Most of us these days are aware of the flood of self-pubbed books and how difficult it can be to find a gem in the sea of mediocrity. We often see reviews of the sub-par and/or reports of unethical marketing schemes or unprofessional behavior on the part of some authors.
But some of us who have stuck a toe or two into those waters have come across a few gems. I thought it'd be good to share a few self-pubbed & small press books I really enjoyed and that I feel stand well among their trade-pubbed counterparts.
So here are a few I've discovered that I am proud to recommend.
The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.
When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?
Meh. I considered buying this and related Vocaloid titles a while back, and I’m now glad I didn’t. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have anything in it that I think I’d want to pore over again at a later date. For those who are wondering (because I wondered, back when I was considering getting it), it’s primarily an artbook. There are only a few comics.
There were a bunch of Vocaloid illustrations from various artists. Hatsune Miku was the most common subject, but there were also lots of works featuring Len and Rin and a few featuring Luka, Meiko, and (very occasionally) Kaito. Each artist got a line or two to introduce themselves, and some of them included commentary for the individual illustrations. Unfortunately, each artist only got one or two pages, so the more illustrations and commentary they included the smaller the illustrations were.
There were a couple pages total of Character Vocal Series official visuals for Miku, Rin, Len, and Luka. They included descriptions of the defining features of their outfits and, for some reason, age, height, weight, and music specialty information for everyone but Luka.
There were six pages of Project Diva artwork - mostly character models. It was almost entirely focused on Miku, but there were a few character models for Meiko, Kaito, Luka, Rin, Len, Yowane Haku, and Akita Neru.
There were six pages of information on various popular (?) Vocaloid PVs. In most cases it was “one page, one PV,” with video stills, a short description, and information about the video’s popularity. I hadn’t heard of a single one of them before, but then I tend to focus on a few tuners I really like and that’s it. I don't have any favorite producers.
There were a couple pages of artwork by Nishimata Aoi, after which there were six pages of Vocaloid CD and DVD artwork. I recognized the Supercell and “Magnet” artwork.
There are six pages of 4-koma comics created by Ontama and Torikara-P. While Torikara-P’s artwork was adorable, I thought Ontama’s comics were more amusing. That said, neither sets of comics were very memorable.
There was a page of story information about something called “Torabotic World,” which I gather is a Vocaloid PV (yet another one I haven’t heard of). It was followed by an 18-page wordless “Torabotic World” comic by Nagimiso. It was cute, but occasionally a little hard to follow.
The volume ended with two more comics: “May Be Family” by Nagian and “Good Morning, Emma Sympson” by Batako. “May Be Family” featured Meiko and a grown-up Rin and Len (and maybe Kaito? Was the guy Kaito?) suddenly finding an adorable child Miku. This was my favorite comic in the volume - a bit over-sweet, but nice enough. “Good Morning, Emma Sympson” featured a Vocaloid producer hoping to reconnect with a childhood friend via Miku’s music. It was okay, but the emotional flow was a bit choppy.
Again: meh. If I read any of the other Hatsune Miku Graphics books, it’ll continue to be via library checkouts. I don’t feel the need to get them for my personal collection.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Lost Lake, Book 1
I Picked Up This Book Because: I’m a fan of the author.
Kate Pheris, Devin Pheris, Eby Pim, Wes Patterson, Lisette Durand, Jack Humphry, Selma Koules, Bulahdeen Ramsey:
This book had a wonderful ensemble cast and a beautiful story. I love that we got a moment to learn about each of them even though the overall story was concentrated on Kate, Devin and Eby. This was a great book to listen to and get lost in the moment with.
Writing: Effortless. The scenes were painted wonderfully but the author and brought to life so easily by the narrator. I did not go into this book realizing it was a series but what a delightful surprise. I can not wait to explore more of this small town.
Forward Motion: Good.
Overall Interest: Loved it. Found myself sitting in my car at my destination several times just listening.
Length of Reading Time: 7 days = decent time
Re-read-ability: I would not re-read as I do not want the ending to change. *Insert cheeky wink here*
The Random Thoughts:
The Score Card: