Tag Archives: book review blogs

Chanticleer Books Reviews Greylock – 5 STARS

 

 

5 STAR review at Chanticleer Book Reviews

Greylock by Paula Cappa – Mystery/Thriller/Paranormal

Rating:
Title: Greylock
Author(s): Paula Cappa
Genre(s): Fiction, Ghosts, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Mystery, Occult, Paranormal Romanticism, Supernatural, Thriller/Suspense, Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Crispin Books (2016)
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What’s in the music we create? When we say it lives – when we say it breathes – when, for one fleeting moment it seems to bridge the gap between one soul and another – what kind of existence does it assume? What does it feel? What does it think? What does it want? Such questions may reside in theory for most, but not for piano virtuoso Alexei Georg in Paula Cappa’s Greylock.

Hot off the release of what will surely be his magnum opus, October, Alexei has achieved the level of success found only in his wildest dreams. Hailing from a Russian family steeped in musical artistry, he has transcended all those before him and become something they never could: a legend. And that’s all thanks to October.

There’s only one problem: he didn’t compose it.

And that would have been fine for him, taking credit for pages found in an antique chest belonging to one of his ancestors, if it weren’t for the demons it conjured every time he plays those chords. If it weren’t for the shadowy figure haunting him, punishing him, coming for him. October may have surfaced through the Georg bloodline, but there is something far more sinister and mysterious hidden in each note that is threatening to break free from Alexei’s control.

Alexei wants nothing more than to move on, but the past will not let him. Add to his troubles the threat of fraud exposure from those he’s closest to and a string of grisly murders within the Boston music community that brings the police knocking on his door, he can only come to realize just how much October is at the center of it all. He’ll have to confront three generations worth of Georg family demons to overcome this evil before it claims everything he has and hopes to achieve.

Using music as a central motif and life force to drive the narrative, Paula Cappa defies the limitations of the written word and adds a new dimension in storytelling through the personification of music. The descriptions being so richly layered and animated, one might just imagine these nightmares dwelling in the punctuation, awaiting their chance to come alive themselves.

With just enough integral characters in place to create conflict, Cappa creates a compelling mystery that allows the reader to virtually hear the machinations of the plot grind away before they inevitably crank up to a satisfying crescendo.

By Tim MacAusland
March 2017
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2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, murder mystery, mysteries, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

How to Write Like Chekhov

How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration, Straight From His Own Letters and Work.

Edited by Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek

Book Review and Commentary   May 31, 2016

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Reading the letters of authors is often an eye-opening experience for writers. In correspondence we can find an intimacy that a writing craft book fails to provide.  In How to Write Like Chekhov, editors Brunello and Lencek give us an experience with Chekhov that goes beyond a technical craft book. And for this, I truly appreciated getting to know Chekhov’s thinking and values as he digs deeply into expressing himself as an artist and a man. Chekhov wrote 568 short stories, numerous novels, and plays. Tolstoy called him an ‘incomparable artist—an artist in life.’

How relative is his advice from over 100 years ago? Well, if you are looking for a mentor who understands the transformative power of art, this is your guy for the price of a $10 or $20 book. Or a free read at your library.

The book is in two parts: correspondence and travel memoir: part 1 is theory (mostly correspondence) and part 2 is demonstration (from his travel memoir The Island of Sakhalin). Lots of character sketches and landscape descriptions, which are models of prose. What stands out in this book is his voyage of discovery. This for any writer is really good bread to chew on.

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For Whom Should One Write is a chapter four pages long. Money? Praise? Pleasure? You will find many short tips like practice makes perfect, don’t preach, don’t teach, talk long walks, visit cemeteries, lock up your story for a year and then read it again. I especially liked his advice on deadlines: “they [deadlines] produce haste and great weight and get in the way of writing.” Tell that to the Nanowrimo folks.

While he spends some time on brevity, polishing, cutting, and the literary police, it’s not until we get to Part 2, Good Shoes and a Notebook that the book comes full circle.

Chekhov says that a writer must ‘insert yourself into the scene.’ If a writer is the investigator of a scene, he or she ‘is also the object of the observation.’ How does this work? In the chapter “The Actual Writing” the author writes a scene from the Voyevodsk prison in Due. The prose here is impeccable with emotional truth that is classic Chekhov. I had to close the book for a moment; it was that powerful.

This book is not a guide on how to write; it is not a roadmap on how to write a better book. It is a clear observation into deep artistic expression and how to live the life of a writer, not just do it.

