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!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Spotlight on Seven Sides of Self by Nancy Joie Wilkie

 Seven Sides of Self by Nancy Joie Wilkie
Short stories explore the shards of human personality.
Former scientist-turned-artist examines how we seek to understand the world around us.








BROOKEVILLE, Maryland – As a musician, artist, writer, and former scientist, Nancy Joie Wilkie’s first collection of short stories is designed to stimulate the intellect and engage the imagination. “Seven Sides of Self” (Nov. 5, 2019, She Writes Press) explores seven aspects of an individual — the storyteller, the skeptic, the survivor, the saint (or the sinner), the scholar, the seeker, and the savior.
Through the lives of the central characters, Nancy examines themes of battling strong emotions, the lengths we might go to for self-preservation and self-sacrifice, the inability to accept things as different, and taking responsibility for what we create.  Each story seeks to contribute something to our ability to better understand ourselves, the world around us, and the conflicts we all face. Original and thought-provoking, these stories will delight any fan of science-fiction and fantasy.

 
NANCY JOIE WILKIE worked for over 30 years in both the biotechnology industry and as a part of the federal government’s biodefense effort. She served as a project manager, providing oversight for the development of many new products. Now retired, she composes original music, plays a variety of instruments, and records many of her compositions. “Seven Sides of Self” is her first fiction publication. She is currently working on more short stories, a novella, and a science fiction novel. Nancy resides in Brookeville, Maryland. More about Nancy and her work can be found at www.mindsights.net



An Interview with Nancy Joie Wilkie

The stories in “Seven Sides of Self” are so thoughtful and engaging, and at times very personal. What was your creative process
Actually, the stories really are quite personal.  If you know me well, the collection can be thought of a scavenger hunt. There are little pieces of me in each of the seven stories — hence the title. As for my creative process, there is no one magic formula. As an example, “An Intricate Balance” came to me while out on a long walk. I got home and started writing — several hours later, I had the first draft of the story. “The Ledge” is based on my longstanding fear of high places. Pieces of “Journey To Pradix” started out as part of another story. “Microwave Man” came about during a long drive with not much to think about. You just never know when the Muses will show up!

As a former scientist, musician, artist, and now published author, your resume is really impressive. What drew you first to science and then to music and art, and do you see connections between these?
My maternal grandfather was an organic chemist. As a youngster, I would watch him work in his laboratory and always thought, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up,” and so I did!  I’m lucky to have known what I wanted to do; not everyone knows their calling. As for the music and the art, I had two musically gifted grandparents and a bunch of mostly older cousins who were musicians, artists, and writers. They were my inspiration. As for a connection, all of these fields are about creating something — taking what one sees or hears in one’s mind or feels in one’s heart and then bringing the thoughts and feelings out into the real world — hence my moniker: mindsights.

You’ve mentioned what you call “spiritual dynamics,” referring to the connection between souls and physical bodies. Why are you interested in souls, and can a reader find that interest in the book?
Being a distant relative of William Thomson — better known as Lord Kelvin, a major contributor to the Third Law of Thermodynamics — and having been a scientist myself, I have always been interested in the Three Laws of Thermodynamics. After I lost my father to cancer 13 years ago, I started to rethink how I viewed the soul and the afterlife — trying to make some sense of my father’s passing — and then started thinking about our “before life.”  It was then that I thought developing the Three Laws of Spiritual Dynamics would be an interesting analog and might be used in some of my stories. “An Intricate Balance” is really my first venture into that arena. I do plan to more fully explore these ideas in future stories.

Can you talk about the relationship between the stories in this collection?
One set of stories revolves around the life of an author and are, I suppose, loosely connected (“There Once Was A Man …,” “Microwave Man,” and “Old Mims). A second set of stories is set in an incredibly far future and introduces the reader to Mothersouls and the Oversoul (“The Ledge” and “An Intricate Balance”). “Microwave Man” also introduces the reader to the fictional planet of Aurillia and sets the stage for the events told in “Of The Green And Of The Gold.” Lastly, “Journey To Pradix” and “Old Mims” both portray rather exceptional views of our inevitable transition to an afterlife. The stories were never designed to be connected — it just sort of worked out that way. I do plan to introduce additional stories that also will be loosely connected to some of these same topics.

