Listen to my latest short story "The Forest Trail"

Friday, January 29, 2016

6 Goals Podcast - Episode 33

On another website I run a little podcast that's kind of for me. I don't even publish it to iTunes, but you can subscribe to it in your iTunes app. It's called 6 Goals and I just share how I've been doing on 6 Goals I set up for myself. Those 6 goals are:

  1. Six miles run
  2. Six short work outs
  3. Six thousand words written
  4. Six chapters of the bible read
  5. Six water bottles consumed a day
  6. Six sketches drawn in my sketch book
Below I've reposted the latest episode's blog post if you're curious have a listen. Thanks to Kevin MacLeod's music it's very calm and relaxing to listen to. Thanks for stopping by!




Download the .mp3

I went on a few runs. Two I've posted below, the one before that is in the last post. I recorded a podcast too! Wow has it been a long time since I've done that! I tried adding some more chill music instead of the hard rock in the background. I like it a lot more. Kind of new age and weird but I like it. Makes for an interesting sound.


Here's the stats:
2.0 miles in 20:11 minutes - 1/29/16 
2.0 miles in 24 minutes - 1/22/16

Attributions:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at www.incompetech.com

Cover to Sword and Urn I mentioned:





Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Overpopulation, Poverty, and Energy: How Soylent Green is Still Relevant Today | Guest Post by Maria Jane

When Soylent Green first premiered in 1973, it received mixed reviews from the critics and was beaten at the box office by Charlotte's Web. However, despite this unimpressive debut, it has become a cult classic and is as relevant today as it was during its original release. Though on the surface it appears to be a straightforward science fiction movie, complete with beautiful women and fast moving action scenes, it is the underlying environmental and moral message that has led to its staying power.

The film opens with a photo montage that demonstrates wordlessly the increasingly crowded nature of our living conditions. The early photos are of small groups of people in idyllic natural settings, while by the end all that is shown is a crowded city landscape with nary a blade of grass or tree in sight. This powerful visual sets the tone for the rest of the movie, while also broadcasting a real-life warning to those watching.

The rest of the film continues this juxtaposition between reality and fiction. In this Richard Fleischer directed film, the lack of natural resources has led to extreme income inequality and most residents need government rations to even survive. Women are bought and sold like pieces of furniture and the government protects the wealthy rather than the vulnerable. Though fictional, the portrait this world paints is one that has been found throughout human history when income inequality becomes severe.

The central conflict in the film begins when a wealthy resident is killed and Detective Frank Thorn, played expertly by Charlton Heston, is assigned to the case. In the course of tracking down the man's killer, the audience is shown how degraded this alternate world's society has become. While most people barely escape starvation, the murder victim had every possible luxury at his disposal, including a young concubine named Shirl, played by Leigh Taylor-Young who is seen as just another beautiful object.

Nor does the corruption end there. The real horror uncovered by Thorn is that the rations being handed out by the government, and the only thing keeping poorer citizens from starving, are actually made out of processed human flesh. Though this product, called “Soylent Green,” was originally produced with seaweed, the plant-based ingredient has run out. While the wealthy hoard resources, the poor are being tricked into cannibalism.
At the same time that Thorn and his roommate Roth, played by Edward G. Robinson, are uncovering this horrific conspiracy, starving people are rioting at Soylent Green factories and demanding more food. Roth is so horrified by the information they've uncovered that he commits suicide, a particularly hard scene to watch as the actor himself died only days later. Thorn's final battle is to try to let the population know what is happening while avoiding assassins determined to silence him.

While certainly set in an alternate universe, the film reflected real fears about what could happen if population growth continued unchecked. At the time the film was being made, Americans were becoming increasingly aware of environmental concerns. The Clean Air Act was passed in the beginning of the 1970's and the Water Pollution Control Act was completely updated a couple years later. In fact, a laundry list of environmental laws were passed during this time, many of which are still around today. The Environment Protection Agency also came into being during this decade. One reason the film still resonates so strongly is that despite these laws environmental damage and climate change are still hugely relevant issues. According to Ohio Gas, 25 percent of greenhouse gases are emitted by the United States alone, demonstrating that despite our heightened awareness, we have not changed our behavior.

