Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!

Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Texicans by Nina Vida

Nina Vida’s book is a character study of the variety of people who emigrated to Texas and formed the state. She shows the disparity between the newly arrived, the native Americans and the Mexicans. It is a tale of prejudice and perseverance.

I enjoyed the book. The central character Joseph Kimmel shows the strengths that define Texas and the flaws the define human nature. Kimmel’s basic dissatisfaction with life and his unrequited desires for a life that might have been are central to the books theme. Each major character is totally humanized by Vida. They don’t seem like characters in a book, they seem like real, live people. Katrin’s desire to be the best she could be was both inspiring and sad. It seems like a sequel is necessary to track the further lives of these people. It was compelling voyeurism.

Body of work of Nina Vida


Web site:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Light of Burning Shadows by Chris Evans

I liked Chris Evans second book better than her first. She has created a real Rubik’s cube of plots within plots. More villains have been added and some minor characters have been promoted to major characters. The second Star of power is to be found in a desert dominated by the legend of an evil sorcerer. The Iron Elves are once more the sharp point of the human empires bayonet. Three witches ride into battle with villains who oppose each other, who try and destroy the Iron Elves and capture the Star of Power.

The coming of age of Alwyn was inevitable and eventually dismaying. Konowa’s role was not demoted but was of less consequence in this book. Evans again provides enough detail to flesh out her characters into believable protagonists. The interplay and camaraderie again is inspiring and entertaining. Fans of Stirling and Drake will enjoy the military intereaction. I noted in my review of Evans first book that I felt she has the potential to build a band of brothers similar to Glen Cook’s Black Company. It was gratifying that a review by the Library Journal quoted on the dust jacket of this book suggests the same thing. A cautionary note, Evans doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters that you may have invested with empathetically. I felt the increased intricacy of the plot line and some startling revelations added to my predisposition to enjoy the book.

I enjoyed the book and am waiting not very patiently for the next.

October 17th to October 18th 2011

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Darkness Formed in Fire by Chris Evans

An agrarian society dominated by an Empire’s forces seeks salvation in falling stars. An outcast elf leads the Iron Elves, a military unit in the Empire employ. The outcast elf’s experiences as the Iron Elves fight both rebel forces and the mysterious and sinister Shadow Monarch fuel the action in this book.

I enjoyed the way Evans built her characters. She provided plenty of insight to the character’s motivation. All of the necessary pieces were available for a down and dirty fantasy adventure. I particularly liked the interplay between dwarf and dweeb. Konowa’s esprit de corps and his deep sense of responsibility for his men was admirable. His soul searching introspection and brooding kept him from being a stereotyped hero. The plot had a wealth of intricacy as far as plot is concerned. The invocation of an all abiding oath by the Iron Elves tied Konowa’s fate to soul searing revenge. The Iron Elves have the potential to grow into a band of brothers similar to Glen Cooks’ infamous Black Company.

I enjoyed the book and have already started the sequel, “The Light of Burning Shadow”

Body of work of Chris Evans


Web site: nothing showed up

October 17th to October 18th 2011

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ravens by George Dawes Green

The novel chronicles a family’s serendipitous win of the lottery. It looks at the changes they may face and then disrupts the process by suddenly becoming the prey of a pair of unscrupulous and unlikely hoodlums.

Green painted a vivid picture of a dysfunctional family wallowing in self despair. The precipitous change in fortune seems to reunite the family bonds. The self absorbed teen was almost stereotypical. The two losers who invade the family’s sanctity are not in any way stereotypical. They seem too inept to successfully pull off a monumental scam. The tension in the story was palatable. The characters were memorable, some frighteningly so. The gullible and needy nature of many of the self perceived down trodden was also well, but disturbingly portrayed. I have to doubt that a circus could have characters more colorful, Green did a terrific job in his character portrayals. I found the book disturbingly entertaining. The depiction of a variety of psychotic behaviors were all too believable.

