Listen to my latest short story "The Forest Trail"

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 9
Virgin River by Robyn Carr


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In this ninth episode I tackle Virgin River Robyn Carr - my very first romance novel. Guess what? I actually liked it! Listen to hear why a guy who prefers action scenes, cool science fiction technology, or richly imagined fantasy stories liked a fun heart felt romance novel.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Virgin River Written by: Robyn Carr Narrated by: Therese Plummer

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Settlers by Jason Gurley | Book Review

This was a cool book. Jason Gurley is a good writer. The ideas in this book are awesome. You will probably really like this book. So why did I give it 3/5 stars?

The narrative of the book felt disjointed to me. It was like reading a bunch of short stories that all took place in the same story world, and then parts of those short stories were broken up and shuffled around with other parts from other short stories. You might love the author's approach, but I found it hard to get to know the characters when the story would shift so often to another set of characters. Like I said the ideas in this book are really cool and actually sucked me right in from the start. When I read the first few chapters of this book I was hooked right away. Then I was forced to hop around between different narratives and I just kept waiting for them to become more connected by the end. I think if this book was simply reorganized a bit by shifting parts of the story around so they're more connected I would have given it 4/5 stars.

I get that this novel tackles a huge idea of people having to leave earth which calls for maybe more than one narrative, but I would have much preferred the stories to be more connected by the end of the book. The stories themselves were good and I enjoyed them, I just kept wondering why the author suddenly switched to a different set of characters. I never felt grounded in the story.

All that to say you might love the way this book was written, and Gurley is a talented writer. He has cool ideas and writes well. Maybe it's just me. A lot of people loved the book World War Z which has several accounts of different characters dealing with a huge event and that book didn't appeal to me either. I'm thinking this is more of a personal preference of storytelling style than that this book isn't a great read. For me it was at times a good read, but overall I felt like I was getting thrown all over the place as a reader.

So before I end this review I have to mention the audiobook. Listening to it is how I read the book. Maria Hunter Welles did an amazing job narrating the novel. She came up with great voices for the different characters and did a fantastic job delivering the lines of dialog. Her voice is just so genuine even while reading the narrator lines that you feel like she's sitting across from you at the bar telling you a great story. She's a real talent and I would jump at the chance to listen to another audiobook she has narrated. I think her performance made this book one I enjoyed much more than I would have if I were reading it in paperback or eBook format.

I'll end by saying that I would read another book by Jason Gurley. When he was focused on one set of characters for an extended part of the story he did a great job. It looks like he's written a lot of books too so I'm sure another one of his titles will find it's way onto my phone from either the Kindle store or as an audiobook from Audible.


Get the book:
Available at Amazon in Kindle eBook, paperback, and audiobook.
The audiobook is also available at Audible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn | Book Review

This novel is book 1 in the The Thrawn Trilogy and part of the expanded Star Wars universe. Part of the reason I decided to read this book is the fact that the new Star Wars movie, Episode VII is coming out next year thanks to Disney buying Lusas Film. It made me curious just what happened to the film characters in the novels all this time. Now when I watch the films I'll be able to pick up on any little Easter eggs they might throw in for fans of the Star Wars novelizations that have kept the story going in the absence of movies all these years. It's probably not likely they'll use anything from the novels as they've said they're only going to use the movies as cannon moving forward, but I was still really curious. I'm really glad I decided to give this book a read, and that I chose to consume it via audiobook.

The author Timothy Zahn does a tremendous job with some of the most beloved characters known to science fiction fans. Honestly I was a little hesitant to read this book because I have concrete ideas about who all of the Star Wars characters are. How they react to situations, the way they talk, the way they interact with others. They all felt very much like the characters I have come to love from the original Star Wars trilogy. Zahn also did a fantastic job developing some new characters that played a major role in this book. Of course there is Grand Admiral Thrawn, who the trilogy is named after. Zahn does a remarkable job of having this character come across as a terrifying individual. Someone who is calm and calculating in the face of cataclysmic events. A person with enormous powers of reasoning and deduction. Someone whose determination to see his plans come to fruition is unshakable no matter what setbacks may occur. Thrawn is a villain I loved to hate and someone who came off as impressive, incredibly capable, and scary to me. Any story is much better when the bad guy your heroes face is an extremely formidable foe that sends chills down your spine. A person you would never want to meet in real life, even if you were on their side. I really enjoyed the character development of Grand Admiral Thrawn in this book and I look forward to seeing him in action again when I read the next book.


