Sunday, February 27, 2011

"30 Pieces of Silver" by Carolyn McCray (@craftycmc)

Hold onto your hats, my fellow readers.  You're about to be in for one heck of a storm.  I haven't been this engaged in a novel since I don't know when.  If you're not familiar with Carolyn McCray, she's been ghost writing for many years, and is now taking the indie publishing world by storm with both her gut-wrenchingly good novels and her innovative marketing tactics.  She's the co-founder of ZTS Promotions (, and the founder of the Indie Book Collective ( and Bestseller for a Day (  She will be a panelist at SXSW (South by Southwest) talking about online marketing and independent writing.  Basically, she's all around awesome.

And today (Monday, Feb. 28th) her novel, 30 Pieces of Silver, will be the Bestseller for a Day.  What does this mean to you, the reader?  Well, it means you'll get the e-novel for $.99 if you purchase it right now (whether or not you have a Kindle or a Nook, you can still read it).  It also means you can enter to win a Kindle by going here.  It ALSO means you're eligible for a full refund after purchasing Plain Jane, McCray's first thriller.  IT ALSO MEANS you get to be involved in trying to drive an indie author up the bestselling lists.  That enough also's for ya?  And I'm telling you, if there was ever an author that deserved it, it's Carolyn McCray.

But let's talk about the book itself.  First things first.  If you're Christian, which I am, this novel may be uncomfortable for you.  It was for me.  This novel makes The Da Vinci Code look like a trip to Bible Camp.  It is unabashedly and unashamedly controversial.

That said, I have never read another thriller that had a more engaging plot, with more detailed characters that I fully cared about.  I was swept up in the action immediately and never had a moment of feeling pulled out of it.

I felt taken care of by the author, if that makes sense.  I didn't ever have the sense that the novel was going to let me down, which can sometimes be a concern with indie books.  McCray handles the different time periods with aplomb, switching back and forth from modern times and the Biblical period without fits or starts.

Truth be told, I liked this novel a lot more than I wanted to.  Considering the religious controversy, I was ambivalent to the point of not being sure I wanted to read it at all.  But from the first page, I kind of didn't have a choice as to whether or not I was going to see it through.  And it is definitely worth the read.

So, pick up an amazing novel for $.99 that people will be talking about (trust me on this one).  Enter to win amazing prizes.  Help indie authors everywhere.

You'll come back and thank me for it. :)  You can pick up 30 Pieces of Silver here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Altar of Eden" by James Rollins (@JamesRollins)

First off, I'm a big James Rollins fan.  You should know this before you read any further.  I claim absolutely no sort of objectivity when it comes to him and his novels.  There.  Full disclosure.

This novel has everything any seasoned thriller readers out there might be looking for--science, suspense, twists and turns, and of course, adrenaline-pumping action.  Rollins has taken a break from the Sigma series to go back to his stand-alone-novel roots and give us this nail-biter.  I zipped through this sucker in what felt like a minute and a half.  Unfortunately, it was actually a couple of days, and my life felt the effects of my lack of presence in it.  Fair warning.  Pick up this book at your own risk!

For those hey-I-can-take-it-or-leave-it thriller types, here are the hooks that'll grab ya.  First, this is the first novel that Rollins (a veterinarian) has written about veterinarians.  It's filled with all kinds of first-hand knowledge of what makes vets tick.  Second, the protagonist Lorna is also a woman, a slight departure from many of Rollins more testosterone-fueled efforts.  She's a fully developed, perfectly realized specimen of a character that will make you care while you're flying through the pages.  And finally, the romantic tension that exists between Lorna and Jack keeps things as steamy as the Delta they're skimming through.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, this novel pretty much rocks out loud.  Get it now, right here, if you haven't read it already.  If you have, buy the paperback for a friend.  They will thank you.  Profusely.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Play Fling" by Amber Scott (@amberscottbooks)

It's Valentine's Day.  So, you men out there, you gotta give me a lot of leeway today, cause we're going a bit... well... girly today.  But trust me, it's all REALLY good stuff.

Okay, I'm reviewing a romantic comedy (with a paranormal twist) today.  I may lose all my masculine street cred.  'Sokay, though, because a) this novel's worth a read regardless of your gender, and 2) this book's a part of something incredible that you all need to know about.

