Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher: Del Rey
Pub Date: March 12, 2013

I usually only write a book review if I love the book; I know how much work an author puts into his writing and I don't want to drag him down just because his story wasn't my cup of tea. However, Terry Brooks is my favourite author and I've written many good reviews of his work, so I don't feel bad telling you I was a bit disappointed by this book.

I loved the first book in the series, Wards of Faerie, as it set up the story just right with a perfect amount of suspense and adventure. Bloodfire Quest, however, just seemed to drag on without progressing the plot much at all. Not only that, but I'm confused as to why it is called "Bloodfire Quest" in the first place, as I didn't think that was the main part of the tale. They do set off to find the Bloodfire, but I felt the heart of the story was with the Ard Rhys and Redden who are trapped in the Forbidding.

Also, I liked the love story brewing between Cymrian and Aphenglow since the previous book, but then it abruptly came to a climax without really climaxing--I didn't feel as tense or involved as I should have.

Eventually the story did progress about half way through the book, and it was still a good adventure, just not what I've come to expect from Terry Brooks. I will still read the next one, of course, and I hope it will draw me in more like Wards of Faerie did.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Post: Tyrean Martinson on "Faith in Fiction"

Tyrean is here visiting for the Champion in the Darkness tour. Welcome, Tyrean!

Faith in Fiction: Trust

“All of our lives are lived by faith. We do not live by what we see in front of us.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Being a Christian and being a writer sometimes can make me feel like I’m sitting at a crossroads. Sometimes I think I need to make a decision about my writing; that I need to honor an integral part of my life by giving my faith more room on the page.

Then I remember that friend of mine who told me, “You are a Christian, you are a writer; therefore you are a Christian writer, even if your stories and your poetry never proclaim it in any noticeable way.”

I digressed from that a bit in my last two posts about Faith in Fiction, because it’s something I think about and something I pray about. How do I include my faith? Should I? How much is enough? How much is too much?

The reality is I spend too much time thinking about it. I need to trust God.

Each character has an individual story to tell. Each plot has its own pacing.

When I write, if I trust in God, the right words are going to come out.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t think I need editing. That’s so not what I mean because my writing is a mess when I first get the words on the page. I need help getting the plot, and the characters and the words to come together, but I need to trust God and the process of writing together.

Not every story needs to be noticeably Christian to be grounded in my faith. Not every poem needs to include obvious symbolism.

There are awesome writers who show their faith openly in their writing: C.S. Lewis, Michael Abayomi, Ali Cross, and Jamie Ayres.

There are also awesome writers whose faith is in the underpinnings of their writing, but not always on the open surface: Tolkien, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Michael DiGesu, and Orson Scott Card.

Some stories call for openness in faith, and some call for a more subtle approach. Some writers switch from one style to another depending on the needs of the individual story.

We each need to trust in the creativity that God created in each of us. When we do that, our writing will shine.

-Tyrean Martinson

About Champion in the Darkness

The Blurb: Clara is younger than most trainees, but she is ready to hold a Sword Master's blade. While visions and ancient prophecies stand in her way, they also offer a destiny unlike any other. Clara is aided by a haunted mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy Kalidess is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness.

Champion in the Darkness is YA Christian Fantasy, and is the first book in the Champion Trilogy.  

Author Bio: Tyrean Martinson lives and writes in the Northwest, encouraged by her loving husband and daughters, and reminded to exercise by her dogs and cat. Champion in the Darkness is the first book in the Champion Trilogy, and she has previously published short stories and poetry.

Champion in the Darkness can be found at these links:
Amazon | Nook | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads

Tyrean Martinson can be found at these links:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | AuthorsDen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Post - Alex J. Cavanaugh!

The ninja captain himself is here to talk about the April A to Z Challenge in geeky style! Welcome, Alex!

Geeky Topics for the A to Z Challenge

If you haven't heard about the A to Z Challenge, it's blogging the letters of the alphabet every day except Sundays. It's twenty-six days/twenty-six letters, starting with the letter A on April 1. You can go with a theme or wing it, but each day the post and/or topic must begin with the corresponding letter. You can get full details and sign up at the A to Z site or at my blog.

A theme isn't necessary, but it sure helps. (My first year, I winged it, and it was a struggle to come up with a topic for each letter.) Themes can be a lot of fun, especially for us geek types, as the topics are limitless.

Need some ideas? Here you go:
  • Comic books - DC Superheroes, collectible issues, Spiderman facts, etc.
  • Apps for smartphones and tablets
  • Computer and console games
  • Science fiction and/or fantasy - movies, shows, books, etc.
  • Stars! Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Starcraft, etc.
  • Role Playing Games
  • Monsters and creatures - favorites from movies, RPGs, etc.
  • Collections - posters, figures, memorabilia, etc.
  • Models
  •  Computer and tech stuff - just keep it simple for all to understand
  • Cosplay, SCA, etc.
Think you could find a subject that works for you out of that list? I bet you can!

Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge? Can you think of any other geeky topics?

Alex J. Cavanaugh
Blog | Twitter

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, Cassastar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Woohoo! I (Allison) am super excited about the A-Z Challenge, as it is my first time. I certainly plan on a geeky theme.

And as long as we're talking about Alex... Today is also the day to reveal the cover for his upcoming book, CassaStorm!!
Tadaaaa. I think it might actually be my favourite of the three. Here's a little more info to get you even more excited about the release:

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Release date: September 17, 2013
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure
Print ISBN 9781939844002
E-book ISBN 9781939844019

Congrats on the awesome cover, Alex, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Level Up! Blogfest: Citadels

I am a gamer in every sense of the word--I love everything from Zelda, Mass Effect, League of Legends and Mario Kart, to Dutch Blitz and Poker, to Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, to Mafia and Dictionary, to Kick the Can and Capture the Flag. So you can understand how hard it was to pick only one game for this blogfest!

Since I talk about video games a lot, I decided to go with a "real" game (as my non-video gamer friends like to call them). But have no fear, this game is plenty geeky and plenty awesome.

Citadels is a card game, which I love because it doesn't take long to set up (and it's not expensive). You can also play with 2-8 players, and I find games are so hard to find that are for more than 4, so this is even more of a bonus.

The goal of the game is to build 8 district cards and make a citadel. The district cards cost gold to build, and at the end of the game are worth that amount of gold in points. Bonus points are given to those who have built the maximum 8 districts, the one who built 8 first, and to those who have a district of each possible colour.

The fun of the game is the characters. There are eight character cards that you shuffle, and every person selects one at the beginning of each round. Every character has different abilities--for example, the assassin can kill another player, the thief can steal from another player, the magician can take new cards or switch cards with someone, the king gets to go first the next round and gets bonus gold if he has a yellow district, etc.

Oh, the things you can do to make each other mad in this game. There's nothing like waiting until your neighbor has stockpiles of gold and then stealing it all from him as the thief. Of course, you have to guess his character correctly in order to do so.

I find Citadels requires the perfect amount of strategy and wiliness, as all games should. You have to think about what characters other people are going to choose, and be careful about who you choose in case they mean you harm, which they probably do. So much fun.

Thanks to all who have joined in the blogfest, and to Jamie for co-hosting this shindig with me! I'm excited to visit everyone and read about all your favourite games. Play on!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Monday

(Don't forget to sign up for the Level Up! Blogfest that's happening this Wednesday!!)

A few weeks ago, I shared six of my favourite instrumental, low-key, geeky tunes that might work for calming a kid down. Today I thought I'd share six of my favourites that could work to keep a kid up (or keep you up, if you prefer)!

Menu Music from Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

Culture Clash by KPM Music

 Every Star, Every Planet from Doctor Who

Fight Club from Assassin's Creed 3

Main Theme from Metal Gear Solid 3

Robots FTW from Portal 2

Happy listening!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Everything You Didn't Want to Know About Me

Well, today seems to be a day for posts about me. I didn't plan it this way, and it is definitely not my favourite topic to talk about, but not only did the fantastic Alex post an interview with me on her blog today (and even if you don't want to hear about me, stop by her blog anyway, because she is a wonderful person with awesome geeky pastimes!), but the awesome David Powers King gave me this blogging award.

I'm not sure what I did to deserve the title "inspiring," but I am flattered. Thanks, David! According to the rules, I have to share 7 things about myself that I have never revealed to you before. Here I go.

1. Sometimes I pronounce words wrong because I've only ever seen them in books and used them in writing.

2. I've only ever left North America once, and it was to go to Romania. I'd love to travel more--Ireland, Thailand, and New Zealand are on my to-visit list!

