Tag Archives: #amreading

Defiance, by Lee French #amreading

I talk a lot about the books I read. I read in a wide variety of genres, and sometimes I get hung up on one particular author for a while. So, while I gravitate to literary and fantasy, I also devour women’s fiction, sci-fi, poetry–you name it, I read it.

I have several grandchildren who are young teenagers, so when I hear about a good YA (young adult) book, I read it. Then I can make informed recommendations to them.

If I feel strongly enough about the quality of the story, I purchase the books for them.

Forcing a gift on the grandchildren obligates my little darlings to read. Once they start, no matter how unwilling they are at first, they become hooked.

The Harper Revolution series by Lee French is one I buy for them. Defiance is a prequel to Porcelain and explores characters whose stories will join Emma’s in book four. (I read this on the author’s website.)

Abbie Park’s story is one of bravery, compassion, and loyalty. She is proud of her heritage but has avoided the family’s dojang since the sudden death of her father. Still, the training and discipline her uncle guides her with have made her into a strong young woman.

When aliens kidnap everyone who is in the dojang, Abbie’s sense of honor and her fighting spirit are a bastion of strength to her uncle as he tries to keep everyone together. Loss of home and family, loss of freedom—loss of a future are all shown with sensitivity.

I like the way Lee French takes a character from confused and powerless to strong and competent, through believable events. Abbie’s reactions are true, and her interactions with her sister, her friends, and her uncle are realistic.

This is how it would unfold, if such a thing did happen.

I want my grandchildren to read stories of bravery, of strong women and men.

I want them to think about ALL aspects of equality.

I want them to ask questions about what sentience might be, and what constitutes the quality we call “humanity.”

I want them to see opportunities for small heroisms as well as the large.

With this book, the Harper Revolution series has fulfilled all those requirements, and more. Defiance is a fitting prequel for this series.

You can find Defiance in the limited edition collection of fantasy and science fiction books, Rogue Skies, available now for .99 cents. When you buy this set, you get 20+ speculative fiction books on your eReader of choice. Twenty books for .99!

That’s a screaming deal. My understanding is this price won’t last. I bought the set for Defiance, but I’m finding much gold in this mine.

Buy Rogue Skies on:
Amazon
Nook
iBooks
Others

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Filed under Book Reviews

Lichenwald, by Ellen King Rice #amreading

I always enjoy reading novels set in the Pacific Northwest, the part of the world where I live. I especially enjoy it when the author understands how the forests here really work. I read in all genres, and the most recent book was Lichenwald, the third book in Ellen King Rice’s Mushroom Thriller series.

A former wildlife biologist, Ellen King Rice knows her stuff. Her books are terrific novels to while away a rainy day with.

BUT FIRST, the blurb:

Lichenwald is the newest “mushroom thriller” by Ellen King Rice. This science-based adventure delves into the vibrant diversity of the Pacific Northwest with a story of the power in lichens and their relationships.

At the edge of exhaustion, lichenologist Zinnie Fazail struggles to maintain a professional life as her mother descends into dementia. Ursula Fazail insists on wandering the neighborhood, looking for a vaguely remembered blue mushroom while lapsing into the language of her childhood.

Zinnie is desperate for a health aide who can keep up with her mother’s excursions. When May Belle Pope moves in with promises to “Take care of things,” Zinnie learns that Evil can be a roommate with small barking dogs.

As Ursula bonds with a blind Cocker Spaniel, Zinnie realizes May Belle will exploit any situation to her advantage. Zinnie has to act before hearts and bodies are broken, especially once May Belle has access to the home computer and family accounts.

How can Zinnie protect her mother and her home when what she knows are lichens?

Lichenwald includes illustrations of local lichens by Olympia artist Duncan Sheffels.

Part adventure, part science class, and totally fungi and lichen friendly, Lichenwald takes the reader into a place of friendships and intertwining ecosystems.

My review:

I found Zinnie Fazail an immediately relatable character. The story opens in the fictional Summit College where she works. While much of the focus is on mushrooms, lichens, and fungi, the cast of characters, their problems, and their relationships are the heart of the story.

Ellen King Rice’s understanding of human nature is spot on. Laurel’s youthful insecurity, Marvin and Allie’s wary father-daughter relationship, and Zinnie’s frustrations are real.

German-born Ursula’s slipping into dementia is poignant and is shown with truth and sensitivity. New to the neighborhood, Allie was raised in Germany. Her immediate attachment to the German grandmother is genuine and well portrayed.

Things get complicated when a woman with suspect credentials accepted into Zinnie’s home and agrees to care for Ursula. May Belle Pope is a frightening woman even at her most ingratiating.

May Belle’s criminal sense of entitlement is boundless, and her casually callous behavior evokes real anger in the reader. The twists and turns of her nefarious plans are  both real and frightening. I kept thinking “This could happen to any family, even mine.”

The illustrations are really well done and informative. I enjoyed Lichenwald and found myself thinking about the events and the characters long after I finished it.

Each book in Ellen King Rice’s Mushroom Thriller series is a standalone novel featuring a different cast of characters, so you can start with any book and not be confused.

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Filed under writing

But what if they don’t like what I #amwriting

leaves of grass memeI’m just going to come out and say it–sometimes people don’t like what I write.

I know!  Who knew?

But it’s true, and I’ve the reviews to prove it. However, for every person who dislikes my work for one reason or another, someone else loves it, and they are the reader I am writing for.

If you focus your attention on reviews, good or bad, you risk losing your enjoyment of the craft. Writing is an extremely personal thing, and when a novel is completed we offer it to the public, who then airs their opinion on the quality (or lack thereof) of the fruit of our  labors. We are proud of our work when it is well received, and we are proud of it when it is ignored or disparaged.

Wuthering_Heights,_1847I rarely look at my reviews because I have to concentrate on what I am currently writing, not on what I’ve already done. Every now and then a friend will post a good review by another reviewer on my personal Facebook page and I appreciate that sort of thoughtfulness.

But honestly, I don’t talk a lot about reviews on my personal page, good or bad. This is because I think my friends and family know what my job is and how selling my product works. I already bore them enough as it is with all my going here and there to hawk my books BS.

The minute we publish, whether through the traditional route or by going indie, we are putting ourselves and the thing we cherished most in the hands of the reading public.

At that point you must walk away from it emotionally.

Catch22But while I do like having reviews, I want a variety of them. This shows the potential buyer that more people than just my friends are reading my books.  A mix of good and bad reviews is good because even the bad ones go a long way toward establishing credibility in the reading community. The reviews and numbers of stars will level out and in the end, the more reviews you have, the better for your book.

Most readers are smart. I don’t know about other people, but want to judge a book or product for myself, rather than be told what to think by a reviewer.  This is because most reviews on Amazon are not very enlightening, and alternatively, reviews bought in advance by publishers don’t impress me, good or bad.

The_Casual_VacancyI make my own mind up when I read the book for myself. I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, even though a kajillion people couldn’t wait to take her down a notch. Read my review of that book here.

You won’t write anything worth reading if you only do it with the intention of getting glorious reviews. Write because you have something to say, and write what YOU want to read. Never publish anything less than your best work and ignore the reviews, good and bad.

Some of the best books ever written have received the worst reviews. Your book could be one of them, so don’t look at bad reviews as a measure of your worth as a writer. Ignore them and just keep on writing. You are writing because you love it and that is what you do.

Everything else is just fluff.

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Filed under Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing