Archives for posts with tag: Goodreads

The spring genre literary awards are behind us—the Nebula, the Philip K. Dick, and so on. I pay attention to the awards because I often find books and stories I’ve missed over the past year.

One book I was aware of, but haven’t read, was short-listed for one of the awards and is presently being made into a movie. After the book took the top prize, I decided to check it out on Amazon.com and Goodreads. I’m always curious to find out how the readers feel about a book. After all, a jury of your professional peers and trade journal critics may judge and assess a book, but awards and rave reviews don’t always translate into what’s really, ultimately important to an author—book sales. And book sales are always driven by you, dear reader.

The book is a long one, 600 pages I think. That means the author invested a lot of time, hard work, and inspiration. And the author is a human being who sleeps, eats, and feels.

I started with Amazon.com, where the author’s publisher has proudly posted the award win, and I was shocked to find almost as many one-star reader reviews as five-stars. Apparently there are issues with this book that readers strenuously object to.

Okay. I’m glad readers feel so passionately about a book that they want to vent about how much they hated it. Less glad that they take the time to write a hate review and post it on Amazon, where it pretty much remains forever.

Amazon notoriously checks every detail, so you won’t find profanity in Amazon hate reviews. At least, I haven’t.

But that’s not the case on Goodreads, which Amazon now owns. I was doubly shocked to find the same split between raves and hates for this book on Goodreads, but in just about every hate review, the f-word was employed.

Gee, hater people. That’s really uncalled for and cruel. I freakin’ hate it.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in Australia
, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India
, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India
, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India
, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Please visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

I read this book when it was released to great fanfare and acclaim in the 1990s and gave it five stars. Recently, though, I reread the book to prepare for my new science fantasy, Chrome Cobra, and must revise my earlier assessment.

That’s life for a reader. Some works are better than you remember upon rereading years later; some are a little worse; some are huge disappointments.

Hyperion is hardly a disappointment, but not quite the book I remember.

Simmons expertly sets up the premise for the entire (very long) book in a concise Prologue. The Consul receives a communication from the Hegemony that he has been chosen to be one of seven pilgrims on a pilgrimage to the dreaded mysterious Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. The Shrike, a bloody, invincible, supernatural entity defying all known laws of reality and connected to the Time Tombs, is stalking Hyperion once again. The pilgrims must go confront the Shrike, knowing full well that all but one will die a horrible death at the Shrike’s hands. Meanwhile, vicious pillaging aliens known as the Ousters are launching an all-out attack on the worlds of the Hegemony and may threaten the pilgrims’ ability to confront their fates.

Writers are always exhorted to “show, don’t tell,” and the Prologue is delivered in a Mission Impossible-style info dump that smacks of telling (and there is no “if you should choose to accept it”). Simmons delivers all this in such an engaging style, with shots of whiskey being poured, that the reader mostly won’t notice. Sometimes an author needs to deliver a complex setup in this manner. For writers, Simmons’ take is worth pondering.

The seven chosen ones are ordinary folk from all walks of life, not sworn inductees into a military. Though Simmons tries hard to convince us they have no choice, you have to wonder why any or all of them don’t flee to the farthest planet and wait for the kindly Hegemony to track them down and punish them. What are the sanctions of refusing? Upon rereading, I saw this as a huge logical hole. I wasn’t convinced the chosen ones had no choice the way Dune’s Paul Harkonnen is the chosen one who must fulfill his destiny.

Like Dune, Hyperion is deeply concerned with religious philosophy and spiritual mysticism, in this case Christianity and Catholicism in particular.

The literary conceit of Hyperion is taken from the classic Canterbury Tales, in which seven pilgrims tell their tales en route to their destination. You don’t usually find such literary references in science fiction, and this places Hyperion a cut above the rest. But Simmons plunks each pilgrim’s tale amid the complex melodramatic background of Shrike and Ousters in more lengthy info dumps for which I began to have less patience. To Simmons’ credit, he invents each pilgrim’s tale in a voice to fit the character: the drunken poet, the serious priest, the hard-boiled woman detective, and so on. I’m a huge admirer of authors who give characters their own voices, rather than stamping them all out in the author’s voice.

Precise SFnal details about interstellar travel and the resulting time distortions round out a deeply conceived world.

