Monday, October 31, 2016

Review--League of Dragons (Temeraire, #9)

League of Dragons (Temeraire, #9)League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A satisfying conclusion to an excellent series, but I think, like many fans, I'd want to know what happens next. However, I respect the author's saying this is the final book, and we can leave it at that.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review--Saint's Blood (Greatcoats, #3)

Saint's Blood (Greatcoats, #3)Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darn you, de Castell, you killed off one of my favorite characters and made me cry ugly! And yet, I couldn't put it down. I was worried I'd be worn out by all the mayhem visited on the Greatcoats, especially the First Cantor, but you kept the momentum going with a great tale of religion, politics and law. The ending was bittersweet, particularly the extra bit at the end after the acknowledgements.

Oh well, that's why I keep tissues on hand when I read really good books. Thank you.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review--For This We Are Soldiers

For This We Are Soldiers: Tales of the Frontier ArmyFor This We Are Soldiers: Tales of the Frontier Army by Carla Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy Carla Kelly's Regency romances, but I really like her tales set in the American West. Her depth of knowledge of the period, her eye for detail, all of it combines with excellent story-telling to make for a great reading experience.

This collection of tales from the frontier isn't a romance collection, and three of the stories appeared in the (also excellent) Here's To the Ladies, but it's a good purchase for her fans. I hope Ms. Kelly continues to bring us tales from the frontier army, a milieu she handles better than any other romance author today.

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Review--Revenge in a Cold River (William Monk, #22)

Revenge in a Cold River (William Monk, #22)Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of this series since Face of a Stranger, but I found the ending on this latest William Monk mystery strangely unsatisfying. It felt rushed, and the reader is left practically dangling after the very well done action at see climax.

But any Monk novel that reveals more of the detective's hidden past is a must-read for fans, and I enjoyed that aspect of the novel very much.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sometimes, Change is Good

As many of you know, I've been working hard since Amber Quill Press closed. I edited and re-released three of my earlier novels as ebooks at Amazon and Smashwords. I've been shopping the manuscript of WHAT THE PARROT SAW, and hope for good news on that front. But in the meantime, I'm still writing.

I'd started work on a novel that has possibilities, but yesterday I made the tough decision to set it aside for now at 10K words in, and try a different project. Book #1 was frustrating me because I couldn't figure out enough of the characters' goals, motivations, and conflict, and when the author can't finger the GMC it's time to re-think it. Debra Dixon's classic Goal, Motivation, and Conflict is often referenced by romance writers, and it's become somewhat of an industry bible for good reason. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to write a novel, in any genre.

In the past I've sometimes had to get 1/3 into my manuscript before I knew the GMC, one of the pitfalls of being a "seat-of-the-pants" writer. But I know myself well enough now to know that occasionally the best ideas aren't ready to come forward, and if I put this book on the back burner I can begin a new project that feels more solid to me.

So there it is. Sometimes the writing process takes more time and effort, at least for me. People often ask me if I enjoy writing, and I come back with classic reply, "No, I enjoy having written." So I'm off to do the painful writing part so that in a couple months I can sit back and enjoy having written.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review--Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4)

Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4)Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent entry in the Expanse series, with an ending I totally did not see coming (but should have). Corey takes to heart Mark Twain's advice about chasing your characters up trees and throwing stones at them. The crew of the Roci are in it again, this time when they're sent to be mediators in a conflict between squatters and corporations on a newly uncovered habitable planet.

The analogies to the Wild West and the American Frontier are drawn in broad strokes. It's the farmers vs. the ranchers, the settlers vs. the railroads and banks, pick your favorite and it's worked in there.

The only thing that kept this uber space opera from five stars was the feeling that it could have been trimmed. After a while, you can get burned out on all the danger and violence and favorite characters in jeopardy. But it's still one of the best science fiction epics available today and I highly recommend this series.

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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Review--Knight's Shadow (Greatcoats, #2)

Knight's Shadow (Greatcoats, #2)Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

More swashbuckling yumminess featuring the greatest fictional swordfight since Inigo Montoya fought The Man In Black. I can't imagine why someone would read this before Traitor's Blade, so let me just throw out there that you should read the first of The Greatcoats novels before picking this one up.

Knight's Shadow continues to ask tough questions about whether Right Makes Might and the role of people who stand up and say, "Hold on, that ain't right!" It's a philosophical as well as adventurous story, and should appeal to fans of Dorothy Dunnett, Terry Pratchett, Alexandre Dumas, Rafael Sabatini and Raymond Chandler (The Venn diagram of the fan groups who would enjoy this story should be very interesting.)

I eagerly look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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