Saturday, July 27, 2013

Guest post with Eric Diehl

I Did Not (gasp!) Outline My Novel...


When I decided to jump into the deep end with no flotation device, the question was; how to begin? While my writing had, in the past, generated respectable feedback, said writing had been mostly technical and was directed to a limited audience. And so I thought to follow conventional wisdom; once I had committed to creating a full-blown novel my plan was to create a plot outline, and work from that. I had a theme in mind; a serious rivalry over a limited natural resource such as water, and considering that we experience that even here on a planet with a bounteous supply, that should have made for a believable enough theme. And yes, I do admit to being influenced by Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’, though there are few similarities. My intention at the outset was to write a work of ‘hard’ science fiction, but one not devoid of character, as some works of that genre sometimes strike me.

Armed with that noble intent I set forth to fully outline my plot, and I sat down at my keyboard with grand purpose and a glint of determination in my eye.

And then, well... nothing much happened.

I could not seem to jump-start myself, and though the wheels were turning, they were spinning in place. I could get no traction. With frustration mounting I finally decided that I would take a scene that I had in mind and just get started writing.

Damn the roadmaps!

It was not quite so rash a move as it might sound, because I knew from long experience that I tend to think more effectively when I’m actually writing. On more than one occasion (in the world of Information Technology), I would sit down to compose a question of a technical nature, and in the process of assembling all the relevant data into a cogent whole, there I would go and answer the question! Fiction is obviously a different beast than is any technical specification, but still; perhaps the act of writing might kick-start my thought process?

And so it did, though not at all as I had expected.

Every day I would start by rereading the prior days work and tweaking it here and there, to get the gears re-engaged, and then I would launch into the new day’s work. Not surprisingly, some days would go better 
than others. At day’s end I’d walk a few miles, to clear the cobwebs and keep the blood flowing, and in the process work out what the next scene might be and sometimes looking farther ahead to consider major turns of plot. In some ways that made it more fun, because I would be delighted when some new character would arrive unannounced to add his or her flavoring to the mix. The turns my novel would take surprised me more than once, and occasionally it was more like reading a book as opposed to writing one. My unstructured approach is likely a primary reason that Water Harvest transformed itself from a work of hard SciFi to a science fiction fantasy, with some of the happenings therein believable by the standards of science, and others dependent upon suspension of disbelief through ‘plausible’ sorcery and dimensional bending.

After I’d finished the first draft I realized that I’d committed many of the sins common to new practitioners of fiction. ‘Purple prose’ ran rampant, my point of view hopped around like a room full of tree frogs, and I had serious stretches of ‘back-story’ where I was ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. In learning more about those issues by reading established author’s accounts of their own writing techniques, I was interested to find many of them also dismissing the practice of outlining. Stephen King comes to mind (though I believe I do recall him describing how he’d become lost for a time towards the end of ‘The Stand’, and that’s a novel that had me seriously hooked before leaving me dissatisfied with the final plot developments). Hmmm. I also remember a novelist whose name I recognized but have since forgotten, who said he would outline a novel, sit down and write it start to finish, and be done with it! No editing!

I cannot see the latter technique ever working for me, and probably not for most authors, but I do wonder if I should consider a more centrist position? When I sat down to write this commentary (without an outline ;-), I googled the topic and found no shortage of postings, and many of the arguments in support of outlining make sense. Suffice it to say that I spent a lot more time fixing Water Harvest than I did writing the first draft, and likewise my second novel ‘Guild of the Viizar’, and the third (work in process) are unstructured efforts.

So should I make another attempt to outline up-front? I can certainly understand the arguments in favor of it, but the thing is, I quite like Water Harvest, and it would most certainly not have evolved as it did if I’d insisted upon outlining it first. Some of the developments didn’t come to me until well into the book, and others even later on rewrites. How about if I outlined it first, but allowed myself to deviate from the path once in progress? That sounds OK, but would I actually deviate from my outline, or just stick to the script? Or would I ever have completed an outline in the first place?

I don’t know the one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and I’d hazard that no one else does either. I’d hazard that there is no single solution for everyone. The best advice I can fathom is that an author should go with the tactic that works best for him or her, and be eager and willing to change course when the need (or the whim?) arises.   


For more info on Eric's writing and books check out his Amazon author page.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review - Janitors, Book I by Tyler Whitesides

Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You ll never look at a mop the same way again.

Review by:  Scott

4 stars

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides is a middle school friendly fantasy book that adults can enjoy as well. Primarily following Spencer Zumbro, a student who has a bit of a rough time at school. There is a bully named Dez that loves to pick on him. He has also had some turmoil at home. His father left the family and his mom is pushing hard to make everything stick together without him. He also has a little bit of OCD in terms of keeping his room organized and himself clean.

When Dez draws on his face one day he rushes to the bathroom to try to get the marker off and finds some super strong soap on the edge of the sink. After his face stops stinging he makes it back to class and starts to see strange creatures in the classroom. This leads him to suspect the janitors in the school of an evil plot and tries to contact the BEM (Bureau of Education Maintenance) in order to report them. Along the way he enlists the aid of Daisy, a classmate who is also picked on constantly.

The idea of this book was actually pretty fantastic. The idea of magic at a school is nothing new in this day, but the idea of janitors being the source of the magic in normal schools is unique. The monsters are well described without being overly disturbing making them perfect for kids to read about. The best part of the book may be the weapons that are created out of everyday items that would be found in a school. The great thing is that only pretty basic stuff is talked about in this book so I'm hoping that there will be a whole host of new items discussed in the second.

I've been contacted by the publisher a few times for review requests and when they first got a hold of me I was hoping that some day they would want a review for this series. Happily for me the book did not disappoint at all. This is going to be a book that is filed away for reading with my daughter when she gets a little older for sure. This book has a wide range of appeal so I'd recommend giving it a shot if it appeals to you at all.

Monday, July 22, 2013

That time again...

Once again that thing has occurred.  Today is my 31st birthday, for a few more hours at least.  Hope everybody had a great day and took some time to enjoy a good book.

In other news I've had a few requests to add a profile about myself so look for that to be coming soon on the reviewers tab here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review - Thread Slivers by Leeland Artra

Trained from birth as a hunter and fighter, Ticca wanted and got more. She learned military tactics from the very best. She was given access to much of the world's true history, stretching back beyond legend. Found worthy, the world's second-best warrior, whom even the Gods feared, finished her combat training. Ticca thought she was ready to join the ranks of military specialists for hire known as Daggers.

Able to control more power than even a full master mage from birth, Lebuin was sheltered and taught magic by the greatest wizards. He has rightfully earned hisJourneyman Mage badge - except he isn't so sure he wants to explore the world. But all Guild wizards are required to travel, and Lebuin is sent out into the world. He quickly discovers reality isn't anything like what he read in books or expected.

A great mage is missing and Lebuin hopes to find him for clues to undiscovered magics. Lebuin hires Ticca to guide and protect him while he tracks down the missing wizard. Together they stumble into a hidden power struggle between a powerful Duke and a secret group of warriors with unbelievable skills and speed. The deadly conflict ignites a worldwide power struggle, a struggle in which the Gods themselves fear to intervene. As Ticca and Lebuin attempt to survive, they learn that they may hold the key to powers capable of destroying all the realms. Together they are far more powerful than they or anyone else ever imagined.

Can a new Dagger and Journeyman mage manage to stay alive long enough to figure out what powers they control? Who can they trust as both are targeted for assassination and relentlessly hunted?

Review by: Scott

5 stars

Thread Slivers by Leeland Artra is a refreshing fantasy book.  Focusing on Lebuin, a journeyman mage with almost no real world experience and Ticca, a Dagger (highly honorable mercenary) who is trying to build her name in the business.

The world that Leeland has established was fantastic.  The book has a lot of information, but nothing that is in overwhelming chunks.  The presence of nearly immortal beings and gods allow for a first hand perspective on some of the events that built the world into what it currently is.  Duke is by far my favorite of these semi-immortals.  There quite an interesting twist with him and I'm hoping that there is a lot more about him revealed in the later books in the series.

The Daggers are another fascinating aspect of the book.  It's refreshing to see a group of mercenaries that operates with honor instead of one that you expect to betray the main character at a critical point.  The Blue Dolphin was very cool as well.

Another thing that I would like to see a little bit more of is explantion of how the magic works.  Lebuin has a few thoughts about how he maintains his shields and readies certain magics when he is going out on the town, but there weren't any specifics involved.  I know Lebuin is a magical prodigy with better than average strength, but what are his limits?  Again this is something that could be easily resolved in the second book in the series though.

The worst part about the book was the ending.  I don't mean that it was bad, but it was a very intriguing cliffhanger and at the time that I first read this book the second was in the future with no planned release date.  Now from my understanding the next book should be out next month, but I still don't want to wait that long.

Review copy provided by the author.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review - The Bone Sword by Walter Rhein

Deserter on the Run Malik emerges from the swamps of Plaiden seeking only shelter, food, and the time necessary to take the chill from his bones. But after a barroom brawl lands him in trouble with the local authorities, he flees to the mountains with two orphaned children who have the power to heal.

Pursued by the vicious Father Ivory and his Nightshades, Malik and his charges become the center of a grassroots movement that quickly blossoms into a full-fledged revolution. Their problems are compounded when news of their exploits draws the attention of Malik’s former Captain, a swordsman of legendary prowess who will not stop until Malik and his followers are dead.

As the final battle approaches, Malik must face both his inner demons and his former master in a duel that will determine the fate of the free people of Miscony.

Review by: Scott

4 stars

The Bone Sword by Walter Rhein follows Malik, a disgraced/runaway Camden's Guard (an elite military unit) and Noah and Jasmine, two kids one of which has the amazing power to heal.  The character progression is a very strong point of this book.  As Noah and Jasmine have no practical experience they show a lot of growth as they travel and learn.  Malik, being an established warrior, has his history revealed through his memories and stories.

Father Ivory plays as a truly horrific villain.  His lust for power and inability to deal with anything that he vaguely sees as a challenge to his authority combined with the fact that he is losing his mind make for a scary figure.

Overall the story had a good flow keeping me involved.  There were some plot elements that were pretty familiar, including what could have been a kind of big reveal toward the end of the book.  If you are a fan of traditional fantasy novels, especially ones that have lots of hand to hand combat this could be a good book for you.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review - The Time Hunters by Carl Ashmore

Becky is a typical thirteen year old girl. She likes Facebook, gossiping and plenty of sleep. So when she and her brother Joe are invited to stay with their 'loony' Uncle Percy at his stately home, the mysterious Bowen Hall, she thinks it’ll be the worst summer ever. What she doesn't realise is that Bowen Hall is also home to a baby Triceratops, two Sabre-tooth tigers and the mythic hero, Will Scarlet... 'The Time Hunters' is a thrilling adventure that takes Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy and Will on a quest through time to find the legendary Golden Fleece. The Clock is ticking....



Review by: Scott

4 stars

The Time Hunters by Carl Ashmore is a YA time travel tale.  Becky and Joe are two kids who are spending their holiday with their Uncle Percy.  They haven't seen or had anything to do with him for years since he and their dead father had an argument.  Becky of course is expects the worst from living with a strange Uncle who is supposed to be an inventor and is known to be a bit eccentric.  Joe has less reservations and is actually a bit excited.

Neither of the two could ever expect the amazing things that they will encounter with their Uncle.  There are a lot of parts of this book that are a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed the strange twists that some popular characters ended up taking.  Jason and the Argonauts had an especially amusing twist.  Will was another great character and I was happy to see that he had a significant role in the story.  Carl also wrote a compelling plot that has me interested in seeing where the rest of the series goes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review - Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman

Determined to seek his fortune, Percival Taylor leaves behind his sleepy hometown and sets out to become a legendary pirate. The only problem is, no one at the rough-and-tumble seaport of Blackshore will allow him anywhere near a ship! Percival must find other means to win the heart of the beautiful Tuppence Magrathia Paddock, who has mistaken him for a pirate rogue out of one of her romantic books. She is entirely willing to swoon into his arms if he can prove his buccaneer soul and she will even arrange her won kidnaping to prove it. Percival eventually finds himself captain of a broken-down ship, complete with a crew of reluctant pirates, a jilted fiancée, a reclusive master shipwright, and an old professor with a magical secret that could kill them all. Join the strangest assortment of characters you ll ever meet on the Nine Seas as they set sail for treasure and romance!

Review by:  Scott

4 stars

When I was offered a chance to review a new book by Tracy and Laura Hickman I was stoked.  Reading the original DragonLance books was what really ignited my love for reading.  While I normally wouldn't be excited to read a book billed as "A Romantic Fairy Tale" I gladly made an exception.  Turns out that was not a bad thing at all.  Swept Up by the Sea has quite a cast of crazy characters.  

Percival and Tuppence both have turned themselves into stereotypes based on tales written the the Dragon Bard.  Percival believes himself to be a daring rogue destined for a life of adventure and piracy on the high seas despite the fact that even the press gangs see him as unworthy of their attentions.  Tuppence loves nothing more than a cheesy romance and sees herself destined to be swept off her feet by an adventurous rogue.  She also has definite ideas of how that will happen and will accept nothing less than her dream abduction.  The Dragon Bard is always around trying to serve his own goals, one of which in convincing Percival to go back home to marry a girl from his hometown, while managing to instigate things.  I also really enjoyed the whole pirate secret that is revealed to Percival.  That whole crew was pretty hilarious.

I've learned that this book is actually a part of a series and I'll be checking into some of the other books for sure.  If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun fantasy book this would be a great choice.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review - Amulet of Aria (Bakkian Chronicles #3) by Jeffrey Poole

Realizing they can no longer keep the future king safe, bodyguards Steve and Sarah escort the Lentarian prince, Mikal, back to his home world to not only determine the best course of action, but also to verify the king and queen haven’t become targets themselves.

In Mikal's home world, dragon raids are on the rise. The dwarves are preparing to go to war, and the evil sorcereress has managed to reach across time and space to attack Mikal on his protector's home world. Their only hope to save Mikal from Celestia and her minions lies with the recovery of a piece of an ancient talisman believed lost centuries ago. Having the ability to enhance the holder's jhorun, namely their magical talent, to unheard of levels, the amulet pieces must be found before they fall into the wrong hands.

But are they too late? Don’t miss the exciting final chapter in the Bakkian Chronicles!

Review by: Scott

5 stars

Amulet of Aria is the long awaited conclusion of the Bakkian Chronicles.  If you enjoyed the rest of the series then this book will not disappoint.  Jeff keeps the mood fairly lighthearted throughout while still managing to keep up an impressive level of action.  This particular book has a bit more of the happenings taking place in our world as opposed to being pretty much exclusively on Lentari.  There is also another person who gets let in on the secret life of Steve, Sarah, and Mikal.  The additional character (named Lia) works very well with the group dynamic that already exists and adds quite a bit of humor.

I was lucky enough to get to be a beta reader for this book and generally when that happens I wait a few months and read the final book before writing my review.  This book was no exception, but what amazed me was how involved I became in the story even though I had already read it.  The book kept pulling me along and I enjoyed every second of my reading.  I keep up a pretty hectic reading schedule in an attempt to keep my blog with fresh content and it amazes me how refreshing it is to find a book that is truly a joy to read.

This whole series works well for pretty much all ages.  It also serves as a great introduction to the world of independent publishing.  The Prophecy (Bakkian #1), which is FREE, was one of the first independent books I read and it kindled a respect for the authors who go it on their own.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest post with Kris Kramer author of Sanctuary and founding member of the4threalm.com

What is the4threalm.com?

I get asked every so often to describe what the4threalm.com is, and since the site has been around since 2010, I freely admit that I should probably have a pretty simple, stock answer to give by now. But I don't. I still stumble over the explanation, and there are various reasons for that, but the main one is that the site, and the concept it represents, have both evolved over time.

As of right now, the4threalm.com is a collection of writers who have banded together to write, critique, publish and market our work together. It's basically a combination between an imprint for digital publishing, and a brand that represents the work we do. There are a number of people who are or have been associated with the site, but the three core guys are myself (Kris Kramer), and my writer compatriots Alistair McIntyre and Patrick Underhill. We've been doing the lion's share of the work, and that will probably remain the case for a little while, which is fine. We enjoy the sense of adventure that comes with creating something like this from scratch.

But the site is more than an imprint or a brand. It's more than a place where we blog, and market our books, and talk about events, and interact with fans or other writers. It's a community, both for people who like our work and for those who enjoy the indie publishing world. And ultimately, I hope, it will be even more involved in both aspects. But before we look forward, let's look back, and see how we got here.

The site originally started as a vehicle to host a series of chapters for a story all three of us wanted to write. That story has since morphed into Rise of Cithria, but at the time, it was called The Fourth Realm, which is where the name of the site came from. Needless to say, www.fourthrealm.com was taken, leading to plenty of awkward descriptions of the URL ("no, the NUMBER four, then 'th'”). We split The Fourth Realm into three pieces, with each of us writing a section of the story, and we posted new chapters online every week, trying to build an audience. They went up in batches of twelve, in what we referred to as 'books', although when we thought about it, it was a little more like a TV season, since we had a weekly schedule. Once those chapters went up, we started adding more stories. Older stuff we'd already written, or new stuff we wanted to play around with. The Organization debuted that way, as did the new-and-improved Wind Riders, and even some of my Halflord stories.

We were having fun, and getting some much-needed practice doing what we loved to do – writing. Over time, however, we realized that we needed a more specific focus, one with more tangible results. We (and me especially) felt the growing desire to put more and more of our energy into this endeavor - basically to be full-time writers. But to do that we needed a certain level of success, which meant concentrating our efforts on creating real, marketable, high-quality products. Books, basically. So we changed gears. I've wanted to be a writer for some time, but I never looked forward to the hassle of writing AND blogging AND marketing AND everything else that goes with getting your name and your work out into the public consciousness. And that's exactly what most indie authors have to do to scrape out a share of the reading public.

Well, why not make our site the solution to that problem?

By combining forces with Alistair and Patrick, and all the other people who have darted into and out of our wheelhouse, we're able share that work. We don't have to blog every few days because someone else can help pick up that load. I don't have to figure out all the intricate details of marketing my books because Alistair is spending just as much time as I am on it, only he's looking into different aspects that I wouldn't necessarily have time for.

It's a strength-in-numbers approach.

If we were doing this alone, as I suspect the vast majority of writers out there are, then I'm not sure how much energy I could really put into this, while also keeping up with a day job and being a dad. It's overwhelming at times. Okay, it's overwhelming ALL the time, but having the other guys around to share the load has enabled me to focus on specific things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, and I think that's a key component to what will make everyone associated with the site/brand/imprint ultimately successful.

We share ideas, we share information, and we share our burdens, and that's essentially what the4threalm.com is all about.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review - Mottephobia by Christopher Kline

A rural polygamist community in eastern Arizona is invaded by the legendary Black Witch moth. As the community blames these Angels of Death for a series of deadly coincidences, it is a different Evil that brings the small, isolated community to its knees, and the brink of destruction. Stranded amidst the forces of darkness, field biologist Tony Spencer finds himself on the wrong side of superstition, revenge, kidnapping, and certain death in the rugged Arizona wilderness.



Review by:  Scott

4 stars

Mottephobia is the third book in the Tony Spencer Mysteries.  Tony still cannot keep himself out of trouble even with a new job and a new wife.  This time he is sent out to catalog the moths near the small polygamist town of Blue.  When the town mechanic starts to lie to Tony about the problems his Jeep is having to keep him around things start to get a little dangerous.

This is another solid book by Christopher Kline.  I genuinely like his characters and was especially happy to see Cisco getting a bit more time in the spotlight.  Christopher continues to use his knowledge of the area in Arizona where the books take place with his scientific background to create a story that is strongly anchored in reality.

If you are a fan of mystery stories that are based in reality involving common people I would highly recommend checking out this series starting with Hostile Lookout.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review - Riding on a Beam of Light by Ramsey Dean

“It’s perfect for bedtime reading, and one I’m sure kids will ask to have repeated often – and maybe even get inspired by.” - iPadinsight Albert Einstein famously put emphasis on the power of imagination and so does Riding on a Beam of Light. When Einstein won the Nobel Prize, he credited his own boyhood idea of riding on a beam of light with the spark that led him to his theory of special relativity. In this intricately illustrated storybook, lights-out turns into learning as we see the world from young Albert Einstein’s point of view, with a sense of fascination and adventure reminicent of Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon and Max from Where the Wild Things Are. At it’s heart is a story about imagination and dreaming, with gorgeous illustrations that capture our grown-up hearts and our children's curiosity. Can young minds change the world? Einstein proved it and now Riding on a Beam of Light brings that message to kids in terms they can celebrate on their scooter. So, turn the light on and off, discuss the speed of light, and have your child imagining what young Albert Einstein imagined as a child. This is a book parents can begin enjoying before the kids understand language (or physics). "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." - Albert Einstein

Review by: Scott

4 stars

Riding of a Beam of Light is a well done picture book that help encourage a child's imagination.  The pictures are extremely well done and the story is good for younger children.  It teaches kids to explore the world around them by asking questions and letting their imaginations free.  The format I looked at was a pdf on my iPad which is not the greatest for sharing with a two year old, but I could see a print version of this really appealing to younger kids for family reading or beginning readers.

Review - Bad Radio by MIchael Langlois

Sixty years ago Abe Griffin saved the world and gained eternal youth.

Or so he thought.

Now, a man that Abe believed to be long dead is killing the surviving members of Abe's old squad in order to reclaim the relics that they have kept hidden for decades.

The relics form an ancient beacon that must never be used, in a ritual that must never be completed. But the end of the world requires more than just activating the beacon.

It requires Abe.

With help from the granddaughter of his oldest friend, Abe must learn the truth about his immortal body, while at the same time trying to stop a horrifying series of supernatural opponents from sweeping away everything that he cares about.

A DRM-free dark sci-fi action adventure... with zombies?

Review by: Daniel
The Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Mature Content Rating: R (for strong language, violence, and graphic images)

I don't do this often, but every once in a while I count my blessing: food in my belly, a roof over my head, not being chased by worminfested humans... Abe Griffin might be able to count these blessings, except for the last one, but I hope that you can count all three of these blessings. If you haven't guess already, this is yetanother-zombie-apocalypse-book... and yet not. They are not "zombies" in the purest sense of the
word and the world is only ending because some big baddy is trying to destroy it... Doesn't that
sound like the plot of almost every book out there? Though this book has that end-of-the-worldrunning-from-ugly-things feel, it is not your standard must-fight-to-survive-against-the-undeadhorde. Bad Radio is a wonderfully crafted tale of loyalty and vengeance on the backdrop of a social commentary about the human condition.

The Good:

Michael Langlois knows how to set a mood. Bad Radio opens with an old man waiting
for life to end. The scene progresses in a slow meaningful manner as the reader gets a taste
of some back story and who this Abe Griffin character is. Suddenly the scene changes and
we are sitting on the edge of our seat within the final paragraph before the "Chapter 2"
heading. Not only does Langlois know how to set a scene, he also does a beautiful job of
ending them and causing the story to progress in such a way that leaves the reader wanting
more. Most chapters end on a cliffhanger, which would be bad enough, but a lot of them
(especially near the beginning) end with something crazy about to happen which was
unforeseen until a few sentences before the end. For the sake of not revealing spoilers, I will
use some fictional examples that may get the point across.

