Friday, July 29, 2011

Sonic Ping

Sonic Ping by Orlando Stephenson is a lightweight thriller. I read it in one sitting. There are a lot of topics touched on but at 260 pages, there is no time to go into any depth. I liked the book and if you're a thriller fan I suggest you give Sonic Ping a try.

Millionaire Daryl Morgan wants to save the world. I think. I know he wants to do his white knight routine for any female he wants to have sex with. I'm just not sure he'd go too much out of his way to help anyone else. Sure, if he sees a bunch of bullies beating on someone he'll jump in. But would he go out of his way? I don't know. If you get the feeling I don't like Daryl you are right. He's got the morals of an alley cat. If a female character behaved in the same manner she'd be dismissed as a slut.

When Maddie, the widow of a friend, calls in the middle of the night Daryl leaves his wife to hurry over. Maddie's niece, Jennifer, has been kidnapped. The kidnappers say her late husband, Brad, owes them two million dollars and they want it. The minute Maddie throws herself into Daryl's arms he starts thinking about screwing her.

The next day he goes to his friend Roger for help. Roger is a NinjaNerd. Martial arts/special forces training and mad computer skills. What Daryl doesn't know is he's also Jennifer's boyfriend. They get Jennifer back fairly quickly but the kidnappers don't give up. Before you can say Dan Brown, Daryl's wife is dead and Maddie's been sold into slavery. And they still don't know why. The rest of the book follows Daryl and Roger as they try to find Maddie and figure out why people are getting killed and kidnapped.

Sonic Ping is a fun read. There are a few cliches. A huge bodyguard named Tiny for example. And, for the life of me, I don't know why Daryl even exists. He does nothing in this book that couldn't be rewritten to have Roger doing it. Like I said before, I don't like him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Android Karenina

Book description from Amazon:
The extraordinary success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) has spawned an entirely new genre. The publication of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (2009) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010) left readers wondering what famous figure or classic novel would be the subject of the next delightfully irreverent mash-up. Wonder no more, just sit back, relax, and prepare to consider Tolstoy's masterful Anna Karenina in a whole new light. Anyone who has ever delved into the works of the great Russian novelist knows that he was, first and foremost, a realist. Somehow Winters manages to pay homage to Tolstoy's pragmatic tone while investing this timeless, ill-fated love story with robots, cyborgs, androids, and a host of other familiar sf elements. As Anna and Count Vronsky embark on their scandalous affair, they must also battle a band of radical scientists intent on fomenting a revolution. When upstart machines rebel, adultery becomes the least of their problems. Although Tolstoy purists may sniff, the parallels to nineteenth-century Russia remain surprisingly true in this futuristic version of his timeless classic. Advise readers to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride—most won't be disappointed. 

Buy Android Karenina

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Hangman's Daughter Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

This novel has been popular in Germany since its 2008 publication there, and it’s easy to see why. Set in the mid-1600s in the Bavarian town of Schongau, it features a hangman, Jakob Kuisl, who is asked to find out whether an ominous tattoo found on a dying boy means that witchcraft has come to town. This is no idle fiction. The German rulers were, at the time, heavily involved in the detection, prosecution, and execution of suspect witches. P√∂tzsch, who is descended from the real-life Kuisl family, does an excellent job of telling the story and supplying the historical backdrop. And his characters—Jakob, the hangman; his daughter, Magdalena; and Simon, the physician’s son—are extremely well drawn and believable. Kudos, too, to translator Chadeayne, who retains the story’s German flavor while rendering the text in smooth and highly readable English. Readers of historical fiction should find this very much to their liking.

Buy The Hangman's Daughter

Friday, July 15, 2011

spook country

Years ago, reading William Gibson's Neuromancer changed my life. That thing he called cypberspace really sounded interesting. For the first time, I looked forward to the future. You have no idea how bummed I am that Gibson's world is not here for all of us yet. I can't wait! Jack me in all the way baby! Sigh.

Neuromancer also got me reading other science fiction for the first time. I'm still not a fan of “hard” science fiction. I really don't want to wrap my head around quantum physics while I'm wrapping my head around green, pointy eared aliens who only mate once every seven years.

I've read quite a few Gibson books since Neuromancer. None of them have made the same kind of lasting impression. spook country is a different kind of Gibson book. It's political fiction. I won't go so far as to call it a “thriller” because there is very little “thrill” here. spook country took me forever to read. I kept picking up other books instead. Not a good sign.

The book revolves around three people in three separate stories that are slowly coming together. Hollis is an ex-singer writing a story on “locative art” for a magazine that doesn't exist. Milgrim is an educated junkie being held hostage by a “spook” who needs his ability to translate an obscure language. Tito is part of an unusual family who do unusual things for strange people. Gibson could have left Hollis' story out and still had the same book. I can't see any real purpose to her existence.

I'll admit I'm not that into political thrillers or political books of any type. I understand the points Gibson was making in this book. The humor did not go over my head. I just didn't find it that interesting. This book was not for me. It didn't have the kind of payout at the end that I needed. I thought it ended with a quiet pop. I needed a bang after 365 pages of very little happening that moved the story along.

