Review: Red-Headed Stepchild

Red-Headed Stepchild
Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the debut novel by Urban Fantasy powerhouse Jaye Wells.

Sabina Kane is a gritty, hardboiled half-blooded Vampire on a quest to take down a dangerous cult leader and save the world on behalf of Vampire society. Along the way she falls for a hunky Mage, gains a pet Demon disguised as a cat, and learns that she may be a pawn intended to start a larger war.

If you’re wanting action-plus-supernatural, with just a dash of romance, this the book for you. It’s a blast, with great action setpieces, great characters, and wonderful twists along the way.

I really appreciate the strong anti-heroine, and the clever world building (Examples: Vampires are born that way, not “created”, and are part of the progeny of Lilith. They are killed only by applewood stakes or apple juice — because apples are the forbidden fruit.)

Very fun. Go get it!

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Review: Howl and Other Poems

Howl and Other Poems
Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

HOWL, Part 1 is the best poem ever written in the English language. Many may disagree with me, but this is my opinion.

This is compact, dazzling emotion. It brings you somewhere most people never go and then brings you out the other side. It is raw and powerful and truthful and amazing, and one day I hope to write something this good.

That said, I don’t like Howl, Part 2 much at all. It is weak and vague and too much a token of Ginsberg’s over-fascination with different rhythms.

Still, that’s no excuse. If you haven’t read Howl, you need to. And you need to do it right now!

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Plot Bunnies

So… I’ve been chasing plot bunnies recently. If you don’t know what plot bunnies are, they’re little ideas for stories — and once you start working on one, another pops up, and another.

And the stories I’m working on are novels, and novels take a long time and a lot of effort, so… I’ve had to pull back.

I’ve put Silly Hitchiker’s-Guide-Monty-Python-inspired madness novel on hold. I’ve put the rewrite of Debut Epic Fantasy Novel for Epic Fantasy Series #1 on hold. I’ve put plotting Epic Fantasy Series #2 on hold.

And I’ve turned my attention to the Faustian Dark Novel, focusing in on it like a laser beam…. Except then my laser beam gets a little scattered.

Examples:
- I started rewriting an ancient Novelette of mine.
- I started learning Sanskrit (which actually seems to be helping my creativity, not harming it)
- I started actually PROMOTING Teddy Bears and Tea Parties, which I had never had the guts to do before.

And while, yes, this has had an impact on my Dark Faustian Novel’s word count (especially promotion — I seem unable to promote and write in the same day), the Novel is still chugging right along.

Still, I may have to focus in a bit harder.

Review: Night

Night
Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most moving books ever written. It is one boy’s experience of the concentration camps in Germany, Berkinau to Auschwitz, and it is intense. I do not use that word lightly. It is I N T E N S E. Because it is real. Because it is so terribly, terrifyingly true.

These are the things that once you see you cannot unsee and once you imagine you should not forget. Part of me feels that everyone needs to read this book, everyone everywhere, so nothing like this will happen again.

The prose is so clear and perfect and lucid, it’s like looking through a pair of glasses right into hell.

If you want to know anything about this part of World War 2, or if you want to see why HATE is the emotion to be feared above all others, or if you just want to be a better person and to learn from the mistakes of humanity’s past, this is the book for you.

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Review: Gil’s All Fright Diner

Gil's All Fright Diner
Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A. Lee Martinez’s most widely-known book, and, arguably, one of his funniest.

This is a typical buddy story about a redneck werewolf and a geeky vampire oddcouple, Duke and Earl, who — in search of beer and pie in rural Texas — accidentally save the world from a giant Cthuloid horror.

Wait… Okay, so that’s not typical at all. But it’s a blast. Some of the best parts of this book are when Earl, the vampire, is falling in love with a ghost. You really feel for the poor sap.

The story is hilarious and comes highly recommended. Go buy it now!

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Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one starts out slow, but picks up tremendously around page 80, again at page 200, and is addictive and impossible to put down by page 300.

I’m not sure what makes this novel so strong — the writing is strong, the story (as the back cover says) is one you’ve read before, but I think it’s really the character of Kvothe that does it. In real life, you might hate this guy out of pure jealousy — he’s incredibly talented, gets a lot of lucky breaks, and gets by often on charm and chutzpah alone. But he suffers too, and oh how he suffers so nobly.

A very impressive book, but sometimes I feel that Kvothe is simply TOO perfect. Things always, eventually, turn out his way. There’s nothing wrong with this, it just makes this fantasy book a little more escapist than many — and, really, since we’re a lot of us reading for escape, this book is just giving us what we want. :)

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My story, “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties”, NOW FREE on Amazon Prime, LTO

My dystopian/horror/surreal/weird post-apocalyptic ebook “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties” NOW FREE on Amazon Prime for a limited time!

And a 67% discount for we non-prime mortals.

NYT Best Seller David Brin calls it, “Way unconventional, dreamlike, and fun.”

Nebula Award Winner Eugie Foster says, “Homicidal teddy bears, man-eating houses, a really creepy clown, and one scary little girl. S. Boyd Taylor has crafted a seriously sinister and unforgettable tale.”

Lots of great illustrations, by my good friend Jorge Rodas too.

Check it out here!

Okay, now that the mandatory promo part is over, let me ramble on about why I love this story so much — think of this as a self-review of my own book, but with a twist — rather than just telling you everything I like in the story, let me tell you what I was TRYING to do, and why I loved the PROCESS of writing it.

First, let me say — TBTP is the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything. It’s way beyond my normal boundaries of self, and I had to grow to write it.

I pushed the surreality and the creepiness as far as I could (and I’m a pretty surreal guy, ask my friends!). I pushed my writing into a completely new shape and style. It’s kind of like looking back at climbing your first real mountain — this is when everything clicked, when all the skills came together.

It’s also a big milestone for me — the first pro-sale I ever had, ChiZine back in 2009. A real milestone, just when I was giving up hope after submitting it for a year.

When I wrote this, I was trying to come up with something new, something I’d never seen before, and (while this goal itself is arguably impossible), I think I got close. It doesn’t fit into any shoebox. When I read it, it still sneaks up on me with a knife and drips grape jelly all over me.

And that’s the best feeling you can have, IMO, loving something you have written so long ago.