Monday, November 13, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Too much geeky fun.

[Affiliate Link]
Science Fiction | June 2012 | Broadway Books | 400 pages

A nerdly smorgasbord of pop culture references from the 80’s and 90’s, Ready Player One is a heady view of a future of Virtual Reality in a dystopic world ruled by mega-corporations ready to kill to defend their bottom line. And only a lone hero, deft and adept as his Avatar, obese and socially inept in his own skin, can stave off a push for corporate dominance that threatens the freedom of the world that he loves.

Geeky to the extreme, the book was a joy, the battles tremendous, and heart-warming as our hero discovers love and steps out of the self-made shell to experience real life and friendship.

Where else can you become Ultraman, towering over a hundred feet in the air, play Pac-Man, and relive old TV serials?

My only real complaint is sometimes the story gets bogged down in needless fandom detail. But some may say this is just one more fantastic tidbit.

If you love computers, VR, and played any of the old videogames, Ready Player One is a great ride.

Word of the Day: Haptic

And perhaps you shouldn’t listen to me, maybe you should just check out the Teaser Trailer for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming movie. Yeah…Spielberg. I’m kind of excited.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Macmillan. Books Without Pronoun

Did you hear? Just a little over 1 year after acquiring, Macmillan pulls the plug.

(tombstone graphic from
Pronoun may not have been a household name, but they were a clever new entry into the multiple ebook retailer distributor ring with Smashwords and Draft2Digital. One thing they somehow managed that no one else could was to publish to Google Play for those of us not already an Approved Partner. Their site was slick and easy to use and I was looking forward to putting the rest of my library onto Google Play.

I guess I waited too long.

While there is certainly a story here about the publishing industry making odd decisions as a whole (refusing to admit that ebooks are the wave of the future, for one), I'm left stymied as to how Pronoun managed to get new work into Google Play, and why D2D or Smashwords can't do the same?

Google Play is on every Android phone out there. All billion+? That seems like a pretty big market.

This is what I got by e-mail from Pronoun:
Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors.

We are proud of the product we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community of authors that made it grow. Your feedback shaped Pronoun’s development, and together we changed the way authors connect with readers.

Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.

While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.

As of today, it is no longer possible to create a new account or publish a new book. Pronoun will be winding down its distribution, with an anticipated end date of January 15, 2018. Authors will still be able to log into their accounts and manage distributed books until that time.

For the next two months, our goal is to support your publishing needs through the holiday season and enable you to transition your books to other services. For more detail on how this will affect your books and payments, please refer to our FAQ.

Thank you for the time and attention you’ve contributed to this experience. It has been a privilege to publish together, and we look forward to meeting again. #keepwriting


Macmillan Publishers

Monday, October 30, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Present day. United States. A young land where the beliefs of old withered amidst the speedy rise of capitalism. A land where time was money and there was no time for antiquity. The old gods grow restless as the new ones of Technology and Media grow powerful and ambitious. It may result in war, and at what cost and with whose lives? At the center is an unlikely protagonist: Shadow.

[Affiliate Link]
Dark Fantasy | Re-Published: June 2011 | Harper Collins | 674 pages

Large, burly, slow to speech, Shadow is not slow of thought. A tangled youth and a complicated life send him down the wrong path, made worse for the loss of the one he loved.

How does one even begin to review such a tome? It is literary, fantasy in a contemporary setting; skating the line between magic and magical prose. This is no slugfest of the gods, but a deep question of who we are, and what we stand for.

Along the way we meet with a medley of characters you half know from legend, scraping by in a land that has forgotten them, their powers diminished. But there is a gathering, a last battle; one where you don’t know if it is for good or ill.

At times Shadow makes the oddest of choices, always furthering the book and intriguing, but not always consistent, but then, here is a man embroiled in turmoil that I can hardly conceive. If his decisions seem unlikely, so is his predicament.

The one failing I felt for the book was an unfulfilled expectation. All along I expected the gods to battle, for magic to play a greater spot in this struggle. It does and it does not. Most of it is behind the scenes, alluded to with finesse and skill. It does not take from the book, only from my expectation. Which, coming from a love of epic fantasy, it is only to be expected that I would harbor desires of epic confrontations with visceral results. Instead the struggle is beautifully portrayed in prose that flirts and holds hands with the literary, but rarely feels overdone. This is a book to enjoy and one to make you think.

While I haven’t seen the new TV series, I hear good things. Have you seen the new show, have you read the book? And what do you think of the adaptation?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Gunslinger (Book 1 of the Dark Tower) by Stephen King

An evocative literary mystical journey…

But one that doesn’t really go anywhere. Book one of the Dark Tower sets the stage, introduces the character, his protagonist, and asks a lot of questions.