3. I'm Canadian. As such, polar bear hunting is my favourite sport. All right, all right, my favourite snowy activity is actually snowboarding. I say snowboarding, but I think I actually spend more time on the snow than on the board.

4. I am a musician, and have been in many bands, though I don't have a piano right now so I haven't played much since I moved to the city. I also used to play percussion in an orchestra.

5. I have recurring dreams where I lose my teeth. That's weird, right?

6. I went to four different universities to get my four-year degree in English and one-year certificate in publishing. And no, they didn't kick me out or anything!

7. Though I haven't played in a while, I've built several Magic: The Gathering decks. Yes, my geekery does descend that far.

I will pass this on to a few bloggers who have inspired me lately:

Alex (A Novel Journey) for being awesome, bonding with me over our love of sci-fi, interviewing me, and making some thought-provoking posts on multiculturalism!
Tyrean (Tyrean's Writing Spot) for making it to this special day of publishing her book!
Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) for being a super blogfest co-host with me and making me think critically about all things fantasy through his regular posts.
Vik (Scribblings of an Aspiring Author) for making the effort to celebrate the small things, and encouraging others to do so.
Laura (My Baffling Brain) for struggling through some tricky times juggling school and writing. And for sharing a love of anime, of course ;)

Oh dear, I could continue to go on through my entire blogger friends list, but I'll leave it at that. Cheers, everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Champion in the Darkness Release

Congrats to the lovely Tyrean on the release of her novel today! She's also going to be stopping by for a visit at Geek Banter on the 25th this month.

The Blurb: Clara is younger than most trainees, but she is ready to hold a Sword Master's blade. While visions and ancient prophecies stand in her way, they also offer a destiny unlike any other. Clara is aided by a haunted mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy Kalidess is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness.

Champion in the Darkness is YA Christian Fantasy, and is the first book in the Champion Trilogy.

Author Bio: Tyrean Martinson lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, encouraged by her multi-talented husband and daughters. She likes to write, read, teach, ski, bicycle, walk, and sometimes she likes to sing and dance in the rain.
Using her degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English, Tyrean homeschools her two daughters and teaches writing and literature classes at a homeschool co-op.

Tyrean has been published in e-zines like Every Day Poets, Every Day Fiction and Mindflights, and a few print anthologies like The Best of Every Day Poets and Sunday Snaps: The Stories. Champion in the Darkness is her first book, but she plans to write many more.

Champion in the Darkness can be found at these links:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Supernatural Season 2 Review

There is something intriguing about the dark. That must be why I'm still watching this show, even though I don't rate it as high as my other favourites.

I enjoyed the culmination of the tension between the Winchester boys and their dad at the beginning of this season. I liked how different Dean's relationship with their dad has been to Sam's relationship with their dad. It's even obvious whenever the two meet him--Dean immediately hugs John while Sam stands awkwardly to the side. John's actions in the first episode are powerful, emotional, and set the tone for the entire season.

Tension is also rising as Sam and Dean get closer to finding the yellow-eyed demon that killed their mom, and Sam's strange abilities come to light.

One of my favourite episodes was episode 17, "Heart," where Sam and Dean track a werewolf. For the first time, they come across a supernatural creature that possibly has no control over its actions, and this presents a moral dilemma. Sam also lets himself get close to someone after keeping his distance for so long. I applaud the writers for getting me emotionally invested in this episode, for that is hard to do in the short span of 45 minutes.

The end of the season concludes the storyline for seasons 1 and 2, and I would almost be happy ending it here if it wasn't for a few loose ends... Darn writers and their hooking techniques.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Point of View

Don't forget to sign up for the Level Up! blogfest on February 20 where we are posting about a favourite game! It's gonna be awesome.

I've got more of a discussion starter than an insecurity today, but I bet Alex will let it slide :)

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to different kinds of points of view. Some authors pick one and stick to it, because they find they do best with a certain type. What are the advantages to each?

First Person
I find it interesting that a lot of authors favor first person and find it easier than third. I certainly don't. I find it difficult pulling it off, for some reason. It can be constricting not being able to jump to someone else's point of view in the story. That being said, you can have first-person multiple POV, but I've only seen this done well once, in the Song in the Silence series by Elizabeth Kerner. In most cases, as a reader, I find it jarring jumping between heads, but Kerner managed it really well. I do like a lot of books written in first person--The Hunger Games and Divergent come to mind--and it tends to be popular in YA.

