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Smashwords book reviews by Cathy T.
on June 20, 2011
Wow, that was hot.
- Nowhere To Go
on June 22, 2011
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.
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
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.
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.
on July 09, 2011
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.
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
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.
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.
- Sit Down Sit
on Aug. 19, 2011
I would love to see this illustrated. :) Very cute.
- 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
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.
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.