Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 3: To Hell and Back by Donald Firesmith

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 3: To Hell and Back by Donald Firesmith

I do not recommend this book for my youth readers.

To Hell and Back was not my favorite in the series. I do not hold this against Firesmith’s ability to craft a compelling story. A good portion of book 3 went into detail about the types of weapons the humans were to take to Hell, and I am not interested in the technological side of things. A big part of what I dislike about science fiction is the technologies and science. Once the scientific explanations were complete, I was very interested in the story. I loved entering the portals to Hell, taking the fight to Hell, and learning what happened after the strike force returned home.

I think Firesmith does a great job at describing the scenery and landscape without slowing distracting the reader. His descriptions of both Alaska and Hell were vivid and clear for my mind’s eye.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 2: Demons on the Dalton by Donald Firesmith

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 2: Demons on the Dalton by Donald Firesmith

I do not recommend this title for my younger readers.

Demons on the Dalton picks up right where Book 1 left off. This story held my interest start to finish, with the main characters moving from one deadly situation right into the next. Kept me turning the page, interested in what happened next.

Firestone did a great job at describing his magical creatures in Demons on the Dalton, and bringing the Alaskan landscape to life in my mind’s eye.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 1: What Lurks Below by Donald Firesmith

My Thoughts on Hell Holes, Book 1: What Lurks Below by Donald Firesmith

I enjoyed the story, though, I do not think this story is for my YA followers.

The story had a thought provoking concept. What if Hell was an actual place and all the demons and dark creatures of legend and mythology were real, and entered our world through galactic portals?

The plot, the character development, and the world building were all excellent. Even though I felt the backstories of a couple of the characters disrupted the flow of the narrative, overall, this was a wonderful read.

I loved how the author described the Alaskan landscape. I have never had the opportunity to visit Alaska myself, but as I read this story, I was able to clearly see what the characters saw. The world building was excellent, and reminded me that I could do better at describing the landscape of my own stories. I loved learning how the author brought the landscape to life without distracting the reader.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on The Healer of Shadow (Healer of Alcardia Book 1) by Ariel Paiement

Bane of Ashkirath by Ariel Paiement in the Alcardia world is an absolute favorite story of mine, mostly because it was about a couple of archaeologists. I went to school to become an archaeologist, then my life took a different direction, but archaeology is still a passion of mine. And when you mix archaeology with fantasy, well, that is stuff my dreams are made of.

But, coming into The Healer of Shadow, Healer of Alcardia Book 1, that was all I knew. The author references some past experiences that Vivianna Valmurith and Kishentar had with Oblivion that I did not understand, but I felt those references did not detract from plot. Like Paiements other titles, this book was well written, well edited, and well executed. I greatly enjoyed the read, and really want to read about Vivianna Valmurith and Kishentar’s experiences with the Oblivion.

I have often felt that in my own writing, I do pretty well with explaining what happens to my characters, but I do not do very well at explaining the motivation, how the decisions were made.  Every time I read a story by Ariel Paiement, I learn a little bit more about how to use a deeper point of view, focusing on the characters inner most thoughts, without distracting from the flow of the story. It was the same with Healer of Shadow. I understand Vivianna better than I understand some of my own personal friends, and my own personal characters.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

My Thoughts on Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

My love for Classic Literature has never wavered. And while I must admit that “Man In the Iron Mask” was not my favorite book ever, it was also not my least favorite book ever.

My first introduction to the Three Musketeers was the PBS show “Wishbone” about the dog who retold stories from Classic Literature. My second was the 1993 film with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chriss O’Donnell, and Oliver Platt. I loved them so much I had to read the book, and I loved the book start to finish.

But that was where my adventure with this series ended until recently. I had The Man In the Iron Mask on my read list for several years before it finally floated to top of my audio book collection. I listened to it, I enjoyed some parts, did not really enjoy some others, but loved the story as a whole.

Without giving away any details, what I learned most from this read was the way Dumas concluded the adventures of Porthos, Athos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan the four friends that all began with The Three Musketeers.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

From V For Vendetta – Alan Moore

My Thoughts on V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

My first introduction to V For Vendetta was the film with Natalie Portman. When the film came out, I was already in love with Natalie from her role as Queen/Senator Amidala from Naboo in the Star Wars Series. But after seeing her play Evie. Well, she became a favorite actress of mine.

I loved the film so much that I immediately checked out the graphic novel. And I loved that as much as I loved film.

So let’s fast forward a few years. I was faced with a challenge. Write a dystopian story. I thought about my favorite dystopian stories. 1984. Hunger Games. That old graphic novel, V for Vandetta. Hey, I loved V. Let’s check it out again. So I jump on my computer and go to my library’s site and low and behold. My eyes widened. My heart beat increased. Alan Moore had written V as a novel, and it was available as an audiobook. Double wow.

The next day I was listening to the audiobook at work, and I forgot where I was, what I as doing. Because I was transported to the world of V For Vendetta, and I fell in love with Evie all over again. This time with the character Evie, not with the actress. Well, I had to not listen to V at work, but I listened to it everywhere else. I have never been so completely engaged with someone else’s story before. The novel was every bit as good as the graphic novel and the film.

What did I learn from it? Dystopian world building. Structural beat for a dystopian story. World-building. Character development. Effective use of backstory. Symbolism.

A current work in progress of mine, Dragon’s Deceit, was strongly influenced by themes, symbolism, and the beat of V for Vendetta.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

My Thoughts on Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Okay, so maybe split timeline stories are the wave of the new Disney-Approved Canon of Star Wars stories. The Ahsoka book did it, Thrawn Alliances, Dooku Jedi Lost, and now Master & Apprentice. I wonder if the new Queen Amidala stories are split-timeline. I’ll find out when I get to them.

Even though I am interested in reading more split-timeline stories, because I am working on a project that I think will work best as a split-timeline, I did not choose this one because of that. I chose this story because it is about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, two of my favorite Jedi. They are the perfect pair. Obi-Wan believes in the rules and traditions of the Jedi, but has a bit of a rebellious streak, and Qui-Gon believes in listening to the living force and doing what the force asks of him as it asks it.

This story had a lot to offer to me. I care a lot more about the force and Jedi religion than the technology and science of the Star Wars-verse. I was enthralled with this tale from start to finish.

Aside from seeing how a new author (well, new to me, I mean) wrote a split-timeline story, I learned a lot about character development, and humanizing your characters. One of the side characters in this story is a friend of Master Jinn’s, and he had a rough backstory. Forgiving oneself for past mistakes is not easy, especially when someone close to you dies or is injured as a result of that mistake. And Gray did a great job of showing that in way that touched my heart.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

My Thoughts on Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Yet another Star Wars book that tells two stories, one in the present and one in the past. I am beginning to wonder if this is the new norm for Star Wars.

This was an interesting read, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I loved watching Dooku’s adventures, learning about Dooku’s past, and understanding what turned him from Jedi to Sith Apprentice.

Seeing another split timeline book is probably my biggest takeaway. I learned tons from the author about how to weave two seemingly different stories from two seemingly different timelines into one complete story. I don’t think I am ready to try my hand at it yet, but I am interested in reading a couple more to see if I can glean anything from other authors on the execution.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Prachett

My Thoughts on Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Prachett

My first introduction to Good Omens was the Amazon Prime Original Mini-Series, and I loved it so much I had to find the book.

My first thought after finishing the book was, “wow, I wonder if I can ever co-write anything like this with a friend.”

So, my biggest takeaway here is to find a friend that is willing to co-author something, and to make that something magical.

Because Good Omens was magical. I loved every minute of it, both the book and the mini-series.

Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George

My Thoughts on Saturday at Sea by Jessica Day George

And now I have finished the Castle Glower series. My kids asked me to read it, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

And after reading Saturdays at Sea, I was impressed with the author’s ability to write one major story arc that lasted for five books. When I realized that the series is about the castle becoming whole, I saw how each book supported that plot.