Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 62 -- Nocturne

by Ed McBain

Started: Dec. 17
Finished: Dec. 21

Notes: Since the end of the year is almost here, I thought I'd get in another 87th Precinct novel, which are almost always favorites. Besides, it's been a while since I've read some McBain.

Mini review: If there is such a thing as a quintessential 87th Precinct novel, this one must come darn close to being it. You've got Detectives Carella and Hawes working together to solve the shooting death of an old lady who had once been a concert pianist. On the side they pick up the brutal murder of a prostitute, but then Detective Ollie Weeks from the 88th steps in on this case as it's connected to two murders he's picked up. You've got background players scrambling for money. Three or four major plot lines, some related and some not. It's all kind of here. By that I do not mean this is a bland novel. The action and mystery flows throughout, and this might be one of the more complicated of the 87th novels as far as linking evidence to a suspect. In the end there's a touch of humanity, a common last-chapter element for McBain's police procedurals, and as always, it works.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 61 -- The Third Option

by Derek Gunn

Started: Dec. 17
Finished: Dec. 17

Notes: This is an author new to me, which is nice, but he has also worked with Permuted Press, of which I've heard a lot of good things, so I have some high hopes here. This one looks to be a weird western, and those can be lots of fun.

Mini review: This was a pretty darn good tale with some solid writing. However, I felt it ended far too soon. Yes, I wanted more, but this also didn't feel like a complete story to me. It leads right up to what could have been a truly great story with a prime climax, but it gets cut short. Actually, this reads like a prologue or first chapter, which would be great if it really were (it's not, unfortunately ... I've looked). Based upon the strong writing alone, however, I think this writer is worth watching.

Books read in 2014: No. 60 -- Empire of the East

by Fred Saberhagen

Started: Dec. 1
Finished: Dec. 17

Notes: Back in the '80s I read all of Saberhagen's Swords novels and loved them. This book is actually a collection of three novels which provide background material for the Swords series. I should have read this decades ago, but time slips past. At least I'm here now.

Mini review: This one was a bit hit and miss for me. The first two novels of these three were fun in that goofy 70s fantasy kind of way, but the third became bogged down for a long while until the last 50 pages or so, but those 50 pages turned out to be the best part of all. And I had forgotten how wooden Saberghagen's characters could be, especially his protagonists; the villains here had far more life than any of the good guys, but especially the protagonist, Rolf. My complaints aside, this was a nice blast from the past.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 59 -- The Eye of the World

by Robert Jordan

Started: Nov. 11
Finished: Nov. 30

Notes: This book is the first in what is one of the most famous of modern epic fantasy series, probably only Martin's Game of Thrones material having a wider audience. Yes, it's true, I've not read this. To be honest, I've been putting it off for more than a decade because I was turned off by much of the fanboy attitudes I ran into concerning this series. I can't stand fanboy crap. Being a fan is fine, but allowing something to consume one's life is another matter, in my opinion, especially when things turn ugly. But I eventually realized that maybe I was being as silly as the fanboys, but in the opposite way. Why should I allow their silliness to keep me from reading what might very well be a damn good book? So, yeah, I'm here now and reading.

Mini review: If you're the kind of fantasy reader who loves all the traditional tropes of the genre, then this book is for you. Farmboy who turns out to be someone important? Check. He has a special sword? Check. He traipses across the land with a band of fellows while on their way to face a dark lord? Check. His buddies have names that practically scream Tolkien? Check. There's also a brooding guy in a cloak? Check. Yes, I could go on. I won't. As you can likely tell, this one isn't for me. The writing is by no means bad in and of itself, but there was more description than I like, and often not enough description of things that could have really used it. Then there were the dreams. Lots and lots of dreams for the characters. I hate dreams. Loathe them. They bring the story to a halt, usually with some kind of vague foreshadowing that never makes any real sense. I repeat, I hate dreams in literature. And they are in abundance here. So, yeah, I'm not likely to ever continue this series. Still, it's not the worst fantasy I've ever read, and maybe if I had read it when it was first published a couple of decades ago, then maybe I'd like it. Maybe. But after reading this, I don't ever want to hear another person bitching about The Sword of Shannara ripping off Tolkien.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

For what I am thankful

I am thankful Kelly and I had 12 years together.

I am thankful to have Lily, our beagle. She is like having a little piece of Kelly with me still.

I am thankful for my mom. She is my rock.

I am thankful for my father. I hope he has found peace at last.

I am thankful for friends I have and have had, many who probably think I have forgotten them.

I am thankful to have my writing career.

I am thankful for the memories.

I am thankful for God.

And I am thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are you sure Poe done it this way?

(With more than a nod to Waylon Jennings)

It's the same old tale, pencil on paper.
Where do we take it from here?
Melodrama and tear-jerking capers,
We've been the same way for years.
Things need to change.

Somebody told me when I first got printed,
Son, you finally got it made.
Old Poe made it this way, we're all sure that you will,
But I don't think Poe done it this way.
I don't think Poe done it this way.

Ten books down on paper, written with bloody hands,
Typing my whole life away.
Tell me one more time just so I understand,
Are you sure Poe done it this way?
Did Ole Poe really do it this way?

I've seen the world through a cheap flat screen
staring right back at me.
Writing my tales and reading some of his,
But I don't think Poe done 'em this way.
No, I don't think Poe done 'em this way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'A Place Called Skull'

A Place Called Skull, the second novel in my Walking Gods Trilogy, is now available in print and it is available in e-book form as a 99-cent pre-order at Amazon, Google PlayBarnes and Noble and Smashwords. The actual release date for the e-book is Dec. 1, the same as for the first novel in the trilogy, Where Gather the Gods. The book is approximately 53,000 words in length.

It is not likely the third novel, Whom the Gods Slay, will be available by Dec. 1. In fact, it would take a miracle at this point. However, I'll try to have it for readers sometime in January, if possible. If I can make it available sooner, I will.