Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: The English Patient

The English Patient
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dreamy and haunting are the only two words I come up with for this book every time I read it.

Still beautiful and wordy with one of the best beginnings a book could want.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rat-a-tat-tat. I hear the sound of a cartoon machine gun in my head every time I read Junot Diaz.

There is this ride-along feeling from this book that makes it almost therapeutic. Maybe it's just having Yunior narrate for us (then a sly move to a third personish narrator later in the book which is so very intimate) which feels like a known quantity. It's like an old voice that we can trust. He is the certainty that we crave from our institutions right there on the page.

The language? Coarse, quick and pointed. No doubt. No doubt I can't wait for the next one.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

New work - first chapter

This is something I just posted on Goodreads.

It is the first chapter of a science fiction work I'm currently working on. I'm digging it and it has me excited to see what's going to happen and when. Let me know your thoughts..

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Super great read from a bunch of different angles. I love historical accounts of most kinds (Think Erik Larson - another Seattle guy) and this one doesn't disappoint with its clever weaving of story lines which all coincide beautifully to tell a story of suspense and intrigue that really happened.

Great read, four stars easily.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Amsterdam

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick and strange read that has its own twist at the end although you don't see it coming necessarily, it doesn't rate up there as the most plausible.

Still, Ian McEwan is worth studying and if I could go 3.5 stars I would for the very fact that he does things with character and place that are hard to beat even though this one ended up less than 4 stars.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book about three times over the last couple of years. Just finished it and wish I never started it so I could read it all over again.

After finishing it I realized why I put it down so many times: act I feels like act II. But now I understand why and it makes the remainder of the book unfold like the wrapping on a piece of candy you have waited for too long. Yummy. 5 stars. I stand by it.

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Quit at your own risk

I went for a run this morning and realized for the first time that the real work doesn't start until someone or something is telling you to quit.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Enter to win a free copy of Absolution on Goodreads!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Absolution by Marcus Ward


by Marcus Ward

Giveaway ends August 19, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is all about the characters. In addition, there are the usual poetic references to everyday things that Jonathan does so well mixed in there too. Aside from waiting for the characters to collide like cars on the freeway, there is the ongoing reference to the tragedy that underpins the narrator's story. This is where Jonathan went easy on us. Whether it was by design or fear of really breaking our hearts for no good reason, I can't tell. It is worth the read and although it starts slow, the yummy mix of character, dialogue and Evisonian literary flourish makes this a wonderful read.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lovely book. I just finished reading it to the kids. Three stars is shy. It is closer to four.

The book transports you to the wonderful town of Baltese among a charming cast of characters. The children liked it, it was a little strong for them but a wonderful book that you will enjoy with or without them.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Absolution ready for print

After three long days of formatting in MS Word, Absolution has finally been submitted for print review. It will be a trade paper back (5.25" x 8") and has a retail price of $7.49.

I have always loved the feel of a book and the turn of the page. The heft of Lonesome Dove in hardback makes the story feel like a real treasure in a way that devices just can't deliver. I don't know if anyone else will ever feel the same about Absolution, but for me having a physical copy of it will always be something to treasure regardless.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I was just introduced to this talk today. It resonates with me and so I am sharing it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

That wasn't so hard...

...and not easy either but,

Absolution has been published.

It took 75 days from beginning to published work. It was easier than I thought but the hard parts are the things you can't find help for anywhere. The work simply has to be done.

I know it is only a novella in length, but it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Most importantly for me, I finished what I set out to do and the process is a little addictive. I can't wait to see what the next first chapter brings.

Stay tuned but until then, here is Absolution:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Absolution cover art

There are five cover options to choose from and you can find them on the Absolution book page.

Also, if you are curious to read the first chapter, you can find it on my Goodreads page.

Let me know what you think, please.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book illuminates some of my own questions and experiences when I was going through school as an unmotivated and generally lazy student. But, it also provides plenty of reinforcement for what I am doing to help my children succeed in and outside of the classroom. I know I'll never get it all right, but I would suggest this book to any parent that is looking for tools or answers as our kids start developing even faster into the people they will become.

That aside, there is a lot of discussion about the influence of poverty, class and social status on children's ability to succeed. It is pointed out several times that those most at risk are those being raised by a single mother. Note to father' have a job to do. And by the way, it's for the rest of your life. Do the work.

Aside from the studies, evidence and stories that make up this book there is no mention of the role a father plays in setting an example for success. It seems to be the one ingredient missing yet Paul Tough spends no time on it. I know that's not the focus of the book, but maybe it could be for his next one.

Parents: It's a good book and it's quick. A must read.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fans of apocalyptic fiction and prepping must have

Just the ticket if the post apocalyptic world leaves cell phone coverage intact.

If not at least you'll have all of your favorite apps to keep you company.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Absolution is finished

I finished Absolution today at noon. After a trip to Kinkos I now have the hard copy in my hands and I am ready to...rewrite. As if there wasn't enough rewriting along the way!

I am looking forward to sitting down with it over the next week and polishing it but what is really exciting is that it is done and I can get started on the next one. I'm not sure what it is going to be but I can't wait.

Stay tuned...I hope to have it out on Amazon singles by the end of May.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: The Firm

The Firm
The Firm by John Grisham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know it seems crazy but at 500 pages you just keep turning to the end.

This is the third or fourth time I have read the book and now it is a study in dialogue and pacing.

Here's hoping I learned something.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: The House Girl

The House Girl
The House Girl by Tara Conklin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engaging story that has a strong finish. Tara does a wonderful job when she writes from the 1800's. So hard to do but her research paid off and the details and dialogue don't feel forced or contrived. I really enjoy history/historical fiction, and this is my favorite aspect of the book.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Goodreads is gobbled up to Acquire Goodreads
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 28, 2013--, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love.  

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”
“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories they read. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and Kindle. We’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world. We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally.”
“I just found out my two favorite people are getting married,” said +Hugh Howey, best-selling author of WOOL. “The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books – To Be Read piles everywhere must be groaning in anticipation.”
Following the acquisition, Goodreads’s headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 2007, Goodreads now has more than 16 million members and there are more than 30,000 books clubs on the Goodreads site. Over just the past 90 days, Goodreads members have added more than four books per second to the “want to read” shelves on Goodreads.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hugh Howey in Seattle

Tonight I had the great pleasure of seeing +Hugh Howey speak at Hugo House in Seattle (PBR tallboyz are only 2 dolla!). It was a full house and he made a great impression.

Hugh went through the story of how WOOL came to be but turned most of the night over to Q&A. He touched on everything from swimming with whales and writing advice to industry insights but answered only one Ridley Scott question.

I don't know what you're reading, but check out WOOL (see my review) and don't be surprised if you start crawling all of his works. He is a uniquely creative individual that is humble and thoughtful. His take on recent fame is well grounded and refreshing. He's hard not to like and his books are hard to put down.

Thanks Hugh for dropping in. Now get back to work!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Wool Omnibus

Wool Omnibus
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one the fastest reads I have sat down to in awhile. Great structure and of course it sets you up for the next installments in the series. It may be set in a futuristic dystopian America but the characters feel real and the urgency that Hugh Howey potrays keeps you turning pages.

If you want to see what I mean, WOOL book 1 is free on Amazon. Be warned, it will suck you in and you might as well get the omnibus version (books 1-5) up front and save yourself the frustration (and money) of running back to the computer at 1am to get the next book.

Check out Hugh Howey on the web at

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: We Live in Water: Stories

We Live in Water: Stories
We Live in Water: Stories by Jess Walter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories from Jess Walter is a tremendous read. The variety of topics refuses to let you know where the ride is going to end. The stories play out in front of you just like real life. Jess knows how to bring out the flaws and redeem the owners with every sentence.

The end of the book has a list of facts about Spokane that (just like his characters) is brought out by his own personal reflections on those facts. It's an awesome way to finish a book.

Spookaloo grew a good one!

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The straw?

This could possibly be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the publishing world. Great article about Hugh Howey and his success as both a writer and self-publisher in the WSJ.

I read the first book in the Wool series (free) and just bought the second ($.99). It is not hard to see how the structure of the writing and the publishing have adapted to the marketplace and I think it levels the playing field like never before.

Still, the writing has to be good. Readers are, after all, the customer too. Howey delivers in this regard but he also seems to have broken the mold in self-publishing when the old one had barely dried.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: Safe Haven

Safe Haven
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You have to admit, Nicholas Sparks puts it on the page very well. First 100 pages were a perfect setup for the rest of the book. Although not my kind of read, I read it as a study on how to get the reader hooked and was not disappointed by what I learned.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think that when a writer delivers you to a place where you at once feel at home and connected to the story, you have the recipe for a great tale. Swamplandia! is this kind of place. The story is fun and zany but Swamplandia! is a place I will miss, maybe even more than the characters.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family

Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family
Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family by Jess Walter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty years later and this is the first full length account I have read. It's long but quick without skipping around. It's a good mix of facts and human elements.

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