“White Horse” Progress Report 25



REASON FOR STOPPING:  End of chapter eighteen.

Everything is going along swimmingly — as they say, not really sure why they say that though — and just finished up another long chapter with seventeen and a great writing session of almost four thousand words.  If I stick to my outline, there’s just two more chapters to go, and probably about another ten thousand or so words left of the manuscript to write.  How exciting!  Unfortunately I’m about to embark on “Operation Moving” so I’ll stop writing for the weekend on White Horse and return to it next week.  I want to try and get it all done in as few sessions as possible now that I’m down to the final chapters.  Hope to get working on it next Tuesday, and who knows, maybe I’ll finish it by the end of next week!


“The Shadow Men” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Spectra, 2011)

Shadow Men

The literary duo of Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are back with the next in the Hidden Cities series, and after the paltry excuse of the last book, The Chamber of Ten, The Shadow Men is a return to what the two do best: great storytelling, with some fun characters, and one crazy plot.  Readers will not be disappointed with this next installment.

The Shadow Men focuses on the historic and wonderful city of Boston.  Jim is a rich and talented artist, who has the best wife in the world and a darling daughter he can’t get enough of, but he has also painted strange depictions of Boston, a different city that bears little resemblance to the real one.  When Jim takes a nap during the day, while his wife and daughter go shopping, his wakes up to find himself in an altered world: his fancy apartment now looks totally different, and there is no evidence of his ever having had a daughter or being married.  Jim’s world quickly falls apart as he tries to work things out.

This Boston seems different, but it is actually Jim and his life that is different, but there is one other person who is in the same predicament: Trixie, a close friend.  Together they wonder what has happened to them – physically they look different also – but the more they find out, the more it seems like Jim’s wife and daughter never existed.  They visit the oracle of Boston to discover that there are other Bostons out there, parallel ones, and it appears that his wife and daughter have somehow passed into one of them.  But time is running out and they will need to get them back soon or everything will come crashing down.  Then there are the Shadow Men, those dark shadows without faces who are chasing them.

The Shadow Men is Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon at their best, reminding readers there are still some great and fantastic stories out there to be told, making them wonder if our world is really as cut and dry and normal as it seems.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of White Tiger from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“The Phantom Limb” by William Sleator and Ann Monticone (Abrams, 2011)

Phantom Limb

Bestselling author and delighter of many children’s minds, William Sleator, returns with Ann Monticone – after collaborating on Test – in likely his last novel, The Phantom Limb.  While Sleator sadly passed away earlier this year, The Phantom Limb is a fantastic send off, employing some of his great story telling with a truly terrifying and unforgettable plot.

Isaac is the new boy in town, who dreads each day going to school and having to deal with a bullying pair of twins and all sorts of ridicule.  Friendless, he enjoys what time he can at home, entertained with his growing collection of optical illusions.  His mother is ill with a mysterious sickness, permanently in the hospital, while Isaac is lonely at home, tending after his grandfather who may be suffering from dementia.  As he begins to get used to the new house, he finds a leftover item from the previous tenants, an optical illusion in fact: a mirror box that is designed for amputees as it creates the illusion of a second limb.

As Isaac spends his time visiting his mother, she seems to be growing sicker and sicker, instead of getting better and yet the doctors and nurses don’t seem to know what’s wrong with her.  Isaac starts to suspect that someone at the hospital may be intentionally making her sicker.  As for the mirror box, he has noticed something special about it: there’s an additional limb in there – a phantom limb – that appears only before him.  It seems to be trying to tell him something, but Isaac will have to work out who this phantom limb belongs to, who the previous tenants were, and how they are linked with the hospital and its suspicious staff.  But Isaac will stop at nothing, because his mother’s life depends on it.

