Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings all,

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All stock images are from Pixabay.

I sincerely hope you are all happy and healthy today. It’s an implausible hope, but isn’t the point of hope to believe in the unlikely? I wanted to spend a few moments to consider the things for which I am thankful.

The first thing for which I am thankful must be my relationship with God. I’ve spoken on Christianity a few times. I’m frankly not as close to God as I should be, not by a long shot. But I’m working in that direction, and that’s important to me. I honestly believe that everything is possible when he is by your side. I don’t speak about this a lot for a few reasons, but everything else I’m thankful for is possible because of him. This is my belief.

Next is my family. It’s an odd patchwork of my life, like a quilt comprised of my blood, friendship, and shipmates. I love them all, and if they know this, I’ve done the most important thing one can do in his life.

The rest are in no particular order. I’m equally grateful, and equally pleased by all of these things.

150922-N-PJ310-002I love my job. More importantly, I love my students. Seeing them graduate is satisfying, but seeing them become successful leaders in the Navy is a feeling that’s worth more than any amount of money. No job is perfect, but as long as I get to teach, it’s all it needs to be.

I have a home. This isn’t a place I stay. It’s not a place someone allows me to live it. It’s mine. I’ve had it for a year now. I don’t treat it the way I should, and I hope to improve on that somehow. Still, this place is mine. It’s where I imagine I’ll spend the rest of my life unless some unforeseen blessings or trials come my way.

20245535_1081963961948376_2724749083115162963_nIt’s easy in this line of work to get lost in aspiration, especially when one is as goal oriented as I am. However, if I take a step back, I see something quite amazing: people read my books and my blog. I’m grateful for each and every one of you. I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. I’ve known I would pursue this dream since I was 17. I’m grateful for this particular gift. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made over the year and those before it, but just knowing anyone has an even remote interest in my crazy ideas is something I’ll always be honored by.

So please, enjoy your turkey and football. Spend time with those you love. If it means anything, please know that I appreciate you for being in any way involved with my life. I hope you have a mountain of blessings for which to be thankful, but if you find yourself struggling, please try to remember that the very life you have is a blessing, even if it isn’t exactly how you want it to be.

I invite you to share what you’re thankful for in the comments below. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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October Book Cover of the Month Midway Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing. As I type this, we’re have a pretty solid month, which makes me happy, especially considering how slow last month was.

3,037 votes so far.

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Demonhome
, by Michael G. Manning took an early lead and hasn’t let it go.

Most Voted on so far: Deomonhome has the most total votes so far with 244.

Least Voted for: Eve: Rise of the Machines by Brian Walters. This cover has 45 votes. I’d like to see it get a bit more support.

Manning is off to a commanding lead here at the halfway point. He’s pretty much cleaning up on every level. He had 26 people vote him all the way through, most of the other covers are closer to 10.  His only real threats at the moment are The Fallen Queen by Janie Marie and Chosen by R.S. Broadhead. They both have more than ten, and need about 17 more people to vote them all the way through to overtake Manning.

51KAJrNkHDLA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

 

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been an amazing tournament to watch thus far, and I hope readers continue to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Character Study: Dalinar Kaolin from The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Character Study: Dalinar Kaolin from The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Greetings all,

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This image was taken from Audible.com for review and study purpose in accordance with fair use doctrine.

I’ve missed doing character studies, and since I’m reading Way of Kings in preparation for the release of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer, I thought I’d study one of those characters. Since I’m waiting for Oathbringer, I thought Dalinar deserved center stage.

 

NOTE: I’m doing this study only on Dalinar in his role in WoK. Please read at your own risk. While I won’t intentionally reveal every plot item I can remember at the moment, I may discuss some things that might take some of the fun out of it for you.

Dalinar is a sympathetic character. He does a lot of things to make people like him. He’s honorable, which is interesting for his arc, and he’s also a loving father and man of pride. Sanderson does a great job showing Dalinar’s efforts. None are more obvious than his interaction with his oldest son Adolin and his dead brother’s widow, Navani. When these characters are together, we see how Dalinar struggles with his conflict. We see how much he wants to be a man of honor and how much strain it puts on his old life.

This is what I want to hone in on for this character study. A character’s interaction with other characters can be 1) a point of conflict and 2) a way to display a character’s personality.