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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860 — 1904) was a Russian physician, short story writer and playwright. Chekhov is thought to be the founder of the modern short story, known to influence such writers as Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Somerset Maugham, Raymond Carver, and John Cheever. Most famous for his plays The Cherry Orchard, The Three Sisters, The Sea-Gull.

 

 

 

Anton Chekhov died of tuberculosis at the age of 44 in 1904. His last words were, “I haven’t had champagne for a long time.” When there was no hope for a patient’s recovery, it was customary for the doctor to offer the patient a glass of champagne.

 

My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

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Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing
     the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

Next writing book on my list to review is for mystery and supernatural writers:

The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker) Annotations by Mort Castle.

Writer’s Digest Edition.

 Come with me and explore the craft and techniques of Bram Stoker.

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Filed under Anton Chekhov, Book Reviews, fiction, horror blogs, literary horror, short story blogs, supernatural

Steering the Craft of Fiction

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story  by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book Review and Commentary  May 17, 2016

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Are you a storyteller? Have you been writing for a while now? Steering the Craft is a comprehensive but short guide for writers who are not beginners, but those who need direction about their narrative prose. Ready to target some of your writing weaknesses?

Filled with lots of exercises (I’m not big on writing exercises but these are better than most), this book can function as you own private writing workshop. There’s a wealth of examples of writing achievements by authors like Alice Walker, Jane Austen, Dickens, Grace Paley, Virginia Woolf.

In Chapter One, Le Guin asks you to listen to the sounds of your writing. Listen to the forward movements, pace, rhythms, the silences. How does the changing sentence rhythms express the emotions of the characters? The examples here are breathtaking.

Of course, she touches on punctuation and grammar, but more importantly she touches on the ‘fake rules.’ Yes, she recommends breaking the rules. Every grammar bully should read this book.

“Craft enables art.” Learn how to bring deeper understanding to your craft. Le Guin goes beyond the mechanics and execution and shows you how to elevate your writing. On page 46, Le Guin discusses the famous F-word. When will that word strengthen or weaken the prose? When will it trivialize or invalidate? Good advice here. If first person vs. third person, passive voice vs. active voice has you in a jumble, these chapters will set you straight. What is “pathetic fallacy”? What is the skeleton of a sentence?

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Do you know the difference between story and plot? When I think of all the writing I’ve done over the past 20 years in fiction, the difference between story and plot is always a fascination and so important to understand.  Is story plot? Is story action? Aristotle addressed it and so did E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel (1927): This is the famous example of the King and the Queen. In Chapter 9, Le  Guin gives us a counterweight opinion.

Le Guin says “The story is not in the plot, but in the telling. It is the telling that moves.”

Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is a “story boat, magical, and knows its course. You, as writer, will help it find its own way to wherever it’s going.” Come aboard!

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Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author: novels, children’s books, and short stories. She writes science fiction and fantasy. She has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Le Guin’s thinking about breaking the rules of writing, see About Writing, On Rules of Writing from her website: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/AboutWriting13-OnRulesofWriting.html [Photo credit: Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch].

Paris Review, The Art of Fiction, interview with Ursula Le Guin.

Famous quote: “Listening is not a reaction, it is a connection. Listening to a conversation or a story, we don’t so much respond as join in — become part of the action.”

 

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My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

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Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

Next writing book on my list to review is

How to Write Like Chekhovedited by Piero Brunello and Lena Leneek.

dante_gabriel_rossetti_-_la_pia_de_tolomei

11 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, Reading Fiction, short story blogs

Amazon Reviewer Gives 5 Stars to Greylock

John J. Staughton, leading Amazon Reviewer, gives 5 stars to GREYLOCK.

“This is a rare and beautiful piece of writing by an author with an unpredictable and exceptional command of language and mood. To create a dark masterpiece such as this one, not only must you look into the darkness, but also fish out the corners of your own soul, delving into dangerous narrative waters to create such a powerful tone. The combination of musical knowledge, history, dramatic storytelling, and a world-spanning tale made this impossible to put down, and the Faustian brilliance of the plot was a true pleasure to read. I can’t tell you the last time I so enjoyed a story about musicians – perhaps because this one was about so much more – but I look forward to reading more by Cappa. This was a symphony in itself, a powerful statement to follow up the Dazzling Darkness. I couldn’t be more impressed or pleased, and look forward to the rest.”
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November 5, 2015.
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John J. Staughton has over 400 reviews on Amazon.com and is ranked among the top Amazon reviewers. Visit his Amazon Book Review Page.  Visit his post on Guardians of Time, Mysterious Sculptures.
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Many thanks to John for his thoughtful and insightful review.

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Greylock, literature, Mt. Greylock, supernatural, supernatural music, The Dazzling Darkness

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