Friday, December 16, 2011

Year End Book Reviews

There is nothing quite so demanding as the urgency of now. Every day something comes up which has to be done now, and thus it is that weeks have passed since last I posted. Not that I had nothing to share, mind you, or circumstances upon which commentary may have been warranted, or even some new story or poem with which to bemuse; but instead pedestrian life intervened and I just haven't had the time until now.

Since I last wrote, several things important to me have occurred. My second novel, Rising Son, has been released for e-readers and is currently available for $3.99. Through the auspices of my publicist I have even managed to attract the attention of the local newspaper. You may link to the article here . They were generous with their coverage and in the physical paper I got a picture and headline above the fold on the front page, and about one third of the inside front page.

My spouse and I are also in the throes of selling our abode and combining households with her 92 year old mother, who is just beginning to reach that point where independent living is becoming too much. In this market it is a grueling process with false starts and dashed hopes offering the larger portion to date. But, in God's time and will it will all end up the way it is meant for us all, even if I can't quite see that horizon just this moment.

Meanwhile, I continue to voraciously consume books, and will take a moment to comment here on some notable tales which you may wish to read.

"We are coming, Greek." With those words Chris Humphreys begins an extravagant and delicious fictional chronicle of the people and events surrounding the siege and eventual fall of the fabled title city. Once the heart of the Byzantine Empire, the Red Apple--as it is known to the Turks--is ripe for plucking. With brilliant command of his craft, Humphreys weaves a tale of Emperors and mercenaries, Sultans and sinners, connivers, diplomats, seductresses, mystics and murderers into a powerful and compelling narrative where readers can almost smell the sweat and fear, cordite and courage, and duplicity and faithfulness as a huge army surrounds the walls that have withstood a millennium of assaults, and--outnumbered ten to one--prepares to defend itself one more time. "This is my city, Turk. Take it if you can."  Lovers of historical fiction will be immersed and gratified with this book, I couldn't stop reading, and can't sing enough praise for this fabulous contribution to my bookshelf.

A Place Called Armageddon-Constantinople 1453 by C. C. Humphreys.
Available through

We all have secrets. Big secrets, little ones; ones we disclose freely because they have little value, and some of us have secrets we willingly take to the grave. What secret did the famous printer Johannes Gutenberg--whose revolutionary bible that bears his name--have that was so important he was willing to sacrifice his new printing operation to maintain? This question leads the brilliant but eccentric professor Keith Drucker and rare books librarian Madeline Zayne on a transcontinental search for clues about who might be bombing the rare book libraries of the world, what an encoded rubric and stolen manuscript reveal about arcane rituals and biblio-terrorism and what fabulous treasure is at the end of the search. And if they find it, will they survive to tell the tale?
Nathan Everett crafts an intriguing story of just what it might mean when a pressman says he has 'ink running in his veins', and pushes us through an entertaining labyrinth of leads to a satisfying  and surprising end. Highly recommended, think Dan Brown (though better crafted) for the bibliophile.  Who says librarians are dull?

The Gutenberg Rubric by Nathan Everett
ISBN 978-0-9833691-2-7
Available at bookstores, through his website, and 

What if Cleopatra didn't die. Ever.

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley is one of those books. A book I enjoyed thoroughly, recommend highly and hate trying to review. Not because it is somehow deficient--quite the opposite--it is an ambrosial mix of piquant characters familiar to us all. How could you go wrong with Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Octavian and a fulsome cast of Egyptian, Roman and Pagan gods and their mortal minions? You can't, or at least Headley doesn't. What makes this genre-bending morsel so difficult to review is that almost anything I write has the potential to be a spoiler and I so do not want that to happen. So I will say this: If you are a fan of historical fiction there is much to love in this scrupulously researched book. If a fan of Egyptology or ancient Rome, again, lots to admire in these pages. Perhaps you enjoy well-imagined and sublimely crafted fantasy or mythology. You will find a home among her words and worlds. The fact that she can satisfy across this spectrum leaves me bereft of superlatives, except to simply say, Wow, can this lady write! 
I might bargain with Hades just to get a couple of hours inside her brain to see the wonder of it. And that is the only clue I'll give you. Read for yourself and embrace the ride! 

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley
ISBN  978-0-525-95217-6
Widely available at bookstores, Amazon and Barnes &

What do all these authors have in common-including me? We all live in the Pacific Northwest, and as time becomes an increasingly precious commodity to me you will find my reviews will increasingly be devoted to the talent flourishing in our region. I hope you continue to join me in reading local authors, buying at independent bookstores, and giving writers laboring in the electronic world, like myself, an opportunity as well. Thanks for the reads.