Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review Tuesday

It may be the day I post a review, but, although I'm reading an assortment of books, I haven't finished any of them.

Instead I'll post a review of one of my own books. This was one of the first reviews of the Crimson Orb:

I bought the Kindle edition of this book to pre-read on a long weekend away before gifting my book-hungry grandchildren with a hard copy. I wasn't quite certain which of them would enjoy it AND I wanted to make sure it was suitable (fairly stuffy parents lol). I've concluded that it's bound for two out of the three of them, one a teenage boy (the swordplay! the wizard!} and one a pre-teen girl (the heroine! the cat! the magic!). I suspect that the third one, who's just nine and still utterly soccer-crazy, will be along to read it in due course.

The fun begins on page one, when our heroine, Nissa, sitting and petting her cat whilst (jealously) watching her brothers practice swordplay, is joined by Holm Manor's wizard, Madoc. Need I say more? A girl who yearns to master the sword, and wizardry? And probably some rapid beating of the young heart along the way? And pesky sisters, too? Yes, you've got it.

By the end of Chapter One, I'd learned the difference between magic and wizardry and that, even in Nissa's world, girls haven't been allowed to do the same things as boys. Bah! But is she going to put up with that? I think not, would you? The story of Nissa and Master Madoc, the wizard (and more), was definitely my favourite part, and central to the story. When Madoc goes missing, the quest begins.

Ever wonder if a wizard is a such a good wizard, why he can't free himself when the baddies get him? Yeah, me, too. Now I know; I think that was somewhere along about Chapter Twenty-Four.

By the end of Chapter Forty-Three, I'd learn how to turn a skirt into wide-legged riding britches, who didn't make it across the Frozen Tundra, where the Crimson Orb was (but how to get it???) and what the swamp inhabitants were doing with it. But it wasn't over yet…there was still a final chapter to go. And a sequel promised for 2015.

This is a lovely book, an otherworld story well told and with a myriad of interesting details that make it all the richer. I can't fault it (I get fussy about typos and this book is very well edited, I'm happy to report) and I'm pleased to be gifting the kids with it. Hertzoff's writing is eminently readable, it's cleverly written, brings in lots of different, interesting topics AND the dialogue moves the story along particularly well. There is a great cast of characters and always lots going on so it's a great attention-keeper.

Now I'm off to order the paperback for the kids. Two thumbs up for Nissa.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review Tuesday

Here's the review I wrote for The Hollow Crown by Jeff Wheeler

A wonderful sequel to the first three books. Trynne, Owen's daughter, is a terrific new character. If you like Arthurian type stories, this series is for you.

The first book in the series is The Queen's Poisoner.

Friday, January 5, 2018

First Scenes Friday

I began a new story as part of a January 30-day challenge. Here are the first few scenes:

My view of our townhouse through the rear window of the limousine became smaller and smaller, and then disappeared as the vehicle went around the corner. I might never see it again. Maeve sat beside me; the two of us filled less than a third of the passenger space. My little sister hadn’t stopped crying since Mom and Dad’s funeral. At first, I tried to console her, but I was only sixteen. I decided to let her cry for both of us so I could be strong.

The car stopped abruptly. I turned to the front to see why. Was that really an elephant in the road, lying on its side?

I nudged Maeve. “Look.”

She wiped her eyes and followed my pointing finger. For the first time in four days she stopped crying. “What’s it doing there?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps we can go look.”

“Stay in the limousine, girrrls,” Evans called from the driver’s seat. “I believe the cirrcus personnel will tend to him.” His Scottish accent became more obvious when he was excited. Yes, this was as excited at he got. “Once they help theirr animal, we can continue to the airrporrt.”

The airport, so we could fly south to our only remaining relatives, Aunt Glynis and Uncle Duncan. They were really our great-aunt and great-uncle, and owned a large house in Florida.

I handed Maeve a pack of tissues and she wiped her eyes.

“Blow your nose, too,” I said.

The circus people had to bring in a hoist to right their elephant, a fascinating effort. But it took so long, we missed our plane. Moire and I would spend one more night in our house.

It was good to spend another night in our old home, but also bad. My regrets about leaving were twice as they had been

because it brought back even more memories of my parents, my mother braiding my hair and finding the perfect bows, my father taking me to a ballgame and buying us both hot dogs and Cokes;

because my bed was so comfortable I actually slept, but was well aware it was the last time I’d sleep in my bed;

because my sister started to cry once more after she stopped for a couple of hours;

because Nina, our cook, served us her delicious lasagna and we’d never have it again;

because I found more items I had to take, but there was no more room in my suitcases;

because I’d already said goodbye to my room and had to do it again.


Another traffic jam slowed our trip to the airport the next day, but we finally pulled in to ‘Departures’ two hours before our flight. Evans lugged our luggage to the check-in counter. Maeve and I each had a carry-on. Hers matched her purple suitcase of course, and was filled with what she thought vital: her iPhone, a set of Bose Quiet Comfort earphones, and the stuffed pink pig she’s carried with her everywhere since Mom and Dad gave it to her for her second birthday.

I’d become so paranoid that I had a change of jeans, t-shirt, bra, panties and socks, a full first-aid kit, pretzels and chips (despite the fact we’d be fed in first class), tissues and a spare toothbrush with one of those little tubes of paste you get from the dentist. What if the plane crashed on a beach like in Lost or in the woods? What if our luggage was missing? I was prepared.

We sat in the waiting area for Flight 123. We could have spent the time in the Delta lounge, but I always preferred the general waiting area because the people watching is better there.

Maeve tugged on my sleeve. “They’re calling unaccompanied minors.”

“You’re accompanied,” I reminded her.


We boarded with the other first class passengers. Aunt Glynis had insisted we fly first class, telling me in her last phone call, “You don’t want to be sardined with the riffraff.”

We followed the rest of the deplaning passengers to the carousel to pick up our checked bags. I scanned those waiting, mainly gray-haired and slightly stooped, but didn’t see my aunt and uncle. Finally I spied Fergus.

What can I say about him? He was their man Friday would be best. Butler, chauffeur, man-of-all-trades.

Moira tried twice to rescue her suitcase from the ever-moving serpentine but finally the man who had sat across from us on the plane hefted it off for her.

“Thanks,” she said with a cheeky grin and almost curtsied.

I stifled my giggles and finally spotted my own black bag. Without help, I was able to retrieve it and led my sister to Fergus. “Where are Aunt Glynis and Uncle Douglas?”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Review Tuesday

The first book I finished this year is Prometheus and the Dragon by Eric Michael Craig. This book is the sequel to Stormhaven Rising. In this one, the meteor Antu is approaching and various groups are building colonies of the moon for as many people as possible. The U.S. and China have different approaches for dealing with Antu - to destroy it or deflect it. Neither works. There are threats on Earth, too, from those opposed to the colonies.

This is a fast-paced story, made even more frenetic by the frequent changes in scene. To accommodate the large cast of characters, Craig lists them all at the beginning of the story. Some stand out more than others as the action moves along. It's exciting with high tension throughout. The writing is crisp and clean.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The top 10 books I read in 2017.

These are sort of in the order I read them, although I cheated by combining some that were part of a series. At sometime during the year, my Amazon reviews (which I always write when I finish a book, and wish others would do with mine) were also posted to Goodreads, where I’m now finding what I said about each book. The ones cross-posted from the ‘zon have titles and are longer. I didn’t give all of these five stars, but none less than four.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

My review: One of the best things I've read for our book club. I'll definitely read the rest in the series.

What sticks with me: I’ve now read the two other books in this series, and I’m still eager to read more. The characters are engaging.

On Writing by Stephen King

My review: This was highly recommended to me, so I was glad to get a copy. It didn't disappoint. Great advice combined with a fascinating partial autobiography. All readers and writers should read this one.

What sticks with me: Still one of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. And it was entertaining too.

Nomad, Sanctuary, Resistance, and Destiny by Matthew Mather

My Review: For Sanctuary: Great second book in this series about an asteroid causing devastation to Earth. For Destiny: This last in the series is as good as the previous three books. The main characters continue to have to deal with the aftermath of Nomad and the coming disaster involving Saturn and it's rings.

What sticks with me: This four-book series was a page-turner. Action-packed, too. The characters could have been developed more, and I wasn’t too thrilled with the payoff ending.

Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey

My Review: LW: I think I may have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't already watched the first two seasons of the TV series. CW: Even better than the first book in the series.

What sticks with me: The characters are introduced in a different order than on TV. I’m looking forward to the third season, but also to reading the rest of the books (so far).

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Posting each of these separate)

My Review: I’m enjoying these characters more and more

What sticks with me: I love these characters. I wish BBC-A would show the BBC series based on the books. Can’t wait for the fourth one.

Caligation by Brhi Stokes

My Review: Wow, what a fascinating world Brhi Stokes has conceived. Fascinating world full of great characters. Ripley's adventures and search for the truth make for action-filled scenes. I highly recommend the story.

What sticks with me: I don’t usual like stories with vampires, etc. but this one was worth reading.

Dying to be Roman by E. M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

My Review: An alternative history story filled with action and romance. What a great start to an alternative history series! Dai, a Briton, and Julia, a Roman form a wonderful detective team. Their first investigation is filled with action.

What sticks with me: I wrote a Dai and Julia story for a contest E. M. and Jane ran, and it won, so I now have the Omnibus to read more of their adventures.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

My Review: Fun YA mystery. The characters are enjoyable, especially the narrator, Hazel Wong.

What sticks with me: If you like British cozies or girls’ school series (or both), you’ll love the Wells and Wong stories.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

My Review: Wow, just wow!

After the slow start, I became lost in this story. So well structured! Such wonderful characters. Now I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Jemisin has built a fascinating, terrible world full of mysteries. Love it.

What sticks with me: The writing, the structuring, the characterization, the world of the story.

Career in Evil by Robert Galbraith

My Review: Best in the series

This series gets better with each book. Now I can't wait for the next one. The characters of Cormoran and Robin are believable and so is their relationship

What sticks with me: See what I said about the other two in the series and then double it.

Honorable mention: Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh
Max and the Multiverse by Zachary Wheeler
Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig
Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

I plan to post a review every Tuesday and a piece of writing every Friday in 2018

Happy New Year every one.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

More recent reviews of books by SciFi Roundtable authors:

Caligation by Brhi Stokes

Wow, what a fascinating world Brhi Stokes has conceived

Fascinating world full of great characters. Ripley's adventures and search for the truth make for action-filled scenes. I highly recommend the story.


: A Short Story by 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Here's another book review:

Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline

I always love Scottoline’s novels, the ones about a firm of female lawyers solving crimes and the suspenseful thriller novels. In this page turner with wonderful characters and great development of the main character, Scottoline combines the two. I put aside everything else I was reading to focus on what happened next. It had me clinging to the edge of my seat. We follow the development of law professor Nat Greco from someone who follows the rules, and especially the expectation of her overbearing family to a woman who can handle herself and knows her own mind. Five stars.