Sunday, August 4, 2013

Found

Clarkesworld Magazine, ISSUE 83, August 2013.


"Found" is a gorgeous short story by Alex Dally MacFarlane, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ISSUE 83, August 2013.  You may find it online here:
 http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/macfarlane_08_13/

The setting for this story is haunting and beautiful: A cluster of colonies on a string of asteroids, abandoned and forgotten by their homeworld.  A short story about belonging, memory, and identity told by a spice trader who goes from colony to colony bringing the one commodity they cannot make for themselves: flavor. Beautiful language, vivid imagery, and poignant undertones.  Not much can be said of this gem without giving away the story, so suffice it to say that it is worth the fifteen minutes it will take to read it, and the twenty minutes it will take to re-read it while savoring every nuance, treasuring every smell, and relishing the flavors in the writing.

About the Author (source: ibid)
Alex Dally MacFarlane lives in London, where she is pursuing an MA in Ancient History. When not researching narrative transmission in the Alexander Romance traditions, she writes stories, found in The Other Half of the Sky, Heiresses of Russ 2013: The Year's Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer and Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages. Poetry can be found in Stone Telling, The Moment of Change and Here, We Cross. She is the editor of Aliens: Recent Encounters (2013) and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women (forthcoming in late 2014)


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Apocalypse Cult - Review

Apocalypse Cult

APOCALYPSE CULT is the first book in the Gray Spear Society series. They are God's secret warriors, His henchmen, His assassins cloaked in shadows. When lives and souls are at risk, He sends the Gray Spear Society to save mankind. This time the enemy is the Church of One Soul, a cult that intends to kill thousands of unsuspecting tourists in Chicago. But this is merely the first step in plunging the world into a devastating war. The Society has only a few days to destroy their elusive foe, despite interference by overzealous federal agents.
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Aaron Glade is a PI who is hired to rescue a fifteen year-old girl from a cult.  The job turns out to be less than straight forward, and Aaron's life will never be the same when he is asked to join the Gray Spear Society - a group of God's secret warriors...  Overall, this is a decent story: well-written, well-conceived, and well-executed.  There is a lot of blood and death - a little too much for my taste, but still a good read.  The genre for this book is difficult to categorize.  There are elements of film noir, spy vs. spy, and supernatural combat - all played out by holy warriors who follow the Christian god.  The main characters are described well, and each is unique.  The rapid-fire pace of the action is a little dizzying and makes the reader slow down to savor the story.

Spoilers:
The drawback to this story for me was the inconsistency that as "agents of God," the characters demonstrate no empathy, bear no responsibility, and experience no repercussions for killing, maiming, or torturing.  It was also hard for me to reconcile the need for secrecy with the killing of government, civil service, and law enforcement personnel.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'm going in!


The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Written by Robert Jordan and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest epics of fantasy and a #1 internationally bestselling series. Taking place both in our past and our future, the saga tells the story of a man destined to face the Evil One and save the world—or destroy it in the process.
- Goodreads   http://www.goodreads.com/series/41526-wheel-of-time
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I started reading this series when the first book was published in 1990.  It  was supposed to be a 6-book series, but has since grown to 11,962 pages spanning 14 books.  This does not count the prequels, supplemental chapters, or short stories that accompany the main series.  I made it through "Crossroads of Twilight" (book 10), reading them as they came out, but it became very difficult to keep track of the characters, locations, motivations, and sub-sub-sub plots that became major turning points two books later.  My plan is to re-read the series in order, back-to-back now that it is complete. I'm hoping that reading them one after another will be easier than waiting a year or more between books.

The story is complex, the world - including its magic and political systems - is very well developed, and the characters are plentiful (Book 10 has 522 named characters, 22 of whom are point-of-view characters).  I enjoyed the first ten books and am curious to see not only how the story goes and what happens to my favorite (and least favorite) characters, but also how Brandon Sanderson's writing matches up with Robert Jordan's.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Banished From Grace

Nardia is a very special nurse, one with a unique gift. With the touch of her bare hands, she can heal any physical ailment. With the help of her angel guide, Benilde, Nardia has healed her way through countless centuries.
Life should be easy for this attractive (not to mention, immortal) woman, but throw in two handsome men, a coffee addiction and memory loss that dates back to the medieval ages, and you’ve got a life that’s more than complicated.
When she meets AJ at her favorite coffee shop, she can’t help but feel an immediate attraction to him. At the same time, she knows there’s more to his story than what he’s letting on. And then there’s the handsome Doctor Regan, who she feels a connection with, but is she trying to make it more than is really there in order to spare her the heartbreak of being with AJ?
Only adding to her problems is the new resident, Dr. Jeffries, who seems out to get her from day one, and a murder case she can’t help solve without revealing her own secrets.
Can Nardia uncover the secrets of her own past while still moving forward and saving those in need of her help in the present?


