New Acquisitions & Musings

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It’s been way too long since I’ve done a New Acquisitions post, so I’m going to keep this one super visual. I was reading a really great post over at Memory’s blog called On Reviewing Less, and it really got me to thinking about all of the different types of posts I write, and what kind of things I get bogged down in versus what I’ve been enthusiastic about.  And I realized that the biggest difference between now and when I started blogging is that I’m in all kinds of places doing kinda sorta similar things.  Now instead of just blogging I’m on Instagram and Goodreads and Twitter and Facebook and there are so many different places–I’m still talking about books and talking with other bookish enthusiasts, but it’s not just here, it all feels so much less centralized and I feel like I never get anything done and then I get discouraged.  So I think that while my regular reviews may stay the same, I want to try to experiment more and try to find balance again and not feel so bogged down so I can spend more time reading and chatting with you all.  Maybe it’s less reviews and more pictures. Maybe it’s bringing the two together somehow. Maybe it’s more discussion posts. Maybe it’s learning my limits, which is something I’m not very good at.

So let’s give this kind of post a whirl and see how it works!

How do you find balance in your blogging/reading/bookish life? And for long-time bloggers (or any bloggers really), what do you do to bring back the excitement when you start feeling overwhelmed?

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Mini-Reviews: Books by Jeffe Kennedy & Emily Gee

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I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini-Reviews: Books by Jeffe Kennedy & Emily GeeThe Crown of the Queen by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: The Twelve Kingdoms #3.6
Published: 2016 by Solaris
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: the author
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The Crown of the Queen by Jeffe Kennedy is a novella that takes place in between two fantasy romance trilogies in the Twelve Kingdoms world.  You can find it in the For Crown and Kingdom duo with another novella by Grace Draven.

Actually, a novella isn’t quite the right word for it.  I prefer to think of For Crown and Kingdom as an interlude rather than it’s own story.  Daphne Mailloux is the royal librarian in Ordnung.  She’s returning home, and everything has changed.  The mad king Uorsin is dead.  His daughter Ursula is next in line to the throne, but she’s having an existential crisis because she killed her father, and is putting off her own coronation.  It’s up to Daphne to subtly advise the new queen and put all of the pieces in place for a coronation worthy of Ursula’s new reign.

It’s a relatively short book, and I enjoyed reading it, but it feels more like a teaser than an actual story.  It’s a departure from Jeffe Kennedy’s usual work (even her short work) in that it doesn’t have a romance arc.  We see hints of the fact that Daphne will have a future romance and some of what troubles may come to the kingdoms, but this story is really about the coronation and Daphne accepting her role as a royal adviser.

This book was a bit of an experiment for me, in the “my Kindle is dying so I’m going to try reading on the Kindle app on my phone” kind of way.  That experiment taught me that while I can handle short ebooks on my phone, I much prefer a dedicated e-reader.

 

Mini-Reviews: Books by Jeffe Kennedy & Emily GeeThief With No Shadow by Emily Gee
Published: April 24th 2007 by Solaris
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 463
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Melke is a wraith, which means she’s got the magical ability to become invisible.  Wraiths are feared by non-magical folk, because their power allows them to be expert thieves.  Melke’s not really a thief, but when the fire salamanders ask her to steal a necklace in exchange for her brother’s life, Melke does what she has to do to save him.  She steals a necklace from a man named Bastian, thinking it an ordinary trinket.  But it turns out that the necklace is the key to breaking a curse on Bastian’s family, and so he hunts down Melke in an attempt to get it back.

Thief With No Shadow is a both a fantasy novel and a romance, and alternates between light-hearted predictability and more serious thematic content about what it means to sacrifice for others.  I read it while camping with Mike and my family, and brought it along on a whim mostly so that I had a convenient excuse to make “but everything changed when the fire nation attacked” references.  It’s a pretty light read and I stayed up late to finish it, but had mixed feelings about the plot.  While the fantasy aspects of Thief With No Shadow worked for me, the romance did not.

