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Monday, July 27, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 25
The Door to December by Dean Koontz

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In this 25th episode I review The Door to December by Dean Koontz. Listen to hear why I loved this supernatural thriller and why I want to read more novels by Dean Kootnz now.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Dean Koontz
Narrated by: George Guidall

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

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Am I the Only One Doing This?

Siri reads my eBooks to me. Does anyone else do this? I'm guessing not many. Let me explain why I do this.

I love consuming my fiction via audio. If you know me you've probably come to that conclusion. I always have several audiobooks in line waiting to be listened to but I also own TONS of eBooks. I also love reading paper books and eBooks but I have this problem - it's really hard for me to find time to read books but I have 2 hours of commuting every day. I'm driving so I don't have an option of reading as someone riding a bus or train might have, but I have a nice chunk of time every day to consume fiction. So I listen. 

Image from
Now text to speech and I go way back. I've actually been listening to fiction through a robotic voice for a long time so to me Siri is so much more realistic than what I'm used to that it's extremely easy for me to just hear the story through her voice and zone her out. I almost forget it's a robot reading to me because I just get into the story. I found one app long ago called TTS that has a robotic voice but it got the timing and enunciation right so even though it sounded robotic it didn't have awkward pauses and weird rising and falling of the pitch to make it sound weird. I just pictured myself having a droid like C3PO from STAR WARS reading a story to me. I got used to it. Soon the voice faded and all I heard was the story instead of focusing on the fact that the voice telling me the story sounded so robotic.

Now on my iPhone I can make Siri read eBooks to me and it's a feature I couldn't live without. I used it all the time and love it. I "read" website posts and articles this way and review my own writing too. I used Text to Speech to review this post before publishing it! It's great.

So, am I alone here? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Looking For Alaska by John Green | Book Review

This is the second book I've read by John Green and the first one he had published. It was a huge change of pace from the books I usually read which are often science fiction adventures or fat epic fantasy novels. I love this book for its differences. It was very literary and at the same time portrays a very realistic and frank rendering of high school age teenagers. There's a lot of cursing and drinking and smoking, and a lot of thoughtful witty dialog between smart funny characters.

It was a simple story with a lot of complex emotions going on which made it fun and rewarding to read. Some very deep things are contemplated in this story, and some very realistic teenage drama is there too. It's about a kid who transfers from a normal high school to a prep school. He moves away from home and lives at this school changing from a life devoid of friends to a life full of smart interesting people. They influence him a lot and he changes a great deal by the end of the book. You could call this a bit of a coming of age story though it's about much more than that. So that's the simple story but in that story are all the messy emotions and thoughts of teenagers. The way the main character, his friends, and enemies see the world is ever expanding and changing. The things the characters deal with leave them trying to find truths to cling to in an uncertain world. Without spoiling anything I'll just say that the characters have to deal with a tragedy that is very close to home. The story doesn't follow a path you would expect.

I loved how this young adult story was told in first person. You get to know the main character so well. He blossoms as a person through the course of this story. At the beginning he's kind of like plain vanilla and by the end he is one of the most fully rendered characters I've ever had the pleasure to read and the same goes with his friends. As I'm trying to think about this unique story I'm realizing how much of an enigma it seems to be to me. It's a very small story, and yet it's a very big story. It's about a handful of characters making their way through the school year where they live together at a prep school. The things that go on emotionally with these characters is huge and I think the fact that they're teenagers turns that emotional dial to 11. So you get to know these characters really well and when something small happens to them it's a huge deal. Then when something really huge happens the story is not over and you get to see how they deal with a massive event that anyone no matter what age would have a really hard time dealing with. That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to spoil any of the story.

There were many pranks and antics in this story and those scenes were easily some of the most fun. Seeing the planning that went down and how they either pulled it off or not (no spoilers). One other funny thing about this book was that all the characters are much smarter than your average teenager and yet they smoke and drink and do things you wouldn't want your teenagers to do. This juxtaposition was kind of weird and funny but it worked. A character reads through an Almanac memorizing facts while drinking and smoking in his dorm room. They're people with interesting and surprisingly profound things to say and at the same time they're sneaking off to smoke and drink. So their kind of like ivy league trouble makers. I don't know it was just an interesting part of the story.

So yeah, it's a main character making new friends away from home for the first time living at a prep school. He and his new close friends experience a huge event and have to figure out how to try and deal with it. It's devastating. Even when they were just becoming friends and going to class and sneaking off to smoke I was into the story the whole time. John Green has a great writing style. There were so many amazing lines in this book that made me nod my head in appreciation of his writing chops. One of my favorite lines was:
"So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane."

I can't wait to read John's other books. I've already read The Fault in Our Stars and loved it. I'm glad I still have more books of his to read for the first time. If the two books I've read so far are any indication than I'm sure I'm in for something real, impactful, and awesome.

Have you read this book? What about other books by John Green? Love them? Hate them? Tell me why in the comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 24
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

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In this 24th episode I review the stand alone epic fantasy novel Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. Listen to hear why I thought it was such an awesome and rewarding read with a huge payoff that made the story soar.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by: Jack Garrett

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

Visit for a free trial membership.

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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, July 14, 2015

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler | Book Review

There are so many reasons this book was an awesome read, so I'll just write them all down for this review. First of all I love buddy cop stories and Bryan and Pookie are an awesome pair. They have such unique well rendered character that you feel like you know them right away. I loved how calm, cool, and collected Bryan was while his partner Pookie is jovial, loud, and irreverent. The banter between them was hilarious and made me laugh out loud many many times. I love those two characters.

Other than the two main characters there's a slew of many more and they're all great too. They felt like real people I've met. This is a big book and all the characters making it come to live were fun to get to know and love to hate. The bad guys in this book are terrifying. I won't give away anything but let’s just say the heroes have what seems like an impossible challenge going up against them. They were really interesting and even though they were pure evil you get to read many chapters through their points of view and you can see why they do what they do even though it's nightmarish.

Another great thing in this book is the all the mystery. I love mystery and there is a lot of it in this book. When things are revealed the payoff is huge and world altering and I found myself saying things out loud like "holy crap," or "Yes!" or "oh that is awesome." I listened to the audio version of this story and never really payed attention to how long it was. I was hooked right away and once I realized how long it was I was so pleased. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep hanging out with the characters in this book solving the mysteries and facing off against the beyond creepy nocturnals who live under the city feeding off those who won't be missed. The story got more and more complex as it went on and you got to know the city, the mysteries it holds, and the characters who try to protect it and steal victims from it in a much more intimate way. It's both intriguing and terrifying. It's a very long book but it reads so easy you find yourself getting through huge chunks of story every time you read it. It stays in your mind and you look forward to the next time you'll get to pick it up.

This is easily one of the best books I've ever read and has become a favorite. It has so much to offer from its rich scary world, its hilarious dialog and banter, its huge stable of incredibly realized characters, its mysteries that draw you further into the story and all the amazing action scenes that make you read faster because you have to know what happens next. Five stars for this one was a no-brainer and I can't wait to read the next Nocturnal book even though I know it's at least a few years off. I'll be waiting to pick it up and hang out with these characters again... that is the ones who survived the first book.

Have you read this book? What about any others by Scott Sigler? I first found him on He was one of the first on there and hasn't stopped releasing his books as free podcasts since those early days. He's a prolific fiction machine. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bradbury’s Influence Still True Today
Guest Post by Maria Jane

Photo by Alan Light
Ray Bradbury's ability to tell relatable tales centered around human reactions to the extraordinary has solidified the author's ranking as one of premier science fiction writers of all time. Interestingly enough, Bradbury himself didn't prefer the "science fiction" label, instead referring to himself as a fantasy writer, although some of his works offer commentary on the society in which he lived. The fact that Bradbury's works continue to inspire new generations of authors, illustrators, writers and filmmakers is a testament to his unique ability to transcend the limits of time and space and draw on universal themes that still capture the imagination today. 

The recurring themes in Bradbury's works revolve more around human reactions to what's going on around them rather than hard science, allowing for broad interpretation of those themes. While Fahrenheit 451 was originally inspired by the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, its central theme of government overreach is still relevant today. Something Wicked This Way Comes explores the eternal struggle of good vs. evil through its tale of a mysterious carnival owner who uses people's' desire for wish fulfillment to his advantage - illustrating the point that strings are often attached when something appears to be too good to be true. "The Illustrated Man," a collection of short stories, deals with the complexity of the relationship between humans and technology that's still relevant in a world where people have an increasing dependence on various devices. 

Bradbury often drew from his personal life experiences in his writings, which also provided commentary on the times in which he grew up. For instance, the author's periodic references to "Green Town, Illinois," based on Waukegan, Illinois, the town where he was raised, are used to illustrate the disappearance of traditional small-town America values. By using everyday scenarios, like the way in which the parents in "Zero Hour" originally dismiss their children's claims of conversing with invisible beings as nothing more than the innocence of imagination or how he taps into the teenage frustration of not being taken seriously by adults in "Fever Dream," Bradbury forms a connection with his audience by drawing from common experiences and reactions. 

The timeless themes in Bradbury's stories make such tales easily adaptable to new audiences. The ABC series The Whispers (check here for local listings) borrows from "Zero Hour" with its tale of mysterious beings unleashing their paranormal powers by exploiting the innocence of Earth's children. The comic book mini-series Shadow Show presents a collection of stories by 26 writers inspired by Bradbury's classic tales, a series praised by Stan Lee, the legendary comic book writer and former president of Marvel Comics. The stories echo Bradbury's recurring themes of playing on the emotions and reactions of characters faced with implausible "realities." Coincidentally, Bradbury is credited with helping to reintroduce the EC Comics brand of fiction to the public with The Autumn People, which featured comic adaptations of eight of the author's short stories. 

From the Star Wars movies and comics and the Harry Potter books and subsequent movies to TV shows like The X-Files and Lost, evidence of Bradbury's influence can be found in many of the stories that still entertain and delight audiences today. Bradbury himself once praised Steven Spielberg for his ability to blend fantasy and human emotion in movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The admiration between the two men was mutual, as Spielberg lead an outpouring of praise for the author following his death. The works of Stephen King and Michael Crichton also echo themes found in many of Bradbury's classic tales - with King's Under the Dome and Crichton's Jurassic Park books and related movies serving as perfect examples of Bradbury's enduring influence. When discussing his legacy for the Paris Review, the author once summed up his approach to writing: "I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember." 

This awesome article was written by Maria Jane. Click on the label Maria Jane below to find more articles on this website written by her.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Buried in Books and Loving It

These are the books I'm currently reading:

  1. Decision Points by George W. Bush
  2. Sunstruck by Polenth Blake
  3. Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia by Patrick Thorpe
  5. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin
  6. If It's So Easy Why Isn't Everybody Doing It by Scott Welsh
  7. Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
  8. The Collective by Kenan Hillard
  9. Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty by Michell Plested & J.R. Murdock
  10. Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1) by Sigler, Scott

These are books I'm planning on reading this year. Let's see if I can squeeze them all in!

  1. Armada by Ernest Cline
  2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  3. Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 2) by Timothy Zahn
  4. The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells
  5. The Drawing of the Three  (Dark Tower book II) by Stephen King
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. Revival by Stephen King
  8. Mistborn: The Allow of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  9. The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Franke
  11. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  12. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

What are you reading? I can always use more books on my to-read list :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 23
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

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In this 23rd episode I review the classic science fiction novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. Listen to hear why I thought that though there were some awesome parts in the book they were few and far between and overall I was bored to tears by it's didactic prose.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Robert A. Heinlein
Narrated by: Lloyd James

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

Visit 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.