Book Review – Worlds Collide by Shannon McRoberts

Title: Worlds Collide: a crossover novella
Author: Shannon McRoberts
Written: 2010
Published: 2012
Format: Print* – please note, my review copy was an uncorrected print proof and the novella is currently only available for purchase as an eBook; print books are expected to be released soon


Words Collide is a short novella.  It’s listed at 48 pages on Amazon (my proof is 40 pages), but as I look at the formatting, I’m actually questioning if this one isn’t more of a novelette [note: novelette 7500-15k, novella 15k-40k].

In this novella, novelette, story, a group called the N’Loron is about to break into Athene’s world, and she has to chose between this group of creatures and her own life.

So, I’ll admit that when I started reading, the book did exactly what I don’t want to see in fantasy – big words for no reason other than big words, somebody immediately doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, Gods used in funny ways, etc – and all in the first page.  But the book flows well enough, so I kept reading.

We follow a line of chaos pretty much the whole story, and there’s a lot of telling rather than showing, which I think weakens the whole story line.  For instance, the first paragraph says that the character, Nike, enters a place she shouldn’t have been after searching for a while.  Show us the searching.  Give us a paragraph of walking for a long time (or flying, Nike has wings after all), sweat, whatever.

Another issue I had was that there are a lot of “fantasy-ish” names – you know, stuff that looks made up.  A’tiasul, N’Loron, etc.  And a lot of names that are similar.  Nike/Nikeda.  I don’t know about you, but when I read names like that, I sort of stop comprehending who is who and have to slow down and pay more attention, meaning I don’t get as lost in the story as I would like to.  (Also, several are repetitively used – there’s a paragraph near the end, for instance, where every sentence uses N’Loren in it at least once.)

Also, the God(s) used… are sort of used in name only.  Athina, for example, is the daughter of Zeus, not the granddaughter of him.  Nike is not a dark anything.  But they are in this book.  So if you’re really into mythologies, be aware of that going in.

In the end, overlook the theft of names to make characters, and give yourself a few pages to get into the book.  It’s entertaining enough, and at the short length, it’s good for when you don’t want a novel.  Like I said, by my estimation, this is more a novelette than a novella, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time to get through it.

The story’s there, so I’ll give this one a three.  Pick it up if you want something shorter, but if you’re really looking for a novel, don’t feel guilty skipping it.


I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book in conjunction with  First Rule Publicity and the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review–Heads In Beds By Jacob Tomsky


Title: Heads In Beds
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Format: Electronic (Kindle)
Written: 2012
Published: 2012


First came Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain’s memoir of a life in food service.   Then came blogs and every liberal arts major with a substance abuse problem and a job in the service industry decided they would try their hand at aping Bourdain’s success.    We had ranting waiters, grousing cable guys and grumpy customer service techs in droves.   It finally got to the place where MFA students trying for writing success MADE UP blogs by FICTIONAL service industry professionals.   Here in Nashville, TN, the Nashville Is Talking blogosphere was sideswiped by a guy whose thesis for his MFA program was to write a blog pretending to be a worker in a Nashville gas station.    He’d write long posts about how his philosophy degree and encounters with various hot girls and rednecks broadened his horizons.    Needless to say I have not a lot of love lost for these types of books, as after awhile they all become patronizing in a backhanded way.  “See what lessons I’ve been taught by the people I looked down on.  Well, I still look down on them but now I can look down on them AND inflate my own ego at their expense at the same time.”

Why, then, did I check this out of the library?   Answer: The blurb in Entertainment Weekly promised that this was a rollicking good time that also gives travelers tips on how to save money on hotel stays.    The combination of potential fun and frugality drew me in.

The memoir portions and anecdotes are interesting to a point, but I daresay that for any of us who have held a service industry job they’re nothing revelatory.  I mean, honestly.  Who doesn’t by now know that management can be unfair and inconsistent, that some of your coworkers might be a little nuts?   To whom is it really news that customers can be jerks and insulting?    Bourdain’s memoir–that granddaddy of professional accounts–succeeds because it creates a mythos around the restaurant industry and leaves you enthralled by cooks who are modern pirates, giants among the earth.   This book just has a lot of ex-cons parking cars and using variations of the F bomb.     It’s still interesting to a minor degree in that it takes you into the author’s world, and I would recommend it as a three-star commute read but for one thing.