Films like Soylent Green succeed because they are able to present real issues as entertainment. Global warming has brought the dangers of fossil fuels and overpopulation back into the forefront of both political conversation and everyday concern. Though seemingly impossible now, a society like that shown in the film is in fact not so farfetched. Water shortages, food riots, and extreme income inequality are already real problems. While government sanctioned cannibalism has thus far been avoided, it may not be out of the question in a future where people have overwhelmed the planet.





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, January 22, 2016

Strikers by Ann Christy | Book Review

This book was fun and I can see why a lot of people loved it but it just wasn't for me. There were a lot of parts I enjoyed, but in the end it was a bit of a let down. Let me start this review though by telling you what I did think was good in this book.

The narrator was fantastic. She did an incredible job with the story. She has a wonderful voice to listen to and delivers the narration really well. I liked her differentiation for the various characters too. Spot on narration performance.

The first person narration and the characters worked well. You really get to know the main character Karas and the author did a good job of describing how she felt in every scene. So you got a good take on that character. The other characters were fleshed out pretty well and they came across as believable. So she did a good job with her characters which could be argued is the most or one of the most important things for a fiction book.

The story world was cool and I liked seeing how different it was from our own in a sort of post-apocalyptic way, but there was much left unexplained. Part of this could be that you discover the world through the eyes of the main character and she still has a lot to learn about the world, but it left me wanting a bit more information on the world and how it worked. Still I enjoyed experiencing this story world through the main character's point of view.

The book starts out really well. I was really impressed with it. The writing was great, the emotion, the world. It was exciting and a lot of crazy things and action take place. Then when the characters set off on their adventure it's kind of one long slog until they get to a certain place. Then some great action happens, and then it's another kind of boring journey where not much happens.

This was a cool book but I feel that a lot more could have been done to make it an amazing book. There was a lot of show don't tell, or where you as a reader miss an event happening and it's explained later in dialog. Those things were a letdown to me. Also I felt like the ending did have tension, but was over way too fast and it was way too easy for them to defeat the bad guy. After he's been chasing them for pretty much the whole book you wanted a really big hard final showdown where it seems like the characters weren't going to win - but they do and it was very easy for them. They didn't have to really struggle to beat the bad guy in the final showdown scene. That was kind of the last straw for me. I was kind of bored through the book, though I did enjoy many details and little scenes and interactions between characters, and I was kind of holding out for the end of the book to wow me and sadly it did not.

It should be said that I'm a male in his thirties who loves reading action and adventure stories. While this story didn't have as much of that stuff as I would have liked it did have romance that I'm sure a lot of readers will appreciate. Like I said the author nailed the characters and their interactions between each other on their journey was done well. I just wish it would have been harder for them and that more would have happened. I think a lot of female readers will love this book, and I'm sure even a lot of male readers.

Ann Christy is a good writer and we can only expect better and better books to come from her so - would I read her next book? Yes I would. She has talent, hopefully she just works a little harder on the "dark night of the soul," "all is lost" moment in her next book.

Still a pretty good read - I think I'm just not the target audience for this one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sword & Urn | Cover Reveal

This year I am going to publish this novella. Other than an 11,000 word novelette it will be the first time I've published something longer than a short story and I'm really excited about it. I finished with the edits from one editor and her work really improved my book. I'm currently going through the notes from a second editor.

A couple years ago I revised this novella twice and then gave the third draft to a couple of editors. I was so excited to publish the thing. Then I got notes back from those editors. One of them had a lot of notes that lead me to believe that this book had so many things to fix that it needed a rewrite. So I kind of gave up on working more on it. I was still really proud of the story though so I published it for free on Wattpad.com. Last year I got a couple of comments on the last chapter of the book.
Thank you for sharing your tale. I enjoyed it!
quite enjoyed this yarn. 
These two comments though they may be small were all the inspiration and encouragement I needed to dive back into this novella and get it ready for publication. Just for fun, here's the original cover I created for the free Wattpad version. I think it's been much improved on. If these two guys read the entire book and liked it enough to leave these comments on the last chapter then that says to me that I have a good story here. I'm in the process of formatting it as a paperback and eBook right now. Once I get the last edits and paperback formatting done I'm going to order a proof copy and pass that around to a couple of people as an advanced reader copy. Then I'll take their feedback and make any changes that come from that - and PUBLISH THE THING! Once it's for sale as a paperback and eBook I'll be able to also turn it into an audiobook. That will be another very fun project.

