Archive

Posts Tagged ‘kindle’

Book Review: Valley of Death, Zombie Trailer Park by William Bebb

November 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Red tinted image of a desert valley.Summary:
When Josey arrives a secluded trailer park near Albuquerque to empty their septic tank, it soon becomes apparent that not all is right in the park.  In fact, most of the residents have turned to zombies.  As Josey’s fight for survival goes on, we meet a quirky cast of survivors, bystanders, perpetrators–and zombies: illegal immigrants who call the valley home, their exploitative factory boss, a WWII veteran and grandpa, his young grandson, a paraplegic Vietnam Vet, a boa constrictor, bicycling missionaries, and many more. Will anyone survive the valley of death?

Review:
I have finally found the exception to my don’t-take-book-recommendations-from-other-people rule: my daddy.  My dad texted me and told me he was reading a book about a zombie trailer park and asked if I’d like to borrow it when he was done.  I couldn’t turn that down, so he sent his kindle loan to me as soon as he was finished reading it.  I knew within the first few pages that my dad had picked a winner.  That really shouldn’t surprise me, because, well, it’s my dad, and we’re very similar, but I had been burned a few times with book recommendations recently. Anyway. On to the review!

Bebb’s book is a fresh, engaging take on a zombie outbreak.  The origin is a factory error, which is decidedly different from the more usual government experimentation or voodoo approach.  It’s great commentary on the exploitative practices of factories, not to mention the exploitation of illegal immigrants, without ever being too heavy-handed or preachy.  The zombies are a mix of the rage virus and traditional undead. Before dying they are inexplicably full of rage and will eat almost anything but also when they die they reanimate. It’s a cool mix, and I enjoyed it.

The cast of characters is incredibly imaginative, diverse, and even-handed.  People are truly just people (or zombies) regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.  And, really, how many books can say they have a WWII vet, a sewer truck worker, a mechanically talented Latina, a wheelchair-bound obese meth chef, a loyal dog, bicycling missionaries, and a pot-growing paraplegic Vietnam Vet. I mean, really. And none of them are two-dimensional caricatures either. They are all well-rounded and presented with thought and humanity. I also never had that problem I sometimes have in books where you can’t tell the different characters apart. Everyone was entirely unique and easy to remember.

The plot is complex. I honestly did not know how it was going to end, and it maintains a fast pace throughout.  I was never bored and was never entirely certain what was going to happen next.  That’s coming from a big zombie fan, so I do think that’s saying something significant about the uniqueness of the engaging plot.

What really makes the book, though, is the sprinkling of humor throughout.  This type of humor won’t match everyone, but it certainly works for me.  I described it to my dad as “Patrick F. McManus with zombies,” but if you don’t get that reference, it’s hard to describe the humor.  So, here are a couple of quotes from the book to demonstrate it.

Your average one armed pot growing hermit who just murdered two men might be thinking about a variety of things. (location 2592)

Crazy cop fuckers done bit off my titty! (location 5423)

That second one….oh man. I laugh every time I see it.

So with all this love, why not five stars?  Well, much to Bebb’s chagrin, I’m sure, there aren’t enough commas.  (His author’s intro states that previous reviews said there were too many and now people will probably think there are too few. Sorry to confirm that suspicion, Bebb!)  Compound sentences tend to run on and on with no commas or semi-colons, which can be a bit frustrating to read.  Also, the book isn’t quite properly formatted for the kindle. Its display varies from section to section.  Similarly, while some sections are clearly divided by a dividing line (such as with tildes “~~~~”), others just have a big gap, which is not what one should use for ebooks.  With the variety of ereaders, it’s important to use something besides space as a signal that the reader has entered a new section, since the space can display drastically differently on different readers.  It’s best to use something like the tildes between sections.  Using empty space is a holdover from print that doesn’t work.  Bebb did use the tilde line in some sections, but not all, so there’s also a bit of a consistency problem.

