I just finished The Friar's Lantern by Greg hickey, and would give it a solid 3.5 stars. I love the philosophy and science behind the idea. Thinking about what makes us make decisions and if we have control over it is a rabbit hole I am happy to go down. The choose your own adventure style of the book seemed aimed to drive that point home, and while I enjoyed making the choices I wish in some places there were more opportunities to do so.
I found myself connecting the the main character in the idea that the decision has already been made and no matter what choice I make regarding the boxes it doesn't matter. I did waver between options at times but liked this idea that our MC planted. It is or it isn't.
When we weren't being philosophical sometimes the scenes, especially in the court room, read a bit slow and I found myself skimming here and there to try to get to where we were going. Long descriptions and sentences added to that slow pace and at times felt a bit unseemly towards some females encountered.
Overall I enjoyed the experience that reading The Friar's Lantern provided and found myself hopping back to see what other choices may have brought me.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever seen the show Hannibal? If not, you should. Go watch it, and help us beg them to make another season. Aside from being based on a great series of books and interpreted wonderfully by the writers and actors, the show is gorgeously shot. It could be a film school study in framing, pacing and light.
But what I really love— Hannibal's office. A two story room, with a partial floor around the perimeter and edged in bookshelves. The outer wall has huge windows with lush curtains to both let in light and provide that perfect dusty library feel without a speck of dust present.
I can't image what the titles on the shelves are, knowing Dr. Lecter some are probably even a bit too morbid for me. But they are old, leather bound editions surrounded by warm dark wood and all the atmosphere you could want.
I don't care that he's a serial killer, I'd kill for that library too. What is your favorite library? Is it fictional or found somewhere in the real world?
I've never been to Sydney but after following Kidman and Reid on their investigation I feel like I could navigate the streets on my own. The Death Investor by Ian Lomond felt so grounded in the setting that it almost became its own character. The pace was quick and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next.
The mystery of who killed software developer Peter Maher is full of twists and turns with the perfect level of deceit. It could be any number of people as the possible motives pile up against the tech genius. Peter Maher is never pigeonholed into his job, the way I find many people want to portray the uber-smart. Hes got a life outside the office too, one just as potentially damaging as having the next million dollar idea. Detectives Kidman and Reid have a great banter and make a nice team with a solid and realistic dynamic.
The novel stands alone but introduces characters that are worth getting attached to. I will be looking forward to more from this author. I rate it five stars.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes writing sucks. I said it, but I probably don't mean it the way you think. I don't mind staring at my outline and trying to get my fingers typing, that's fine. I don't even mind revising and trying to remember all those grammar rules.
It sucks when you are too close to apiece that you cant see that it needs to be binned. The first novel length story I wrote, I was just in love with it. With the idea, the characters, the whole universe. But it was the first thing I wrote, no outline, no plan. Its not great. Deep in there is a good story, somewhere. But no matter how long I put it aside for I cant seem to get far enough from the love for it to do the kind of revision it would need.
When I first write it the MCs fiance died at the end, but it was too hard (it wasn't right for the story, I still think letting him live in the second version was a better idea) but I wasn't thinking about that when I changed it. I loved him just as much as m MC did. He had to live, so I trashed that ending and gave them an almost happily ever after.
I wish I had saved the scene though, I think it would have helped me rewrite further. I printed a couple test copies without hardly editing it and couldn't get enough. I have ideas for expanding that universe, but without that manuscript its all for naught. But going on 10 years later, I just cant cut those first scenes I fell in love with. I have to admit defeat at some point. New ideas are coming, ones that I have the skills now to bring to fruition and see through.
I hope someday I can re-write that book. Until then, Ill just keep staring at the red pen marked-up copy on my shelf.
I enjoyed the premise of Play For Me by CP White and give it four stars. The sociopath trying to 'teach people a lesson' versus the self-centered struggling musician. Its easy to see why LJ is willing to put herself in the position that she does. In her worldview its all about her. Even when red flashing lights should be going off at the invitation she receives its all about what it could do for her, trumping the clear danger of the situation.