Anyways thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 37
Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey


Download the .mp3

In this 37th episode I review the amazing prequel novel to Wool Omnibus called Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey. Wool is one of my all-time favorite reads and when you're done with it you HAVE to know how the story world of people living in an underground Silo because the outside world is poisonous - came to be. This book Shift answers that question and brings back some favorite characters from Wool! Listen to hear why I loved it! 

Buy the Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link):
Shift - Omnibus Edition (Silo Saga) (Volume 2)

Visit the Author's Website:
http://www.hughhowey.com/

Music Attribution:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at http://www.incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Visit my website: www.DanDanTheArtMan.com

Support the show AND get a free audiobook!
http://www.audibletrial.com/DansBookReviews

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Hugh Howey
Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds

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.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

True Crime in TV, Podcast, & Book Form

Image: Netflix


Last weekend my wife and I finished watching a Documentary called Making a Murderer on Netflix. We saw people on Facebook saying they were hooked so we started watching it. At first I thought it was interesting but not all that entertaining. Then we watched the third episode. After that I was hooked because it really seemed like Steven Avery was innocent. From then on until we finished the tenth and last episode my wife and I had a good time discussing whether we thought he, and later his nephew Brendan Dassey, were guilty or innocent of the crimes they are currently sitting in jail for. My wife and I watch a lot of crime TV shows but this is the first time we've watched a true crime saga. The two creators spent 10 years making their documentary. Pretty amazing. It reminded me of the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. When we finished the show I wanted more true crime. That's when I found the podcast Serial. I had heard the name before but didn't know what it was about. Man have I been missing out.

Watch Making a Murderer on Netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80000770


Image: Serial Podcast


Serial is a podcast that takes a look at crimes where it seems the person in jail may be innocent just like Making a Murderer. It is extremely entertaining to hear the podcast host interview people surrounding the murder or who knew the convicted man Adnan Syed. He was put in prison for killing his ex girlfriend Hae Min Lee. As you listen to Sarah Koenig sift through all the evidence and talk to people who knew those involved you begin to play the same game in your head. Is he innocent or did he do it? The creators of the NPR show This American Life make this and Sarah Koenig is a fantastic host. You can tell right away she's a veteran as journalist and public radio personality. She really make the show come to life. I love the personal touch she brings. She's not reporting a story for NPR, she's sharing her personal feelings about the case. She goes around to the actual crime scenes and records what she's doing while she's exploring. She plays portions of phone calls she's had with the convicted man Adnan and recordings from the court and police interviews with people. And there's a second season waiting for me when I finish the first season! If you're looking for something to fill that hole Making a Murderer has left this is the podcast for you. It is extremely interesting and entertaining.

Check out the phenomenal podcast Serial
https://serialpodcast.org/


I N   C O L D   B L O O D
Truman Capote in the living room of the Clutter ranch. Photograph: AP

Lastly, one book I've read several times is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The author went to the place where the murders took place and interviewed tons of people. He formed relationships with the people in the community. Then he wrote the novel In Cold Blood. It's a Non-Fiction book that reads like a fiction novel. It reports the facts but also does a beautiful job of telling the story from so many points of views. Even the points of views of the criminals. It is an intensly fascinating read. Another reason I've "read" it so many times is also because it's the first audiobook I owned on CD by Scott Brick. Once I heard him read this book I was hooked on his voice as an audiobook narrator. He's one of the best in my opinion and really makes this novel come to life. 

Click this affiliate link to buy In Cold Blood in paperback, eBook, or audiobook and you'll be getting some great fiction and supporting my creative projects. Thank you!

Have you watched Making a Murderer? Have you listened to Serial? Have you read In Cold Blood? What do you think of them?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 36
A Minor Magic by Justin R. Macumber


Download the .mp3

In this 36th episode I review the fantastic urban fantasy novel A Minor Magic by Justin R. Macumber. This book is not a genre I usually read but I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. It was so good! Listen to hear why.