The money-saving tips.

Let me spoil the “tips” for you right now.    There are only really two, but they get worded differently throughout the book to make it seem as if there are more.   The two “save money on hotel stays” tips are as follows:

1. Throw money at literally everyone you see.   $20 to the desk clerk gets your room upgraded.  $20 to the valet gets your CD collection not stolen out of your car.  $20 to the porter handling your luggage may get a good word put in for you with the desk clerk and the valet.     Frankly, if I had this many $20 bills to be handing out I wouldn’t be drawn to reading some memoir for money-saving tips.

2.  Lie.  This right here is where he lost me.   I can’t stand cheating in any form.   This big tip for saving on the mini-bar charges, on the PPV charges, on any extra charges for things taken from your room is just to lie about it.   Essentially the hotels know that with so many staffers having access to a room there is no way to prove that the minibar wasn’t raided by housekeeping or the porn wasn’t watched by valets when you were out on the town.  So if you eat the $30 jar of jelly beans or watch the plastic sex all you have to do is deny it and the desk clerk–whom you’ve of course slipped $20–will take the charges off your bill.

The author is claiming to be in a labour dispute with his current employer, an anonymous NYC hotelier.   This book is designed to be both a self-aggrandizing memoir and a stab back at The Man.    It’s not really worth reading.  It’s especially not worth paying for.


I’m giving it Two Bookworms because up until the business about lying to save money it was passably entertaining.   And I suppose if you’re not as bothered by that “tip” as I am, you might have  a fun time with the book.    2bookworms

Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells

Book: Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells

Author: multiple authors, edited by Herika R. Raymer


Publisher: Kerlak Enterprises Inc.


Man and machine, machine and magic, which will win in the end? Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells explores this question as it pits the two against each other in 15 short stories set in the Victorian steampunk era.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I read this as a request from a friend closely connected to this novel. While I love a good fantasy novel, I have only just begun dabbling in the steampunk genre, so my opinions may be different from those dyed-in-the-wool steampunk fans. I did enjoy the book itself. It was good, very much worth reading. The characters were interesting, the stories were mostly captivating, and the fact that each story is only about 20 pages long is perfect for a review with the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. I do, however, have a couple of complaints. While I enjoyed the short length, I found some of the stories to end rather abruptly. I often found myself asking what happens after the story ends? Where is the closure? As one friend put it “the writing of the short story is a dying art…” and I found that to be very apparent at times. I also found that some of the stories were not well written in terms of grammar and dialogue, something akin to nails on a chalkboard for a grammar hound like me, though it was not bad enough for me to stop reading.

Overall, I give this book 3 pages. While it is not a book I would have necessarily picked up had I not been asked to read it (again keep in mind I am not big into steampunk), I did enjoy it for the most part. If you like fantasy and/or steampunk, then this is probably a book for you.

Book Review – Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Title:  Heat Wave

Author: Richard Castle

Format: Hardback

Written: 2009

Published: 2009

Heat Wave is an interesting book to consider, when it is a book that was written by a fictional character of a hit TV series.  Though the book was obviously written by a real person, Richard Castle is not, himself, a real person, and sadly there is no information on the actual author who wrote the book.  ABC, the company that produces the show Castle wishes for readers to believe that the character Richard Castle wrote the book.

In the TV series Castle is acclaimed to be a New York Times Best Seller Novelist, and to be honest the quality of the writing in my opinion was lacking in that respect.  Don’t get me wrong, the book was amusing to read and I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t place it as a best seller, or of the quality of a bestselling author.  There were a few idiosyncrasies with phraseology, and things were rather rushed at points. Also I wasn’t fond of the combined nickname for detectives Raely and Oacha.  Throughout the book they are referred to as Roach in the singular sense many times and I had to pause and remind myself that Roach represented two people, not one.  Also the use of a lot of names with the same starting letter caused things to get a bit difficult at times.