First off, this is an indie book.  Just the chutzpah necessary to put your marketing muscle behind your own literary creation is impressive.  There is a movement right now in indie books that looks to be every bit as powerful as the one that swept through the film industry a decade or so ago.  That was a movement that changed the way that people looked at films and the filmmaking industry.  It became clear that we as a viewing public care more about watching a good film than where that film comes from.  Same goes for books.  Do most of us really know (or care) which publishing house puts out a novel?  We just want to read a gripping tale.

And Amber Scott's got that.  Her story of Brooke and Elliot is... well, at risk of losing even more street cred... delightful.  These characters lift this above a typical bodice ripper.  Plus, the added element of a paranormal twist makes it a little bit easier for a guy like me to not feel like I now have to start wearing pink.  I'm telling you, guys... taking a walk on the feminine side is eye-opening.  This book is helping me up my game.  At least my wife says so.  Not totally sure that counts, though...

Anyway, Amber Scott is the first indie author to participate in the Indie Book Collective's latest brainchild, Bestseller for a Day.  Don't know about the Indie Book Collective?  Find out more by checking out their Twitter stream (@IndieBookIBC) and their website.  Anyway, the IBC is selecting great novels with authors that are hardworking self-marketers and taking one day to try to drive them as high as possible up the Kindle bestseller lists.  The idea is to try to break into the Kindle top 100, but hey, whatever they can do is great for the indie authors.  What the readers get is great books, awesome give-aways and a chance to be involved in something incredible.

So join in today by going and purchasing the e-version of Play Fling on for only $.99!!  One buck and you get not only Play Fling, but by going to you can also get Amber's erotic thriller Love Lust and Carolyn McCray's Indian Moon FREE!  You're getting three awesome romantic and sexy novels for just a dollar.  #score!

It's a great novel for Valentine's Day, but you're also doing something for indie authors everywhere.  This is something that's already started making the publishing industry sit up and start to take notice.  So, do it for the novels, do it for the authors, do it for indie books... whatever.  Just go and do it! ;)

You can purchase Amber Scott's Play Fling here.  Also, for the other offers, make sure you check out

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Dune" by Frank Herbert

I don't know where it says that I have to review new books.  I want to talk about the books I want to talk about, and by gum, I'm gonna talk about Dune.  It's one of my all-time favorites (I've probably read it through a dozen times at least), and it's the one that got me started on science fiction.  Up to that point, I was almost exclusively fantasy, starting with the Chronicles of Narnia which were read to me by my mom as a child.

The thing about reviewing a book like Dune is that it's a classic.  Most readers that like science fiction have already read it, and many that don't like the genre have too, just because it's one of those books.  But I figure there's a group of younger readers who maybe haven't made their way there yet.  And if I can be the one to point them in that direction... Hallelujah!

So, for the vast majority of people reading this blog, this may all be old hat.  Guess what?  I don't care!  Okay... well, I care a little bit, but not enough to pick a different novel this week.  So there.  :)

Because if there's even one person that I can introduce to this novel, it was worth writing the blog.  Dune is one of the most imaginative, detailed and comprehensive novels I've ever read.  In terms of world-building, it's right up there with The Lord of the Rings.  The characters are fully realized, compelling and flawed.  And the story line is as exciting as any I've read.  This is the trifecta, as far as I'm concerned:  amazing universe, incredible characters and fully engaging plot.

I read Dune when I was about ten, so there may be some youthful bias here, but I've gone through so many subsequent re-reads in more recent years that I'm confident of its strengths.  I was then, and am now, transported every time I open up this amazing, although admittedly long, novel.

The only criticism I can level is more at the series rather than at Dune itself.  Reading the rest of the extended series, two things typically happen.  First, the reader realizes they are FAR less intelligent than Herbert.  Secondly, the reader at some point discovers that the series has jumped the shark more than once.  Up through God Emperor of Dune I was still with Mr. Herbert, following blithely wherever he led (after a severe hiccup with Dune Messiah, the shortest and densest of the bunch).  But again, this is the series, not Dune itself.  For me, the two brightest points in the Dune universe are the original and Children of Dune.

But don't take my word for it.  Read Dune if you haven't already.  Read the rest as well (and then decide whether or not to venture into those written by his son Brian).  Yes, he's smarter than me.  Yes, the train jumps the tracks.  But I'm also really glad I read every single one of those books.

You can purchase Dune here.