Scene 1: An old man. A wooden boat. A fishing pole, line loosely dropping beneath the surreal water. A nice relaxing fishing trip. The line goes taught. Did he catch something? A tiny fish on the end of the line. As he reaches out to grab his prize of the day, he is already thinking about how it would taste slowly cooked over the flames. Suddenly a meteor lands on the tail of the boat and the man disappears beneath the water.

Scene 2: A mother. A stroller. A beautiful baby. A beautiful day. Cool breeze, warm sun, bird's chirping. "There's nothing better after a long day of work than a nice stroll in the park. Wouldn't you agree?" She leans down to kiss her child on the forehead. Though she knows he cannot answer, sometimes she just like to talk to him.
"No, I wouldn't agree." the reply does not come from the lips of her child, who is yet too old to speak. A man steps out from behind a nearby tree, and points a gun at her child, a cruel smile not disguising the intent.

The chapters are often short and end in ways that keep the reader glued to the edge of their seat to see what is coming. Many times while reading, I had no idea what was going to happen next, and almost expected some outlandishness thing to come out from the recessed of Langlois creative mind to jump into the scene. The problem is that his mind is not mine, so when I expected things to happen, they didn't, and when I didn't expect anything, the most outlandish thing happened leaving many chapter closing with these words on my lips, "What is happening in this book!" It's so crazy, it's good.

As I previously mentioned, Langlois is amazing at mood-setting. Whether it is a high octane action scene or more slow paced, the reader feels like they are in the scene, living it  not only through the eyes of the characters, but through their hearts. The descriptions are  rich, hearty, and effective. A scene isn't often bogged down or slowed by the description  used, but instead it makes the scene come alive with vibrant flavour.

The book is split into two parts, each with their own characters and mood. The "parts" are not distinct from each other, but employ a definite change in the mood of the story. At the end of part one, a sub-plot is complete, but the story is far from over. I wasn't so sure what  the point of splitting this book into parts was until I got through the second part. The solid  shift in mood between parts one and two give a new flavour to the story, and splitting it in two was a nice touch which re-guides the reader as new scenes and characters are developed.

The Bad:

The first half of the book is the strongest, by far. Part one leads the reader on a journey of discovery about the characters and world without letting the action drop. There are many on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments that draw the reader right in, and the descriptions are amazing. I feel that part two fell behind on this a bit. It is not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is just not as good. Once part two gets going, there are a lot more action sequences which are split up with seemingly meaningless chapter breaks. The reader still
gets that edge-of-your-seat feel, but for completely different reasons. Instead of the suspense of what is going to happen next because of crazy and innovative chapter endings, the suspense is held by ending chapters in the middle of the action. Though I still enjoyed the short chapters in the second half, I don't feel like they were used as well as they were in part one, and often I felt like I had to keep reading just so that when I came back to it I wouldn't be lost in the middle of a scene. Instead of chapters ending at well-crafted
commercial breaks, they seemed to come simply because they were required by the television network after x number of words.

As you can tell by the mature content rating, there is a lot of strong language and graphic images in this book. The swearing was quite off-putting for me. I understand that people swear, especially when they are angry, but the frequent use of the F word disturbed me. Because of the nature of the story, there are a lot of gruesome scenes, and Langlois has no qualms about describing them in all their grotesque detail. This didn't bother me specifically, but I do think that maybe the gut-wrenching descriptions were a bit over done at
times, and this could put a lot of people off. Every book must find a good balance between reality and readability. Bad Radio was leaning a little bit too hard one way.

Conclusion:
If you are not bothered by strong language and gruesome description, this book is for you. A high-octane tale of people going to save the world from the "big baddy." Though this may sound over-used, Bad Radio is anything but traditional. Be prepared for a wild ride through mood-setting descriptive scenes and a strange world with strange magic to discover. Whether you are looking for the magic of the world, or the magic of words bringing a story to life, this book is for you.

Where you can find it:
Amazon.ca- $4.99
Amazon.com - $4.77 (paperback: $10.30)