2020 Book Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I avoided reading this book for a long time because of the sheer size of it. I read this book later in high school, but paused to only finish it years later during my college years. It wasn’t any type of assigned reading I wanted to read it to say that I had because everyone seems familiar with it being one of the thickest books out there, alone with War and Peace, and even considered a ‘boring book’ and that it’s an achievement to finish it.

The story itself is basically about a man that has gone crazy chasing after a whale he lost his leg to on a past voyage. Ahab, the whaler after the sperm whale, is often described as monomaniacal (psychosis characterized by thoughts confined to one idea or group of ideas) which is one of my favorite words ever, but I digress. Ahab’s obsession on the whale that took his leg is the main item that pushes the story forward you also can see how Ahab is frustrated and saddened by his madness, he wishes to be free of this obsession.

There are plenty of beautiful metaphors which are done in such a way that gives credit to the author’s ability to tell a good story. It is a well written story, just a long one. Not recommended, ever, by anyone that wants a quick read or a beach book.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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2020 Book Review: THE DUNWICH HORROR BY H.P. LOVECRAFT

Originally, I had wrote this long beautiful review of this story, but accidentally saved over it. I will try to recreate that review to the best of my knowledge and a new cup of coffee to help me refocus myself. Now, let’s get to the review.

I have read many of Lovecraft’s catalog. His writing is a dense/thick style which makes it difficult at times for the average reader to consume, this story is no different. Once you get use to it, the style, is completely engulfing. Though The Dunwich Horror is not my favorite of his works, it made it into the top five because it contains the elements of horror I really enjoy.

A boy, Wilbur, is born to an unstable albino mother. He is different as he grows very quickly. During the years of his growing up his grandfather teaches him of witchcraft and dark rituals. The family is shunned by the town’s folk for their odd behaviors and their foul smells. Even animals fear them.

When he becomes a man (by the time he should be an average ten year old little boy) his grandfather has him helping him in their farmhouse to summon and entrap an invisible monster. As the monster grows it becomes harder to control and Wilbur seeks a copy of a book called Necronomicon in order to find a way to do just that.

While Wilbur does find the location of one he is denied. He breaks in a steals a copy from the library housing it, but ultimately ends up dead trying to escape with it. Due to his passing the monster becomes completely uncontrollable and breaks free of the house that had been holding him. It rampages the town. The people only realize something is there because of the damage and the ‘prints’ the monster leaves behind. Near the end of the story it is stopped and revealed to be the twin brother of Wilbur. It calls out for its father, Yog-Sothoth.

Since I have read many of Lovecraft’s work since, I have learned that Yog-Sothoth is apart of the Cthulhu Mythos. It is first mentioned in the story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. As to what it really is is at least hinted at in the story Through the Gates of the Silver Key, in which it is described to have a connection with all time and space. It is in this story, The Dunwich Horror, that you can connect the dots and see the connection to ‘The Old Ones’.

I had many assumptions about the story. It was one of the earlier works of Lovecraft I read and all the horror stories I’ve read had me predicting the twists and the storyline, but I was pleasantly surprised and have learned since not to assume anything when it comes to Lovecraft.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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[Brief Words] Interview of Ramona Mainstrom

Ramona Mainstrom is one fantastic writer covering several genres and bringing forward a multitude of books. This interesting author gave me some of her time earlier this year. I gathered a list of questions and she was kind enough to answer them, below is the interaction. This is not a interview to skip over!


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a full-time author and solo parent of two kids, ages 7 & 8. I enjoy acting and singing. I’m often dancing around the house and enjoy puttering around the garden with my neighbour.

What genre (s) do you write in?

Fantasy (Urban, Epic, and Dark), Thriller, and Horror.

For most, they began writing at a young age, taking writing more seriously later in life. Is this a sentiment that can apply to you? What was it like for you?

I was discouraged from writing or reading for pleasure, so becoming a writer wasn’t an option in my reality for a while. It was rough. I don’t know how to explain how having a part of your Self forbidden.

I was a story-teller as a child and as soon as I learned how to write words, I started writing stories. In high school, I wrote short stories, poems, scripts and started a few longer stories.

I didn’t consider writing as a career option until I was an adult and only because of peer pressure. Friends got a hold of some of my scenes and short stories and insisted I finish them. That’s how I started writing the Touch of Insanity series, but Eyes of the Hunter was the first stand alone book I completed.

How much time do you spend writing?