Overall, though, the formatting and comma issues did not distract me from the wonderfully unique and humorous zombie trailer park story.  I’m so glad my dad discovered this indie author and passed his work on to me, and I look forward to reading more of it in the future. Highly recommended to all zombie fans, provided you like the type of humor outlined above.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Borrowed

Buy It
Note: It’s currently listed for free!

ETA: Had a delightful email convo with the author, and we determined that I read an older version of the book. The current one available should have mostly cleared up editing/layout concerns.

Friday Fun! (Get Your Geek On)

Hello my lovely readers!

I have super-exciting news!  This weekend I’m attending my first ever work conference, specifically the Medical Library Association’s 2012 conference in Seattle.  This is going to be so many firsts for me!  My first business traveling, first stay at a 5 star hotel, first time outside of the airport in Seattle (or on the west coast period), and first time where I will be completely surrounded by other medical librarians. In other words, no one will be saying, “I’ve never heard of a medical librarian” or asking, “So what do you do all day?” I alas doubt I’ll have much time to see very much of Seattle, although I fully intend to hit up at least one, maybe two, of their famous veg-friendly restaurants.  I also will be flying a grand total of approximately twelve hours, so definitely expect to see an upswing in reviews around here when I get back. 😉  Thank goodness I invested in that kindle last year!

And yes I am sitting here getting excited about tons of things people outside of my field have never even heard of being discussed at the poster sessions and plenary sessions and sunrise meetings.  I mean, I did pick a career I *enjoy*, people.

Also, the hotel has a rocking gym I plan on utilizing, not to mention a bathtub which is always a luxury for me, the lady whose apartment only has a shower stall.  Plus the awesome host librarians organized a sunrise yoga session. Yes.

So it’s a big, exciting weekend with lots of air time (yes, it takes 6 hours to fly nonstop from Boston to Seattle), so I will be getting lots of reading done.

I hope you all have lovely weekends and cross your fingers for me that I won’t get lost in my smart-phoneless state!

Book Review: Cursed by S. A. Archer (Series, #1)

January 9, 2012 1 comment

Woman with short hair in a red shirt in profile.Summary:
London works for hire doing investigations mostly for parahumans, and her best friend is a vampire who keeps hoping she’ll consent to being turned.  Her life isn’t run-of-the-mill, but it isn’t too bad either, until one day she gets Touched by a Sidhe and finds herself sucked into the Fey world bubbling just beneath the surface of the regular one.

Review:
This is a fast-paced urban fantasy novella, ideal for fans of the genre who can catch onto tropes without needing everything explained to them in detail.

London is a typical kick-ass heroine.  Her problem of having been Touched is achieved quickly, though, lending her the uniqueness of aching for a Fey.  Anybody who’s been a while without getting laid can relate to that. 😉

The paranormal world Archer has created uses the urban fantasy tropes but is still unique.  The shapeshifters are Changelings.  The Fey can look grotesque or beautiful (similar to a demon).  The vampires are what we have all come to expect from vampires.  Silver is still a force against the paranormals.

What bumped this novella up from average to highly enjoyable for me was the use of the paranormal world to comment on the relationship between Ireland the UK.  The UK consists of Wizards, and Ireland contains the Fey.  The Fey have been persecuted by the Wizards for generations, and it is this battle that London finds herself in the middle of.  This whole concept could really go places, and I like the freedom that urban fantasy gives Archer to comment on a touchy area of international relations.

My two quips with the novella are relatively minor.  I can’t stand the main heroine’s name.  It’s rather confusing to read about a London in the setting of the UK and Ireland.  I also was a bit disappointed to find no sex scene, but I suppose that’s what makes this urban fantasy and not paranormal romance.

Overall, I recommend this fast-paced novella to urban fantasy fans with an hour or so to kill and a kindle or other ereader handy.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from the author in exchange for my honest review

Buy It

Friday Fun! (People Who Have Fevers Probably Shouldn’t Blog But I’m Going To Anyway)

August 26, 2011 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Goodness, it’s a good thing I had posts queued up and scheduled as I seem to have dropped off the face of the planet the last couple of days with a random high fever and sore throat.  Not sure what that’s all about.  Planning to apply whiskey and soup to it tonight.

