Required Reading

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grave Expectations by Sherri Browning Erwin

A super-normal depiction of Dicken’s Great Expectations.

Pip is a werewolf and Miss Haversham is a vampire.   Magwitch the convict is a werewolf.   That pretty much says it all.   The characters from Dickens book were re-written to fit the appetite for super-normal created or at least propagated by the whole Twilight experience. 

The book was well written with a reasonable facsimile to the Dickens style.   It was most definitely not my cup of tea but I think it will find a reasonably large audience 

Web site: 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius by Antonus Perry

Atonus Perry bemoaned the lack of action in many of the stories he read as a boy.   He has remedied this in a story of a descendant of an ancient villain turned hero.  The young man is transported to an alternate reality, the planet Sinexia to be trained to fight the ultimate villain. 

Mr. Perry has certainly fulfilled his goal to promote action.   This book is chock full of action and superlatives.   People don’t speak, they scream or shout or exclaim.   It is a book of superlatives.   My feeling was that it was an action comic without the drawings.  
I had some flash backs to John Carter of Mars and that was a good thing.

With that in mind, I think the audience may be the graphic novel crowd.  This book could be seen as a transition from the graphic novel to the full fledged novel.  

The characters are colorful and posses interesting powers.  The story gets up to speed rapidly and moves from there.   I think this book will be a hit with the YA crowd. 

Body of work of Atonus L. Perry

Web Site:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Egyptian by Layton Green

Dominic Grey and Viktor are back.   Grey has accepted a position  with Viktor to be his investigator into strange phenomena.   A meeting in a graveyard, murder and bandage wrapped figures combine with the fable of eternal life to draw both Viktor and Dominic into trouble.

As in the Summoner, Dominic Grey is certainly not the white knight but a more believable, emotionally conflicted hero.   He appears to be a man with a moral compass that is undeterred by legal and illegal restraints.  While he is not exactly likeable he is admirable.  

Viktor is a mysterious, international, professorial enigma.   His character was shrouded in mystery.   Jax is a bit of an enigma, a bit player who is too well developed not to be seen in future books.  

As in the Summoner, Grey finds himself tangled with a woman who is not his type, what ever that may be.   So there is some sexual tension and romanticism as well as plenty of action.   I think Layton Green has carved a niche in the world of books that he can fill with many more Dominic Grey books.  

BTW I read this book on my Droid X using the FBReader from Geometer Plus free application. 

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Layton Green

Web Site:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour—WooHoo!

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour—WooHoo!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake Kindle edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle, 5 autographed copies of the book, and multiple Amazon gift cards (1 for $100, 3 for $25, 5 for $10, and 10 for $5 – 19 in all)! Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, August 26th, so you don’t miss out.

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the form on the author’s site to enter for prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book!
And I can win $100 too if you vote for my blog over on the author’s website. The blog host that gets the most votes in this traffic-breaker polls wins, so please cast yours right after purchasing In Leah’s Wake and entering the contests!

The featured events include:

Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Tuesday, Twitter chat with the author! Tweet with us between 4 and 5 PM Eastern Time, using the hashtag #emlyn. We’ll be talking with the author about her favorite books and best writing advice. Bring your questions about In Leah’s Wake and don’t forget to use #emlyn or to follow Terri @tglong. By joining in the tweet chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Wednesday, Google+ video chat with the author! Join our hangout between 12 and 3 PM Eastern Time to talk with the author and us via video chat. We’ll be gabbing about great books including In Leah’s Wake and about writing. Did you know that Terri is a creative writing instructor at Boston College? She’s got tons of good advice for aspiring writers. By joining in the Google+ video chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Thursday, Facebook interview with the author! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and ask Terri questions. She’s chosen three of her favorite topics to talk about: writing, parenting, and gourmet cooking. Of course, you’re welcome to ask about In Leah’s Wake too. Leave a comment or question as part of the thread, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget tolike Terri’s Facebook page or to visit her blog to enter for the other prizes!

Friday, Fun & games based on the book! We want to close this whirlwind social media tour with a gigantic bang, which is why we've set-up two interactive book-themed features on the author’s blog. You can take the official Facebook quiz to find out which In Leah's Wake character is most like you and learn how that character ties into the story. Then try out our crossroads story game. Throughout the course of the narrative, you'll have several decisions to make. What you choose will affect the outcome of the story. Play as either rebellious teenager Leah or the trampled peacemaker and mother Zoe. Leave a comment or question on any of Terri’s blog entries, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to check out the other give-away contests while you’re on Terri’s blog!

