Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moving!

Hi all!

I want to let everyone know that my reviews are moving to my main website at http://kristadball.com . Originally, my blog wasn't set up to deal with reviews, author help, and my regular blog. However, I've been able to move things together with some blog changes. Also, now that my time is limited, it is easier for me to blog from one central location, as opposed to three different ones.

So, hop on over and follow. You can see all of my reviews under the "Review" category!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alice and Dorothy by J.W. Schnarr

288 pages
Horror
J.W. Schnarr
Northern Frights Publishing
Amazon buy link - $2.99 (kindle format)
Drive Thru Horror - $2.99 (other formats)


The Blurb:


A FAIRYTALE OF SEX, DRUGS, AND MURDER...Alice Pleasance has just killed a man.Later, while suffering a heroin overdose, Alice visits a nightmare world of playing card royalty and violent tea parties. Worse, Alice discovers that her broken mind has dragged something out of her delusions and into her waking life. Something evil.
Trapped in a psychiatric ward while dealing with her drug addiction, Alice finds an unlikely friend in Dorothy Gale, a girl who knows all about other worlds and the duality of life. Sweet, gentle Dorothy, who carries a stuffed dog named Toto and has a few secrets of her own.Now they are on the run, escaping vengeful drug dealers, trigger happy cops, and the horrors being created inside Alice's own shattered mind.
And while Dorothy clings to the promise of love as she chases a tornado across the country, Alice clings to her sanity, because the creature sharing her mind has a growing bloodlust that will not be denied.

Holy crap. This book is gritty, demented, and ultimately unforgettable.

I had such a soft spot for Alice and her "Alice in Wonderland" psychotic episodes. I worked with homeless people for several years, many with mental illness and drug addictions. Schnarr's depictions of that kind of life mixed with a mental illness ranks amongst the most realistic and visceral that I've come across in fiction. When Alice is screaming at the voices in her head, hitting and killing as she tries to deal with the fractures in reality, I recalled the stories that homeless people often told me about their own lives.

Alice and Dorothy's adventure, or killing spree, or descent into insanity (it depends on what point-of-view you're using) grabs your senses and runs with it.

It was a difficult book to read, but far more difficult to put down. It pushes the envelop, and creates a masterpiece.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Four Quick and Dirty Reviews

I'm a little behind in my reviews, so here are four titles I've read recently!

ASPECT RATIO by Frances Pauli

SFR novel
Book Two of the Shift Happens series (stand alone, but I recommend you read Book 1 first)

Technically, this has been classed as a science fiction romance in several places. It isn't. It's a science fiction comedy.

It made me laugh when I was on vacation and having a crummy day.

What more could I ask from a book?


BE GOOD TO YOUR ELF by Elizabeth Coldwell

Contemporary Erotica (Christmas theme)
Short Story (about 3000 words)

Rather weird reading a Christmas tale in the dead of summer, but I've done weirder things.

This story had a sweet charm to it and never lost its sense of humour, right up to the end. Worth reading just for the poor heroine's face palm moment. You'll know it when you hit it.



CARNALLY EVER AFTER by Jackie Barbosa

Regency erotica (novella)

I really liked this story. It's not a deep historical foray into the Regency period or anything, but I don't think it's meant to be that.

My only complaint (and it's more about this genre, than this specific book) is the sex dialogue can get clumsy. It can get tedious having a man walk a woman through losing her virginity.

Still, if you're into Regency books, this is a descent one and worth both the price and the time investment to read.



SEVEN DEADLY SINS by Various

Flash Fiction Anthology
About 8000 words

This was a re-read for me. Still like it. The story, LUST, still has me laughing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow

Urban Fantasy
Novel-length

Back of the book Blurb

First in the Dante Valentine series

Necromance-for-hire Dante Valentine is choosy about her jobs. Hot-tempered and with nerves of steel, she can raise the dead like nobody’s business. But one rainy Monday morning, everything goes straight to Hell. The Devil hires Dante to eliminate a renegade demon: Vardimal Santino. In return, he will let her live. It’s an offer she can’t refuse. There’s just one catch. How do you kill something that can’t die?

I have mixed feelings about this book. First off, I really liked the near future-fantasy mixture. I generally find this mix flops, but Saintcrow definitely pulls this setting off. Since I read science fiction and know what a "hover" would be, I cope easily with the language. I can see, however, someone who's never read SF getting lost. However, if you can follow a Star Trek episode, you can follow this easily enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story line. I thoroughly enjoyed the side characters. I raced through the book to see how it ended. And yet...

