Monday, August 31, 2009

Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse

Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation

This book will be released on September 9, 2009. The following review is based on an advanced reader copy.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402218575
ISBN-13: 978-1402218576
On the third night of the third month in 2003, 14-year-old Kaleb Nation had a sudden idea that began the story of Bran Hambric, a novel that would take most of his teenage years to write. Kaleb hosted his first radio show in Texas at age thirteen, and has since launched several websites, including and Aside from writing, Kaleb enjoys creating music and blogging. A home-school graduate and a former black belt in taekwondo, he currently attends college in Texas and turned 20 in 2008.

When Bran Hambric is 6-years-old, he was found inside a sealed bank vault. Bran doesn't remember how he got in the vault - he doesn't seem able to remember anything about his life before the vault. The only clue that lead to his identity was a torn piece of paper found with him, which stated: "Bran Hambric, born June 17."

The head of the bank, Sewey Wilomas, is the person who found Bran. Because of the "finder's keepers" law, Sewey took the little boy home to live with his family. This may all seem well and good, the Wilomas family turns out to be the most self-centered, fanatical family I have ever seen! Bran ends up living in the attic and becomes the servant of the family (this part reminded me of Harry Potter and the Dursleys).

The Wilomas family lives in the City of Dunce, a town where magic and magical creatures have been outlawed, especially gnomes. The slightest mention of magic or mages - people who practice magic - can result in imprisonment. Late one night, Sewey and Bran are keeping watch on the roof for possible burglars and gnomes, when they are attacked by a creature who refers to himself as Shambles. Shambles has been sent on a mission to kidnap Bran, and during his attempt he mentions the name Emry Hambric, Bran's mother. This is the first Bran has heard anything about his past.

This encounter opens a whole new world to Bran when he learns he is a mage. His mother helped create something called the Farfield Curse, a curse known to be powerful but hasn't been spoken of for the past eight years. The mages who helped create the Curse are now after Bran, for he is the only one that can awaken the horrible power that can unleash this Curse. Bran must stop at nothing to prevent this Curse from occurring.

I think my favorite parts of Bran Hambric are the antics of Sewey and his obnoxious family. This book was entertaining, but the writing was simplistic and it left many holes in the plot, which I hope are filled in and answered in future sequels. For a book written by a high school student, it does show great promise and I would recommend this book to other children and young adults.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Killing Dance

The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Killing Dance is the sixth in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series and continues the adventures of Anita, Jean-Claude and Richard, and it takes place about one month after the previous novel. This book starts out with Anita sizing up a potential client for her necromancer (zombie raising) skills with Animators, Inc.

However, the tables get turned on Anita when she is contacted by the assassin, Edward. Apparently, Edward has received a contract to kill Anita. Anita is as close of a friend as Edward will ever have, so he turns down the contract and advises Anita to start making plans for her own protection. It will only be a matter of time before someone else accepts the contract for her life.

On the shapeshifter front, Richard is forced to protect one of his wolves from Raina, a sadistic werewolf with a thirst for violent pornography. Raina is the mate of Marcus, the current Ulfric (leader) of the local pack. Richard is forced to make a move as pack leader and declares Anita his Lupa (mate). Anita eventually kills Raina (ah, but this isn't the last we'll hear of her).

This is the first book in the series where we see Anita, Jean-Claude and Richard as a true trio. Both Anita and Richard received the first two vampire marks from Jean-Claude, so they are now tied together by blood. The sexual tension in this book has reached a fevered pitch - from this book forward, Hamilton only increases the sexual adventures.

This book title represented a slight variation on Hamilton's practice of naming the novels after a fictional location. The werewolves in this book refer to both sex and dominance fights (particularly the fight to become Ulfric which must end in either the death of the current Ulfric or the death of the challenger). This fight is known as "the killing dance."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Big Thank You

Thanks to everyone for all your thoughts and prayers! Clean-up is going slow, but at least it's going. We still don't have electricity restored, but it should be any day now. I guess on the bright side, this is a good time to do all the painting we've wanted to do - hehe. It is heart-warming to know we have so many friends sending up prayers and well-wishes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Book reviews are going to be hit and miss this week - can't understand why I'm not in a reading or writing mood! Hopefully, when we are finally back in the house, I'll be able to relax and start writing again.

