Monday, March 27, 2017

Top Ten Authors I Am Dying to Meet!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Holy cow!  Today's prompt challenged me!  I mean, there are a million authors out there that I love.  But, many of my favorite authors are already dead.  I would have to literally die, or get my own bookish version of the TARDIS in order to meet them.  For the sake of this post, I tried to stick to only living authors (because my death will be a sad and heartbreaking occasion) but I paid no attention to the order of the authors after the top four.  Well, here goes nothing....

1. Neil Gaiman
I have no idea where I would be without amazing books like Coraline, Stardust, or Mr. Punch.  This man brings quite the dark and "out there" mind to stories that others dare not reach for.  Additionally, he provides students and writers of all ages with advice to continually be individuals as they make good art.

2. J. K. Rowling
Like many readers my age, Harry Potter was the magic that started it all.  This was where my obsession with all things literature truly began.  This was the first author I pre-ordered books for.  Rowling, like Gaiman, is another influential individual.  Especially when one considers her humble beginnings.

3. Clive Barker
I have always been interested in writing my own stories and being creative.  However, Abarat was the first book that really encouraged me to add extra fantastical elements to my story.

4. Cassandra Clare
Throughout college, I found myself straying away from any fun reading.  After all, I was taking close to 23 credits a semester!  Once I was done, however, it was Clare's The Mortal Instruments series that pulled me out of the black hole of booklessness.  I will forever be grateful for her help in re-finding myself.

5. Rainbow Rowell
As I remember my reading adventures, I realize that I do not remember ever setting Eleanor and Park down from the time I started it until it was over.  I was absolutely emotionally devoted to this beautiful piece.  It would be terrific to discuss writing with such a gifted author.

6. Robyn Schneider
When a student suggested that I read The Beginning of Everything, I was a little wary.  Typically, that student and I have very different tastes.  Fortunately, however, this time we agreed.  I appreciate Schneider's ability to take a difficult theme and bring it to the very forefront of the novel.

7. Gail Carriger
I am always searching for a strong, witty, and unusual female lead.  Carriger delivered this in her Finishing School series in which she also destroys race and social barriers.

8. Ally Condie
The Matched series was another book with a rather strong female lead.  I absolutely adore her writing style and look forward to seeing more from her in the future.

9. Patrick Ness
His book, A Monster Calls, provided some of the best bonding time between my sister and me. His poignant book is filled with meaningful artwork and well-chosen words.  This book's strength lies in its ability to help the audience go through the darkest of times.

10. Suzanne Collins
I love The Hunger Games.  It's another instance of a strong and well-developed female lead.  I truly admire the work that Collins put into the research required for this novel.  I think it would be amazing to discuss her process with her

Let's Chat!
Who are your favorite authors?  Who are you dying to meet?  Should we meet anyone on this list together?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

Darkstorm High Res Cover.jpgTitle: Darkstorm (The Rhenwars Saga #1)
Author: M. L. Spencer
Publisher: Stoneguard Publications
Publication Date: January 19, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

I received an eARC of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Description from GoodReads
Our Choices Define Our Destiny.

When Merris Bryar stumbles across a secret meeting in the forgotten passages deep beneath Aerysius, she has no idea the harrowing sequence of events her discovery will set into motion. Merris discovers that deep below the city of the mages, forces of chaos are hard at work boring the Well of Tears, a gateway to the Netherworld.

Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages have resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Merris and her mentor, Sephana Clemley, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to stop the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

My Thoughts
I have truly enjoyed this novel.  It has been a wonderful adventure that I am grateful to have been a part of.  

HOLY COW!  Spencer does an amazing job with characterization.  It was so much like watching a movie that I didn't even realize that details had been slowly added.  Right from the start, I felt like I already knew intuitively what each of the characters was going to look like and how they would behave.  Spencer must have spent a long time developing her characters because there was never a moment that did not seem natural for the character involved.  

Another way that Spencer amazed me was by her use of scene/scenery description.  Not only did I feel like I could see the characters, but I could understand the physics of the world around them.  This helped to make the story much more realistic.

Unfortunately, Spencer didn't use this same ability quite as much when it came to the rules of the society that these individuals live in.  There were so many silver stars in so many different places that I thought my head was going to explode as I tried to figure it all out.  Realistically, there are many other shapes and many other colors that could have been used for these important details to set a more drastic and more symbolic difference between the people involved.  Especially with two lands threatening war, I strongly believe that Spencer could have used this opportunity to use inverted shapes or colors to further emphasize the difference between the two nations.  Along this same vein, what was the issue with all of the cloaks in the first place?  What do the individuals have to go through for certain cloaks?  What is the significance of the chain on Merris' wrist?  I think that all of these items would have an amazing place in the story had they been better developed.

M.L. SPENCERAbout the Author
M.L. Spencer grew up on the works of Steven R. Donaldson, Stephen King and Frank Herbert. She wrote her first novel-length manuscript at thirteen. Her debut novel Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy. She was also awarded 1st Place Prose in in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration.

Ms. Spencer lives in Southern California. By day she works as a biology teacher; by night she sweats over a beaten-up keyboard. She is now in the process of expanding the Rhenwars Saga into a trilogy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ARC Review: Telos and Other Psychographs by Euphrates Moss

Title: Telos and Other Psychographs
Author: Euphrates Moss
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Riverrun Quark
Genre: Poetry, Anthology, Adult

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  I do not recommend this book for younger audiences due to mature language and content.

Description from GoodReads
Telos and Other Psychographs is a book of poems by Euphrates Moss, a graduate with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Seattle University. Don't hold that against him. The poems in this book are about Roman times, Shakespearean times, and the general hardships and oddities of life. Spliced in are philosophies, sciences, various observations, aphorisms, and references from just about any book Euphrates could get his hands on- except the bad ones.

My Thoughts
Wow.  This is going to be a difficult book to review.  It was absolutely NOTHING like I expected which was a very pleasant surprise.  

I absolutely loved that Moss drew on his educational background in his work.  I definitely noticed hints of Whitman, Cummings, Shakespeare, Euripides and so many more!  This made for a very beautiful piece.  There were several pieces, such as the following excerpt, that I drooled over.  On the flip side, however, Moss's reliance on so many references makes this a difficult read for anyone who does not have an English degree or has chosen to do quite a bit of classical reading.  So many people today choose to stay away from classic pieces because they are difficult.  However, there is a reason that these pieces have survived and have been taught in high schools and colleges.  They are worth getting through the difficult reading and considering the meaty themes and ideas brought forth.  Moss's work tries just as hard as the classics to bring these ideas forward.  This shows me just how talented he is and just how much effort he is willing to put forth to create a truly wonderful piece.

Additionally, I appreciated that Moss was not afraid to discuss the difficult parts of life.  He brings up drugs, rape, and many of the other dark parts of life.  These are not brought into the book to shock anyone or to throw anything in anyone's face.  He is genuinely considering these elements.  In a world that shies away from anything uncomfortable, I want to commend Moss for attacking these things head on.

The first criticism I have of this piece is that it will be very difficult for general readers.  While I will be willing to go back and research and reread this piece, I know that most other people will not.  I am terrified that the specialized knowledge necessary to appreciate such a piece will encourage many to DNF this volume.

My second criticism, however, is that there seems to be no obvious organization of this piece.  When I go back to reread this, it would be helpful to be able to find pieces if the table of contents told me what order pieces were in.  This could be by title, by topic, or even by the author that inspired the section.  I will not enjoy flipping through this page hoping that I will magically land on the correct page as I look for the poem I am seeking-especially when the first poem spans 173 pages and I may only be looking for a specific canto.

My Rating


Canto II.

Call out your meaningful name,
Cast these fettered raiments of humbility aside
Reniego de grillos, aunque sean d’oro.
Unbind the leaves of your book,
Take the stitching from the spine, and let them, your fate to the
Like the Cumaean Sybil before you;
The truth put together at Gathering and Order.
Let it carry yr notes, yr clothes, yr accoutrements, yr Spanish
warble, yr buxom hide, yr randy yield
Sing into autumn force what you will
The sweet down unto the bitter as it will

Truly, what am I?
Am I the archer, shooting words as arrows— jibes to the faulty
at heart?
Am I the blacksmith, applying pressure, heat tempering,
carefully calibrating and constructing each word, before
use finds it on the battlefield?
Am I the chameleon, shifting color, camouflaging myself that I
could ‘scape death at the hands of predators?
Or am I the minister, who prays and eulogizes for those left
behind, face up?
Maybe the architect? The blueprint maker?
Or mayhap I am just an ass among the laity, laughing at broken
wind, endlessly inconsequential, not in the least worthy
as an object of jealousy, a Mozart stripped of the
natural talent, child prodigy tendencies, and pure genius

Traits I share with so many persons
Yet none of them are me
For they have all achieved so much
And I am but a flea

About the Author
Euphrates has been writing since age 3. He really discovered poetry, though, at the age of 21. He likes to cook omelets, pet and talk to his cat, and the mundane life lived between doing awesome things.