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Review of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean’s School of Witchery: Book 2 Ghost School

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First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. Rose and I have a professional relationship as fantasy authors. We read and critique one another’s work and do it honestly, I believe. I enjoy her writing so much that I support her art by purchasing her books. I’m pretty certain that someday she will be well known in the field and I may actually resort to name dropping.

A few months back when Rose Montague began to tease publically about a new Norma Jean’s School of Witchery book, I was elated. I enjoyed reading book 1. How could I not? There’s a namesake character in it. Imagine that! So, because she made an announcement about book 2, I knew the next book in the series was being edited for publication.

I always enjoy reading Rose’s books because in her fictitious universe damned near anything is possible. Also, I’m not sure there is any issue she will shy away from in her writing. As a result, her characters feel pretty realistic. Despite the genre and the fact that most characters have some pretty outstanding abilities to change the world to suit them, they have situations, problems with relationships and they need a little help from their friends from time to time to resolve things. So, as I began reading this one I was wondering what new wrinkles Rose might introduce. And after reading Ghost School, Book 2 of the series, I am not disappointed. There is a good deal of unexpected in this book.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention there are zombies. Lots of them. And, true to form, Rose’s zombies aren’t exactly your run-of-the-mill sort. Jewel, our returning heroine from Book 1, confronts several other challenges only one of which is figuring out what to do with a town or two filled with zombies and an evil, megalomaniacal necromancer who not only conjures them from the grave but also has stolen a piece of serious, super-secret military technology that is designed to amplify magical powers to a quantum level. Oh great! A bad witch on steroids! You get the picture.

There are other returning favorites from book 1 of the series and Jewel needs their help in dealing with the bad guy. Meanwhile, we learn all sorts of amazing new things about Jewel as she explores and defines her magical powers. Hint, she’s not just a pyro, folks.

The ending is surprising but necessary for what I think lies ahead and I can’t wait to read it. Also, there is apparently another spin-off in the works. Imagine that! Three series set in one highly imaginative universe. Gives me goosebumps.

If you’re reading this, stop after the next sentence. Read Book 1 first! Oops, you’re still reading, aren’t you? Well, you should never consider reading book 2 of a series before book 1. I mean, who does that?  So, first go get book 1. And, although this series isn’t written to depend much on Rose’s other series, its characters appear in this one from time to time. So, you may as well hop on over and start reading Jade and Jane, Rose’s two other published books about Jewel’s family members. There is a third book on its way in that series as well, so be on the lookout.

If you are new to Rose Montague’s work, she’s a gifted storyteller with a vivid and sometimes wild imagination. Her work sparkles with the magic she binds to the pages with spells that only she knows how to create. She has a great feel for characters and setting up challenges that leaves readers wondering how in the hell do you overcome that? Her target audience is Young Adult. She is unabashedly a writer as well as an avid reader of the genre. If you look, you’ll see her reviewing the works of other YA writers. Although I’m no longer technically in that chronological mix, I’m still hanging in spirit. The trick is to never grow up, right? I know I never will. Just ask my kids. Anyway, I enjoy a good YA book every now and then, and Rose never disappoints.

I give this a strong 5 for imagination, content and storytelling but a 4 for editing. In one place the POV shifts from Jewel to another character named Louise. A chapter break segregates it, so just be aware that toward the middle of the book that is coming. The shift is necessary and it does portend to some future things. There are a few missed typos. C’mon, every book has some, right? My overall rating is still 5.

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My Take and Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Last evening my son invited me to see a movie. It’s been a while since I went to a cinema. I think the last time was also with my son to see Man Of Steel. It’s been so long I don’t recall. I’ve been working on other projects and really can’t afford it anymore. So, it was a rare treat.

The previews of coming attractions are at least as interesting as the feature. Isn’t it funny how the importance of the trailers have evolved over the years. Maybe you don’t notice it as much if you go to the movies frequently. But someone like me who goes infrequently picks up on things that have changed. What impresses me most is how many movies are in production with dark, supernatural themes. Even the comedies tend toward the darker side of humor. Culturally that is intriguing, I suppose. Not quire what I make of it, though.

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The latest addition to Marvel Entertainment’s ere expanding and complicated universe is another backstory for one of the Avengers. We’ve had follow up stories on Thor and Ironman. It’s Captain America’s time to shine. This movie has a different theme, though. It questions a lot of things about its own fabricated reality and in the process it makes the audience, at least those who are paying any attention, to question what’s going on in the world around us – trading freedom for security. It was handled in a not so in your face way, but one that provoked thought without preaching. And it leaves the audience to dwell on the matter, not really resolving it.

There is a flavor of realism brought into the fantasy as from the outset we see a more human and relatable side of the superhero. In the previous story lines involving Captain America we saw his origins and how out of place he felt in the craziness of the modern world that evolved since his time fighting the Nazi’s. But the clandestine Hydra that was the more sinister side of an evil Fascist power appears to have changed its approach and has somehow survived.

A Shield ship has been captured and the terrorist pirates have taken hostages. Captain and The Black Widow lead a team to rescue the hostages. Yet, there is another, more covert mission within the mission, one that is on a need to know basis and Captain America doesn’t need to know – yet. There are all the necessary twists and turns, as at first we don’t know what has been going on in the background and as it is revealed the trusted friends come together and fight to save the world against past enemies and at least one friend.

Marvel does a good job keeping a thread of continuity going between its various movies and The Winter Soldier extends the franchise, laying the foundation for Avengers 2 due to release around this time next year. In a way, this too is realistic. You see, one of the more subtle messages in the plot line is that wars never truly end and the causes for which many young people fight and sacrifice life and limb are never truly resolved.

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The action is exactly what we have come to expect with the suspense played out against a seemingly impossible mission with a deadline. Think of the threat as a combination of NSA linked to killer drones on steroids. How can anyone succeed against something like that? Go see for yourself.

Entertaining movie well worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of the Marvel universe. I’m not sure I’d give it a 5 star rating but as stories go this one was a vast improvement over the first Captain America movie. I’d give it 3.75 stars, overall.

 

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Current and Future Releases From Pandamoon Publishing

Image In the interest of keeping you informed, since there is all sorts of misinformation out there, I’ve put together a list of links to the books Pandamoon Publishing has already released as well as the tentative schedule for future releases. This is the current Pandamoon Publishing catalogue. Click on picture or the link (as displayed) to go to the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Eightysixed-Lessons-Learned-Emily-Belden-ebook/dp/B00I9EH8AY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395745591&sr=1-1&keywords=Emily+Belden

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Other titles in the immediate queue for Spring: (Launch Dates Are Tentative)

March 31, 2014 – Southbound by Jason Beem (that’s less that a week away)

April 14, 2014 – The Secret Keepers by Author Chrissy Lessey

April 30, 2014 – Crystal Coast: The Coven by Chrissy Lessey

May 30, 2014 – Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) by Elgon Williams

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Coming this summer:

The Long Way Home (Part 1) by Regina West

The Long Way Home (Part 2) by Regina West

We The People by Heather Jacobs

Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel

Coming this fall:

Lord Hyacinthe by Rebecca Lamoreaux

A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post

Coming in 2015:

Until Proven by McKelle George

Knights Of The Shield by Jeff Messick

The Vaccine’s Agenda by Jeff Skinner

Becoming Thuperman by Elgon Williams

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Other information on Pandamoon Publishing: Pandamoon is a small publisher based in Austin, Texas. It provides its signed authors with production, marketing and promotional assistance in selling books under contract. These services include substantive and content editing as well as final proof reading, cover design and developing and executing a marketing plan through assigned publicists. Marketing fact: The vast majority of new books offered each year come from small, independent publisher and self published authors. The big five publishers make the noise splashing around in the pool but there are a number of extremely good books released each year that sell very well without deep pockets and big bucks. Image