What better way to celebrate Halloween…then with a Scary ARC!

Got my 3rd! Arc today. From Michael Phillip Cash this time, the gent who wrote Witches Protection Plan which I reviewed previously.

This publicist company is paying off I swear.

I am not usually a fan of horror. Frankly, I find it boring. Generally. However, I saw the blurb for this book and just had to ask for it. For no other reason then the fact that it reminds me of my all time favorite Goosebumps book “One Day at Horrorland”. I mean, here:

Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong?

It sounds hilarious and goofy and awesome.

And of course, it arrived today: Halloween.

Check it out! On top of that, he also sent me a copy of one of his Novellas “The Hanging Tree” which I may or may not give a read. Not sure about that one yet. Check out the pics below for my goodies!

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“Share: A Sci-Fi Short” is Free on Amazon through Sunday!

This short story sounds scarily relevant to our current times. Check it out!

Ink and Gear

share

Hey!  Science fiction fans!  You can grab a free copy of my short story “Share” from Amazon, now through Sunday!

“Share” is about a future where the government has no need to spy on its citizens…simply because all of its citizens make their personal lives completely public via social media!  And although you legally can’t be forced to share, the powers that be are going to start wondering what you’re hiding if you don’t…

It’s a funnily depressing little tale.  I hope you enjoy it.  Once more – it’s called “Share”, it’s a sci-fi short, and you can find it here.

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EBooks vs Physical Books

Lets be honest here, a book is a book and a story is a story.  The format really doesn’t matter in the end.  An E-Book can take you on an adventure just as easily as a paperback or hardcover can, and in some cases cost less overall.

But why choose one over the other?  I am sure other folks have weighed in on this topic before.  I am not the first and certainly will not be the last to discuss this concept.  But I wanted to chime in and give my 3.5 cents on the matter.  Thats right, its totally more then 2 cents.  Its because I care.

So lets list out the pros and then the cons of the two formats, to begin the little discussion here.  There are few differences between the two formats so it will be a short list.

PROS of EBooks:

1 – Cost.  EBooks tend to be cheaper to purchase.  Amazon has thousands at 99 cents and many regular non indie titles run $4.99 or less.
2 – Portability.  EBooks are easier to take with you.  For example, I have an old Samsung Galaxy S3 that I no longer use.  It has 16GB of Space.  It is basically a portable EBook reader now.  And MP3 player
3 – Space.  16gb Of internal storage on my phone holds a LOT

PROS of Physical Editions:

1 – Style.  Nothing says awesome like a nice bookshelf full of books
2 – Feeling.  There is something about holding an actual book, its smell, its feel that just tells you “Its time for an adventure”.

CONS of EBooks:

1 – DRM.  Many EBooks use DRM.  While its highly unlikely it IS possible for a service to revoke your license for a book.  Remember, ANY digital download from a service that has DRM is more a rental then you owning it.
2 – Reader Cost and Usability.  EBook readers are not the cheapest things in the world, and in some cases are even unwieldy. Cell phones help but the screens are tiny

CONS of Physical Editions:

1 – Decay.  Books can and will eventually break down.  Glue wears out, covers get faded.
2 – Cost.  Paperbacks usually range around $8, but brand new hardcovers can easily hit $30.  Buying used can get around this but then you run into issues of decay and breakdown.
3 – SPACE.  Christ bookshelves take up floor space.

They are, in the end, similar.  So why the debate?  Why do people talk about one over the other?

I suppose part of it has to do with how we were raised.  I grew up prior to the digital age.  I am 33 now.  And while I have always been a bit of a techie, I grew up before cell phones could use the internet.  Back when going to the library to borrow books was a great time out.  Kids growing up now however have access to the net almost from the day they are born, with cell phones and tablets at their beck and call.

Technology is moving ahead.  Print is not dead, far from it.  Comics are still preferred in print form (unless designed for the web I prefer print comics when I do read them), and plenty of people young and old prefer to have something they can hold in their hand, a feeling of permanence to go along with it.  Personally I see an argument for both, and truly I would love to start seeing say Print Editions coming with codes for the EBook versions, for folks like me who want both options. That would be the best thing ever.

If you had asked me a year or so ago I would have told you that for everything but Game Rulebooks I would have gone with Ebooks every time.  I have always preferred my tabletop rpg books to be physical, easier to reference.  But now, I can see both sides.  Its nice to always have my little pocket ebook reader with me to read on the go, but when I am home its annoying to use and would prefer to read an actual book, if I can.

Which do you prefer?  Do you have a preference?

Armada by Ernest Cline – A Review

Dear lord have mercy.  Armada.  A book that, as best as I can tell, is fairly divisive among fans of Cline.  His second outing after Ready Player One.

A book that I wish I liked more then I did.

Let me put this up here quickly, for those who don’t want to get too bogged down.  Armada, for me, is average at best.  A decent story, but with a variety of issues that prevented me from enjoying it more.

Armada tells the story of Zack, a high school senior with anger management issues.  He is a gamer, playing the online MMO Armada, a space fight sim that is the biggest game in existance.  Billions of people play it every day from all over the world, and Zack is ranked 6th in the world.  He lives with his single mother, and tries to connect with his deceased father through his fathers old belongings and music.

Early on in the story Zack sees what he thinks is a space ship, straight out of Armada, hovering near his school.  He assumes it to be just his imagination and having played too much Armada, and then vows to lay off the gaming after the evenings major event.

He works after school in a small Retro Gaming shop, where his boss spends all day playing the alternate game to Armada, Terran Defense Force (or something along those lines, I cant remember).  A ground combat game where the enemy aliens of Armada are fought on Earth with Giant Mechs.

He eventually discovers that not everything is what it seems and that maybe aliens are real and that Armada was only a training program to fight them off!  What follows is Zack trying to come to grips with several disturbing revelations as he tries to save the world from the alien invaders with the help of some new friends.

All in all the basic premise sounds great right?  Alien invasion that is fought off by gamers instead of the military, who have been secretly trained via video games?  But there is one major flaw that makes the whole thing fall apart for me.

Characters.  They are as flat as can be.  Zack can truly be summed up as the teenager with anger management and daddy issues.  Thats all he is in this book.  Zacks mother is your standard Single Mom missing her dead Husband.  Zacks two friends are comic relief one and two.  The school bully is just that, a bully.  Zack meets a girl who he almost instantly falls for, who can be described as the Punk Rock Hacker Chick.  He meets the other 4 members of the top 10 (members 7-10) and they can be descirbed best as Religious Single Mom, The Foriegn Kid, The Excitable Youngster, and the Pothead.  He meets his 2 commanding officers, one can be described as the level headed conspiracy theorist, and the other the hardnosed battleweary general.  His primary commanding officers aides are the super conspiracy theorist and the skeptic.

Thats right.  Every character can be summed up in such a way, and the book moves at such a breakneck speed that no development that makes any sense is given to anyone!  At one point, when it seems like they are all going to die fight, everyone but Zack and his commanding officer break up into pairs and bang.  I am not even kidding.  Zack cant bang his supposed love interest though because she is on earth and he is not at the time.

Further, there are a few twists that occur in the book, and both are easily telegraphed early on.  I don’t want to spoil them so I wont point them out.  But seriously, you can see them coming.

Now there is some good.  It does a good job portraying what could happen in such an event.  The writing is spot on, and while the characters get almost no development you can sort of forgive that at times just because of the action scenes.  And the action scenes are stellar.  As is the world building.  I can easily imagine a world where these sort of games take over.  Just look at our world now.  Much like Ready Player One, Cline presents a future that is entirely plausible to a point.

Overall, there is some good here, and some bad.  Its average at best, and after Ready Player One I think thats the biggest problem here.  Its just simply average.

I would give this a 3/5.  Read it if you are a fan of Cline and want more of his work.  Otherwise you can avoid it, or hell just wait for the apparently upcoming movie.

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Why I Review

Another interesting question I got at work while in the breakroom was why I write reviews.

I was sitting there, reading another book, and one of my coworkers commented that I have been reading a lot lately.  As far as anyone at work really knows, I am the video games guy.  And to a point that’s true.  I am THE video games person at work.  We have a few others who play but not at the same rate or with the same passion as me.

Apparently that’s becoming the same with reading.  So I told them, point blank, that I had started reading more in order to both see what I had missed in the past years in the way of sci-fi and fantasy, and in order to start sharing my thoughts with others via reviews.

So then I was asked if I got paid to review.  I said no.

Do I have a lot of people reading my reviews?  At this time, I said not really.

Then why do it?  They asked me.

I told them, honestly, two reasons.  Reason one was that I enjoy sharing my opinions about the things I read and see, and experience.  Its why I did restaurant reviews long ago.  Its why I dabbled in game reviews.  But I find that book reviews seem to come easier for me.  I am unsure why.  But I like to share my thoughts on books and how I feel about them, in an effort to maybe expose people to things they might have missed.

The second reason I said, and it was a more selfish reason, was to get more books.  They asked how that worked and I explained the concept of ARCs and NetGalley and they nodded, but still didn’t get it.  I explained that by asking for early copies of books I could read them earlier then others, but the cost was to review the book honestly.

Then they asked again “But you don’t get paid huh.”

No, I answered.

Apparently doing something for free was not something they understood.  I can understand that.  Its an odd thing to do something that takes so much time sometimes and not get any compensation.

But I do get compensation.  I get to share with others what I enjoy, and sometimes I get free stuff.  That’s enough payment for me.

Top Ten Tuesday Halloween Edition: Top 10 Monsters or Villains from Books

In no particular order of course. Its hard to really sit down and rank these sort of things.

Sci Fi and Scary suggested I start doing these and I will give em a shot. The Broke and Bookish are the ones who came up with this. Blame them.


1. Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series: Lets be real here. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was going to be on this list. Why would he NOT! He is terrifying, freaky, insane, and powerful. He brings the world of Harry Potter to its KNEES. Nevermind his attempts to avoid death and things. Even his memories are deadly.


2. Azash from The Elenium: A god. Specifically an Elder God. It took the 100 younger gods of Stryicum to trap him in a clay idol, and he still caused trouble for the world. One has to wonder if he was never found by Otha would he had caused all the strife that he had. In the end though, not even his godhood could save him. Also dude was a giant perv.


3. Goss and Subby from Kraken: China Meiville can do villains. And these 2 nut jobs are at the top of the bloody list. I have not been able to read much of Meiville’s work but the sheer terror these two inspire in Kraken is astounding. Goss is nearly impossible to kill, and Subby is just fucking creepy! Nevermind that the stuff that comes out of Goss’s mouth makes literally no sense, ever.


4. The Naagloshii from Turn Coat (Dresden Files): Where do I start with this thing. First, it eats magic users and gains their powers. Then, its a shapeshifter who can transform itself into anything it damn well wants. THEN, its bloody INTELLIGENT! It nearly kills Harry and several others and its only through sheer luck that they evade this thing. Oh and its seemingly immune to magic on its own.


5. Gaea from The Heroes of Olympus Series: How do you beat the literal spirit of the Earth? I mean honestly. Cause Gaea, when asleep, is deadly. Heaven forbid she ever wakes up!


6. The Lord Ruler from The Final Empire: What happens when Evil wins? Thats what The Fallen Empire talks about. In fact the entire book is all about how to take down a God Emperor who has rule for hundreads of years and is basically immortal. He also instituted horrible class systems to keep the working class on its knees.


7. Nicodemus from The Dresden Files: Yes a second character from the Dresden Files, but lets be real here. This guys is nuts. If the devil was a human, it would be Nicodemus. And it makes sense given that he is the head of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius, holder of the coin that houses the spirit of Andurial, a fallen angel. He is basically immortal as a noose he wears prevents him from dying. He is also highly intelligent and has lived for a LONG time.


8. Sauron from Lord of the Rings: Lets be real. One of the OG Badass villains is Sauron. Deceiver, Destroyer, Controller. Powerful, and nearly indestructible. He causes so many deaths and so much strife and corrupts so many people that he had to be here. The eye is watching.


9. Cluny the Scourge from Redwall: What can I say about this evil rat bastard. Other then he is really a Rat. No, really. A literal Rat. Redwall is a world depicting medievil life with anthropomorphic animals. And Cluny is the first villain of the first novel, Redwall. And he is a rat with a whiplike tail, who leads a horde of vicious vermin in an attempt to find..something. Because Cluny is not right in the head, at all.


10. Satan from Incarnations of Immortality: Literally the devil. But what made him interesting is that while he is the antagonist in the first 5 books…in book 6 we learn about how he came to be Satan. Cause like everything else in Incarnations of Immortality, Evil (the Devil) is just a job. And Satan does it with Style.

So there you have it. 10 Monsters or Villains from Fiction that I think are really awesome. Hope I did this right haha.

Marked by Sue Tingey – A Review

A Copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an Honest Review

THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS HERE YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The Book Blurb: “In a world filled with charlatans, Lucinda “Lucky” de Salle’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast, even as it has also made her a sought-after (if reluctant) investigator of paranormal phenomena. With no remaining family and very few friends, she has only one “person” she can rely on–Kayla, the ghost girl who has been her constant companion since she was born.

When Lucky is called in to investigate a spectral disturbance at the all-girls school she attended as a child, she isn’t surprised. She herself had had a terrifying confrontation with the troubled spirits of two girls who died in the attic room. But when Lucky goes up to the attic, she discovers that the vicious little girls are the least of the problem–a demon has been released into this world, a creature of such malevolence that even the spirits of the two girls are afraid. When the demon demands that Kayla be handed over to him, Lucky realizes that this case will be like no other she has ever experienced.

For one thing, it seems that her chatty, snarky spirit companion is not what she has always seemed to be… “

This is going to be the first and hopefully only time I do this. This is a book I DID NOT FINISH, prior to writing this review. And part of the reason is the above blurb, which is from Netgalley itself. I made it through half the book before I just about threw my phone (its an EBook) away from me in a combination of horror, surprise, and rage.

You see, that blurb makes the book seem like a supernatural mystery story. Its not. Its Paranormal Romance with an almost fanfiction level main character. You ever hear jokes about people who Roleplay online, who have those “Half demon Half Dragon MC with a Tortured Past who has no idea about their heritage and just wants to be loved!” kind of things?

Well! Lucinda does not start out that way, seemingly. But rather, ends up BECOMING that way. Also the stuff that the Netgalley / Amazon blurb mentions take place in the first chapter of the book. And yes, this is the blurb used on Amazon page. Thats right.

Here come the spoilers. Under the little cut right here.

Continue reading “Marked by Sue Tingey – A Review”