I am very excited to share the cover of our new anthology.
This has turned out pretty darn well.
Thank you to Jeff Minkevics for the wonderful cover.
If you have been reading this blog for some time you know I am a real sucker for history. I really get into it, when I start learning about a time period I find myself sucking up as much knowledge from as many sources as I can. So when I finished Dan Carlin’s latest episode on World War I I was itching to get more.
I found my self at podiobooks.com and stumbled on Great Britain at War. This is a straight read of this book, which in itself is a collection of articles written by Jeffery Farnol. The narrator did a great job getting into the feeling of the articles, and the articles themselves are incredibly powerful and eye opening as the cover the time leading up to the war to nearly at the end. This would be a great resource for first hand material for teaching about this very difficult time in history.
I never really thought of podiobooks as a place to look for history, books and they don’t have a huge selection, but what they do have, I will certainly be checking out in the future.
As some of you may know, Michell Plested and I are working on our second anthology together. A little over a year ago we release our first one, A Method to The Madness: A Guide To the Super Evil It did pretty well, and while we were still celebrating its success we decided that we would like to try to do another one.
We tested the market for another super villain book but decided that it might be better to try something totally different.
As often happens with these things, an off handed twitter comment about the fact that I was doing some home repairs started our second Anthology now called, Dimensional Abscesses Due out spring 2015. But more on that later.
While the news about a new anthology is very cool, there is more going on that I want to let you in on. Our last book was published by 5 Rivers Press, and we were very happy with the way that it came out. But when we decided to do our second anthology we decided that we wanted to try to go it on our own. Thus Evil Alter Ego Press was born.
At this point Michell and I are still working out all the bugs of getting a new press up and running, including getting a website set up, but we hope that in the very near future we will have more news about the press and our future plans.
So for the time being you should just bask in the glory of our logo, and be afraid, very afraid.
Philip Carroll Does it again. In Shooting Stars he takes a genre that I don’t normally like or even read, and made me really enjoy this story. And now on with the review.
Being a teenager is hard, really hard. Add to that, moving to a new school, and joining a sports team. Jocks and Cliques that you don’t have a chance of understanding unless you have lived in a place all your life. And don’t get me started on the girls. Chuck has all of these problems and more when he moves to his new school from Washington State. He discovers that not only does he have to deal with all the normal problems of moving to a new school but he has accidentally stepped into the middle of a battle ground on a higher plain.
When his new girl friend Kelsey, turns out to be more than he excepted he finds him self in the middle of a battle that nothing he has ever experienced can prepare him for. He will need everything he has and more if he hopes to get out of this one live.
Part of me wonders if I like this book so much because I was Chuck growing up. I moved to a new school in high school, joined the Cross Country team, did well, and met the girl of my dreams only to have her turn out to be so much more than I thought she was. My girl friend (and now wife) didn’t end up having magical powers or anything but still she was special. But I think that it is more that Chuck’s story is one that a lot of teen aged guys can relate to.
In Shooting Stars : A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective Mr. Carroll gives us an engaging story. More than that, he gives us real characters who you can relate to. They have hopes and dreams, and he drags you down, some times kicking and screaming, into their lives. At one point I found myself yelling at the book, “Oh no Chuck that is such a bad idea!” I really cared about these people, and when the book ended I was really sad that I could not continue to be friends with them.
Mr Carroll does not glorify the demonic forces that are vampires but instead exposes their true ugly nature, and the forces required to do battle with them. This to me was a huge deal, and for a teen aged romance involving vampires it was a breath of fresh air.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Philip Carroll for some time, I follow him on social media and I consider him a friend. I was given a Beta copy of an early version of this book and an advanced readers copy (ARC) of the book and enjoyed both immensely. While I probably would not have picked up this book normally because as I said I don’t normally read this genre, Philip has opened my eyes. If you have any doubt, I am going to buy copies for each of my teen aged boys so that they can read it.
Believe it or not, the idea that writers write is not as universally accepted as you might imagine. And the worst part many people who call themselves writers don’t write. Oh they talk the talk, but when it comes right down to the actually butt in chair fingers on keyboard, or pen to paper time, it just does not happen.
