Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master’s Choice – A Review

Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master's Choice (Short Story)Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master’s Choice by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this short look into the background of a character that I thought was long gone. While the story does not tie directly into the rest of the Shannara line, it does help you to understand who the Weapon’s Master really is, and why he is willing to do some of the things that he does. Not all of them mind you, but some of them.

Great job Mr. Brooks. I would love to see more stories like this one on some of the other characters.

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A Reading List for The Young Adult in Your Life

Just in time for all those long car trips, and hours spent with family I bring you a short reading list for the young adult in your life, that is not riddled with “young adult” books but should still be appropriate for the slightly younger set.

Before I get to the list, let me start by saying that, this is not an inclusive list. There are a lot of other books out there that are great reads for both young adults and adults alike, and if you have a recommendation please feel free to leave it in the comments below.

This is the last thing before I get to the list I promise. I have a personal philosophy about reading. It is good. Yes, there are books that maybe your younger kids should not read, subjects that they are not ready to handle, but knowing what your child is reading is probably one of the most important things you can do. Books can have some more adult subjects but if you know that and are ready to discuss those things with your “kids” then you can head off any problems before they start.

If a child wants to read a book and you forbid it, they will find a way to read it without you, and they won’t talk to you about it. It is much better to let them read something that might be just this side of questionable and be ready to talk to them about it than to have them read it, have questions and either A) not ask, or B) ask someone else who might give answers you are not going to like.

So here is the list:

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles – Michael J. Sullivan
Tumbler – Brand Gamblin
Quarter Share – Nathan Lowell (the later books in this series do
involve “adult subjects”)
Ravenwood – Nathan Lowell
Zypheria’s Call (Tanyth Fairport Adventures Book 2) – Nathan Lowell
The Hermit of Lammas Wood (Tanyth Fairport Adventures Book 3) – Nathan Lowell
Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective – Philip Carroll
Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age – Philip Carroll
Mick Murdoch: Boy Super Hero – Michell Plested
Mik Murdoch: The Power Within – Michell Plested
Elf Stones of Shannara – Terry Brooks
Magic kingdom for Sale – Terry Brooks
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Ginnie Dare – Scott Roche
A Method To the Madness: A Guide To the Super Evil – Jeff Hite and Michell Plested
Dimensional Abscesses: Portals to Places You don’t Want to Go – Jeff Hite and Michell Plested
The Rookie – Scott Sigler
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Leviathan / Goliath / Behemoth – by Scott Westerfeld
Any of the Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Belgariad – David Eddings (Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, Enchanter’s End Game)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Riddlemaster of Hed – Patricia A. McKillip, followed by Heir of Sea and Fire and Harper in the Wind…
Spellsinger / Hour of the Gate – Alan Dean Foster
For Love of Mother-Not, The Tar-Ayim Krang, Orphan Star, and The End of the Matter, also by Alan Dean Foster.
Troy Rising (Live Free or Die, Citadel, The Hot Gate), by John Ringo
The Chronicles of Prydain – The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, the High King.
The Three Musketeers / Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
The Damned Alan Dean Foster’s three book series in there. Call to Arms, The False Mirror, and Spoils of War.
Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes.
First four X-Wing books – Rogue Squadron, Wedge’s Gambit, something something and The Bacta War. _ Michael Stackpole
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1) and the other books in that series – Mary Stewart

Pirate Adventures – A book Review

Pirate AdventuresPirate Adventures by Russell Punter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book. When reading to my younger kids or getting them to read to me, a little bit of silliness goes along way to making reading more fun, especially when you have read the book several times.

I really enjoy the basic story telling style with words that are easy enough to read without making the story dull and boring.

Three short stories are are long enough to challenge a young reader while not totally overwhelming them.

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A Review Of Mik Murdoch

This review is one that I wrote when I first read Mik Murdoch. I have since read it twice more, once to my kids and once just for myself and everything in this review still stands. This is a great book, and I look forward to the future adventures of our boy super hero.

Mik Murdoch: Boy SuperheroMik Murdoch: Boy Superhero by Michell Plested
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mik Murdoch is 9 years old, and yet he is one of the biggest superheroes I know. From the very beginning of this book I knew I liked this kid. He has a heart of gold and will to match. The story follows Mik (8 when the story begins) in his quest to get super powers and survive everyday life, in his home town of Cranberry Flats

In what could be otherwise called a light hearted romp through childhood, author Michell Plested deals with a very timely issue and one that a lot of kids face every day. Bullies. Mik faces his bullies first on his own until things start to get out of control and then quickly enlists the aid of his parents and other adults. At first asking questions like why me, and feeling sorry for himself, he realizes in true superhero fashion that he needs to stand up to his tormentors. I think this was very well done and is a good model for kids of this age.

