Wednesday, December 16, 2015
My soul feels lighter, I must admit; it's easier to see. I can type. I can drink coffee while I type (is that good for the keyboard?). I can read and I can write. So maybe my eyes are smiling brighter now. Who knows? Meanwhile the windows to my home are cleaner, brighter and warmer too - we've just got double-glazing, at last!
Are glasses double-glazing for the eyes?
And why don't kids like to wear glasses? I loved mine because they made it easier to avoid catching the wrong bus and being late to school. I thought they made me special, because my Mum wore glasses. Then I learned to hate them over time, wishing I wasn't always wearing breakable stuff on my face, with weighted arms over my ears, and general inconvenience. So now I'm typing these reviews without glasses - hurray! I can only see one of each letter (a huge improvement over life before cataract removal), and I'm happy!
So... let me happily give you some children's book reviews, and ponder which children are or are not wearing glasses in these books.
I'll start with Kiboko, by Amelia De Mello, a gorgeous picture book which combines wonderful original art (from African artist Edward Kimambo) with a pleasingly lyrical story, simply told and filled with sweet wise lessons. Enjoy this tale of a hippopotamus following his dreams, while you dream of of lively easy-drinking coffee. No eyewear on hippo and friends, but you have to see those pink flamingos, and read those color-coded Kiswahili words!
Another book for small readers is Three Monkeys Welcome to Treehouse Lane. The text offers intriguing questions and multiple choice answers concerning how you view a new house, make friends, and deal with everyday childrens' problems. It's a nicely thought-out, intriguing tale for small kids, and reminds them that friends can look very different from yourself. (They might even wear glasses). Enjoy with some well-balanced smooth three-star coffee.
For older readers (middle grade and above), The Bettanys on the Home Front by Helen Barber is an excellent introduction to a timeless girls series - one my mother enjoyed as a child, and I enjoyed following her. The original Chalet School books by Eleanor M Brent-Dyer were set post-WWI and featured an adult sister starting a school which her younger sister attended. The Bettanys on the Home Front introduces the older siblings aged around 14, while baby sister's still a baby and the casualties from world war have just begun to take effect. If you like Downton Abbey, old girls' school stories, or especially the Chalet School, or if you just want something clean and fun for a girl to read, this is the one for you. Drink some well-balanced full-flavored coffee and enjoy. (And yes, some of the girls do wear glasses.)
How I Met The Beatles (and how they broke my heart) by Barbara J Guardino is another good book for middle-grade girls, teaching lessons for everyday from the convincing story of a girl who worshiped the Beatles. How little life has changed! Enjoy a lively easy-drinking two-star coffee with this lively easy-reading book, and, if you were a Beatles fan, enjoy the authentic sense of time and place - small-town America with a touch of Liverpool!
White Swans by Annamaria Bazzi might be aimed at slightly older or maturer readers. Nicely lowkey romance blends with a regency world, a touch of science fiction and magic, and some fascinating questions of duty, love, and how to treat people as people. For anyone who loves regency romances or magic, this might be the perfect choice. Enjoy with some elegantly complex four-star coffee.
Then, for the guys - possibly mature middle-grade, but certainly young adult and adult - there's Camouflaged Encounters by David Englund. It's not the first in the series, but it represents a step forward from everyman the wannabe Superman to everyman the savior of the world, and it's surprisingly good fun. What if aliens were among us, manufacturing our wars, our politics and more, just for the sake of winning a game? What would you do if you a) knew they were there, and b) were possibly, purely by accident, the only person who could do anything about them? Enjoy some bright lively easy-drinking coffee, and gaze into the windows of an alien's soul.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Anyway, as I take a few minutes off from sharing news with family from England, here are some book reviews (and coffee recommendations) to share with readers everywhere.
Repercussions by Anthony Schneider tells the parallel stories of a white Jewish South-African caught up in the violence of apartheid, and his white Jewish American grandson caught up in the violence of that world's repercussions. Echoing through both stories are questions of what we do, what we can do, and why we do what we do. Enjoy with some seriously rich, elegant and complex four-star coffee.
Target of Opportunity by Max Byrd is filled with a similar sense of history's repercussions dripping through to the present day. It's a novel that blends genres perfectly, combining police procedural with WWII espionage, and offering powerfully convincing portrayals of both. More rich and complex four-star coffee will be needed with this one.
Maribeth Shanley's Crack in the World looks at the more immediate repercussions of child sexual abuse, as the protagonist grows from child to woman, bearing the weight of everyone else's problems without acknowledging her own. Truth will out, in the end, and perhaps truth will heal. But good relationships with a neighbor and friend are the glue that keeps her together. Read this dark but hopeful tale, filled with insights into human motivations good and bad, with a good cup of dark five-star coffee.
Real-world darkness takes the stage in To Live Out Loud by Paulette Mahurin, a retelling of the story of Emil Zola and Richard Dreyfus' politically savage trials in France. Having grown up in England, I was vaguely familiar with the history. Reading it told from a new point of view gives it a haunting immediacy, and brings out its relevance to today. More dark five-star coffee might be needed with this well-researched novella.
Next is Stranger at Sunset by Eden Baylee, a darkly sensuous psychological murder mystery that blends new adult noir with an Agatha Christie-type cast of characters at a beautiful Jamaican retreat. The protagonist's dark morality matches her darkly hidden past and sets the stage for a series to come, while the novel stands alone as an intriguingly modern Christie-style mystery. Enjoy with some bold, dark intense five-star coffee.
And finally a truly dark tale, Don’t Feed The Dark, Book One: Southbound Nightmares, by Scott Scherr. In the vein of Stephen King's the Stand, it follows a group of disconnected characters at the end of the world. Hints of Assault on Precinct 13, shadows of the Living Dead, and some very convincingly flawed characters combine to make for a novel that's hard to put down, gruesomely scary, and genuinely fascinating. Enjoy, yes of course, with some more dark five-star coffee, perfect for these days of cold dark winter.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Next is Let’s Make Crepes by Mae Segeti & Nic Monty, where boys and girls work together with Mom and Dad in the kitchen. It's all very convincing, sweet and fun, though I wished I'd seen the mathematician use his skill in measuring perhaps, or the swordfighter in stirring the batter. Ah well; that's just me. It's a fun book to read with a mild crisp one-star cup of coffee and a group of helpful kids.
And then, Oliver and Jumpy 31-33 by Werner Stejskal continues a familiar series with an enterprising cat and his kangaroo friend. The different illustration styles in each story are intriguing and nicely suited to the tales. Enjoy with some light bright two-star coffee.
For slightly older, or more serious minded children, Saint Anthony the Great by John Chryssavgis & Marilyn Rouvelas illustrated by Isabelle Brent is an intriguing historical story with some nicely woven lessons for the reader. The pictures really make this book, giving depth to the text and inviting questions and answers. But for me the best bit is the explanation of demons light nightmares (like monsters in the closet) being just the result of a wild imagination. Enjoy with one with some elegant complex four-star coffee.
While I'm thinking of saints, perhaps this is a good place to add my review of Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber. This one's definitely NOT for the kids, or for adults allergic to the occasional swear word or alternative lifestyle, but it's probably the most Christian book I've read in quite a while, filled with thought-provoking humor, absorbing memories of events, and the wonderful liturgy of the church year perfectly applied to real life. I can't recommend it enough! Drink bold, dark, intense five-star coffee and enjoy Christ in the real world, and the real, liturgical church.
Time now to read some more and write more reviews. Then, maybe, I'll find time to write more books too. Did you know the first 11 books of Five-Minute Bibles Stories are now in print! If I finish book 12, I'll have my own personal book-a-month club!
Monday, November 23, 2015
The dogs and parrot belong in a book of essays, Two Dogs and a Parrot by Joan Chittister, where the authors tells what she's learned, and we can learn, from animals. There's a Judeo-Christian dichotomy, she points out, with two creation stories where one gives mankind dominion, but the other invites us to name. Naming meas relationship, and relationship with animals has helped many a person cope with distress. Of course, the animals too have much to cope with, and their coping mechanisms have much to teach. The book is a fascinating blend of learned, personal, and theological. Enjoy with some rich elegant complex four-star coffee.
A bird of a very different nature flies in Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson, a memoir of loss and love. Real life, real death, dreams, visions and those gentle hints that help and guide but seem so meaningless at the time... all play their part as the author details the loss of her oldest child when his life had so far yet to go. It's beautifully written, painful and honest. It questions whether we can shout at God and says yes. And it touches very gently on that veil between here and there. A great book for those who have lost, or who know those who have lost sometime. This is one to enjoy with plenty of tissues in the box and a well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.
The dog is a side-character in Paulette Mahurin's His Name was Ben. This story tells of love and loss as well, with protagonists both seeking a cure for cancer, and love struggling to break through the wounds of the past. Spirituality, humanity, sexuality and loss combine in an unflinching roller-coaster ride. And the result is haunting, uplifting, and wonderful. Enjoy with a bold, dark, intense five-star cup of coffee.
Valerie’s Vow by Ashley M. Carmichael, continues that theme of loss and hope. Valerie's close to giving up on God after the loss of her friend. She's still teaching, and teaching Sunday school, but attending church feels like a lie, and she's promised her friend she'll try new things, so now... she's riding the back of a motorbike, going to bars, skipping church, and... still living her life for everyone else. Valerie's Vow is a wonderfully low-key story of a woman keeping a promise and finding a gift. Enjoy with some well-balance, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.
Love and loss are just two of the themes intertwined in Carrie Jane Knowles' short story collection, Apricots in a Turkish Garden. The stories are beautifully woven, haunting, and evocative. The artistry is as natural as the freshly opened apricots of the final tale. And it's a collection to savor, with apricots I suppose, and a cup of elegant, complex four-star coffee.
Finally, returning to that theme of faith that has slipped in and out of this collection, The Genesis Journey by Sandra Lund is a wonderfully poetic devotional, taking readers through Genesis, drawing inspiration from the Biblical text, and offering inspiring poems and thoughts, without ever overpowering the text. I shall certainly plan to post a review when it's released, and I'll read with well-balanced, smooth-flavored three-star coffee.
Friday, November 20, 2015
I suspect the answer is as long as my internal child is alive and kicking, she or he (dog, dragon or fairy) is all I need. Certainly she smiles when I pick up a kids' book in the store. She begs me to purchase things I can't possibly afford (have you seen the price of picture books?). And she laughs and cries, appropriately, when I read to her in my head. She's a pretty good child. (I'll not go into how good or otherwise the real-child-me was in her day, but my Mum would happily tell you - little horror are among the words she might use.)
Of course, I did have kids at home for many years - the years when I just told stories instead of writing them, lacking time to myself. But now they're grown and I still love to read. I'm in no hurry to have grandchildren, but I can't resist a picture book with great images and storyline. I love tales that introduce small children to different cultures and ideas. And I keep writing my Five-Minute Bible Stories series, eager to pass my dreams on to other people's kids.
The first of my children's Bible story books has just reappeared in print, rereleased by Cape Arago Press. (I self-published it first, but this edition is way, way better, and looks better too!) So now I'm eagerly dreaming of when there'll be an Old Testament series to match the (already in print) New Testament series... and maybe even a separate series in between (for Psalms and the not-yet-written Proverbial Tales). Anyway, if you're looking to introduce small children to Bible stories in a real-world way (no myths or fairy tales in sight), the real world, real people, real God tagline might work for you, and Genesis People might make a good Christmas gift.
So much for tooting my own horn. Now for some book reviews of those children's books my inner child has enjoyed over the last weeks.
Wendy’s Wacky Dogs by Hadas Korb and Ortal Zeret is a definite favorite. Great pictures. Great story-telling technique, with simple rhyming words left out for the kids to find and supply as they look at the pictures. Bright colors. And lots of fun ideas. Pour some juice for the kids, and grab an easy-drinking two-star coffee for this delightfully easy-reading picture book.
Also by Korb and Zeret, Tom and the colorful dragon is an enjoyable bedtime story, just a little short, with a sweet bedtime feeling to it. Enjoy this with some mild light one-star coffee.
Of course, with Christmas coming soon (how on earth did that happen?) I really had to read a Christmas book. A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story by A. J. York fit the bill perfectly - a pleasingly different take on stories and ornaments coming to life, filling their attic days with tales of special events, and mourning the changing world when the children grow old. These toys find a way to keep Christmas going through passing years, and it's a fun story to share. Enjoy with with some well-balanced, full-flavored three star coffee.
Another fairy appears in Fairy Good Heart by Nancy Fagan, the first of her Fables of Fairy Good Heart series. This book's written for children and their parents to share, specifically children of divorce, and it offers a nice background for conversation, with pleasant line-drawn illustrations to keep a child's interest. The story's contemporary and real, and the promise that ice cream and fun will return is much-needed and nicely supplied. Enjoy with a well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
It seemed oddly ironic -- as French detectives seek crime's perpetrators and the faithful, of more than one religious leaning, see the ending of days -- that I should be reading and reviewing a story set in the 17th century, about a monk learning the arts of alchemy and truth. His antagonist, perhaps insane, is sure the world will end soon, and that he's called to act, in ways likewise insane,to bring that end about. But Pilgrim of Love by Charles Davis is no heavy treatise or world-weary mystery. It's a wonderfully atmospheric, evocative, and frequently hilarious tale, set on Mont St Michel where the sands and tides are a mystery all to themselves. It's thought-provoking, an authentic, fascinating and cool mystery like Name of the Rose crossed with the Da Vinci Code. And I didn't even know until the end that it's the second in a series. Great characters, great language, and a highly recommended novel; enjoy with some elegant complex four-star coffee.
The Haunting at Ocean House by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson is the 5th (maybe the last?) in the James Murray Mysteries Series. It has its own magical/mythical undercurrents as James (and his fictional alter-ego) investigate fake seances and find themselves involved in very real dangers. It's also another pleasingly atmospheric novel, evoking the early days of modern Los Angeles when railway stations finally combined in one gorgeous building, big bands played, and the other world was all the rage. Enjoy with some more satisfyingly complex four-star coffee, and read the whole set.
In a similar vein is the not-yet-released Detective Fiction by William Wells. This time the protagonist is a former Chicago detective, now retired to Southern Florida, and his alter ego is the protagonist of books written by a very successful friend. Will the fictional detective be able to help the real in solving his crime? Or perhaps real life is fiction too, at least in the telling, just as twisted and changed as stories told over the bar at the Drunken Parrot. The novel is thoroughly enjoyable, told in an irreverent first-person narrative with pleasantly chatty humor and style. Enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.
Engaged in Danger (Jamie Quinn Mysteries Book 4) by Barbara Venkataraman is another first-person tale of detection, this time told from the point of view of Jamie, small-town small-practice lawyer with a seriously big-town, high-profile case threatening to fall into her lap. Unfortunately this happens just as her boyfriend goes out of town. And dangers abound. So does good-humored dialog from all the familiar characters. Enjoy this fast read with some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee.
Friday, November 6, 2015
The Judicious Use of Acronyms in Fiction by John F. Allen
Plenty of authors are guilty of using acronyms in their writing. I know I am guilty as charged, as I write Spy-Fi and Action Adventure stories/novels, I deal with a lot of “Alphabet Organizations”, quite a few of my own creation.
Thank you so much, John. And Genesis? Please read on, dear reader, to learn what it means...
About the author: John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued all forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, The God Killers was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press.
John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife, son and daughter.
About the Book: Codename: Knight Ranger: Captain Alexandre Cornelius “Neal” Du Bois is a US Army Ranger and decorated war hero. When his unit is ambushed by supernatural hostile forces while in Afghanistan, only Neal survives. When he wakes up in a secret government facility, Neal discovers that his whole life has changed forever.
