In this blog I will be reviewing ebooks I have read. I use an amazon Kindle, so much of the information will be geared towards Kindle users, but other ereader users should still find the information helpful. Many of the books I will be reviewing are free or low-cost books published by independent authors, my goal is to get the word out about some amazing authors that I think deserve more props, and to let you know which books are not worth the time reading. I am open to suggestions, about information you'd like me to add or new books I should check out and review.
Contact me at CassandrasBeads@Gmail.com

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hush Money (Talent Chronicles) By Susan Bischoff

Type: Novella
Genre: Paranormal/YA/Fantasy
Price: $0.99
Grade: B+

What would happen if teenagers had secret super powers, and the government started to find out about them? The Talent Chronicles would happen!

This is a really interesting story, and a quite different take on the "teenagers with special powers" theme. It is fantastic yet believable enough to never have you doubting. The story is strongly character driven, but the characters are unique and interesting and you find yourself caring about them. They are also multi-dimensional and not defined only by their super powers, although there are a lot of tertiary characters with powers which can get a tad confusing when trying to remember who can do what. The main characters make the story, and they kept me reading it. Though they are supernatural teenagers trying to hide their abilities, they are still young and still have all the same issues that any normal teenager has, which makes a nice balance between the two aspects of their lives. And their issues are realistic without being too teen-angsty.
At first I thought it was just a cute story, but before long I got engrossed and couldn't put it down. I will admit that the moment I finished this story, I immediately purchased the second book. So it is worth a read, and a great value for the price.

Conspiracy by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Novel
Genre: Action/Adventure/Steampunk
Price: $4.95
Grade: A++

This is the fourth installment of the Emperor's Edge series, of which there will be 6 novels total (plus short stories). This story picks up after where book 3 ended, when the Emperor manged to sneak a message to Amaranthe and her crew.

Though the first book will always be special, I feel that each book in this series gets better, and more exciting. This adventure is non-stop action from page one. The gang finds themselves in some new scenarios that not only add more danger to their already dangerous antics, but will also tickle any steampunk fans out there as they find they need to battle on top of trains, and even in a dirigible! Each book has a secondary point of view character, and this book was Akstyr's turn. I admit that before this book he was not my favorite character. In fact I found him as insufferable as he was supposed to be, but other than that I couldn't ever really feel a connection to him, which seems easy to do with the other characters (even Maldynado). However, in this book not only do we get to get inside his head a bit and understand how his mind is working, but we also get to know him better as an individual, not just as a practitioner who comes in handy to the crew. It helps that at this point he is starting to grow up, and grow as a person, which he is able to do in large part because of the familial bond Amaranthe's crew has provided for him, something which he was severely lacking while living on the streets.

We also get to know our dear Emperor much better in this book, as he gets to be an active character, as well as a no-longer-drugged-out-of-his-mind individual. And you'll find that Sespian is as completely developed and insanely likable as any of Lindsay's other characters.

And, anyone who is rooting for Amaranthe and Sicarius, Or rooting for Amaranthe and Sespian will want to munch on through this story. That is all I am going to say on that part. Although if you have gotten far enough to be rooting for anyone you no doubt have been as anxiously awaiting this book's release. But be warned, it ends with a quite infuriating cliff hanger that makes the wait until book 5 is written, and published, nearly unbearable!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Goblin Brothers Adventures by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Short story collection
Genre: Fantasy, Children's
Price: $0.99
Grade: A

This adorable collection of adventures is not just for children, the goblin brothers will steal the hearts of all ages. It is not only endearing and entertaining, but also has some excellent themes like being true to yourself, being brave, and dealing with bullies to name a few. Two young goblin brothers grow up in a traditional goblin town, learning to fish and forrage, the only problem is that they would rather spend their time making fantastic machines or reading dusty old books than doing "traditional" goblin things. This eaarns them a lot of ridicule from their brethren; however, it also leads them to become unlikely heros many times over, and their eccentricities are what helps them to save the day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fairy Metal Thunder by JL Bryan

Type: Novella
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Fairy Tales
Price: Free when purchased, $0.99 now
Grade: B+

Think Fairies are sweet, gentle and cute? Try ripping them off and then see what happens. When a struggling garage band musician stumbles into the realm of Faerie he sees a band of musicians and becomes intranced, both by their music and their instruments, which he then feels the need to liberate from their current owners. All goes well for his garage band when he presents the members with the fairy instruments, they become instant rock stars, but their are serious consequences when the theft is noticed by the queen of fairies.

