Saturday, October 1, 2011

Still Relevant

Identity Unknown
"T" is for Tresspass  by Sue Grafton
Publisher: Putnam Adult
400 pages

From the inside cover:
 intres•pass \'tresp?s\ n: a transgression of law involving one's obligations to God or to one's neighbor; a violation of moral law; an offense; a sin
Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged
       In what may be her most unsettling novel to date, Sue Grafton's "T" is for Trespass is also her most direct confrontation with the forces of evil. Beginning slowly with the day-to-day life of a private eye, Grafton suddenly shifts from the voice of Kinsey Millhone to that of Solana Rojas, introducing readers to a chilling sociopath. Rojas is not her birth name. It is an identity she cunningly stole, an identity that gives her access to private caregiving jobs. The true horror of the novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead. The suspense lies in whether Millhone will realize what is happening in time to intervene.

About this book:
       The story follows both Kinsey and Rojas as their paths slowly collide when Kinsey's neighbor Henry realizes his friend Gus needs a caregiver. Gus's niece hires Rojas on the spot but later has a change of heart and hires Kinsey to do a background check. Being an outsider with no authority frustrates Kinsey as she struggles to discover the truth about Rojas and her true nature.

My take:
     For those of us who have read many of the 'alphabet series' we see our old favorite friends, Henry and Rosie. Henry had another lady friend and Rosie is still cooking. But something has changed in this book.  The readers are allowed into the mind of the villain.  This gives some creepiness to the story but it also does ruin some of the mystery. One can sit back and Monday morning quarterback everything Kinsey does though something can be said for the Kuntz type look into the mind of a sociopath.
      I did enjoy this read. At first the action moves slowly giving the reader a feel for the deliberateness Rojas. I believe it adds tension to the book. It does pick up and we reel with the pain of the grumpy old Gus who has no way out and the despair of Kinsey as she struggles with how to help. If you like Sue Grafton or you just like suspense, you will find this a good read.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Easy to Read!

 Welcome to Non-Fiction Friday! 
(Like that? Stay tuned for Throw-away Thursday.)

Quick and Easy Availble
Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author
by Zoe Winters
Publisher: Incur Books 

From Amazon:
What would you pay to gain the knowledge to self-publish your book with the least hassle and overall expense? Indie author, Zoe Winters, paid over $250 in books and magazines, plus trial-and-error experience to gain her knowledge. Becoming an Indie Author distills that knowledge into one easily-digestible ebook with motivation, tips, tricks, and a road map that cuts out the fluff and BS for under $5.

About the book:
Non fiction books are relatively easy to describe.  This book takes you from the very glint in your eye desire to self-publish all the way to whooooa glad that is done stage. It covers things like having the right attitude, what are the success predictors, to cover design, to editing and formatting, and finally to marketing.  

My take:
      I found the book quite engaging and the writing so well done from the stand point of flow, I would have enjoyed it even if I was not particularly interested in the topic. The short of it, the writer can write. It feels good to live in her words, drift down her stream, or whatever other metaphor you might favor.
     As to the actual content of the book, the information provided is excellent for a newcomer.  It does give some detail in the various stages of how to produce an indie book, mostly ebook, and the whys of publishing indie.  I must say it convinced me. I do wish the book would have gone into a little more depth with each of the phases of publishing and of marketing. Of course, if you look at this as an entry level book, it is perfect.  It allows the reader to see the whole process and allows her to chose which areas to research further.
     It is said that during the gold rush days in both California and Alaska almost no miners really struck it rich. The people who sold them the goods to mine were the ones who did. This is still evident today in "how to strike it rich in ____" fill in the blank - real estate, MLS, stock market. So when I read a book in this nature, I always want to know, is the author making money in the field or are they making money off those who desire to make money in the field. In Zoe Winter's case it is a little of both.  She has published several indie books, including The Preternaturals Series, and has sold over 50,000 copies, meaning she speaks from experience. It also means she has sold plenty of real, live books and is not making her money by trading on other people's dreams.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in indie publishing or an phase of indie publishing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almost too Real

Product Details
A great suspense mystery
See Jane Run  by Joy Fielding
Publisher: Avon
From the dust jacket: One afternoon in late spring, Jane Whittaker went to the store for some milk and eggs and forgot who she was...

About the book:
     Jane Whittaker wakes as if from a dream at the corner of Cambridge and Bowdoin.  She knows where she is going and what she planned to buy but not her name, her hair color, or her age.  The first pages of this book describe what Jane remembers and what she doesn't giving the reader a feeling overwhelming dread and sympathy.  Then we learn  she is covered in blood under her coat and has a  pocket full of money.

     From there, we follow Jane as she searches for help, finally landing at the hospital where her pediatrician husband, Michael, is well known.  Something is her core being tells her she doesn't want to go with the man everyone says is her husband but she doesn't know why.  At home memories start to surface. She realizes she has a daughter and asks about her only to be told (at first) the seven year old girl is staying with friends. Meanwhile Michael and her housekeeper, Paula, continue to insist Jane take the drugs Michael has prescribed to help her through this time of despair and insist Jane is not well enough to see her friends. But Michael's story begins to change.

My take:
     This is a suspense mystery that you will not want to put down. The conclusion is a terrible surprise, one that many of us can relate to unfortunately.
    "See Jane Run" moves quickly and the sense of foreboding keeps the reader engages throughout the entire book. It is cleanly written with a good understanding of what people in this situation would feel. The story keeps the reader guessing until quite close to the end and even then the reader wonders how Jane can ever come out of this.
     One of the things I most liked about the book is how the main character grew from dependency to being independent in just a first short weeks, as if the fire of this crisis made her discover what she had inside all along. By force of will she is able to put things in motion which actually help her when the reader thinks all is lost.
    While this book may hit too close to home for many readers, I definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Space Opera at it's Best!

In Her Name (Omnibus Edition) by Michael R. Hicks
Published by Imperial Guard Publishing 

From Amazon:
 This is the omnibus edition, and contains the complete novels of IN HER NAME: EMPIRE, CONFEDERATION, and FINAL BATTLE in a single volume.

As one reviewer said, IN HER NAME is “a grand story of love, power, sacrifice and good versus evil” that seamlessly blends together epic fantasy, science fiction, and romance as it chronicles the coming-of-age of a young warrior hero torn between love and honor...

In Her Name (Omnibus Edition)

This is the coming-of-age story of Reza Gard, a young boy of the Human Confederation who is swept up in the century-long war with the alien Kreelan Empire.  Enduring the brutal conditions of Kreelan life, Reza and a young warrior named Esah-Zhurah find themselves bound together by fate and a prophecy foretold millennia before they wer
e born.

Banished from the Kreelan Empire, Reza is once again a stranger in a strange land as he returns to the human Confederation.. There, a heartbreaking

 reunion awaits him, along with the discovery of an ages-old power that the  Kreelan Empire will stop at nothing to control.
 Space Opera writ large  

Reza awakens in a hospital on Earth after having been in a coma for months.  Escaping with the help of Jodi Mackenzie, who is now hunted for what she knows about the death of the president, Reza discovers that something is deeply wrong with the Empire: ... the human fleet - and humanity itself - will be doomed to utter annihilation unless Reza can reach the Empress in time...

About the book:
This book begins with a battle between humans and the kreela, a battle which the humans are losing.  During the course of the first scene we are introduced to the small boy, Reza Gard, and we see this small child commit such a daring act it is surprising he lives through it. But it is this act that sets his whole life in motion, from surviving on the orphanage planet to being captured by the enemy to being released by that same enemy to his 'death'.

Along the way Reza forms deep, life long friendships with a handful of people: Nicole from the orphanage; Jodi, Braddock and Eustus from the marines; and Esah-Zhurah from the empire. He also meets up with some powerful enemies, human enemies, not the least of which is Markus Thorella.

My take:
I always love well written, well edited books that have more than one story line. This book is no exception. The focus of the book is Reza and the boy gets girl - boy loses girl -  boy tries to regain girl plot while a sideline is the war between the humans and the kreela. Another subplot involves the power grab being made by a senator and a general.

This is space opera at its best.  Normally, I don't do much in the way of space opera because there is just too much blood and gore for me. While In Her Name is no different, the story itself goes well beyond several dozen well fought battles. If you really don't like fighting and killing, this is not the book for you, especially if you don't like killing for the sake of killing as there is honor with the kreela in kill or be killed battles, even among themselves. However, the plot is well done, the story somewhat unique, the characters full with complete and interesting back stories and motivations, the descriptions clear, and the end interesting.

This book made me feel like I did when I first read "Tactics of Mistakes" by Gordon R. Dickson. I hungered to learn more about this world and to read more from this author to the point of being insatiable. The only thing that stops me from reading more by Michael R. Hicks is my long, long TBR list.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Future Without Books

Fahrenheit 451 Publisher: Ballantine Books
A Future Without Books

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature where paper combusts and is the perfect name for this classic tale where firemen don't put out fires but they set them! Guy Montag is such a fireman. In a world where book are banned to the point of burning all of them and people are fed what to believe through government controlled videos, we find all sorts of parallels to our current lives.

Montag, the main focus of the story, meets a neighbor who has him questioning all he believes and yes, he finally steals a book from one of his burning gigs.  It is the turning point in his life. (Reminds me of a cop who told me he read Lord of the Rings 'cuz all the hippies he busted had a copy.) Montag then reads some poetry to his wife's friends and she promptly turns him in! His subsequent race for freedom is quite revealing.

I read this book more than 40 years ago, when it was not yet a classic. I found the book a little confusing as Bradbury can be at times, but a quick read with some outstanding images that still haunt me today. My terror as a young, voracious reader at the thought of no more books ever was overwhelming. The thought that the government would kill someone innocent just so the public would know it was impossible to run was stunning. But that wall size television?  Boy do I want it, only I want it in the form of a computer.

I give this book thumbs up for images. While the story may move a little slow in the beginning and may be a bit confusing, the overall book reads quickly. The writing is good and the characters are well done. This may not be a book to give to teenagers, but anyone with more experience in the world will find the book fascinating, not just for the story but for the foretelling of so much from the distant 1950's when it was first written.