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.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What to Read? Part 4

When trying to choose a variety of genres from the Top 100 Free list, a problem soon emerges: there is little variety. A careful examination of the list shows that the majority of titles are in the romance genre. On the first page (#1-#20) there are 12 romances out of 20 offerings.





As the reader moves up the list, the proportion of romances to other genres increases. On Aug 8th, 2017,  items 41-60 are as follows. Reminder: this list changes as the day wears on. 

41- Lucky in Love- Romance>Sports
42- A Real cowboy Never Says No- Romance>Westerns
43- Accounting for Love- Romance>Westerns
44- The Red Door Inn- Romance>Inspirational
45- Married This Year 2 -Romance>Contemporary
46- The Chocolate Garden- New Adult>College
47- Damnation- Romance>Paranormal
48- Uncommon- Woman’s>Christian
49- Ella Wood- Romance>Historical
50- Tougher Than The Rest- Romance>Western
51- Haunted by Love- Romance Paranormal
52- Hawaiian Hangover- Cozy Mystery
53- The Yakuza Path-Blood Stained Tea- Crime Fiction> Gay Fiction
54- Escape From Oz- Sci Fi>Space Opera
55- Summer on the Lake- Romance Contemporary
56- In Love With the Alpha- Romance>Paranormal
57- Tank- New Adult>Romance
58- The Sekhmet Bed- Historical>Biographical
59- The Way Back- Romance>Inspirational
60- The Lone Survivor- Paranormal>Urban Fantasy

Of the above titles, only six are not romance. 
#48- Uncommon- is Woman’s Christian Living 
#52- Hawaiian Hangover is a Cozy Mystery 
#58- The Sekhmet Bed is also a woman’s read, telling the story of an Egyptian princess and her arranged marriage. 

Only two books: Escape from Oz and Lone Survivor fall into genres that may appeal across the board. It’s interesting to note that as the list gets past the first forty, the number of covers showing sculpted male chests and low-hanging jeans increases. These reflect the more erotic content of the romance.



MY OPINION, and once again I must emphasize that it’s an opinion and everyone is entitled to one, is that if you want to read genres other than spicy romance, your pickings in the Top 100 Free are slim. 

Today, you could have chosen The Game You Played, a suspenseful mystery thriller with 4.4 stars average in 1298 reviews. It sits at #1 and you have to grab it now because it will go off promo quickly. Hard Fall by P.T. Reade sits at #3, and it’s crime fiction with 4.4 stars average from 176 reviews.





The Game You Played at Amazon.

Hard Fall at Amazon.

The Old Man and the Tea at Amazon.


I chose The Old Man and the Tea, described as “Another fun-filled adventure” in the Reverend Elmo Jenkins series. It has an average of 4.4 stars from 385 reviews. The genre is Religious>Inspirational, but I'm always open to new genres. I expect it to be funny, not preachy. Let’s see what happens.


On the aug. 9th early list, the following looks promising if you are a fan of the action/suspense, special ops hero.




King's Ransom at Amazon.  This book has an average of 4.7 stars from 124 reviews. This is #3 in the Xander King series by Bradley Wright. 




A Spirited Tail  at Amazon is listed as a Mystery>Cozy>Animals and sits at #29 in the Top Free on Aug. 9th. It sports 509 reviews (not shabby) and a 4.4 stars average. 
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Do you like Paranormal Romance? Want to try a new genre and a story full of suspense, action, humor, and romance? Try Zeece Lugo's Angel's Guardian series.



Self-exiled from the vampire nation, Maxim spends his days in quiet solitude and his nights prowling the heights of New York City, hunting prey. On a cold November night, he chances upon a gang rape in a desolate back alley. He leaps at the chance to feed on predators of the worst kind, his favorite prey. But the situation takes a turn he never expected, and soon he finds himself wishing he'd made a different choice on that fateful night.

Kidnapped by a sex-trafficking ring at the age of fourteen, Angelica escaped only to be relentlessly pursued by her enemies ever since. Tonight, they have found her. As she lies dying on a cold, dark alley, her only fear is for the secret she desperately hid moments before they caught her. A secret she must protect with her life from her enemies and from the monster that destroyed them and now turns red, fiery eyes upon her.

Now available at AMAZON. Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited account.



Friday, August 4, 2017

Took or Baggins? Part 3

Prologue

  Tolkien uses the prologue to give the reader background he feels is necessary. We are told not only about the physical, cultural, and racial traits of the Hobbits, but also quite a bit about their history. He tells that they descended from three different breeds: the Harfoots, the Stoors, and the Fallowhides. He implies that the histories he talks about may have spanned many thousands of years.


Tolkien then goes into an extended narration of the history of Bilbo’s finding of The Ring and ends up touching on the subject of Shire records. It’s clear that Tolkien assumed that the person delving into LOTR may have never read The Hobbit, and he endeavored to provide information that would be useful to such a reader. 


Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party. (Tolkien titled each chapter.)

   -Preparations begin for Bilbo’s 111th birthday and Frodo’s 33rd, as
    they both share the same birthday, September 22nd. A party like no other
    is planned. Rich Bilbo spares no expense.

   -Gandalf arrives with fireworks. He and Bilbo discuss the Hobbit’s plan
    to leave the Shire and bequeath all he owns to his nephew Frodo, including The
    Ring.

   -The party goes off as planned. At the end, Bilbo makes a farewell speech
    and secretly dons the ring. He disappears in a poof, to the consternation of
    all his guests.

   -At the last minute, Bilbo experiences an inner struggle; he yearns to keep The Ring. 
    The Ring clearly owns a piece of his soul and works its evil, but with Gandalf’s help, 
    he is able to walk away from it and leave it to Frodo. 

   -Before leaving, Gandalf warns Frodo that The Ring may be dangerous and not to
    use it.

Wonderful Quote:
    I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.



My Thoughts: 

Chapter 1 serves primarily to paint the image of the Hobbit and the Shire in the eye of the reader. It’s one thing to be told that Hobbits love to eat and have hairy feet. It’s another to see them as a people interacting, gossiping, drinking, blowing smoke rings, living with round doors painted in bright greens and yellows, time marked only by the gentle passing of the seasons. Their idyllic simplicity and lack of concern with the outside world makes them both admirable and vulnerable. I want to both join them and shake them up. But more than anything, I want to protect their world and keep them safe and innocent.



Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past.

   -Frodo becomes his own master. The years pass and he grows more like Bilbo.
    Rumors of evil and darkness seep into the Shire, but no one pays any mind.
    Strangers are seen crossing through the Shire.

   -After a long absence, Gandalf reappears. He tells Frodo all he has learned of The
    Ring, and tests the ring in fire. He tells Frodo of the making and losing of The
    Ring, of how Gollum found it and was changed by it, and how Bilbo truly got
    The Ring. He tells that the Dark Lord seeks it because it is the one master ring
    that rules all the other rings.

   -Gandalf warns Frodo that the enemy finally is aware of the Shire and the name
    Baggins. 

   -Frodo accepts that to save all he loves, he must leave and take The Ring away
    from the Shire. Gandalf tells him he need not go alone. Caught eavesdropping
    on the conversation, Samwise Gangee is chosen to go with him.

My Thoughts:

This chapter is all about The Ring. Most of it is narrative in Gandalf's words. Here we finally get the true picture of The Ring's nature and its ability to influence and possess its bearer. 

Here Frodo struggles with the decision of being the one who has to take The Ring away and his fear of  being insufficient to the task. 

The temptation of Gandalf is quite interesting too. As powerful and central a character as he is, he's always steady and unchanging at his core. He is not  the dynamic character in this tale.

We also get a compelling  image of Smeagol/Gollum. He has always, in my opinion, been the most moving and disturbing character in the series. 

  
Chapter 3: Three is Company.

   -Gandalf presses Frodo to leave soon. Frodo promises to leave on his 50th birthday.

   -Frodo sells Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and buys a small house at
    Crickhollow, Buckleberry. He tells everyone that he is retiring there.

   -Gandalf warns Frodo never to use The Ring and leaves for the southern borders to
    search for news. He promises to be back before Frodo’s departure.

   -On the evening of Frodo’s departure, a stranger shows up at the village asking
    about Frodo. 

   -Gandalf fails to return. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin leave quietly. Merry left
     earlier in the morning with the moving cart.

   -The traveling party walks, talks, sings, eats, rests. The first encounter with the Dark
    Rider happens. Frodo feels a strong urge to wear the rings.

   -The second appearance of a sniffing, tracking Dark Rider is interrupted by the
    appearance of a band of traveling elves. Upon hearing about the Black Riders,
    their leader, Gildor Inglorion, invites the Hobbits to go along with the elves.
    Sam is delighted with the elves!

   -They reach a grassy clearing surrounded by woods under the starlit night. The elves 
    play the gracious hosts to the Hobbits. Later, Frodo and Gildor hold a long conversation.
    The elf advices Frodo to go quickly toward Rivendell, to take companions, and to
    evade the Black Riders, for they serve the enemy.

Wonderful quotes:
 -The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for
   ever fence it out.
-Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
-…advice is a dangerous gift.

-Courage is found in unlikely places.


My Thoughts:

If Chapter 1 was about Hobbits, this one is about elves! I cannot but share Sam's delight and awe of the beautiful, wise, glowing, merry but mysterious creatures. 


______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ZeecĂ©  Lugo is a blogger and author of the Angel's Guardian Series. 




Angel's Guardian is ZeecĂ© Lugo's  fast-paced, romantic paranormal suspense. 


The vampire Maxim makes his home in New York City. Self-exiled from the vampire nation, he spends his days in quiet solitude and his nights prowling the heights and hunting evil, his prey of choice. On a cold November night, he chances upon a gang rape in a desolate back alley. He leaps at the chance to feed on predators of the worst kind, his favorite prey. But the situation takes a turn he never expected, and soon he finds himself wishing he'd made a different choice on that fateful night.

Angelica has been on the run for years. Kidnapped by a sex-trafficking ring at the age of fourteen, she escaped only to be relentlessly pursued by her enemies ever since. Tonight, they found her. As she lies dying on a cold, dark alley, her only fear is for the secret she desperately hid moments before they caught her. A secret she must protect with her life from her enemies and from the monster that destroyed them and now turns red, fiery eyes upon her.


See it at AMAZON