Yet, despite my issues with the book, and it not being of the caliber of a bestselling author, it was still a decent read.  I was amused and found myself laughing aloud on occasion, as there were several witty moments in the book.  It was also interesting to see where certain episodes of the TV series were loosely incorporated into the book.  The book though rushed did not truly capture my interest until near the end when Detective Nikki Heat was hot on the trail of her murder suspect, and by that point I was mainly eager to know if my prediction of who committed the murder was accurate.  I will say that I was correct, but I won’t say who the murder was, for those who would wish to read this book.  Over all, I give the book a three out of five pages.

Writer Wednesday – Stephanie Osborn

Most people familiar with the con circuit of the southeast have seen Stephanie Osborn and her husband, Darrell (the Chief Mad Scientist at Doctor Osborn’s Magic and Balloons), and those outside of it are probably familiar with her in some way.  As the writer of several dozen books of various types, she’s got her tendrils (hey, she’s a sci-fi writer) in many different areas…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Stephanie Osborn, and I write science, science fiction, and science fiction mystery.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I am a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian and military space programs. I worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and trained astronauts too. I’m currently retired from space work and happily “pass it forward,” teaching math and science via numerous media, and working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on my knowledge, experience, and travels. So I really am one of those rocket scientists you hear about.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve written Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281; co-authored several of the Cresperian Saga books; am co-authoring the Point series with Travis S. Taylor; am the author of the critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective series; and Travis and I recently wrote the top-selling science book, A New American Space Plan.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m working on the 4th Cresperian book, Heritage; the sequel to Burnout, Escape Velocity; books 5-7 of the Displaced Detective series (well, book 7 is actually finished, I’m just polishing it). I have a steampunk book, the first of The Adventures of Aemelia Gearheart, that’s being shopped around. Travis and I are tossing around ideas and trying to get time in our schedules for writing the next Point book. So I’m keeping pretty busy.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
You mean other than Little Golden Books, and things like that? I guess discovering science fiction in mid-elementary school and launching into Bradbury and Asimov and the like. I read my first Sherlock Holmes novel about then too – somebody gave me a copy of Hound of the Baskervilles – but it scared me pretty badly, and actually probably delayed my entry into Holmesiana. I have a very vivid imagination, and have always dreamed in color. That, in a young child, is not always a great combo.

What are your three favorite books?
Ouch. You mean I have to choose? In what genre(s)?

I guess I would have to say the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes, The War of the Worlds, and…Lord of the Rings maybe. That’s closer to a dozen books really, or a couple really honkin’ big ones. And I could still list more.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Oh, pretty much as many as I feel like. I can swap up books readily enough.

Right now I’m reading a lot of reference materials. Celtic history, a biography and research notes for Nikola Tesla, rereading some Holmes stuff, Victorian – I found an electronic copy of Mrs. Beeton’s on a website, for Kindle no less! Now for those that don’t know, this was a mammoth text that was the Martha Stewart AND Oprah Winfrey combined, of the Victorian era. Plus Emily Post thrown in for good measure. It’s great reference material for someone writing steampunk and Sherlock Holmes!

Oh, and cookbooks. Because I just like ’em.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…lose track of my own spacetime and subsume into the world in the book.

If I have a cup of hot tea with cream, a snackie-something, and my cat purring in my lap, I’m gone. For a long time. Stomp when you come into the room, it won’t matter. I won’t know you’re there. Just don’t put your hand on my shoulder without yelling in my ear first or you’ll be peeling me off the ceiling fan!

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
If it’s a book I really like, I read it until it’s worn out and then buy another copy. Ebook readers sort of help in that respect now…

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
If it’s a book I like the sound of, I’ll read it as soon as I find time – provided it isn’t in my own genre. I tend to avoid books in my fiction genres because I don’t want to inadvertently pull someone else’s idea into my own work.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
If it’s a book I think is worthy, most definitely I’ll recommend it. I do some free-lance editing in addition to writing, and have encountered several books that I consider noteworthy through that.

What do you look for in a good book?
A good plot (realistic if it’s that sort of fiction, though I do fantasy also), characters that make me forget they’re not real people. Something that sucks me in. It might make me think, it might be light reading. But it has to have enough depth for me to be THERE instead of HERE.

