Thursday, 31 March 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 1st Quarter 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 1st Quarter 2011

1. Shades: 17 Startling Stories - Arthur Slade
2. Black as Night - Regina Doman
3. Airborn - Kenneth Oppel
4. Tunnels - Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams
5. The Spiderwick Chronicles - Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Field Guide, The Seeing Stone, Lucinda's Secret, The Ironwood Tree and The Wrath of Mulgarath
6. A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan
7. Invasion - CHAOS Book 1 - Jon S. Lewis
8. Ghetto Cowboy - G. Neri and Jesse Joshua Watson
9. Jacob the Baker Trilogy - Noah benShea
Jacob the Baker, Jacob's Journey and Jacob's Ladder.
10. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories - Holly Black

(Note: Many of these were digital ARC's from NetGalley and reviews will be posted closer to the publication date. Some of the reviews are scheduled over the next few weeks. I will link to the reviews once they post.)


Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Statistics Books Read By Year:
32 - January-March 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Robert Buettner - Author Profile

Robert Buettner is the bestselling author of the Orphanage series of book. His debut novel Orphanage made the Barnes and Nobel Top 50 paperbacks, the Locus Magazine Top 10. It was also nominated for the Quille Award in 2004. That first novel has since seen 6 reprintings and been translated into Chinese, Czech, Russian and Spanish. Each of Buettner's books are now available in various hard cover, soft cover and electronic formats. Buettner himself a former Military Intelligence Officer and Paleontologist who creates both military actions and other world's in such detail the reader will be amazed. This attorney turned writer recently took some time to answer some questions for Book Reviews and More.

1. To date all of your books, and those announced, are set in the same universe. Do you have any projects on the backburner or works in progress not in the Orphanage world? If so can you give us some insight into possible future projects?

First, good to talk with you again, Steven. Well, the most interesting recent project I've been connected with is the film adaptation of Orphanage by Olatunde Osunsanmi, the rising director and screenwriter (The Fourth Kind, forthcoming Dark Moon) for Davis Entertainment (Predator, I Robot, Eragon). We're light years from Orphanage the Movie, so I haven't mentioned it much. But the news got outed all over Hollywood press last October. Like this. It's totally Tunde's screenplay. My input has been, to overstate grossly, minimal. But I was flattered that he chose to lift more of the writing direct from the book than is usual in an adapted screenplay. Audible.com is doing the new series as audiobooks. Overkill's already out. It was great fun working with MacLeod Andrews, the young (everybody's young to me) actor who read Overkill so well. I'm doing an original short story for the new John Joseph Adams anthology "Armored," but that story will be loosely within the same universe. Beyond that, as you mentioned, Undercurrents, the sequel to Overkill, is set for release July 5, 2011, and there will be a third book in that series.

2. What led you to a writing career after being a military intelligence office and successful lawyer?

Too many hours in airports and hotel rooms and too little captivating fiction to help the hours pass. So I started writing my own.

3. Your novel Orphanage is considered the Starship Troopers for a post 9/11 world. Were the political ramifications and commentary on war part of the original intent when writing the book?

Science fiction reflects the zeitgeist of the time in which it is written more than it predicts the future. 9/11 moved me to lay out for a North American population blessedly devoid of military experience what it means to be a grunt, because a tiny sliver of that population was about to go and fight a long, distant, dirty war against enemies and in places as incomprehensible to us as aliens on the moons of Jupiter. Orphanage resembles Starship Troopers partly because making soldiers consists of remolding disparate human individuals into parts as hard and interchangeable as engine bolts. It also resembles Starship Troopers because I, as a thirteen year old, had found that book profoundly true, not to mention really cool. But I chose Starship Troopers as a template more because, with the fullness of life experience, I had come to believe that Heinlein was - now, this is blasphemy in the science fiction community and even within the hemispheres of my own tiny brain - dead wrong. Heinlein was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, briefly thereafter a peacetime junior naval officer, and an unabashed Cold Warrior. His life and his work demonstrate that he was prepared to fight and die for duty, honor, and country. His works assume that his inner convictions also drive kids who enlisted or were conscripted for the most muddled reasons. I disagree. Especially when those kids aren't debating over coffee in the officer's mess of a capital ship, but crouching in a mud hole with shrapnel whizzing past their helmeted ears. Orphanage's epigram, is, therefore, the words of an infantryman scrambling down to a landing craft bound for Omaha Beach on D-Day: "In that moment I realized that we fight not for flags or against tyrants, but for each other. For whatever remains of my life, those barely met strangers who dangled around me will be my only family. Strip away politics, and, wherever or whenever, war is an orphanage." Orphanage isn't pro-military, like Starship Troopers. Orphanage isn't anti-military, like Joe Haldeman's equally brilliant post-Vietnam classic, The Forever War. Orphanage is simply pro-foot soldier.

4. Many attorneys end up writing courtroom dramas, yet you turned to Science Fiction. What drove you in this direction?

They say the law is a jealous mistress, but I found her perverse and emotionally exhausting, too. I've no desire to reconnect with her, either in working life or in fiction.

5. Which books or authors had the greatest impact on your work?

Heinlein, obviously. Not just because I read his stuff as a kid. Heinlein invented or perfected so many techniques now commonplace in speculative fiction. I wrote about them in detail in the Afterword I was privileged to write for last year's Baen re-release of Heinlein's short story collections The Green Hills of Earth/The Menace From Earth. Also, anything Mark Twain ever wrote about writing is pure gold. Joe Haldeman practices the craft of writing as well as any author in the genre ever has, and as such is probably the most underappreciated SFWA Grand Master ever.

6. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listening to the same music?

I'm too easily distracted already without extraneous noise. Jonathan Franzen writes in a bare room on a computer not connected to the internet. I should, too.

7. What does your writing process look like? Take us through the steps from idea to publishing?

At the risk of telling your readers more than they want to know: I don't outline, as more disciplined authors do. I begin at the beginning with a loose idea, then tell the story to myself. That's inefficient when I go down a blind alley, then backtrack, scrapping days' or months' work. But if I know what happens next, writing it down becomes drudgery and the product shows it. So my process resembles a roller coaster ride. Initially, the writing is like climbing that first big hill. Clanking, halting, perhaps even slipping back downslope. Most importantly, during this phase, the ride ahead is hidden behind the hill ahead that I'm climbing. As with the 'coaster, this uphill phase of the ride takes most of the total time, and is anxious, yet boring. Writing days during this phase are dreary slogs. So I'm easily distracted, and waste bags of time. Then I crest the climb. How do I know I've reached the top? Suddenly I look ahead and see the whole ride stretched out below, with all the twists and turns to the finish. Where is that top point? Usually it's when about a third of the book's total length is complete. Finally, all the characters are interacting with one another and with their world in voices and with behaviors that ring true to me. Heinlein called it the time when his characters started talking to one another. Then whoosh. Downhill. I can't type fast enough to get it all down. I write until I'm exhausted, then pick up after a few hours sleep, day after day. Then suddenly the ride stops, the safety bar pops off. The end. After a good sleep or two, I rewrite once. For me that goes fast, because my first draft is better polished than many authors'. Not because I'm "better," but because my daily routine begins by rereading and rewriting, almost from the beginning, each day, to get back into the world and characters. I turn the rewritten manuscript in to my editor. Then what? Depends on the publisher. Time Warner Aspect, which became Little Brown Orbit, published my first five novels. Aspect/Orbit follows the New York-based Big Six imprint routine, because that's what Aspect/Orbit is. I got back a detailed, line-by-line edit letter from my primary editor within a month following turn-in. In another month or less, I would rewrite per the editor's suggestions, occasionally sticking to my guns and defending my original submission. Then I would turn in a revised manuscript that was even stronger, thanks to my editor. Then the publisher would formally "accept" the book, which meant that I would get paid the balance of my advance. Baen, publisher of my current series, is similar, but less rigid. Less rigid because Baen is very much an "independent" publisher, physically based outside New York. But Baen began as, and kind of remains, the defacto science fiction imprint of Simon & Schuster. S&S distributes Baen books with all the clout of the New York Big Six publisher that S&S is. Toni Weisskopf, Baen's publisher, actually does the first, hands-on, edit of my work, and, I think, all Baen books. Baen publishes as many titles, if not more, than the other major SF imprints, so I don't know how Toni keeps up. But her edit suggestions are New York quality. Next I receive a copy-edited manuscript, offering usage and punctuation corrections (I overuse non-standard capitals) and stuff like "a military saddle doesn't have a saddle horn, as you described." I take or reject those suggestions. Then I review galleys -copies of the typeset pages - for a final tune-up. Again, Baen's less formal than Orbit, and kind of telescopes copy edit and galley review. But the end product books from either publisher are of equivalent, first-line quality.

8. What is your favorite book that you have written and why?

Which of my children do I love best? Overkill 's probably my current favorite, because it's the newest and I like to think I'm always improving my craft. Orphanage rates second, because it's my first born. Also, Orphanage seems to have touched readers most, especially veterans or currently serving military personnel. Their praise means a lot to me.

9. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Nope. I meet them in the writing process, not at the grocery store.

10. What were some of your favorite books or authors in your youth?

The Heinlein juvies, of course. The adult Heinleins came out after I had graduated to James Bond and Jason Bourne.

11. What are your favorite books or authors now?

I read little fiction these days, like many authors. For one thing, I can't get into a story because I'm so busy analyzing technique, good and bad. For another, if I'm impressed by what I'm reading, my stuff starts sounding like it. If I'm unimpressed, I'm frustrated that resources are being wasted on the book.

12. In many ways you are a modern renaissance man, philosopher, educator, researcher, lawyer, author and more. Very few people today are as well rounded as you are to what do you attribute this?

Ha. But thanks. Actually, I'd say that my broad resume reflects weakness, not strength. Once I achieve, say, a B+ level of competence in any endeavor, from paleontology to marathon running, I'm too satisfied to take the next step and get really good at it. Fortunately, I'm nowhere near B+ as a writer yet, so I'll be doing it for a long time.

13. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?

I couldn't. Every individual's list is different. The right books are the ones that fill personal voids. A bigot could grow by reading and understanding To Kill a Mockingbird. Or Horton Hears a Who. An anti-war activist who just sneered at a weary GI slumped in an airport lounge, and bound back to duty, might learn something from Orphanage. The most important thing about that book list is that it change as the reader grows and changes. Anybody who thinks they know it all because they read any ten books - or ten thousand books - will never be a whole person.

14. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

Great goal. But, based on my undergrad, graduate, and law school experience, what matters is a student's inspirational interaction with a great teacher. The university system too rarely delivers that.

15. All of your books are available in electronic formats, from various vendors but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

I lived in Calgary one winter, and walked to work. Like the Canadians walking alongside me, each time we reached a deserted intersection, everyone obeyed the flashing "Don't Walk" sign, and froze, standing in wind and darkness. I'm of a generation and a persuasion, as, I think, are Canadians, that obeying the rules matters. Piracy is piracy, on the internet and on the Indian Ocean. However, my current publisher, Baen, makes a lot of authorial material available free online, on the theory that you give away the razor so they'll buy the blades. Maybe a better analogy is give away the first crack sample. So maybe someone who reads a pirated book and likes it will buy the rest of an author's work.

16. What advice would you give to teens today, to your readers, what gems of knowledge have you gleaned in life that you would pass on?

There's a lot out there that can't be reduced to 140 characters.

17. What are some of your favorite films?

Star Wars Episode IV, Casablanca, Chariots of Fire, King Kong (the original). Interestingly, those are all original screenplays, not adapted novels. Perhaps it's easy to make a novel a good movie, hard to make it a great one.

18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

How to fish, grow coconuts, and build rafts. None would be fiction. Good fiction is what characters will do next and why. Once the reader knows that, it's hard for me to understand why one would wish to revisit a story. That said, fans do re-read my books often. The record is seventeen back-to-back re-readings of Orphanage by a former infantryman. The poignancy record goes to a hospitalized police officer whose survival was doubtful. When his visiting wife asked what she could bring to ease his final hours, he requested his well-worn copy of Orphanage. He recovered. Other readers' mileage may vary, but that was cool.

19. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Many authors say their most frequent question is "where do you get your ideas?" For me, the most frequent is "How can I become a New-York published author of those paper video games without pictures, preferably within, like, a month?" Here's the answer I give: I. Write. Don't just think about writing and read books about writing, though by all means do those things. Do it. Until you take that step you won't know whether you want it bad enough. And if you really expect to learn the craft well enough to be New York published, you had better want it pretty bad.
II. Write lots. They say that a writer has to write a million words to develop the skills to produce salable commercial fiction. I believe Stephen King had collected seven hundred short story rejection slips before he sold his first one. I completed seven novels of varying degrees of awfulness, now boxed up for eternity, before Orphanage.
III. Write well. Study The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and anything Mark Twain wrote about writing. The best contemporary treatment of the art and craft of writing that I've seen is King's On Writing. Find a mutual critique group of people who know what they are talking about, take your lumps, and learn from their mistakes and yours. If you write well, you will be ahead of ninety percent of the twenty-five thousand or more unsolicited slush submittals that a reputable agent wades through annually.
IV. Rewrite well. There is no good writing. There is only good rewriting.
V. Last but not least, persevere. When you have written, then rewritten, a novel so good that it can't be ignored, be prepared to reinvent yourself and your craft when it is, anyway.

Thank you again Robert for taking the time to answer some question.

Books by Robert Beuttner:

Jason Wander Saga:
Orphanage
Orphan's Destiny
Orphan's Journey
Orphan's Alliance
Orphan's Triumph

Orphans Legacy:
Overkill
Undercurrents (July 2011)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Black As Night - Regina Doman - A Fairy Tale Retold

Black As NightA Fairy Tale Retold
Regina Doman
Chesterton Press
ISBN 9780981931821

Regina Doman is a master story teller. Her books that I have read are like an amazing mug of tea - I take my time and sip them slowly savouring each paragraph, each page. The nuances in her writings are tremendous. Many books that I read I race through because I want to find out what happens next. With Regina's books I tend to take my time and meander through them, picking them up and reading them in sections over a few days or even weeks. I do not want to miss anything while reading the stories. I also find that based on the Catholic content, they also often drive me to prayer. While reading, friends and family or situations I know about will come to mind and I will pray.

This book could have easily been called Snow White and the Seven Friars. It is a modern fairy tale, and yet also a fairy tale retold. Doman has mastered the art of modernizing the classic fairy tales. The main characters in this story overlap with her earlier book The Shadow of the Bear: Blanche and Rose, two sisters from the Briar family, and Bear and Fish, brothers whose lives have changed drastically since the first book. The brothers, and this time Blanche as well, are being framed for drug possession. Blanche is in hiding and believes she is alone, Bear and Fish are in Europe and her Sister and Mother are visiting family in California. She is staying at the new Friary which was her old school and the next door church. She is helping the 7 friars get organized as they repair the church and school, minister to those around them and she is trying to figure out God's plan, who is after her and why.

This story is an amazing adventure, with action, romance, and faith all rolled into one tight package. Regina Doman is my favourite contemporary religious author. Her Catholic Fairy Tales Retold is full of amazing stories, that will be great reads for teens, young adults or even adults with an adventuresome heart. Give them a try you will not be disappointed.
Book by Regina Doman:

Fairy Tales Retold:

Snow White and Rose Red (1997)
Shadow Of The Bear (2002)
Black As Night (2004)
Waking Rose (2007)
Midnight Dancers (2008)
Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyber Thieves (2010)

Rapunzel Let Down (2013)
 
Picture Books:
Angels in the Water (2004)
Fairy Tale Novel Paper Dolls (2009)

Our Fairy Tale Romance - Andrew Schmiedicke (2009)

Author Profile Interview with Regina Doman

Friday, 25 March 2011

Work This Farm - Lego City - Michael Anthony Steele and Chuck Primeau

Work This Farm
Lego City
Michael Anthony Steele (Author)
Chuck Primeau (illustrator)
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545298575

This is the first book in this series not created by Sonia Sander. Because of that, it has a slightly different look and feel. But it is another great book in the series that I am sure children will love. What is really cool is all the farm machines look like they are illustrations of actual Lego constructions, so readers can try to create them themselves. It has a little more story (text) than most of the others. The illustrations have a more natural feel to the backgrounds and color pallet that was used. It is an awesome continuation of a great series of books for young readers.

Lego City Adventure Books:
Fire Truck To The Rescue
Help Is On the Way!
Calling All Cars
All Aboard!
Ready For Take Off
Build This City
City Adventures Sticker Book

Work This Farm
Fight This Fire!
Lego City Heroes!
Trucks Around The City
Escape From Lego City
3, 2, 1 Liftoff
All Hands On Deck
Fire In The Forest!
Catch That Crook!

Lego Star Wars Books:
Save The Galaxy!
Anakin: Space Pilot 3D
Darth Maul's Mission

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cat Calls - Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cat Calls
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick Press
eISBN 9780763657437

This short story is now available for free from both Amazon and Kobo. Unfortunately I did not realize it was a short story. I started reading it and when I hit the end, I desperately wanted the story to continue. For fans of Cynthia Leitch Smith's Tantalize, Eternal and Blessed, you will love the story. For others who have not read her works it will draw you in. Her writings, in this world she created, are very addictive. It is an amazing short story and it first appeared in a collection from Candlewick Press called: Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical. But I will warn you - this story will make you want to have that whole collection immediately! If you have not read any of her books, get the free download and sample her writings; if you have, you will love this new short story.

Books by Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Young Adult Books:

Tantalize
Eternal
Blessed
Cat Calls - Short Story
Tantalize Kierens Story - Graphic Novel
Haunted Love - Short Story
Diabolical


Books for Kids:

Holler Loudly
Santa Knows
Indian Shoes
Rain Is Not My Indian Name
Jingle Dancer

Author Profile Interview with Cynthia Leitch Smith


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Dan Gutman - Author Profile

Dan Gutman is a baseball guru, and very prolific author. He recently took a few minutes to answer some questions for us here at Book Reviews and More.

1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

Probably working on a magazine or a newspaper. In other words, I'd be unemployed.

2. You have stated that you received hundreds of rejection letters, what kept you going in the face of so much rejection?

I just convinced myself that I knew what kids like to read, and that the publishers who were rejecting me were out of touch.

3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

My wife Nina, who has been with me from the very beginning, has been my biggest supporter. She never doubted me, or even suggested I should give up my dream. Also, my friend Ray Dimetrosky has always been a big supporter. My book "Honus & Me" is dedicated to him.

4. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?

I wish somebody had suggested to me back in 1980 that I would be good at writing for kids. I spent 15 years trying to write newspaper articles, magazine articles, screenplays, and books for grownups before I realized my true calling.

5. You have mentioned that your writing was sparked by reading books to your own children, what were your favorite books to read together as a family when your son and daughter were young?

The Cut-Ups and anything by James Marshall, anything by Dr. Seuss, and later, Hatchet.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to
publishing?

I start with a BIG IDEA, where I take an ordinary kid and put that kid into an extraordinary situation. I brainstorm and do research where I put all my ideas on file cards. This serves as an outline. I write on a laptop computer (MacBook), and rewrite daily as I'm working on a story. I'm usually finished in about six months. I send it off to the publisher, and they do the rest.

7. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?

No. I need complete silence. Sometimes I listen to classical music on headphones to block out the noise of people talking.

8. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

I hate to be a party pooper, but it's not like that for me. My characters exist only on the page. When I finish a book, I barely remember their names.

9. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

Gary Paulsen, Barbara Park, Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, Woody Allen. But I was more influence by TV--Get Smart, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, and Mad Magazine and National Lampoon.

10. You have worked with almost all the major publishers; Penguin Books, Macmillan, Random House, Scholastic Press, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins and more. To what do you attribute your vast publishing experience, many authors stay with one or two publishing houses their whole career?

I'd rather not put all my eggs in one basket. If I only published with one company, and they went out of business, I'd be in trouble. Also, when publishers reject what you've written, you just take it elsewhere.

11. You have stated you did not think you could write fiction and yet have become incredibly successful in the fiction market. What prompted you to take the leap with your first fiction book; They Came From Centerfield?

I enjoyed writing non-fiction, but the books became dated very quickly. I wrote books about gymnastics and ice skating that were obsolete almost as soon as they were printed. I wanted to write something that could be timeless. Also, to be honest, all the FAMOUS authors wrote fiction, and I wanted to be famous.

12. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

I would agree with that. I don't remember much of what I learned in college, but it taught me how to be organized, how to prioritize things, how to make decisions, work hard, and to be independent. That's what you need to be successful in any field.

13. Many of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

I sure hope books don't disappear. But if they do, reading is still reading, whether you do it with a piece of paper or a screen.

14. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?

I don't know what a torrent site is.

15. With eBooks some authors are going back and releasing ebook versions of their earlier and out of print books. Would you like to see all of your books available again via this format?

Sure! Some of my favorite books--"Virtually Perfect," "The Secret Life of Dr. Demented," did not sell and are out of print. I'm more well known now than I was when they were published, and I would love it for my fans to be able to read those books that bombed when I was unknown.

16. What were some of your favorite authors and books in your teen years who helped shape you?

The only author I really got into back then was Kurt Vonnegut Jr. And of course, Jim Bouton. But he was a baseball player who wrote "Ball Four," a book that turned me on to reading.

17. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

"The Invention of Hugo Cabret," Gordon Korman, David Lubar, Roland Smith, Gary Paulsen, Peg Kehret, Carl Hiassen.
18. The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable, seems to be a first book in a
series, yet your website does not indicate future volumes. There will be four, coming out once a year. Will there be more books after the three volumes in the My Wierder School series are released?

Yes, there will probably be 12.

Will your 99th and 100th book be in the Genius Files series?

I'm not sure of the order yet, but they will probably be the second Genius Files book and the 11th baseball card adventure (about Ted Williams).

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

An encyclopedia, a dictionary, The Baseball Encyclopedia, a thesaurus, and my photo albums. Can I also have The New York Times delivered daily?

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Don't copy some other author. Keep it simple. Don't use a bunch of fancy words. Have a conversation with your reader. And go to my web site (www.dangutman.com) and click TIPS FOR YOUNG AUTHORS.


Books by Dan Gutman:
The Genius Files:
(HarperCollins)
Mission Unstoppable (2011)
Never Say Genius (?)

My Weirder School: (Harper Collins)
Miss Child Has Gone Wild! (2011)
Mr. Harrison is Embarrisin'! (2012)
Mrs. Lilly is Silly! (2013)

My Weird School Daze: (HarperCollins)
Mrs. Dole is Out of Control! (2008)
Mr. Sunny is Funny! (2007)
Mr. Granite is from Another Planet! (2008)
Coach Hyatt is a Riot! (2009)
Officer Spence Makes No Sense! (2009)
Mrs. Jafee is Daffy! (2009)
Dr. Brad Has Gone Mad! (2009)
Miss Laney is Zany! (2010)
Mrs. Lizzy is Dizzy! (2010)
Miss Mary is Scary! (2010)
Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney! (2010)
Ms. Leaky is Freaky! (2011)

My Weird School: (HarperCollins)
Miss Daisy is Crazy! (2004)
Mr. Klutz is Nuts! (2004)
Mrs. Roopy is Loopy! (2004)
Ms. Hannah is Bananas! (2004)
Miss Small is Off the Wall! (2005)
Mr. Hynde is Out of His Mind! (2005)
Mrs. Cooney is Loony! (2005)
Ms. LaGrange is Strange! (2005)
Miss Lazar is Bizarre! (2005)
Mr. Docker is Off His Rocker! (2006)
Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal! (2006)
Ms. Todd is Odd! (2006)
Mrs. Patty is Batty! (2006)
Miss Holly is Too Jolly! (2006)
Mr. Macky is Wacky! (2007)
Ms. Coco is Loco! (2007)
Miss Suki is Kooky! (2007)
Mrs. Yonkers is Bonkers! (2007)
Dr. Carbles is Losing His Marbles! (2007)
Mr. Louie is Screwy! (2007)
Ms. Krup Cracks Me Up! (2008)

Funny Boy: (Hyperion)
Funny Boy Meets the Airsick Alien from Andromeda (1999)
Funny Boy Versus the Bubble Brained Barbers from the Big
Bang (2000)
Funny Boy Meets the Chit-Chatting Cheese from Chattanooga
(2000)

Tales From The Sandlot: (Scholastic)
The Green Monster in Left Field (1997)
The Catcher Who Shocked the World (1997)
The Pitcher Who Went Out of His Mind (1997)
The Shortstop Who Knew Too Much (1997)

And Me Series: (Harper Collins)
Roberto & Me (2010)
Ray & Me (2009)
Jim & Me (2008)
Satch & Me (2006)
Abner & Me (2005)
Mickey & Me (2003)
Shoeless Joe & Me (2002)
Babe & Me (2000)
Jackie & Me (1999)
Honus & Me (1997)

Million Dollar:
The Million Dollar Shot (1997)
The Million Dollar Kick (2001)
The Million Dollar Goal (2003)
The Million Dollar Strike (2004)
The Million Dollar Putt (2006)

Kid Who Ran for President:
The Kid Who Ran for President (1996)
The Kid Who Became President (1999)

Qwerty Stevens Adventures:
Back in Time With Thomas Edison (2001)
Back in Time With Benjamin Franklin (2002)

Homework Machine:
The Homework Machine (2006)
Return of the Homework Machine (2009)

Other Books:
The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way (2011)
The Talent Show (2010)
The Christmas Genie (2009)
Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You
How To Go Green (2009)
Nightmare at the Book Fair (2008)
Casey Back at Bat (2007)
Getting Air (2007))
Jackie Robinson and the Big Game (2006)
The Get Rich Quick Club (2004)
Babe Ruth and the Ice Cream Mess (2004)
Race For The Sky (2003)
The Secret Life of Dr. Demented (2001)
Johnny Hangtime (2000)
Landslide! A Kid's Guide to the U.S. Elections (2000)
Jackie Robinson (1999)
Joe DiMaggio (1999)
Cal Ripken, Jr.: My Story (1999)
Virtually Perfect (1998)
Katy's Gift (1998)
The Way Baseball Works (1996)
Gymnastics (1996)
Ice Skating (1995)
Taking Flight (1995)
They Came From Centerfield (1995)
Banana Bats & Ding-Dong Balls (1995)
World Series Classics (1994)
Baseball's Greatest Games (1994)
Baseball's Biggest Bloopers (1993)
Baseball Babylon (1992)
SuperMemory (1991)
It Ain't Cheatin' If You Don't Get Caught (1990)
I Didn't Know You Could Do THAT With A Computer (1986)
The Greatest Games (1985)

Author Profile and interview with Dan Gutman.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Mars Needs Moms! - Berkeley Breathed

Mars Needs Moms!
Berkeley Breathed
Philomel Books an imprint of
Penguin
ISBN 9780399247361

The illustrations in this book were absolutely stunning. But should we expect anything less from Berkeley Breathed, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and creator of Bloom County and Opus?
Milo wonders what is so special about mothers; they make you do want you do not want to do, don't let you do want you do want to do; make you eat what you do not want and so on. Then when Aliens invade and start kidnapping moms, he stows away to rescue his. It is a wonderful story sure to be enjoyed by the young and those who read to them.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Shades 17 Startling Stories - Arthur Slade

Shades: 17 Startling Stories
Arthur Slade

Dava Enterprises

ISBN 9780986855542

There is no question I love Arthur Slade's books, have read nearly all of them and enjoyed each one. From the award winning Dust to the quirky Tribes or Jolted, each one is new and different and shows a breadth of skill in storytelling not often seen. Yet what amazed me most about this collection of short stories was that the variety of plots, storylines and genres represented far surpasses all of his previous work. The stories included in this collection are:

Stubb
Snow White and the Seven Elves
What's Coming
Garbage Day
Gydian Fights His Greatest Foe
Fairytale
November
Virtual Dragon
Resurrection Blues
Walt Does The Resurrection
Jesus Busts a Bronc
Not With A Whimper
The Elephant King
A Time For Autonomy
Number Nine World
Bubbles

From his story about a young man sure he is becoming a werewolf, to the hilarious take on Snow White as a socialite and back-stabbing money hungry wench, there is something in this collection for everyone. There is a hilarious story about accountants and how they destroyed the Knights business, because a Knight just cannot afford to fight the dragons any more. Another is about a young man enchanted and charmed by Autumn who then leaves his life, school and family behind to disappear with this apparition. This was an awesome collection of short stories and for the price of just $2.99 for the eBook it cannot be beat. I have already read it twice and know I will reread it again and again. The book also has the first chapter of Slade's award winning Dust as an afterwards so if you have not read it, you will be hooked after reading that first chapter. So pick it up you will not be disappointed!

Books by Arthur Slade:
John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)


Books as Stephen Shea: 
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

R and C Bridgestock - Author Profile

Carol and Bob Bridgestock have combined over 50 years service in the West Yorkshire Police Service. Bob as a detective dealt with 26 murders and 23 major cases during his time as an officer. Their first book was released in 2009 but has now been reprinted with a commitment to 2 more in a series focusing on Detective Jack Dylan. They took some time from their busy schedule working on two more novels for quick release to answer a few questions for Book Reviews and More.

1. As a writing couple, how did you decide to both be full time writers and to write together?

Neither of us had any inclination of becoming writers. Having left the police family in West Yorkshire behind, on retirement, our intention was to move to a sedate way of life by the sea, three hundred miles away on the Isle of Wight. Our new groups of friends were no longer from a police background and thoroughly enjoyed Bob's stories of his thirty-year police career. Many suggested he should write a book. Initially, the suggestion fell on deaf ears until he saw an advertisement in the Isle of Wight County Press advertising an evening class called, 'Write Your First Novel.' Within the hour Bob had enrolled on the six week course in which time he had written one hundred and twenty thousand words in long hand. Thereafter, we enrolled on the subsequent course to, 'Re-Write Your First Novel.' Writing we found was, and still is, addictive and enjoyable. We were asked by a London literary agent to decide whether we were writing for enjoyment or whether we intended to become serious writers. If the latter was the case she suggested that we would need to write regularly to avoid disappointing our readers. Whenever possible we now write daily. The decision to become co-authors just happened. We feel that we complement each other's work. Bob writes the story outline then passes it over to Carol. She then develops the characters and enhances the novel by developing the storyline, whilst also seeking out the true emotional feelings from the man who has been in charge of too many murders than he cares to recall. In fact in his last three years alone as a Detective Superintendent Bob took charge of twenty-six murders, twenty-three serious incidents including shootings and attempted murders as well as over fifty suspicious deaths. He was also a Hostage Negotiator dealing with hostage situations, extortion, kidnaps and suicide interventions. Carol is also able to detail firsthand the emotional turmoil for the Senior Investigative Officer (SIO) and his partner caused by the demands of the job.

2. How do you translate your experiences with the Police force into fictional novels?

Bob was a detective for 28 years of his 30 year police service and has performed every role of a detective in the Criminal Investigation Department during that time. As you can imagine he has a lot of incidents to choose from. He was a senior detective for 18 years. We are fortunate that whilst working for the police force we worked from the same Division. We worked with the same people and Carol was well aware of the high profile cases Bob was in charge of and the demands that were thrust upon him when an incident occurred. We are therefore able to use real life experiences of crime scenes and characters but we mix them up to use them in a fictional manner. Well versed in police procedures we are able to take the reader with us in our novels from the initial contact informing the SIO of an incident and through Bob's eyes they travel with him to the scene, the mortuary and through the enquiry feeling the emotions of all those connected with the investigation.

3. As fairly new authors, to the publishing market, what advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your writing career, which you only learned through experience?

Keep going. Sometimes writing is like wading through treacle but by working through the 'sticky bits' you will get to the end. Take a notepad with you wherever you go. There is always a memorable setting to take note of or an amusing incident to record that you might use sometime in a story.

4. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?

Not in any particular order but the following perhaps:- a. The Bible b. A Short History of Nearly Everything c. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy d. Flying without Fear e. Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade: How to survive Life's Smaller Challenges f. Beyond Earth g. Around the World in Eighty Days h. Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language i. Delia Smith Complete Cookery Course j. The Wine Bible

5. Which books or authors had the greatest impact on your work?

The book that had the greatest impact on Carol was 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' However, our style is very much our own that we take from personal experiences. Every crime scene Bob writes about he has seen. Every post mortem is etched in his sub conscious forever: all he has to do is draw on the memory of the incident. He will never forget.

6. What does your writing process look like as a team? Takes us through the
steps from idea to publishing?

Bob writes the storyline of the crime fiction novels. Carol puts the flesh on the bones to the idea that's been with him for months, maybe years or sometimes something that just comes into his head one night. Bob knows how long the story should be - how the story will play out - how it will end. But he doesn't scribble down ideas, sentences, paragraphs on sticky notes like some writers do. It's all in his head. Because, having run high profile murder enquires and being in charge of serious incidents, the memories don't go away easy. Carol then takes that first draft and develops the characters and storyline. Liaising with Bob whenever there is a scene or character that she feels needs further work. What Carol wants from him as she feels the reader will want to know is how it feels to go to a murder scene? What does a mortuary look like? How do you feel at a post mortem? How do you and others cope? Carol feels it is important for the reader to sense the emotion and visualize what the man in charge has to encounter in his daily working life. Once Carol has completed this task, Bob then re-reads the narrative before they both sit down together and go through each word, sentence, paragraph and page until they are satisfied with the content and flow of the novel. Only then will they send it on to Caffeine Nights, their publishers and await the response.

7. How many drafts or major revisions are part of your writing process, and what is your goal or timeline for each?

About five before it goes to our publishers. Once the narrative has been subjected to scrutiny by them further re-write(s) maybe required. As yet we haven't had deadlines to achieve. We set ourselves targets but those vary. We now have quite a big following on facebook and Twitter. Our Deadly Focus group has around 1,144 members and it seems to grow daily. Lately, we have been asked and e mailed constantly for book 2 which we have named Consequences. By the end of this summer we hope to have two more books in the Dylan series with Caffeine Nights Publishers, for consideration.

8. Your first novel Deadly Focus is being rer-eleased this spring and a second novel Consequences later this year. Rumor has it there will be two more books in 2011, are they both going to be Detective Inspector Jack Dylan novels?

Yes, DI Jack Dylan continues his fight for justice in books three and four. Our aim is that the reader is able to read them in isolation or as part of a series. Hopefully, Dylan has a long fictional career ahead of him.

9. Do you have any other projects in the development stage?

Book 5 is in the development stage and Bob has ideas for many more. As part of our writing circle that Carol Chairs, we run local writing competitions for charity. Carol has just been awarded £1,000 in sponsorship money to run a 'Crime & Intrigue Short Story Writing Competition' on the Isle of Wight to encourage youngsters to read and write. Bob does talks to various groups to raise monies for our local Earl Mountbatten Hospice about his career.

10. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?

Carol's office is above the dining room where Bob works at the sitting room table on his laptop. The white noise is a necessity to writing creatively for Carol. Bob writes with the radio on but to no specific playlist. Once focussed he's not easily distracted.

11. It is early in your writing career but I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Madeleine is quite right. The characters you create do live and breathe but the nice thing about fiction is that if one becomes too troublesome or boring you can get rid of them! It's strange that whilst writing the novels some of our minor characters have taken on a life of their own. They grow without any intention on your part. DC Vicky Hardacre is a prime example, in our novels.

12. Your book is not available in electronic formats but with ebooks comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

Deadly Focus and Consequences will be available on e books this year our publisher tells us. The criminal world always finds ways to copy, distort or otherwise make money from others hard work. The film industry is an example. We feel there should be deterrents and harsh penalties to dissuade the criminals. Evolvement of books will happen and in the future digital books will become the norm once all titles are readily available. Technology whether we like it or not forges ahead. However, hard-back books were the norm once until along came paperbacks and they are still about. We have seen records be taken over by cassettes and then CD's. Video cassettes superseded by DVD's so as long as there is a market place in this electronic era for instant accessibility we have to move with the times, don't we? Hardbacks and paperbacks won't simply disappear and the evolvement may take over a decade to take a grip. In the meantime let's enjoy the feel of the paper in our hands, whilst we can.

13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?

At the moment as you are aware we are new writers that are only just becoming involved in the mysterious workings of the literary world and publishing. This is something we will discuss with our publishers. As you would expect we don't support the pirates.

14. What are some of your favorite books and authors in your youth?

The Famous Five - Enid Blyton Malorey Towers - Enid Blyton The Diary of Anne Frank Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien Lord Of The Rings - JRR Tolkien

15. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

Geraldine Evans - Rafferty & Llewellyn Crime Series Darren E Law - Turtle Island Nick Quantrill - Broken Dreams Jacqueline King - The Inconvenient Corpse Peter James - Looking Good Dead Martina Cole - The Take

16. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?

Movies Far & Away The Last Samurai Ghost Pretty Woman Bourne Supremacy Meet Joe Black

Carol is an avid viewer of Coronation Street and Emmerdale Farm - long running soaps in the UK We both like adaptations of historical novels such as Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

17. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read
again and again, what books would you want with you?

R C Bridgestock - Deadly Focus Cross Stitch from the Outlander series - Diana Gabaldon Harry Bowling - As Time Goes By Josephine Cox - The Journey Lyn Andrews - Love And A Promise Danielle Steel - Message From Nam Frank Mc Court - Angela's Ashes Harper Lee - To Kill A Mockingbird Stephen King - The Stand The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

18. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

If you don't know how to get started writing then look out for a course at your local college. Finish your novel. That in itself is an achievement. Take rejection letters with a pinch of salt. You may be able to decorate a room with them before you've finished but, if you believe in your writing then one day you'll find an agent or a publisher who will love your work just as much as you do, and they are the one you want to publish your work. Never, ever give up.

Thanks you both for taking the time to answer these questions and I look forward to reading more of your books. Best of luck

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Water Baby - Ross Campbell

Water Baby
Ross Campbell
Minx an abandoned division of

DC Comics
ISBN 9781401211479


The short-lived MINX graphic novel line was supposed to feature stories about strong women and girls and be quality graphic novels for young women. I plan on keeping most of the series set aside for my daughters for when they are older, but this is one book I will not be keeping. I found very little that is redeeming about this graphic novel. The main character has lost her leg in a shark attack; we don't know if her sour view of life and the way she treats everyone poorly was habitual before or after the attack. She seems to just be a skank, with nothing to teach and there is no growth or change. The story feels incomplete and poorly planned compared to the rest in the MINX line. It does not really go anywhere but downhill. I was truly disappointed in this book, and with it being the last in the series I read, it is a good thing as I may not have read some of the others if I had read this earlier.

MINX Graphic Novels:

The P.L.A.I.N. Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg (May 2 2007)
Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Marc Hempel, and Sonny Liew (Jun 6 2007)
Clubbing by Andi Watson and Josh Howard (July 11 2007)
Good as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm (Aug 1 2007)
Confessions of a Blabbermouth by Mike Carey, Louise Carey, and Aaron Alexovich(Sep 12 2007)
Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovich (Nov 7 2007)
Burnout by Rebecca Donner (Jun 24 2008)
Water Baby by Ross Campbell(July 8 2008)
The New York Four by Ryan Kelly (July 22 2008)
Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci (Sep 23 2008)
Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki (Oct 14 2008)
Token by Alisa Sheckley (Nov 4 2008)

All Nighter by David Hahn (Unreleased)
Janes Go Summer by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg ( (Unreleased)