Buy the Book on Amazon:
Affiliate A Minor Magic: Born of Fire - Book 1 (Volume 1)

Visit the Author's Website:
http://www.justinmacumber.com/

Music Attribution:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at http://www.incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Visit my website: www.DanDanTheArtMan.com

Support the show AND get a free audiobook!
http://www.audibletrial.com/DansBookReviews

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by Justin R. Macumber
Narrated by Veronica Giguere

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.



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Scavenger: Evolution by Timothy C. Ward | Book Review

This was a fun read. There was a lot of action and once the story started moving it didn't stop. Leading up to all the action is a ton of emotion built into the main character. This base enhances the rest of the book giving the exciting scenes an extra layer of what's going on in the characters heads. It provided a good pushing off point for the characters motivations.

I loved the expansion of Hugh Howey's Sand world in this story. We got to see the power of the sand diving suits used in new and different ways. We also learned a bit more about the old world that existed before everything was covered in sand and that was cool.

I liked the characters in this story. They had a lot of emotionally charged back story and it helped make the story feel deeper through the many fun fast paced action driven scenes that made up the last three quarters of the book. You get a lot of the main character's thoughts throughout the story and really feel like you know him by the end of the book. If you liked Hugh Howey's Sand you'll enjoy this story as well. It did not disappoint.

I read this book by listening to the audiobook. Dave Robison's narration was fantastic. First of all, the guy just has a great voice for narration. It's low, rich, and just easy on the ears. This guy could read a phone book and listening would be a nice way to pass the time. Beyond that I really enjoyed his reading of the character's dialog. When they got emotional you could really hear it in his voice. He's a great actor. I've noticed a lot of narrators, even popular great ones, don't really let their voices get that emotional when reading dialog of characters who are crying or screaming. I appreciated the emotion this narrator poured into his words. It really helped you feel what the characters were feeling and added to the emotion of the scene. I also loved the effects he used like a subtle echo when the character was thinking or the cool effects he put on a robotic A.I. voice. All of these made the story that much more fun to listen to and immersive. So a great story that made for a fantastic listen with great narration. This audiobook was provided at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Chimes by Charles Dickens | Book Review

I received this story as a free audiobook from Audible for being a member. Audible is awesome. Ok, so Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors. I read A Christmas Carol almost every year around Christmas. This story, though narrated magnificently, was just alright. It was kind of boring.

It started off well describing wind swirling through a church at night in beautiful descriptive haunting language, but the story after that never grabbed my attention. It had great writing of course, but the story left me wanting. I would definitely listen to another audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage though, he was great.

If you want to give this New Years classic story a try you can get it for free as an eBook in several formats at Project Gutenberg.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 A Year of Reading in Review

This year I set out to read 50 books. I managed to read 56 books. Next year I'm going to shoot for 60. What were the best books I read this year? I started off by reading the first Harry Potter book in January and then read all 7 of them all the way through in a row for the first time. Every one of those books was amazing. I loved each and every one. I was very impressed with J.K. Rowling's storytelling abilities and of course absolutely loved the characters in her books. Plus they were very fun. Brilliant books. Other great books were The Martian by Andy Weir, The Giver, Storm Front by Jim Butcher (1st Dresden Files Book) and a creepy Supernatural Thriller/Crime Novel called Nocturnal by Scott Sigler. Oh also Looking for Alaska by John Green - literary fiction. Ooh and Jurassic Park. My first time reading that one. Lastly I just finished Lost Stars, the YA STAR WARS book yesterday and it was amazing! I loved it. 

So, scroll down from here and check out the covers for the books I read in 2015. It was quite a ride. This is the most books I've ever read in a year. Last year I set out to read 35 and read 42 books. You can read the blog post for those books and see their covers in the post called My Year in Reading. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the scroll down. A big thanks to Goodreads.com for generating these great images and for creating the Reading Challenge. I would not have read this many books had it not been for the reading challenge. I love seeing if I'm ahead or behind and seeing my meter fill up! Now to catch up on some podcasts while I wait for 2016 to start reading more books!

That's it! Hopefully there will be even more next year! Thanks for stopping by! Have a happy New Year and Happy Reading!