So there you have it, my friends. Hyperion is one of the science fiction masterpieces of the twentieth century. My early five stars went down to four, but that’s just me.

New! Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, screenplays, forthcoming projects, adorable pet pix, and more.

Visit me on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you acquired it, blog it, Tweet it, post it, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

If some genre authors don’t have much to say but craft lively stories employing genre tropes, then some mainstream authors employ their literary prowess to hold forth on significant themes and characterizations that in the end amount to shallow stories. (Full disclosure: I’m bored by family sagas, quirky dark secrets and all.)

This author brings her considerable literary prowess to a story that could have been ripped from the headlines: Anna, a young teen, who was purposefully conceived as a DNA match to provide blood and bone marrow to her beloved sister mortally ill with leukemia, files a law suit for her medical emancipation from her obsessive controlling parents.

Why? Because after years of emotionally draining and painful blood draws and bone marrow harvests, now her sister’s kidneys are failing and the parents want to harvest Anna’s kidney. Anna just can’t take it anymore.

The incendiary family drama unfolds in shifting POVs and time inversions with the compelling authenticity of technical names for medicines and medical procedures, causes of action and legal procedures, and a parent’s anguish over the pain of a sick child.

In an earlier day, the cancerous child would have died at age three, the grieving parents could have conceived another, and life would have gone on. I don’t know if the author intended this, but the modern medical technology that enables such manipulation of life strikes me as both miraculous and ghoulish.

I really wanted to love this book. *SPOILER ALERT* But I can’t. I don’t object to a dark, ironic end. Or a tragic end. Or an end with a twist. (Like Romeo and Juliet, for instance.) Or an end where the villain (or a villain) gets away with it. (Like Silence of the Lambs.)

But a story’s end should fulfill the inevitable logic of the story. We as readers, however surprised, should be able to say, “This is how the story had to end.” After four hundred pages plus, the end of this book struck me as perfunctory, arbitrary, and nothing less than horrifying, unfairly brutal, even punitive toward the one character we care most about. Four stars for the literary prowess (after the tight beginning, the round-robin of POVs tends to drift) and minus four stars for the end. That leaves me with zero. Sorry, Ms. Picoult, I love your writing. Unrated.

For urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, romantic suspense, humor, and a screenplay, visit the Virtual Bookstore! All Lisa Mason Titles, All Links, All Readers, Worldwide. NYT Notable Book Author https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2013/08/31/virtual-bookstore-fantasy-science-fiction-urban-fantasy-romantic-suspense-literary-screenplay-sfwapro/

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more, on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy this title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

I love historical fiction, historical mysteries, and the 1890s in particular, and this book is a fine example of the genre. The author’s prodigious research underlies a harrowing tale: police in 1897 New York City are finding murdered children, an increasing number of them, in strange, out-of-the-way locations. They’re baffled. Is a serial killer on the loose?

But such jargon doesn’t even exist then, and the police lack the sophisticated forensic technologies we have today. Even fingerprinting is an iffy proposition. The traditional approach of motive and the likely suspects yields no results. Enter the eponymous Alienist, a detective pioneering a methodology we know today as “profiling,” analyzing the “who” as much as the “why.”

Carr’s flashes of wit relieve the grim story as he pokes gentle fun at the twenty-course, all-night feasts at Delmonico’s (one member of the team has to be “forcibly separated from the lamb”) and the terror of a street urchin who may possess crucial information as he confronts the cheerful circle of detectives eagerly quizzing him about his squalid life.

*SPOILER ALERT* The mystery is ingeniously solved, the psycho-killer is trapped and apprehended in an action-packed climax, and we the readers may close the book knowing there is some justice in the world. Recommended.

For urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, romantic suspense, humor, and a screenplay, visit the Virtual Bookstore! All Lisa Mason Titles, All Links, All Readers, Worldwide. NYT Notable Book Author https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2013/08/31/virtual-bookstore-fantasy-science-fiction-urban-fantasy-romantic-suspense-literary-screenplay-sfwapro/

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more, on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy this title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

This international literary bestseller tackles the caste system in India, the political upheaval with the advent of socialism, the disintegrating fortunes of a wealthy family who manufactures traditional pickles and condiments, and the catastrophic consequences when a woman of that family and her son and daughter (“two-egg twins”) dare to cross caste boundaries. This could have been a sweeping, weighty tome. Instead it is a compact, vividly rendered, deeply personal account with shifting POVs and time inversions.