We are taking a few hours off clean-up detail this afternoon to go see Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Maybe "killin' nahtzeys" will make me feel better! It'll be 2 1/2 hours won't have to worry about cleaning.
"You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nahtzeys business. And cousin, Business is a-boomin'."
Tarantino is in that hit or miss category - people either love him or hate him. As you can probably tell, my family is in the LOVE HIM category. I love his screenwriting (True Romance, Pulp Fiction, From Dusk till Dawn, and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2), I love his directing (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, and Death Proof) and I even love his acting (From Dusk till Dawn, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Death Proof). He also produced Iron Monkey, Four Rooms, Hostel, and Hell Ride.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Prayer Request

I would like to apologize for no Way Back Wednesday post yesterday, but my family is in the midst of a major clean-up effort. We had a fire at our home on Tuesday morning. The major damage was to the laundry room - apparently our deep freezer shorted out. We lost everything in that room, but thankful there is no structural damage. We have smoke and water damage in the kitchen and living room, but this can all be cleaned up.

One of the hardest things has been losing our 3 cats - Frankie, Bella and Elinore. For those of you with pets, you can imagine how hard this has been, especially on our daughter. Thankfully, our dog, Rusty, appears to be uneffected, even though he was in the house with the cats.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days. God spared our home because we very well could have lost everything we own. Thankfully, we weren't home, so God also spared our lives - He is truly great.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Scraps by Tony Sexton (107 pages)

In Tony’s words: “Many writers have said they never knew when an idea or inspiration might hit them and I am no different. Often I find myself considering an idea with no means of jotting it down. Usually I have a pen but, more often than not, I don’t have a notebook handy. The only solution, in these cases, is to use what ever I can find; a napkin, box top, grocery receipt or an envelope. The title of this first collection, Scraps, comes from this dilemma.”

This is a exquisite collection of heartfelt poems dealing with strong emotions, past memories and wishes for the future. Tony is a seasoned poet and prose writer and his writing experience flows through his words on the page. His style of literal poetry speaks to the heart and sparks the imagination.

This slim volume is full of so many wonderful poems, it is hard to pick out one that is the best. "Looking Through Eternity" is probably one of my favorites, making me realize how far away, and yet how close, our eternity really is. Who has not lain under the stars and dreamed about other worlds and galaxies?
"I can see clear through to eternity."
"Summer" is another favorite, helping me recall long hot days of my youth. I can remember my father and grandfather coming in from the tobacco field, hot and sweaty, seeking a cold glass of lemonade to quench their thirst. Morning glories continue to be one of my favorite flowers, even though Granddaddy would complain they were taking over the field.

And remembering tobacco leads me to Tony's award winning poem, "Working Tobacco." It was always my job to follow the setter and Tony captured this memory exactly. Although I haven't worked tobacco for over 25 years now, this poem invokes the memories of this time gone by.

There are too many heartfelt poems to give a detailed review, so this is one book that deserves a place on your bookshelf. "You Grew to be a Man" - a wonderful look at growing up; "Mending Fences" - a recollection of Tony's grandfather; "Divorce" - brings up thoughts I would rather not remember; and "Finding Cheryl" - a poem of love story proportions.

I highly recommend this book to all readers, not just lovers of poetry. It is an insightful look at the world through a new pair of eyes.

Book Launch

Congratulations to Tony Sexton and Earl P. Dean on your successful book launch/mixer yesterday at the Kentucky Fudge Company. Tony has just released his first book of poetry, "Scraps," and Earl has release a science fiction novella, "A Tailor Maiden's Secret."

Both of these books are available at Wasteland Press and Amazon.

