I'm not saying I'm behind on book reviews, but Emily and I listened to American Gods while driving to and from Missouri—in 2015. So, I am saying I’m behind on book reviews, and since this one’s easy I thought I’d knock it out.
Not that Neil Gaiman needs any help from me, especially with American Gods on its way to becoming a TV series. (Wait, the show's first season is over; I'm behind on posting blogs, too.) Better that than a movie—I can’t imagine how they’d fit this story into a two hour or so time frame.
Main character Shadow is released from prison early, on the news that his wife has been killed in an accident. He’s flying home for the funeral when Mr. Wednesday appears next to him during a violent storm, and offers him a job. What’s the job, and how does Wednesday know so much about Shadow? That’s just the beginning of the mystery, and as close to normal as this book ever gets.
The grieving Shadow just wants to be left alone, but soon finds himself in a war pitting old gods against new gods as he wanders across the American Midwest, meeting every sort of odd character, human and otherwise. And that’s about as close as I can come to describing this mind-twisting novel in ten thousand words or less.
Although I like listening to podcasts and audio non-fiction, I haven’t had good experiences with fiction on audiobook. That changed with American Gods, which is narrated (performed?) by George Guidall. At least, my version was; I've since learned that there's at least on other audio version. Thanks to Guidall I can’t imagine Wednesday being played by anyone but Anthony Hopkins (well, I can now), but he does a great job with all the voices, as well as Gaiman’s wonderful narration.
This audio addition of American Gods is, I assume, unabridged, and so seemed to take forever. That’s a compliment. It was like an endless bowl of ice cream that you never get tired of. In fact, this novel is the reason why I usually give books I really like a four out of five rating. That way there’s room when the occasional perfect reading—well, listening—experience arrives. This is it: Five out of five.

(By the way, the series is just as mind blowing. Instead of trying to shove all this story and characters into one movie, there's actually room to expand it a bit. I couldn't imagine how they could turn American Gods into a TV series either, but they did it, and it's a work of surreal genius.)

The first reviews of Ol' Man Wickleberry are in--well, review--and it seems to be going over well:


Ol' Man Wickleberry probably wouldn't agree, but he's known to be crotchety.

Remember, authors depend on reviews to survive. There was a time when that was literal, as starving authors would read their reviews, then cook them into a mush with a little salt and pepper for those months between royalty checks. That's a lot harder to do since the internet came along.

I didn't catch this when it first came out, but here's another review of Hoosier Hysterical ... and new reviews make this Hoosier hysterical:


It was actually posted the last day of 2016, which means I'm still waiting for the first review of this year. Remember, to authors reviews are like chocolate: Sure, in theory you could have too much--but it very rarely actually happens.

Authors live off reviews—we sure can’t live off our writer’s income!—and I got a really nice one of The No-Campfire Girls, to usher in the new year:
This novel, along with Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, are our books that support good causes beyond my retirement fund. You can, of course, find them in places such as:
Remember, every time you leave a book review, an angel gets his wings … then he flies away and no longer leaves a carbon footprint. Save the planet: Leave a review.

Sometimes a book’s subtitle just lays it out for you. I did it with all three of my non-fiction books, as Mari Collier did with Earthbound, a perfect mix of SF and Western. Sure, the movies have Cowboys and Aliens, but Mari does it better.

The story actually starts in Ireland, where alien Llewellyn is basically a slave to another race. Circumstances bring his freedom; unfortunately, he’s left with a spaceship that he doesn’t know how to pilot out of Earth orbit. He becomes giant Irishman Zebediah MacDonald, trying to make a life for himself on a primitive planet, especially the place where he hides the spacecraft: Texas.

Eventually Mac meets Anna, a woman who’s lost her children and been captured by the Comanche. Mac may be an alien, but Anna has shocking secrets of her own—and a connection to Mac that even she doesn’t know about. Together the two begin to build a life, as the clouds of Civil War gather around them.

Earthbound is a great story with memorable characters, but to me the most fun was the historical aspect of it. Mari has done her research—it’s no surprise that she’s on the board of her local Historical Society. She doesn’t shirk on the details of life back then, from social constrictions to the dangers of childbirth, but it’s never dull. The supporting characters are great, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.



 Hey, there’s a new review of Storm Chaser!
My very first published work, if you don’t include my newspaper stuff. Wow … that was five years ago, six since Storm Chaser was accepted for publication—and now there are ten books on my Amazon author page. No wonder I’m so tired.
 Jess is a slave, and it's his job to be the first to enter newly pirated spaceships. Slaves go first, trigger the booby traps, and then the slavers claim the prize. I assume other slaves clean up the remains of the first slaves.
But when he and two others survive their entry, the 16 year old suddenly finds himself free and on the run, in a universe of brutal empires, pirates, and slave traders. He can trust only his mysterious and seemingly intelligent new ship, the Wanderer, and maybe—or maybe not—his few friends. What follows is a frantic race to understand and utilize the new ship, while others try to take it from Jess and his small group.
Wanderer’s Escape is the first of a series, and introduces us to a boy and his ship: a ship which, like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, has seemingly unlimited capabilities in the right hands, and a sentient dedication to its owner. Jess makes mistakes--he's a teenager, after all—but like the ship he's a fast learner, and watching him learn is half the fun. Unfortunately, this is a place where learning from your mistakes isn’t as likely as dying from them.
I did feel a little lost at first, not knowing much about the universe Jess inhabits, but getting to know it was a fun ride (although I wouldn't want to live there!) The story reminded me of some of Heinlein’s “juvenile” SF—or rather, my memory of them—which is a compliment. Sometimes the Wanderer seems a bit too good to be true, but there are plenty of other problems along the way to make up for it.
Here’s something odd: So far, a full half of the Amazon reviews for Hoosier Hysterical have come from Germany!


Or maybe not so odd, since I’ve only gotten two reviews so far.

I’m a little late passing it on, but I did indeed get a review this month of The No-Campfire Girls. As all fourteen of my regular readers know, half the proceeds from sales of this YA humor-adventure story go to support Girl Scout Camp Latonka in Missouri.


Spoiler alert: I think they liked it.




ozma914: cover of my new book: 30% of proceeds go to the Friends of Camp Latonka fund (The No-Campfire Girls)
( Jan. 12th, 2016 04:05 pm)
We closed out 2015 with a great review of The No-Campfire Girls:


Very nice, and we may see main character Beth and her family in another story sometime soon! I always have plans, see. Meanwhile, don’t forget that half the profits for sales of The No-Campfire Girls go toward the continued operation of Camp Latonka, Emily’s former Girl Scout camp in Missouri. (The other half go toward writing the next book.)

Book review: Maybe It’s Just Me, by Barry Parham:




“Barry strikes again in the only way he knows how: Politically incorrect and howlingly funny.


You can forgive Katelina if she thinks the murder of her boyfriend Patrick is the worst thing that could happen to her. Or she may have thought that, before she’s torn out of her life by the mysterious Jorick, and discovers her association with Patrick has made her hunted—by vampires


In “Shades of Gray (Amaranthine Book 1)”, Katelina is plunged into a nightmare, unable to contact friends or family, separated from home and work. Worse, her only protector is also a vampire, and he’s way more dangerous than the sparkly sort.


Joleene Naylor’s first Amaranthine book goes back to the good old days of vampires: They’re vile, merciless, and see humans as only food or slaves, just as vampires should. And although Jorick does seem to be one of the (or maybe the only) good ones, “good” is relative in this series’ cold, gory world. The first book is dark and violent—and well told—and hints and big things to come.


I did have trouble with the main character's inaction, but not because she wasn’t written well—far from it. Katelina spends much of the book in a state of shock, and who wouldn’t? Terrible things happen to her at every turn. So, while Katelina’s struggles with helplessness and hopelessness aren’t something I enjoyed, they came because Naylor stayed true to her character, rather than giving her an unbelievable transformation into an action hero halfway through. Just the same, I hope Katelina catches some breaks in future books!


My review of “The Unicorn’s Daughter”, by Norma Beishir:




“Jaime is a headstrong journalist, and an orphan … or so she’s told.”

My review of Secondhand Shoes, (Lila’s Journey Series, Book 1), by Shelly Arkon:




“… And her husband-to-be doesn’t fit, either.”

My review of Camera Obscura, by Rosanne Dingli:




“Rich storytelling, but someone slap the protagonist.”

Yes, I’ll finish that dragon: A review of Barry Parham’s newest humor book:




“Thanks to Barry Parham, I’ve gained five pounds and have chocolate smeared across my face. I guess that technology’s still in beta.”

Long overdue review of Final Hours, by N.L. Beishir:




Yeah, I’m trying to catch up on some six or eight books I meant to review … some of which I haven’t even had time to read yet. I will say I don’t plan to leave a review on a book I wouldn’t recommend, so you won’t see many one or two stars from me. Also, after a great deal of consideration, I’m thinking the only way a book will get a five star review from me is if a bookmark reaches out while I’m reading and feeds me chocolate … especially since I’ve heard many readers mistrust books with multiple five star reviews. That’s the system I came up with.



ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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