The book’s biggest flaw, in my opinion, was that Bastian is a racist dick.  He doesn’t see Melke as human for most of the book, and he treats her horribly.  Yes, we see Bastian’s soft side when he’s around his sister, and he eventually has a redemption arc, but I don’t think that he can just be like, “Oh, by the way, everything I’ve said to you for the past few weeks? Let’s pretend that never happened. I am madly in love with you!” and not only be forgiven but find those feelings reciprocated.  Melke is such a strong protagonist that seeing her with end up with Bastian was a bit of a let down.  Usually when I read fantasy romance, I can at least root for the characters to end up together, but in Thief With No Shadow, that didn’t happen.

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Blog Tour: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson

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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline WoodsonAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Published: August 9th 2016 by Amistad
Genres: Fiction (General)
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Another Brooklyn by writer and poet Jacqueline Woodson is a new novel about a girl and her friends in 1970s Brooklyn. The story begins when August returns to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral. Seeing an old friend on the subway sparks her memories of childhood, told through Woodson’s ethereal and poetic language.  It feels as if you’re reading a dream.

August initially moves to Brooklyn with her father and brother after a family tragedy, and at first leads a sheltered life looking out the window of her apartment. But gradually she gains her freedom and makes friends with three girls, who become inseparable despite their differing family circumstances. There’s Sylvia, whose family pressures her toward law as a promise of a better life, and Gigi, who dreams of being an dancer. Angela has a largely absent mother, and yet still manages to look forward. Each of the girls faces her own challenges while also having fun playing double dutch or sneaking off to smoke in the park.

And yet beneath the hopeful veneer of childhood exuberance, there’s a darker side to the city. There are men who are willing to take advantage of little girls. There’s the challenge of navigating young relationships and not being pressured to trade one’s future for short-term gain. There’s August’s budding realization of the poverty around them, and there’s the loss of innocence as August and her friends realize that they are growing up in the ghetto and that the rest of the world may think less of them because of it, even though they have so many rich experiences of their own. But the fact that there are both painful moments and joyful ones is what makes Another Brooklyn shine. Brooklyn is multifaceted and can be both beautiful and sinister. It’s not the kind of place that can be easily pigeonholed.

Another Brooklyn is an exquisite novel. It captures both the innocence of childhood and the dawning realization of tough realities like race, class, and sexuality. I highly recommend it.

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About Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children, including the New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which won the 2014 National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award. Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Find out more about Woodson at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by John Tiffany, Jack Thorn, & J.K. Rowling

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“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by John Tiffany, Jack Thorn, & J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter #8
Published: July 31st 2016 by Little Brown UK
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a screenplay about Harry Potter’s son Albus.  It takes place many years after the previous books, when Harry is a middle-aged man and his son is about to take his place at Hogwarts.  Despite all of his adventures in defeating evil, Harry Potter doesn’t know how to be a parent.  He tries to protect Albus and give him a good life, but he isn’t sure how to relate to his son and understand that he’s his own person, not just a smaller version of himself.  Albus has a completely different experience at Hogwarts than his father.  He’s a Slytherin, not a Gryffindor.  He’s a bit of a loner, and his only close friend is Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius.  He doesn’t feel the same sense of homecoming that Harry felt at Hogwarts, and he feels as if he isn’t living up to people’s expectations.  When Albus hears of a chance to right an old wrong, he and Scorpius set off on a time travel adventure together.

It’s rare that I preorder a book, but I made an exception for Cursed Child.  Harry Potter was a major part of my childhood, and I got hooked on it when some well-meaning adult told me that I’d go to hell for reading it.  (Note to parents/adults: If you want your children to stay away from a book, telling them that it’s evil will likely encourage them to do the opposite.)  Cursed Child was a chance for a nostalgia trip, but I went in with low expectations, convinced that this was just another excuse for Rowling to milk the proverbial cash cow.

