Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reading Paper Books Is My Last Choice

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I just finished The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was the first time I've read a book in paper in years. I've owned the paperback for a long time and have been intending to read it for years. I grabbed it from my bookcase because my wife and I were going on a trip where we planned to lay by the pool for hours. I didn't wan't an eReader and my phone screen isn't great for reading in bright sunlight so I opted for a paperback instead of my usual reading habit of reading via eBooks and audiobooks. While reading this story in paper I probably stopped to smell the pages at least once every reading session - but I found it really frustrating that once we were back from our trip I had a really hard time finding time to read it.

I have two hours of communting a day during the week for work and during this time I listen to audiobooks. That's how I do most of my reading. Someday my circumstances might change but for now I just can't find time to read paper books. One of my good friends who also has many young children told me he's the same way and get's most of his reading done with audiobooks. 

Electronic books are great too because they're easy to chip away at in small bursts. They're always with me in my pocket on my phone. I have gotten through a few pages while waiting at appointments or while in a long line at the grocery store. It's so convenient. Here's the other thing though - I actually prefer reading eBooks on my phone to reading a paper book even when I'm lounging at home. I like to read lying down and I've got to tell you that after holding my super light weight phone up above my head and having the ease of turning a page with a tiny quick tap even small paperbacks feel clumsy and annoying. I like to read with the text very large and my screen horizontal. It gets to be so I don't even notice I'm tapping it just becomes automatic and I think I read faster this way than with a paperback, or at least it feels easier. Also having a backlit screen is so much better at night than a clunky reading light perched above my pages that I might accidently shine in my wife's eyes while adjusting my posture in bed.

Yes I love paper books and as I mentioned even the smell of them but I will always choose to read via eBooks or audiobooks when given the choice. They're on my phone so they're always just a click away. They don't take up physical space in my house. They're usually cheaper. I can buy a new one and be reading it within seconds without having to even get up. For me eBooks and audiobooks win out everytime. That said I have hundreds of paperbacks I haven't read yet so I'll keep reading paper books for years to come, but when it comes to buying new books the only time I'll be choosing to buy paper books is when I'm planning on getting them signed and putting them safely on my shelf where they won't get bent and cracked.

What about you? Have you tried eBooks or audiobooks and they're just not your cup of tea or are you a paper defector like me joining the new electronic revolution and loving it all the way? I'd love to hear your side of the story when it comes to reading. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green | Book Review

This book was hit and miss for me. I didn't like it at all until about the last quarter of the book. Act 3. Why, you might ask, did you keep reading if you didn't like it until then? And my response to that would be: because the last two John Green books I read I loved and they were nothing like anything else I'd ever read and they were their own kind of wonderful. But in those books I loved the characters. In this book I kind of liked some of the characters but do not like Colin the main character. He's really annoying and even though I know I'm supposed to feel sorry for him I just want to tell him to shut up and stop whining. I kind of liked him by the end of the book.

There were parts in this book that made me smile and even made me laugh out loud. There's some good stuff in there, but overall it wasn't my cup of tea. I wanted to like this one, I really did, but it just didn't do it for me. This is the third book I've read by John Green. I LOVED the other two but this one was kind of blah. I read The Fault in our Stars first, then Looking for Alaska. Both of those books blew me away. I thought they were fantastic. This one seemed to be trying too hard. The eccentricities of the characters that usually make them more interesting were just kind of extra annoying fluff in this one. I think what it all comes down to is that I didn't like the main character Colin, or even his best friend Hassan. By the end of the book I did like Hassan more than the main character Colin, but these still weren't characters I really cared about.

So yeah, not my cup of tea but I'm still super excited to read all of his other books because like I said I loved the other two books I've read by him. You can't win them all. Even my favorite authors, John Green is easily now one of them, have written books I don't like. I have a feeling that I'm going to love Paper Towns though.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 27
The Regulators by Stephen King & Joyland by Stephen King

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In this 27th episode I review two books by Stephen King - The Regulators, and Joyland. Listen to hear why I didn't care much for The Regulators and absolutely loved Joyland. It's two for one this week people! Two book reviews with only one download! Enjoy.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Stephen King
Narrated by the Michael Kelly

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Strangers On a Plane by Kay Kendall | Book Review

This is the first Prometheus story I've read that takes place over a very short length of time. It encompasses one plane ride where the main character ends up sitting next to the being I've come to know from this saga of short stories named Prometheus. An alien sent from another place to Earth to watch and learn of humans. A being constructed from our DNA who can heal itself and change its form to whatever age and gender it wishes. It lives on generation after generation interacting with humans to observe them. In this story Prometheus is taking the form of a sweet old lady with a firm constitution and special gifts.