Author links:


http://www.facebook.com/aria.williams.79

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Food for a Hungry Ghost


Life was pleasantly normal for Gala...
                                                    Food for a Hungry Ghost

Life was pleasantly normal for Gala Rhyce, that is, until her mom moved the family to Flagler Beach, Florida.  Now despite the palm trees, ocean breezes, and cute surfer guys, Gala is miserable until she meets Trista.
Trista makes a great friend, except there's a snag: she's a ghost.  The girls learn to communicate, and through Gala, Trista finds a way to experience the world again.
Even as Gala’s romance with a heart throb poet begins to bloom, she enjoys her unlikely friendship with Trista—that is until the ghost wants more than Gala can give and things go horribly wrong. Filled with humor, romance, and horror, Food for a Hungry Ghost is about friendship, jealousy, and boundaries that get pushed too far.  How much can Gala endure?

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"Food for a Hungry Ghost" is a quick, enjoyable read.  At around 70 pages, it's a great book for teens who like the paranormal but are "not into books."   The author does a great job of capturing the angst and frustration of a teenage girl who has been uprooted from her school and friends to move all the way across the country - but she does this without getting bogged down in it.  It is a masterful blend of realism and the paranormal, complete with humor, embarrassment, an irritating little brother, a flaky new-age mom, and young love.  A great read for a car trip or a short flight.  I am looking forward to reading more by this author!

Spoilers: While there are "love scenes" in the story, it is nothing more than closed-mouth kissing and a touch on the knee.  The horror scenes are present, but again, the author strikes an excellent balance between telling a story and providing gratuitous detail.  There are hints of suicide in this story, but nothing gruesome and nothing that could be construed as instructional.  This is a good, quick read that leaves the door wide open for a sequel!  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review of The Chronicles of Trellah


The Chronicles of Trellah, Book One: The Perpetual Rain


Fourteen-year-old Sophina Murray will be the first to tell you: Bad luck comes in threes. First, her father is lost at sea. Then, the rains start . And don't stop. And finally, her little brother is taken from his bed by a monster straight from her worst nightmare. A glimpse into the parallel universe of Trellah - a land of giant trees, bizarre creatures, and a glowing red mineral with mystical properties - convinces Sophina that all may not be lost. But first, she'll have to survive in a hostile world where her darkest fears live and breathe.

Author: T.S. Graham
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This book has engaging characters and a plot that has not already been written a million times.  Sophina is a realistically-written fourteen year old girl.  She does not have super powers, she is not the prettiest girl in school (or the ugly duckling), and she doesn't have all the answers. What she does have is a good heart, the willingness to do the right thing, and the integrity to stand up for what she believes.  The writer does a magnificent job of capturing the characters' feelings and showing the reader the worlds in which the story takes place. This is a well-written and surprisingly deep story that is absolutely worth reading.

Spoliers - You read that right.  Worlds.  Plural.  Sophina winds up getting more than a glimpse of Trellah!  This book is appropriate for 12+.  There is some limited violence, some interaction with the dead and undead, but nothing over the top, and nothing nightmare-inducing.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Chronicles of Trellah, Book One: The Perpetual Rain

"The World's Toughest Book Critics" have weighed in, and it's high praise for Trellah! "An excellent choice for readers eager for a suspenseful, emotionally satisfying fantasy adventure." -Kirkus Book Reviews Fourteen-year-old Sophina Murray will be the first to tell you: Bad luck comes in threes. First, her father is lost at sea. Then, the rains start . And don't stop. And finally, her little brother is taken from his bed by a monster straight from her worst nightmare. A glimpse into the parallel universe of Trellah - a land of giant trees, bizarre creatures, and a glowing red mineral with mystical properties - convinces Sophina that all may not be lost. But first, she'll have to survive in a hostile world where her darkest fears live and breathe. Trellah is an original and realistic fantasy for ages 12 to 112. Parental guidance suggested for advanced readers ages 10-11 for moderate elements of horror. The upcoming deluxe edition of this book will include illustrated paintings by artist Ryan Penney. Below is a sample of this talented artist's work. Purchase this book on Amazon.

