Author Q and A with Brian James Freeman
Author Q&A / October 31, 2010

Brian James Freeman (website) is a prolific author, at age 14 he sold his first story and hasn’t stopped since.   I’ve been introduced to Brian’s work when I downloaded his free full length eBook “The Painted Darkness” (book website – book review), which was actually one of my first posted reviews on this blog. Brian had a very courageous marketing plan for “The Painted Darkness” – he gave away the eBook & audiobook for free, for a limited time (check the website if the offer still stands) hoping it will generate sales. How did that work out? Let’s find out. Q. For a limited time you let readers download an eCopy and/or audio book of “The Painted Darkness: for free.  Why did you decide to do so? A. It’s really hard to get new books noticed these days unless they’re written by authors who are already well  known.  There’s just so many entertainment options out there, it’s tough to get your work in front of readers.  Giving a book away for free seemed like a tremendous way to get feedback and find some new readers.  Plus, I hoped that the publicity from the experiment would lead to more sales for…

Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
4 Stars , Classics , Fiction / October 27, 2010

I got this book for free. Article first published as Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins on Blogcritics My rating for The Woman in White – 4 About: “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins was published as a newspaper serial in 1859. In 1860 a collected edition of the chapters was published in book form. The fictional story is considered to be one of the first mystery novels, as well as one of the finest. How fine you ask? Buy “The Woman in White” and find out Thoughts: Even though this is a Victorian novel, it is still gripping, engaging and a page turner. The characters created by Collins are three dimensional, vivid, intelligent, thought provoking and sometimes hilarious even by today’s standards. The story is not told in a straight narrative form, but rather in a series of letters, first hand accounts, diaries and dispositions by the main characters, as well as some supporting characters. Since this novel was first serialized, every chapter ends with a twist to keep the readers coming back, that is not to say that there aren’t many twists in the chapters themselves. As a detective novel, the narrative is faithful…

Reviews in a Glance
Opinion / October 25, 2010

I created a new page called “Reviews in a Glance” to make it easier to navigate the website. You can either click on the menu link above or here to go to the page. Basically I gathered up all my reviews, alphabetized them by title and write a one or two line commentary. What do you think?

Book Review: The Soprano State by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure
5 Stars , Non-Fiction / October 22, 2010

I bought this book. The movie Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption The Documentary: Part One is coming out today – if you want a funny, sad, poignent and thought provoking movie this is the one for you. | My rating for The Soprano State – 5   About: “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption” by ace political reporters Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure is a non-fiction book which examines New Jersey‘s love / hate relationship with the corrupt political class.  You don’t have to live in New Jersey to read this book, I’m sure these shenanigans go on in other states, just not as flagrant or as often. | Yo, buy the thing already – would ya’? Thoughts: This book should be required reading for any adult – especially in New Jersey – maybe then the average New Jersey voter will stop voting the same crooks into office year after year. Besides listing acts which would make any descent person ashamed to show themselves in public, this book makes a point to mention that the corruption is in the culture. After all, if everybody commits pension fraud then why shouldn’t you? | “The Soprano State” is…

Book Review: Directing Animation by David Levy
5 Stars , Non-Fiction / October 20, 2010

 I got this eBook for free. Allworth Press has kindly made available one (1) copy of “Directing Animation” to one lucky winner (US Addresses Only).  See contest link & Rules below Congradulations to psxchely@ for the winning entry My rating for Directing Animation – 5 About: “Directing Animation” by David Levy is a non-fiction book in which the author talks about…directing animated movies.  As a teacher and veteran director of episodes on Adult Swim, Assy McGee, Blue’s Clues and more Mr. Levy shares many stories of his personal experience from working as an animator to running the whole show.   Want to direct? Buy the book   Thoughts: As an avid animation fan I really enjoyed this book even though it is not geared towards me.   Most people have no idea the amount of work involved in making an animated clip, even it it’s “just” a 30 seconds commercial. Reading on the amazing process of creating animation, even if it’s just a short, has always fascinated me to begin with.  Reading about the process from an industry expert with a mind to teach rather than just boast, is enlightening to any fan of animation.   “Directing Animation” is easy…

Book Review: Panopticon by David Bajo
4 Stars , Fiction / October 19, 2010

I got this book for free. Contest: Unbridled Books has kindly made available one (1) copy of “Panopticon” to one lucky winner (US Addresses Only).  See contest link & Rules below. Congradulations treerose@ for the winning entry   My rating for Panopticon – 4 About: “Panopticon” by David Bajo is a fictional book which tells the story of three journalists who are sent to cover one final story before their newspaper closes. The setting is on the California / Mexico border and takes place the near future where every move you make is being recorded by public cameras. You are being recorded – Buy “Panopticon” NOW!!!   s Thoughts: At first I didn’t know what to think about this book, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it.  I will not say it was an easy read, it wasn’t.  I had to go back and re-read several passages or paragraphs to make sure I understood where the story was going to – but I’m glad I did.   The central idea of video being spliced from public cameras, using one person as a central figure without their knowledge, is a very interesting concept, which I can…

Book Review: John Quincy Adams by Paul C. Nagel
4 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / October 18, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library. I set a goal to read, in order, all of the biographies of the presidents of the United States who have passed away. 466 pages ISBN-10 : 0674479408 Publisher : Harvard University Press Language : English My rating for John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life – 4 About: “John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life” by Paul C. Nagel is a biography of the sixth president of these United States. JQA, as he referred to himself to be distinguished from his prominent father, was a melancholy politician who would have rather been a man of letters, than the lawyer / diplomat / politician he turned out to be. The book is based mostly on JQA’s diary which spanned an amazing seven decades – arguably the “most valuable historical and personal journal kept by any prominent American”. Buy this great book here, even if you won’t read it – it looks great on the shelf*   Thoughts: As the author mentions in the preface, this book is more of a character study of a person thought to be an elitist and out of touch, than a historical biography….

Book Review: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
4 Stars , Fiction / October 15, 2010

I bought this book.   My rating for The Scent of Rain and Lightning – 4 About: “The Scent of Rain and Lightning”, a fictional novel by Nancy Pickard introduces us to Jody Linder, daughter to a murdered father and a missing mother. The story takes places in the town of Rose, Kansas and has all the lovable and quaky characters one would expect from a small town. Buy “The Scent of Ran and Lightning” at a murderous discount s Thoughts: This book, which is billed as a mystery, is a well written book. The story is readable, literary, the characters are well drawn and the mischief and mayhem which can gives small towns their unique characteristics are felt on every page. Each person in the book has their own nuances and by the end you feel as if they are friend, neighbors or even related in some sort of way. These are complex characters which are deeply tied to their town and their history. The real strength of the “The Scent of Rain and Lightning” is the personification of small town politics and psychology. The concepts of innocent and guilt, as well as the potent combination of money and…

Book Review: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
3 Stars , Fiction / October 13, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library. My rating for The Secret Speech – 3 About: “The Secret Speech” by Tom Rob Smith is the fictional follow up to his engrossing debut book “Child 44” (book review) in which we continue follow the tortured life of MGB agent turned homicide detective Leo Demidov. Hey Comrade…you buy “Secret Speech” now Thoughts: Inevitably this book is compared to its brilliant predecessor which recounts the fictional pursuit of a mass murderer, as well as Leo’s realization that working as a government agent, he might not be the “good guy” in the story of life. This book never achieves that urgency and rush which resonated with “Child 44” but I will try to review it on its own merit. What “The Secret Speech” does achieve is broadening the moral scope of the protagonist, questioning his share of the collective guilt of institutionalized oppression against your own people. Much like the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev’s secret speech (secret because it was supposed to be heard only behind closed doors) which is referred to in the title and drives the plot, the theme of guilt is played out well together with the absurdity of blindly…

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