Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Review: Shibumi by Trevanian

I've read this book a few times and I only wish I could give it more stars. Each time I find more interesting and thoughtful aspects to the story. Nicolai Hel is a man of no citizenship who speaks multiple languages. He tries to achieve shibumi (a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty) in all aspects of his life. He is a professional assassin and is proficient in Naked-Kill. He is a master at the Japanese game of Goo (or Go, as we might call it) and pursues his hobby of caving in mountains around the world, especially in the Basque region where he now lives.
He is, as his friend the Gnome describes him a culturally Japanese medieval anti-hero:
"Only in Japan was the classical moment simultaneous with the medieval. In the West, philosophy, art, political and social ideal, all are identified with periods before or after the medieval moment, the single exception being that glorious stone bridge to God, the cathedral. Only in Japan was the feudal moment also the philosophic moment. We of the West are comfortable with the image of the warrior priest, or the warrior scientist, even the warrior industrialist. But the warrior philosopher? No, that concept irrirtate our sense of propriety. We speak of 'death and violence' as though they were two manifiestations of the same impulse. In fact, death is the very opposite of violence, which is always concerned with the struggle for life. Our philosophy is focused on managing life; yours on managing death. We seek comprehension; you seek dignity. We learn how to grasp; you learn how to let go. Even the label 'philosopher' is misleading, as our philosophers have always been animated by the urge to share (indeed, inflict) their insights; while your lot are content (perhaps selfishly) to make your separate and private peace."
Trevanian writes what are labeled 'thrillers'; his best-known work is "The Eiger Sanction" which was made into a movie with Clint Eastwood. However, while there are spies and action in his stories, there is also much more: ideas, philosophies, different worldviews not always comfortable or compatible with American values. I believe that reading Shibumi stretches the reader's mind in ways far beyond a simple thriller.
The writing is also superb. The author is able to portray each culture with all its strengths and weaknesses. In Shibumi, he covers Japanese, American, and Basque mostly though most Western countries, as well as Russia and China, are treated with his acerbic wit and descriptive dialogue.
The book was written a while ago and takes place from World War II to the 70-80s, but I've found it holds up well in rereads. The computer stuff isn't too dated, certainly not enough to take away from the enjoyment of the book. I noticed in the reviews that most people have reread the book several times; it's that kind of book. I expect that sometime in the future, I'll pull it down off my shelf and read it once more.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Tour and Giveaway: By Ways Unseen by Daniel Dydek

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Epic Fantasy
Date Published: July 12, 2018

The Provinces are falling. From the south, the immortal Knights of Galessern raid. From the north, the trees of the Kalen Woods have awoken, and are hungry for their second city. And from the east, Haydren Loren flees a childhood bully whose hate is now fully grown, and capable of murdering his way to becoming the Earl.

Haydren might find safety in the west. Or, he may find himself suddenly forced on a suicidal mission: face and defeat Lasserain, the strongest mage history has ever seen.

His quest is joined by a medley of friends foolish enough to think they might succeed: Geoffrey, a former knight of Rinc Na who betrayed his country and friends, and now seeks forgiveness through this final, desperate act; Sarah, a sorceress who will do anything to prove she is worthy; and Pladt, the famed archer whose only wish is to travel as far and wide as his name.

The God of All only knows the ways they must go - He, and a voice in Haydren’s head that is constantly growing louder.

Insanity. Capture. Death. All roads seem doomed for failure. But they must quickly choose a path, for Lasserain’s full fury is descending, and no one else has been able to stop it.

About the Author

Daniel Dydek was born in Raccoon Township, PA, where he dreamed of living out west. So far, he’s made it to Ohio, where he lives with his wife. He began writing at age 8, and never really stopped. After three years with the US Army, he went to get his Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Geneva College of Beaver Falls PA, and is currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. Besides writing, he also enjoys mountain biking, reading, coffee shops, book stores, and Durango Colorado.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Promo Blitz: Tower of the Arkein by Chase Blackwood

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Kan Savasci Cycle, Book 1
Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Date Published: May 2017
Publisher: Plenary Fitness

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2017 Royal Dragonfly E-Book Award Winner

1st Place Beverley Hills Book Award Finalist: Fantasy

2017 Best Book Awards Finalist: Fantasy

Trapped as a slave, facing an impossible decision, Aeden must choose between his friends and his soul...

The clock is ticking as the world descends into darkness.

He's been called the Scourge of Bodig, the Bane of Verold, but most know him as the Kan Savasci. He's one of the most feared men alive. Chaos and war have followed him like an angry shadow. The one problem, as the world faces the wrath of forgotten gods, Kan Savasci is nowhere to be found.

The annalist, a man trained in the ancient arts of the arkein, has been tasked to uncover the whereabouts of the Kan Savasci at any cost. In order to find the man, one must unmask the depths of his reclusive history.

