Review of “Dragon Prey”

Dragon Prey: A Cloud Lands NovellaDragon Prey: A Cloud Lands Novella by Hannah Steenbock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating look into the world where humans and dragons are still strangers to each others.
And considering the title of the book, I’ll leave it up to you who’s winning so far.

This was a really good read, with lots of action, a great pace, real people to believe in, and of course: dragons. If you think any dragons is a good dragon, think again. Read up on the things Sidren and her tribe face and then you’ll know.

Definitely a commendable book for people into fantasy, dragons and human(ish) relations.

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Why reading is important

Yes. Reading is important. That’s not because authors and publishers want to sell more books (of course they want that) but because it is a beneficial training for the brain and therefore a good influence on a person’s development.

new idseasReading makes people encounter new words. New visions. New ideas.

New words are important because the world evolves, changes. Everything is named and reading is a great way to get to know these new things that are developed.

New visions and ideas keep coming up. These are described with, exactly, words. Often complicated words. If someone’s vocabulary is limited to ‘and then I like, ehh, like, you know, sort kinda dug it‘, there’s a good chance the basics of new visions and concepts go totally over a person’s head, simply because their vocabulary is too limited to understand what’s being said – or written.

text language
Texting language

Try to explain the concepts of Plato’s philosophy when you’re used to scribbles like what you see up here. Or Newton’s laws of physics.

Would Einstein’s relativity theory (E=MC2) be adequately described with “When you go like real fast and things go like real slow“?

This makes a simple thing like reading so important.  If you can’t explain complex things, how can you invent them? It’s brain training. Even if the reader doesn’t even actively look up the word (s)he doesn’t understand, if those words come back often enough, their meaning will become clear (up to a certain point) through the contexts it appears in.

So yes, reading is important.

Writing for the heart.

Dear reader,

I agree this is a rather unusual title. I’m good at coming up with unusual things but that’s not the point of this post.  Read on and find out…

Writing for the heart.

red heartThe writing for the heart that I mean is not for my heart. It’s for the heart of the people who read what I’ve put to electronic paper. Let me tell you the story of one of those people. I’ll not mention her name. She will be MC.

Writing for the heart of MC.

One day, several years ago, I received an e-mail from someone who had read the entire series of my wicked witch. MC told me she used to be an artist, a painter, who then was in hospital because of many ailments. Since a few years (!) she was in an oxygen tent and reading books was impossible for her; her eyes had been affected by all the medication. A few good friends had bought her an e-reader (adjustable font size, you know) and on that she could read again. On that e-reader they’d installed the first few books of Hilda.

After reading them, MC asked a friend to write me that e-mail. In it she told me how much good my stories had done for her. And… then she asked: “If ever I am well enough again to paint, would you allow me to paint a few scenes from your stories?”

Bam

That is how that question hit me. Something I had written and put out into the world had such a profound impact on that person, profound enough for her to get that e-mail to me, with her story and her request.

You cannot imagine how that affected me. I hadn’t even ever dared to dream of anything like that to happen.

MC was not the only person who wrote to me about how my stories helped her along and made her happy. I’m not going to list all of them but there have been many. E-mails that touched me, made me smile, made me cry.

E-mails that made me happy, proud and humble. Humble because of the awe that I can do something like that for people I’ve never seen, that I’ll never meet. And they take the time to write to me. To tell me what my stories mean to them.

That is what I mean when I say writing for the heart. Maybe there are more hearts that my stories have touched, hearts that don’t want or dare to write to me. That’s okay. As long as the magic of words does magic to people’s hearts, that’s what counts.

MC, so I’ve learnt, has left this Earthly plane several years ago. An end to her pains and sickness. But knowing how books with stories have made a difference for her… touches my heart…

 

July is Fantasy-month!

Dear reader,

Heart of the GodsYou may not know it but on Facebook, at this very moment, there’s an event taking place called Fantasy in July. You are cordially invited to join the event where many fantasy writers are talking about their work, offering their work even at discounts and the occasional announcement for new works coming out soon pass by as well.

You might find a mention of “The Source of Lightning“, an epic steampunk adventure by Donna K. Fitch, for instance. Or there’s Katherine Lee Pierret Perkins’ “Dawn of Steam” (indeed, more steampunk). But there is also proper fantasy, like “Servant of the Gods” by Valerie Douglas (a gorgeous book if I say so myself).

If you like fantasy and Egypt, then “Heart of the Gods” would be a good choice. So if you feel like indulging in something special then don’t hesitate and come have a look!

