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Quick Thing

Like the title says, just a quick reminder that you still have time to enter the The Shackled Scribes giveaway, that ends tomorrow night at midnight central time. There’s two prizes up for grabs, so check it out. It’s linked here.

I should also have a review up near the middle of this week. So look forward to that.

Beyond that, I kind of feel like I want to ramble about romance novels or something. But that would be a really broad strokes thing and I haven’t actually read any romance novels in a long while. Feel like I should do that before I talk about the genre much.

Alright everybody, I’ve got the winners for the Navigators of Dune giveaway!

Congratulations Elise Smith and abbyesque, you each win a hard cover copy of Navigators of Dune.

I’ll need both of your snail mail addresses so that you can be sent your prizes. You can message me here with your email and I’ll get them that way, or you can email me through the tympestbooks email in the Review Requests page.

Book Giveaway: The Shackled Scribes

Alright folks, I’ve got another giveaway for you! Courtesy of the author, Lars Teeney, there’s two prizes this time.

The first prize is a copy of his new book, The Shackled Scribes, and a ten dollar Amazon gift card.

Second Prize is a copy of New Megiddo Rising, a novella set in the same world as The Shackled Scribes.

Standard rules apply here. Follow and comment to enter. Winner needs to be from the United States and willing to share their mailing address. The giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday the 27th, then I’ll use random.com to pick the winners. Winners will be announced on the 28th.

Your question to comment responding to is this. In a world where a ruling class owns all knowledge, including the work of others in a lower class, what’s the worst thing you can think of happening?

Best of luck everyone!

So, this seems like a good opener to Halloween season. I admit, this one feels a little rushed to me because I was trying to hit a deadline instead of just getting it done when I could. But I’m happy with how it turned out and hopefully you all will enjoy it.

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Music City Salvage is in a bad way. Their stock has been standing on the shop floor for months and their last two big sales haven’t come through with payments yet. So it seems too good to be true when Augusta Withrow shows up offering the salvage rights to her family’s mansion and all its outbuildings. In a last bid to keep the lights on and stay in business Chuck Dutton, Music City Salvage’s owner, snaps up the rights and sends his daughter Dahlia and a hand full of workers to break down the site. The place is beautiful, an absolute gold mine for the struggling company. Unfortunately, once they arrive the team discovers that someone or something never left the house.

Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot is not what I would usually grab first on a trip to the bookstore. I’ve just not found a lot of horror that holds me for the long run. After this book, I’m going to have to reassess that.

A lot of the horror I’ve read in the past has relied on a gimmick to make the scary happen, which makes it pretty hit or miss if the gimmick works for you particularly, the scares work. The Family Plot doesn’t do that. It builds its ambiance and characters slowly, letting the reader get used to things and introducing minor bits. Then it builds.  This works really well for me. It also doesn’t shy away from its supernatural aspects; the ghosts are there right from the beginning just as a matter of fact. The house is old, so it’s haunted.

I’m also a big fan of what the author did with the characters. Because she took that same slow build approach she used for the horror aspects and applied it to character interactions and development as well. We start out with the main character Dahlia, her lay about Cousin Bobby, his son Gabe, and the new guy Brad. We don’t get huge blocks of back story on them, most of what’s told rather than shown is told using Brad as a window for the reader. Then that’s pretty quickly replaced with what’s shown and we get more in-depth.

That does bring me to one of the only issues I have with the book though. For all the good the author does with her build up, the follow through feels kind of scattered. Once the main plot hits we get some really cool ideas, but then it seems like they get passed by on the way to the climax. There’s also a bit near the end that the book could have done without, but that’s my only other big thing.

So, how does it all add up? I did really enjoy this book and would like to see more like it from Ms. Priest, but there were just those couple of things that prevent it from getting a full five. Tightening up some of the ideas used would have gone a ways, but could have also gone a bit far on the other side really easily. I think I would have also liked to have seen more of the team discovering the Withrow family back story. That said, the writing is good and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. So I think The Family Plot earned a four out of five.

Heads Up

Alright everybody, just a heads up, the Navigators of Dune giveaway ends tomorrow night at midnight Central time. So if you were going to enter now’s the time. The link to it is here.

I’ve got a review coming up tomorrow as well, so come check that out. The book itself is really cool, so look forward to the review.

I’m also trying to plan ahead for something Halloween related. Maybe review some horror novels in October, maybe something else. If you all have any ideas, that would be great!

Song of the Deep

The review I mentioned in that last post, this is it. I had a lot of fun writing this one just because of how positive it was. That was really nice, it’s been pretty stressful over in my corner of the world, so saying something positive was exactly what I needed.

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Merryn and her father live in a cabin by the sea. Each day he braves the ocean to bring home fish to support them. Fish, and bits and pieces from the deep that he swears are treasures. But when a massive storm strikes and her father doesn’t come home, Merryn has a vision of his boat being dragged beneath the waves by a sea monster.  Determined to save her father Merryn builds a submarine out of the treasures and sets out using his stories to guide her.

Song of the Deep by Brian Hastings is the book of the game for the Metroidvania game of the same title; it’s also the author’s first book. I would not have realized that this was a first book if it hadn’t been talked about in the intro. The writing is tight. The characterization is consistent and on point. Also, my biggest thing, it’s a kids’ book that doesn’t talk down to its readers.

The protagonist and narrator, Merryn, is a legitimately charming character. She’s smart and brave and kind and this is all stuff the reader sees rather than being told. Never mind that she built a submarine and went to the bottom of the ocean all on her own, she pauses her quest multiple times to help beings in trouble.  It just makes me really happy, kind of like seeing the kind of protagonist I wanted as a kid finally showing up.