My low expectations were what saved my reading experience, because I did as a whole enjoy Cursed Child.  But there’s a caveat.  Cursed Child reads like Harry Potter fanfiction, not another installment in the series.  There are a bunch of backtracks and lorelols that diverge from what Rowling had already established.  For example, in the Harry Potter books, time travel was more fatalistic–you don’t have to worry about changing the past, because if you did change the past it was already factored into the present timeline.  Case in point: Harry casting the Patronus that saved his other self from the Dementors.  But in Cursed Child, time travel is a little more Dr. Who, and it’s possible to make your loved ones unborn by accident.  But the time travel does give us a chance to reunite with some of our favorite dead characters.

Another example of this divergence from the original Harry Potter canon has to do with the adult characters’ professions.  Rowling had established professions for Ron, Harry, and Hermione, but then backtracked in the play.  Ron now owns a joke shop, which is cool and all, but not his original career path.

But the fanfiction feeling isn’t all bad.  My favorite part of the book was the serious bromance between Albus and Scorpius.  It’s a not-so-subtle nod to all of the fanfics that shipped Harry and Draco years ago, and it’s absolutely adorable.  (I also read the whole Harry needs to let go of his past as an ironic metaphor for Rowling’s need to move on from the series, but that’s a different story…)

Even though Cursed Child was a mixed bag, I found it to be a pleasant experience.  If you’re a diehard fan, you’ll find that the mixture of bromance and daddy issues aren’t the kind of future you’d imagine.  You’ll get even more upset at a certain portrayal of He Who Must Not Be Named.  But if you have a sense of humor about it and don’t take it too seriously, Cursed Child is a romp down memory lane.  At only a couple hundred pages, it’s worth taking the risk.

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“The Summer That Melted Everything” by Tiffany McDaniel

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I received this book for free from NetGalley, the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“The Summer That Melted Everything” by Tiffany McDanielThe Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
Published: July 26th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Fiction (General)
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, the author
Buy on Amazon
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The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel explores the loss of innocence in a sleepy Ohio town.  Fielding Bliss is a kid growing up in Breathed, Ohio.  His dad is a judge, and has been struggling with the ethical implications of his role.  When he started his career, he saw everything in black and white, and saw himself as an agent of justice and ultimately God’s will, but slowly he realizes that despite his best efforts, sometimes even he can get it wrong and condemn the innocent.  Fielding’s dad posts an add in a local newspaper inviting Satan himself to come to town.  He didn’t expect to receive an answer, and certainly not in the form of a thirteen-year-old black boy named Sal.

Because he has nowhere else to go, Fielding’s family takes him in.  The entire town of Bliss is suspicious of Sal, but he quickly wins over some friends, beginning with Fielding.  He also makes enemies as the residents of Bliss start to blame Sal for everything that goes wrong.  They’re unable to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and they see in Sal a convenient scapegoat.  The tension builds throughout the novel until it comes to its ultimate tragic conclusion.

The Summer That Melted Everything starts out as magical realism.  Sal claims to be the devil, and he has a host of stories and parables that seem pretty convincing.  But as the story progresses, it becomes more and more obvious that Sal is just a kid who’s had an extremely difficult life.  He feels like the devil, because he understands what it’s like to be cast out.  But he’s also wise and kind and helps heal the broken.  The real devil doesn’t have horns and a tail, it’s the hatred and mistrust and resentment that are present in ordinary people and cause them to do terrible things.

When the story starts to get real, it does so in a hard way.  Through Fielding’s eyes, we go from the innocence of youth to tough social issues like racism, domestic violence, and AIDS.  We see Fielding as a child, and we also see him as a bitter old man who is haunted by the past and lives in his own personal hell.  There’s no salvation in this story.  And to me, the scariest part of The Summer That Melted Everything isn’t just my sadness and horror at the story’s ending, but the fact that I’m afraid that we haven’t progressed enough as a society since then.

The story’s antagonist, Elohim, preys on people’s fears and amplifies their superstition.  He fosters a mob mentality that grows to an unstoppable force.  And despite the best efforts of good and honorable people like Fielding’s father, there’s nothing that can be done to stop it until the madness has run it’s course and people look back at it and themselves in horror.  And the worst part is that as a reader you can see it coming from a mile away and are powerless to stop it.

This is the kind of book that will make you cry and make you want to hold those you love very closely.  I truly enjoyed the beginning of the book, but as I continued reading, it became more and more upsetting, and I felt more and more withdrawn.  It hit me hard emotionally.  That is the mark of a masterfully written story.

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Adventures and Summertime Updates

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Summerupdates

You know that feeling when you’re busy running around the country, fighting vampires, and causing general mayhem?  Okay, maybe I’m lying about the vampires, but my past month has been pretty crazy.  One of the things that I love about my current job is the occasional travel, and this month I had two different work-related trips.

The first was to Boston.  It was my first time in Boston, although I’d been in nearby Salem earlier this summer doing kitschy witchy things and hiding out in comic book shops.  Since I had a limited amount of free time, I skipped most of the usual tourist stops and instead went to as many bookstores as I possibly could.  Links go to pictures that I am too lazy to embed.

  • Brattle Book Shop – This was a gorgeous used bookstore with an outdoor alleyway in addition to the main shop.  I adored it.  It had a decently sized SF/F section, but it was double stacked and disorganized.  Don’t go there looking for anything specific and you’re certain to discover some gems.
  • Commonwealth Books – This used and rare bookstore is located on Boston’s oldest street.  It’s currently in a construction area, but don’t let that stop you from visiting.  It’s got a decent selection of literary fiction, but poetry is where this bookstore truly shines.  I didn’t see a dedicated SF/F section here though.
  • Harvard Bookstore – Guys this bookstore is amazing and you have to visit if you get a chance.  I want to be the resident bookstore gnome who lives in the basement and reads all the books and creeps around there.  This is because although the upstairs bookstore focuses on new books, the downstairs is filled with clearance remainders and used books.  Their upstairs SF/F section is well-curated.

I also caught the nation’s smartest Pokemon on Harvard’s campus, and took down a gym with a Flareon that I’d named Praxis, as one does.

The day after I got back from Boston, I came down with a horrible case of food poisoning that had me vomiting my guts out.  I thought I was getting better, and hopped a plane to my next meeting in Chicago.  I was not getting better.  The food poisoning turned into a fever/sinus infection/head cold/chest cold/bullshit.  I spent most of my Chicago trip alternating between dragging myself to meetings and passing out in my extremely comfortable hotel room.

I’ve always loved Chicago, and strangely enough, this visit made me love the city even more.  Every time I stepped out of my room, I felt as if the city was taking care of me, and I was able to find both soup and tea spots within a block or two of the hotel.  I found a nice comic book store and picked up a trade of Monstress, and on my last morning in the city I decided to go frolic in the Millennium Park Fountain during a break.  Life is too short not to splash around in public fountains at every opportunity.

My past week has been spent playing catch-up from all of the things I didn’t do while out of town, as well as trying to fight off the remnants of this extremely stubborn cold.  For those of you whom I’ve promised reviews, they will be posted soon, I promise!

Somehow, this month I still managed to read and review the following books:

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Author Interview: Tiffany McDaniel

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Today I’m delighted to introduce Tiffany McDaniel for an author interview.  Today is the release date for Tiffany’s debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything, published through St. Martin’s Press.  Here’s the trailer for the novel:


Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your debut novel.

A: I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who wishes I could ride the back of Moby Dick across the great Atlantic, make a web with Charlotte, and shoot the breeze (but no mockingbirds) with Atticus Finch.

As for The Summer that Melted Everything, it’s a novel about a man named Fielding Bliss who is looking back on the Ohio summer of 1984 when his father put an invitation in the local newspaper, inviting the devil to town. The one come to answer the invitation is a boy in overalls and with bruises. This is the story of what this boy’s arrival brings, which is a heat-wave of the flames of the sun and of the flames of the community itself, burning, burning until everything does indeed melt and drip to lost between their fingers.

Q: What was your inspiration for The Summer That Melted Everything?

A: I always say what inspires me to write any of my novels is the characters themselves. The characters are real people to me. They inspire me to get their story right. To tell it as authentically as I can. To write the story they deserve and are owed in truth.

Q: Is your book based on personal experiences?