I recommend the book but don’t plan on a laid back, relaxing read, it has a compelling nature.

Body of work of George Dawes Green


Web site: Doesn’t appear to have one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Get Real by Donald E. Westlake

Scene one, take one..Thugs are Us meeting taking place. This mystery is about a gang of semi-ethical thugs and the foray into reality TV.

This is the first John Dortmunder book I have read. It did not generate guffaws but it certainly made me smile. The sympathetic depiction of small time career criminals contrasted with the completely unrealistic world of reality TV provided a set fraught with humor. Westlake must have a wide range of acquaintances to so accurately portray his characters. I have had the opportunity to know some less savory folks and Westlake depicted them well. Unknown to the average person is that these folks have a code of ethics that may be unrecognizable to most but is loosely adhered to by them. It was refreshing to read a mystery whose story line was not dependent on body count. This is the first of Westlake’s books I have read but it will not be the last. I was saddened to see that he has passed away but his literary legacy will live on.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Donald E. Westlake


Web site:

Monday, July 20, 2009

WhooHoo An Award!

Michael over at A Few Minutes With Michael honored me with the Kreativ Blogger Award Sunday.

Being from an era where little league trophies were only awarded to the champions and not just all the participants, I love getting awards. Shallow as that may be, as resilient as my ego is (resilience sounds so much better than inflated) it is reassuring and affirming to receive recognition for something you enjoy doing.

The rule for this award is that if you accept it, you are supposed to list seven of your favorite things and nominate seven blogs that deserve this award.

The Big Seven (this week) In No Discernable Order

1. Brown’s Donuts, boardwalk OC, NJ as of Thursday July 16th.
2. Grandchildren 1-4 (only 4 so far) and their parents
3. Long suffering spouse who has stayed the course
4. Bright vibrant colors
5. Books, paper, hard back and e., scifi & fantasy especially
6. Classic rock (classic is not within the last 10 years)
7. Friendly, happy people

Here are the bloggers I am sending this award to, for their continuing contributions to the blogging community and who seem to be friendly, happy people:

1. Everything To Do With Books
2. Book Calendar
3. Stacy Deanne
4. Natalie’s Book Inn
5. Merry Weather
6. Beth’s Book Review Blog
7. BookVisions

Take a minute and visit these blogs, you won’t regret it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Red To Black by Alex Dryden

The never ending Cold War is the theme of this book. The author paints a grim picture of Russian democracy, suggesting it is a total sham. The interaction and love between a British spy and a KGB Colonel fuel the exploration of the KGB’s domination of Russian affairs.

Many times this book seemed more historic than fictional. Having taught history years and years ago, this book accurately portrayed international events. Reading easily for a historic text it was a bit dry for a novel. The characterizations were colorful and confusing. The subterfuge of the intelligence community permeated the relationships in the book. There was never any certainty as to who was friend and who was foe. I found the book more frightening than any thriller. It reeks of truth and accuracy on a topic that affects the entire population of the world. Wars are fought over economics as often as religion. The military industrial complex has characterized the U.S. over the last century. There are still many who believe the Iraq war was simply over oil. When America feels economically threatened we generally react very negatively. The author’s premise may be fictional but if the KGB did subvert the economy of the European Union armed conflict could be inevitable.

This wasn’t an entertaining read as much as a thought provoking, scenario stimulating read. I recommend it but if you truly ponder the direction the author is leading to, it will make you uncomfortable.

Body of work of Alex Dryden


Web site: No site found but an very interesting article in Publisher’s Weekly.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire was a monster, a mutant that had extraordinary powers that attracted those like her, who wanted to destroy her. Her powers made her valuable to those in power who wished to use them for their purposes. This story encompasses her acceptance of both her powers and herself in concert with those she grows to love and respect. This is a tale of battle and conflict, high emotions and frightening consequences.

Fire was impossible not to like. Her introspection and self depreciation enhanced her vulnerability and made you want to protect her. Cashore’s descriptions illuminated Fire’s beauty and depicted the depravity and desperation that surrounded her. I thought Cashore did a masterful portray of human foibles with Fire gradually coming to the realization that her perceived inability to aspire to perfection was reflected in that same inability for perfection in all whom she met. Fires confrontation with amoral sociopathic behavior was a catharsis of dynamic magnitude for her self image. The dialogue and scene painting were well done. Cashore’s description provided the raw material that enabled me to envision the environment in which Fire survived. I was particularly touched by Fire’s love for Small, her horse. I found myself saddened by Fire’s inability to understand why her guards became her friends. The self sacrificing nature Fire exhibited was subtly depicted with understanding and pathos.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I will be getting “Graceling” which came out before this book. “Fire” is the prequel to “Graceling”. This may only be Kristin Cashore’s second book but if her quality is maintained at this level, she is going to be a force in the Fantasy genre to be reckoned with; up there with Elizabeth Moon and Mercedes Lackey, she is that good!

I don’t just recommend this book, I insist that if you enjoy fantasy and astoundingly good character depiction, you must get this book!

Body of work of Kristin Cashore


Web site:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe.

This book examines the life of a low country shrimper family. The stresses of a dangerous, low paying occupation are contrasted with the love of independence and traditions of a multi-generational family occupation. It is a story of love, tests and growth of a couple struggling to redefine their relationship.

I honestly thought I would find the book boring. Boy, was I wrong! I grew up in a dying steel town and there were some surprising parallels between my past and the life of a commercial fisherman in a dying seacoast town. The characters were clearly defined, warts and all. The competition to earn a dollar and the incredible cooperation when danger threatened was eye opening and captivating. The desire to see your family safe and taken care of was another area of similarity. My own father worked in a job he hated to insure his family’s thriving. Bud Morrison loved his occupation even when it failed to provide him with the wherewithal to support his family. The frustrated interplay between characters and their need to be responsible and often lonely and the want to be closer physically, mentally and emotionally was sometimes draining. You end up really feeling for these people and their life altering dilemmas.

Monroe paints her environment with digital clarity; you can see the Miss Carolina in the Morrison colors, the smell of the sea and the discordant aromas of dying sea life and fresh ocean breezes.

I think this story will resonate with practically anyone who has ever held a job that was both demanding and exhilarating. I saw people I knew in an industry I knew nothing about. The book moved me and surprised me for how much I enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.

Body of work of Mary Alice Monroe

Web site:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pollen And The Ring of Harmony by Francis T. Perry Williams

Pollen is a message of hope. Earth is depicted as the worst of Al Gore’s nightmares with a cynical attitude toward the environment. Pollen is an enlightened being who hopes to determine if Earth is worth saving from destruction.

In some ways this book seemed a simplistic rehashing of the “green” politics. I don’t think it is positioned as a Young Adult novel but it would work well with that age group. I found myself chuckling over the author’s sense of humor. A logger named Saul Runyan is a good example of William’s humor. The points Williams wants to make are painted with a very broad brush. There is no subtlety to the message. Considering that our environment is in a sorry state, perhaps it is too late for subtle and we need to get hit in the head to see reality. Williams also clearly shows he has a strong faith in the humanity of his fellow man. I liked the story, the interaction between the characters and the message. Pollen has the ability to bring the best out of a motley bunch.

I’m afraid that the message may be seen as pure science fiction rather than a needed wakeup call to the golden rule in human interaction and the environment.

I recommend it.

Body of work of Francis T. Perry Williams


Web site:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What’s On Your Desk Thursday or ?

I got a meme from Michael at A Few Minutes With Michael that looked like fun.
Here are the rules:
You can do one of two things or both.

