Book Review: The Autistic Brain

The Autistic Brain

5/5 stars

I read through this book in two days. As a mother of autistic sons, it was incredibly helpful and fascinating. Although the science is a little behind (the writing of this was in 2012 I believe), it was still “new to me” since I know so little about genetics, and only have a cursory knowledge of brain scans and all the technology now available.

What was particularly helpful was the sections where Grandin addressed sensory issues. I, too, have been incredibly frustrated by the lack of understanding most doctors have in regards to this often debilitating issue that many autistic people face, including my sons. It was encouraging to see someone tackling this, even if it wasn’t entirely “scientific.” Grandin clearly knows what this is like, and it was comforting to read of her success in conquering many of these issues. It gives me hope for my sons.

All in all, this was a well-researched, thorough look at what we know currently about the autistic brain, as well as a challenge to the professionals to start thinking about the autistic brain differently. I desperately hope that this is taken seriously within the scientific community.

Get it on Amazon or add it on Goodreads

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Book Review: The Traveler by EB Dawson

The Traveler (Lost Empire Book 1)

4/5 stars

EB Dawson is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Dawson is no exception.

I’m not sure where to start with this review. There were so many fantastic elements to this book. For starters, I think it can all be summed up in one line: “This story isn’t about you.” One character says it to another, and the truth hit me hard. It’s so simple, yet so easy to forget. Each of our stories are so much bigger than we think, and the main character, Anissa, embarks on a journey to show just how true it is.

The descriptions in this book border on stunning. There were moments I felt like I was back in the mountains of Bolivia hiking to small villages with medical supplies strapped to my back. I’m not sure what the author had in mind when she wrote some of the mountain and village scenes, but that’s what it felt like. Rural, beautiful, big, and a reminder that it’s important to step outside our comfort zones.

The characters were in-depth and well fleshed out. I know some of them have side short stories, but even those characters still seemed to have motivations that were believable and real. One of Dawson’s strongest points in her writing is the ability to have characters with many sides. They aren’t one dimensional, a pet peeve of mine particularly reading indie authors. Dawson blows it out of the water. Carson is a good example: is he a good guy, a bad guy, or both? Does he want to do the right thing, or is he only interested in himself? Is he a narcissist, or does he have the ability to empathize? Bit by bit you see layers to him as the story unfolds.

One last thing, or I’ll go on forever. A lot of books have tackled traveling, whether it be time travel, jumping from one world to another, and so on. This book takes a trope that can often be overused and puts a unique edge to it. For me, it was the politics. Both worlds have clear-cut structure, and the interaction between those two structures was compelling. The theme of forced democracy, abuse of the planet, indoctrination of children, and other such “political” issues were delved into, in a way that I’ve never read before. There were times it was tackled head on, other times it was handled delicately. I feel that Dawson’s second strength, besides character development, is politics. This is evident in other books of hers, as well, but it really shines in this one.

The good far outshone the quirks in this novel. There were a few instances of head-hopping, but it wasn’t super distracting. There were a couple action scenes that were hard to follow because it was mostly dialogue, which was odd. But it didn’t take away from the author’s ability to completely submerge you into the worlds in this book. All in all, I can’t recommend it enough.

Grab it on Amazon or add to your Goodreads.

Book Review: Disintegration by JE Purrazzi

Disintegration (Malfunction Trilogy Book 2) by [Purrazzi, J.E.]

5/5 stars

JE Purrazzi is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Purrazzi is no exception. Her Malfunction Trilogy (the third book is in process) is one of my favorite dystopian series’ EVER. If you like Red Rising or Wool, you will really enjoy this series.

Disintegration is Part 2 of the series. All I can say is… WOW. What a fantastic follow up to book 1. Purrazzi does it again, and in every way, too. Unforgettable characters, fantastic action, twisting plots, and so much more. Cowl is rib-cracking hilarious, Bas just rips your heart to pieces, and Menrva… well, I’ll just let ya’all read the book. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.

Grab it on Amazon, or add to your Goodreads.

Book Review: Skies of Dripping Gold by Hannah Heath

Skies of Dripping Gold by [Heath, Hannah]

5/5 stars

Hannah Heath is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Heath is no exception. Everything she puts out is pure gold (see what I did there?) She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Skies of Dripping Gold is my absolute favorite short story I’ve ever read. Heath manages to create a grand, epic scope of a world in just one short story.

Skies of Dripping Gold is a beautiful, haunting story. I read a lot, yet it is rare to find something that really touches you, in your heart and soul. But this story did. The sibling relationship between Gabriel and Lilly was unique. The concept of faith was illustrated in a way I’ve never read before. The themes of pain, suffering, special needs, and love were powerful. There is really no reason why this story shouldn’t be read widely. I loved it.

Go grab this one now for only 99 cents. Or add it to your Goodreads TBR. It’s a steal. Trust me on this one.

Book Review: We Ride the Storm

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When I first picked this up in my quest to read all the SPFBO finalists this year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d heard great things, of course, but I tend to not get my hopes up when it comes to high reviews of books. I’m so happy this book exceeded my expectations.

