Thursday, January 18, 2018

What to Read for Free Today: Jan 18th, 2018

With the exception of the first pick, a mystery, the other books are all different types of romance novels. Sorry, guys!

There is plenty to choose from today as the two-dozen or so tawdry titles I recently highlighted miraculously disappeared from the list yesterday. No fault of mine, I assure you. Maybe Amazon finally caught on to the bad grammar.




This is impressive; a book with a 4.9 stars average in 65 reviews! I could not pass it. I'm not a lover of the serial killer vs FBI agent genre, but such high scores can't lie.






Historical romantic suspense with 558 reviews. Love dark Gothic!






I have been a lover of time-travel romance since my first reading of Outlander. This one has 464 reviews for a 4.4 stars average. I love the title.





For those who love contemporary romance, here is a promising one with 4.5 stars average out of 95 reviews. Set in Alaska, a place I'd love to visit someday.





For those who like shifter romances but are tired or wolf and bear shifters, this one promises a difference. At 4.3 out of 120 customer reviews, it attracted my eye. 






Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review




As I promised yesterday, I read Owned by the Dark Dragon  by Hollie Hutchins. This is a title that placed in the Kindle Top 100 Free, and part of a genre that emphasizes suggestive titles and lurid covers. The prospective reader will expect highly erotic content. In this case, the reader would be totally disappointed unless he is maybe a high-school student.

I will do my best to be fair to the author while remaining honest for the reader's sake. A reviewer's duty is to the reader.

First, this novella (really a long, short story) is in first-draft condition. It seems to be a first writing; it lacks even the most minimal editing. The following are examples from the first few pages.

...hoping to further herself from the chaos
A correct usage would be ...hoping to distance herself from the chaos

Sinome spoke as he titled his head towards her,...
I hope he "tilted" rather than titled.

...regardless of how bazzar it all must be for her.
I think the author meant to use the word "bizarre."

It would take me hours to correct all the subject/verb disagreements, changes in verb tense, passive voice use, etc. This author should have gotten at least a few beta readers to go over her draft and corrected the most glaring errors.

Next, The story runs like the proverbial bat out of hell. There is absolutely no scene development and less character development. This could have been a much longer and better tale if it was not told in first-person, marathon style. It has a very good premise. I like the Central Park initial setting, and for the genre of fantasy, the storyline has potential.

Probably the most important aspect needing criticism is what the story promises but does not deliver. It's clear that the cover and title are implicitly promising an erotic read (not to mention the blurb). This is significant in the light that people buying this genre may not be looking for great grammar, but they do want significant erotic content. In this book, there is none.

There is a scene where a dragon (the dark one) does a little light lapping of breasts. Later, the rescuing hero has some very confusing (to the reader) sex with the protagonist. There is something about a "bright pink star," and a lot of confusion about what exactly he is doing. If you are looking for a titillating, erotic read, this is not it.

All having been said, I must say that the author has potential. She obviously likes to write, and with some time spent developing scenes, fleshing out characters, some proof-reading help, she could put out a good manuscript.

It seems to me that the author may be a  young college student trying out her wings as a writer or hoping to make a quick buck. She definitely handles the sex scenes without insight or finesse.

She could make money writing in the erotica genre even with bad grammar, but she must provide the intense, descriptive, well-written content that erotica readers seek. By failing to provide that, she will not get her customers to come back. I think she would be better served by writing just pure fantasy and using covers that reflect that.

On the Amazon scale, I will give her two stars. Readers looking for erotic content will be far less generous. I do wish she'd get editing help and emphasize the fantasy part of her work. In the future, I'd love to read something by her that showed such growth. Authors are not born. We are made through hard work and the learning of the craft just as other artists are made.




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What to Read for Free on Jan 16, 2018


For those readers who may find fault, this is obviously written with tongue-in-cheek.

Kindle's Top 100 Free is the place to go if you want to read free, tawdry titles with truly hilarious covers. In Smashwords, you also get the free, tawdry titles but without the hillarious covers. 


Judging by the rankings, there are plenty of readers out there downloading these free books.

First, let me tell you that it's not easy making the list. There are at least 100,000 free offerings not placing in the top 100 free, including my excellent Vampire, Not Monster.

