Dreadfully sorry…

…that today’s blog post is late. The reasons why will be explained shortly.

It’s been a busy week.

I turned 57 last Friday. Friday? (Checks calendar) Yeah, Friday. As you can tell I don’t pay a lot of attention to my birthdays. My mom came over, bought us lunch and gave me a card and a present. She brought along a birthday cake my sister, who is a certified baker, made for us. It’s delicious, and I generally don’t care for sweets.

My wife bought a wheelchair. Her back’s gotten very bad so walking any distance or standing for long is difficult and painful. So the chair is a great idea. She’s been kind of apartment bound since she arrived and now we can go places together.

The reason this blog is late is that my wife found a great software bargain. I got about $750 worth of software for $29. Among the programs is the game Bioshock 2. It’s one of those “just a couple of more minutes” games where you look up three hours later and realize it’s three hours later. It’s been a while since a first person shooter caught me like this. I like that you have to make ethical choices in this game also. It doesn’t happen often enough in gaming.

So, that’s it for this Monday. Have a great week, everybody.

Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall: Two for Tuesday Reviews.

What a delightfully quirky read.

I believe even Lewis Carrol would find it to be worthy. Marie Hall puts her own spin on the classic of old and gives us a new story that has you laughing, then crying, then sighing in contentedness.

Alice Hu loves the Mad Hatter. She always has. Mad Hatter has waited so many years to find his Alice and despairs it will ever happen. Danika, the Fairy Godmother to “the Bad Boy’s” has only one last shot at helping Hatter find his one true Aluce,

Can it be done? Will Wonderland accept her? Read Her Mad Hatter and find out.

Ah, politics

“They cannot tell the difference between dissent and terrorism.” – Vaclav Havel

I’m a big fan of political discussions. Discussing policy has been an endless source of learning and entertainment. It’s fun debating the state of our world using history, philosophy and literature to try and find solutions to problems, or perhaps even identify problems.

That’s been changing recently. It’s why I started this post with that particular quotation. This is an attitude I’ve been encountering more and more. Far more frequently than in the past I get the internet equivalent of shouted at, “How dare you disagree with me you fascist/commie/capitalist pig/socialist/Muslim apologist/Muslim hater!” I’ve been called all of those things over the last little while.

There simply seems to be no room for nuance or any ideas other than those the people on the other side of whatever we’re discussing hold. It’s become a Manichean world where you are either standing with the forces of Middle Earth or those of Sauron, to use the most well known Manichean piece of literature as a metaphor.

It’s tiring and upsetting this vituperous brow beating. I don’t quite know how to handle it and I leave many discussions with an upset stomach, a bad taste in my mouth and some relief the discussion was over the internet because I fear had it been face to face there would have been violence involved. And I’m not even dealing with people suffering from severe mental and/or psychological problems. There is simply no room for differences of opinion any more.

So, I’m dialing it back for a while. Maybe once the U.S election is over things might calm down.

I hope.

Another example of my love of world building and character

One thing I really enjoy is buying a book hoping I get an okay read and finding a good one. Such is the case in The Final Reflection.

Under normal circumstances I’ve found books based ob television series or movies to be bland at best, money grubbing ripoffs at worst. This book broke that mold.

I believe it was because none of the original Star Trek™ characters were in it. Well, McCoy’s grandfather mentions changing his diapers and Spock, age seven, played chess with the main character.

As you may have guessed the novel was set sometime before the original Star Trek™ series. Oh, and almost all the main characters were Klingons.

The book really couldn’t be considered canon now, as it was written several years before The Next Generation™, but that doesn’t matter as it is such a good story.

It starts with the main character who lives in what is known as a Lineless house. Essentially it is an orphanage, which I gather happens a lot in Klingon society. He and his roommates are about to participate in a game know as klin zha kinta, the game with live pieces. Klin zha is the Klingon chess played on a triangular board, pyramidal in klin zha kinta, and in this form pieces do not capture spaces. They fight for them. The winner takes the space. Each player is armed and armoured according to the piece they play. The Blockader is heavily armoured but bare handed. The Swift is lightly armoured. The Lancer has a staff with a charged end that can also put up a shield. It makes the opening chapter exciting and does an excellent job of filling us in on Klingon culture.

After the game the main character, Vrenn by name, is adopted by the Klingon who controlled him during the game: Thought Admiral Kethas eptai-Khemara. Thought Admirals are the strategists of the Klingon Navy, and regarded as not quite sane by other Klingons. In many ways, in the way the author describes them, Klingons aren’t great with strategy as they tend to be straight forward and less than subtle. The eptai-Khemara is regarded as the best.

The story revolves around Vrenn’s being raised by Kethas, his adventures in the Navy and eventually his travelling to Earth to pick up the Federation’s first ambassador to the Klingon Empire.

This was, for me, one of the most charming points of the book as the ambassador was a pacifist. Despite this Krenn and he became very good friends for despite their differences they had very similar beliefs and both were, despite their positions, somewhat outsiders in their respective societies. Oh, and both were gamers. Krenn (Klingons change names when they obtain command rank) taught the ambassador klin zha. The ambassador taught Krenn poker.