Oh these folks have reasons aplenty why they are not writing.
They are too busy,
they have writers block,
they can’t think of anything,
some major life event,
they have a day job…
All of these things are legitimate, but in the end it means that they are not writing. I have been a member of this club for way too long. About 6 years ago now, I started my writing career over, and for at least three years I wrote almost every day. I loved it. The stories I put out were not great, they were not works of art, but they were stories and I had a great time working on them. (By the way if you are interested you can still see many of them over at GreatHites) Then something happened. Really several somethings, and writing got harder. Harder to find the time, harder to make it happen, and well, the list of reasons why I was not writing was higher than my word count.
That is going to change. I realized that I really want to be an author. I want to have more than one published book to my name, and that if I want these things to be true, then I need to actually do something about it.
To that end, I am going to try to kick start my writing again. I am going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year. You can find my author page if you would like to follow my progress or join in and be a “writing buddy” here.
Yes, the novel that I am writing sounds very much like something that you might find on my bookstore, and it should because it is the expanded version of that story. I am taking it a little bit easy on myself this year and not going into NaNo completely blind, this will be a rewrite for a lot of this story. I have written about 30,000 words of this story already, but most, if not all of it needs work, and this rewrite will hopefully clear some of that up. Hopefully by the end of November I will have a complete story that I can start editing in January. And then in December I can start going back to other projects that I have abandoned over the last few years.
I have to make something clear. Those things, that list the reasons I stopped writing, they are all still there. Being busy, major life events, they still happen, but I need to find a balance. I need to figure out how to make all of it work. This is not going to be easy, but if I want to be an author, it is something I need to do.
Wish me luck.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Flypaper Boy thinks his super power is lame. I mean really, what can a superhero do when his super power is sticking to things until someone comes along with some nail polish remover to free him. That is until he is kidnapped by bad guys and is forced to become a super villain. What is a good guy to do, when he has to use his powers for the forces of evil?
Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age follows Jimmy Wheeler AKA Flypaper Boy on his first real adventure. This is a superhero book. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am really not that much of a super hero fan, but this book caught my attention and held it.
High school can be hard enough if you are different, harder still if you have to move to a new school. Through it all FlyPaper boy manages to keep his cool, remember his mission and stay true to his moral code.
Let’s be honest here, Jim Wheeler is a teenaged boy, and he is surrounded by teenaged girls. He is going to notice them. He is going have feelings for some of them. But all the while he manages keep a lid on his hormones and and stick to his moral code, not only for being a hero, but also for being a human. That is one of my favorite parts of the book. Multiple times he is presented with opportunities where he could have taken advantage of the situation, and yet he never does.
This book is not so much about being a super hero, probably why I liked it despite my normal aversion to comic book superheroes, and much more about being a kid in a tough situation, trying to find his way through who happens to have super powers.
Mr. Carroll did a wonderful job, grabbing my attention and keeping it. His characters have depth, they have flaws, and they have to live life the best way they know how. I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to sharing it with my kids.
A Note for parents: If you are looking for a good book to start the school year with, this is a good one. It is certainly safe for middle grade readers though probably older ones will appreciate it more. If they are still in the eeew boys / girls are yucky stage they might want to wait another year or two. And the book is aimed more at boys than girls, though I think girls will like it too.
The in interest of full disclosure Michell Plested is a good friend of mine and a co-edit on a couple of projects we have worked on together, and I was given my Advanced Readers Copy in return for a fair and honest review. Though I would have gladly paid full price for the book having read the first one.
Warning there are mild spoilers of both book one and book two but nothing you can get over.
In this second book in the series Mik Murdoch Boy Super Hero continues in his efforts to protect his fair town of Cranberry Flats, but with his Super Hero Librarian Friend moved to the city and him left with only the hope of a super power to come, what is a boy to do? Well he could eat the berry given to him by the guardian, but who knows what will come of that. When troubles at school, his friends leaving town, and something weird going on with his health, his parents decide that a summer at the lake might just be the right thing for them all. When he bumps into his idol and gets a chance of a life time, the summer just gets more and more complicated.
