I am of the Harry Potter generation. I went through childhood with no computer at home through grade-school, no cell phone until I was 16 and didn't send a text until college. What I did have was harry potter, waiting, as they were written to find out what would happen to everyone favorite boy-wizard. Ill admit, I didn't run out to buy the first book right away. My neighbor lent it to me after she finished, and my crappy reading skills and far too young to read brother had my mother reading it to us each night.
By the time we finished the second book was about to hit stands. We were hooked and my mother promptly started reading that one too. Then the waiting. At this point Harry and I were about the same age. I could read them myself if I wanted, but I was still a slow reader and the thickness of those hardbacks intimidated me. My mother kept at it, she jokes now that shes one of the few to have read every word in the series out loud. Until the first movie premiered we called Hermione 'Hermi' in my house, having no clue how to say her name. I think even after we kept it up.
I remember riding out of the arena after a group lesson in high school and debating if harry could in fact be a horcrux before the final book released. We were unsure but worried for what it would mean. I did read that last book on my own, stealing it away between my mothers sessions with my brother- she was too slow at that point and I NEEDED to know what would happen, how it would end.
And that is why, those months spent waiting, the nights huddled on the couch listening— that no matter what problematic things J K says, she can't take Harry Potter from me. I will openly disagree with her, but she can't take away the enjoyment and treasured time spent with my family that Harry Potter provided.
I think that there are probably plenty of authors whose ideas don't follow to current standards, we just aren't looking very hard at them. I doubt there are many classic works whose authors worldviews would even be remotely acceptable these days. Its not to say 'that was a different time' or 'everyone has their opinion' but I think that we can, and should, be able to separate art from its creator. Do you agree?
After going hard with a few thrillers in a row I needed something lighter and this YA choice popped up in my amazon first reads and I jumped at it. It's not something I would usually pull; if I'm reading YA it's usually supernatural or dystopia or something other than a sweet tale about kids at camp.
Camp Padua is a special camp for teens with issues and we quickly meet a cast of characters that run the spectrum from eating disorders, self harm and potential mental illness. Zander, our MC doesn't reveal why she has been sent to camp. But we know that something bad happened at her last swim meet. She meets a boy; Grover Cleveland - yes after the president- who is insistent that he loves her. Zander hates feelings.
I was quickly wrapped up in the quick pace and emotional range from the kids at the camp. We follow them through various activities and watch them come out of their shells. Zander meets a girl named Cassie who is mean to everyone. She has attended camp before and is friends with Grover. Their group also includes a compulsive liar who calls himself Alex Trebek. I won't spoil anything as despite the fairly low stakes for the majority of the book, there's a lot of secrets held by these kids and they are teased out wonderfully as they open up to each other.
It's a sweet story, but not without tension and a great read for both lovers of the genre and anyone willing to take a quick vacation to Camp Padua.
I rate it four and a half stars.
Alright everyone, I’ve mentioned my WIP a few times over the past couple months but really haven’t said anything about it. I’m nearing completion of the draft and I think it’s time to share a bit about it! It is a psychological thriller about a book-smart woman who can’t deal with the advances of her assistant-turned-stalker; she makes a plan to run but when everything goes wrong and she must learn to trust her instincts to get herself out of danger.
It’s the first book I’ve written with the help of a real-time critique group. We are a small group and shared chapters weekly as we went. It was a very different experience than Excite- I wrote the entire first draft in 30 days (NaNoWriMo anyone?) then edited and sent the whole shebang out to betas. I’m hoping that having gotten so much feedback along the way, the revision process will be smoother. It’s been fun to see where people think the story is going and to only sort of know myself. I’m not much of a plotter, so not much was written in stone before I started.
The group was formed out of a class on coursera.org for new writers—and while I’m not new per-se I am new to the process as given and getting very diverse feedback from writers of different levels, and critiquing theirs in turn, has been really cool.
So, in addition to that logline tease, I’ll do you one better. The title (and I’m 90% certain it will stay) is.... According To Plan. It’s so early I don’t have an official cover yet. That will come later. But I do have a placeholder, one that I made to keep my motivation up. If you want to see that head on over to my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EricaDamonAuthor) later this week for the reveal!
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.