A point of conflict: I think this is the most fascinating aspect of Dalinar’s story in WoK. Dalinar’s desire to follow the code and unite the princedoms is a big shift from the drunken, unconscious man we meet in the beginning of the book. With Adolin we see the conflict Dalinar has to face on his own: Is he crazy, or are his visions really from the Almighty. We also see a strained relationship between a father and the son who idolizes the man his father used to be. Adolin loves his father, but he’s afraid Dalinar is losing (or has lost) his mind. He wants his father to be the mythic warrior, but his father seems to be pulling further away from that old part of his life, and Adolin grows concerned. Even when Adolin finally gets his opinion heard, he then regrets how his father reacts to that information, thus showing us more how much Adolin idolizes Dalinar.

Display a character’s personality: With Navani, we see a different aspect of his struggle. Navani is aggressive in her pursuit of Dalinar, and Dalinar wants her, but at one point in the book he explains that he can’t expect more of his men if he succumbs to his own (arguably inappropriate) desires.

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Fan art by ex-m.

Throw in the visions and the mystery of their origin, and Dalinar shows himself to be an incredibly sympathetic character, who proactively works to resolve his conflicts. Navani is an exception to this. Through most of WoK, Dalinar avoids that conflict. This displays his weakness and how much he wants to give in. He’ll fight dozens of armed opponents. He’ll face his former friend in a unforgiving political arena. He’ll even face his oldest son, and that son’s sadness seeing a respected man possibly going insane. But, if Navani so much as walks in a room, he’s looking for the nearest escort or exit he can find. This shows us it’s harder for him to deny his affection for her than it is to even discuss his sanity or trust an old friend.

Dalinar has what K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs calls a neutral change arc. Dalinar doesn’t fall into despair (though he’s tempted) and he doesn’t learn a perception altering truth. (For those who’ve read the book, yes, he learned an important secret, but it didn’t change his personality). Dalinar is a pillar. His dedication to the code and honor change those around him (his son and even Kaladin). Neutral arcs are frowned upon these days (in my own egotistical opinion), but I think that’s because they’re so very rarely done correctly.  You see, Dalinar doesn’t change, but his (as Weiland would put it) “belief in his truth” makes him an example for others to follow.

This arc is effective not just because of an interesting opponent (Sadeas), but also (and in my opinion more so) because of Adolin and Navani, who provide the most stress and challenge to his known truth (his faith in the code and adherence to honor). This arc is made sympathetic because they care about Dalinar. If everyone was against Dalinar (as Sadeas is), he’d look like nothing more than some jerk being high and mighty. Sadeas points this out near the 70-percent mark of the book. However, Sanderson gives us two compelling characters who love Dalinar and want to believe in him. Their doubts are what show his strength, and as their faith in him grows, so does the reader’s.

If you haven’t read Way of Kings or Words of Radiance (the first two books of the Starlight Archive), you’re really missing out on some great reading. I like taking a step back and analyzing a character, but I’m reading this book for the third time because it’s just that good.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Zombies from Space…and Vampires by Angela B. Chrysler

Book Review: Zombies from Space…and Vampires by Angela B. Chrysler
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These images were taken from Amazon.com for review purposes under fair use.

Character:  Aria is a solid character. I’d label this at YA hoping Angela is OK with that. Most stories that feature a young woman (Aria is 19), fall into that category. She’s  a solid character to build around. She’s the one sane person in this madhouse of a story, and that makes her charming. Where everyone else is Level 11 zany, she’s the one normal spot in the book, which ups the conflict and provides an interesting backdrop to the story. As I mentioned above, every character in this book was inspired by a member of the real life Slush Brain. I’m biased here, but the cast is just a lot of fun.

Exposition: There’s a bit more here than usual, but you need to explain how alien zombies and vampires managed to pop up in modern day earth. It’s done with decent pacing, and there’s plenty of action to offset it.

Angela-B.-Chrysler-The-Author-of-Dolor-and-Shadow
This image was used in a previous post. It was given with the author’s permission.

Description:  This had most of the description in the right parts: action and mayhem. Though the characters are also very clear in the imagination. I honestly just loved seeing these characters come to life.

Overall:  This has a bit of a cliffhanger, but the story is episodic in nature, so it’s to be expected. Every now and then, a reader needs a story that’s just good times and cool, zany action. This is that book. I enjoyed it, and I’m hoping to see more from the story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Announcing the September Book Cover of the Month

Announcing the September Book Cover of the Month

Hello everyone,

The September Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. Regrettably, it is officially the record holder for the least voted on month in the bracket’s history. These things happen sometime. I’ll work harder to spread word, but I still want to thank everyone who did get involved. These brackets are special to me, and they grow more legitimate and meaningful each time we keep heading forward.

We had 2,092 votes this month. Here’s hoping this month holds the record for a long time.