The thing I love most about first person is the distinct narrative voice and personality that can be projected through it. Sometimes snarky thoughts are funnier than comments made out loud.

Second Person
Has this ever been done well? Not in any book I've read. I always thought second person was limited to tell your own adventure stories where the "you" is actually supposed to be you, the reader, but I recently read a description that said the author is talking to someone else, describing that person's actions. I think I'd get tired of hearing the narrator telling me what I was doing all the time, if I was that someone.

Third Person
Third person is my favourite for reading and writing--third person limited in particular (who wants a narrator that knows everything, I ask you? That's no fun). I like how J.K. Rowling does it in Harry Potter. HP is told in third person, but you are only ever in Harry's head. It's simple and it's easy to get close to the characters this way. I do admire epic fantasies that change point of views in the blink of an eye--Wheel of Time, for example--but I don't pretend to ever be able to write like that and I find as a reader that it is hard to get close to any one character in those stories.

What point of view do you like to write in? What do you like to read in? (I'm curious if your answers are the same for both). Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ellie Garratt Guest Post - "My Geeky Bucket List"

The fantastic sci-fi and horror writer Ellie Garratt is taking over my blog today! Welcome, Ellie!

My Geeky Bucket List

One of the films that consistently sells where I work is The Bucket List, a Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman film that follows two old fiends as they work through their list of things they want to see, do, or achieve before they die. I'm not sure if everyone has such lists but I have a few - places I'd like to go, people I want to meet, and things I'd like to own. I achieved a couple when I turned 40 last year. I'm now the proud owner of an orange space hopper and Beaker from the Muppets.

One of my lists is what I like to refer to as My Geeky Bucket List, and I’d like to share it with you.

In no particular order:

1. Own a Lego Millennium Falcon. When I was a young child all I ever wanted was a Millennium Falcon and Storm Troopers. Unfortunately, I got Barbie. I traded it at school for marbles and conkers. Needless to say I was grounded for a long time.

2. Go to Space Camp. I recently found out that Space Camp USA do an adult space camp. Now all I need to do is find the £1000 needed for my plane ticket and entrance fee. Donations anyone?

3. Have an official Star Trek uniform tailor-made for me, preferably from the Original Series or Voyager. Oh, and pay no import duty.

4. Date Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Come on girls, you know you want to.

5. Stay on the International Space Station. Okay. Perhaps that and number 4 are taking it a little to far.

6. Be an extra in a zombie movie or TV series.

7. Meet William Shatner. Hang on. I did. Check!

8. Read every Science Fiction Masterworks book. I'm about 25% there so far.

9. Name a ginger cat Beaker.

And finally,

10. Publish a science fiction novel. I have the first draft, so I’m well on my way.

So that was my geeky bucket list. What about you? Do you share any of my wishes, or have you been to Space Camp already? Do you own a Star Trek uniform? I’d love to know what’s on your geeky bucket list.

As always, live long and prosper.

About The Author

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time, her first eBook short story collection, will be published on March 11th this year, and contains nine previously published strange and macabre tales. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later in the year.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Supernatural Season 1 Review

I hear about this show all the time and I wanted something new to watch. Supernatural has gone on for eight seasons and is still running, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

While it's certainly no Doctor Who, no Fringe or Stargate, it is entertaining, and I'm enjoying the creepiness and the monsters and the demon lore. If you know nothing about this show, it is about Sam and Dean Winchester, who have been trained by their father to hunt evil supernatural creatures after their mother was killed by a demon. Sam has tried to cut his ties with his family in order to go to university and have a "normal" life, but Dean shows up asking for his help when their father goes missing.

My favourite thing about this show is the chemistry between Sam and Dean. Sam is angry at Dean at first for taking him away from his life, and at the same time feels obligated to help his family. Dean loves Sam, even though he may not admit it, and would do anything to protect him. Their banter and relationship as brothers is what makes this show fun to watch.

One of my favourite episodes this season was episode 12, "Faith," where Dean gets electrocuted fighting a monster and his heart is permanently damaged. He's given a month to live, and Sam finds a faith healer to help him, but it turns out Dean's miraculous recovery came with a terrible cost. I liked this episode because Dean has to face the consequences of his actions and his personal interaction, accidental or not, with an evil supernatural being.

Do you watch Supernatural? What do you think of it?