June 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
Occasionally I collect up my favourite e-book finds (usually indie) to share with the world. I have two great ones to share today, one mystery and one fantasy.
Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery) by M. Louisa Locke
My rating: 5 stars
I loved the character of Annie Fuller from the first page. Already a widow at the age of twenty-six, she’s been pushed around, mistreated, gone from wealth right down to destitution and still pulled herself back. As the story opens, we find her the owner of a respectable boarding house, enjoying the independence she deserves. And if I had to describe Annie Fuller in one word, ‘independent’ is the word I would use. Nobody tells this lady how to behave!
She augments her modest living by masquerading as a clairvoyant, specialising in business advice. It’s the only way that men of the 1870s would accept financial guidance from a woman – a pity, as Annie is very good at it indeed. Then one of her favourite clients is killed. The police say it is suicide, but Annie is certain it was murder.
To make matters worse, a creditor of her dead husband’s is trying to collect an old debt from Annie which she cannot pay. The only way she can avoid losing her home is to solve the mystery of Matthew Voss’s death – and in the process find out what became of the assets he left to her in his will. Annie’s a determined woman. With the help of the stubborn but loveable lawyer, Nate Dawson, there’s nothing she won’t do to learn the truth about the mysterious Voss family and the night that Matthew was killed.
I enjoyed the historical details in this tale, and the writing style is lively and easy to read. Its real strength, though, is the characters. They’re believable, interesting, and they really do seem to be visiting straight from the 1870s. I’m looking forward to the next book from this author.
Amazon UK Current price: £2.08
Amazon US Current price: $3.42
Smashwords Current price: $2.99
There’s also a free short story available, called ‘Dandy Detects‘, featuring some of the characters from this book.
The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
My rating: 5 stars
Amaranthe Lokdon defies convention and expectation to become a female enforcer (a sort of beat policeman). She’s pretty good at it, too, and very dedicated to her job. Only she happens to catch the eye of the idealistic young emperor, and swiftly finds herself in a great deal of trouble. Wanted by the government for her supposed treasonous crimes, she’s obliged to go on the run – and save the emperor on the side. With her quick wit and her ability to think on her feet, she soon assembles a mismatched but oddly capable team of unlikely heroes to help her out.
The story features a range of supporting characters including an enigmatic assassin, a moody young wizard and a drunken scholar, all skilfully portrayed. The plot is good and the world is interesting – mixing steam technology and magic in an unusual way – but the characters are the real highlight of the story. Their personalities and relationships with one another are particularly well presented. The heroine is memorable: Amaranthe is a great mixture of toughness, independence and good humour, as capable of getting herself out of trouble as she is of getting herself into it (repeatedly). There’s a lot of action here – almost too much, perhaps – but it’s written stylishly with plenty of wit. Definitely my top favourite indie find so far.
Amazon UK Current price £2.13
Amazon US Current price $3.46
Smashwords Current price $0.99
There’s a sequel to this book coming out very soon (yay!).
If you want to help out a couple of hard-working indie authors, please share these reviews around!
April 28, 2011 § 19 Comments
Are you a budding book reviewer? Are you hoping to become a professional reviewer someday, or are you perhaps preparing against the day that your name appears on endorsements all over other people’s debuts? Do you just want a fulfilling, satisfying, innocent hobby to while away the hours?
Then for you, dear Reader, I have good news! I, the eponymous Miss English, have become fascinated with the Vocabulary of Review. I have braved many genres and many authors in search of particularly fine examples of Endorsement Genius; some of this I will graciously share with you as evidence of the seriousness of my research. I include annotated observations on each quote, for the reader’s enlightenment.
On a Sarah Challis novel:
Her evocation of the English countryside is elegiac. Oxford Times.
Quite a tame start, but they did manage to fit the words ‘evocation’ and ‘elegiac’ into one simple, short sentence which is pretty impressive. Obviously this is a high-brow book.
A haunting story of heartbreak and friendship. Peterborough Evening Telegraph.
It seems they like heartbreaking stories in Peterborough. Note the occurrence of the word ‘haunting’: we will be seeing this again.
On ‘Scholarium’ by Claudia Gross:
Murder and philosophical controversy are intertwined in a dense web which keeps the reader entranced. Nordbayerischer Kurier (??)
Dense entrancing webs. This book is not recommended for the arachnophobic.
On ‘The Masquerade’ by Nicholas Griffin:
An impressively imaginative approach to history. The Times
Imaginative. This is intended to denote the fact that it is fiction.
Tracy Chevalier is apparently a fan of Jude Morgan. I have not been better entertained all year, says she. Presumably she is talking about the book.
Victoria Clayton has a glinting wit and intelligence, says the Mail on Sunday. That’s right: glinting.
Kate Mosse’s latest is haunting and heartbreaking, says the Daily Express. Haunting and heartbreak are frequently found together.
Gail Carriger has a delicious rapier wit which is also intoxicating. Some authors are dangerous.
Every single book in the world is unputdownable. This is only a word in the world of book reviews.
After all this research, I am proud to present Miss English’s Luscious Lexicon for Book Endorsements. Use this for all of your book reviewing needs. Don’t stop at a mere sprinkling of tantalising terms: the more of these words employed, the more glittering the review. (Or do I mean glinting?)
For science fiction and fantasy
Atmospheric, breath-taking, colossal, detailed, evocative, imaginative, ingenious, intoxicating, lush, original, phenomenal, razor-sharp, sensual, staggering, triumphant, unputdownable.
Sample review: An unputdownable tale of colossal, staggering, breath-taking proportions. The writing is atmospheric, lush and evocative executed with a glinting, razor-sharp, intoxicating wit. I stayed up until dawn to finish reading this phenomenally well-executed book.
For thrillers and crime novels
Action-packed, fast-moving, exciting, gripping, gritty, heart-racing, menacing, palpitating, relentless, shocking, suspense, tough, unputdownable, whirlwind.
Sample review: This is a fast-moving, action-packed, totally relentless rollercoaster of a book, so shockingly thrilling that I was suffering cardiac arrest by page fifty-seven. I was resuscitated five times before I reached the end of this heart-palpitating, unputdownable whirlwind of a story. It will take me a year to recover my health, but I don’t care: this is a must-read.
For women’s fiction
Bittersweet, colourful, compelling, deft, entertaining, fun, haunting, heart-breaking, intoxicating, irresistable, magical, mesmerising, relatable, saucy, sexy, stylish, tantalising, tender, unputdownable, warm-hearted, witty.
Sample review: This haunting, heart-breaking tale is bittersweet and tenderly funny. The author’s irresistable, intoxicating wit sparkles dazzlingly through every scene. It’s easily relatable, unputdownable, funtastic and amazingacious – I gave away my six-year-old daughter today so that I could have time to read every single word this author has ever written. This must-read book will transform your life, leaving you irrevocably, permanently, unreversably changed.
For historical fiction
Authentic, breathtaking, compelling, comprehensive, deft, engaging, epic, evocative, imposing, informative, intelligent, majestic, meticulous, operatic, powerful, rich, rigorous, scalpel-like, sprawling, tour-de-force, tumultuous, unputdownable, vivid.
Sample review: Triumphant: a must-read. This confident, assured debut is a slow-building, considered narrative that’s simultaneously gripping, tumultuous, action-packed and completely unputdownable. The majestic, sprawling scope of this truly epic novel is completely mind-blowing. It is rigorously, meticulously researched and absolutely authentic, and at the same time it is an imaginative and original interpretation of it subject matter. The author builds the world with scalpel-like precision, as deft and careful as a brain surgeon operating on the girl of his dreams. I wonder if this author would accept a proposal of marriage.
Bleak, bitter, chilling, dazzling, disturbing, dreamlike, eerie, grim, gripping, haunting, horrifying, nightmare, repulsive, spectral, spooky, striking, thrilling, unforgettable, unputdownable, violent.
Sample review: This accessible, eminently readable tale of terror is so chillingly disturbing – so hauntingly horrifying – that you’ll be too scared to finish the book. It’s a bleak, grim, eerie nightmare of a tale that will have you sleeping with the light on for the next eighteen years. Expect plenty of thrilling spectral violence. An unputdownable must-read.
There it is, dear Readers, free for your delectation, admiration, entertainment, enjoyment and possible disparagement. In closing, here’s what one reviewer recently said about the Lucious Lexicon:
An unputdownable must-read! (The Weekend Lexicographer).