At many times I wasn't sure who I was routing for, to be honest. At first LJ is such a good unreliable narrator that we don't see the issues of her personality because she doesn't see them. I think that was captured very well. The more we learn the more we see how she hardly sees beyond her own nose and at times I was sitting in the dark with the mystery person telling her off too. I don't know if its intentional but the nods to Seven really made my day. The movie is a running joke in my family... anytime there's a box, someone has to say: “What's in the box?” à la Brad Pitt.
At first I was disappoint with the ending. I'm not sure LJ learned all that much despite the other characters best attempts at almost literally killing her to make the case. Reading the afterward I understand the authors intent; it does show her change. I would have liked a bit more in that scene though to drive it home and I may have felt more connected to her characters changes then if she had shown her change from self-pity to empowerment.
Overall I definitely enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to whatever the author has next.
My novel Excite takes place on a fictional college campus, but that location is grounded in real life. Especially the lab building where Jon and Isaac do their research.
Morrill Science Center at Umass Amherst is a notoriously hard to navigate building. Its labeled in sections 1-4, but they don't connect they was you might expect. That made it the perfect place for Jon to sneak around. I got lost there many times as an undergrad myself.
Soon, when its safe to do so, I hope to visit campus to take some promo pics with the book in front of the building. I'm excited to roam campus again, even more so now that its found its way into my fiction.
An excerpt featuring Morrill:
“Jon used a different lab room this time, the same building but a smaller room. He had to carry the materials out of the main lab, but he didn't want to run into anyone if he could avoid it. The old building’s basement was like a maze of oddly shaped rooms and twisting hallways. Even the numbering system hardly made sense. That was for the best; the harder it was to find, the better.
He had brought a cardboard box and quickly stuffed the ingredients into it, rushing but not wanting to seem suspicious. Down the hallway, two lefts and take the narrow door on the right. Room 56b. He was glad to work in silence. No one even walked past the window in the door. He doubled the batch this time, packing up four bottles of his now signature pink pills. He stuffed the bottles into his bag and the leftover ingredients back into the box and wiped down the work station. He had just closed the door when a voice behind him made him jump.
“Oh my God, Jon?” He knew the voice before he turned around. He wanted to pretend that he hadn't heard, to walk off and not even look back. However, the way the building was, passing her was the only way access to the stairs. She wasn't supposed to be here; no one used this place. He had to turn. He pulled a smile to his face and held the box high in his arms. Melissa was a good eight inches shorter than him; she wouldn't be able to look in and guess what he was doing. He looked down into the box himself, even if she had, there was nothing strange, nothing obvious.
“Hey Melissa, what are you doing all the way back here?” Jon gestured to the dim hallways.
She looked around and let out a heaving sigh, slouching against the wall she let her books fall against her chest. She looked like she was about to sink.
“This place is a maze. I thought I had it. I thought I found our new room only to open the door and find stairs, going down. I thought this was the basement!” She let her knees give out and slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor. Jon froze. He didn't want this to become a big deal, but clearly she needed help. He knew the door that she was talking about. It had tricked him once or twice, too.
“Get up,” he shrugged the box over to one arm and offered her his hand. “What room are you supposed to be in?”
She let herself be pulled up and straightened her sweater as she told him, repeating the directions that she had been given. Jon snorted as he realized her mistake was another common one. Everyone fell victim to the buildings incoherent numbering system that the school seemed to completely ignore.
“Right. This is section two. You want three.” It sounded easy. “But you can't get there from here.”
Stick around for those pics soon, Morrill wasn't the only place I stopped on my mini tour!