Remember that the placings change constantly according to how many downloads take place each hour. After a while, I stopped writing down the numbers.

There are authors who have multiple listings in the Top 100 Free. Elena Davinski, Daniella Wright, Malcolm Bryant, and Holly Hutchins all have multiple books in today's list.


Elena Davinski has two books in the Top 100 Free today.

This book has no reviews. It comes in at #42 on the list.






This one comes in at #96. It also has no reviews. I love those crowns. Perfect outfit: a towel and a crown! 
Can you see the author's name on the book? I can't.









Next in line is Daniella Wright. She has four books placing in the list. Her Triple Dominated

rates at #94. Are those men green or turquoise? I can't decide.







This comes in at #95.




This comes in at #90. No reviews.







This one comes in at #93. No reviews for this one either.








While the authors above have six of the Top 100 Free, they are not the winners! Author Malcom Bryant has eight books, his first coming in at #44.














I especially love this title. There is a certain "je ne sais quoi" about it. I am shocked it has no reviews. Maybe I'll write the first.






































It is noteworthy that most of Malcolm Bryant's offerings fall in the middle of the list between #44-#52. That is not shabby.


Still, the undisputed winner is author Hollie Hutchins with a whopping twelve titles placing in Kindle's Top Free 100.




Starting at #41, this cover really speaks to me. I love dragons. Again, no reviews. I'd like to hear what readers have to say about character development in this book.







At #43, The Dragon's Servant.







This seems to be a boxed series.


Coming in at #60, this title is special. It comes with 2 customers reviews at an average of 1 star. I say it can't be that bad as it rates in at #60.








The Dragon's Property at #61







At #63, Unfortunate Brides. Love the bridal veil topping the cover. It absolutely screams romance.





At #64, Owned by the Beasts




At #66, Slaved: The Dragon and the Bear.  (As opposed to "Enslaved?"








At #68, I Want it All: Dragons









At #69, Double the Dragon





Coming in at #70, The Dragon's Slave.









This one is called Destined for Royalty and it comes in at #74.






If you're confused by the covers, it's not you. It seems that the author re-uses the covers of boxed sets for individual titles included in the set.

I hate to sound like sour grapes because I am a little miffed that I'm not in the list, but I've always been told by other authors that I need to get as many reviews as possible if I want readers to read my books. That seems not to be the case here. These are twenty-nine books with two reviews (1 star each) and they are topping charts!

Interesting too that I can't find a thing about the authors. Not one of those authors has an author profile. It seems to me that if I was selling books like hotcakes, I'd want my best-selling mug out there for the world to see. Fame and all that, you know.

I, personally, am a lover of a good sex scene. I have a few of them in my novels, although I must admit that they're probably not as good as the ones we'll find in these books. 


Being that there are over two dozen of these very popular books on the list, I think I should pick at least one and write a review.

Now, how do I choose? Well, since the non-existent reviews are no help, I must think about using what there is. First, Malcolm Bryant's books seem to be all about M/M sex written for males by a male. I hold the prejudice that men write sex scenes for other men, with little romance or finesse. I know, I know. I am wrong and prejudiced. No one's perfect.

I am very curious about the author who has fifteen titles on this list. I also love dragons, and she writes about them a great deal. I will read and review one of Hollie Hutchins's books. Owned by the Dark Dragon (with blond hair) seems appealing.



Here is the Amazon Blurb.

A Dragon Shifter Paranormal Romance




Content Note: This is a 15,000 words novella—Perfect to relax before bed or by the pool!

For a limited time, this book may include extra bonus stories for your enjoyment!




Anne only had one focus in life for the last two years: completing her law degree in New York City and landing a position at a prestigious law firm. But when she takes the same route she always uses through Central Park to her apartment from school, Anne is blinded by a bright light that will change her destiny forever.

Soon Anne is whisked away by brute warriors to a different realm where dragons exist in the form of humans. She’ll be thrown into a war between a Dark Lord and a rebellious group that aims to see his destruction. But when both sides of this war fight for both her claim and body, she will have to decide for herself what is rule and what her body is truly wants.

