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Roberson's Review

Updated on January 18, 2016

The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn

The Dark Fields is the book that the Bradley Cooper movie Limitless was based on. The book follows the movie premise more or less. Edward Spinola is a failing writer who is having creativity and motivation issues. One day, he runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon Gant. Vernon tells him he has been doing pharmaceutical consulting and offers him a pill that he says will fix the problems he is having with the book he is supposed to be writing. Edward reluctantly takes the pill, worried about falling into his old drug habits, and is amazed at the effect. He works at the highest mental capacity he has ever worked and could have ever worked. After having this amazing night on what Vernon calls "MDT", he finds Vernon at his apartment and asks for more of the pill. Edward is willing to pay whatever it takes at this point to get his hands on more of this smart drug. However, he has no idea how his interaction with Vernon will change his life forever.

The book has many differences than the movie, and in my opinion is better. Alan Glynn is a very good writer, especially for this being his first novel. I really enjoyed reading this even though I have seen the movie multiple times. The book throws curve balls that are different than the film, and seeing these makes you wonder how it will change even more form page to page. This book is great and I give it a 4/5 for its ability to keep the reader guessing and the way it tells its story.

Word of the Day

aubergine

[oh-ber-zheen]

-noun

1. eggplant

2. a dark purplish color

Author Quote

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. - Sir Francis Bacon

The Remaining: Refugees (Book #3 in series)

Lee Harden is in charge of Camp Ryder now along with Bus. They have been capturing towns to hold from the infected and others. Lee, Harper, La Rouche, Father Jim, and others go into the town, scout it, set set clay-mores in the middle of cooking food and wait on an adjacent rooftop. When the food is swarmed with all of the infected of the town, they blow the explosives and and gun down the rest. However, necessary as it is, a new group of people led by Professor White argues that the infected are people and killing them is murder. In the midst of the lingering confrontation between Professor White and Captain Harden, Jerry, a sleaze-bag politician who has given them grief from the beginning, takes advantage of the animosity and tries to gain control.

One day, when Captain Harden is clearing an area, he gets a radio call that there is someone at Camp Ryder asking for him by name named Jacob. Lee does not know any Jacob and is very anxious to get back to base and speak with him. When he returns he learns that Jacob was sent by a Captain of the same initiative Lee is a part of. Lee instantly recognizes the name Captain Mitchell and is mortified to learn that he is dead. Captain Mitchell sent Jacob to find Captain Harden because of his studies he had performed on the infected and information he had that could change the odds.

One night, there is a man yelling at the gates begging for someone to help his wife and child. They recognize him as a person they had seen once while traveling and Lee makes the decision to go save his family. The group brings them back safe and all seems well.

The third book in "The Remaining" series continue the crescendo set by the previous books. The story is getting ever-richer and more suspenseful with every turn of the page. It is impossible to put these books down! 5/5 once again for brilliant Author D.J. Molles.

Word of the Day

antipodes

[an-tip-uh-deez]

- plural noun

1. Places diametrically opposite each other on the globe

2. Those who dwell there

Author Quote

No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it. - John Adams

The Remaining: Aftermath (Book 2) by D.J. Molles

*SPOILERS FOR FIRST BOOK*

Lee Harden wakes up at Camp Ryder still feeling the stitches in his back from escaping Milo's men. When he wakes he realizes something is wrong. Infected have gotten inside the camp and nobody knows how. Lee gets out of bed despite the pain of his injuries and helps in the fight. After the battle ends there is a girl dead in the camp from the infected. Upon investigation, they find the infected got in through the fence. It had been cut and rolled inward, with a CD player reading Moby Dick on audio book. Someone cut the fence and placed it there to draw the infected tot eh camp, presumably Milo or his men. However, not everyone at Camp Ryder buys this theory. Many think that the newcomer, Lee Harden, is to blame. A crowd starts to call for punishing Captain Harden while Harper and Miller defend him, having seen him being pursued by Milo's men. The doctor that they just call "Doc" defends him as well saying he was in the trailer resting from his wounds all night. The crowd doesn't buy it and Bus, the leader of Camp Ryder, tells Lee he might have to get the supplies he promised for them sooner than he thought. Bus arranges for Lee to speak and answer questions in front of the crowd where he ends up stating, against Doc's judgement, that he will leave to get the supplies the next day. Harper, Miller, their friend Josh, and surprisingly Doc all volunteer to accompany him on his journey. When Bus says he does not want the only doctor leaving the camp, Doc argues that they will need him to know which medical supplies to take from the bunker, so they let him accompany Harden.

Aftermath is even more thrilling than the first book. The post-apocalyptic world by D.J. Molles throws everything it can at Captain Harden to make his life Hell. Murphy's law definitely applies to Lee's life. Characters are introduced, lost, and have hidden agendas. One thing remains certain however; Captain Lee Harden is one tough SOB.

