Book Review: Starship Grifters by Rob Kroese

sg

 

Oh do I love me some Rob Kroese.  Whether he’s writing about renegade angels, physics or space, I absolutely adore his work.

If you have followed this blog, you have definitely seen his work mentioned on here.

His latest is a space adventure and it is just as fabulous as I anticipated.  Here is the synopsis:

A space-faring ne’er-do-well with more bravado than brains, Rex Nihilo plies the known universe in a tireless quest for his own personal gain. But when he fleeces a wealthy weapons dealer in a high-stakes poker game, he ends up winning a worthless planet…and owing an outstanding debt more vast than space itself!

The only way for Rex to escape a lifetime of torture on the prison world Gulagatraz is to score a big payday by pulling off his biggest scam. But getting mixed up in the struggle between the tyrannical Malarchian Empire and the plucky rebels of the Revolting Front—and trying to double-cross them both—may be his biggest mistake. Luckily for Rex, his frustrated but faithful robot sidekick has the cyber-smarts to deal with buxom bounty hunters, pudgy princesses, overbearing overlords, and interstellar evangelists…while still keeping Rex’s martini glass filled.

I love Rex.  I kind of wanted to hate him, but he’s just so…interesting.  Here is an apt description from his side-kick Sasha:

It’s more likely that he’s somehow developed a delicately counterbalanced syndrome of mental illnesses that have somehow conspired to keep him alive up until now.  

That can probably describe most of my family.  Anyway, Rex is a walking disaster.  And he gets himself into tangle after tangle.  The way that his mind works, always trying to see the next con, always trying to save himself, he is such a well-developed character.

I also appreciate how Mr. Kroese made a robot come alive.  Despite some of her programmed issues, like being unable to think independently, she is extremely well-developed and real.  She follows Rex throughout the galaxy, through hair-brained scheme after scheme and is most often his savior.  The plot twist at the end of the book cements this notion.

Ahh…the plot twist.  Very clever.  I didn’t see that one coming, and I read CONSTANTLY.  It was truly refreshing.  It wasn’t something that I ever expected and it was glorious.

In most of these types of books, I love reading about the things that the writers come up with.  It’s sci-fi, so it can be anything.  But with Mr. Kroese, he makes it laughable, hilarious even, as Rex explains:

DNA scrambling is the worst.  Last time I had an ear growing between my shoulder blades.  People acted like they didn’t notice it, but I could hear them talking behind my back.

And I have to mention the obvious references to the epic space tale for the ages.  That shall not be named for fear of litigation.  I have read Mr. Kroese’s “memoir” of sorts, The Force is Middling in this One, and it is pretty obvious that he has an obsession with a galaxy far, far away.  And of course it bleeds into this work:

“We’re just checking out a disturbance!” yelled Fingers.  “A disturbance?”  the voice called back.  “What kind of disturbance?” “With the floors!” hollered Fingers.  “Did you say there’s been some kind of disturbance in the floors?”

Sometimes the references made me roll my eyes, but they were hilarious.  And I’m sure that there are several references I missed.

Overall, a great read, very funny, very witty, I loved it.  Highly recommended as with all of Mr. Kroese’s work.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Shell of a Person by Lance Pototschnik

Probably my favorite cover of the year (so far)…

shell

 

This book is absolutely hilarious.  I think I woke up my husband a few times laughing my ass off.  Here is the synopsis:

“Welcome to beautiful Costa Rica! Come and experience our diverse wildlife. Exhume nests of dead baby turtles and stay up all night while mosquitoes elicit blood from your very soul! Indulge in the local cuisine. Eat rice and beans until the malnutrition engenders hallucinations! Travel west to Guanacaste, to the peninsula that pokes into the Pacific like a fang. Lose yourself on the remote, cocoa-dust beaches, where rare sea turtles drag themselves from the seething ocean to nest. Camp beside the water to leave civilization and all its cheerfulness behind. Burn bucketfuls of used toilet paper, shiver in an infested bed and pump your bathing water from a putrid hole…every single day for weeks!”

Lance Pototschnik and his friends must have booked their trip with that agency. Their incredibly affordable “vacation” was meant to be a relaxing time to meditate on the direction of their languid, aimless lives. Instead, they are introduced to hell and the insane diversity of its tortures.