About In Leah’s Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While Zoe and Will fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough? Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.

An interview with Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake

Terri's book was voted the 2011 book club pick of the year by the BookBundlz staff and community!

Author Terri LongAbout Terri:

1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?

This is a tough question. Let’s see: Joan Didion – I love her work. The Year of Magical Thinking is a powerful book. I’d like to have coffee with her because she’s a brilliant, courageous woman, a true pioneer, and she’s led a varied and interesting life. I’d love to hear her stories.

Cormac McCarthy - although I’m not a fan of his early work – too macho for my taste - he hooked me with No Country For Old Men. I enjoyed the novel so much that I taught it in one of my classes. The Road is the most moving novel I’ve ever read. The man says to his son: "You have my whole heart. You always did.” That line has stayed with me – as have so many stark, tender moments. I’m in awe. I think I’d be too dumbstruck to talk. I’d probably just sit there.

Alice Hoffman – I love her work and I admire her ability to write a bestselling novel, year after year. It took me several years to finish In Leah’s Wake. To produce a book a year requires tremendous determination and discipline. You’ve got to be willing to sit down and write, whether you feel like it or not. That discipline helped her overcome breast cancer, after which she established the Hoffman Breast Center at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. She’s also written screenplays and children’s books. And friends who know her say she’s a lovely, giving person.

2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?

Oh, goodness, another tough question! If I had to choose one book, I’d take the Bible. The stories are fascinating, with so many layers of meaning, and the imager and language are captivating. You can read the stories over and over and never grow tired. For nourishment, champagne and dark chocolate – I’d be tipsy and fat, but I would be smiling.

3. What are your secret indulgences?

Travelling and trying new foods - my husband, Dave, and I have had the great fortunate of visiting many beautiful, interesting places. I love ethnic foods and I’m fairly gutsy when it comes to trying new dishes. In Beijing, a few years ago, we went to a tiny restaurant with two students we met. The restaurant was a local spot, as opposed to a tourist trap, the menu written in Chinese, so they ordered for us. When the steaming bowl arrived, I dipped my chopsticks into the stew – and pulled out a frog. The head was gone, thank goodness, but the body was fully intact. I realize that a lot of people eat frog; this was actually green. I thought Dave would gag when I ate it. To his credit, he didn’t.

4. What about you would surprise your readers?

When they meet me, people almost always assume I’m in my thirties, so they’re surprised to learn that I have adult children and grandkids. I was 18 when I married Dave and he’s the love of my life. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we still enjoy each other’s company, we have fun, and we love being together. This surprises people.

5. What is your perfect day as an author?

Being in a quiet place, with beautiful scenery, and no phone or Internet. A few years ago, we spent a heavenly winter in Stowe, Vermont. I would sit at my desk, looking out at the mountains. Dave would be working in the other room, so I wasn’t alone; we’d work all day, then have dinner together, maybe a glass of wine by the fire. Now I’m actively involved with social media, which I really enjoy, but I long for a quiet day with no interruptions, no distraction.

6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?

Sara Paretsky’s PI, V.I. Warshawski – I have a special place in my heart for police officers. They risk their lives for us, every day, and they’re the connectors, the glue that holds communities together. I’ve always admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police officer in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a very difficult job. In a fictional character, V.I. is the closet I can come to Gail - two very strong, caring, centered women. Theirs are very big, wonderfully feminine shoes to fill.

7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?

The Trust, an engaging, fast-paced legal thriller by Sean Keefer, and A Walk in the Snark, a wise, sexy, very funny nonfiction read by Rachel Thompson, and Take One Candle Light a Room, an insightful, gorgeously textured literary novel by National Book Award finalist Susan Straight.

8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?

Please don’t laugh – The Exorcist. By today’s standards it’s tame; then The Exorcist was a shocking literary sensation. I was a bit of a rebel when I was younger. I didn’t use drugs or take the risks Leah takes in my novel, but I hated being told what to do. Although I’ve always loved reading, I never got the full enjoyment from the classics we were forced to read in school. That The Exorcist was forbidden gave it a wonderfully sweet edge. I also loved Exodus, a glorious book by Leon Uris, about the birth of the nation of Israel. It was, to my mind, the first truly important book I ever read.

9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?

Elizabeth Strout’s heartbreaking novel Abide With Me would make a terrific book club selection. Her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge, is one of my favorite books. Abide With Me, a moving story about a young minister struggling to raise two small children after the premature death of his wife, is so real and relatable on so many levels, and it raises thought-provoking questions about family and life.

