Category Archives: Book Review

Review of A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book 1 by Elizabeth Hunter

Who knew Vampires and Librarians could be so engaging? I just finished this book, and while it took me a while to read (it’s rather long at 274 pages) it was a very good story with well drawn characters and a few moments of suspense that made it hard to shut off the light! Giovanni is a rather odd character and for the first few chapters I had my suspicions about him but I wasn’t sure where Ms. Hunter was going with some of the odd traits. B. (short for Beatrice) is one smart cookie with a quick sense of humor and a nice shot of sarcasm and she was instantly engaging as a main character. There’s a solid story that drives the action – and the supporting characters are also very well developed. There’s even a slightly psychotic villain and I have to say I love a bad guy who “giggles” – it gives him just that touch of madness that makes him completely unpredictable.
There was one section in the book where I thought “Wait, isn’t that wrong?” and I flipped back a few pages to check the continuity, but it didn’t impact the story at all. I only mention it because one glaring “oops” in a book generally makes me love the story less but it didn’t in this case. That must mean the plot was tight enough, the characters believable enough (and yes, Giovanni is as dashing as his name would lead you to believe; but he’s also adorable in that boyish way that is oh-so-attractive :)) and the action paced well enough that I couldn’t even remember the stumble once I moved beyond it.

Ms. Hunter draws her scenes with such clarity and attention to detail that the “movie in my head” plays without interruption. This story is well written and well edited and I just looked on Amazon and it’s FREE right now. Pick it up – it’s a really good read!

A little something for my writer friends

Here’s a very inspiring article from Indies Unlimited that seems to ring true for me. It’s the top ten things an author should or shouldn’t do and if nothing else it reaffirms some of the decisions you must make as an indie. Give it a read.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/10/01/top-ten-things-an-author-should-or-shouldnt-do/

Review of Ghost Walk by Heather Graham

I have loved Heather Graham since I read “One Wore Blue” – and to find her writing paranormal mysteries was a treat. Ghost Walk is an enjoyable trek through New Orleans with some pretty interesting characters and a plot that’s more than a little twisty. It’s a good book – nice for a cold day spent in bed with a few munchies and hot cocoa – great for whiling away a few hours when you can’t sleep. I enjoyed it as a light read with an interesting plot and good characters. It was not what I was expecting from Ms. Graham, but then again, I’d read her historical fiction and that’s a whole other animal.

I really liked Andy (too bad she died – I’m not giving away anything that isn’t in the book description page on Amazon) and felt bad when she turned up all ghosty – but the rest of the crew that Nikki works with is also decent if a bit disfunctional. I really liked Brent Blackhawk and thought he added very nicely to the plot and development of Nikki’s character – I’m not sure the book would have been as successful if he wasn’t in it.

If you’re looking for a fun paranormal mystery that’s going to keep you entertained, read this book. If you’re looking for a life changing book to make you love paranormal mysteries, perhaps there’s something better out there for you. This book is fun, entertaining and well put together and should Nikki and the gang make a reappearance in another book, I will read that one.

In defense of a free promo…

I’ve been at this writing thing for a while now and I’ve seen the posts from other indies saying that those of us who do free promos are killing the market, insulting other indies, and a host of other bad things that are degrading to our craft. I disagreed back when I ran my first free promo and I continue to disagree, but this world of self-publishing requires constant evaluation and new strategies.

Yes, Amazon changed the rankings so a free promo doesn’t get you the surge in rankings that it used to – but it still gets you a boost in terms of publicity. Or maybe the postings from the free sites that list your book gets you a boost – either way, it seems as if a good free promo ultimately sells more books and that is what we want as writers, isn’t it?

But what about the people who are called “free loaders” – the ones who download every free book that comes their way? They don’t bother me in the least – I consider it a public service to run my books for free. If there is someone who loves to read, who can’t afford to buy books on a regular basis then they can feel free to download one of mine and maybe I’ve helped them satisfy their craving for a new book. It didn’t cost me anything to do that and the fact that someone is reading my work makes me all warm and fuzzy despite the fact that I won’t see a dime from the sale.

Besides, I have received a few reviews from people who have downloaded my books on a free promo – that is worth way more than the small royalty I make when I sell a book!