Also this seems to be weird weather week here in Boston what with the tremors from the DC earthquake shaking our high rises and Hurricane Irene supposedly arriving Sunday.  I get slightly irrationally excited over storms.  This is quite possibly because they were one of the more exciting events around when I was growing up in Vermont.  In any case, when the weathermen and the media are all “SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL” and then it doesn’t, I get majorly disappointed.

*shakes fist at sky* You promised me loss of electricity and storms and rain slamming into my window and comforting my kitten and hiding under a blanket with my kindle and secretly laughing at my new-found right to eat everything in my fridge before it goes bad!

Yeah.  Girlfriend has a tendency to get irritated when instead of that everything is sunny and normal.  Although I suppose I still could hide under the blanket with my kindle and kitty.

In any case, my preparation for  Irene is going to consist entirely of acquiring alcohol and a flashlight since I don’t own one.

Side-note: if anyone knows any sore throat cures I would massively appreciate it.  It hurts to talk.

I think it is still obvious I have a fever.

Oh!  Also, fellow east coasters, what’re your hurricane preps consisting of?  My work has already hid all of our picnic tables somewhere.

Friday Fun! (Kindle Cover, TRX, Karaoke)

August 12, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  There’s not too terribly much to report this week.  Last weekend Boston suffered a torrential downpour that destroyed my ipod.  Sad day.  I’m a bit poor right now, so I ended up bidding for a used one on ebay and winning.  Here’s hoping it actually works when it gets here.  *knocks on wood*

My kindle cover also broke this week.  The doohickey that holds the kindle in place got bent out of shape (no, I have no idea how).  I called Amazon, and they overnight shipped me a new one for free! Awesome. Sauce.  I will say, I think my kindle cover got a lot more use in its six months of life than the designers perhaps anticipated, lol.

Last weekend I tried out a new recipe–walnut-encrusted baked tofu with spinach l’orange.  It was….a bit more time-consuming than I was anticipating, but also delicious and filling.  I got three meals out of it (one dinner and two lunches).  Not too shabby for the relative cheapness of the ingredients.

My trainer had me try out TRX this week.  There are these straps hanging from the ceiling that you use to help you work out your muscles using your own weight and gravity as resistance.  It was super-duper fun to do push-ups and such in the air, I have to say.  I really loved it.  I’m half-tempted to join one of the gym’s TRX teams now.

I also went out to karaoke with my friend Jill this week.  It was tons of fun, as karaoke generally is.  Although this single lady did not see a single guy she was interested in, the crowd was a good karaoke crowd.  Everyone was good-natured, supportive, and well, tipsy.  Plus there were plenty of people buying drinks for us, which is always a plus. 😉

Happy weekends all!

Book Buzz: Orchids and Memories: 3 Stories of Hawaii by Robert Soares, Illustrated and Edited by Erin Soares

July 18, 2011 3 comments

Orchid flowersHello my lovely readers!  Since I’m increasingly becoming good friends with writers and other creative types, I want to be able to let you all know when they release new work.  However, I don’t feel like I could fairly review it, since I’m their friend.  Hence the new feature–buzzes!  I’ll just let you know that the piece is out, what it’s about, and where you can get it.  The rest is up to you. 😉

First up, my friend Erin, who you may remember illustrated my book cover, has edited and assembled a collection of three nonfiction short stories written by her grandfather chronicling his life as a Filipino growing up in Hawaii then coming to the mainland.  The collection calls to light many issues that I know are important to many of you, such as being non-white in America, the problem of higher education for non-traditional students, and environmentalism versus economy.  However, the collection also has universal appeal, as an older person reflects on his life and the successes and mistakes and possible mistakes he’s made.  I think it has wide appeal, and is of course beautifully illustrated by Erin.  It’s available for $2.99 via the Kindle store, and I do hope those of you who find the description appealing will check it out.