You’ve said that the book is a collection of “original stories for original thinkers.” How do you define an original thinker?
I actually borrowed that line from a much earlier project with which I was involved. I was in a band that played pretty much all-original music — music that dealt with some socially progressive themes. We would play various benefit shows and eventually released a collection of our songs. When I built the website in support of the band and its music, I came up with the phrase “Original music for original minds.” Back then, I defined “an original mind” as someone who is thinking outside the box, someone with different ideas about things the average person hasn’t really considered. I suppose I still think that’s an adequate description. I’d like to think I have an original mind!



This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Enemy in the Dark by Jay Allan


This is the second book in the Far Stars series.  Shadow of Empire is the first book in the series. Arkarian Blackhawk is once again the leader of the band.   Marshal Augustin Lucerne is still trying to get the diverse worlds of the Far Stars to unite in a confederation.   His not so secret opponent the imperial governor will go to any lengths to stop him.

Blackhawk tries to distance himself from Lucerne’s plans but finds himself right in the middle again.  The crew of misfits manning Wolf’s Claw, Ark’s ship epitomizes loyalty and resolve.   Allan shows that offering people a 2nd chance can endear them and incorporate them into a diverse but strong unity.


This book has a lot of action but shows that sacrifice for the greater good although necessary can be extraordinarily painful.

I enjoyed the book.


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

Captain William Laurence and Temeraire are back.  They are battling Napoleon in defense of the U.K. but are doing so in Russia.  

Laurence is handicapped in this book due to an unforeseen accident.  Temeraire, a Celestial Dragon is beside himself over Laurence’s handicap.  

Laurence’s good will toward dragons serves him well in negotiating with both Chinese and Russian dragons. 

A lot of territory and new characters are introduced.

I apparently missed a couple of books between this one and the last one I read featuring these two Hornblowerish figures.  This book reads well as a stand alone but I would recommend reading the series in order.



I enjoyed the book. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson



This book portrays war as brutal and dehumanizing.   A former earth colony is a thorn in a restrictive United Nations of Earth behind.  The contrast between a free society and the restrictive regime characterizes the plot.

Freehold is a planet of free thinkers and open mindedness.   Earth has become a restrictive planet with personal freedoms repressed.   Williamson details a lot of philosophy by example in this work.   Pacelli is an honest woman trying her best when she falls afoul of a conspiracy far above her pay grade.

Williamson does a good job showing the angst that is faced in being totally uprooted and planted in a society that seems familiar but isn’t.

Plenty of action and an excellent read.

I recommend. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Kingmaker by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes


This is the third book of a trilogy, the first being Spymaster which I might add, I thoroughly enjoyed.   I also enjoyed Privateer which was the second volume.  Thomas the potential king finds the path to ruling a rocky road.  

As I mentioned in the review of Privateer, the plot is complex.   A lot of characters with conflicting agendas.   The reality of politics, compromise and concession forces Thomas and his loyal friends into partnership with previous foes.

Kate and Dalgren find themselves in situations where conscience plays a huge part of their behavior.
There is plenty of action, deceit and betrayal as well as a tiny bit of romance.  The authors successfully and satisfactorily wrap up the trilogy.  I look forward to more books from this pair of authors.


The relationships between characters provide much of the interest to this book.  Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and subordinates forget to subordinate. As an added bonus there are plenty of strong female protagonists so this trilogy would be an ideal gift for young women to encourage them to follow their dreams.

The book was delightfully complex, interesting and captivating.

I highly recommend the trilogy. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Privateer by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes


This is the second of a trilogy, the first being Spymaster which I might add, I thoroughly enjoyed.   Well nothing changed with the second volume, I loved it as well.   The plot thickens for the man who doesn’t want to be king who is engaged to someone who is in love with his best friend.  While that is complicated, the man who doesn’t want to be king is in love with a person of questionable antecedents.  Said questionable person is best friends with a dragon who has issues of his own.   Now this may sound cumbersome but it comes together beautifully in a book full of action and intrigue.

The complex and confusing loyalties and goals demonstrated by the authors may seem on first blush to be true fantasy.  However, consider for a moment the complexity of the U.S. government doing back door negotiations with a socialist dictator want-to-be while decrying socialism from the highest platform at home.  As complex as this plot is, you can follow it if you pay attention unlike realities current events.

The dragon, Dalgren, plays a large part in the first half of the book but seemingly disappears in the second half.   I was a bit disappointed that he had such little word time in the second half but I am known to be inordinately fond of dragons.

The relationships between characters provide much of the interest to this book.  Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and subordinates forget to subordinate.

The book was delightfully complex, interesting and captivating.



I highly recommend the trilogy. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.