Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Deadly Games (EE #3) BY Lindsay Buroker

Deadly Games (The Emperor's Edge)Deadly Games by Lindsay Buroker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: high fantasy with a touch of steam, a dash of magic and the tiniest sprinkle of romance

I'm not sure I can accurately describe how much I love this series. Lindsay Buroker nails it again in the third instalment. This edition is easily as cinematic as the previous two. You could transcribe it word for word onto the big screen and hold me riveted.

These characters continue to grow and endear themselves to me. Funnily enough, the character that struck me as the most changed was Maldynado. He really has become a rather loyal fellow who looks out for... well, Amaranthe, but there were several "Aww, the big softie" moments. I think he is acting more and more like her big brother (albeit one that doesn't get possessive or expect her to be chaste - we can leave that to Sicarius).

Akstyr worries me. He is useful, but I don't think he has formed the type of bonds for Amaranthe as the others have. She is the glue that holds them together, and he isn't quite as attached. I think when we get his point of view, we might see things differently, but I am expecting a surprise from him.

Amaranthe continues to be a lady to admire. She doesn't have to resort to seduction or lies to convince people to join her cause. Her humanity and passion do that. But I see a few cracks of doubt appearing here and there, which should open some interesting discussions going forward. I'd actually like to see how Sicarius might deal with her moments of doubt. She's always kept such a positive face for him. Especially since he is depending on her planning to bring him... well, potentially two rewards now.

Basilard was 100% correct. Amaranthe humanises Sicarius. But then, she brings the best out in each member of that team. I'm glad Basilard did not go through with his plan.

That epilogue was brilliant (as was the scene preceding it, but I truly do not want to spoil it for everyone who SHOULD be reading this book). What a brilliant tease for the next chapter in this series, which I hope I won't hound the author for too much in the coming months.

Bottom line: Awesome storytelling. Engaging and unique characters. Flawless eBook. On my top ten list of books I've read in 2011 (which also includes the other two). Must read.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review Ratings and General Criteria

As a reader, I've never been comfortable with "grading" other writers. But, seeing how often I now use the number of 4s and 5s a book receives to influences my purchases, I thought I'd best establish a system for myself.

What I read: 

  • Pretty much anything that requires me to suspend belief.
  • Novels, novellas, screenplays, teleplays.

What I don't read

  • Stories that focus on gratuitous amounts of sex or violence; if your aim is to shock/sicken - I'm not your gal. I'm young at heart.

Do I accept submissions?

  • Not at this moment. My to read pile is scary. I do, however, take recommendations - though I can't guarantee reviews or purchases.

The Numbers

Rating Enjoyment Re-read Buy more from author
1 I probably didn’t finish the book Unlikely; Only if someone I truly respected convinced me to No
2 It was okay Doubtful I’ll watch what the author is up to, but will probably wait until he/she releases something that I can’t ignore, but I’ll probably only buy it if it is on special
3 I mostly enjoyed the book; minor niggles or it wasn’t from my preferred genres Probably not Only when the author is in my price range – bargain bins, second hand stores; Smashwords/Kindle ebooks
4 I really enjoyed the book; great storytelling or characters Yes; these are either comfort reads or stories that require more exploration from me Absolutely. I’ve been entertained by great storytelling and that’s all I want in my reading life
I LOVED the book so much I want to study it as though it were a new language Definitely; these stories make me love the craft of writing, and I’ll read them again and again in the hopes of learning from the masters I’ll be a true fan of these writers and gobble up every book they release

How do I come to this thrilling conclusion?

Beginning (first ten pages / first act / average eBook sample size)

I live by the "kill someone by page 10" rule of writing. It doesn't mean that someone has to physically die, it's just a nice way to remember that your story needs to have kicked off (or been very interestingly set up to kick off) at this point.
  • Is the tone/genre clearly established?
  • Is there a decent enough hook early on?
  • Arrives late; leaves early?
  • Is opportunity wasted by misplaced exposition?


  • Is the main character someone I want to follow?
  • Do the supporting characters have their own unique voices and lives?
  • Is the antagonist a worthy obstacle to the main character?
  • Are the relationships believable and genuine?
  • Personal stakes?
  • Are the “physical” obstacles believable?
  • Are the conflicts realistic or contrived?
  • Is their adequate tension throughout?


  • Did the story keep the promise set out by the premise and beginning?
  • Was there a satisfying pay-off? That is, a complete story was told, even if sequels have been set-up.
  • Did the characters learn anything / grow?
  • Was the Point Of View effective?
  • Did the writer “skip the boring parts”?
  • Did the writing seamlessly fade into the background of the story or did it come to the fore and distract from it?
  • Is there anything else that made this story sparkle?
* criteria will change from time to time; I read, I grow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You have 10 minutes to make me care about your writing

I can usually decide if I'm going to buy or finish a book by page 10 (usually sooner).

I'm not Robert McKee, Larry Brody or any other awesome storyteller who can instantly recognise excellent characterisation, pacing, plotting and theme.

It just comes down to one simple question.

"What's in it for me?"

When I was a teen, I was supposed to have a date at the movies, watching Jurassic Park. I say supposed to because my date preferred walking around the shopping mall, discussing his gym regime and making me poke his biceps to prove that they were, I gather, bigger than the average Joe's.

This experience taught me two very valuable lessons. One, never date a guy who values the gym over Jurassic Park. And two, if you make me show up expecting dinosaurs, then you'd better make darn sure there is a noisy death by wobbly box or an impressively scary dinosaur claw within the first ten minutes, or you can go poke your own muscles all you want... by yourself.

Now, before you accuse me of being a bit unfair, I don't think this is an unreasonable expectation from your target audience. We live in the age of Google brain, competing tablets, thousands upon thousands of apps, YouTube, web series, online comics, podcasts and an explosion of self-published authors who are easily competing with the big boys (and gals). There are alternative entertainment options everywhere.

So you need to deliver on the promise you enticed me with. You may have captured my attention with a great logline, a fantastic book blurb, or even a gorgeous book cover. It's up to you to "clinch the deal".

"But so much cool stuff is gonna happen at the end!" you might enthuse.