Why do you write?
I don’t know. I think if I could answer this, I’d win some major awards or something, because then I’d know what to do and how to grab my audience and wring every last emotion out of ’em. I just know that it’s something I have to do. I have things to be said and stories to be told. And I have to say ’em, I have to tell ’em.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Heh, I’ve already been them. I started off as a rocket scientist – for real. I worked for NASA and DoD for a couple decades. (I trained astronauts and worked on crew procedures and timelines, aka schedules.) I’ve also taught at university, tutored, substitute taught. I’m a licensed minister. A NWS-certified storm spotter. I was a reserve police officer. An ACE-certified personal trainer. I’ve been called Renaissance woman and polymath. I guess in some respects, I am.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
That’s another “I don’t know.” Sometimes it just seems to be there. In my Displaced Detective series, I postulate alternate realities (and science recently provided support for the concept of alternate realities!), and speculate that somehow writers like Arthur Conan Doyle unwittingly access these alternate universes when they write – so that what they are doing is not really writing fiction, but setting down the histories of these other spacetimes. It’s as good a theory as any, I suppose.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That there’s a whole lot more crammed into my cranium – more worlds, more people, more concepts, more adventures – than I ever dreamed. And that not only do I have the ability to write an entire book, I can write dozens of books!

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They’re very proud of me. My husband is a graphic artist and illustrator, and he’s become the go-to guy for most of my book cover art. I’d asked him for a piece of artwork for my first book, to put on my then-new website (, and my publisher liked it and it became the cover for the book, which was Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. The title of the art is, “Matchstick.”

My parents are very proud. I think my Mom got a Kindle just so she could get the works I have out that are ebook-only, frankly! Daddy likes to read the print versions.

My mentor, Travis Taylor, says I’m awesome and he likes my stuff. (I include him here because he’s kind of like a brother I wanted but never had.) I dunno about the awesome part, but I’m glad he likes it.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Ha! So far I haven’t encountered any! If you can come up with a stereotype, I can probably find it in myself or one of my writer friends!

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The economy. It’s really hard to break into the business when everything is changing – print, ebooks, both, what formats – and when people have less disposable income than they did only a few years ago.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, a few technical things here and there. I cringe at some of those when I read them. Most people probably don’t recognize them, but I do, having learned from Travis. Eventually I’ll have to go back and tidy up the earlier works and issue new editions, I think.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I have two film projects that are stalled at the funding stage, what with the current economy. We have people lined up to direct, act, do SFX, all that sort of stuff. We just need “angels.” I’m excited about them, and want to get them off the ground and rolling. One is a short – we want to enter it into some film festivals, and maybe use it as the pilot for an anthology series. We only need $7000 – but people either want to do big stuff, or not at all. The other one is a feature film version of Burnout, and that is more like $50 million. A bit bigger. If anybody is interested in being the producer for the short, contact me. My email is

How do you deal with your fan base?
Oh, I think my fans are cool! For all that I’ve been doing this for a few years now, it still surprises me to find I have a hardcore fan base. I love it!

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
Well, I’m actually a very shy and sensitive person. Everybody thinks I’m really outgoing and an extrovert, but when I take the psych tests, I’m borderline extrovert/introvert. I get stage fright.

But years ago I sort of developed a character – like acting – that was a facet of my personality, that I used when I had to talk in public, to help me through the stage fright. Over time that character just developed more and more until I was comfortable with it, and now it really is me. It’s just like, I flip a switch and go from this homebody sitting at her computer to this vivacious, outgoing person at a convention. I still get stage fright, but I’ve learned to channel the adrenaline in more productive ways, like being energetic and upbeat, and thinking fast on my feet.

But I pay for it after. It’s not uncommon for me to come home from a convention and sleep for the better part of a day because the effort to be “on” for an entire weekend has worn me out. So if you come up to me and I look tired, I really am. If I seem absent-minded or slightly frazzled, I am.

Anything else we should know?
Um, let’s see. My first children’s book, StarSong, is out, through Chromosphere Press, and it’s available in paperback and ebook. I’ve gotten my second EPIC Award Finalist designation, the first one having been for book 2 of the Cresperian Saga, The Y Factor in 2010; my second is for the short story, The Fetish. (It’s set in the Burnout universe.) A New American Space Plan is doing really really well in sales! Book 4 of the Displaced Detective series, Endings and Beginnings, is being released this next week in print.
And I’m still going!