This is a stand-alone story with a HEA, so no cliff-hangers! This story contains explicit love scenes and is intended for 18+ readers only.

I will read and post my review in the next few days.



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Cover


I have been updating some of my book covers recently. Daniel's Fork, the first novel I wrote, has always been problematic when it comes to cover ideas. It's a story set in the future, but it's not a technological, sci-fi-type future. It's characters are hard to illustrate with contemporary images and stock photography. 

I love the image of the healer as the focus of the old cover, but I wanted to bring some color and a lighter tone to the new one. The result is this new cover. The added character is Susanna, the center of the mystery. She is a beautiful, lusty girl and a fitting contrast to the healer. I hope you like the new cover. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What to Read? Part 7

Finally, back to normalcy. First thing I did was check the Amazon Top 100 Free. After all, I need to put some meat on the brand-new Kindle Fire my son gave me for Christmas. Here are some promising reads that you can download for free today and possibly the next few days.

https://www.amazon.com/Follow-Me-Down-Gordon-MacKinney-ebook/dp/B077YZMFBK/

This book has 11 reviews but all are 5 stars.



https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Blade-Soul-Eater-Book-ebook/dp/B01I4YBIQS/

This book has 132 reviews, 4.3 stars average.



https://www.amazon.com/Touched-Marnie-Baranuik-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B01GGVL5HS/

This book has 640 reviews! Not bad. Its has 4.3 stars average.



https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Corrie-Badge-Honor-Heroes-ebook/dp/B0193Z89B4

This book has 247 reviews with a 4.7 stars average. That's a great score.




https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Storm-Rakes-Rebels-Raveneau-ebook/dp/B005DJ93EW/

This book has 766 reviews with a 4.3 stars average. Impressive!




I have read none of these books. I chose them because their blurbs seemed interesting, and the reviews were good. 

The Top 100 Free is full of many books in all genres, but I tend to stay away from the "Billionaire's Baby" and "Taken-by-the-Bear" type books. 

I'm also not big on "End-of-the-World" books. If you like them, there are plenty of those in the list. You can check out Until the end of the World





It has 813 reviews with a 4.6 stars average.

I noticed also that lately, Amazon is including Free classics in the list. For example, a few days ago I was able to download The Call of the Wild, Great Expectations,  The Time Machine, and War of the Worlds.

Here is the link to Amazon's 100 Top Free Books 

New Year, New Resolutions, New Projects!

I love a new year. It's like being reborn. I can fool myself that all past misdeeds and errors have been forgiven, and I am a new person. Almost. This year I've made a resolution not to have any new resolutions. Does that make sense? It does to me. I am thankful to be alive, that my family is well, and that the island is coming back to normal faster than any of us expected.

It has been  over three months since hurricane Maria disrupted all our lives. For me, at least, most things are back to their usual state. I have electricity, running water, cell phone service, and Internet. My neighborhood looks pretty much recovered. The greenery has come back with surprising vigor. This, of course, is not the case everywhere else; there are still towns where the destruction was more severe and things are still being repaired and worked.

I now have the time to return to my writing. My next installment of the Angel's Guardian series has begun. The working title is Heart of Stone. I've included here the cover for you to see. The image depicts Ivanna, sister of the evil Toma. Ivanna is a main character in the new novel. Let me know what you think of the cover.



I try for my covers not to be blatantly erotic although there is strongly erotic content in all my novels. Amazon will not approve even mildly erotic covers for their Amazon promotions. Recently, I had to change the cover of Strongheart's Woman because Amazon Marketing Services kept rejecting it. Apparently, the long, side view of the female image was unacceptable regardless of the fact that all her "assets" were covered. As soon as I changed it, the Amazon Ad was approved.

I intend for Heart of Stone to be darker, more intense, and definitely character based. While Max and Angel are still at the crux of the series, this story will have Ivanna and Devian as the main focus. Devian, with his ugly face, coldly professional exterior, and ultra-macho demeanor, is a favorite of readers. I have no idea yet what havoc Ivanna, the beautiful, willful vampiress will wreak on the self-assured Devian, but I promise it will be delicious reading!


Friday, November 3, 2017

My Maria Experience

Hello, everyone!

It's been weeks since my last post, and you can imagine why. It seems my joy at having escaped Irma's wrath was heard and noted, since Maria quickly followed. While Irma just gave Puerto Rico a glancing blow, Maria swept viciously over the entire island. It was as if a sixty-mile-wide tornado had crossed the island from corner to corner. Keep in mind, the island is approx. thirty miles wide by ninety miles long. We were inside the raging beast for hours!

What is it like, enduring a storm of Maria's strength and size for hours? It's not something for the weak hearted, for sure. My house is built like a bunker. Most of the houses in my neighborhood are built the same way. Mine is made entirely of steel-reinforced concrete and concrete block, including the roof. That's right, the roof is concrete. My doors are impact-resistant metal. There are no trees around it to fall; only shrubs and small plants surround it.

I decided that only the windward sides needed shuttering since my windows are meant to withstand winds of 150 miles, and the direction of the hurricane's approach indicated that winds would start from the north, change to the west, and finally sweep in from the south as the storm exited. The east side of the house would be relatively sheltered. Since hurricanes move in a counter- clock spin in our neck of the woods, this is the usual case with storms approaching the island from the southeast corner.

At first, I planned to weather the storm alone. My house is situated on a bluff, with no danger of flooding. I was as prepared as I could be in terms of supplies and water. My car was gassed and safely tucked away. I had dozens of candle jars (I don't bother with batteries) and other emergency paraphernalia. What I did not have was a portable radio or a generator, but I did not expect to be out of power longer than a week if at all. I have no problem being without electricity for a few days. I consider it an adventure. I do have a small gas stove for emergencies.

At the last minute, my cousin Evelyn decided to keep me company and showed up around 8 P.M. on Tuesday night, the 19th. I was grateful for the company, but now we had the problem of where to keep her car. She decided to tuck it as close as possible to the south wall, since the east wall is lined with shrubs. I worried about the car because there is a wide, empty sweep of lawn there and no protection at all.

We watched television and talked for the next two hours; the front door was wide open and a light rain with intermittent light gusts was starting. At about eleven o'clock the gusts picked up, and we closed the door. My daughter and son, who live in Miami, were constantly messaging me. At one thirty in the morning, the electricity went out. The winds and rain were stronger now, but nothing alarming. I texted my daughter that the electricity was out. Her answer was, "So soon?" It was the last message I'd receive, as the cellular signal was lost.

I had jar candles in place. With the cell phone for light, we started lighting candles.  The wind and rain were steady, and we were not worried yet. My phone has a radio app, and we tuned in to it. Interestingly, there were few news reports coming through. We learned that already a shelter in San Juan was having problems and was being evacuated. This seemed strange as we did not perceive the winds as being that strong yet.

We decided to get a little sleep. It was just before sunrise that I woke up to the persistent sound of powerful, sustained gusts and banging on the walls and windows. It was semi-dark outside and we could see little out the east windows. We pulled up two folding chairs and waited for the light of day. We turned our radio apps back on. Only one station was broadcasting, and it was a religious music station coming through loud and clear. All others had lost signal.

At some point, the pounding on the window panels began to get worrisome. It seemed that the now powerful gusts were grabbing hold of the panels and pounding them into the windows. I became afraid that maybe the panels were not strong enough and they would themselves break the windows. We decided to move the sectional sofa and the television into the inner bathroom, which is humongous and very sheltered.

As we began moving the sofa, we saw that water was coming in under the doors at a surprising rate. There was no danger of flooding as the house sits on a high bluff, but the rain was being whipped horizontally and slipping under the doors. I ran to place heavy towels under the doors. The towels soon became soaked and water continued to flow in. Gratefully, the house is entirely floored in ceramic tile.

We kept squeezing heavy towels and trying to keep out the rain. Finally, we gave up. As the dark outside turned into day, we were able to not only hear but see the force of the storm. It seemed to get stronger with every gust, and the gusts now seemed to come back to back without pause. The pounding of the window panels against the windows had me terrified. I expected that at any moment the shuttering panels would be ripped out and the windows would go. We took all our cookies, chips, drinks, and shut ourselves in my bedroom which faced east and was not under "attack" as I perceived it.

