Tag Archives: reviews

Logan: The Movie I Saw Might Have Been Different

So my son and I saw Logan a couple nights ago, and I mentioned on Twitter that I nearly walked out about ten minutes in. What I didn’t add was that I wanted to walk out and throw up. Neither the urge to walk nor the queasiness happened because the film did anything wrong for me. Instead, it was because the film depicted something so incredibly well, I took the gut punch before I even knew it was coming.

So this is not a review. It’s a reaction. Mild spoilers shall follow in this post, and might show up in comments should folks choose to chime in.

First, a review-ish thing unrelated to the gut punch: The fight scenes are incredible, and not because they’re all fancied up with slow-motion or odd lingering close-ups or flashy weapon manipulation that actual fighters won’t bring to an actual fight. No, my darlings, the fights in Logan are logical and smart. They are swift. They are economical. And those are the two traits a fighter who is experienced—and, frankly, plagued by a lifetime of scars and reduced stamina—will demonstrate in real life. Fighters who survive don’t become flashier as they age. They become efficient.

Now for the gut punch.

Many people have mentioned the aspect of abuse and trauma survivorship. I was hit with something else early in the film.


Spoilers are below the cut for courtesy.

Continue reading Logan: The Movie I Saw Might Have Been Different

A Review, A Musing, and A Last Call


The Review:  As you might know, fantasy author Mark Lawrence put together the framework of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (details here), and Bob Milne of Beauty In Ruins is the book blogger randomly assigned to evaluate Sand of Bone.  Can I just say that any review whose opening sentence includes the phrase “quite astounding” is enough to make this writer do the Snoopy happy dance?  Check it out for yourself–both the praise and the critique.

*quickly pulls out soapbox*

And I’ll reiterate my belief that connecting more trade-focused/trade-exclusive reviewers with quality self-published works is vital if we (writers and reviewers) want to remain relevant to the conversations readers–those marvelous beings who sustain us all–are having about books the trade industry might not known exist.  If a self-published writer pulls down seven to eight thousand sales in pre-orders, and the majority of trade industry participants have no idea who that writer is–let alone that she exists!–that’s an issue to be considered, my darlings.

*slides soapbox back under the desk*

The Musing: In the past, I’ve discussed my approach to reading and analyzing reviews.  In short, I believe the old advice of “Don’t read your reviews” is rather unhelpful because analyzing reviews help the writer identify what she can do better on the marketing front as well as the writing front.  A writer who understands what her supporting readers love is a writer better able to reach similar readers.  It’s with that in mind that I fold Milne’s review into my understanding of why people like and dislike all or part of my work.

More than one reviewer (though, thankfully, not the majority!) have mentioned the pacing flagged for them somewhere in the middle.  Of those who specified why, it’s about an even split between basic training elements and palace intrigue elements.  (Of those who didn’t specify, it’s quite possible everything felt slow to them. ) Yet folks on both sides say they are glad they pushed through that section to finish the novel, so… what gives?

On the surface, it can seem to confusing, even contradictory.  Should I reduce the palace intrigue?  Should I reduce the military/training aspects?  Should I just let it be and assume readers who enjoy one but not the other will continue to “push through” to the end?

The answer is no, no, and no.

Truly, Sand of Bone’s final chapters would have delivered a completely different visceral package had either element been missing.  The decisions made on the palace-intrigue side would carry completely different implications without the military and basic training elements.   The consequences on the military side would be so much less important were it not for the palace intrigue.

As a reader and a writer, I want both elements in my stories.  I’m as interested in what happens on the frontline as I am in what happens in the secret bunker.  I want to know what the soldier and the general thinks, believes, fears, and contrives.  So the solution isn’t to choose a “side,” but to improve my ability to write compelling chapters that unfailingly funnel the reader to turn to the next chapter regardless of the story elements.

Last Call:  The Sand and Stone Newsletter will go out to subscribers the night of Wednesday, April 22.  It’ll include your link to a free and easy download of Serpent Heart, the latest news and cover reveal for Breath of Stone, and an opportunity to give input on future projects.  If you’d like to be part of it, sign up here.


SFWA, StoryBundle, and Breath of Stone

Item the First: The membership of SFWA has spoken and, by a vote of 6-to-1 in favor, has changed their governing by-laws to allow writers whose success comes from independent publishing to qualify for membership.  Detailed procedural guidelines are being hammered out, and it looks like authors will be able to begin applying by March of this year.

Last summer, I had my own dilemma over whether I should join.  And after I joined, I had my own disagreements with some of the organization’s choices, and I seriously expect I’ll have a couple more in the months and years ahead.  Yet and still, I am so danged happy–relieved!–to see this vote go through.  The support of the voting membership was loud and clear.  I’ll be sticking around.

Anyone who has questions about it, feel free to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, we’ll see if we can find someone who does. 🙂

Item the Second: The Indie Fantasy Bundle is entering its final week!  At the bottom of this interview with Brad Beaulieu are links to all the other author interviews.  In them you’ll find talk about worldbuilding, alchemy, international relations, history, windships, subversive genre-play, wish fulfillment and more.  It’s a fascinating group of people, and their diverse works reflect that.

