I like browsing for books. I especially like browsing in real bookshops, whether it’s our local Waterstones with my lovely wife, or a far flung second hand shop. However, in these days of lock down world, my browsing has resorted to the freebie best seller lists for my Kindle. The idea is that if an author releases a book for a limited time for free, it will create interest, people will download it, read it, like it, and ultimately recommend it to friends or download other titles by the same author. Below are short synopses of e-books that didn’t really work for me, from a wide range of genres, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and thrillers. But, just because I didn’t give them 5-star reviews is not to say that you might not like these books. Note, there might be spoilers.
First up is;
The Cure Hotel by Ashley S Clancy
I was expecting a psychological thriller, possibly in the vein of Rear Window by Hitchcock. A rundown hotel on a side street in New York with a couple of receptionists working the night shift, one crazy the other straight laced, a bar over the road, an owner who comes in during the day to renovate the place and a collection of regulars who stay at the place. One receptionist likes to get drunk at the bar on her breaks, the other likes to spy on the guests, hence the Rear Window analogy. The book is written in the first person, but about half way through the book, this changes from one receptionist to the other, from the wild flower to the wall flower, who then proceeds to go on a preposterous murder rampage, killing staff, guests, police and anyone else who has the misfortune to turn up. It was a slight surprise, but it takes a skilled author to successfully change the first person view point. Chuck Palahniuk does it quite well in a number of his books, Ashley, not so much.
The Succubus by Quinn Dallas
This e-book was in the short story horror section. A college student decides to summon up a demon, but not just any demon, a succubus. He is successful, they have sex, the succubus tries to kill him, she fails because he turns out to be half demon, end of story. My stats on Goodreads has this as the shortest book that I’ve read, which is the only good thing about this book, sorry.
The Elfmaid’s Curse (Book 1) by Warren Thomas
The Elfmaid’s Curse is a trilogy and I can say without doubt that I won’t be reading the next two books. From the fantasy genre, set in a land full of warriors, magicians, slaves, elfs, dragons and all the usual players you would expect. Our hero is a skilled warrior swordsman, who is tricked by a scheming warlock, stealing his body, leaving him inside the body of a diminutive elf. His (her) quest is therefore to track down the powerful warlock and get his body back. This could have introduced some serious social commentary about role reversals, instead it plays for laughs. “Why are those men looking at me?” and “Oh my god I have boobs!”. At times the book appealed to my inner 14 year old, but I found the plot to be full of holes and never seemed to have anywhere to go. The reviews on Amazon are very mixed, with one reviewer stating that the author clearly does not understand a woman’s body.
Dreambender Adventures: Tania by Warren Thomas
Book two of a trilogy (so far) and I downloaded this before I had started reading the Elfmaid’s Curse, also by Warren Thomas. Thankfully this book is much shorter. A businessman needs a hotel for the night as he is in town for a conference, but the hotel has no record of his reservation so a taxi driver takes him to a slightly more downmarket place. He’s just grateful for a room with a bed, but once asleep he dreams that he is in a far off fantasy land, and that he is actually a tall Amazonian warrior on a quest to severe the head of an evil king. A mystical fortune teller informs him (her) that if he dies in this dream he will die in real life, and that the only way to escape is to complete the quest. All of the characters in the dream are facets of his real life, his overbearing boss, his back stabbing work colleagues, etc. When I downloaded it I didn’t check to see which genre it was in, but subsequently I have found that it is ranked #1076 in Erotic Horror. It isn’t ‘horror’ and it’s about as erotic as that old Athena poster of the tennis girl lifting her skirt. Not even 14 year old me would have found this book exciting.
Fighting Destiny (The Fae Chronicles Book 1) by Amelia Hutchins
Where do I begin with this one. It was from the urban fantasy genre, which is set in our world but inhabited with Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and in this book, the Fae. Our female hero is a witch who to save her coven signs a blood oath to help the Dark Prince of the Fae. A serial killer is on the loose, alternating between killing witches and fairies, which is no mean feat as the Fae are immortal. A seriously powerful entity is on the hunt, and it isn’t Dracula, although he makes an appearance as the owner of a nightclub. There is a spark between the witch and the fae, although as expected they hate each other for the majority of the book, before having to work together. This ‘working together’ also means that they fall in love and have sex. I’m not a prude and a good sex scene in a book can add a great deal if done well. The sex scene three quarters of the way through the book must go on for at least 30 pages and left me wanting less. Definite overkill.
I must be in the minority though as this book has had over 1700 reviews, 75% of them 5 stars, and there are another five books after this one in the series. Sorry Amelia, didn’t work for me and I won’t be reading another.
Ruby Callaway: The Complete Collection by D. N. Erikson
So this was the one e-book in this collection that I didn’t find too bad. In fact, after reading the first book I paid for the whole collection in the trilogy plus four short stories, all collected into one bundle for less than £1. This is also in the urban fantasy genre.
Our hero, Ruby, is a realmfarer, over 200 years old and works as a bounty hunter. A realmfarer is someone who can cross between different realms, from our world to the land of the fae, or numerous other worlds. At the start of the first book, Ruby, along with many other paranormal creatures, is locked in an internment camp, but an FBI agent visits her for help, where we find that the whole world is trapped in a ‘Groundhog Day’ type of recurring day, and Ruby must find out who has created this time loop and how to stop it. There is some social commentary here, with the paranormal being illegal migrants, and the internment camps similar to the camps on the US/Mexico border.
Each of the three books stand alone, with a thread linking them all. The first one, as I mentioned, is all about a time loop, the second deals with an ‘end of the world’ cult, and the final one takes Ruby back to her beginnings. The four short stories add history and back story to the adventures. I’m not sure if I would buy more from D. N. Erikson, but if any of his or her books were available for free I would definitely give it a read, and then possibly I would like it enough to buy the follow up books.
In summary, there are an awful lot of e-books out there, and an awful lot of them are truly awful. For all I know some of the books I’ve blogged about above might be your favourite, but mostly they didn’t engage me.