Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Spotlight: 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens

Now Featuring:

2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens by Alma Alexander:

What if you could make a different choice at a critical moment in your life?  What if had married someone else, turned right instead of left, had taken that job you agonized over and in the end rejected? What if you had been born a man instead of a woman? 

On the eve of the end of the world, Dec. 20, 2012, five friends meet in Spanish Gardens, the restaurant where they had celebrated their college graduation 20 years before. Over Irish coffees, they reminisce – and reveal long-held and disturbing secrets.
Each friend in turn is given a curious set of instructions by an enigmatic bartender named Ariel: "Your life is filled with crossroads and you are free to choose one road or another at any time. Stepping through this door takes away all choices except two -- the choice to live a different life, or return to this one.”
All of them pass through the portal and into drastically changed lives. They change occupations and families; one changes gender; a woman falls in love -- with another woman. In the end, four choose to return to their original lives. One doesn’t.

For more information, see Sky Warrior Books website: http://www.skywarriorbooks.com/

Author Bio:

Alma Alexander, who has been dubbed: 'Duchess of Fantasy,' has written a string of  historical and young adult fantasies that stand out as some of the best writing in the field.
Her high-fantasy duology, published in the United States as "The Hidden Queen" and "Changer of Days," is complemented by what is perhaps her best-known work, "The Secrets of Jin Shei." Jin-shei is currently out in 14 foreign editions worldwide including such fascinating languages as Turkish, Lithuanian, Catalan and Hebrew, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian and Dutch. Both Jin-shei and its sequel, "Embers of Heaven," are high-concept alternate history which have also been received as mainstream.  "Worldweavers", a YA fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins, features Native American mythology, computer magic, a race of elves with the souls of Ferengi, and Nikola Tesla in a coming-of-age story that has received high critical and reader praise.

Alma was born in Yugoslavia, grew up in Africa, and went to school in Wales. She has lived in several countries on four continents, and is quite comfortable in the new continent of cyberspace. Several years ago she was living in New Zealand when she met a man on an Internet bulletin board for writers, married him and moved to America.  She now lives with her husband and two cats in the Pacific Northwest, in the city of Bellingham (directions to her home include the phrase "Aim for Canada and just before you get there, turn right").  Her office looks out onto cedar woods, and she has frequently been known to babysit young deer left just outside her door while their mothers vanish off on some urgent deer errand.

You can learn more about Alma at her website,
www.AlmaAlexander.com, and more about the Worldweavers books at their own dedicated site, www.WorldWeaversWeb.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Spotlight: Summoned: Book One of The Elemental

Now Featuring:

Summoned: Book One of The Elemental by Susan Leigh Noble:

At the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.
Now eighteen, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.
On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

Summoned is the first book in The Elemental Trilogy.

Summoned: Book One of The Elemental  is also available on Smashwords

Author Bio:

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved to read. She has been writing since childhood – anything from poetry, short stories, news articles and finally full length fantasy novels. She has always loved dragons, magic and cats so it is no wonder she put them all together in her “The Elemental” trilogy.
When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s’ schools. She lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review of the movie Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens is a good movie, a really good movie.  However, if you’re looking for a sci-fi movie set in the Old West you may be disappointed because at its heart Cowboys and Aliens is a western.  It may have a side order of sci-fi, with alien bad guys instead of outlaws or cattle rustlers, but this movie is definitely a western, albeit an unconventional one.
You do get cool spaceships and lasers and nasty ET’s sprinkled in among the horses and the six-shooters, but the storyline is straight out of the western genre.  An outsider (Daniel Craig) wanders into town, stirs up some trouble, and gets himself arrested.  Then the bad guys shoot up the town with glowing lasers and flying ships, in order to kidnap hapless townsfolk.  The survivors eventually band together to form a rescue posse and go off to bring back the abducted, meeting bandits and Indians along the way.
The director, Jon Favreau, does an excellent job of bringing together the disparate elements in a solid plot that manages to weave the sci-fi elements into the narrative convincingly; the idea of aliens being thought of as demons by the people in town was both realistic and amusing. The film also has a stellar cast playing the classic roles, including an outstanding Daniel Craig as the amnesiac outlaw turned reluctant hero, Harrison Ford as the grizzled, severe cattle baron, Sam Rockwell as the ineffectual greenhorn and they all mesh well to give the movie some emotional depth.
Cowboys and Aliens is an enjoyable film, filled with fun dialogue, shootouts, fights, and rollicking western action, sci-fi style.

Article first published as Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens on Blogcritics.

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