Recommendation

Author

Creativity is a natural inborn trait. It doesn't leave me, I leave it. I have a strong inner critic that blocks the creativity; knowing this helps, and I'm learning to let go of all criticism and just enjoy creating whatever I choose at the moment. Glad to find a bit of inspiration here for doing this.
bookcover: 
angelofsyn bookcover
Author: 
Mertianna Georgia
Publisher: 
ImaJinn Books
Genre: 
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

ASIN: B00B5EGYA0

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Review: 

Angel of Syn, by Mertianna Georgia is the second is the Synemancer series starring witch Cara Augustine. Ever get in trouble for a mistake you didn’t know you made? Well if you did, it might be easy to sympathize with Cara. It appears she broke a law by making a werewolf her familiar. She didn’t know she broke a law. Unfortunately, the penalty is death. Just call her witch on the run.

What is worse than running from the Portalkind law? It might be deciding between three sexy supernatural males who are determined to make Cara and her emerging powers part of a power couple. Cara has a lovelorn Nephilim who is half angel and half witch. There is a crazy French werewolf, who wants her. His intentions may not be entirely romantic. Add to the trio, a sexy, semi-scary Nightkind who actually wants to marry her. The group follows Cara as she seeks sanctuary in the Garden of Eden, which has its own share of dangers.

This is a three part series as far as book goes. It is highly recommend reading the first book, Syn in the City before reading this one. It explains things like Nephilim, Nightkind and more of what Cara is up too. It is a little bit like walking into a conversation about people you don’t know and the conversation continues without any explanation. Most things can be figured out through context.

Ms. Georgia’s writing is fun and often steamy. It flows well making the story a joy even if everything isn’t clear. If you are looking for a paranormal with attitude and bite, then this is the book for you. Just make sure you read Syn in the City first.

bookcover: 
Just My Type
Author: 
Simon Garfield
Publisher: 
Penguin Group
Genre: 
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

Electronic: 9781592406524

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Review: 

I am assuming that many of us don't pay much attention to type fonts. I'm old enough to remember choosing an IBM Selectric typewriter because there were multiple fonts available, welded into little balls that you could snap in, so if you wanted, you could dash your pages off in ten or twelve pitch Courier, Bookface or Artisan. On the early Apple which only had one font, finding Bert Kersey's "beagle bros" fonts library—a program would allow you to change the fonts on your printouts with the addition of some simple html-like commands—was a gift from the font gods. In an early job of mine, preparing negatives to make offset masters for an ABDick 360 Printing press involved hours of typesetting with the dry transfer letters, painstakingly manipulated with red gum, grid paper and exacto knives. The year I had of graphic design did not touch on fonts at all.

Simon Garfield's Just My Type picks up right where my graphic design classes should have. The book is not a dry history of type, but a popular history of fonts such as the much maligned "Comic Sans." (Everyone who uses/overuses/loves/hates Comic Sans should read Garlocks rendition of the tale of Vincent Connare, Microsoft and Microsoft Bob.) Garfield has written an interesting guide to fonts. It is both charming and fascinating, and full of tidbits which are "news" to us. Who knew, for example that authors of type become famous or infamous from their skill with type, just as Mozart is for his music, or Warhol, for his art?

Just My Type touches on the stories behind type, exploring everything before Gutenberg's first fonts, well past Steve Job's now famous introduction to calligraphy at Reed College. Whether you're interested in serifs and san serifs, the Guardian's April Fools Day Independence of San SerriffeHoax, the creepy sexual experimentation of Eric Gill, the blink test, or IKEA's battle between Verdana and Futura, etc. there are dozens of stories here which are fascinating, and which you will probably recognize have brushed against your life without your realization. The book analyzes font examples from magazine covers, to advertisements, to television shows (like The Office) to album covers, and tells us why and how the fonts work, their purpose and how they affect us.

Just My Type is a rich, readable design backstory behind type, a book which ought to be a must for any typographer's toolkit. And for non-typographers among us, after a little exploratory guided voyage touring in, through and about fonts let by Garfield's clever eye, we just might become a little more discerning, more informed and certainly more entertained typophiles in our own right.

bookcover: 
Author: 
Lanie Kinkaid
Publisher: 
Griffyn Ink
Genre: 
Rating: 
8
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780983587743

Description of Sales Url: 
out of print: see used
Review: 

America has no King. Our founding father's insured us that, and hopefully we will remain "unkinged" and our constitution will hold out. But it's a fact of our times that, politics notwithstanding, celebrity is king. We might even take it one step farther: Rock is King. From the sixties on, hordes of screaming fans have been falling in and out of obsession with the rock star of the moment, and there are even some who hold their own long after any fifteen minutes of fame has long since evaporated. And as much as music consumers feel that someone becomes an overnight star, such a thing is never overnight. Before the moment when John Q Public realizes the person on the stage, at the mike, on the television, on the screen, on the radio, in the youtube, in the itunes library has a gift, that entertainer has spent long hours, months, years, sometimes decades developing what may be a flash in the pan, or G-d's own gift. It is something fans do not consider: that behind every gifted artist is a boatload of time spent developing that gift. So when a writer chooses to write the story of a rock wannabe from the point of view in the trenches rather than from the audience, it is an angle that feels new to us. And yet not completely new, because of how many fans are themselves frustrated artists who had some talent and some dreams and either gave up before their time, didn't have the grit or talent, or maybe just didn't have the Kelsey to do it.

