Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review: "Steamborn" by Eric R. Asher

The Steamborn Series by @Eric R Asher
YA/Teen Steampunk Fantasy
Release Dates: As followed
Cover Artist:

Typography: @Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae
Steamborn, Book One
Jacob, a tinker's apprentice and sometime thief, has lived his entire life in the mountain city of Ancora, protected by the massive city walls. The towering barriers keep the Deadlands creatures at bay, but the monsters rise higher into the peaks every year. More and more they breach the defenses of the Lowlands while the Highlands rest easy.

A swarm overruns the walls and wreaks utter devastation on the Lowlands. Charles, the old tinker, suspects the attack may not be natural. With help from Jacob's closest friend, Alice, and Samuel, one of the city's elite spider knights, Jacob and Charles will uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.

I just finished "Steamborn" by Eric R. Asher. It's the first in a YA/Teen Steampunk fantasy series. When I began reading the book, it already had a couple of strikes against it in my mind. I am not a big fan of the steampunk genre. I find most post apocalyptic too dark and/or depressing for my tastes. I must say "Steamborn"was a pleasant surprise.

It's true the book contained many of the common themes of the genre. There is a sharp divide between the Highlands and Lowlands sections of Ancora. The Highlanders show disdain and mistrust for the Lowlanders. There is a landscape filled with monsters who are trying to breach the walls of the city. There is the typical teen protagonists who are fighting for survival who overcome challenges by heroic measures. All these threads in the hands of a lesser writer might give us a typical dark book devoid of life.

Eric Asher takes these threads and weaves a highly entertaining novel. Though set in a dark world/time, the author allows rays of hope, love and compassion to shine through the darkness. It added another dimension that one doesn't often find in a post apocalyptic novel.

The author has a knack for creating interesting characters. I enjoyed the scenes featuring Charles and his apprentice Jacob. Though the world around them is bleak, these two have the compassion to help those injured by a monster attack. The interaction between Alice and Jacob is believable and at times amusing. 

I thought the descriptions of the steam technology was well done. It was not too technical for me to follow. I loved the addition and description of "bugs' and monsters. From the innocuous pill bugs to the Widow Makers and Red Death, the bugs were an innovative addition to a great read.

The final two books in the trilogy will be released in 2016. I a looking forward to the conclusion of the series with great anticipation.

 In the spirit of full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Eric R. Asher is my nephew.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Music for the Working Man

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day is defined as: "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
Sadly, unions have fell out of favor in recent years. Corporate greed has sent most of the factory/manufacturing jobs overseas.  This has resulted in a dwindling middle class. As we celebrate Labor Day, let's remember the sacrifices the labor movement has made over the years to give many of us a higher wage, paid vacation, retirement and health benefits. 

Labor Day is more than the traditional end of summer. It is a memorial to those who fought for workers rights over the years. Like unions/hate unions, all of us have benefited in some way from them. 

Here are a few songs for the working man on this Labor Day weekend.

Boney Fingers 


16 Tons 


Working Man Blues 



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lynn Anderson September 26, 1947 – July 30, 2015 R.I.P.

I was saddened this week to hear that Lynn Anderson had passed away. I was a big fan of hers from her days on the Lawrence Welk show to her taking her place as a country super star.  I was privileged to see her in concert at the height of her popularity in the late 60's/early 70's. I remember her as being a vibrant high energy performer that totally engaged her audience.

One of the things I remember about her is she would sometimes do songs that few performers male or female attempted. "The Auctioneer" and "I've Been Everywhere" are two that come to mind. Country Music has lost another rare talent at her passing.

Here are some of my favorite Lynn Anderson songs:

"The Auctioneer"

"I've Been Everywhere"

"Rose Garden"






Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Presidential Politics - Election 2016

It always amazes me that the most annoying calls we get aren't from salesmen, bill collectors, frenemies...They come from political pollsters. The No Call list doesn't stop them. I used to think that if there was a nuclear war the only things left would be duct tape and cockroaches. Political pollsters would probably survive too.

The call I got the other day wanted me to pick between Hilary Clinton and/or Jeb Bush. I don't think he was happy with me when I told him neither. I'm tired of political dynasties. Actually, I'm already tired of all the potshots being traded among the politicos. 

I'm renewing my pledge to hide, ignore, and not be drawn into any political discussions. This is for my own peace of mind. So Facebook friends, I've started blocking the various items off my feed. Some still get through...but I will not respond. 

The following musical posts are dedicated to all those on both sides of the political aisle. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekend Music Featuring Three Dog Night


Jimmy Greenspoon 

(February 7, 1948 – March 11, 2015)


An Old Fashioned Love Song


Eli's Coming



 Joy To The World


Monday, February 9, 2015

Earwigs...It's all about that bass...or is it?

Have you ever had an earwig problem? I'm not talking about the insect...I'm talking about theat song you can't get out of your mind. Someone defined it this way: “Earwigs” – songs that we don’t really like at first, but they’re so catchy that we eventually end up liking them (termed earwigs because of the way they come in through our ears and burrow into our brains)."
Most recently for me, it's been Meghan Trainor's song "It's All About that Bass". I liked it the first several times I heard it...then it became annoying. For those of you that have missed it, here it is:


Since I'm in my sixth decade, music has changed a lot. Back in my younger days, we had a different type of bass in mind. Oddly enough, it caused earwigs back then too. Here's one of my favorites from circa 1963:


Listening to Mr. Bass Man finally cured me of my "It's All About that Bass" earwig. Unfortunately, I get the strangest looks when folks hear me muttering
boom boom boom boom
And a dit dit ba boom boom bom just have to live with them...There really is no cure.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

R.I.P. Rod McKuen

Rodney Marvin "Rod" McKuen 
 (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) 
I was born in the 50's and lived through the 60's. While I never became a hippie or embraced the whole Flower Power generation, certain influences ran strong. One of these is my deep admiration and respect for the poetry of Rod McKuen. I'm not sure what it was that captured my attention. The verses...the pacing...or the maybe it was the pacing of the stanzas.

Last week, Rod passed away. I'm not sure if there's another poet that can fill his shoes. My favorite poem was called "Election". He dedicated it to Sister Mark Sandy.  It can be found on page 69 of his volume of poetry "In Someone's Shadow":

I used to wonder why
God only came to visit me on Sunday.
He must have been as bored with me
               as I with Him.
One hour once a week was once enough.

God's really hurt nobody but the poor
and still they go voting every year.
                           An echo not a choice.

I'll deal with death when it comes knocking,
            the same is true with God.
Even I don't practice what I preach.
If I believed there were no God
I'd have to face the possibility of no me.

These words still resonate in my soul. Thank you for touching me with your poetry.
Rest in Peace, will be missed.



Friday, January 9, 2015

R.I.P. Andrae Crouch (July 1, 1942 – January 8, 2015)

Andrae Crouch
 (July 1, 1942 – January 8, 2015) 

"The Blood Will Never Lose It's Power"

 "Through It All"


"To God Be the Glory"

"Soon And Very Soon"




Friday, January 2, 2015

R.I.P. Little Jimmy Dickens Dec. 19, 1920 - Jan. 2, 2015


Little Jimmy Dickens
Little Jimmy Dickens 1971.JPG
Dickens in 1971
Background information
Birth name James Cecil Dickens
Also known as Little Jimmy Dickens
Born December 19, 1920
Bolt, West Virginia, United States
Died January 2, 2015 (aged 94)
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Genres Country
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1936–2014
Labels Columbia Records, Decca Records, United Artists Record



Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed/ John Henry


I'm Little But I'm Loud


 Country Boy


May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose