Friday, October 5, 2012

Bedtime Story: Crow Call

Synopsis: "This is the story of young Liz, her father, and their strained relationship. Dad has been away at WWII for longer than she can remember, and they begin their journey of reconnection through a hunting shirt, cherry pie, tender conversation, and the crow call. This allegorical story shows how, like the birds gathering above, the relationship between the girl and her father is graced with the chance to fly."

My Review: I bought this book on a complete whim without even looking at the synopsis. I got it at Toys R Us where they have autographed books, I thought it would be nice to have a few to start Munchkin's own collection. Boy am I glad I bought this book! It is a true story about the author's own life as a child, and oddly enough also seems to tell a little about my own life and memories. A great and touching story about a father reconnecting with his daughter after being away in WWII for so long. I loved the story and the illustrations, probably one of the best children's books I have read in a while since it not only tells a story for kids but also sparks memories for the adult reading it (I still have some of my dad's plaid shirts).  
My Rating: I absolutely loved Crow Call and can't wait to read it to Munchkin when he gets older and can understand it himself, right now it just serves as a way to hear my voice and soothe him.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag! Even if you don't have kids of your own, you might just want to add this one to your collection!      
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review of Lucy in the Sky by John Vorhaus

Synopsis: "A coming-of-age tale set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1969, Lucy in the Sky lightly touches on such weighty issues as the meaning of life, the purpose of art and the existence of God. For those interested in answers to The Big Questions or just keen to revisit a simpler time, Lucy in the Sky promises a fun and compelling trip – and that’s trip in every sense of the word. Gene Steen is an earnest, intelligent, truth-seeking teen stuck in the cultural wasteland of his suburban home. He wants to be a hippie in the worst way, but hippies are scarce on the ground in the forlorn Midwest of Gene’s 15th year. Then, propitiously on the Summer Solstice, his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his lively, lovely, long-lost cousin Lucy. She’s hip beyond Gene’s wildest dreams and immediately takes him under her wing. Lucy teaches Gene that being a hippie isn’t about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take. Yet for all her airy insights into religion, philosophy and “the isness of it all,” Lucy harbors dark secrets – secrets that will soon put her on the run, with Gene by her side. Lucy in the Sky resonates of such classics as Summer of ’42 and Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and invites the reader into a richly detailed vision of the ‘60s, as realized by Vorhaus’s sure-handed prose and authentic sense of place and time. With frank talk about sex and drugs, Vorhaus pulls no punches about the realities of the era, yet delivers an uplifting message about personal power and the path to enlightenment. A rewarding read for young seekers and old geezers alike."

My Review: This was a very interesting read for me, a little outside my normal reading genres. Lucy in the Sky starts out reading almost like a diary, it is written in first person, of a teenage boy during the late 60's. Gene isn't satisfied with the idea that family life in the midwest is all the world has to offer and has a tendency to question life itself, when his cousin Lucy shows up it makes him question things even more. The first half really is a coming of age type of book as we follow Gene in developing his own ideas and conclusions with some guidance from Lucy. This first half was a real slow read for me, I tend to dislike books written in first person and had a particularly difficult time connecting with the characters, maybe because it was narrated by a teen boy (something I have never been), maybe it was the hippie thought lines, or maybe it was the random thought tangents that kept distracting from the main story. Once you get about halfway through the book though, things really pick up in some very interesting unexpected twists. Lucy takes Gene on a very eye opening adventure. John Vorhaus really seems to have stuck to the reality of growing up in the time period and captured it in a novel for us all to live as well.
My Rating: This was kind of a middle of the road book for me, it was interesting, but I just didn't connect with it for some reason. I know several of my friends who would absolutely love this book, I think Lucy in the Sky is just one of those books that are for a specific audience. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag, while it didn't strike me, once it got moving I wasn't able to put it down.
Lucy in the Sky was sent to me by the author for review.
You can get your copy of Lucy in the Sky on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Writing

So Wednesday is my official writing update day. I have so many story projects going on and I need a push to get some done. So I will be trying to post each Wednesday about how my writing adventures are going (and I may need a swift kick in the pants by you guys sometimes).

Current Active Project:

The Last Mountains - 13,468 (handwritten) = 15,766 (typed)

A equine shapeshifting family is being hunted to near extinction and the young new leader must go against all her lessons and approach the elite council for aide. Will they help her? How will she keep her family's traditions and values alive, let alone her herd?

Tamlyn Marie's Grace -

Think Cinderella only with a matchmaker ;)

Other Works in Progress:

The New Old Home - 17,193 words

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but what would you do with that money? That is the question presented to Natalie, when she is at the lowest point in her life, she is presented with an opportunity to make any normal person's dreams come true, but all those winnings can't give her what she wants most.

Princess Bs - 32,131 words

A story about a woman, recently divorced and returned to her home town to figure out what is next. She encounters an old friend and spends a weekend with him and his daughters. Feelings that are long since buried are rising up again, but are her recent loss and his current life going to stand in the way of their happily ever after?

Night Rider - 17,229

Alice is a recent high school graduate who is a very accomplished competitive rider in Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, and Western/Rodeo. Her parents had arranged for her to attend a private college on the east coast geared specifically to equine professions. However, Alice wants to focus on her studies in English Literature. When she arrives at the college she hides her riding abilities, but can she keep her talent and love of horses hidden?

Other Ideas Plotting:

Bloodsoar's Story
A pegasus struggles through life, ejected from the herd, near capture by humans.

The Assassin's Assassin
A student learns what the school is really teaching and sets out to destroy those who support the program.

Angel Story
Angels battle out an age old feud in a parallel world


As you guessed, still no progress with writing. Maybe my lack of sleep with bring on some really crazy ideas or inspiration!  Hahaha at least we have had glimpses of how it would be too sleep more at night, lets just hope Munchkin decides that its okay for mommy to rest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with Michael Drakich, Author of The Brotherhood of Piaxia

Michael Drakich is the author of The Brotherhood of Piaxia, an epic fantasy, as well as Grave is the Day and Vows Above.
"No awards, no accolades, no writing degrees or diplomas, only a deep rooted love of reading and writing."

I had the opportunity to read and review The Brotherhood of Piaxia and you can see my review HERE. Thank you Michael for allowing me to read your novel and now taking the time to for this interview!
So of course the first question I need to ask as an avid reader, do you mostly read books from the fantasy/ scifi genre or do you prefer to read something other than what you write? Any favorite books I should add to my reading list?
Yes, my first choice on reading is science fiction and fantasies. I read a few thrillers along the way and the odd mystery. I always enjoy playing Sherlock Holmes and trying to guess what’s going to happen before it does. I don’t want to recommend any books though. Tastes are unique to everyone. One of my habits when choosing a book is to wander my favorite bookstore, latte in hand, and pick up one from the discount stand. I could care less about what’s selling hot. You find some great books that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Nothing really beats wondering a book store, especially a used one, and discovering new books.  I am similar, I always make a bee line for the discounted books, its a great way to try something new.

I really love reading fantasy and leaving our current world behind, but sometimes imagine it would be nice if different things from the books I read could be real. If you could choose one thing; a character, a power or even a town that you could bring into real life from your book The Brotherhood of Piaxia what would it be?

