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Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my followers who celebrate this holiday, Happy Thanksgiving.

This holiday doesn't exist in Japan. Every year my wife and I have a small Thanksgiving party with different friends. Most of them are Japanese who have never experienced this holiday.

Along with that, most of them have never had traditional thanksgiving food. That's right; I've met people in their 40s who have never eaten turkey. That meat hardly exists in Japan. Specialty stores and Costco are the only places I've seen it. Even cold cuts for sandwiches are pretty much non-existent here.

For our traditional food, we either order it online or get it sent from America. We spend the morning cooking, then eat in the afternoon. I explain what the holiday is for. For the most part, I and Yoko's holiday is a lot like it is in America: good food and good times with good friends.
Happy holidays, everyone.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Craft Fair

On Nov. 16, Yoko and I went to the Craft and Information Fair at the Marine base here in Iwakuni. It was the first time I had ever been there. It was nice, with about 20 booths selling handmade crafts such as jewelry, bags, photography services, and more. We went there primarily for two reasons: to buy our annual Christmas ornament, and to support a fellow author.

Jessica Guthrie has a home-based business in which she makes and sells crafts and scrapbooks. Yoko and I always buy a special ornament every year for our Christmas tree, usually in America. We couldn't go to America this year but I saw Jessica had some beautiful ornaments for sale so we bought one from her.

Nikki Bennett is an author on base and has written several YA books. She is the head of our writing group here in Iwakuni, I bought two books from her and she was kind enough to sign them and have her husband Steve illustrate the front page.

We had a great time and may attend the next fair.

Here is one of Jessica's websites: http://tenaciouslyremembered.blogspot.jp

Nikki Bennett: http://www.firedrakebooks.com

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: The Sea Inside (Cerulean Songs #1) by Vickie Johnstone

From Goodreads: Book 1 in the Cerulean Songs series. 

Time is all we have; it flows – it cannot stop.

Jayne wakes up in hospital following a terrible accident, which changes her life as she knew it. While struggling to recover, she is visited by a mysterious woman who offers her a gift. To the girl’s astonishment, she finds herself on a journey, on both the physical and mental plane. It brings her to the mystical realm of Entyre, where life is very different and power lies with the creatures of the deep. While the threads of time keep flowing, Jayne must decide what is real, who to trust, and regain her inner strength in order to find herself and her true destiny.

Going into this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was a great start to a series that reminded me of The Neverending Story and Neil Gaiman.

As usual, I'll start with the bad. As I stated in my other book reviews, I don't like authors switching between third- and first-person narratives. Stick with one and use it. It wasn't as jarring in this book since we are with Jayne in the magical worlds for most of the book. As for Jayne herself, she really didn't do much for me. I like the fact she was paralyzed inane accident and developed a fear of water. She had much to overcome. I felt that she overcame her tasks a little easily but she was a friendly main character.

But if the main character was a plain Jayne (sorry, I couldn't resist) the worlds Johnstone created were anything but. While the repeated colors and description first annoyed me, I later appreciated them. Johnstone created vivid pictures in my mind of Entyre and the other worlds and her imagery made me want to visit those places. I imagined the magical atmosphere of Neverending Story with the colors and shapes of Tim Burton (without the creepiness). Cidanet, the talking dragonfly, seemed Gaiman-esque and was an interesting character.

The two halves of the book are very different, with Jayne in an underwater city then going on a magical adventure quest through various worlds. I really want to see how all these places fit together.

The Sea Inside is an enjoyable book.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Book Review: Retrospection by S.L. Wallace

A while ago I was asked to be a beta reader for S.L. Wallace. Here is my review for the finished version of her novella Retrospection. This is the official synopsis from Goodreads: "When Claire wakes up in the hospital, she discovers a stranger in her room who only she can see and hear. Learning Jhidhai's secrets will take her on a journey through both time and space. But Claire has secrets of her own—secrets that will lead her toward a destination she would never have imagined."

This was an enjoyable novella which is a series a vignettes. It switches from 3rd to 1st person POVs as Claire and Jhidhai relive memories. I wish the author had picked one POV and stuck with it throughout. Many books I have read recently use this switching technique and I don't like it. That's just a personal preference.

The memories we visit are mostly painful, there aren't many happy moments in this story but it isn't depressing. There is an undercurrent of resolve and strength, as if Wallace is telling us that all memories, even the bad ones, strengthen us. The vignettes are largely unconnected from each other and I wish there had been more of a through line or something to connect them more.

That all said, Wallace is a good author and this story is a quick enjoyable read that takes us to many times and places. We briefly experience the pains and joys of a multitude of characters and we remember that memories are precious things that need to be cherished and protected.

Get in touch with S.L. Wallace via Twitter or her website.