Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Synthetic

Title: Synthetic: Rise of the Siren
Author: Shonna Wright
Genre: Sci fi
Price: $0.99
Point of Sale: Amazon Kindle, Nook
Reviewed by: Emily Veinglory

I stumbled across this book about a week a go when it was free for some reason.  (Not 'Amazon Prime' free, but actually free free).  It is 99c now and still a steal at the price.

Synthetic is a surprisingly complex, ornate, riotous, near-future steampunk romance adventure. You really have to read it to believe it.

Basically a women with amnesia is making synthetic lifeforms that look like mythical creatures and can live forever. She gets a chance at freedom when forced to help a rich old woman transform herself into the perfect woman.

But that is seriously only the beginning as a bizarre cast of human, animal and synthetic characters crawl through a bizarre castle-slash-catacomb-slash-film-set trying to uncover the schemes and crimes that brought them together. Motivations shift, violence and betrayal is all around.

There is so much going on in this story that it really is impossible to explain. 'Synthetic' is not perfect but its sheer exuberance and rococo inventiveness makes this a story I would heartily recommend to anyone.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rock It Reads

Speaking of seals of approval, now we have Rock it Reads. The idea seems to be that we can trust traditionally published authors to tell us which self-published books are worth reading. It seems to focus on romance and related genres.

Monday, April 16, 2012

REVIEW: Soldier / Geek

Title: Soldier / Geek: An Army Science Advisor’s Journal of the War in Afghanistan
Author: Glenn Dean
Genre: non-fiction, war
Price: $4.99 (ebook) / $12.99 (trade paperback)
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781470187897
Point of Sale: Smashwords CreateSpace
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

In 2009, Army Major Glenn Dean deployed to Afghanistan. His job was to represent an alphabet-soup of Army commands charged with developing and fielding weapons for soldiers. Dean would spend six months in Afghanistan, traveling to various remote bases and seeing how well (or how poorly) our equipment was working, and what other equipment was needed. While he was deployed, he kept a journal.

Soldier / Geek is Dean’s journal, with some editorial effort made to translate Army-speak into standard English, as well as some editorial comments about problems he identified at the time. I found it a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it to anybody interested in current affairs. Dean tells his story simply, in chronological order, outlining what happened where. He did not see combat during his tour, despite a number of trips “outside the wire” to where the fighting was occurring. Despite that, I found Soldier / Geek a very interesting book.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Mark of Excellence"

For some time there have been mumblings about how to signal to readers which self-published books have been put together with care and attention, or are of particular literary merit.  I think most of these plans are self-defeating, but the desire is there to give readers a sign that a book is "safe" to buy, to some extent.

It is with some amusement that I noted the gold seal on the cover of 30 Pieces of Silver, a book that is generally promoted in a very 'shouty' and irritating way. Complete with over a hundred unconvincing 5 star Amazon reviews.  To the best of my knowledge the so called  "Mark of Excellence" is completely meaningless.  But, nice try (I guess).

Sunday, April 08, 2012

REVIEW: Mediocrates

Title: Mediocrates: the Lost Philosopher of Athens
Author: Jason Childress
Genre: Humor
Price: $10.48 (paperback) 299 pages
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 978-1462042371
Point of Sale: Lulu
Reviewed by: Veinglory

I bought Mediocrates quite a while ago because various reliable people had told me it was very good.  But as it didn't really sit in any of my areas of interest, it languished in my great pile of unread books for some time (the corners now crinkled from that night the aquarium overflowed.)

If I'd had any idea what was between these rather (IMHO) unattractively designed covers, I would have read it the day it arrived.  I know only the basics of the philosophies and history relating to Socrates and his ilk. Just enough to get probably about half of the wry jabs and allusions in this spoof biography of one of his less illustrious contempraries.  But I would still easily give this a 9/10 and were I a little more learned I suspect it would be a 10.

This densely footnoted spoof of an academic work is truly unlike anything else I have read, self- or traditionally published. I would recommend it to any any reader whose sense of humor runs more to Blackadder than Three's Company.

Other reviews:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Return of Free Books

As some of the readers here know, my latest novel Pirates of Mars is out. As some of the readers here also know, we used to have a Free Book Friday feature. Well, I'm combining those two into one post.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Pirates of Mars by Christopher Gerrib

Pirates of Mars

by Christopher Gerrib

Giveaway ends April 29, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, April 02, 2012

Review: Deadly Pleasures

Title: Deadly Pleasures
Author: Mary Firmin
Genre: Murder Mystery
Price: $3.03 (Kindle) / $ 14.78 (paperback) 304 pages
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 978-1462042371
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Cheryl Anne Gardner

I wouldn't have normally picked this book to read or review. Man titty covers really turn me off, and this cover really isn't representative of the story. I was thinking sexy pulp romance, but the romance is really only a small part of the murder mystery plotline, so I was pleasantly surprised.

I met Mary over on Goodreads. We had both signed our books up for the book review program, and we got to talking on the subject of BDSM in fiction. I decided to buy the book because the treatment of the subject matter is so polar opposite from the way I handle it in my book The Thin Wall, where I explore sexual subculture amongst consenting adults in a romantic setting. It's just one element in a loving relationship shared by five long time friends. In Ms. Firmin's novel, the subculture is the demented backdrop and the underlying pathos behind a series of sexually violent murders, explored through the eyes of homicide detective Matt Donovan. In this story, the BDSM is treated as a symptom of psychosis, and the brief jaunts into this world are dark and seedy reminiscent of the movie 8MM, though not as graphic, so potential readers do not have to worry about the "ick" factor.

This is what I like to call one of those "more money than common sense" scenarios. Megan Riley, our main character and heroine, is a recovering addict. She's struggling in a depressed real estate market, and her engagement to fellow drunk and drug addict Brian has ended. Her friends, the rich housewives of Bayside, like to spend time on their husbands' yachts, bitching that their husbands are philandering a-holes, which they are. They decide one day, much to Megan's disbelief, that they deserve something on the side as well, eventually hiring stripper Michael Harrington to service a variety of their personal needs. A bunch of wealthy women sharing a boytoy?! Who doesn't see problems on the horizon with that one?

While these women are wrapped up in their own little lifestyles of the rich and famous worlds, women are being tied up, hacked up, and murdered, and all leads point detective Matt Donovan back to the Bayside Yacht club. Things get really heated when a Senator's daughter winds up dead in her own little love dungeon.

Murder mystery readers will find a lot of familiar tropes here, and so it will be quite easy to sympathize with the characters. Again, reminiscent of the movie 8MM, we have a snuff film -- although in this plot line it was inadvertently made -- we have blackmail, escort services, porn peddlers, and we have the troubled heroine who falls in love with the handsome detective and manages to get herself into all kinds of tight spots. We also have a very brief look into the BDSM subculture as our detective takes a walk on the wild side through L.A.'s bondage parlors and hidden sex clubs, trying to catch a killer. However, all this is written very voyeuristically. A momentary peep through the peephole, so sensitive readers do not have to worry about graphic content. Even the one small sex scene is left off the page. I would liken it to an extended version of the TV show Criminal Minds, and anyone who enjoys murder mystery crime shows like that will find this book a light enjoyable read with just enough thrills to keep a reader engaged without being overwhelming.