An American Editor

April 6, 2011

On Books: Indie eBooks Worth Reading (I)

In the scheme of things, I haven’t got a lot of time — well, maybe I do have the time; perhaps it’s a lack of ambition and desire — to review all the books I read. (I usually read several books a week.) Consequently, I make the effort only for those books that I think are exceptional — either exceptionally well-written and interesting, or exceptionally poorly written. The in-between books are only mentioned, if at all, in my Today’s Bookshelf articles. (The problem is that I am constantly buying books. For example, in March, I purchased 116 ebooks and 8 hardcovers; I will name only a few of them when I next write a Today’s Bookshelf article.)

I have decided that such an attitude — that is, only writing about the exceptional books — is unfair to the many indie authors whose books I have read that are good reads and worth reading, but that fall at the 3- to 4-star mark. So I’ve decided to start naming names. Basically, in broad terms, this is how I rate books:

  • 5 and 5+ stars are exceptional books. They are interesting, well-written with few and very minor grammar and spelling errors, and if 5+, have characters with whom at least I, and usually also my wife and perhaps some friends, get involved emotionally; that is, we react emotionally to events that happen in a characters fictional world. These are the authors who inspire you to immediately buy whatever else they currently have available that you haven’t read and whose next book you eagerly look for even months after finishing the current read. These are the books that are worth buying almost regardless of price.
  • 3 to 4 stars are well-written books, too. They also are interesting but may have more serious grammar and spelling issues than the 5/5+ books. However, such issues are not so serious that one can’t read and enjoy the book. These books are not particularly memorable; they are memorable for a few days then forgotten. The characters don’t involve you greatly, although a 4-star book’s characters do involve the reader at least a little or occasionally. These are the “average” books — the ones you read once, perhaps mention to someone else that they might be worth reading, and then discard. Whether the author writes another book doesn’t matter all that much to you. These are books worth buying if the price is right.
  • 1 to 2 stars are the horrors of indie publishing. A 1-star book has nothing in its favor — the story/plot is bad, the writing makes a sixth-grade student look like a Pulitzer Prize for Literature winner, and the book is so riddled with grammar and spelling errors, you wonder if English is a language the author recognizes at all. Not even a professional editor could salvage the book; the book needs to be scrapped and begun from the beginning. The 2-star books are slightly better. With these books there is a glimmer of hope. These books need the touch of a professional editor, but they at least do have a good story/plot. Again the grammar and spelling is atrocious, but editorial help might fix the problem. A book with a 1- or 2-star rating should not be bought, or even downloaded for free.

So what follows are my first ebook recommendations for the 3- to 4-star ebooks. I don’t think the 1- to 2-star ebooks are worth listing, so they are excluded. I also exclude the 5+-star ebooks because those I generally review. Most of the ebooks are available at Smashwords and some at Baen Books.

5 stars

  • Sugar & Spice by Saffina Desforges
  • The Man with the Iron-on Badge by Lee Goldberg
  • The Honor Harrington books by David Weber
  • A Just Determination, Burden of Proof, Against All Enemies, and Rule of Evidence by John G. Henry
  • The Speaker by Sandra Leigh

3 to 4 stars

  • The Mudbug Trilogy (Trouble in Mudbug, Mischief in Mudbug, and Showdown in Mudbug) by Jana DeLeon
  • Pool of Lies by J.M. Zambrano
  • An Unfettered Mind by Annmarie Banks
  • Ain’t No Sunshine by Leslie DuBois
  • ExodusThe Ark by Paul Chafe
  • The Sex Club by L.J. Sellers
  • Heris Serrano, The Serrano Succession, and The Serano Connection by Elizabeth Moon
  • Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
  • Ameriqaeda by Markus Kane

I have read all of the above books. I can’t tell you how many 1- and 2-star ebooks I had to go through before I found these books, but there were a lot of them. I hope you will find a few to enjoy from this list.

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