Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"

Monday, March 21, 2022

Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull | Book Review

Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven, #2)Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was really fun. I thought the characters, magic, traps, and challenges faced were creative, fun, and a bit more intense than the last book. I really liked how the story didn't start right back at Fablehaven but gave us a little glimpse into the ordinary lives of the two sibling main characters. Then it was all go from there with lots of fun, adventure, and more of the story world and how it works revealed. I look forward to reading the next one. It's been fun to read this alongside my 10 year old and talk about it.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Book Review

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While it seemed like a bit of a mix between the Great Gastby and a Sherlock Holmes novel, I wouldn't say that's a bad thing. Just as I felt the book was becoming a bit dry the murder happened, and no that's not a spoiler if you know this genre. I must say I actually don't know the mystery genre well but have always wanted to get into it, thus my reading of this book. I have read one other of her books a few years ago, "And Then There Were None," which I quite enjoyed and rated four out of five stars. It was an interesting thing to find that the narrator in this story was interested in becoming a detective, yet it was another character, Poirot, who does the investigation. I was expecting it to be the narrator character, but then it was like duh the series is named after Poirot. I’m just saying that’s the way the story led me at first. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, as it's a lot like Sherlock Holmes, and even the Great Gatsby, where the protagonist is not really the narrator or main character. I'm sure varying definitions of those terms would lead to disagreements with how I worded that, but I'd wager you understand what I mean. I quite enjoyed Poirot's interviews with people. I liked how he differed a bit as a detective from Sherlock Holmes, he has perhaps less powers of deduction and more a talent for thourough investigation where he follows his process and finds things out in that manner. I never disliked Homles's amazing deductions, but it was cool to see Poirot go to work in action rather than puffing on a pipe to solve the case almost exclusively with his mind. EDIT upon futher reading I saw Poirot use great powers of deduction to help him solve the case, and much like Sherlock Holmes he definitely reveals all in a huge avalanche of information at the end. Here's maybe the difference though, while Poirot is sharp, he is also surprised by things and must work them out as he finds new evidence. We get the sense that Poirot is making some amazing deductions as the story progresses, and while he may have solid conclusions, he continues to work on the case. I liked that sense of movement. It is very similar to Sherlock Holmes, but also he does it in his own way with his method. It is heavily inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writings but has a different flavor. I really like the character of Poirot too, as he is described as a small man. He seems not to be physically imposing, but his demeaner still is one of confidence and assuredness. He's a cool character. I look forward to more books with him in them. I enjoyed the narrator, Mr. Hastings's, observations about how the characters handled the death. Richard Armitage did a great job narrating this book. His variation for the different characters brought a lot of life to the dialogue, and there was a lot of dialogue so he was a great choice for this book. It cracked me up how Mr. Hastings would get annoyed with Poirot and his elusive knowledge of the crime that Mr. Hastings couldn't guess at. Overall I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

double Dutch | Vocab Words

Ever since my A.P. English class, in which my excellent teacher gave us a new word of the day, I have grown very fond of learning new words and their meanings. I used to carry around a monstrously tall stack of index cards with words on one side and definitions on the other. Just about all of these words were ones I had never even read or heard of before, let alone knew the definitions for. My vocabulary expanded like crazy that school year. Now, whenever I'm reading a book and come across a word I don't know, I stop and look up its meaning. This is a great way to learn new words, by reading! Below what you'll find is less a word than a slang phrase. I heard it while listening to the audiobook "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," the first in the Hercule Poirot mystery series of books. I hope to start including this phrase "double Dutch" in my diction.

double Dutch

noun Slang.
unintelligible or garbled speech or language:She could have been talking double Dutch for all we understood of it.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

I Can Fly | A Serial Story

I'm writing an ongoing serialized story for the new platform Kindle Vella. If you haven't heard of that, it's Amazon's way to publish serialized stories. Serialized is where instead of a complete novel, it's more like episodes and seasons - like many TV shows. So the first few episodes of my story, "I Can Fly" are setting up the characters and the world. Once that's done, each episode will be it's own self contained story. I'm excited about this because my schedule has been pretty nuts lately, which has lead to me simply not having time to write fiction. I did start an unofficial Minecraft novel, but after getting a couple chapters in, I haven't worked on it more. This project is a great outlet for me to write tons of short stories, and they'll all be building on each other, but also each will be self contained so it's a project I can actually make progress on. I think this will be a great way for me to write fiction again, even though I'm super busy with becoming a pastor. When I feel like the season is coming to an end I can plan some wrap up episodes and then it might be long enough to be a book. For now though, it's a really fun new way to write in a serialized way. The first two chapters are live and I hope to be posting more soon. Check it out here:

 I Can Fly | Kindle Vella (

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien
Book Review

Wow. What a journey. A lot of it went over my head. The only way I was able to make it through this dense but beautiful tome was by reading it a chapter at a time and then listening to episodes of The Prancing Pony podcast where Alan Sisto and Shawn Marchese astutely and lovingly go through the chapters talking about them and helping you understand what all is going on. I can't wait to read The Hobbit with this podcast as a companion, though I've read the Hobbit half a dozen times already! I could see maybe revisiting this book again someday in the future. I feel like it will take several reads to maybe scratch the surface of understanding all of what is going on and all the names. Tolkien indeed rendered a rich world!

Grab your copy at Amazon, the mass market paperbacks are cheap. I read it by listening to the audiobook. It was excellently narrated by Martin Shaw.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

My First Story

659 words. That is how many words I managed to write at my parent's old IBM computer in high school. I knew I wanted to write a story about someone on a quest to find the greatest sword ever made. I couldn't have even told you at the time that I was attempting to write a fantasy story. I didn't even know that word or what "genre" meant. I just knew I liked stories and wanted to try my hand at my own. It wasn't until finished college that I started to actually pursue writing, and even that was after I got married and quit the heavy metal band I was in. I wanted to have something to continue my creative output into. Unlike being in a band, which required a lot of time practicing, I could write on my own whenever I had time to. And so, I started to write. If you click on the BOOKS tab above you can see I have written some books. A search on eBook retail websites will show you I've written a couple dozen short stories as well. I had the idea today, wouldn't it be fun to finish what I started all those years ago? Now that I've learned a thing or two about story structure and have gotten a lot of words down on the page. Maybe now I could tackle this story. It would be a Young Adult fantasy adventure. My original title was simple: "The Swordsman." I doubt I would stick to that if I ever end up publishing it but there it is. It smacks of "The Three Musketeers" which I remember getting from the Library and reading one summer. That's where I picked up the word Zounds. So here it is in all of it's terrible glory:

Splat! A drop of rain was sliced into several pieces by his perky aggressive hair. It welcomed grease and always reached for the sky. It was easily pleaded, for who it rode upon was constantly on the move, sweating up a fight, or escaping death once more. The clothes of which he wears, with reasons, are replete with lush forest shades, and a worn look. They are tattered from much good use, and carry little stories with each rip or tear. His eyes are resplendent, and yet wise. With his current sword grasping his left hip, he walks always briskly (that is, when he's not running of course). His forest flavored eyes are constantly mimicking the ways of his body, jumping around and dodging from place to place.
“Zounds, there he is!” shouted a castle guard.
“He mustn't get away!” yelled another.
He raced down the dark lonely alley, jumped off a wall, and kicked himself the other direction to just catch the top of a gate. Quickly he jumped over to the other side, set down a long plain sac, and drew his sword. 
“Take this in return you undeserving pitiful swordsmen; you have my sorrow for your great lack of skill. Tell the king this sword I have throne to you is of equal value, just not quality.” 
Or so I hope, he thought. 
“I guess they don't make royal guard standards as high as I remember.”
The guards just tried to ignore him, even though they knew he easily got the best of them. They were all trying to get the gate open faster, but with little luck. It was but a small side gate rarely used, and rather rusty no less. The long brown sac was quickly snatched, and taken away. The guards, knowing they had failed, simply gave up with the gate, and watched the stealthy figure disappear into darkness. Then they heard a strange sound, perhaps a whistle being blown, and then the trotting of a horse. Yet all of this was out of sight, for the darkness had already set in long ago; just as was planned by this mysterious crafty swordsman.
“Was not that the man who goes any and everywhere in search of the greatest sword ever built?” said a guard breaking the silence. 
“Could be, let me have a look at that there…” 
The guard's face turned to stone.
“It had to be! For look upon the sword he left behind!”
He gazed upon the long missing sword of the Vanchester Castle. "This sword tis from a very far away land! Lord Byron shant be as mad at us with this, but we still have it coming to us."
Slowing the pace through Everglade Meadow he threw down the sac revealing a majestic sword of almost perfect weight, balance, and length.
This one better be superior to the last one, not that I had to go to any trouble to get it, he thought.
Having his sword he continued on his way towards the nearest forest his eyes met. He knew not of where he was going, or why he was going that way. He only knew that he was going somewhere, and that somewhere was a place to test out his new sword to see if it was good enough. If it wasn't an adequate sword then he would search word of an even greater sword, and then head that way as he liked.
As of now, he had wandered into a cheery forest. As he roamed through he found a small trail far off from the beaten path he was presently following. He only cared for an adventure at the end of the way, therefore, he began to follow the smaller harder to ensue trail. After a matter of ten minutes he saw the trail begin to broaden, and finally the musty appearance of an old shanty came into view.

Copyright Dan Absalonson © 2022