Book Review – Nancy Wake: A Biography Of Our Greatest War Heroine by Peter FitzSimons

Title: Nancy Wake: A Biography Of Our Greatest War Heroine
Author: Peter FitzSimons
Format: Paperback
Written & Published: 2001

Nancy Wake was an Australian who was highly decorated by several countries for her efforts during the Second World War. This biography covers her life from birth to 10 years prior to her death at 98 years of age. It paints a stunning picture of a woman too stubborn to give up, who used every resource she had at her disposal to leave the world a better place than she found it. The biography is based heavily on interviews with Nancy and those friends who were still alive to share their memories.

To read this book is to truly see the meaning of determination. Nancy’s personality is clear on every page, and her decision making process is obvious. The biographer is compassionate in his telling of her life, while also managing to maintain a sense of balance with current ideals about what is and is not acceptable.

At first Nancy was nothing more than a young woman living a dazzling life of parties and alcohol, and by the end of it she was a hardened veteran who had killed a man with her bare hands. Her evolution is born of a natural disgust at what was happening in the world and a simple promise to make that evil stop. She held the lives of thousands of men in her hands, and every day that she was on the field directly impacted the capacity of the German war machine.

There are passages within this book that leave me asking questions about myself. Would I have the courage to do what Nancy did? She rode 400km on a bike over mountains that were heavily patrolled by Germans, and she did it in 72 hours with only 5 hours of sleep. She jumped from a moving train through the window while Germans fired on her in the darkness. She calmly called the bluff of a man who had planned to seduce, rob and kill her after she tried to help him. These incidents would be harrowing for anyone else, but for Nancy they were just another moment where she had to act fast.

This biography also covers what it was like to go from being a decorated heroine to being just another secretary in an office or serving coffee to wealthy travellers. The sense of change is dramatic, along with an awareness that while she and the world had both changed, they had not changed for a harmonious fit. There was a struggle to fit in anywhere, to find meaning after such a dramatic experience.

While Nancy’s story is gripping and a true page-turner, there is a strange quality to the text that continually ejected me from the narrative. It is almost as if Nancy’s voice and the biographer’s voice have tried to merge unsuccessfully into a united whole. The text is consistent in its style and, despite being comfortable with the slang used, at times it felt painfully forced. Readers who are unfamiliar with the Australian vernacular will struggle. I give this book 4 out of 5 pages.

Book Review – Lost at the Con by Bryan Young

I should probably start this with some sort of a NSFW warning, even though I’m going to try to behave myself… especially since the book is.

Here’s the thing about this review.  I don’t have a clue what to say about it.  No a clue. So if the rest of this review feels like I’ve been babbling, well, you’ve been warned.

I met Bryan Young at a convention a couple months back, and he gave me his book to review.  I had heeded the warning from Janine Spendlove (check elsewhere on our blog for reviews of her stuff) about how this book wasn’t “age appropriate” (meaning illegal stuff happened), but I was also told by both of them that it was a funny book and I should read it.

I feel the need to throw in there that Bryan is her best friend and they’re label mates (or however you phrase that in the publishing world) aside from this book, which Silence in the Library will not publish.

So here’s the gist of the book.  Cobb (I’ve already forgotten his first name, and I finished this book less than a day ago) is a washed up journalist and poor excuse for a man.  He’s really good at booze, not so much at keeping his sort of girlfriend Laurie out of the pants of men that weren’t him, and really just a piece of shit.  So when his editor sends him on a trip to Griffin*Con, a geek con in Atlanta, instead of to some political assignment, which is his beat, the shit hit the fan, but he went because he wanted to keep his paycheck.

So fast forward to getting to the con, and all he’s done so far is bitch about the local geek population, drink – a lot, and whine about his poor miserable excuse for a life.  The problem is that up to this point I didn’t feel a damn bit of anything for this guy, except a bit of bile in the back of my throat.  Unlike the sympathetic bad guys that we love to hate, hate to love, or a little bit of both, this guy is just a jackass.  He drinks because he’s too much of an asshole to do much else. He screws up with Laurie because he’s too much of an asshole to do much else.  He puts up with his boss because he’s too much of an asshole to do much else.

You see my point.

It’s not like… Loki, who we can all feel a little bit sorry for because Odin’s not actually his dad, or Jabba the Hut, who is at least funny looking.  It’s just an arrogant waste of humanity.