I grabbed The King Tides by James Swain as a Prime Read after forgetting to make a choice. I go back and forth on liking this kind of story but I couldn't put King Tides down. I was in the world from the first scene and it all felt grounded in reality in a way that many go too far to make their character 'the best in his field.' Its a Hollywood blockbuster of a novel; get your popcorn, suspend some disbelief and get ready for a fun ride.
I know; those two lines might seem contradictory— suspend your disbelief and grounded in reality? But it feels like you are there, it might be a bit 'Michael Bay' if you know what I mean, but its fun and once you're sucked in there's nothing to pull you out.
Its got a little mystery, plenty of suspense and a heavy dose of action. The location felt like its own character, and although I've never been to southern Florida I was on the streets as the tide rose with Lancaster. I love a book that brings me somewhere I haven't gone, that made it an especially good airport read.
It was tense, it was action packed and I'll be looking forward to more from Lancaster & Daniels!
I rate it four stars.
My new work in progress tracks a woman as she flees from a co-worked turned stalker. I started the draft out writing only from her point of view as she plans and executes her escape. Along the way she recalls the events that led her to that point. How her fired assistant stalked her relentlessly.
But it felt like something was missing. So I went back and told some of those events in a close 1st person point of view from him, our stalker, as he wavers between love and hate as the obsession grows.
Now, with a thought out plot line and substantial outline I made my way through the initial chapters about our poor woman. The words came, not always easily, but they came.
Then I switched to him. And Jared just jumped onto the page. **insert eye-roll here about characters that write themselves** That's not what I mean, I'm definitely writing him, but its almost TOO easy to get inside his head and swing back and forth on his mood changes. Is that a bad thing?
I want to think not, I want to think that I just know him well, but don't they say write what you know? Is there some part of me hiding inside that is trying to tell me something... hmmm. It might be good that we are basically still in quarantine and I should stay inside.
If you see me hiding behind some bushes, just keep walking.
Before fall of last year I'm not sure what this year would have looked like. But in October I decided to push forward with self-publishing my debut novel. On December 1st it hit Amazon, then throughout the month I expanded to Kobo, Apple, and Barnes &Noble. Also in October a short story of mine was chosen for a Halloween anthology. So my goals started to come into focus.
This year I want to shop around my short stories and get at least one published in a paying market. Ideally a few, but one will be a good start as I learn the submission process for shorts. I also have a new WIP going and want to get it to beta stage by the end of the summer. Ambitious goal would be to publish that at the beginning of 2022.
Outside of new fiction, I want to keep my blog going better this year. I hope to post twice a month to build my followers here and on my Facebook page. If there are any questions/comments/thoughts you have for me feel free to drop them in the comments and maybe they will become a future post!
Reading about characters who work/play in an area of your own expertise can be tiring. Of course as writers you do as much research as you can. But there isn't a reasonable way to really get that ‘day in the life’ feel unless you’ve lived it. I am a horse trainer by day, and horses are something so many people like to add to their fiction. But there are so many bad takes on horses and their riding that I don't read horse books. I can't. You can tell right off when someones research is all done from watching movies. Hollywood gets it wrong a lot too so that is not a great teacher.
I’ve run into this issue in a book I am reading now. It's multi-POV and 95% of it I'm loving. But one POV character is a horse trainer. She's actually a lot like me, introverted and would rather spend her time alone at the barn. Great, I can relate to her. Wrong! Whatever research the writer did was probably out of YA girls books about horses. ‘Gentling’ them, calming them, and tying the reins to the porch rail. Every time her chapters come up I wonder if I can skip them and not miss anything too important.
It's almost worse because the author was clearly trying. Some things are so close to right that it kind of makes it worse when the other things come out of left field. And I know we all do it, I can only read so much about police procedure, I realize from this side of the screen that there are likely officers cringing at my characters handling of evidence or paperwork. It's too bad we cant all just have a giant convention where people of all jobs come and talk to us about these tidbits that annoy them in our books. For now though, if you ever have questions about horses/riding/their care. Feel free to ask me!