Friday, May 31, 2013

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Amazon Recommends...

I find it interesting that the top 5 Kindle books Amazon is recommending to me right now are from five difference genres: humor, romance, horror, sci fi, non-fiction. The next 5 continue: thriller, mystery, fantasy, romance, western.

I guess my browsing and buying has been pretty diverse?  Or are genre boundaries just not as important as they use to be when it comes to online shopping? Because these books do have a lot of common elements in style and tone, just not so much in terms of literal subject matter.


Friday, May 03, 2013

REVIEW: The Rebel Within


Title: The Rebel Within
Author: Lance Erlick
Genre: science fiction
Price: $5.99 (ebook) / $9.86 (paperback)
Publisher: Finlee Augare Books
ISBN: 978-0-9889968-0-9
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

The noted SF author John Scalzi has talked about the “flying snowman” on his blog.  This is based on his wife’s viewing of the classic cartoon “Frosty The Snowman.”  When our titular snowman suddenly discovers he can fly, well, that kicked the good Mrs. Scalzi right out of the story.  Unfortunately for Lance Erlick, author of The Rebel Within, my flying snowman came very early in his book.

The book is the story of Annabelle Scott, the adopted daughter of a state senator in Tenn-Tucky, a state formed after the new Federal Union decides to do away with all males.  Annabelle or Belle for short is slated for the Security Services, the various units that enforce the no-boys-allowed policy.  All of this is fine, as far as it goes.  Then Belle goes off to boot camp to become a mech-cop, the most elite police / military unit in Federal service.  And, after the first day of training, Belle goes home for the weekend! 

I’m sorry, but you simply do not, cannot, run a boot camp by letting your trainees go home every night!  It is critical to shaping the mind of the recruit that they not go home.  They need to eat, drink, sleep and breathe whatever training you’re attempting to indoctrinate them with.  They most especially do not have side jobs as police interns, nor do they have time to appear before the local zoning board and apply for a permit to open a restaurant.  (Yes, all of the above actually happens in The Rebel Within.)

So, my snowman got up, flew around, and had a wild fling with a butterfly.  Then, boot camp consisted almost entirely of having these sixteen-year-olds engage in gladiatorial combat with each other.  What’s entirely missing from Erlick’s boot camp is any training in basic combat techniques.  The “training” seems to consist entirely of throwing kids in a ring and letting them figure it out.  No, that didn’t work for me.  I encourage anybody interested in why boot camp is hard to visit this post, and most especially watch the linked video “hidden values of hard.”

So, I’m afraid I was unimpressed with The Rebel Within.  We’ve had a string of less-than-favorable reviews here at POD People.  Hopefully that string will be broken soon.

4/10

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

REVIEW: Be Careful What You Wish For


Title: Be Careful What You Wish For
Author: R. K. Avery
Genre: thriller
Price: $5.99 (ebook) / $12.95 (paperback)
Publisher: Brighton Publishing LLC
ISBN: 978-1-936587-41-4
Point of Sale: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib


We get a lot of requests for book reviews at POD People – probably 20 in a slow week.  Considering we’re also volunteers and writers as well, we end up turning down many requests, simply as a matter of time.  But occasionally we can accept requests “over the transom” and that’s how Be Careful What You Wish For arrived at my doorstep. 

The book is the story of Bea Miller.  At the start of the story, she decides to add to her family of four boys by kidnapping a three-year-old girl, Maggie Taylor, off of the beach at a private lake in fictional Bunting Valley, North Dakota.  The first part of the book details the kidnapping, and about half-way through we transition into the mindset of Bea after she’s caught.

I have to start by saying that I found Avery’s small-town police force exceptionally unbelievable.  A six-person department with one detective is not going to handle a kidnapping all on their own, and a small-town department in North Dakota will be much more aware of related nearby crimes.  Ms. Avery, the author, punts a bit on this by having her lead police officer, Rich Butler, be a transfer in from Detroit, but still, small towns and small departments have long memories.  There were other questionable decisions as well.

I also found Ms. Avery’s command of point-of-view somewhat weak.  I couldn’t tell if the POV was supposed to be omniscient or just occasionally lapsed into it.  Her dialog was also rather tinny at times.  These are probably a lot of complaints for a 230 page book.

Yet despite all these complaints, I found Be Careful What You Wish For to be an interesting book.  Somehow, Ms. Avery managed to get very deeply into the mind of Bea Miller, an exceptionally twisted character, and portray that character in an interesting an occasionally sympathetic manner.  Yet, while doing so, the other characters were treated appropriately and in a multi-dimensional fashion.  In short, I found the book intriguing and interesting, if flawed in execution.

6/10