Tour’s Books Blog

March 31, 2010

Several eBook Short Reviews

Is there a worse time of the year than tax time?  Jeeze.  Every year I come away traumatized yet again, even though, as usual, I overpaid my taxes.  Still, the whole process of taking financial stock of a year is scary.  Even more so for those who are self-employed and struggling in the current economy.  Of course it doesn’t help that I am such a messy record keeper.  Now that the worst is over and I can get back to books.

Well Samhain is back with a whole new look and lots of books offered from other publishers as well as their own.  Thanks to the 20% discount they offered, I bought a number of novellas for a more reasonable price.  As for the site itself, well, the jury is still out.  I’m have very mixed feelings about all those ebooks from other customers, mostly overpriced.  Obviously they sell or they wouldn’t be expanding that relationship.  Between Ellora’s Cave offering short novellas from various anthologies for insanely high prices, and now other epubs raising their prices across the board, the short format books stories are disproportionately expensive.  This is readily apparent when looking at price vs. length.  Alas, the novella is rarely well done, so I am rarely satisfied.  There are some exceptions, but mostly, they fail to impress or satisfy.  At worst, they leave all manner or unanswered questions and dangling story threads.  This week was a perfect example of all of these flaws made all the more obvious because I also read two excellent novels, a fantasy epic first book and a really good urban fantasy that kicks off a new series.  I’ll review them separately.

  • Title: Wolf Flight
  • Author:  Vivian Arend
  • Type:  Paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Werewolf shifters; woman in jeporday; Teenage crush is really mate
  • Sub-genre:  She’s running from a corrupt Alpha to hide her Omega gifts; he needs a first mate to become a wolf
  • My Grade: C (3.2*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price: Novella – about 36,000 words for $3.50 (20% discount for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site

Missy had always been special to Tad.  The crush he never forgot, not even after he found out he was part werewolf and needed a first mate to trigger his inner wolf and allow his to shift like full blood wolves.  Tad didn’t tell his deaf sister Robyn about their strange mixed their strange mixed heritage.  Despite her independence and strength, he was still her protective brother.  Now Missy, a wolf and the one girl he’s always craved has hired him to fly her into the Canadian wilderness as part of a scientific expedition that she’s joining.  Missy is part of the Whistler pack and despite his not yet having triggered his wolf, Tad is part of the Granite Lake pack in Alaska.  Much as Tad craves Missy, he’s afraid of a ‘false mate’.  A female can become accidentally mated to a wolf in a first mate due to the release of the male’s hormones during sex.  In a false mate the bond only forms on one side and the female is doomed to be bonded to a male who will bond to a different female.  He desperately does not want that to happen.

Missy and her sister have been under the control of the corrupt Alpha of the Whistler pack for years.  Her father had hated Doug, but he had moved his family from Vancouver to Whistler and done his bidding for years.  Missy even married Doug’s younger brother Jeff to try and protect her younger sister from abuse by the pack males.  But Jeff dies in a climbing accident and Doug is determined to claim her as his own wife.  He knows her secret.  Missy is an omega – the psychic link to the pack.  It is exactly that gift that lets her ‘see’ that Doug murdered his own brother so he could claim her and force her to use her gifts for his own ends.  But Missy got his agreement to allow her to join a scientific expedition.  Doug doesn’t know that Missy is aware of Tad’s untriggered wolf and is hoping to use a first mate with him to destroy her Omega talent, rendering her useless to Doug.

When Tad and Missy meet again the attraction is as strong as ever.  Missy won’t do a first mate with Tad thinking she thinks he has no idea he’s an untriggered wolf.  Tad won’t have sex with Missy because he’s afraid of causing a false mate.  They get together eventually, but before Tad has his first shift, Doug shows up to challenge him.

Overall all, the story was well paced, if a bit heavy on the melodrama.  This is part of a series and the third installment is reviewed next.  Melodrama seems to be the author’s style.

Was Wolf Flight worth $3.50?  For those who like the trope, yes it was.  I found myself somewhat neutral about it mostly because this kind of Lifetime TV story line tends to annoy me and the ending was much too abrupt to be satisfying.  More than anything, that last chapter dropped the rating.  Still, with 20% off this is a worthwhile buy.

*********************************************************************************

  • Title: Wolf Games
  • Author:  Vivian Arend
  • Type:  Paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Female werewolf must free her inner wolf
  • Sub-genre:  She a victim of abuse who needs help to free her wolf but finds her mate instead
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price: Novella – about 32,000 words for $3.50 (20% discount for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site

Maggie Raynor was a pawn used by a corrupt Alpha in the Whistler pack to control her older sister Missy.  She was attacked by a pack of males and shifted so many times between human and wolf she was completely traumatized.  Ever since, she has trapped her wolf and not let it out.  Missy’s new mate, Tad, killed the corrupt Alpha, but Maggie was already trapped.  She’s been sick and shifting into wolf would probably cure her, but Maggie’s memories and fear have locked her into her human form.  She’s decided to go see her sister, the Omega of the Granite Lake pack to see if she can help.

Maggie and Pam, her full human friend, arrive at Liard Hot Springs for a vacation before Maggie heads to her sister Missy’s home with the Granite Lake Pack.  Pam doesn’t know Maggie and her sister are wolves, but she does know something is wrong with Maggie.  Her ‘spells’, fainting and other serious issues.  Maggie’s wolf could heal her, but she’s suppressed it for so long she’s not sure she can shift again.  The memories of her attack makes her afraid of being around wolves.  The moment they walk into the resort, Maggie smells wolves, and one of them smells wonderful.

Eric is the beta of the Granite Lake pack and at the request of his alpha, he has some young wolves at the resort so he can meet Maggie and guide her into the pack lands in Alaska.  Who knew Maggie would be his mate.  Eric is huge – tall and very broad, and he knows Maggie is deeply afraid of him and the other wolves.  Eric is nothing if not patient.  He knows something is holding Maggie back from shifting – and from the obvious signs of their being mates.  Eric beings a slow campaign to win her trust, and to teach her to trust herself and her wolf.

Maggie travels back to Granite Lake with Eric and the younger males wolves and tentatively forms a skittish friendship with them.  Maggie is glad to get to her sister’s house.  Technically, Maggie is part of the Granite Lake pack where her sister and her husband are the pack omegas.   The pack has a big dinner she can’t refuse where pack members are selected to represent them in the Wolf Games.  The team captain is Eric, but the remaining members are drawn by lottery.  Unexpectedly, Maggie finds herself selected.  If she refuses to participate, the team must play one short.  Despite her fears of being around young wolves and her attraction to Eric, which stirs and unnerves her, she agrees to participate.

The contest was good and the author did an interesting job with a pretty original concept.  As with Wolf Flight, the ending of Wolf Games is too abrupt.  The melodrama that saturated Wolf Flight was present here as well, but mitigated by the contest.   The story was interesting, well paced and with a better than average creativity factor.

Was Wolf Games worth $3.50?  Yes it was.  Not the best, but certainly worth a read, especially with the 20% discount being offered on Samhain’s revamped site.

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  • Title: Breaking Chance
  • Author:  Kim Knox
  • Type:  Futuristic romance
  • Genre:  Convicts on the run
  • Sub-genre:  She’s a petty criminal and he’s a mass murderer who escape death on a hijacked space ship
  • My Grade: D+ to C- (2.5*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price: Novella – about 36,000 words for $3.50 (20% discount for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site

Parts of this novella were really good.  The concept was decent, if a bit Star Trek episode.  The characters were about average.  But the freaking dialogue and jumpy story line annoyed the crap out of me.

A novella tends to have a tough time setting a futuristic scene.   Some otherwise excellent writers stumble with this.  Here there are strange disconnects for the reader.  If you read authors like Theodore Sturgeon, Larry Niven, or any of the other hard core si-fi writers, you’ll likely be as annoyed as I was.  The story opens at a judicial proceeding sentencing various offenders to everything from prison to death.  Mass murderer John ‘The Butcher’ Ramius is sentenced to be spaced for his crimes, as is petty criminal Melissa ‘Lucky’ Chance by a judge determined to make a name for himself.  The two of them escape and head for a ship to get them away from the space station.  Chance is terrified of the supposedly insane Ramius and he willing to use her as a distraction to get him where he wants to go.

Chance becomes the reluctant pilot of the sentient ship they steal.  In the process, Chance realizes that Ramius is enhanced, and the only enhanced people are Earthers.  Why is he out in the Jovian colonies?  All he ever needed to do was get back to Earth and he’d be untouchable.  With more than a little fear of him, but a strong desire to live, Chance not only helps to steal the Governor’s personal ship, she distracts the guards AND acts as his pilot because he doesn’t have an implant like she does.  But instead of heading for safety, Ramius is taking them to Ishaan West, the outer Governor of the Jovian Colonies – the man who killed an activist and blamed it all on Ramius.

They evade capture, have sex – if Ramius said, “I’ll always give you what you need.  I must,” I think I would have screamed.  The sentient ship needs time to repair and it’s programmed to go back to the ship building facility on it’s next jump and it can’t be avoided.  Chance is upset, but Ramius isn’t, it’s where he wants to go.  He manages to once again evade capture with Chance in tow and they get Ishann West- but then, that was exactly what West wanted.

The ending is fast, predictable, and once again we get ‘I must give you what you really want.’  However, there are so many loose ends about Ramius and Chance is was not at all satisfying.  I never got to know enough about Ramius to form a clear mental image of him.  Chance is a bit better defined, but even she is rather vague.  I can’t even classify this as a sex-fest, it isn’t.  Yes, there is plenty of sex, but it is more stroy than sex and the story just didn’t gel.

Was Breaking Chance worth $3.50?  Even with the 20% discount I’m doubtful.  The story needed a lot of help to make it work.  If you really want some excellent short stories or novellas, try reading Tales From Know Space, I Sing the Body Electric, Tales From the White Hart, Man-Kzin Wars, even the well known Thieves World multi-author collaboration.  Keep in mind, Stranger in a Strange Land was for many years a banned book, so si-fi writers boldly went where many mainstream authors wouldn’t long before erotic romance was big. You can give this a try, but Kaitlyn O’Connor is better at this genre.

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