Another great character was a man named Talon Karrde. You hear rumors about him for a while before you meet him. Before he appears in a scene you have a sort of reverence for him and his reputation precedes him. When you get to see him in action he lives up to all the hype. I loved Karrde's interaction with some of my favorite characters.

All the favorites are in this book. R2-D2, C-3PO, Leia, Han, Lando Calrissian, Luke, Wedge Antilles, Admiral Ackbar, and of course Chewbacca who's home world you get to visit!

The courage and bravery of the good guys in this book was exciting to read. There were a lot of slow scenes where big parts were moving and a lot of exhilarating action scenes. This book has a lot. I can think of intimate scenes where you get to see what it's like for Luke and Leia to use the force. There quiet scenes between characters where not much is happening but a lot is going on emotionally and internally. This novel had to be done this well because it handles some of the most loved characters of all time in a universe that fans around the world are crazy about. Timothy Zahn more than pulled it off. I'm so excited there are two more books! And that I will get to watch new Star Wars movies in the theaters with my kids! Woo-hoo! Sorry that has nothing to do with this book, but I'm just excited!

Last but not least, I can't end this review without touching on how fantastic the audiobook version is. I listened to the 20th Anniversary Edition narrated by Marc Thompson. Marc's ability to voice all the characters so well was nothing short of brilliant. The guy does all the voices spot on and there are a lot of characters in this book. Major props to him from one newbie inexperienced audiobook narrator to veteran pro. I can't stress how good of a job Marc Thompson did narrating this book. He makes this audiobook come alive as a sort of audio play but all acted out by one man with a thousand voices. His versatility as a narrator is something you just can't miss.

This audiobook also had much more production than any other professional audiobook I have heard. There were always complex weavings of sounds making up the background atmosphere of the scenes. You always knew if the characters where at a space port, on a ship, or deep in a forest. From massive epic space battles, to quick action scenes with intense fighting to quiet moments where hearing R2-D2's emotive beeps to Luke make you feel like you're right there in the Star Wars universe. This audiobook is easily one of the most entertaining listens I have ever experienced. I can't wait to listen to the next book in the Thrawn Trilogy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 8
11/22/63 by Stephen King


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In this eighth episode I bring you a review of Stephen King's brilliant book 11/22/63. Quite a departure from the book I reviewed in the last episode, and next weeks will be even more of a change in genre. Listen to hear just why I think Stephen King's book is a must read.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

11-22-63: A Novel Written by: Stephen King Narrated by: Craig Wasson

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Tour!

Catbeard the Pirate!
My friend Matt Nelson who writes and draws the amazing comic Catbeard the Pirate tagged me to participate in a Meet My Character Blog Tour. I LOVE his comic.

Matt Nelson was born in 1976. That means he's super old. He lives in Spokane, WA with his cat, Jiji and draws comics all the time when he's not messing around with video games or stupid stuff on the internet. So basically, just like every other cartoonist ever. Isn't that embarrassing? Not very unique at ALL. You can view his work at catbeardthepirate.com and mattnelsonart.com

His Catbeard books one through three will all be available soon on his website through the Store tab on the top menu, but you can read all of Catbeard’s current adventures for free on catbeardthepirate.com! All of the books contain more adventures not found on the site.

Okay so, here’s the gist of the project:
“This tour highlights a main character from your WIP (work in progress), recently published work, or soon to be published work. The person who invites you will have a set day to post. You will post one (or two) week(s) after that, the authors you tag will post one/two week(s) after you, and so on.”

The Questions & My Answers


1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?


Longclaw is a fictional character.

2) When and where is the story set?


The story is set in modern times during the winter. It starts at an arcade where Longclaw, a stuffed animal monster, lived in a claw machine. Then the setting changes to the house of Longclaw's new human Zach. Then the tale takes a scary turn as Longclaw is forced into the cold and snowy park across the street from Zach's house at night.

3) What should we know about him/her?


Longclaw is an ugly stuffed animal monster won from a claw machine by a boy named Zach. He is a nice monster, however, and is thrilled to be taken home to live with other stuffed animals in Zach's home.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?


The main conflict is that Zach's cat Thompson finds Longclaw and takes him away to the garage as a play thing. He tortures Longclaw, toying with him and ripping holes into him.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?


The main goal of the character is to be loved. In order to do this he must find a way back to his human Zach and hope he'll take him back in his ripped and slashed state.

6) Is there a working title for this novel if it is a WIP, and can we read more about it? OR what is the title of this novel and where can it be found?


This is a short story titled "Stuffed Monster" which you can find in my anthology of short stories called "Danthology." It can be found on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks in iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, and many other fine eBook publishers.

If a WIP: 7) When can we expect the book to be published?


I am also working on the paperback and audiobook versions. The paperback will be available this 2014 holiday season through Amazon.com, and the audiobook will be made available for free as a serialized podcast novel at www.Podiobooks.com by the end of the year.


That's it! I'm tagging my new friend who's awesome novel I had the pleasure to create the cover art for - Philip Carroll.

His bio:
Philip is an Army trained Certified Orthotist, husband of 30+ years, father of 3, and grandfather of 2, currently living in the Central Valley of California. He has always been a story telling, if only telling himself stories to keep himself awake while driving, entertaining his children as he was driving, or just to entertain himself as he went to sleep. In October of 2008 he decided to start putting some of these stories on digital paper.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 7
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer


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In this seventh episode I tackle one of the most loved and hated books in recent history - Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. You may be surprised by my findings. Listen to the review to find out what I thought about the book.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Twilight Written by: Stephenie Meyer Narrated by: Ilyana Kadushin

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King | Book Review

I really enjoyed this novel. I love police procedural stories and this book had some of that but it was a little different because the main character is a retired detective. If anything that just made it more interesting. As usual, with a Stephen King novel, the characters were fantastically rendered and felt like acquaintances from real life by the time I was a few chapters in. One thing that made this book so cool was how different all the characters were from each other. Seeing people from opposite sides of the spectrum work together to solve a case was really cool. I won't elaborate so I don't spoil the story, but the makeup of the characters was really interesting and watching the ways they interacted really added a level of intrigue to the story.

The antagonist, or bad guy, in this novel was chilling. When you read his inner monologue you're glad you're not on the other end of his diabolical plans. He's scary because in his day to day interactions with people he's just a banal guy you wouldn't have a reason to remember. Then when he goes home at night, where he still lives with his mother, he makes plans. He and his mother have a relationship that was revolting to me. I'm sure this added to my discust towards this character. He's one of those bad guys you love to hate. Just as you're rooting for the good guys, you're rooting for the antagonist to get what's coming to him.

The romance in this book came off to me as authentic and original. It was between two somewhat unlikely characters. It adds a bit of joy to this fairly dark noir tale. 

Without spoiling anything I will say that before the book is over not all of the important characters make it out alive. King pulls no punches here and the character's death does a nice job of making you that much more anxious more characters will die later in the story when the conflict and danger gets turned up a notch. 

I've read a handful of King's older novels, many of the ones considered to be classics. I know to some people his writing suffered for many years as he struggled with alcohol and substance abuse. I'm here to tell you that every new Stephen King book I read is fantastic. He's back and I'm so glad he's still cranking them out. I've loved all of his new novels and the same holds true with this one.

The last thing I'll mention is that I listened to the audiobook version of this novel. It's narrated by Will Patton who is a phenomenal voice talent. I first heard him narrate when I listened to Doctor Sleep which is the sequel to The Shining. Patton really brought that book to life. I think he was a great pick for this book too because his voice is perfect for the main character who is a retired detective. He has that authentic gruff voice that really fit the protagonist. He delivers the book with such a great conversational read that you get pulled in right away. He's a great actor too, delivering lines of sensitive emotion, raw anger, and insane sociopath spot on. You believe right away when you hit play and Will starts telling you the story. 

After finishing this book I found out it's to be the first in a trilogy. I'm thrilled. I can't wait to visit these characters again. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 6
Murder At Avedon Hill by P.G. Holyfield


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In this special sixth episode I review the podiobook Murder At Avedon Hill by the late P.G. Holyfield. The review was another very short one, so I again elaborate on how incredible this book is, especially in the serialized podcast format found at www.Podiobooks.com. A great podcast novel due to it's great story, acting with a full cast, and production with music and sound effects done well as with last week's book. The author of the book I reviewed this week recently passed away at a young age. Listen to find out how you can help with all the costs left behind by his medical bills and end of life care. Thanks for listening.

Get the book:


R.I.P. P.G. You were a tremendous force of creativity and you are dearly missed.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

The Hobbit Written by: J. R. R. Tolkien Narrated by: Rob Inglis

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 5
The Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris


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In this fifth episode I review the podiobook "Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword" by Tee Morris. The review is ridiculously short, but I go on to elaborate just how awesome this book is, especially in the serialized podcast format found at www.Podiobooks.com. A great podcast novel due to it's great story, acting with a full cast, and production with music and sound effects done well.

Get the book: