This is my friends and colleagues section, where I tell anyone who's willing to listen about select people I've met at conventions and the like and a little about their work. I'm also including links to where you can find out more about these folk and their work. Those books with only a title are on my 'to be read' short list. So many books and so little time!
Stephen B. Pearl.
Here are interviews that I have conducted with some of the authors I have met.
|Author Name||Genre||Book Title & Website||My Review|
|Barry Alder||Science fiction||Inner Voices||Inner Voices|
|Stephanie Bedwell-Grime||Paranormal romance||Feral Passion|
|Erik Buchanan||Fantasy||Small Magics||Small Magics|
|Timothy Carter||Modern fantasy, Young Adult||Epoch||Epoch|
|Modern fantasy, Young Adult||Evil||Evil|
|Nicole Chardenet||Modern fantasy||Young Republican Yuppie Princess||Young Republican Yuppie Princess|
|Chris A. Jackson||Fantasy||Scimitar Moon||Scimitar Moon|
|Wayne Mallows||Horror||Whitechapel Road|
|Ira Nayman||Science fiction, humor||Alternate Reality Ain't What It Used To Be||Alternate Reality Ain't.....|
|Rob St.Martin||Modern fantasy||Truthseekers||Truthseekers|
|Sheila Stewart||Paranormal romance||Shiela's books|
|Larry Webb||Paranormal mystery||As Life Goes On|
This is the first book in the Inner Voices series and as such unavoidably concentrates a little heavily on world building and character introduction. That being said, these are handled skilfully and do not become the major detractors they are in some books.
When a village of post-apocalyptic survivors find themselves threatened by an expanding, totalitarian empire they awaken the hibernating solders that their village was founded to protect some three hundred years before.
These solders were placed in stasis by the losing side of a war with the intention that they would awake and form insurgent groups to topple the invader's government from behind the lines. Unforeseen circumstances turned five years of stasis into hundreds. To make matters worse when the solders are revived only a small number have survived the extended stay in stasis.
Now a village of agrarian, pacifists exemplifying new-age morals and ideas must deal with twelve battle-hardened veterans from a turbulent dog eat dog time. The culture shock and confusion this brings into being on both sides are the main thrust of the book.
Biased ideas on the part of both groups put up barriers to communications. As well massive physical changes to the Earth leave the solders wondering if there is anything left of the home they once new.
In all, the book has strong characters in a challenging situation. The passivity of the villagers and the hide-bound, rigid hierarchy of the solders irked this reader a little, but I got the impression it was supposed to. A lessen in the middle ground seems to be what the author is trying to impart and what I suspect will develop in later books in this series.
Having known many new-agers and my share of ex-military I found the clash of the ideas represented very believable. I did find the new-agers a little idealised in so much as my experience is that most talk a good show but fall down when it comes to living it. That said this is only the first book of the series and I suspect that the shiny goodness of the villagers will tarnish as we get to know them better. As a read I'll rate it as good, as a representation of philosophies in conflict, very good. Depending on your level of exposure to the concepts addresses it could even be enlightening. In all, I highly recommend this read.
Small Magics is a good, solid read about three friends who find themselves the only hope of stopping a great evil that is trying to dominate their land. The evil doesn't see itself as evil and can't accept that it has forsaken its service to its god in favour of hypocrisy and a self-serving lust for power. The villain's rationalisations are all too real among those we call fanatics. All the characters are well sculpted and their interactions believable.
The book does become a bit slow in places for this reader's taste, I prefer fast paced books, but the action sequences are well crafted and over all it is as good or better then most of the fantasy books I have read. The world is well crafted and forms a good stage for the adventure. I'd recommend this one to anyone who wants an enjoyable read.
I originally picked up Epoch because I met Timothy Carter at Polaris and I could have it autographed. As a result, it took me a while to get around to reading it. When I did, I was sorry for two reasons. One, I was sorry I hadn't read it sooner, and two, I was sorry I was finished because it was so much fun. I can't think of a book that has made me laugh more. The lead character is likable but in no way sickly sweet. The conflict is solid, but Tim manages to make the situations that spring from that conflict both logical and hilarious. This is probably the best young adult novel I have ever read. Yes, I am including books about boy wizards I enjoyed in my comparison.
Along with being a load of fun the book also points out the real danger of religious extremism and the whole one true and only right way mentality. It even takes a shot at certain retail outlets with a less then stellar reputation.
If you haven't read Epoch, you should treat yourself. If you have, watch out for flying red basketballs with lots of teeth. This is a great one for youth and adults and would make great fodder for a family read aloud in the evening with your preteens and teens.
Evil is a good solid read from its opening scene where Stuart is surprised at a delicate moment in the shower. This sets off a chain of events that leads to Stuart becoming the focus of persecution for the supposed sin of spilling his seed.
Tim spins out his story showing the madness that ensues when people choose a nothing act to declare as a sin and use hate to bind a religious community together. As the story unfolds inescapable parallels to the persecution of homosexuals are drawn, Stuart is also homosexual, though in Stuart's hometown this surprisingly isn't an issue.
Later with the help of Stuart's demon associate, a scrappy little guy that made me think of a bad-tempered Weiner dog on steroids, the truth is exposed. A fallen angel is inspiring the people to their fanatical hatred of what they perceive to be a sin.
Stuart must struggle to save himself, his friends and his town before literally all hell breaks lose. This is all done with a light tone and good humour. I'll quote one notable line that shows the subtle or not so subtle, you be the judge, wit Tim brings to the entirety of the work.
"I felt very uncomfortable hitting the highway in a stolen police car. Messing with a fallen angle was one thing, but messing with the law was something else entirely."
The book is highly entertaining though in some places Tim seems almost apologetic to the extremists he is portraying. The action is fast paced and logical with truly likable characters. The message of the book is one that is very much needed in this day and age. All in all, Evil is very GOOD. This is one of the better novels I've read Young Adult or otherwise.
This book follows Joyce Bacyrus and her group of college friends as they are swept into an alternate universe where they must defeat the evil sorcerer and his puppet prince, rescue a lost classmate and escape back to their own world, sealing the porthole behind them.
The book is in many ways a romp through eighties popular culture with numerous references to the Reagan Era and a healthy dose of cynicism about the word over deeds and ideals that marked that time. The characters are archetypal representing general classes of college students that we have all met. In general, it reads easily and should be viewed as a romp. The fish out of water aspects of the book explain much of the repeated cycle of capture and escape that pervades the work. Some effort is made to explain why the protagonists have a skill set that serves them in a middle ages society.
I will begin this review by stating I am not a major fan of vampire fiction. I may not know all the conventions of the genera and as such I will be reviewing from a more general perspective. That being said Changeling Seems to be a pleasant departure from the vampire cleashays that we are all too familiar with.
When an albino son is born into the line of chiefs of a Celtic village he is taken as a fey changeling and abandoned to the wilds. Rescued by chance and the kindness of an elderly witch the boy, Gwyn, grows to young adulthood forever avoiding the deadly touch of the sun. Feared and persecuted because of his appearance the boy avoids all human contact save his guardian. This solution fails when he is caught outside and beaten by an ignorant thug of a village boy. The albino embraces secrecy as his only safe refuge. Secrecy and the love of the kind and descent witch woman who is mother to him in all the ways that count.
Using the coin of her status as a healer the witch arranges for the boy's education in the arts of war by the village chieftain, Geraint, who recognises the strange, pail young man as the son he abandoned and has mourned ever since. The boy learns quickly until Geraint must leave to go to war. Garaint is killed in battle. Without Garaint's leadership the villagers are whipped into a frenzy of mindless hatred by the priest of a forin faith and slaughter the elderly witch and healer who has cared for the albino boy all his life. Gwyn, who was out hunting when the villagers attacked his foster mother, can do nothing but watch as she is murdered and his home burnt. He escapes and takes up residence in a cave.
After a time living wild and alone Gwyn interrupts a Vampire caught in blood lust. Surviving the Vampire's attack Gwyn escapes to his cave where the vampiric infection transforms him. His attacker, Notus, a Christian monk finds Gwyn. Notus is distraught that he attacked Gwyn and even more distraught that he has inadvertently turned the young man into a vampire.
Notus instructs Gwyn teaching him how to live on animal blood and the arts of reading and writing. Time passes and Notus decides that Gwyn must go to a larger center and interact with other people if he is ever to realise his potential.
Gwyn rescues a young woman from a band of thugs. Shortly there after he travels to a small village that he, using vampire strength and speed, protects from a mercenary army. Gwyn is wounded revealing that iron is deadly to him. Barely surviving Gwyn and Notus leave the village and travel to London to complete Gwyn's education.
The book is really a series of coming of age stories that trace Gwyn from an infant to a young man ready to start making his own way in the world. The allusions to Celtic myth and legend as well as the time period the book is set in, which was one of a tumultuous forced transition in peoples' ways of thinking, make an interesting backdrop for the action.
In all, an enjoyable read.
Cynthia, heir to a shipping family and a sea mage, is orphaned as a child and swears vengeance on the pirate that killed her parents. Through her brilliance she devises a plan that will see her enemy bankrupt and disgraced while restoring her family's fortunes, but in a world of spies and trickery how can a young woman succeed against the most infamous, murderous pirate ever born?
Rarely a book comes along that reaches past our defences and touches us. For me, parts of this book did just that. A love of the sea runs deeply through the text and in places the prose is almost poetic. This, atop a solid conflict and interesting characters, makes for a great read. Oddly enough, I found the greatest villain of the piece not to be the Pirate Bloodwind, who is evil enough, but the grandmother who fights Cynthia's wishes and destiny every step of the way. There is a poetic irony to be found in this dynamic of villains but I won't spoil it for you.
All the supporting characters are well fleshed out and human with strengths, weaknesses and agendas of their own. While I've given the book five stars I would prefer to give it four and three quarter stars since nothing is perfect. For me the book's one flaw was it seemed to slow down about two thirds of the way through then picked up again for the climax. Others might not find this and I've read entire books where the best bits were on par with the worst bits of Scimitar Moon. In short, I highly recommend this book and doubly so if you have even a faint echo of the sea in your veins.
With tongue firmly in cheek and a wicked wit, Ira crafts his news pieces to do what Science Fiction has always done best. Make us look at our world free of preconceptions. Whether it's a story about how the banning of junk food has created criminal cartels that profit by satisfying people's burger cravings, or a comparison of the speeches of Ming the Merciless and Gorge W. Bush, Ira twists reality just enough that by the time you've realized what he is talking about, your eyes have been forced to take in an alternative view.
Despite the social commentary and good-hearted jabs at sacred cows that fill this book, it remains first and foremost entertaining. I can't admit too more than a couple of laugh out loud moments, but the stories consistently brought a smile to my lips. More important, they never insulted my intelligence.
The format of the book, which consists of independent, short, news articles and commentaries from alternative Earths, makes it ideal for those situations when you have a few minutes to kill, but don't want to get stuck into a novel or even a short story. Each piece can stand-alone. I suggest keeping a copy in your car to fill those times waiting at the dentist's, doctor's, hangman's, any time you have a few minuets to pass and don't want to dwell on what's to come.
When, teenage, Ashley's parents are slain by a bizarre creature, she moves to the small town of Black River to live with her only remaining relative. She soon finds that Black River is a gathering point for the strange and that she herself may carry a legacy of weirdness. She also learns that her parents had a secret life she knew nothing about.
Unsure of who to trust and what is real she copes with the trials of a new town, a new school, new friends and the ever present threat of the forces that slaughtered her parents. Building a new life is hard enough, building one when you are a teen harder still; add an unwanted gift that makes you a target for dark, unknown beings and it may be impossible.
Sharing themes with classics such as Scooby do, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the X-men, Truthseekers is a sideways trip through the trials of adolescence. The full cast of characters is present, from the brainy girl through to the Goth, interacting to make a unique group dynamic that allows them all to grow and shine.
As the pages turn you taste the strangeness that is Blackriver and glimpse the odd world behind the veil only to be drawn back into the even weirder world of a teenager's life. I'd recommend this book for fans of teen coming of age stories.