Category Archives: Ebook

Skulduggery Pleasant – Apocalypse Kings

This made me quite happy. It’s the World Book Day offering from Derek Landy; a short story within the world of Skulduggery Pleasant. Judging by Valkyrie Cain, it was set a few years ago. But that’s just fine. The world was a better place then. And he has dedicated the book – which I read as an ebook – to his pets, dead and alive, and among them Lorelai and Rory. Although he points out there are no pets in the story. Just as well.

We meet Adedayo, who until he was fourteen had no idea he was magic. And then he discovered a lot more than he might have bargained for. Like, he had to save the world.

But at least he also gets to meet Valkyrie and Skulduggery. Plus some fairly unsavoury characters who just want to end the world. Thanks to his soon to be dead Nigerian grandmother he has learned a few useful things, although if he spoke Yoruba it would have helped a great deal. He’d have known what she was trying to tell him, for one thing.

Apart from all this, Apocalypse Kings is a pretty standard school story, with the added characters he meets so suddenly, not to mention unwisely.

By standard, I mean that it is fun. As much fun as you can expect for 75p, or however much I paid.

Sparrowfall

Nick Green’s new ebook Sparrowfall is quite something. Nick reckons it’s adult fiction, whereas I feel it’d be fine for younger readers as well. Some serious topics are covered, but children and teenagers today are exposed to these kinds of things.

(And now that I’ve read the book, the cover makes a lot of sense.)

This is science fiction, and it takes you to a harsh and completely unknown landscape. While in its other half you find a perfectly ordinary setting as well.

Let’s start with the ‘normal’ story, which is about 12-year-old Eleanor, recently adopted and loving living with her new parents. She also loves the must-read fantasy novel Myriad, and acting. So when she gets a part in the new film of Myriad it feels as if life is perfect.

Myriad is set in a strange world, with strange people and strange goings-on. We don’t see all that much of it, as it’s primarily the film set which matters here.

And then there is the world of Captain Luke S Zeit, which is beyond anything I could imagine. My mind simply boggled as I tried to envisage where Luke is and where he goes. Even what he is. What is quite clear however, are his feelings. He comes across Becca, a refugee from some unknown corner of his world and she changes his life.

It’s not the world of Myriad, though. I suppose that would have been too easy. But if it’s not, how are the parts of this story connected? It took me unusually long to discover, and even when I had, I needed to unsee what I’d found. And I still couldn’t work out how this was all going to work out.

And what of the man sleeping rough in London?

This is refreshingly beautiful, and Nick’s science fiction world is truly different.

The real mystery of course is why Sparrowfall isn’t out there as a big-selling actual book printed on paper, and not just as an ebook. The advantage here is that it will only set you back £2.95, so there is no need for procrastination. Buy it today! And tell your friends.

Paper Girls

DCI Kett is the most father-like detective I have ever come across, by which I mean Alex Smith’s description of what it’s like to be the [currently] lone parent to three young girls is spot on. And once they’ve arrived in Norwich, his detective also kicks in doors left, right and centre. Because he has to.

As an expert on missing people, Kett is on compassionate leave and has come home to Norwich after his own wife goes missing and he fails to find out what’s happened to her. It’s hard. His eldest is six and autistic, the middle girl always wants to poo, and the youngest comes along on his detecting, in her pushchair, because Kett has yet to sort out childcare. Not that he should be working, of course.

But three eleven-year-old girls have gone missing while doing their paper rounds, and the local police want his help. And even if he wanted to, Kett can’t ignore this case. He might have forgotten to bring bedlinen, but he is still a good father.

And a good detective.

I’m not generally too keen on crime novels featuring suffering children, but this is kept at an OK level. And Alex’s writing is great. It’s extremely readable.

I did guess quite early on who to suspect. Perhaps I was meant to. But you still have to wait to see how it will all work out. If it works out. You want to believe it will, because of the many children involved, but you can’t be sure.

As for the missing mother; we are clearly meant to see how Kett manages – or not – without her, so I don’t imagine there will be a speedy, happy outcome.

There will be more poos, and more doors to kick in. And naming a couple of potential suspects after his real life author colleagues is genius. Made me very happy.

Success ahead

So, two weeks later another one gets ahead to the number one spot for ebooks.