There’s another strategy that indie authors might find useful for free promotion: the blog tour. I’ve done a few and I love the experience – not only do I get more traffic to my own blog because of the daily posts, but I definitely see a surge in sales following the hop.
Recently, I combined the two strategies – I ran a free promo on one book and the following week did a blog tour promoting the second book in the series – I’ve had pretty good results (daily sales of most of my books!). Now, I’m looking for something to do this week to keep the trend going. Since I’m drafting my next book right now, this is a perfect time to market – when I’m writing the whole marketing aspect is neglected because words on the page are more important to me than posts on the web.

So get out there indies and promote, promote, promote (and for heaven’s sake – throw something up for free – you might win two new fans!)

Review of Fuzzy Navel: A Thriller by J.A. Konrath

The title is certainly accurate – Fuzzy Navel is indeed a thriller from the first sentence to the cliff hanger ending. Konrath explains it should take you about 8 hours to read it – I think I read it in about 5 hours – while doing a few other random things between chapters. It’s a quick read, but completely satisfying and packed with “what now?” moments that keep the pages flying.
What I love about Konrath’s writing is this: Right in the middle of a serious situation he comes out with something so clever and well-written that you laugh out loud – only Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Novels have been able to make me do that consistently.
There are some really sick twists in this book – but they all make sense and the pace moves along so quickly that you don’t get to dwell on them (or feel guilty that you were kind of glad the twisted thing happened).
And that cliff hanger ending? Don’t worry about that – Konrath is such a master story-teller that he leaves you hanging just enough that you want the next book IMMEDIATELY but the story you finished was wrapped up so neatly that you don’t feel cheated in any way.
This was an AWESOME read (and I don’t say that lightly).

Review of Money Making Machine by Anbu Rayappan

I write this with very mixed feelings: This was actually an interesting read with some great pointers and generous sharing of resources. It made sense and was well put together. So why do I have mixed feelings? Because as an indie author, I’m completely shocked that there are actually people publishing books on Kindle that they hired someone else to write for them! It’s true – Mr. Rayappan says so himself – EEK!

And yet…

I’m tempted to have someone write something for me – just an outline maybe or a rough draft…something to keep me from agonizing over every sentence or having to untangle my own very complicated plot twists (or plot knots, as I’ve grown to call them). But no…I refuse! I will take Mr. Rayappan’s advice on the research and marketing and publishing and do something MYSELF! I won’t cave to outsourcing (or in-sourcing) my creativity – no matter how much sense this book made on an intuitive level!

Now you see why I had mixed feelings. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re a writer. Even if you’re not planning on hiring someone to write your book for you – there are some really logical and good ideas on marketing and publicity – things I think I might try. It’s worth a look.

Review of Pocket Full of Posies by Angela Roquet

Installment two of the Lana Harvey series was almost as good as Graveyard Shift (the first one) but for some reason Lana’s hair-trigger temper got on my nerves a bit toward the middle. Lana’s a Reaper (as in one of the grim ones – an employee of he-himself – the Grim Reaper we all know and hope not to meet) and she’s planning her career path while being attacked by demons for a past transgression. Her boyfriend is a very sweet archangel named Maalik – but for some reason Lana finds him unbearable and frankly she’s a little mean to the guy. Okay, I got the reasons but they seemed a little disproportionate to the anger she displayed. Once I learned to ignore her ill temper and nasty attitude, I liked the book. Liked. Didn’t love.

This is one of those reviews where I’m carefully choosing my words because I think the book is worth a read. There’s a lot of interesting action, a few good twists and likeable characters (yes, even Lana’s usually likeable). It’s a fun piece of escapism and for some reason I think the author is heading somewhere with the “angry Lana” – maybe that’s in the next book or maybe I’m completely wrong and Lana’s really a major head-case who will eventually wind up murdering someone because they looked at her wrong – either way, I’ll read the next book to find out but if Lana’s still a bit nuttier than a Snickers Bar then I’m done.

Here’s what you need to know – Good plot, stand-alone book (you don’t need to read the first or the next), good action, slightly irrational main character but a good enough supporting cast that you can ignore it, and clear, concise world-building. Not as funny as Graveyard Shift, but entertaining none-the-less. Priced at $2.99 (for this week, at least) it’s worth a shot. I’m interested in knowing if anyone else reads it and has the same reaction. Post a reply, please.