Required Reading

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Etched In Bone by Adrian Phoenix

This is the fourth book of Heather Wallace and her vampire lover series.

This is the fourth book of the series and the biggest fault I find with it is a lack of a clear back story.   It jumps right into the action and that is fine but you are left scratching your head over who is who and whether they are good or evil.  That isn’t really clear in the book.   It is another segment of the overworked vampire genre that seems well done but redundant considering the astounding number of vampire books currently on the market.

I liked Heather’s character but not Annie’s so much.   They had a rather bizarre relationship with their father.   Good action, typical far fetched vampire antics abound.  I guess how I differentiate between fantasy and vampire books are that vampire books are often set in contemporary society with the addition of the occult.   Fantasy is often set in a totally fictional environment.  I find the totally fictional environment easier to identify with, rather than vampires at the bus stop. 
I guess I’m just not enthralled overall with vampire books. 

I think if I had read the previous three books, I would have liked this book a great deal better.  

Body of work of Adrian Phoenix

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blood Prophecy by Stefan Petrucha

This is vampire story with a historic twist that never once uses the word vampire.

Jeremiah Fall finds himself turned into a creature of the night.   A Puritan, he soon discovers his base urges are incompatible with his Puritan ethics.   The strict manner he was raised contributes to his keeping his internal beast from overwhelming his gentler sensibilities.  

I enjoyed the historic aspects of the book.  It did jump around a great deal and not just in the paranormal vampire manner.   I guess morality play would be an apt description.   Jeremiah’s struggles to come to terms with his internal beast provide the motivating factor of his search for a cure. 

The book was darkly entertaining with some bizarre philosophic overtones on the substance of existence.  

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Stefan Petrucha

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? By Max Brallier

This is a pick your own ending zombie disaster story.

Zombie stories seem to have created their own niche.   The last zombie story review I wrote got some of the more vehement comments when I said I wasn’t fond of zombie stories.   I’m still not fond of zombie stories but I try and keep an open mind.  

This book is billed as a pick your own ending for adults story.   I guess some adults will read it but I suspect it will be more of the teen age guy crowd than your run of the mill adult.  

I admire the ability to set up the convoluted turn to this or that page in these types of stories.   Technically this book is quite sound.   I found the characterization minimal at best.   The characters were like cell phone photos compared to 14mb 1200dpi images, not a lot of depth and washed out features. 

It is an amusing read and one that you can pick up and put down easily.   There is very little captivation.  It reads like a video game and most likely will capture a portion of serious gamers.  Look at the success of Call of Duty’s zombie section.  With that said, again it seems like the book is focused on the young video gaming male and frankly that is a good thing.   If you provide a book that is themed to their taste they will read.   Getting young guys to read can be difficult so if this genre succeeds then kudos to the author.    The zombie theme guarantees it will have a rabid and voracious following so it will no doubt succeed admirably in it’s niche.

I recommend it, particularly for your reading resistant gamer.

Body of work of Max Brallier

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams

A story plucked out of today’s disasters and leavened with a touch of mysticism. 

The recent tsunami and resultant nuclear meltdowns were particularly poignant as I read this book.   News commentator’s comparisons to Chernobyl were particularly frightening.   Stories with a grain of truth often ring more clearly to a reader.  

Tara Sheridan’s oracle skills were brand new to me as her use of a Tarot deck.   I haven’t read any of Alayna Williams books before but I intend to remedy that oversight.   The plot was intricate with out unnecessary nuances.  

I think a chapter to fill in the back story would have been helpful to understand who Tara was and what was involved wither relationships with Harry and Carrie.

The two Steves added some humor and lightened up what was otherwise a pretty scary semi-occult book. 

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Alayna Williams

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Dawn Country by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear

This is a tale of North American Natives and the harsh realities of their often cruel world and the 2nd book of the series.  

The Gears successfully combine history, archeology, sociology and fiction. They portray the Iroquoians as normal folks facing the pressures of their time. The interesting aspect is that humans react to stress in similar ways across the centuries.

This book picks up where the People of the Longhouse left off. I was delighted to see the same characters and a continuity of the story started in People of the Longhouse.

As I noted in my recommendation for People of the Longhouse, the Gears archeological roots provide their books with a sense of authenticity missing in similar novels. They show that human interaction is just that, interaction. That interaction clearly shows that the same motivations that fuel today’s international tensions motivated the tribal warfare around AD 1000.

The addition of additional tribal competitors to their eclectic war party adds an additional level of stress to the story. Sadly child slavery has not disappeared in our world in spite of it being 1100 years later than the time of this story. The fear of the children was clearly portrayed. In short, the Gears do a masterful job depicting human emotion with clarity.

Towa’s astounding degree of loyalty is a character study in and of itself. His conflict with Sindak is painful to read. Gannajero is a villain of epic proportions and her doppelganger is a portrayal of sadness. The kidnapped children’s relations provide insight in the sequel.

This is an excellent series.

I strongly recommend the book!

Body of work of W. Michael Gear

Body of work of Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Web site:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop March 17th to 20th

Ok, I admit I am new to blog hops so bear with me. A blog hop is when a bunch of bloggers come together to share a common goal and in this case to give away books. Why do we give away books? I can’t answer for everyone but I do it to build traffic on my blogs. I also love books and when publishers provide me with books to give away it enables me to share the love. I know that sounds sappy but I get a good feeling giving books away particularly books that I enjoyed. I’m not sure paying it forward is applicable but giving just feels good. So enough personal philosophy how do you win a book and what book am I giving?

The Dawn Country
is People of the Longhouse, bestselling authors and archeologists Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear’s second book in their newest series. The Dawn Country is the Gears’ 50th published novel. Some of the Gear books I have enjoyed are the Forbidden Borders series #1 Requiem for Conqueror, Forbidden Borders #2 Relic of Empire, and Forbidden Borders #3 Counter Measures. Another great Gear Series is The Spider Series, The Warriors of Spider #1,,The Way of the Spider #2 and Web of Spider #3. I also really enjoyed Starstrike and The Artifact.

I have three copies of The Dawn Country to give away and there are no shipping restrictions. The publisher said they will ship anywhere.

How To Win
Each person who comments and leaves an email address on my blog expressing a desire for a copy of The Dawn Country will be entered to win one of three copies. Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order the comment was received. The numbers will be input at to determine the winner. The winner will be notified by email and will need to provide a physical address for shipment of the book. If there is no response from the winner in 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. The winner will be announced on Pick of the Literate and Azure Dwarf.

Comment below or drop by, read the review expected to be posted on March 18th, make your comment and sit back and hope you win. I hope to have an interview with the Gears and a guest post so comments there will also be entered into the contest. Contest began Feb. 23rd 2011 and ends March 31, 2011 midnight east coast time, the publicist will ship the prizes to the winner. Winners will be contacted by email and will need to email me back with their shipping address. Please no PO boxes, physical address will be needed for shipping.

Want to improve your odds?

Follow me on Twitter to get another numeric entry.

If you blog, put a link on your blog to my blog and I will add another entry for you.
Comment here on any of my other posts or comment on my other blogs and I will add another entry for you.
Money Saving Tech Tips  or   Pick of The Literate

There are many ways to increase your chances, how much you want to do so is up to you.  Every comment will be entered to win but only one comment per post, please. 

The green badge above  and to the right links to the blog hop host’s site – I’m a Reader, Not a Writer.
For more giveaways, link to each site from the blogs listed below.

Monday, March 14, 2011

People of the Longhouse by W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

A tale of North American Natives and the harsh realities of their often cruel world.
The Gears successfully combine history, archeology, sociology and fiction. They portray the Iroquoians as normal folks facing the pressures of their time. The interesting aspect is that humans react to stress in similar ways across the centuries.

Due to the Gears archeological roots, their books have a sense of authenticity missing in similar novels. They show that human interaction is just that, interaction. That interaction clearly shows that the same motivations that fuel today’s international tensions motivated the tribal warfare around AD 1000.

The Gears portrayal of the parental frustration and guilt in Gonda and Koracoo was painfully poignant. The fear of the children was clearly portrayed. In short, they do a masterful job depicting human emotion with clarity.

The small things like noting Towa’s eye sight and his inability to hit his target with a bow. Things we take for granted such as eye glasses obviously weren’t available at that time. Noting the impact on an individual in a warrior society enhances the depth of the tale.

Regardless of whether the roots of democratic society and human interaction may date from this time, it would have been a brutal life. I enjoyed the portrayal and am glad I didn’t have to live it.

I strongly recommend the book!

Body of work of W. Michael Gear

Body of work of Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Web site:

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Dawn Country by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear FREEBIE

The contest for a free copy of the extraordinary novel The Dawn Country, A People of the Longhouse novel is 1/2 over.   See how you can win a copy by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with Stephen Zimmer Author of Dream of Legends and Crown of Vengeance.

Stephen Zimmer will be known as a purveyor of fine, epic fantasy.  His hit Fires in Eden series features Dream of Legends and Crown of Vengeance.   Stephen has been kind enough to respond to my request for an interview.   Maybe it is because we love the same authors and maybe it is the fact that Stephen seems like such a down to earth kind of guy, but I think you will find his interview excellent reading. Author Interview Questions

Stephen Zimmer
 1.) What motivated you to write Crown and Dream ?
Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends, and the entire Fires in Eden Series as a whole has been in development since the early part of the 1990's. I have always thought about turning a corner and stepping into another world. Couple that with my love of medieval fantasy, and you have the catalyst for the series.

Of course, there's a whole lot more to this series, and that starts with the characters. Life involves ensembles, and this kind of focus led to creating a nice range of characters to take this epic journey.

Then there are the characters that populate the world of Ave, who begin to share the stage as the story goes forward into Dream of Legends. They each have their own special part to bring to the story, and the contributions that each of them make are indispensable to the greater story arc.

Showing how individuals all bring something that really matters to the grander tapestry of life is one of my biggest motivators with this kind of series. It is also a major motivation of mine to suggest that it is okay to consider the seemingly impossible!

2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
Many of the threads developed fairly organically, except for the ultimate destination of the greater story arc, which I can't give away, as it would be the spoiler of spoilers. I do have an arc for the entire series, but I don't outline to an extreme, as I always want the ability to introduce new characters and threads as the series grows.

3.) How do you keep track of the astounding number of characters and scenarios?
Every thread and element continues to build throughout the series, and I've just gotten so immersed into this world that I do not have much trouble keeping track of them. I do keep a lexicon of sorts, which I am going to gradually start putting on the website for this series, so that reader-friends can use it to brush up or reference.

I know that this is not lighter beach reading. There is some complexity to it, but this is the kind of series that you can really sink yourself into, and reread, finding new things every time. Its got that depth and scope that I feel epic fantasy readers really enjoy. You have to give it your focus, as you miss a lot if you just skim or read lightly, but I really feel that if you approach these books in the right way, you will find them immensely enjoyable.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the books and if so why?
It is really hard for me to pick a favorite, as there are many characters that I am very fond of. I do find Janus and Dragol very intriguing, and quite fun to write.

Janus is on a journey of self-discovery, as is Dragol, and they have both been brought onto their paths by very different routes. Dragol is a Trogen, a non-human race with a real warrior ethos, while Janus is struggling with some really elemental, philosophical elements, right when he finds himself in Ave during the events in Crown of Vengeance. Both have a lot of challenges due their individual circumstances, but I feel that readers will really like journeying along with these two characters throughout the series.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
I really like the ability to soar into adventures without limitation, and you can do that in writing like no other medium. In a story, you can do anything, go anywhere, and have the world work out like you hope it will.

The process of seeing the characters come to life, and crafting the story, is a very fun process for me. 100 hours spent doing this is so much better than even ten hours spent doing something I don't enjoy.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
They come from observing the world around me, and the people around me. Little bits and pieces come from everywhere, as it is a constantly evolving process. Ideas flow in all the time. Some are instantly clear, while others take time to percolate, or roll around in your head before being usable.

I also get ideas from being a student of history and its cycles, as the patterns of history always seem to repeat, even if the trappings are different.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
To realize that at the center of any genre of fiction, the basic core of having a strong plot and good characters is what is most important. You can write in any genre if you have that core in place. It is what helped me do my first steampunk short story, “In The Mountain Skies”, for the Dreams of Steam anthology from Kerlak Publishing (editor Kimberly Richardson).

8.) When can we expect a sequel to Dream of Legends?
Just as with my Rising Dawn Saga, you can expect a new book roughly every year. Probably around January of 2012 for the 3rd Fires in Eden book, as the 3rd Rising Dawn Saga title comes out around July of this year.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
J.R.R. Tolkien, because he was the one whose work set the spark to the kindling regarding my love of the fantasy genre. I have had many influences since then, the 2nd biggest being C.S. Lewis, and then others like George R.R. Martin, Glen Cook, C.S. Friedman, and even Clive Barker. But you have to credit the one that lit the fire!

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
The best thing for an aspiring writer to do is to simply write, to represent yourself professionally, and be educated about the industry. Have realistic expectations, cooperate with editors, and understand that even if you get on a New York Publisher's roster, you will still have to really work hard to support and promote your work. Don't get in conflicts with other writers, and help support other writers. Do all of that and you will have a good chance of making favorable progress.

11.) BTW I really enjoyed your “critters”.
I'm glad that you did, because there are going to be a whole lot more of them in the series! Thank you for interviewing me! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Pound of Flesh by Kimberly Raiser

Kimberly Raiser's A Pound of Flesh is a short story of chilling terror.   Kimberly's The Family Bones showcased her focus on the macable. 

Kimberly has the most interesting covers, click on my review of  The Family Bones to see that cover.   She is a talented new author.
This is a very quick but entertaining read.
I recommend it.

Now available!!! "A Pound of Flesh" Only on Kindle!!!

Author of "The Family Bones"

A Bestseller on Kindle!!! You can get Kindle free for your PC!!!

Children of Roen (part 1) now available on Kindle Also "A Little Town called Plink" by Pepper Fink A book of children's stories for Kindle

Visit for a free e-book copy of "The Family Bones"