As to the not writing down to the readers, that’s a problem I’ve noticed in a lot of kids’ books. Either the language is over simplified, which makes it stilted, or it feels like the author doesn’t know when kids learn to read and skews way down. Song of the Deep doesn’t do that. While the language is pretty simple, it feels like the author trusts his readers to be able to follow along. I really appreciate that, not just because it made it more fun for me to read, but also because I feel like when media knows kids can keep up and understand things it provides for better entertainment.

I don’t actually have problems with the book. There are a couple of things I wish had gotten more details, but it really wouldn’t have fit to just suddenly insert exposition. There was a section near the end that didn’t feel as dangerous as it was presented as but, again, that would have slowed down the story and it wouldn’t have felt right.

It’s probably pretty obvious by now, but the book earns its five stars. I not only enjoyed this book but really want to see what Brian Hastings will do if he writes another book, whether a sequel to this or something different. More than that, I want to see more books like this full stop.

I don’t really have much to say at the moment. I’ve got a review ready to go up tomorrow and another that’s going to go live next Tuesday, so keep an eye out for those.

I’m noticing that I get a lot wordier on reviews where I didn’t like the book than on ones where I was neutral or enjoyed it. I’m not sure if that means I need to trim my negative reviews or find more to say on my positive ones.

It also seems like I’m harder on books that could have been good than ones that were just flat out bad. I know it’s been the case for at least a couple of reviews. I think it’s that the potential makes the places where it falls flat feel that much worse. Like eating decent brownies and then hitting a pocket of salt or something.

I’m also sure that part of not having a ton to say about the books I like is that I don’t want to just gush about it. That general rule is getting put aside for the review tomorrow, that book is worth gushing over. But, for the most part, I don’t want to heap praise on a novel because I don’t feel like I’m giving it as much thought as it deserves to just say good things. It’s kind of the reverse of trying to find something good to say about books I don’t like.

But, yeah, I’m in a wordy mood and needed to write a thing. What do you guys think? What makes you talk about a book the longest?

Navigators of Dune Giveaway

Alright everyone, I’ve got something super cool for you today. It’s a giveaway of the final Great Schools of Dune novel, Navigators of Dune!

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Set ten thousand years before the series began, the Great Schools of Dune trilogy sets the stage for everything that has happened in the long running series. And, thanks to the awesome folks at Tor, this is your chance to get a copy.

I’ve got three copies of Navigators of Dune, that means three lucky winners!

How do you enter? It’s easy, follow my blog and leave a comment, tell me what your favorite bits of sci-fi are whether that is a series of books, a trope that gets played with, or something else.

The giveaway runs from today as of posting until midnight central time on the 20th. Winners will be selected using random.com and announced on the 21st. I can ship the book to anywhere in the United States or Canada. I will also need you to be willing to send me your email and mailing address if you win, so that the book can be sent to you.

Alright everyone, good luck!

On Fanfic

This is a thing that’s been written about a million times before and will be a million more times, minimum. So, I’m probably not saying much that’s new here and I don’t really expect that I’m going to shed light on something huge for anybody. Thing is in my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review I mentioned that it felt very much like fan fiction, specifically early aughts fan fiction. So what did I mean by that?

With any sufficiently popular series fans are going to respond with their own takes on things, whether this is extrapolating from what’s already given or “fixing” something they didn’t agree with, it’s all a matter of people embracing a thing and making part of it their own. Fan writers and artists also have a tendency to feed off each other, to make it a conversation as well as expression. This tends to lead to fan works having common tropes or bits of lore that are used repeatedly in similar ways. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a lot of fan works are produced by hobby writers rather than professionals, so there is a mix of people who have been writing for years and people who’ve just realized that they enjoy it.

So back in the early aughts Harry Potter was huge and unfinished and we had a dead Cedric and canon time travel and fan writers who were, by and large, fairly young. There was a lot of saving Cedric and using the time turner, lots of “fixing” going on. That’s where I’m coming from with The Cursed Child. It feels like a fix fic from back in the day. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing in some cases, but it feels very young. Like something  my eleven year old self would have looked sideways at for using fan characters instead of the golden trio.

I suppose my point in all this is that, especially now with fandom being as much a part of my online time as it is, I read a lot of really good fan fiction. So I hate to use the term as a negative without giving an explanation as to why I did. I love seeing the way people interact with the things they love and I’ve seen enough other places where fan fiction is used as a negative comparison, so I wanted to clarify.

That’s about it. Tell me what you guys think, what are your experiences with fandom from now or back in the day?

So, since I’m a bit more active again, I went back through all of my old reviews and added a new category to all the ones that I’d actually given an out of five score to. That’s going to be up at the top of review posts in the “filed under” section with other things like genre and sub-genre. This is mostly for my own use, but if you guys are interested in what kinds of stuff gets what reviews it might be worth a click.

I’m also looking at reviewing some of the comic trades I’ve been reading lately. So that’s like all three of the Jem books and the first Squirrel Girl. Nothing that’s really new new, but it’s fun and I’m going to read them anyway. Might as well, right?

And, last thing for the moment, are there any serious opinions on if I revisited that idea from way back to review some nostalgia books? It would be mostly my nostalgia, so anything from Nancy Drew to stuff I found at the library sale to some of the Dragonriders of Pern books. I just kind of want to throw that out there again because looking back it seemed like a fun idea.

Anyway, any ideas or suggestions, feel free to comment!