But that's not why I stuck around. Neither is the "great romance" you have planned, the massive action sequences, or the stellar mindgames you've storyboarded for your characters. None of this matters at the beginning. In the beginning, you just need to give me a big enough taste of the promise so that I engage in the behaviour you want: buy your book, read it, love it, and stick around for the next one.

First impressions count

My brain lives in TV land, so I'm going to throw some choice examples from the TV show, Castle, to illustrate. And while I do that, just remember two simple rules:
  • Arrive late, leave early
  • Show, don't tell
These two fit together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong, and you'll notice great examples of this rule in any good TV pilot.


Castle 1x01 "Flowers for your grave"

The general gist of the premise (yeah, I’m making it up, I have no idea where official premises live)
Super-famous mystery writer, Richard Castle, is suffering from writer's block. When a life imitates art and a murderer starts mimicking the killings in his books, Castle realises with the help of tough, homicide detective Kate Beckett, that curing writer’s block might just be deadly.

In the first act, is there a:

Mystery writer? Check.

Detective? Check.

Murder? Check.

Is he famous? Oh yeah. He's the rock star of mystery writers. He's signing girl boobies! But he's supported by his dramatic mother and a well-adjusted "uber-responsible" daughter who illustrate that - while he looks like he could be the stereotypical cad - he's actually more grounded than he appears.

Is she tough? Hell yeah. She has male underlings and they didn't sass her once! You know what that tells me? She's good at her job, like dah-yem good. Oh come on. I don’t suffer from insane troll logic. How many procedurals or movies have you seen that display a woman's "toughness" by having some dude insult her sexuality, just so she can beat him up/down/at his own game? By making it a non-issue, the writers of Castle have immediately elevated her to the "best person for the job".

Holy crap. Look at that! They fulfilled the promise of the premise within the first act.

Whatcha talkin' 'bout Willis? The mystery hasn't been solved and they haven't even teamed up yet. How on earth did they fulfil a promise?


There’s not much that today’s audiences haven’t seen. They’ve seen every trick in the book, so you get to use that to your advantage. Show us who your characters are. Trust your audience to fill in the blanks.

We don't need to see them acting as a team in the first act to know that they will become one. Even if we'd never paid any attention to the premise before flicking on the TV, we can see what this show is promising.

Both characters already have distinctive personalities and approaches. Within the space of ten minutes, this has shaped the tone of the series. He's a bit cooky; she's no nonsense. This sets the tone as lighter and less self-serious than a gloomy CSI or Law & Order-type procedural, but her brusque efficiency leaves the option open for darker approach than, say, Murder She Wrote or Diagnosis Murder.

Focusing on Castle and Beckett individually from the get go, visually illustrates that these two characters are going to be partners in screen-time, even if, in the beginning of the episode, they haven't even met. Splitting their narrative has made it easier to pair them up as equals. The caveat is that they needed to have teamed up by the end of the episode. There would have been no payoff for following two separate stories (she's looking for a murderer; he's trying to get over writer's block) if they hadn't.

Thankfully, she knows his books, so there's no long convoluted plot to team them up, so we can just get on with it. And by it, I mean telling a good story that doesn't leave the audience frustrated or negatively surprised.

What if

Imagine if your first meeting of Richard (within the first act) was in the morgue, as he slipped an underpaid attendant a hundred dollar note so he could see a dead body as "inspiration". What's your impression of him now? Would you believe he's well-connected, funny or grounded enough to team up with Beckett? How do you think that would change the Beckett-Castle dynamic? How does it change the tone?
So what is the first 10% of your story promising? And have you delivered it by the time your audience reaches the end?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Win a copy of Alexander Death!

The third book in the Jenny Pox (well, Preternaturals) trilogy by JL Byran, Alexander Death, is winging its way to us like an airborne plague on 30 September 2011.

But three lucky sods are going to get the chance to read it before then because of this awesome giveaway! The giveaway is international, which makes this little Rooney very happy.

Jenny Pox follows the tale of some very gifted - and in the case of Jenny - cursed individuals, who are not quite who or what they seem to be. Jenny is a character you can greatly empathise with. Her foe is someone I would very much like to drop down a well. Please can I drop her down a well?

This trilogy is not for the faint of heart. Adult themes, naughtiness and some gore is found within its pages.

Don't delay. Grab Jenny Pox and its sequel, Tommy Nightmare, from Amazon or Smashwords.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Emperor's Edge Podiobook - how to subscribe in iTunes

I am technologically blonde. I figure there are others in the world who have this condition too, so here is the easy-peasy way to download an awesome free audiobook.
  1. Open iTunes

  2. Click on Advanced

  3. Select subscribe to podcast

  4. Paste in the following URL:

  5. Enjoy a rollicking fantasy adventure

Bonus points for these extra steps:
  • Buy Emperor's Edge at Smashwords or Amazon. It's only $0.99 (I reckon it should be at LEAST $2.99, if not more, so this is a MAJOR bargain).

  • Review somewhere the author can see it! Goodreads, blog, Shelfari, Amazon, Smashwords

Why Emperor's Edge? Have you read my glowing review and seen me gushing like a fangirl? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What Would JC Do? (Nice Guys In Storytelling)

John Crichton - Farscape

I like nice guys. There. I admit it. Out loud. And, I’ve decided not to duck my head in shame over it, either.
While the rest of the world embraces the Spikes and Damon Salvatores of the fictional world, I prefer the Angels and Stefans. You know, the “nice(r)” option. A lot of people immediately respond to that with “oh, you mean the boring option, right?”.
“Nooooo,” she wails to the universe and pats her nice, misunderstood favourites on their (oddly often) perfectly-styled heads.
While it is true that a lot of characters that start off as “nice guys” become insufferable, boring black holes whose only purpose is to suck the rest of the characters down with them, the nice guys I’m referring to are, at their heart, redeemable. Yes, bad boys aren’t the only characters that need redemption… or can get away with moments of wickedness. I always feel the characters that are introduced as bad boys have it easy. They can get away with murder because they’ll flash a sexy smile or make a darkly delicious statement that promises to reveal their soft underbelly or a twisted past that “made them who they are”.

Nice guys seem to get immediately dismissed as boring because they aren’t trying to make someone else miserable.
That’s why whenever I write a “nice guy” character, I’ll inevitably ask myself the question “What would John Crichton do?” or more accurately "What would I do to John Crichton?"
John Crichton was the ultimate nice guy when his character first appeared on the little-known oft-missed, science-fiction epic, Farscape. He was an all-American hero: astronaut, scientist, former football star and a great believer that “talking” and “reasoning” could solve any problem.
Sounds boring, right?
But what if I told you that by the end of season 4, John Crichton was making choices that, from an outsider’s point of view, only the worst of humanity would ever make?
And that he was still a nice guy?
A great number of his plans would end in tears… or screaming. Entire races would accuse him of being a monster. But, heck, you still hoped his crazy plans would succeed. You still wanted him to get the girl; you revelled in his bromance with a giant, angry alien; and you winced each time he monumentally frelled up.
Despite everything he did, he never gave up that part of himself that made him someone we could relate to. Even when he was full of bluster and bravado (and a stark raving looney), he could be proven wrong, fail and fall. At his worst, the fierce loyalty his friends and lover had for him reminded us that he was someone worth saving. A good man in impossible situations. He still believed in friendship, love, heroes and saving the world. He just had a more “flexible” idea of how to go about it.
A “nice guy” character takes does not have to be boring. His sole purpose is not to get the girl or prevent the bad boy from getting the girl. A nice guy has an arc and journey all of his own. He strives to be a better man, and occasionally he can stumble. He’ll tick you off and make you roll your eyes, but if you let him, he can also make you smile, enjoy the quiet and remind you that if there weren’t any nice guys, the bad boys probably wouldn’t want to become better men… and what would be the point of that?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Personal Milestone Smashed! 50 Books This Year

On Thursday I passed a massive milestone for me. I've read 50 books in 2011. I know some book readers will consider that a fairly small number, but for the past six or so years, I've been averaging about 10 books a year, including rereads.

I couldn't be happier with my progress. I'm starting to love fiction again and finally emerging from my "all work, no play" reality-induced lifestyle.

The increase was prompted by two factors:

a) My company moved location, so I'm now catching a bus and getting home about an hour and a half earlier. I quickly filled that time with reading.

b) I got a Kindle. I'm sampling more new authors and authors who are in the social space. A combination of liking the samples and liking the writers themselves is making me buy more than I ever have before. The more I buy, the more I feel the burning need to get through my massive to-read list. Who says an electronic library squared away on your digital device doesn't hold you as accountable as a pile of paper books on your shelf?

I'm not going to change my 2011 goalposts on Goodreads, although I am curious to see how far I can go.

I haven't been keeping track of the screenplays I've read this year, but I imagine that number is around 20-25. They were all for beta reading purposes.

Anyone else recently pass a milestone they are happy about?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review: Dark Currents

Dark Currents (The Emperor's Edge Book 2)Dark Currents by Lindsay Buroker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: fantasy adventure with elements of steampunk

Publisher: indie/self-published

Where I got it: Smashwords

Warnings: violence

The review (spoilers past this point):
In the sequel to Lindsay Buroker's excellent, The Emperor's Edge, we're presented once more with the point of view of former Imperial enforcer, Amaranthe Lokdon, and as an unexpected treat, we now have the secondary point of view of Marl "Books" Mugdildor.

I must admit, I was expecting the adorkable Sespian to feature again, but the story was so engaging that I didn't miss him overly much. At least we could see that some of his lofty laws were being implemented - and thwarted by conniving bad guys.

Although, the bad guys don't seem completely bad when we see them through Amaranthe's eyes. She has the remarkable trait of seeing good in almost anyone. It's what makes her so charming and a large reason why such antagonistic team members are able to work together without abandoning such a crazy cause.

Once again, each character wormed their way into my imagination and made me laugh and fret over their adventures. The true beauty of this series is how endearing the characters are. Each character has grown since the first novel, but we're not thumped over the head with their changes. The growth is subtle and can be seen in the little gestures just as much as the grand ones.

I'm so eager to follow the characters that I often forget about the plot, which - you'll be pleased to know - is every bit as hair-raising as the first book. I can't help but notice how much fun the author must be having writing this series. The dialogue is snappy, the description is engrossing, the conflict is palpable and, at certain moments, the challenge ahead of this crew just seems too huge to surmount (But, darn it, I am rooting for them! They are too lovable and determined for me not to).

Despite Amaranthe's plan to use good deeds to win redemption for them all (at least this was partially successful for one character, and I'm absolutely pleased that one of her plans bore fruit), I couldn't help but see doubt trying to push its way through the cracks of her certainty. She is saddened by the life that was taken from her, and I'm sure after meeting Sergeant Yara, she must realise that even if she gets a pardon, she can't wipe away everything else that has happened since she started handing around a certain assassin.

And then there is the matter of Sicarius himself. Life *would* be easier without him around. He has done some truly monstrous things in his life, and maybe, just maybe, redemption isn't possible for him. I think it's incredibly noble and maybe a little naïve of her to stick by him and try to see his "dream" through, despite the mounting cost against her own hopes for the future. While she clearly does have feelings for him, I wonder if they are as deep as she suspects. How can one really know a man like Sicarius? He is quite wise to keep a safe, professional distance from her.

The authors note mentions that she isn't quite sure if she'll couple Amaranthe and Sicarius. I'd like to state that I'm quite happy for them not to, at least, not yet. He is a bit of a emotional brick wall and she is far too open. Plus, Sicarius himself pointed out some very good reasons. Their interaction right now is hysterical to watch, and I'm not sure I'd like to lose that just yet. Maybe Mal is right, and she does need to meet other fellows. Only time will tell and I'll be watching closely for the next instalment in this addictive series.

The Final Word
A rollicking adventure that is every bit as fun, well-written and thought-out as the first.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Well by Peter Labrow

The WellThe Well by Peter Labrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

Publisher: indie/self-published

Where I got it: I won it! Amazon

Warnings: violence, adult themes

The review (spoilers past this point):
The Well could easily be called The Surprise.

I think the first thing I thought when seeing this book was "how on earth do you keep a story going about some people trapped in a well?"

The answer is "with a lot of care".

What makes The Well so compelling is the human element. The narrative follows several lives over the course of a week, beginning with Becca and Matt, who end up trapped in an isolated well after their parents leave town for a few days. Becca, as a point of view character, is quite a likeable protagonist. She's spunky, determined and resourceful. I felt her emotions and actions were quite realistic for such a harrowing ordeal.

