elf: Red & blue faces (Face Off)
[personal profile] elf
I took a chance on this a while back, and am very glad I did. I think it was on sale at the time; I have trouble believing I'd pay $3 for a book entirely outside of my normal genre choices. (Yeah, it's not much, but there are plenty of $3 books *in* my genre range that I'm not buying yet.)

From the description at Smashwords: Argus Ward is a former U.S. Secret Service agent who runs a protection agency catering to the rich and famous. His best-kept secret--which he shares with lawyers and doctors and even psychiatrists--is his status as a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic. One day, with little warning, he turns psychotic for the first time in twenty years. He lands in a secure psychiatric facility, charged with the murder of his most famous client, high tech industry billionaire John Helms, the wealthiest man in America.

Also notes: Best Mystery Novel, Red Adept Annual Indie Awards 2010. Which is why I was willing to try it; I'm intrigued by anything focusing on non-neurotypical characters, and if it won an award, the writing must at least be decent.

I should look into more award-winning books, I think. )
jumpuphigh: Black and white photo of two men about to kiss (Boys)
[personal profile] jumpuphigh
I loved the first two books of this series* so I was really looking forward to this book where everything was supposed to come together. I like Cecilia Tan’s writing style. I am able to really get into her stories. I don’t normally read professional romance/erotica but I got the first book of this series solely to support the author with her awesome pro-fanfic ways and I discovered that I loved her. I am fascinated by her characters and was really ready for more about them.

Unfortunately, this book was a hot mess. I spent a good portion of the book wishing I was a beta, not a reader, so that I could reply with “What? What?!? Huh? What just happened there? OMG, don’t do that!”** This was supposed to be the culmination of Kyle’s four years at Veritas University (the magical counterpart to Harvard), but I felt confused for much of story. The story was choppy and frequently felt like it was missing really important paragraphs/sentences which would have explained things.

One of the things I have loved about Cecilia Tan’s books in the past is the inclusiveness without an obvious “hey, I’m being inclusive here” feel. This book changed all of that. Suddenly, there was this heavy-handed lecturing throughout the book. *facepalm* No. Please, no. I just want a good story. I don’t want some call to social action. This is supposed to be a romantic smut book.

It really disappoints me that I wasn’t able to walk away from this story with a “wow, that was a great ending to the series” feeling. I had really been looking forward to this book. I’d really love a re-mix of it from Timothy Frost’s viewpoint. Actually, I’d love that for book 3 as well. Hmmmm. Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, it would be cool to have all four books remixed from Frost’s viewpoint. No. I’m not going to write them. Stop it, bunnies. Just stop it.

*Book 3 was triggery which wouldn’t have been such a problem for me personally if I hadn’t just experienced Duainfey recently. Unfortunately, I spent the entire book groaning at the plot devices used.

**Yes. That is pretty much how I beta. It takes a special kind of writer to handle my blunt ways.
elf: Emily the Strange: Misery loves company (Misery Loves Company)
[personal profile] elf
Because of the recent YAGay fiasco, I went looking at Smashwords for YA (or close to that) GBLT fic. I did my normal filtering... ignore anything over $6 and anything with cringe-inducing errors in the blurb and anything without a preview.

I found a promising-looking story: Familiar Scars by Christy Leigh Stewart; just under 30k words for $1. I clicked on the listing.

Stark black-and-white drawing of a girl in emotional distress with black-and-white wavy sections dividing the page around her. Title in gothic font. Compelling (or at least interesting) book cover art by Megan Hansen; I'm going to try to remember that name, because I like her art style.

I was disappointed in the text )
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)
[personal profile] jumpuphigh
I finished Duainfey by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller last night. I have really enjoyed their Liaden Universe books as well as Sharon Lee's Carousal Tides so I am trying very, very hard to keep Duainfey from causing me to take back every single positive thing I said about them. However, it is very hard.

For most of the book, this narrative jumps between three separate stories. Yes, the stories do eventually start to come together in the last few pages but it was quite disconcerting. Warning for triggers ) I forced myself to finish it only to discover that they decided to do that "to be cont'd" type of ending a story instead of, you know, actually ending the story.

So, no, I don't recommend this book. I'm not sure I'll be reccing any of their other books in the future because of it as well.

elf: We need a hero, son: A super-FREAKY hero. (Need a Hero)
[personal profile] elf
cover for Impulse Control by Susan Biscoff
Description from Smashwords: Talents, kids with supernatural powers, are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a group of Talents must work together to stop a dangerous experiment that’s already killed two of their peers and threatens others. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.

Commentary inside )
elf: People magazine: Sexy men in love (Mainstream Slash)
[personal profile] elf
Notturno and its sequel Vigil center around an antique literature appraiser and his vampire lover. The books are hot, well-plotted with terrific characters, and professionally edited & produced. They are, however, solidly in the "gay vampire porn" category, and that's probably not a big draw for everyone. If you like that, these are terrific; if you've been considering dabbling in gay vampire porn, this is a great place to start.

I've loved ZA Maxfield's other ebooks; I was hesitant to try these (this, really; I tried Notturno first and got hooked) because paranormal erotica is outside of my normal reading range. The erotica's fine; I hate reading botched paranormal concepts, and a lot of the genre isn't well-thought-out. These have paranormal/otherwordly politics that unfold slowly because they're running through the filter of the human's perceptions, and he doesn't want to believe any of this is going on at first, and then doesn't want to believe there's any real dangers.

They're both available at Fictionwise from MLR Press:
Notturno )

Vigil )
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
[personal profile] alitalf
Author: Mike Higgins
Title: Origami Rose
Genre: Science fiction detective

There are only so many new ideas around at any given time, and the science fiction plot device has been used elsewhere in other ways, but that didn't stop the book from being a page turner.

I read this a while ago, and haven't time for a proper review, but: Origami Rose costs 99 cents here and you can download a pdf sample first. Children are being kidnapped, and apparently killed, and the story opens with an investigator looking at a case file.

The text is pretty clean, though one or two grammatical or punctuation errors hit me in the face. I noticed few typos, the one that stuck in my mind is "Seventh Calvary", maybe because it occurred more than once.

When I read the book the first half was free to download, and the whole book cost $3. I had no hesitation in buying it when I had finished reading the first part. I suggest you look at this one, if you like either science fiction or detective stories.
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
[personal profile] elf
Public ebook reviews by people who aren't members here:

[personal profile] akk: Book recommendation - Encrypted; Encrypted (a science fantasy romance) By Lindsay Buroker; Smashwords, 104014 words, $2.99, 50% free preview.

[personal profile] annathepiper: 2011′s first proper book roundup. Brief recs for:
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories, ed. JoSelle Vanderhooft, $6.99 multiformat
47 Echo, by Shawn Kupfer, 72,800 words, $4.49 at Carina Press (epub, PDF), $3.89 Kindle edition.
... among others which were purchased happily with expectation to enjoy, but no specific recs.

[personal profile] davidmack: Egads! The Dread Remora!; Birth of the Dread Remora by Aaron Rosenberg, $2.99, multiformat.

[personal profile] instantramen: Pale crocodile; Zoo City by Lauren Beukes , 384 pages, £4.49/$5.99 epub, $4.69 Kindle edition.

[personal profile] solarbird: cracksman betty; Raffles books by E. W. Hornung (Gutenberg link); various sizes; free; multiformat.
elf: Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Fond of Books)
[personal profile] elf
Author: Jose Rodriguez
Title: Melanie (Smashwords link)
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Topic: Memory loss, personal identity, race identity

Copyright Status: "This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form."
Content Notes: Contains plot-device amnesia

The description intrigued me enough to download and read this one:
A middle aged and lonely Melanie wakes up with no recollection of her past. Her lack of personal memories forces her to impersonate the old Melanie, a person who she now dislikes and cannot understand. The new Melanie proceeds to fool the world into thinking that nothing has changed while trying to recover her memories but also trying to reinvent herself as a new and improved person.
The book is heavy on introspection and self-identity issues, and those parts were enjoyable, if a bit long. The "adult" rating is justified; there's sex and nudity and crude behavior, but it's not gratuitous or overwhelming, except for the occasional sensory overload when Melanie concentrates on physical sensations because she has no past to connect to. Several times, she realizes she *should* have memories to connect to this-or-that act, but does not.

Not a bad book, just not quite good enough to recommend, unless you really like that kind of thing. )
elf: Life's a die, and then you bitch. (Gamer Geek)
[personal profile] elf
Author: Al Bruno III
Title: The Binder Of Shame Presents: The RPG.net Rants (Link to Smashwords listing)
Genre: Nonfiction, more-or-less. I believe (gods, I hope) there's some exaggeration and/or embellishment going on here.
Topic: RPG Gamers. Specifically, 80's tabletop games with bags of differently-sided dice.
Copyright Status: Effectively CC BY-NC-ND; disclaimer says "This free ebook may be copied, distributed, reposted, reprinted and shared, provided it appears in its entirety without alteration, and the reader is not charged to access it."
Content Warnings: this book contains instances of homophobia, sexism, ableism, fatphobia, various other -isms I'm probably blocking out, and outright gross & disgusting behavior. However, the narrator seems like a genuinely nice guy (not a creep who claims to be nice) who is working against all those things.

I recommend skipping the Smashwords version (well, except to drop a note to the author) and downloading the RTF I put at Google Docs instead. I cleaned it up.

It needed fixing, and it was totally worth it. If you did gaming in the 80's, especially if you bounced between systems looking for that perfect one that would allow *everyone* to enjoy every game, you need to read this book.

Bad formatting, bad grammar, bad fonts; could not stop laughing long enough to care. )
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