A shadowy government agent named Elijah Bishop arranges for Neal’s brain to be transplanted, without his permission, into a bio-engineered body capable of amazing feats. Armed with advanced body armor and weaponry, he becomes the epitome of the Ultra Soldier.
To protect his family and those closest to him, he must let the world and everyone he loves believe he is dead. With assistance from Dr. Avery Clarkson–the scientist responsible for his new body–Neal reluctantly utilizes his superhuman abilities to work for Bishop and his organization called G.E.N.E.S.I.S. (Global Espionage Network of Elite Supernatural Intelligence and Surveillance), in order to track down those responsible for the slaughter of his unit and keep the world safe from supernatural terrorist forces.
So that's it, the acronyms behind the Knight Ranger, and it's every bit as good as Spectre, or other well-known words.
Where to find the author:
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Codename-Knight-Ranger-John-Allen/dp/1511496533
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Codename-Knight-John-F-Allen-ebook/dp/B00YG3NJZK
Barnes and Noble Link for Codename: Knight Ranger http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/codename-john-f-allen/1122019036?ean=2940151360548
Where to Find Codename: Knight Ranger
Amazon Print: http://www.amazon.com/Codename-Knight-Ranger-John-Allen/dp/1511496533/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/codename-john-f-allen/1122019036?ean=2940151360548
Where to Find out More and Follow the Tour
11/2 On Cloud Eight-and-a-Half Guest Post
11/2 A Charmed Life Review
11/3 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Author Interview
11/4 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
11/4 Book in the Bag Interview
11/4 RJ Sullivan Top 5 List
11/5 Darkling Delights Interview
11/6 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
11/6 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
11/6 Bee's Knees Reviews Review
11/7 The Infamous Scribbler Review/Interview 11/7 Vampires, Witches, & Me Oh My! Top Ten List 11/8 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Guest Post
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
The Creation of a New Heroine
About Stephen Zimmer: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.
About Rayden Valkyrie: She walks alone, serving no king, emperor, or master. Forged in the fires of tragedy, she has no place she truly calls home.
A deadly warrior wielding both blade and axe, Rayden is the bane of the wicked and corrupt. To many others, she is the most loyal and dedicated of friends, an ally who is unyielding in the most dangerous of circumstances.
The people of the far southern lands she has just aided claim that she has the heart of a lion. For Rayden, a long journey to the lands of the far northern tribes who adopted her as a child beckons, with an ocean lying in between.
Her path will lead her once more into the center of a maelstrom, one involving a rising empire that is said to be making use of the darkest kinds of sorcery to grow its power. Making new friends and discoveries amid tremendous peril, Rayden makes her way to the north.
Monstrous beasts, supernatural powers, and the bloody specter of war have been a part of her world for a long time and this journey will be no different. Rayden chooses the battles that she will fight, whether she takes up the cause of one individual or an entire people.
Both friends and enemies alike will swiftly learn that the people of the far southern lands spoke truly. Rayden Valkyrie has the heart of a lion.
Heart of a Lion is Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.
Amazon Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Stephen-Zimmer/dp/1941706215
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Dark-Dawn-Book-ebook/dp/B00T44R6LE
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-of-a-lion-stephen-zimmer/1121113044?ean=9781941706213
Find out more; Follow the tour
11/2 Beauty In Ruins Guest Post
11/2 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Interview
11/2 Kentucky Geek Girl Guest Post
11/2 SwillBlog Review
11/2 Kylie Jude Blog Top Ten List
11/3 Kylie Jude Blog Interview
11/4 Book in the Bag Interview
11/4 Azure Dwarf Review
11/4/ Novel-Ties Guest Post
11/4 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
11/4 The Star Chamber Show Podcast (Show is live at 9pm EST)
11/5 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Interview
11/6 WebbWeaver Reviews Guest Post
11/7 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top Ten's List
11/8 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
11/8 Anasazi Dreams Review
Fire HD 8 Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, November 2, 2015
Next is The Hardest Thing In This World by Nicole Eva Fraser, a novel of sisters and their mother, living normal but broken lives, weaving the everyday around flaws that might drive one sister to be declared insane. The author deals with mental illness and its effects tenderly and sensitively, bringing out the connections that make it all so hard, and so filled with love. Enjoy some more complex four-star coffee with this one.
Deadly Adagio by Carole Howard takes readers to the American community in Senegal, where connections are all-important in knowing what's going on and how to cope. Protagonist Emily takes a friend to the market and teaches her how to be polite without spending a fortune. But accepting the manners of female genital mutilation is a much bigger deal. And coping with her friend's murder, while husband and friends tell her to sit back and do nothing, is almost more than she can cope with. Filled with authentic detail and thoroughly intriguing and enjoyable, this is one for another four-star rich, elegant, complex coffee.
Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson introduces a character in search of connection with herself before anyone else. Every morning she wakes as a blank slate, not knowing who she or the man beside her is, not even knowing her age. Christine's confusion is very convincingly portrayed, as she struggles to create a journal connected herself to the days before. Soon she's wondering if any of her outer connections are real. A scary, evocative, convincing tale, this is one to read with a bold, dark intense five-star coffee.
E. G. Lewis' Road To Bethlehem looks at those ties that bound communities at the time of Jesus' birth, following the love story of Mary and Joseph, built around wonderfully unobtrusive research that brings their world to life. Enjoy with some smooth full-flavored well-balanced three-star coffee.
Finally, Falling Immortality by Robert Downs introduces a character who's thoroughly averse to connections. First person gritty narration might offend women readers, but it fits this character perfectly, and his penchant for escaping dire situations certainly verges on immortal. Enjoy with a bold dark five-star coffee with grounds for gritty realism.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Do Authors Identify with Their Characters?
By Kate Vale
A question I frequently receive relates to the character I most identify with. That varies with each book, though some characters continue to be among my favorites. Gillian, for example, in Gillian’s Do-Over, and Suzanna in Dream Chaser, are two characters I’d definitely love to have over for coffee or tea, if only to find out how their lives are turning out now.
When writing Destiny’s Second Chance, I actually identified with two characters. Not because I am schizophrenic, but rather for the reason I had to write this story. My late mother was an adoptee. Back when she was adopted, people tended to hide that status. She never told me she’d been adopted until the day I, an extra snarky teenager, became convinced that I must have been adopted because my parents were so mean to me. When I demanded to be returned to my “real” parents, she was deeply hurt and then admitted that she had been adopted, that I had not, and that being a parent was the same regardless of how the child had come into the family. My guilt at hurting her (it was so obvious when I looked into her eyes and saw her heart) and surprise prevented me from replying. But I knew I had to make amends. Back then, I wasn’t quite sure how to do so.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Of course, I don't only read dystopian fiction. One of my favorite authors as a child was Rosemary Sutcliffe, writing of ancient worlds every bit as ruined as 1984. I loved the lone, rejected character, the one who saw too clearly, or who didn't dare to see. Meanwhile I imagined one of the "big three" - America, Russia or Chin -, would surely push the button and destroy us all before I grew up. I planned to stand on top of a tower block (there were several near our school) where "I shall / watch the ending / watch the death descending / when we weep / do not cry / in the dying day." (I wrote songs too.)
Anyway, if you'd like to grab a coffee, just to prove the world's not dead yet, here are some great dystopian novels I read while I was away from my computer.
First is Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, a cool, deceptively gentle read about a gene-spliced instantly-gratified world and the dangers that might lie within. Enjoy with a rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee, and ponder the road our world might follow.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline offers a different take on corporate greed, setting up a WillyWonka type search for the Easter Egg in a computer game. But this game is sometimes more real than real life, and the truth behind friends' identities might test friendship to the core. Enjoy a bold dark intense five-star coffee with this one.
Next is Cast me not away by Zara Heritage, offering a haunting vision of a near-future where lives are so much devalued that anyone under four can be declared useless and euthanised, for the greater good. There's a strong anti-abortion theme underlying the story, but it's kept well within the viewpoint of the characters, never preachy, and deeply thought-provoking. Another bold, dark, five-star coffee might be needed while you read this one.
Finally, here's a book that's definitely not dystopian but it's written by an author who's penned many dystopias, and it just might help me write my own dystopian novel one day. Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin is so much more than just another book on writing. It's filled with well-annotated excerpts, memorable one-liners, and well-presented lessons and advice, and it's a book I'd love to read again and again. Keep lively, keep doing the exercises, and keep some bright lively two-star coffee to hand.
Friday, October 30, 2015
WHICH CAME FIRST? The sword, the sorcery or the hero?
Thank you Steven, and I'm really looking forward to escaping into more of your stories.
Where to find it:
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble Link for Born of Swords
About the author:
Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include WITHIN, PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, HELL BILLY, BLOOD & STEEL, THRALL, STRONGER THAN DEATH, HAWG, TORMENTOR and GODFORSAKEN.
He has collaborated with other writers, like Brian Keene with KING OF THE BASTARDS, Peter Welmerink in BEDLAM UNLEASHED, Nate Southard in BAD MAGICK, Maurice Broaddus in the forthcoming BLACK SON RISING and Eric S. Brown in an untitled project. He continues to search for brightness in this world, no matter where it chooses to hide.
Where to find him:
Find out more: Follow the Tour:
10/26 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
10/26 Man's Midnight Garden Review
10/26 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Guest Post
10/27 Azure Dwarf Review
10/28 Book in the Bag Interview
10/29 Creatives Help Board.How may I direct your call? Interview
10/30 WebbWeaver Reviews Guest Post
10/30 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
11/1 Dice Upon A Time Top-Tens List
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Plus, there's a great giveaway attached to this tour, so don't miss out on the details, down below!
Writing Long, Short,
By Stephen Zimmer
Hellscapes, Volume II represents my eleventh book release. It is a collection of short stories in the horror genre, my third collection released overall. As with any release, it represents another step forward on the writing path, especially in the area of writing short fiction.
Thank you Stephen. I'd never really thought about the difference between long and medium-length writing. I suspect I've been growing from short to medium over time, but epics have eluded me. My fingers are itching though after reading this - you're encouraging me to try (but can you tell me how to find the time?).
So, dear readers, here is more information about the book and author... and don't miss the giveaway!
Book Synopsis for Hellscapes, Volume II: Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!
Included in the pages of Hellscapes, Volume II:
In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.
A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby. But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.
A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”. Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.
“Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life. A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.
Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.
Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness. One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.
Where to find Hellscapes, Volume II
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hellscapes-volume-ii-stephen-zimmer/1122856195?ean=2940150842410
About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.
Where to find the author:
Where to find the tour:
10/26 Anasazi Dreams Review
10/26 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
10/26 Shells Interviews Guest Post
10/26 Sinister Scribblings Guest Post
10/26 Kentucky Geek Girl Author Interview
10/27 Pulp Reports Review
10/28 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Guest Post
10/29 Bee's Knees Reviews Review
10/29 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
10/30 L. Andrew Cooper's Horrific Scribblings Review
10/31 SwillBlog Review/Interview
11/1 I Smell Sheep Review
11/1 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top-Tens List
11/1 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
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Monday, October 19, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
So now it's time to post those reviews. I'll do my best to remember the illustrators. Coffee will help.
First is a picture book for older kids, older boys to be precise. Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert is illustrated by author. It's a very teen-boy novel with deep irreverence and a persistent fascination for bodily functions, noises, smells, etc. The illustrations are pleasingly dark. The names (Johnny Nothing, Ebenezer Dark, etc) are pleasingly descriptive. And the storyline has plenty of twists and turns - even the occasional touch of wisdom. Enjoy with a dark five-star cup of coffee.
A Cat Named Mouse by Patti Tingen illustrated by Mary Erikson Washam is a more traditional picture book, written for small children, illustrated with colorful images of cats, mice, dogs and more. The images illustrate the action beautifully, and the storyline is simple and fun, deals nicely with the problem of teasing, and reads smoothly. Enjoy with some smooth well-balanced three-star coffee.