Word of the day

hedonic [hee-don-ik]

-adjective

1. of, characterizing, or pertaining to pleasure

2. pertaining to hedonism or hedonics

Author Quote

I live for books. - Thomas Jefferson

Well said

Interview with Peter Clines

Debut Author Interview: Peter Clines, Author of EX-HEROES and EX-PATRIOTS

By: Chuck Sambuchino | July 13, 2013

Author Peter Clines’ debut, EX-HEROES, came out in February 2013 in a reissue from Broadway Books (after it was published by a small print-on-demand press), and was praised by Wired.com. Ernest Cline, author ofReady Player One, said of it: “It’s The Avengers meets ‘The Walking Dead’ with a large order of epic served on the side.” Clines’s second novel, EX-PATRIOTS, was reissued much the same in April 2013 to similar praise. The third book in the series is EX-COMMUNICATION (July 9, 2013).

His work is a mix of fantasy, science fiction and horror. Clines has published several pieces of short fiction and numerous articles on the film and television industry. He lives in Southern California.



What is the book’s genre/category?

It probably treads a line between horror and sci-fi or fantasy, depending on how someone wanted to classify superheroes.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

A group of superheroes help survivors of a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles.

Where do you write from?

I’m in Los Angeles. I’ve been writing for years, but my career never took off until I moved to LA.

Briefly, what led up to this book?

I was working full time for a magazine called Creative Screenwriting. I’d do interviews, reviews, articles on studio or box office trends, that sort of thing. I also did some work for a few websites like Cinema Blend. I’d had a few short stories published in anthologies and journals, mostly zombie and Lovecraftian stuff. And I’d tried writing a few novels that got some interest but no sales. Same with a couple screenplays I wrote. I got meetings, sold an option or two, but nothing ever happened.

What was the time frame for writing this book?

I scribbled down a few loose ideas for the story back in 2006, if memory serves. It wasn’t until early 2008 that I started poking at it with any real enthusiasm. I think it was around April or so that I bounced the idea off Jacob Kier at Permuted Press and he showed some interest. Then I really threw myself into it and started working on it in all my free time. I think I did six or seven drafts (of varying severity) before I submitted it, and that was in September. I got an acceptance letter and an offer a few days before Christmas.

Then, almost exactly four years later, I signed a deal to take the whole Ex series to the Broadway division of Random House. Which meant a bunch of new copyediting and changes for different house styles. And at that point it was tempting to tweak a few things, since the first book hadn’t been written with a series in mind. But I bit my tongue. Or fingers, as it were. It felt like a cheat to go back and claim “this is how I always intended it.”

How did you find your agent (and who is your agent)?

This will be a little disheartening for some folks, I know, but I didn’t do anything. I’d put out four novels with Permuted and just submitted a fifth when I was contacted by David Fugate. He’d read my books and really liked them. Even though he didn’t usually represent fiction he thought the Ex-Heroes series could go a lot farther and appeal to a larger audience. So he hunted me down, found my ranty blog, and asked me to get in touch with him.

And the ugly truth is, I told him no the first time we talked. And the second. I didn’t have anything against him, or against agents or big publishers. I just had a comfortable little niche and I didn’t think he’d be able to do anything that would make it worth getting out of it. So he finally asked if he could just get my blessing to talk to a few editors and see if he could find any interest and do anything with it. And he did a lot. An honestly amazing amount. I signed with him a few months later and we signed the Broadway deal a month or two after that.

What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?

I didn’t find that much surprising, really. I’d been studying the industry for almost twenty years at that point, on and off. I’d heard the horror stories and the cautionary tales, so I wasn’t going into anything with blinders on. Really, the biggest surprise was how understanding and willing to work with me everyone’s been. I think all my time in the film industry and journalism prepared me to deal with this much more on a nuts-and-bolts, business level, which is very different from the artistic level. I think the folks I’ve been dealing with have appreciated that, and it makes it easier for us to work together.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?

I think the biggest thing was that I didn’t put the books out there until they were ready to be seen. Really ready. These days there’s such a huge rush to get your writing out there as soon as possible, and there are lots of systems in place to let you. I could write something in the morning and have it for sale on Amazon that night. And because of this rush and these systems, a lot of people put stuff out there before it’s ready, or before they’re ready. No one expects to win Olympic gold their first time in a gym, but lots of people seem to think their first attempt at a first draft should be a mass success and acknowledged by a major publisher.

I spent years learning how to write and how to tell a story, and I think I’m fortunate that during a lot of that time there weren’t any of these quick, easy avenues. When the idea for Ex-Heroes hit I wanted to tell the best story I could, and I spent the time to make sure it was. I rewrote and edited the hell out of it before I submitted it, and then I took full advantage of the editing from Permuted Press. The same with Ex-Patriots, 14, and my Robinson Crusoe mashup. And I’d like to think that work shows.

On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?

That’s a tough one. I’d never, ever say I did everything right, but I also know the only reason I’m here is because of the mistakes and “learning experiences” I had before.

If I had to pick something… kind of like I just mentioned, there’s a few things I submitted to agents and editors that I wish I hadn’t. They just weren’t ready, and I wasn’t skilled enough at the time to realize they weren’t ready. It was a waste of everyone’s time. But, again, it all led here.

I’ve got a Facebook fan page that I try to visit once or twice a day, a G+ profile I check out once or twice a week, and the previously-mentioned ranty blog—cleverly named Writer on Writing (I spent about two minutes coming up with that one…), although I try to keep that promotion-clear and make it more about offering practical advice. I’ve never been a hard-sell guy, and I think most people appreciate that. These days it’s so easy to go overboard with self-promotion, and even easier for people to ignore you when you do. I think, in the long run, I’ve been better served being the laid-back geek than the aggressive marketer who bombards people on Facebook or with emails.