We’ll keep moving on, but today is all about celebrating this month’s winner.

The September Book Cover of the Month is…

 

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Night Stalker by R.L. Weeks! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Weeks received 162 total votes. This was honestly a close fight in terms of votes, but Weeks took the lead with about four days to go and didn’t let go.

SEPT_Cover_Collage_175The Festival of Trial and Ember Forest finished second, which means that’ll have another chance to be the Book Cover of the Month for October.

That said, Weeks is the winner this month, so let’s look at her book.

 

 

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

Casey and George are traveling around Japan’s notorious suicide forest when they see something move in the tree line and Casey can’t shake the feeling that someone has been following them.

Later that night, Casey wakes up to find a woman in their room. After breaking free of the woman’s entrancement, Casey wakes George, who convinces her it was just a dream.
George has been acting off since their visit to Japan. Now they’re home, the worst happens and George is killed in a freak accident.

It’s one year later and she’s about to leave her small hometown, Pleasant Springs – in hopes that her nightmares would end. Since his death, her dreams have been haunted by a mystery guy who is hellbent on causing her pain, but, before she makes it to the airport, Casey is kidnapped and taken to the hotel from her nightmares.

She is plunged into a creepy world filled with the supernatural, underground cities, and sick games.

Her mystery guy tells her he is trying to save her from the others. However, her ex – George could be behind her kidnapping in the most sinister way.
Nothing is as it seems in the dark world of the Stalkers.

(END BLURB)

As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, Howard’s cover, Deyo’s coverJones’s CoverHubert’s Cover,  MacNiven’s cover,  Jon del Arroz’sRob J. Hayes’s, and Chris Philbrook’s They are also on my TBR. Manning’s review is here.  Howard’s review is here. Deyo’s review is here. I’ve read Jones’s book, and I’ll post a review for it in a few weeks.


Here’s
 Weeks’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

I don’t know who the artist is yet, but I’ll see if Weeks will help with that.

The October bracket is still under development, but it looks good so far. It’ll kick of Nov. 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Don’t Mind Me. I’m Just Working

I’ve been so caught up in getting the second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter done, I honestly forgot what day it was. The good news is I’m 82 percent through the final proofread. I’ll announce the Book Cover of the Month tomorrow, so stop by for that. If you haven’t already voted, please do so here.

Sorry for what amounts to an excuse for why I don’t have a post today, but I really am trying to get this out and available as soon as possible.

Oh! I got my first alpha reader feedback for Repressed (Thanks again, Grace!).  Early feedback is very positive!   So I’m hard at work.  See you tomorrow!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Centyr Dominance by Michael G. Manning

Book Review: Centyr Dominance by Michael G. Manning

510gRhw1dtL._SY346_Centyr Dominance is the second book of the Champions of the Dawning Dragons series, which is the third series in the Mageborn saga. My review for the first book in this series is here. My review for the earliest series (Embers of Illeniel) is here.  My review for the central series (Mageborn) is here.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Moira Illeniel has an unusual history. She’s the ancient (and yet teenage) daughter of an even more ancient wizard from another family. Her biological mother’s ability allows her to tap into a great power, but that power is dangerous, and it can lead to darkness. She’s set out to find her missing father, but as things get worse for her, that power calls her to darkness; it calls her to let go of her innocence.  Between her and answers about her father’s location are a god and new, terrifying enemy.

Character:  Moira is my favorite of this series so far. Her character is so well-balanced. Her conflict is fantastic, and her struggle to maintain her innocence reminds me of her many times removed grandfather. Where Thorbear was a fairly adventurous story. This book is more action packed, and it also has a higher emotion rang.  I found myself invested in her, and if she’s rumored to be anywhere in any future books in the series, I’ll pick them up just to see how shoe’s doing.

Exposition: This is right on par with Manning’s best work. Yes, the dialogue becomes a back-handed way for him fill in the reader. That’s still better than just four or five pages of exposition just to help the reader know what’s going on.

Dialogue: I felt this was pretty solid in comparison to his other work, which is a bit better than average for most. It’s not as snappy as the central saga, but it’s still solid back and forth at times despite the aforementioned exposition, which was used to help fill the reader in on some things.

Description:  I find myself picturing his scenes in my mind. The emotional description is sometimes lacking, but there’s plenty there to be happy about.  My point is, I feel like a I’m there when I read his work.

Overall:  This book required zero “hanging in there” like the last one did. Every page has conflict and tension. Every moment seems happy, but tragic. Fans of the saga as a whole need to pick this book up, because it stands out with one of the best in the timeline.

Thanks for reading

Matt