Whispers of the Wolf by Pauline Ts’o illustrated by Rosemary Lonewolf is a deceptively simply story about a boy and his dog. But the boy lives in a lovingly imagined, well-researched and gorgeously illustrated Pueblo Indian world of 500 years ago. The dog is a wolf. And lonely child and dog will grow together to take their places in society. The illustrations fit the story beautifully, including minimal but beautifully chosen details that fill out to make the world real. Enjoy with some rich elegant four-star coffee.
Princess Rosie’s Rainbow by Bette Killion illustrated by Kim Jacobs has the feel of a good old-fashioned fairytale while being wholly new and intriguing. The illustrations are filled with fascinating detail to keep any child occupied for hours. The story's fun. And the bonus science lesson is a really cool touch. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.
And now to return to reading and writing... I hope to post a review of Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft soon - a great book for writers!
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
"In a minute. Try helping yourself a bit first."
Mom continues to cook dinner. Child turns pages back to read the instructions.
"Mom, may I have more potatoes?"
"Of course. Here. Help yourself."
Mom offers the ladle and child piles more food onto plate. Some falls on the floor.
"Mom, I didn't mean it. I couldn't help it." Guilty looks.
"You'll have to learn to help it," Mom replies.
And, "Mom, why won't God change me into a good little girl?"
"God helps those who help themselves."
Last week's reading included lots of self-help books. Some tried to offer a ladle so I could help myself to happiness. Others promised to hold the plate, so I wouldn't spill my problems on the floor. Still others offered a place where I could find help. And all together... well, I'd offer you coffee, but you'll have to find your own brew while I just offer book reviews instead.
Since we're relaxing over caffeine, let's start with Relax More, Try Less, The Easy Path To Abundance by Neville Goddard and Tim Grimes. Goddard's book has a Bible-as-metaphor spirituality, but Grimes offers excerpts with a more secular aim. There's plenty of sensible wisdom in the pages, but exhortations to just imagine what we need remind me awkwardly of religion's "Just have faith and you'll receive." Still, the injunction to relax is well-argued and well-received. Read this short volume with some mild crisp one-star coffee, and relax.
Maximum Mental Health by Aleks G. Srbinoski aims to improve motivation, mood, means and mastery in readers who are of normal to moderately depressed mental health. It's a very user-friendly, easy-reading book, heavy on reminders that the author offers hypnosis tapes etc., but with plenty of sensible down-to-earth advice. Enjoy with some more mild crisp one-star coffee.
Continuing the theme of happiness, Lucky Go Happy, Make Happiness Happen by Paul Van Der Merwe, is easily my favorite of these three. A book of pleasingly humorous animal fables, with a touch of science and plenty of wise advice, it's smooth enjoyable reading and my only complaint is I'm not sure happiness really is the goal of all my actions. Still, this one's well worth reading. Enjoy with a three-star, well-balanced, smooth-flavored brew.
Signs in Life by Deanna Nowadnick offers a Christian approach to happiness, comparing life-signs to road-signs and God-signs. The author's nicely conversational tone feels like sitting in a bookstore discussing, well, life. And the author's life lessons are relevant to all. Never preachy, offering advice from many sources, and well-tended with personal questions for the reader, it's one to enjoy with some more well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.
Finally, there's Devotions for Moms by Heather Bixler and Christina Fox, a self-help, faith-help book for busy mothers with well-arranged topics (healing, feeling burned out, life seems pointless, etc) and well-placed links allowing e-readers to navigate simply and surely. With honest, open opinions, wise advice, prayer and practical suggestions, these devotions almost read like phone calls with a friend. Pour the coffee first, another full-flavored three-star brew.
So now I'll help myself to some lunch, wonder where the time's going, and dearly wish someone would help me download an extra few hours a day. But perhaps the memory of these books will help me slow down (and achieve more?). The wisest advice might be to spend a moment or two in prayer as well. What about you?