Tag Archives: Books Reviewed in 2014

Bookshelf Battle – An Origin Story?

As my 3.5 regular readers are aware, the name of this blog is “Bookshelf Battle.”

The original jokey premise?  Books are fighting each other for the limited space on my book shelf.

Lately, I’ve been sort of eeking my way into a similar premise, namely, that the characters from the books are fighting each other on my bookshelf.

Because, honestly, how can books fight each other?

Yes!  You thereI  I see your hand up!  What’s your question?

“How can characters from the books fight each other?”

That’s a good question and it leads me to the crux of today’s post.  For the past week, I’ve been internally debating the idea of writing my own origin story.

PROS:  It would finally answer my 3.5 regular readers’ nagging questions:

  • “How did you go from Joe Average to become the noble and mighty Bookshelf Q. Battler?”
  • “How did you come to be in possession of a magic bookshelf where book characters come to life and battles take place?”
  • “Will you ever write a book review again?”

I don’t want to give too much away, but needless to say, the story would involve the characters on my bookshelf assisting me in some type of quest against evil.

It would be good self-promotion.  It might boost me up to 7.5 regular readers.  I might pass the 10 mark.  Part of me hopes I don’t.  I don’t want to change.  I don’t want to get a big ego.  I don’t want to become a jerk and forget the little people who knew me way back when I only had 3.5 regular readers.

I’d serialize it right here on this site, with a new chapter every day for, I don’t, a week I suppose.  I can’t imagine it would be longer than that.  It would help me meet my one post a day challenge for awhile.

Moreover, if I put it out there, I would ask my 3.5 regular readers (yes, even Aunt Gertie) to be brutally honest.  I’d want answers to:

  •  What are your thoughts on my writing style?
  • Can you picture someone who writes fiction the way I do producing something that people would pay money for?
  • How can I improve?
  • Should I just give up on writing and fill my free time with more noble pursuits, like binge watching The Blacklist and collecting seventeenth century thimbles?

CONS

You’re a guy claiming to own a magic bookshelf.  75% of people will have a good sense of humor.  They’ll get it and go along with the premise.  25% will think you’re an idiot.

Personally, “I likes them odds!”

But before I waste too much more time, I’d like to know what my 3.5 regular readers think.  Even Aunt Gertie.

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Let’s Talk Sci-Fi – Flying Cars

Attention Sci Fi Nerds of the World,

I’m working on a sci-fi book idea and it is a new experience for me.  So for the next week or so, I’m going to pop in to ask you, the sci-fi nerds of the world, to answer some questions.

Here’s my first one – the flying car – beloved Sci-Fi must-have or outdated trope?

My personal opinion – there are a lot of people, right now, who shouldn’t even be behind the wheel of a regular land car, do we really want them in the equivalent of a small, personal spacecraft?   People would literally drive into buildings every 2 seconds.  And if your mechanic doesn’t check everything, your car is going to drop out of the sky.

Plus, wouldn’t people crash their flying cars into each other constantly?  Is every flying car going to be equipped with some kind of satellite monitoring so they can detect when another car is near so there isn’t a crash?

On the other hand, hey, let’s be honest, they’re cool, and who knows?  Tech might evolve one day to the point where they’re feasible and even idiots can drive them with a minimal amount of damage.

My sci-fi world will most likely have flying cars.  As a potential reader, is that cool or infuriating?

Discuss.

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Thank You! (Christmas Call to Action)

Hey Bookshelf Battlers,

Just a quick thank you to fellow book lovers out there for the help provided to me in just 24 hours.  Last night I was around 1900, maybe a little over, twitter followers.  After a push for 2000, I’m at 2035 as of tonight.  That wasn’t meant to be pushy.  It was meant to find more people to spread the joy of the written word to!  So thank you everyone, you’re all very cool.

Folks, I love the technologically advanced time we’re living in – a time where we’ve become the gatekeepers, a time where if you have something to say, your ability to say it does not depend on who you know.  You can just log on, blog on, and say it.  To ruin that sentiment with an Austin Powers quote, this is all “very groovy baby, yeah!”

This hopefully the beginning and the best is yet to come.  I don’t mean to brag, gloat, or show a lack of humility, because honestly, humble is my middle name.  I should just change the blog to “Bookshelf Humble Battle.”  I suppose what I’m trying to say is, if a) you all stick with me and tell your peeps to join the ride and b) I can kick my own butt to get into gear, then I think within a year to a year-and-a-half I’ll have produced some awesome reading material.  Blogging and Self-Publishing=the way of the future.

Well, heck, now that I wrote that, I have to do it, lest egg be on my face in a year to a year and a half. Someone call me out on the carpet if by mid-2016 I haven’t published something awesome please.  Thank you.

Finally, I try not to get too political on this blog because, well, come on, whoever we are, however we vote, can’t we all hold hands and come together in the spirit of promoting fantastic books?  But I have to say the whole debacle with The Interview irked me.  The idea that some tin pot dictator thinks he can tell our Hollywood Executives that they are not allowed to air their crappy movie is outrageous!  This is America!  Land of the Free and Home of the Brave Baby, where our Hollywood Executives have a god given right to produce their own crappy movies and distribute them on their own terms!

So that being said, if you have nothing better to do (and who are you kidding, you know you don’t because you’re reading this ) then do your patriotic duty and log on to You Tube to watch The Interview!  

ROGEN/FRANCO 2016!!!

In conclusion, apologies for all this philosophical babbling folks.  Bottomline:  You keep reading.  I’ll keep writing.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Happy Hanukah.  Happy Kwanza.  Happy Whatever Holidays I Missed, and If You’re an Atheist, Have a Top Notch Thursday!

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The Daily Scrooge

Quotes from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, now till Christmas, because…well, honestly, no reason:

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew.  “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge.  “Much good may it do you!  Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew.  “Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded: becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

“Let me hear another sound from you,” said Scrooge, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.  You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he added, turning to his nephew.  “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”

What do you think?  Are there things in this world that don’t “put a scrap of gold or silver into your pocket, but do you good anyway?”  Or is anything that doesn’t bring you a profit a bunch of humbug?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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Self Publishing – Thoughts?

I find myself intrigued lately about the idea of self publishing.  It amazes me that the technology is there to write a book, edit it, package it up and distribute it online through Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, wherever.  My NanoWriMo book, originally started a few weeks ago as a fun hobby, has become a preoccupation – something I’ve been laboring away at and I really don’t want to give it up.

First of all, it is a long way away from being in readable form.  And obviously, I’d like to try the get an agent and find a traditional publisher route first.

But I have to admit, the self publishing possibility is like a security blanket for me.  The idea that if the inevitable rejections come in, I could, at the very least put the book out there and who knows what happens after that but at least I’d be able to cross a big life’s goal off the ole bucket list.  If only 5 people read it, so be it.  At least it didn’t collect dust.

Does anyone have any self publishing success stories?  Any self publishing nightmares?  Any thoughts, tips, comments, etc.?  It is a topic I’d love to learn more about so please feel free to share.

Some questions of the top of my head:

1)  Where to find a good editor?  Someone who can read through the book, correct errors, give me ideas on how to make it better.

2)  Where to find a cover artist?  I feel like covers have so little to do with the book and yet they can make or break the book.  They can make the book awesome, make readers go, “Wow, I need to read that!” or they can make a good book look cheap, like it was produced by some fly by night operation if they aren’t produced well.

3)  Suppose I wanted to build a fan site for the book.  Where could I find some artists to draw some quality pictures of different characters to post on the site?

4)  Promotions – any ideas?

Thanks in advance,

Bookshelf Battler

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Book Review – The Light Between Oceans

BASIC BOOKTOMETRICS:

TITLE: The Light Between Oceans

AUTHOR: M.L. Stedman

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2012

PUBLISHER: Scribner

FORMAT REVIEWED: Hardcover

NUMBER OF PAGES: 343

Move over, dingoes. There’s a new danger Australian babies – lighthouse keeping couples.

The premise – in the 1920’s, Tom, depressed and bitter over the WWI baggage he is carrying finds a new lease on life when he meets happy-go-lucky Isabel. Tom is a lighthouse keeper and moves his new wife to the small, secluded island where he tends to a giant beacon of light that prevents ships from going astray. It’s a lonely life, far removed from the comforts of civilization. Isabel wants to be a mother but begins to believe her dream will never come true after she suffers one miscarriage after another. Tom only wants to make her happy.

One day, a rowboat carrying a dead man and a live baby mysteriously washes up on shore.

Pop quiz, what do you think the couple does?

A) Contact the authorities. Surely the baby has living relatives somewhere that miss her.
B) Signal a boat to come to the dock to carry the baby back to civilization and to the nearest police station so the whole mess can be sorted out.
C) Locate the dead man’s family so he may have a proper Christian burial.
D) Toss the dead man’s carcass in a ditch. Take advantage of the fact that you’re the only two people on the island to raise the child as your own. Return to shore later and tell the world Isabel gave birth to the baby while on the island.

Stay out of trouble...report babies immediately when they wash up on shore

Stay out of trouble…report babies immediately when they wash up on shore


If you selected A-C, you’re good people. If you selected D, you’re probably Tom or Isabel.