Yes, Kelsey. Every artist needs a Kelsey. I'm referring to Kelsey Conklin, the protagonist of Lanie Kincaid'sKelsey's Song. I may have picked up this book thinking that Kelsey was going to be a Susan Boyle; but I soon figured out that Kelsey, having grown up as the only sensible manager in an exceptionally dysfunctional home, has an entirely different talent from singing. She has a gift for management. And her new neighbor, JD Hewlitt, the scruffy guy with band pipe dreams, needs some of that management to rub off on him and his daughter Andie.

JD is new to parenting, and has come into his daughter in much the same way as Diane Keaton's character in Baby Boom: from out of the blue. JD's new daughter a is six year old handful who is completely out of control and does not want anything to do with a father. It is sheer luck and proximity that bring together JD and Kelsey, in the same way that two distinct drops of water touch, and suddenly they're just one bigger drop, and there's no demarkation where the lines might have once been drawn.

Everything about this story rings true. Proximity brings together couples (yes, I read somewhere that a high percentage of weddings occur just because people live near each other). Yet the success of their relationship has a lot to do with what lies beneath the surface. Both JD and Kelsey are icebergs, with most of their secret past underwater. With buried secrets to negotiate, JD and Kelsey are both off on life quests that are completely different in nature in ways that would simply not intersect—except that in the process of solving a multitude of life-problems for each other, and developing a friendship, they manage to fall in love AND solve each other's problems.

Why does it work? Because the characters are so complete. JD and Kelsey live on the page, and beyond the page. They are not cookie cutter characters, but have lives that are bigger and grittier in dimension than those of most characters in simple romance. This book is a little charmer, even if you haven't dreamed of being the girl "with the band," whether or not you worship music and bands (but might be even more fun if you do.) Kelsey's Songwas an enjoyable read which I heartily recommend.

bookcover: 
What Language is bookcover
Author: 
John McWhorter
Publisher: 
Penguin Group
Genre: 
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
6
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781592406258

Description of Sales Url: 
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Review: 

Every speaker is a student of language, even if it is not our intent. But this is a book for the general student of linguistics. I can't believe I am saying "general" because I've never seen anyone go more into specifics than John McWhorter. He makes a general study of a whole juxtaposition of a variety of languages for the writer who is fascinated by the anthropology of linguistic development. Bear in mind, this book it is rather heavy, and overwhelmingly leaded with obscure trivia. If you are not frightened off by the idea of subconjugations in Ket, and the (illustrations of) grammar and impossibility of figuring out five tenses of Navaho—Verbing may weird English but who knows what it does to Navaho—If you're not scared off, maybe you're potentially an anthropological linguist and this book will be your friend.

From the beginning, McWhorter rhapsodizes about the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of Archi, and click languages, and the strange grammatical constructions of obscure tongues almost no one speaks and one would think would be impossible to master. He submerges the reader in characteristics of languages so that we can hardly keep up with all the strange detail. But right at the point when this barrage of detail seems absolutely pointless, he talks about his five signal characteristics of language, (Ingrown, Dissheveled [sic], Intricate, Oral, Mixed). He illustrates with specific detail how languages evolve, how their complexities develop or decline. He also makes a point that when languages are spoken by a few people over time, they become more complex, but when spoken by larger groups for longer time, they get (or stay) dumbed down when influxes of new speakers learn simpler versions of the language. When languages are learned by adults they are dumbed down generationally—as opposed to the small, isolated communities that develop complex languages which can only be learned by children with their aptitude of language. He ranges in topic from the development of classifiers in Chinese and Cantonese, to the number of words for snow in Eskimo, to fetishes in Kikuyu that make it unlearnable to non-native speakers. He examines how an island language lost prefixes and suffixes when foreign adult speakers arrived and imperfectly learned and passed on the language. As an unwritten language, the old version would not, as McWhorter says it, have it's foot in the door. Such developmental hiccups allow the historian a foothold in muddling through the history of language.

Oh if this review seems clotted and lumpy, that is pretty much how I feel after reading What Language Is. There is so much detail that the content feels obscure and sluggish, even if an ambitious attempt is made to present the transformation and growth and development of language as both holistic and in a constant evolution. I did find it heavily academic, plus the electronic version I had was so badly formatted in places that I had difficulty figuring out if that was a misplaced footnote or some text was missing or extra. That may have been because I read on a kindle, or because it was an arc. Here and there were a smattering of illustrative stories and some sense of John McWhorter's charm, but the design suffers from academic overload and unclear organization. McWhorter is probably a humdinger in the classroom, but this tome suffers from a sense of massive density where it should be sharp and pointed. Not a must read in any sense, but of interest to linguists, especially in this age of dwindling care about language. At the risk of labeling myself a rube and a philistine, I must admit reading the last pages with respect for the depth and breadth of McWhorter's linguistic knowledge and a promise to myself to read the rest of his work after it has been edited. (This was an early arc.)

bookcover: 
Author: 
John F Dobbyn
Publisher: 
Oceanview Publishing
Action-Adventure: 
Rating: 
8
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781933515939

Description of Sales Url: 
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Review: 

Neon Dragon is the second book by John F Dobbyn that I have read but it is first in the series, unless the author plans to pull a "Star Wars" and publish events wildly out of order. I inadvertently flipped the reading order only because book two came to me first. I know it happens to everyone—discovering book two or three (etc) after a series has already gotten rolling. In this case, both volumes do stand alone. This legal thriller series centers around the cases of Boston lawyer, Michael Knight. The way Dobbyn handles backstory (in book two) was something of an unwanted revelation to me to take back to my own writing, and still may lead to my switching a story to first person, and losing masses of backstory by converting into anecdotal "partner" conversation. I was surprised how little I had to know about Knight to accept him.

Some of that mysterious backstory comes out in Book One.

As the first book, Neon Dragon answers a few questions I had about Knight's history, and especially his history with his mentor Lex Devlin. Some of that backstory was deftly sidestepped (in book 2) because it had been handled already in Neon Dragon and to be honest, I didn't miss it. Being the first in a series, certain things about the character simply must come to light, and although I do appreciate the deftness with which Dobbyn handles some of this inevitable backstory, I'm still on the fence about how much is essential. He does an excellent job on the slow reveal, and packs in a few surprises at every turn.

We learn that Juvenile Michael is caught in his first criminal act for a street gang and is on the brink of a life of crime when provided a straight and narrow and uphill path by a criminal trial attorney who teaches Michael how to set high goals and achieve them.

Neon Dragon establishes certain key and reoccurring characters including Michael Knight of course, his mentor Lex Devlin, the District Attorney and "First Lady of Prosecution" Ms. Lamb, Mike's college friend Harry Wong, and a few others. It also establishes Michael as being able to slip in and out of various worlds—although not the world of Chinatown—because of a Puerto Rican mother and a white father, and casts light on his rocky childhood (with an emphasis on the hood).

In Neon Dragon, while in the middle of a trial, a prominent judge finagles Michael into defending his son Anthony who was wrongly accused of shooting ancient Chen An-Young in Chinatown. It's kind of the legal equivalent of a "cute meet," which is to say, an unusual but interesting way to be introduced to the crime that will make up the body of this story. What follows is a glimpse into the inscrutable criminal underbelly of Boston's Chinatown, where nothing is what it seems. It is a glimpse that is believable and entertaining, stays far enough from the courtroom to avoid legalese-tainted boredom, and close enough to the characters to be practically un-put-downable (a terrible word, but one most authors would love to find in a review.)

These are the things I like about this book: the solid team, the sense of place, the action integrated with what feels like solid legal know-how, the who-what-where-why done-it placing it solidly in its genre. The lilt and lift of the story, however, is all due to the uniqueness and compelling charm of Michael Knight's voice: a little naive, a little foolhardy, a little braver than he ought to be, a little more musical, and a lot more sarcastic. Grisham had better beware. John Dobbyn's humor, pacing, and turn of phrase just may knock Grisham out of the front seat of the legal thriller roller coaster.

By the time you read this, Novelspot will have already started celebrating the grand opening of its official domain, novelspot.net. It's been a long, long time in coming, but I'm happy, even thrilled, to say that the site looks terrific. More than that, it's functional (emphasis on fun).

Until now, Novelspot has mostly been involved in the review of romance and erotica books, but that ends with our grand opening, because I'm in charge of the speculative fiction section of the site, which means you're in good hands (or tentacles, when I'm not in my human form).

Submitted by Nage on Sun, 2005-05-15 08:11.
...there was Novelspot. Floating in a void called the Internet; turning slowly in the dark crawlspaces of the mind. And Allie looked upon Novelspot and said, "This needs work, for surely, this site does suck." And so Allie summoned an angel to help her. Erika looked upon the face of Novelspot and said unto Allie, "Needs work. You take the right half and I'll take the left half (after I take a couple of painkillers; my ankle is killing me). And this they did and it was good.

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