Other Books in the Kan Savasci Cycle Fantasy Series:

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Tears of a Heart
Kan Savasci Cycle, Book 0
Publisher: Plenary Fitness
Published: September 2014

Winner of John E Weaver Excellent Reads Award

He's been called the Scourge of Bodig, the Bane of Verold, but most know him as the Kan Savasci. He's one of the most feared men alive. Chaos and war have followed him like an angry shadow.

The one problem, as the world faces the wrath of forgotten gods, Kan Savasci is nowhere to be found.

The annalist, a man trained in the ancient arts of the arkein, has been tasked to uncover the whereabouts of the Kan Savasci at any cost. In order to find the man, one must unmask the depths of his reclusive history.

The clock is ticking as Verold descends into darkness.

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Chapter 2

“Decorum was created by nobility to boost their sense of worth in the eyes of other nobility.” Herlewin’s Letters of Apology

Late afternoon fell over the city in a coppery haze. Sunlight infused every corner with a golden warmth that only the season of Lenton could provide.

The kiss of the sun felt good on Aeden’s tanned skin. He had grown darker within the hot embrace of the A’sh. His white hair was only more apparent in contrast to his darkened tone. It had grown to a length requiring a tie to keep it tidy. He felt taller and stronger, but he also felt lonelier and angrier.

Aeden glanced about.

Kardal was to his left, walking on the other side of the Jal’s litter. Behind him Aeden could feel the cold, hateful stare of Yazid. It was like a pebble within a boot, grating slowly at his resolve. He did his best to ignore the man. He used a technique Ayleth the Widow had taught him some years before. “When faced with hate,” she once told him, “understand the root of their hatred by understanding their circumstance. Only then will their words fade to nothing but a distant whisper.”

Aeden did as he had been told. He soaked in Sha’ril the way dry cotton soaks in water. He studied the movement of the people. He observed the lines of the city. He thought on the words of the Jal. Last, he remembered the tiny irritants that Yazid had allowed Aeden to glimpse. Each sliver formed a tiny image of a greater whole.

About the Author

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Welcome to Chase Blackwood's author bio, where he'll try to write something interesting about his life that captures your attention.

Chase Blackwood's life has been defined by struggle the way a moth battles an insect zapping light. He's studied martial arts since childhood in an effort to overcome fear. He's lived in a half dozen countries in an effort to "find himself," traveled to over 50 countries in an effort to "find humanity," lived in nine states just for the hell of it, oh... and the military has had something to do with that too. Chase has enjoyed combating terrorism, working as a federal agent, and also really likes puppies.

His most recent passion, puppies aside, has been working on the Kan Savasci Cycle, a series of fantasy novels that pulls from his life experiences to make the most vivid world imaginable. Stay tuned for a more romantic side...for the ladies, and guys, really for anyone who enjoys the genre.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trad Tuesday: The Battle of Harlaw sung by Old Blind Dogs

The Battle of Harlaw was fought July 24, 1411 between highland and lowland Scots. The highland forces under Donald, Lord of the Isles with Donald Dubh, XI Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, rose in support of Donald, 2nd Lord of the Isles in his rebellion of 1411. At the heart of this conflict was land. Robert, Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, had laid claim to the Earldom of Ross, even though Donald of the Isles had the better claim. Needless to say, Donald disputed the Regent's actions. He raised a large force from amongst his own Clan Donald and from his vassals and followers (amongst whom were Donald Dubh and the Camerons) met the forces of the Regent Albany at Harlaw, near Aberdeen.

The kilted army came down from the Highlands more like a party of marauders rather than a polished force - little did it matter, since their size was reported to be 10,000 men. They descended to Benochie, near the Don, in Aberdeenshire. This hill, a sort of bastion of the Grampians abutting into the Lowlands, has a vantage point over the entire coutryside. Arriving at Harlaw, which was flat moor edging up to the rise of the hill, the Highlanders met those who had come to guard the entrance to the low country. The Highland charge met a compact body of men-at-arms and spearmen who held their own firmly. Wave after wave crashed against the spearmen, with heavy damage on both sides.

The Battle of Harlaw ("Red Harlaw") is remembered as being a particularly bloody affair. The result was indecisive, for casualties were so heavy on each side that they could fight no more. It is recorded that many of Donald Dubh's Cameron followers were killed at Harlaw, although specific numbers were not recorded. Donald of the Isles' forces, joined by Donald Dubh and the remainder of Clan Cameron, had to withdraw the army and retire to their own country.