But the funny thing is that, even with no redeeming quality whatsoever, I found myself on page 50 before I realized what had hit me.   And the next time that I touched the book, I was suddenly on page 100… and it was page 170 before there was *any* redeeming quality that would make me give a shit about this guy.

Even moreso, the MC *knows* he’s a waste of humanity – and doesn’t care to do all that much about it.

So, the book starts with Cobb getting the assignment and having a fleeting thought about how much he probably should love Laurie if he cared to think about it.

– side note – if I were Laurie, I’d hate the prick, too –

He went to Atlanta, followed some of the freaks that he made fun of most of the time, befriended a homeless guy who became his only friend in life, and went into the con.

Now, keep in mind that this guy is a journalist on assignment, so the book is part book and part his articles.  The first article he writes is about price gouging and how the homeless are exploited for the con.  His homeless buddy Sylvester spawned the article, saying that he helps set stuff up for money.

The next incident includes a panel where they’re talking about slash fic.  We hear Cobb thinking about ways he’d love to slash somebody (it’s written in first person), then he learns what slash fic really is, then he’s outraged that some fat woman would write about Harry Potter and Snape and then…  well, then there’s this moment of moral outrage when he screams at the woman for peddling porn to minors (later he pukes on her, cause it seems like the thing to do).

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t know why I kept reading?  So here’s a bit of background on me.  Being a writer and all, I’ve been to lots of cons.  So I know what goes on there, and I know what this guy’s seeing, and it’s not some weird-ass seedy underbelly of the world that only freaks who live in their mother’s basements will ever find interesting.  And Bryan Young is part of this world.  So I’m confused about why he’d want to portray us as a bunch of losers.  Even if it is a bit of satire and humor and whatever else.  Are we *really* that bad to outsiders?  Do they really think we’re the dredges of society who have no hope at ever being awesome?  Cause my friends who do that stuff are engineers and lawyers and teachers and scientists and whatever else.  And it’s because of geekdom and fandom that we know multiple languages, create and act and do, and actually have a place to belong.

Oh, and expect lots of Star Wars references, because apparently the MC is an arrogant prick who hates geekdom but he knows what Star Wars is.

Maybe Bryan thinks because the MC is such a piece of shit, nobody’s going to care about what Cobb blows out of his pie hole?

The book has its moments.  I mean, at the beginning of the con, Cobb – drunk, of course – finds somebody cosplaying as Steampunk Abraham Lincoln, although he doesn’t know what steampunk is, or cosplay, and I’m impressed he could manage the Lincoln part.  So he’s convinced that Lincoln is a robot back from the dead and out to kill him, which makes some funny moments in the book; in his drunken stupid, he even introduces himself as Jeff Davis, which furthers his paranoia.  At one point, Lincoln gives a speech that’s totally worth reading.   And “Abraham Lincoln, a homeless man, and an asshole…” have a hell of a moment thanks to some jocks and women dressed up as anything skimpy and sexy.  And booze.  Have I mentioned that there’s a lot of booze in this book?  (And drugs at one point…)

It’s just hard to get through the start of the book (and by start, I mean 170 pages of the book).  Also, I don’t know if its because of first person or what, but I had a lot of trouble feeling the MC.  I mean, all we establish about him is that he’s an asshole.  It doesn’t exactly leave much for us to feel warm and fuzzy about, or to relate to while we’re reading.  I didn’t feel the MC *or* the writer, which is (IMO) a flaw of most people who write in first person.

The weirdest part of this whole thing is that even though I don’t have a lot good to say about the book, I am ending the review with the following statement.  I’m rating this book on the lowest possible end of four stars.  I just don’t know why.

[end note – if you think the author sounds interesting, you may want to check out some of his other work *before* this.  I’ve read a bit of his other stuff and it’s nothing like this…]

Santa Paws

Book: Santa Paws

Author: Nicholas Edwards

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 1995

On a cold winter’s day, the week before Christmas, a young stray puppy brings a holiday miracle to the town of Oceanport. It starts with a young widow, who has lost all faith in humanity and needs someone, or something, to talk to. An older woman slips on the ice and breaks her hip, sure to have frozen to death had a strange little dog not sounded the alarm. Then there is the little boy who fell into a fountain, rescued by a four-legged hero. The town soon starts calling him Santa Paws, the hero dog, their Christmas miracle. What they don’t realize is that Santa Paws is hoping for a miracle of his own- a family and a place to call home.

Santa Paws is a cute, quick read, quite apropos for the upcoming holiday. It was fun to read, but it was definitely targeted to a younger reading audience, not only in content, but in structural level. Admittedly, I tend to read a lot of kid’s and young adult age books, but often times I do not find their writing style to be so age appropriate. This one, however, is definitely right around the 3rd-5th grade reading levels. As I said, aside from not being used to quite that writing style, it was a fun, cute, festive read, and had me wishing for a puppy of my own (never mind the fact that my apartment is questionably big enough for me, my roommate, and the cat….).

Overall, I give this book 3 ½ pages. It is not a must-read, but it is good, especially if you have or work with children. That being said, have a happy holiday season, peace and goodwill to all!

Book Review – The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

Title: The Three Pigs

Author/Illustrator: David Wiesner

Format: Hardback

Written: 2001

Published: 2001


The Three Pigs is one of my favorite books of all time.  It is a simple children’s book that takes a rather unique twist to the classic story of the Three Little Pigs.  David Wiesner wrote and drew a fabulous story that will charm and enchant readers of all ages.  It is a very distinguished book having won a gold Caldecott medal in 2002.  Indeed the Caldecott is for the illustrations which are gorgeous and well placed in a book and though reading is many times focused on the words sometime the pictures in the book play an integral part of the story such as Manga which I am often fond of reviewing.


Still, David Wiesner takes his illustrations to levels beyond that of a manga and does intricate details, adding little things to help make the story come alive.  One of my favorite scenes from the book is when he masterfully uses the negative space on a page.  There is a portion of the book that has nothing more than a two page spread with one page being entirely white while the other has a very small illustration, it seems under whelming to describe but when in the middle of the story it captures the imagination and makes me love the book even more.


I was first introduced to this book in a children’s literacy course and fell in love with it from that point where I had to buy it as soon as I could and for a children’s picture book it ranged around fifteen dollars which was rather steep for a poor college student and in some ways is what I consider a bit pricy for a book, but when it comes to The Three Pigs it was worth every penny.


Not only is the book a joy and a pleasure to read and has enthralled me so it is also a joy to share and read aloud as the three pigs start off in the middle of the story we are oh so familiar with before escaping that story to discover a new world and meet new friends from various other tales such as the cat and the fiddle and a dragon.  I think my favorite part of the book aside from the portions where it is nothing more than picture pushing the story along is near the end when the words get messed up.  I won’t tell you how that came to be as it would ruin the end of the story and I always feel that a surprise at the end it half the fun of reading, but all the same it is fun to read half words and sentence which entertains young listeners to no end!  Over all I can’t give this story anything less than a five star rating and recommend this to anyone and everyone to read once through.  It really won’t take up much of your time to do so and really you never know you might find yourself just as tickled over it as I was!

Writer Wednesday – Kathryn Sullivan

I first met Kathryn at a convention a couple years ago, intrigued by her “Chicks Dig Time Lords” antho.  Since then we’ve run into each other in several places here and there, most recently inside the covers of Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells.  This is her.

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Kathryn Sullivan. Hi!

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I write young adult fantasy and science fiction. I’ve been writing since I was young and had several short stories published before a publisher decided to take a chance on my books. I’m also owned by a large cockatoo.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
THE CRYSTAL THRONE and TALKING TO TREES are my young adult fantasy books with wizards, elves and talking horses. AGENTS AND ADEPTS is a collection of my short stories – some fantasy, some science fiction – and the talking horses snuck in there as well. I have a short story in CLOCKWORK SPELLS AND MAGICAL BELLS with elves and dwarves, and my children’s picture book, MICHAEL AND THE ELF, was just released by a different publisher.

