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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Red City Review

Red City Review Book Awards

A few months back, I entered “The Journals of Bob Drifter” in the Red City Review Book Awards.  Part of the program is that they provide every entrant with a review.  I’m a huge fan of reviews.  Even the most constructive feedback, even the most negative comments, about my book can help me grow.  This isn’t the case in this review.  Red City Review gave me Five Stars.

I’m incredibly humbled and honored to receive such feedback.  You can check out the full review here.

The contest is still open until Aug. 31.  Finalists will be announced Nov. 1, and the winners will be announced Dec. 1.

Regardless.  A review like that sort of makes me feel like a winner already.

I’ll keep you updated. As the results come in.

Book Review: “Fade to Black” by Tim Mccain and L.T. Vargas

Fade to Black is a darkly humorous tale.  It’s a first-person, present tense narrative about Jeffrey Grobnagger.  I’m honestly glad I picked it up because it’s a quick little tale of loneliness and paranormal intrigue.

I have to be honest about a few things.  The biggest issue was the first person narrative from a character that just want’s to be left alone.  It was a bit difficult to imagine myself listening to a character that didn’t really want to talk to people.  What the first person cost in suspension of disbelief, it gave back in humor value.  After about the half-way point, I stopped caring and just enjoyed the fun.   The other issue is less an actual problem and more of a pet peeve.  I buy a book wanting a beginning, middle and end.  So cliffhangers and I aren’t friends in any way.  I wouldn’t have bought and read this book when I did had I known about it, but I will happily wait for the end of the series (not sure how many books it’s planned for), then sit down to enjoy the whole thing.

Cliffhangers are trend these days.  I should get over it, but I won’t.  I hate with movies.  I didn’t like it with The Knife of Never Letting Go, but I was lucky to have started the series after it had all been written.  Same thing with the Divergent series.  The down-side is I’m not going to pick up the second book, Bled White, or any other book until I know the series is doen.  I will, however, pick up the series once I know everything is told.  If you’re okay with cliffhangers, then don’t wait.  I read the book in a few days, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  This is the kind of book you can read at a good coffee shop or restaurant (I read the majority of it during a WONDERFUL Sunday evening at my favorite local restaurant).

Book Review: “Dance for the Ivory Madonna” by Don Sakers

I must start off by saying speculative science fiction isn’t exactly my most beloved genre.  I have read many Hugo winners (I actually try to read and vote every year.  I also try to read one or two winners a year), and they are well written and have a high degree of interest for me, but good science isn’t enough to hold my attention.

Lucky for me, Dance had a pleasant cast of characters and a few well-woven subplots to keep my reading while throwing hard science or deep backstories at me.  To me, Damien and Penylle make the story what it is, particularly Damien.    I wish I had seen more of Penylle’s plot-line.  I think she has a strength that was hidden a bit by omitting how she got to her position in the story.

For those speculative sci-fi fans foaming at the mouth, Sakers addressed a supernatural element in his story.  He addresses this in his acknowledgements, but what supernatural aspects are in this book are small, and I wouldn’t let it keep you from reading a book that extrapolates so well on a few very prominent world news events (thought this book was released some 10-plus years ago).

Another reason speculative sci-fi and I don’t get along is the occasional direct messaging the reader gets.  I can’t say Sakers didn’t do this, but I can certainly thank him for not going to the lengths that some writers go to.

I just felt it important to mention a few tropes this genre uses that bug this particular reader.  All that said, I found this book very interesting.

Sakers gives readers a solid cast.  The Ivory Madonna gets a lot of face-time, but Damien still carries the book as far as I’m concerned.  The flashback chapters served to give depth to some of the more prominent characters.

As with most books that remind me of Hugo winners, this poses a few fascinating questions, the one that stuck with me (I tend to wait a few days before posting reviews) was societies reliance on technology, particularly the internet.  I’m fond of the internet as it allows me a way to get my opinion out there for you all to see, but it’s fair to wonder what possibilities exist as we drive ourself deeper into the digital age.

Dance is a good story that fans of deep, speculative science fiction should enjoy.

Cover Reveal for Caught

Caught

Scheduled for release Spring, 2016

caughtcover

So I took a lot of time discussing this cover with a  few artists.  I actually had one identified, but life circumstances forced me to search again for a new cover artist, and a few days on Deviant Art led me to Ihor Reshetnikov.  He was able to help me go from an overall concept to the beautiful cover you see above.  Disclaimer, this cover went through a lot of conceptual adaptations.

A lot goes into a cover.  As I learned while working on getting The Journals of Bob Drifter ready, there’s info about the author and the standard book blurb.  Heck so much goes into this that I’m still just wrapping my mind around it.  I originally had a concept for an entire scene from the book.  Ihor dutifully worked on that concept, but the more I thought about what information would have to go on the cover, the more I felt like keeping it simple was the way to go.

From the first draft Ihor sent me, I knew he was right for the job, and I knew this cover was going to be beautiful.  As a photographer myself, I take a lot of pride in understanding what makes a piece of art special.  I feel this is captivating.  It’s a great scene from the book.  It’s haunting.  All-in-all, I feel blessed.

I’m about 70 percent through revisions on the book.  While searching for an agent (which would really change everything), I intend to have this book out sometime in March if everything goes well.  I hope this cover serves to wet some appetites.  I’m really happy with this cover and I can’t wait to see it in print.

Audiobook Review: Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card

After listening to Speaker for the Dead, I couldn’t wait to start Children of the Mind.   I loaded it onto my Kindle, hit play and got rolling.  The book is satisfying.  I have to make sure I put that on the record, but it drops you in after a rather large event, and there is a ton of philosophy education in the beginning that I felt took the momentum of the book away.  I feel that Speaker is far and away the best in the series, but that doesn’t mean Children isn’t worth reading (or in this case listening to).

There are some wonderfully intimate and dramatic moments here.  There are some very rewarding climaxes and a few plot twists that I think readers will enjoy.  I understand (though I’m unfamiliar with the series) there are some other books that fill in some of the gaps, so perhaps readers who take the time to look into the other books in the series, there will be less of a jolt going from Speaker directly to Children.

The characters are a strong point for Card.  The way he uses interaction to show readers who these people are is something I think helps Card stand out.  The dialogue is, as always, snappy and clever.

I don’t make a habit of summarizing the plot, and I won’t here.  I felt it was slow in the beginning, then picked up the pace and enjoyment as it drew closer to the climax (which was worth the price of the book all by itself).

Children leaves at least one question in my mind that I desperately want answered, but it leaves the readers in a good place when it’s all said and done.  Though there are other books in the universe, I find myself most curious to see what happens after Children.  Children gives readers a contemplative, emotional resolution to the Ender’s Quartet.