Computer problems have plagued me all week!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hello everyone! Well, for the past week I've had an intermittent Internet connection because my cable company has been experiencing an increased number of outages around the area. I actually have no idea if or when I will have access to the Internet or email from one day to the next! It started out as somewhat sporadic, and has turned increasingly annoying!

In fact, we just had a cable service call today. The lady came and spent between an hour and a half to two hours this afternoon trying to find out what is wrong, as the television, telephone and Internet were all affected by outages at some point during the week. It appears to be fixed now, thank goodness! I just hope that it lasts!

For those of you who dropped by today expecting to find my review of Dead Money by Steve O'Brien, I was finally able to post it and I apologize for the lateness of my review - my computer is finally cooperating!

May you read well and often

Roland Allnach, Author of Oddities and Entities, Chats About the Closeness of the Supernatural

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meet Roland Allnach

Roland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He is an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years. Although his college years were focused on a technical education, he always fostered his interest in literature, and has sought to fill every gap on his bookshelves.

By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.

Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities and Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical reviews, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.

His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.

Synopsis of Oddities and Entities:

Oddities and Entities is a surreal, provocative anthology of six tales within the supernatural/paranormal/horror genres, exploring a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body. The stories are: ‘Boneview’, in which a young woman struggles to balance her ability to see through people with the presence of a supernatural creature in her life; ‘Shift/Change’, in which a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory as he is confronted by a series of desperate people; ‘My Other Me’, in which a lonely college student finds himself displaced from his body by his alter ego; ‘Gray’, in which a frustrated man is stunned to discover a little creature has been living in his head; ‘Elmer Phelps’, in which a brother and sister find themselves linked in a strange reality by a bat bite in their youth; and lastly, ‘Appendage’, in which a cynical mercenary is hired by his son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery.

Praise for Oddities and Entities:

Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach, categorized as horror fiction, is unlike any other horror fiction I have ever encountered. The book is comprised of six stories, each of which is written a cut above the norm. There are no recognizable monsters in these stories, no sophomoric zombies, no evil ancient vampires, and none of the standard fare I have become accustomed to in the horror genre. I do like the usual run of the horror genre, but this book is written with thoughtful intelligence, for an intelligent adult reader. I do not mean to imply sexual situations or coarse language. What I mean is, any intelligent reader, capable of deep thought, will find this book irresistible. The six individual stories are as unlike as any six stories can be, yet each one is so sufficiently well-written that, if sold as individual short stories, I wouldn't hesitate to award 5 stars to each of them.

To say I like this book is a crass understatement. Each story drew me in and evoked my empathy for various characters. These stories forced me to actually think beyond what I was reading. Each premise was unique, at least in my experience; I have never encountered any other stories that even approach the situations these present with authority and authenticity. If I could boil down my perception of this book into a single word, that word would be WOW! Roland Allnach’s first anthology, Remnant, which I have also read, was placed as a finalist in the Science Fiction category in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards. I absolutely expect Oddities and Entities to follow suit. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. Be prepared to have your comfort zone challenged.

Readers Favorite (

Coming to Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon!

I would like to welcome Roland Allnach, author of Oddities and Entities to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Mr. Allnach was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in his own words:

'The Supernatural Might Be Closer Than We Think'
by author Roland Allnach

There’s a natural trend of the human psyche to think beyond the immediate, evidenced in our capacity for abstract thought. To that end we have accumulated a rich cultural tradition regarding aspects of life we lack the ability to quantify. Religion has served to fill much of that gap, but as we’ve moved into modern times the abstract landscape has become more tolerant, and more open, to opinions of different natures, so to speak.

So, is there something out there beyond our flesh and bone existence? That is, of course, the elusive question. Sooner or later we come across things in life that challenge our delineation of the everyday world from phenomena that transcend the known natural order. We can call these things strange, weird, spine tingling, but for the most part they get lumped into the supernatural. Do we need strange creatures, premonitions, apparitions, or other-worldly entities to bear witness to the supernatural? I don’t think we have to go that far.

I’d like to illustrate this point with a personal experience. Last summer I lost a nephew in a tragic accident, just shy of his twenty-second birthday. A good man with a kind heart, he was working toward his pilot’s license. Unfortunately, this was not to pass. The day he was put to rest there was a large gathering of family and friends. In remembrance, family members released twenty two balloons at the conclusion of the prayers. Everyone looked up to watch the balloons. There were two clouds in the sky over our heads. As we watched the balloons rise through the silent altitude above us, a small propeller plane emerged from behind one of the clouds, crossed the sky over the balloons, and disappeared behind the other cloud. Needless to say, it was both an unnerving and soothing moment, for we felt we were given a sign that our nephew was at peace.

