Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Silent Spy Box Cover Art Revealed!

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From the Her Interactive product page:

Defuse a Toxic Plot and Reveal the Truth Behind Kate Drew’s Death!

Nearly a decade ago Agent Kate Drew left home to neutralize a biochemical weapon in Scotland. While her assignment was a success, Kate died in a car accident. Or so we were told. Now the echoes of a similar plot reverberate and it’s up to you, as detective Nancy Drew, to thwart the sleeper cell and expose the truth about your mother’s tragic demise.

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Sesla…The Enchanted Planet Book Review

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit another planet and solve crimes?  Would you be interested in a science fiction novel involving private investigators?

Sesla…The Enchanted Planet, written by J.A. Ireland, takes you to the planet of Sesla.  We see qualities that make this exciting planet unique, including the sport of Mesnuk, the sea doxer, and genetic engineering in the Qashlet Lab.  We are also introduced to areas such as the desert territories and the wet lands.  The natives of this planet, or coteries, are separated by which area of Sesla they live in, as well as their prestige and occupation.  The Coteries of Sesla interact with each other in cities, newspapers, and the media.  One type of Coterie, the detective, solves crimes on Sesla.

In Sesla…The Enchanted Planet, Detective Maxx Zeqster is hired to investigate the disappearance of one coterie, Leqtus Kin.  However, the local media and police department believes that he cannot effectively solve the case.  He soon discovers that his explorations take him deeper into the relations between the Coteries than he previously knew.  Along the way, the reader questions what is actually going on with this foreign planet.

I found this book to be an interesting read because I don’t normally read a lot of science fiction.  I loved the fact that crime solving was brought into the novel.  I would have never imagined teaming science fiction with private investigators.  That proved to be quite enjoyable.

I found that the character of Detective Maxx Zeqster evolved dramatically throughout the novel.  We are introduced to Detective Zeqster when he is at the lowest point of his career.  Through the process of his investigation, his self-confidence deflates, then begins to soar.

Finally, my most favorite part of the book was the sea doxer.  Because I have a heavy background in science, I found the story of the sea doxer evolution, as well as doxer fever, to be quite intriguing.

Overall, Sesla…The Enchanted Planet, is a great read.  I loved learning about Sesla, the newspapers and media, and the different issues facing the Coteries.  Detective Maxx Zeqster’s character changed dramatically through the story.  I would highly recommend the novel if you would like to read science fiction with a crime solving twist.

Sesla…The Enchanted Planet is now available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle PC for $.99.  Amazon Prime members with a Kindle ca also borrow it from the Kindle Lending Library for free.  You can read J.A Ireland’s blog at at Detective Maxx Zeqster’s Creepy Crawly Amazing Adventures.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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Since so many people have reviewed the book, I can’t really add many comments to it other than my opinion.  I found the characters to be quite believable for the time period—1960s Jackson, Mississippi, right during the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.  The dialogue seemed authentic, which added to the validity of the novel.

I couldn’t help but be completely engrossed in the plot.  Like many others, I was hooked right at the first page when Aibileen, one of the black maids in the book, is talking about raising white babies.  I found myself getting angry at some points, and cheering in others.

What I really enjoyed about the book was seeing the tension between the black maids and their white employers.  The black maids had been raised to serve the nice southern white women dutifully (and without complaint), but we still saw the dissent of the help throughout the whole book, particularly after extreme events such as the outside bathroom.  This eventually led to creating Help with Skeeter.

One of my favorite characters from the book was Hilly, not because I liked her, but because I found her to be fascinating.  She was so determined to be a socialite that she didn’t even see how she was acting to her own daughter and the black maids.  Racism was so ingrained in her that she forgot everything else.  Quite fascinating.

I also found the interactions between Skeeter and her mother intriguing.  Skeeter isn’t interested in getting married, and of course her mother disapproves of that.  She goes so far as to call Skeeter a lesbian.  That’s quite different from today’s age where it can be acceptable in society for women not to get married, or getting married at an older age.  Again, that reflects the time period.

Of course I have to give the book five stars because it was so compelling.  Yes, it was worth the hype.  Yes, you should read it as fast as possible.  You won’t regret it.

My mom read this book with me.  Here’s a link to her review.

The Bell Jar

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While reading the first half of The Bell Jar, I couldn’t help but draw connections between Sophie’s feelings and the dilemma facing many college students today.  In The Bell Jar, Sophie is almost out of college.  She is an English major living the high life with other students, but she is not quite comfortable with her situation.  She feels that the road she is on is ending, and that she doesn’t have a viable option for where to go in life.  She didn’t get into an advanced writing course, and she doesn’t want to marry her childhood sweetheart.  She is imagining a fig tree where she has many possibilities in life, but she doesn’t know which path to take.  As she spends more and more time considering her options, she feels the figs of the fig tree falling, and fewer and fewer options in her life.

Today, many students are running the race of college scholarships, high GPA, volunteerism, etc…, only to find out that the race they are winning at is now ending.  They are graduating from college with high scholastic merit, only to find out that they now need to run the race of life, and that their prospects in that race are grim.  Many students who graduate from college cannot find a job out of college, or that job isn’t what they were expecting and they don’t earn enough to pay off their college debt (which can total in the 30-40,000 range for undergraduate students.  Graduate students are, of course, more).  They feel like they are facing the fig tree of the novel, where they see so many possibilities in front of them.  They may get married, move to another state (or even another country), go on for more education to *hopefully* better their chances of career achievement, or get a job that they are totally overqualified for and really don’t want.  Many college students feel the sense that there is a ceiling over their heads, or that they feel squeezed from pressure.  In other words, they feel that they are in the bell jar.

With that context, I can completely understand the depression this young woman feels, even though this book was written in the 1960s.  It was written forty years ago, yet it can still be applied to the condition of college students today.  That is why it is a modern classic.  It transcends the time that it was written and is applicable to the world of today.  I would not expect every college student to go further down this path, but that is her story.

Because of her mental state, Sophie feels trapped in major depressive disorder.  She thinks about the many ways she can kill herself, and eventually ends up in asylums.  One of the more notable (and disgusting) moments is her stirring a raw egg into raw hamburger and eating it.  In this way, the book serves as a case study in abnormal psychology.  We see a young woman who feels trapped in the life she is living, and her tragic venture into the depths of the human psyche.  We see glimpses of how psychiatric patients were treated during the 1960s, including severe shock therapy.

Sophie is eventually let out of the asylum because her doctors feel that she is ready to go out into the world again.  She feels as though she was reborn from the experience.  Is she mentally able to face the world?  Will she find her new path in life?  We do not get the answer to this question in the book because it doesn’t show what happens to her later.

The Bell Jar is a fascinating case study of depression and mental disorders.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone interesting in learning how a person at the height of their college career can end up in a mental asylum.

This book easily deserves five stars.

For another review from Jill’s Cabana Stories, click here.

Back to the Writing Board

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I confess, I haven’t looked at my novel in a while.  I’ve been sending it off for feedback, and digesting some of the more notable comments, particularly about my apparent info dumping.  Exposition is supposedly my friend.

I do feel that I have had a significant writer’s block.   I’ve just stared at the blank pages, trying to figure out how to best go about the revision process.   As the picture suggests, I don’t hear my characters talking to me through the pages, revealing their story and what happens to them.  I’m not saying I wasn’t hearing voices.  I just wasn’t getting anything to write.  It wasn’t coming.

I started getting feedback from one of my critter partners and family members, and I tried to understand what people were saying.  I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden a spark came back.   Something just clicked.

So now I feel like I know where to go.  I realize that info dumping and exposition with description/setting is common with fantasy writers, and that I just have to work with it.  However, I have to be happy with my story.

I know that I have to work more with the prophecy, Nakendra, and Lady Adell at the very beginning, and that I have to work out some of the more extensive descriptions.  The plot needs to go quicker in the beginning, and Linview doesn’t need such long descriptions.

Above all, I have to bring the pacing from the middle to the end of the story to the beginning.  It needs to go faster.

I remember some of my earliest feedback from my family saying that the plot needed to move faster in the beginning.   At the time, I will admit, I was very stubborn.  Now…I see where people are coming from.  It’s hard to accept, but I see it.  Which means cutting (and which author actually likes cutting?).  I just keep telling myself that it will help.

So back I go to the writing board.  I finally know what I have to do, and I am comfortable with the new revision process.  I feel like it will help.  Hopefully I won’t get another writing block like this one.

Keep writing!  And revising.

Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series

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Books of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series

Books of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series

This series is called the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel; however, it isn’t really about Nicholas Flame.  It’s the journey of twins Sophie and Josh Newman.  If someone wanted to learn more about Flamel, this really wouldn’t be the series to do it.

While I was reading the series, I found more and more that the books seemed to get a little repetitive.   It was the continuous whether we should trust Nicholas Flamel, with the twins getting further and further apart as they learned more magic.  Granted, each book was a different quest, but it still revolved around the same question.

Throughout the books, more and more characters were introduced as being immortal, including William Shakespeare and Niccolo Machiavelli.  With the advent of The Bard, the series became more and more strange.  Billy the Kid and Quetzalcoatl are also featured.

The Alchemyst was a riveting start to the series.  There was lots of action in this, and Josh wasn’t constantly second guessing whether to trust Flamel (at least not as much as the other books).  Sophie and Josh were still together.  They were at the same level in their magical learning.

The Sorceress was my favorite because I loved reading about Perenelle Flamel being trapped on Alcatraz and how she escaped.  That plot really captured my attention.  The entire time, I was wondering just who this Perry Flamel really was.  How could she escape the sphinx, plus all the creatures trapped on Alcatraz.  Quite the exhilarating read.

The Necromancer was probably the weakest book in the series, one reason being that the necromancer element wasn’t introduced until the last 100 pages of the book.  Until then, it was almost filler.  I wouldn’t quite go that far, but it did seem to be repetitive.

The Warlock was a step above The Necromancer, but it was hard to keep the plot of this book straight.  The characters were so spread out from each other, and sometimes you didn’t even know who two of the characters were.  That was just my opinion.  Perhaps I should reread it before I read the last book of the series.

And then, of course, there is the element where Josh is trying to figure out who to trust:  John Dee, Machiavelli, or Flamel.  That happened throughout the entire series.  Finally he made his choice in The Warlock, despite what his twin sister Sophie tells him.

Overall, this was an exciting series in the beginning, but it did seem to drag later on, particularly in The Necromancer.  The Warlock was better, except I didn’t really understand what was going on in one of the plots of the story.

I will be anxious to read The Enchantress, where the final battle for Danu Talis will begin.