Outside, it sounded as if the cry of babies was carried in the wind; this disturbed my cousin greatly. I remembered that during hurricane Andrew, in Cutler Ridge in 1992, my brother had described the wind as "thousands of little elves with little hammers pounding on the walls." The sound of Maria was more eerie, more like a steady wailing. At times, you could hear the equivalent of babies wailing in high-pitched frenzies. It is easy to understand how ancient man might have imagined spirits and demons in such winds.

As daylight became stronger, we were able to see across the street where the neighbor's shed, which had stood storms for twenty years, began to lift from the side and was swept away and thrown down the hill by a gust. Evelyn and I cheered as the shed was an eyesore and every neighbor wanted it gone. Although the wind was coming from the northwest now, our east-facing windows vibrated each time the gusts swept across.

We could see the trees, shrubs, and all kinds of debris being swept by the gusts. The smaller, more flexible palm trees were bent almost to the ground. I remembered a reporter from Miami standing in Irma's gusts to show how strong the wind was blowing, obviously impressed. If he stood in my driveway now, he'd be found somewhere in Central America, maybe.

An interesting effect was caused by air pressure. Once in a while, I'd open the bedroom door to see the extent of the water flowing under the living room doors and to make sure the panels at the windows still held. Although every door and window was secured, the pressure against the bedroom door was substantial. I had to struggle to open my bedroom door. At one point, I tried to open the door to the guest room and was not strong enough to do so.

Outside, the gusts were now incredible. The wind was moving so fast, that lightning stroke directly across the landscape, maybe half a mile from us, but no thunder was heard.  This seemed to me very strange because one of the things that most bothered me about Andrew was the lightning and thunder. I also remember that Katrina in 2005 (or it may have been Rita) touched us in Miami, and the lightning and thunder strikes were horrendous. Maria had lightning, but the thunder seemed strangely muted. The wind speeds must have been incredibly strong to carry off the sound of thunder.

Another effect of the wind speed was the whitening of the air around us. Seconds before especially strong gusts blew, the air outside would turn milky white as if it was raining milk sideways, and everything would disappear in the paper-white landscape. My cousin and I began to fear the gusts as everything became milk white outside. It was a strange and unsettling effect.

I can't remember the exact time, but I believe it was sometime after two o'clock that the gusts stopped and the whiteness cleared. Evelyn and I looked at each other with relief and teetered out into the now totally water-logged living room. I believed the hurricane was over; after all, it had started about eleven o'clock the night before- fifteen hours more or less. I remembered Andrew lasting much less than that. Evelyn was not so sure. She thought we were under the eye.

We opened the door to a calm, grey day. There was no bright blue sky over us. I grabbed a broom and started sweeping out the water. Both of us worked to squeeze out towels and get water out. Evelyn kept warning me that it was the eye, not to step outside. She was right. A sudden gust blew, and I grabbed the door to close it. The door caught the wind and pulled me with it. My cousin panicked and grabbed my arm to pull me back.

My wrist twisted and I let the door go which pounded against the concrete wall. I had a swollen, painful wrist for days. I was lucky it was not worst. My first hurricane injury ever! Goes to show how easily one can get hurt by a hurricane.

Now, the wind began to whip from the south, and it got stronger and more terrifying. At this point, Evelyn worried that her car would not make it. I expected that the small car would be picked up and thrown against the house. Outside, we could see that the small palm trees in my landscaping where bending totally and the absolutely rubbery, strong, Agave-like, round plants that stood low to the ground were also bending!

Interestingly, the power cables vibrated and swung perilously, but they did not fall because in our street, there were no palm trees or trees planted under them. A lesson learned was that any cables under trees or shrubs, came down. The island is a lush, green place where most electric cables are surrounded by forests; this proved disastrous for the electric grid.

Another lesson learned was that structures made of wood as well as rooftop solar heaters could survive if they were tied down properly with cabling and tensors. We watched the heavy, loaded storage shed across being lifted easily and carried off by the wind, but one neighbor's solar heater was left intact. It had been tied down with tensors and survived the strong winds. Evelyn's thirty-year-old wooden cottage also survived; it was tied down to its concrete foundation with cabling that went criss-cross over its metal roof and tied to the foundation with tensors.

The back end of Maria went on forever. All radio stations had gone silent hours before. We had no phone signals, no electricity, no running water. Eventually, exhausted and unable to do anything else, we fell asleep. At six in the morning (now Thursday the 21st), I awakened to intermittent gusts. The rain had stopped. We had been locked inside since Tuesday night, more or less thirty hours. We opened the door to a strange morning.

It was eerily bright but not sunny, just a strange, cold brightness like fluorescent lighting. There was a sense of emptiness in the landscape, and I could see houses and roads and streams that I had not seen before.

Miraculously, Evelyn's car was untouched. Somehow, it was shielded by the house and survived. However, the mango tree I had on the edge of the property, one that dated back to my grandfather's time and was huge, was not only split in pieces but ripped out by the roots. Not one of my banana trees, orange trees, or any other fruit tree survived. However, on the other hill I could see the neighbor's two horses placidly grazing. He'd let them loose to survive because he said that they would go insane locked up during the storm.

Across the street, I could see my neighbor sweeping out water from her balcony. On most days, she would greet me cheerfully; she did not say a word. I walked over to ask if she was ok.
  
"I lost everything," she said. "What's the use of planting and slaving, just to lose it all in one sweep." I think she was furious with God. I looked behind her house, and she was right. All her banana, avocado, orange trees, almost everything was down. Keep in mind that she has a total monthly income of maybe $200. She plants things to eat.

"You didn't lose your house," I remarked. "There are lots of people today can't say the same thing." I know that was little consolation to her, but it was the truth.

Evelyn was desperate to see if her small, wooden house had survived. We got in her car and made our way to the end of my street. At that point, it dawned on us that my street was the exception because it was not lined with trees. At the intersection, there was no way to proceed. The entire main road was a tangle of trees and electric power lines. The tangles stretched out into the distance. Looking in the other direction, we could see where a large piece of a hill had collapsed and choked off the road.

In every direction, I searched the horizon for the antennae that provided cellular and Internet communications. All had disappeared. Neighbors began to congregate in small groups. Everyone wanted to know: Where did the hurricane exit? Did it go directly over us? How is the rest of the island? Are all the roads impassable? Did the bridges survive? Is it safe to cross them? When will the electricity return? The water? Did the nursing home where my father is, survive? Is there phone service anywhere so that I can contact my children?

It was this sense of uncertainty and fear for other family members that permeated those first hours. Still, everyone expected that cell phones would come on line within hours. With the realization that all towers were gone and that neither cell phones nor Internet would be available for communications, a real sense of helplessness set in.

However, you may put a Puerto Rican down, but you can't keep him down. By eight o'clock in the morning, every able-bodied man and many women were out with portable power saws and machetes. They sawed, hacked, and carried. A few hours later, the entire road was cleared for miles. Power lines still could be seen dangling at many spots, and the road was lined with debris so that only one line of cars could move at a time. Everyone understood that emergency crews could not move through choked roads, so the people did the clearing. This happened all over my hometown.

Just hours before the hurricane, some hapless government official had been advising the population that after the storm, the best and most efficient way to request FEMA aid was to enter their web page and apply online! Obviously, it had to be some young professional full of the knowledge of technology with little knowledge of the power of nature. There were some small pockets in major cities such as Mayaguez where some lines and towers survived, but overall, it will be months before the majority of the island sees an internet connection.

During Andrew, in 1992, I lived in Cutler Ridge, just north of Homestead, Florida. The devastation there was different. It was the destruction of houses, all of them sporting wooden roofs that caught the wind and blew off.  In my town, nestled in the mountains of the northwest of Puerto Rico, there was not the same widespread destruction of homes because we build differently. The devastation was to the infrastructure. Portions of roads collapsed, ancient bridges failed, our water dam cracked, thousands of light posts and transformers were ripped apart, and all com towers went down.

With the collapse of the infrastructure, problems we never imagined surged to the front. Portable power generators soon ran out of gasoline. People who were depending on social security checks and other deposited income were not able to access their banks. The ability to distribute gasoline was brought to a stand-still by power struggle between politicians and union leaders.

