Monday, May 30, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: DAYSTAR, by Kathy Tyers

And so the SF allegory, parable, romance and adventure wraps up with DAYSTAR.

Big book, big ideas, and superb characters that drag you in and make you care -- to the point that you get teary when someone is suffering, and you just want to grab the galactic bullies and self-righteous jerks and grind them to pulp. Know what I mean?

Prophecies that have been waiting for centuries race to fulfillment. The oppression of the Sentinels reaches epic, agonizing proportions. The suffering seems so pointless, and yet everything is planned, everything works together for the ultimate good. Tavkel, the fulfillment of all prophecies, will remake everything, but first there must be immolation. In the midst of what is seen as defeat will lie his victory.

The incarnation, the sacrifice and death and resurrection, all acted out in a futuristic setting ... and yet so very familiar in the human aspect, the battle of pride and fear, the refusal to let go of the darkness within each of us, and learning to trust and obey and surrender.

At the end of the book, I was wondering why I took so long to read this book. Well worth the time. And definitely keeping on my bookshelf, to read again.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In the Spotlight: BY FIRE AND STARS, Chorillan Cycle Book 3

BY FIRE AND STARS, Book 3 in the Chorillan Cycle, takes us back to Chorillan, where Kay'li's best friend, Lucas Aidan, goes through his own testing and training for his destiny.

Before Kay'li left Chorillan, Lucas' father put him and his brother, Sam, through an experimental treatment that would hopefully protect him from going through Phase.

Those hopes are crushed as Lucas' senses grow hyper-acute and
he develops a severe reaction to anything synthetic, to the point of illness.  His parents have a plan -- hide the fact that Lucas is going through Phase, keep him out in the wilderness at their family cabin, and pray that Phase is over and he can go back to normal living when the summer is over and their family goes home. No one needs to ever know that he has become a Wildling.

Disaster strikes their family cabin, and Lucas flees into the wilderness, driven by pain and fear. His survival in the wilderness makes him a legend, and when he finally is dragged back to civilization, he becomes the leader the Wildlings need as their enemies become more determined to destroy them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Commonwealth Universe video: REFUGE

My newest video -- the Refuge stories take place on one of the lost colony worlds, settled by refugees from the Downfall, during Age 1 of the Commonwealth Universe books. Right now there are two books, WIND WALKER and MOONBIRDS, but I have plans for a third story, PEACE VILLAGE, that will sort of "wrap up" any dangling threads from the previous two books. Enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: THE SHARECROPPERS, by Denisa Nickell Hanania

Historic fiction based on family stories and history. When it's well done -- and this book is -- even the simplest details of ordinary family life can be fascinating and compelling.

The author takes us into true stories of her family and the hard, sometimes unfair lives of Arkansas sharecroppers. Through two wars, through social turmoil, through the life and eyes of a woman who lived to be 91.

Just lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was a little outside what I normally choose to read. As you can tell by looking at other books reviewed here! But well worth taking the time to sit down and start reading. I was hooked from the first couple of chapters, and actually resented work and life's obligations getting in the way of getting back to it.

For a taste of ordinary life from more than a century ago, when life was simpler and harder, and people weren't afraid of good hard work and honest living.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

In the Spotlight: SCOUTS' PRIDE, Chorillan Cycle Book 2

SCOUTS' PRIDE, Book 2 of the Chorillan Cycle, a Commonwealth Universe novel, takes place several years after the events of AZULI EYES.

Ian has decided to stay on Chorillan and try to find help and some answers, maybe a cure or prevention for Phase. He and Miranda have married and have a daughter, Kay'li. Nobi Cole, Ian's cousin, has joined him on Chorillan, and during the spring and summer they search the wilderness of Chorillan to find children going through Phase and bring the Wildlings home safely, without damage or trauma.

Miranda is ill with the same debilitating illness that killed her
father. She knows when she is dead, her mother will use all her political influence to take Kay'li away from Ian, and if possible drive him off the planet, so she makes him promise to take Kay'li off-planet to protect her.

That promise launches Ian and Kay'li on an adventure that will take her into adulthood, and train her for the mission her parents were unable to complete: finding the cause and cure for Phase, protecting Wildlings from the growing prejudice against and fear of them, and find out who is interfering with the growth of Chorillan as a colony, and why.

Kay'li grows up among the Scouts of her father's team and learns how to respond to danger, how to defend the innocent and fight for what is right. She learns to be a hero, just like her ancestor, Bain Kern, who established the Scouts in the first place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Barroo Report

Yes, my little dragon buddy has been away for a while. We've all been major busy lately.

Good news!!!!

I'm making progress on revising and finishing the first draft of SWORD OF FAXINOR, the 4th Faxinor novel, and the first new one in ... well, more years than I care to consider.

For those who were reading the Faxinor Chronicles books, my apologies for making you wait for another one. Sometimes life just gets in the way! I'm grateful to Writers Exchange for picking up the Faxinor series, and coming up with such great covers for the new editions.

I hope to finish SWORD by the end of the month, and
then have it polished up and turned in to my editor at Writers Exchange by ... end of July, maybe.

This is Derek's story. The story opens with the news of the birth of Lorien and Arand's son, which means the Faxinor clan is going to pack up and sail to Eretia. But some problems crop up, the largest of which is the increase in false prophets and others claiming that they have had visions saying Andrixine should hand Reshor's Spirit Sword over to them, that it belongs to their kingdom, not to Reshor. This problem will crop up in subsequent stories.

Some of the family can't make the journey to Eretia, and Derek runs into various problems and challenges and adventures on the high seas, including pirates, mysterious sea creatures, and a chance to win back the stolen Faxinor ancestral sword.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: RAISING STEAM, by Terry Pratchett

And so now we really do bid a fond adieu to Discworld, the incredible, clever, wild, wacky, bulging-at-the-seams brain child of the late Sir Terry Pratchett.

One of the more recent characters to appear in Discworld is Moist Von Lipwig, a con man and crook, who gets pressured into plying his skills in the service of Ankh Morpork and the Patrician, Lord Vetinari, an admitted tyrant and former assassin. Moist previously appeared in GOING POSTAL and MAKING MONEY, where he gets put in charge of Ankh Morpork's post office and then the mint/treasury. This time, Vetinari puts Moist in charge of the blossoming railway system that is greeted with eagerness by some and with loathing and fear by others -- top of the list being a group of extremist isolationist dwarves. The mean, nasty kind who might just frighten the Taliban ...

Then there's the introduction of Iron Girder, the first steam locomotive who seems to take on a personality and a somewhat frightening, possessive relationship with her inventor. You have to love a train that can defend itself against saboteurs. Yeah, steam is dangerous!

RAISING STEAM is a proud entry to the last few visits to Discworld, and I had a strange experience reading it because I wanted to devour every quip and clever aside and historical note and appearance of favorite characters from other books -- but I didn't want it to END!

End it must. Thanks for the wild, fun, incredible ride, Sir Terry Pratchett. You will be sorely missed.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In the Spotlight: AZULI EYES, Book 1 of the Chorillan Cycle

Today's Spolight is on AZULI EYES, the first book in the Chorillan Cycle, soon to be released by Writers Exchange e-publishing.

Scout Captain Ian Fieran is cleaning up operations after battling a Gen'gineer team that attacked and decimated a small colony. The crime of the colonists? Their genetics didn't suit the exacting standards of the Gen'gineers, who continue the dogma and goal of the Set'ri from centuries ago, trying to create the "perfect" Human genome. Captured data leads Ian and his team of Scouts across the galaxy to the Rim colony world of Chorillan, where they hope to track down a Gen'gineer nest.

At the same time, Mirana Riallon, a schooltacher and daughter of very important members of the Colony Council, is worried about one of her students. The boy is an orphan, and she wants to adopt him. However, Ranny is showing all the signs of going into Phase -- the sensory overload that hits some children near adolescence. No one knows what causes Phase, and there is no known cure. Some fear that the Azuli, sentient canines native to Chorillan, are stealing the children when they escape into the wilderness, seeking to ease their discomfort that has been compared to an allergy to civilization and all things processed, manufactured and synthetic. When Ranny vanishes, Miranda determines to go into the forests of Chorillan to find him.

She meets Ian and his Scouts. They help her look for Ranny while she helps them hunt down the Gen'gineers. As each side educates the other, they come to a partnership, then friendship. The choices Ian and Miranda make during their hunt will change Chorillan for generations to come.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Spotlight: The Chorillan Cycle -- Re-releasing the 5-book Commonwealth Universe Series

I'm pleased to announce that in the coming months, Writers Exchange e-publishing will be re-releasing the Chorillan Cycle, a 5-book series set in the Commonwealth Universe. These are some of the oldest published books in this SF series -- which is kind of ironic, because they're set in Age 3, or the "modern era" of the Commonwealth stream of history, as opposed to the Downfall or rebirth eras.

In the coming weeks, I'll be showing you the prototypes of the cover art -- they might be changed closer to release -- and a thumbnail sketch of the storyline.

I'm excited, and I hope you are, too!

The Chorillan Cycle revolves around the events on the colony world, Chorillan. Something is very wrong, and those in power are either too ashamed to ask for help, or else they have something to hide. Scout Captain Ian Fieran comes to Chorillan to track down some Gen'gineers who may be hiding in the wilderness of this colony world that has only been settled a few generations. He stays to try to solve the mystery and the problem, but it is up to his daughter, Kay'li, and her friends to finally bring resolution, save innocent lives, and solve a mystery and a problem that have been waiting centuries to be uncovered.

A little background: Ian and Kay'li are descendants of Bain Kern, the hero of the Sunsinger books, and cousins to Captain Jaklyn K'veer of the Leap ship Estal'es'cai -- other captains of the Leap ship have appeared in other books -- such as True Caderi and the Sunsinger novel, Leap Ships.

And to get you really confused -- and I hope interested! -- Jaklyn's mother is Alex, who made her first appearance in True Caderi and who appears in several stories in the Wildvine series, just starting to be released by Writers Exchange -- but the Wildvine books take place on Earth! How does a Leap captain start out as a college girl in the late 70s? Read the Wildvine books and fine out ...