Marooned on a remote sea turtle conservancy with a handful of fellow unanchored souls, Pototschnik, in his hilarious debut memoir, ponders who he essentially is, and what he is likely to become. But he speaks to all of us. In Pototschnik, those who have fallen prey to the desolation of broken dreams, the young and the listless, finally find a voice with the talent to cast out demons and turn them into laughs. Through his own outrageous tale, Pototschnik offers the questions of the brooding, the concerns of the anxious and the hopes of the hopeless in a witty, irrepressible voice that will not shame them. 

Beneath its shell, this rollicking, episodic story is also a treatise about finding your purpose, realizing your full potential and learning to love your own life. Pototschnik’s very personal book happens to be the story we have all been hoping for. The Shell of a Person is one of the best books by an emerging author this year.

The hilarity.  The humor is fantastic.  The descriptions of his fellow turtle rescuers is priceless.  They come from all over the world and he mainly refers to them by their country of origin.  And then there are the physical descriptions:

She seemed as miserable with herself as us three incomers, and her face was slightly reminiscent of Eduardo, the fetal pig I dissected in college lab. 

The description of one of his chores in the camp literally made tears roll down my face.  But aside from the humor, the author really examines this time period in young adulthood:

All of us at the rescue, whether we all knew it or not, were shells, skin puppets, waiting for something to crawl inside and animate us, and only now, with the example of the possessed French woman, did I realize that, all this time, the evil things had had as good a chance of finding the hollow as the good things.

Very thought-provoking, excellently written.  He also provides a pretty good description of what I think life might be like in this part of the world.

Many of my “reading wishes” were answered: excellent writing, fantastic descriptions of places I have never been to, humor and a deeper meaning.

A short read and highly recommended.

Shelf Life (The Publicist #2)

18068418Title: Shelf Life
Author: Christina George
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: August 2013
Length: 274 pages
Series?: The Publicist #2
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Contemporary
Format: e-book
Source: author
Challenge: n/a

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis

It’s an industry of out-of-control egos, unrealistic expectations, and unfulfilled promises.

This is publishing and it’s Kate’s world, but maybe not for long.

When one of Kate Mitchell’s star authors is carted away in handcuffs, it’s only the beginning of her troubles. As her world crumbles around her, Kate desperately looks for anyone to hold onto but finds that happy endings are truly works of fiction. With the shelf life of her career and her love affair quickly expiring, Kate sets off on a new adventure…

Starting over in California is easy but Kate soon learns that leaving her old life behind isn’t. Nick Lavigne is eager to help her forget but two things still own her heart, the dream of discovering the next great American novel, and MacDermott Ellis.

As Kate tries to rebuild her life she finds a surprising gift that reboots her career in a new and unexpected direction. Suddenly her name becomes synonymous with one of the biggest bestsellers publishing has seen in ages and she’s welcomed back with open arms.

But at the height of her success the ghosts of her past come back to remind her of the world she’d been trying to forget and the man who never let go of her heart.

Behind the book, there’s always more to the story. Welcome to Publishing, the ego has landed.

Review

Kate’s life is quickly on a downward spiral. Her beloved friend, revered author Allan Lavigne, has left her a beautiful and wonderful surprise. His nephew Nick is trying to become something more in Kate’s life. Kate is evading and lying to her best friend to avoid “the talk,” and she is falling even deeper and deeper into a relationship with her married co-worker.

But she keeps getting crappy books that will only sell because of the sensationalism of the moment: like two twin sisters who gunned down their Hollywood parents and blew threw millions of their inheritance. That’s what Kate is working with, trying to publicize. She’s struggling, trying to juggle everyone, keep everything on an even keel and keep things in a realistic perspective. Her authors are demanding to see rave reviews and their books on the bestsellers lists.

The harder things become for Kate, the more and more she leans on Mac, who is also working his magic with the head boss to pull strings for Kate. Indeed, she gets assigned to a book that could elevate her career, but Kate gets the creeps from the author. Something is just not right…and when he is carted off in cuffs, everything at the publishing house is in a whirlwind of panic. This could be the end.

Some very serious things happen, Kate is betrayed by both Mac and her boss, and Kate finally learns why Grace is so adamant about ending the relationship with her married co-worker. Kate decides a change of scenery will be nice, and ends up in California with Nick. She decides to take a plunge with her life and the gift Allan left her.

George has continued Kate’s tale, and Allan’s legacy is seen, but I feel that Kate again takes some things for granted. She faces some hard things in this novel, and some hard decisions. But even more, she ends up wrecking someone’s life. It was hard to read, and I struggled to find sympathy for her. She landed herself in the position based on her mistakes and refusal to face facts in her life. In this sense, I feel that George glazes over the decision-making process for Kate, and that is the result. Kate is too much living in the moment, and does not see – or want to see – the consequences of her actions. Just as in the first book, I don’t feel that Kate has undergone a lot of personal growth. Her professional life is in tatters, but she is like a phoenix, born from the ashes thanks to Allan.