Nine days after the hurricane, things were bad. I had used my car to charge my electronics in the hope that they would come back on, to listen on the car radio hoping for news, to enjoy the car's AC, and driving to check on family. I had not been able to speak to my daughter or my brothers in Florida. I was taking baths with small water bottles. I used a candle to heat a needle and melt tiny holes in the caps to use the bottles as a shower.

I stood on a line at the bank at 4:30 in the morning, the pitch-black early morning lit only by our cell phones. It was all they were good for. The cops showed up at mid-morning to say that the bank was not opening that day. He said to try Moca or Aguadilla, the next two towns.

Many people did not have enough gas to make it there. Some were afraid to lose precious jobs because they had no gas to drive to them. Most people that live in my town work in the bigger cities. Portable generators were kept silent because the gasoline was needed for the cars.

I went from gas station to gas station. Lines stretched endlessly in both directions. People stood in line for hours. One neighbor stood in line eleven hours and left without getting the gasoline. It must be emphasized that this was nine days after the storm.

The red light in my gas gauge came on. I drove to a cousin's house who lives closer to town and parked the car for good. My son unexpectedly rode in on a HSI truck (rescue mission) intent on shipping his distraught mom back to Miami for a few weeks. I jumped at the chance.

He brought cases of water and boxes of MRE meals which he gave to my neighbor. I took every dollar I had, every dollar he had, all my remaining supplies, and gave them to her too. I felt awful that I had to leave her in such a mess.

My son took me back to San Juan and the hotel where his unit was lodged. My phone got its signal back as soon as we entered the Marriot. I had my first hot shower since Maria swept over the island. That evening I ate a nice churrasco. Let me tell you, I never want to see another Vienna sausage.

The next morning, I was able to access my bank account. The only working ATM gave me $500. which I quickly gave to a family member more needy than me. It seems my family in San Juan was in worse shape than the ones in the country. I figured I needed nothing since in Miami everything was at hand.  I was lucky to fly back on a flight chartered by ICE for their people and family members.

Maria crossed the island on the 20th of September. I will be flying back on Nov.17th. I love my home and have no intention of abandoning it. My neighborhood has electricity and intermittently, water now, but no cellular signal or Internet. I need the Internet because of my publishing and my blog, but I will just have to make do. In other parts of the island, people lost lives and homes to the floods. I was a lucky one.



Available at Amazon. Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Account.















Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What to Read? Part 6

As those of you who have read my short bio know, I live in Puerto Rico. For three days, hurricane Irma made it impossible to do anything but read, as wind and rain knocked off most of the island’s electricity. 

I made sure to charge my Kindle way ahead of the storm, and spent most of it reading! If you're wondering, I am fine. The east side of the island got the worst of the storm, and I live in the west side.

For the last month, I’ve been scanning the Top 100 Free list for those rare books that are both really good and free. I found that those books are usually free only for a few days of special promo, and by the time I finish a book, it’s off promo and no longer free. However, a good book, regardless of price, is worth recommending.

During Irma, I read a few books I'd downloaded from the Top 100 Free over the last few weeks. The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell is one such book. I read it in one day because I could not put it down! 

It's a mystery that begins in 1949 when a former Nazi scientist working for the U.S. government is bricked-in alive (as in "The Cask of Amontillado") in the subterranean tunnels of New York City and forgotten. Jump to present New York City where a contract-killer tracks his prey to that same brick wall.   

The story is imaginative, fast moving, full of tension and atmosphere, and has great characters that include a brave, lovable dog called Edison. I loved the ending too! The book is now $4.99 on Amazon. It's part of a series called the Joe Tesla series.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

What to Read? Part 5

Honestly, the pickings are slim today on the Top 100 Free. Overwhelmingly sexy romance, even the book in 1st place is a romantic mystery. Compare the top six free to the top free paid.





Top 100 Paid for Aug. 27th 2017





First item to draw my attention is that Beneath a Scarlet Sky, about to be made into a movie, is number 5. For $1.99, that’s almost as good as free.

Next, #1, #5, and #6 have over 16,000 reviews with an average above 4 stars. Sixteen thousand readers cannot lie!

