Tuesday, 28 February 2012

An Intense Literary Apocalyptic Novel: A Review of Since Tomorrow

My Book Review of Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg:



Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg is an unsettling novel, in the way only a powerful, well-crafted book can be, using its words to twist into your mind and make you think. It’s the type of book that resonates right into the back of your mind and curls around your soul.

The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where excess and dissipation have finally caught up with the world and where society has self-destructed. The novel unfolds within the city of Vancouver, Canada, where a small population survives, eking out a meagre existence by farming and scavenging.
This is a magnificent book that lays out an exquisitely formed vision of a broken world that has lost the trappings of civilisation as we know it, but none of its emotional underpinning. In this new society we still find people trying to form communities, people trying to take advantage, some who have given up, and some who want to make it better. No punches are pulled here in the pages; characters die, both victories and tragedies happen and life goes on despite everything. The author gives you characters you can love and hate, all living in an amazingly realistic future world.

In so many ways this book just works effortlessly, giving the reader different levels of enjoyment or reflection in its words. I highly recommend this book; it is worth your time to read it.
 
 
Since Tomorrow is available at:
Amazon

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Troubles and Thrills: A Review of Chill Run by Russell Brooks

My Book Review of Chill Run by Russell Brooks:


Chill Run by Russell Brooks is a reasonably entertaining and breezy crime thriller, with a nice fast pace and some engaging characters.

The book begins with struggling writer Eddie, who cooks up a publicity scheme with his friends Corey and Jordyn only to have it go horribly wrong, landing them in the middle of murder. The three go on the run as fugitives while trying to figure a way out of their predicament.

The novel’s strength lies in its well depicted main characters, still full of youthful dreams and plans, even if a bit world weary around the edges. The author does a fine job of letting the reader empathize with Eddie, Corey and Jordyn, by presenting them not only as normal, capable people, but also as rash, impulsive, moody and desperate as the situation warrants. Eddie’s family situation especially came off as genuine and honest. You connect with the protagonists and their difficulties carry you through the story.

I did have a few problems with the book, however. I thought the plot catalyst a bit on the weak side for my taste, although not too improbable (and I did relate to the motivation behind the scheme) so I was willing to mostly buy into it. Also, I felt some of the secondary character reactions came too easily, without enough inner conflict, especially the wife’s acceptance of Eddie’s story and the scene with the Governor. I think a bit more build-up and character tension would have served the story better in those instances. And personally, the minor plot point using the program Canadian Idol bugged me due to fact it the show hasn’t aired on Canadian TV since 2008; to me this detail either dates, or seemingly contradicts with, the timeline of the book.

Despite some of my quibbles though, I enjoyed reading this novel.


Chill Run is available on Amazon.com

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Poems for Valentine's Day

Two poems with edge.
For a not quite sweet celebration of Valentine's Day:





Love

Sometime it lingers for just a summer...
Sometimes it stays until the end of winter...

Passion, ardour, tenderness.
It is plump with caprice and surprise,
often gentle, warm, in understanding.
It can explode like one thousand suns
radiating through your every pore
with such fiery intensity and fusion.
Or it can die, a sharp excruciating pain,
ripped from your cold, shattered heart.
A metamorphosis of miracle, changing
its face from intimate to envy to passion,
a silver spider web of diamonds and lace.



Heartbreak

Smashed, like glass across the floor
broken bits ground into nothing.
Once whole, now destroyed.
There is no repair, no glue,
no mending the parts back together.
It’s gone.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Guest Post: Lin Sten Reviews The Ballad of Young Tam Lin by Patricia A. Leslie

Today I'm presenting a guest book review, by author Lin Sten (regular readers may recall, I recently reviewed his science fiction novel Mine):


A Review by Lin Sten of Patricia A. Leslie's novel, The Ballad of Young Tam Lin

While writing several historical novels set in the ancient Mediterranean, I did some research on the Greek gods and goddesses, nymphs, satyrs, and such; however, since childhood I had never read a story about faeries. Thus, Tinkerbell was my only faery encounter as an adult. Having decided that it was time to expand my horizons, I sought a novel of the fae, with the main restriction being that it fit my limited attention span—meaning that it should be no more than three hundred pages. Of my first random selection, I got through only the first several chapters before I put that book aside, because I cared for none of the characters despite an interesting story premise.

Then, mostly by chance, I came upon Patricia A. Leslie’s novel, The Ballad of Young Tam Lin, which, despite its prohibitive (to me) 460 pages, has a beautifully designed cover, and an interesting blurb on the back suggesting mysterious doings between our mortal world and Summerland. So I began reading with no background in the myth, mystique, and lore of faeries and elves.

Through Ms. Leslie’s trusty plume, Carterhaugh Wood, March Castle, the glade, Summerland, and all other places come alive as much as the human, faery, elf, etc., characters. The story is interesting enough and interwoven so well with the character development that with each new character I promptly began to wonder what his or her fate might be. And the horse Blanchard I would definitely like to ride as much as I would like to meet Daniú, the elf-queen, and visit her Bower.

As good an example of any regarding Ms. Leslie’s faery touch, beyond simply managing something as fundamental as the logic and story structure of this deep tale, which she also successfully managed as far as the left side of my brain could comprehend it, is her evocation of the Black Rose, of which I will say no more so as not to spoil anything. The associated glade, wherein rests Daniú’s Bower, and its magical proximity to the veil between our mortal world and Summerland, was also beautifully presented; I felt that I might as easily as Janet or John (Tam Lin) pass through the glimmer there.

The use of eighteenth-century Scottish dialect made an excellent addition to one’s sense of time and place. Ms. Leslie’s prodigious knowledge of the physical world was matched by her skillful description of it. Editorial errors were infrequent enough to not be a distraction.

Given my initial lack of interest in this type of story—having taken it up by conscious choice rather than by emotional urge, psychological force, or the need to read—at every page I was not surprised at my lack of urgent need to know what would happen next. (I must admit that I had similar experiences in reading some of the classics.) On the other hand, at no time was I bored as I continued to read; indeed, my attention never flagged; the reading, mostly aloud to my mate, was effortless. Ms. Leslie has thus succeeded marvelously in her art.

Being a complete neophyte to the genre, I am loathe to rate this novel, whether for its entertainment or literary value, believing that what I have written above must suffice for my response to this high quality work; however, it I were given no choice other than to summarize my response in a number or to take a bullet in the head—my ignorance be dammed—I surely would give this novel four stars (out of a possible five).


P. S. Without wanting to drift too far from the core of this review, I could not help but be reminded that any good book about humans, and some not, will always be relevant to the human condition today: beyond Janet’s pregnancy itself, how apropos of our current global situation is Jessie’s comment, “I think that most folks try tae tell themselves that things arena’ what they seem tae be, when the truth isna’ very pleasant, Miss Janet.” This truth is why our political, financial, industrial, and religious leaders can ‘get away with murder.’ Also, I appreciated the inclusion of a glossary of Scottish dialect, though I dinna’ need it.

P.S.S. My favorite chapters were 1, 2, 21, 22, and 23, though there were many others that I enjoyed almost as much as these.


You can find The Ballad of Young Tam Lin at:
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Why Do Book Lovers Support Piracy?

I was Googling myself today (not as kinky as it sounds) and I ran across one of those nasty pirate sites, Fiction Books Bay. Now luckily, I wasn’t on it, but I was shocked at the amount of flagrant copyright violation on that site. Big name authors and smaller indie writers are being violated without consideration of their feelings or hard work. I think it is such a disgrace that people are so disrespectful of authors in this way. 

 
What really prompted this post is that I found books on this site by authors I know from online social sites.

 
Here’s a partial list of writers who have had their rights violated by Fiction Books Bay:

 
First books by the people I know.
  • Riyria Revelations Series - Michael J. Sullivan
  • Touch of Power - Maria V. Snyder
  • Oh. My. Gods. Series - Tera Lynn Childs 
Second, big name authors.
  • Jim Butcher 
  • Margaret Atwood 
  • Harry Turtledove 
  • Mercedes Lackey 
  • Patricia A. McKillip 
  • Piers Anthony 
  • Christopher Paolini
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Amanda Hocking
  • Dean Koontz
  • Guillermo Del Toro
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Julie Kagawa

The self-centered people that upload and download these pirated books never think. They never consider the actual human being, the person behind the book, the one who wrote the words they are stealing (and yes it is stealing, because they have no right to distribute the books). Authors (plus musicians and artists as well) should be allowed to earn their living in peace, without fear of being ripped off.

 
Pirates and supporters of pirates should be ashamed of themselves. You are all bottom-feeders.

 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sophisticated Science Fiction: A Review of Mine

My Book Review of Mine by Lin Sten:


I believe the book Mine by Lin Sten can best be described as literary science fiction. It is a contemplative, sometimes challenging, book of intriguing concepts and scientific theories, draped with the idea of aliens visiting earth.


Mine tells the story of Selena, a sudden celebrity who claims she is an extraterrestrial, and how her life becomes connected to two scientists and the fate of the Earth, perhaps even the universe.

This is an erudite novel, written to explore issues.  I enjoyed the converging undertones and themes in this book with their weighty and interesting views on science, life and the nature of the universe.  The author examines aspects of cultural values, precepts and science from both human and alien outlooks, creating fascinating subplots.  Another highlight was the solid characterization and the mature outlook the author took on relationships. There are many appealing layers unfolding in the book, swirling about in socially relevant, well-written stew.

