Tag: self-published author

Guest Blog Post – Andi’s Book Reviews

Guest Blog Post – Andi’s Book Reviews

What does dog training have to do with becoming an author? Ellie Beals, author of Emergence, is going to tell us all about it in a special guest post today. You can also check out an excerpt from her book before you download your own copy. Be sure to also follow the rest of the tour to get to know her even better, adding your own comments and questions along the way. Best of luck in the giveaway!

My Journey to Becoming an Author: Thank you, Dog-Training

If you’ve read my novel Emergence, you’ll know that Cass Harwood, one of my protagonists, is a management consultant who is also a dog-trainer. As a successful mangement consultant, she is a chronic over-preparer, whose foundation of preparation allows her to put aside whatever script she’s created in order to successfully improvise. The same thing is true of her as an obedience competitor. This creative friction between the two poles of performance readiness (no preparation vs. obsessive planning) is an undercurrent throughout Emergence.

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Ellie’s Book Review – Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

Ellie’s Book Review – Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

A Perfect Marriage

I am an avid reader of non-fiction studies about dogs, and about the relationship between dogs and people. Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz has been for me, the most rewarding and enjoyable such book I’ve read, because of the way it spans the divide between the lyric and anecdotal love story (like Merle’s Door) and the scientific treatise (say, anything by Konrad Lorenz).

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Ellie’s Book Review – All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Ellie’s Book Review – All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Missing Three Pines (4/5 stars)

I have been a long-time fan of Louise Penny’s. Her writing is so descriptive that it feels like I can roll around in her descriptions of people, places and food (OMG – the food descriptions!) like a northern dog rolls in snow. The depth, clarity, uniqueness and believability of her characters is compelling. I love Chief Inspector Gamache with all my heart, and feel close to the same affection for the quirky group of residents that inhabit the hard-to-find village of Three Pines.​

All the Devils Are Are Here is not set in Three Pines. It unfolds in Paris. The Parisian setting may be the reason I gave All the Devils are Here four stars, as opposed to the five I would have awarded to every other of Penny’s preceding Inspector Gamache novels, all of which were set in Three Pines, Quebec. It may simply be that I miss the places and faces I’ve grown to love. Of course, Penny has brought her legendary descriptive prowess to Paris. But as a creature of habit — that didn’t displace the degree to which I missed Three Pines.​

I also found the plot didn’t unfold with the same sense of natural inevitablity I’ve experienced in her previous books. It felt like I had to accept some of the premises that moved the plot forward as a matter of faith, rather than seeing for myself why and how Gamache and crew considered them to be benchmarks leading to solutions. I acknowledge that this may simply be a reading failure on my part. I have long believed that Louise Penny is smarter than I am. But usually her books do not make me feel inadequate, and in places here — I did.​

Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. I did, and I consider four-stars to reflect my feeling that this is a very good read, and one well-worth undertaking. However, I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t already read any of the preceding Inspector Gamache novels, start with one of her Three Pines settings, rather than leaping immediately to Paris.

Ellie’s Book Reviews – Never Far Away by Michael Koryta

Ellie’s Book Reviews – Never Far Away by Michael Koryta

Big Time Fun! (5/5 stars)

Never Far Away, by Michael Koryta, was big-time fun. Here’s an indication of how much fun it was. I have started every morning since Nov 9, 2016, with a cup of coffee and the New York Times. Every day. No matter where I was. This morning, I sat up in bed, reached for the Kindle on my bedside table, and immediately dived back into the mayhem Koryta created in the woods of Maine. Didn’t even get a coffee first!

So what makes Never Far Away so compelling? First, it is beautifully written – great characters and descriptive passages that never distract the reader with intrusive showiness. If you are discerning – you’ll note the fine writing, but the flow of the book is so good you may not even notice some of the lovely narrative on first read. Kudos to Koryta on plot development also. His plot makes sense – complex and believable and – thank you thank you! – not so byzantine that I’d need to map it to keep track of people and events, betrayal and counter-betrayal. Indeed – the plot unfolds well and the flow of the book is superb, with momentum that grows steadily and doesn’t abate until it should – when the book ends.

Koryta has created believable, strong characters. Kudos to him for Nina, a well-drawn and believable strong female character. His kids are also well-developed, as is the dog Tessa. As anyone who reads my book (Emergence) will know – I have a pretty sharp eye for the veracity with which dogs are presented. Finally – his villainous anti-heroes Bleak and Dax are so compelling that one can’t help but suspect that they will re-appear some time in the future.

Kudos to Michael Koryta, for giving me the kind of high-adrenalin ride I haven’t had since I binge-read the first fifteen Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child (who has endorsed the book).

Ellie’s Book Review – Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Ellie’s Book Review – Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Skillfully Wrought But Not Compelling (3.5/5 stars)

I wanted to love this book. Kellerman, and his protagonists Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are like old friends from whom I’d been separated for many years. I don’t know why it’s been so long since I read one of Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels….it just happened. But I assumed that just as you quickly fall back into the patterns of long and comfortable association with old friends in your “real” life – I hoped and trusted that would be the case when I read Serpentine.

And my hopes were at first, realized. Alex and Milo are as well-drawn as ever (perhaps better than ever, for Milo) and Kellerman still delivers the powerfully vivid descriptions I’ve always loved. His accounts of his characters’ appearance, including their clothing, remain brilliant. I do not understand why knowing not only the style and color of garments worn, but also the details of jewelry, are so important to me. But they are, and I repeated old patterns by often reveling in Kellerman’s descriptive acumen, reading those passages a number of times before moving on. I’ve always enjoyed the same descriptive detail about food. The food descriptions ARE good – but in Serpentine, for me, there are just too many of them. Do these people never stop eating?!!! How can they even move, proceeding as they do from one huge meal to another? At some point, surely, they say “Enough – let’s just have some scrambled eggs and toast for dinner”?

OK – that was a pretty snitty comment. But it is indicative. Of what? I think of my growing feeling as the book progressed, that there just wasn’t enough action. The Kellerman series has always been cerebral – more brain than gut, no visceral nausea-induction, regardless of the violence of the crimes described. I like Kellerman’s moderation – I’m grateful that he isn’t a practitioner of either the gore-splattered pages of Clayton Lindemuth, or of too-cozy-for-me mysteries, with their stylized and antiseptic crimes from a distance. But in this case, I found it all too cerebral – the suspense which I want built through inaction that eventually escalates into a more visceral threat – just didn’t build all that well. I was curious, but far from enthralled. That means my bottom line (3.5/5 stars) is that I give Serpentine a good nod for the fine, writerly technique Kellerman continues to display, but a less stellar assessment than I’d hoped to provide, because it simply wasn’t all that compelling.