Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Posted in Reviews at 3:31 pm by Fiona

Warbreaker Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.75 of 5 stars
The more I read Brandon Sanderson, the more I like his work. He invents such interesting systems of magic and fantasy worlds! He writes wonderful female heroines with their own inner conflicts that are so believable. I’m really anxious now to read The Gathering Storm and the other final installments of the Wheel of Time that he is finishing from Robert Jordan’ notes. Harriet McDougal did an excellent job of choosing Sanderson to be the guy to do it.

Warbreaker captivated me from the very first page and kept me held till the very end. In the final 50 pages I was trying to figure out how he was going to wrap this story up in the next few pages, but he managed to do it without seeming rushed at all. It ended right when it should have.

Sign me up for the Brandon Sanderson fan club because this is one author whose books I will buy every time a new one comes out!


Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Posted in Reviews at 2:38 pm by Fiona

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have seen so many people praise this book that I just had to read it. I’m still trying to figure out what they found so fascinating about it. I managed to slog through it, but I really wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down. I kept reading and hoping I would have some sort of “aha!” moment, but it never happened for me. It was just okay as far as I’m concerned. It was well written, in the style of the period, but the plot and story arc had little conflict.


Drood: A Novel by Dan Simmons

Posted in Reviews at 1:15 pm by Fiona

Drood: A Novel Drood: A Novel by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book I’ve read by Dan Simmons but it certainly won’t be the last. I was drawn to this particular book because of my love for the works of Charles Dickens, but I knew I had to read it after attending a book signing where Mr. Simmons talked about the book and its “unreliable” narrator, Wilkie Collins. I was not disappointed!

The richness and depth of Mr. Simmons research and prose is exquisite. It is the sort of book one must immerse one’s self into. I nearly felt the stays of my Victorian corset poking my ribs it is so spectacularly reminiscent of the writing styles of the period. The story is redolent with details sorely missing from more modern twenty-first century works. I particularly like the way it left me with things to think about for days and days after reading the last pages. Each reader gets the ending they want, really. It’s brilliant the way Simmons doesn’t tell the reader the ending, but lets you imagine your ending. I would venture a guess that if you asked ten different people the ending, you would get then different answers. That, is true artistry.


Review: The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

Posted in Reviews at 7:36 pm by Fiona

The Crown Conspiracy The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My original assessment of this book stands, it’s too darned short! It’s a nice story, I just wish it would have been fleshed out more. Unfortunately, it, like so many other great stories, fell victim to that “first publication by a new author” problem that so many writers fall into these days. Publishers don’t want to take a chance on a new author by publishing a true epic fantasy of 300,000 or more words so they put the word out that they want 80,000 to 100,000 word manuscripts and that’s what they get.

Michael’s writing is good. The story is interesting. It has a few twists and turns, but not as many as I would have liked, but those would all take words and when trying to keep within such a meager word count cannot be done. I really wanted to learn more about the religion in this world that built such a political system allowing for the long term development of Percy Braga’s ascension aspirations. I wanted to understand how the monks of Myron’s monastery fit into everything. I wanted to know more about the magic system that produced a wizard such as Ashrendon. I wanted to know more about the Dwarves magic and skills. I wanted to know more about Arista’s sorceress training. And I don’t want to have to read the next ten books to learn these things.

There were a few points in the book where I felt as though I was getting an information dump rather than being shown why things were the way they were, such as the whole back story on the Pickerings. Again, showing takes more words than telling. I almost feel as though I read the “abridged” or Reader’s Digest version of the story and secretly hope one of these days I will stumble across the complete unabridged version that will make my heart soar because even though I felt things were abridged, I fell in love with the characters and story.

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was within the “first publication by a new author” guidelines, but as her story about young Harry caught on, her books grew and grew to where by the 3rd and 4th book she was putting out 300,000 plus word volumes. I can only hope Michael’s books catch on enough that he can grow to larger and larger volumes because he certainly has the talent to do so. And speaking selfishly on my part, I’d like to read what he can write once he no longer has any sort of word count restrictions imposed on his work because like I already said, he’s a good writer!


Review: A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

Posted in Reviews at 5:14 pm by Fiona

A Song for Arbonne A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this much, much more than Tigana. Where I felt the writing was a bit choppy in the beginning, either I got used to Kay’s style or became so swept up in the story it didn’t matter. I loved all the twists and turns the story took, the subtle discoveries of hidden agendas and politics, the world, the sociology of the people, gee I think I just loved it all! I particularly liked the sociology of the Arbonnais people with their love of music and the concept of “the court of love”. I particularly enjoyed how good won out over evil in the end and the happy ending (yeah, I guess I’m just a romantic at heart) but even that happy ending took some fascinating twists and turns. Kay is such a marvelous storyteller! He is also a penultimate writer. There were so many times I would encounter anywhere from sentences to entire paragraphs or pages that I wanted to strike through with my yellow highlighter as spectacular examples of beautiful prose. I know it’s early in the year, but this is the best book I’ve read this year!


The Harry Silverglat Darrow Project

Posted in Harry Darrow at 5:43 pm by Fiona

It’s been a year since one of our brightest lights extinguished. Harry Silverglat Darrow left this world far to early. As Hillary Clinton taught us, it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I’d like to call upon the village to help me with a project. Harry’s daughter, Tess, was only 5 years old when her father died. She will not get the benefit of knowing the many sides of her Dad, but she could if we all would share with her the Harry we knew.

Over the next year, I’d like to put together a book of our collective memories of Harry Silverglat Darrow. I’m looking for photos, artwork, and especially stories to share with Tess so she will have a permanent record what a wonderful guy her dad was. I will compile all of these into a beautiful hard bound book that she will be able to read whenever she wants to feel close to her Dad. I’m hoping for participation from classmates at Shawnee Mission East High School, Carnegie-Mellon, Kansas University, Hudson Scenic, Wolfe Productions, any of the various film companies where Harry Art Directed, and friends.

If you have anything to contribute, please email me or comment here on my blog and I’ll contact you via return email. Please pass this on to others who might have something to contribute!



Posted in grannie's sayings, Writing at 5:17 pm by Fiona

My grannie had a magnificent collection of proverbial sayings stored in her head. When I was little, it was like having my very own Chatty Confucius talking doll. I’d do something misguided and it was like pulling her string because out would come one of these sayings. One of these sayings that I heard often was “you only get one chance to make a good first impression”. It wasn’t that my grannie was obsessed with what other people thought as much as she was obsessed with living up to her own standards of being the best that she could be. She would have made a great Marine!

It’s because of this saying from grannie that I am often shocked and amazed by some people who claim they want to be writers. I mean, really! Are these people serious? I see them in writing classes all the time. The ones who don’t know the difference between there, they’re and their, or just don’t care enough to worry about using the right spelling. They seem to think that some editor is going to rescue their poor spelling and word usage. Well I have news for them! They won’t even make it out of the review pile. Why should they when there are so many other writers who have taken the care to put their best foot forward?

I’m currently taking Terry Spears’ Happy Hookers online class and one of my fellow students wrote this sentence in one of her assignments:

The piece you typed is from the beginning of the first chapter, so not really your first impression as their is a prologue.

How ironic that this person is actually writing about first impressions, isn’t it? If I were reviewing manuscripts for a publisher and encountered this, it would go straight into the rejection pile with a pithy note “learn to spell”.

My grannie felt that being sloppy when it wasn’t important only guaranteed you would err sometime when it was important. I have to agree with grannie.


Review, King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson

Posted in Reviews at 4:06 pm by Fiona

King of Sword and Sky (Tairen Soul Series, Book #3) King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s really a shame that these books are classified as Romance, because I feel they would find a much larger audience were they not. Cheryl Wilson has crafted a marvelous fantasy world complete with all the elements including a language for her Fey. Her characters are complex and her pacing is some of the best I’ve seen. Yes, there are romantic elements, but they are not gratuitous at all and add to the complexity of her story. I found myself many a night staying up to read far later than I should have because I just couldn’t put it away. My only complaint is Book 3 ends on such a cliff-hanger I will surely perish waiting until June to get the next installment! (Like that is a complaint, ha ha ha!)

If you have shied away from this series because of the classification, don’t! Lord of the Fading Lands, Lady of Light and Shadow, King of Sword and Sky and Queen of Song and Souls belong in Fantasy Realm Royalty.

Beylah vo, Cheryl!


Let’s get back to the issues!

Posted in politics at 3:55 pm by Fiona

I’m not any sort of celebrated politico who knows a lot about politics, and you won’t find me posting often about politics. In fact I earnestly hate politics. But this is an important election year, that much I do know since I am about to suffer foreclosure because I cannot sell my house in New York even though it is priced below what I owe on it.

One thing I do know a little bit about is advertising. My first job out of college was working as a media buyer for an advertising agency that represented political candidates as well as product brands. One thing I learned there is all publicity is good, even bad publicity. There really are enough stupid people in this country who will go to the polls and vote without ever really understanding the policies of the candidate who gets their vote. Because of this we need to stop this campaign of bickering about Sarah Palin’s lack of qualifications and stop it now. We’re just giving her publicity and keeping the names of McCain and Palin in front of the ignorant public who will step into the voting booth this November and vote for them because those are the names they are most familiar with, not because those are the candidates whose views represent their ideals.

Let us, instead, extol the great changes that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will bring us. Let us talk endlessly about Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Let us give our voices to keeping their names in the forefront of the public’s thoughts so that when they walk into the polls this November the vote for Obama/Biden because that is who they have heard about the most.


A lovely tribute

Posted in Harry Darrow at 5:57 pm by Fiona

Last night I watched the season finale of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Even though Harry is no longer with us, it’s still a habit. Imagine my surprise when, at the end of the show when I expected Dick Wolfe’s credit to appear there appeared in big letters across my screen “In memory of Harry Darrow”. I’d been rather annoyed that there hadn’t been a tribute before this, but now I realize they were waiting for this defining moment, the season finale. I’m sure Harry smiled, I know I did. Thank you, Dick, for such a lovely tribute to my friend.

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