My one complaint is that the eponymous “God” remains a cipher, an empty hub around which the wheel of the other characters and their stories spin. That may very well have been the author’s intent, but felt to me like a bit of an omission.

After the grim, devastating story, the author gifts us at the end, through the magic trick of time inversion, with a lovely lyrical scene filled with hope and promise. We as readers may close the book smiling through our tears. Recommended.

For urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, romantic suspense, humor, and a screenplay, visit the Virtual Bookstore! All Lisa Mason Titles, All Links, All Readers, Worldwide. NYT Notable Book Author https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2013/08/31/virtual-bookstore-fantasy-science-fiction-urban-fantasy-romantic-suspense-literary-screenplay-sfwapro/

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more, on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy this title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

This bestselling classic of high fantasy is a retelling of the King Arthur legend with an ingenious twist. The tale is told entirely from the POV of the women characters, Queen Guinevere, the Druid witch Morgan La Fay, and so on. The backdrop is the conflict between paganism and encroaching Christianity, an epic struggle for the hearts, minds, souls of the people, which paganism was doomed to lose.

MZB worked intensively on the book for ten years, immersing herself in The Golden Bough, A Study in Magic and Religion by Sir James George Frazer, an Oxford scholar who wrote the definitive treatise on paganism and its symbols. She remains faithful to the classic love triangle between Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Guinevere, Guinevere’s tragic inability to bear children, and the twists and turns between Arthur and his half-sister, Morgan La Fay.

MBZ, a scholar of medieval life, vividly depicts the issues affecting women in particular. When a pregnant woman, for example, went into labor, she needed to summon a posse of female friends and relatives to keep her upright and walking so gravity could work its power. (It’s a wonder medieval midwives aren’t credited with discovering gravity, instead of Sir Isaac Newton getting conked on the head with an apple. Then again, medieval midwives couldn’t write about their observations. They were illiterate.)

MBZ vividly depicts medieval tourneys, a masked pagan fertility ritual resulting in an inadvertent incestuous coupling with disastrous consequences, and those mysterious mists, which part to reveal a magical alternate reality.

I confess I’m not a fan of high fantasy or medieval life. I’m a thoroughly modern American. I believe in meritocracy, not inherited rank, women as scholars and leaders, not breeders and chattel. Also, MBZ’s prose is slow and stately, almost Victorian, and the opening pages are glacial. I confess I tried to get into the book three or four times before I could commit to 1,000 pages.

A journalist friend interviewed MBZ toward the end of her life. She’d written the Darkover Series, another feminist fantasy, and many other lesser works. When my friend asked her about Mists, she snapped, “If I knew that book was going to make me famous, I never would have written it.”

MBZ was something of a female curmudgeon at the time.

Sigh. Every author should have a bestselling classic that, in retrospect, she hates.

So there you have it, my friend. If you’re seeking a classic of high fantasy, a unique take on the King Arthur legend, or a title to add to your required fantasy reading list, this book is for you.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, screenplays, forthcoming projects, and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and spread the word to your friends. Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!

The original dysfunctional romance classic. Scarlett O’Hara, who is not beautiful, “but men seldom noticed that,” carries a torch for the somewhat limp, blond Dixie patriot, Ashley Wilkes. But Ashley doesn’t love her. He loves the fragile Southern belle, Melanie Hamilton, and, despite Scarlett’s scheming, marries her. Enter the dark, dangerous, traitorous Rhett Butler, a crueler, uglier man than the charming scoundrel Clark Gable plays in the movie. Rhett discovers Scarlett’s unrequited obsession and lusts for her, anyway. She despises Rhett but, after many twists and turns, winds up marrying him with disastrous consequences.

I’m way on Scarlett’s side. She’s not a man-eating bitch, she’s an amazing, resourceful survivor.

Such is the setup for this historical panorama set against the “War of Northern Aggression” (as a friend of mine from Georgia continues to call the Civil War) and the fall of the Old South.

Mitchell researched and wrote GWTW (as its millions of fans continue to call the book) over twenty years. She strove mightily to capture the tragedies of the war, the customs of the Old South, and the way people felt and spoke, especially the idiom of the African-American servant class (or slaves).