Games, especially klin zha play a large role in this book. Being a gamer as long as I can remember makes this a big deal for me. The title of the book comes from a particular form of klin zha known as The Reflective Game. This version is played with only one set of pieces. So any move to your advantage is to your opponent’s advantage and vice versa. In the book it is obviously meant as a metaphor for life and the power games that exist in it.

As you can guess from the way I’ve gone on I really enjoyed this book. It was the first one where the Klingons were more than the bad guys, and it did an excellent job of making people out of them. I got to like and admire the main character. Also there was an incident in the book that showed The Federation was not the absolute paragon of virtue it’s always been portrayed as. I like a world that are not simply good versus evil conflicts.

If you want a good read that will surprise you with its depth, try The Final Reflection.

How to Request a Book Review: Workshop Wednesday

Last week, I described how to write a book review. Today, we will work on how to requests a book review. This is a general way of doing it, but remember, each reviewer has their own policy.

  • To begin, you will want to have a list of the places you wish to requests a review from. The best way to put your list together is to google for book reviewers for your genre. Some of the general reviewers are Big Al’s Books & Pals, BookSlut. There are many more out there waiting for you to discover them.
  • I suggest having a list of 20-50 sites, as nearly half of them will have non-working links, non-working emails, incorrect contact information, will not acknowledge emails for numerous reasons, even if you followed their directions to the letter, and more.
  • Write individual emails. Do not use a form letter. In your email, address the reviewer by name, if it is available, otherwise, I would say you could address them by their site name. For instance, if you did not know I am angel Graham, and could only find the site name, Heaven’s Garden, I would not be offended if your request began as: Dear Heaven’s Garden.
  • Be brief, but follow each site’s policy on how to ask for (request) a review. Here, you will want to check out Review Policy,to see what our rules are. Tell the reviewer in one short paragraph what your book is about, what genre, including if it is fiction or non-fiction, and if you have a book release coming up and when. Some reviewers will try to work with you to review in time for your release date, but not all.
  • Use spellcheck, proper grammar, and punctuation. Pretend you are sending your request to a publisher or agent and put your best foot forward. No one expects absolute perfection, but numerous errors in your requests do not bode well in receiving a review.
  • Have your author’s bio ready along with a brief outline or synopsis of the book, buy links to where readers may purchase the book, a copy of the book in .mobi, .ePub, .pdf, or other popular formats for ereaders. Have a cover image ready of high quality which can be sized down as needed. DO NOT SEND UNTIL REQUESTED.
  • Remember to include your name, your pen name, if applicable, and your email within the body of the email. This simply makes the reviewers work easier. Make sure your email addy is written correctly and works. You have no idea how many times I have tried to reply to authors emails and it bounced back. I don’t try to find proper contact information any longer, I am too busy.
  • Close your email off in a respectful manner. If you have an email signature you typically use, now is the time to be sure it is updated and in working order. A link to your website, to your social media would be good ideas here, but it is up to you if you wish to do this. For myself, an email signature with links is different from links within the actual body of the email, which most reviewers do not want.

There you have it. Now, send out your requests and bye ready with your information, including release dates if asked by reviewer. Go forth and request.

Have you ever asked for a book review? How did it go? Do you do book reviews? Leave your name and a link to your website in the comments section. Perhaps someone will requests a review from you.

Dominating Amy by Emily Ryan-Davis/In Cassie’s Corner by Dale Mayer Two for Tuesday Reviews

Two for Tuesday: October 08, 2012

Dominating Amy by Emily Ryan-Davis

This is a short read, bit well worth the time. There are only really two sex scenes, but I very much enjoyed reading this novelette by Ms. Davis. The author spent time with letting us learn about Mac and Amy, and why Mac shies away from being the dominant that Amy feels she needs.

Amy works as a model, sometimes posing for fetish layouts. During her friends Elizabeth’s (a Domme) party, she is bound by a man demonstrating shibari rope ties. She slips into sub space, a place where submissive’s sometimes go when the pleasure is overwhelming. I say this as a submissive myself. Elizabeth calls Mac to take her home, using wine as the reason for his wife’s tipsy behavior. Mac is not deceived by this.

Do to his fathers abusive behavior to his submissive mother, Mac wants no part of the Dominant/submissive lifestyle. Yet, the thought of a life without Amy is one he cannot face.

Dominating Amy allows us to have a look into the beginning of a BDSM relationship where marriage is involved. I feel Emily got this quite right and recommend this quick read to anyone who wants a little heat with their reading.

In Cassie’s Corner by Dale Mayer

This book just did not stand up to the others I have read by Ms. Mayer. There were too many mistakes, missing words, repeated phrases, story lines left undone. In Cassie’s Corner left me feeling, blah. Like, who cares.

Todd is dead. Drunk driving, or so the police say. Cassie is, was, his best friend. He shows up in her room one night and begs her not to believe what she is going to hear the next day. She agrees and goes to sleep. Next morning, her parent’s tell her that Todd is dead.

This had a good concept, and given how much I enjoyed all of her other books, I am disappointed. I had expected much more in the way of story, plot line, writing and more. If this is your first time reading Ms. Mayer, I recommend Tuesday’s Child first.