When it comes to having one thing from my book, it would be the power to heal. My oldest son is severely autistic. What I would give to cure him is everything and more.
I am sorry to hear that about your son, I can only imagine how hard it is for your whole family.  The power to heal would be an amazing gift and help so many people.
One of the things that really stood out to me in The Brotherhood of Piaxia was Bron and his very interesting flock of sheep. Now I have worked as a ranch hand on a sheep ranch and raised my own sheep, they certainly didn't act like the sheep in your story. Where did you get the idea to use sheep in such a pivotal role?
Where does my inspiration come from? Clearly an existential question that I find hard to answer. The idea of the sheep had many places of origin. In today’s literary world filled with vampire bats, werewolves and cat people it is always the violent creatures who get all the press. How better to challenge that image than with a large herd of innocuous creatures who, through the will of Bron, serve as an army against the oppressors. Or maybe the idea came from inside my left shoe. One can never tell.
I love the fact that you went for something out of the norm. It was not only a great twist for the story but also a breath of fresh air. Very unique idea, maybe it did come from your left shoe!
Another part that I enjoyed was each of the characters had so much more of a back story. I wanted to delve into each of their individual stories. Did you ever think of writing more in the land of Piaxia, or do you plan to leave us to our own devises and imagination?
What’s next on my docket is a busy schedule. At my editor right now is a cross genre thriller, Lest The Dew Rust Them, which I plan to release for the Christmas market - Homeland Security Director Robert Grimmson faces the task of catching five men in New York City. They call themselves the Sword Masters with a single minded plan of terror through decapitations. Barely has the task begun when a new arrival at JFK is a man importing thousands of swords! Alexander Suten-Mdjai is a trainer in the deadly art of swordsmanship and Robert cannot help but believe there is a connection between him and the Sword Masters. As he goes about the task, each step in his search is made more difficult through the interference of politicians, the media and his own government. Robert’s examination constantly draws him back to Alexander who regales him with a tale of swordsmanship from his lineage featuring events of mankind’s bloody past and often oddly having a connection to the case before him. With the clock ticking as New York collapses into a deep panic, he must catch the Sword Masters before it is too late! As of this very morning I finished writing a science fiction piece I think will be a winner entitled, The Infinite Within, hoping for an early spring release. - Going into outer space calls to astronaut Brooke Jones like the sirens of old, and when the chance to be part of the first manned mission to Mars arises, she is ecstatic. But little does she know the fate that awaits her on the surface of the red planet or the results of her encounter when she gets back to Earth. But as to your specific question, I will be starting tomorrow on a new novel, Demon Stones. – Set not quite in Piaxia but in the Southern Kingdoms this is the tale of a youth who inadvertently releases a demon from one of the many demon prison stones scattered across the countryside. There is a plan for another novel, A Daughter Of Piaxia, but my intentions on when to write that will be some time in the next year.
Wow! You definitely aren't kidding about a full docket! Sounds like you have been and are continuing to be very busy and in several different worlds at once. Looks very exciting books coming up. Lest the Dew Rust really catches my interest, I have always been very interested in swords and archery!
The one thing about the Fantasy genre, is that it takes a lot of world building and a lot of imagination to create each world. How long did it take you, from the first idea to the finished product, to write the Brotherhood of Piaxia?
The Brotherhood Of Piaxia was my first attempt at writing. It took ten months to write the first time around. That first attempt wasn’t very good. That was seven years ago. After countless hours, numerous workshops, and hundreds of critiques I honed my craft. I released two other novels in the meantime but didn’t forget my first work and decided to re-visit it. Novels are like children. You want them all to be the best they can be before you send them out into the world. I took six months and did a complete re-write. I hired an excellent editor in Kate Richards and spent another two months going through that process. It’s been a long time since I created my first novel, but now it’s ready for all to see.
Wow! That was a long process, but it was worth all the time and the work!

And on that note, I saw the post you did highlighting the top ten ways to avoid working on your novel. Did you have any special way to get yourself motivated to write?

Yes, the top ten list was a fun thing to write. The blogger wanted a top ten, but the examples she sent me were all top ten favorite books. I wanted to do something different and created that list. If anyone wants to get a chuckle out of that list it can be found in my blog at Goodreads. My strongest motivation to keep writing comes from my support group of close friends and family and a strong will to succeed.
The support of family and friends is definitely important. Also that of fellow writers.
Sticking with the writing process, I know a lot of writers tend to drink a lot of coffee or tea when writing, I seem to prefer a cup of hot cider or nice chilled glass of white wine. What is your preferred writing beverage?

Beverages vary as a soother while writing but I have a strong affinity for cranberry cocktail. Of course, every now and then a little gin gets in there. Damned if I know how.
You got to watch out for that gin, it is very sneaky!
Finally, I was reading about your struggles with publishing and moving to the self-publishing world. What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known before starting the process?
I like to think my blog would be a great read for any aspiring writer. I would recommend they read them in order from the first to the last as so many things have changed for me over the past couple of years. Is there really a way around the school of hard knocks? Even the disappointments have provided valuable insight to me as I wander through the publishing world. The industry is undergoing a tremendous revolution right now and I’m not sure any single piece of advice could have readied me for an ever changing battlefield. I have learned how some authors use deceit to advance their careers, especially in the world of reviews, but my personal values are more important to me than that. I can honestly say that every review for my works are either by an independent blogger such as yourself, which account for most, or a total stranger.

I did take the time to read through your blog, definitely a lot of lessons can be learned through you! It is a shame to see some careers pushed forward when there are so many others who deserve credit. I am glad that myself and my fellow book bloggers can aid in getting the word out there!
Thank you again Michael for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview and also allowing me this opportunity.  Best of luck with all your future novels!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy 2nd Blogoversary to Me & Giveaway

Yup you read right! It is Eastern Sunset Reads 2nd Blogoversary!
Can you imagine, I have been blogging and posting book reviews! I have had a great two years and have loved every minute of it.  I have an awesome month planned for all of my faithful readers. I have lots of reviews, some new discussion posts, author interviews, guest posts, and a couple of giveaways! The theme for a lot of the posts will be bookish memories, when you reach a milestone you can't help but look back to where it all began.
I hope you will all join me in celebrating the whole month!!  As you wait for all the exciting events this month please be sure to enter my anniversary giveaway. 
2 books from your wishlist & 1 surprise book of my choice
Ways to Enter:
Follow my blog (mandatory)
Follow me on Twitter
Tweet your favorite childhood book and link to this giveaway
Post your first book
This giveaway is open to international people
You must be 15 years of age
The giveaway ends on October 30th at 12:00am by Rafflecopter via random draw - Winner to be announced October 31st

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

What I Reviewed Last Week:
Links will take you to my review
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton (After Dark)
Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguie
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Doggies, A Counting and A Barking by Sandra Boynton (Bedtime Story)

Currently Reading:

Liberty: A Lake Wobegon Novel by Garrison Keller - PB - on page 92 of 288
Cleo: The cat who mended a family by Helen Brown - PB - on page 124 of 292

Next Books to be Read:

Under Camelot's Banner by Sarah Zettel - Arthurian Legend Challenge
Soul of a Highlander by Melissa Mayhue - Mount TBR Challenge


Wow! What a week here at Eastern Sunset Reads!! I have been working on getting all my reviews caught up and posted. I also had a fantastic weekend with Bloggiesta.  I learned a lot, got to meet a lot of awesome bloggers and got a lot of updates done.  Let me know what all of you think of the updates!

In other news, I suggest stopping in later today for some exciting news!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bloggiesta Wrap-up

My Goals for Bloggiesta
1. Update my read page  - DONE
2. Update my about me page -DONE
3. Get pictures and update my ratings page - DONE
4. Figure out more about Twitter and get my account more active - Ongoing but checking DONE
5. Get caught up on emails & respond to pending review requests - Halfway Done
6. Schedule posts for October  -DONE
7. Visit some of my favorite bloggers - Working on it
8. Connect with at least 10 new bloggers (would love to connect with more) - Meeting Great new people!
9. Maybe set up a facebook page for my blog
10. Have some fun and learn some new techy things - Learning Tons
Mini Challenges Participated In So Far
Guest Posts -  2 pending, want to request 2 more before the end of the weekend!
Get Personal - Updated About Me page, more info & scheduled personal posts once a month
Get Organized - Set up a weekly & monthly schedule & made notes in Planner
Pocket - Oh My Gosh! Brilliant!! Downloaded App & signed up!
Printing - Need a printer but bookmarked printfriendly! Can't wait to print my reviews!
Review Catch Up - I definitely needed this and am all caught up with my 7 reviews!
Discussion Posts - I want all you to get to have a little more interaction with me so I am going to start doing a Book to Movie discussion post on the 2nd Saturday each month!
Comfort Zone - So exciting, I have tons of ideas rolling around in my mind. I will definitely be adding more in my personal monthly post, and I have been trying new Genres thanks to authors sending me books for review, but the one thing I need to try is a giveaway & using Rafflecopter, I also want to do more author interviews, they all terrify me!
 It has been an exciting weekend! Not only did I learn a lot but I also got to meet some amazing bloggers.  It was a really satisfying to get so much accomplished on my blog.  I still have a few more things I want to get done on my blog, I still need to write a policy and set up a Facebook page, but all in all I got nearly everything I had planned done plus some! All in all a very successful Bloggiesta for me!