Ten years ago, proponents of politically correct speech took aim at GWTW and works by the great Mark Twain on the grounds that the language of those books was offensive and demeaning. The attack culminated with an African-American author writing a book from the POV of Scarlett’s chambermaid, entitled The Wind Done Gone.

I understand the deleterious effect of speech. In Summer of Love, my female characters in 1967 have a funny/not-so-funny consciousness-raising about the ubiquitous use of “chick” to refer to women. Feminists of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s weren’t concerned about getting their feelings hurt when some man referred to them as a stupid little bird. They were concerned about professional opportunity, money in the bank, respect, and power. (I find it ironic that grown women today accept being referred to as “chicks” and “girls” when sexism and male derogation of women is alive and unwell.)

But contemporary awareness of speech and the profound effects it has on contemporary social interactions should have no bearing on a work like GWTW. The novel is historical fiction, a product itself of the author’s time. (GWTW was a huge bestseller in the 1930s at the height of the last Great Depression.) No one can properly accuse Mitchell of prejudice or attempt to revise her scholarly efforts to depict what was without revising history. (Same for Twain.) And revising history, as we all should know from George Orwell’s 1984 and the real 1984s of our recent history, is the first step down the road to tyranny.

The heirs to the Mitchell Estate sued the author of The Wind Done Gone for copyright infringement. They won; the book was unpublished. As a free speech advocate, I’m not entirely in favor of that outcome. As a copyright protection advocate, though, I think the author should have invented her own Civil War chambermaid, mistress, and title instead of trying to capitalize on someone else’s intellectual property without permission.

So there you have it, my friend. GWTW is justifiably a classic because the writing, the characters, the drama, and the story stand up to the test of time. If you’re searching for a reading experience that’s a deeply felt portrait of a pivotal era in American history, this is for you.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and spread the word to your friends. Your response really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!

This wildly popular author often has interesting titles and this, I think, is one of her best titles for one of her best books in the Anita Blake series.

Obsidian Butterfly is the poetic Aztec euphemism for the knife priests used to carve out the beating heart of a sacrificial victim and/or flay him/her alive.

The Aztecs dominated Central America, conquering and enslaving weaker aboriginal tribes, and used prisoners of war as sacrifices (though sometimes they sacrificed their own children). Yes, they really did commit such atrocities. On a regular basis. That’s what the vaunted Aztec calendar (which I’ve seen) in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is all about.

Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, indignantly tells the tale of how the Spanish literally wiped out the Aztecs in a matter of days by (mostly inadvertently) infecting them with smallpox, a disease to which the urban-dwelling Spaniards had developed an immunity. The genocide was a terrible thing, true, but I for one shed few politically correct tears for a nasty gang of psychopaths.

The gruesome Aztec culture is the backdrop against which LKH (as she’s known to her fans) sets her gruesome tale. Anita Blake, a U.S. marshal charged with hunting and exterminating vampires, is called away from her native St. Louis to Santa Fe to help stop a supernatural, Aztec-influenced killer who is torturing and killing people en masse.

Anita is the quintessential urban fantasy heroine: profane, sarcastic, violent, sexual, fearless. In later books, apparently, she acquires supernatural powers, but in this book she’s simply human. Virtually every male character lusts for Anita, which sometimes feels overly self-aggrandizing, and she’s portrayed as a sexpert. Self deprecation is not in her vocabulary.

Other readers have noticed that Anita scorns, disparages, or competes with virtually every female character. Or she thinks the character is a lesbian lusting for her. Though she occasionally refers to feminism, Anita comes across as oddly misogynist. As an author who has written about friendship between women (in Summer of Love, The Gilded Age, and The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria among others), I find that off-putting.

Be forewarned that the book fearlessly treads on taboos: there is homosexual torture and sex, sexual child abuse, child torture, torture as a glamorous nightclub act. If you can tolerate that, you’ll find a complex and twisty plot and vivid writing.

Lately readers have complained that LKH’s considerable authorial skill has declined. It’s possible that, after 20 books in 20 years (in just this series; she’s got others), the author may be a bit burned out.

I can think of another possibility. Obsidian Butterfly is probably 150,000 words; the recent works clock in at around 80,000. I have it on good authority that LKH’s Big Publisher no longer publishes works of more than 80K words. It’s possible, therefore, that LKH is at her best when she can stretch out in a book like Obsidian Butterfly, with its plot complications and colorful descriptions. And that she’s not as comfortable writing at a shorter length.