Something about the main character really got underneath my skin at times. I have a personal issue with female main characters in urban fantasy, who are all kick-ass, but can't seem to work with other human beings. At all. It tends to grate my nerves at times. I'd love to see more urban fantasy where a women leads people into battle, instead of having friends inviting themselves to come help.

Even with the faults I found in the main character, the side crew were outstanding, as was the general story line. I picked up the entire series in ebook, as there was a sale over at Kobo Books. I plan to keep going. For the faults of Valentine, I'm still interested to see how things unfold.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron

Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron
Urban Fantasy
Novel


Back-of-the-book Blurb


After three hundred years of unlife, vampire Zara Lain has seemingly done it all, and she's now making a living as a successful thief-turned-assassin. Her newest assignment seems simple enough--kill the aging leader of the O'Connor Coven and his only heir, and she'll have another ten million in the bank.


But in the dangerous world of the supernatural, few things are ever "simple."


When a massive assault decimates the continent's population of powerful witches and warlocks, and its orchestrator has vampires being hunted down and captured, Zara realizes the tables have turned and now she'll be playing the hero. Forced to join with a smart-mouthed fellow vampire, a demonologist who's also a fan of hers, a recently widowed--and frequently brooding--warlock, and her best friend's mom, Zara's grudgingly willing to do what she can to save the day.


If only people would stop ruining all her outfits...



Vampires behaving like vampires. Now there's a thought.

BLOODLINES is a snarky and bloody trip into the life of Zara the crazy, emotionally damaged, and way too snarky for her own good (my name for her). God, I loved her. Think Buffy as a vampire. Have teeth, will kick ass.

If blood, swearing, and snark offends you, pass on this book. There's plenty of all three. Yet, I never felt that any was out of place. It was always honest. And perhaps that's what set this book apart from most urban fantasies featuring a female main character: it was honest to a fault. There was no going easy on the readers; everything was to character for Zara. Everything. It's rare for a book to be that honest.

It's so honest that I finished the book at 1am and swore curses of eternal rashes on the author. Rare does a book bring out such a reaction in me.

Read it and rediscover both vampires and urban fantasy.



100% Full disclosure here, folks. Skyla is the COO of Mundania Press, who recently contracted an epic fantasy of mine. Skyla is also running a contest where there's some awesome prize-winning potential for folks who review Bloodlines. I'm reviewing the book because a) I liked it and b) I want to win goodies. I am not doing it to suck up to her, since she's already picked up my book ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Highsong by Laura Jennings

HIGHSONG by Laura Jennings


About 60 pages (according to my eReader)
Science Fiction/Adventure (though I'd class it as YA SF)
Back of the book blurb:


A young dolphin and her human ward discover they are the only defense against a massive alien onslaught.


I've put off writing this review because I'm rather torn about the book. Finally, I decided that my issue was not with the book; rather I am not the kind of reader that this book should attract.


First things first. This is well-written, organized, and a stellar showing of Jennings' talent. No doubt we'll see a lot more from her in the future and I sincerely look forward to her future work. 


For me, I was expecting more of a harder science fiction than a young adult toned novella. So, in that case, I was disappointed. Though, to be fair to the author, that's my fault and not the fault of her work. My interest in the book faded a couple of times, mostly because I struggled to connect with Harp (the human boy) and Sia (the dolphin). 


In the end, if the combination of dolphins and space travel interests you in the least, this is definitely the book for you. I'd also recommend this as a "gateway book" for anyone who hasn't read any science fiction. It has enough imagination to be different and interesting, without reading like a technical journal or assuming a base knowledge of common science fiction terms and plotlines.


It's worth picking up and giving a try.



Monday, June 6, 2011

The Dimensional Shift by Frances Pauli

I struggle with science fiction romance (SFR). I'm not a big romance reader, though I don't mind romance in a book itself. However, I haven't had good luck with the merger of the two genres. Most times, I'm left feeling like either the science was laughable or the heavy panting got in the way.

So, as someone who doesn't like the genre and who has struggled to even finish most SFR books recommended to her, I *loved* this book. Loved it. Laughed and laughed, and laughed some more. And I didn't laugh at it. No, I laughed with it.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Pauli took the common "vanilla human meets the aliens" trope and gave the woman a job cleaning hotel rooms in space/time. That just rocked.

A major thing that I enjoyed was that the love interest was not the focus of the book. Our heroine had to deal with moving into another dimension, making friends with an invisible man, and her crazy neighbour. The relationship between Chloe (our heroine) and Drew (the handsome boss man) never felt forced, so I could enjoy their story along with Chloe's adventures.

Highly recommended.