Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review for The Shunned Man by Thea Nilsson

Interesting look into a man’s life in a cult - 4 stars

This was an interesting book.  Claire, a modern day young woman on summer vacation, finds a badly beaten man, Sepp, in the ditch.  Even though he’s a stranger Claire believes his story about why he was shunned and left on the roadside to die.  She takes him home and nurses him back to health.  As the days go by, a romantic relationship forms between the two of them.  They are from two entirely different worlds and it’s entertaining to read how Sepp, who was raised in an isolated religious community, tries to adapt to modern day life.  He’s quite confused most of the time but tries to stay open minded and does his best to make a place for himself in the modern world.

But this is more than just a light romantic read.  It’s a look inside of a Mennonite-type community who believes in the simple life.  When Sepp is shunned, never to return to Heinz Hollow, we wonder why the leader and his wife have set him up.  Was he getting to close to finding out what was really going on when he started asking questions?  With Claire’s help, Sepp finds others who have left the religious community and together the group steps in to help when they discover corruption in Heinz Hollow. 

As the story unfolds, Sepp is amazed at the dishonesty of the leaders and a couple of the townspeople who won’t stop at anything to get their way.  Underlying evil threatens the community and Sepp risks his life to go back there to warn his friends and neighbors whose lives are in danger.

The situations and characters are believable in this well written story.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Congrats to this years ABNA winners

From contest website

The grand prizewinner of this years ABNA contest goes to a mystery/thriller writer.  It’s exciting to see the administrators at ABNA mixing up the winning genres each year, although this contest is supposedly decided by people who read the excerpts and vote for the winners.

This year they divided the competition into five categories again, so the winners in the other categories also receive publishing contracts.  Last year was the first time they started doing this since the contest started in 2008.

Let’s have a drum roll please for all the winners and wish them well in their new careers of authorship with a major publishing house.

Grand Prize Winner – Mystery/Thriller
D.M. Pulley for The Dead Key

Runners up:

General Fiction:
Flora J. Solomon for A Pledge of Silence

Norma Darcy for The Bluestocking and the Rake

Chuck Grossart for The Mengele Effect

Young Adult:
Carrie Ann Noble for The Mermaid’s Sister

For more info click here:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review for Run by Patti Larsen

Reminds me of the Hunger Games – 4 stars

Our main character, a boy named Reid, is the victim of a kidnapping in the woods in the middle of the night.  After he frees himself from the bindings that hold his legs, he sets about exploring the paths of the forest.  It isn’t long until he comes upon a young, dead boy tied to a tree.  This really freaks him out, especially when he finds he has stepped in the boy’s blood and entrails spread across the path.
When he hears a howl, he soon realizes that he's not alone in the woods.  He thinks it's an animal, remembering the camping trips with his father years earlier, only to discover it's a human dressed in black that is pursuing him.  He runs on.  Another child steps out onto the path and is killed by this hunter.
Reid runs and tries to survive in the forest throughout the whole book, not knowing why he's there and who's responsible for him being there.  Eventually he's weary, starved, and thirsty.  He manages to alleviate some of this at times.
During his exploration of the forest, he tries to stay one-step ahead of the “hunters,” discovering there are three of them that he knows about.  His travels, looking for a means to escape, also bring him into contact with other kids that are in the same shape he is.  At first, no one is willing to trust each other.  They all live in terror of falling victim to the hunters that are always pursuing them.
Finally a friendship emerges among some of the group and they set out together to find a way to escape, only to have their hopes dashed every time they get close.
The author does a good job of drawing the characters; a couple I really liked.  There's also plenty of action and gore in this book, enough to keep you turning the pages with the element of danger always lurking nearby.
However, there's no real conclusion to this story and we don’t get to find out too much about any of the children stranded in the forest, other than Reid when he thinks back on his life.  Perhaps the author intends to address these issues in the next book.  I think, if that's the plan, the author ended this one in an appropriate place.
I’m giving this 4 stars because there are a few type-o’s.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Do you like historical fiction?