One of my favorite things about this book is how Mik’s parents are handled. My biggest criticism of most books aimed at young adults is the way parents are normally completely ignored, treated as clueless or in the worst cases thought of as the enemy of anyone under the age of 20. Mik shows obvious respect for his parents and, while he tries to hide some things from them, “for their own protection,” he often turns to them for aid and guidance without expecting them to drop everything a jump for him. It is this mutual respect and admiration between parents and child that made me not only feel safe handing the book over to my older kids to read, but brought me to read it to the younger ones as well.

Mik Murdoch is for the most part very lighthearted and a fun read. It is safe and entertaining for pretty much all ages.

If you like good clean fun, superheroes, water balloons, cow plops, the love between a dog and his boy and a little bit of magic or any combination of the above you are sure to like this book.

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Christmas Markets in Vienna eBook – A Review

Christmas Markets in Vienna

By Katharina and Mick Bordet


Five out of Five Stars

If you are like me, you might be a little sentimental for the “old days.” Especially around the holidays. For me a lot of what the “old days” means is remembering growing up in Germany. What can I say, I am a sentimental sap. But when it comes to things that I remember best about living there, Christmas time is high on the list. Meeting my wife-to-be and skiing are also high on the list, but Christmas time is pretty darn close to the top.

Some of my favorite, sights, smells, experiences, and of course tastes came from the Christmas Markets that you can find pretty much in every town and village throughout Western Europe. So when I was given the chance to get a peek into the new book Christmas Markets in Vienna By Katharina and Mick Bordet, I jumped at the chance.

WARNING: If you like mulled wine (Gluhwein) you might want to cook up a batch of it before you start reading this book, because if not by the time you get to the end you are going to wish you had.

This book is part guide book, part map, and part beautiful picture book. Each Christmas Market in the Vienna area is given it’s own section, with descriptions of when it is open, if there is a cost to get in, what kinds of things that you might find there, and even links to maps that will help you get there. Believe me there was a serious case of, how come there is not a bridge from the states to Europe going on while I was reading and using the maps. You can also find the links to each of the Market’s official websites. For us “state side” that is likely not all that helpful, but if you happen to be in Vienna during Christmas time next year, you know where to go. Even if you have never been to one of the Christmas markets you have likely seen them on TV or have heard about them. But in case you haven’t this book will solve that problem. For the rest of us. This book will make you “homesick” if anything will, and in the best possible way.

Both Katharina and Mick wrote about their experiences in each of the markets, and it was great to get their opinions, what they were looking for and what they found. I really appreciated the fact that they told you which ones had the most tourists and when you might be able to visit to avoid the biggest crowds.

Then there were the pictures. Pictures of the stalls and the wears, pictures of the market itself, and pictures of the locations. This was particularly breath taking where some of the markets are in castles and monasteries.

The book is relatively short, and I have to say that is probably the only downfall. I read the whole thing, in about an hour, and I was sad when I got to the end and realized If I wanted to get more Christmas market experience I would likely have to buy a plane ticket. The only thing missing from the book were the actual smells and tastes, but then there is a goal for the next book they put out.

The book is available in both English and German, so you can take your pick on what version you want. My German is a little (a lot) rusty so I stuck with the English version. It is only available in ebook formats so you can’t get a hard copy of this book, but it is available for all your favorite ebook formats from all your favorite ebook markets so no matter what device you have you can get a copy of it. Christmas Markets in Vienna

From the “dust jacket”

Vienna is a city that embraces the celebration of Christmas, nowhere more so than in the sheer number and variety of Christmas markets to be found nestled in front of its stunning architecture and along its cobbled streets.

Whether you want to enjoy a mulled wine in front of the spectacular city hall or find a hand-crafted Christmas decoration in the grounds of the imperial palace, taste traditional Austrian gingerbread or cuddle an alpaca, the information you need is right here. This guide takes a tour of these traditional markets, full of crafts, gifts and the flavours of Christmas.

Mick and Katharina provide reviews for all the markets in the city, as well as several more must-see locations outside Vienna, illustrated with photographs and including opening hours, locations and links to some of the things you’ll see at each one.

Essential reading for anyone visiting Vienna in the winter.

Our new Christmas Market guide is now available in English and German!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book free of charge as a preview copy. Having said that I would have gladly paid the meager price of $3.99 to get a copy of it. Nostalgia or no, it is a beautiful book and fully worth the price.
Christmas Markets in Vienna

Surprise! The Madness is Loose

Print Version
Ebook Version

Conquest is easy. Control is not.

— James T. Kirk ‘Mirror, Mirror’
One of the greatest evil minds of any time

With those words we being our journey. The original plan had been to have the print and e-book versions of the book available on June 1st 2013. However, things don’t always go as planned. On April 17th, (a whole month and half early) I received word from a very good friend that they had gotten shipping notices on books they’d ordered. To my surprise, it was true. A day later they had a copy of the in their hands.

Madness in the Wild
Madness in the Wild

So what is an evil super villain to do? Well we do what we always do. Reset the death traps, take a step back, and fire the super, spaced based laser until you’ve drain the power supply. Oh wait that is what you do when you are getting over run by heroes.

We are going full force as if it were June 1. Believe me we already looking into adjusting the calendar, but Superman was not available to do the spiny Earth trick and said something about it being against his code, the Enterprise was busy correcting it’s own time line mistakes, and Dr Who was well, he was last sighted going to a police box, presumably to call the cops on us. So those options are out. Instead we are just going to run with it. That is what we do best.

To that end, Michell Plested and I are working hard to put together a press kit, we are working out a schedule for up coming conventions, and we are trying to get the word out to every one that we can that the book is now available. I hope you will consider checking it out.

A Method To the Madness A Guide To the Super Evil
The quintessential guide for aspiring ne’er-do-wells everywhere. A collection of 24 papers presented by evil luminaries, destined to become a legendary yet practical handbook to the pressing subjects of:

– Cognitive Perspective in the Pursuit of Evil;
– Principles of Biology and Genetics for Minion Breeding Programs; and,
– The Importance of Date Night to the Married Super Villain.

… to name but a few subjects.

The book is kid and teen friendly, and should be great entertainment for both kids and adults. It has “papers” from some incredibly talented evil… I mean people.

Click Clack Moo Cows That Type – A Book Review

Click Clack Moo: Cows That TypeClick Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book I like to read to the little kids, and don’t mind if I have to read it several times. There is just the right amount of silliness and whimsy to keep the kids and the parents reading it entertained.
My older kids will sometimes roll their eyes when this book gets pulled from the shelf, not because they don’t like it, but because Dad tends to giggle while he is reading it to the kids.

Voices are required when reading this book aloud.

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Battlehymn (Crown of Exiles) – A book Review

Battlehymn (Crown of Exiles, #1)Battlehymn by Zachary Ricks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t say that about many things, because really I don’t really enjoy a lot of them. I might enjoy them, but this one was different, this story was something special. This was a fantastic romp into a world that would have never thought that I would enjoy, and in the end I was completely wrong.

Let me see if I can explain a little better. I am not a huge anime fan, so when the blurb about the book started of with, “giant robots” I thought maybe I wouldn’t be interested. When the blurb ended with, “The power of rock-n-roll” I thought, well I like rock and roll, but being rather tone deaf I don’t know actually anything about music so stories about music don’t ever really appeal to me.

While it is true that there are both giant robots and rock-n-roll in this book Mr. Ricks does a wonderful job making the story about something else completely.

The story itself is about how a young man fresh out of the state sponsored shelters and on his own for the first time, finds himself near the center, and tangled up in a struggle that could very easily change the face of the universe as he knows it. Along the way he figured out that he is a lot more than he thinks.

This book is available at both and as well as at the authors website, where you can also find a free audio version, which I can highly recommend.


This is the first book 1 in a yet to be completed series, so if you are like me and like to wait until the story is complete, you might want to hold off reading this.

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The Crown Conspiracy – A Book Review

 (The Riyria Revelations, #1)The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a lot of fun to read. I actually listened to the version read by Nathan Lowell. Both the story and the narration were really top notch.

I have a love hate relationship with fantasy. Well written fantasy I really love but poorly written fantasy I really don’t. This story definitely falls in the loved it category. The fantasy elements where there, but were not shoved in your face. I didn’t have to spend pages upon pages trying to figure out who was an elf and who was a human, because for the most part it didn’t matter, until it did and by then you just knew.

Every character in the story was three dimensional, no cardboard cutouts here. The author spend the time to portray reality of people’s lives in the times then people still had chamberpots to dump. That was a refreshing change. The story was well thought through, and even when I could see what was coming, the story was compelling enough that I wanted to keep going. This to me is a sign of a well written story.

I definitely well be reading the rest of the books in this series, and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy.

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Mik Murdoch Review

This morning I interviewed my son Chris, after he read Mik Murdoch. He really enjoyed the book. We hope you enjoy the interview. I apologize for the sound quality my microphone is broken so we had to resort to another one.

Listen to the Interview Here

You can pre-order a copy of the book here. (Out August 1st) Published By 5 Rivers