Category Archives: Book Reviews

Craft Book Round-Up: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Gather ’round and saddle up kids, it’s time I shared my dirty little secret: I love craft books. While this may not sound like such a strange thing to the uninitiated, trust me when I say that books that purport to teach people how to write often take lots of flack on author’s forums. Some will say that they’re no substitute for getting your work critiqued by peers, or that they will use up time that would better be spent writing. Others will point to the fact that writing ostensibly has no “rules,” and worry that such guides will turn their beautifully artistic Garfield slash fiction into robotic, paint-by-numbers prose.

But personally, I’ve never ran with the “just write, write, write,” crowd. In my experience, most craft books read very quickly; I can usually polish one off in a day or two, and I’m not a particularly fast reader. They make an excellent diversion when waiting for a manuscript to cool, and they can help give you a fresh perspective when you do go back to attack that eighth revision. Of course, not all craft books are created equal, and that’s where the Craft Book Round-Up comes in: sorting out the good, the bad, and the ugly for your studying pleasure. Because hey, writing craft books is a craft unto itself, right?

For the first entry, I’ve chosen a book that falls squarely into the “good” column: Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. To be honest, one doesn’t really need to “find” this book; it’s sure to be handed to you sooner or later, because it comes up on every single Amazon frequently purchased list ever. And not without good reason: Browne and King have written an extremely helpful guide to self-editing, one which I wish I had read years before I “found” it.

Continue reading Craft Book Round-Up: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

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Book Review – The Haunted Horn by Edward Willett

Title: The Haunted Horn
Author: Edward Willett (Blog, Facebook)
Length: Approximately 40,000 words
Purchase Link: Amazon

The Haunted Horn is an entertaining, sharp ghost story with a setting and characters that many kids will easily relate to. Although the target audience is a bit young for my tastes, I would recommend it to any middle school reader who enjoys modern adventure with a bit of spookiness mixed in.

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Book Review – The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Note: the following is a special guest review courtesy of my lovely wife, Margaret. Margaret is an extremely fast and voracious reader who devours books in a weekend that would take me months to finish. After she polished off the highly-regarded Farseer Trilogy, I politely requested (and begged and pleaded) for her to write up her thoughts for my blog. So, please enjoy.

Titles: Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest
Author: Robin Hobb (Blog, Twitter)
Length: very
Purchase Links: 1 2 3

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb is an enjoyable trip into a fantasy realm which will likely keep you slogging along dutifully for all of its 1900 or so pages. While the pacing of the story is sometimes questionably slow, it is impactful and may have you continuing to think about the characters even after the series has ended.

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Book Review – Machines of Eden by Shad Callister

Title: Machines of Eden
Author: Shad Callister (Blog)
Length: Approximately 70,000 words
Purchase Link: Amazon

Machines of Eden is a fast paced, futuristic thriller with solid prose and an intriguing premise. Fans of military science fiction featuring a lone commando fighting against impossible odds will find plenty to like here.

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Book Review – The Troubleshooter by Bard Constantine

Title: The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues
Author: Bard Constantine (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Blog)
Length: Approximately 57,000 words
Purchase Link: Amazon

Now listen good, you ugly mugs–this here is a review of a book going by the name of The Troubleshooter. Subtitle? Well that’d be New Haven Blues, no relation to Connecticut if that’s what your beancan is pondering. It just happens to be the story of a private dick with the name Mick Truble, and how he travels the mean streets of the far future, cracking off lead and putting the moves on beautiful dames in a tangled stumper of a caper.

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Book Review – Century of Sand by Christopher Ruz

Title: Century of Sand
Author: Christopher Ruz (Website, Twitter)
Length: Approximately 120,000 words
Purchase Links: Amazon, Smashwords

As Century of Sand opens, we are presented with a chilling scene: a man, clutching the limp body of a young girl, escapes a castle by cover of night. Nothing is said about who he is or where he is going, but through the language of well-chosen details we sense the seriousness of his crime and the precious nature of his cargo. A glance back over his shoulder makes us feel his anxiety; we are in his shoes now, facing the guards ahead with feigned assurance, knowing that any break in our resolve will spell certain disaster.

And that’s just the first two paragraphs.

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Book Review – HYM and HUR by Philip Frey

Title: HYM and HUR
Author: Philip Frey (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
Length: Approximately 8,000 words
Purchase Links: Amazon, Smashwords

HYM and HUR is a somewhat whimsical short story involving two fairy-like beings who make a pact with Death, and in the process cause trouble for an innocent human and his girlfriend. Despite its sometimes uneven characterization, it succeeds as a light read with brisk pacing.

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