If you’ve already picked up the bundle, thank you so much for supporting the authors and the charities!  It’s a wonderful thing, knowing so many new readers are finding and enjoying our books!

Item the Third:  The sequel to Sand of Bone is still moving forward apace.  Breath of Stone is currently slated for an April 2015 release.  If you want to be on the early warning list, sign up now for the Sand and Stone newsletter!

Item the Last: Sand of Bone received a marvelous review from The Book Adventures!  Happy writer!  In the current market, when there are so many more choices–quality choices, mind you–it means a great deal to not only be noticed, but to know the story was enjoyed.


Stranger and Hostage — Reviews!

I don’t write reviews often.  Review-writing puts me in book-report mode (always hated those in school!), and then I’m certain everything comes out sounded as stilted as a nervous non-actor reading the opening chorus of Henry V for the first time.  But I love talking about books, and deeply truly want to see more readers connect with books deserving of their attention.  So, in the spirit of keeping 2015 as The Year of Giving Up, I present you with an actual review:

Stranger is the first book of The Change series, a collaboration written by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown.  Getting that book in print through traditional publishers was a many-year battle complicated by the fact the YA novel had, as one of its viewpoint characters, a gay teenager.  (Publishers Weekly provided coverage on the matter.  The article and its comments are well worth reading.)  It took an additional three years for Stranger to make it into print.

Stranger gave me a book hangover.  I stayed up way too late to finish it.  It has all the elements I love: real and conflicted characters, a fast-moving plot, and really smart writing.

The relationships between the characters evolved, broke apart, and came together without falling into the trap of melodrama. Rather than rely on a cliché of rebellious young people in conflict with their parents and culture, Stranger shows us working and healthy relationships between the generations. These are real young adults rather than over-the-top caricatures, and it’s refreshing to see them respected by the world’s adults as well. With action that moves so quickly, there’s no time to waste on false conflicts.

The world is familiar enough to feel comfortable, but I learned early on I shouldn’t for a moment let my guard down. I loved the unpredictability. Even in the midst of the novel’s climactic final third, revelations developed that completely changed my perspective on earlier events.

And once I finished Stranger, I wanted to pick up the next book… but it hadn’t yet been released.  How thrilled I was to get my hands on an ARC of Hostage, set to be released on January 6.  (It’s available for pre-order now.)  Why, yes, the sequel is self-published.  Details about the reasons will be discussed by the authors on the release date, and I’ll put up a link when it goes live.

Just like the first book of this series, Hostage kept me up reading far too late. The plot moves quickly and the worldbuilding delivers cool surprises, but it’s the characters who keep me engaged.

I absolutely love that so many of the adults of Las Anclas are determined to include and support the children and teenagers. The society is one where the young people are included as equals-who-are-learning rather than excluded as too-young-to-know-better, and the result is fully realized throughout the story.

And all those young people are clear and distinct people, which makes it easy for the reader to move between multiple viewpoints. I’m used to reading multiple-viewpoint novels, but usually find there’s at least one character whose viewpoint I want to skim. Not in this novel!

I do admit a special place in my heart for Jennie, who must face the emotional wounds she endured in Stranger. Her journey is portrayed with amazing empathy and realism that never slips into convenient resolutions. And she isn’t the only one struggling to figure out who she is in the aftermath of one battle while preparing to fight another.

Most of the major plot threads left open in Stranger are taken up and resolved in Hostage, but there is one notable exception left hanging. That exception is teased out now and then, so I expect it’ll entwine with the new threads that’ll carry forward into the next novel.

I don’t know how many novels are have planned, but do hope the series continues for some time. They’ve established plenty of unknowns to explore, and fantastic characters to do the exploring.

Hours and Days

SerpentCoverDec2014Until the end of today, Serpent Heart is free at Amazon.  It has been in the top 100 Free Kindle Short Reads for Science Fiction and Fantasy for the past few days, and that’s a happy-making thing.  So if you’re interested in picking it up, you have a very few more hours!  More books on sale and for free can be found at The Dealer’s Room.

Until the end of December, Sand of Bone is available for review through NetGalley.  Three days and a few hours are left for you to make your request.  It has already picked up two professional reviews (and will be included in the Indie Fantasy Bundle), so now is the time!


Outside of that, I’m grabbing moments to write between happily-undertaken familial activities since my parents and my nephews are in town for a few days.  Productivity has been low since the day after Christmas, but family happiness has been high, and THAT’s the reason for the season.


Like the New Look? Want To Review It?

Since I’m behind on just about everything, I did what any good independent author would do: spent hours creating a new ebook cover!


With holiday sales coming up, followed by StoryBundle (more on that soonly!), followed by the anticipated release of Breath of Stone, I wanted Serpent Heart to share some of the same visual elements as the rest.

In coordination with Sand of Bone’s appearance at NetGalley, I’m offering review copies of Serpent Heart as well.  Comment here or drop me a quick line via my contact page if you’d like to receive one!