The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is a classic storytelling manual, and it certainly adds something unique to the storytelling world, but I had a lot of trouble telling what that was. If you are the sort of writer who devours writing books and collects advice, able to weigh it against everything else you’ve read, then this is a good book. Based on my reading of it, however, it is not a panacea. Not that it has to be, but I would advise against having expectations as high as the jacket copy suggests.
My complaints follow. Continue reading “The Anatomy of Story (Goodreads Review)”
The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Disclosure: I am a colleague and friend of Laurie Forest as well as a devoted fan. If I didn’t love the book, I wouldn’t have read it, and I wouldn’t leave this review. I paid full price for my hardback copy.
Laurie Forest’s sequel to her 2017 debut The Black Witch extends the primary storyline and invokes new points of view to add to the epic scale of the conflict. Elloren Gardner is now firmly ensconced in the Verpacian resistance to encroaching Gardnerian rule. Her aunt has kept up the pressure for her to marry (wandfast) and the harassment of non-Gardnerians increases. Her small cadre of teen revolutionaries is secure and expanding, but Elloren finds herself caught between feelings for a boy she can’t be with, and her duty to the resistance. If she fasts to Lukas Grey, she might be able to turn him to the resistance, and make him a powerful ally. But her true feelings lie with Yvan, a Kelt whose secrets become harder to hide.
The action really heats up when the Gardnerian military cadets refuse to hide their prejudice, start riots, and attack members of the other races. Everyone makes an escape plan, and Elloren plans to stay behind to help whoever she can. Continue reading “The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest (Goodreads Review)”
What makes the final book of the series so meaningful and complete?
I haven’t posted in a while thanks to numerous life developments and lots of writing done. If you’re interested in that, see below.
Lately I’ve rewatched two Harry Potter films and it’s brought back memories of reading the books, a project I finished in 2015, reading all seven books to my sons. Harry Potter was a known character even before we started the books, and enough of my friends and enough of popular culture centers around Harry and Hogwarts that I thought reading the books would be a good idea. I am just a few years too old, and was too cynical about fiction at the turn of the century, so I missed the Harry Potter boat until my boys were old enough to hear them aloud.
And it was certainly fun. Reading books with kids is a completely different experience from reading them as an adult, especially an adult in graduate school. Prisoner of Azkaban was incredibly fun, and the prospect of my kids getting excited and staying excited to read books together, especially books over 500 pages, was really exciting. Finally understanding the jokes and references related to the books was also fun, even if I made sure to tell people right away that I was reading the books to my kids, not just for my own enjoyment. I finally knew who Tonks was, and that was helpful in my general life. Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: what sets it apart?”
Solar by Ian McEwan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Perhaps it’s schadenfreude, or simple voyeurism, but only Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood can make unlikeable characters so engaging. McEwan is also a master at believable immersion in the technical aspects of the characters’ world, in a way that myself, a former scientist, is totally engrossed. McEwan nails how scientists think, interact, and the hypocrisies and benefits, habits and mannerisms, as well as the unique demands on the mind and “real lives” of scientists. Reading this book was like being back as a professional scientists. The conversations were realistic, the thoughts and judgments of the characters were completely like the people I’ve worked with. Continue reading “Solar by Ian McEwan (Goodreads Review)”
Or can we boldly explore some new worlds?
I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story on Sunday, and I was impressed. It was a fun movie, not as dreadfully serious as the other three new films, and had some nice surprises. Spoilers: you actually get to see Warwick Davis’ face on screen. There is no Boba Fett, no Jabba the Hutt, and there is little about The Force, the Jedi, the Republic, and I didn’t see many stormtroopers. Come to think of it, there was an entire fighting force devoid of stormtroopers, something never-before-seen (not counting Clone Wars). The ships, the droids, the planets, the villains, and the primary conflict are all completely new.
Continue reading “Is Solo a Star Wars Story?”
A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Veil of Spears is the third full-length novel in the Song of Shattered Sands series by author Bradley P. Beaulieu, which began with Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. The author has created a setting for the ages, akin to Hogwart’s, Randland, and Middle Earth, but I would argue Sharakhai is even better because at the heart of this series is a central character who is deeper and more complex than Harry, Rand al’Thor, or Frodo. There is a supporting cast of nobles, “gutter wrens,” Blade Maidens, revolutionaries, monsters, and various mentors, but Ceda and her quest to understand her origins remains the central driving force behind this series. If this book disappoints in any way, it’s that there is not enough time with Ceda.
Continue reading “A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Goodreads Review)”
Howdy there: I have been playing around with GIMP and have found some cool ways to make my own artwork, so I gave the blog a new look. Tell me what you think. I created the new banner just by playing around and trying to create something related to the themes of my books.
To end all questions: yes, I and the family are moving to Colorado in June. I will miss New England and the writing scene here, but I’m looking forward to being close to my extended family and old friends in Colorado. I haven’t been blogging or writing short stories lately because we’re getting our house ready to sell and I have to focus on the novel. This is not an apology. I like writing this blog, and I have plenty of stuff I want to write about and discuss, but it’s a lower priority.
Continue reading “New Look, New Short Story, and Other News”
Should you go see the new adaptation of the classic book? Maybe…
Here is my Goodreads review (follow me on Goodreads), or scroll down for what I thought of the film.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Why ask me? This book is a classic that goes beyond all internet reviews. School librarians and teachers will forever be recommending this book, and with good reason. If you’re going to read it as an adult, don’t expect too much, but kids will remember it forever. I just read it to my children and we went to see the movie. It’s a cerebral, magical, wonder-filled book that is great for children from 8-12. I highly recommend it for reading aloud or reading solo. The kids loved it. It’s imaginative and adventurous, with plenty of laughs and cries. The thing I liked most about it was reading a children’s book that quotes Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, and Cervantes in their original languages. That’s the kind of book I want to read to my kids. Continue reading “A Wrinkle in Time”
The Song of Shattered Sands continues…
With Blood Upon the Sand is the second novel in the Song of The Shattered Sands series. Two novellas have been published, Of Sand and Malice Made and In the Village Where Brightwine Flows: A Shattered Sands Novella, along with the first novel in the series Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. The third novel of a projected four, A Veil of Spears is due out next month. This is a deeply-characterized series that focuses on Ceda, a very capable young woman wrapped up in an intense drama. The city of Sharakhai in the heart of the Shangazi desert is filled with magic and haunted by its own past. The influences on this world are primarily near-Eastern or Central Asian, and it makes for an interesting mix of magical elements. There is not just one “magic system” there are Continue reading “With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Goodreads Review)”
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Short review: this is a fun, funny, and well-written book that is just as good or better than the previous books in the series. It’s a great book to read with your kids, or just by yourself.
Magnus Chase, Alex Fierro, Samirah al-Abbas, Hearth, Blitz, and a cast of einherji race against the launch of Naglfar, the ship of the dead, to once again stop the inevitable tide of Ragnarok. Along the way they pick up the pieces of what they did in the previous book The Hammer of Thor, and discover more about their mysterious parents, their demigod powers, and even find a little romance. This book is a focused thrill ride with more action and less comedy than its predecessor, although it still retains the picaresque quality of other books in the series. Though the heroes are successful, the series ends unresolved and leaves plenty of room for more adventures with these characters. Continue reading “Rick Riordan’s The Ship of the Dead (Goodreads review)”