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Saturday Miscellany – 9/24/16

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley — a new Flavia de Luce and/or reminder that I need to catch up with these books.
  • The Family Plot by Cherie Priest — I really don’t think this is my kind of book, but given the author, if I read it, I’d probably love it.
  • Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner — similarly, I don’t see myself reading this memoir, but I bet it’s good.
  • Not a book, but a handful of titles published by Fahrenheit Press are now available in paperback, for you non-ereaders. Notably, the two wonderful Jo Perry books.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and welcome to allmeowedout, belikewaterproduction, FelissaEly, frustratedego, Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek, TNWTL MOVEMENT, and marteenreadsbooks for following the blog this week. Wow! A bumper crop!

As Wings Unfurl by Arthur M. Doweyko

As Wings Unfurl Book Tour Banner

As Wings Unfurl As Wings Unfurl

by Arthur M. Doweyko

Kindle Edition, 280 pg.
Red Adept Publishing, LLC, 2016

Read: September 19 – 20, 2016


Apple Bogdanski is a morphine-addicted Vietnam vet still having trouble re-acclimating himself to civilian life. The re-acclimation becomes more difficult when the small Book Store he works at is broken into by some pretty nasty guys. There’s some fisticuffs, some gunplay and some damaged books. What keeps Apple from being as damaged as the books is a mysterious stranger, Angela. She’s a stranger, yes, but one that Apple is convinced he’s known for years — maybe his whole life — but he can’t put his finger on the “how” and “where” of such knowledge. What’s more important to Apple at the moment is that she’s saved his bacon from these thugs and is pretty attractive — a winning combination to be sure — he’s just not sure how she saved him, the explanation defies belief.

These events plunge Apple into a plot involving multiple intelligent races on Earth, a group of guys somewhere in outer space, a corrupt and powerful Roman Catholic Church, more beings like Angela and a good deal to chew on. Oh, and multiple threats to Apple’s life.

Aside from Apple, there are some pretty interesting characters here. We don’t ever really learn what kind of creature/being that Angela (or any of her kind) actually are — we do learn a lot about them, don’t worry, just not everything. Outside of battle, their abilities are a little to hard to get a real handle on. I was intrigued and wondered a lot — there’s evidence to support at least one interpretation, but it’s just a guess, so I’ll spare you. Shilog and Yowl are pretty interesting characters and one of them becomes pretty important to how things are moving through the later part of the book. I’m not going to fill you in on the details about them, because watching it be revealed is one of the most satisfying parts of the book.

There are some really painful anachronisms here — probably due to poor editing — they don’t ruin any plot points or anything, but they take you out of the moment enough to say, “Oh come on,” or something like that and make you doubt Doweyko’s idea to place things in ’75. Other than denying everyone around the action cell phones/cell phone cameras and surveillance cameras on every street corner, I don’t see the point in that setting, honestly. Again, it’s nothing to kill the story, but it’s enough to detract from it because you spend far too much time trying to figure it out.

This got the job done, and that’s about it, it was entertaining enough to keep you moving. But there’s nothing here that made me sit up and pay attention. I liked Apple as a character, and Angela really started to grown on me by the end. I do suggest picking it up if you have the means, but I wouldn’t urge you to rush into it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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3 Stars

As Wings Unfurl Book Tour

As Wings Unfurl Book Tour Banner
Coming up: We’ve got my post about the book. But first, about the book and the author:

As Wings Unfurl

About As Wings Unfurl:

Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Purple Heart, and an addiction to morphine. He stumbles through each day, looking forward to nothing and hoping it will arrive soon. When he attempts to thwart a crime, he is knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that people are once again calling him a hero, though he feels undeserving of the praise.

Apple returns to work and meets Angela, a mysterious woman who claims to be his guardian. Immediately, he feels a connection to her, which morphs into an attraction. But he soon discovers that Angela is much more than she seems.

Apple and Angela are swept up in a conspiracy that stretches through time and space. Together, they must fight to save everything they hold dear from an alien race bent on destroying humanity.