About Author T.S. Graham

T.S. Graham was born and raised in midcoast Maine. He has worked as a sea urchin diver, fish monger, home renovator, and in several group homes for children and adults with disabilities. His original screenplay, Stone's Point, written as Clint Elliott, has won multiple awards. He studied English Literature at the University of Southern Maine, where, despite developing a strong dislike of the traditional curriculum focused on old, dead (and boring) scribes, he somehow managed to graduate with honors. His greatest influences are writers like Stephen King and Michael Crichton, whose talents would have allowed them to write more literary fare, but they chose to thrill and entertain instead. He now lives on a horse farm with his beautiful wife and five daughters, two poodles, two cats, two happy turtles, four playful ferrets, three fish, a corn snake named "Tiger," dozens of chickens, and, of course, four awesome equines. The Chronicles of Trellah, Book One: The Perpetual Rain is his debut novel. Follow T.S. Graham Website | Facebook | GoodReads The author is giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card. This tour will begin February 14th. a Rafflecopter giveaway Follow The Tour

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bring Down The Furies

                                                 

Sherman’s troops burned it the first time. Now a serial arsonist threatens a small South Carolina town and private investigator Quint Mitchell is caught in the backdraft. When Quint follows the “Heartthrob Bandit” to the hamlet of Allendale, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ugly cultural war between an ultraconservative minister and the scientist who may have discovered proof of the oldest humans ever found in North America

Author: Parker Francis
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A good mystery story with engaging characters, a detailed plot, and just enough twists and curves to keep it interesting without being confusing.  The author's descriptions of people and places really bring the story to life and drop the reader into the middle of the action.  I have not read the first book in this series but that did not matter - I was able to follow the story without any trouble.

Spoilers - This is a mystery story with all the aggression, sex, and blood that is expected from the genre.  Nothing over the top, but recommended for adults.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

                                             
                                                         Lessons Learned

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past. She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. They quickly become friends—bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance. Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas—along with the town of Sycamore Falls—are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.

Author: Sydney Logan

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The imagery in this book is gorgeous.  I can see the house and the mountains and the town of Sycamore Falls - and all the people in it.  The love story between Sarah and Lucas is touching and sweet and is a union of equals rather than one person constantly "rescuing" their partner.  The story about Matt is heartbreakingly honest and deals with cultural, social, and moral issues with a delicate yet unflinching hand.  Well written!

Spoilers: This is Sarah and Lucas's love story; there is sex in it, but it is not graphically detailed.  The core issue of this story is homosexuality and the process of coming out that an adolescent boy experiences in a conservative and homophobic community.  There is also some violence, although most of it happens "off screen."  

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Learner 

                                                
                                                               The Learner

 An alien from the dark side of the universe is sent to Earth on a mission. She’s called a Learner. When she falls in love with a human—which is against her species' covenants of exploration—her rulers order her to leave him. She refuses, risking not only the successful outcome of her mission on Earth, but also her life as well as the life of the man she loves.

Author: Alan Nayes

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Alan Nayes has an excellent turn of phrase and is able to give vivid, compelling descriptions of the world in which his characters exist, and the alien worlds beyond.  A nicely-paced love story with enough intrigue and danger to keep my attention, and enough romance to keep me reading without feeling smothered or embarrassed.   A good read, with engaging realistic characters.  While this is the first in a series, it tells a complete story, but still leaves plenty of room to grow.

Spoilers: This was hard for me to read because of the consistent use of the Ĺ umayin pseudo-language.  The intermixing of Greek and English letters with phonetic and mathematic symbols was confusing and distracting, and impossible for me to render phonetically even in the silence of my own head.  While the glossary at the was very helpful, I still had not learned what the words meant by the end of the book because I had no basis or context for them.  This may be worse for me because I read three alphabets (including Greek and Hebrew), and I kept trying to translate the words rather than just making up sounds for them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the sponsor requested the contest end early. Apologies to anyone still waiting to enter.

The Learner

An alien from the dark side of the universe is sent to Earth on a mission. She’s called a Learner. When she falls in love with a human—which is against her specie’s covenants of exploration—her rulers order her to leave him. She refuses, risking not only the successful outcome of her mission on Earth, but also her life as well as the life of the man she loves.

Purchase The Learner on Amazon!

 

About Author Alan Nayes Alan Nayes

I live in Southern California but still consider myself part Texan by birthright. I was born in Houston and grew up in Dallas. I've resided in California since the mid 1980's but get back to Texas as much as possible. My first two published novels--GARGOYLES and THE UNNATURAL are biomedical thrillers. Actually THE UNNATURAL could also fall into the horror genre as it is a pretty bizarre tale. BARBARY POINT is a love story about a successful young woman who falls in love with a fishing guide. It was written on a suggestion from a former agent. My favorite football team is the Superbowl champs GREEN BAY PACKERS. Sorry Cowboys. But when GB is not on the gridiron--Go Dallas! Great Cheerleaders, too! I enjoy the outdoors and as a side note I'm one of only a few individuals to ever swim across Wisconsin's chilly Lake Winnebago. Does this make me a better writer--probably not. When I'm not working on my next project, I enjoy relaxing and fishing at our family vacation home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Alan Nayes is the author of GARGOYLES, THE UNNATURAL, BARBARY POINT, GIRL BLUE, and SMILODON. Follow Alan Nayes Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Blog / His website