The start of the book was a bit too brutal for my tastes, so I almost DNF’d it. But the characters made me love them right off the bat, so I kept with it. Although the violence is heavy, and the content dark, I was sucked into this world where light shines in unlikely places.

First, the characters are fantastic. Rah, with his honor, and the way he stands up for even his enemies. Miko, with her courage and loyalty. Cassandra, with her wit and intelligence. All three fight against internal and external struggles, making them well-rounded, fleshed-out, and downright believable.

Second, the plot has just enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seat, but without sacrificing world building. This is a hard balance to navigate when writing fantasy. The author does a phenomenal job.

Third, the magic system is understated without being forgettable, and unique without being overdone. Again, the way the author balances this tightrope act is incredible. There isn’t any explanations for WHY some things are the way they are, which is one reason this isn’t a total 5 stars for me, but I’m hoping it comes out in the next book. I don’t mind a good mystery, or leaving the reader questioning, but my personal preference is to have a broader understanding of the magic in the world.

All in all, this is a phenomenal read if you like dark epic fantasy with creative work building, well balanced magic, Deep characters, and flashes of light to break up the shadows. Can’t wait for the next book.

4.5/5 stars

Sink or Swim: Christ’s Promised Presence

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Check out my post over on Morning by MorningHere is an excerpt:

“Although Jesus is more than just a lifeguard, what if it feels like he isn’t coming? Maybe like me, you have been in, or are currently in a season, where it feels like he has forgotten you. Maybe it seems that he is off rescuing others or napping on the beach. You’re floundering in the ocean of trials and suffering, and you don’t see him coming. Will Jesus come into the scary diagnosis, failing marriage, difficult parenting season, grievous offense of another? Has he forgotten us?”

Read the rest here.

 

Author Guest Post: EB Dawson

If you’ve delved at all into the world of writing, you’ve probably heard about this thing called “voice.” I’m not talking about whether you are employing first person, third person, or omniscient point of view. Nor am I referring to the narrator in your story, although both can be a part of voice. So what exactly is author voice? And how can a new author find it? Well, you are in luck because although I am not an expert, I have some thoughts to share on that.
What is author voice? The topic of voice can be frustrating because there are aspects of voice which are entirely intangible. Part of voice is how you use the standard tools of story craft: tone, theme, vocabulary, plot, and character arcs. No two authors will ever tell the same story the same way. What you choose to include in your story, what you choose to focus on in each scene, and for each character is uniquely you. It is what will draw readers to you and what will set you apart from other authors.
Think of a camera. A hundred photographers can photograph the same forest and they will all bring out something different. Each photographer will choose a different angle, and focus their lens on a different set of details. And customers will buy those prints based on how they make them feel. They will choose the photos with the perspectives that mean the most to them. The same is true for the written word. Some people try to imitate an already successful author, but why play copy cat when you can create something new and amazing? You have a perspective and a voice that is unlike anyone else’s. And there are readers out there who will connect with your voice and your body of work.
That’s all great, you say. But how do I find my author voice? Well, it’s gonna take some time. First you need to know who you are as a person and what is important to you. If you don’t know that, it will come out in your work.
Don’t expect to find your voice in your first short story or even your first novel. Some authors do, but it’s pretty rare. The truth is, you need to learn how to write, first. And even if you’ve studied writing craft for years, you can only really learn writing by doing. Photographers have to learn about lighting, exposure, and focus before they can use all of these elements to their advantage. Start writing and write boldly. Write stories that matter to you and then when you are finished, figure out why those stories matter to you. Then move forward and write more. Listen to what people have to say about your work. Their perspectives will help you look at your writing in a new light and you will begin to see what sets your writing apart from other authors. And every time you edit your work you will be re-evaluating what needs to go and what needs to stay. The elements that are important to you will grow stronger and more prolific. And that’s when you will begin to draw readers who love your work.
I played around with writing from when I was eleven to when I was seventeen. I started to get serious about it when I was eighteen. I still had so much to learn about writing craft and my own author voice. But working on my first novel, I felt so much pressure to get it perfect. And once it was finished there was part of me that didn’t want to admit that it had any faults. I had poured my heart and soul into Out of Darkness and at the time I couldn’t imagine writing anything better. In fact, it took a great deal of time before I even had the concept for another book. I didn’t realize that my journey as an author was just beginning. I had no idea that every book would get better and my voice would get stronger, and that I would love each project more than the last. I imagine that my voice will strengthen and even change as I get older, but I’m not afraid of that. I am going to write the best books that I can right now. Next year I’ll do the same. So get on out there, be a student of life in all its complexities, and then write the stories that matter to you.

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E.B. Dawson was born out of time. Raised in the remote regions of a developing nation, traveling to America was as good as traveling thirty years into the future. So, it’s really no wonder that she writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes stories that acknowledge darkness, but empower and encourage people to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. And as an avid philosopher, she infuses her work with Socratic questions. When not writing, she tries to make a difference in the world by showing love and compassion to those most broken.

Get her books at her website.
http://www.ebdawsonwriting.com

Follow her on Twitter –  https://twitter.com/ebdawsonwriting