I know it has been a little while since I’ve posted one of these. So I suppose its about time. Here’s the next installment in my, “Books Off the Shelf” series. As ever, So Many Books, So Little Time! I will attempt to give you an idea on some books you might enjoy or not enjoy quite as much without ruining it with too many spoilers.
A Halo of Mushrooms by Andrew Hiller Rating 9 out of 10
Once planted, it lives everywhere...
In a place of origins, the first Fairie Ring withers. Worlds die. Wonder fades. As its last ripple reaches out, fell creatures barricade up the few remaining Bald Mushrooms and wars are fought for the right to possess what precious little remains…. Until Derik, a healer, creeps through lines of armies, thorns, and traps to steal one.
Tying the wonder to his hip in a sack, he finds himself alone on Earth in the gray, declining city of Clarksburg. Without friends, tools, weapons, and even stripped of the ability to read, he must escape pursuit and find refuge for his burden. A burden that stubbornly refuses every attempt to find it a new home.
Shadows of war are descending and all Derik has to fend it off is a baker, a chemist, a cerulean sweet, and a withered hope.
The chase is on....from world to world and from the Great Lakes to Malawi.
Fresh, new, and delightful. In Halo of Mushrooms, Hiller offers something superbly different from other paranormal fantasy novels. This is no vampire romance; it is a desperate race across worlds in a nearly hopeless attempt to preserve…wonder, of all things.
Halo of Mushrooms follows Derik, a healer from another world, as he comes to Earth, another stop among many, many others. Branded as an outlaw by his own people, and hunted by thousands of terrifying monster, Derik is searching urgently for a place to preserve his precious cargo, and by doing so, make safe wonder for the universe.
As he befriends and is befriended by an unlikely pair: a chemist and a baker an interesting love triangle forms. As we continue through the story, Hiller takes us on a crazy ride full of twists and turns, leaps forward and double backs.
Though Derik has a full understanding of what he is trying to accomplish, the “how-it-will-be-accomplished” is hazy at best. Although incredibly authentic in its feeling, on one or two occasions the lack of clear purposed gives the story a bit of a meandering feeling. This notion is mostly squelched by the story twists that keep a reader wanting more, though. In truth, I had no idea how this story was going to end, and even less of an idea of how wonder could be preserved against such terrible odds. It kept me reading feverishly to the end.
I particularly liked the creation of magical seds, magical foods of different kinds that offer different attributes and come with different drawbacks. The way this interlaced into and through the story as a whole was really quite delightful.
One caution, there are a number of times, more so in the beginning, when the point of view character switches back and forth inside of the same scene. It gives an odd feeling of omniscient writing to those parts that can be a bit jarring and harder to relate to the pov character you thought you were with. That seems to lessen as the story progresses; so when you run into it early, don’t let it deter you. Hold on for the whole ride, you’ll be glad you did.
If you’ve read Halo of Mushrooms, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a message below. And if you have suggestions of books to review, please let me know. If it is Science Fiction or Fantasy, there is a good chance it is on my shelf or should be.
Also, if you would like to be the first to hear about other great books, feel free to sign up on the right. I’m also giving away the first two chapters of my novel, MIST FALCON. I’d love to send them your way, so do me a favor and sign up.
Read with joy.
As a writer, I am regularly asked how my writing is going, when Warrior Poet Book 2 will be out, and what the next project is.
At the moment, writing is going a little slower than I’d like. Adding the fourth child to our family has certainly been an adjustment. You can read more about this in my earlier post. It has an awesome line about drowning while someone hands you a baby.
Anyway, book 2 is started in process, but to hold your Nine Cities starvation at bay, I have THE TOUCH HEIST. This is a novella starring the twins Lem & Rem with a glimpse into their earlier life. It has been a blast to write, and I trust you'll enjoy the read as well.
Here is the cover reveal.
The artwork was put together by the same artist who did MIST FALCON, the talented Martin Wright over at Busy Bee Book Covers.
I had hoped that this would be released by now, but, well, see afore mentioned drowning. Final edits are underway and THE TOUCH HEIST should be available soon.
Stay tuned, and I’ll post out some updates in the coming days.
Just recently, my wife and I had our fourth child. She did all the hard work obviously. (Don’t be fooled. That’s not a huge departure from normal.)
None-the-less, life has become a bit crazy in my house as sleep deprivation battles exhaustion in an epic battle of king of the mountain.
This quote from Jim Gaffigan pretty much sums it up.
Don’t get me wrong. Our new little boy is awesome. He’s adorable and healthy, which is a wonderful combination. We are blessed. Life is blessed…hectic, but blessed.
I’ve talked before about how busy life can become between being a husband and father, running a business, and wanting to produce the same page volume as a full time author. I’ve talked about how important goal setting is for high achievement.
I’m not reneging on any of my lofty aspirations nor my plans for utter world dominance. (Please insert maniacal laugh here.)
I did want to post a small piece of wisdom that I learned at a young age from a fount of incredible knowledge, my dad, (even if I didn’t understand its application until I was grown).
When I was a kid, my dad would sing, Cat’s In The Cradle by Harry Chapin to me and my brothers as a lullaby.
For those of you who don’t know the song, it tells the story of a father and his son. It starts like this:
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad
You know I'm gonna be like you."
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then."
As Cat’s In The Cradle continues, we follow along as the boy grows step by step into a man. Father and son grow apart even as the son idolizes the dad. In the end we hear:
I've long since retired, and my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
The obvious current of the song is one of a life wasted only on work and ignoring the importance of family.
I’ve continued the tradition of singing this as a lullaby to my kids. I told one of my friends this, and he thought it seemed depressing, and I admit, at face value, it does seem sad. “Hey kids, let me sing you a song about a dad who works too much and a kid who grows up to live a distant life from his family in turn. Ok, night-night. Sleep well.”
What my friend didn’t understand though, is that when my dad sang this to us, he sang it as a promise, a promise that this wouldn’t be him, wouldn’t be us. He was incredibly busy, putting himself through a four-year, full-time grad school while working full-time to provide for our family, and later, working a high-stress, high-commitment job. Cat’s In The Cradle was my dad’s promise, that his work, schedule, and goals wouldn’t trump his commitment to his family.
When I sing it to my kids now, I’m making that same promise. I’ll set my written goals. I’ll set an aggressive agenda in an attempt to fulfill all the hats I wear, but as a parent, I refuse to forget that oh-so-important hat entitled “Dad”.
So, if you find that life changes for you at some point, and your family needs a short hiatus from your writing, don’t sweat it. Take care of your family. Live in life’s moments. Then set a new plan, new written goals that stretch and push you, and get back to that world dominance.
Read with Joy! Write with Joy! Live with Joy!
Ryan J. Doughan