About Arthur M. Doweyko:

After retiring in 2009, Arthur M. Doweyko took up writing fiction. His novel Algorithm garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award. He has also published a number of short stories, many of which have been selected as Finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Award contest, and two Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.Arthur M Doweyko Author Photo

Arthur was awarded the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for his contribution to the discovery of Sprycel, a novel anti-cancer drug successfully brought to the marketplace in 2009. He has authored over one hundred publications (papers, abstracts, patents, book chapters) and has been an invited lecturer in a number of drug-discovery and computational venues.

Arthur lives in Florida with the love of his life, Lidia. When he’s not writing, he’s happily wandering the beaches.

Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

I wanted to nail this one, and I don’t think I did — just so I’m clear — you want to read this. Any of your kids over 13 (and maybe some under) will likely enjoy this. Don’t be put off by the labels attached: “Post-apocalyptic,” “YA,” or whatever — this is a good story about kids in the nearish future.

Children of the Different Children of the Different

by S.C. Flynn
Kindle Edition, 316 pg.
The Hive, 2016

Read: September 12 – 13, 2016

I’m going to get this quotation wrong, so remember it’s just a paraphrase: William Gibson’s early works were said to be set “Fifteen minutes into our future” — they’re futuristic SF, but only barely. Using that as a basis, I think you’d be safe saying that this book is set 20 minutes into our future — when Gibson’s cyberpunk present falls apart. Yes, it’s technically post-apocalyptic, but so is The Sword of Shannara, but that doesn’t mean you can walk in with any idea of what its’ going to be like. Think of this as a fantasy world very much like our own (but with cooler accents) — but where almost nothing works and teenagers are threats to their own health and safety, but also to pretty much the entire world’s health and safety.

We meet the twins Arika and Narrah just as Arika is beginning her time in the Changeland. Which is a stressful time for everyone in her life — but her brother Narrah does something quite out of the ordinary, he takes advantage of their inherent psychic link and enters the Changeland with her. By doing so, they set down on a path that could change the world forever. Not that they knew this. These aren’t a couple of Promised Children, Children of Destiny or whatever — they’re just a couple of kids in the right place and the right time to become the Children of Destiny. Arika’s the strongest character, the best fleshed out and it’s her reactions to everything that inform the readers’. Not to discount anyone else, but it’s her fears, her hopes, her determination that set things in motion (even Narrah will defer to her). Before I leave Arika — her friend, who I see as a combination of Luna Lovegood and Sybill Trelawney, but far less chatty — is such a great character. She’d have been easy to use wrongly, but Flynn gets is just right. She’s very likely my favorite part of the whole book.

While in her Changeland, Arika finds an enemy and Narrah finds a potential ally. Both show up later when Arika returns the favor and comes to Narrah’s rescue in his Changeland. It’s really kind of hard to describe, read it yourself. His is radically different and more hazardous — as are the conditions he finds himself in. I don’t want to get into the story beyond that, but let me just say that nothing in the story worked out the way I expected, and I’m so glad for it. The novel ended in such a way as to be initially dissatisfying, but with just a little thought, it was perfect — you don’t want more than you’re given, really — it seems like you do, but after a little time and thought, you get why he doesn’t the way he ended it the way he does, and actually end up pretty satisfied with the whole novel.

Oh yeah, there’s this great part that turns out to be a description of Echolocation. That was cool — I know I was wearing a big grin for a few paragraphs once I figured out that’s what was going on. That’s just an aside and your results my vary, but I really dug that scene. Almost as nifty are Narrah’s new abilities, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Flynn gives us clear, well-defined, and distinct characters here. I can’t say that I got too emotionally attached to any of them — but I was very curious about all of them. I imagined more of what life was like for the twins and their friends growing up in their circumstances, what made the various people who left their settlement do so, and just what might happen after the book ends. At the end of the day, these are people you want to see succeed, even if you don’t have that big emotional bond with them.

Once you get your bearings (which took a little longer for me than it should’ve, I think I had an off day), you can really get into this world and get an idea how things function (or don’t) on the Australian continent — and you can guess what’s going on in the rest of the world, too. Between the powers, the hard life and the machinations of the leaders — there’s plenty going on to keep you turning the pages — some is exciting, some is rich in imagery, some is tense and all is entertaining.

A heckuva debut novel — I can’t look forward to more enough.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my participation in the Book Tour and my honest post.

