Book Review: Raise the Stakes

Raise the Stakes
Aces High, Jokers Wild – Book 3
by O.E. Tearmann
Available in Paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com

It’s 2156. Corporations now control the people of what used to be the United States. And they’ve gone way too far.

But, there’s a Resistance. The Democratic State Force has pushed back for decades. And they’ve come up with an incredible plan: To free the people from a system that literally runs their lives by knocking out the Citizen Standing Score. Now, all the force needs is just the right team with enough smarts and guts to pull it off. Being a little crazy wouldn’t hurt, either.

It’s a mission custom-made for Base 1407. Every team member is brilliant in their assigned duty – and not a one of them lives up to society’s common expectations.

But even as the team puts in endless hours working on their game plan, they also strive to figure out who they are and what their lives mean—not only to themselves, but to others.

This is a ‘Mission Impossible’ style adventure caper, but it’s also an unflinching (and often smart-ass) examination of life, love, acceptance, change and what truly makes a family. And just like the unorthodox team members of Base 1407, it’s a story that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

A caution: LBGTQ romantic themes are explored, often in graphic, loving detail. If this is not your cuppa, you may be put off by this aspect of the story. I was not. I felt this very real part of life was included in balance with the breathtaking action sequences, the absorbing tech details, the quirks of personalities, and the varied blessings and challenges of body and mind that the people of Base 1407 face every moment of their lives.

Review: On Both Banks

It’s always a pleasure to edit a good book. I was delighted to assist author Clarence L. Harper IV by editing and formatting his strange, compelling book, which I’ve mentally branded with a new genre I made up myself: “Comfort Horror”.  Intrigued? You should be. I do recommend you sink deeply into this unique tale.

Review: Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland

For a few decades, two old apple trees shared a back yard with me. Over the years I got to know them well. My canning shelves filled up with applesauce, pie filling, apple butter, and bags of dehydrated apple chips. There was nothing I didn’t know about my apple trees. Or so I thought.

Olivia Wylie’s book explores the connection between trees, ancient poetry, unusual botanical insights and a very old Irish writing system called Ogham. I was drawn back to the apple trees to learn more of their secrets.

Now I know that the apple tree is the embodiment of perseverance. I learned that Brehon law designates it as a Noble of the Wood. I learned how apple trees are connected to Beltane and Samhain, and why people of northern Europe depended on them for their very lives. I even learned about the apple trees connection to King Arthur and Avalon.

And that’s just one of the Ogham’s stories. Just one character in the language. There are twenty Ogham symbols, and each one carrys a rich treasure trove of meaning.

Olivia Wylie is not only the author of Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland, she’s also the illustrator. Her artwork melds each tree with the Ogham in a delightful mix.

I quite recommend this book. In fact, I’m rooting for it! (I apologize).

Review: Blood Calls

At first glance, you might think Blood Calls is a vampire novel, but you’d be wrong. At second glance, you might think it’s the story of a boy and his dragon, but you’d be only half-right. Just stop glancing, sit down, and read! This delightfully smart and witty adventure story cracks the tropes and sets a high standard for fantasy adventure.

I especially enjoy what I call ‘new eyes’ in storytelling, where we learn about the world through the eyes of characters exploring new lands and societies.  First we meet Corbin, who’s been sobered up just long enough to be sent away to the country of Sunal as a ‘junior diplomat’,  where it seems he’ll be wallowing in endless meetings, with occasional breaks to indulge in drink and debauchery.  But there’s so much more in store for him and his bonded dragon pal, Blood. As Corbin slowly comes into his own, we explore the world, his dragon bond, and even flashbacks to his childhood right along with him.

He soon befriends a street urchin named Dante, who’s fashioned himself a small newspaper empire. Dante becomes another set of new eyes for us to see through.

And then there’s the magic. Lots of magic, complicated magic that’s intriguing without being confusing.  And there’s battles, and swordplay, and a pretty love interest, of course – but author Charles D. Shell brings it all to life with a fresh approach.  The heart of the story comes from the people who are tossed together by circumstances,  and must learn to trust, respect, and even love each other.  It’s not as sappy as it sounds! There’s lots of snark, sarcasm, and ‘oh crap what did I get into now’ action.  That action slowly ramps up, ever higher, and never slides backwards. It’s a gasp-aloud, read one more chapter even though it’s already 2am, kind of book.

I have to mention that I rather enjoyed the use of modern language in place of the typical flowery fantasy talk, and the various crazy situations that border on the absurd, without becoming unbelievable.  I highly recommend Blood Calls, and will be avidly watching for the next book in the series. Five stars!

My Influential Authors

Over in the Book of Faces, I was tagged by my delightful friend, author B.G. Thomas to play the Influential Authors Game. Basically, I am to list 15 authors who have influenced me. This doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoy these authors works – I’ll be listing at least one that I find highly disagreeable (I will leave it to you to figure out who that is!)  Being influenced by an author and liking their work does not always go hand in hand.

Rather than simply quick-listing 15 authors in Facebook in response to this meme, I decided to expand the concept here.  I hope you find my list interesting, and perhaps you’ll pause to think about the authors that have influenced your life, too. Continue reading “My Influential Authors”

Review: The Opening Bell

The Opening BellAs a kid growing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles, I can’t say I ever watched wrestling, but I also didn’t *not* watch wrestling. It was often part of the background of my life, along with golf and roller derby.

I’d chosen to listen to the audio version of The Opening Bell, the first book in J.B. Garner’s “Three Seconds To Legend” series. I thought it would be a good companion for my 20 minutes of commuting twice a day to and from work. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how well I’d resonate with a story set in the world of wrestling, but it didn’t take me very long to immerse. When I realized I was actually looking forward to my drives, I knew just why. Continue reading “Review: The Opening Bell”