This book was sweet and delightful with a dark edge. It features traditional fairies, fauns, ogres, elves and unicorns. And the unicorns may be the most interesting Folk in the whole story. I expected it to be a light hearted story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did have more substance than anticipated. The characters are well thought out and distinct, the plot is fast paced and interesting and the dichotimy of the two worlds is very well pulled off. There are other stories in this series and I look forward to seeing how everything turns out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Peacemaker (The Flash Gold Chronicles #3) by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Novella
Genre: Steampunk/Action/Adventure
Price: $2.99
Grade: A

This high action adventure is the most exciting that Kali and Cedar have yet been on. This is the third in the Flash Gold series, and this novella is also the longest. With the longer story our hero and heroine get to go on an even bigger and more deadly adventure, involving air ships complete with pirates, steam powered motorcycles, murder mystery, Flash Gold, and just a touch of romance. This story is impossible to put down, and is so fun. You don't have to be a fan of the steampunk genre to enjoy it, but if you are, you certainly will! These stories have a different setting than most steampunk fiction, and I find it intriguing. Not only does it add variety to the genre, but it makes it easier for different readers to relate (no Victorian London here!) Couple that with a heroine in dirty overalls with a tool belt instead of garter belt who is simply impossible not to love, and a hero that always keeps us guessing, not to mention the powerful story telling, and it all adds up to a recipe for entertainment!
I will admit, that by the third story I was hoping we would finally get to see more developing between our hero and heroine, but unfortunately for them something always gets in their way. I can't wait for the 4th installment of this exciting series.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Problems that have arisen due to self publishing.

This is not a review. I have noticed a few things lately in some of the books I have been reading that I feel the need to discuss. Feel free to add any issues I may not have noticed, or tell me that I am being too picky. I also want to preface this by saying that these statements do not reflect any of the books or authors I have reviewed, they reflect the books and authors that I have read and Not reviewed, for various reasons.

One of the greatest things about self publishing is also the worst thing about it, anyone can do it. This means that many authors that maybe would not have been found by traditional publishing companies have been able to enrich our lives with their wonderful stories. But it also means that many less than wonderful books are also being published.

Self publishing does not mean that you can take something that you wrote in a high school English class and put it, untouched, up on the web and try to sell it, or even give it away. Or rather, you can do this, but you shouldn't. Please make sure that the pieces you are subjecting to us are real, legitimate works, not what you find scratched on an old, yellow piece of loose leaf paper. You should be proud of your work, and not proud in the same way that you would hang it on your fridge for a month then put it in a filing cabinet for the rest of your life. But really, truly proud that you produced such a wonderful piece of work. That is what we want you to share with us.

Possibly the most important And most overlooked aspect with self publishing is the editing process. This is two fold and neither can be ignored. First, after a piece is written it needs to be self edited. If you think this is too difficult, or can't be bothered to edit your own work, then don't publish it, because if it isn't worth your time, it isn't worth ours. And once you think you are done editing your work, put it away for a day, a week or a month, then go back to it and edit it again. Secondly, is professional editing. I understand that self publishing is expensive, and you have to pay for things like editors out of pocket, but if you aren't willing or able to shell out the money for an editor, I promise you it will be reflected in your work, and you can't expect people to spend their money on your work if it is sub-par. Nothing ruins a story quicker than bad editing, misspellings and typos. The latter two are particularly unacceptable. It is also a good idea to have quite a few beta readers (especially ones anal about things like typos, like me) to notice these things before you publish.

Cover art is another cost you will have to shell out if you self publish, but it is worth doing well. Trust me, people Do judge a book by its cover, and an ebook is no exception. Many people make a split second decision about buying/downloading your book by the way it is first presented to them, i.e., the cover. Sometimes simple is better than too complicated, but it still needs to be captivating, so hire a cover artist who has produced some works you like and the money will be worth it.

What is also important to people on the fence about buying/downloading your book is the book description. It's not an easy thing to sum up a whole novel or story in just a few sentences, but it's an important part of making sales. Keep it short, most people won't read more than a paragraph, and careful on the spoilers!

Finally, once someone has read and hopefully enjoyed your book make sure that your readers can find your website or contact info. Having an interactive website or blog is helpful, as is having a newsletter that fans can subscribe to. But keep in mind that without fans, you would not sell any books, so if they contact you, try to be affable and don't ignore them, because then you have lost a potential fan for life.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In His Eyes - An Anthology

Type: Short Story Anthology
Genre: Fiction
Price: $0.99
Grade: A+

This is a wonderful compilation of short stories that are all about love, romance, and meeting that right person. Every one of these stories is well put together, inventive, interesting and entertaining and many of them have a unique fantasy or sci-fi element. There is something for every reader and this collection is the perfect way to try out authors and their stories, as every one of these short stories is a part of or a companion to a full length novel or a series of books. We get to visit some characters we have read before, like Melody and Raleigh from the Zellie Wells Trilogy by Stacey Wallace Benefiel and Cody and his new girlfriend Megan from Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak. Each story is told by the point of view of the male in the couple, which lends an interesting perspective and often quite different from the one offered in the full length piece.

Because of this adorable collection I have added many other authors and their works to my To-Read list and I am sure you will too! It’s a steal with 16 stories for only $0.99!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Scattered Pieces by Alice Lynn

Type: Novel
Genre: Fiction/Period Fiction/Drama
Price: $2.99
Grade: B+

Many stories are about what happens when tragedy strikes, but what about the events that happen after a tragedy? This book is a memoir style fiction that follows the life of Katie who is a small child in the 1940s and suddenly one day her little brother disappears, right from her grasp; an event which she will always feel responsible. And it follows her throughout her childhood, teen years and to adulthood in the wake of this life-changing event. It examines the relationships that she has with her parents following the loss of their other child, and her future relationships with friends, teachers and lovers. Though her life has been marred by an unspeakable event it also helps to shape many aspects of her future life, one that like most has its ups and downs but is for the most part a normal, average life. Though it can be a bit lengthy it is an interesting examination of an individual and the effects that certain events can have on many lives. This will be an especially exciting read for anyone interested in psychology or period dramas.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running Wide Open (Full Throttle) by Lisa Nowak

Type: Novel
Genre: Fiction/YA
Price: $0.99
Grade: A

Cody is a damaged young man who has been let down by everyone he cared about, and he’s learned to just not care anymore. But he finally meets someone who doesn’t let him down, no matter how much Cody puts him through. And Cody finally learns what it feels like to be loved, and accepted, but no sooner does everything fall into place, then it all falls apart. Cody may lose everything, and he becomes a lost little boy again.

This is a touching story about dysfunctional families, teen angst, the importance of love and compassion, overcoming trauma, and race car driving. And believe me, you do not need to be a fan of racing (in fact you can be quite the opposite) to enjoy this story. The characters are richly developed and highly likable and the plot is exciting and believable. The writing style is easy but captivating, and though it is a stand-alone novel (meaning it follows a story arc, and has an actual ending instead of an annoying “cliff-hanger”) I was excited to find out that there is a sequel, and I feel that these characters have more of a story to tell.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Glow (Zellie Wells book 3) By Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Type: Novel
Genre: Paranormal/YA
Price: $3.99
Grade: A

This exciting conclusion to the Zellie Wells trilogy gets the whole gang together (and then some) to face their biggest battle yet. With spirits and secret visions and rewinds a-plenty. After Mildred’s body disappears she is never far from the minds of the gang, and no matter what they try to do to stop her, she always seems one step ahead. But Zellie doesn’t know the meaning of the word lose, and she has no intention of walking away anything other then victorious. Along their journey we get to meet other young retroacts and their triggers, we meet Ben’s trigger, Connor, and get to know more about Ben and Christopher’s mothers. Not to mention that Claire and Melody get to have their own budding romances.

This series is sweet, fun, and nail-bitingly exciting. It is appropriate for teens or adults of all ages, and has something for everyone. This series will become addicting, and when you finish this book you will find yourself missing the characters. They became friends along the way. Also, the author is a really nice person, so that should give you more incentive to give her your money, and read her books!