Swimming Electric Blue Water: bookxy book preview #2

22 Mar

Okay, I’ve read my fourth of the new releases from The Stark Raving Group at bookxy.com. Scroll down to see my first review and my disclaimer about why this should be called a preview rather than a review.


Swimming Electric Blue Water (get it here from bookxy and here from Amazon) is not the kind of book I’d ever normally read. It is speculative and set in the future, in Russia, and it is all about political and corporate espionage, and high tech weapons and enhanced humans like in the guy in the Six Million Dollar Man (not exactly like that, way more cool than that, but that might help you get the idea). So, it’s just not the stuff I’m usually interested in. I don’t like Sci Fi or Fantasy, I don’t like James Bond or other spy movies (though I love the Bourne movies), and I don’t like the futuristic high tech stuff that is so popular today, especially in movies. I like gritty crime set somewhere in the US — rural, urban, or suburban, I don’t care. As long there are criminals and crime and maybe policeman and guns and a little or a lot of violence done in a recognizable setting and time. I’m not very imaginative, I guess.

But, still, wow, I’m glad I read this book. It’s all about Yuri, a young man who in the beginning is hoping to represent Russia in the next Olympics as a swimmer. He is a good person, a likable guy. Just before a big swim meet he is viciously attacked by a horrible gang of evil criminals. His barely alive body, rather than being brought to a hospital is taken to some lab where he is altered into some kind of super-human. They make him bigger. Way bigger. They make him strong. Very very strong. Plus, they make his skin really tough so that stuff like shotgun blasts barely effect him. Then, they train him to hurt and maim and kill. He becomes, basically, a weapon employed by an evil corporation.

I don’t really understand the setting of the novel. It is Russia, I know that, and it is in the future, that is clear. And, it is in a future in which it seems like corporations might actually run things. I think. But the coolest thing about the setting and what is so cleverly done by Holmes is how she creates all this new technology that is tightly interwoven into people’s lives. I mean, I think what she does is basically use her imagination to think up what could happen in some possible future and then she just went wild. It’s fascinating, really.

But, the main thing, and the main reason I bet why I enjoyed the book so much, is that it is just a really good story. Holmes is obviously a gifted plotter and she knows how to keep those pages turning.

A couple of notes. Swimming Electric Blue Water is part I of a two-part book. Part two, The Courtship of Spiders, will be out soon. And, as far as I can remember, there is nothing in the book that is related to the image on the cover.  I’m nearly positive there are no mechanical fishes in the story.

Next up: Snow Falls by Bobby Nash.


Following are very brief reviews of three of the novellas recently put out by bookxy.com

White Hot Pistol by Eric Beetner, Keeping the Record by Travis Richardson, and Logan’s Young Guns, by Nathan Walpow.

Bookxy.com is a publishing company with a new concept. They are part of the Starking Raving Group, a company self-described as “A Shameless Purveyor of Titillating Short Novels at Ridiculously Low Prices.”

From the Stark Raving Group website:

Each of our books is geared to be quick read novellas, 25,000 to 35,000 words or so (around 70 to 120 pages) and will retail for $2.99. Never higher. We intend to publish one book a month in our first year, two books a month in our second year and one book a week in our third year and thereafter. 

As has been written about in various venues, this e-book era has ushered in a new pulp renaissance, pulp 2.0 if you will, in taut, terse, plot-driven, witty, sensuous, sexy, action-packed character-centric writing harkening back to the days of the ‘30s pulps and the paperback adventure fiction of the ‘60s and ‘70s. 

Through our distribution arrangement with Consortium Book Sales and Distribution (Perseus Books), our books will be available for every eRreader as well as distributed through e-book wholesalers primarily serving the library market. You will also be able to purchase our books through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

But perhaps best of all, our books will be available by subscription through our own sales and distribution portal, Bookxy.

Now, before I go further, please understand that I have a contract as a bookxy author. I have one book out (What Happens in Reno) and two coming over the next couple of years. Clearly, I have a stake in the success of Bookxy, right? So, for that reason, maybe it would be best to think of these reviews more as previews, or as a buying guide. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I think these three books are exactly as advertised: short, action-packed stories that are fun to read.


In White Hot Pistol, by Eric Beetner, the action really never stops. I know that ‘non-stop action’ is a cliche that usually means nothing, but in this case it is correct. At the beginning of the book a young man, Nash, has a goal: to help his stepsister Jacy escape from her evil and abusive stepfather and their hometown of Noirville. The stepfather is also the a crooked sheriff who is involved with the local drug-dealing gang.  Beetner cleverly sets up a plot in which Nash’s goal is inevitably thwarted time and again by both the sheriff and the criminal gang. Each step of the way something awful and exciting happens that raises the stakes steadily higher. Nash and Jacy are always in danger and always moving, and Beetner gives neither of them or the reader a chance to catch their breath. Sound like fun? It is, definitely. Beetner says he plans on writing more books set in his fictional town of Noirville and I can’t wait for the next one.


Travis Richardson’s book, Keeping the Record, for me, was a unique read. I’m not even sure how to describe it. It is definitely a comedy and is completely hilarious, but it is also graphically (and sometimes almost sickeningly) violent with killings and shootings and knifings and beatings on nearly every page. And, it is definitely a crime novel, because nearly every character is a criminal and crimes are committed constantly throughout. And, it is about major league baseball and the world of professional sports and performance-enhancing drugs, so it is kind of a sports novel. And, since most of the action takes place while the main character is charging across the country from Oakland, California to St. Louis, Missouri, using every mode of transportation imaginable, it is also a road story.

So what does that make it? A violent-criminal-road-trip-sports-comedy? Maybe.

As with Beetner’s book, the goal of the main character is clear from the beginning and the action starts right away and never stops till the last pages. Roy Banks was once a baseball hero who held the record for the most home runs in a season. Then, his steroid use was revealed, which tainted his record and made him a hated public figure. Years later, Roy is broke and in hiding. Due  to the side-effects of the drugs, he has large breasts and and a high voice and has taken to dressing as a woman (a very large, badly-dressed, homely woman) in order stay hidden from creditors and the public. He learns that another player is about to break his precious record, so he embarks on a quest to stop his rival in whatever way he can. I’ve never read anything like it.


Logan’s Young Guns, by Nathan Walpow, is the story of Logan, a sort of free-lance vigilante. His life’s work is to punish men who harm and abuse members of the opposite sex.  While looking for the perpetrator of a recent beating of a woman, he stumbles upon something much bigger. In his quest to right several wrongs, Logan hooks up with three young people who share his motivations. The four become a team.  Like Beetner and Richardson, Walpow is quite skilled at creating a plot in which the stakes constantly increase from the very beginning. Also striking is that Walpow manages to show significant character development in such a short novella–this is quite an accomplishment I think and helps to make the book particularly satisfying.

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