Cathy T.


A girl with a lot of free time to read books. I am willing to review your work.

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Smashwords book reviews by Cathy T.

  • Water on June 20, 2011
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    Wow, that was hot.
  • Nowhere To Go on June 22, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. After enjoying the mystery/thriller genre again, thanks to Dominance: A Novel, I was looking forward to reading more. Shortly after, I received a free copy of this book. Nowhere to Go is a collection of short stories from award-winning writer Iain Rowan about people with literally nowhere to go. They are stories about fate, consequence, and in some stories, the paranormal. As with all collections and anthologies, there are hits and misses. Some, I liked and some I honestly did not understand. But most of them were pretty intense, edgy. The collection starts off with “One Step Closer”, a story about an ordinary man caught in amidst a bank robbery. The story is pretty straight forward but the way it is written is a thing of beauty. As I finished this bit, I stared off… just, wow-ed. A very promising sign. “The Chain” reminded me of Hollywood action films where someone is being blackmailed into doing a series of steps so that incriminating information and/or photos would not be leaked. Again, we know how that works but like with the first story, the ending is what gets you. “One of Us” is another one of those cycle-type of stories. A sure stand out is “Moths”. It dealt a little with the paranormal. Perfect placement, too, being towards the end of the collection. After reading a couple of mystery stories, as everything starts to look the same, here is your jolt of second wind. It reminds me of old noir films, definitely the feel of one. Another one that I absolutely loved is the book’s namesake, “Nowhere to Go”, which is found at the end of the book. And like the former, it had the paranormal mixed in with the crime thriller aspect. I also liked the stories about double-crossing. It was not in your face, but very subtle and actually very fun to read. In “Easy Job”, I did not guess what that was about until the very end. Every sentence was gripping and exciting. “Two Night’s Work” took me a while to get into. And even after I was done with it, I was not sure I totally got it. The same with “A Walk in the Park”. “Chairman of the Bored” provided the best line of the whole book: Generally, I just did them because I was fucking bored. It was told via a recording of a man about to commit suicide but not because he was “fucking bored”. The longest of all the stories was “The Remains of My Estate”. And I felt that it had the least to do with the others. Sure, it had crime as one of its main themes but it was more, I don’t know, serious, I guess? And I personally did not think that the hero has “nowhere to go”. The plot was brilliant, the story was well-written. But after almost ten stories of light and easy reads, this is kind of hard to settle into. Overall, it was okay. I do not have much experience with short story collections so I am out of my comfort zone here. But the stories were mostly interesting and it certainly kept my attention for eleven different stories. Rating: 3/5. Recommendation: For those who like crime stories looking for a quick read, this one is for you. You are getting eleven choices, read whatever tickles your fancy. Also, if you like short stories in general, this has good variety.
  • Dark Matter Heart on June 24, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. * In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free. I came across this book while browsing several book blogs. I saw the author’s post saying that he was willing to give readers a free copy of Dark Matter Heart in exchange for a review. I figured, why not? (If you want your own copy, I will post details under the comments.) Dark Matter Heart is the first book in the Cor Griffin Bloodsuckers Series. Our hero is Cordell “Cor” Griffin, a seemingly ordinary high school student. Together with his mother, Jane, he moves up to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles, California to start anew. New neighborhood, new school, new friends. He meets Taylor on his first day of school. He also meets a pretty girl named Caitlyn. Unfortunately, being the new kid in school, he becomes the target of the bullies. Things do not become easier for Cor when strange things begin to happen. Certain people that Cor comes in contact with die. And they all have the same cause of death… all were drained of their blood. Suspicions arise when it seemed coincidental that the murders start on the day Cor moved into town. I do not have a good track record when it comes to Young Adult stories. Especially the Paranormal subgenre. Often, I am left unaffected or give up before I even finish it. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was a quick read; the story was fast-paced and direct. I like that it was very readable, the short chapters seem to add to the pace of the story. There are a couple of typos here and there but no big deal. I liked how the characters were written, Taylor mostly. I also liked Cor but it was easy for me to picture Taylor in my head. The premise of the story is interesting. It is certainly different than most of the vampire fiction novels flooding the book shelves these days. I liked the ending a lot. It had a twist that I did not expect at all. I am interested on what will come next. Given that is a new YA paranormal/vampire series, I understand that the author wants to establish his own canon of vampire history, e.g. Stephenie Meyer and her sparkling “vampires”. And I respect that. I might not agree with all of it but at least the author is trying to set his series apart from the others. Although, I still found myself shaking my head at some parts. There were bits of the story that were left open-ended. I figured since this is the first book in a series that those details will continue on to the next book. I hope so. Good continuity is always a plus for me. Overall, it is a good establishing piece for a series. Rating: 3.5/5. Recommendation: Fans of YA vampire fiction would find that this is right up their alley. If you want to take a break from Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, give this a try.
