Book Review: The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

I just loved the way this book was written. Rather than a straightforward how-to, we get a story that exemplifies the principles the author wishes to express. First up is the story of Goldilocks, an aspiring author who can’t get past the word “the” of her novel. She attends a writing conference where the strict outlining approach given by Papa Bear is too hard, the seat-of-the-pants approach given by Mama Bear is too soft, but the Snowflake method taught by Baby Bear is just right. Through Goldilocks’ eyes we learn the ten step method, while following the subplot of The Big Bad Wolf versus The Little Pig. Each piece of the story hooks the reader in, making the techniques that much more memorable. What follows is a summary of the 10 steps and then the actual document used by the author to create the business fable of the first half. Everything is clear and makes novel writing seem doable, as long you’re willing to put in the work. The author never prescribes his method as perfect or perfect for everyone, nor does he offer a quick fix. He does offer an approach that can be followed and has been to his own and thousands of students’ success. The relief I felt when I discovered the Storyfix blog by Larry Brooks (and his books) is heightened with the reading/highlighting/bookmarking of The Snowflake Method. I love a good, flexible, customizable plan and can’t wait to try it. The above is an affiliate...

Book Review: Another Man’s Treasure, by S.W. Hubbard

Running your own business requires great strength of character, high risk tolerance, and a lot of passion. For Audrey Nealon, these same qualities also come in handy when solving the mystery of how her long-dead mother’s ring wound up in a box of jewelry at her current client’s estate sale and figuring out why investigating it puts her life in danger now. Throw in some romance and an ailing father, and you find yourself rooting for this heroine with all you’ve got. This mystery has a well-formed plot and characters with depth, and it also examines issues of racial prejudice, politics, and family dynamics without turning preachy or detracting from the main story. More than once I had to tear myself away from the page. I appreciated the awkward love triangle, and that both men revealed surprising layers in Audrey’s company. There was no black and white, good and evil, obvious path to the solution. The resolution was satisfying yet bittersweet. I think Audrey and I would get along. We’re both 30-something small business owners who want to believe that most people are good at heart and that small acts of faith will pay off. I hope Audrey’s next adventure takes place at a spa. She deserves it. * * * The above is an affiliate...

Book Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

It has been hit and miss for me when I pick up a book through Book Bub. Truthfully, more miss than hit, even when the book is touted as having “over 100 five-star reviews.” I have stopped reading more books after the first chapter than I can count, so I always hold my breath a bit when reading the first few pages. My exact note after about a page and a half of Radiant says: “Yes! Great hook. Intriguing concept, compelling protagonist.” I absolutely loved the world the author has built, which feels like a mash-up of urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic sci-fi. The herione, Xhea, has so much grit and determination for a young wisp of a girl that I now find myself asking, “What would Xhea do?” in challenging situations (like waking too early to a hollering toddler). Her carefully crafted facade is just vulnerable enough to allow for her journey from street urchin to the ultimate best friend. The reader intimately feels her hurts, both physical and emotional. As Xhea risks her life to save an unlikely friend, she must learn how to manage a dark magic that is as rare as her ability to see ghosts, all while pitting herself against the forces of a society she wishes would both save her and leave her alone. One of the first lines that grabbed me is: “Never before had she felt a ghost’s presence like a bruise in midair.” This is how I feel about the forthcoming second book of the series. I am impatient but I can hear Xhea say, “You have to wait for a book release? So what?”...

Book Review: “A Hint of Frost” by Hailey Edwards

A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. Publication Date: April 17, 2012 Amazon Description “Araneae Nation, Book 1 When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.” My Review My impression of  this book from a scan of the description and reviews was that it was pure fantasy with a romantic thread. I found it more of a romance set in a fantasy world. I do not agree with the comparison to Game of Thrones by Heroes and Heartbreakers, but I did enjoy the story. The prose is beautiful without being distracting; the writing drew me into the story instead of pulling me out to admire the sentence construction. The heroine, Lourdes, was easy to like and I quickly rallied to her cause. The rest of the characters were drawn with skill and depth, although there was a bit of a disconnect between her siblings’ behavior and the freshness of their parents’ deaths. In some ways, it felt like the deaths had happened awhile ago, allowing for humor and casualness to return to the demeanor of the older brothers, rather than the sobriety implied by the immediacy of such recent grief. The world-building was solid if basic. The concept of the Araneae Nations is unique and intriguing. By...

Book Review: “Simple Simon” by Ryne Douglas Pearson

Simple Simon by Ryne Douglas Pearson Genre: Thriller Publisher: Schmuck & Underwood Publication Date: July 1, 1996 Amazon Description “He’s brilliant. Innocent. Helpless. And he’s marked for death… It took years to develop. Cost billions to perfect. A cryptographic system so advanced it safeguards the United States’ most vital secrets. It is secure. Impenetrable. Until sixteen year old autistic savant Simon Lynch happens upon a forgotten snippet of code, his damaged brilliance breaking the cipher with ease and unwittingly marking him for death. Soon, elements of a pathological government security apparatus are hunting him, as is a beautiful, sadistic Japanese assassin working for enemies who will stop at nothing to learn the secret locked in Simon’s mind. Only FBI Agent Art Jefferson stands between the innocent young man and these corrupt forces, putting his career, his freedom, and his life on the line to save Simon.” My Review I picked up this book because of its focus on an autistic teen and because I like thrillers. The autistic character was written with depth and understanding without becoming a study in how to write a “special” character. “Simple” Simon was anything but, and his key involvement in the plot was natural and engaging. Art Jefferson, the veteran FBI agent whose latest investigation introduces him to Simon, is a strong figure with the right attributes to meet the challenges presented to him. His short but intense relationship with Simon was moving and really made me care about what happened to these characters. Simon was not the only special one in the book, however. One of the villains, Keiko Kimura, was quite mentally...

Book Review: “For Nevermore”

A teenager who has suffered more than her fair share of tragedy struggles with a less-than-stable mental state. Noella Snow manages to attend high school, work a part-time job, and spend a little time with her two friends. In addition to maintaining any semblance of normalcy in her life, Noella is somehow linked to a string of serial murders targeting the women of her hometown. Her nightmares eerily mirror what is later reported on the news, and she is torn by the guilt of wanting to help but fearing no one will really listen to her. What if Noella isn’t crazy like everyone thinks? What if she actually has a link to another world, where a mysterious guardian watches over her and has done through several lifetimes? For Nevermore is intriguing in its concept, skilfully navigating the choppy waters of a teen with a history of mental illness and how she relates to a world that generally doesn’t accept her. Her supporters are staunch but few and far between. The fortitude and resilience shown by Noella are wonderful qualities in a young adult heroine, giving readers someone to truly look up to and root for because everyone can relate to her feelings of insecurity. This is presented in the television serial format authors Sean Platt and Dave Wright are having so much fun with right now. I downloaded the whole “season” instead of consuming the material on an episodic basis, and that may have been a mistake. I thought I would want to read it straight through like a book (as I did with their Yesterday’s Gone series), but...