If you read the first, book or even if you didn’t you will enjoy this book. While I loved the first book, this one is head and shoulders above it, Michell Plested has really grown as a writer and a story teller. Even though he is a year older now, Mik still relies on his parents and turns to them in times of trouble, far from the norm of most absent or brainless parents found in most YA novels.
While his super powers and what he discovers at the lake are a bit out there Mik himself is truly down to Earth. He has every day concerns, his Dog Krypto, his dad who has to keep going back into town for work, and his mom who is a bit lonely out at the lake, not to mention some pesky creatures who keep messing with them, and girl near his own age in the cabin down the beach.
This book is a quick read, but just long enough to make it truly enjoyable, and just short enough to leave you wanting more.
I am still reading it to my kids (one chapter a night) and they are always asking for more.
While we are waiting (not long now It is out on Aug 1st) please Help Michell spread the word about it.
I am putting the summary of this book up front, because I think not having read a summary somewhat lessened my enjoyment of the story.
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what and who it finds there…
***Warning I don’t think this review spoils anything but there are some minor hints and what might be considered VERY minor spoilers about this book***
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I did really enjoy this story. And even though I enjoyed this story, my feelings about it are incredibly complex, but at the end of the day I have given it 4.5 stars.
But why only 4.5 stars when there are 5 to give? Well, like I said, my feelings about this story are incredibly complex. Let me see if I can explain why.
I have read a number of other stories by Neil Gaiman, and really enjoyed them. I knew that this book, if not really the same story, was at least related to Anansi Boys and at least had some of the same characters. And as I said I have read other books by Neil and I really enjoyed them.
It was not until tonight, when I read the summary of this book, and saw that it was supposed to be unsettling that it really hit me. That was at least partly what startled me about this book. Not entirely mind you, but partly. I will get to the rest of what bothered me shortly. I kind of wish I had known this before I read the book. Maybe then my feelings about this book would be less complex.
The book is powerful in a way that nothing else I have read by Mr. Gaiman has ever been. It was powerful in ways that made you ache for the injustice that a great number people have been made to suffer, at the hands of others. It powerfully illustrates the loss of the old ways, in seeing the old world really pass away, to be replaced by something that is in my opinion less worthy. While not romanticizing those ways. It lets you clearly see that the good old days were really not that good, not that what we have is all that much better, maybe just better at hiding it.
Now, I am a lover of “old world” mythology. I have read and studied, mythology from the middle east, and west. (Private admission here, I have read and tried to study “far East” mythology and I just don’t get it, but that is not the point.) The reality is that these myths are very often dark. They can be disturbing. They can be and are racy at times. Zeus, for example was so lustful that kings locked up their wives and daughters to keep him away from them. And yet he always found ways around them, often forcing himself on them when he did. There are parts of mythology, and history in general that are disturbing, and scary and sexy and violent, with combinations of each of those attributes in every possibly conceivable way. Ten thousand slaves crucified for an uprising that they may or may not have had a part in during the early parts of the Roman empire, or the book of Esther to give two examples.
So it is not that this book was any of those things that really struck a cord with me. Yes, I felt for the people in the book, and I felt real anger at some of the injustice, and sadness at my inability to do more in the world, and even regret at the loss of the “Old gods.” The problem is that, while I was reading this book, the word that came to mind more than once was raunchy. The book talks about sex, openly and graphically. There is no hiding behind euphemisms here. That really shocked me. It was not only the sex of the gods, but the sex of the humans around them, described in often raw detail. But it was also the sex of the gods, violent, destructive, and in many ways what we would normal call inappropriate.
Make no mistake, this is a dark, brooding book. This is not the book you take to the pool over the summer as a little light reading. It is also not the book you leave lying around where impressionable young children (and some adults) may stumble on it. But it is a incredible, thought provoking, emotionally powerful book. It tells an incredible story, and Neil Gaiman once again proves that he has earned his title as the most popular author in science fiction.
I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 18 who is not squeamish about graphically described sex, and even those who are, but because despite those parts of it, this book really tells an incredible story.
I got the 10th anniversary edition of the book from audible, the one that Neil Gaiman describes as his preferred version of the book. It also includes some outtakes and notes from the author at the beginning and the end of the book. The audio quality and performance by the voice actors was top notch.