Thursday, November 24, 2011
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
Northern Frights Publishing
Amazon buy link - $2.99 (kindle format)
Drive Thru Horror - $2.99 (other formats)
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
ASPECT RATIO by Frances Pauli
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
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
About 8000 words
This was a re-read for me. Still like it. The story, LUST, still has me laughing.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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
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
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.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Back of the Book Blurb:
Izzy's new job aboard a solar station orbiting Earth becomes more complicated when she begins receiving cryptic messages from a ghost. This story was a winner in the "L Ron Hubbard presents the Writers of the Future" contest, and first appeared in Writers of the Future Volume XXVI.
I picked up Brent's book months ago, but only have had the chance now to sit down and read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had the right mix of science fiction (robots, set in space, creepy quasi-'net) with the psychological mind tricks that outstanding harder science fiction should play with your mind.
The science easy to follow after about page 4 or 5, once I managed to adjust my imagination to Knowles's particular setting. The only thing I struggled with was trying to picture the "Assistants", but I opted to picture them as quasi human-looking robots. I'm not sure if that's what the author intended, but it worked for me.
For those who are afraid to jump into harder science fiction, Digital Rights provides a good introduction. The benefit is its length. A longer story would have become too bogged down, I think. The length works in its favour.
There are books that make a reader think, "I could have written that." Then, there are books like these that make a reader sigh and say, "I wish I'd written that."
One of my favourites for 2011.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Back of the Book Blurb:
Nadia is an Assassin, designed, built and trained to kill. Running from her owners, the Gemini Corporation, stranded on a space station, she is hunted by a tracker named Devon. The easiest thing would be to kill him. But Nadia is desperate to resist her nature and as Devon closes in, she fights against her overwhelming urge to kill.I really enjoyed this novella, both in terms of the writing style and the plot itself. It was a little twisted and had a darkness to it that often doesn't translate well in science fiction of this length, however the author really pulls it off. I enjoyed this story a lot and fully recommend lovers of dark SF to pick it up.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Published by Cobblestone Press, 2008
Novella-length, M/M erotica
Back of the book blurb:
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I confess that I own the paperback, which I purchased from the Northern Frights Publishings's booth at Edmonton's Pure Spec convention in October. So, I'm cheating just a tiny bit here. However, the words are all the same and, at that $2.99, you just can't go wrong with this book.
I'm not a Wizard of Oz fan and I'm really not a horror/twisted dark fiction fan. So, when I say that I felt this was well-written, well-compiled, and well-edited, you are hearing this from a non-fan of the genre. There were a few stories I had to stop reading; otherwise, I'd need to sleep with the lights on for a week. And yet, I felt compelled to still give the next story a try. I found myself pushing my own limits in the genre because I enjoyed the short stories in this so much.
I'm so happy to see a new publisher really pushing the limits by putting out this anthology. It's outstanding. It's creepy. It's twisted. And it will change your view of Oz forever.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this instalment, Deucalion, Carson, and Madison are steadily moving toward stopping Victor and his bid to take over the world. Victor's problem is that his creations are all turning into Pinky to his Brain. He is so bound by his own arrogance that he is incapable of taking steps to correct the errors. His downfall is inevitable, because he just can't admit that he isn't perfect. With everything going wrong around him, he finds more and more creative reasons why none of this is his fault.
Erika Five (Victor's wife) has become a central figure in this story line. She stumbles upon a secret passage in the library that leads to a private study. In the study is a large, coffin-like glass box with "something" in it. Something that actually speaks to her. Then she brings Jocko (Jonathan Harker's child from book 1) to see the secret room. Erika and Jocko have become friends and she wants his opinion about the mysterious box. Jocko is pretty sure that whatever is in the box is bad and they should just leave it alone.
Deucalion visits Victor's Angel of Mercy Hospital and discovers that Victor's creations are imploding much quicker than anticipated. He finds and speaks with Victor's computer operating system, and when he learns that the computer is partly organic he "frees" her from her prison by shutting the system down. The computer is grateful, but she follows her fail-safe instruction by turning the self-destruct count-down on. Victor goes back to the Hospital that evening only to find that everything will be destroyed. He grabs his computer back-ups and heads out to his new race factory outside the city. Deucalion, Carson, and Madison are on their way to the factory as well, and the final confrontation that will occur there.
I enjoyed this novel very much. I really liked the developing relationship between Carson and Madison, and the one between Jocko and Erika. Watching Victor's plans unravel and his utter confusion about it was fascinating. I know not everyone liked it, and I can understand why, but for me it was a satisfying read, and I recommend it. I'm really looking forward to Book 4: Lost Souls.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Published by ChiZine
Chimerascope, my first full collection of short fiction, is now available for ordering. Chimerascope contains sixteen of my favourite stories, including an Aurora Award winner, a Best New Horror selection, nine Aurora finalists, and three Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honourable mentions.
I had intended the read the first story, get a feel for the collection, and then book a time that I would read it all. No way. This collection was impossible to put down. This contains one of the best collections of speculative fiction I have ever read. There is a reason that the majority of these stories have won awards and nominations. Smith is absolutely brilliant as he proves SF is every bit as intelligent and thought-provoking as any literary work out there.
My favourite in the collection was "Scream Angel," with my new favourite first line: They stopped beating Trelayne when they saw that he enjoyed it. I surprisingly also liked "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down." I generally don't like horror, so it was a surprise to have enjoyed this one as much as I did.
After reading the collection, I immediately knew Chimerascope would be on my Aurora Award nomination list this year.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Back of the book blurb: