Required Reading

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz

This book is reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn with the addition of zombies.  

This book read like Mark Twain.   I’m not sure why it was written unless it is an attempt to get the current generation of tweens who are zombie/vampire focused to experience more classic literature.  

It was an ok read but having read all of Mark Twain years ago, I didn’t find the addition of zombies all that interesting.   I guess the book will appeal to the group I mentioned above. 

Body of work of Richard D. Monson

Monday, April 25, 2011

Redheart by Jackie Gamber

Article first published as Book Review: Redheart by Jackie Gamber on Blogcritics which will theoretically get me more traffic on my posts.

Redheart is book one of the Leland Dragon Series.   Leland is the province where Kallon Redheart, a red dragon, resides.  The province is in a drought and tensions between dragons and humans are at an all time high.  Fordon Blackclaw, the Dragon Council Leader, is using the tensions to further his personal ambitions.   This is the cauldron that a young woman named Riza finds herself embroiled in when she flees a life of mundane existence. 

Riza Diantus epitomizes or perhaps symbolizes the plight of the woman in un-enlightened cultures.  That is making the assumption that we live in an enlightened culture which isn’t always guaranteed.   Equal opportunity often seems to be a cliché not realized in our tumultuous economic environment of today let alone in a rural agriculture set in a medieval style setting.  

Riza questions all, not just those in authority, she questions everyone.   Her lust for answers and her refusal to be bound by a rigid role proscribed by her agrarian life makes her a heroine in my estimation.   She refuses to accept the role of victim and fights for what she wants and what she feels is right.  

Jastin, the dragon hunter, is on a quest of vengeance.   He is conflicted regarding his feelings for Riza.   He perceives himself as a merciless mercenary but is surprised when Riza touches feelings he thought long abandoned.

Kallon, too,  is far more than a cardboard cutout of a dragon.   He deals with feelings of alienation and inadequacy.   Kallon’s struggles with his fears and his relationship with Riza, Jastin and the wizard, Orman, become entwined with Blackclaw the Dragon Council leader.

Gamber has created loveable and despicable characters.   She imbues them with real feelings, emotions and frustrations.   Jackie Gamber brings alive dragons and adventure with colorful, involved storytelling.   The intricate details of a Stephen Zimmer or Tolkien are not there but the warm characters and very believable emotions produce a book that will be remembered and cherished.

I highly recommend the book and look fervently for a sequel.

Body of work of Jackie Gamber

Web site:

 To celebrate the launch week of Jackie Gamber's Redheart, Seventh Star Press is announcing
a very special sale.  The good news is that they've got a title in multiple areas of fantasy, so that you can try Seventh Star Press eBooks out in this special sale that will be running through Mid-June.  Only $1.99 for Redheart, Thrall, Crown of Vengeance, and The Exodus Gate.

What are you waiting for?  Just two bucks and you'll be on a grand adventure.  Find out what readers around the world are discovering...there's a growing constellation of quality titles at SeventhStar Press!

All eBook titles include the Matthew Perry illustrations that are in the print editions.

Visit this page for further information and direct links to eBook  titles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

An ancient Druid in a contemporary setting and his conflict with a pantheon of gods and his relationship with his dog and allies form the core of this book.

Atticus O’Sullivan is a highly likeable character with an even more likeable Irish Wolfhound named Oberon.   Oberon and Atticus are best buddies and communicate telepathically.   Luckily my character Tiny in my chapter books for kids was created prior to reading this or I would wonder if I had pulled the idea from here.   Anthropomorphism is and has been for decades one of my favorite things.   There is plenty of it in this story.

Atticus lives in harmony with nature but not so much with the series of gods he contends with.     Hearne had solid character development so you get a good idea on Atticus as a protagonist.    Vampires, werewolves, witches, gods, goddesses, succubae and other colorful and mystic characters are introduced.  The cast is set for multiple sequels. 

I enjoyed the way the concept of the Iron Druid was introduced.   Hearne does a great job in writing a good, rousing adventure with a welcome leavening of morality, loyalty and camaraderie

I highly recommend the book and look forward to reading the sequel.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cool Headers 10

Perusing other scifi/fantasy book sites is fun. There are so many good blogs I never know which ones to post links so I have started my Cool Headers series. This isn’t saying that I agree with everything on these blogs, just that I think they have a very cool header. Click on the header to check out their blog.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Devil’s Due by Christie Golden

A space opera with old fashioned riders of the sage feel, this books provides lightweight entertainment.  

Considering how many people love this series I know I am going to tread on some toes.   The book was entertaining but seems more suitable for a graphic novel.   The characters were more like silhouettes than people.   I felt they lacked depth.  

One of the best parts of the book was the afterword that gave an overview of the series and a timeline.   That was interesting and enlightening.   

The book had plenty of action and included moral growth and change that helped.   The lack of nuances and studied action made it a  quick and painless read.  I suspect it will be a huge hit for the adolescent who is reluctant to read and is looking for entertainment alone.  

It is not a bad book, it just seems very light weight, kind of a diet or space opera lite.   Much like the low cal potato chips, the book was worth reading but was lacking in the full bodied, heavy calorie, over salted true space opera.   

I am sure I would have gotten more out of the book had I read more of the series.  

Body of work of Christie Golden

Web site:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Try a Seventh Star Press Title for Just Two Dollars!

What is your favorite flavor of fantasy?  Do you like character-driven YAFantasy?  Do you like heroic fantasy with loads of action?  Do you like epic fantasy with a wide cast of characters, lands, and lore?  How about
epic scale urban fantasy?

 To celebrate the launch week of Jackie Gamber's Redheart, Seventh Star Press is announcing
a very special sale.  The good news is that we've got a title in each ofthe above areas of fantasy, so that you can try Seventh Star Press eBooks out in this special sale that will be running through Mid-June.  Only $1.99 for Redheart, Thrall, Crown of Vengeance, and The Exodus Gate.

What are you waiting for?  Just two bucks and you'll be on a grand adventure.  Find out what readers around the world are discovering...there's a growing constellation of quality titles at SeventhStar Press!

All eBook titles include the Matthew Perry illustrations that are in the print editions.

Visit the following page for further information and direct links to eBook  titles:

Seventh Star Press has been a great source for ARC (advanced reading copies)  for bloggers to review.   In posting this announcement I am showing my support for a publisher that supports bloggers!  Check out the books, you can't beat the pricing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jackie Gamber Author of Redheart, An Interview

Cover by Matthew Perry
Redheart is due out this month.   I am always fond of books featuring dragons and I look forward to reading this one.  I have been fortunate to have an opportunity to interview Jackie Gamber the author of Redheart.    The interview follows the brief synopsis of the book. 

Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where drought has stripped the land and superstition has cowed its people. And the danger only grows. Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, resents Leland's time-worn venur system. He has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. He wants to trample humans into utter submission, or wipe them off the face of the land. Anger erupts, scorching innocent lives in its path. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. But first, he must confront his past and the future he stopped believing in. He must claim his destiny.

Author Jackie Gamber
Thank you Jackie for taking the time to being interviewed.  

1.) Why did you write this book?  What initiated this particular burst of creativity?
 I wrote this book as a sort of promise to myself. I’d dabbled at the storyline, fiddling at chapters, rearranging things and calling it “writing” for several years before I realized that if I really wanted to give this writing thing a shot, I was going to have to finish something. Redheart was a story that never left me; in fact it kept growing and evolving as I studied the craft of writing and worked to improve my skills. The burst of creativity came first, and the resolve came later, when I set my mind to “the end”.

2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
With every project, I have a concept of where I want to go, and sometimes even a scene where I know something pivotal will happen. And I write toward that moment, very organically, and very much discovering how to get there as I go along. I’ve tried to plan outlines, but my stories tend to skew off and develop instinctively anyway! So I’ve learned to go with it, instead of fighting against my own brain waves.

3.) Do you have a particular affixation with dragons?
 I have a particular affixation with characters; Kallon Redheart just happens to be one. He’s got a story that couldn’t be told any other way, in any other world than the one he’s living in. I was told by a reputable agent once that “people don’t read stories about talking animals”, but I don’t really see Kallon as an animal in that sense. He’s as deeply conflicted and afflicted as any human I’ve ever known.

Dragon by Matthew Perry
4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
 I’m infatuated with all my characters, for different reasons, but I will confess that I have a character named Layce Phelcher, a female wizard, who I wrote as a sort of homage to Lily Tomlin – one of my favorite actress/comediennes of all time. I adore Layce! She’s fun to write.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
 I think what I like most about writing is having the canvas of my own mind to work with. I don’t need a big movie budget with special effects, or producers, or actors to deliver the lines. I don’t need a stage or lighting or costumes. I involve all that a terrific performance can convey—the wild emotional ride—but I use only words. I love that challenge.

6.)  Where do your new story ideas come from? 

 My story ideas come from everywhere, because people are everywhere! I tend toward character-driven fiction, which draws on the “why”. Why does a person feel the way they do? Why do they act a certain way? What about their life could create their fears, their hopes? In my attempts to fill in the blanks, stories emerge.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
Plow forward. Every sentence doesn’t have to be the best one the first time through. Work the words until they are close enough, and then keep going. Get to the end. Then, go back and polish things up. Only those stories that are finished are the ones that will ever be read.

8.) This seems to be your first book, do you have something new in the works?
 I have several short stories appearing in science fiction and dark fiction venues, but I’ve recently finished a Historical/Time Travel novel based on two real historical figures: Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, and Adam Worth (the gentleman thief who was the inspiration for Doyle’s “Moriarty”). The novel took over two years for me to write! Since it’s based on two real timelines, I was careful to keep my facts straight, while at the same time filling in the blanks of “what really happened” between these lovers born 100 years apart.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s so hard to choose just one. Mary Shelley—because she was so ahead of her time, tying dark themes to emotional issues. And I have to mention Ray Bradbury, who is my hero for the way he tells a fantastic story with such conviction that it simply must be true!

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
 Study, study, study. Learn the craft. Practice. Read. Drench yourself in words so you can know your medium as intimately as you know your own mind. And write for reasons only you can understand, and hang on to that. It’s enough.

Thank you so much for taking your time to respond to these interview questions.  I look forward to reading and reviewing Redheart and to seeing a guest post from you, here on my blog.  Best of luck with the new book!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Star Soldiers by Andre Norton

Humanity’s aggressive nature causes them to be galactic mercenaries when they burst out of Sol’s gravity well. Molded into a strict regime by Galactic Central Control, man’s creative aspects are ignored as they bleed off their most courageous warriors.

ANDRE NORTON needs to be capitalized for her impact on the entire genre. This book was first printed in 1953 and loses nothing in the ensuing decades. It is a great space opera with extremely humane characters.

Norton does a wonderful job examining motivation and behavior. She paints honorable protagonists and sinister villains. She shows the evils of intolerance and the benefits of integration when racial inequities were still common place in our own nation.

This book follows the initial deployment of Kana Karr an Arch Swordsman. Earth’s mercenaries are divided into Mechs and Archs. Mechs use near state of the art technology while Archs are limited to Roman era weapons with the exception of very basic firearms.

Kana Karr is well characterized as a shiny, new, well trained novice. For military fans, think shiny new 2nd Lt. His growth into a veteran facing not only what he was trained to do but facing Central Control treachery forms the basis of the plot.

Norton always provides wonderful verbal scenery and characterizations. I have read her books for more than 50 years. Arrgghh! I’m old! Gasp!

I strongly recommend the book!

Body of work of Andre Norton

Web site:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

This is a tale of a society that has plunged into a dark age of battle, politics, fallen heroes and troubled heroines.

Marcus Wester, a leader of armies, is now a modest captain of a small band of bravos when he loses all but his sidekick in a city’s impressments program.   Bereft of his men, he contracts with a highly unlikely source to guard the caravan he is contracted to see safely to Carse.  

Cithrin, a naive orphan, is thrust into an area so far beyond her comfort zone that she spends months in a daze trying to deal with the changes.  

Geder, a reader of books in a society that honors sword play and bravado, finds himself seeking revenge for a lifetime of insult.

Daniel Abraham’s first novel is exceptionally good.   I really enjoyed his characterizations.  He provides sufficient detail to identify and sympathize with them.   The variety of characters is almost daunting but allows a rich melange of reading.   The various sub-plots are clear and there is no difficulty following them.

I think Abraham captures the feelings and emotions of people thrust into untenable situations and help them find their way through them.  

The plots were great, the color and diversity of the characters and landscape were great, the vividness of descriptions were outstanding. (Ya think I liked the book?)

My only negative remark is that I was reading a DRM version on my Augen ebook and occasionally the last few lines on a page were lost.  I had to open Adobe digital editions on my desktop to see what they were.  I don’t know if it is the Augen or DRM or what but I found that annoying.  I have not had that problem with any non-DRM books that I have downloaded from places like the Baen Free Library.   That does not in any way detract from this book, it is just an aside on eBooks and DRM.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Daniel Abraham

Friday, April 1, 2011

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

No Fooling!
The Winners of the three copies of
The Dawn Country
Damla (sweepstakes lover)
You have been emailed.  All entries were assigned a number for each entry they made.  Those numbers were put into a random number generator at Random.Org  to determine the three winners.
If you do not respond with your mailing address within one week, the same 72 entries will be entered into the random number generator to determine a new winner.   All addresses will be forwarded to who is fulfilling the contest.  
Thank you for participating and please continue to visit my blogs. 

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