Sleator does what he does best in The Phantom Limb, revealing an incredible story that grows and becomes more and more bizarre, with the fantastic and the unbelievable; and yet Sleator keeps the reader reading along, linking plot lines and tangents, bringing them all together in  a logical conclusion that will leave the reader astounded.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Phantom Limb from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

A Hallowe’en Story and Some Hallowe’en Reads

It’s the time of year again, when ghosts and goblins, mummies and vampires, and all forms of fearsome creatures come out to haunt the nights in search of tricks and treats.  And to get you further in the mood on this Halloween, below you’ll find a free Halloween story I wrote, for your entertainment, and some recommended Halloween reads you should check out and might want to pick up to entertain yourself, raise those goose-pimples, and make you wonder on the origin of that strange howling outside, or that mysterious, repetitive knocking on your front door . . . could it be the knocker rattling in the wind, or perhaps someone from the dead sending you an important message . . .

Click on the image below to read the free Halloween Story

A Halloween Story

And now some recommended Halloween reads to chill your bones and make your blood freeze . . .


Among the Ghosts Coraline The Graveyard Book

Halloween Tree Rot and Ruin


Neverland I am Not a Serial Killer Feed Horns Death Troopers The Strain The Terror The Living DeadLiving Dead 2 World War Z Full Dark No Stars Handling the Undead

BookBanter Column #5: November is National Novel Writing Month

bookbanter column

New BookBanter Column on NaNoWriMo, because November is National Novel Writing Month! And there’s a free Word Count chart at the end of the column.

NaNoWriMo.  Say it with me now: Nano-wri-mo; you can say it either “nano-ree-mo” or “nano-rye-mo.”  And what exactly does this mean, you might ask?  Well, it’s National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November.  The goal is a simple one: to write at least 50,000 words of a novel between November 1st and November 30th.  While 50,000 words isn’t necessarily that long of a book, it is still a grand accomplishment once you put down that 50,000th word.  Some popular novels that are this length include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby.
Continue reading . . .

BookBanter Links Roundup for 10/20/11

“Reamde” by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow, 2011)

This is book review number 600 for BookBanter!


Neal Stephenson returns with one doorstop of a tome weighing in at over a thousand pages, with Reamde, which some computer geeks may have guessed is in fact a misspelling of “readme.”  Stephenson takes a growing sub-genre that is right up his alley: that of the massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG).  Whether you’re a computer fan, a Stephenson fan, or a fan of edge-of-your-seat thrillers, you’ll find something to sink your teeth into and keep chewing on for some time in Reamde.

Richard Forthrast is our approaching-middle-age hero who is one of the big brains behind the multi-billion dollar MMO, T’Rain, which is known throughout the world, whether you’re a rich white kid who likes to pretend he’s an elf, or a gold farmer somewhere in Asia looking to make some good money.  T’Rain was in fact created with that in mind – Richard’s past is not a completely clean one by any means – to be open and available and possibly profitable to just about anyone on the planet with a good Internet connection.  And then a very specific virus attacks T’Rain, known as Reamde, which immediately begins making a lot of money for its creators and screwing over a lot of the regular players.  Richard and his team of brainiacs are now working round the clock trying to bring a stop to this.

Meanwhile, one of Richard’s family members – Zula – originally from East Africa and adopted into the family as a young girl, was hired by Richard to work for T’Rain, and becomes involved in a really big problem when her boyfriend Peter – who happens to be a renowned hacker – is looking to make good money selling credit card numbers to a shady, unknown character.  Things take a turn for the worse, when the Reamde virus hits and screws everything up for him.  Before they know it, the Russian mafia is breaking down their door, kidnapping them, and taking them to Asia by private jet to find the perpetrators of the Reamde virus and get their revenge.

Reamde begins like an expected Stephenson book with computers and an MMO, but then makes a change to a Tom Clancy-style thriller, as the characters travel around the world, getting involved in elaborate shootouts in distant countries.  Eventually Islamic terrorist even get involve, as well as a member of MI6 who seems to appear from nowhere and gets a twenty page introduction.  The crux of the book takes place towards the end of the first third of the book, in what Cory Doctorow calls “. . .an epic, 100+ page climactic mini-war.”  The ongoing saga eventually leads back to Seattle and the northwest, passing into Canada, where the novel began, pulling Richard Forthrast into the mix.

Reamde certainly has a captivating voice that Stephenson skillfully uses to hook people in, with a complex and interesting story, but then the action and thrill-ride goes on and on, pulling in more and more characters.  As can be said for almost any thousand-page novel – though I’m sure some Stephenson fans love that it’s this long – Reamde could afford to lose a couple hundred pages, perhaps be edited in half.  Towards the end of the novel, it feels like the initial drive may have become lost in the mess of people and bullets and traveling.  Readers will be left wondering why this massive cast is now chasing and following the ever-changing villains, in the hopes of getting to Zula – an originally interesting female character who eventually becomes “kidnapping baggage,” when even some of these characters looking to find her have never even met her.  Reamde could’ve used an editor performing some heavy page cutting and some necessary redirection to help Stephenson stay on the rails; the result is a sprawling epic that loses its way on a number of occasions.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Reamde from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

BookBanter Links Roundup for 10/18/11

”Necropolis” by Michael Dempsey (Night Shade Books, 2011)


Michael Dempsey’s debut novel, Necropolis, is a great genre-crossing example of both fantasy and science fiction that will find an interested reader just about anywhere, whether it’s the urban fantasy setting of a former cop looking to solve the ultimate crime; a play on the concept of the hugely popular subject of the “undead”; or the interesting future of 2054 which seems a place no one would want to live.

Necropolis opens with an enchanting scene between Paul Donner and his beautiful wife that is ripped asunder and savagely ended by their untimely deaths.  And then Paul is brought back to life fifty years later and becomes known as a “reborn”; the strange thing is from now on he will start to grow younger and younger.  This is due to a strange retroviral attack on New York; beneath the blister the dead don’t always stay dead, though this isn’t true for everyone, only some come back to life.  Elvis Presley is back, performing away, as well as all of the Beatles except John Lennon.  And Paul Donner comes back with white hair and the horrible knowledge that he is a reborn, hated and ridiculed by society; he’s not even allowed to be a cop anymore.  But Paul only cares about one thing: even though it’s fifty years later, he is planning to find out who killed him and his wife and get his revenge.

Necropolis seems a little frivolous with the use of tropes from this type of science fiction, with the down and out cop in a world he doesn’t understand, while the women the reader meets at first are all prostitutes or worse.  The story of Paul’s death of course has links and ties to the origin of this strange retroviral attack that changed the world for the people of New York.  The uniqueness of the story is with these reborns and their strange origin keeps the reader hooked as the plot grows and thickens until the unpredictable end.

Originally written on October 17, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Necropolis from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Stephen King’s N.” by Marc Guggenheim and Alex Maleev (Marvel, 2011)

Stephen King's N.

There is a place you must not go; must never go; for that way leads to madness!  You see there is a place in rural Maine known as Ackerman’s field; in fact, I shouldn’t really be telling you this; make sure no one reads this.  In this field – that few know exists – are seven important stones, sort of like Stonehenge, only far more powerful and important.  You see if you look at these stones in a certain way, like through a camera lens, you will see an eighth stone.  But that’s a good thing, because we need eight stones to be there to keep that portal to the hell dimension closed; otherwise that thing will be let free.

This is the story of Ackerman’s Field, told from Sheila’s viewpoint about her brother, a psychiatrist named Johnny who had a patient he referred to as N.  Through his journal entries, Sheila – and in turn the reader – learn about this mysterious character called N and his travels to Ackerman’s Field.  What he learned of the stones and what they are protecting; the reader also learns about his untimely end and how Johnny himself inevitably got involved.  But the question is how many lives will this mysterious and terrifying place take?

Originally told as a multi-part graphic video series, it was published as a short story in Stephen King’s Just After Sunset collection, and is now told in glossy, colorful graphic novel version, giving life and form to creatures and characters from Stephen King’s imagination.  Alex Maleev’s artwork evokes the frightening and captivating, while Mark Guggenheim’s words move the story along at a gripping and nail-biting pace.  You don’t have to be a Stephen King fan to enjoy the great graphic novel story that is Stephen King’s N.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Stephen King’s N. from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.