This week it is J D Kirk’s Ahead of the Game, which sold better than the others, including his pal Alex Smith who has been ‘relegated’ to fourth place with his Paper Girls. (But fourth is still really good.)

I’ll probably tire of this, but so far I am enjoying the successes of ‘my’ former children’s books authors. And J D – or Barry, as I call him – shot to the top on the very day his tenth DCI Logan novel was published. Without my assistance, because I wasn’t going to buy book ten* when I have all those other single digit books to get through, was I?

But 14,501 fans did buy. Well done.

*And I hear book 11 is due in May. Doing better than trains and buses, being both regular and on time.

Best

I’d like to think that they all did what I had done. I bought Alex Smith’s first* crime novel, Paper Girls, as an ebook a few weeks ago, a little before Alex – or Gordon as I call him – announced that his was the best selling ebook that week. I’m afraid I didn’t entirely believe him. Sometimes people are top of some smaller category, which is still nice, but easier to achieve.

But no. Alex was first. Or so The Bookseller told me some days later. Or would have, had I not got stuck the wrong side of the paywall. But you can eventually find out what they would have said.

So Paper Girls really did sell more than others, and what pleased me especially was that Alex did better than that charming Danish woman, Jo Nesbø.

I will now have to read Alex’s book. No, I didn’t mean that the way it came out; I bought it to be able to see what it’s like, as soon as I am able to fit in more adult crime from my growing list of children’s authors who have gone over to the other side. A side where they are selling really well.

And, surely, the world was aware of what I’d done, and decided to follow suit. Follow that Witch!

*There are five in total. Unless there are even more by now…

Bookwitch bites #150

Kindle-sharing is the new thing at Bookwitch Towers. With me actually paying £1.99 for ebooks that the Resident IT Consultant might also enjoy, I can’t just suggest he doesn’t drop my [paper] book in the bath. So, what’s his is mine, and the other way round.

The Resident IT Consultant has had the benefit of reading some of J D Kirk’s crime novels. If someone reads more than one, it is an indication the book wasn’t too bad. Or so I believe. But recently I gathered J D had put in an Ofsted inspection where none ought to be. When I told J D he was so upset he stopped talking to me. Until I woke up and discovered he and the Resident IT Consultant were on such friendly terms that they had balanced a tankard of beer on my head.

😳

The Edinburgh International Book Festival are planning some December Winter Warmer events. On Saturday 12th there is a full programme of book events for you. Free to access.

It’s Advent. Daughter requested I get out the Jostein Gaarder advent book for her daily read. The thing that always strikes me is how his book sits right next to Cornelia Funke’s advent book. It’s almost as if it had been planned.

We also have a real, live – well, you know what I mean – advent calendar. We take turns opening the doors. This was sent to us by a very kind author, who ‘lives’ a little bit along from Jostein on the shelf.

I have been asked for a wish-list. The Resident IT Consultant wants help with ideas for me. Daughter does not want a list. She will come up with her own ideas. Which are usually very good. My list had only books on it. I know. This is crazy. I don’t need books. But I need other stuff even less. Except when Daughter has come up with the perfect thing. I’ve still to read my way through the books from last Christmas. And the ones I bought myself in August. Also the books I bought the Resident IT Consultant last Christmas…

But books still make sense.

Stay at Home!

It’s not only sourdough bread that has happened over the last three months. Many authors have come up with online material to offer readers. In fact, there’s been such a glut that I’ve not been able to keep up. I just know there is much to find.

Small Scottish publisher Cranachan Publishing has a free ebook offering a wide variety of things to read. Their ‘Stay at Home! Poems and Prose for Children in Lockdown is a a free, illustrated anthology of poems and stories for children aged 8-12, comprising specially written lockdown-themed contributions by 40 writers based in Scotland.’

Try it! There are household names, and there are names you might not have heard of. Yet. But this is a nice collection, and what’s almost nicer still, is how people have pulled together to make it happen.

Screen or paper? Free or buy?

Could you tell? Which of my recently reviewed books were ‘real’ books? Quite a few of them weren’t. And I’m a bit surprised, to be honest.