While the story itself is not based on personal experience, the landscape certainly is. The story takes place in the fictional town of Breathed, Ohio, which is a landscape very much reflective of my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio, where the hills speak, the creek paces in its own good time, and the roads are dirt-laid and grass-lined. That wildflower song, front porch chatter, and southern twang has shaped me as a writer. Having spent my childhood summers down-home was like being one of the rolling hills, forever rooted in rust and dirt and moon-shine magic.

Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

A: I came from the womb hungry for story. Thirsting for its presence. Writing is my guide down the weedy, torn path. It is my bridge over raging water. My light through the dark forest. I’m lost without it. How could I ever want to be anything else?

Q: What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

A: I read all kind of books from literary fiction to murder mysteries. Non-fiction to poetry.

As long as the story makes me want to live and die with its first and last line, it’s a book I’ll enjoy. I will say some of my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Agatha Christie, Poet James Wright, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Markus Zusak. I’ll swing into infinity with their beautiful words.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A: Gardening. I want a greenhouse I can turn into a jungle and stalk like a jaguar. I love reading. I want to be buried with books and rise in the afterlife to a library of them. I also love film. I hope one day I’ll be fortunate enough to see my novels translated to the screen. Sometimes there’s nothing better than watching a movie in Saturday night pajamas and with a Saturday night bag of chips.

Q: Do you have a new book in the works?

A: I have eight novels completed. Currently I’m working on my ninth novel. The novel I hope to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is When Lions Stood as Men. It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in my land of Ohio. While here they create their own camp of judgment. Being both the guards and the victims, they punish themselves not only for surviving, but for the sins they know they cannot help but commit.

Q: Do you have anything you would like to say to readers? And where can readers find you?

A: That without readers, there are no novelists to be had. Readers give meaning to an author’s words. So if you like a book, tell everyone you know. Be that book’s champion because if you do, you’re being a champion for the author herself. My only hope is that readers like what I’ve written. That they can count on me to deliver a story that is worth both their time and their hard-earned money. Nothing would make me happier than to know a reader has finished one of my books with the pleasure of having read it. That’s what I strive for as an author. To be someone’s favorite author as so many authors have been mine.

As far as where readers can find me, I’m not on social media, but they can jump on to my website at www.tiffanymcdaniel.com

Readers can also connect with me directly through my website. That connection to readers is very important to me. As I’ve said, they’re the ones who determine an author’s entire career. How can I not give them some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?


About the Book

summer that melted everything

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

About the Author

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.   

 

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Author Interview: Kieth Merrill

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Today I’m delighted to welcome to my blog Kieth Merrill, author of The Immortal Crown. I’m currently in the middle of reading it and am loving it thus far. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter my giveaway to win a copy!


Q— Tell us a bit about yourself.

OK, Brace yourself. 

I am a writer, director and producer of motion pictures, and more recently, the author of novels.

I was nominated for an Academy Award for my film, Amazon and won the Oscar for my film, THE GREAT AMERICAN COWBOY. I have created several feature films, television projects, include numerous landmark and award winning productions.

With the development of the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater and film project, I introduced a new concept that became known as “destination cinema”. The film, GRAND CANYON – THE HIDDEN SECRETS is currently listed as one of the 25 most successful independent films in history and the first film to be inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame.  

My “destination film” projects are a unique combination of documentary and dramatic narrative, driven by story and spectacular as a result of authentic recreations of history on the giant screen. My IMAX docudramas include the Grand Canyon IMAX Theater at the South rim of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls IMAX theater, Canada, IMAX at River Center, San Antonio, Texas featuring ALAMO – THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, a large screen dramatic recreation of the battle of The Alamo–and a large screen film POLYNESIAN ODYSSEY for Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.  

My debut novel, Evolution of Thomas Hall, received solid reviews and good success. 

The Immortal Crown, Book I in the epic fantasy series, Saga of Kings hit books stores in May of this year. Book 2,Lord of Vengeance, is in editing.

I served in the US Army and I sat for several years as a member of the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University, and served as the past president of the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I was honored with BYU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. I am active in church, community and family. 

My greatest success is my amazing marriage to my college sweetheart, Dagny Johnson of Piedmont, California. We have been married 52 years. We have 8 children and 37 Grandchildren.  I grew up on a farm, I’m a cowboy at heart and I love country music. Dagny and I live in the Sierra Foothills of California’s gold country.

Q — Tell us about your novel The Saga of Kings: The Immortal Crown. What was your inspiration for the novel?

As a writer and director of motion pictures, I’ve learned there are two ways to answer questions in an interview. 

One is the clever sound bite. 

The other is the always more complicated truth. 

Let’s skip the clever sound bite and tell the truth.

It started with the core of the idea itself. Not a story per se’ but a context. An archaic history, written sometime around 2200 BC with the classic elements of epic fiction. The fight between good and evil, the struggle for power, treachery, betrayals, battles, seduction and murder. The rise and fall of kings and  kingdoms, and in the midst of it — drum roll please — reference to mysterious stones that shined in the dark. The stories of such stones, the Pyrophilus, are legendary and found throughout the ancient history of the world and were reportedly possessed by  such legendary characters as Gilgamesh, such historical luminaries as Noah Solomon and Alexander the Great. 

But the shining stones of the archaic writings that were the spark of inspiration for The Immortal Crown were different and added a fascinating dimension to the legends of Pyrophilus. The stones in this story were made luminous by touch of the finger of God.

That single idea triggered my imagination and sent me in search of the story that took me to the Kingdom of Kandelaar. It was there I discovered the quest and conflict for the 13 shining stones — which as epic fantasy would have it — are endowed with the power of renewal, immortality and endless life.

Q — Who of the three main protagonists do you think readers will root for?

Readers will tend to root for the characters in whom they find a goodly portion of themselves, thus readers will root for different characters, but in the end, I believe most readers will feel the way I do — as expressed by the following Q&A.

Q — Who is your favorite?

I would have to say Qhuin is my favorite character, EXCEPT when I’m not with him. Curiously and I think many readers will feel the same way, I often find my affections shift and I favor the character I’m with or who suddenly does something brave and brilliant, even when he or she is not one of the three protagonists. 

I not only favor, but I love Meesha when she feeds the men abandoned by the prince. I love Tonguelessone when she has the courage to defy Drakkor. I love Nimra when he saves Erin Qhuin. I think readers are the same. I try to write every character so we favor and adore them when we are with them — or loathe them with a passion if they’re antagonists. 

Q — What books do you like to read? 

One has to acknowledge the chasm between fiction and non-fiction when citing “favorite books and authors”. 

My favorites tend to be the ones I am reading at the moment. I am always on the lookout for new authors and bounce back and forth from fiction to non-fiction with no particular pattern. A few of the classics deserve to be on the list of course, but it has been SO long since I curled up with J.R.R. Tolkien, James Fenimore Cooper or Charles Dickens I hope they’ll forgive me for leaving them off the list

NON FICTION:

There are a few books I keep close at hand.  

  • Story by Robert McKee
  • An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton
  • Against the Idols of the Age – The Essays of David Stove edited by Roger Kimball
  • Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  • Scripture

FICTION:

Now I reveal my low brow enjoyment and escape into pulp fiction and confess I’m one of the readers who keep these guys on the New York Times Best Seller list for week after week.

I’ve listed authors rather than books because once I find one I like I buy all of their books and read everything they’ve written. My wife is a voracious reader also, she loves books and has collected a huge library of hardback fiction. One Click purchasing at Amazon is a blessing and a curse.

  • Lee Childs
  • Brad Thor
  • Vince Flynn
  • Daniel Silva
  • Dean Koontz
  • Clive Cussler
  • Robert McCammon
  • I’ve read Gone South, three times and want to make it into a movie.
  • Dan Brown
  • George R. R. Martin, A grateful nod of course for his 25 year masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire 
  • Oh and of course, The Evolution of Thomas Hall, a truly excellent novel which I have read many times.

On my reading list for the year ahead.

  • The Last Mile by David Baldacci – Currently reading
  • The Twelfth Imam by Joel Rosenberg – Currently reading
  • The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock
  • Playing to the Edge by Michael V. Hayden
  • Increase in Learning by David Bednar
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller

…and when I wander through Barnes and Noble those unknown treasures that are yet to be added.

Q — What do you like to do outside of writing?

Play tennis. Go to movies. Teach Sunday School. Speak to youth. Write in my personal journal. Read, read, read. Sketch. Shoot guns. Take photographs, and hang out with my grandkids. At the moment my big ‘outside adventure’ is building an outrageous tree house for my grandkids.

About the Book

immortal crownA thousand years ago, the Navigator possessed thirteen stones touched by Oum’ilah, the God of gods. Over time, these power-ful stones of light were scattered and a prophecy arose declaring that a “child of no man” would gather them again, and he would be given immortality and reign forever as god and king of Kandelaar.

Now, in an age of chaos, the time has come for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Light and darkness have each chosen a champion to claim the legendary stones: The sorceress of the cult of she-dragon has chosen Drakkor, a warrior and mercenary who travels with bandits and a corrupt stone of darkness.

The Oracle of Oum’ilah has placed his faith in Ashar, a young postulant who is unsure the stones of light even exist.

Meanwhile, miles away, a slave named Ereon Qhuin dreams of freedom. Abandoned at birth, his only possession is a strange stone that he believes is the key to his destiny and freedom.

A mercenary, a postulant, and a slave—which one is truly the child of prophecy? Who will wear the immortal crown?

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Summer Giveaway

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Book Giveaway
Alrighty folks.  I’m going to be out of town for the majority of the next two weeks, and so I decided it’s the perfect time for a summer giveaway.  I’ve been collecting up some prizes courtesy of generous publishers/authors, and one lucky winner will receive some treats!  The prizes are:

  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children tote bag.  If you haven’t read the book, you totally should.  It’s weird and creepy and delightful, and is filled with some great vintage style photography.
  • The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak.  A novel about zombies.  See the description from Goodreads for more detail!
  • The Immortal Crown by Kieth Merrill. Three different people might be the chosen one from an ancient prophecy.  Who will it be?  For more detail, see the description from Goodreads.

Some ground rules–the giveaway will run through August 5.  US only, as I’m on a budget.  To enter, use the rafflecopter below.  Bonus points for sharing on social media!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: “The Last Woman Standing” by Thelma Adams

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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: “The Last Woman Standing” by Thelma AdamsThe Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams
Published: July 1st 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Genres: Western, Historical Fiction
Pages: 290
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

The Last Woman Standing is a western historical fiction novel about the gunfight at the OK Corral.  Josephine Marcus is a rebellious young woman who doesn’t want to settle down with a nice Jewish boy.  She’s lured to Tombstone, Arizona by the promise of Johnny Behan, a local sheriff. Josie arrives in Arizona naive and full of hopes, but quickly has to learn the ways of the world.  Johnny keeps promising her the world, but stops short of actually marrying her.  And Josie begins to develop feelings for Wyatt Earp, one of Johnny’s friends/rivals who symbolizes everything that Johnny is not.  But Tombstone itself is brimming with tension and resentment that’s about to boil over into violence, and Josie finds herself caught in the middle between her old and new loves.

As the book progresses, Josie really comes into her own.  At first, her primary goal is getting out of San Francisco and establishing a life for herself.  Once she gets to Tombstone, she encounters a world that’s totally different from her sheltered upbringing.  At first she trusts in Johnny, but then as she begins to see through him she manages to build her own life and friendships without him and finds a place in Tombstone by her own right.  Finding Wyatt was the icing on the cake.

The Last Woman Standing really made me appreciate modern life, and the variety of choices that modern women have and often take for granted.  After being with Johnny, Josie found herself in a predicament where she was no longer considered marriage material by proper society, and had limited options for supporting herself.  Josie began to realize that her only real social capital was her beauty and its leverage with men, and it was a hard realization for her to make.

Overall, I enjoyed The Last Woman Standing, and would definitely recommend it.  It’s filled with romance and adventure amidst a backdrop of possibility.

Giveaway

Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to give away a copy of the book! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.  US/Canada only.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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