  • Concerto on July 09, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. The premise was really interesting. The whole stalker part was scary and I thought it was very effective. I am a bit familiar with classical music so I liked those parts too. The book started out well – clear explanations of what an orchestra is all about, good character introduction and development, and the stalker issue was creepy. It reminded me of a Criminal Minds episode. But unlike Criminal Minds and similar crime drama shows where they preserve evidence, Chrispen Marnett chose to get rid of it. Yes. I wanted to like it, I really do. But the story was all over the place. Chrispen, orchestra, Alexis, stalker, murder, Kolbi, crushes, reunions, Mendelssohn, family issues, Dwight, jobs. It had so many goings on. Eventually, it got confusing and tiring. The plot, albeit had promise, was inconsistent. It had good moments here and there. The author could have used the orchestra more as a device to further the story rather than just a setting where often irrelevant and tedious stuff happened. It was kind of hard to read; I found myself re-reading some paragraphs over and over because I would get totally lost. And oh, I never thought I would see the word “fangirl” in a novel. This is also the first time where the author gave away who the suspect was somewhere in the middle of the story. I mean, I knew who it was from the start anyway. It was not enough that it was obvious, the author had to point him out. I was so close to giving up after that but I soldiered on. I think the author tried to put doubt on who it really was when it was mentioned that Chrispen’s best friend’s hobby was lock-picking. REALLY NOW? How convenient. Come to think of it, it would’ve made for a better ending if it really was her best friend who threatened her. The characters were poorly written, in my opinion. Like the story, they were all over the place. Chrispen was so frustrating. As the heroine of the story, she was so naive and it became irritating. Why would you destroy evidence of creepy, stalkerish behavior? To forget about it? Maybe it’s just me but I would preserve that and submit it to the police. Why would I keep the police out of it? I didn’t get it at all. The whole romance with Alexis Brooks started out nice but I… okay, would you get engaged to someone you barely know personally? Everything came out of nowhere and I thought it was nothing but filler. Also, was Chrispen psychic? Eh, whatever. The other characters were confusing too. Except Kolbi Edwards. I liked her. The others were just so impossible and shallow. The ending tried to redeem the whole piece but fell short. It all came together in a nice red bow as all happily ever afters do. Eh. I dislike giving low marks to books. I appreciate the effort the author put in to it. But I just could not wait for this book to be over. I probably won’t read it again. Rating: 2/5. Recommendation: If you are familiar with orchestras and classical music, you’ll find a couple of familiar names in this book.
  • Isle of Stumps on July 11, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. Isle of Stumps refers to the first story in this three-piece collection. All three stories have military themes. The first one was about fitting in with the population, with how they look like, even though the norm looks grotesque and ‘unnatural’ to us. Set in the dystopian future, a would-be warrior fails his final test and gets thrown out into the sea to die. He ends up on a strange island with an even stranger population. It was scary, the lengths he had to go to in order to fit in. Swallowing a Boot is set at Army boot camp. The recruits are under the watchful eye of a harsh drill sergeant. They wanted more food and soda and other junk that they are not allowed to have while in basic training. One of them sneaks out but nothing escapes the eye of Drill Sergeant Petri. (It does not have anything to do with the collection’s title.) I didn’t get it, really. I mean, I am very familiar with the whole military basic training and all that, so I appreciated that aspect. But I didn’t get the point of the story. The third short story is Eight Legs to Doomsday. It is about an alien race threatening to wipe out the humans with the use of poisonous spiders. They are minuscule creatures and they do their job while inside robotic spiders, relying on the arachnophobia of some humans. I liked this story the most. A team goes into mutiny and tries to stop the invasion. In the end… well, the ending was the fun part. The book also includes an excerpt of the author’s debut novel An Epitaph for Coyote, which I will not review on this post. Rating: 3/5. Recommendation: I gave it a three because it’s not the best but it’s also not bad. It’s very quick read, if you’re looking for something to pull you out of your boredom.
  • Friends of Choice (Wings from Ashes, #1) on July 12, 2011
    This is a Reading Good Books review. I tried. Don’t get me wrong… I really tried. But I couldn’t finish this. I couldn’t even get to the midpoint. Provided it was just 88 pages on e-book. I respect the obvious effort of the author to make a compelling story and (as I skipped to the end) a public service to teens, the writing was just so bad. There’s no other, nicer way to say it. Just… BAD. Errors – typographical or grammatical or BOTH – litter the whole thing. At least the parts I’ve read. But based on the other reviews I’ve read, it’s the main issue of this book. Misplaced spaces, punctuations, hyphenations, two words that should be compounded, ending with a preposition, redundant phrases and words… ah, it was so distracting and irritating. It needs MAJOR overhaul. It’s a shame that my copy is digital or else, I would’ve taken it upon myself to proofread the damn thing. All the errors made it so hard to read. “Baited breath”? “We’re moving and that’s finale“? I’m pretty sure no spell check in the world would make that mistake. After reading these, I just gave up. And the whole “Oooh… the mall is a bad place for teenagers because they steal and get into trouble at the malls” — I was laughing at the absurdity. I was surprised to see a Green Day mention. And of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, dubbed “I Walk Alone”. Geez. I can’t even give this book a single star but I will for effort. Rating: 1/5.
  • Skin: Short Fiction on Aug. 04, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. These three short stories revolves around the topic of skin, as the title suggests. Unlike the other short stories that I’ve reviewed so far, this collection spans different genres from paranormal to mystery. As always, it’s hit or miss but they’re still pretty good, a very rounded collection. “That Tattooist” serves as a preview piece for the author’s upcoming novel. It is about a woman named Claire who goes to get a tattoo to commemorate her time in the city. But it’s not only that, she’s a newly turned vampire. I didn’t like it as much as I did the other two. It had a chick lit feel to it, a genre that I don’t particularly like. It says as a note that this short story happens after the novel. If this was meant as a preview to the longer work, I don’t think it was very effective. There was no introduction to Claire, no development, thus, I did not care for her. This piece needed the novel to be effective. Sure, it was trying to be sassy and sexy but it fell flat because no one knew what was going on. “The Terminal” is told from the eyes of a CNA working at a nursing home. She observes how fragile the skins of the old people are, how the skin deteriorates in time. It is a good monologue piece and I really liked it. The final one is “The Tanner”, my favorite of the three. Ari works as a taxidermist and… a tanner. He skins dead animal and turns them into accessories. After years of working with animals, he decides to try out a new medium. Human skin. This one was definitely freaky. He’s like a serial killer in the making. I wanted more of this one. It was quite graphic and I loved it. Rating: 3.5/5. Recommendation: Got a few minutes to spare? If you can read a multi-chapter fanfiction in one sitting, this will be no problem for you.
  • Still Life Paintings on Aug. 13, 2011
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    I would’ve given it five stars if not for the errors I spotted. But I’ll get to that later. This book contains three short stories ranging from romance to tragedy. Except for the first one, this has a very “feel good” tone to it. Abstract Remembrances is about a mother confined in a mental institution. Everyday, she paints a portrait of her young son. Something tragic happened in her life and could art therapy help her recover? This story was heavy. It was just so sad. It had quite a few typos and grammar errors but those aside, it’s a very good piece. Different Strokes is a cute one. A mother introduces Art History to her two young children to calm them down and teach them lessons in life. I am pretty familiar with the different schools and movements in art so I really got into this. And the image of the kids working on their projects… so cute! The third story shares the name of this whole collection. Still-Life Paintings is about a scorned woman forced to attend her ex-boyfriend’s gallery show. And in his paintings, she realizes that there was more that meets the eye. It has all the makings of a romantic comedy, methinks. The ending literally made me go “awww….” Okay, before I wrap this up, I just have to address the errors. They can be easily corrected with another read-through by the author/editor so it wouldn’t be so hard. I find it ironic that this is an art-centric collection and the author gets Salvador Dali’s name wrong. Dali, not Dahli. Also, loose/lose and everybody’s favorite your/you’re. Again, no biggie so I hope this can be cleaned up. Rating: 4/5. Recommendation: It’s 27 pages on the nook so it won’t take too much of your time. These are really good short stories. You’ll enjoy them more if you like art.