Review copies on the screen need to be either fairly short, so I can sit and read on* the computer in comfort. Or they need to be fully Kindle compatible. I received a few that were pdf novels and have designated the iPad for those, seeing as they went crazy on the Kindle.

Because the commonest thing for publicists to say these days is that they can’t send out hard copies of that book they are about to convince you to read. It’s OK. Their job is to get me the words, so that I can read those words and then say something here about them.

It’s more fun, and convenient, to read on paper. And the Kindle gets hard to sign. But the way things are, I won’t be seeing anyone to sign anything, will I? Besides, it’s not the publisher’s task to provide me with something for an autograph. Even if that is nice.

And now that I am buying more books, I can choose whether it’s an ebook or a paper book. And what I was thinking when I bought the new Skulduggery Pleasant as a hardback, is anyone’s guess. When I could have had it on the Kindle! My arms ache. The table next to my armchair is groaning under the weight. But I expect I was on autopilot. Have always bought ‘real’ books and am not stopping now.

Can’t take the Kindle to Oxfam. To give the books away, I mean. But if they are ebooks, I don’t really have to. My dusty shelves can lie in peace.

Speaking of which, Daughter has sort of promised she’ll climb the tall stool and dust the top shelf. And the books on it. They won’t know what hit them.

*That’s reading on the computer screen. Not me sitting on the computer, however comfortably. Obviously.

A Poison Tree

Beware what goes on in charity shops.

I had no idea that used, donated shoes could lead to so much trouble, but I happen to know that Jon Mayhew is someone who knows about these things. Hence the major role played by an ‘innocent’ Wirral charity shop in A Poison Tree, the new adult crime novel by J E Mayhew as he calls himself here.

Jon – J E – is another children’s author who’s switched to killing for adults, on Kindle. (Once I’d read J D Kirk’s ebook, I just happened to buy J E’s as well. Only to check it out and see who’s best and all that.)

The opening scene is great, and the charity shop setting provides a fresh change from all the waterlogged corpses I have encountered recently. In fact, the old shoe boxes with shoes in them (‘What else?’ I hear you say), has a rather menacing quality to them.

DCI Blake is a good detective, not so keen on poetry, and even less keen on cats. His cat, at least, or his mother’s cat. We don’t know what happened to the mother, but Serafina the cat is vicious. Quite a few dead bodies in the Wirral, and plenty of secrets. Just about everyone Blake talks to seems fishy.

Blake has a good team, and they eventually work out who did it. And, you know, proceed with caution when you get to the charity shop. Don’t buy the red Converse boots, whatever you do!

A Litter of Bones

When I saw Barry Hutchison seemingly flogging someone else’s books, some chap called J D Kirk, I was concerned. Shouldn’t he talk more about his own? Turns out he was. He is J D Kirk. Too. He quite sensibly got himself a new name for when he writes adult crime fiction. Five books in the last year. Yes, five. The man’s unstoppable.

I caved in last week, and ordered the first of the five, A Litter of Bones. I played it safe and got the ebook, to make sure I wasn’t wasting my money on a paperback, in case I didn’t like it. (Wouldn’t have been a waste.)

We have DCI Jack Logan, somewhere in the Glasgow area. We meet him as he’s talking to some loony he put in jail for kidnapping and murdering little boys. Creepy type. The murderer, I mean.

Then Logan discovers there are more crimes just the same, happening now, when he knows for a fact his criminal is inside. Jack is dispatched off to Fort William to lend a hand with his expertise on these crimes.

It’s good. I wasn’t sure I was up to reading about child murders, but J D handles it as well as you can, when some depraved person does to small boys what this person does.

Jack puts together a team in Fort William. Well, he’s mostly handed a group of detectives, but they work well together, and he adds a constable who looks promising.

This being an admirably ‘not too long’ novel, progress is swift, and it’s all the better for it. Jack learns a bit about Fort William, and he learns that little boys are a lot better with smartphones than he is, and both Jack and his new constable sidekick drive really badly when the need arises.

I could see that things would go wrong when X said he’d do that thing, but it didn’t actually matter. Being forewarned just meant you knew something dreadful would happen, but the tension when waiting for the bad shoe to drop was quite something.

Even being quite sure from early on that YZ was most likely involved, was another thing that didn’t matter.

I might have to buy the next instalment.