Book Reviews!

Looking for something to read? I’ve got a few fun suggestions, and one that you may want to avoid. The covers are clickable links if you want to learn more about any title. And I’ve done something a little different with the reviews, for those of you who are Indie Authors and read my blog.  

Wendie Nordgren’s Space Merchants  

Sometimes you want a book that doesn’t challenge, well, anything. This one is a light and fluffy confection of science fiction romance. There’s no worry about the mechanics of space travel, just a girl who desperately needs a way to get out of the garbage around the Port. Along comes her rescuer, in the form of three men on a spacecraft who need someone to ‘keep house’ for them. Lavishly detailed, the rags-to-riches story that unfolds aboard the ship and as the merchants visit various planets to buy and sell reveals that the man who arranged for this young girl to come aboard as an employee had much more in mind for her. An alien who looks very humanoid, he needed a female mind to control his rages, and the young Teagan is able to bond minds with him in a peculiar way. Shortly, the romance is in full bloom. I was a little concerned as I was reading that the girl was going to be taken advantage of, but there is none of the bad in this Cinderella story. Also, the adorably cuddly spiderling pet made me happy. But then again, I like spiders! 

Book Cover Critique: I realize this is hardly a standard part of a book review, but it’s of professional interest to me, and I know some of my readers are also Indie Authors who may be working on their own covers, so I’m including a few notes for each book.

The cover of Space Merchants has a fair amount wrong with it. The art is made of several elements that are poorly incorporated, giving it a ‘collage’ effect. The photo of the model is not filtered enough to not look like a photo – and you never use a photo on the cover of a science fiction or fantasy work. The text is laid out badly, and is too small to read in thumbnail, especially the author’s name. Had I been shopping based on a look at the cover and blurb, I would have passed this up, but I found it through interaction with the charming author and so ignored the amateurish cover.

From one wish-fulfillment story to another! BE Sanderson (no relation to myself, except that we enjoy some of the same pastimes like writing and fishing) has really hit it out of the park with this tale of a feisty flapper turned genie. There are plenty of spunky witch/psychic/paranormal stories out there, but this is the first one I’d seen about djinn. It was a lot of fun to read, since I was learning a whole new world of magic as I went. I felt the system was constructed well – even though the djinn are very powerful, and can grant nearly any wish to their Master, there are a lot of Rules, and rules (both big and little). This sets up the plot of the book as the main character impulsively tries to rescue genies who are enslaved, and learns about the history of her ‘kind’ while she’s at it. There’s not really a romance, although there is a love interest, this book is more about freedom, peril, and managing to listen long enough to finally learn something. Also, the cover is really pretty, isn’t it?

Book Cover Critique: I actually have looked at the covers for this series as being a great example of this sub-genre when I was working on covers for clients. I’m not sure what to call it, but spunky female fantasy probably fits well – and here you see in the art we have the main character, magic sparklies (totally a professional term), and not too many elements to make it untidy at thumbnail first impression size. The title and author’s name are clear and easy to read at thumbnail as well, making this a very good cover indeed.  

Some of you know that when I’m sick or not really wanting to read outside my comfort zone, my choices run a lot more to mystery than they do to SFF. My first genre love, I tend to read happily about killers and police when I’m not feeling like doing anything. I have been reading through all the good ones on Kindle Unlimited, and came across this one through my online library. Sadly, it didn’t live up to the promise of the cover and blurb. There’s nothing wrong with the premise – a bad man assuaged some of his guilt by hiding a note about a crime done years in the past – but my suspension of disbelief was broken almost immediately by the police actually paying attention to said note, when it was found with no other evidence to suggest it wasn’t a hoax. I plodded on, and realized that plodding was all this book was doing. The dialogue was wooden, stilted, and just got worse the further into the book you got. The action was nonexistent, and didn’t even mimic a real investigation. Frustrated, I skimmed to the end, realized that there was no satisfying resolution, and gave it up. I won’t look at another of this author’s books.

Book Cover Critique: For a mystery of a certain modern hard-boiled type, this is a great cover. The artwork immediately implies death and gore, without being overly done. The text elements fit the genre as well, you can tell at a glance exactly what to expect with this book, and that’s done largely with the font choice. Also, the author’s name placement and size imply that the author is very well-known and that’s a good subconscious message to the reader who is scanning. While the smaller text elements can’t be read at thumbnail, they are well-placed and don’t detract from the layout – they imply to the reader that this cover is also found on a print book, another subconscious tell that the book is professionally done.

Georgette Heyer  is always satisfying, and wonderfully, many of her books are currently in the Kindle Unlimited reading pool. I’ve been savoring each one and trying to resist the temptation to gobble them all up at once. She’s one of the rare authors I’ve been reading and re-reading since I was a girl (I think I was about eleven when I first discovered her on my mother’s bookshelves) and she never gets old. If anything, I pick up more as I have gotten older and rediscovered her. I find myself giggling helplessly sometimes while reading her work, and I can’t recommend her enough for lovers of romance, manners, and times that seem to have been more genteel than now.

Book Cover Critique: You know instantly when you see this cover what to expect. I am pleased that the reprinter of Heyer’s work is actually putting some effort into the covers, too often you see re-releases like this with dreadful cheap covers. But this one has clear art that shows the humor in the story, while the author’s name is prominent. The title is all but unreadable at thumbnail, but that doesn’t matter, the readers who love Heyer will be looking for the author, not the title. Each of the books has very different art, so for me at least I’m looking at that to tell if I’ve already read this one, rather than the title of the book. This is not something most authors can get away with, however!


4 responses to “Book Reviews!”

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Wish in One Hand. And I’m tickled pink you chose to review it here. Thank you!

    1. It’s been in the TBR pile for an embarrassingly long time, and I was delighted with it. One good thing – by waiting so long I now have more in the series to read without waiting longer!

  2. John jn Philly Avatar
    John jn Philly

    Break out of my reading comfort zone?
    The magic Amazon fairies have now sent a couple of your suggestions to the Kindle.
    Thank you!
    And thanks for explaining some of the why of design, sometimes I look at something I am working on and I don’t know why it looks wrong, or how to fix the wrong.

    1. I find that once I’ve been working on a design piece for a while, the best thing to do is sleep on it and look at it with fresh eyes. This usually brings the problems out better than when I’ve just spent hours staring at it! And I have a few people I’ll ask to look at a thing, too, sometimes they’ll catch what I’m missing. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by the cover, but there are times I can’t help it.