Tag Archives: book

Book Review: Game of Thrones

I finally got around to reading George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones.” It’s a classic fantasy book with battles, intrigue, and fantastical creatures. When I first heard of the series, my original impression was that it was just a simple medieval setting without any fantasy creatures. I don’t know why I had that impression, but I did. As it turns out, I was completely wrong: It’s got the medieval armies and the fantasy creatures. Specifically, just in book one, it has direwolves, wights, and dragons. It also mentions a few other critters that may rear their heads in later books.

The story is complex and convoluted. There are quite a large number of point-of-view characters: Eddard, Catelyn, Tyrion, Danerys, Sansa, Arya, Jon, and Bran (I think that’s all). Things start out simply enough with most of the action taking place in the northern citadel of Winterfell. Soon enough, however, the storyline fractures. Eddard Stark is appointed the King’s Hand. As a result, one group of people goes south to King’s Landing, another group stays at Winterfell, and Jon Snow (Eddard’s bastard son) heads even further north to the Wall. There is also the building side storyline involving Danerys who, I think, is on an entirely different continent not shown on the book maps. I assume she’ll be crossing the water soon enough, but on the whole, it makes it difficult to follow the plot … not the major thrust: the assassination attempt on Bran and Catelyn’s investigation into such and Eddard’s intrigues at court. That went well enough, but the problem was the whole horde of characters in this book. There’s probably five or six or more characters for each point-of-view character, so very soon, the sheer numbers of such become unmanageable.

Also, this book should come with an adult warning. There’s incest, teen sex, and a six-year-old boy who still breastfeeds just to name a few eyebrow raisers. I also read somewhere that things go very poorly for the Starks in later books, which is a shame, because those are the characters I liked the most … particularly Jon Snow. Because of that, I probably will not read any further in the series. I read the first book and overall I’d say my reaction was lukewarm. It wasn’t bad; it was decent, but the eyebrow raisers listed above and the fact I was forewarned about a number of Starks dying does not inspire me to read more.

Strengths: I liked the direwolves and dragons, and the Night’s Watch. The writing was decent and the main characters were likeable enough. Weaknesses: there were too many characters, too many things done simply for shock-value, and for some reason or other, I never fully sank into the book. Sometimes, it was almost a chore to read.

Ultimately, I’ll give “Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin three stars out of five.

This review was originally published on Goodreads on 6/27/13.

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Blog Tour Hiatus

Due to the holiday, my virtual Blurb Blitz Blog Tour for my novel, Drasmyr, is on a week-long hiatus. We’re halfway through the tour and have been having a grand old time. The break is much needed and much deserved, but we’ll be back come July 8th. In the mean time, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–the tour wouldn’t have been possible without them. Oh, and I think I’ll repost the tour schedule as it stands now. So, here goes:

Blog Tour Schedule

Check Out “Desires Revealed” by Rebeka Harrington

Rebeka Harrington is a fellow blogger of mine. Not only is she a vampire fiction author, but she has also recently released her latest book “Desires Revealed.” Check it out here, if  you are big on paranormal vampire romance. They appear to be same sex vampires, so bear that in mind.

Blog Tour: Stop #4

There was some confusion yesterday—it involved a misplaced link and details I won’t dwell on. Suffice it to say, my blog tour for my vampire fantasy novel, Drasmyr, is back on track. For the May 21st stop, we have a promotion and a book review at Books, Books, and More Books. Please check them out and show them your support. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Bewitching Blog Tours –it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Fantasy Literature: E-books vs. Print Books: A New Dilemma

The following thoughts don’t apply to just fantasy books alone, but probably to all forms of literature. While ruminating about what to write for this post today, I had an odd thought, one that was inspired by an e-book I read recently. I’ve read about four or five such books using the kindle app on my smart phone. So far, I have enjoyed the experiences with the e-reader. I had misgivings at first, but they were soon put to rest. Now, however, I have developed something of a new misgiving, one based on my experience with the e-book, not just pre-use prejudice.

The books I’ve read on the e-reader have been either very short, or just of average length (probably no more than four hundred double-spaced pages). The last book I read seemed almost to be written in an “abbreviated” fashion. That is, the action moved very quickly, was described at the barest level of detail, and still amounted to a semi-decent read (not 5-star, but perhaps 3ish). I was wondering if the medium, namely the e-book, affects the whole nature of the book. I don’t just mean in terms of formatting and technical use. I mean, does a print book become a whole different book if it is transferred to an e-reader? Does the different medium affect the quality of the reading experience even though the exact same words are read?

With the print book, you have the book opened to your page, but you actually read two full pages before you have to turn a single page. The e-book (at least on the smart phone) only allows about half as much information to be displayed on a single page. It is broken up into easily manageable chunks that you flick through with a simple finger motion. Also, the pages can only be read one at a time; they appear sequentially; so, at any given time, you have about one-fourth the information in your field of vision that you would find in a print book. The result is that you are flicking through pages at a much accelerated rate compared to the print book. Does this affect your reading experience? Does it favor, say, action-packed books with a marked brevity of description, that spur you on e-page after e-page? Are long, elegant descriptions inhibited because they won’t fit in an easily manageable chunk?

I don’t know. But as a writer, I am very interested, particularly, because, at least for the moment, I am only writing e-books. The “abbreviated” e-book I mentioned above is what started this train of thought. The writing was such, that I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it in a print book. On the flip side, does a classic like “Lord of the Rings” make an effective transition to an e-book? That is something I intend to investigate… eventually (when I get caught up on all my reading).

What do you think?

Book and Movie Reviews: Is a 5-star Rating Worthwhile?

Having recently completed and published a vampire fantasy book (Drasmyr), I am currently in the process of seeking out reviewers for it. Obviously, I want to get the highest score I can for my book; theoretically, a five out of five star review should attract reviewers. However, not to naysay the hard work of the reviewers, a five star review doesn’t quite mean what it used to, whether it is for a book, a movie or whatever.

 

The difference is the Internet; it has opened up the review process to anyone and everyone. I’ve seen some people review classics, like “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and give it a mere two stars out of five. At the same time, I’ve seen books of far more questionable quality get a score of five out of five stars. Obviously, the problem is that there is a lot of reviewing going on by people who don’t have the literary credentials to be doing so. But this is a free country, and freedom is one of the foundations of the Internet.

 

Anyway, does this mean that an Internet review is worthless to the consumer? No. It simply means that the consumer must approach the review with care. The consumer must sample the work of the reviewer; if she consistently disagrees with the reviewer’s assessment, then it would be for the best if she sought a different reviewer out; there certainly are plenty of them.

 

A review is a matter of personal opinion. It always has been, to a certain extent, but it is even more so now. Just because a book is a classic, doesn’t mean everyone will like it. I liked “A Tale of Two Cities,” but there were a few things about it I didn’t like. And just because it is a well-regarded classic, doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to dislike parts of it, or that somebody else can’t give it a mere two stars. In all probability, the two star rating was probably given by somebody who was very young who was looking for an action-packed, pulse-pounding novel, or something similar. There is action and blood (a great deal of blood) in the novel, but it is of an antiquated sort.

 

As a writer, reviews still concern me (and you, if you write). If I garner five-star reviews in abundance, my book will sell well. However, a single poor review, provided it is not the only review, will not sink my book. In the end, for those who need consolation after getting a poor review, I point to “A Tale of Two Cities” above. A single review, no matter the source, is not the final say.

 

Of course, knowing this intellectually is not the same as feeling it in your bones. That can be a difficult transition to make.

 

What do you think?

 

 

Do We Have Too Many Books?

This may seem like an odd view coming from a fantasy author like myself. And I’m not even sure if I emphatically believe it. It is just an odd thought that occurred to me as I was puttering around my house the other day. We have shelves and shelves of books around the place, so many that I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess at a precise number. More than one hundred, less than ten thousand. Books on all sorts of different subjects. We have books on psychiatry, psychology, biology, and physics. We have fantasy books, science fiction books, historical books and more. And that is just this one house. Then, I imagine all the millions of similar households throughout the United States that must, no doubt, be similarly equipped. The number of books out there is staggering. And that doesn’t even include the libraries, colleges, bookstores and everything else. And then there are the ebooks spreading throughout the Internet like a literary plague.

 

My question is: are all these books necessary? If I’m honest–although as an author, this answer is not to my liking–I think the answer is no. We are suffering from a deluge of information. We have more books than we know what to do with. To be sure, thanks to the advent of the Internet and the rising surge of ebooks, there is a lot of garbage out there. But what about dated books? A physics book from the 1940’s? Or biology? Those two fields have advanced by leaps and bounds. Yet, how many old text books with dated information are circulating throughout the globe? They served a purpose once, but now… do we really need them, when modern textbooks contain better theories and more complete explanations? I’m not a huge environmentalist–I think the environment is a legitimate concern, but I protest the near religious fervor some of its advocates embrace–but every physical textbook cost a tree its life. It is clear to me, that we don’t need a lot of the old scientific books we have… perhaps a few copies in libraries to guarantee that they can be referenced, but that’s about it. Why not recycle the old textbooks to write the new? (Or is somebody already doing that?)

 

As a fantasy writer my primary concern is not science, but entertainment. We have the literary classics like Shakespeare and Hemingway, but there are a plethora of others who don’t quite measure up to such high standards. During my high school years I probably read one hundred fantasy books all by myself. I have no inclination to go back and read them again, but that doesn’t mean my nieces or nephews might not enjoy them. They were, after all, enjoyable stories. But with few exceptions (like the Lord of the Rings), my nieces and nephews probably won’t be reading the same stories I read. Every new generation produces its own wave of tales for the generation following. But at this point in history, do we really need to produce more stories? Can’t we use the ones that have already been written? Do the old stories become “bad” or “unworthy” because someone has written something similar more recently? I’m an author and I like telling stories and I like adding new twists and ideas in the stories I tell. But I know that a lot has come before me… so much, perhaps, I am no longer needed. That does not bode well for me. I want to write and make a living at it. But, seriously, how many fantasy stories do we need? It is already impossible to keep full tabs on what is already out there. I mean, vampires are not just mythical creatures of horror these days, they have become their own genre. Like other fields we can specialize. We can write werewolf stories, ghost stories, fairy stories, etc… I have no doubt that we can produce as many stories as we want, it’s just, when does it become too much?

 

To sum up. We have absurd numbers of books in this country, many of which have outlived their usefulness. Perhaps some effort should be made to recycle them (I’m not aware of any recycling programs for books, but if there are no such programs, perhaps there should be). Add to that the ebooks you can find on the Internet and it becomes clear that we have more stories than we actually need. Like I said, as an author, I’m not sure I emphatically believe any of this, but it was a train of thought I felt like sharing. Perhaps it is totally bogus.

 

What do you think?