Review: Siege and Storm
Monday, May 22, 2023

Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #2)Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

(I'm going to write this review assuming that you've already read the first book in this series since these are definitely designing to be read in order. As such, there may be some spoilers if you're skipping ahead.)

Unlike the first book in this series, the second is much different than its Netflix adaptation (even setting aside the lack of Crows). The beginning of this second installment was engaging and dived quickly into the plot with Alina being almost immediately recaptured by the Darkling. The hunt for the sea whip and Alina's suffering were well executed, bringing readers up to date with the current stakes and propelling them into the story proper.

After that first burst of adventure, there's a bit of a lull. Decisions are made--not always good, but believable--and Alina returns to Ravka.

Review: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle
Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle (The League of Princes, #2)The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent sequel! I'd even go so far as to say this story would be excellent all on its own, but I do feel a reader would benefit from the character building of the first book. Still, this story is self-contained, satisfying, and such a fun adventure.

The princes charming and all their associated princesses are back, along with the pint-sized Bandit King, the melancholy Ruffian, Liam's spirited little sister, and a host of new characters to round out the cast.

Colorado Book Award Finalist Readings
Thursday, May 11, 2023

Demon Riding Shotgun has been selected as a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards for 2023!

As part of the celebration leading up to the big winner reveal on June 10th, all the the finalists have been invited to read from our selected books at public libraries across Colorado Springs. So if you're a local, or happen to be in the area of Colorado Springs, I'd love for you to join me at the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Thriller Finalists Readings on Saturday, June 3 at 4 p.m. at Rockrimmon Library (5550 N Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918).

Review: Atomic Habits
Thursday, April 27, 2023

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad OnesAtomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a well-written, fast-flowing text that highlights many key concepts of how people form habits, both good and bad. The basic premise is that if there is a behavior you would like to encourage, you should make it easy, attractive, and satisfying so that you are more likely to repeat the behavior. Conversely, if there's a behavior you want to stop, make it harder to do, unattractive, and unsatisfying. Here's a personal example: I want to drink less soda, so I don't keep soda in the house. If I really want a soda, I have to make a special trip to the store just to get it. Making it more difficult makes the behavior less likely.

Review: Shadow and Bone
Thursday, April 13, 2023

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s rare that I watch a book adaptation as a show before reading the books itself, but that’s exactly what happened this time. Like many people, I was introduced to the Grishaverse through its Netflix adaptation. As such, I couldn’t help but compare the two. It’s very hard to review just the book since already I had so much depth and scope in my head from watching the show, but I will try.

First off, let me just say that I very much enjoyed both the book and the show. Going strictly by the book: The story is told from the perspective of Alina Starkov, a mapmaker in the Ravkan Empire. Ravka is based on Russia and reflects its culture. Similar comparisons can be made between the book’s other nations such as Shu Han (China) and Fjerda (Norway).

Review: Mishap's Heroes: Magic and Misrule
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Magic and MisruleMagic and Misrule by K.M. Merritt
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was a fast and entertaining read that took a bunch of social outliers no one thought much of and turned them into heroes. The main protagonist is a half-orc hoping to become a paladin in a D&D-style world. She sets out on a quest with a rag-tag party of similarly overlooked beings that include a klutzy wizard who's also a runaway noble, a hafling monk, and a non-gendered ranger with a wolf companion. She is also joined by her trainer, Henri, who will observe the quest and make the call on whether or not she's fit to be a full-fledged knight.

Review: The Dragon Reborn
Monday, January 30, 2023

The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time, #3)The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dragon Reborn is the third book in Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series, and so far it is my favorite. There was a decent amount of action and some more world building. There were several interwoven threads of plot that wound through the book as each character group tackled its own tasks before eventually coming back together. The writing was smooth and descriptive, though I admit those descriptions sometimes dragged on to the point where I found myself skimming. I also noticed quite a few more typos in this book than I had in the previous two. I would not consider this book to be much of a stand-alone, but it isn't meant to be. This series definitely needs to be read in order.

Reader Survey
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Have you ever heard the term "target audience?" It's a term I've heard a lot since becoming an author. Basically, it's the idea of reaching the right customers with the right message at the right time in order to increase you product's visibility in the most effective way. In the case of authors, that translates to identifying the readers most likely to appreciate your book(s), then finding out where they are so that you can show them your book(s).

This may seem like a simple enough concept, but in actuality it's really, really hard. I've spun my wheels about identifying my "target audience" for quite a while, and I've decided the best way to figure out what kind of people like my books is to ask the people who've already read them. (Brilliant, I know. :D) To that end, I'm asking anyone who's enjoyed reading one or more of my stories to fill out this short survey that will help me get to know you better, and will hopefully get me one step closer to defining my target audience.

Review: Mis Spelled
Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Mis-Spelled: Book One of the Stellaluna ChroniclesMis-Spelled: Book One of the Stellaluna Chronicles by T.H. Leatherman
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was a fast, fun, fantasy read that revolved around found family, unlikely problem solving, and humor.

Evan is a normal high school kid from Earth who escapes one sticky situation at school only to find himself in another world--a world of elves, goblins, and magic. The only way back is a magic spell, which the elf queen will only teach him if he can perform three impossible tasks. I love that Evan isn't a charge in, guns blazing kind of character. He's considerate and clever. He uses his head to find solutions that won't get him killed.