Saturday, December 26, 2009

Misc: Fanfiction Favourites, Part 1

Fanfiction is an often-overlooked source of reading material easily obtained on-line. A lot of it is pure trash, but some of it is excellent, and can fill in the missing pieces and offer some interesting interpretations of what's gone on in a favorite show. I have saved about two dozen favourites into HTML files to read on the go on my Sony; Calibre converts them easily. Over the next two posts, I'll share my favourites with you. In this post, I'll list the best of the stuff I myself have written. In a subsequent post, I will list favourite stories from others. I welcome comments, once you've seen my style and preferences, for other stories you think I might enjoy...

THE BEST OF 'MASKED-SPANGLER' AT FANFICTION.NET

Since I Found Serenity. BtVS/Firefly cross-over. Buffy and Giles do a little dimension-hopping in search of a missing relic.

Little Ladybug. BtVS. A short one, but one I found very fun. A future Giles tells his daughter the story of how he met her mother.

Littlest Voyagers. Farscape/ST Voyager cross-over. An injured Aeryn and her son get stranded by a wormhole accident, and it's Voyager to the rescue...

All That We Let In. Grey's Anatomy. The epic friendship of Bailey, Addison and Callie is put to the test when a difficult case affects a post-divorce Addison...

Love Wins Every Time. Grey's Anatomy. A vulnerable post-Alex Addison forges a surprising friendship with Preston Burke...

Terminator: The Savannah Chronicles. TSCC. Follows Sarah, Savannah and Ellison post-series. There is an in-progress sequel underway due to popular demand when this one ended :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Review: U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton


U is for Undertow is my second library e-book, and is the latest installment in a long-running series (beginning with 'Al is for Alibi' and proceeding through the alphabet). I started reading these books around the same time I started reading the adventures of Cornewell's Kay Scarpetta and Kellerman's Alex Delaware, and of the three I think Grafton is the only who has maintained my interest and whose books have not declined in quality. Cornwell tried to go 'literary' to somewhat disastrous results, and Delaware's protagonist became too middle-class and complacent.

Grafton, in contrast, chose to age her character slowly---Kinsey Millhone had steadily been adventuring through the late 1980's as the series has progressed. Part of the charm in these stories is watching Kinsey, from our technological age, do some good old-fashioned gumshoe-ing. I began another novel yesterday also involving a female PI, whose office consisted of a desk, with a computer, and several electronic database subscriptions. So watching Kinsey drive to the library and cross-reference a phone number through three different indexes bound by year in physical books was surprisingly refreshing. A subplot involving the glacial, but steady pace of Kinsey's relationship with her newly found relatives added further human interest to the story.

The plot involves a client who comes to her with a long-repressed memory of a time he witnessed two men digging a large hole in the woods, at around the time a young girl disappeared. As she plugs away at what clues his story offers her, she becomes enmeshed in the long-ago disappearance of the girl, and becomes involved in the stories of several others from that period.

Grafton uses the inter-woven stories of several characters to keep the suspense going. More than once, I raced through three or so chapters waiting to hear the rest of a yet-complete story I hoped we would come back to. The eventual fitting of everything together was neatly done, as from the perspective of decades later, one character would casually mention another and tie up a key loose end. Kellerman attempted a cold case in one of his previous books and never to make it work for me. Grafton handles this material with much, much greater finesse and skill.

My one complaint was the ending---sudden, not especially suspenseful or satisfying, and leaving one character's fate in the hands of their own monumental stupidity. And, I feel, as I did in my recent review of another book from a long-running by an author I generally enjoy, that the book could have been another hundred pages shorter and not suffered for it.

Overall though, high marks. Grafton changed the genre with 'A is for Alibi' and has kept up steam all the way to the near-end here. When she gets to Z, she'll leave us an excellent series to look back on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: Black Silk by Jan Gordon


Black Silk by Jan Gordon is one of the top free downloads at Feedbooks right now and has been downloaded about 15,000 times. So, does it prove the theory that internet self-publishing is a wonderful innovation and we don't need publishing industry gatekeepers to give us quality reading?

With apologies to Ms. Gordon, who posts at Mobile Read and seems very nice, not entirely. I do think it shows potential, and Ms. Gordon may have it in her to be a hit novelist someday. But it reads very much like a first novel to me, and a draft one at that.

The problem: it's too short, and there is no real connection among the main characters. The male lead just shows up at the beginning of the story and immediately falls in love with the female lead. Were the novel a little bit longer, there might have been time for some lead-up.

If you look at some of the romance best-sellers, the male lead very seldom just happens to instantly fall in love with the total stranger. Let's take another recent read of mine, Black Hills by Nora Roberts as an example. Granted, Ms. Roberts has written a zillion novels already, so perhaps it's unfair to compare her to a total novice. But structure is structure, and Black Hills is a fairly straightforward story. Boy meets girl (roughly a third of a novel's worth of past---talk about lead-up!) Boy and Girl are Separated by Fate. Boy comes back, still loves girl. Girl requires convincing. There is a past connection between the characters which explains their growing bond. Here's another one, from the more novice Elizabeth Dearl. Girl is new in town. Boy is not. Boy shows her the ropes. Peril brings boy and girl together.

My point is, there is a progression, a reason for them to get together beyond 'boy shows up at opportune moment, sees girl and falls instantly in love with her.' This, I felt, was missing in Black Silk.

Deepen the characters a little, stretch things, relax into the story and do another draft? Maybe we'd have something commercial-quality here. Maybe in the next book :) But for now, it;s right that this book is a free release.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bookshelf feature at Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is in my opinion one of the best sites to ever come to the internet. Committed to getting as much of the world's available public domain literature on-line for free, easy access in formats even the dumbest computer can manage? I'm there! But with a project as vast as this one comes the issue: how to find the good stuff? Easy enough if you're looking for something in particular and can use the search feature. But what about if you just want to browse?

Enter the Bookshelf, a new-ish browsing tool I hadn't much used until my sudden interest in periodicals had me scouring the depths of PG once again. I find I get cleaner files if I run the conversion myself on HTML files, especially where graphics are concerned as with the periodicals, so I was returning to PG again to dig up some source files.

I was in luck! There was a special bookshelf for periodicals that listed every title available. I didn't need to wade through every issue of every title. I could just see what there was, then click on any entry for a list of issues available. The ones published in volumes as opposed to issues were even grouped by volume so you could see at once which were the complete sets!

Other bookshelf lists are grouped thematically. Canada has a list of books about Canada, grouped into categories like history and biography. Other countries are available too. Detectives has a range of detective fiction, grouped by author and sorted by author's year of birth. Archaeology is sorted by the continent each work is discussing.

There are probably not 100% comprehensive lists. Are there detective stories in PG's vast archives which are not listed, yet or at all, in the bookshelf. Undoubtedly. Are there groups of works which lend themselves to the Bookshelf treatment but haven't had it yet? Probably. But if you just want to browse, the Bookshelf is certainly a better bet than browsing through every title in PG, one by one. And you are sure to find some suitable content, no matter what you're looking for.

Here are some bookshelf categories which intrigue me particularly:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Magazines at Project Gutenberg

As I was pondering whether or not to renew my subscription to Asimov's at Fictionwise next year, I wandered over to my Yahoo RSS feed and saw a new upload of Strand Magazine at Project Gutenberg. The Strand, among its other achievements, was the publisher of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and it occured to me that those who like such things would very likely find other gems in these old periodicals. Magazines tend to publish fiction thematically; if you like one of their staples, the others are likely to be in a similar style and feel. So it can be a great way to discover new authors and great new stories.

I'm thinking of picking a year and seeing how I do with a Gutenberg 'subscription.' Perhaps I could do it as a book club with my readers here. Every month, I'll post the issue corresponding to the year in question, and we can read the magazine together and discuss it collectively, perhaps in a Yahoo Group or smaller such venue. So, faithful readers, anyone interested? I am thinking of starting with Atlantic Monthly magazine, as there are several consecutive complete years available beginning in 1859. Comment or message me if you think this might be a fun year-long venture. I can set up a Yahoo Group if there is interest.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: Taylor Madison series by Elizabeth Dearl


This is a mystery series, available at Fictionwise in multiformat. The main character is a suspense novelist who, in Book 1, returns to her late mother's country hometown to uncover the mystery of her paternity. As is wont to happen in books like these, she stays.

Taylor is an appealing character and the books were well-written. I liked the romance between her and the male lead, and the small country hometown was well-drawn and engaging. Book 1 and Book 3 were the best of the bunch. Book 2 had too many characters who seemed to be basing their grudges and behaviours on misinformation they could have clarified with one conversation. It was just too depressing for me---there were decade-long grudges based on 'I thought you said/did such and such!' 'But I didn't!' 'Oh, okay then, problem solved.' Ugh.

Book 2 was entirely forgettable, but I liked the other ones. If I were doing it again though, I'd stick with book 1 as a stand-alone. The mystery in Book 3 was short and easily solvable, and Book 2 was, as I said, depressing. Still, not bad for an indie read.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Review: The Royal Pains Series by Roberta Olsen Major


This intriguing YA series was one of my recent Fictionwise finds. There are eight short nevels set in the same imaginary universe; occasionally, places or personalities from a previous story find their way into one of the sequels, but the eight stories pretty much stand alone. These are billed as 'fairy tales with attitude' and for the most part, this is true. The women, most of whom are princesses, have snark and attitude. Olsen writes this sort of character well. The off-note for me was that the series seems to alternate between kick-ass princess stories and somewhat gloomy quest epics, the latter of which are less fun and less successfully pulled off. The stories are:

  • Book 1: The Prince in the Flower Bed. An entertaining start to a promising series. This is one that made a lot more sense after I had read the other ones and had a better sense of the mythology (and geography) of the world this series is set within.
  • Book 2: The Seventh Dwarf. Dwarves play a huge role in the underlying mythos that runs this world. Also, many characters from this story reappear elsewhere, so don't miss this one if you plan to read any of the others. As for the story itself, it was a better one, so go for it!
  • Book 3: The Good Knight Kiss. A somewhat frothy love story with a spunky princess and several archetypal foils to set her up against. Not much else going on, though. This one was about as straight-forward as they come.
  • Book 4: The Bottle of Djinn. A gloomy 'quest epic' involving the daughter of a royal concubine. She gets a good ending, as most princesses do. But not before she suffers and suffers and suffers some more...
  • Book 5: The Ice Cream Crone. I liked the men in this one. The princess, I could take or leave. Good use of setting, though, and an interesting mood that offered something different from the other stories.
  • Book 6: The Knave of Diamonds. I liked this one a lot. The girl had moxie, the prince wasn't boring, and I found myself rooting much harder than I ought to be for twue wuv to prevail...
  • Book 7: The 24-Karat King. Another 'gloomy quest epic' story, and one with an abrupt, inconclusive ending to boot. Nice as it was to have some closure on bit player from a previous story, this was not my favourite.
  • Book 8: The Bad Heir Day. This was a great conclusion (for now?) to the series. A lot is revealed about the central mythos this little universe runs on, and it brings several plot arcs from previous volumes together in an intriguing way. It's definitely more fun if you;ve read all the other ones, though...
Overall, I found the series an entertaining read and liked the way the different stories interconnected. I do feel there was some wandering, though. Most of the stories were playful and fun, but a few were really harsh and gloomy, and I don't think they fit together as well with the other ones. Book 4, Book 5 and Book 7 could easily be done without.

I would say they are a good read if you like this kind of story, and if you can pick up the whole series at a good price, go for it. I bought book 1 only at first, then when I had a chance to 'complete the series' in a Fictionwise sale, I did so. I would not have paid full price for them, though.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult


This book is about a family whose child suffers from the illness osteogenesis imperfecta, which means her bones break easily. The whole family has been changed by caring for young Willow, and when an opportunity arises to set up a fund for her future---via a controversial 'wrongful birth' lawsuit against the doctor-slash-best-friend of the main character---the family sells their souls to do it. There are consequences, or course, and the typical alternating chapters and courtroom dramas that typify Picoult's work.

It's all fine. I was reasonably entertained and got caught up in the story. But there is little respite from the bleakness here. It's grim, grim stuff. And the ending was a real disappointment. Picoult seems to be splitting her oeuvre among the 'sick child courtroom drama' and 'chicklit with issues' genres, and I must admit, I do prefer the books in that category.

Were it not on sale, this would definitely be a library read for me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: And Then the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson

And Then the Town Took Off is an e-book reprint of on out of print pulp novel from the 1960s. The small town of Superior just 'takes off' one day, and nobody is sure if it's aliens, a conspiracy by a local crackpot faux-scientist, or something to do with the bubblegum factory. Among those stranded on the flying city are a Pentagon employee, the secretary to a cartoonish senator, and the daughter of the crackpot scientist. There are some truly funny moments here (the brief reign of a local monarch being one of the highlights) and some dated 'product of its time' bits too (silly females, Russian submarines, cold war shenanigans etc.) But on the whole, it's an entertaining read. I wouldn't say it's a 'must-buy rush otu and do it now' story, but it's definitely worth adding to your wish list for the next time it goes on sale. I picked up up for 30% off during a sci-fi promo and at that price, did not regret my purchase.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Review: Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels (Scoop!!!!)


I managed to get my hands on the new Jillian Michaels book two days early thanks to a hole-in-the-wall store who does not always pay attention to release dates, and I am just too excited. I adore Jillian Michaels, respect her work and methods, see her as a role model and just in general think she is kick-ass fabulous, so being the first out there in book-blogger land to get this book, I had to write about it.

This is an interesting 'diet' book with a fresh approach and a lot of good information. Jillian's pet topic in this volume is hormones, and her food plan is all about re-balancing yours to boost your metabolism and boost your health. Due to my food allergies, I am already avoiding some of the 'toxic' foods Jillian rails against in this book, so if you are a HFCS addict (or someone who never paid much attention to it before) the program in this book may be a harder adjustment for you than it will be for me. And if you are vegetarian, or reluctant to spend the money on organic foods, you won't find much sympathy (I have heard that Jillian has recently become pescatarian, so I am surprised there was nothing in this book about vegetarianism).

The crux of the book is a three-stage plan where you 1) reduce or eliminate the the bad things 2) add in some good things and 3) tweak, assess, and adjust your environment. While the 'menu' portion of the book offers nothing different from other 'diet' books out there, the sections leading up to it are packed with great information about hormones in the body and which foods enhance/support them, how to reduce toxins/pesticides/chemicals in both your food and your home, special suggestions for people with PCOS, thyroid issues and other hormone imbalances, and suggestions for ways to boost vitamins in your diet using power foods.

I appreciated that Jillian at every point offered *food* suggestions---no hormone therapy, no vitamin pills, just plain old food. And I thought it was really unique (and useful) to see suggestions on how to improve your non-food environment (go green! wahoo!) I guess my one disappointment---and I have had this same disappointment with every 'diet' book I have ever read---was that Jillian did not address at all the topic of food allergies. Nobody does, so Jillian is certainly not unique in dietbookland for failing to. But this is a growing problem, and as someone who has several medically verified sensitivities, it is an issue that has affected my diet. I find healthy fats an especially difficult problem because I can't have tree nuts, flax or raw seeds related to the birch family (e.g. pumpkin seed). I would have liked to see some suggestions for snacks beyond the 'string cheese and fruit' or 'almonds and an apple' that fill every diet book out there.

Overall---an impressive 'first diet book' from Jillian, with an entertaining, conversational tone and solid info, with page upon page of references to back it up, and sensible info on a myriad of ways to rebalance your body and eat sensibly, healthfully, and in ways that support weight loss and optimize fitness. Here's hoping for an equally well-done sequel addressing the needs of vegetarians and perhaps including more menu ideas and suggestions for substitutions for people with food allergies or other sensitivities.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire


This book probably needs little introduction for most avid readers. based on L. Frank Baum's classic Wizard of Oz series, it re-tells the story of Oz from the point of view of Elphaba, the little green girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West. Maguire draws on Baum's entire Oz series in his world creation, not just the first volume most of us are familiar with from the movie, and he creates a vividly drawn world as riven by race and class issues as ours. Highlights of the story include Nanny, a childhood nurse who appears later in the novel and offers tantalizing glimpses of Elphaba's later childhood; her university friendship with the high-born Galinda who becomes the good witch, and her heartbreak in the Emerald City, which casts her once and for all into the fringes.

Maguire shows a logical progression to Elphaba's actions, and she never stops being a sympathetic character. I did find the novel fell apart a little for me toward the end, when events in the book start to mirror events in the movie. Maguire's Dorothy comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue, and the reactions to her from several characters rang false. But the book was, on the whole, a thoroughly enjoyabke one and I plowed throug it at record speed. I have the two sequels on my reading list next; I hope they are just as satisfying.

Fictionwise is advertising the ebook version as being 'packed with extras' including a reading group guide which I believe is in the print version too, and the original Wizard of Oz story on which this was based (and which is in the public domain and hence available at many internet freebie sites already). I like the concept of ebook extras and hope this evolves over time to offer ereaders actual incentive to pay the unreasonably high prices publishers seem to be demanding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Calling by Jack Brokenshire


Calling is a book came recommended on the Mobile Read forums and had good ratings at Fictionwise. I found it a little disappointing. The concept was clever enough: a man discovers his old cell phone can call heaven, and drama ensues. But it was written in an odd narrative style: all telling, no showing. The man just narrates what happens. The result for me was a sort of distance from the story. I never quite bought into the characters as real people with real lives. The tiny details that make characters come alive for me---routines, descriptions, dialogue, names----just weren't there. And toward the end, it got a little preachy.

I did find it an interesting little read. But I don't know that I would shell out for it again, in hindsight.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review: Witchy Woman by Karen Leabo


Witchy Woman is a fun little story about a woman who grew up as a witch and as an adult, has turned away from her 'mysterious' past---until a handsome reporter and an ancient cursed cat force her back into action to deal with her 'magic' once and for all.

The romance between Tess and Nate is deftly played. He is decently chivalrous in spite of his professional interest in her story, and Leabo gets that plot point out in the open fairly quickly, which is nice. Her response to Nate's intentions, romantic and otherwise, are heartfelt and realistic.

The book felt like it could have been a bit longer. But for what it is, it was an entertaining read and a fun story. Recommended.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: Cycler by Lauren Mclaughlin


This charming story was recommended all throughout Blogland, so I picked it up during a sale, as I always do with such things. The novel revolves around every-teen Jill, whose perfectly average life is marred by the secret that every month for four days, she transforms into Jack, a boy version of herself who is locked away for the duration. Jill's half of the story is fairly standard Girl-Boy-Prom type of material, but the wrinkle of Jack gives this book its clever saving grace as Jack tries to have a life and develop an identity despite his four-day existence locked away in Jill's body, bedroom and family.

It's not the type of novel I usually go for, and it's certainly outrageous that even months down the line, it remains priced at above its print counterpart, but that is of course the story of my e-life, and I can't blame the book for it. I'm going to stop commenting on the price issue from here on out. Buy on sale, like the smart person that you are, and you'll be fine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: Graverobbers Wanted by Jeff Strand


Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary)
by Jeff Strand is a fun little suspense story concerns Andrew Mayhem, a completely inept 'private eye' who gets involved in a cat and mouse game with a bad guy type after accepting a proposition in a bar to help a lady dig up her husband's body and retrieve a key from it. The body leads him to a shady snuff film operation (or is it?) full of suspicious characters and a killer who's having too good a time messing wit Our Hero. Strand keeps the snark on ful blast, and this is a deeply fun read. I'm in for the sequels! Recommended.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Murder in a Nice Neighborood by Lora Roberts


Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts is the first novel in an apparently complete six-book series, and after reading it, I am definitely interested in buying the others. Roberts has a unique detective character, an aspiring freelance writer who is homeless and lives in a bus. When a street person is murdered and left under said bus, Liz becomes involved in the investigation.

Roberts paints Liz's vagabond life with precision and care, and offers a satisfying resolution that opens things up for the sequel. I will definitely keep reading. And hey, it's multiformat (non-DRM'd) to boot. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: Damage Control by J.A. Jance


This novel is part of Jance's Joanna Brady series. I've read the whole series and enjoyed it, so I was happy to see a new-ish one!And how was this series after such a long delay? Not bad. The mystery held my interest, and Joanna's personal life saw some progression, with some major changes in her world set up by the novel's end. I would have loved to see minor characters like her daughter Jenny or her friend Marianne take more prominent roles than they did. Marianne is a new mom too, and they could have gone somewhere with that. And there was scope for Jenny to be more involved than she was. Joanna is at her most human when the mom button gets pushed, and saddling her with a cranky newborn for most of the novel didn't do it for me. I'm glad I read it, but it certainly wasn't worth $17. If it weren't for these micropay sales, where I basically get the book for near free because I spend the credit on other things, I'd be getting books like this from the library.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Review: Tornado Bait by Amy Eastlake


Tornado Bait by Amy Eastlake is probably one of the most fun little mysteries I have read in awhile. I got it as part of my 'titles available in multiformat' binge at Fictionwise recently, and enjoyed it immensely when I read it this week. Tina Anderson is the manager at a trailer park, and gets pulled into a mystery when a tenant finds body parts floating in his toilet. A colourful cast of secondary characters including a sexy ex-husband, a frosty ex-mother-in-law and a hooker best friend aid our hapless heroine in her thoroughly clumsy sleuthing, and throughout, Eastlake maintains a light tough and frothy, chikk-lit tone. There is a sequel. I am definitely in!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Love is Blond by Marie Dees


When I reviewed the previous title in this series, I said that this series, while not quite what I expected after reading the description, was a cute little read and did the job as a diverting and capable mystery. I am pleased to say that the sequel, Love is Blond, is much improved---I still have some issues with the focus the author seems to be taking on the 'politics' of her imaginary world, but the story itself is much, much better and the quality of the writing is higher.

This book focuses primarily on Rafe and Patrick, two characters from the earlier story whose relationship---and lives---are put in jeopardy when an old mentor of Patrick arrives in town to host a conference. Things escalate from there, and I won't give it away except to say that the focus on building these characters is a welcome one. I think Dees worked a little too hard at the world-building in the last outing, and now that that's done, we can move on to more interesting things. Dees also weaves in Lynn's struggle to establish herself and find meaningful occupation in Cassadega, where she is not sure she belongs, and to establish her relationship with Alex. There is still dept to plumb with him; as Lynn is one of the more appealing characters in the series, I wonder if a third novel is being planned which explores her and Alex with the same depth in which Patrick and Rafe get treated this time around.

I recommend this one, and preferred it to the first book. But they do go together, and I am not sure you'll be able to follow this one unless you read the other one first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review: Tea & Witchery by Marie Dees

I had never heard of Marie Dees until her books came up during a multiformat search at Fictionwise, so I was surprised to find she had a mainstream 'print' presence on Amazon---at double the price, to boot! I am not sure this book is worth what Amazon is charging, but it is not a bad read at bargain e-price.

Tea and Witchery is about a woman named Lynn who goes to visit her aunt in a Florida town that is known for its paranormal society. There are the standard 'and then someone gets murdered' events, and Lynn must play detective while fighting off the amorous interests if her college buddy George, and the mysterious Alex.

The action moved fairly briskly, and Lynn evolved nicely as a character. My two quibbles were that most of the supporting cast were somewhat annoying and not terribly sympathetic (I would not have shed a tear if one in particular got killed, nor would the other characters) and secondly, the same complaint I had with Kelley Armstrong's latest---the author delves a little too much into the 'politics' of her special society, and I would have rather seen the world in action a little more carefully.

For a novel that purports to be about a group of 'real' psychics, she also fails to convince me that any of them really do have special powers. The 'signs' they use to get themselves into the society are vague and not terribly compelling. And the local cops seem to be view them as a bunch of kooks. When you have 'outsider' characters like Lynn and Alex being your dramatic leads in a story like this, it's that much harder. Perhaps less focus on politics and more focus on giving credence to whether these people actually had 'powers' or not would have served the novel better.

I got this on sale for less than $3 and it was a good read at that price, but I am not sure how much more I would suggest paying for it. Not much more :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Review: Sister Gypsy Moon by Karen Leabo


I'm ripping through the spoils of my recent Fictionwise multiformat titles binge! Rob from Books for a Buck was kind enough to send me a review copy of Sister Gypsy Moon. I had trouble formatting it for my iPod Touch, so when it went on sale at Fictionwise for 50% off in a special for members, I paid the $1.50 or so and bought it myself. I'm glad I did. It was an engaging, funny little mystery and well worth its reasonable price.

Gypsy, the title character, is a child of hippies (yes, Gypsy is her real name) who is going through a transition in her life. At loose ends and on the run from her almost comically irritating stalker, Darryl, her lawyer sister Petal finds her a job house-sitting an odd purple house. Its owner has vanished, the mortgage gone into collections, and the bank wants the place cleaned up so they can sell it. Gypsy only just gets going on that when her sister gets a crisis or two of her own and comes to stay with her. The two of them get caught up in the mystery of what happened to the home's former owner Ruby, and along the way dodge Ruby's religious fanatic neighbour, her nephew and his motorcycle gang, and Petal's repentent, adulterous husband Cullen, a cop who is Gypsy's former flame.

Gypsy has a great sense of humour as a narrator, and is a fun, hip character. I would love to see a sequel of this story detailing her further adventures in that purple house. I'll be keeping an eye on this author and seeing what else she has available, both now and down the road. This was a brisk, enjoyable read. Recommended.