I’m a big Doctor Who fan and I have a short story in a Doctor Who anthology by Big Finish, an essay in the Hugo-winning CHICKS DIG TIME LORDS and a review in OUTSIDE IN. More information can be found at my website:

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’ve been working on two projects. The first is a YA science fiction book set on a colony planet, and the second is a continuation of my galactic agents series from three short stories in AGENTS AND ADEPTS.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My family were big readers. There was a bookcase full of books in the bedroom my sister and I shared and my parents expected us to read if we got up early on Saturday. There were shelves of books in our basement – my brother’s collection of Hardy Boys, my sisters’ collection of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton and others, my mother’s set of the Oz books and my father’s big collection of science fiction and fantasy. I remember my mother reading the Oz books to my younger sister and I.

I also have fond memories of my public library, which when I was very small was inside the fire station.

What are your three favorite books?
Only three? My three favorite books from my past, the ones which influenced me, are Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, James Schmitz’s AGENT OF VEGA, and James White’s HOSPITAL STATION. Favorite ones I like to revisit are Janet Kagan’s MIRABILE and Diana Wynne Jones’ HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Usually three. Right now I just finished IRON HEARTED VIOLET by Kelly Barnhill, on my Kindle I’m reading THE CROW GOD’S GIRL by Patrice Sarath, and the book beside my bed is WORLDSOUL by Liz Williams.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Lose all track of time.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
And the answer depends on what mood I’m in. When I was in my teens and twenties I would re-read THE LORD OF THE RINGS once a year. Now I might go on a Janet Kagan binge and re-read all her stories. Or I’ll look at the stack of new books waiting-to-be-read and instead re-read all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles series or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden universe. Or Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series. Or…

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Eventually. I’ve got a big stack of books in the to-be-read pile. But it depends on who is doing the recommending and if their taste is similar to mine. I don’t pay any attention to NYT bestsellers.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very. I’m usually on panels about new YA books and I’m the one who will bring a list. And I let my local public library know if I’ve found a new author or book they should get.

What do you look for in a good book?
Characters that catch my interest, good world-building and an engaging plot.

Why do you write?
I started writing when I was 14 because the science fiction and fantasy of that time had very few female main characters. I wanted more stories with characters I could identify with. I continue to write because I keep coming up with characters and stories that demand to be told. When characters start stomping around in your head demanding that you tell their stories, believe me, you tell their stories.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I just retired last year from the job I loved as an academic librarian. I wanted to be a librarian in the moon colony, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From everything around me. Newspaper or magazine articles might trigger a story idea. I look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day site ( ) every morning and check a couple of anthropology news sites as those have also been good story triggers. Sometimes just an interesting picture will do it.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I need deadlines.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
Two of my sisters have been freelance artists, so I know they understand how much work it is. I’m sure some of my friends and co-workers probably thought I was very antisocial because I always seemed to be busy when they wanted to do things. But now I have friends who understand there are times when I’m busy and times when I need a break.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I keep hearing that all writers are rich and that they make a lot of money when a book is published. I’d like it to be true, but, sadly, it’s not.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Patience, persistence, and knowing when you need editing. Self-publishing has become so easy for some that they take no time to make their work the best they can before rushing into print. Some don’t even try sending their work out to publishers. Others try the big traditional presses but not the smaller presses or e-publishers. There are a number of good small presses and e-publishers who are looking for authors.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, lots. I sent my first book out when I was fourteen – taught myself how to type, looked up the markets – but neglected to see what the standard manuscript format at the time was. Single-spaced, typed on both sides of the paper – I’m not surprised that one was rejected as quickly as it was.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
There’s been a few audio and media projects I would have liked to have been involved with. I would have loved to have written a Doctor Who book but I couldn’t think of a book-length idea.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I have a Facebook page ( and a webpage ( . I also go to several science fiction conventions and young writers conferences during the year. I enjoy talking with fans; they re-energize me to get back to my next story.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m not sure what they’d be surprised by. Maybe that my cockatoo plays catch. She has a great pitching beak and the signal when she wants to play is often her toy landing on the laptop keyboard. Though that’s mentioned on my Facebook page. That along with being a Doctor Who fan, I’m also a big MacGyver and Stargate SG-1 fan. Though recently I’ve been watching more Phineas & Ferb, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, The Legend of Korra and Transformers Prime. It’s probably no surprise that I’m looking forward to THE HOBBIT.

Anything else we should know?
For those who are interested, I have a list of conventions that I’ll be attending on my webpage ( ).

Thank you!


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