Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sample Review: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf

Sample Reviews are a new feature I am starting as on now! For each review, I'll choose a book that's been languishing on my To-Read list, and read the sample. Then write a short review that answers this question: did the sample make me want to pull the trigger on the rest of the book? Why or why not?

For my first sample review, I checked out Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf. This book was the basis for the very good Disney movie; I enjoyed that movie and was delighted to learn that the author of the book has joined the backlist re-publishing crowd on Smashwords. Both books in the series were free during Read an Ebook Week, so I got them then and was curious to read them.

The books initially suffered from some fatal formatting flaws. I contacted the author, who was very friendly and attentive; the books were re-formatted and uploaded again within a day. Unfortunately, they could still benefit from a good copy-edit. These books are old enough that I suspect the author had to OCR them, and there are a few misplaced line breaks and punctuation issues. Not fatal, as the other issues were, but somewhat irritating.

Onto the story though, things were pretty smooth. The premise involves a world where cartoons are sentient beings who live side by side among humans. Eddie Valiant is a human private eye in the grandest of noir traditions who is hired by Roger Rabbit to investigate a simple labour dispute, and winds up in over his human head in the seamy underside of Toontown.

I enjoy a good noir mystery, and I enjoy a little quirk, so this should have been a slam dunk for me. Ultimately, however, I found the book a little flat. It is such a visual, exciting world the author has created. It was a little TOO visual, though. I felt the way I have felt before when I tried to read steampunk novels. I was interested in the world they were creating, but too many times, the action would slow down for an explanation of a sight gag that would have been better in a more visual medium. I am sure I would enjoy a steampunk comic book, just as I enjoyed the movie version of this very imaginative story. But as a novel, it wasn't quite as interesting. I got a little tired of reading explanation for where the speech bubbles go when a toon finishes talking.

I do see this as a book with appeal for the mystery fan, especially the noir mystery fan. With all due respect to Mr. Wolf, he has created an extremely imaginative and well-thought-out world for his stories, and I give him credit for the deserved traffic the movie version will likely drive his book's way. But for me, it worked better as a movie, I'm afraid :) With so much else on my plate right now, I passed on reading the rest of the novel.

Verdict: did the sample make me want to read more?
With no disrespect to Mr. Wolf and his clever story, no it didn't.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Read an Ebook Week, Days 6 & 7

Hi everyone! Time to wrap up Read an Ebook Week! Some last-minute todos...

1) Go to a Best Buy, Future Shop or other local chain and see what's on the offer. Maybe there is something on sale and you'll get lucky! Or maybe you are happy with the reader you have but it's just cool to play with a different gadget...

2) Last chance to take advantage of the Smashwords specials! This time, try a genre you don't normally read from and see if anything strikes your fancy.

3) Do you have a blog, or did you join a message board this week? Write a post about your RAEW adventures and submit it!

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Read an Ebook Week, Day 5

Hello again!

How is Read an Ebook Week going? Are you finding any good books out there? Here are some todos for Day 5.

1. Set up a Google Alert with your favourite author's name so that you can find out news about their new releases, places they are being reviewed and talked about, and coupon codes to get deals on their books. If you are an author, set up a Google Alert on yourself!

2. Sign up for the e-newsletter at your favourite book vendor, like them on Facebook or follow their twitter account. Kobo and many other ebook stores often post coupon codes and special deals in these places.

3. Have a friend or family member who reads ebooks too? Some stores allow you to gift one of your books to someone else, or to purchase a gift card for them. Share the love and send someone in your life an ebook gift.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Read an Ebook Week, Day 4

Hi again everyone! Here are your todos for today:

1. Have a favourite author from the big pubs whose works you enjoy in ebook form? Google their official website address, then send them an email or leave them a comment letting them know you are an ebook buyer and that you appreciate their embracing of the digital age.

2. Do you only read Big Pub authors? If so, how about investigating an indie mecca today? Browse your favourite genre at a site like Smashwords or Feedbooks and pick up an indie read that strikes your interest. Not sure where to start? The Indie eBook Hall of Fame has genre listings of books which have at least three positive reviews from independent bloggers.

3. Remember the forum you joined yesterday? See if it has a poll section. Then look at some polls and cast your vote an an ebook-related topic which interests you. Have fun!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Read an Ebook Week, Days 2 and 3

Oops! Forgot to post yesterday. Making up for it with a double post today. Here are your todos:

1. Sign up for a forum where you can learn about ebook deals and new releases. Mobile Read or Kindle Boards are both good ones.

2. Read an article at Teleread or another ebook-centric blog and leave a comment. Make your feelings known to those who lead the debate on ebook issues!

3. Still looking for some ebook freebies? How about a great classic from the public domain? Project Gutenberg is the uber-portal for public domain freebies. Feedbooks and Manybooks are also great places to bookmark, especially if you want to download other formats.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Read an Ebook Week, Day 1

Welcome to Read an Ebook Week! I will be posting some special to-dos every day for the next week, to get you in the 'read an ebook' spirit. Here are your to-dos for day 1!

1. Smashwords has a special area of free and discounted books for this promotion. Check it out and download a few books.

2. Have you submitted reviews for the ebooks you have most recently enjoyed? If not, spend a few minutes adding some ratings and a review or two at the vendors you patronize.

3. Join a challenge or book club! Goodreads is full of them. Mobile Read is another good starting point. Or, just do it yourself. Read 100 ebooks this year. Read 50 classics. Whatever you want!

Check back tomorrow for more Read an Ebook Week todos. Happy reading!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

Jenny Pox came highly recommended to me, with numerous commendations by several indie bloggers. It's a well-written young adult fantasy novel about a girl whose touch can kill. Inevitably, she meets and falls in love with the one boy out there with the power opposite to hers, a healing touch. And just as inevitably, he is connected to the novel's villain, who may have powers of her own...

The story's simple, almost predictable structure actually works in its favour, ratcheting up the tension a little as Jenny and Seth move toward the Carrie-esque ending we all know is coming. Jenny is characterized very well; Seth a little less well, and Ashleigh, not much at all beyond
'she's evil.' As a non-young adult, I confess I would have been happy to spend less time at the Halloween parties, abstinence meetings and church groups these teen characters spent much of their time on, but I think that's my problem and not the fault of the author.

I did find, overall, that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would because it was a little too grim and gloomy for my taste. Jenny has a miserable, joy-less life and her burgeoning love for Seth just made it even more gloomy because I knew it couldn't end well. I can see why others rated this book so highly. It's original, creative, hits the right buttons for a teen audience etc. But it was just such a sad book to me. I have to mark it down for that.

3/5, but if you have more gothic and tween-age tastes, feel free to bump that up a little.