"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book review: The Cunning Woman’s Cup, by Sue Hewitt

The Cunning Woman's CupThe Cunning Woman's Cup by Sue Hewitt

4.5 of 5 stars

I’m not part of the target demographic for this book, due to my Y chromosome, but I enjoyed it immensely. Hewitt does a great job detailing the setting—the small, rural town of Duddo near the Scottish border in Northumberland. You can feel the chill of a foggy morning in your bones and the mud squelching under your boots after a long rain. The bonds of friendship between two women, as well as the site of their chance meeting, near an ancient stone circle, form the primary threads for the story.

Hewitt also weaves another tale into the story, one that took place in ancient times. As the book progresses, the two stories are knit together with an expert hand. The mystical connections that lead to the discovery of an archeological artifact and its impact on the characters are gradually revealed as well.

This is beautiful writing, a character-driven story that will appeal to any reader who enjoys literary fiction or someone who has a particular affinity for the English countryside. At times, I felt that some of the plot point resolutions were a bit too perfect, but it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. The ending may seem a bit abrupt to some, but I like stories that leave the reader asking questions. I hope a sequel is on the way!

Note: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book review: James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing, by G. Norman Lippert

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing (James Potter, #1)James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not a fan of fan fiction, which is why I resisted reading this book for so long. However, after multiple re-readings of HP and watching all the movies, I was still craving more Hogwarts. I saw that JK Rowling had given this series her blessing, so I started reading...and was pleasantly surprised.

Lippert does justice to the world of Hogwarts, and his grown-up versions of HP characters could almost be written by Rowling herself. They're very much the way I imagined them. Unlike some readers, I found the introduction of technomancy a nice feature. I wasn't quite as thrilled by the American invasion, but after 7 years at Hogwarts in the HP series with scarcely an acknowledgement of the former colonies, it seemed almost inevitable.

The book didn't quite have Rowling's magic (pun semi-intended) and I think it's because Lippert couldn't reproduce the chemistry among the main characters that was such a big part of HP. I liked James, but the secondary characters didn't leave much of an impression. I suspect they'll grow on me over the course of the series. Yes, I intend to read the other books: Lippert has me hooked.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Gateway of India, Part One

Gateway of India Part One
My new book, Gateway of India (Part One) is now available on Amazon.com and other Amazon international stores. It's a collection of three linked short stories, and I plan to publish the remaining parts next year as they're finished. After that, I'll release an "omnibus" edition in both e-book and paperback formats.

The e-book will be exclusive to Amazon Kindle for 90 days. During this time, I'll monitor sales  and decide whether to publish through other channels when the 90-day period is up.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Please help me choose a cover

My next book, Gateway of India, will be a collection of linked short stories published in three parts. I need your help choosing a cover concept that will be developed into the final cover. Each part will have a slightly different variation.

Please vote for your favorite in the comments. Thanks!

Concept A

Concept B

Concept C

Concept D

Friday, November 7, 2014

Book review: True Colors and Other Short Stories, by Michelle D. Argyle

True Colors and Other Short StoriesTrue Colors and Other Short Stories by Michelle D. Argyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tend to prefer a sparse writing style when it comes to short fiction, and this collection is quite the opposite. Still, I enjoyed the lush, poetic prose, vivid imagery and—above all—the nonlinearity. Reading these stories was like savoring a fine Merlot, one that’s full-bodied with an extra buttery flavor. They’re meant to be sipped, to linger on the tongue. Argyle manages to say a lot in these very short stories—many of them are flash fiction. I didn’t appreciate the short poems quite as much, but they did fit with the overall tone of the writing. My favorite story was Clover, a poignant and haunting tale of a mother’s struggle with grief. I hope to read more from Argyle soon.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My writing progress

I'm finally at the stage (revising and editing) where I can post an update on my current project. Like Bombay Bhel, it will be a collection of linked short stories. However, it will be released in three parts, in e-book format at first. There will also be an "omnibus" edition, after the last part is released, in both e-book and paperback.

The title for the series is Gateway of India. I hope to have the first part done in November. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in being a beta reader (reading the prepublication draft and providing a critique), please leave a comment or contact me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book review: Tenth of December, by George Saunders

Tenth of DecemberTenth of December by George Saunders

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've never read anything by Saunders until this book, something that I now regret. I hope to remedy that situation soon. He's clearly an author who believes--as I do--that the short story is a much-underappreciated art form.

These stories are packed with emotion, often conveyed with subtle touches that nonetheless have gut-wrenching effects. Above all, Saunders manages to create a unique narrative voice for each story. The combination of ingredients in this collection includes plenty of dark humor and biting satire that most often take aim at middle-class America.

It's hard to pick a single favorite. Escape from Spiderhead is a look at the future of a world run by big pharma, where there's a drug that can elicit every human behavior imaginable. It's one of the longer stories in the collection, yet every word is there for a reason. Along the same lines. The Semplica Girl Diaries is written in choppy, journal-entry form but does so much with its sparse sentences and fragments. It chronicles the eternal struggle of a middle-class dad living from paycheck to paycheck while being crushed by debt. He is tormented by the need to make his daughter's birthday special and keep up with their wealthier neighbors. This carefully crafted story keeps the reader entranced through its highs and lows all the way through its bizarre twist.

In a popular fiction landscape dominated by formula writing and Hollywood endings, Saunders is a much needed breath of fresh air.

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