“Grim Fandango: Remastered”

There’s something rotten in the Land of the Dead. Manny Calavera, travel agent to the recently deceased, is desperate for a big commission so he can pay off his dues to the “powers that be” and start his own “four year journey of the soul.”

When he tampers with the system to steal a client from his rival, he falls into an adventure that will have him pointing-and-clicking all over this hilarious Mexican-inspired landscape. Continue reading

Eris: The Tale of the Story

Let me tell you a story. It’s a story about a story.

July 6, 2009, is the date I have recorded that the story first emerged as recognizably itself:

How we did story-boarding in the dark ages.

A human prince – Eris – is banished and branded, but accompanied on his wanderings by his elf and dwarf best friends.

As I usually do, I took the seed to my dad, who is an expert in taking my infantile premises and giving them plots. We began working with this prince (whose name comes from the dwarf planet at the edges of the solar system) and soon discovered why he was branded (to allow them to send him through a portal into regions unknown), what his supposed crime was, and a few other details.

I struggled and thrashed my way through a draft (at that immature stage of my author-hood, I was much more a “pantser” AKA making it up as I went along AKA begging Dad to get me unstuck after every scene) until the plot was complete, and the draft was about 85% complete. I had travel brochures for two of the fantasy worlds (that’s called procrastinating). I even had a cover idea!

Back when I didn’t know about proper cover dimensions…

Then I let it drop. Continue reading

“She But Sleepeth” by Rachel Heffington

Peles Castle, Romania — courtesy of Gabi Jguma/Wikipedia

Sleeping Beauty is a set designer working for Hollywood. A Romanian gypsy casts spells of time-travel and death. An estranged royal couple mourn the loss of their only child. And the hunky love interest exhibits self-sacrificial love.

Yet, for whatever confluence of cosmic misdemeanors, all the raging richness of this story potential totally fizzled when it hit the dour surface of my consciousness. Continue reading

“Top Ten” Steps to My Bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday, the weekly list-event hosted by the “Broke and the Bookish” blog, has as its theme for today “Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book.”

In roughly ascending order:

Things that make me click the link/pick it up:

1. Good cover/Catchy title

Continue reading

Ten Books to Read in One Sitting

The Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week is “Read In One Sitting Theme”. I’ve filed my choices into three categories: stories that drag you along, begging to be read all at once; stories whose length and format suit them to comprehensive reading; and stories suited to periods of interrupted reading time.

Gripping Stories

Rats-of-NIMH-51q9wWLOq4L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brian

We used this as our bedtime story once. Mr. O’Brian puts his chapter breaks in exactly the right places – in a way. While we didn’t quite finish it in one read-through, the story pulled us along from chapter to chapter, long past when Dad had first said, “Well, just one more.”

Continue reading

“Necromancer Awakening” by Nat Russo

NecAwake_61Av9vyX4AL I’ll admit Necromancer Awakening has one of the most gripping opening chapters I’ve seen. Nicholas Murray, archeology student, is getting ready for his adoptive father’s funeral – a man who took him on as a teenager and got him where he is now – when supernatural visions cloud his sight and he’s sucked into another world before his girlfriend’s eyes.

I’m afraid the first third of the book was a struggle to get through. While I acknowledge that being yanked away from everything you’ve ever known would be stressful and disorienting, the cliché of whiny, clueless protagonists and grumpy, impatient mentor-figures gets old fast. Continue reading

“Ranger’s Apprentice” & Bad Cliffhangers

The Book I Loved, the Series I Stopped

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I haz rifle – and a pet spider. Ergo, I’s awesome.

Rangers Apprentice, by John A. Flanagan, is a series highly recommended to me by a good friend of mine. It follows the adventures of a group of characters in a quasi-mystical land where “Rangers” (Rogues, Hunters, Hide-in-shadows-shooting-with-deadly-accuracy-awesome, whatever the name is) train and serve the king of Araluen.

Sadly, it is also the series I think back on when I think of the wrong way to do cliffhangers. Differences in fiction taste aside, here’s why I loved the first book, but finally gave up on the series.

The Case Studies

5119KT1oeUL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_1 The Ruins of GorlanThey have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied…

I’ve heard this book get some flack, but it was my favorite. Continue reading

“The Rakshasa’s Bride” by Suzannah Rowntree

31phj4vyyvl Love is dynamite, every woman a detonator, and every man a fuse. In the hand of God, it builds castles…in the hand of man, it destroys cities.

This book felt like more allegory than story, and at 1800 words it felt like I sped through it. Although I’m much less familiar with the original “Beauty and the Beast” than I was with “The Fisherman and His Wife,” this retelling felt less like the Disney version and more like Taming of the Shrew. Continue reading

All Time Favorites! #TopTenTuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books!

Crafting an “All Time Favorites” list is always difficult, but I have attempted it with the understanding that my tastes and evaluations may have changed ten years hence, and there’s nothing criminal about that!

Without further ado:

  1. That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis 51qy8pnfsal-_sx325_bo1204203200_

I recently read this masterpiece for the third time, and in this most recent reading the theological truths, the philosophical overtones and subtexts, vibrated for me in a way they hadn’t previously. Especially as I watch Western civilization teetering on the brink of self-destruction, it was intoxicating to see the seeds of our destruction are as old as the earth itself, and liberating to know Man’s Salvation is older than Time. Continue reading

“Prince of Fishes” by Suzannah Rowntree

25967028 When a poor fisherman fishes up a magical fish promising to grant him any wish he desires, he and his wife must decide just what to wish for…and when to stop wishing.

I was familiar with this classic fairy tale, but author Suzannah Rowntree gave it both some eery twists and some captivating background-color. Continue reading