6556822About the Author

I’ve worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, hell it’s more fun to guess, right? I continue to work in publicity and help authors because at the end of the day I do love books, I love publishing, and I love authors. I hope you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as I enjoyed creating it.  Have fun reading Kate’s posts!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter Pinterest | Goodreads

The Publicist

16088697Title: The Publicist 
Author: Christina George
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: November 2012
Length: 226 pages
Series?: The Publicist
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Contemporary
Format: e-book
Source: author
Challenge: n/a

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Can one woman change an age-old institution like publishing? Probably not, but Kate Mitchell sure wants to try. As a publicist with a large, respected New York publishing house, Kate finds herself at the mercy of a broken publishing system, books that don’t sell, and author egos that are often, well, as big as the island of Manhattan.

Enter the star Editor, MacDermott Ellis: Tall, handsome, charismatic, married, and ready to save the day. Then there’s Allan Lavigne, once a revered author–now as forgotten as last year’s bestsellers and his nephew Nick: Tall, gorgeous, sweet, single and ready to sweep Kate off her feet. Kate wants to do the right thing but her hormones seem to be driving her decisions. 

As Kate tries to navigate the landmine of publicity, over-the-top author expectations, and the careful dance of “I’m sorry, your book isn’t on the bestseller list this week,” she also finds authors who are painfully overlooked by a publisher wanting more sex, more celebrities, and more scandal.

The story only an insider could tell.

Review

Kate Mitchell is a jewel in the world of publishing. She advocates for her author’s, calls in favors to get attention for books of her authors. Yet she works in a world that is quickly cutting ties with literature. Instead, it’s all about the latest celebrity’s memoir or someone who got their 15 minutes of fame and is trying to get it back. She goes above and beyond and gets the short end of the stick. In fact, the book opens with her talking one of her author’s down from jumping off a building.

Kate struggles at work with some of her editors, particularly Pete the office snoop. He likes to upend Kate’s world during conference meetings but is just riding on tailcoats. But Pete’s snarky workplace attitude is compensated for by Kate’s star editor, Mac. He is a shining beacon in the editing world, advocates for Kate, has her back, and tries to get quality books. Then there’s dependable Lulu, a sweetheart of a girl and always willing to do extra for Kate. And of course Kate’s best friend, artist Grace.

Kate has also become close friends by a one-hit wonder author, but Allan Lavigne made her publishing house what it is. He’s signed for two books, but has never delivered on the second book. Kate visits him regularly, and her caring nature comes through in her interactions with him. Allan pushes Kate to be a better publicist, encourages her…and wants to set her up with his nephew, Nick.

Things start to get complicated as Kate enters an inter-office relationship with a co-worker – a married co-worker. It does not bode well, and Kate evades Grace, who has a personal history with Kate’s situation. Kate digs herself deeper and deeper…and then something unexpected happens. Nick comes to New York and Kate warms up to him, but won’t give up her married co-worker. Things start to snowball a little bit out of control for Kate, and she knows she’s about to have to face some decisions.

Christina George provides wonderful insight into the mechanics of the publishing world, and creates a wonderful, heartfelt story. I couldn’t help but root for Kate, but all the while hoped she would make the right choice. Her character did not seem as in-depth as it could have been, and I think glazed over a very important component of the book, which leaves Kate’s character lacking. Don’t get me wrong – she is a great person – but I don’t recall getting anything about her history, her family. As much as I was rooting for Kate to grab the bull by the horns, I was slightly disappointed that her character did not experience a lot of growth throughout the novel.

Despite this, it was a fast read and I could not put the book down. I was engrossed in what the next crazy thing would be that would throw a wrench in the mechanics of Kate’s life, and how she would handle it.

The book does end on a cliffhanger – but I promise all of it is explained, comes to fruition, and is tied up in the second book, Shelf Life.

6556822About the Author

I’ve worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, hell it’s more fun to guess, right? I continue to work in publicity and help authors because at the end of the day I do love books, I love publishing, and I love authors. I hope you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as I enjoyed creating it.  Have fun reading Kate’s posts!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter Pinterest | Goodreads

The Quest for Juice

18056814

Title: The Quest for Juice
Author: Jonathan-David Jackson
Publisher: Kipling Books
Release Date: June 2013
Length: 290 pages (paperback)
Series?: Paranoia #1
Genre: humor
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Oscar has always lived a life of quiet paranoia, but now everything is changing. Suddenly, the bus is frequently late, his house key won’t fit in the lock, and someone has taken his juice, which was the one thing holding his life together. He strikes back against the people behind it all, but when he strikes too hard an innocent man ends up dead, and Oscar ends up in jail, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and facing life in a mental institution. On his journey to mental health and the truth, he has to make hard decisions about medication, trusting his own mind, dating a nurse, and whether that hedgehog can actually talk.

Review

Oscar Well is something else. He is absolutely certain that someone is following him, that “they” are plotting against him. They have stolen his juice, they have tampered with his house key. He is so fearful that he even suspects his very own mother of being in on this plot of deceit against him. He hides in the clothes dryer to avoid her.

Oscar is certifiably insane, no joke about it. Indeed, he is committed to an institution after following a man who he believes is in on this ring…and something terrible happens, something that Oscar refuses to admit.

Oscar is taken to Maple Ridge, where he is put in a bolted room. He is there for an indeterminate amount of time, several weeks at least, and encounters a sweet nurse who suffers from his same mental disorder: schizophrenia. Instead of taking his prescription medicine, Oscar obstinately ignores it, believing it too is somehow being used against him to confuse him and dampen his worries and fears. Nurse Penelope is a gentle woman, and shares her own stories and experiences with Oscar, ultimately convincing him to take his medication as prescribed. He is almost infinitely on the right track, no longer in a constant state of fear, paranoia, worry and skepticism about people.

Eventually, Oscar is free to live his normal life, but things are strange. Even those who are sane around him notice these very odd and bizarre things. Oscar pays them no mind and their paranoid ideas no mind. He begins a sweet courtship with Nurse Penelope, until he tells her about the cameras his new job has installed in his house.

This leads Oscar on a wild goose chase, and the novel picks up momentum at this point. Things are not as they seem…

This book touches on a very serious matter – and includes some very serious content – yet it is written in an extremely humorous light, almost to the point of being characterized too much and over the top. I’m not schizophrenic, nor do I know anyone who is, so I have no idea if the stream of consciousness  that Jackson has used in this book is accurate of schizophrenia, but it is so insane that you can’t help but laugh…continuously.

Although Oscar suffers from schizophrenia, he has a very sharp mind. Too sharp for his own good. The misconception of his reality is as accurate as can be…

AuthorPhotoFixed

About the Author

Jonathan-David Jackson was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, at 3 in the morning on May 14, 1987. At first, he could not walk, talk, or indeed use the toilet. After a year of intensive training in NC, he moved his family to Kingsport, Tennessee, where he finally overcame those early disabilities. Soon, he was walking and talking as good as anyone, and perhaps better. Walking and talking wasn’t good enough, though, so he also learned to write.

He wrote and wrote, and with gentle encouragement from his wife, he finally wrote a book – The Quest for Juice. Then he wrote this biography. Perhaps he’ll do more things; that would certainly be exciting.

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook 

Amanda’s Favs for 2013 Part Two

Here is the second part of my favorites list.

These are books that I have read and haven’t reviewed. Most I get from my monthly Kindle Lending Library allotment. Some are series I picked up when the first book was offered for free.  Some of the larger press books come from my weekly library run.

Favorite zombie book:  Apocalypse Z:  Darker Days by Manel Loureiro translated by Pamela Carmell.  I found apoczthis series a year ago, and I have already pre-ordered the third installment.  I have to wait til May!! Very well written, I love the European take on things.  A page turner.  Definitely recommended.

Honorable mention:  The Zomblog Series by T.W. Brown and The Remaining by D.J. Molles.

Favorite self-help book:  Invisible Scars:  How to Stop, Change or End Psychologicalinvisscars Abuse by Catharine Dowda.  I left an abusive marriage nearly five years ago.  He never once hit me.  But the verbal and emotional abuse has caused deep wounds that I am still healing.  What I liked about this book in particular is that it gave me a name to put with some of his behavior.  That I can name some of the abuse I suffered is extremely helpful.

Favorite history book:  Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff.  I reviewed his new book this year, Frozen in Time and just had to go and read this book.  

Favorite romance/erotica:  Entwined with You by Sylvia Day.  I love me some Crossfire series.  Much more realistic than “Fifty”, deals with deeper issues on the part of both characters.  Can’t wait for the fourth one.  And I think I would love to see this one made into a movie more than “Fifty”.

draculaFavorite paranormal romance:  Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta.  So not what you think of when you think “paranormal romance”.  And not a typical romance either.  I loved it.

Favorite YA romance (paranormal):  Significance Series by Shelly Crane.  Very sweet, very intriguing.

 

Favorite YA romance:  Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa.  Very heart-rending.  Extremely emotional.

Favorite mash up:  The Fridgularity by Mark A. Rayner — humorous, apocalyptic, with a technology twist.   Loved it. fridge

And my total for this year is 152 books.  And counting…

Amanda’s Favs for 2013 — Part One

It’s that time of year again.  Time for me to review (ha!) my year in reading and pick favs.  Which is kind of hard.  So this year I’m going to do something different.

I read many other books outside of what I review.  Mainly the larger press, more famous author books that I come across.  So I will divide my picks for the year into two parts.  Part one being my favs of the books I have reviewed, and part two being the books that I read “outside” my reviewing.

I am also going to ask Ms. Charliegirl to make a favs list as well.  She has been busy being Ms. Teacher, but I’m sure she can write a quick post.

So here goes:

Favorite zombie series:

Hands down, The Zombie Bible series by Stant Litore.  Earlier in the year, I read Strangers in the Land and I am currently reading Mr. Litore’s Kindle serial No Lasting Burial.  Even if you don’t like zombies, READ THESE BOOKS.  They are by far the best written books I have read this year, possibly in my life.  The writing is lyrical, thezombie4 author evokes strong emotions within a few words.  He has made me more interested in a time period that I was never really interested in before.  He makes me want to actually GO to these places that he features in his writing.  And he has ignited an interest in ancient history.

I have never read the actual Bible, I am a former Catholic and I know next to nothing about biblical stories, characters, events.  I feel so much more enlightened by this series, and even better, it includes ZOMBIES!!  So check it out.  Unless you are strictly religious and have objections to the collision of the bible and the undead, I can promise you that you will enjoy these books.

 *Honorable mention*  Undying by Valerie Grosjean is pretty awesome too.  I love her characters and the way she builds the relationships between them.  She also evoked some pretty awesome memories of the relationship I share with my husband.

Favorite sci-fi (not including zombies):  About Time by Michael Murphy.  This one was a hard category.  Butabouttimepic going back over my posts, this one stood out.  I still think about the issues brought up by this book, and it is hilarious as well.  I love books that make you think, and this one definitely did that, and more.

Favorite history book:  America’s Greatest Blunder:  The Fateful Decision to Enter World War One by Burton Yale Pines.  This book involves a time period I know absolutely nothing about.  Much of my historical reading focuses on WWII and the U.S. Civil War.  The author sent me his book and thought that given my historical preferences, I might like it.  And I did.  It went very far to help me understand the causes of WWII and it is written in a very engaging way.

Favorite historical fiction:  Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You by William E. Thomas.  These books are more than just historical fiction, they are also romance novels.  Mr. Thomas has literally reduced me to tears (in a good way) with the amount of emotion packed into his novels.  These two books aren’t serial, but they do feature some of the same characters in both books which is an interesting twist.  I can’t wait for the third book to tie it all together.

Favorite memoir:  Lucky Girl:  How I Survived the Sex Industry by Violet Ivy.  An amazing look at the sex industry written in a very engaging and intelligent manner.

Favorite dystopian (without zombies):  This category was really hard, especially since I have read so many 51K-+0aHQ4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_good dystopian books recently.  It is definitely a tie.  Campbell (Book One) by C.S. Starr is a very engaging story.  It not only includes a dystopian future (or present), it also closely examines how people come of age.  Very intriguing and insightful.  The Rebel Within and Rebels Divided by Lance Erlick is a little more political, but extremely inventive and engaging.  All of these books are very character driven and include extremely strong female lead characters, which makes me happy as a mom to a little girl.

Favorite mashup:  Being that I’m drawn to these books, and that several of the ones mentioned above can be considered a mash up in some way, this was extremely difficult.  But I kept on thinking about The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door by Stephen Stark.  This was the book that made me take notice of this kind of writing.  Several different elements, all melded into one amazing book.

Favorite humor:  Midlife Mouse by Wayne Franklin.  This book is absolutely delightful.  Very well written, imaginative, hilarious, I loved it.  If you have ever been to Disney, have kids that are Disney obsessed, you have to read this book.

mmouse

Look for my next post about the other books I read this year.  What are some of your favs?

 

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: