22 January 2010

Writing Prompt – Snowed In

Use the following writing prompt in a ten minute free-write. Set your timer and just write. Do not stop to think about where your story is going. It can be enlightening to see where your sub-conscious takes you.

You are in a log cabin in Alaska. It has been snowing heavily all night and you awake to find yourself snowed in. There is no phone (including your cell phone), no electricity, and no transportation to take you into town. You are alone.

Here are some questions to keep you writing:
  • What do you notice about your surroundings? Describe the cabin and the immediate area around it.
  • How do you survive until help comes, or do you survive?
  • What do you do to pass time?
  • What thoughts go through your head? Do you relive memories from your childhood, think of survival movies?
  • Do you try to leave the cabin or do you stay in the shelter?
  • What brought you to Alaska in the first place? Do you live there or are your vacationing?

16 January 2010

Best books of January

As I have said before, I love book lists. Amazon has some great lists. One of my favorites is the Best of the Month list. These are the editor's picks and not just the top sold books. The list includes thumbnails of the covers and descriptions.

The best book for January are:
  1. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
  2. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
  3. Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
  4. Bloodroot by Amy Greene
  5. The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen
  6. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  7. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

09 January 2010

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning Book Review

Finally, after an extended delay, here is the book review of Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. This is the fourth installment in the fever series, and I must say, this is the book I have been waiting for since the first one.

Mac is back and Mac 3.0 is badass. The Unseelie princes broke her down – completely emptied her of any thoughts except her desire for them. Jericho Barrons built her back up better than ever. Mac trades her pink for black and her accessories of bracelets and scarves for guns and blades. Mac wants revenge for every injustice given to her, and that includes those who she thought were one her side. Alliances have changed and merged. Mac is stronger, smarter, and more patient. She has learned from previous mistakes and she starts to plan and conspire. 

Dreamfever is a book that can stand on its own. Previous books in the series seemed lacking. Those books felt like transition books – not much action, just a lot of waiting for the final climax on the last five pages. There were also a lot of questions but very few answers to satisfy. Dreamfever has constant motion and action. There are several mini-climaxes scattered throughout the book. Moning also starts to answers some of the burning questions that have been in the minds of readers. Moning even answers the the mistery of what is under the garage at Barrens Books and Babbles. 

My biggest disappoint of the book? There is very little of the yummy Seelie prince V’lane, but it is not an oversight on Moning’s part. There is a very important reason he disappears from the cast of characters, but Moning is not fully explaining yet and I am not telling either. 
If you have read the first three books, I highly recommend that you continue reading.. I considered dropping this series after book three, but I am glad that I gave Moning another chance. She has managed to rebuild my anticipation for the last book. I cannot wait!

30 November 2009

I Survived NaNo and Won!

I have been off in NaNoWriMo land for the last month. If you are not familiar with NaNo, it is a writing challenge. You write 50,000 words in one month. At the end you have a novel - one that needs major editing - but still a novel. Do you always say "One of these days I will write that novel," but then you never get to that one day? Well, NaNo says, "Enough, that one day has arrived" and it starts every year on November 1.

This was my first year and I won! Yes, that is the winner's badge on the side there. It was a challenge, but the support from the other NaNo writers in the area, on the NaNo forums, on Twitter, and every other place, was fantastic. If I felt like procrastinating, they would give me a gental nudge to get moving.

What does this have to do with books and book reviews? Well, it is my excuse for not posting. I have not had time to read anything in the past month. I've been writing. I do, however, have one review that I neglected to write before NaNo madness assended, which I will be posting this week, and I have several other great books lined up to read.

So, be patient, they will be here.

07 September 2009

Zadayi Red by Caleb Fox Review

Zadayi Red is Caleb Fox’s debut book. The book was inspired by Fox’s Cherokee heritage. Though the book and the Galayi people are fictional, you may recognize familiar stories and customs.

