Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's Wrong with Editing?

The last two books I reviewed on this blog suffered from a lack of editing. Bad punctuation; wrong grammar; poor spelling, etc. This is a big problem with indie novels and it serves to give them a bad name. I really don't understand why indie authors don't take the time to polish their work. Self-publishing as a whole would gain a substantial amount of respect if they did. If you want the world to take your work seriously, then you have to be the first.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- Building Beauty

This week I decided to read Rachel Eliason's novella Building Beauty because the setting and plot are different from other steampunk stories.

Taking place during World War I, the protagonist is a young man named Alejandro (although the Amazon page says "Alexander") serving in the Russian army who is sent to Siberia for a special assignment. When he arrives he is quickly taken to a factory that builds automatons. The officer in charge explains that there is a "social disease" of Russian soldiers frequenting brothels. Things would be so much better, he says, if the troops could be....err....serviced by an automaton in the form of a common prostitute. In short, Alejandro's job is to build a sex robot. He is not thrilled with the assignment. "Of all the men in Mother Russia I must be the most ill equipped for this assignment." Why does he feel so little confidence in his ability to do the job? You might be able to guess that before it is revealed, but it becomes obvious towards the end of the story.  And when the Russian Revolution begins, his job becomes dangerous as well as uncomfortable.

Building Beauty has an interesting story but could definitely have been edited better. Punctuation is a problem in this ebook, and I'm not sure why the main character is named Alexander in the synopsis but called Alejandro in the story. Also,  I'm torn on the subject matter, but I won't say why because of spoilers. Suffice to say, the protagonist won't appeal to everyone. If you want a different type of steampunk, you could do worse than to pick up Building Beauty for $0.99.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- The Soul Schematic

Today I'm reviewing Lisa Degerstrom's The Soul Schematic. The story seems to take place in America during the late 19th century, although the characters have cell phones and other modern devices. The protagonist is a young woman of high society named Clovis Palmer who possesses a brilliant mind. She secretly builds a sophisticated robot in the form of a man. This is very risky because 1.) Women are forbidden from being inventors in her close-minded society and 2.) Creating artificial life in the image of man is a capital offense. During a party hosted by her father and stepmother, the mechanical man is awakened and freed by unknown persons. He/It finds himself in a nearby city where he is attacked by a pimp and has to kill the violent man in self-defense. Clovis is soon faced with the knowledge that something she created has taken human life, and the person she looks up to is charged with the crime. She sets out to recover her creation and clear the man's good name, but along the way she has to deal with the dreaded Lazure, AKA the Dark Contable, a man hellbent on upholding his own idea of justice.

The story is interesting but unfortunately suffers from a painful lack of editing. Punctuation errors abound, characters are confused with one another, and things happen with absolutely no transition. This kind of shoddy work is inexcusable. It's a shame, really, because the story reels you in and the characters are intriguing (and few of them are what they appear to be). This could have been a really good book; Degerstrom definitely has the potential to be a stellar author if she only puts in the effort to polish her work.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- Hell's Gate: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure

This week we have a recent release by Brent Nichols, Hell's Gate: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure. As the title suggests, it is an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired steampunk tale.

The story takes place during the roaring '20s around Washington, D.C. Colleen, the protagonist, is a young woman who works for a top secret government agency dedicated to investigating the occult (think Hell Boy). Said agency just happens to be in possession of a mystic stone sought by the evil Cult of Katharsis. They waste little time attacking the agency's HQ to get the stone so they can open a portal to the realm of the dark god Katharsis. With the help of her friends and her gorilla-esque automaton Woody, Colleen sets out to save her mentor and thwart the cult's attempts to release Katharsis into the world.

Like many of the Kindle books I review on this site, Hell's Gate is really just a novella at around 75 pages. However, it is well-written with likeable characters. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Dirk, the former member of the team who had to be institutionalized because of his experiences with the realm of Katharsis and the monsters that dwell within it. Dirk's plight is described so well that I had no trouble believing his mind has been severely damaged by his experiences.

At $2.99, this book is well worth a read, and I'd like to see more steampunk stories take advantage of the rich culture of 1920s America.