Book review – Libriomancer

Title: Libriomancer
Author: Jim C. Hines
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

 

Libriomancer is a great book. Note that this is my opinion. It introduces a fabulous and (to me) new way to use magic, and it deals with (how surprising) books and people who do wonderful stuff with them. And people who do less than wonderful stuff too.

Books, vampires, dryads and automatons, anyone?

Book review – Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette and Espionage

Title: Etiquette and Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars

As usual with Gail Carriger’s books this was a delight to read. The choice of words in which she manages to describe situations and people are wonderful; I always walk among the happenings and the characters.

Sophronia’s life is taking an interesting turn when she enrolls in a Finishing School. Before I read this book it had already become clear what kind of school it was but that didn’t make the joy of reading this book any less.

I’m going to save up for an airdinghie.

A new e-reader

Dear e-reader,

No, I don’t consider you a device but this is mainly directed to people who, like I do, like to read on an electronic device. An e-reader for electronic book-readers.

I have acquired a new one. It’s the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx. My old Sony PRS-350 is getting a bit dated, the screen’s getting a bit blotchy (travel abuse, sorry screen) and since Sony stopped making e-readers I was on the look-out for other options. They are plentiful. There ‘s the Kindle paperwhite and the Kobo Aura HD, for instance. In places I am sure I can still get a B&N Nook Glow which also is a nice device. Still I decided on the Onyx. My main reason for that is that it’s an Android device. This has the benefit that I can install my favourite reading app (Moon Reader+) on it. Moon Reader+ syncs where I left off reading via Dropbox so regardless of (Android) device I pick up, I can read on where I stopped the last time.

Onyx Boox T86 lynx

I chose an e-ink device because it’s the primary device for reading when I go on vacation, and reading outside is a must then (weather permitting).

Outside, E-ink beats any LED or OLED screen with ease as far as I know, although the new Samsung Nook seems to do a good job too. I have a regular Android tablet on which I read at home, but outside it’s hopeless. I’ve tried. The Onyx has a built-in light so reading inside is no problem either.

I’m impressed by the clarity of the screen and the time a charged battery lasts. After about a week it went from 100% to 80%.

Book review – A Stranger in a Strange Land

Title: A Stranger in a Strange Land
Author: Robert Heinlein
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating

stranger-in-a-strange-land

This is not the first time I read this book. The first time is many years ago and when I read it back then I didn’t grok the entire depth of it. This is an amazing read from start to finish, partly seeing our world through the eyes of someone from another planet, partly seeing how we the people are wrapped into things. The explanations of Jubal, who’s a wonderful character in the book, excel in clarity for me. Definitely worth the re-read.

A real book. Is it what you hold in your hands?

Dear reader,

Many a question’s being asked about what is a book. A real book. I think that’s a valid question, and also something that only can be answered from the right point of view. Books

A book always used to be something made of paper, with a cover around it, and words inside that smell of ink.

 

 

 

 

ebook

The digital revolution bestowed the e-book upon us, with a cover around it that looks like a little machine (e.g. e-reader, tablet or even a smartphone), and the smell of ink is absent for now (but wait for it, technology will catch up on that!).

So what is a book? Is it the medium that carries the story, the paper, the ink, the weight that comes with it? Or is it the story that’s conveyed, regardless of the medium it’s read from? Do you read a book or do you read a story? I think it’s fair to say that both options are true and real, and books are books, be they paper or e. As for the weight that comes with a book… e-readers have weight too and that can be a blessing for people who have problems holding up the big paper tomes.

There will always be paper books. There will always be e-books. And that’s the grand thing. Stories appear on both media, so you can take your pick. There is no absolute in what’s the best. The absolute could be your personal preference, and that’s not even a fixed point because there are people who appreciate a heavy, smelly book when they’re at home, but who take their e-reading device along when they travel (for instance when they don’t want to risk damaging the paper version).

The choice is yours.

Read an E-book week at Smashwords

Yes, dear reader,

 

It’s happening again. Over at Smashwords the ‘read an e-book week’ promotion is off again, and I am participating. If you felt reluctant to read some of my titles, here’s your chance to get one or more of them with a 50% discount.

The books that are up for that this week are Green HavenThe Story of the MimosaCharisma the young witchBactine, and The Devil’s Diary. Just enter the coupon code “REW50” as you check out and the discount is applied. Note that this is a Smashwords-only promotion, it won’t work for Barnes&Noble, Amazon, Apple iTunes or the other usual suspects.

Smashwords offers e-books for any platform you can think of. Epub for Sony, Nook and Apple-devices, MOBI for Amazon Kindle devices and apps, and more.