Seeing the parents first face the realisation that something is terribly wrong, and then fracturing as the painful reality sits in, is equally heartbreaking for very different reasons. They can escape the well they've put themselves in, if they'd only realise and act on it.

All of the characters - from the antagonistic crossing guard to the police officers on the case and Becca's friends - are well-fleshed out, with care taken to explore their lives and propel them along a path that easily be described as "fate". One character in particular, Sammy, is endearing, brave and completely sure in her convictions. It's a rare gem of a character that reminds the reader that the world doesn't have to be an apathetic place devoid of people making the hard, but heroic choices. Sammy contrasts sharply with her mother, Abby, who, while trying to do the right thing, is in fact making no choice at all and remains as trapped as Becca. For this reason, Sammy becomes an excellent catalyst who forces several characters to move forward, for good or bad. It's a very cool parallel with Becca.

There are numerous moments that have you biting your fingernails and pushing to read "just one more page", but there are also moments that have you pumping your fist in the air. Small triumphs and large ones. It's a wonderful balance to have in a horror novel that is surprisingly free of gore, but high on characterisation and quality story-telling.

Final word
A surprisingly addictive horror novel that is a strong showcase of character limits, failings and successes when faced with an impossible situation

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: The Emperor's Edge

The Emperor's EdgeThe Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: steampunk fantasy adventure

Publisher: indie/self-published

Where I got it: Smashwords

Warnings: violence

The review (spoilers past this point):
Amaranthe Lokdon is an Imperial Enforcer who excels at her job. She's also a woman, which means her tubby, slacker partner is far more likely to get a promotion than she is.

A routine night on the job soon turns into anything but, as Amaranthe foils a robbery, uncovers a startling series of murders and attracts the attention of someone that changes the course of her life entirely.

To my knowledge, I've never read anything that might be considered "steampunk", but because I love the author's blog, I decided to pick up all of her novels. I started with The Emperor's Edge and I'm so glad I did.

The word I'd use to describe this book is "fun". Everything struck the right cord for me. The plot is excellently constructed with foreshadowing and minor details coming to play later in surprising ways. The main conflict is resolved, but the "tag" at the end, promises much more adventure and danger, and I, for one, will be following along for the ride.

The characters are a joy. Every one of them has strengths and flaws that bring them to life in cinematic flavour. Their interactions with each other are wholly believable and endearing. In fact, most of what made this such an enjoyable book is their interplay.

I could quite easily picture this story transformed into a screenplay and brought to life on the big screen. It's not a text that wastes any time, and that makes it perfect for those of us who are more visually minded. Plus, it has, I thought, an extremely strong female character that outshines most "strong" female characters on-screen these days, simply because she utilises her own strengths, rather than tries to mimic a man's.

The style of writing is crisp and easy to get sucked into. It was, as another of my beloved on-screen characters might say, electromagnetic candy. Read it when you're having a bad day, and it will certainly perk you up.

Final word
A fun, well-planned romp that introduces an intriguing fantasy world and a curious grouping of characters.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Great INDIE Summer Read Giveaway 2011

Unless you've been living under a rock - entirely possible on my chilly side of the equator - you'll have noticed all my tweets about the Great Indie Summer Read Giveaway, currently hosted on

In a coffee bean shell, this fabulous giveaway is highlighting a stack of indie authors who have also been generous enough to donate their eBooks. I think it has just about every genre covered, including non-fiction. Plus you'll find a couple of my favourite indie discoveries, Vicki Keire and Kait Nolan. 

If you're too afraid to dip your toe into indie waters, then this great giveaway presents the perfect opportunity for you to wade in without fear. I've discovered some great indie books this year, and am happily looking forward to all the other pearls I might uncover. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Every Last Kiss

Every Last Kiss (The Bloodstone Saga, #1)Every Last Kiss by Courtney Cole

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genres: historical fantasy romance

Publisher: indie/self-published

Where I got it: Smashwords

Warnings: minor swearing here and there

The review (spoilers past this point):

Magic and mayhem abounds as a creepy priest abruptly interrupts the life of a normal, depressed teen dealing with a cheating boyfriend and sends her back to one of her past lives.

Only... she doesn't have an ordinary past life. All her past lives are directly connected to very important people that she must influence for the good of Fate. In this instance, she's Cleopatra's companion, Charmain, and she must ensure that history plays out exactly the way it is meant to... again. It is a task Charmain finds harder and harder to follow with once she's back in the arms of the man she loved in this life, Hasani.

At first glance, Every Last Kiss appears to be a time-travelling romance. I actually found it to be something else entirely. While Hasani is the almost-perfect romantic icon with good looks and heroic tendencies, the story, to me, was about Girl Power.

The regal queen and loyal hand-maiden team up to tackle repulsive villains, restore Charmain's "birthright" and ensure their own terrible deaths. They do this, knowing that their decisions will also mean the deaths of the people they love. Not an easy choice to bear or share, but by sharing, the book's strongest relationship takes the fore (more so than the romantic relationship).

Having the lead character begin the story as a modern-day teen is an ingenious way to explore a historical era and characters without having to be terribly true to the language of the time. This makes it easy to follow the characters themselves, but can be a little jarring from time to time when Cleopatra says something distinctly modern in phrasing. The brain takes a moment to adjust and get back into it.

The flavours and scents of Ancient Egypt are quite engaging here. I fully expect to be googling for a while to discover more about the people and places mentioned here. The author does note some artistic licence in the acknowledgement, though I don't think I'm too off target by thinking that Egypt is a deeply passionate subject for the author.

I suspect that the next book in the series, will be a prequel (in parts), as we'll probably get to explore the beginnings of a "new" old love, and that, I imagine, is a romantic tale I'll enjoy more. With Fate itself involved, the past was almost set in stone. The present has risks and unseen dangers, and thus greater dangers. It's always the devil you don't know...

Final word
Every Last Kiss could easily leave out the "kiss" and still be a subtle showcase of stoic female characters and the bonds of friendship.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Rooney Rating System

Reader reviews seem to be a can of wiggly worms these days. In the past few months, I’ve seen writers blow up nastily at reviewers, writers pretend to be gushing reviewers of their own work, and yes, even someone who plagiarised reviews for no obvious motivation that I could see.

