it on Smashwords as a freebie. The only drawback I encountered was that I couldn't get the epub to work properly. The pages never fully loaded (to the bottom - the ends were always cut off) so I ended up reading the book online. In a way it reminded me of reading some of my favorite sort-of-web-comics (the ones that are a mix of prose, great artwork and comics) - but it was easier to read with the online reader than it is reading post after post on the web. If you download the book, the story looks like it's only six or so pages long - but keep in mind those are very long pages. I do recommend giving it a try, and if you have better success with a downloaded copy I would love it if you'd let me know in the comments.

As a pleasant surprise, I just discovered that the second book - part 2 - is also now available now on Smashwords. The link is here:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Underdead with a Vengeance - Review

Biting into that third book in a series means you have expectations. And sometimes those expectations can be pretty big. Did the author sustain a quality product? Is the story good or did they drop the ball and just stretch it out? Is the writing consistent? The characters? The humour? If you're investing your time and dollars in a series, in my opinion, it better be entertaining.

Well, thrill of thrills, Underdead with a Vengeance met all my expectations. Jo, the middle school science teacher, meat eater and cookie baker extraordinaire, is every bit the witty heroine she was in the first two books. Even one of her friends and her love interest #1(Gavin) shine a little more as Jo creeps a little closer to her undeadness. Yes, Jo does experience a few more... talents in this book.

Not too long and not too short -  it's the perfect distraction. It's easy reading for escapists, but the best part is that this story actually includes stuff happening. It's not just a continuation of the same old thing with fun characters and good dialogue. The story advances. Of course it doesn't advance far enough to actually end the story - which is  great. There's a cliffhanger of sorts at the end. So now it's just a matter of time to wait for book 4.

The only real problem that I have with the book is that my daughter is such a huge fan of the series that she's undoubtably going to steal my tablet. On the bright side, she'll probably devour it in one sitting.

I recommend the series. It's kind of a paranormal/cozy mystery mix. There is a little romance, but not enough to ruin the tone or story. Highly enjoyable and at only $2.99 per book it's well worth it. It's every bit as good as many of the super hyped books I've read from traditional publishers - without the atrocious price tag.

Get the ebook on Smashwords: Underdead with a Vengeance

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Stuff

With the onset of yet another deep freeze, the new year promises an opportunity for new book reviews. Finally. After an almost painful 2014 where so many of the books I read failed to inspire any kind of review, I have nothing but hope for 2015.

I just picked up a copy of Liz Jasper's Underdead with a Vengeance, the third in the Underdead series featuring science teacher Jo Gartner - a not completely undead almost vampire who gets caught up in dangerous and mysterious situations with a side of romantic entanglement. It's a fun series and I look forward to starting the year on a fresh page. Because yes - I really did just download it from Smashwords, it may take me a week or so for the review to get out. Plus I'm currently finishing up Red Rising (Pierce Brown) - also good but I'm not finished so we'll just have to see - so a week is the fastest turn around at the moment. I'm hoping to follow these books up with selection of graphic novel epubs I also downloaded. Unfortunately, this was where I got hung up last year. It can be soooo hard to find a good indie graphic novel in epub format. Then narrow it down to a mystery or thriller... and well... ? But I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

For the Underdead with a Vengeance synopsis, check it out here: Underdead With A Vengeance

                                Underdead With A Vengeance