Buy It

Illustrator/Editor’s Website

Announcement: I Am Published!!

Hello my lovely readers!  So, the super-secret project that I’ve been working on is to finally get my own writing out where people can read it!  I’ve been writing since…..well, since I could put pencil to paper.  I am completely passionate about story-telling, and this is where I truly feel my talent lies.  Since I finished grad school in January, I’ve been cracking down and getting serious about my writing.

Well, I can finally announce that I have published the first entry in a new series to the Amazon Kindle store!  I started with my idea to reclaim the old format of serial books.  Every entry in the series is 99 cents and short enough to read in one sitting, such as on your commute, a plane ride, a bath, etc….  The storyline is complete in and of itself, but it will be continued in another entry in a few months.  Join Tova Gallagher in her paranormal world with the few moments you have to spare in your busy day!  It is ideal for the busy, modern, paranormal romance lover.

The first entry is entitled Ecstatic Evil.

Tova Gallagher isn’t just your average tough as nails, intelligent Bostonian. She also just so happens to be half-demon, and halvesies have an important role to play in the supe world. Whether they choose to go with the instincts of their demon or human half is supposed to predict the outcome of the endtimes, and now Tova has a deadline to choose sides. But all of that is hard to care about when she’s just met a sexy stranger on the edge of the Charles River.

Please do check it out!  I write because I have stories to tell and want to entertain.  At only 99 cents, it’s worth the shot, right?

Also, I started with the novella series so I could practice with the ebook publishing software before my first serious novel, which I plan to release in October for Halloween.  I am very excited about it and can’t wait to let you guys know more details!  In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on my new Publications page on this blog.  ❤

Check Out Ecstatic Evil

Friday Fun! (Quirky Wolfy)

I’ve always had this problem that I just don’t quite fit in anywhere.  I’m what they call an odd duck.  If I was a house, you’d say I was decorated in an eclectic fashion.  I’m kind of a big bunch of contradictions.  I’m a huge reader, so people think I’m a nerd, but then they find out that I scoff at D+D and WoW.  Suddenly, the nerds don’t know what to do with me.

I love going out to sporting events and cheering on the home team, but I don’t wear makeup.  Suddenly, the jocks are wondering how on earth I got into a sorority.  Um, I didn’t.

I recycle and garden passionately, but I shave my legs.  The hippies become very confused.

I am highly educated, but I’m more comfortable drinking at a bonfire and roasting veggie dogs over the open flames than I would ever EVER be in a fancy restaurant.

All of this has led me to make a pretty eclectic bunch of friends, and I love it, and I love them for it.  It really has enhanced my social circle to the umpteenth degree.  I have my hippie friends and my artistic friends and my nerd friends and my girly girl friends, etc….  I love them all for their own reasons, and I can pretty much always find someone to do any of my various pursuits with.  The problem, of course, comes when I’m trying to date.

I am weird.  Guys never know quite what to expect, and just when they think they have me figured out, I do something that to them is out of left field, but to me is totally perfectly normal.  I can go from discussing Kant to swearing like a sailor in five seconds flat.  I seriously get why it’s confusing.  The problem is that that’s just who I am, and I ain’t gonna change it to suit nobody.  I can’t pretend to be a classy lady when I’m not most of the time.  I can’t pretend I’m comfortable just sitting around drinking beer and watching the game every weekend, when sometimes I want to go to the museum.  I love who I am and how I am and the fact that it makes my life so varied and unpredictable.  The problem is that’s a lot of quirks to match someone up to.  Or at least to find someone who thinks they’re all cute.  I’m sure that quirky guy is out there somewhere.  I mean, after all, my father and uncles are all similarly quirky, and we can’t be the only family like that on the planet.  (please oh please oh please universe)

But, you know, waiting for him kind of sucks.  Even if I do get to pump iron at the gym, go out for beers to watch the Bruins, read on a riverbank on my kindle, and then hit up the MFA all in one weekend in the meantime.

Book Review: Alien Tango by Gini Koch (Series, #2)

December 27, 2010 7 comments

Man carrying a woman holding a gun over alligators.Summary:
Kitty Katt only learned about the existence of aliens on Earth five short months ago.  Incredibly hot aliens who wear Armani as a uniform and can run at hyperspeed.  Now she’s the head of a special American government division working with the A-Cs to keep Earth safe from the extra-terrestrial threat of superbugs.  Plus she has a hot A-C boyfriend, Jeff, who gives her the best sex of her life.  Their new routine gets interrupted though when the team gets sent to Florida on a routine mission that quickly turns abnormal.  Can the team figure out the threat at Kennedy Space Center?  Just as important, will Jeff’s family accept that he’s dating a human?

Review:
I actually received a Kindle copy of this book for free as part of its promotion, so I was unaware that it’s the second book in a series until I was a couple of chapters in.  Thankfully, the paranormal romance genre tends to take a few moments to remind the reader of what’s going on in the plot, so I wasn’t lost for too long.

Kitty Katt is the ideal paranormal romance heroine.  She’s simultaneously strong and girly.  She can kick major ass but also just wants to be held when the action is all over.  Best of all, her wit and snark line up exactly with mine.  I found her hilarious and would love to be her best friend.  Or be her.  In any case, she is 100% not annoying, which is not easy to pull off in the paranormal romance world.  I want to visit Kitty again and again, which is kind of the point of paranormal romance series, yes?  I kind of think of them as modern day serial stories.

I also really enjoy the alien angle.  I fully admit I rolled my eyes at the fact that the aliens only wear Armani, but in that “this world is ridiculous but I love it” way, not in the annoyed way.  The aliens tend to either be imageers or empaths.  I’m a bit unclear as to what the imageers can do.  I think that’s because I missed the first book.  Kitty’s boyfriend, however, is an empath, which means he almost always knows what emotion she’s feeling.  Talk about your dream guy.  It’s a fun new angle as opposed to the over-done vampires and shapeshifters.

The plot is full of action and sex.  It’s fast-paced with always one or the other going on.  The sex scenes are believable, in spite of the alien factor, and very modern.  Kitty is a gal who understands how things work in the bedroom but is also able to shoot a gun and outwit terrorists.  The combination of well-written modern day sex scenes and exciting action sequences make for an intensely enjoyable read.

Overall, Alien Tango is the ideal paranormal romance.  It puts something new into the mix–aliens–and features a heroine who is strong, modern, yet still retains some of her femininity.  I highly recommend this series to all who enjoy a good paranormal romance and also to lovers of scifi who won’t mind some hot sex scenes tossed in.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
Touched by an Alien

My Tentative Journey With eBooks

August 26, 2010 8 comments

A while back, I told you guys that I’m continuing my tentative steps into eBooks, but it hadn’t been very successful yet.  I admit this is partly because I’m a broke-ass graduate student, and so I don’t exactly have the cash to shell out for what I see as an extravagance.  Why get an eReader when I can get used books for under $5 a pop?  (For why I don’t have time to use the local library, see this post).  I’ve tried downloading eBooks that are available as pdf’s onto my computer, but I always made it only about as far through as a blog’s archives before losing focus.  Or I’d have to leave it and come back the next day and be incapable of finding where I left off.  I just can’t read a book on a computer.  Nuh-uh.  A computer is for article-length pieces.  I just can’t get past the part where I’m looking at a computer to get lost in the story.

When I got my iTouch, I decided to venture in yet again.  But I repeat that I’m a cheapskate, so I downloaded a couple of the various apps available for 99 cents that provide huge selections of out of copyright classics to read.  Although I was able to focus on the screen, it reminded me a lot of my speed-reading classes in middle school, because the screen automatically fades at a certain point (I’m not sure how long), so I’d either have to keep tapping the screen to keep it from doing that or read insanely fast.  The speed might not have been an issue if I wasn’t attempting to read classics, but I always read classics kind of slowly.  I get wrapped up in the language and the world-building.  Classics are about slow reading versus the fast reading of genre fiction for me.  I got about 3 chapters into two different classics before giving up and stopping.