With all that madness, I decided to be as plain and boring as possible.

Credit: Dimitri_C at
I don’t review books I don’t like. When I read, I read for fun, so there is little point in being a grump about it. If you ask me to read something, and I don’t like it, you’re probably just going to get a private message or email with my reasoning.

If I finish a book, it means it did something right- it compelled me onward. So while getting a 2 might not be the greatest ego boost, anything rated 3 and above means I was happy to read the book and it met my general pre-requisites for quality.

3 is always the best I hope for. Anything above that is an unexpected treat. I do admit that I am more likely to give 4s and 5s in my favourite genres.  These are the books I re-read, and I’m far more likely to stay in familiar territory for that.

My ratings

1 – I'll try not to do that
I’ll never review a book that I give a 1 – even if someone asks me to. In fact, I probably won’t even finish it and it will go in my “gave up” pile. It usually means that the book offered me no enjoyment and very little in the way of learning. Well, other than “don’t do that” when writing.

2 – I finished it
2s are books that were okay. The best I could say about them was that I finished them. I might review a 2 if I feel the book has opened up an interesting stream for discussion or has presented an intriguing notion.

3 – Good distraction
I enjoy 3s. It means they’ve distracted me from my life for a few hours, which always make me happy. 3s are well-written and high quality works and are always worth the read.

4 – Rewind and repeat
4s usually have an extra kick that makes me want to re-read them. It could be cute and cuddly gimmick, one of those epic fight scenes were the underdog gets his day, or even something as simple as a character that makes me smile/cry/cheer. They’re either epic in scope or just make me feel good.

5 – Master crafted
5s are much like 4s in terms of how much I enjoyed the book, but they also excel in one more thing: they’ve taught me something valuable about writing. These are the books that I’ll re-read as a writer.

So in a nutshell (for the authors):
1 or 2 – not a fabulous rating to get
3 to 5 – shiny ratings; nothing unreadable here
4 or 5 – you’re in my preferred genre; you’re teaching me how to become a better writer; or you created a quirky side-kick whose name is a number

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review: Strange Little Band: Two psychics. One mega-corp. All-around bad behavior.

Strange Little Band: Two psychics. One mega-corp. All-around bad behavior.Strange Little Band: Two psychics. One mega-corp. All-around bad behavior. by Nancy Brauer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Authors: Nancy Brauer and Vanessa Brooks

Genre: erotic urban science fiction

Publisher: indie/self-published

Where I got it: Smashwords

Warnings: language, sex (and plenty of that)

Disclaimer: I found this a very difficult book to rate as it’s not within my usual genres (young adult, skewed towards fantasy). I don’t tend to read romance or books with many erotic elements, so that is also affecting my rating somewhat.

The review (may contain spoilers):
Strange Little Band is a Strange Epic Duck. It’s a very difficult book to label and categorise. On the one hand, it’s an epic sexy romance, peering into a huge chunk of the lives of some very, well, bad people. On the other, it’s a hybrid science fiction and fantasy introducing a world that blends science, the paranormal, the alien and magick. Oh, and one foot is firmly aimed at being a solid family drama too.

We start off with two leads. The beautiful but, shall we say, testy psychic Addison, and the equally terse and inhuman Shane. They both work in the fairly evil Triptych Corporation. I don’t really know what they do or why, but they do seem to want to own the lives of all their employees. Case in point: both of Addison’s children are basically experiments. The leads are not nice guys. Addison is not averse to imposing her will on or humiliating her employees. Shane occasionally kills and resurrects people, or drives someone – literally - insane. It’s a match made in heaven, if they can just get over the cruel machinations of their employers.

Later, two more leads appear in the form of Addison’s daughter, Ashlynn, and her son, Jake. Shane is Jake’s father – through artificial insemination, of course, though this pair does end up having copious amounts of skin-on-skin action. Both kids are gifted psychics and geniuses, which is just as well, because when the plot kicks into hyperdrive, these two shine as the heroes.

The writing is impeccable. It’s almost Dickensian in scope. Originally written as a weekly web serial, it easily surpasses the length of many books in either of its genres. On the surface, this works with and against the book.

It works with the book, because you don’t miss any character development. You can see and feel the moment the two leads finally start seeing each other as equals, partners, something other than bugs to be crushed. It’s palpable in every little thing they say and do.

It works against the book, because it almost feels like the book could have easily been split into shorter separate volumes, with the overriding mythology and peril fleshed out and amped up in each instalment. A lot of the plot happens in the last quarter of the book, and while the threads were set up earlier, there’s just so much to contend with, that I forgot the finer details.

Final word
Strange Little Band is an interesting, unique tale that could do with some further exploring.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kindle international surcharge – save some moola!

If you’re an international Amazon Kindle book customer, you’ll no doubt have noticed two things: a) the regional restrictions imposed by publishers, b) an additional $2 on the price of all books (to my knowledge, the UK and Australia don’t have to pay it).

To be fair, most international folk probably wouldn’t notice if it weren’t for sales or newsletters that display the American price. I don’t have any real problem with the surcharge (data costs are fairly expensive in my country), But for those of who want to save a few pennies, there are a few options available.

Books in the public domain
There are quite a few books on Amazon that can be found for free elsewhere. These books are usually out in the public domain – that is, their copyright has expired. In addition to older titles, there are also creative commons titles of new authors offering a sampling of their writing.
The books found at the above sites are generally DRM-free, so you should be able to convert them to your preferred eReader format with a program like Calibre.

Self-published authors
Smashwords is the indie store I’m most familiar with. Multiple formats are available, and they are all DRM-free. The best feature is the coupons. Occasionally authors will release discount codes for their books, saving you even more money.  I tend to get recommendations for the books on Amazon first, before I look for them here. There are a LOT of books on this site.

Traditionally published books
Sadly, I do not know many publishing houses that release eBooks that a) accept international credit cards, b) don’t have regional restrictions, or c) actually have a Kindle format (or DRM-free format to convert) without simply linking you to Amazon. However:

Angry Robot Books – promise DRM-free books, but their pricing is in UK pounds, so it might be cheaper simply to get the books from the US Amazon Kindle store.

Tor – gave away free PDFs a few years ago of some of their popular authors (who knows, they might do it again). I’ve also won a set of books from them, which makes me a fairly loyal follower.

Your thoughts:
Are you an international eBook reader? Have you discovered ways to get more book for your buck?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Regional restrictions of digital content - or - "that's a really dumb idea"

Credit: US Geological Survey
If you live outside of the US, you'll probably be familiar with this scenario.

Your favourite artist or author releases something new. They dutifully link you to the Kindle edition or iTunes  store. You happily log on, your credit card twitching in your eager paw and...
This item is not available in your county.
Curses! Foiled again.

You now have to order the physical item, pay an additional delivery and customs fee, and risk losing said item in the post (and let's not mention all the times it has taken months to receive an item that should have taken two weeks). Of course, my guess is that most people these days are now resorting to piracy or circumventing the restrictions through shadier means (spoofing IP addresses, faking physical addresses, paypal is probably involved at some point too).

My response to that... is pooh!

It's a digital age. There's no logical reason for digital content suppliers to use geography as an excuse to deny sales.

Oh, I'm sure the big publishers and suppliers have reasons. Contracts -  no doubt written sometime during the Seventies - sitting in their drawers, highlighting the whys and what-the-hecks of denying half the globe the same instant, affordable content that the big countries are allowed. But, gosh darn it, I have a Kindle and I have an iPod and I want to fill it with my favourite things.

Indie authors get it. I have yet to find an indie book that wasn't available in my region, or one that is as highly priced as some of the big authors ($16 for the Kindle format of a backlisted book - I think not publishers!). For this reason, my mainstream author purchases are now primarily at second hand stores (which probably doesn't profit the publisher or author) and indie books are getting a permanent chunk of my monthly budget.

Why don't the big publishers cotton on to this fact? Why can't music executives? Television and movie distributors?

You see the pattern?

The very people who would profit the most from global content distribution are the ones building digital borders. These same people are also spending millions on combating piracy, when they already have the means to reduce it.

People aren't generally nefarious pirates by nature. Our natures are to want things quickly, easily and within the confines of our stretched bank balances.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

GUEST POST: How to Help Your Favorite Authors - by Lindsay Buroker

Originally by Lindsay Buroker, author of Flash Gold, The Emperor's Edge, and Encrypted. Finally giving me an answer to one of the questions I've been dying to ask an Indie author.
As authors, we spend a lot of time trying to promote our books. Our biggest obstacle is obscurity because there are a lot of books out there. No, really. A lot.
We like to think that good stories are all it takes to make it (in author terms “make it” usually means “become well known enough and sell enough books that I can quit my day job and write for a living”), but you can doubtlessly think of mediocre books that are selling bazillions of copies and authors you love who never make it out of the “mid-list” category.
Sometimes it’s just the author (or publishing house) with the biggest marketing budget who wins, but you, as a reader, have amazing power. Don’t believe for a second that you don’t have anything to do with whether an author makes it, because you do. A lot. No, really. A lot.
Why does this matter to you? Well, authors who get to quit their day jobs can write faster and put more books out for you!
The following are some little things you can do that can make a big difference. Some of them only take a few seconds. Your favorite authors will appreciate the effort. Trust me. 
Helping out on Amazon
Amazon is the big kahuna of book sellers, especially when it comes to ebooks, so helping an author “get found” on there can give them a big boost. You can certainly do these things on other bookstore sites as well (nothing against copying and pasting a review, for example), but Amazon tends to have more cool features to help an author get found.
Here’s the list (any one of these things can help):
  • If you do nothing else, consider writing a review on Amazon, even if the book already has quite a few and/or you’ve reviewed it elsewhere. There’s evidence that ratings and reviews factor into the Amazon algorithms that decide which books are promoted on the site (i.e. certain books are recommended to customers who bought books in similar genres). If reviewing isn’t your bag, don’t worry about writing paragraphs-long in-depth studies of the book; maybe you could just pen a few sentences with a couple of specifics about why you liked the book.
  • “Tag” the book with genre-appropriate labels (i.e. thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance). You don’t have to leave a review to do this; you just need an account at Amazon. A combination of the right tags and a good sales ranking can make a book come up when customers search for that type of story on Amazon.
  • Give the book a thumb’s up. This takes less than a second and probably doesn’t do much, but it may play into Amazon’s algorithms to a lesser extent than reviews/ratings.
  • Make a “Listmania” List and add your favorite authors’ books to it. This creates another avenue for new readers to find books. It’s better to create lists around similar types of books (i.e. genres or sub-genres) than to do a smorgasbord, and consider titling it something description so folks will be more inclined to check it out, ie. “Fun heroic fantasy ebooks for $5 or less”
  • If you have a Kindle, highlight some wise or fun quotations from the book and share them publicly (if enough people share their highlights, they’ll show up at the bottom of a book’s page):
Popular Highlights on a Book's Sales Page
Helping out with Social Media
If you’re involved with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., you can give your favorite authors a shout-out when they release new books. If they blog, you can follow their site (through Google Reader or other RSS readers) and share the link when they post something that may be interesting to your friends. If they’re on Twitter, you can follow them and retweet their links now and then.
Authors don’t expect you to follow them 24/7 and repeat everything they say (that might actually alarm some folks…), but a little promotional help now and then is greatly appreciated.
If you like to be social about books, you can join sites such as Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing. You can help your favorite authors by posting reviews and talking about their books on those sites, or you can just use those places to find online reading buddies with common interests.
Helping out with Your Blog
Do you ever talk about books or what you’re reading on your blog? You might consider reviewing your favorite authors on your site (you could even make a few dollars if you signed up as an Amazon affiliate).
Also, if most of your favorites maintain websites, you could add an “author blogroll” list in your menu with links to those sites.
And Lastly…
These days, most authors have websites and contact forms so you can get in touch. If you enjoyed their work, consider sending them a short note to let them know. While it won’t help them sell more books, it’ll make their day.
Thanks for reading (this post and books in general!).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The rise of indie books (in my budget) - exciting times for readers

I've always been a judge a book by its [cover/title/author] kind of gal. I walk into a book store and grab the first book I see with an attention-grabbing title, fantastic looking cover or emblazoned with one of the names from my known, dependable set of authors.

I've tried reading web fiction, but as awesome as some as it is - and believe me, there are a slew of amazing, talented writers on the web - I have no patience for reading online. I like to curl up on a couch and forget those floating bytes and bits that distract me on a daily basis.

In November 2010, I was given a Kindle.

By April 2011, the way I view books had changed dramatically.

In the beginning, I stayed with the big guys: George R. R Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Nail Gaimon... but eventually I noticed two things: one, many traditionally published authors were unavailable on the Kindle for my region (regional restrictions in a digital age - really?), and two, a majority of the books recommended to me by Amazon were a fraction of the price of the big guys.

I'm not saying price is the only factor in my decision to start buying more and more indie authors, though it certainly doesn't deter the cash-challenged. It's just sheer fun discovering new authors that don't make it to my mainstream book stores.  It's also a heck of a lot easier to find recommended new reads if you start moving in the indie circles too.

Don't believe me?

Purchasing my first Indie book, Susan Bischoff's Hush Money, a YA superhero novella, led me to try Kait Nolan's Forsaken by Shadow, which somehow led me to Amanda Hocking and Vicki Keire, which led me to JL Bryan, which led me to... you get the picture. (By the by, I do recommend that you try the samples from each of the above authors.)

The best part - every day there is a new discovery. Indie authors seem to be able to find the best of each other and pay this forward to us, the readers and willing slaves to awesomeness. I have so many samples of books I want to buy that I wonder how I'll ever read it all. In the first few months of 2011, I've doubled my annual amount of reading and book purchases.

There is a down-side, of course. Some books that have been released into the wilds were let go too early. I've purchased at least one book that became downright unreadable because of poor formatting and editing, and another book that could have benefited from some tightening of the plot and characterisation. But all in all, I've had some great luck in the indies I've read.

My strategy is not terribly complex or original:

  • Read recommendations from people whose opinion you value, for example, all of the authors linked to above also have goodreads accounts; it's a good way to keep your finger on the indie pulse in your favourite genres.
  • Download and read the kindle samples first - don't skip this part unless you really, really trust your recommender.
  • Follow indie authorities like the Indie Book Collective - also on twitter.
  • Keep track of the Amazon and Goodreads ratings - I don't read the nitty gritty of each review because of spoilers, but I try and stick to books that average above 3.5 stars.
  • Judge the book by its cover - well, this one is a more personal choice, but I've found that the books that have professional-looking covers are also more likely to have been well-edited on the inside too. I could be proven wrong in this point at any time, but I'll stick with it until I am.
  • Finally, if you've loved an indie book, say so! I've actually realised that I need to read a book twice before I can review it properly with my current methods, so while I figure out a better, faster way to spread the love, I do try and tweet/blog my book/author recs whenever I can. If you want to see some gorgeous covers, check out Phatpuppy Creations.
Up next: questions I want to ask indie authors.

Cover art belongs to their respective rights holders. For more details on either of these books, please see post for links.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: The Healing Wars 01. The Pain Merchants

The Healing Wars 01. The Pain MerchantsThe Healing Wars 01. The Pain Merchants by Janice Hardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Browsing through a packed table of sale books, my eye immediately landed on two words: Pain Merchants. As far as titles go, it's a great one to immediately classify genre and get a fantasy reader like me to grab it without reading the blurb. I wonder if I would have reacted the same way had I had read "The Shifter" on the spine instead. It's a moot question now. I saw. I grabbed. I enjoyed immensely.

The Pain Merchants is a first person tale from the point of view of Nya, an orphaned teenage girl with an extraordinary ability. Nya, of course, doesn't see this ability as particularly good. She is an anomaly in a world with a intriguing system of magic.

The world's magic system is centred on healing. Healers heal wounds and take the pain into themselves. They then transfer the pain into a stone called Pyruvium. This stone is then enchanted to inflict the pain on others during battle. It's a fairly neat symmetrical system, but of course, some chap has to spin that cycle to his own advantage.

Enter the unseen, but presumably nasty Duke. He's been invading and subduing other nations for his own nefarious purpose. I wonder if his title means that there is an unspoken and equally cruel King - the Duke is attacking these nations for *some* reason.

Nya's nation of Gevegian has been crippled by the war, and is now run by the Duke's own Baseeri. Healers and enchanters alike were taken and killed or died fighting. It is for this reason that Nya and her sister were tossed out onto the street to fend for themselves, despite coming from an aristocratic family of healers.

Nya's sister, Tali, is a healer and has been able to find purpose in the League of Healers. Nya can also heal, but she can't safely release the pain into a stone. She can only shift it into other people. She keeps this unusual ability a secret, but someone inevitably finds out. When the city has more pain than rocks or healers, this becomes a huge commodity to those same people.

While Nya has kept her ability a secret for her entire life, it doesn't mean that she is a fearful or morose character, like some characters in similar situations have been. Once her mind is made up, she will face insane odds to protect the ones she loves and those she feels responsible for. It's an admirable trait, and one I suspect is also a forgotten trait of the Gevegians themselves. Her friends and family certainly display this incredible bravery when pushed.

This book sets up a world that is a literal powder-keg with a character that can ignite it in strangely unexpected ways. I look forward to however this war may explode.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Company... not your average read

see disclaimer below
I've been quiet on the book review front lately for one simple reason: scripted web fiction.

You all know what web fiction is, and a fair smidgeon of you know what a script is, so of course, I've spent the past couple of weeks reading a total of 24 original web-only teleplays.

I'll go into more detail about scripts and scripted fiction at a later date, but here are the bare facts you need to know.

The Company, created by Sarah-Jane Sheppard, simply... rocks.

Do you love Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls or Dead Like Me? Because that's the kind of quirky, offbeat awesomeness you can expect to encounter in this young adult dramedy.

Meet Vi Morgan, a 16-year-old high school student. One day she's dead. And the next day, she kinda isn't. But her resurrection does come with an interesting price tag: she has to work for "The Company" and keep her secret life, well, secret from her family and friends. You can imagine how well that turns out.

