book review

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams–Review

(Other than an advanced reader copy of this book, I was not compensated for my review.)

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot, by local author David M. Williams (author previously reviewed here), is a young adult fantasy novel in which a LARP game suddenly turns real.

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 1

A small group of young teenagers fears their LARP game is about to end, as high school looms and their game master is about to move to Oregon.  They’ve been acting out fantasy role-playing games, in the style of Dungeons and Dragons and with lots of puns, in Hobbs Woods near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  They are described in the book as:

“Lorenzo Lopez would much rather larp than worry about starting high school or saying goodbye to his best friend. As Sir Larpsalot, human paragon, he is eager to prove himself, though his heroics could tear the party apart.”

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 3

Asher Brzezinski plans one final larp for Good Company before his family moves away, but everything goes wrong. As Elvish Presley, elf minstrel, he has played many roles, but never before the damsel in distress.”

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 5

“Makayla Schmidt unleashes her inner tomboy when she larps, though she also has a secret reason for playing. As Brutus the Bullheaded, minotaur berserker, she buries her feelings beneath a tough exterior—until she can’t.”

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 7

“Trent Hawthorn thinks larping was fun while it lasted, but he is ready to grow up and meet girls. As Tom
Foolery, a dwarf clerogue, he must remain a geek a little longer if he wants to keep himself and his brother alive.”

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 9

“Jonathan Hawthorn doesn’t care if the others call him a know-it-all because it implies he truly knows everything. As Master Prospero, human magus, he will do anything to complete their quest, even if he has to do it alone.”

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot by David M. Williams--Review 11

Asher disappears right before his family is supposed to move, so the rest of the group goes looking for him–only to find themselves in a strange new world where magic is real and their childhood toys can’t conquer actual monsters.  They don’t know who to trust, who’s an enemy and who can help them.

I loved the local color, along with the colorful characters: Mak the punk-rock girl, Jon the Aspie, Trent thinking he’s too “cool” to be a geek (while spitting all over the place).  Each chapter begins with a humorous description of roleplaying terminology, so you’re not lost.  The kids swear, but most of it is in Mak’s “minotaur” version, making it cute–and family-friendly.

It was a quick, fun read, especially nice after reading two depressing political books back-to-back.

More information on the book is here.  You can buy it on Amazon.

Review of If Souls Can Sleep by David Michael Williams

One of our local writers has recently published If Souls Can Sleep.  From the book description:

First he lost his daughter. His mind may be next.

After years of being haunted by the day his little girl drowned, Vincent faces a new nightmare — one that reaches into the real world and beyond the grave.

If Souls Can Sleep introduces a hidden world where gifted individuals possess the power to invade the dreams of others. Two rival factions have transformed the dreamscape into a war zone where all reality is relative and even the dead can’t rest in peace.

More information on the book is here and here.

From the press release:

The 350-page paperback captures elements of science fiction, fantasy, suspense, and metafiction, covering such disparate topics as Norse mythology and neuroscience.

 

“After years of focusing exclusively on sword-and-sorcery fantasy, as both a writer and a reader, I made it my goal to write something very different. I wanted to create a book I had never read before, something very unusual and unique,” Williams said.

 

“It was time to take a risk,” he added.

 

While categorizing “If Souls Can Sleep” can be tricky, Williams sees the mashup of genres as a strength because the story has something for readers of many backgrounds. He describes the narrative as complex yet accessible, peculiar yet relatable.

 

“This book has no shortage of paradoxes. I tried to break the rules without ending up with a broken story,” Williams said. “Fortunately, early feedback suggests the experiment was successful.”

 

“If Souls Can Sleep” will be published through Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, on Jan. 30. The book is currently available for preorder as a paperback at Amazon.com and as an e-book through the Kindle Store. Other e-book formats will follow at various online retailers starting in May.

 

“If Souls Can Sleep” serves as the first book of The Soul Sleep Cycle. The sequel, “If Sin Dwells Deep,” is scheduled for a fall 2018 release, with a third installment, “If Dreams Can Die,” slated for spring 2019.

 

Williams is also the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy comprised of “Rebels and Fools,” “Heroes and Liars,” and “Martyrs and Monsters.” He is a 1999 graduate of UW-Fond du Lac and a 2001 graduate of UW-Milwaukee, where he studied creative writing. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state’s oldest writing collectives, in 2005.

 

His website, https://david-michael-williams.com, features a blog about his fiction and the craft of writing.

Publishers were interested, but couldn’t figure out how to classify the book to sell it, because of the genre-bending.  But if that’s so, then the market must have gotten too restrictive over the years: I’d say “sci-fi/fantasy” works fine.

Also, don’t be scared off by its being self-published.  This book is professionally done, well-written and well-edited (though it could have used one more run-through).  It reads quickly and holds the reader’s attention all the way through.  The characters are well-rounded.  And the concept–Who hasn’t wanted to explore the dreamscape as if it were more than just visions in our own heads, as if we could go there to visit friends and even departed loved ones?

Reading over some reviews–One person found it hard to get into at first, but I was pulled right in.  Maybe it depends on what you’re into.

Details on how to buy the book are here.  And yes, there will be more books later: It’s the beginning of a series.

 

Reflections on Fire And Fury

I don’t want to get into a big, long treatise on politics, but give a few general impressions after finishing Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury:

First of all, his view of Trump is not a mastermind trying to be the next Hitler.  It’s more along the lines of what Howard Stern said many months ago, that Trump just wants to be loved.

