This post inaugurates a new feature of Riding the Blimp, a weekly roundup of interesting books I’ve encountered in my travels. These books will be titles that I’ve found interesting, some because I’ve read them, some that I plan to read, and some I may never read, but because the blurbs are intriguing, I want to pass them along to my own audience. The title comes from a statement I’ve made many times, and which I’ll try to paraphrase in some coherent fashion here:
The big publishers are called “the big publishers,” because they are on an obsessive quest to recreate the Last Big Thing. It’s the independents, the self-published writers beholden to no editor, who are out there beyond the edge of the map, exploring the uncharted reaches that the big houses will be claiming they discovered ten years from now.”
Yes, indies are risky. They can be an unedited mess, but you can use features like Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview to determine whether the author is crisp and coherent, or has no business writing a grocery list. Be a smart consumer, and lose your fear of indies, because they are out there writing the challenging material that a serious reader craves. My goal is to help you find some good reading, but first an update.
In last Sunday’s post, Ladies’ Man, I mentioned a blog post from another site that I had found interesting, perhaps interesting enough to jump start my stalled writing “career,” but that the owner of the intellectual property had not answered my inquiry about using it as a launching pad for a new book series. Well, Tuesday night his reply came in, and it was a resounding “feel free!” So now it can be told . . .
The original post appeared on the Nerd Lunch blog on October 2nd, 2010, and so impressed me that I remember it eight years later. The challenge between the three famous Nerds of the blog was to each propose two ideas for new shows for the SyFy Channel which would be voted on by the readers and a winner crowned. Jeeg, perhaps the most . . . eccentric of the Nerds . . . yeah, that’s the word . . . proposed Roswell Avenue, a show following the adventures of Rick Borden, a private investigator who finds a gig with a Seattle agency that investigates “unusual” cases, such as a werewolf who thinks his wife is cheating on him – with the vampire down the street. With a whole cast of eccentric supporting characters, this supernatural/horror/comedy series could be just the thing to make it new and exciting again. With the creator’s kind permission, we shall find out together. First, though, Chameleon, then Broken English, then Stingaree; I have to ensure that my word is worth something, after all!
And now, for all that Good Reading I’ve been promising . . .
Deceptions and Lies by P.E. Sibley. One terrorist, six hostages, a single bombing… nothing out of the ordinary for task force operatives Alexandra Lansing and Mark Praed. With one exception; this request comes from the High Council on Kyree. An appeal from Kyree for task force help is peculiar enough for a planet where non-violence is practiced by all its citizens, but the Council is very specific in their choice of task force personnel: Mark Praed. Praed is baffled by the request. This is the same planet where his birth to a well born Kyreen female caused a galactic scandal, forcing his human father to flee Kyree with his half-human infant. The operatives travel to Kyree and meet with the High Council’s leader, Dame Ruthanon. Her orders are clear: the hostages are to be released and the terrorist captured, all without the use of violence. Alex and Praed are soon caught up in something more devious than the straight-forward capture of a terrorist. Nothing is as it appears, and what should have been a simple operation turns into a tangled mess of falsehoods, secret associations and hidden agendas. $2.99 on Kindle.
Puzzled by P.J. Nichols. Peter, an exceptionally clever junior high school kid, is pulled into an adventure where he and a few friends have to solve a series of very challenging riddles and puzzles. Peter’s mind, which has an amazing talent for problem-solving, is needed to save the world. This adventure sure is a big change from what Peter typically deals with in life: He gets called geek and nerd by everyone in the cool group. He tries to hide his love for learning, in a hope to stick out a little less. He fantasizes about a girl who is out of his league. Peter and his friends must solve every confusing riddle and challenging puzzle they face. If they can’t, a powerful supernatural being will cause immense destruction and devastation. For 9 thru teens. 99¢ on Kindle.
Secrets at Synergy by Jodi Ashland. A company she didn’t want. A romance he didn’t plan for. An embezzler who’s willing to cover his tracks with blood. Jade is a college senior without a care in the world. At least, until her grandmother wills her the family business. After a financial audit reveals an embezzler in the company, her new resentful coworkers refuse to help. The only person she can trust is Bryce, her COO and long-time crush. But when the paper trail leads to a string of suspicious deaths, their hunt for fraud turns into something much more dangerous. When half the company was passed over for the COO promotion, Bryce knew there’d be a target on his back. So he wasn’t about to give them any fuel to sabotage his career, especially violating the work policy that expressly forbids office relationships. But when Jade and Bryce start working overtime to save the company, Bryce longs to mix business with pleasure. After the embezzler takes a personal shot at Jade, he’s torn between his desire to protect the woman he loves and the job he can’t live without. To save the company from the deadly conspiracy bleeding it dry, Jade and Bryce must bring down the embezzler before they too are in the red. Secrets at Synergy is the first book in the compelling U-District romantic suspense series. If you like corporate intrigue, eccentric heroines, and blazing chemistry, then you’ll love Jodi Ashland’s high-powered romantic mystery thriller. Free on Kindle (reg. $4.99).
Losers in Space by Scott Pixello. Training astronauts requires a nation’s brightest and best. But what happens when the world has no brightest or best? Just a washed-up pilot, a young computer programmer and a garbage collector? It’s not exactly rocket science. This is science-fiction but not as we know it. £2.69 on Kindle.
Grail of the Grimoire by J.S. Sterling. In the 12th century, sixteen-year-old Cassandra is likely to be burned at the stake if anyone finds out what she can do. So the only magic she allows herself is used to hustle dice games from unsavory characters too cowardly to fight in the Third Crusade. When she is kidnapped and brought to the Vatican’s secret library, the Grimoire, Cassandra finds that her place in the world is as the next leader of the Pope’s coven of sorceresses – to be held captive among the books forever. Her only way out is to retrieve the Holy Grail from Jerusalem before it can be used by Richard the Lionheart or Saladin to create a magical army that could conquer the world. Along with her brainy young tutor and a mysterious Muslim fighter, Cassandra will find much more in the Holy Land than just a cup. Perhaps too much. $2.99 on Kindle.
And that’s the roundup for this week. Join me Sunday for an exploration of the strange phenomenon known as deja vu, both its use as a character device, and a discussion of how it has affected me personally and the conclusions I have drawn about it. Until then, read well, and write better!