It’s an interesting note that two of the top six are tales of courage and love during the Nazi years (Beneath a Scarlet Sky and From Sand and Ash). Three are Thrillers/Suspense. All are priced below $5.00.

However, if what you want is FREE, then you’d be better off searching the Free offerings under specific categories. 

For example, Top Free in Fantasy or Top Free in Science Fiction. Below is a listing for today of the Top Free in “First Contact,” a subgenre of Science Fiction. Notice that even here, you’ll find the erotic romance (i.e.: Her Alien Trader). However, you’ll find a wider scope of pure sci fi.





Here is the equivalent listing of First Contact paid books in the same category for Aug. 27.




You’ll find the list is primarily solid science fiction with prices ranging from $0.99 to $4.99. As you encounter titles by traditional authors, prices do increase because those are set by the publishers and not the authors.

In conclusion, to find a choice of free books that fall into categories such as mystery, fantasy, short reads, suspense/thrillers, science fiction, etc., you must search out the Top Free list for the specific genres. Otherwise, you get bombarded by the erotic romances that seem to populate the Top Free Kindle list. 

If you want a wide selection of true best-selling books, then you’ll have to browse the paid list for each genre. However, those books are reasonably priced, and you’ll seldom have to pay more than a few dollars. Many are on sale for as little as $0.99 and you’ll get excellent choices.

My choice for today from the Top 100 Free is Skeleton's Key. It has an average of 4.5 stars out of 500 reviews. It's first category is Hard-boiled>Mystery>Thriller>Suspense. 



I also got (from the paid list) Beneath a Scarlet Sky for $1.99, which I think is almost free.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Took or Baggins? Part 4



Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

  -In the morning, the friends awaken to find the elves have gone.

  -Frodo, Sam, and Pippin leave the main road and cut through the

    wilderness  just in time before a Black Rider appears.

   -The group ends up in Farmer Maggot’s house. He tells them that a dark

    stranger on a black horse is searching for Frodo.

   -Farmer Maggot gets them to the ferry crossing in secret.



Wonderful Quote:

Short cuts make long delays.



My thoughts:


There is beautiful imagery and great reading for those readers who actually love the process of reading: the enjoyment of mood, atmosphere, subtle creation of suspense, beautiful and poetic wording. Those looking for action-based, fast reading may be bored.



Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked
   
   -A short history of Buckland is given.

   -A glimpse of a Black Rider happens as they disembark from the ferry.

   -At Crickhollow, Merry and Pippin disclose that they know all about the

     Ring.

   - It's decided that Merry and Pippin will join the quest. They all break into

     song for the third time. 


   _Frodo has a disturbing dream that night.

My thoughts: 

This chapter reminds me much of The Hobbit:  when the friends break into song unexpectedly during the bath and later after they decide to go together on the quest. 

It furthers the characterization of  Hobbits as childlike, innocent, natural creatures who are truly out of their depths in adventures. Only Frodo, in his dark and prophetic dream, seems to have a clearer understanding. It seems that maybe the possession of the ring has already affected him in ways that make him different, less childlike.



Chapter 6: The Old Forest


   -The Hobbits enter the forest and find it a hostile, cunning place.

   - The trees seem to watch the group and paths move or disappear, herding the little group

     away from their destination.

   -They reach the Withywindle, a river edged and surrounded by willows.

   -A spell renders the friends asleep. 

   -Merry and Pippin are swallowed by a crack  in a willow.  Frodo is dumped in the river 
    by the tree he fell asleep on.

   -Enter (singing) the ridiculously cheerful and colorful character  Tom Bombadil, 
     who saves the friends!

   -They arrive as guests at Tom Bombadil's house.




My thoughts: 

Once again, this chapter is also reminiscent of a children’s tale. The dangers and evil encountered are more like those found in the telling of a fairy tale. The forest shows malice, but it does little harm to the friends. Old Man Willow tries to eat Merry and Pippin, but he is easily derailed by Tom Bombadil’s spell singing. It is almost as if the Black Riders and the Ring have been left behind. The appearance of Tom Bombadil itself is rather comic and unexpected.