The book is about a people called Galayi, which is divided into five tribes. It is like a state divided into counties. Each has their own rulers and customs, but they also have collective customs and rulers. The tale focuses on one boy, Dahzi that is raise by a medicine woman. He is the prophesied savior of the people. This is a large responsibility with which to grow up. Also, Dahzi’s own grandfather wants him killed at birth and declares war on the tribe that protects him. The tale is about Dahzi learning about love, rebelling against his destiny, and coming full circle to embrace the prophesy.

The book had a lot of strengths in the creation of a believable tribe and culture, but it also has some weaknesses. It attempts to tackle two very large themes: coming of age and the circle of life. It is too much for one book. I think the story would have more depth if it focused on just one of these themes. There are also some very awkward exclamations; things that do not sound right. For example, “damn” and “Hell” was used, but the Galayi people believe in the Darkening Land not Heaven and Hell. These types of statement were enough to temporarily break the moment of disbelief. Fortunately, Fox does have an excellent story and has an incredible talent for telling it. Putting these weaknesses aside, the book is worth reading and I think that future books by Fox will only get better.

08 August 2009

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana - Review

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice is the second book in her Christ the Lord series. You do not need to read the first book to follow this one. The two books can stand alone. They both center on a central character, Yeshua bar Joseph, known to most modern people as Jesus. The first book focused on Yeshua’s childhood. The Road to Cana skips ahead to when Yeshua is in his thirties.

In The Road to Cana, Yeshua is shown as a flesh and blood man. He has the same wants, desires, pains, and troubles as any other man, but he knows that he is more. He knows that he is the son of God, but he does not yet know what that means or what it entails. Yeshua catches occasional glimpse of insight, but nothing that says to him, “This is what you must do.”

The village in which Yeshua lives with his entire family is in turmoil. The villagers are quick to condemn innocents of wrong doing, the Roman Empire is causing problems, there is a drought, and bandits are stealing food and women. It is in the height of all this that John the Baptist finally comes out of the wilderness and Yeshua’s eyes and spirit are opened to his true purpose. He knows what he must do and how he must do it. He becomes the Messiah.

Regardless if you are a Christian or not, you will enjoy this book. Anne Rice is one of the best modern storytellers. She brings the time period to life. You can feel the sand coating your skin, you can see the impressiveness of the Jordan River, and you can hear the determination as the men march out of the village. Rice is a master at bringing you into the story.

In The Road to Cana, Rice perfectly depicts Yeshua, the man, becoming Christ the Lord. This is not a religious book. It depicts a man overcoming trials and obstacles to find his true purpose in life. It is just a plain, well told story.

I give Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice a 9 out 10.

29 July 2009

Personal Effects: Dark Art - Review

Personal Effects: Dark Art by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman is a plain fun read. It grabs you and will not let go until you finish the book. It is a mind-bending, multimedia event.

Let me explain. First, it is mind-bending in the fact that you are not quite sure what is going on until the end. There is a supernatural, thriller aspect to the central murder-mystery. To figure out what is happening you have to determine what happened in the past. This is where the multimedia comes in.

The book is fashioned as a case file, complete with the patient's person effects. On the inside cover there is a folder with items from an accused murderer. The items include a state ID, photos, birth certificates, and drawings. There are also other clues throughout the narrative of the book. Look up websites mentioned, Google names of people, dial phone numbers, and enter access codes. Every piece of evidence pulls you further into the story. There is even a podcast as a prequel to the story. Start your journey at J.C. Hutchins's website.

I give the book a nine for originality and a seven for the story. One negative is the packaging of the book. It would be easier to handle and carry around if the book could be removed from the overall packaging. Also, the personal effects items fall out of the file, so a flap to close the folder would be nice.

In short, get the book.

J.C. Hutchins is another big name in the podcasting community along with Scott Sigler (see my Contagious book review), so if you have not listened to any of his stories, download 7th Son. It is free on iTunes and another great story.