The trouble is that Trump–in the Wolff portrayal–is so dim-witted that he fails at this and doesn’t know why, then lashes out and makes things worse.  And that he’s terribly unfit for the Presidency and his whole staff knows it.

Turns out that even as a business leader, he faked his way along.  He doesn’t have the acumen or the patience to read or listen to the kind of full, detailed explanations and reports that you’d expect a president to need to function in his post.  Wolff says that despite bragging that he’s a great negotiator, Trump is actually a terrible negotiator.  And many of his staffers are incompetent as well, knowing nothing about politics.

Instead of having some plan in mind for taking down the press, free speech, etc., he seems to bungle into making outrageous attacks on the Constitution.  He doesn’t realize what he’s doing, just wants to get back at somebody who upset him, or he’s just rambling about something he knows nothing about, or–in the case of NFL knee-bending–stumbled upon a way to stir up crowds at his rallies.  Because he can’t stand boring a crowd with a dull prepared speech; he needs cheers, love, adoration.

What makes this even worse is that when the leader of a country is unfit, somebody tries to step into the vacuum and be the real power behind the throne, the puppet master.  And that’s exactly what has happened, with various forces–alt-right, establishment Republicans, moderates–trying to take over, and fighting amongst themselves.

Another problem is that getting rid of Trump one way or another–impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation–wouldn’t fix the problem.  If anything, his election and nominal presidency have brought into the open problems which have been there for some time.  For example, the alt-right/white supremacists.  They’ve been emboldened, and aren’t likely to just slink away if Trump is taken out of office.  Wolff says that Richard Spencer specifically intended to link the movement with Trump in the Charlottesville rally.

Then you have the establishment GOP.  They don’t want to impeach Trump because he’s their shot at finally getting their policy wishlist.  The GOP doesn’t serve us, hasn’t for some time; they serve the corporations.

Just look at Wisconsin: The media stopped paying much attention to us after 2011’s furor over Act 10 died down, but we’re still suffering not just from the effects of Act 10, but from having the GOP in power.  They’ve gerrymandered their way into keeping and holding onto power, so much so that a court ordered them to fix it.  But instead of fixing it, they decided to fight, costing us more money.  We’re lagging behind other states; I hear of some great economic recovery, but here in Wisconsin, companies still suffer and talk of closure.  Walker refused the aid offered by the government for implementing the Affordable Care Act.

We had a non-partisan watchdog group keeping an eye on the state government, but because it investigated Walker, the GOP government shut it down.  A GOP Supreme Court ended the investigation, saying there was no wrongdoing, despite mountains of evidence saying the opposite.  Now the GOP is going after the people who were involved in the investigation, slandering them so publicly and fiercely that their targets are talking of lawsuits.

This is separate from Trump, existed before Trump, and will still be there after Trump.  Trump is a malignant narcissist, but he alone will not bring us into fascism.  No, the GOP as a whole, working together, and using him as a tool, can bring us into fascism.

As the last page of the book describes Bannon’s view,

The Trump presidency–however long it lasted–had created the opening that would provide the true outsiders their opportunity.  Trump was just the beginning.

And yes, Kelly hates Trump, just as we all suspected.

And who is the person having a rumored affair with Trump?  Wolff said to read between the lines.  😛  At first I thought it was Hope Hicks, but her affair was with Lewandowski, and Trump seems to treat her more like a daughter.  And yes, that means saying she’s the best tail Lewandowski will ever get, because you know Trump talks about his real daughter like that.  Which is also disrespectful to Lewandowski’s wife, who should be the “best tail” he’ll ever get.  <eyeroll>

Is it Nikki Haley?  In the epilogue are some hints that it might be her.  But I still suspect Hicks.

Wait–Despite all the complaints that he was careless about facts, he had *three* fact-checkers.  So yes, it was fact-checked.

And, oh yeah, I’ve downloaded the other Fire and Fury, the one which people kept downloading by mistake: a book about Allied bombings on Germany during WWII.  This actually ties right in with the novel I’m writing, so it’s research.  🙂

Having the same name as Wolff’s book, led to a sudden jump in sales for a book which hadn’t received a whole lot of attention before this.  A very confused review–saying why do liberals love it so much when there’s nothing in it about Trump–even made it to Stephen Colbert (watch here).  That review is no longer there, so I think the confused reviews have all been weeded out.  🙂

 

Reflections on Fire And Fury
Reflections on Fire And Fury 13

I don't want to get into a big, long treatise on politics, but give a few general impressions after finishing Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury:

Editor's Rating:
4

Review of The Seventh Cruise: WWII Novel

One of my favorite people in my Writer’s Club, Karl Stewart, recently published The Seventh Cruise.  The Amazon link, which also includes a plot summary, is here.  The author’s website is here.

Stewart bases his novels on his real-life family, starting with his great-grandfather, See-Bird Carpenter, a Choctaw Indian who made a name for himself in rodeo.  The second novel in the series is based on the Hatfield and McCoy conflict, because his great-grandmother–See-Bird’s wife–was related to the Hatfields.  In the third book, his father, still a young teenager, leaves home to join the Navy in WWII.  He serves on the USS Hancock.

Battle scenes are vividly described, framed by a love story between Stewart’s parents, here given the fictional names of Stu and Maggie.  We also see the ever-present threat of PTSD, as the sailors and airmen fight to keep the images of war from their heads.  Stewart based the events of the book on the real-life experiences of various survivors of WWII.

And the occasional chapter–including the opening–is from the point of view of  a kamikaze pilot, based on a real-life pilot who decided not to crash into the Hancock.

You can read about all three books, and learn how to buy them, at the author’s website here.

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