Tag Archives: Surfacing

Books of September

Fall seems an appropriate time to leaf through some new books…

Ok, maybe I’ll start that again.

Kate and Lily in leaves

This Fall image comes pre-loaded with cute – but has nothing to do with books. Sorry.

Now the long days of summer have passed, there actually seems to be less time for reading. I blame this more on the fact that I started the month with huge brick of a book by George R R someone-or-other which took up quite a bit of time, as well as sapping enthusiasm for fantasy epics. Well, let’s get to the list:

A Feast For Crows – George RR Martin

I really wasn’t going to get into the Game of Thrones. Really. Honestly didn’t want to. But then there was all the flap over the Red Wedding, so I wanted to catch up with that. And then Tyrion goes and…well, I won’t drop THAT bombshell if you haven’t got there yet, but suffice to say I wanted to know what happened next.

But Feast For Crows is a bit mean. GRRM says (at the end, helpfully) that he was a long way into it when he realised it was too much for one book, and rather than only tell half the story for everyone, he decided to tell the whole story for half the characters. Thus it was that, halfway through the book, I was wondering why we hadn’t heard from so-and-so, or thingummy. Because they were in the next book, that’s why.

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Star Wars : Force Heretic Remnant – Sean Williams and Shane Dix

I thought this might be one of the many Star Wars Yuzhong Vong War books I had on audio but failed to listen to all the way through. It turns out it isn’t. None of this stuff is familiar, but it has got more of the story of Tahiri Veila between the death of Anakin Solo and the rise of Darth Cadeus. And if you don’t know what any of that means, then you have lots and lots to read before you can pick up this book.

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A Dance With Dragons – George RR Martin

Like “Feast for Crows”, but the other half. And then a bit more, and just when you think you’re sure who’s going to come out on top, there’s another brutal stabbing. Not HIM…. I swear, I’m not reading the next one, just flipping to the last page in the bookstore.

How to tame an out of control writing project in 20 steps – R. Lynn Cole

I picked this book up because of a piece of self-promotion on G+ and it was well-worth it. R.Lynn Cole has some great ideas about getting the harder aspects of writing done. Editing is the thing I hate most, and because of that I avoid it, or do it badly. It’s like my weasels and math homework. Anyway, her method sounds good, and it’s something I haven’t tried before, so I’ll be giving it a go on the next book I’m going to publish (My YA book, that was called “Tribute” but now needs a new title along with everything else. I hear one word titles are big this year. Any suggestions? The heroine is a singer songwriter with parental issues. Something about harmony would be ACE…) I seriously recommend this book if you’ve reached the end of your first draft and you’re facing the long uphill slog of editing.

Surfacing – Jim McGregor and Natasha Jones

I gave Surfacing its own blog post here.

The Last Jedi – Michael Reeves and Maaya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

This is a neat Star Wars book. It springs from a series that’s almost Star Wars PI, with an ex-Jedi trying to hide out from Darth Vader just after Order 66, but doing it on Coruscant, while still doing the kind of things that Jedi do – help the helpless, uphold the good and the right etc etc. The characters are interesting and the plot fits into the SW universe, as you’d expect. Have a look at the first in the series : Jedi Twilight, Coruscant Nights Vol.1

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Star Wars: Force Heretic Refugee – Sean Williams and Shane Dix

I’m just going to say “Yuzhong Vong” again, only this time I also get to mention the Srri Ruuk and Bakura. Honestly, I’m not making this stuff up. I’m looking forward to getting through the third book to fill in the gaps in my own memory about the search for Zonama Sekot and Tahiri’s journey from Jedi apprentice to knight, to Vong, to Jedi and then to Sith. And then back to Jedi. Sort of.

What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite – David DiSalvo

I don’t read as many non-fic books as I’d like to, but working at the library means I see a lot of great-looking ones, most of which promise to improve things, or reduce things, or increase things. This one tells you a lot about why your brains prompts you to do or like things that aren’t always the best for you, and why there’s nothing you can do about them. For example, our brains “like” the feeling of being right, so they will add weight to your certainty on something because it “feels” right. Doesn’t mean it is right.

There were some interesting points. One chapter showed that people will quickly follow on if one person in an office environment starts to point the finger of blame at someone else. However, if all the people in the office are invited to write down (ie, express) their own values, then they are far less likely to act in such a negative way – we want to live up to the ideals we’ve expressed, but only because we’ve expressed them. There’s some great content here, written in a very accessible style. Just not a lot of practical help, or not enough to balance the bad news.

I’ve also been reading “The Meek” by Brad Poynter, another previous post subject. Unfortunately, due to some technical glitch, the book isn’t showing up on my Kindle, and I’m having to read it on my phone. That seems ironic, since the story deals with everyone in the world suddenly shrinking, and I’m having to read it on a tiny screen…. Full review next month, I promise.

One-off Book Review : Surfacing

A friend asked me to take a look at this book, a collaboration between two acquaintances of hers. I had talked to her briefly about self-publishing and some of the pitfalls I have discovered (by falling straight in, naturally…) and she thought I might have some useful hints to pass on to the authors.

The first impression is that they have done this job thoroughly. For one thing, I was lent a physical book – it’s a smart paperback, with an ISBN, reviews, a summary and a well-designed cover. These things may not sound extraordinary, but remember this book is produced by a two people who started their own press to produce their books. They haven’t fallen foul of any of the mistakes that first-timers often make.

My only complaint about the cover was that it didn’t quite match the type of story being told. From the hand beneath the water and the empty canoe, I assumed I was getting into a murder mystery, and that “Surfacing” might refer to the discovery of a drowned body. However, the actual tale has more to it than that.

Don was a firefighter, but an accident at work put him into a coma. For three years his wife Debbie has struggled to cope with raising their two children, maintain her house and job and she has gradually stopped visiting Don altogether. Then one day her son Jeremy finds his father’s ring in the waters of the lake where they have a cabin. Jeremy is determined that they should visit Don. The visit seems to be enough to bring Don to the brink of consciousness, and suddenly there is hope for the family that he will recover. The doctors are aided by Jeremy’s uncanny ability to “hear” what his father is feeling or thinking, and Don’s recovery goes from unlikely to inevitable.

On the surface, that sounds like a medical drama, or perhaps a romance, as Debbie has to learn to live with the man she lost, and Don has to come to terms with his family spending three years without him. This aspect of the story is tough to read but was rendered realistically – my wife worked for a while with members of the armed forces who had been on detachment – away from home for three to six months. Time and again their families would arrange big parties, or celebrations for their return, and within days the couples would be separating, unable to live together. When there is a prolonged absence, both sides come to adapt to the new life, and coming back together takes time and understanding on both sides.

However, there’s another string to the story – a worker at the hospital where Don is recovering decides he won’t stand by and allow the happy reunion of Don and his family. Using various methods, he causes suspicion and mistrust to flower between Don and Debbie, doing all he can to damage the family.

The book has a decidedly spiritual aspect, and though I wouldn’t classify it as “Christian Fiction”, the characters certainly ascribe certain events to celestial help – Jeremy receives messages from his dead Grandfather that help him save his father. In a world that makes a bestseller of a book about a love triangle between a human, a vampire and werewolf, I don’t think this is such a stretch.

Although it wasn’t a book I would have picked for myself (my reading tastes, as you may have seen from my monthly round-ups, are more lightweight in general) I enjoyed the story. I was particularly pleased that all the threads of the story came together in time for the conclusion.

I’ve heard that the authors may be working on individual projects next, before returning to work together on another book. I wish them all the best, and recommend taking a look at this book if you get the chance. Find it on Amazon HERE