Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Freebies(on Amazon!) and 2 Reviews:

So, apparently Amazon is doing a super sale right now where a bunch of authors have free books.  Being the crazy, can't not download a free BOOK to save my life, I have taken advantage of this lovely sale and downloaded like... uh... 30 books.  I imagine you are going to get a lot more reviews from me in the near future. But there are something like 7,000 books for free on Kindle right now, how do you decide?  Well, first of all, for kindle lovers and owners, there is a GREAT website out there that a fellow author pointed out to me recently called: ereaderIQ.  Go there, fall in love.  :)

But there are still like 500 books to choose from, so let me help you even more.  These are books I've chosen because: I've "met" their authors online in kindleboards and they seem pretty cool, they have a good set of reviews under their belts, and they have a decent sales ranking (which tells me they sell a lot of books). I haven't read ANY of these authors before. None of them has ASKED me to promote them here. Just, FYI.

Basically, anything thing with a review average greater than 3.5 and a sales rank lower than 20,000 is a book I downloaded.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Oh, one more thing.  Matchmakers 2.0 and The Black God's War are both novellas.

Enough of that.  Onto the review.  First the good.  Matchmakers 2.0 was the first story I read from my new downloads.
It's the story of Mick, former guppy studier and current employee of —a local South Carolina company that matches up their customers based on a fancy computer algorithm.  Obviously, computers don't always work.  Which is why the company then sends the profiles to their crack team of professionals who use their wits, education and the occasional coin flip to figure out who goes with who.
This is a charming story, filled with multiple snappy comebacks and witticisms that reminded me a lot of the dialog from Gilmore Girls, without the endless drama.  The characters are interesting, the story moves along well, and the ending is perfect for a "novel nibble".  Overall, I would recommend this novella to anyone wanting a short story to get them through a long line at the DMV, etc.
There's just one thing.  Just one little thing that kept this story from being a 5 star for me. There are NO descriptions of what the characters look like.  Seriously NOT A ONE.  I get that this is a novella.  I get that any descriptions there are would be short and to the point.  But come on... not one eye color, height, weight, hair color, nose shape, mouth size, etc. to be found in the ENTIRE story.  I thought I was going crazy at first, so I went back and double checked it.  I read the whole thing again and sure enough, not one.  Cute is the best description you're gonna get, people.
I haven't read the other books of hers, but frankly, it makes me afraid to fork out the cash for a NOVEL.  I need character descriptions.  Now, I went back and read every review of Matchmakers 2.0 (there are 73 of them) and no one else commented on this issue, so I guess I'm in the minority here.  But if that kind of thing is a big deal for you, then you might want to take this novella with a grain of salt.
So Matchmakers 2.0: 4 stars.

My next review is something I've yet to do here, review a non-indie.  However, this book was so epically bad, that I just HAD to share it with you.
So, word of mouth has failed me.  This book was a recommend from a random girl at the library who told me it was her FAVORITE book in the whole entire world.  *sigh*  After reading it, I feel out of touch with the whole genre.  Maybe I'm too old to read YA fiction.  Maybe the time has come for me to give it up.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater did not start out well.  First of all, it was really slow.  Nothing was really drawing me into the story.  Usually, by the 4th chapter or so, there is an obvious storyline that is pulling you along, keeping you reading.  I put this book down a bunch of times, thinking, "This is not that great."  But I stuck it out, because it was someone's favorite book.
Then I got to page 63.  This chapter is told from the male protagonist's viewpoint.  "I was a leaking womb bulging with the promise of conscious thoughts..."  Um... WHAT?  Did you seriously just compare your supposedly hot main character to a woman's menstruating womb???  I've read some weird metaphors before.  I once read a book where Toni Morrison compared a woman's tongue to a wagging dog penis.  But it wasn't like she was a main character.  It wasn't like we were supposed to think she was this sexy, stunning wolf boy. I can't believe this book got through TWO editors without either of them saying, "Hey, you might not want to compare your main character to a bleeding uterus."  Shame on Abby Ranger and David Levithan.  SHAME.
This was just a perfect example for me of the author doing what she does consistently in this book which is go waaaay over the top with the descriptive language.  Now, let me clarify.  I LOVE prose.  I LOVE descriptive language.  Have you ever read a Barbara Kingsolver book?  Chock full of the stuff.  But she knows where to stop.  Comparing your main character to a bloody uterus is someone who doesn't get the fine line between prose and "purple prose".
Second thing about this book that bothered me: It had several conflicts that never really did anything much whatsoever.  Usually when you read a book, you get a conflict right away.  This book has several elements that could have been the conflict for the story.
-We have Shelby, werewolf obsessed with the main guy and dangerously crazy.  But other than one big scene involving her, she isn't really mentioned and nothing really happens with her storyline
-We have Jack, newly turned and savage.  There could have been a great story element involving his rehabilitation and introduction to the new world he lives in.  But no, again, he is barely mentioned except for a few key scenes, then fades away from the story.
-Then there is the "cure" for lycanthropy, which to me is the least well explained element in the story.  I find it hard to believe that the characters had to resort to the ends they did in the book.  There are plenty of ways to accomplish the same thing without the craziness they did.
The third and fourth things about the book that bothered me were related, so I'm combining them.  Have you ever watched a TV show with a teen protagonist and even if the parents start out being ultra cool and involved, over time the show fades them out into these sort of "half parents" who don't seem to give a crap what their kids are up to, don't seem to ever be around because they're BUSY, and generally don't parent at all?  These are those parents.  And despite the fact that many of these shows exist and are watched by millions, I find it hard to believe that even THOSE parents would be as clueless as THESE parents.  Their daughter is attacked by wolves, and they don't care.  She is off with their cars at all hours of the day and night and they don't care.  She skips school to hang out with her boyfriend and they don't care.  Her boyfriend starts LIVING IN THEIR HOUSE and somehow they have no idea???  This is just an obvious way for the author to let her characters get up to whatever business they want without having to worry about the parents getting in the way.  And it doesn't work AT ALL for the plot.
And the way Grace and Sam HANG all over each other, like RichandAmy from Zits may be highly amusing in a comic strip satire way, but only serves to drag this storyline down to adolescent in the most alarming fashion.  Love is great, really, but this is ridiculous and only a hormone filled teenage girl could take any of this seriously.
Shiver: 2 stars (bordering on 1).

I will review RUN when I post my word count on Sunday.  Happy Reading!

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