[Affiliate Link]
Dark Fantasy | Re-Published: January 2016 | Scribner | 340 pages

The Gunslinger is a story of a man on a journey, one he has been at for countless years; pursuit of a man in black, a man he knows nothing about, but suspects much. This man must answer for crimes, but those are oft unclear. The Gunslinger will travel to the ends of the earth, though, and stop at nothing to reach his journey’s end.

While King fashions an interesting world that is part nuclear, far-flung dystopia, part wild western showdown with a tall-walking hero, there is little to connect with as the Gunslinger’s journey is one of grave solitude. This is a story of remembrance, of old haunted (sometimes tormenting) memories. If anything is achieved here it is in laying a groundwork, a solid character we can sympathize with even if we do not wholly understand.

Much remained a question, left me wondering if what I read was “real”, some figment of a dying man’s last breaths, a conjuring by the mysterious sorcerer, or deeply buried allegory that never came back up for air.

The Gunslinger is a lonely man and the book is a lonely book. There was little grounding here, the side characters were superfluous, there to serve a means, and time seemed to mean nothing in this universe we are still coming to grips with.

I would have liked to have had more connection with the characters, to understand more of the Gunslinger’s journey, and when it started, to know what grave offense the man in black committed, the list goes on…

These and many more are questions brought up and never answered. There are allusions, and the ending brought a level of satisfaction, then twisted right back upon itself to make you question the reality created.

And why would the Gunslinger linger so long in that old western town while the outlaw continued on the run; and what about the child? The child! I should stop here.

It all seemed a literary experiment to blend and mash up your brain, leaving me unsure if the story would ever go anywhere in particular, or at least anywhere particularly interesting. I’d rather it had been more literal and less literary. That said, the ending brought light to some questions, ramped up the interest, but then trod upon my expectations with one last twist.

Will this amount to something in Book 2? I hope so. As a standalone story I rate this as 3 spent lead slugs (out of 5). Strangely appealing, though it is in desperate need of some answers to draw out my interest.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

50+ Free Fantasy Books

Fill Your Bookshelves to the Brim!

Looking for some free books to try? InstaFreebie has a ton.

Click Here!

Try Rotten Magic, the beginning intrigues and the author has a way with the character's voice that made me want to read more. Or Trials of Magic where the opening scene has a nurse and a patient in a hospital where magic is used to cure. There are over 50 stories in all, each one is available for free on InstaFreebie.

What is InstaFreebie you may ask? Well dear reader, I am just feeling super helpful today: It's a service that offers free books if you provide your e-mail address to the individual author for each book you choose and sign up for their newsletter. This is just a way for readers to find new authors that they may (or may not) fall in love with. No commitment needed, every author taking part should remove you from their list immediately upon request, or fear terrible retribution. I've been using the service myself to help get the word out about Seeking the Veil.

And check out some of these beautiful covers: Click here to support the authors, download some today, and have a Fantasy-tastic week! (Yeah, ok, pretty cheesy, I know. But, what can I say? It makes me grin.)

And a final thanks to author, Devyn Jayse for putting together the giveaway (and for including Seeking the Veil!) She's a new author and certainly has a fine sense of style.

Monday, September 4, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Flame Kissed by Alexis Radcliff (Seeking the Dragon: Book 1)

A girl whose life was changed by a tragic fire, budding romance, a frightening mystery, and a fantasy twist that will knock your socks off.

[Affiliate Link]

Ella was an orphan, her family taken by fire. With high school nearly over, her dreams of musical talents obsessing her time, her family arranges a ski trip while her adoptive sister plots romance. Life will never be the same after this trip, and it has nothing to do with rippling abs or chiseled jaws.

Or does it?

It’s hard to adequately review a short story like Flame Kissed. The story is well told, characters fleshed out, dialogue true, but it is short. A great ground breaking, the story has set the scene for fantasy and romance, and what seems like a whole lot more to come.

I’m intrigued by the fantasy elements; they come late, but they feel authentic, fun, and real. When constantly shown that people with power abuse it in the real world it is hard to believe that those in a fantasy setting will not just do the same. Radcliff realizes this and Ella’s stoic “savior” shows that too much power tends to corrupt (at least some of our better morals.)

I was less taken by the romance between Ella and…well, we’ll skip on that and let you see for yourself.

I caution about a cliffhanger ending that will have you chomping at the bit for more. But thankfully, book 2 is now available. So that’s probably a good thing.