As I cam' in by Dunideer and doon by Nether Ha'
There were fifty thoosand' heilan' men a-marchin' tae Harlaw
Chorus (after each verse):
Wi' a diddy aye o' an' a fal an' doe
And a diddy aye o' aye ay
As I gaed on an' farther on and doon an' by Balquhain
Oh it's there I saw Sir James the Rose and wi' him John the Graeme
"It's cam' ye fae the Heilan's man, cam' ye a' the wey?
Saw ye MacDonald and his men as they cam' in fae Skye?"
"It's I was near and near eneuch that I their numbers saw
There was fifty thoosan' heilan' men a-marchin' tae Harlaw"
"Gin that be true," says James the Rose, "We'll no cam' muckle speed
We'll cry upon wir merry men and turn wir horse's heid"
"Oh na, o' na," says John the Graeme, "This thing will nivver be
The gallant Graemes wis nivver beat, we'll try fit we can dae"
Well, as I gaed on an' further on an' doon an' by Harlaw
There fell fu' close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
There fell fu' close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
An' ilka sword gaed clash for clash at the Battle of Harlaw
The Heilan' men wi' their lang swords, they laid on us fu' sair
And they drave back wir merry men three acres breadth and mair
An' Forbes tae his brither did say, "Noo brither, can't ye see
They've beaten us back on ilka side and we'll be forced tae flee"
"Oh na, na, my brither bold, this thing will nivver be
Ye'll tak yer guid sword in yer haun', ye'll gang in wi' me"
Well, it's back tae back the brithers bold gaed in amangst the thrang
And they drave back the heilan' men wi' swords baith sharp and lang
An' the firstan stroke that Forbes struck, he gart MacDonald reel
An' the neistan straik that Forbes struck, the brave MacDonald fell
An siccan a ptlairchie o' the likes ye nivver saw
As wis amangst the Heilan' men fan they saw MacDonald fa'
Some rade, some ran and some did gang, they were o' sma' record
For Forbes and his merry men, they slew them on the road
O' fifty thoosan' Heilan' men, but fifty-three gaed hame
And oot o' a' the Lawlan' men, fifty marched wi' Graeme
Gin onybody spier at ye for them that marched awa'
Ye can tell them plain and very plain they're sleepin' at Harlaw

Book Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Kingston Court by Holly Kammier

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Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit
Available Now
Publisher: Acorn Publishing, LLC

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** Top British book reviewer says Kingston Court has some of the best love scenes she’s ever read. **

Sometimes you have to fall to learn you can fly.

Samantha and Natalie are at a crossroads. Gorgeous, over-the-top Samantha, hides from her past by hanging her status and her happiness on her “perfect” husband. That is until she learns his secret.

But she’s not the only mother on the block struggling. Natalie, nurturing and careful, is thrust back into the workforce after her husband barely survives a near-fatal car accident.

This fast-paced novel follows the lives of two dramatically different women who are faced with life-altering experiences.

Death and misfortune in the span of a single year force these two women to either sink, or rediscover their inner strength and independence. Described as a modern day twist between Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives, Kingston Court is full of scandal, temptation, and all of life’s juicy little secrets.


“Samantha Chase?”


“I’m Brett, I’ll be your massage therapist today.”

Elena was right. Sha-bammy whammy. Standing at least six feet, with an eager smile and a strong jaw line, Brett was ridiculously easy on the eyes. I imagined what lay beneath his powder blue Salon Sol shirt and khaki pants.

Mom whispered in my ear, “Lucky you.”

I smiled back at her before gathering my purse and following this gorgeous man to the small room at the far end of the salon.

“You can set your things down in this chair here Samantha.” He pointed to a plain wooden seat in the corner. The space was dimly lit. Soft rainforest sounds of trickling water and birds chirping piped in through the overhead speakers. A purple candle flickered on the black granite countertop, and the calming scent of lavender filled the cozy room.

“Romantic scene.” I batted my Latisse-enhanced eyelashes. “You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble.”

“Only the best for my favorite clients.” Brett’s chocolate brown eyes held mine as he smiled.

“Am I your favorite already?” I asked, trying to hide my delight.

“Absolutely. I have a good feeling about our session. Before I step out to let you undress, what kind of massage are you interested in today?”

“A good one. Something to really work out all the stress I’ve been carrying.”

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About the Author

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Holly Kammier is a former journalist who has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon. A UCLA honors graduate, she is the author of the best-seller, Kingston Court, her debut novel.

Choosing Hope, her recently released novel, is a cross-over to Kingston Court with overlapping characters and locations.

The California native and mother of two, lives in San Diego, California close to her family and friends. Co-Founder of Acorn Publishing, Holly is available for speaking engagements and content editing.

You can visit her online at

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Review: Honeysuckle Lane by Squid McFinnigan

Honeysuckle Lane is a suburb of Dublin, a cul-de-sac with upscale homes. The people who live there are a mix of society: a compulsive gambler, a domestic abuser, a newly married couple, a psychopath. Their lives intertwine in this complex and enthralling story.
Mr. McFinnigan has created a tense story of varied characters that made me keep reading. I wanted to find out what happens to these people, even the ones who weren't very sympathetic. And many of them are not nice people.
Like most suburbs, the people don't really know their neighbors. It's all too easy to imagine this could be a similar area in the United States or elsewhere. Today, people often have no idea what's going on in their neighbor's homes. This book gives a view of a chilling aspect that could be all too true.
This is an excellent read - just be prepared to stay up late!

Link to Amazon

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cover Reveal: Spicebringer by H.L. Burke

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death. 

Author Bio:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

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Regularly 17.99, autographed paperback preorders are 14.99 with free shipping discount (free shipping to US locations only)