Well then people started talking about the iBook app, and since I love everything Mac, I decided to download it, but upon trying I found out that my iTouch is too old to support it, at which point I started browsing the eReader section of the app store and saw the Kindle app.  For some reason, it had previously escaped my attention that the Kindle even had an app for Mac products.  I vaguely remembered some book blogs mentioning that you can get some books for free in the Kindle store, and the app was free, and….do I really need to repeat what a cheapskate I am?  Lol.

So I figured where am I most likely to read on my iTouch?  That’s easy.  On the bus when I can’t sit, need to hold on with one hand, and getting a book out of my bag is difficult.  What would I like to read on the bus but am embarrassed to?  Romance novels.  So I found a free romance novel and downloaded it.  The nice thing about the Kindle app, the main thing that made me start to relax into reading with it, is that the backlighting never fades.  I’m not so caught up in beating the fading light that I’m incapable of getting lost in the story.  So that was going fairly well, although I was still choosing to read my print book over the eBook whenever it was possible.

Then a certain book was released.  A book in a trilogy that is honestly a guilty pleasure for me.  (I’ll leave the reasonings for that for when I review the book next week).  I had decided I wasn’t going to buy the book; I’d just read spoilers and be happy with that.  But then the day of the release, I was getting frustrated at the complete lack of spoilers on the internet and while watching tv browsed to the Amazon store on my iTouch, and before I knew it, I’d bought the book.  I didn’t feel bad about the price, because it was less than the price of a movie ticket, and I view guilty pleasure reads a lot like going to the movies.  It’s brief entertainment, and I don’t need to hold onto it.  Let it entertain me for a bit, and in most cases, I won’t ever come back to it (my dvd collection is very, very small).

I was still skeptical about my desire to read on the small electronic screen of my iTouch, but I figured worst case scenario I’d skim for the spoilers and read it in print when the hoopla settles down.  I started reading it when standing on the bus in the morning, got a seat, and found myself wanting to keep reading on my iTouch over my print book.  And then on lunch break I decided I’d rather see what happened in that story than in the one I’m reading in print and discovered how much easier it is to eat and read when you can just set the book down and the pages don’t close on you.  Whoa.  Then I found myself sitting on my couch reading the iTouch.  Then last night in bed I suddenly realized I could turn out all the lights and still see to read because my book was lighting itself up. Whoa.

You guys….I have to admit….I like it.  Now that’s not to say I don’t have my issues with it.  For instance, nice as it is to read in the dark, sunny locations fade the screen so much that it’s sometimes nearly impossible to read.  I also don’t like the thought of the battery maybe running out.  (I may have obsessively recharged my iTouch yesterday.  *looks askance*)  I also don’t like how very small the iTouch screen is.  I also would never ever want an electronic device just for reading.  Part of the convenience on transit is having my music, videogames, and book all in one item.  Having something like a Kindle or a Nook seems rather pointless to me.  It’s one more device to carry.  So what has a larger screen but does all that?  The iPad.  I think the iPad still has issues.  Like I personally think it’s too big and too thick, (that’s what she said) but I think the next generation is going to solve those problems.  So…yeah, I see myself doing some electronic reading in the future.  But never on a device meant just for reading.  I also only see the value in it for guilty pleasure reads.  It works for me because of the way I read guilty pleasures.  I read quickly, sometimes skimming, because the story is all about the excitement or the hilarity.  It’s not about the deep thought.  I can’t see me reading a book that changes my life on an electronic device.  That just rings false to me.  But reading a story that’s about consuming it once kind of like buying movie popcorn for the pure pleasure of chowing down the greasy, salty deliciousness?  That makes sense to me.  So that’s the role I see eBooks taking in my life.  The reading equivalent of movie popcorn, and who doesn’t like movie popcorn every once in a while?