Best piece(s) of advice for writers trying to break in?

Aside from taking your time? This is going to sound pedantic, I know, but learn to spell. By which I mean learn how to spell, not learn how to use a spellchecker. Learn how to spell words. Learn what the words actually mean. This is grade-school stuff, yeah, but when I wrote for Creative Screenwriting and interviewed contest directors, the number one complaint they’d have about submissions was spelling and grammar. I think one of the big reasons self-publishing still hasn’t managed to shake off its stigma is because of spelling and grammar. Nothing will convince a reader I don’t know what I’m doing faster than misspelling or misusing a word. And the sad tooth is that spill-chick pogroms want peck up on wards that or smelled write butt oozed incorrigibly. Like that. Spell check programs are idiots, and if I’m going to depend on an idiot to be my writing partner and know the basics for me… well…

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m such a complete and unabashed geek I don’t think there’s much I could say that would actually surprise people.

Well, nothing I’d be willing to have in print..

Favorite movie?

Only one? Damn, that’s a tough call. I love old Bogart movies like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, but all the Marvel movies have been pretty amazing so far. And the original Star Wars trilogy was a huge part of my childhood, of course. I honestly don’t know. You’d have to narrow it down a bit more.

Website(s)?

There’s the Facebook fan page, like I said, and the Writer on Writing blog. It’s just advice on writing. Not publishing or agents or marketing or finding your happy place—just writing. Characters, structure, dialogue, pacing, subtext… stuff like that. A few years back I was looking around and amazed how few sites offered any help with the basics. And a lot of the ones that did were would-be gurus offering really inane rules and guidelines rather than just, well, explaining things. So Writer on Writing grew out of a column I tried pitching two or three times to Creative Screenwriting that never got picked up. Now I just go there and rant about all the mistakes I made starting out and ones I see folks making again and again.

Quoted from http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/debut-author-interview-peter-clines-author-of-ex-heroes-and-ex-patriots


Word of the day

geep [geep]

- noun, plural geep

1. the hybrid offspring of a goat and a sheep

Author Quote

He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees. - Benjamin Franklin

The moral of the story, the more you try to control things, the more stressed you will be.

Food for Thought

So I have been thinking lately about how people love books and develop a personal connection with them. Most people who enjoy reading have a favorite book or a book that comforts them, even to just possess if they don't read it consistently. What is the connection between reading and our emotions? I think a large factor is our imagination. When we view a movie we see the characters as other people have envisioned them and ear the dialogue in the voices we are given. When we read a book, however, we are free to imagine the people, scenes, and expressions as we wish. The imagery in our heads is our own, and we become possessive of that, which is why we sometimes are disheartened when a movie does not capture the book as we hoped it would. By creating the images in our mind while reading, we have our very own version of the story that nobody else can see exactly the same. This subliminally creates an emotional bond between us and our visual representation of the story. We all know there is nothing worse than seeing a movie that craps on our view of what it should be!

Word of the day

kat [kaht]

- noun

1. an evergreen shrub, Catha edulis, of Arabia and Africa, the leaves of which are used as a narcotic when chewed or made into a beverage

Author Quote

The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes. - Henry Kissinger

Banned Books

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009


1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

From http://www.ala.org/bbooks/top-100-bannedchallenged-books-2000-2009

For more up to date banned books check out http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

Word of the day

nome [nohm]

- noun

1. one of the provinces of ancient Egypt

2. nomarchy

Author Quote

Walk through life eager and open to self-improvement and that which is going to best help you evolve, because that's really why were here: to evolve as human beings. - Oprah WInfrey

Word of the day

grith [grith]

- noun

1. protection or asylum for a limited period of time, as under church or crown

Author Quote

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting. - Mark Twain

The Remaining by D.J. Molles

Survival of the fittest gets a shot of steroids in The Remaining. Lee Harden is a captain for the United States Army. Him and forty seven others were selected as part of an initiative to reestablish a government in the case of a collapse. When a threat comes, they go into a military-built bunker under their house filled with everything they could possibly need and wait for everything to blow over. They have someone who communicates with them on a regular basis. If the communications were to ever stop, however, in thirty days they are to exit the bunker and start their mission. Forty eight hours after a missed communication, Lee opens his mission brief as previously instructed. He finds a video of the man who was supposed to make contact two days ago telling him of a virus that is spreading. The virus ends up destroying the mind of the victim while leaving essential organs intact. This reverts the victim to a primal and feral state with basic hunting instincts and a very aggressive personality to the point where they will kill and even eat other humans. Lee, and his faithful dog Tango, will now need to band people together and start a new civilization. Lee is very confident in his ability to overcome this... at first. As he goes on he realized how far in over his head he really is.

The Remaining is a great "zombie" book. Being the only book of its type I have had the privilege of reading, I do not have much to compare it to.

The way the infected in the book still have parts of their old selves is different to me. The people are not technically "zombies" still being alive, so they are capable of thinking to a certain extent. This poses the question America has thought for years: Is this possible?

