Shizzle, Inc. – Book review

Let me start with a little caveat: I seldom read humor novels and I never read over the top humor. I took a chance on Shizzle, Inc after I became familiar with Ana Spoke‘s writing solely because she is such an engaging writer. I won bank on that bet. Yay, instincts!

Shizzle, Inc. follows the trials and tribulations of its heroine Isabella Maxwell. We follow her calamitous and improbable adventures from getting dumped by her beau through successive upward failures that bring her to the brink of destroying an international mega corporation.

Isa is almost terminally ditzy but has a strong undercurrent of compassion that makes her quite endearing. You want to slap some sense into her while simultaneously giving her a hug and telling her it will all be okay. Her biggest failing, and Spoke plays this to great humorous effect, is that she sees the world primarily as it relates to her. One example: she collects a bevvy of imaginary suitors because she interprets almost any interaction as interest in her.

The first half of the book builds continuous tension as Isa digs a hole for herself with successively larger shovels. It culminates in possibly the funniest extended chase scene I’ve ever read. She catches a clue in the latter portion of the book as she realizes how she has misinterpreted things and misjudged others and herself. Spoke somehow resolves all of the threads that Isa’s misadventures started while setting up a third act. Well, all except for Isa’s love life but I imagine that’s going to be calamitous for the run of her novels.

This is definitely an Isa Maxwell story and the other characters are there to help her tell it. Some other reviews have pointed to flat secondary characters but I think this is just failure to catch Isa’s almost crippling self-focus. The story from her POV paints the other personalities in caricature, the way Isa sees them through her Isa colored glasses. I found myself intrigued, trying to figure out what a scene might have been like from another POV, without Isa’s unreliable narrative and “me” focus.

This was a very fun read and I happily recommend it to anybody who enjoys irreverent humor and over the top antics. You will have a great time with this story.

Review based on Amazon Kindle version purchased at retail pricing.

Going on a Date

I’m not so much a voracious reader as I am a serial romancer.

The chapters of a book are like dates for me. If they’re pleasant I want more dates, if they’re unpleasant… Well, unless we had enough good dates to form a relationship a couple bad ones are going to end our time together, sweet novella. I have other books trying to get on my dance card and I’m not wasting my valuable date time not enjoying myself.

It’s not me. It’s you.

A friend and I had a discussion about putting a book down recently. He was struggling through an unpleasant read but didn’t want to stop because HE HAD NEVER STOPPED BEFORE. He had never put a book aside because it was lousy or unreadable, or just not an enjoyable read for him. Not ever.

That astounded me and I asked around to see if others of my readery friends were more like him or more like me. Turns out the large majority of my anecdotal and totally not scientific sample were like him. For most of those folk the primary reasons they finished bad books were;

  1. They didn’t want to “waste” the time they had already invested in the book.
  2. They anticipated value in the act of finishing the book.
  3. They felt obligated to finish.

Do those look familiar? They should. They’re the most common tropes used for “why X stays in the worthless relationship”.

  1. I’d have to start over from scratch with somebody new.
  2. Once I’ve finished with them all of this current unpleasantness will be worth it.
  3. We’ve been together so long.

So I’m not the only one who is looking at stories as a relationship, I’m just one of the few who is willing to call one off when it’s a bad one.

What sort of literary ‘dater’ are you?

[End of regular post. Rambly stuff below.]

Continue reading “Going on a Date”

Review: Creeping Shadow

Creeping Shadow (The Rise of Isaac, #1)

by Caroline Peckham

This review is based on an early reader copy provided by the author. The book will be published to Amazon in early December.

The Blurb

A man waits in Vale, a world void of humanity.

A mother vanishes, her disappearance concealed by the police.

A girl collapses, black magic invading her blood.

And a boy linked to them all must fight to save his family.

Earth is just one of seven worlds. Gateways divide the realms and those who pass through must earn keys, participating in challenges that will separate the fearful from the brave, the weak from the strong, and the witless from the cunning.

Sixteen year old Oliver Knight knows nothing of the other worlds or his family’s dark past. But when his adopted sister succumbs to a deadly curse the truth is revealed and he is plunged into an unknown land in a desperate bid to save her. However, a sinister enemy is on the rise and the danger they face at every turn throws those around them under suspicion. In order to survive, Oliver must figure out who to trust, who to believe and, ultimately, who to fear…

The Review

How refreshing to read a story with siblings who act like siblings! Oliver and May, our protagonists, are written in eminently believable fashion. They are not plagued by the common sense errors and foolish decisions that seem to affect teen characters in most young adult fiction. As a result Peckham doesn’t resort to MacGuffins to advance her story and you never want to thump the characters to wake them up.

Peckham blends magic and sci-fi to create a rich fantasy world. She quickly establishes an otherworldly feel just a bit different from Earth and carries that tone throughout the story. The pacing is nigh on perfect and a healthy portion of the chapters end on a note that makes you want to dive right into the next chapter. The epilogue is the best of the bunch and has me in a frump because the next book isn’t available yet.

Although Creeping Shadows is marketed as a young adult novel it feels more like a classic adventure tale along the lines of a C.S. Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle book. I recommend it to readers of any age.