Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Giveaway of The Vineart War Trilogy by Laura Anne Gilman


This is a great trilogy, Flesh and Fire; Weight of Stone and culminating with The Shattered Vine.
I will be giving away a copy of  Flesh and Fire, the week of October 3rd
A copy of, Weight of Stone, will be given away the week of October 10th.
A copy of The Shattered Vine, will be given away the week of publication day, Oct. 18th!
This is a terrific trilogy that is a must read.  Read my Flesh and Fire review to see why I gave it five dragons.
Now you have the opportunity to read it your self for FREE!

This is a very simple giveaway that is over. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Hum and The Shiver by Alex Bledsoew

This book features an insular clan of slightly askew folks whose talents for music dominate their lives.  A mysterious clan that chooses to avoid society at large and has secrets that are never to be told.

Bronwyn Hyatt is a likeable rebel in this book.  She tried to escape her fate and her family.  Her unwillingness to accept authority resonated with me and I’m sure with many others.   Her personal habits are meant to shock and yet if you flipped her gender her behavior would be lauded by many men.  

The premise of the book is very thought provoking.  This review is difficult because some of the more interesting factors would definitely be spoilers.  If you enjoy Thomas Tryon and some of Stephen King’s less flamboyant books, you will enjoy this music prone mystery.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of Alex Bledsoe

Web Site:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick: A Guest Post

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

The science fiction genre owes so much to Philip K. Dick. More than just interesting settings and quirky plot juxtapositions (juxtaposed from today's society that is), Dick's novels explored sociological, political, and metaphysical themes. His work also tends to be a bit dark and dystopian, filled with monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states of mind. His classic novel, A Scanner Darkly, deals with just about all of these things.

The plot of A Scanner Darkly is beautifully twisted. It follows two main characters. Bob Arctor is a drug dealer who uses a powerful psychoactive drug known as Substance D. Agent Fred is an undercover officer working with LAPD to bust a big-time dealer of Substance D, Bob Arctor.

Now, Substance D causes the two hemispheres of the brain to function independently and compete. And what you very quickly realize as you get into the novel is that Bob Arctor and Agent Fred are actually the same person. At first Bob/Fred realizes the bureaucratic mistake, but the twist is that, due to the effects of Substance D, Arctor and Fred don't realize that they're the same person.

Agent Fred studies Arctor through different surveillance channels. Arctor, through an imbalance of paranoia and the reality of the situation, fears that he is being spied on. All of this gives a very interesting and unsettling take on the nature of shifting identity and the destruction of the self through drug abuse.

Beyond explorations of self, the novel also examines the corruptive capabilities of law enforcement as well as the corruptive capabilities of modern pharmaceutical and rehabilitation facilities. This book is very much a commentary of the bleak drug-abuse culture as well as the poor responses to this culture enforced by law enforcement, the government, and business.

Much of the book is written in a very frank manner, similar to that of Hemmingway. Dick nails the drug-abuse culture on the head, probably because of his own close history with drug abuse. And there are also so very rare moments of extremely intense imagery: beautiful, unsettling, and always surreal.

About five years ago, the book was adapted into a film that was directed by Richard Linklater. The style of animation for this film is truly amazing and the plot and interpretation stays true to the novel as well. I recommend both works for anyone interested in a unique story with deep insight on drug culture and how our society responds to it.

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031

My thanks to Mariana for this guest post. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Book

One of the most successful advertising words is FREE.   I am running a multi-part series on Lory Kaufman’s The World Of History Camp.   Lory is offering one FREE copy of The Lens and the Looker for each month.  

What’s the catch? 
No catch, you have to fill out the 3 block form with name, address and email address. 
What do I want that for and how am I going to use it?
I am not some faceless conglomerate (Note photo on top right of blog, that is really me! Trust me, if it wasn’t me I would have found some young stud with a full head of hair to be me.) trying to capture your name, address and email address to bombard you with spam.  I need your address to send you the book if you win and I need your email to let you know you have won.   If you just want to put Occupant in the name, feel free, I am not, repeat, I AM NOT going to use your email address for anything else.   Lory will be mailing the book to the winners.   That is the only person who will get your address.  (Maybe his publicist, I really don’t know who is actually, physically going to mail the book).
So far I have one person who has responded to the giveaway.   I will be happy to give them the book but it does mean that the odds of actually getting the book are pretty darn good.  


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens Movie Well Worth Seeing

I’ve seen some unkind reviews on Cowboys and Aliens.  Well, as far as I’m concerned, I think they whine and complain overly much.   It is not portrayed as a metaphor for modern life or a critique of the current political turmoil.   It is a summer movie, designed for entertainment value!

It has entertainment value up the old whazoo!  (I’ve often wondered who coined that expression and why?)  There are cowboys, Indians, gun fights, girls, a saloon and did I mention aliens?  Ugly, evil, nasty aliens who are intent on killing everyone in sight abound in disturbing numbers. 

