Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

GHOST HAND: A 2013 Best Indie Book Semi-Finalist

Ghost Hand cover


I am thrilled to announce that GHOST HAND has been chosen as one of 50 books in the KINDLE BOOK REVIEWS 2013 BEST INDIE BOOKS in the YA category.

It was selected out of numerous entrants based on the strength of its opening chapters, and will now be read and judged in its entirety.  A FINAL FIVE books will be chosen in each category on September 1st, 2013, and a FINAL WINNER in each category will be chosen October 1st, 2013.

So, fans of GHOST HAND and THE PSS CHRONICLES, keep your fingers crossed and spread the news that one of you favorite books is a semi-finalist.

Also, GHOST HAND recently received its 5OTH 5-STAR REVIEW  on Amazon. Thank you to all of you who have read and supported the book.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Why it kicks ass.

Warning: May contain subtle spoilers.

Well, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Independence Day than going to see the very patriotic Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, though I’ll admit that after the fiasco of Snow White and the Huntsman, I went feeling a bit cautious.

Not to fear. Honest Abe delivered, as usual.

Now, admittedly, the movie is not heavy on original plot. Much like Snakes on a Plane, or Hobo with a Shotgun, or Snow White, the plot twist is clearly spelled out in the title. The difference with Abe is they actually pull off a tense, high-action, kick ass movie with lots of little twists that keep you hungry for more.

Things I LOVED:

1. That guy that played Abe.

Benjamin Walker can act. And he looks and feels like a young Liam Neeson, complete with the bushy eyebrows and large elvish ears. He’s tall and cute and vulnerable but strong. He’s Abe Lincoln for Christ’s sake.

2. Snippets of interesting vampire lore. 

Do you know why silver kills vampires? Abe does. Did you know a kiss on the wrist from a vampire inflicts deadly blood poisoning? Now you do. Did you know that the bite of a vampire kills the innocent soul, but a tarnished soul will survive to become another vampire? Did you know that vampires can’t kill their own kind? Or that the slave trade was actually a cover for the supply of “easy” vampire victims. I love it when writers and movie makers expand on existing lore and make it work for their story.

3. The evolution of the ax. 

Abe spent part of his youth as a rail-splitter, so naturally his vampire-killing weapon of choice is an ax. But not just an ordinary ax. First, its blade needs to be coated with silver. Then later, we discover the handle of the ax contains a “special” surprise. And even later, when the war is on, Abe adds a nice little silver bayonet to the end of the handle. I want me one of them axes.

4. Amazing action appropriate to the time-period.  

Don’t think a horse chase can be as exciting as a car chase? See the movie. Don’t think a carriage can be a kick ass getaway vehicle? See the movie. Don’t think ax fighting is cool enough. OMG! See the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like. 

1. The CGI was a bit blurry.

Where Snow White and the Huntsman’s one redeeming quality was it’s particle effect CGI (and they used it in almost every scene), Abe Lincoln tended toward fuzzy CGI, the kind where the action feels blurry and you can’t really see what’s going no.

2. The history was a bit blurry too. 

There are a lot of critics out there pointing out that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn’t historically accurate. Really? This surprises you? Obviously, the movie is alternate history and not the careful kind of alternate history. I have heard that the author of the book, Seth Graham-Smith, did a lot of research for the book and tried to make it as accurate as he could and still have Abraham Lincoln believably hunting vampires. But Hollywood has their own sense of history, and I can live with that for the sake of entertainment. Just don’t confuse this movie with education. History it is not.

3. Abe’s old guy ears. 

The very first scene we see Abe as an aged president, I couldn’t take my eyes off his huge Jim Henson ears. They were like something off a muppet. They were sooo prosthetic looking. I was so relieved when he put on his top hat and I could pay attention to the movie again. Whoever did those ears, sorry, but I must call major make-up fail.

Other than that, I thought is was a really nice romp.

Go out to the cinema and Enjoy!


How to Spot a Crap Review

I went out for Mexican food with two of my bookish friends yesterday. While we waited for our food to arrive, we all whipped out our Kindles and began sharing books referrals. “Have you read this? If not, you have to get it.” “This is the best book I’ve read all year.” “Don’t bother with this one, it tanked at the end.” In fact, there really should be a Kindle app that allows you to network with your friends’ Kindles and send them book recommendations. Someone app savvy, run out and make that, please.

In general, this is how I choose to read books- from the recommendations given to me by people whose taste in books I trust. By word of mouth, if you will. NOT by review, and here’s why.

Most reviews are utter crap.

Not just indie published reviews, though they seem to excel to new levels of crapdom, but I am talking about most reviews, even traditionally published book reviews. You cannot trust reviews, my friend- on Amazon, or blog review sites, or on Goodreads. There are some good reviews there, but they are few and far between.

Many of the reviews you are reading on those sites are:

1) Paid for. Yes, you can buy reviews. For as little as $5, an author can purchase a 5 star review for Amazon. I can guarantee you that purchased reviews are not objective. You aren’t going to give a bad review if you are getting paid for it. People aren’t honest when their job depends on them being otherwise.

2) Written by relatives or friends of the author. We’ve all seen this before. When a new book comes out, especially an indie published book, the first ten reviews read like sappy hallmark cards. “This book is wonderful. The author is wonderful. She shits rainbows and classic literature. Oh, yeah, and I’m her sister.” If you are related to an author or invested in relationship with them, you review is not going to be objective, no matter how hard you try.

3) Written by people who have never read the book. Many reviews out there on the internet are written by people who have never read the book. There are Amazon reviewers who review 10+ books a day. There is no way they are reading all those books. In fact, what they do is go read a blurb of the book and regurgitate the content of that blurb as a review. This makes for a very crap review.

So, how do you know what to read or download on your Kindle if you don’t have a posse of bookish friends like I do? How do you weed out the crap reviews from the good reviews that might give you an accurate take on the book?

1) Toss out any review that has nothing bad to say.

The truth is, no book is perfect, so one can conclude that a perfect glowing review is not an accurate depiction of any book. All books have faults, and an astute reviewer (a good reviewer) will pick up on those faults and point them out to future readers. A bad reviewer, or one who is related to the author or paid for, will not. The Editorial Reviews (the official looking ones at the top) are worth a read but they will rarely have anything bad to say. If they did, the author wouldn’t include them in the book blurb.

2) Toss out any review that has nothing good to say.

Just as no book is perfect, very few books are utter rubbish. A good reviewer can find areas of strength in almost any book. A completely negative review often indicates a personal vendetta against the author or a troll reviewer who simply lives to bash the creative efforts of others. Either way, it is not going to be an objective review.

3) Toss negative reviews that begin with statements like, “I don’t normally read or like this genre.”

A person who hates romance is probably not going to give an objective review to a romance novel. Reviewers who make these kind of statements already have a pre-disposed opinion of what they are reading.

4) Toss reviews that do not refer to key story elements like plot, character development, tension, and story arc.

A good reviewer will know the elements of a good story and review those specific elements. They will talk about whether the characters were sympathetic and round (rather than flat). They will mention if the plot had holes or was solid. They will discuss the ending (without spoilers) and if it was satisfying. Reviews that don’t address story elements are very often crap reviews.

Now, after tossing all those crap reviews, read the ones that are left and you will probably get a realistic take on the quality of the book.

Or, you could just form a posse of book aficionados like I have, and go out for Mexican food once a week with your Kindle in hand.

Do you have a tip for recognizing a crap review?  Please share yours, and I’ll add it to my list.



Self-Published Spec Fic Reviewers

It can be hard to get reviews for self-published books, but there are resources out there if you know where to look.

Here is a list of resources for self-published Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror and the like)

Angieville – Fantasy and YA

Book Rants – Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and some YA

Bookworm Blogger – YA

Has Kindle, Will Read – self-published speculative fiction.

Adarna SF – ebooks only.

Sarah’s Reviews


Android Dreamer

Books are Better –  Fantasy ebooks only- Cross posts to Amazon and Goodreads.

The Canary – Also offers editing and proofreading services for spec fic.

Fantasy Book Critic

The Discriminating FanGirl 

The Future Fire – Reviews indie speculative fiction, with a focus on social, political, and feminist themes.

Good Book Alert

My Indie, My Tea, and Me– all genres

Novel Opinion

The Kindle Book Review – ebooks

Offbeat Vagabond

TrollKing – Indie YA fantasy reviewer – crossposts reviews to many sites


The Scattering – Reviewing indie science fiction/fantasy, short stories, and serialized novels – ebooks only.

Science Fiction Addiction

SFBook Reviews – Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Very indie friendly.

Sift Book Reviews – Sci-fi and fantasy

Stuff What I Wrote

Worlds in Ink – prefers a print copy

Monster Librarian – Horror reviews

Indie Books R Us


Ripley Patton lives in a 22-foot camper in the woods of Southern Illinois with a cat named Lemmy. Her two young adult children, a daughter and a son, are her favorite people. When Ripley's not out exploring nature and getting her hands dirty, she's usually reading or writing a book.

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