Now, I’m sure a cynic would say that it was nothing more than an exercise of probability. I’d like to turn that supposition on its head by another simple exercise of probability. If you factor the chance of those events coinciding - the release of the balloons, the position of the two clouds, the passage of the plane - there’s no other conclusion but a vast statistical improbability for things happening the way they did.

I won’t call it a miracle, but I’ll place my confidence that something happened that morning that logic can’t adequately explain. Perhaps it’s an emotional response to a very emotional moment, but I don’t think so. Odds weigh toward the opinion that something else was at work.

So, is it supernatural? Yes and no. Yes, something happened that morning that I can’t explain in ‘normal’ terms. On the other hand, no, it’s not something supernatural, because in reality it’s part of a world more complicated, and more subtle, than we often care to recognize. It is in fact quite natural, but made super because its factors combine to create something beyond their individual parts. Something that defied explanation was right there, and it wasn't hard to find.

All we had to do was look.

- Roland Allnach, author of Remnant; Oddities and Entities
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May you read well and often

Roland Allnach - Oddities and Entities

Thursday, March 21, 2013

11. Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach (2012)
Length: 270 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 16 March 2013
Finished: 21 March 2013
Where did it come from? From Netgalley with many thanks also to Dorothy from Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 4 January 2013
Why do I have it? I like horror and Roland Allnach is a new author for me.

Set in the mysterious space between everyday reality - which governs the real world - and an existence just beyond reach, Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach traces a path through the supernatural, the paranormal, and the speculative. With moments of horror, dark humor, and philosophical transcendence, these six tales explore a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body.

In the first of these six tales, 'Boneview' - a young woman named Allison, attempts to balance her desire to have a normal life with her ability to see through people, as well as the presence of a supernatural creature that she calls 'The Curmudgeon'. In 'Shift/Change' - John, an amnesiac young hospital worker, struggles to regain his memories of his previous life as he is confronted by a series of desperate people. In 'My Other Me' - Noel, a lonely college student, finds himself displaced from his body by his alter ego.

In 'Gray' - a frustrated man named Dave is stunned to discover a tiny creature living in his head. In 'Elmer Phelps' - Elmer and his older sister Casey are bound together in a strange reality by a bat bite that occurred in childhood. In the last story, 'Appendage' - a cynical mercenary is hired by his estranged son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery.

I found this book to be somewhat disturbing, but compulsively readable for me! I really enjoyed this book  and actually finished reading it late last night ('into the wee hours of the morning' - translated as 2:30 A.M!!!) As a result, I'm writing up this review a little late, as I wanted to organize my thoughts about what I read before I tapped it out on my computer keyboard! :) If I had to choose which stories I enjoyed most, I would say that the first three stories really were the most unusual for me. Overall though, I would give Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach an A! He certainly is an author to look out for.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

May You All Have a Wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I hope that everyone; old and new friends, online and offline friends, and family from all over, have a wonderful and much blessed St. Patrick's Day. I am truly honored and blessed to have you all in my life! :)

May you read well and often

Prudence MacGregor, Author of Trilogy: A Collection Chats About the Joys and Difficulties of the Writing Process

Friday, March 15, 2013

Meet Prudence MacGregor

Prudence MacGregor was born on the isle of Manhattan and began writing stories at an early age. There are things besides writing that she loves to do. Mainly, travel, read, and indulge in decadent delights such as Australian red licorice and trying different perfumes.

Synopsis of Trilogy: A Collection:

Trilogy: A Collection is comprised of three stories, all of which have an otherworldly, paranormal theme to them. Each of the main characters in these stories wrestles with extraordinary circumstances in an otherwise ostensibly ordinary world. All of the tales have their own moral and life lessons, which Prudence MacGregor aims for each reader to individually formulate, as life itself is not clear cut and is at the mercy of the subjective. Journey with the stories’ main characters as they navigate the unplumbed depths of the unknown. 

The first story, 'Parallelograms', centers on protagonist Justine, a determined yet troubled young woman who, quite by accident, discovers that she has a double and thus finds herself facing unexpected and ultimately terrifying consequences. Her previously tightly controlled world spins out of control, causing her to question her very existence. 

The second story in the trilogy, 'Random', concerns Ulyssa, a young woman who is intrigued by the possibility of releasing a balloon with a note and seeing where it lands. This seemingly innocent activity will take her down a dark path, the circumstances of which may or may not be resolved. This will conflict with the outwardly picture perfect world that she thought she inhabited. 

The final title, 'Up There', focuses on Gregory, an unassuming office worker who is fascinated by the airplanes he sees in the sky. Quite by accident he meets Sherry, a beautiful motivational speaker who just may have a connection to one of the planes he has seen. An activity he previously saw as harmless and a bit innocuous -watching planes fly overhead and guessing their destinations - turns questionable and ultimately forces him to take a look at his world: is it real or has it always been an illusion?

I would like to welcome Prudence MacGregor, author of Trilogy: A Collection to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Ms. MacGregor was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:

'The Joys and Difficulties of the Writing Process'
by author Prudence MacGregor

The idea for my book, Trilogy: A Collection, came to me over a period of months. I knew from the outset that I wanted to write a series of short stories that dealt with paranormal, otherworldly themes. And, I knew what particular situations that each story would address. Those parts were easy.

What wasn't so easy was formulating the stories themselves, charting the course of each main character and the direction that each story was going to go. How would I present the situations that frame the stories. Would I have several main characters or just one? Would I have neatly-wrapped endings, or would I keep them open-ended?

There were so many ways these stories could go. Of course, writing is my love, so of course I knew that my imagination would definitely serve me when it came to having everything all come together, but the process wasn't without some daunting moments. Writing in this genre was a challenge, albeit a good one, because I knew that I did want there to be believability to the characters and their everyday circumstances just when they confront their particular situations. I didn't want the stories to veer into the territory of unbelievability or "hocus pocus," if you will, since I was writing about situations that were beyond this world.

There is a fine line between both and I wanted to straddle it as delicately as I could. Just when I thought that I would have a story finished, another idea would pop into my head and I'd try that one out. I improvised a lot with each story, until I had what I think are narratives that each pack a visceral punch. I have always been heavy on description, back story and dialog, and I wanted to infuse, yet not overwhelm, my stories with each of those.

There is no greater joy, at least for me as a writer, when the writing is done and I am pleased with my work. The only obstacle standing in the way with being pleased is the fact that I think we as writers don't want to get complacent with the writing. There is always more in the way of story, plot, theme and endings to pull out of our hats with each story we write.

Now I leave it up to the readers to enjoy the book, and interpret the stories how they see fit. The stories lend their interpretations to being very subjective, so I want the readers to formulate their own conclusions. I really hope the stories impart the overall theme of "nothing is as it seems" to those who read them.

- Prudence MacGregor Author of Trilogy: A Collection

May you read well and often

Prudence MacGregor - Trilogy: A Collection

Thursday, March 14, 2013

10. Trilogy: A Collection by Prudence MacGregor (2013)
Length: 107 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 12 March 2013
Finished: 14 March 2013
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Rebecca at The Cadence Group for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 February 2013
Why do I have it? I like horror with a supernatural flavor to it and Prudence MacGregor is a new author for me.

Trilogy: A Collection by Prudence MacGregor is comprised of three stories, all of which have an otherworldly, paranormal theme to them. The book is not really classified as typical horror - I classified the book in that category myself. Anyway, the first story of the trio was 'Parallelograms', is about a young woman named Justine, whose previously tightly-controlled and well-ordered world is thrown into a tailspin by her chance meetings with two unusual people. One woman - Justine's doppelganger - is someone who appears to be shopping at the same supermarket while Justine is there, but mysteriously disappears when she looks for her. The second - a middle-aged man named Kenny - is someone who Justine encounters first in her local bookstore, while browsing the self-help section during her lunch hour - then meets again outside the same supermarket, and he appears slightly different physically. Justine ultimately finds herself facing an unexpected and potentially terrifying situation, that causes her to question her very existence.

'Random' is a story about a college student named Ullyssa who, just out of curiosity, decides to send up a balloon with a note attached, and see who answers her note. Such a simple project leads Lyssa into strange circumstances when a teenage girl named Prudence calls Lyssa's cell phone at 1:30 the next morning, claiming that she has found the balloon and wants to meet Lyssa.

'Up There' focuses on Gregory, an unassuming office worker who is fascinated by airplanes that he sees in the sky. Quite by accident he meets Sherry, a beautiful motivational speaker, who just may have a connection to one of the planes he has seen recently. Suddenly, Gregory's harmless and seemingly innocuous pastime - watching planes fly overhead and guessing their destinations - turns questionable and ultimately forces him to take a look at his world: is it real or has it always been an illusion?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book as I love books with paranormal themes. I think that I liked the last two stories in the trilogy slightly more than the first one. Although 'Parallelograms' was good in its own way, I was left wanting to know just a little bit more about Kenny's explanation of what exactly was the paranormal event that Justine was experiencing. I give Trilogy: A Collection by Prudence MacGregor an A! 

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

David Dennis - Why She Left Us

Friday, March 8, 2013

9. Why She Left Us by David Dennis (2012)
Length: 434 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 23 February 2013
Finished: 8 March 2013
Where did it come from? Many thanks to David Dennis for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 December 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and David Dennis is a new author for me.

It was the summer of 1985, and Betsy as the oldest of three sisters, was still young and inexperienced. However, she was longing to love someone and to be loved in return, when Wayne entered her life. Quiet, painfully shy, and lacking in proper social skills, he came across as a shady person to others because he was unable to look anyone in the eye. At the same time, while Betsy was desperately seeking the love and approval of a mother who never wanted her in the first place, events totally beyond her control claimed Betsy as their victim.

In the wake of these catastrophic events, those who were left behind are unable to cope with the enormity of her absence. Why She Left Us is written as a series of diary entries, the events seen through the eyes of several different people. But at its center, Why She Left Us by David Dennis is a love story that chronicles a romance that transforms the lives of two people who, for too brief a period of time, experienced the greatest happiness they had ever known.

After experiencing minor trouble getting into the story because of the multiple points of view, as well as the shifts back and forth in time from the summer of 1985 to the winter of 1986, I really started to enjoy this book. My difficulty with reading the story only lasted for the first couple of chapters or so, and then I got into  the style of writing and was completely drawn into the story. I have to say that while reading this book I found exactly three characters to be entirely likable - the rest were characters that I became infuriated with, and wanted to slap or shake some sense into - figuratively, of course - at various points in the story.

Overall, I found this book to be truly haunting and give it an A! Why She Left Us by David Dennis does contain strong language, implied sexual situations and drug usage, and is not for the faint of heart. However, I do recommend this book to others and look forward to reading more from David Dennis in the future.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Reading Wrap-up For February at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.
Anyway, I started out February with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from authors, a Library Book Sale that mom and I went to on the 2nd, Netgalley, Books Should be Free and Amazon.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile 

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Wish by a Hazel Tree by Tia Nevitt
- The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Dinosaur Lake by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
- The Angel Knight by Susan King
- Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas
- The Christmas Heiress by Adrienne Basso
- The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
- A Delightful Folly by Glenda Garland
- Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
- His Chosen Bride by Alexandra Bassett
- The Illearth War by Stephen R. Donaldson
- The Innocent by Posie Graeme-Evans
- King Arthur and His Knights: Selected Tales by Sir Thomas Mallory by Eugene Vinaver
- Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen
- Luck of the Devil by Emily Baker
- A Man of Many Talents by Deborah Simmons
- More Bones: Scary Stories From Around the World by Arielle North Olsen and Howard Schwartz
- Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out by Lee Goldberg
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- My Lady Rival by Ashley March
- The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick
- Stranger With my Face by Lois Duncan
- Tomorrow's Wizard by Patricia MacLachlan
- Total Titanic by Mark Shapiro
- The Uninvited by Heather Graham
- Whispered Lies by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
- Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole
- The Wounded Land by Stephen R. Donaldson
- The Trouble With Fate by Leigh Evans
- Trilogy: A Collection by Prudence MacGregregor
- Dead Money by Steve O'Brien
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
- Lady Audley's Secret by M. E. Braddon
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Dancing With the Duke by Suzanna Medeiros
- Amethyst by Heather Bowhay
Kindle Buffet: Find and Download the Best Free Books, Magazines and Newspapers for Your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android by Steve Weber
- Thy Kingdom Come: The Promise of the King by Rick Schworer
- A Different Kind of Fairy Tale by Morgan Rayne
- The End: Visions of the Apocalypse by N. E. White
- Runaway Heart by Claudy Conn
- Misty Carmichael: The Marshall Case by Anna Gray
- Jewels of Historical Romance by Cynthia Wright, Lauren Royal, Jill Barnett, Laurin Wittig, Annette Blair, Cheryl Bolen, Lucinda Brant, Glynnis Campbell, Tanya Anne Crosby, Colleen Gleason, Danelle Harmon and Brenda Hiatt
- Witch Weigh by Caroline Mickelson
- The Thirteenth Unicorn by W. D. Newman
- The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton
- A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Wish by a Hazel Tree by Tia Nevitt
- Warriors of Virtue: The Novel by Kevin Tine
- The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 179
Grade Range: A+! 

So, there you go! The reading month that was February. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often