I did find the book’s prose a bit dry at times, due more perhaps to the scientific and somewhat academic nature of the characters and the storyline than the author’s style.  Because of this, I feel the book may appeal more to hard-core science fiction fans as opposed to the action oriented sci-fi types.  But I think this novel is worth reading, and I can happily recommend it.


You can find Mine on:
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca

Friday, 3 February 2012

#FlashFictionFriday: A Tale Told in Winter

Today, here a small bit of flash fiction, set in the fantasy world of my book, Ruined Cty...



A Tale Told in Winter



On a wooden bench by the hearth sat an old man sipping a flagon of spiced ale. Around him tongues wagged in conversation and gossip, and the walls resonated with raucous laughter. Pretty serving wenches passed by him, supplying the inn’s patrons with drink and food while avoiding their groping hands.

The old man drank in this inn each night, arriving there for the first time at the beginning of the town’s winter season. Initially overlooked as a stranger, he eventually settled in as a familiar sight, slowly consuming one flagon of ale by the fire before leaving. Regulars to the inn knew him as Sarc and gave him a friendly nod, with a few exchanging a brief word of greeting. Most thought him harmless and lonely, but none knew the reason he came to the inn. Yet, every night he came, and every night he waited.

Tonight, as Sarc sat and imbibed his ale, a man stumbled into the inn, seeking warmth from the icy wind and blowing winter outside the door. He shook the snow from his cloak and then, by chance or design, he joined Sarc on his bench by the fireplace.

The man nodded to Sarc as he took a seat. “Good Eve to you, sir. Nothing like a warm fire on such cold night.” He held out his hand. “I’m Kalad.”

The old man met his outstretched hand with his own firm grip. “I am Sarc.” The old man tilted his head. “I see you have a Misthri emblem on your cloak. Do you hail from the city?”

“Yes, I lived in that city for a time, but no longer.”

“If I might ask, what brings you away from Misthri’s walls?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I left because of circumstances, and a sudden urge to travel.”

“Ah, the wanderlust. I know it well. I too, am on a journey of sorts. But still, it must have been difficult to leave Misthri. It is such a beautiful city, with so much creative brilliance.”

“Yes, yes, it’s the great celebrated City of Inspiration, home to storytellers and artists. Sing its praises, it’s the Blessed City of Shrines, guarded by the spirits. I’m familiar with all the official dogma. But, there’s more to Misthri than that, old man, much more.” Kalad chuckled. “I could tell you stories of that city, stories that you won’t hear from any approved Misthri chronicler.”

“Don’t be so certain. I know many strange tales from the city of Misthri. There is one in particular I think you would find interesting. Would you like to hear it?”

Kalad smiled. “Why not? I’ll indulge your whim, old man. Tell me your tale.”

Sarc gave Kalad a smile of his own, tinged slightly with a sad air. “This tale begins on a winter’s night much like this one. A vagabond from the streets of Misthri was caught out in a fierce storm. He took shelter in one of the Misthri shrines, welcomed according to custom by the three priestesses of the hallowed place.” Sarc paused, as he saw the face of Kalad pale in colour and then continued.

“Now this man meant no harm in his original intent, just sought a warm bed for the night, out of the cold and snow. But he had a dishonest heart and it whispered to him in the darkness. He tried to resist, but he gave in to his temptation near morning and crept from his bed. In the last remaining hours of night, this man slew the three mystics of the shrine and stole their gold and silver, coin meant for the poor of the city. Then this wicked man fled the city and vanished into the winter snows.”

Sarc stopped talking and watched Kalad tremble. “Is something wrong, Kalad?”

“Your story- how did you know? No one knew, no one saw me that night.”

“Oh, Kalad. You were in the spirit shrine of Lumin, Light of Winter. She was there that night. Did you think you could escape her retribution? You stole from her, murdered her people. She is coming for you, Kalad, coming tonight.”

The old man laughed and the air around him shimmered and grew cold. Kalad shivered. The old man laughed again as Kalad’s lips turned a faint blue and his breathing became laboured.

Kalad reached out his hand. “Help me...”

“Poor, Kalad. There is no help for you.”

Sarc’s cackle echoed through the inn and every person in the place watched him disappear before their eyes. Amid the screams and gasps, the front door swung open with a blast of icy wind.

In the doorway stood a woman dressed in a flowing white cloak and a silver dress. She had ashen hair and skin, with piercing blue eyes. She raised her hand to point at Kalad, who looked at her and screamed.

She slowly smiled, her face alight in satisfaction. “Hello, Kalad, you thief and murderer. You are mine at last.” She lifted her hand and blew him a glacial kiss.

For a moment Kalad froze in time, Lumin’s breath wafting through him. Then he clutched at his chest, keeled over and died, his heart wrapped in her bitter frost.



If you found this story interesting you might want to check out Ruined City:
 
As an ebook at:
Smashwords
Nook
Apple iTunes
Sony
 
In print at:
Amazon

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