As I read the story I really enjoyed it's flow and pacing. It just kind of folds out in front of you. It was a very enjoyable story to read. I like the writer's choice to use first person in this story. We get to see Prometheus up close and personal as the main character interacts with it. It was really cool to see that after reading about this being in so many other stories.

This story brought me back to a time in history, as many of the other Prometheus stories had, but to a very specific person's experience instead of having a more broad cast of characters. It takes place during the Vietnam war where a character is in Canada because her husband is trying to dodge the draft. In this way it was a more intimate story that left me wanting to know what was going to happen next to the character when the story ended. Maybe it was because I've flown on planes a lot this year but I could totally picture myself right there with the characters as I read the story. I think it was because the author Kay Kendall is a skilled storyteller. It was a fun mysterious tale leaving you wanting more. If the author ever writes what happens next I'd love to read it. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ancient Enemy by Mark Lukens | Book Review

This was a fantastic horror novel. The only other horror novels I've read are Stephen King books. This one was much more straight forward and cinematic than a King book. While I love King's literary leanings and beautiful prose this book felt very much like a movie as I read it. If this book was a movie I would not want to watch it alone at night! Though I could sometimes tell what was generally going to happen next in the story I never had an idea of how it would happen and was surprised every time by how the author pulled off what happened next. It was one stairway into hell after another for the characters and riding along as a reading was a fun yet freaky thrill ride.

I loved how everything got worse and worse for the characters. Some of the most terrifying scenes I've ever read are in this book. It was awesome. I loved the intensity in this story. When crazy stuff went down the characters reacted in a very believable way and I kept thinking how I would react if I were in the same situation. I liked the variety between the characters and it was fun to see how they all reacted in a different way to the horrors they faced.

The evil behind all of the gruesome things that happen to or around the characters isn't revealed until the very end of the story and I really liked the explanation of it. I'd love to go into it but I don't want to have any spoilers in this review so I'll just say it's based in history and is awesome. The author came up with a really cool bad guy in this book and though it does unbelievable things to the characters by the end you'll find yourself a believer in it's wicked existence - at least in the realm of the story world.

I read this book by listening to the audiobook. The narrator Teri Schnaubelt was new to me but did an amazing job. She has a wonderful reading voice.

It was awesome to see the character work together and against each other. Shifting from trust to weariness to all out fighting. That's all I'm going to say because I want everything to be a surprise for you when you read this book. Happy reading! Read with the lights on :) Thanks for stopping by.

Get the book at Amazon (in audio too!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Problem with Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Guest Post by Maria Jane

Over the past several years, the combination of YA (young adult) fiction with a dystopian premise has seen a tremendous leap in popularity. Starting with the 2010 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and continuing with other book-to-film series such as Divergent and The Maze Runner, YA dystopias perform well because they speak to the feelings of isolation and alienation that teenagers typically feel as they grow up. However, there are some specific issues many in their adolescent age experience that are hardly ever represented in these films and are therefore often ignored.
A common theme among YA fiction is the suppression of budding sexual feelings. Protagonists acknowledge their desire to form intimate relationships while realizing that those relationships may be inappropriate for the current situation. This allows teenage readers to identify with the hero's feelings and identify with the confusion and insecurity that often accompanies young love. One example of this is in The Hunger Games in which Katniss seems to struggle with her relationships with both Peeta and Gale in a time of war and government surveillance. Given the world she lives in, however, she seems to solely focus on her priorities as the Mockingjay. Another recurring theme is the disillusionment and mistrust with respect to authority figures and organizations. Teenagers at a rebellious age will certainly identify with the impulse to question the decisions and motivations of those in power, and to take a stand against actions by ruling or governing bodies that are they are morally or ethically opposed to. This is very obviously represented in Divergent and Insurgent in which teenagers are forced to choose separate factions to live in when they get to a certain age and if they don’t belong to any of them, their existence is deemed detrimental to society as a whole.

Unfortunately, some of the issues that would likely be present in a true dystopian society are simply not addressed in modern YA fiction. Racism, which has been a prevalent issue in actual dystopian societies like Nazi Germany and South Africa during apartheid, and is currently a huge social and political topic in the United States, is largely ignored in contemporary YA fiction, where both the heroes and oppressors are typically white. Divergent and Insurgent, both available on Vudu and cable TV, are based on segregation according to personality types, but somehow author Veronica Roth fails to highlight the obvious metaphor to race relations. In fact, the film predominantly features white people even in the backgrounds. In the case of The Hunger Games, many readers didn't even realize that two major characters were black until the movie adaptation was released, which caused a large backlash on Twitter. The absence of people of color in film is nothing new. However, one would think that in dystopian societies, they would be negatively impacted as much as white people.

Sexism, another prominent issue in many cultures throughout history, is also rarely addressed in YA dystopian films and novels. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games shows little femininity beyond her affections for love interests Peeta and Gale, and there's no discussion of how her gender affects her performance in the Games or the way people perceive her. In The Maze Runner, there is only one girl among the 7 or 8 primary characters, and Ender's Game addresses no sex or gender issues despite the fact that most of it takes place at a co-ed military academy full of teenagers. There definitely are many strong female characters in these films, such as Katniss and Beatrice, but it seems that many of their actions are based on men. This is a common real-life problem many young women face but the message that you should base your decisions on men shouldn’t be something we need to enforce.

To tackle sexism and racism in a respectful and thoughtful manner could open up the readership for YA dystopian fiction beyond its current audience. Young females may respond well to the strength exhibited by their counterparts in these stories, but a narrative that directly addresses gender inequality could provide more emotional resonance. Likewise, a novel or film that actually addresses the practice of racism and/or segregation that would be likely to occur in a dystopian society could have a broader appeal to a demographic that stretches across all types of ethnicities.

To prevent the YA dystopia subgenre from becoming stale, authors must exhibit the courage and willingness to take on these controversial topics, and infuse their stories with parallels to real world issues beyond simple teenage identity crises. Then, the current fad would have the potential to grow into something much more meaningful: a platform for discussion that can lead to positive change and a movement towards equality.

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. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Last Butterscotch - New Cover

One of my favorite science fiction short stories now has a third attempt at a cover. I've never liked the second iteration and I don't know why I've let it stay as it is for so long. In one sense it comunicates that it's a children's story which is what I was going for but it's just not a good cover. It is a good story for kids and so I changed it from the first scary looking cover into this one but now I'm trying again. So here it is. My new cover that hints at the twist in the story but hopefully doesn't give it away.

You can pick up a copy of the story for free in every eBook format you could want here on Smashwords. Let me know what you think. More of an audiobook fan? Listen to the story complete with sound effects here. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
(Pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) | Book Review

The characters were very real and very awesome. I loved the main characters in this book. I wanted to love this book and I certainly loved parts of it, but overall I was bored through much of it. I'm not saying I won't read the next book in the series because I honestly care about and really like the main characters, but I'll be reading it hopeful that more will happen in the story. The end of the book was satisfying and fun to read, and the beginning where we got to know the characters and their situations was great, the middle just sagged for me. It was pretty much Strike interviewing people. That's it. A whole bunch of conversations. After a while it got old. Even still I enjoyed getting to know the characters more.

Also there were like a million F-bombs in this book. I'm all for an author using language to realistically portray a character and I suppose that's what the language did in this novel, but man. Sometimes it was like two per sentence. It was ridiculous.

While the story tended to drag in the middle the writing was very good. The portrayal of the characters was awesome and I really do want to know what Cormoran Strike and his awesome assistant Robin will be up to in the book. It was a good mystery, I just wish there would have been more going on to get me through act 2.

I read through all the Harry Potter books this year, for the first time on the last 4 books, and J.K. Rowling has fast become one of my favorite authors, but in this one she went a little flat. It was still a good book and has a lot of great moments. I was smiling, laughing out loud, and almost crying through the last act of the story. It wrapped up nicely and Rowling nailed the ending. Hopefully book 2 will have a better act 2. I'm still on board for the next one and will be reading it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fifteen Dollars' Guilt by Antonio Simon, Jr. | Book Review

This was a cool short story. I loved the way it wove the fictional story around real historical events in a believable way. This story was very short but accomplished a lot because it was kept to a small cast of characters. That helped it move nicely. It was written well and had a great flow. I was never bored or felt taken out of the story by distractions of bad writing or storytelling.