Herschel McKinley - the MC (Photo by Bobbi Rightmyer)

Earl P. Dean (Photo by Cheryl Sexton)

Tony Sexton (Photo by Bobbi Rightmyer)

Earl P. Dean and Tony Sexton (Photo by Cheryl Sexton)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Book News

Here is a blurb on a piece of "somewhat" good news from Publishers Weekly:

Bookstore Sales Rise in June, But Down for Year

For only the first time this year, bookstore sales rose in June, increasing 3.4% compared to June 2008, to $1.10 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Despite the June gain, bookstore sales for the first six months of 2009 were down 2.7% compared to the first half of 2008, with sales falling to $7.41 billion. Sales are from stores that generate at least half of their revenue from books and include college bookstores. The book segment has outperformed the retail market in general; sales for the entire retail sector fell 7.6% in June and 9.8% for the first six months of the year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Bloody Bones

Bloody Bones (Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter #5) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Bloody Bones has Anita travelling to Branson, Missouri, where she has been hired to raise, not one zombie, but an entire graveyard of zombies in order to determine who owns the land the cemetery is located on. As usual, she quickly becomes involved in a series of supernatural murders and disappearances. Anita's relationship with Jean-Claude takes a large step forward in this novel. For the first time, Anita begins to see Jean Claude as a person, not just a source of information. Her role as Larry Kirkland's mentor is also further developed and she is forced to relive the trauma of her mother's death.

Anita and Larry then go to a restaurant owned by "part-fey's" Magnus and Dorcas Bouvier, named "Bloody Bones," to investigate the land dispute involved in the upcoming zombie raising. The Bouviers are contesting the land dispute over the graveyard, claiming they own the land. During dinner, Anita gets a call from Dolph about a vampire related crime. In order to help solve the problems, Anita is forced to accept help from Jean-Claude. As with other books in the Anita Blake series, Bloody Bones has a very high body count.

Anita's relationship with Jean-Claude takes a huge leap forward in Bloody Bones. For the first time, Anita needs more substantial help from Jean-Claude than just a source of information. This book also has Anita seeing Jean-Claude "die" with the dawn and her giving him blood to save his life. Because this book focuses more on Jean-Claude than Richard, Jean-Claude becomes a more substantial rival for Anita's affections.

This book was originally released in paperback in 1996. With the success of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, it has been re-released in hardcover.

As with earlier books, "Bloody Bones" is the name of a restaurant that is operated by two of the principal characters in the novel, Magnus and Dorcas Bouvier. The restaurant itself is named after a character in the novel, Rawhead and Bloody Bones.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Lunatic Cafe

The Lunatic Cafe (Anite Blake: Vampire Hunter #4) by Laurell K. Hamilton was first released in 1996.

The Lunatic Cafe is the 4th book in the adventures of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Anita attempts to solve a series of shapeshifters disappearances at the same time she is examining her relationship with Richard - her werewolf boyfriend, and avoiding the advances of Jean-Claude - master vampire of St. Louis. Like the first 3 books in the series, The Lunatic Cafe blends elements of supernatural, hardboiled and police procedural fiction.

The Lunatic Cafe picks right up where Circus of the Damned left off. Anita is out on a date with Richard when she learns he is not only a shape shifter, but the Alpha werewolf of the local pack. This is the book where we are introduced to the mentally unstable Raina, a rival werewolf who is also a sexual sadist. Raina will come back to haunt Anita in future books.

Because this is an earlier book, we get to see some of my favorite recurring characters: Edward, Dolf, Zerbrowski, Ronnie (Anita's best girlfriend), and Jason. As with earlier novels, the "Lunatic Cafe" is the name of a restaurant operated by the St. Louis area shapeshifters, as Hamilton continues naming the novels after a fictional location within each book.

Like the first 3 books, The Lunatic Cafe was originally released in paperback. With the growing succes of the Anita Blake series, the early books have been re-released in hardcover.