1. Grab a camera and take a photo of your desk, or anywhere you stack your books/TBR pile. And no tidying! Add this photo to your blog. Tag at least 5 people, and then return to Sassy Brit’s blog and leave a link back to your photo in the Mr. Linky.
2. List at least 5 BOOKISH things on your desk. List at least 5 NON BOOK things. Tag at least 5 people to do the same. Return to Sassy Brit’s blog and leave your link, so everybody can come and visit your blog.

Since I couldn’t get into Sassy Brit’s blog (neither ie or firefox was happy there, don’t know why) I am linking back to Michaels and then if you want you can go to Sassy’s blog. I am never sure of the protocol on these things, it was suppose to be Wednesday but since I didn’t read it until too late Wednesday I have changed it to Thursday. If you aren’t confused at this point, it isn’t because I’m not trying.

Ok, here is my desktop.
I am tagging:
Book Calendar--A personal blog about books, reading, and librarianship with reviews of books I've read
Stacy-Deanne (Novelist) and one woman PEP club for aspiring writers
Falling Off The Shelf by Jenni
The BookInn by Natalie, winner of my only contest
The Clock Monkey by Ella Press

These are all blogs worth visiting, check them out, even if they don’t put up a photo of their desktop they are good people for putting up with me as a friend.

This links back to Michael who hooked me into this and at this point is probably wondering why.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors, So Far.

This link will take you to my list fo favorite scifi and fantasy authors as of today.

Not everything they wrote is great but this list encompasses the authors from whom I extracted the most consistent pleasure. There are some who didn't make the list because I found more of their books I disliked than liked. This group has the best books in the genres I have read.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Perfect Is That by Sarah Bird

This is a coming of age of a self-absorbed, narcissistic young woman.

Blythe Young is a thirty three year old burn out. She brings self destructive behavior to new heights. This book is a humorous rendition of her crash, burn and phoenix like resurrection.

I think the current state of the economy makes this book even more poignant. The whole dot com era fueled an entire generation with the often delusional aspiration that wealth, success, accolades and early retirement was within everyone’s reach with a minimal amount of education and effort. Blythe, formerly known as Chanterelle, was a self perceived trailer trash makeover into a society playgirl. The story of her fall from grace is highlighted by astoundingly stupid decisions. Truth in any form was completely foreign to Blythe. I found her character abhorrent and loveable at the same time. Her ability to see the foibles of those around her and exploit them for her own purposes was purely demonic. She was truly a character you loved to hate. On the other hand, her vain attempts to rebuild herself inspired a kind of pathetic sympathy. Her friend Milly’s contrasting story line of selfless service to others only highlighted Blythe’s extraordinary shallowness. The miraculous transformation of Blythe’s coven of social attackers was a bit of a stretch. That was the only point that seemed completely impossible. Blythe’s transforming of Nikki warmed your heart, her ability to see to the person behind the mask was a redeeming characteristic.

There were times I literally laughed out loud (LOL) which startled my wife. The book cover leads one to believe it is a “chick” book in the romantic category. Au contraire, I say, the book was entertaining, amusing, sometimes captivating and in the end redeeming. I think even a “manly man*” could read it and find themselves reflecting on some of the people they know.

All in all I recommend the book, it is a light hearted read, but not just whipped cream, there is some substance there that promotes introspection.

*Manly men are those of my gender that consider the only literature worth reading resides on the sports pages or gun catalogs.

Body of work of Sarah Bird


Web site: This is a fan site, Sarah Bird does not appear to have her own site.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Devlin Diary Contest (by Chrsiti Phillips)

Nataliew2 is the winner of the copy of “The Devlin Diary”.
I took all the comments (6) assigned them a number based on time of comment, put the number in the random number generator at and Natalie won. Congratulations to Natalie and thank you for the comments to the rest of you who made comments.

Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein

An archaeologist on a dig in Israel is approached by an Arab couple and asked to come to their home to see their ghosts. The archaeologist makes a surprising discovery that appears to virally spread a world wide message of love.

I was particularly taken by the interplay of the various factions in Israel. The conflict just isn’t as clear cut as the media often portrays. Klein shows disparate groups showing surprising concern for both each other and a possible unifying artifact. The image of the mindless, blood thirsty suicide bomber is contrasted with the compassion of Arab friendships. The marriage of a Israeli girl and an Arab boy underlines the fact that the people in the region are more similar than dissimilar. The pettiness of bureaucracy and the willingness of a single individual to defy convention and odds to pursue a perceived righteous calling was inspiring. There were times I found my self drifting and others where I found myself riveted to the book. Klein did an excellent job in defining Page Brookstone, her goals, fears and aspirations. The painting of a country that is confused about it’s own identity and in constant turmoil was masterful.

I recommend the book, it isn’t a quick, easy read, you will want to take some time and ponder what you are reading.

Body of work of Zoe Klein


Web site:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Plagiarism, Alive and Flourishing

Yesterday I was made aware of my content being copied to another site without my permission. I was made aware by another blogger who discovered his content too was being stolen. My initial angry reaction has been replaced by concern for someone who is too lazy or inept to write their own content. The innate nature of blogging is self expression. The thief who steals content is subverting his own self expression. The inability to express one self must be so debilitating that they are forced to steal content from others. Therefore rather than anger I will take pity on the poor soul who suffers from a complete lack of creativity and self expression when they steal words from others. Consider therapy and perhaps Dale Carnegie courses to build your self esteem to the point where you too can take advantage of the realm of blogging, standing on your own and expressing yourself rather than mimic others self expression.

If you are reading this post anywhere but Pick of The Literate, it has been illegally and knowingly stolen. Consider never coming back to the site that has stolen this original material and patronizing the actual author of the material. ©2009 by Bearly Tolerable Publications, all rights are reserved, any reproduction whatsoever of the contents of this site without express written permission is a violation of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blog Blatantly Rips Off Content is ripping off original content and posting it on their site. If you are reading this on any site besides Pick of the Literate, it has been ripped off. This may be an astoundingly cheesy way to build traffic by outraging those of us who try to blog responsibly, who then go to see what content of theirs has been ripped off.

Go to if you want to support the actual person who wrote the content ibdragon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey

Again I will mention my fondness for anthropomorphism. The telepathic cat in this story is a major protagonist. This book is one of the Elemental Master novels but as enjoyable as it was, I feel it is the weakest of the series. I did enjoy it but it read more like a young adult book that the previous books in the series. The lack of cooperation between practitioners of magic certainly reflects the inability of many talented people to work together to solve a problem. There is magic, animals, creatures, drama, intrigue and art involved in the story. I do recommend it, but arm yourself with a secondary book if you are on a long flight as you will breeze right through it.

Body of work of Mercedes Lackey


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hummingbirds Are Happy Birds

I have no idea if hummingbirds are actually happy but I know the little buggers put a smile on my face. My Dad always had bird feeders. His annual battle with the squirrels and the innovative non-harmful weapons he devised were always a source of amusement. I put up a bird feeder a couple of years ago and was surprised by how interesting it was. Gold finches loved the thistle and brought a cheerful splash of yellow to off set our perennial vivid cardinal family.

Last year I put up a hummingbird feeder. I don’t know of any bird that provides more entertainment. They literally whiz by looking like little tiny jets. I found lots of fun information on hummingbirds at I didn’t know they migrated back and forth from Central America every year. Kind of astounding if you consider how many times those little tiny wings must beat to make a trip that prodigious.

This is the kind of feeder I got that seems to do well attracting the little guys. It is the glass hummingbird feeder I liked best at Birdfeeders. I guess Dad’s love of birds has carried on, my youngest son just put up a feeder and bought his kids a bird book. They have had more fun looking up the birds they see on their feeder. They haven’t seen a hummingbird yet but they are hoping. Funny how something so simple can make you smile. If you don’t have enough smiles in your day, maybe you should consider a hummingbird feeder.