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, December 30, 2011

Dark Currents (The Emperor's Edge Book 2) by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Novel 
Price: $3.99 when purchased, $4.95 now
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Steampunk
Grade: A+

This is the sequel to The Emperor's Edge and is just as good if not better. Most of the information in my post for The Emperor's Edge applies here. Many authors these days do not correctly use the story arc, and try to create suspense and a "cliff hanger" at the end of a book to entice you to read the sequel. Lindsay Buroker understands the purpose of the story arc, and that any good story will have a resolution, leaving you fulfilled at the end of a book, and she relies on her strong characters, story line and amazing writing skill to entice you to read the following books. This worked for me, and I could not wait to start reading Deadly Currents as soon as I finished The Emperor's Edge

In this book, Amaranthe, Sicarius and the crew embark on a new adventure that is even more nail-biting than their first. Along the way the crew become a solid unit (albeit a dysfunctional one) and their interpersonal relationships develop. Most notably is the relationship between Amaranthe and Sicarius which has certainly become a different sort than it was in the first book (I'm not giving anything away though).

I recommend reading The Emperor's Edge before reading this book to enhance your experience, although it is not necessary and the author provides all necessary information without blatantly repeating the first book. Though I enjoyed reading this book immensely, I feel there is very little I need to say about it, because if you read the first book no doubt you are excited to read the second. So, I am going to trust the strength of these books, not my words to have you continue reading, as I go and start reading Deadly Games, the third book in the series. 
as always, visit the authors website at www.lindsayburoker.com

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Novel
Price: Free 
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Steampunk
Grade: A+

This is the first of the Amaranthe Lokdon stories, and the beginning of a fantastical tale that is sure to please anyone. This book has something for everyone, it a is fantasy, action, steampunk, mystery story with a heroine, assassin and a touch of magic. Lindsay Buroker creates a world that is as real and gritty as Terry Pratchett's Diskworld, and holds all the same appeal. Though the story is character driven, the plot is intricate and fascinating and makes this book impossible to put down. The main characters are impossible to dislike and the smattering of tertiary characters add whimsy and reality to the story.

Amaranthe Lokdon is our heroine, and she is as real a hero as anyone could believe. She is strong and headstrong, yet sweet and affable with a charming touch of OCD. She relies on a quick wit, friendly disposition, a generous amount of luck, and the ability to inspire loyalty and trust in those around her to get her through a myriad of dangerous situations that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Amaranthe is so multi-dimensional a character you will walk away from this book feeling like you know her, or for some, want to be her!

Sicarius is not the main character of this book, but non the less, he steals the show. An assassin so notorious that he is known not only throughout the Turgonian empire, but the whole world, and so good at his job that the emperor himself put a $2 million ranmya bounty on his head. Sicarius is silent, stealthy, deadly, and will steal your heart. Though he says little, and emotes even less, you can not help but love him, from the soles of his soft black boots, to the tips of his disheveled blonde hair. He is the hottest bad-ass since Aragorn (though certainly more morally objectionable).

When these two unlikely partners must pair up to reach a common goal, the result is pure genius. The background characters are no less important to the story and the above mentioned goals, and although they only step up to the limelight for brief moments, they are all beautifully crafted and feel as real as the main characters.
Though this is the first in a series of books (three so far, but a fourth is in the making) I already look forward to reading it again. Though the series is not yet finished (and so far I've only read two of the novels and the three short stories) already it is shaping up to be one of my favorite series's, up with the likes of Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Narnia, Harry Potter and the Diskworld books.

I give this book my highest recommendation. Seriously, go read it. It is free and will only make your life better. If you don't have a Kindle device, install the Cloud reader on your computer, phone, etc. and download this book. that is all. 
visit the author's website at www.lindsayburoker.com

Ice Cracker II and other short stories by Lindsay Buroker

Type: Short Story Collection 
Price: Free when purchased, $0.99 now
Obvious Typos: No
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Steampunk
Grade: A

This story collection was my first glimpse into the world of Amaranthe Lokdon, Sicarius and the rest of the Emperor's Edge crew. I am not normally a short story person, I prefer to get more in depth into a story, but these three stories were so intriguing that I was thirsty for more. The characters are so well developed that I knew there had to be a novel or two about them, and I was correct. These stories take place sometime after The Emperor's Edge which I will be reviewing next, so if you prefer to read a story chronologically then you may want to read at least that book first. There are other novels in the series, but we will get to them later.

From the beginning of "The Frozen Water Trade" you will be hooked on the insanely likable (although Vastly different) characters of Amaranthe and Sicarius. If you are unfamiliar with these characters, these stories are almost a teaser, inciting you into the rich and fantastical world of the Turgonian Empire. If you are old friends with Amaranthe's crew then you will get to explore some new and fun mysteries with them, and learn a little more about the characters and their history in the process.

"The Frozen Water Trade" centers around the dynamic duo of Amaranthe and Sicarius, as does "Ice Cracker II",  but Sicarius sits out for "Through Fire Distilled" to let Books, the endearing nerd, play Amaranthe's side-kick. I highly recommend this collection of stories to anyone, whether you plan to read the novels or not. Lindsay Buroker's fictions are so engrossing it is easy to become addicted, and to want to become a Turgonian Citizen yourself. I enjoyed these stories so much, that after reading The Emperor's Edge, I re-read them and enjoyed them even more after getting to know the characters better.

My next few posts are going to be of other works by Lindsay Buroker. The reason for this is that I have quickly become enamored of her work and I find myself unable to read anything else until I run out of material. Her wonderful works have inspired me to create this blog, and to share wonderful finds like the Amaranthe stories with the world. To find out more about the author visit her website at http://www.lindsayburoker.com/

First, a note about e-readers vs paper books

Let me start off by saying that I am a book purist. I revere books so much that even in college I refused to highlight, underline, or otherwise mark up a book; even a textbook I was paying out the nose for. It seemed sacrilegious to me to deface a book in any way. I also love old books, the way they smell, the feel of their papers, everything. I notice when a book uses a different type or quality of paper and often comment on type settings. Needless to say, when e-readers first came out, I knew I would never like one, would never want one, and hated the thought that paper books would get fazed out to be replaced by gadgets and electronics.

Then, I got a Kindle keyboard for my birthday 6 months ago. It was my wonderful husband's idea and my mother gladly helped, both being avid readers themselves. The most exciting part, was that it was the first time ever that I had a new gadget before those around me did. I felt special. And I've been hooked ever since.

The first thing I noticed was the screen itself, I couldn't believe how much like a printed page it looked. Reading electronically on a back lit screen is nearly impossible for me, but this was as easy on my sensitive eyes as reading a book! I also liked the weight, by the end of the day holding up a book, especially a large trade paperback or hardcover was very daunting, and tremors in my tired hands would make it seem like I was reading in an earthquake, but I had none of those issues with the kindle (though I do occasionally hit myself in the face when reading while lying down. I never claimed to be graceful). And thirdly, what really sealed the deal for me was the vast library of books Amazon has for the Kindle, and they were all at my disposal. Books I had been searching for in book stores for months I could find in seconds. And even more impressive is the amount of free books that are available on the Kindle. Many books I enjoy are public domain, but what I did not expect was how many new, contemporary books were available for free.
In the 6 months I have had the Kindle I have read quite a lot of these free novels and short stories, focusing mainly on newer fiction and I have been so impressed (mostly in a good way, but not always) by the quality of these works, that I have decided to start this blog, something I have never had any inclination to do before. I do still read mainstream books, both electronically and in paper copies (I could never give up my paper books) I will not be reviewing them for the most part, they have enough people talking about their works, they do not need another. I'd rather give props to the independent writers to whom every single reader's opinion counts.

I plan to list a few stats about every book; if it is a novel, short story or collection of short stories, how much I paid for it (many free books are only free temporarily, and often I will purchase others in a series if the first book is free and I enjoy it) if there are obvious typos (I find it Very distracting when reading if there are obvious typos; however, small things like missing a space is often not the authors fault and I will not mention these), genre, and an overall rating based on a school grading system (A for best, F for worst, etc.) to help encourage others to read something, or not waste their time. I encourage any questions, comments or suggestions.