2020 Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

I already posted my review on American Gods by Neil Gaiman, an excellent read, and I recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. When I found out that there was a second edition of the American Gods world I knew I had to buy it and luckily, when I bought my edition of American Gods I also purchased Anansi Boys knowing I’d want to delve into it right after and I did.

I found this book very well written, quick-witted, and even funny with the way the characters speak. Anansi being the character portrayed in the tv show, I expected nothing less from him and Gaiman delivered staying true to the character. It isn’t often I come across something that causes me to laugh out loud, but this book did that for me. I have become a fan of Gaiman’s and love his imagination. You can tell with his writing that he researches and really does the work that it takes to put into a book. This isn’t something thrown together and I am glad that I expect high quality from him. He is truly a legend, and this book really cemented it for me.

The story reads like a twisting adventure with touches of mystery. I loved that I couldn’t predict what was coming and loved the journey it took me on. That’s high praise! 

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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The Books in Review for 2020

We’re at week 39/40 for book reviews with a goal of 53 this year. Friday a new review will go up as per usual, but I decided before that review to post how I came to the books I have been reviewing. Last year, when the prepping for this year on the website began, I tried something I hadn’t done before, at least not attempted.  I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, I admit, I didn’t pick up a book or read nothing new, but I had read a lot before and after these periods. I have a tendency to lean toward horror, non-fiction, fantasy, poetry, short story collection, biography, documentary-style, and even philosophical enlightenment sprinkled with religious study genre. I enjoy learning new things and if a book captured any ombre of the above listed; I was hooked. 
From Moby Dick by Herman Melville to Armand by Anne Rice I have already reviewed many… many books so far, but the list which there is one began when I started looking at all the books I had or remember having then shortened the list into what I have read and are still sitting on the shelf or in the kindle to-be-read. I wanted to review books publically that I enjoyed, but also do it honestly. I dislike reviewing things I didn’t like, not wanting to give it attention, but I knew going into this year-long challenge I would appear bias or ‘fake’ if I didn’t mention these types of things. I also knew going in that many of these books were obscure to a younger readership or even considered classics. 
I didn’t want to review just recent publications as this wouldn’t be realistic to me as I didn’t start reading in recent years. The list began with Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and will end with a book by American folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland, according to my list. Alongside the review, I also wanted to share how the book came into my life and share a bit of the book journey on a personal level.
 I hope that this year of reviewing has opened some minds to new books and given insight to the world of reading I have for myself. 

What are your thoughts? Have you enjoyed the reviewing so far this year?

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2020 Book Review: Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips

Despite the belief Hemingway held that talking about writing was bad luck, I am no Hemingway. In fact, talking about writing is one thing I enjoy doing most. Sharing my experiences in the land of literature. I’m in a constant fluid-like state of shifting in attempts to improve my skills and grow as a writer. Before I could get my hands on a copy of this book, I had already flipped through a unique book entitled Stephen King’s On Writing. It is to date one of the few books I’ve ever read by Stephen King. Enjoying what I had read of that book, I wanted to find other books that were similar, authors sharing their expertise in the same field, and that led me to what I thought was the doorway of Hemingway.
The title was misleading a bit; it gave me the impression that it was a book by Hemingway, but it is a book of notes and thoughts by Hemingway and gathered and authored by Larry W. Phillips. It is still a recommendable book on the grounds it gives you insight into a writer, Hemingway, that changed the way English prose is stylistically. I learned a lot from this book on writing. For example, it taught me despite Hemingway’s belief of talking about writing being bad luck he himself in fact talked about it often.
I have enjoyed reading his published works, but the way he talks about writing is beautiful. The way he crafted his sentences and use of metaphors is brilliant in my eyes. I shall share a snippet so those of you whom may have not read this book can see for yourself what I’m talking about better.

Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia. Writers are forged in injustice, as a sword is forged.

Ernest Hemingway on Fyodor Dostoevsky

I recommend this book. In fact, any ‘on writing’ books you can get your hands on read them. They’re a great reference guide and insight into the writer they’re the subject of. 

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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Edkar Press

As you may have noticed, the website’s look has changed. A banner is on the front of the website that looks like this:

In the center is a logo for Edkar Press, but what is Edkar Press? In short, a teeny-tiny conception. Right now it’s still very much in its infancy. I will publish my poetry books and re-publishing more polished collections under this press. I never wanted to get into the other-side of publishing, the side of the publisher, but for now this is a rest stop.

The idea has crossed my mind as I connect with more and more poets that are struggling to find companies to publish with. Poetry is a hard sell and many don’t know how to self-publish. This may grow down the road, and it may be nothing more than it is right now.

The future holds possibilities and I have a lot of ideas I want to do and this may or may not be the label that goes on them. We will just have to see.

2020 Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I fell in love with the television show version of this, but as with many books I’ve previously reviewed, I had to find the book. If you follow you me on Instagram, you probably saw an image or two of my editions of this book and even Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. I got my editions off of Amazon, which I will do if I cannot locate books I want at the local bookstores and thrift locations.
From what I’ve found with other of Mr. Gaiman’s works that if I begin one of his books and set them down, I will have to go back and re-read several pages to back into where I left off. It isn’t because of a bad style of writing, this is something I have found I have to do so I can understand more intense styles of writing which I found this work to be, which isn’t a reason for me ever to put a book down completely. I had to do this with works of Lovecraft when I read his work.

This book beautifully brings together how people carry with them their beliefs, no matter where they move or live, their god(s) go with them. It makes the gods more realistic as the people lose faith they suffer, which is beautifully woven throughout the storytelling. It’s rich in atmosphere, which really drew me into the world deeper. Gaiman has always had a beautiful style to his work. It’s a style that I appreciate and love in books I read. It gives credit to his skills as a teller of stories.

I really don’t want to spoil the book much as so much of it is known or converted to television, but I will say I highly recommend reading the 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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The inspiration for The Blasphemer Series began when I was young. Dante Angeloft was somebody I came up with for a literary role-play I was participating in that dealt with Vampires and mortals. I wanted a mortal who was different than many I had come across before. With that, I kept working on the different aspects I wanted in his personality…what made him an artist, was he famous or not, did he have an easy life or a hard one, and why would he get involved with Vampires.

This character began like many others did for me — simple concept flushed out with details I wanted. I didn’t have any others to compare to make sure he was different enough. He sat on the back burner for years, never really getting used, never being talked about beyond those in the role-play group.

When I began working on the story that ended up being Maxwell Demon, the first in the series, I wasn’t sure if Mr. Angeloft would make an appearance or not, but I knew he would show up in some way eventually. I also knew I wanted him to be the main character. For me, Maxwell Demon was a story that told itself, but it wasn’t one that included Dante Angeloft, which is why he came in with Harvest.

Initially, Harvest’s story wasn’t what I had planned, but like many writers, the story changed as it was being written. Within the boundaries of character personalities, the story morphs into something you can’t always outline and plan. Some can consistently keep everything tamed and in place on an outline, but this isn’t something that always works for me. For the most part, anything I outline goes to hell in a hand basket, so I don’t bother.

The name The Blasphemer Series was a combination of many things. It seemed to fit best for what so many went through throughout the series. Blasphemy is defined by the Oxford Living Dictionaries as “the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.” There was no better description for the series. I also grew up in a very religious part of the United States, so even writing material containing God, angels, or the devil was blasphemous.

Credit for the root of the series’ title can also be given to the character Dante Angeloft being called “blasphemous”, in original writings, for his controversial paintings depicting Christ on the cross, which he saw in a vision. It was this that stirred an interest from a Vampire, leading to his introduction into the “real world”.

I was a little fearful to even write the series because I knew some would assume I had no faith or belief in a higher power. I realized, after a long conversation with a friend, that it wouldn’t matter what I wrote. Someone would have an opinion of me no matter what.

The Blasphemer Series is about good versus evil, with the aspect that we can all do good and bad, we make mistakes, and we’re all struggling in one way or another. I like playing with the fact that what we may feel is a good deed, another may see as something bad.

I have built a world in which all the great monsters are right alongside Witches and Humans. When I began thinking about all this, it occurred to me that the world would be more realistic if all things, all beings, could be good and bad. What one believes is for the good, another may see as awful, evil, or unfair.

