First, for the uninitiated, I have to explain Jolabokaflod. It’s (supposedly) an Icelandic holiday tradition that translates into “holiday flood of books.” In Iceland, you unwrap a book and curl up to read and enjoy some chocolate on Christmas Eve. It sounds absolutely heavenly, and god help anyone who tells me it’s not a real thing because yes it is.
I know it’s a real thing because I’ve been celebrating for a few years. Early each December, I send out the call to my Facebook friends, inviting them to participate in a book swap. I got a book this year that I haven’t gotten to read yet (review coming, I swear), because I went to read it and instead decided to open this book. They were both gifted by the same extraordinary author, Delena Silverfox, whose book Duchess of War is so super cool that I hope you get it long before Jolabokaflod 2017.
Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that this review is a lot less professional-sounding than other reviews on this site, and I promise that’s on purpose. The Stupidest Angel is fun and shocking and a whirlwind of wtf moments, all centered around one little town’s Christmas festivities and the weird man who arrives looking for a child.
I can’t actually tell you much more than that because, honestly, where the heck would I begin? With one of the richest men in town hitting his ex-wife with a ten-pound bag of ice from the grocery store? With the ex-wife getting into a tussle with him later while he happens to be wearing a Santa suit, only to have the struggle turn physical and he ends up tripping and impaling himself on her shovel? Or maybe I could start with the poor little kid who happened to witness Santa’s profanity-laced rant and violence towards women, only to end up dead? Oh, don’t forget the horny newcomer in town who offers to help bury Santa so he and the unwitting would-be KringleKiller could hurry up and go grab a bite to eat?
See? Where do I even start, except by telling you to get your own copy today. It’s actually the perfect AFTER-Christmas read since it’s dark and hilarious, and since you missed Jolabokaflod by almost a week.
The Ravi PI series is just about as fun as a mystery series can get without being comical or silly. While cozy mysteries certainly have their laugh-a-minute place, Tantimedh’s characters are quirky but still serious, as are the crimes themselves. While sometimes far-fetched…wait, so what? Who cares if it’s far-fetched, it’s a work of FICTION!
What really makes this book so captivating is the fact that the characters are a diverse bunch, but there’s nothing stereotypical about each person represented. Ravi Chandra Singh happens to be Indian, happens to be a seminary dropout–okay, not a Christian seminary, but so what–happens to have left his job as a high school teacher, and now happens to be a private investigator for a high-dollar London firm. All very ordinary, right? Of course not. But the fact that he’s Indian isn’t a big deal to the story, it’s just another interesting facet to the overall appeal of the book.
What I especially enjoyed what the “vignette” aspect to the stories. One mystery gets solved, another one crops up. That’s the beauty of working for a good-sized investigative firm: there is always another case. So instead of being bogged down in a chapter-by-chapter saga where clues and red herrings are doled out from start to finish, there’s the satisfaction of watch Ravi solve one case before diving headlong into another, all while the colorful people around him make their appearances.
Take a look at Book One in the series on Amazon by clicking here.
Okay, I’m going to admit something that will probably get me pelted with crayons: I don’t get the whole adult coloring book thing.
First of all, if I had time to sit and color, it would probably be while I’m waiting on hold, waiting in the carpool line at the kids’ school, waiting for some kind of sport or activity practice to be over with, waiting for the washing machine to finish so I can get someone’s sport or activity uniform into the dryer, waiting for… you get the point.
More importantly, adult coloring books tend to be overly busy, meaning those geometric swirls are a middle-aged eyesight’s nightmare. The whole point was supposed to be to DE-stress, not make me stress out about accidentally going outside the lines. And if I really want to de-stress through something vaguely artistic, what’s more fun than my kid’s discarded Hello Kitty coloring book?
I can officially tell you what’s more fun…a CREEPY coloring book. Mister Sam Shearon’s Creepy Christmas is not only beautifully made and filled with not-so-jolly Christmas creatures from cultures around the world, it contains stories, legends, poems, and much more. Best of all, though, the illustrations are detailed and complete without containing superfluous swirls and designs. They’re just fun but dark illustrations that will delight anyone with the right sense of humor.
Check out the link to find your own copy for someone who’s good cheer leans a little more towards history and folktales than the Macy’s version of the North Pole!
I was very surprised by the print quality of this enormous book, so surprised, in fact, that I looked up the previous two versions online to see if perhaps I was holding a galley copy and not the final version. No, volumes one and two were very similar in their cover design, their page formatting, and other features. This book is so fun and comes written by someone with unparalleled expertise in the topic, but I wish there had been a lot more effort put into making it look like a professionally crafted book.
Having said that, there are some considerations as to why it might be such an uncharacteristically strange-looking book. First, a portion of the proceeds go to support the Broadway Green Alliance, a non-profit that works to ensure that NYC productions are as environmentally-friendly as possible. The more money the publisher spent on making this into a more industry-standard book, the less money there would be to support the organization.
But the other consideration is this: when you have as much access to insider knowledge of the theater scene as author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, it doesn’t matter what the finished product looks like, even if it isn’t all that polished. You would think any of the Big Five publishers would be clamoring to get their hands on the manuscripts that led to these three books, but then the resulting publication would be so outrageously expensive that only the stars who grace the pages could even afford it. At just around $20 each, these oversized volumes share snippet-like anecdotes of life inside the biggest name theaters, and featuring the antics and tales of the biggest name stars.
For too many theater lovers, even a Broadway matinee is out of the realm of possibility. They instead rely on insider views to get to know their favorite stars and the iconic performances that grace the stage. With over 300 pages of interviews, memories, inside jokes, pranks, and more, this is the gift to get the theaterphile in your life.
The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3 goes on sale November 15th.
I’ll admit, I LOVED My Sweet Audrina when I first read it years ago (probably at a younger age than I should have). It was dark and twisted but still endearing in its own way, and it carried the story along through believable–and a few semi-believable–characters that did completely bizarre things.
So imagine my complete and total shock-filled joy to discover that there was a sequel!
Whitefern picks up with the death of Audrina’s father and shortly after, the reading of his will. The first book’s happily ever after romance between Audrina and Arden has become just as dark and twisted as the original story, and Arden loses his mind over the will when Audrina is named the major shareholder in her father’s company. “Sweet” Audrina has had no interest in her father’s business, but now that she’s been put in charge for some unknown reason, she’s curious as to why her father made that decision…and what he knew about Arden that would leave him out.
Then of course, there’s Audrina’s sister, Sylvia. The plot takes on a fresh form of evil where the younger sister–all grown up–is concerned, and Audrina is once again ensnared in a “face saving” scheme to protect the family name.
My only complaint with the book may stem from my having aged and matured, and not through the writer’s storytelling ability, but I just never felt the believability factor that I felt when reading the original. It was entertaining, but I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, and never really absorbed by the story and its outcome. Again, that could just be the thirty-year age difference between the teen who read My Sweet Audrina and the adult who enjoyed Whitefern.
I’m not going to lie, when I first learned about sci-fi romance a few years ago, I kept having flashbacks to Captain Kirk French kissing a blue-painted woman with antennae. I wondered how this could really be a subgenre of romance, and then I remembered that the best thing about romance titles is there’s literally something for everyone. Whether you like your love stories sweet and clean or down and dirty, you will find something that revs your engine!
In Morgan Rae’s case, it’s the brilliance of world-building that drew me into her book. This was not the formulaic romance novel, as in, “they meet, they hate each other, they break down their differences, they have sex, something happens and they hate each other, then it gets all cleared up and they love each other for all time.” I’ve read SO MANY of those that they’ve all begun to run together.
SPOILER ALERT/HINT: When your heroine is tricked by a Selith prince into leaving the planet while pregnant with the alien chief’s child halfway through the book, it’s not your typical romance novel.
The Alien’s Virgin definitely keeps you guessing, but the attention to detail in the world that Rae has created is unparalleled. Two different alien races are battling for survival and supremacy, but when a human is thrown into the mix as a gift from the Goddess, only those who can seek out love will be able to withstand the fight.
Take a look here while it’s on sale from Enamored Ink: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MG6B84N
When I was a lowly English teacher, I waged an ongoing war with our school librarian. In the sweet, precious old woman’s efforts to be worldly and up-with-the-times, she steered kids towards certain books, almost to the point of maniacal focus. Nerds got Harry Potter books. Athletes got Mike Lupica. Black girls got Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. Thugs got S.E. Hinton. And that was the end of it.
On the surface that might not seem so bad. At least she cared, right? But the war began the day a charming black girl came to me and asked to borrow my Harry Potter books (this was when they’d first come out, and cost about $30 apiece…I was incredibly selfish with my books back then). I asked her why she didn’t find them in the library, and she said our librarian wouldn’t let her check them out. She’d been told she needed to be reading “important” books that would shape her as a black person.
I don’t need to go into details, but after the librarian’s car suffered a mishap that I refuse to openly take credit for, the war was finally won and the students were allowed to check out any books they wanted.
So why did I bring that up? Because Idiot Boys is decidedly a “boy book.” I know, I know…there’s no such thing. Books are for everyone, regardless of gender or race or hobbies. So why would I say such a thing?
It’s not that women can’t appreciate Idiot Boys, it’s that we would read it and shake our heads sadly, all the while picturing the cast of characters with faces of actual human males that we know. We all know a lot of “idiot boys,” or at least knew them while they were still young and doing stupid stuff. At the same time, Idiot Boys might spark a trip down memory lane for more than a few of its male readers.