Molles does a really good job of putting the reader into the story. I found myself wondering throughout the entire book, "What would I have done?" This book never has a dull moment and makes it difficult to take breaks. The Remaining earns a solid 5/5 for being the most enjoyable book I have read this Fall.

Word of the day

fain [feyn]

- adverb

1. gladly; willingly

-adjective

2. content; willing

Author Quote

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed - Edgar Allen Poe

The Two Minute Rule - Robert Crais

Max Holman is released from prison at the most inconvenient time possible. He was incarcerated for a bank robber he committed years ago and had been waiting to get out to try to start his life over. Max wanted to see his son Richard and see how he had been. Richard was a police officer, and Max could not be more proud. Richard, nor Max's mother would return his letters or answer his calls, so he decided to visit them when he got out. On the day Max is released, he learns that the night before his son was murdered along with three other cops. Max talks to the lead investigator, Detective Random, and is told the case has been closed. The killer was Michael Juarez and he murdered them because a cop that Richard was with at the time killed Juarez's cousin. Max Holman does not believe the story and decides he needs to uncover the truth for himself. He calls the last person any criminal would think to ask for help, the FBI agent who arrested him, Katherine Pollard. Pollard agrees to hear him out solely because of how he gave himself up long ago and because she wants to help a grieving father find closure. However, after looking deeper, she realizes he might be right.

Robert Crais uses characters outside his regular repertoire and does a fantastic job. The Two Minute Rule is engaging throughout, with no shortage of entertainment at any time. Crais is always adept at writing thought out plots, and this book is no exception. Putting the story behind the eyes of a criminal-gone-good give a perspective unlike any other. Twists, turns, ups, and downs take the reader on a literary roller coaster heading in an unforeseen direction. Overall, I give The Two Minute Rule 5/5 stars.

Why read nonfiction?

Why read nonfiction? I had been against reading nonfiction for a very long time. Not that I thought it was wrong, but I just didn't enjoy it. Over time, however, I have learned that nonfiction gives more insight into my own life than following a story in fiction. Learning how others have overcome adversity is a good example of how I can live my life better. Many of the wealthiest men in the world attribute their success partly to biographies they have read. I also enjoy it so I can learn tangible real things rather than facts that only occur within a certain story. In my opinion, learning to enjoy nonfiction is a maturing process that is eye opening.

Word of the day

croon [kroon]

- verb

1. to sing or hum in a soft, soothing voice

2. to sing in an evenly modulated, slightly exaggerated manner

Author Quote

Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil - Plato

Awesome book sculptures

Source
Source
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Word of the day

diaphanous [dahy-ah-uh-nuh-s]

- adjective

1. very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent

2. delicately hazy

Author Quote

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an emotionally captivating autobiography of a man whose will is stronger than is body. Bauby tells of his life after a car accident that injured his brain stem and left him a quadriplegic.

Bauby uses a rich vocabulary of descriptive and emotional words to give the reader a first-hand view of his life. The way he writes his feelings and thoughts lets anyone reading the book experience the situation through his eyes. Many people who would become a quadriplegic would sulk in sadness, anger, or give up hope. While Bauby experiences these emotions and thoughts, he does not let them control his life. He instead focuses on his blessings like his children or his ability to communicate with the wink of his eye. His outlook after such a traumatic experience is nothing short of inspiring. If this man, in all his misfortune, can find a way to be happy, what excuse do we have for being less than content?

Even at 132 pages I can adequately rate this book at 4.5/5 stars.

Author Quote

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings - Salvador Dali

Word of the day

aria [air-ee-uh]

- noun

1.an air or melody

2. an elaborate melody sung solo with accompaniment, as in an opera or oratorio

Author Quote

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones - Stephen King



The Millions 2015 Gift Guide for Readers, Writers and the People Who Love Them

Welcome to The Millions 4th Annual Gift Guide! As usual, we’ve got gifts sure to delight all the writers and readers in your life, and maybe something for your niece—the one you don’t know that well, but who apparently likes books.

For the Champion of the Written Word

Book & Hero bookend, $25

Do you have a friend who wrinkles her nose at the sight of your e-reader? Who uses actual bookmarks? Who may be single-handedly responsible for the solvency of your local independent bookstore? Then this is the perfect bookend for her—or anyone who thinks literature needs saving.

For the Autodidact



The Novel: A Biography, by Michael Schmidt, $30< This is an ambitious book for ambitious reader. To quote Jonathan Russell Clark, writing for this site, it’s a big book, really big: “At just under 1,200 pages, the book tackles the subject of the novel in English, a 700-year history. Its pages are densely researched and necessarily erudite. The print is small, and the thing weighs over six pounds. It took me over two months to read it in its entirety. Like I said, it’s big.”

Buy this for anyone who is trying to catch up on all the literature classes they didn’t get around to taking—which is basically anyone who majored in English.

For the Aspiring Writer

The Small Magazine Publication Kit

Many writers get their start with publications in small magazines. But, as anyone who has submitted to small magazines knows, it’s a time-consuming and sneakily costly process. So, help out your aspiring friend with what I’m calling “The Small Magazine Publication Kit”, which includes subscriptions to Poets & Writers magazine ($16.95),Duotrope ($50), and Journal of the Month ($40-105), along with The Rumpus’s inimitable Write Like A Motherfucker mug ($15). Maybe include a pound of coffee, too.

For the Writer-in-Residence

Lumio Book Lamp, $190

The ideal travel lamp for the writer who wants to bring a touch a style to his hotel room, Yaddo cabin, or Amtrak berth. It folds up like a real book, for easy portability.

For the Sensible Nostalgist

A Visual Compendium of Typewriters, $29

This print is perfect for the person who loves the look of typewriters but is too practical to use anything but a laptop.

For the Pyromaniac Perfectionist

Banned Books Matchbooks, $9.95

Why throw away your first draft when you could torch it? Why throw a book across a room when you could light it on fire? Like the banned books they commemorate, these matches are almost too beautiful to burn.

For the Romantic



What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, $40

Until this year, Frank Stanford’s poetry has been available mainly through used booksellers, but in April, Copper Canyon Press published his collected poems, a 732-page volume that deserves to be read by moonlight — preferably a hot summer night when the air-conditioning is broken and the only entertainment is a bottle of whiskey and a slightly out-of-tune piano. Raw and emotional, Stanford’s poems will floor the uninitiated and thrill the already converted.

For the Literary Critic

Squirrel in Underpants Ornament, $14.95

Every literary critic has an appetite for the ridiculous. As James Wood once wrote forThe New Yorker, “How absurd that I should be paid to write book reviews!” The best thing about this gift is that you can never have too many of them.

For The Millions Completist

All of the Books in the Millions Hall of Fame, ~$1,200

You know those ads where it’s Christmas morning and somebody—usually the wife—says, “look out the window, honey” and there’s a shiny new car parked outside in the driveway? Well, this is the literary equivalent of that gift, except it’s several thousand dollars cheaper and you don’t need to track down an enormous red bow—though, you may need to buy a new bookshelf.

In Honor of Paris

Joie de Livres print, $45

Paris, we love you, we love your books, we love your booksellers, we love your cafes, and most of all, we love your spirit—one that has provided inspiration and refuge to writers from around the world.

Quoted from http://www.themillions.com/2015/11/the-millions-2015-gift-guide-for-readers-writers-and-the-people-who-love-them.html

Word of the day

alack [uh-lak]

-interjection

1. (used as an exclamation of sorrow, regret, or dismay)

Word of the day - erasure

erasure [ih-rey-sher]

-noun

1. an act or instance of erasing

2. a place where something has been erased; a spot or mark left after erasing

David Baldacci: my five best novels

Thriller writer David Baldacci selects his own personal favourites out of his 30 bestsellers

ABSOLUTE POWER (1996)

Absolute Power was my first novel and it’s always going to be a favourite. I’d been writing since I was a kid. I spent 15 years writing short stories but you can’t make a living that way. So I had to go to college and spend 10 years practising law as a way to earn money, but I always kept on writing. If I didn’t love writing, I would have stopped years ago, because I got so many rejections. At the time I was writing screenplays, trying to break into Hollywood – I even had an agent in Los Angeles – and it was around this time I had the idea for Absolute Power: what if a burglar witnessed the President of the United States committing murder? It took me around three years to write Absolute Power. At the time, I had a full-time job, so I would work all day, come home at night to see my young family, and then write from 10 at night until three in the morning. It sounds draconian but that was the only time I had to write.

I wrote the whole 500-page novel and compiled a list of agents who’d successfully placed debuts, because that told me they had the wherewithal to get a first novel through. I sent it to half a dozen agents with a cover letter defying them not to read the whole book once they’d read the first page. That sounds pompous, but I didn’t think I’d hear back from any of them, anyway. Instead, within a couple of weeks, I heard back from all of them – and they all wanted to represent me without exception. It was unreal.

The moment when I realised I’d made it was when I saw Absolute Power on sale in a bookstore for the first time. That changed everything. I thought: “I can make a career out of this.” That was a good feeling. My wife and I had a long talk about it and I said: “Look, I can always go back to being a lawyer.” Fortunately, becoming a full-time author did work out.

THE WINNER (1998)

Even though this book was written in 1998, I still get emails about my villain in this book, who figured out a way to fix the US National Lottery. My goal with Jackson was for the reader to fear him every time he appeared on the page. Years later, I got a phone call from a journalist at La Repubblica in Rome, Italy and he asked if I’d been following the Italian lottery scandal. When I said no, he said, well, people have fixed the National Lottery using a method similar to what you wrote about inThe Winner. And I thought, despite the illegality of it, well, that’s pretty frickin’ cool.

WISH YOU WELL (2001)

It’s a historical novel, but the setting is where my mother grew up in southwest Virginia. Very rural. They didn’t get electricity and running water until 2004. Wish You Well was very much a labour of love, very different to my other books. This wasn’t a thriller, this was my To Kill a Mockingbird. I interviewed my mom for her recollections of growing up. I’m very proud of it and my publisher was very supportive, despite my being known for mysteries. Writing a book set in Forties rural Virginia was a real challenge. But if a writer doesn’t stretch himself, he withers on the vine. If authors don’t scare themselves, they end up writing to a formula, and I have never wanted to do that. I want to be terrified each time I sit down at my desk. It’s got to feel like starting over every time.

THE CAMEL CLUB (2005)

We were right in the middle of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when I wrote The Camel Club. Despite the jokey title, this was a very serious book about a group of conspiracy theorists who run into a full-blown conspiracy involving a Muslim plot to kidnap the President. The way I portrayed Muslims as thoughtful and methodical and not as crazed jihadists ticked off a lot of people. I even got a serious death threat, which I reported to the FBI. People thought I was being unpatriotic by exposing what the CIA was up to. I expected some vitriol but this was a little more than I anticipated. On the other hand, if a book doesn’t make you feel an emotion, then I have failed.

MEMORY MAN (2015)

Amos Decker is a detective who’s suffered two tragedies in his life: first, when he was a professional footballer, a blow to his head left him with perfect memory. The second is when a murderer wipes out his family. When we meet him, he’s a great blob of a guy who could not sink any lower. He was such a different character for me to write – that’s why he’s memorable.

Now, having perfect recall sounds fun, but really it’s a nightmare. When I went out on tour with this book I asked people to raise their hand if they thought it would be cool to have total recall. Then I said: “Raise your hand if there’s something in your life you’d rather forget.” That’s the albatross around your neck. For Decker, time doesn’t heal all wounds – awful memories are as fresh as the moment they happened.


-Quoted from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/david-baldacci/my-best-books/

Word of the day

coati [koh-ah-tee]

- noun

1.any tropical American carnivore of the genus Nasua, related to the raccoon, having an elongated body, long, ringed tail, and a slender, flexible snout.

Harry Potter #8!

J.K. Rowling is finally coming out with the 8th story in play form, starting out in Europe. Hope it comes to the U.S.!
J.K. Rowling is finally coming out with the 8th story in play form, starting out in Europe. Hope it comes to the U.S.! | Source

Word of the day

vignette [vin-yet]

- noun

1. A decorative design or small illustration used on the title page of a book or at the beginning or end of a chapter.

2. An engraving, drawing, photograph, or the like that is shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definite line at the border.

3. Any small, pleasing picture or view.

Author quote

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change - Stephen Hawking

Word of the day

Agee [uh - jee]

- adverb British Dialect

1. to one side; awry.

Robert Crais' Interview

Robert Crais was in an interview on November 3rd for his new book. I love this author and plan to get this book as soon as I can! I copied the interview from http://crimespreemag.com/crais-interview/ for you to read here!


Robert Crais’ THE PROMISE comes out November 10th, and it’s another fantastic book from one of the genres true masters. We were able to ask a few questions while Mr. Crais is waiting for the book to drop and the tour to start.

Jon: Reading THE PROMISE was so much fun. Was this a fun book to write?

Robert Crais: A novel is a marathon event. I take it mile by mile, and each mile is different. Some scenes were fun to write, others were brutal. End of the day, I love being with these characters and telling their stories.

Jon: I’m finding myself more and more enjoying the “Crais Universe” you’ve created and the fact that the characters have their own adventures and then we have a book like this where we see them interacting. Was it planned to have then all in a world where they could interact?

RC: Scene ideas for Elvis and Joe with Scott and Maggie were bubbling even before I finished SUSPECT. I had fallen in love with Maggie and Scott and their K-9/LAPD world. Having them cross paths with Elvis and Joe was a no-brainer. I jumped into THE PROMISE head first, and never looked back.

Jon: The November release seems to me to be a cool idea because I think this would make a great holiday gift. But the downside might be touring when you are coming up on the holidays. Better than January in the upper Midwest, but is there a perfect time of year to tour for you?

RC: January has been good for me, but I was all in for a November slot. As you say, the holiday gift-buying season will be in full swing. The weather can be a problem with cancelled and delayed flights, but what’s that to a tough guy like me? Ice, blizzards, turbulence? No problemo. I’ll brave anything for my fans.

Jon: Over the years the characters have grown as people do. Is the growth and changes we see kind of organic as happens as you yourself have more worldly wisdom or is it plotted out in a calculated way?

RC: No, not calculated. THE PROMISE is my twentieth novel. TWENTY! When I published THE MONKEY’S RAINCOAT I never dreamed there would be twenty novels, so how could I plan? I think two or three books ahead, and feel my way through the characters, doing what’s right for the story at hand. I do have background histories, so to speak, for Elvis and Joe, and those histories inform the choices I make when it comes to stories, but there’s no long-term calculation. Choosing the right story to tell is important. The right story is everything.

Jon: I know it’s weird, but there are actually some people out there who have not read you yet. Would you say this is a good jumping on pint or is there a book you think they may want to read first?


RC: For a reader who is new to my work, THE PROMISE is the perfect place to begin. Reading the earlier work is unnecessary. This is by design.

Jon: I know I’ve heard you speak quite a few times about your career and that in the early days you got a few rejections before you were first published. Looking back is there any advice you would give the Robert Crais who was in front of a keyboard brainstorming THE MONKEY’S RAINCOAT?

RC: No, not really. That Robert Crais–the Crais who wrote MONKEY and STALKING THE ANGEL and LULLABY TOWN and the earlier books–he had to develop at his own pace and in his own way. He wouldn’t have listened to me, anyway. He was stubborn as hell. Still is.

Jon: I’ve heard you say that you have no intentions of ever selling Elvis to Hollywood. Having worked in Hollywood I’m sure you have your reasons, and I get it. Does this extend to all the characters you’ve written as well?

RC: No, only Elvis and Joe. THE PROMISE is the sixteenth Elvis and Joe novel. I’ve written four standalones, and I’ve happily sold or optioned the film rights to all four. HOSTAGE was filmed with Bruce Willis. DEMOLITION ANGEL, THE TWO MINUTE RULE, and SUSPECT are in various stages of development.

Jon: Would you have an interest in developing something original for TV or screen or would you rather concentrate on the novels?

RC: Novels. I write novels. I am a novelist.

Jon: Ok, here’s a couple off beat ones. If there is a movie of your life made and you could pick any actor living or dead to be you in the film, who would it be?

RC: King Kong.

Jon: Comics, DC or Marvel, or “I’m an adult and don’t have to choose”

RC: Marvel.

Jon: What are some of your favorite ways to relax.

RC: I cook. I hike. I fly airplanes. I do outdoorsy things. I also like to veg out in front of the tube. Current faves are THE WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, and ORPHAN BLACK. Maybe I should write fantasy novels.

Jon: Have you ever pulled a perfect prank?

RC: Like the time I wore a fake blue beard at Bouchercon and pretended to be Jon Jordan? Everyone thought that was a riot.

Jon: What is your favorite thing to hear from a fan?

RC: Oh, man. Any sort of appreciation is a gift. Sometimes, people tell me how my books changed their lives or helped them through a terrible experience, and their stories move me deeply. I take these things in. They don’t realize it, but they’ve touched me as deeply as I’ve touched them. That’s what art is all about, right?

Author quote

We forge the chains we wear in life - Charles Dickens.

Anything is possible, but don't put unnecessary obstacles in your way! Negativity is one of the heaviest chains that can weigh down productivity and potential. With hope, joy, and optimism work toward your goals without restraint.

The Simple Truth by David Baldacci

The Simple Truth started off a bit slow for me (like many good books do). The beginning was filled with lawyer speak and downtime. However, as the book progressed so did my interest. Emphasizing the bond between brothers, as Baldacci likes to do, The Simple Truth shows that blood is the closest tie we have.

Rufus Harms killed a little girl with his bare hands many years ago while in the army and has been incarcerated ever since. One letter Harms receives from the army all these years later will change his life forever. He suddenly files an appeal on the basis of being framed. Michael Fisk, an attorney for the circuit court in D.C., sees the appeal and decides to hear Rufus Harms' story. A chain reaction brings Michael's older brother, John Fisk, into the action. Conspiracy and lies lead the protagonists to necessary paranoia, as anyone could be involved.

The Simple Truth, As it turns out, is not so simple at all. The plot is deep and provides a great experience for the reader in solving the mystery. There is a great deal of character development in the story, changing the characters' lives forever.

In truth, I give The Simple Truth a simple 4.5/5 stars. The only problem with this book is the first fifty pages until it gets to the meat of the subject.

No Easy Day by Mark Owen

No Easy Day is an autobiography about the life of one of the SEALs that took down Osama Bin Laden. He writes about how he joined the Navy, got into the SEAL program, and advanced to DEVGRU, one of the highest parts of the navy SEALS. He recounts different missions he went on before the Bin Laden raid including being part of saving Captain Phillips from the Somalian pirates, looking for WMDs, and tracking a prisoner of war.

Mark Owen writes in great detail about how the missions are carried out, giving the reader the experience of being on the mission themselves. Without giving away classified information, Owen makes you feel as if you have been with him the whole time throughout his career.

When it comes to the raid on Osama Bin Laden, Owen goes into as much detail as he possibly can. In fact, the raid itself takes up # pages. He touches base on the politics that led up to the event being orchestrated, the training involved for the mission, and the mental preparation it took for him to get the job done. I won't spoil the details of the raid itself, but I will say that reading this trumps watching an action movie any day.

No Easy Day is fascinating, entertaining, and very informational. Owen gets into the impact being a SEAL has with his family and personal life, mentally coping with the job, and day to day interactions with other members of his team. He is not afraid to admit his fears as he took on the job of being one of our nation's heroes.

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone for the sole fact that he deserves to have his story heard, and secondly because it is a fantastic read (one that I could not put down). I have never been a fan of autobiographies, but I think I have changed my mind on the subject because of this book. 5/5 stars!

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Zeroes by Chuck Wendig

Zeroes is all about finding out who you really are when $#@! hits the fan. Five hackers (the zeroes) who have been on the government's watch list, are rounded up by Agent Hollis Cooper. They are taken to a facility they call the hunting lodge, told that they can work for them for one year to avoid prison and grief for their family. The lodge keeps them comfortable, well fed, and treated fairly as long as they follow the rules and do as they're told, or they'll end up in the DEP.

They are given different hacking tasks each day which seem to have nothing to do with each other. They soon find out, it all has to do with Typhon. Typhon the many headed, in Greek mythology. The question that seems to be on everybody's mind is, What is Typhon? The question they should be asking is, Do we want to know?

In the end, Typhon is released and the world is in terrible danger. Can the Zeroes stop what they have let loose on the world? Zero chance!

From Zeroes, it is clear Wendig is a great writer. He likes to throw in social issues that nobody talks about in our society, but does so in a way where the reader sees the characters saying it and not Wendig. There is a good amount of humorous banter among the Zeroes that gives light to a dark and foreshadowing story.

The clearest way to describe the book is to relate it to the movie Enemy of the State. This book takes that concept of the NSA, throws it in a blender with Eagle Eye, then gets Dr. Frankenstein to put it back together. Okay maybe not the clearest way to describe it. Either way, it makes my top ten list. Sorry, library, I think I lost my book, guess I'll just have to buy it.


The Valley by John Renehan

The Valley is a great novel about wartime in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Black is assigned to go to "the valley" for an investigation about a warning shot when the chief of the people complains. "The valley", as everyone calls it, is the most dangerous place the United States occupies because the Taliban and locals want them out. Lieutenant Black is very upset about having to go to a war zone to make an investigation on something as trivial as a warning shot. Before leaving, he finds a guy he knows who can get anything you need and asks for his advice, assuming he has been in the valley himself. The guy tells him he will have to talk to the chief of the village to have a hope of coming back and hands him a brick of heroin. He says to give it to the chief as a sign of good friendship because they traffic heroin through there. Black, after some argument, decides this is good advice and takes the drugs. He soon finds out, however, there is more going on in the valley. Once he gets there, all seems well until he starts to uncover conspiracy and deceit. Sergeant Merrick and Sergeant Caine are in charge, although Merrick seems to be the one running the show. When it is time for him to talk to the chief, he goes in with the Army translator Danny alone. All is going well until he hands the chief the brick of heroin and says it it s a gift of good will. The chief is livid and men quickly retreat to the base as the people are about to attack. When they get back, Danny has disappeared with no sign of where he went. Not knowing who to trust, he trusts himself to figure out what is going on and try to come out alive.

This book is very well written and makes you feel as if you are in a war zone yourself. The beginning starts off slow but interesting. As the story progresses, so does the action. There is a very good story line that is in depth and plausible. The characters change with the story, responding and growing as they overcome obstacles. Lieutenant Black is a great lead character and someone who will make you want to be a person of action. As a paper pusher in the states, he quickly engages his authority and raw instinct when he needs to in Afghanistan.

I would recommend this book to anybody who has a thirst for reading mystery or action. Always keeping you on your toes, John Renehan doesn't allow you to put the book down for even a moment for fear of missing out on what happens next.

The Valley

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave takes view on alien invasion that is out of this world. Cassiopeia, daughter of a simple household, believes she might be the last person on Earth. There have been four waves of attack since the mother ship appeared in the sky. The first wave, "lights out" as she calls it, was an EMP that knocked out all electronics on the planet. She watched from her classroom as an airplane fell to the Earth and exploded, an omen of what she was going to face. The second wave, "surfs up", was a tsunami on all major coasts caused by the aliens dropping a giant metal rod on the fault lines in the ocean, as easy as a kid stepping in a bathtub to make it overflow on his little brother. By now billions of people are dead. The third wave, "pestilence", takes care of 99% of the remainder of life on earth. The aliens infected the birds with a virus that acts like Ebola and it spread through humanity quicker than an STD through a college campus. The fourth wave, "silencers", is the aliens themselves, disguised as humans on earth. Cassie gives them this name because of the weapons they choose, silenced snipers. They have come to clean up and kill the remainder of life on Earth. Now nobody trusts anyone else for fear that they might be one of "the others". The fifth wave is a mystery to the humans still alive, but Cassie knows its coming, whatever it is.

Cassie is on a mission. When her mother died from the virus, her father took her and her brother to a camp where they would be safe with other humans. One day a group of military personnel came and told them they were taking the children and that they would come back for the adults, but saving the children came first. Her little brother Sam was loaded onto a school bus with the army and taken away from her. Commander Vosch stayed behind with some troops and said they wanted to talk to the people in the meeting room, but would have to take their weapons first for security reasons. While in there, they ask if everyone is accounted for. Cassie says there is a boy in the woods and she can go get him and bring him back. Vosch allows this. As she finds the boy, she is attacked by one of the Army members. Finding the M16 she had left there earlier, she kills the attacker. She comes back to camp just in time to see Vosch shoot her dad after killing all the people in the meeting house. Cassie escapes and now will not rest until she saves her brother.

At the same time she is searching, Sam is given a gun and is being thrust into boot camp under Commander Vosch. They are told they are going to kill the aliens that are on earth in human bodies. They have stolen alien technology and can use it against them. Sam is led to a room where he is on the spectator side of a one way mirror. On the other side of the glass, he sees a girl he was on the bus with and talked to. He is shown a map of the inside of her brain with alien technology and they show him an irregularity that proves she is one of the aliens. He is given a button and told to press it to kill the alien. After some thought, he presses the button killing the girl he thought he knew, altering the course of his life forever.

The Fifth Wave is thrilling. There is never a dull moment in the lives of Cassie and her brother. The unique approach to the alien invasion leaves you wondering what else is going to catch you by surprise as you read. Many things catch the reader off guard and even make the reader ponder questions of life, morality, and humanity. "What would you do?" is a question Rick Yancey subliminally asks throughout the whole story. To answer Rick Yancey, "I would cry, Rick. I would cry."

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