About In Leah's Wake:

10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their heartbreaking struggles. Those stories stayed with me.

My husband and I have four daughters. Most families struggle during their children's teenage years. We’re no different - though, thank goodness, we experienced nothing remotely akin to the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book. As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, concerned for your children’s welfare and future. These were the primary forces driving me to write this story.

My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book.

11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?

The epigraph, from The Grand Inquisitor, says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” Hillary Clinton famously said that it takes a village to raise a child. I believe we must all do our part, be supportive members of the village. The Tyler family is far from perfect, but they love one another. Our flaws make us human and that humanity connects us. I very much hope that readers feel this sense of connection—and hope.

12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?

The challenges Leah faces in the aftermath of her sexual awakening. In the first draft, she lost her virginity; in the context of her rebellion, that felt right. In later drafts, darker incidents emerged. As a mom, I found these scenes hard to write, but they felt very true to Leah’s character and experience.

About Terri's Writing Process:

13. What is your writing process like?

With the first draft of In Leah’s Wake, I had no idea where I was going – in writing programs, this sort of organic writing is usually encouraged. In the revision process, I looked for and developed themes. In Leah’s Wake is character driven, so outlining would have produced a different book. I think it’s helpful to know who we are, as writers, and what our goals are. For literary fiction, the goal is to develop and understand character. I hope I’ve done this adequately.
My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a psychological thriller, so I’m approaching that differently. I’ve mapped a partial outline - plot points to use as markers - and writing the sections organically. While I recognize the benefits of outlining or plotting, sticking firmly to either feels limiting. Giving myself this freedom allows for possibilities. Of course, it also makes for a messier process.

14. What gets you in the mood to write?

When I first sit at my desk, especially if I’ve been away for a few days, I often feel blocked, the nasty editors on my shoulders heckling: A writer? Are you crazy? Nine times out of ten, I dig in; the writing may be choppy at first, but eventually I regain fluidity. If the demons are too loud to ignore, I read. Reading, like meditation or yoga, settles my mind, calms me. Soon I find my mind wandering to my story, and I can’t wait to start writing.

15. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Believe in yourself. I know wonderful writers whose first, second or third books, really good, strong books, were rejected. To deal with the rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares, the stars misaligned – or to indie publish in a world that still privileges the traditionally published - you have to believe in yourself.
Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. The loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself. A few supportive writer friends, supporting and encouraging you, can make all the difference.
Hold onto your dreams. You can make them happen. Don’t ever give up!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Egyptian by Layton Green Review On August 27, 2011

To promote the release of The Egyptian, Layton Green will be offering The Egyptian and The Summoner (ebooks) each for $.99 for the release weekend only (August 27th and 28th  2011 at
Read my review of The Summoner by clicking on the link.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Deeper Blue by John Ringo

Terrorists are intent on bringing VX gas to the United States to kill civilians.   Mike Harmon/Jenkins stands in their way.

The emotional deprivation that Mike feels in this book provides a more complete picture of this larger than life hero.   He demonstrates more depth in his caring for his friends.

That being said, once again we are immersed in non-stop lethal action with solid criticism of our government’s approach on terrorism.   Ringo writes outstanding action books laced with cynical critiques of political correctness. 

Amidst all the action and storyline, Ringo points out that all the terrorist action against the United States has been carried out by young Arab males.  His character regards the lack of profiling of this type of person as sheer insanity, paramount to suicidal.

Ringo’s books are always entertaining and fill a definite niche when I need a kick ass, no prisoners, righteously indignant hero.  Surprisingly the books can be thought provoking as well.   Sadly this seems to be the end of the series featuring The Ghost/Kildar. 

Once again this is not a book for kids, there is not as much rough sex but is is somewhat explicit but it fits with the plot of the book.  

I recommend this book.

Body of work of John Ringo

Web site:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks

This is the second of a two book series that is a  pre-history of Shannara. 

The Sword of Shannara was one of my all time favorite books.    This book does not share that distinction primarily due to an assumption that all readers are up to speed on this long running (1977) saga.  

The story is well written with colorful prose and excellent characterizations but they are not characters I was familiar with.   It was nice to see The King of the Silver River again but the book was not comprised of repeat characters from the books that I have read.   Admittedly I have not kept up to speed on the Shannara books and read this book out of order in spite of having some that lead up to this in my pile waiting.

Keep in mind that the book is good but due to my reading out of order there were things I wondered about that were not explained.   Perhaps a minor synopsis in the final book might be in order.

If you have kept up to speed with this series and have read Bearers of the Black Staff and The Genesis of Shannara trilogy, you will no doubt love this book.   For me without a catch up, I wasn’t thrilled.  When I read the four previous books I may revisit and revise this post.
I recommend it if you have read the  precursors.

Body of  work of Terry Brooks</a>


Monday, August 15, 2011

A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber

 Let me preface this by giving you my prejudice right up front, I am a major fan of David Weber and of anthropomorphism.  

Anyone who has read the Honor Harrington books will recognize the name: Treecat.    This book is Weber’s entry into the Young Adult genre and it details first contact with the Treecats.

Weber may quantify this book as YA but it certainly reads as well and as interesting as all of his books.   The characters are well defined and evoke positive emotions.   I really enjoy the way Weber promotes loyalty, honor, responsibility and the rest of the Boy Scout motto.

Then there are the Treecats.  If you have read any of my other reviews you have to be aware of how much I enjoy the interaction of minds between species.   David Weber does it with such aplomb and panache that I sit in awe.    Once again,  Mr. Weber, you are an artist!

I highly recommend the book and not just for kids.

Body of work of David Weber

Friday, August 12, 2011

Starstrike Operation Orion by Kevin Dockery and Douglas Niles

Just as Starstrike Operation Mars was a military shoot-em-up so is this.  SEALS, the extra S is for Space, strike terror in the hearts of our world’s enemies. 

Regardless of the time frame and setting, it still is a somewhat simplistic and far fetched saga of a group of SEALS. The new SEALS as opposed to the original Navy Seals are space faring commandos.  This rendition of the story has them facing some old enemies and reuniting with some old friends. 
This is a quick, non-taxing read.  It is chock full of action and heroics.   It is the ideal intermezzo for deep thinking or long books.   That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.   Au contraire, I breezed through it with a grin on my face. 
Although none of the characters are memorable as individuals as a group they prove themselves ferocious warriors. The arrogant aliens grossly outnumber, out gun the SEALS. The alien technology is superior. In spite of this the SEALS show the Aliens that we may be backward technologically but our spirit and ferocity are not to be underestimated. The story like the first one is a very entertaining, small unit combat novel.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Kevin Dockery
Body of work of Douglas Niles

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

With Friends Like These…by Alan Dean Foster

 This is a book of short stories.  It is refreshing and shows that even in 1977 Foster was a master of his craft.

There was a lot of tongue and cheek in this book.   Because of the short stories there were no consistent protagonists.   The stories entertained without being taxing.   It is not a book for pondering as much as it is a book for entertainment.

One thing Foster does consistently is show the potential inherent in his characters and hopefully in mankind.

I recommend the book.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Android for Infants

From the Los Angeles Times:
The Vinci, which will be available later this month, is a 7-inch touch pad that lies suspended in a protective soft-cornered case that is easy for tiny hands to grip and will protect the tablet from some serious baby banging around. Like the LeapPad, it does not have Wi-Fi functionality, so parents don't have to worry about what their 2-year-old might download.

As the company's website says: "The Vinci is not an imitation -- it is a real touch-screen Android-based product, bringing the most advanced technology to the benefit of our youngest citizens."
Maybe that explains the hefty price tag: It's selling for $389.

I love technology but I wonder about this.

Board books and cloth books are huggable and kids sleep with them.  I’m not sure I would want my baby sleeping with a tablet.

I’m certainly not a Luddite but I haven’t seen this even in my scifi books. 

Take note though, for those of us who write kids’ books, we better get them converted to digital format.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thrall Twilight Of The Aspects by Christie Golden

 This is another World of Warcraft novels.   This time Thrall the Orc is questing for the lands of Azeroth and specifically for the green Dragon Aspect, Ysera.  

Somehow I think books should come first and then the game but in the real world to get young boys to read you do what you can.  If this series encourages boys to read then it is well worth the effort. 

Never having played World of WarCraft I feel like I am at a serious disadvantage in reading this book.   I am sure that advocates of the game will welcome the rich and colorful details that they can experience in a book focused on their favorite game.   I do not care how careful and what level of expertise programmers bring to a rpg game, they can not expect to exceed the infinite expression of imagination.   Reading this book can provide a more satisfying gaming experience with Golden’s excellent character development and screen painting.

For me, the book wasn’t particularly intriguing but for the World of WarCraft aficionado I suspect this will be a must have book.  

I recommend the book for World of WarCraft gamers.  

Body of work of Christie Golden

Web Site: