Required Reading

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book one of the Multiverse series is a most engrossing 1200 pages. Evan’s and Weber portray two unique civilizations on a road to conflict. Arcana bases their technology on magic. Sharona has psychic talents but bases their technology on science. The multi-universal aspect is that both civilizations have discovered portal to alternate earths that have no populations until they confront each other.

David Weber and Linda Evans do a superb job in describing two dissimilar cultures and those cultures’ idiosyncrasies. As they alternate back and forth from culture to culture you find your sympathies vacillating as well. The beauty of their work is that you truly find things that are both laudable and stimulating for each culture. They are being drawn into conflict by serendipitous contacts and malicious behavior in spite of their root similarities. I can not wait to read the next volume, “Hell Hath No Fury”.

I highly recommend it and all of David Weber’s Work.

Body of work of David Weber
Body of work of Linda Evans


Web site
Linda Evans keeps a very low profile. I could find no website, no info or no photos.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Turning by Helen Ellis

This is one of the more thoughtful middle school books I’ve read. I’m not really sure if it is more for younger high school or not. I think it can and will appeal to both audiences. Mary discovers a secret about her own life that she never dreamed of facing. Mary’s relationships with her family and friends undergo some major revamping with what she learns.

Ms. Ellis deals with the insecurities that kids have in a tasteful and insightful manner. As an ex-guidance counselor for this age, I felt she captured their feelings very accurately. Fish or fowl is often the question with teenagers or in this case feline or not. The mystery was prolonged to the end. There was sufficient tension and moderate action to hold your interest. The life and death aspects were portrayed somewhat graphically but I don’t think at a level of intensity to frighten the younger reader. The book was well done and it appears that it will be a captivating series.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Helen Ellis

Web Site:                                See an interview with Helen Ellis at Pick Of the Literate

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Amazon Queen by Lori Devoti

A new take on the Amazon warrior, this book is set in current times. The conflict between the status quo and change defines the book.
Zery, an Amazon Queen, discovers that the Amazon sons have powers and skills similar to her own, she is shocked. Moreover she is shocked to discover that many of the “truths” she had taken for granted were not necessarily true. Shape shifting, sword fights, gun battles, there is action a plenty for all readers. This isn’t a great book but it is an entertaining read.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Lori Devoti

Web Site:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Command Decision By Elizabeth Moon

Kylara Vatta returns in another heart pounding adventure. This book expands on the characters Rafe, Aunt Grace and Toby. Kylara’s desire to form an alliance to battle the pirates who murdered her family is fraught with peril. Rafe discovers emotions he thought were lost forever and Toby exhibits previously unsuspected talents.

Moon has the enviable ability to elicit strong emotions for her characters. She paints human beings, not cardboard cutouts. The characters have flaws, are introspective and highly likeable. There is an excellent contrast between the aged predator and the new predator discovering her fangs. Family ties and bonds are emphasized as well as loyalty and perseverance. Once again Moon has caused me to stay up beyond my self imposed bed time reading until my eyes blur.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Elizabeth Moon

Web site:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Play Dead By Ryan Brown

My first reaction to this book was, oh brother another zombie story. You can’t swing a dead body around without hitting a zombie or vampire book. To my surprise I enjoyed the book. This would be an entertaining Friday Night Lights book exhibiting the gritty competitive football played in rural Texas without the zombies. With the Zombies this is an Urban Fantasy.
For those of you who grew up in a more suburban atmosphere, you will have difficultly believing the depths of passion exhibited by small, working class town football fans. Growing up in an environment where the number of injuries you inflicted on the opposing football team was nearly as important as wining the game, I had no trouble accepting the mindless passion the football fans in this book showed. Cole Logan is the hard nosed, wrong side of the track, trailer trash that sees football as his ticket out of not only his home town but his miserable life. Little does he know that his life hardships are only going to become worse throughout the book.

In my opinion, I think Ryan Brown should have skipped the whole zombie aspect of the book and he would have had a major hit. Being a serious fantasy fan, I can suspend my disbelief and enjoy a story regardless of any preposterous situations. Many people are not able to overcome their innate reluctance to believe anything that isn’t clearly black and white. I tried discussing this book with several of my peers, only to discover that the minute I mentioned zombies, their brains shut down. They wouldn’t even consider reading a book that even alluded to zombies. I realize my peers (old folk or at least older folk) are not the target market of this book but Brown’s writing skills are certainly capable of penning a book that would appeal to a wider audience. This isn’t saying I disliked the book but that it will have limited appeal beyond the younger readers.

I recommend the book.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Ryan Brown

Web Site:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spaceheadz by Jon Sciezka and Francesco Sedita

Michael K. found his first day in his new school even worse than he anticipated. He found himself adopted by three space aliens, the leader in the body of a hamster.
This book seems like it worked too diligently to be cool. The authors have a wealth of credentials and I expected to like it, I didn’t. The premise is fine but the book is bizarrely incoherent. Although that may be ok with the middle school kids this book is targeting. Aliens who take our commercials literally should have been more entertaining. I suspect this will be a hit with the marketing that is planned. I’m going to pass it on to my in-house middle school kid and see what he thinks.

Body of work of Jon Sciezka
Body of work of Francesco Sedita

Web Site: none found

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Get A Free Kid's Book At Borders

This is a pretty cool program. Your kids under 12 read 10 books, keep a list of them, take it to Borders and get a free kids book. You don’t have to buy the 10 books at Borders. The program doesn’t seem to have any strings attached. Link
Here is the ad.

This was not a paid blog and I got nothing from Borders or any of their affiliates for mentioning the program.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Engaging the Enemy By Elizabeth Moon

Kylara Vatta acquires some allies and starts her climb to revenge. She discovers unknown depths to relatives that were strangers. She finds in herself characteristics she isn’t sure she likes. She is on a mission of vengeance and nothing will stand in her way.

The series keeps on rolling. Kylara discovers some personal characteristics she isn’t necessarily happy with. Auntie Grace goes to show that age and experience can trump many adversities. Slowly allies come creeping out of the shadow of despair and Kylara doesn’t feel quite so alone. Stella is forced to look at herself and determine who she is and who she will stand behind. The interstellar conspiracy is acquiring names, faces and goals and Kylara is taking names and kicking butt.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Elizabeth Moon

Web site:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Interview with James Boyle, Author of Ni’ll The Awakening

Thank you James for taking the time to respond to an interview.

1. Why did you write this book? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?

This novel was an exercise that worked well. I had a character I'd used in a sketch (a small town cop) and I tried to put him in a horror story. I also wanted the story set in something besides the usual horror venues like the cemeteries, ancient mansions, and centuries-old spots we're used to. Oregon is relatively new in that respect. My horror novel turned into an urban fantasy, but everything else turned out well.

2. Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?

It differs from work to work. Especially in shorter stories I often know how the whole story will play out before I put a word on paper. With my novels, I am a much more organic writer. For Ni'il: The Awakening, I really had no idea of the concept of the ni'il beforehand. It grew out of the story.

3. Is your process to outline and then fill in the blanks or just sit down and start to tell a story or?

Yes. I usually have a general idea of where the story is going and even a few scenes, but not a lot of specifics. I have found often that the story will often ignore your outline in some surprising ways. However, it can be very inefficient, involving a lot of rewrites. If I do get stuck, I often use an outline to get me back to the core of the story.

4. Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?

It's hard to write a novel, or series of novels if you don't really like your main character, so Dan Connor, the police chief hero has to be my favorite. He's a down to earth kind of guy who takes his job of protecting the citizens of Placerton very serious. I like his values (some would call old-fashioned) and his sense of humor and the fact that he doesn't think he's anything special, even though he clearly is.

5. What do you like most about writing?

I like it when everything is clicking and the story is flowing as fast as I can write it. It is an indescribable feeling, almost like a trance. It feels less like I'm writing the story than just channeling it from some higher source. I think it's the same thing as musicians call “being in the zone.”

6. Where do your new story ideas come from?

Wherever I can get them. And I can find them everywhere: the news, history books, conversations with my friends, overheard conversations among strangers, television, movies. I play “what if” a lot. The most insignificant thing can inspire a new idea. What if...? What if...? I already have way more ideas than I have lifetime to write.

7. What advice has helped the most in your writing?

Develop a thick skin. Writing is a tough gig, especially these days. There is much more criticism and rejection than there is praise. You have to believe in what you're doing, work at getting better every day and surround yourself with supportive friends. Don't let the world squash your dream.

8. This seems to be your first book, do you have something new in the works?

Actually, I have already released a sequel entitled Ni'il: The War Within and am now working on the third and final volume of the trilogy. If all goes well, the third volume will be released next winter. If you want to get technical, this is actually my third novel. The first two are just too awful to show anyone who is breathing. But they are important because I showed myself I could write a book-length story.

9. Who is your favorite author and why?

I don't know that I can name a single author as my favorite. The author I'm reading the most right now is Jim Butcher, namely The Dresden Files. I'm reading them primarily because they're a hoot. Fast paced, full of action and comedy, but serious all the same. It's a private eye novel with magic instead of gun play. They're a lot of fun. They're also in my genre.

10. What advice would you give for the want to be writer?

There are two things you absolutely need to do everyday. You need to write. It doesn't matter what you write or how much, but you need to get in the habit of writing everyday. The object is to make the act of putting together sentences and paragraphs as natural as possible. It's practice, just like a musician practices playing scales until it's second nature. You have to make the mechanics of writing second nature.
Second, read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read the classics. Read genre fiction. Read poetry. Read newspapers. Read the back of cereal boxes. Every time you read, you are exposing yourself to the way another writer put sentences and paragraphs together. How she organized her book. See what works and figure out why. See what doesn't and figure out why. Would you have handles it differently? Why? How?
Lastly, and maybe most important, develop a thick skin. Learn what you can from criticism of your work, but never let the naysayers crush your dream. If you truly want to be a writer, write.

James, thanks for the great answers. I am reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files as well. I find they compare favorably with Glen Cook’s Garret Files. Your advice to the want to be writer is also great. I have seen that advice from most of the successful authors I have interviewed. To be a writer you have to write.

Thanks again for the great interview.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Guest Post by Author James Boyle of Ni'il, The Awakening

On Becoming a Writer

Another question I'm often asked is when/how did I decide to become a writer. Believe it, or not, the clouds didn't part one day and a brilliant beam of light pinion me to a spring meadow. There was no epiphany. But it's all I've really wanted to do since high school anyway.

To begin with, I've always been a voracious reader. I was blessed to be the oldest child of two parents who would rather read than watch television, or go to the movies. Reading has always been an important part of my life. And when I say reading, I mean broad-based reading: mysteries, crime, historical fiction, horror, classic literature, westerns, I read it all. I even tried to read a Harlequin Romance once, but couldn't do it.

I was voracious. And I didn't just read and enjoy the story. I imagined stories like the ones I'd just read,

Somewhere around sixth grade, I read Treasure Island and was so enamored of the romance of the pirate I had to read every pirate novel I could get my hands on. There were probably three. The scarcity of pirate novels was terribly frustrating. I still remember thinking to myself that I'd just have to write my own. I couldn't do it, of course, but that's the first time I remember thinking it.

In high school, I became a reporter for the student newspaper and was good at it. I became the editor, then the editor of the yearbook. I began to try my hand at fiction, but never actually finished a story until I was eighteen.

I went to college, as a journalism major, but quickly discovered that I didn't really want to be another Woodward or Bernstein so much as a Kurt Vonnegut. So I switched majors to English, began to seriously study the craft of fiction, and the rest is history.

After thirty plus years of practice and study, I'm beginning to figure out what I'm doing.

I still haven't written that pirate novel.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ni'il, The Awakening by James Boyle

Police Chief Dan Connor is faced with something beyond his experience. A pragmatic soul, he is thrust into a frightening situation involving supernatural forces. Who he allies with and how he proceeds with define the rest of his life.

This story includes native Americans, ecology, mystery, murder, love and the supernatural. It takes this wide range of ingredients and blends it into an exciting and tension inspiring read. Boyle very clearly shows that our past can shape us but that our consciousness can allow us to determine how we let the past mold us. Boyles characterizations were excellent. He shows Dan and Stephanie as real people, who have made real mistakes and allows their characters to come to peace with their past and their future.

There is a message in the book that Boyle promotes without preaching. He does a good job in allowing the reader to form his own decisions. I look forward to seeing more from this new author.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of James Boyle

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Horse Clan Series by Robert Adams

This is a long series in a post-holocaust world. I enjoyed it. Adams get a bit preachy at times. He may not have an agenda but you are definitely subjected to proletarianization. Regardless they are enjoyable books and entertaining to read. I am always a sucker for telepathic animals. I always wondered what the heck my dog was thinking when he did that. It also amused me when she stuck her nose in inappropriate places and seemed to enjoy the discomfort it engendered. Since I wasn’t lucky enough to have a telepathic dog, I always enjoy stories with telepathic/intelligent animals.

Kind of search through the drift to find the Horse Clan Robert Adams

A good site for the horse clans.

These are the horse clan books I have read and I recommend them.
A Man called Milo Morai
A Woman of the Horse Clans
Bili The Axe
Cat of Silvery Hue
Champion of Last Battle
Coming of the Horse Clans
Death of a Legend
Friends of the Horse Clans
Horse Clan Odyssey
Horses of the North
Madman's Army
Memories of Milo Morai
Revenge of the Horse Clans
Savage Mountains
Swords of the Horse Clans
The Clan of the Cats
The Patrimony
Trumpets of War
Witch Goddess