Category Archives: Books

The Lotus War Book Review

The Lotus War book series by Jay Kristoff can definitely be described as incredible.  I just finished reading the entire series and am most amazed at Mr. Kristoff’s ability to create evocative imagery without slowing down the pace.

As a child, I took piano lessons.  Each week, three of my siblings and I would get dropped off at our piano teacher’s house.  As we waited for our lesson, we got to watch her TV.  This was a real treat since we didn’t have one. Our teacher lived a bit off the beaten track and because of this, she didn’t have much in the way of TV reception.  To exacerbate the situation, she only had two movies for her VCR.  One was a taped copy of Shogun television series and the other was The Sound of Music.

We watched the Shogun series a whole lot.  I can also sing along with nearly every song from The Sound of Music–and I’m never sure if this is something to admit or not.

The Lotus War series takes place in a Steampunk Japanese Dystopia which brought back a lot of memories from my time watching Shogun waiting for my piano lesson.  Kristoff does a great job creating a believable world which has all the expected issues such as class warfare, a rigid hierarchy, and a Samurai class obsessed with honor.

This book series felt a lot like Shogun with some significant differences.  Think feudal Japan with chainsaw katanas, flying airships, and even a bit of magic mixed in for good measure.  Kristoff handles this mash-up with professional ease.  The characters are compelling, the imagery incredible, and the action is fantastic.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read that sits a bit off the standard beaten track of fantasy book–give these books a try.  I rate them a solid 5 out of 5.

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Free Books!

I love free books as much as the next person.  So here is a little something you might like that was organized by one of my friends, Mel Tomlin, over at The Prolific Reader.

It is a huge instaFreebie giveaway of over 450 books in 25+ different genres.  I’m sure you find several fantastic gems that fit exactly what you are looking for.

 

The Prolific Reader

The Prolific Reader

Click the picture or click here to get over to the page with all the great free books.

And if you haven’t downloaded my book, An Assassin’s Tool, you can find it there as well.

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Have You Read It?

I read Blake Snyder’s book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need this past week.  Although written for screenwriters, this book contains some nuggets of wisdom for all writers.  The most important Save the Catpoint he makes, I believe, is the need to understand the point of your writing.  Before you move into actually writing, he suggests you ask yourself, “What is it?”  If you can’t easily, clearly, and in simple terms describe what your future work is all about–then you aren’t ready to write yet.  He explains that you must have clarity before you can begin telling a story.  I know there are many authors that just start writing and follow wherever their characters take them.  This isn’t me.  I definitely need clarity.

As an example, after writing several dozen short stories, I made my first stab at writing a full length novel.  When I was done, I set it aside for a few weeks and then picked it up to read it with fresh eyes.  By the time I was done reading, I was certain my future as a writer was doomed.  It was, quite frankly, rubbish.  If I would have read Save the Cat first, I would have saved hundreds of hours of work–because I would have understood the most important point–clarity of vision before I started writing.

I started doing more research on Save the Cat and came across his website.  Lot’s of great information there.  I also found an author named Jessica Brody who teaches Save the Cat! for book authors.  Her website can be found here.  She has loads of great advice.  And as a bonus, she has a book to be published in Fall of 2018 called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.  I will definitely be picking up my own copy as soon as it is available.  Until then, I’ll be following her blog and appreciating all her wise advice.

My advice to you–go write, but make sure you have a clear vision of where you are going before you start.  It may just save you the sad story of an extraordinarily bad first draft.

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Update on The Second Book in The Nyepsium Wars

The second book in The Nyepsium Wars is fully outlined and ready to go.  For me, outlining is the heavy lifting–after I have the essentially story laid out and know what scenes must occur, I am ready to write the first draft.  I will be spending countless hours writing this over the next several weeks. And yet, I know that once the first draft is done, there is an amazing amount of work still to be done.  Regardless of how it is for other authors, the first draft for me is often in need of some serious CPR.  I accomplish that with another ten or twelve rewrites.

It is exhilarating to know that Mathonwey is ready for his next adventure.  Stay tuned for more action, mayhem and intrigue.

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Short Story Now on Amazon

An Assassin's Tool

        

I just published my short story, “An Assassin’s Tool” on Amazon.  You can pick it up for just $0.99.  This story was first published in the January 2015 issue of New Realm magazine.

After you read it, I would love it if you would share a great review over on Amazon.  Good reviews can make all the difference to a new writer.  Thanks so much.

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The Lives of Tao — Book Review

The Lives of Tao, written by Wesley Chu, is an absolute winner.  A science fiction book that reads more like a modern thriller, The Lives of Tao has it all–action, suspense, comedic relief, and characters you want to stand up and cheer for.

The book starts out with a bang and doesn’t let go.  After the initial action scene, which I won’t spoil for you here, the star character Roen wakes up hearing voices in his head.  And like any of us, he assumes he has gone around the bend.  But unlike any of us (I assume) he has a brain passenger, an alien life form named Tao.  Tao is in the middle of a civil war that has raged for millennia and peace is not on the horizon.  Roen is out of shape and unruly, just what Tao doesn’t need.

Throughout the book, Chu reframes the history of the Earth as we know it through the eyes of the two warring factions of the alien race called the Quasing.  The Genjix and the Prophus have been warring for centuries over the direction they should take the human race.  Many famous ancients are seen in a new light as you find they were really hosts to a Quasing.  The problem the Quasing have is they can’t survive in the Earth environment for more than a few minutes.  When their host dies, they have to find a new host or they perish as well.  And the other problem they have, they can’t just force their host to do what they want done.  They must persuade, cajole, and encourage.

Because Roen is so out of shape and unruly, Tao has his work cut out for him.  He even calls for back up help in the form of Sonya, another human who plays host to a Quasing named Baji.  Tao and Baji have been friends and allies for a long time.  The interplay between hosts and their Quasing provides for many a chuckle.

I love the pace of this book.  The characters are well developed.  And within a few sentences, I was hooked on the action.

I finished this book in just a pair of evenings–I would have finished it all in one but I had to work early the next morning.  As soon as I read the last page, I went over to Amazon and ordered the sequel.

The Lives of Tao rates 4.75 out of 5 stars for me.

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Great News

I just was informed that my short story, “An Assassin’s Tool” will be published in the next issue of New Realm magazine.  I’m sure you will enjoy it.  You can subscribe to New Realm over at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Give the story a read and let me know what you think.  I love feedback.

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Short Story

Writing to The Point

Writing to The Point

I recently came across a book by Algis Budrys, which I had never heard of before.  The book, called Writing to the Point, has been one of those watershed moments in my life of writing.  I have spent many years trying to write and never quite grasping some small detail that seemed to leave most of my works flat or unfinished.  The book is not in print, as far as I know, and I was able to secure a used copy of it from a thrift store back east.  When it showed up, I devoured the book.  After one time through, I realized that Mr. Budrys was teaching the detail that I had been missing.  I won’t try and rehash his work, just trust me when I tell you that if you want to write but have been struggling–give his book a try.  With a little bit of coaching from Mr. Budrys, the work you begin to produce will be much better than you were producing.  With a bit of practice, you may even begin to sell some of your work.

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Recent Book Release

I recently published a book on beekeeping.  If you are interested, you can find it here on Amazon.  The basic premise of the book is Beekeeping should be both fun and simple to do.  I teach you how to get started and then how to take care of your bees in simple, easy to follow steps.

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Book Review — The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard series Scott Lynch.  I came across this book at a B&N and purchased it on a whim.  I’m glad I did.  The book is based in Camorr, a fictional city similar in my mind to Venice–but bigger and much more chaotic and lawless.  The hero of the book, Locke Lamora, is an orphan that ends up in the care of a respectable rascal by the name Chains.  Chains is a thief who forms a gang of youth and trains them in the fine art of confidence games.  His goal is for them to one day destroy Capa Barsavi–the man who brought all the gangs of Camorr under his thumb and rules them with an iron fist.  The book is entertaining from the first page.  After the characters and the scene have been set,  Locke and his fellow Gentleman Bastards Jean Tannen, the twins Calo and Galdo Sanza as well as Bug, their apprentice, go about running a con on one of Camorr’s wealthiest citizens — Don Lorenzo Salvara.  Their con has multiple layers to it and begins perfectly.  In the middle of the con, they get interrupted by a war that breaks out between Barsavi and the Gray King.  Locke owes allegience to Barsavi but is unwillingly co-opted into working with the Gray King through blackmail.  Then their con gets even more disrupted by the appearance of the actual Spider of Camorr, who just happens to be one of the people Locke Lamora was  pretending to be in the con the Gentleman Bastards are running.   I could go on, but I don’t want to ruin the story if you haven’t read it yet.

The plot is incredibly fantastic and the characters are a delight.  Don’t read the book if swearing and foul language bother you–swearing must be a fine art in Camorr because the characters swear like sailors.  The writing is smooth and fast paced.  The main plot is interspersed with flashbacks to the training of the Gentleman Bastards through their youth.  This is a great swashbuckling read if you enjoy fantasy and action.  I thing the thing I enjoyed most about this book is the structure of the book.  Lynch has done an amazing job with this one and I look forward to reading the next few books in the series.

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