Why, you may wonder, would a Big Publisher rein in an author, force her to arbitrarily chop down a work, to her critical detriment? To economize on the cost of paper and ink, of course. Would a Big Publisher do that? The answer is Yes. It happened to me and Pangaea (the cost of paper and ink was the excuse handed to me, but that’s another story).

As for the answer to the first question, bear in mind the Big Publisher doesn’t take the heat from disgruntled readers and reviewers; the author does. Like the Aztec priest wielding his Obsidian Butterfly, the Big Publisher just doesn’t care.

So there you have it, my friend. If you require gore and shock value in your reading entertainment, this is for you.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and spread the word to your friends. Your response really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!

The first of the popular Hollows Series featuring bounty-hunter/detective witch, Rachel Morgan. Apparently the 10-book series is now done. If you want to dive into a completed series, this is Book 1, and the place to start. The author’s exuberant style (sometimes overly dense) veers wildly between the beautiful heroine’s self-deprecation (sometimes whiny), humorous exchanges with her sidekick pixie Jenks (sometimes cutesy), semi-lesbian relationship with Ivy (Rachel’s roommate, business partner, best friend, and a “living vampire” in the author’s elaborate scheme of vampirism), horrifying battles with demons, and back again to steak dinners in the graveyard. Add to that the pun titles (take-offs of Clint Eastwood movie titles) and this is something of an acquired taste. But if you love inventive urban fantasy and you’re willing to make the commitment—each book is 500 pages plus–you can’t go too far wrong.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and spread the word to your friends. Your response really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!

Space aliens invade Earth, taking over human bodies, and destroying the humans’ minds. Human resisters must live as survivalists in desert caves and steal food, medicine and supplies from their former society now controlled by the aliens.

It’s a premise straight out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a truly scary story effectively grounded in 1950s paranoia, which Meyer spins off into her own unique take.

The first-person narrative is told by the alien who was surgically installed in Melanie, a woman who refuses to die inside. Her refusal is grounded in her great love for her surviving younger brother (which is moving) and the man who is her love interest (less convincing).

Sounds good! Then the problems begin.

Meyer’s prose is raw and unfettered, sometimes wonderful, sometime amateurish. The first 100 pages are a hodgepodge of the alien’s backstory and Melanie’s backstory, also told in the first person but set in a different type font so you the reader won’t get confused. The formulaic single-adverb chapter titles are often strained (we veer from “Dreamed” to “Dehydrated”). A passel of characters have names beginning with J (Jeremy, Jamie, Jeb, and so on). This is a common tic in first drafts I call writer’s echolalia, easily fixed by the wonders of global replace, and annoying to read in a published book.

The biggest problem I have is that, while the premise is clear, the concept of the aliens is not. Are these brutal merciless invaders bent on total annihilation of humanity or not?

Telling the story from the alien’s POV is risky. The alien is tormented to tears by Melanie’s angry voice in her head. The alien has doubts and fears, seeks out Melanie’s brother and the love interest in their survivalist camp. The hive-mind of the aliens is happy. They don’t use money, they share. They help each other. They give great parties. They make the planets they conquer run on time. They refer to each other as “souls” and have soulful aboriginal names (The Wanderer, The Comforter). So why don’t the pesky humans give it up, already?

Meyer sets up a classic romance angle: a tussle on a dark desert floor, a kiss. But even when Melanie is still herself—and especially after she’s invaded—nothing happens between her and the love interest. They bathe with their clothes on, lie together in caves or rustic cabins and sleep. Why? Because they don’t want to bring children into such an oppressive world. Well, okay. But this is an adult book. It strains credulity to think people scrabbling for existence in caves wouldn’t get around to succumbing to human nature. It might have been interesting to see what the characters would have done if Meyer had allowed them to bathe in their birthday suits.

So there you have it, my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love woman-powered science fiction (I’ve written some, myself). If you’re looking to curl up with 600+ pages, this will do. But if you want polished prose, original ideas, and tight plotting, read any science fiction book by the award-winning Nancy Kress.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and spread the word to your friends. Your response really matters.

More bargains for your reading enjoyment:

Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!