I heard one comment that there wasn’t enough action and there was too much romance.   I have to wonder if they were in the same movie I was in.   There is a love interest but the movie overflows with testosterone and violent demises.  

It was entertaining and a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!

BTW the Amazon ad is for the book by Joan Vinge, which I have not read but if it is vintage Vinge I am willing to bet it is well worth reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Santa Club by Kelly Moss, Illustrated by Jim Keserich

This is a children’s book that adroitly ties Santa Claus and Jesus Christ together.

I’m always a bit skeptical of books that proselytize but this is not heavy handed or over evangelical. I liked the way the author cautions the reader that they shouldn’t breach the faith in Santa. In addition Ms. Moss ties the love of God and the origins of Christmas gift giving together in an eminently satisfying manner.

This book should help younger children to maintain the belief system in Santa for a longer period of time. It also may introduce the concepts of God, Christ, loving and giving to an audience that may not be familiar with those Christian concepts.

Any mention of Jesus Christ is certain to offend a portion of the population, my advice then is not to buy the book. For the rest of the world that is more open minded this book may be an excellent Christmas gift. The world would be a much nicer place if we all belonged to The Santa Club.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of Kelly Moss

Web site:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wildfire by Karsten Knight

A group of somewhat troubled prep-school  kids find themselves bonding in a manner that they never expected. 

This is one of those books that make it difficult to write a review without inadvertently providing some spoilers.   I diligently avoid spoilers and will attempt to continue that behavior.  

Ashline Wilde is an adopted child having difficulties blending in a white bread, homogenous school environment.  She seems a bit pugnacious but otherwise reasonably normal as if any teenager doesn’t stretch the boundaries of  what adults consider normal.   She is involved in an unfortunate situation that leads to seeking asylum across the country in a prestigious prep-school

She meets and makes new friends at Blackwood Academy but discovers that those she is closest to have secrets as devastating as her own.   The propensity for supernatural in so many YA books is well established.   The presence of supernatural beings in this book is introduced in a more plausible manner (if that is possible) than in many I have read.

The only thing I find revolting is how young Karsten Knight seems to be.   How dare he write such a good book, at such a young age and force me to admit I liked it. 

So reluctantly, I recommend the book and look forward to the necessary sequel(s).   Seriously it is a well crafted and enjoyable YA book. 

I recommend it. 

Body of work of Karsten Knight

Make sure you visit the web site, it is well done too.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Please take 4.25 minutes to watch this remembrance of September 11, 2001.   Please offer a prayer for those who died that day, their families and for all those who are sacrificing themselves for the rest of us on a daily basis; especially our cops, firemen and troops. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Plumbing the Depths of Lory Kaufman’s World of History Camp

I have reviewed two of Lory Kaufman’s World of History Camp books.
The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone.   In addition I have interviewed Lory.   I enjoyed his books and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that he is making history palatable to young people.   Lory and I have emailed back and forth and he has been kind enough to allow me to “plumb the depths” of how he created his World of History Camp.    Please note that I have no financial relationship with Lory, nor do I reap any benefits from posting his back story.   I am making these posts because as a reader and an author I find the novel building process interesting and informative and I hope you will too.   Plus you have the opportunity to garner a FREE book.  (more on that later)

Serialization was something I grew up with in both comics and the movies.   The cliff hanger ending set you up to plunk down your quarter for the movie or your dime for the comic to find out what happened next.   This serialization isn’t populated with cliff hanging endings.   It is however a plunge into the mind and world of Lory Kaufman, author of the History Camp series. 

I have read and reviewed The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone, two of Lory’s books.   The premise that we should learn from history permeates the entertaining values of the books.   Having once taught history and having been mystified why so many students found something so exciting boring, I laud Lory for his efforts. 

Authoring several children’s books of my own, I am currently working diligently at trying to write a longer novel for an older age group.   I am discovering that there is a need for a back story or a “history” to properly frame my thoughts as I write.   Lory has been kind enough to share his back story of the History Camp and I will be posting it’s entirety over 6 different posts.  

In addition there will be a giveaway for each and every post.  That’s a FREE book for each section of Lory Kaufman’s back story.   Did I mention it is a FREE book?
How do you qualify for a FREE book?
Fine Print
Simply read the post and fill out the form below.   Each entry will be assigned a number and those numbers will be input into a random number generator to choose the winner.  I will email the winner.  The winner’s address will be sent to Lory Kaufman who will be sending out the autographed books.   If you have a specific name or nickname you wish the autograph to mention, please submit it with the form.   Each winner will be announced at the posting of the next segment of Lory Kaufman’s back story.   No purchases necessary and your email address will not be given to anyone else.

Let us begin… 

The World of History Camp
The background behind the futuristic worlds you’ll find in the History Camp stories.
      Most alternative history or futuristic novels don’t give you the back story of their civilizations. They just plop the reader into the middle of a characters lives and start writing, with a minimum of background. The writer lets the reader infer much of how that civilization works from what happens around the character. I do pretty much the same thing.   After all, it’s the story of the character that’s important, and the quality of its telling. But, behind the scenes, I, like all writers of future fiction, had to work out a general history for this world, to rationalize why things are the way they are. But then I thought, with the ability for a writer to now easily communicate with his readers through the internet, why not share the back story? Some readers might find it interesting. That’s what follows here.
      When finished, I see this section at around 20,000 words.  Right now, as my site opens, there are about 2,500 words. I’m hoping to add a couple of thousand words every month, after the first book is released, so come on back once and a while and see what’s new.
     So, here we go.  The History Camp novels take place, generally, in three time periods; the 24th and 31st-centuries, when the characters are in the future, and in the Verona Trilogy, they go back to 14th-century Italy. I’ve therefore broken the back story information into these three time periods and, for clarity, made title headers with subjects I think are of interest. 

The next post will be tomorrow rather than a month away.   That is because this actual portion of Lory’s back story is truncated due to my verbosity in its introduction.   Therefore you will have double the opportunity to win a book in the first month by commenting on the first two posts.   As an additional incentive for those of you who are actually reading the entire post, if you comment on any of my blog posts throughout the month I will input an additional entry to the contest.  


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Flight of the Silver Vixen by Annalinde Matichei

This book is about a world where there are only females.   Blondes seem to fit the stereotype for female and brunettes the stereotype for males regarding role playing.   A group of  teens skyjack a prototype spacecraft and end up in a different galaxy as heroic saviors.  

Much to my surprise I have discovered a genre previously unknown to me, that of the Intermorphic Worlds.  These are stories where there is only one gender or in this case all-girl worlds.   The social aspects that underlie the premise make one ponder.   I was a bit disappointed in that the author provides a same gender world but then assigns stereotypical male/female behavior based on hair color.   It smacks of that old sociology experiment regarding intolerance based on eye color.   In addition, the only men mentioned in the story are prime examples of negative stereotypes.   In that aspect the story was highly agenda based.   

As far as the story it wasn’t too bad.   In some ways it was a traditional coming of age story where the teens must rise to the occasion and show their true character.   The plot was complex enough to maintain interest.   The style was somewhat choppy.   I enjoyed the book and still find myself pondering the motivation behind it.  If that is the goal, it was admirably achieved.   Robert Heinlein’s works with Lazarus Long always provided food for thought too.    

Friday, September 2, 2011

An Interview with Antonus Perry Author of Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius

An Interview with Antonus Perry Author of Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius
Thank you to Mr. Perry for taking the time and effort to answer our questions.  

1.) Why did you write this book? 
 What initiated this particular burst of creativity?  It started as assignment in one of my college English classes. We were breaking down  Plato's The Allegory of the Cave, and from there we moved on into its influence on Campbell's The Hero's Journey. We then read Planet of the Apes and had to deconstruct it to see how it lined up with The Hero's Journey. Finally we had to write an outline for our own epic adventure, as well as its prologue. That assignment became The Mark of Perillius.
2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
A little of both. While certain elements are static, the uncertainty of the journey is very organic.
3.) How did you come up with the concept of SINEXIA?
Since childhood I have had stories in my head. All I really had to to draw on was my own imagination. However, my imagination was highly influenced by the many movies, books, and video games I subjected myself to. The biggest Influences were probably Marvel Comic's X-Men, Square Enix's Final Fantasy series, and anime feudal fairytale Inuyasha. 

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
They are all my favorite! Each one is a joy to write. Rashaad and Akeem were especially fun!
5.) What do you like the most about writing?
The control. In the pages of Sinexia I can level mountains with a whisper and walk on water. In real life, just driving on mountain roads frighten me!
6.)Where do your new story ideas come from? 
Usually from my daydreams.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
The best advice has been to pay attention to the details.
8.) This seems to be your first book, do you have something new in the works?
The Mark of Perillius is the first book in the Sinexia Series. Originally I planned for thirteen books, but I decided that the last two were too similar, and I want each book to stand on its own. So I combined the outlines for the last two books into one. So, there will be twelve.  The second book in the Sinexia series is halfway done. I am having fun writing it. It is titled Xen's Ascension.
9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
I cant pick just one! Chris Claremont and Madeline L'Engle. Claremont and his work on Uncanny X-Men impressed me when I was still a boy. The ramifications of his work can still be seen in the Marvel Universe today. L'Engle's novels are so good I've read most of them twice! What I like the most about her work is how jealous she makes me. I wish I had written what she has. She is awsome.
10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer? 
Never give up! That may sound corny but it is the best advice I can give anyone about anything!

Thank you Mr. Perry.