Pic from Amazon website

I’m hoping to post an interview here shortly from a great writer I found by accident.  She writes historical fiction with a time travel twist.  Her books really hooked me from the get-go and I have all of them.  Her series is about eight books long now and I’m talking long books (800-1000+ pages each).

I was shopping in the library once, in the basement where they had sales going on every month until they built a new library here.  I found her first book in the series there and the blurb on the jacket encouraged me to buy it.  All I can say is that I’m glad I did.  I’d never heard of this woman or her series of books.

The first novel takes place in Scotland with a US woman traveling back in time while on vacation with her historian husband.  I won’t say too much more so as not to spoil the read for anyone looking to buy Diana Gabaldan’s books.  I can say, you won’t be disappointed.  I was so enthralled that I took the book with me to the kitchen and read it while cooking dinner.  I couldn’t put the book down.  About halfway through it, I began to look to see if there were other books and if it was a series.

After I found out there were more, I scoured the used bookstores here and then ended up buying them over the internet.  Unbelievably, I read almost all the books in about two weeks.  I’m ready to start over and reread them again.  These books will always be in my library.  How many books fall into this category?

Right now, this author is on a book signing tour with her latest book Written in my Own Heart’s Blood.  Naturally, I went out and snatched this book up, as I wanted it in hardcover like my others.

If you’re into this kind of read, you might want to check this out.  I’ll take pics of my books and post them next time, hopefully with the interview from the author.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day in America

Independence Day

Be safe one and all as you gather with friends and family for picnics, cookouts, games, stories, and a good time while waiting for fireworks to begin.

Let’s not forget the importance of this day as we all are caught up in celebrations and camaraderie.

Today, in 2014, much to the dismay of some, we can still celebrate this day.  But the way things are going, who knows if this time will come around again.  The world is so unsure and becoming a dangerous place, although I think probably every generation has had something like that to say about the state of things.

As we’re giving thanks for freedom, family and friends, and watching the colorful display of fireworks overhead, let’s all remember our forefathers and the glorious things they had in store for our nation at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  These fellows were real men with a genuine concern for the country and its inhabitants, unlike the people we have in office today who make careers out of their political lives and many of them for personal gain.

Our ancestors were in another place and time and that’s behind us now and gone.  We must deal with all the current things going on in our nation.  I’m sure these great men never saw a future with a nation so big and full of chaos as we have today.  It makes you wonder how they would handle things if we could bring them back.  I’m sure there a few of you who’ve thought about this very thing.

I would like to point out that three of our former presidents, and signers of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4.  That seems so strange, doesn’t it?  It makes you wonder of there’s any meaning there that we’re missing.  Three is quite a few with 365 days in a year.  I always wonder about oddball things like that.

I’d also like to say I guess my father is in good company, if you can say such a thing about a day of death, because this is his death date too.  I always think about him taking us to see the fireworks as kids, as I’m watching them on July 4.  I love and miss you, Daddy.  You’re not forgotten.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Designing Book Covers

I read an article in GalleyCat the beginning of June.  There was a discussion held at Book Expo America on the importance of the book cover.  All of us know that the first thing to catch our eye when browsing for a new book is the jacket.  I know that’s the first thing I look at and of it interests me, I read the blurb on the back, or inside of the jacket, as is the case with hard cover books.

A good reminder for all of us is to bear in mind the way the finished cover will look as a thumbnail image.  Can you still see the important parts of the cover when it’s that size?  This is actually something I thought little about when doing my first book.

Another thing mentioned was taking a risk and not imitating successful covers of books already published and doing well.  I would want my own unique cover, but that’s how I am with everything in life.  I tend to walk a path that isn’t “the norm” with many things.  I would urge writers to take a risk with their cover, if they’re comfortable doing so.

This might be an article you’d like to read.  It could come in handy if you’ll be doing a cover anytime soon.  To go there, click Cover Design Tips From the Pros.