Published: August 2017 |

*As of August 2017, the author confirmed by e-mail that book 3 will be out in the next month or so and books 4-5 will soon follow. Sign up for the author’s newsletter to be first to know.
*Disclaimer: I’ve met Radcliff at a local writer’s group in the past, and was given a copy of this book by the publisher for review

Thursday, August 31, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Emotional impact with every grain.

[Affiliate Link]

Salt to the Sea tells of the real-world tragedy that swept up and down the Baltic States from Lithuania to Estonia as Hitler’s machine began to crumble under Stallin’s Red Army. Four young lives are impacted in her tale, fleeing the Russian invading force, each with their own mystery that unveils in careful precision as they stumble toward Gotenhafen and refuge upon the repurposed cruise ship: the Wilhem Gustloff.

Sepetys’s prose is spare and exacting, cutting like a knife, weaving four storylines slowly together until the bitter, climactic end. Despite the circumstances, she builds a sweet and genuine romance and each character’s mystery unfolds with each piece adding and building upon the rest.

There is Emilia – spoiled innocence with a haunted past; Florian – desperate, clever, seeking a daring retribution; Joanna – determined to make amends; and Alfred - delusional, a day dreamer, eager to be the best German soldier he can be (even if he can not.)

Just as salvation seems eminent, the long road over, dear friends lost, while new ones cling together, their refuge is targeted by a Russian sub and 9,000 perish in the worst maritime disaster of modern times. But the story does not end as you expect, and Sepetys once again proves her mettle with a conclusion that is poignant, heart-wrenching, and yet still rewarding.

Rare is it to want to read a book again—especially right after—but this was one of those oddities. And this from a guy sunk eyeball deep in the lore of fantasy and the cautionary wonder of sci-fi. Go figure.

As a novel, Salt to the Sea is superb; as a piece of history, slid under the magnifying glass, it is a telling reminder that in war, there are no winners and the true losses happen between the lines of war.

As conflicts boil throughout the world, as one country goes to fight some evil for the “greater good”, there are real people stuck in the middle, suffering. It is a point to remember.

February 2016 | Penguin Group

Friday, August 25, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read Hunger Games, finally. Started great. But the actual contest was fairly contrived, and the fake romance tension missed the mark for me.

[Affiliate Link]

Still, I continued on to read Book 2. Which just goes to show that a great concept can pull your story along. So long as you don't totally flub it.

And when I say "totally", I mean, she was pretty close.

Nothing worse than when a character acts inconsistently. Not to say we act consistent in real life, 100% of the time. But there needs to be a good reason for that inconsistency, and it needs to make sense.

All I have to say is...Poison Berries. Double Suicide. My thoughts? Katniss was nuts, it was a cop-out moment for the author, no way the Gamemakers would have stepped in. They want drama. How does it get any better than that?

3 arrows for hitting all the points, even if they were forced at times, and for a strong concept.

September 2009 | Scholastic Press

Monday, July 10, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Lavishly sensual, sexuality breathes throughout the book, with a humming roar of violence lurking in the background, or sometimes just exploding across the page in a fury.

[Affiliate Link]

Daughter of the Blood is Book 1 of the Black Jewels trilogy, where there is a Light Realm, Dark Realm, a Twisted Kingdom, and for powerful practitioners of the Craft they can travel through the veil of death itself. There is a struggle in the background, an epic contest that transcends realities, but for now the story centers on the ruler of Hell, a lost son, and a cast of characters raging at their bonds. But the story ends up very personal, very small; there are no epic battles, though the danger often buzzes in the background.

Read the rest of my review at

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Make me write faster on Patreon

Love the books? Want more of Kip's wild antics, or more incredible  adventures and battles with Hestea?

Well, time is limited and I have a day job. But with enough patrons supporting just a couple dollars a month or more, and increasing sale of the books: I can achieve more. Much more.

Kip was my first professional cover and edit, but readers of my Hammerblood books know they are quality, fun stories with depth. I have high expectations for my stories. Help me get there faster and get cool rewards to boot. (And help Hestea get his own pro-covers. Remember, he has a really big hammer, knows how to swing it, and has a temper.)

How's it work?
You pledge a small amount monthly to support. Patreon takes care of collection and distribution with a small 5% fee (which is a great deal for what they offer) and patrons get special rewards on my Patreon page. There's a snippet of the sequel of Kip the Quick up there now.

Check out my Patreon page, become a patron today, and thanks for your support!

Think about it like a digital tip jar, and me with my book in hand, reading aloud on the street corner, entertaining passerby. (Perhaps a guitar would work better?)