Category Archives: Book Reviews

Craft Book Round-Up: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

warofart_bookIs The War of Art really a craft book? Maybe not by any reasonable definition, but it does cover a topic of great interest to many budding authors: if I want to write, how come I rarely actually write anything? If this question sounds absurd to you, you’ve obviously never spent much time on writer’s forums, where variants of it come up over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. See, with a little practice, anyone can figure out how to cut an adverb or cliché, but when it comes to the thorny issue of motivation, there are no easy answers–at least until now.

I read this book at the request of a friend who had heard rave reviews from various media outlets proclaiming it to be the greatest thing since spellcheck (perhaps the fact that he was too lazy to read it himself speaks volumes as to whether or not he needs it).   Impressed by the blurbs, I put it on my Kindle and ended up consuming it over the course of a couple hours (it’s not that engaging, but it is very short). What I found was a pretty good self-help guide, mixed with a good smattering of nonsensical blather, especially in the final third. Read on for details.

Continue reading Craft Book Round-Up: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Rust: Season 1 by Christopher Ruz

cover-205x300Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of independent author Christopher Ruz, so when he asked if I’d like a copy of his horror serial Rust to review, you’ll be unsurprised that I jumped right on it.

I was excited about Rust because I’ve always thought that Ruz’s voice was made for horror. Horrific imagery leaks through in bits and pieces in his other speculative fiction, and he has propensity to get very personal with thoughts and desires, as well as hold nothing back from a character’s raw experience, even at the expense of making the reader uncomfortable.

All I can say is that I was not disappointed. Horror is one of those love/hate genres for me–if done well it can be amazing, but almost all the time you see it it’s not done well. And if making good horror movies is difficult, then writing good horror must be nearly impossible, because I can count on one hand the number of horror authors I’ve read who really got under my skin. With Rust, Ruz has joined an elite cadre of authors including King and Barker who can do horror well.

There’s a lot to like here, starting with the setting. Rustville is a suitably disturbing playground for all manner of macabre adventures had and yet to come, and the brilliant decision to place the series in the mid-1980’s only ramps up the creepiness and sense of dread (horror is so much better when no one has a cell phone). The plight of the main character Kimberly, waking up in a life she assumes must be a lie but which all evidence points to being real, adds a mysterious touch to the heart-pounding, skin-crawling action. But most of all, the story just flows in that typically Ruz-ian fashion, events transpiring at just the right pace to draw you in and not let go.

I’m also a fan of the serialized format, mimicking how shows like Lost follow one continuous storyline, while also delivering a separate climax at the end of each season. One thing I would like to see for future seasons would be an expanding of the cast to be more of an ensemble, though the focus on Kimberly and Fitch this time around works well as an introduction.

Rust: Season 1 is available either serialized or as an omnibus edition. If you’re a fan of horror, you need to read it as soon as possible. Then, hit up Christopher Ruz’s website and let him know you’d like more seasons to be produced.


Reintegrators Review by S.M. White

Bragging time…fellow author and all-around smart guy S.M. White graciously agreed to review The Reintegrators, and he’s written up his thoughts here. As you might have guessed, he was very complementary, so much so that the swelling of my head to gargantuan proportions has nearly left me at a loss for words.

It’s difficult to explain why authors dread seeing the initial reviews of their work. Certainly, the whole point of putting a book out there is for it to be read, and if I’m expecting people to read it then I’m also expecting them to have an opinion about it, and it’s more useful for both me and others if they make their opinions known. And it’s not as if I think the book is bad–clearly I like it quite a bit, or I wouldn’t be offering it to others. But no matter how confident I am, I also know that any judgement of “good” or “bad” is purely subjective, and that there’s a chance I’ve become so involved with the project and so biased that I could no longer make rational judgements about its quality.

So, it’s been somewhat of a relief this past month to see The Reintegrators attracting some really positive reviews. Of course, not everyone is going to love everything about it, especially since some it has some experimental aspects (how many books can you think of where the bulk of the storyline consists of the protagonist doing multiple things at the same time, in different bodies?). But every once in a while I see a review from someone who really “gets it“, and that’s when I feel like all the grinding and decision-making that led me to this point has been worth it.

I’m so glad that Mr. White is also one of those people. Getting praise from a fellow author is especially flattering, because our minds are so heavily involved in making enhancing the quality of prose that it’s easy for us to spot flaws. All I can say in return is that since he obviously has great taste, you should consider checking out his books, especially his new novel The Lonely Man: The Witch’s Price, and also follow him on Twitter.

Next up: Aetheria’s Daemon status update.

Book Review – The Eighteen Revenges of Doctor Milan by Christopher Ruz


Title: The Eighteen Revenges of Doctor Milan
Author: Christopher Ruz (Twitter, Blog)
Length: Approximately 32,000 words
Purchase Link: Amazon

I haven’t done a review in a while due to time constraints, but when Christopher Ruz asked me to take a look at his new novella, The Eighteen Revenges of Doctor Milan, I figured I could make time for a quick one. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed, as Ruz utilizes his signature dark, excellent quality writing to deliver a sharp science fiction adventure.

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