Heat Wave

Heat Wave Cover

For those of you familiar with the TV show Castle, you should probably recognize this title. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, Heat Wave is supposedly the book that main character Richard Castle writes about the female detective he shadows. It is a book featured frequently on the show.

From the very first episode I watched, I have loved Castle. The main character, from whom the show gets its name, is a famous crime mystery novelist and, through his many connections, gets the chance to shadow the badass female detective Kate Beckette. The show is hilarious, most times at least, and the cast is great. (Not to mention the fact that the main character is a writer, of course.) Because of how much I enjoy this show, you can imagine my excitement when my cousin called me up one day several months ago and told me that she had actually found Heat Wave. I couldn’t help it. I had to read it.

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!

The story centers around Nikki Heat, a talented New York City detective with a sharp mind and no-nonsense attitude. Unfortunately for the serious Nikki, however, the famous reporter Jameson Rook has been given permission to shadow her and her team for an article on New York’s finest, and he is anything but serious. When Nikki and her crew are called out to investigate the death of a rich, if shady, businessman, it sets into play a chain of crimes, and Nikki must find who the culprit is before more people get hurt, including herself. But the chain of crimes isn’t Nikki’s only problem. With Rook around, it’s more like babysitting than shadowing, as the reporter is forever ignoring commands and getting into trouble. And the worst part about it is that Nikki finds herself falling for the goofy, easy-going, if troublesome writer.

Overall, the story is great. As I expected from a Castle story, the crime mystery is well done, and all the clues and plot twists kept me guessing as to who was really orchestrating the crimes. There is plenty of action to keep the reader interested and a fair amount of suspense in certain parts of the book as well. Seeing as how I’m no detective, I can’t say anything about the accuracy of the facts, but what I can say is that, generally speaking, the explanations were believable and nicely woven into the plot so that the explanation at the end didn’t seem like an info dump.

The characters, too, were very nicely done, particularly toward the beginning of the story. Rook, the Castle character, is recognizably witty, and Nikki, the Beckette character, is as sarcastic and badass as ever. Esposito and Ryan are also present in the story as the hilarious and lovable duo, Ochoa and Raley, affectionately nicknamed Roach. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I found Ochoa and Raley to be the most endearing of all the characters in the book.

The humor was, in my opinion, by far the best aspect of Heat Wave. There was plenty of sarcasm and dry humor to be found throughout the story, and since this is my type of humor, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could hardly go more than a couple pages without laughing at something, be it a sarcastic remark by Nikki or the playful bickering between Raley and Ochoa. Rook, too, has quite a few scenes reminiscent of Castle in the TV show. Perhaps it was made all the more funny to me because of how familiar I already am with the characters, but I would like to think that the humor was something that anyone, even those unfamiliar with Castle, could enjoy.

Despite how much I loved the book, however, there were some things that I wasn’t too crazy about.

The first problem I noticed in Heat Wave was the way in which the opening scenes are set up. The story immediately plunges into the life of a detective and is riddled with cop jargon that I could only half understand. Furthermore, the scenes are constantly changing without breaks in between, so that toward the beginning I did have some difficulty figuring out when and where the characters were at any given time. Had it not been for the fact that I love Castle, I might not have been willing to continue reading the book simply due to the disorganization of the first chapter.

However, the biggest issue I took with the story was the sex aspect of it. It wasn’t even so much a problem for me that the two main characters, Nikki and Rook, had sex so much as it was the way in which the situation was handled. The sex scene stems not so much from an “I love you so I’m going to have sex with you” sort of situation so much as it stems from an “I’m in the passion of the moment so I’m going to have sex with you.” Given my own personal views, I wasn’t thrilled about this turn of events, but I was willing to give it some leeway. Until it changed the characters themselves, that is. Up until Nikki and Rook have sex, they are both entertaining and recognizable as characters from the TV show. However, post sex, everything seems to change. Nikki all at once becomes cold, and seems to go out of her way to annoy and, at times, even insult Rook. Rook, on the other hand, becomes little more than a moping, useless bump on a log who spends a lot of time worrying over Nikki’s feelings for him and very little time being useful to the team. It actually got to the point where I almost found the two characters to be annoying and when the whole situation starts up again at the end of the book, I actually did get slightly irritated at Nikki.

For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed Heat Wave. As for rating, I’d probably give it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like a good mystery, I’d say this book has what you’re looking for. And even toward the end of the book, despite my frustration with Nikki and Rook, there were still enough redeeming qualities about the story to make it an enjoyable read. For die-hard fans of the genre, I can’t say much. But for those of you who are looking for a nice, entertaining read, and especially if you are already a fan of Castle, I’d say this book is definitely worth a shot.

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Old Dog, New Tricks

Ok, so I can’t exactly consider myself old, but my recent self-publishing experience sure makes it feel that way.

I’ve been dabbling in the self-publishing sphere since I was about 15, so when I went to self-publish my newest work, Prism World, I admit that I felt like an old pro. Until I actually started the process, that is.

From 2008 to 2012, I self-published one children’s book (Random, which has since been retired), four novels (The Star Trilogy and its sequel, Ancient Vengeance, which are currently being rewritten), a yearbook for my school, and a book of poetry written by various residents of the girl’s dorm at the boarding academy I attended for high school. And I did all of that using the self-publishing service on Lulu.com.

Lulu was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the services and design program it had to offer. But there was one critical failing: market. For good or for ill, Amazon.com has the self-publishing industry beat in terms of market. For $25, a self-published author can expand their market from online Amazon companies to alternate booksellers such as Barnes & Noble (should they choose to sell the book), libraries, and book resellers. For no additional cost, that same author can also make their book available to users of the Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and Kindle for PC, among other platforms. Because of the large influx of amateur and low-quality self-published books which tend to overshadow the small number of good ones (sadly, my previous books would fall into the low-quality category), there is a great deal of prejudice that the self-publishing author has to face. Thus, with the Kindle being one of the leading ebook platforms, it is certainly one a self-publishing author would do well to target.

While Lulu offered extended service and ebook formats, one platform it didn’t target was the Kindle. My mentor and fellow author, Glen Robinson, had, for some time, been promoting CreateSpace, and with market in mind, I decided to give it a try.

It didn’t take me long to discover that I had a lot to learn and relearn. CreateSpace uses a slightly different system from Lulu, and it requires a lot more review and approval by the company than Lulu ever did. Creating the book itself wasn’t hard. The system used to create a print copy of the book was recognizable, bearing many similarities to the Lulu system, and the only real difference was the approval step. When it came to the ebook, however? That was where the new system really got me.

How Lulu does ebooks now, I don’t know, but when I went to turn some of my print books into ebooks a couple years ago, the process was very simple and smooth. Simply put, the system transferred the PDF file from the print page to the ebook page. End of story. The book, in digital format, maintained the same look as the print book. The Kindle, however, operates on a different system.

The main thing that kicked me was the paragraph indentation. I type using automatic tabs. The Kindle, however, does not accept tabs. Instead, one must manually set the paragraph indentation. So what did that mean for me? Simply put, I had to go through almost 400 pages of text and remove each individual tab and then format the page for indentations. We’re not even going to talk about how much time that took.

The other problems I had were much more minor, but simply put I felt like I was wandering around in the dark trying to figure this system out. Though the Amazon systems are great in regards to market and general quality, there isn’t a lot in the way of help for troubleshooting problems and, more or less, what I learned about using the system was trial and error. While Lulu wasn’t much better in regards to guides, it was a much simpler system that was more easily self-taught.

Overall, though, I like the Amazon self-publishing system, even if it half feels like I’m selling my soul to the Devil for how much the company is eating up the book industry. It doesn’t provide for the production of hardback books, which is a downside for me considering how easily my books get beat up between usage and travel, but I like the option for creating Kindle books. I even recently bought myself a Kindle, though it was mostly just to see what my book looked like on it. (After my experience with the Kindle self-publishing system, I was rather paranoid that I missed formatting errors). So far, I’m liking the Kindle, so I’ll have to write about that experience later. And in the meantime, I’ll continue trying to figure out the ups and downs of self-publishing with Amazon.

Review: Prism World

My mentor (and proofreader) gives his opinion of my new book. For better or for worse, I appreciate his honest feedback and have every intention of improving my weak points in future stories. Thank you Dr. Robinson!

The Great Adventure

51uac5k9cSL._SY346_Prism World by Lyn Gilleland (398 pages). Available on Amazon.

It’s really hard to be objective when it comes to reviewing a book by someone you know. And yet you as a reader, as well as the author, would not expect any less from me. And so I find myself reviewing a book that I consider a breakthrough for the author, while still having its pitfalls. While the author has written other books, for all intents and purposes, I would consider this a first novel.

The story is set on a world that is very much like our own, yet small clues tell you it is in a time circa 1940s to 1960s. Biplanes still fly, people shoot revolvers, and the dress code is similar to what I might have seen when (or before) I was a child. With that in mind, the circumstance is not retro. The main…

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Prism World – Now Available!

Prism World Cover

 

After an unexpected delay, Prism World is now up for sale! I’ll have to write more about my self-publishing experience later, as I am currently swamped with everything from work at the library to Biblical Hebrew vocabulary. In the mean time, check out my book!

It may be a week or two before the title itself shows up in searches, but if you’re interested in ordering a copy, either print or the Kindle edition, you can find the links and prices below. Also, I have signed the book up for a program that should allow anyone who buys the print copy to get a free Kindle version. Being entirely new to the CreateSpace system, however, I don’t know exactly how that works, so feedback on your shopping experience is always welcome. Thank you, and I hope you have a great day!

Print: $15.00 list price, may find better prices with Amazon deals

Kindle: $1.99