Helping her out, is her scruffy, rebellious, but generally well-meaning mentor, Andrew, the efficient, but damaged, Jenna, and her best friend, the lovable, clumsy, musician-wannabe, Shane. Helping her keep on her toes is her nerdy, but adorkable, brother Cam, her neurotic, writer father, her commanding, but well-meaning mother and her bit-of-a-bitca sister, Penny.

Season one is a mere 13 episodes long, while season two rockets up to a full 22-episode roster. These numbers may seem daunting, but teleplays are a lot faster to read than novels, so it's quite doable to load up your Kindle and nail these beauties in under a week or two. And with Sarah-Jane's seemingly effortless ability to craft easy-to-read scripts, just overflowing with juicy dialogue, addictive character interactions and the occasional serial killer or two, it might even take you faster than that.

And believe me, you'll want to. Season 3 is coming soon!

Read The Company at:

Disclaimer: scripted web series will often use established actors to visually represent fictional characters. These actors are in no way affiliated with the series and are merely used as physical avatars. In fact, quite often, I replace characters with my own favoured actors (just like you'd do when reading novels).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, #2)Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boy genius - and not all together "good guy" - Artemis Fowl, returns for a second adventure, teaming up with the very people he went up against in the last book.

And what a welcome team-up it is in this fast-paced book aimed at tweenies and teens.

In the first book, Artemis came across as a smug, mostly-unseen antagonist to the actual interesting characters in the story. In the Arctic Incident, not only do we actually get to see a human side to the boy, but he gets his hands dirty too.

Also returning are my favourites from the first book - Holly, Foaly and Root. They each get plenty of moments to shine, which is probably part of the reason why Artemis starts of as an arrogant, aloof brat and ends up, still arrogant, but a humbler character who feels actual affection and respect for the people around him.

We learn fairly early on who the villains are, so the majority of the story isn't dominated by a quest to reveal them or delve into their childhood traumas. Instead, we get to see Artemis and Butler interact with the fairies for most of the book. This gives both species a wonderful chance to learn that they aren't exactly what the other expected, and that there is common ground between the former "enemies". One can only hope that the next books follow this growth spurt of the characters.

Overall, a large improvement over the first book, which while enjoyable, felt like it should have been named "Cool fairies versus that fake mustache-twirling Artemis Fowl bloke."

View all my reviews

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lunarday Links!

If you can ignore the bad pun, then you will probably enjoy these posts as much as I do.

I follow a lot of cool peeps on twitter and through my RSS feeds. Here’s a neat collection of sites and articles to check out this week.

Via @bubblecow

How Changing The Structure Of Your Novel Can Help Get Your Book Published


Too Much of a Good Thing: Over Plotting Your Novel – from Janice Hardy’s blog, author of the fabulous YA novel, The Pain Merchants (as it’s known in my country) or the Shifter (as it’s known in other places).


Via @thDigitalReader
Books everyone should read (word cloud)

Are you asking these important questions about your fantasy setting?

5 Keys to Unforgettable Story Introductions

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My kingdom for a… book review template

Credit to MarkHan struggle to review.

On the surface, it seems a pretty dumb problem. I read. I write. Logically, I should be able to write about what I’ve read. Right?

Logic is intermittent  in the rooneyverse.

When I’m reading a good book, I get caught up in the moment, the pain of the heroes, the fiendishness of the villain. I get to the last page and am giddy with the wonder that accompanies things like magic and finding something new.

But I couldn’t honestly tell you what I loved or learned from the book. My thoughts coalesce into nerve-sparks like “OMG just frikkin’ wow” or *mope* “Why can’t I write like that?” or “Oooh, is there a sequel yet!?” (Actually, this last one isn’t that bad a question – I’m budget conscious and rarely read new releases, unless the publishers are nice enough not to set a regional restriction on books in the Amazon Kindle store. More on that anon.)

It’s far easier for me to concentrate on the characters, plot and writing of a book I’m not enjoying. That’s great if I were a beta reader, but hardly helpful when I want to share story love with others.

Thankfully, other readers have paved the way for me, and so I point you to:
I was googling this morning, looking for standard book review templates (see the multitude of failed ones I’ve created) when I stumbled upon this great site that also gives blogging tips and other helpful articles, and yes, that includes handy advice on how to review.
What are your tried and tested review methods?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Jenny Pox

Jenny Pox (Jenny Pox, #1)Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A writer I follow on twitter linked me to an Amanda Hocking blog post, which in turn linked me to this book. I'm quite glad that odd chain of events occurred. This was a rather macabre but awesome tale of Jenny Morton, the unfortunate bearer of the "Jenny Pox". Any living thing she touches, dies.

At first Jenny is a wallflower, doing her best to stay out of sight and mind of a rather nasty piece of work named Ashleigh. Ashleigh is all sugar and spice and everything nice to people who can give her what she wants, but anyone on her bad side may very well imagine they've stepped into "hello, this is your life on steroids... in hell". As a thoroughly nasty creature, I spent a great deal of the book wishing she'd get a massive dose of karma. Jenny's emergence as a more confident person put Ashleigh in her place briefly, but even the girl who doesn't fear snakes, spiders and ghosts knows to fear the picture-perfect cheerleader.

The ending is rather gruesome and serves as a declaration of independence for two of the leads, which in turn opens the door for a more proactive sequel, one in which the leads may need to abandon the shackles of normalcy and embrace their natures and pasts if they are to make something worthwhile of their current lives. There is a rather sweet romance running through-out, which affected each of the main characters in profound ways. I can only imagine that the author is an animal lover, because Rocky the dog was quite simply the most inspired choice of catalyst to trigger these changes.

Well worth a look at, and I'll definitely be checking out the sequel.

A few minor niggles were to be had on the ebook version,which had a few formatting errors that occasionally distracted.

I would, personally, not classify this as YA - rather paranormal fantasy or horror fantasy. Even though the novel features teens, there are some rather adult scenes in it.

View all my reviews

Review: Still Life

Still LifeStill Life by E.E. Horlak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Still Life is the book that started me on my quest to find and read more of Sheri S. Tepper.

On the surface, it is a paranormal fantasy with elements of horror. What set it apart for me was how it didn't give into the clichéd happy endings and romance. It is well thought out and executed with a palpable atmosphere of foreboding and magic. I must admit, each time I read it, I still have the smallest bit of hope that there will be a happier ending... one day.

View all my reviews