Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Non-blocking issues and more book reviews

 Createspace keeps finding non-blocking issues with my books--images that aren't quite clear enough are the usual culprit, with not enough dpi. I've worked on fixing some and appreciate knowing about others, but now I'm nearly ready to say they're done. I'll order proofs for the titles I've not seen in print (in Createspace print) yet, finish proof-reading the ones *I'm still reading, approve the proofs online for the ones where I've just made minor changes... and maybe soon--please soon--I'll push the button and publish them. Maybe I'll even get a Createspace internet store then.

I really like the new covers for my seasonal books. Okay, the cover creator's not brilliant, but it does some really neat stuff (and it's way cheaper than hiring someone). I wish they'd print titles on the spines like Lulu does of course, but still... I'm proud of my efforts.

Then there are the Smashwords versions. I still have to make sure the edits agree across different editions, and I'm almost wishing I'd waiting to convert to Smashwords till completing this step. But I've learned a lot and it's been fun. Best of all was Smashwords letting me know one of my pictures wasn't coming out on the epub version. Since I don't read epub I'd never have known. I feel like someone's looking out for me and I'm really grateful. Smashwords doesn't just smash words--they care about their product and their customers. Thank you Smashwords!

Meanwhile, of course, I've been reading other people's books too. So here's my next list, with the usual links to reviews on gather and coffee recommendations. You'll have to go to your own kitchen for the coffee--mine's full of books.

First is Stormy Weather, by Sherrie Hansen. The first in her Maple Valley trilogy, it reads very comfortably as a stand-alone novel (though I do plan to read the other two this week). There's a nice low-key element of Christian faith in the background, while small-town politics seeks a balance between atmosphere and materialism, and wounded souls balance romantic dreams with genuine love. Storms, emotional, financial, and rainy, pour over very real characters, and a few cups of well-balanced 3-star coffee will accompany the tale very well.

Next comes Love Notes, also by Sherrie Hansen. (It must be my Sherrie Hansen week!) This one's definitely Christian fiction, but the faith is so closely interwoven in the tale there's never any feeling of being preached at or dragged into church. A fading musician seeks his next big hit and a desperate widow tries to weather the storms of repeated betrayals to keep her husband's dream alive. Neither wants to hurt the other, but they're thrown together by accident, ride through the trials of false assumptions, and slowly learn that even mature adults can change. I'd go for another well-balanced 3-star coffee and reread this one any day.

Sticking with a theme of Christian books, my next volume is entitled From the Library of C.S. Lewis, compiled by James Stuart Bell. To be honest, not all the books excerpted here would be called Christian, but they're certainly a delight to dip into, and not just because C.S. Lewis liked them. One-page excerpts are grouped by topic, and each author merits a short paragraph of history. Poets, philosophers, modern writers and ancient (even Aristotle!) stand back to back, and there are quotes both familiar (I wandered lonely as a cloud) and completely, enthrallingly unfamiliar. Not one to read all at once, but a great reference book and an enjoyable evening's browse, this is one to read over that 1-star mild crisp coffee in the morning, or the dark intense 5-star evening brew as well.

Gus Pelagatti's The Wicked Wives is an entirely different tale, dark, detailed, intense, like a televised re-enactment complete with courtroom scenes, dark tenements and frozen river. It retells the history of Philadelphia's 1930s murder trial where seventeen women were accused of systematically killing their husbands! A pretty amazing case which really happened, and a fascinating glimpse into the underworld of politics and race relations in 1930s America, this is one to enjoy with a 5-star bold intense coffee.

Derek Keeling's The Umbras has a similar noirish feel with just a touch of John Creasey-style sci-fi as a private detective investigates the murder of a woman's husband while police proclaim it death by natural causes. A conspiracy theorist has his own ideas, and  someone seems to lurk in the shadows, ever watching. The detectives are very humanly fallible and miss various points, but plenty of detail fills in the gaps. Enjoy this quick read with a 2-star easy-drinking coffee.

And then, when you're ready to use your kindle for puzzling too, there's Grabarchuk's Matchstick Puzzles, a fascinating addition to their line of kindle puzzle books. It's less tactile than some of the others--after all, you can hardly pick things up and rearrange them just with a five-way controller. But the puzzles are fun. The hints are nicely helpful. And the whole is thoroughly enjoyable. BYO matches, and enjoy a mild crisp 1-star coffee as you play--just don't spill it. on the kindle.

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