No clue. I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I’m also a multi-tasker. So, I’ll be at my desk for hours, but I’ll be writing a book, answering messages, homeschooling my kids, doing groceries online, and editing a different book.

 I just flow. If I start to stress about when, how long, or how many words, it kills the joy and creativity. I don’t put pressure on myself for deadlines or word counts. I need writing to be enjoyable. I need the words to flow naturally, so I let it happen when and how it wants while I go about taking care of the rest of my day.

What has been the most eye-opening part of publishing for you?

At the beginning, it was learning how traditional publishing works. It was very discouraging. Being an indie author taught me so much, but I think it also made me a better client once I was with a publisher.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

Hands down; Santa in Sleigh Ride. Taking this epitome of kindness and generosity and giving him a hard edge made him more lovable to me. He’s avenging the benign creatures under his care who were injured or killed by dark forces. He’s racing, for not just his own life, but to preserve the beauty of Christmas and everyone who works with him.

Pitting him against the older, harsher Christmas representations in a death race let me show a dark and ruthless side of Santa. There’s a point in the story where his co-pilot, Jack Frost says, “People will get hurt” and Santa replies, “I’m counting on it.”

That gives me the chills. Every. Time. Santa is going to mess folk up to protect his people and keep the spirit of Christmas alive. He’s selling his soul for others to have that magic.

Do you ever write traits or characters inspired by people you know?

Always! It’s how I keep my characters real. Would so-and-so do this? How would they react? What’s their speech pattern like?

Where do your ideas come from?

Everything. Everywhere. There are a million stories in my world every day. People are lovely inspirations. Beautiful, complex, predictable yet chaotically unpredictable in all their messy glory.

 Real life is a non-stop Plot Bunny that just keeps popping out babies. For years, I was told I should write about my life because it’s so wild. But, as fiction because no one would believe it really happened. So I’ve started using bits of my personal life into my stories. The Crossroad is actually a journal entry from my life. It was intended to be part of a non-fiction series, but . . . Well, a good paranormal story is fun to read.

 And, my other big inspiration is dreams. My dreams and nightmares are detailed and emotion-filled. They stay with me long after I wake and often inspire my stories. The Greatest of Books is a story based on my dreams.

What is your current writing about?

I’m currently releasing the Touch of Insanity series. It’s a 10 book fantasy series about a Half-Elf named Kharee, who was created to heal a goddess who is going mad and is spreading insanity via her connection to the people of the world, Besamie. Unfortunately, her parents withheld the ability for her to actually use her powers until they knew she’d grown up to be a decent, sane person.

The series follows Kharee as she discovers her powers, her mission, and her own truth. I’ve tried to keep the story as PG as possible, but she goes through some dark and gruesome experiences as she wades through the madness. For example, there are winged monsters called karpa that impregnate their prey and werewolves which are called Hydan Kin in their world, named after Hydan Speargood, the Elven Mage-Master who first contracted the magical disease. Oh, and of course a vampire lord, because no dark fantasy is complete without one.

I’ve been releasing a new book every 20th. Book 4, Each According Their Worth, releases on April 20th and I’m hoping to have a completed collection of all 10 books in one out in time for Christmas. If readers want to know when each book releases, they can sign up for Books2Read notifications .

It’s been very exciting to write and I’m so proud of the finish products.

Do you have any new series planned?

After the Touch of Insanity series, Three Furies Press will be releasing the Harper series. It’s a paranormal thriller about a psychic named Hannah Harper who has PTSD. She’s very quirky. Edges frighten her, so everything in her home is rounded. Going out is challenging because there are edges everywhere. She gets dragged into an investigation of serial killings and finds the guy, but ends up as his next target. As the series progresses, they discover the killer from the first book isn’t the only threat they have to worry about. I’m very excited about this series because it sneaks from “okay this is a paranormal story” to “OhEmGee! This is mind-bending paranormal and I’m scared now”. Or, it will be if I do it right.

What has being signed to a publisher meant for you as a writer, since many self-publish nowadays?

It was surprisingly cathartic. I’d given up on the idea of being picked up by a publisher and was content self-publishing. I really respect the women running Three Furies Press, so when I saw they were accepting submission and I actually had something in a genre they publish, I just had to submit Gifted, the first book of the Harper series.

Reading that I’d been accepted . . . I cried. Happy, ugly cry because people I respect  found value in my work.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading really interesting urban fantasy by Yvette Bostic, called Call of the Elements, which is the first book of her Magister’s Bane series. It’s really good.

About Rosa

Rosa Marchisella is a prolific author and the creator of the animated series, Zomb-Eh? Rosa also writes non-fiction under the name Rosa Arcade. She has written and co-authored over 50 publications, stories, screenplays, and scripts. Her poetry has been featured in anthologies and websites. Her other written works include 200+ articles, marketing and media projects, as well as promotional and educational tools.

Social Media Links

Website:                     www.RosaMarchisella.com

Facebook:                  www.facebook.com/iamrosa.fanpage

BookBub:                   www.bookbub.com/authors/rosa-marchisella

Books2Read:             https://books2read.com/ap/8Z2MY8/Rosa-Marchisella


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2020 Book Review: Visits from the Afterlife by Sylvia Browne

This is one of the books I can see you can go into reading different ways. If you were a staunch believer in her gifts as a psychic you will could read this in a spiritual self-help way, but if you’re reading for entertainment purpose and see this as just an interesting interpretation of what one believes may be happening on the other-side you will see this as just that and not an enlightening spiritual awakening.

At one point in time I was curious about Browne’s abilities, I bought several of her books just to see what she had to say, but by the time I had come to this book my views on things had changed. I was able to read it as one person’s interpretation and not self-help. I have always been very honest about my religious studies and my evolution of spirituality.

With all of the above said, this is still interesting. I am fascinated, at times to hear what others believe the other-side is like. This is a series of her readings and explanations of some very haunted locations. She does give some relief to those still grieving and that can be very powerful for those still trying to cope with the death of a loved one. In that way it’s beautiful. I personally know that the soul can feel heavy after losing someone or even calmed. She shares some of her own personal experiences as well, which I found interesting too.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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2020 Book Review: The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain

I found this book an interesting interpretation of the lives of Adam and Eve, the Biblical first humans ever created. I have heard it was meant to be considered humorous, but it wasn’t as funny as other books I’ve read have been, so in comparison to some of the works I’ve found funny this fell on the softer end of it.

What I found more interesting is the way it was told, yes like a series of diary entries, but the primitive understanding of the world around them that made me happy while reading. I’m usually surprised by authors giving their main characters all this power, intelligence, and forgetting the roots of personality or the evolution (emotional or otherwise) a character can go through. Mark Twain is a legendary writer and I’m glad he gave the characters more personality by their understanding of the world around them.

For example:

“They returned the Moon last night. I think it is very honest of them.It slid and fell down again, but I was not distressed; there is no need to worry when one has those kinds of neighbors. They will fetch it back.”

The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain

There are, if I’m being completely honest and I’m trying to be with these reviews, dry points, but that is just me and may only just be me.

This is one of the newer reads I’ve indulged in, within the last year. Though there were brief moments of dryness, I enjoyed it over all, and recommend giving it a read if you haven’t yet.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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[Brief Words] Interview of Samantha LaFantasie

I’ve credited this author in the past with helping me along my own career. Teaching me things that I should’ve known, but wasn’t aware. For example, until she got a hold of my own book, Maxwell Demon, I had no idea I was writing in the horror genre because the things I was writing didn’t scare me. Silly, I know. She gave me one of my earliest attempts of podcasting when I was a fresh-face.

Beyond all that she has helped me learn along the way she is a great writer and editor. She is usually a busy person, but she gave me some of her time and I got some answers to some things I had been wondering over the years.


For those that may not be familiar with you or your work, what can you tell us about yourself?

I’m the author of Heart Song and the Nepherium Novella Series and founder of Sunshine Editing.

You have been a part of the writing business for a long time now, how did that begin for you?

A very long time ago. I’ve always been fascinated with writing, but never really took it seriously until I was an adult and had children of my own, though I don’t write children’s books. Still, writing, in essence, has always been apart of me. Whether it’s poetry, songwriting, fan fic, or just my own imaginative musings, it’s engrained in my soul.

Is there anything about the business that gets you excited? Perhaps the convention going or meeting new people? Maybe just writing the story?

Always the new idea, first. That’s the most exciting of all. Then, the writing. That’s the delicious part. Finally, publishing. There’s just something about freeing my stories into the world for others to enjoy that gets my heart pumping a little harder.

I am always interested in how fellow parents manage work and family, what is the balancing act like for you? How do you find the time?

What balancing act? I don’t know of this. Please tell me more…

Seriously though, I have what about two to three hours in the very early morning I keep to myself for just writing. Lately, with all the virus stuff going around, that’s been a bit difficult, plus I wanted to revamp my brand and my business, so I took a little break off writing to get that finished. But mostly, the first few hours in the morning is what I use for the writing part. Once the kids are up, the show is over for the most part.

Being a mom of special needs kiddos, even older ones, still comes with its fair share of challenges, and one of them is being needed for EVERYTHING. I’m trying to teach them to be somewhat autonomous, but it has yet to really stick. For example, just responding to this interview, I have been interrupted THREE times. But it’s not always bad.

I just invested in desktop so that while the kids are working on their schoolwork (my youngest has to use my laptop), I can still get some work done and maximize the time I have available. Sometimes, that means I get a few extra hours to work, and so long as I have YouTube (I don’t get the obsession with Minecraft vids) or the Xbox running for them after their school stuff is done, I am at peace and can work.

Essentially, at the end of it all, it’s taking every moment I can and using it to my full advantage. It doesn’t always work the way I hope, but that’s okay. Flexibility is the key here. And always knowing I can come back when they are watching a show or playing a game helps as well.

Every author has their favorite program or must-have for their desk to help them either organize or just get in ‘the zone’. Do you have anything like that?

Yes, and no. It really depends on the mood. Here lately, I’ve been more productive with the peace of the mornings. But sometimes, I play either a favorite music list of Pandora or Spotify. Sometimes, I even have my favorite game playing in the background. GuildWars2 has incredible music, btw.

Coffee is definitely a must. I can’t do anything without it.

I’ve recently been using outlines to keep my stories on track and avoid the numerous rewrites to fill in plot holes that I used to do. So far so good. The program I use is Plottr, and once it’s finished on there, I import it to Word and copy and paste into my document for writing on a chapter by chapter basis. A lot of steps for sure, but it’s something that I recently learned really works for me.

I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head, even though I know there is more.

Have you ever resuscitated a project you had shelved? What helped it work better the second time around?

I’m glad you asked! Yes! I had a story called Dark Ones, and it had it’s own cover and had spent over 1 grand having it edited only to realize that the story was just NOT right. So, I shelved it and had recently come back to it. I outlined (using the program I mentioned before) and fixed any issues within the original story and now it’s a lot better than it was. Maybe not perfect, just yet. But so much better. I’m loving it even more! It’s even got a brand new title: Darkness Rising.

Catchy, no?

Are you writing anything new? Can you tell us about it?

Just Darkness Rising! Since my accident, I can’t focus enough to work on multiple projects anymore. So, that’s it. I can’t share an excerpt just yet, but I can tell you a little about it!

The story centers around Georgianna Peterson who knows demons exist, but no one believes her. On Halloween, she’s attacked by another demon and saved by her best friend and the handsome asshole, Detective Elijah Delapsus. From there, she’s thrust into a world of daemons, magical worlds, and uncovering a secret that changes everything, including discovering what she truly is.

In the indie-world there is a struggle for many on what marketing strategy works best with the conclusion being it differs from author to author. What has worked best for you?

I’ll let you know when I find out. So far, being organic has shown much more interest and progression than mass, spammy posts that I was taught by a fellow author and had lived by for years with little to no result. I think being truly connected and showing that I’m a real person is what the readers really crave.

When not writing and editing for authors is there anything you enjoy doing when you have downtime?

Playing video games like GuildWars2, Skyrim, and Fallout, or watching shows like The Blacklist, Little Big Lies, and Vikings. I love doing my own nails and experimenting with new designs and taking long bubble baths. Showing myself just a little bit of that attention keeps me focused and centered.

Check her out more here:

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Instagram

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[Brief Words] Interview of John G. Hartness

John Hartness is an award-winning author and publisher. As a brilliant and hard-working man I was surprised that he found the time to indulge my questions, but he did! This Fallstaff Books publisher has not only answered my questions, but gave me an inner look into his company and his life with every question he has answered for me. Known for his comedy horror books Bubba the Monster Hunter works and the Quincy Harker books his talents have brought him hardcore readerships and fans, even including well-known names.


I first learned of you as an author, but quickly learn thereafter you are the publisher at Falstaff. What came first for you? Where you an author first or a publisher that then continued as a writer?

I started out writing. I published my first novel, The Chosen, in 2009, followed by Hard Day’s Knight later that year. I self-published and worked with an indie press, Bell Bridge Books, until 2016, when I founded Falstaff Books. I still publish The Black Knight Chronicles through Bell Bridge, Tantor Audio publishes the audiobooks of several of my titles, and the rest come out currently through Falstaff. So I still write, something in the neighborhood of 3-4 novels and 4-6 novellas each year.

A shift is beginning within the indie world of more virtual attendance and appearances due to social distancing, how has it affected you? What are you doing different now, work wise, to keep moving forward?

At Falstaff, we typically appear at over twenty conventions in a year, so losing the entire spring and summer so far has been a big blow to our business. We’ve lost six conventions so far, and I expect more to follow. So I’ve shifted a lot of our focus to YouTube, creating author interview shows, doing video and audio readings, and as much other content as we can generate. I feel like YouTube and video is a largely unexplored space for authors, and the people who can plant their flag there first will have a marked advantage.

You have written so many things as a novelist and promoted so many of your Falstaff authors’ work, do you have anything new coming out? Any new work coming out of Falstaff?

I pretty much always have something new coming out. I released Snatched: Grandma Annie and the Cooter of Doom, a comedy horror parody novella on May 1. I’ll be releasing a new Bubba the Monster Hunter novella later in May. I have a new Black Knight Chronicles novel coming later this year, and there will be a new Quincy Harker novel coming in July.

As for Falstaff, we have new releases pretty much every week, if not multiple releases in a week. So people should pop over to our website at www.falstaffbooks.com and sign up for our newsletter to get notifications of all our new releases. Or they can join our Facebook Group, The Misfit Toys of Fiction.

One of the first things visitors can see when they go to your website is a really interesting quote; “Quincy Harker – demon killer, monster hunter & kin to Dracula. Yeah, this is who I want protecting the world! I love these books.” Whoopi Goldberg Academy Award Winner. I remember when you spoke about that happening on social media. How has life been after such a large endorsement? Has it changed at all?

It sells a few books when people see Whoopi’s name on the cover, and it makes for a great conversation starter, but nothing huge like a Netflix deal or anything. It’s very gratifying and surreal when someone like Whoopi, who I’ve grown up watching on stage and screen, reaches out to you out of the blue and endorses your work. That was a really cool moment.

On your blog you did something I have not seen done very much; you shared many chapters from a story entitled Raptor. What inspired you to share so much? What can you tell us about this story?

Raptor was a divergence from the norm for me. It is a military sci-fi novel, near-future, and the tone and style are pretty different from what I usually do. So I knew the book was a risk. So I put parts of it up on my blog to keep me accountable for continuing the book. Plus, I knew I wasn’t going to try to shop it around to other presses, and since I own the publishing company, I don’t have to worry about my publisher getting pissy about me sharing too much.

From YouTube to publishing and so much in between how did you get started? What was that moment like for you when you realized you were about to be published novelist?

I wrote my first novel just to see if I could write a novel, honestly. I’d been writing feature articles for websites for several years, and blogging, and I wanted to experiment with long-form storytelling. So I wrote a book. Then I put it in a drawer for about a year, and I studied the process of getting a book published. I still made plenty of mistakes, but since I self-published that book, there wasn’t really that moment of “I did it!” Now, when I sold The Black Knight Chronicles to Bell Bridge, that was pretty awesome. It was a vindication of the several years of hard work I’d put in up to that point, that someone saw something in me and my work that was worth the investment of time and effort.

Many writers are also heavy readers, when they have free time, to help them develop range and stay active with literature, is that something you do as well?

Of course. I read all the time. I joke that whatever I’m currently reading is “what’s on submission,” but that’s not true. I read all the time. I’m not as voracious as some folks, but I usually go through about a book every week. Writers who tell me they don’t read worry me. I don’t believe you can stay abreast of current trends and styles if you don’t read, and read current literature. How would you know that prologues are out of favor in urban fantasy right now if you don’t read urban fantasy? How would you know that head-hopping POVs is out of favor in high fantasy right now if the only high fantasy you read is 30+ years old? You have to read to stay current, and to stay creative.

One last question, a literary pilgrimage, ever thought of doing one?

No, it’s never occurred to me. I like to go places, but there’s no place that my books make me want to go, or that I feel like I need to go because Shakespeare wrote there, or because Anne Rice lived there. That’s cool if people get inspiration from trips like that, rock on. Take inspiration anywhere you can find it. Just not my thing personally.

Check him out more here:

Website: www.falstaffbooks.com
Website: https://johnhartness.com

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