It’s not at all unpleasant, but I tend not to love books that leave me wondering how the author managed to get as far as he did in life based on the sheer amount of marijuana consumed before he was old enough to even drive. It is, however, one of those books about a life that caused friends of the author to tell him, “You’re gonna write a book someday, I just know it!”
And he did. Now, all content and strange antics aside, the book is very well written and is on par with those coming-of-age stories that people rally behind. It’s like Catcher in the Rye, if it hadn’t been depressing and filled with questions about where the ducks go in the winter. It has all the epic storytelling of a great road-trip novel, like Dharma Bums or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, all without taking itself too seriously or trying too hard to be one of those books, and without actually going very far.
BookBaby has one of the best offers in the publishing world for self-publishing or small press publishing (we’re required to state that Author Options has a great service, too, otherwise the Christmas party this year is gonna be real awkward). Unlike the world of the so-called vanity press–many of whom are so shady you’d be better off throwing copies of your manuscript from a high place and hoping people send you money–BookBaby is one of the rare options that produces a high-quality book, has live customer services agents who will speak to you, and (get this) doesn’t take a percentage of your sales after the fact. You pay up front, and you’re done.
Check out their newest press release on their print-on-demand service, and the highest author royalty in the business:
BookBaby expands Print On Demand service to pay out highest royalties to self-published authors
With POD on BookShop™, indie authors earn more, get paid faster, and enjoy guaranteed in-stock inventory status.
Pennsauken, NJ, July 13, 2016 — BookBaby today announced its Print On Demand (POD) service is now available through its BookShop™ direct-to-reader sales website. Authors will earn an industry-leading 50% of the selling price for printed books sold through BookShop while enjoying all the convenience and low inventory costs that make POD an attractive option for authors.
“Authors haven’t made much money with previous POD programs, and frankly, that’s just wrong,” says BookBaby President Steven Spatz. “When authors sell their printed books through BookBaby’s BookShop, they’ll make more than anywhere else.”
For example, a typical Digest-sized black and white soft cover that retails for $9.99. Amazon will pay authors between $1.34 to $3.34 royalties. If that same book is sold through BookShop, authors will earn $5.00. BookBaby’s POD service can also include hardcover books, a book selection not found in other POD programs, including CreateSpace.
BookBaby’s new service addresses two other issues with Print On Demand programs.
- Faster payment: BookBaby deposits authors’ money into their accounts within one week after book orders are shipped. That compares to the standard 90 to 120 days lag in payments from Amazon and others.
- Guaranteed accessibility: Authors’ books are always in stock and ready to ship to readers—a feature exclusive to BookBaby.
“During last Christmas, every POD program suffered through long periods where books were listed as out of stock,” says Spatz. “Tens of thousands of authors were frustrated by Amazon and Barnes & Noble supply chain breakdowns. But that can’t happen with BookShop. We don’t have to worry about inventory—we print and ship directly out of our factory to the reader. In fact, we guarantee our books are available 24/7 throughout the busiest holiday season.”
BookBaby authors will be seeing more new features and services on the BookShop platform in the coming months. “With this new addition, our self-publishing authors have a true one-stop shop for readers to find more information about our authors and their books,” says Spatz. “It’s a critical resource for achieving success in self-publishing, and BookBaby is the only company that offers it.”
BookShop is a free online storefront exclusive to BookBaby authors, giving them an easy way to earn more money selling their printed books and eBooks directly to readers. Minimal set-up is required to get started and authors have full control over their page content.
More information about Print On Demand on BookShop can be found at https://www.bookbaby.com/bookshop.
What’s better than a biting satire about a corrupt for-profit law school aimed at catering to those students who never had a chance (or the genetics, or the connections, or the silver spoon) of getting into Harvard Law? A book about this very subject written by two Harvard Law graduates.
Set in the fictitious Manhattan Law School–which sounds like it could be a serious institution of higher learning, doesn’t it?–the sad reality of the school mirrors its location along the banks of a polluted body of water adjacent to Brooklyn. Adam Wright, a one-time eternal optimist who leaves behind the pressures of a law firm in order to give a professorship a try, quickly finds there’s nothing Ivy League-ish about his new position. From zombie-students who are just there taking up space to the understanding that sleeping with the students in exchange for a better grade is unacceptable unless the student is a third-year, everything that’s wrong with the legal profession is compressed into one sad law school.
So then, why is the book so darn funny? The authors have done a masterful job of creating a completely surreal environment that quickly draws you in and makes the bizarre seem acceptable. The writing is stellar, of course, but not just good, it’s masterful.
The real horror of the book? Well, let’s just hope works like this one remain firmly entrenched in satire, and don’t ever, ever cross over into plausible reality.