The main character is pretty cool. He's The Prometheus, a character found in all the short stories that are part of The Prometheus Saga, an alien being sent to Earth to observe human life throughout the ages. We meet him leaving a harbor where the boat he was just on sunk. He flees prying eyes into a dark bar and meets a strange man. Their unusual friendship continues over the course of meetings back at this same bar until the friend unveils a horrible plan.

The story has a really cool mood from start to finish. It's fun to read of the character sort of sneaking away from a huge shipwreck to fade into the dark shadows of a bar. Then we get to meet this friend of his and by the end of the story the narrative is told through his point of view and what happens there is secretive and exciting, if not terrible, too. I'm trying really hard not to give any spoilers away so when you read the story for yourself everything will be a surprise.

The last thing I'll say about it is that I really appreciated the author's notes at the end of the story. There he details real historical events and items that are found in the cool fictional tale you just read and it leads you to track down photos and articles about it online. This short fictional tale continues out into the real world for a little while. Fun stuff. Talented author. I'm glad I read this crafty little story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Calling All Beta Readers!

I am currently writing something unlike anything I've ever written before. I'm writing a romance drama novel. Think The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks as far as genre, but a very different story that revolves around love and tragedy. You know what's cool? My wife had the idea and sat down with me as we wrote the 1,700 word outline together.

It draws heavily from our life and the many struggles we've had with our children's medical conditions but also uses stories of other lives we've heard about to crank up the drama to eleven. The characters are going to go through A LOT of crap which is something I've really been trying to improve in my stories. Everything is always too easy for my characters. In the writing of this novel I'm going to put them through hell. The unimaginable is going to happen to them. Can their relationship survive? Can they survive? I don't know what I would do with myself if I went through what we've planned for this poor couple. 

I'm posting new chapters on Wattpad. I just started writing it so I'm only up to two chapters as I write this blog post, but I'm hoping to bust the story out fast. If you have a ton of patience and don't mind waiting for the next chapter to be posted every week or so then I'd love your feedback on what's working and what's not working in my story. It should end up being a pretty short novel at around 60,000 words but that's just a guess at this point. I'd really love your feedback and it could help me shape and mold my story to be a better one! If you go on this journey with me I'll be sure to send you a free copy when it's all said and done. So come join me on this long road and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Dumbest Comic You've Ever Seen

Ready for it? The dumbest  you've every seen. We all pick our nose, but when we see someone else do it? Sick!

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Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 26
Desperation by Stephen King

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In this episode I review Desperation by Stephen King. I enjoyed it and gave it 4/5 stars but felt there were areas it could have been better. Still a scary awesome book.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Stephen King
Narrated by the Author

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.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Storm Front by Jim Butcher | Book Review

This book captured me from the opening to the end. I loved it. It was creepy, exciting, hilarious, and extremely moody. The dark humor of the main character Harry Dresden was spot on. While reading this book I was terrified, sad, excited, intrigued, extremely interested, laughed hard many many times, and felt the stand up and cheer moment many times as well.

If the main character of this book had a boring personality I think I still would have liked it because the story and everything that happened was so cool, but the main character is extremely interesting, hilarious, you feel sorry for him, you cheer for him, and you get little snippets of his past that aren't explained that make you REALLY want to know more of his past. He's extremely easy to relate to and he's a mystery. You've got to read this book to see how Jim Butcher pulled that off. I'm thrilled that this is only the first book in a very long series. Judging from how awesome this book was I can easily see how fans clamor for more. I can't wait to read book two. As I write this there are 16 books in the series including one book of short stories. Dang! 15 novels! This isn't the only series of books he writes either. He's a busy writer and I'm really glad because this book was many things that made it rich. Dark and gritty yet hilarious.

The world the main character Harry Dresden lives in is full of mysteries and complexities and you only get to see the tip of the iceberg in this book. I can't wait to read more books in the series to find out more about the world and how it works. There are vampires, demons, and all kinds of creatures from the Never Never. It's scary and cool and I want to read all about it. This is the start of a beautiful friendship between the many books in the series and I.

If a story of a private detective, who also happens to be a wizard solving cases, who makes you laugh hard with his dialogue and monologue, who is confronting magical beings, dealing with the cops, getting attacked by criminals and who is constantly in trouble with the white council of magic, sounds interesting to you, and how can it not, then you need to read this book.

The last thing I'll say is this. The main reason I read this book is that I've heard the main character gets the crap beat out of him to the point where he's just about dead by the end of the book. I'm a writer and I've found that I have trouble putting my characters through hell like Jim Butcher does to his character Harry Dresden. I'm hoping to learn just how an accomplished author pulls this off. I've already learned a lot and I can't wait to learn more as I read the rest of the books in the series. So many books, so little time!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Finally Went for a Run!

I finally went for a run this Saturday. It felt good. I went nice and slow and slowed down even more halfway through then picked it up a bit at the very end. Today I'm very sore in my legs but also in my sides. Just goes to show how out of shape I really am. I felt great the rest of the day. I can't wait to run again.

Friday, August 7, 2015



What are you going to do?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield | Book Review

This book was very inspiring, smart, thought provoking, and well written. I cried several times while reading it not about things that were sad but things that were incredibly touching.

You get much more than a life redeemed for Christ in this story. Many many trials that would have lead a lot of people away from the faith but especially with someone like the author who had a tight knit community to go back to. If you need to be inspired read this amazing story of a truly amazing woman who persisted with her faith to find the truth through tons of struggles.

Like many great fiction novels you get to see the main character (the narrator of this autobiography) go through a huge change and become a completely different person by the end of the story. It was a great read that I finished in just a few days.

I read by listening to the audiobook narrated by the author and it was cool to hear the story coming from her.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Short Stories of DanDanTheArtMan 15 - The Forest Trail

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In this short story a kid named Nolan finally gets to join his big brother and his friends on a camping trip but on the way they realize they didn't bring matches. His brother makes him go back for them alone. The forest isn't so fun without people around. In fact it's kind of creepy, and that's before Nolan literally runs into someone.

Thanks for listening! Have friends you want to share the story with that prefer reading? They can get the eBook version for free in every format here at Smashwords.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Collective by Kenan Hillard | Book Review

This was one cool adventure. The last act of this novel really shines with brutal unrelenting action that leaves you reading as fast as you can just to keep up with the action. The beginning was really cool too. You delve into a dystopian world with the main character as he finds a way to make it without his family. In fact the only time I was a little bored was at the end of the second act where a bunch of info dumping took place about the powerful men who ran things in this cool post apocalyptic world. Those men are called The Collective and are who the novel is named after but the heart of the story is with a scrappy young guy named Abel. It was sort of interesting stuff and further developed the world building but it took me away from the main character's adventure and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next with him. It was a brief pit stop though and before long I was back in the story running and gunning with Abel. So overall it was an awesome ride through a desolate, quite interesting, and violent world.

Abel has a terrible tragedy happen to someone very close to him and is then sent away from his home to try and survive in a world were water is everything. Water is sparse and so it has a lot of value. Gangs run the towns and everyone gives them whatever they want out of fear. Abel however does not fear them and against Abel gets himself in and out of a lot of very dangerous situations with is awesome fighting abilities.

One of the things that shine in this novel are the fight scenes. I liked how Abel was an amazing fighter but it always felt like he could be killed at any moment. He was against odds that seemed like they would overtake him. I'm not saying he won every fight and I certainly don't want to spoil any of the story, but lets just say if you like action you're going to like this book.

Another cool aspect of this novel was the world building. There are the towns who must follow every rule on exactly how much water they're allowed and if they don't follow this there are dire consequences. That's where we start out. Then we go to the towns out on the edge of the society where gangs plunder through violence and fear. Then there is a holdout against The Collective where one man named Warden has built a safe but dangerous refuge for those who follow him. He was probably my favorite character. Not only did he rule over a group of people constantly trying to prove themselves in gladiatorial battles for him, he was an amazing fighter himself and he proves it many times in the story. 

The end of the book to me was the best of it and you'll love rooting for the rebel fighters as they storm one of The Collective's bases and do all they can to try and take it over. Will they succeed? I guess you'll just have to read the book to find out? It's a real nice coming of age post apocalyptic adventure story. I'm glad I read it. Watch out, it gets brutal at the end!