Maxwell Demon shows that even Angels can be damned, but can also fight against their damnation to prove they’re still worthy of Heaven. That not all Demons accept the norm to possess Human Beings because the reasons they do this, to punish Humans, is not a purpose for all. Historically, Vampires are evil, but that isn’t always the case.  This book also details how the Clash of Angels wasn’t just for one reason, but many, those that fought had their own reasons to do so…some fought for the Nephilim, some for fought for the Humans, and some siding with Morningstar or Lucifer. All sides felt they were fighting for the right things.

Harvest, the second installment, explores a world directly affected by what has occurred in the first book. It shows worlds coming together because evil has destroyed the veil between the Mythical Realm and our world. This also sparks up old rivalries only calmed by diplomacy or unlikely friendships.

Ghosts is the third installment and is my attempt to give readers a more in-depth look into the world of Vampires, Werewolves, and even supernatural hunters. It’s full of darkness and evil, but goodness is very much a theme.

This book begins with what appears to be Vampires breaking treaties by publicly attacking a human to feed, but it’s found out to be a set-up by rogue Dire Werewolves working together. It’s quickly discovered that this is Kasdeja recruiting for the ultimate battle. This launches both worlds into the open for the first time in the modern age. The last time this was done, The Great War between the two species ended with the first of the Werewolves dying out, slowly reemerging into the modern shifting clans after a curse launched them back into existence.

The world is much different. The internet sends the attack out via social media and the new age of technology. Ghosts also shows a glimpse into the future that could be if something isn’t done. Dante does something that could ultimately kill him, but it’s a suicidal mission he’s willing to attempt in order to get the answers locked away in the possessed Briar’s mind.

The end of Ghosts will be a smooth transition into the fourth book, Descend. The final book of the series will be titled Ascend.

In interviews, podcasts, and private conversations, I’ve mentioned the books after Ghosts and how the story will unfold. However, only one person knows the twist that will occur. One will return at the end of Ghosts, and the other returns in the fourth book, but in only one instance does one of these original characters have be to be sought out. Originally, I had worked out timelines and stories for up to eight books, but as I began writing Maxwell Demon and Harvest, some things just had to be told earlier than planned for the series to be written smoothly.

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The importance of writing has been a strong theme throughout my life. From a young age, my writing was my escape and my outlet. My stories consisted of worlds where people who didn’t like me would. I was the main character of a world that I could make much happier. I could travel to anywhere at any time. I could go to uncharted lands or even outer space, places I had only pretended to visit in my bedroom.

These short stories and little writings evolved over time as I learned more about technique. I eventually swapped myself for a being much different, someone with struggles, but one in control of her destiny. At a young age, I didn’t see much of a future for myself, even though my dreams were large. I often tossed these stories away or just kept them inside so as not to use any school supplies my parents managed to get for me.

With age, my writings went through an evolution, morphing into more comfortable styles with characters who had become familiar to me. I knew each by name, each having rich histories. I joined a literary role-playing group with others my age, and we would get lost for hours in worlds either we or others had created. During this time, the birth of a character named Dante occurred. His first incarnation was as a simple, controversial painter, but I continued to develop him, finally finding his home in The Blasphemer Series.

I’m in my early thirties as I write this, and these characters have been with me for over half of my life. Writing literally saved me. Without this outlet, my childhood and teenage woes would have taken me to a dark place. I’m thankful for the gift I have been given. When I speak of how one should encourage themselves to write, it could quite literally save a life. Now, I save myself with therapy journal entries just to de-stress and get it out; otherwise, it might overflow into a panic attack or inconsolable crying session. I’ve been lucky to be able to express myself through writing and art. 

2020 Book Review: From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins

I’m sure today’s review is of no surprise from those that have read my personal work. I have been fascinated by angels, fallen angels, The Watchers, and the list continues for many years. The book that is the subject of today’s review is one of the many books I’ve read on the topic, it is a book I read just this year to be honest after I found it digging through piles of dirty forgotten books at a large thrift store. You know where the bookworms thrive and can be found dancing in a dream-like state. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, something about the cover and the synopsis peaked my interest. Originally, I had another book set to be reviewed in this one’s place and last minute exchanged as I found this book far more fascinating and wanted to share.

This work is an archaeological journey into a controversial topic, The Watchers. The Watchers were the angels sent to look over man, the ones that laid with the daughters of man and bred with them creating the Nephilim. This book goes into how these beings were a race of flesh and blood beings that pre-date our own. The author gives evidence that supports his claim. The evidence points to them living in Egypt prior to the ancient Egyptians and that they were in fact the buildings of the Sphinx and other megalithic structures.

It goes further stating that large events (like the Ice Age) pushing them upward into other regions living in isolation. He continued to point out how human beings saw this race as angels, godlike even for the way they appeared, and describes the way they looked as being far different than what humans at the time were used to. It reminded me of other references, ones not in this book, to how the shiny armor of the Spaniards gave them a divine appearance to the Indigenous People, but I digress.

The book covers the subjects of Adam and Eve, the Daughters of Cain, actual historical events, depictions of early manuscripts, maps, and shares illustrations too. There is a large list of references in the back of the book to keep everything organized. Collins explains how legends fall to the side and how the memory of the actual historical events have faded. There is a warning in this that because we’re losing our memory of such events we’re shortchanging ourselves. I feel I may not be giving this book the best of reviews to really capture all the information it holds. I found it to be intelligently written, fascinating, and in the very least interesting with the actual historical events and how the author ties everything together.

I loved this book, I love this type of book, and will be keeping my eyes peeked for more work from this author. If any of these topics are interesting to you this is a book for you.

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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DAWN OF BLASPHEMY BONUS MATERIAL: What happened to this book?

In December in 2016 a book released that included The Blasphemer Series: Maxwell Demon and Harvest. Along with these full books bonus materials were included. Notes on writing, new interview, origin of the series, and a few other items. As these books began to be picked up by publishers this book became a problem.

When a publisher agrees to publish your work contracts that are brought to the table to be signed or re-worked until both sides are in agreement. Contracts are, in basics, a licensing agreement (kind of). You, the writer, are giving over copyright to a publisher for use. A publisher will ask you, through the contract negotiation portion, to publish your work in paperback, digital, or even audio book formats with a percentage of income made being kept for their involvement and yours. Often times, another cut is taken out by say companies like Amazon for use of their services, including the distribution (shipping) and selling platform (their website). ‘Print-on-demand’ saves on housing of products in a warehouse that may or may not even sell. Product that do not sale are still going to be paid for through taxes and can/will be paid for through taxes until they’re sold.

The two books in one, Dawn of Blasphemy, was done purely on my part, but publishers haven’t shown interest in doing this so I had to pull this book/product down so that the books could be with publishers. It is common when a book is signed to one company after self-publishing (for example) for it to be removed from whatever platforms it had been on, for example draft2digital.

For many authors, they go from one publisher to another most of the above is never a problem, but for self-publishing authors going to a publisher these are things to be considered. Being in the business long enough you learn things about the many sides of the business, not just the writing part. It’s why you will see in my blog post referring to a book as a product. A book, in the simplest definition, is a product. I began seeing my work as products for consumers along as my hard work, blood, and even tears. Every book can easily be considered their own business/branded product, series a bigger product made of smaller ones, but still one individually.

With this book being pulled by myself for publishers to do some of what they needed to I still had the bonus material to consider, to find a home. I began releasing these pieces on my website. I will be doing that again. I felt it was important to address what happened to the book overall, why it cannot be found for sale anymore. If you do find it for sale don’t trust it unless I have said it would be here on my website.

Before I end this post, I want to say that all the business I spoke of above is my understanding of the publishing business. I have worked for publishers, I’ve worked for other authors. I’ve done a lot of the work for myself. I am confident in my understanding, but I am not confident in if others are understanding my explanation of it well. I am sure others will see it differently or be able to explain it more smoothly. The advice and information I share is mainly how I see it, what’s been experienced, and I’m always fully aware that someone somewhere is explaining it better or easier to understand.

I try to explain things with the approach of someone completely new to the business reading the information for the first time in the best way that I can. If you need something explained more in-depth comment, let’s start a conversation about it. I’m open and willing to explain things several times and different ways so the information is more clearly explained if it helps.