William Gibson is a great writer. I will continue to read his books. In fact, I've decided to go back and read all of them again. I'll give spook country a miss.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Editor? I Don’t Need No Editor! Besides, Their Expensive!

This turned up in my inbox this morning. I thought I'd post it since one of the reasons I hate self published books is that they lack an editor.

Do you need an editor? Yes, you do.

That sums it up but also makes this article too short.

Here are some of the reasons why writers think they don’t need editors:
  • They are so in love with their own writing they cannot bear the thought of someone suggesting that every word, comma, dash and ellipsis is not perfect.
  • They think spell check and that squiggly green line will protect them from any lapses of spelling and grammar.
  • They are too cheap to hire a professional editor.
  • They have a mother who loves them and agrees that the book is deathless prose and absolutely perfect, just the way it is.

And, there is one final reason, a dream that won’t die. Here’s the fantasy: the writer (You, Me) sends in a manuscript that, while unpolished, sings to the publisher’s reader. The Reader laughs, cries, reads through the night in the rapture that only comes when the Next Great Writer has been discovered. The next day, tired but triumphant, the Reader goes to the Publisher and demands that The Best Editor In The World be put on this project to unleash it’s perfection, that an immediate advance check be cut, and this book must be fast-tracked to market.

The sad news is this is not going to happen. Never.

So, this is what you need to do:
  • Find an editor. You can find them online.
  • Check their references. You would make some calls if you were looking to hire a plumber or a mechanic. Be at least that diligent with your book.
  • Establish a clear relationship with the editor. Discuss the scope of work you have in mind. Discuss their suggestions before undertaking a rewrite. If you don’t like their opinions, talk to another editor.

Here is something to comfort you. You are not obligated to take the editor’s advice. You can go ahead and send it to a publisher, an agent, or self-publish the book, just as it is. But an editor may keep you from sending something that has unnoticed errors, or unclear passages (that make perfect sense to you, because you wrote them), or redundancies.

One final thought to convince you that an editor is a good idea – IT COULDN’T HURT.

This post was written by Cynthia Boles.

About the image: "Quarters of the news editor", one a group of four photos in brochure Seattle and the Orient (1900) collectively captioned "The Seattle Daily Times—Editorial Department." This is part of a long section on The Seattle Daily Times, publisher of the brochure/booklet. The newspaper is now known simply as the Seattle Times. Found on Wikipedia.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tempest in the Tea Leaves

Every now and then I get offered review copies of books. Usually by the time they show up on my door step I've forgotten why I agreed to review them. I had totally forgotten about Tempest in the Tea Leaves

Of course Sunny and Det. Stone are total opposites but also attracted to each other. He thinks she's guilty and means to prove it. She knows she's innocent and sets out to prove it.

Then comes the most unbelievable part. The powers that be force Det. Stone to work with Sunny to solve the case. I couldn't help thinking that Townsend wrote this part while watching the first season of Castle. There's no logical or realistic reason this would ever happen. I think it is a total cheat and many books have dealt with similar situations in more creative ways. A drawback of the series is that this forced relationship is going to continue.

Another quibble is some of the dialogue. One snippet is an often repeated line from Disney's Hanna Montana (oh how it pains me to admit I recognized it). Using it makes Sunny sound like a teenager not a thirty year old.

As I said these are minor quibbles. The story was enjoyable, even if I did figure out who done it too early. That's a hazard when you read a lot of mysteries. Tempest in the Tea Leaves has some great characters. I want Morty to come and live with me. I'm looking forward to reading more about Sunny and her psychic adventures.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Druids Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

For 500 years, Europe was ruled by people who believed acts of nature were omens of the gods, where nobility was earned and where honor was valued above life... These rulers considered themselves Druids: protectors of the Earth and wizards of nature. 
The rise of the Roman Empire occurred as the world of the Celts disintegrated. Because they did not record their history, all stories were either lost or told from a Roman point of view. But suppose a Celt not only survived but actually recorded what happened? Who then becomes the barbarian, and whose civilization suffers invasion...?

Buy Druids

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cold Magic

Kate Elliot calls her book Cold Magic an “Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy with airship, Phoenician spies, the intelligent descendants of troodons, and a dash of steampunk (or at least some gas lamps).”

There's really not much I can add to that. That's the book in a nutshell. You can quibble about it being more Victorian than Regency but why bother? The book has airships and mages and weres (oh, my) and it all seems to work. The mages love magic and hate technology. Not unexpected but the reason they hate technology is at least interesting.

The heroine, Catherine, is forged into marrying a young Cold Mage. She later finds out that her family has a lot of secrets and she's not exactly who she thought she was. When she learns that her cousin is also in the Mage House's cross hairs, she undertakes a harrowing journey to get to her before the mages can.

Cold Magic is the first book in the Spiritwalker Trilogy. The main question of the book is answered by the end but the story is to be continued. Hopefully the next book will come out before I forget too much of this one. There are a lot of minor characters who add flavor to the book. It's possible that many of them will turn up again in other books.