Indie eBook Roundup #3

This time around we’ve got lots of super powers, super brains, super technology, and the supernatural from a wide variety of authors, genres, and publishers. I, Crimsonstreak – which I am constantly misspelling as Crimsonsteak – is the take away this edition though F9 isn’t too bad for a novella. Read on to see if there’s anything else that might strike your fancy!

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16290044Title: Sketchy
Author: Olivia Samms
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher:
Amazon Children’s Publishing
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Young Adult, YA Paranormal, YA Fantasy

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:
GoodReads | Amazon

This is one of those books that I am glad to see picked up by Amazon’s indie publishing program. It’s the sort of book that you wouldn’t have gotten to see materialize otherwise which would have been sad. Because while I didn’t really like the book all that much – it touched on a lot of sensitive topics that I’m not the biggest fan of reading about – it’s actually a really good, gritty read for those teen readers out there who are looking for something in that vein. At it’s core, Sketchy is a book for teens with mystery, supernatural, and ‘real life’ elements that fit perfectly into those gimmicky genres that tend to draw readers in these days.

Sketchy follows a girl named Bea who has a lot of problems in her life. For one, she’s an addict and working on the whole sobriety thing with the support from her family and friends. For another, she’s trade that addiction for a strange and unsettling ability to draw what’s going on in other peoples’ heads. Their thoughts and memories flow freely now that she’s cleaning up her act and while that seems like it might be kind of cool let’s be real. There are a lot of things you don’t want to know about people. But Bea realizes that she can help when a girl from her school, Willa, turns up after having gone missing with her own demons to deal with. Suddenly she’s not just hanging out with her friend Chris and trying to get into the sober swing of things at her new school but also trying to track down the person who did this to Willa. Even though Willa may not want to

It’s a really intriguing thriller but sometimes I think it gets a bit bogged down by all the things it’s trying to handle. The mystery and the supernatural – while someone else’s problems – may have been enough but sometimes it just seems like a lot. And I’m not entirely sure where this whole thing with Sergeant Daniels is going. But the characters were authentic enough and the dialogue was actually pretty good. Over all, the story came together despite all the different themes and I enjoyed it through until the end.

I just don’t know if I liked it enough to keep reading on but for people who like this sort of book, give it a look. It’s definitely worth it.

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13176486Title: I, Crimsonstreak
Author: Matt Adams
Release Date: May 12, 2012
Publisher:
Candlemark and Gleam
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Superheroes

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:
GoodReads | Amazon

All right, so, I, Crimsonstreak is a really good, fun little read for the superhero fans among us. I think that it might have done better as an actual comic book or with a graphic novel, though. It still had a lot of the downfalls of comic book storytelling that doesn’t quite take away from the story when it’s inked but can when it’s written. That said, if you’re going to read any of the books listed in this edition of the Indie eBook Roundup it should definitely be this one.

The story follows superhero speedster Chris Fairborne – the son of a renown super-heroine, Lady Lightspeed, and reformed supervillain, Colonel Chaos. He actually lives a pretty normal life right up until the moment that his mother is murdered, Chris is framed for a devastating disaster, and Colonel Chaos has his own son committed to a high-security prison for the criminally insane. Surrounded by the worst of the worst Chris toils away waiting for his opportunity to escape and exact his vengeance. When the moment finally arrives he finds the world a much different place and all at the heel of his ‘superhero’ father. He teams up with a British butler and a wannabe super-teen and tries to mobilize his little team against his father’s regime but there’s a lot more going on in this world than can be so easily resolved. And he’s got a lot more than just family drama to address.

Much of the story is told through flashbacks and for once that doesn’t bother me. Usually it’s distracting or disorienting to jump around like that but for the most part I, Crimsonsteak manages to make it work. The real weakness of the story was probably a shallow ending that wrapped up the story, sure, but didn’t quite come together as I had hoped it would. That’s not a failure of the book itself, though. It’s a generally prevelant failure of the genre as a whole.

I, Crimsonstreak is a great addition to superhero literature and deserves to be more widely read. There’s even a sequel – which I haven’t read yet – so if you like it, it doesn’t have to end right away!

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10815209Title: Concealed
Author: Sang Kromah
Release Date:
Publisher:
Smith Publicity
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Young Adult, YA Fantasy, YA Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:
GoodReads | Amazon

Concealed is one of those books that had a whole lot of potential and only sort of managed to meet it. It’s not a bad book by any stretch! But it’s definitely not the sort of book that I could get into. There is just way too much of the stereotypical young adult angsty romance thing going on here for me to have really enjoyed it. You can go either way with the angsty, paranormal, romance thing – either you use it well or it becomes a crutch. And while I think the story itself had a lot of potential and the writing was actually quite good, it became a crutch in this book.

In keeping with YA tropes, Concealed is the story of a girl whose parents are (surprise) not in the picture any more. She’s been raised by her grandmother and homeschooled her entire life as they’ve moved around from place to place. Bijou, the main character, is stereotypical in her being ‘different’ with her color changing eyes and empathic abilities. And even though she’s trying to fit into a public high school for the first time ever she has this whole she’s still struggling with these abilities and the whole high school culture of bitchy girls and hot boys. I think this was why I had a hard time getting into it. I really didn’t care at all about Sebastian at all and it’s such a significant part of the story that it’s hard to get past that.

On the other hand, the world building was fairly good. You don’t see djinn pop up a lot in YA fiction. Or even a lot of paranormal fiction at any age level. It happens but it’s rare. I wonder sometimes why it’s not a supernatural element that gets picked up more. The author has a knack for writing, I think, and I think she’s got a really decent storytelling gene rooted deep down in there, too. I think part of the problem is just that this book read too much like the other young adult books out there and it just was geared way too much towards romancing teen girls than anything else.

I’m going to go ahead and say that this was a pretty good book and if you’re a big fan of the romantic, teen, paranormal genre and want to take a leap of faith on an indie author, then Concealed is more than worth your notice and attention.

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17158800Title: Peregrine Harker & The Black Death
Author: Luke Hollands
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Publisher:
Sparkling Books
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Young Adult, Dime Novel, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:
GoodReads | Amazon

All right, so, this is a very cute and very short little book that lends itself as a bit of an homage to the old school pulp novel days which it’s narrator, Peregrine Harker, finds himself quite obsessed. I think that’s wherein lays the charm of this book. It’s a boy’s book written by a boy for boys who would be interested in all sorts of boyish fantasies… like getting wrapped up in a murder, conspiracy, or dastardly plot. I mean, the charm only goes so far. This book was just ‘okay’ for a lot of reasons – not the least of which being the pacing.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun book.

You don’t expect much out of old dime novels and as long as you know what you’re getting into with this one you won’t be disappointed. There’s not a lot of character development at all. It’s an action story pretty through and through. And Peregrine is the sort of narrator whose pretty amusing if nothing else. He had all the classic dime novel sort of background points. He’s an orphan whose parents disappeared adventuring and he has a bit of Tin Tin complex. He runs off to become a journalist and dreams of all sorts of Victorian era secret societies and things.

Of course, you’ve got to keep in mind, too, that Peregrine – though he’s got a job – is still a child. He’s a teenager living the sort of adventure that every boy dreams of living but with the sort of inner dialogue of a much older character. I suppose the whole ‘orphan’ thing and lack of general supervision is supposed to mean that he’s more mature but ultimately he’s not really and the story doesn’t support that much. The supporting characters are generally just that – including Peregrine’s love interest Louisa and the few adults in Peregrine’s life.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a book that’s chalk full of adventure and will never really keep you guessing too hard, this is the perfect book for you. It’s quick, fun, and quirky enough that you’ll certainly have fun. But, as I said, it’s an old school style dime novel! It’s meant to be fun, not too thought provoking.

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17560256Title: F9
Author: Michael McBride
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Publisher: DarkFuse
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Thriller, Horror

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:
GoodReads | Amazon

There are a lot of heavy topics out there in our world today and mass murder is not the least of which to draw our attention. High profile killings by seemingly normal, non-violent perpetrators find their way on to our news feeds with an alarming frequency. That’s the sort of issue that Michael McBride decides to tackle in F9. But he’s not following a killer as he prepares for an attack or dealing directly with the aftermath of anyone incident. Instead, he’s looking inside the mind of a man whose just as obsessed with trying to piece together what causes people to do the terrible things they do.

Dr. Harding is a survivor of a Columbine-style attack in Colorado and after years of research he has identified a particular issue known as Mile High Syndrome which may be geographically linked to the the state of Coloardo. (Which, while I can see where he’s getting that from, is a little bit insensitive.) He comes to believe that the answer to why things are getting worse exists only in the mind of a mass killer who has been in a coma for decades and some how Harding has found a way to use medical imagine to look inside that troubled mind. But there’s more going on here than Harding can even imagine.

The pacing in this novella – and this is not really a book by any stretch but a novella – is very quick and engaging. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat and the ending? Hopefully it will come as a surprise to you though I sort of had it figured out by the time things were ultimately resolved. My biggest complaint with this book was the length. It could have been longer, the story could have been more developed, and the twists could have been intensified. For a novella, though, it was great. Well worth a read. Dark Fuse certainly knows how to pick them.

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