—–

4 Stars

A Few Quick Questions With…S. C. Flynn

You’ve maybe seen him here and there in the feedback for various and sundry posts, I know I have. S. C. Flynn’s been all over this blog — and I appreciate it. Thankfully, his book was good enough that I didn’t have to feel awkward (because it’s all about me, right?) Here’s a lil’ Q&A that S.C. and I did this week. I didn’t actually ask him more questions than usual — he edited my questions to make the answers better.

1. Why Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy (I didn’t even know that was a thing)?.
It is rare; I can hardly think of any examples of this sub-genre, and those are a long way from CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT. I suppose post-apocalyptic fantasy is rare because, as I see it, it is a mix of science fiction and fantasy. SF provides the background – in my case, an epidemic that affects the human brain such that by adolescence the second generation of survivors are already in part a new human species with enhanced abilities. Then the fantasy comes in, based on science and a little bit of magic!
I found this a neat way to let my imagination go where it wanted, while still having a plausible basis in our world.
2. Why YA?
I have written various other novels – all fantasy, but very different from this one – and been close to breaking into conventional publishing via professional literary agents over a period of many years. I had never written Young Adult before, though, so it was something new to try, together with the new strategy of quality self-publishing that I am carrying out, with an all-pro support team.
Writing YA has been a really enjoyable challenge. A Young Adult novel must have all the things that any good novel must have: strong plot, well-developed characters and convincing setting. By definition, the writer is limited in how much sex, coarse language and graphic violence can be included in a YA novel. That means that you have to work harder with those basic components I mentioned – plot, characters and setting, in order to achieve your effects you need.
Once I had the basic idea – namely, following the brain disease epidemic that destroyed civilisation, adolescents go into a coma and emerge either with special powers or as dangerous Ferals – the choice of YA was made for me. The logical time for this Changing to occur was at the onset of puberty, so the main characters (twins Arika and Narrah – a girl and a boy) are 13 years old. Arika and Narrah can read and write, but they have always lived in a small, isolated non-industrial settlement, and their language and thoughts are conditioned by their limited knowledge of the world. In CHILDREN, we see everything from the twins’ viewpoint, so the style in which their story is told necessarily had to be simple and clear. That fits perfectly with the Young Adult audience.
3. What was it about this story that made you say — yup, this is the one?
CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT leaped into my mind almost fully formed once I had the basic idea. Of all my novels, CHILDREN was by far the easiest and quickest to write, at least as far as the first draft was concerned.

I am an obsessive reviser, so that was four years ago, during which time there have been long pauses while I was revising other novels, or even – surprisingly enough – taking some time off from revision. Still, the first draft of CHILDREN virtually wrote itself – every day when I needed a scene, it was there ready-made.
I had never written about Australia before, so probably, without realising it, I had a great amount of background knowledge ready to use. My other novels are quasi-historical fantasy and required a lot of research.

I think the main characters really wanted to tell their story, as well.

4. You’ve been doing the SF/F blog thing for a while now — how has that helped you as a novelist??
The style of writing that works on a blog is completely different from what fiction requires, so I see them as two separate skills. As I said before, I have written novels for many years, so my fiction style was probably formed in large part before I started blogging.

Blogging certainly keeps you up with the latest books and what people are saying about them, and the skills of writing blog posts is essential for trying to publicise your fiction. Setting up a blog also brought me out of my corner, where I had been writing for years, and got me into contact with lots of cool people who have helped and encouraged me.

5. What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that?”
Wool by Hugh Howey. A very clever dystopian idea, and also a book that helped to revolutionise the self-publishing industry.
6. Aside from a burning desire to buy copies to give away as gifts, what are you hoping your readers take away from this book?
An optimistic post-apocalyptic story like CHILDREN is an important one to tell, for me. It contains a warning about the dangers of technology, together with hope for what our society could achieve if technology were used for good purposes.

CHILDREN also contains a hopeful message that our very young people can achieve great things. Like the twins, adolescents are not stupid, but just lacking in experience, exposed to dangerous influences and struggling to work out who or what they are turning into. It is up to us to give them the best chance we can and leave them the best world we possibly can./td>

7. What’s next for S. C. Flynn?
There has so far been a fair bit of interest from reviewers in seeing more of the world of CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT. So, one possibility would be to write a sequel.
The alternative would be to publish one of the completed novels I referred to before. Three of those are of publishable quality, in my opinion, having been through years of editing by professional literary agents, as well as my own fanatical revision.For now, I will wait and see what happens with CHILDREN.
Thanks so much for your time, and I hope your launch week meets with a lot of success.

Children of the Different by S. C. Flynn Book Tour

Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Children of the Different. Along with this blurb about the book I’ve got a Q & A with the author, S. C. Flynn and my 2¢ about the book.

Book Details:

Book Title:  Children of the Different by S. C. Flynn
Release date:  September 10, 2016
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Extract: THE ANTEATER

Book Description:

Nineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and either emerge with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of south-western Australia, thirteen year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia. If they can reach it before time runs out.

Author Info:

SCy-Fy: the blog of S. C. Flynn

https://twitter.com/LaughRiotPress

https://twitter.com/SCyFlynn

S. C. Flynn’s Amazon Page

Ascent by M. T. Miller

AscentAscent: Second Book of the Nameless Chronicle

by M. T. Miller
Series: The Nameless Chronicle, #2

Kindle Edition, 316 pg.
2016

Read: September 3, 2016


Can you read this without having read Risen? Yeah, but it’d be better if you didn’t (and Risen is short enough that you might was well). I’m not sure how much time has passed since the last page of the first book, but we find Nameless pretty much how we left him — wandering along, on the verge of . . . whatever exactly would happen to him if he didn’t get more energy. Like before, almost as soon as he gets to town, he falls victim to a gang of sorts and is mugged. Of course, his first order of business (after recuperating from the beating) is revenge, which will give him the energy he needs to move around the Pyramid to search for the explanations he needs to understand his abilities, his nature and identity.

What’s the Pyramid, you ask? It’s a city in a giant 4-tiered structure (each tier housing a different caste). Nameless adopts a name, makes a little money on the lowest level — full of crime, poverty and menial labor — and buys himself access to the next level. Where he finds a new — and legal — way to use his fighting abilities to make money. Things go haywire from there.

There’s a lot more going on in this book than there was in its predecessor, Risen — if for no other reason than it’s almost 3 times as long. It’s still the same kind of book — full of violence, some pretty good fight scenes, and a post-apocalyptic culture that’s foreign, yet all-too familiar. There are many more characters, relating to Nameless in a variety of ways — friendship, camaraderie, betrayal, exploitation, to name a few.

The way things went in Book One, I assumed that we were going to learn Nameless’ origins, etc. over the course of a handful of books. Nope — we get almost every question we had about where he came from answered — and almost all of them are just dumped on us. There was no slow and steady learning here, just *BAM!* here are your answers. And it worked — much better than a slow reveal, a giant dropping of information (which I usually am opposed to) took care of everything (while still leaving me with almost as many questions as Nameless had).

I shouldn’t neglect to say that just because Nameless has almost all of his questions answered here, that he knows what to do with this information. I’m guessing part (or all of that) will be revealed in Book Three.

I don’t normally do this, but I while writing this I went back to my post about Risen and chuckled because what I said there as a lot like the next point on my outline: “My one complaint is length — just about everything is too short. The story is too short, most of the scenes are, too. But I’m pretty sure that’s just my wanting more for myself — to give us longer scenes would ruin the pacing, would mess with the way Miller’s constructing the series. And really, when you get down to it “I wanted more!” is more of a compliment than a complaint — but I’m calling it one nonetheless.” His scenes aren’t too short this time, but everything else I said there is still true. A lot of the action (especially the violence) is given to us in summary form — we see the “important” fights, the ones that shape the story, but the rest is given in something like a re-cap mode (ditto with the flirting, with his conversations with others, and so on). So clearly, this is the kind of thing that’s 1. Miller’s style and/or 2. The style of this series. Either are perfectly acceptable. And honestly? If he’d given us more of the fights, more about Nameless’ days in the new society he’d encountered, etc. I’d likely be complaining that he’s reveling in the violence, bogging down the story with the details. So what do I know?

Ascent is a book that kept you guessing and leaves you in a very different world than you thought you were in at the beginning — with a status quo that is so far from what it initially was that it’ll leave you reeling. Taut, well-paced, with some pretty good hand-to-hand combat scenes — and it won’t let you go until the very end. Miller’s really got something going here.

Disclaimer — I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I appreciate that, Mr. Miller — and thanks for being so cool about me forgetting the date.

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3.5 Stars