  • Sit Down Sit on Aug. 19, 2011
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    I would love to see this illustrated. :) Very cute.
  • Strangers on A Plane on Aug. 20, 2011
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    Strangers on a Plane is a collection of two short stories about women who join the MHC, the Mile High Club. That’s it, really. Unlike the Highsmith novel (Hitchcock movie), they don’t murder the strangers, they do the nasty with them. There’s no use going into each story because the whole thing is 31 pages on Adobe Digital Editions. I read it in less than an hour. The sex scenes were pretty hot, as expected. The ending of the first story was funny. The second one was kind of strange. More like, the main character has a strange quirk. I should also note that the second story, “Open Doors” has girl-on-girl action. Nothing really special about this book. Just a quick read if you have time to spare. Rating: 3/5. Recommendation: Want to kill time while waiting for your partner? Read on.
  • American Nightmare on Aug. 20, 2011
    I hate giving books a low rating. I do appreciate the effort of putting your work out there but sometimes, a book comes along that is just so bad that I couldn’t even finish it. Unfortunately, this is one of them. It’s a mere 59 pages on Adobe Digital Editions but I wanted to give up right around page 15. The premise of the story is pretty interesting. An average nice guy has been living the American dream of a good job and a family until his wife filed for divorce four years ago. Then he got laid off at his job of 32 years. Being 52 years old, he wasn’t eligible for retirement yet… basically, everything falls apart around him. Then he snaps. Based on the cover art, he goes all Dexter on the people around him. Great, I love Dexter. This should be good. But it’s not. It’s really not. The writing wasn’t good. It’s choppy and inconsistent and redundant. And most of all, it was BORING. There was pages upon pages of description and back story to introduce the main character, Bob, but it was so boring and cliche, I didn’t care much for him. Everyone’s an alcoholic, Bob’s a doormat… I don’t think a page went by without a retelling of those two things. And the formatting problems. Oh my, is it too much to ask for dialog paragraph breaks? Huge chunks of text with 2-3 people talking in them. I salute self-published authors but come on… a little editing goes a very long way. I should stop now, really. I feel bad bashing a book but I just did not like any part of this. Rating: 1/5. Purely for effort.
  • Ziggy Two Step - Courier Extraordinaire on Oct. 01, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books (WP) review. Call it what ever you want — Murphy’s Law, coincidence, bad luck, being at the wrong place at the wrong time… trouble follows Ziggy Two Step wherever her goes. Thomas Edward Haliburton aka Ziggy Two Step is a bike messenger in the small town on Riverton, Montana. Not two days into his new job, his town experiences accidents, crimes, even bombings. He had no idea what was causing these events. Nothing will stand in his delivery route and time. He was proud of himself because he was fast on wheels and on foot. “Ziggy Two Step is oblivious to most of what is happening around him even though he is often the cause of it.” The cover is really nice. Very simple but nice. It was a fast read, 24 pages PDF. It wasn’t boring at all. The writing was okay; it started out good but somewhere in the middle, there were too many exclamation points and some formatting errors. There were a couple of cliches here and there as well. Nothing too distracting but still. The whole story was like Ziggy, fast, breathless, and at times, all over the place. Rating: 3/5. Recommendation: A very quick and fun read. If you have time to kill and you want an amusing pick-me-up, give this one a try.
  • Transfection on Oct. 05, 2011
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    This is a Reading Good Books review. I love a good medical thriller. I challenge myself in understanding all the technical jargon and keeping up with the pace and different plots of the story. Short story thrillers are a little tricky. Usually, thrillers take their time establishing the mystery and building up to the big reveal. This book only had 5,000+ words to set it up and execute. The blurb seemed very promising. It doesn’t really give away much, if anything. But it read like a teaser or a pitch rather than a stand-alone story. The premise had so much to work on and a short story format was not enough for that. A lot was left unexplained, including the “reason behind the cancer link with GM food”. So yeah, I ended the book scratching my head and trying to figure out what the hell just happened. The writing was excellent and polished. I was impressed by that and frankly, that’s the reason why I kept reading. For its length, the character development was done well even with the time jumps. But because plot development was severely lacking, I didn’t care much for the story itself. It could’ve worked as a full book or anything longer than a short story. Rating: 3/5. Recommendation: It’s 5,500 words, it shouldn’t take you too long to read. I read it during my down time at work and still got stuff done.