All joking aside, author M.L. Stedman does a fantastic job at displaying the mental gymnastics that people put themselves through in order to convince themselves that they are doing something right when in fact, what they are doing is so clearly wrong. Isabel grasps onto an assumption that the baby’s mother must have died in some kind of high seas tragedy and the only right thing to do is to take the child in. Tom wants to report the baby to the authorities but wants so badly for his wife to be happy that he can’t bring himself to do it.

Of course, when they return to shore, they discover who the mother is, how the baby came to be washed up on shore, and all manner of gut wrenching sadness goes on display as they debate whether or not to tell the baby’s true mother what they’ve done. With more mental gymnastics to convince herself that what she wants and what is morally right are the same thing – she argues that the baby, now a young child, has grown attached to her and Tom, recognizes them as her parents, and it would upend her world to turn that around. Tom, on the other hand, can get over the fact that the baby’s mother, Hannah, has become a sad, depressed, shell of a woman, in a constant state of sadness over her lost husband and child, clinging to hope that one day her baby will somehow magically return.

Well, it would be too spoilery to reveal all of the twists and turns, but overall, the book is a real tearjerker and the author has a knack for leaving the reader wanting to know how this truly messed up situation will work its way out.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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This Week on the Bookshelf – Dexter’s Final Cut

BASIC BOOKTOMETRICS

NAME: Dexter’s Final Cut

AUTHOR: Jeff Lindsay

PUBLISHER: Doubleday

NUMBER OF PAGES: 368 in Hardcover

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2013

We here at Bookshelf Battle believe in high production values.

We here at Bookshelf Battle believe in high production values.

***WARNING*** It’s Bookshelf Battle’s inaugural review, and already, there are spoilers. Therefore, if you feel that spoilers could jeopardize your enjoyment of the Dexter TV show or novels, and yet you continue to read anyway, then you are dumber than Vince Masuka. END OF WARNING ***

“They made him a lumberjack.  A LUMBERJACK!!!!  WE SPENT EIGHT YEARS ON THE EDGE OF OUR SEATS WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THIS GUY AND IN THE END HE GOT A JOB SAWING LOGS!!! WHAT THE HELL???!!!!!”

Does that sound about like what you thought when you watched the series finale of Dexter on Showtime last year?  Me too.  I don’t know about you, but for eight years, I wondered about questions like “Will Dexter ever be brought to justice for his crimes?” and “Will the world at large ever learn about Dexter’s ‘Dark Passenger?'”  Never, ever once did I wonder, “Gee whiz, is a midlife career change from the forensic analysis field to the deforestation industry really a viable option for Dexter?”

I could rant and rave all day about the direction the Dexter TV show went in at the end, but then again, I remember the first, second, and fourth seasons and it is hard to stay mad at people who brought us such good television.  So I’m just going to pretend that ending, where Dexter drives his boat up to a dock at a hospital (Are there really hospitals that have docks that you can just drive a boat up to?) and openly walked out the front door with his dead sister in his arms (apparently this hospital spent more on the boat dock than it did on security) and chucks her carcass into the bay with all of his dismembered victims (because, you know, it’s not like Deb, as a dedicated police officer deserved one of those fancy police funerals with the twenty-one gun salute and the flag draped on the coffin, no, I’m sure she would have wanted to be fish food in an underwater burial ground for her serial killer brother’s victims instead).

Forget all that.  Classic Dexter is back in the latest Jeff Lindsay novel, Dexter’s Final Cut.  This book brings us back to the time where Rita is still alive (shut up, the reason I warned you there were spoilers in this post is because someone posted the “Rita dies” spoiler online with no warning while I was still watching season three and I almost suffered a brain aneurysm), Astor and Cody are still in the picture and have not been whisked away to live with grandparents in Orlando, and Capt. Matthews still rules the roost.  Deb no longer resides at the bottom of the bay but rather, is alive, well and just as potty-mouthed as ever.

The story surrounds Dexter as he deals with Hollywood stars who have descended upon Miami Metro looking for professional guidance on how to shoot a crime drama for the fictional Big Ticket Network.  A body is found in a dumpster and well, I won’t spoil this one but needless to say, various and sundry shenanigans of a macabre nature ensue.  Dexter TV show watchers only had a small taste of Dexter’s narration, whereas novel readers are treated to a whole book-full of Dexter’s internal monologue, as he explains with dark humor why his Dark Passenger makes him do the things he does.

For those who are still scratching their heads about Dexter Season 8, rest assured that this book does not disappoint.  The only spoiler I’ll give away is that nowhere in this novel does Dexter chop wood of any kind.

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