BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Wrath of the Fury Blade by Geoff Habiger & Coy Kissee

Wrath of the Fury Blade Book

If you like your fantasy and your crime mixed together, then you need this book!

The brutal murder of Lavalé fey Avecath, the King’s First Magistrate and adviser, interrupts Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria’s day off. The victim’s status makes this a high-profile investigation, bringing with it unwanted attention from Senior Inquisitor Ailan Malvaceä of the Sucra, the King’s secret police. The manner of the victim’s death makes this case even more intriguing. A body cut perfectly in half – from top to bottom – is a rare occurrence, even in a city filled with all manner of magic weapons. All of this would be challenging enough, but Inspector Lunaria must also deal with a new partner, Seeker Ansee Carya, who is clearly not up to her standards.

As Reva faces a growing body count, Senior Inquisitor Malvaceä undertakes his own mission to find the same killer, but with a very different agenda. Reva’s investigation takes unexpected turns as wild conspiracies, hidden addictions, and Dark Elf soldiers all threaten to distract Reva from tracking down the killer. Reva’s only hope of stopping the serial killer from cutting more prominent citizens of Tenyl in half is to figure out how to work with Seeker Carya and overcome her own weaknesses.

Review from Kirkus:

A killer targets high-ranking victims in a society of elves obsessed with genetic purity.

On the world of Ados, in the elven city of Tenyl, Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria tries to enjoy her day off. She’s summoned, however, to the office of First Constable Aescel for assignment to an important case. First Magistrate Lavalé fey Avecath has been murdered, cleaved clean in half one night in his study. With her longtime partner recently transferred, veteran Reva must work with the inexperienced Ansee Carya, who as a Seeker can investigate any magic used at the crime scene. In the First Magistrate’s study, the two encounter Green Cloaks—or the Sucra—who act as King Aeonis’ secret police. Inquisitor Ailan Malvaceä orders that all documents be collected from the study, which infuriates Reva. In turn, she graciously allows the Sucra to witness a Speaking, during which the corpse is magically induced to offer verbal clues about the murder. In this way, the investigators learn that a black blade committed the deed. At the scene of a second killing—this time Lady Tala Ochroma, the king’s treasurer, is the victim—a healer refuses to save the life of a collaterally injured halpbloed (half-blood). Ansee loses his temper and strikes the elf, revealing the extent to which bigotry divides the citizens of Tenyl. In this marriage of fantasy and procedural thriller, the team of Habiger and Kissee (Unremarkable, 2018) gives fans of both genres a master class in worldbuilding. Everything from idioms (“But tread carefully, Inspector. You are on a narrow branch here”) to fascist racial doctrines mesh in a narrative that pulses with innovation on every page. While much of the emotional heft comes in comparing King Aeonis’ purity laws to those wielded by the Nazis, personal demons also haunt the characters in this series opener. Reva finds herself addicted to the stimulant Wake, and the halpbloed Cedres Vanda desperately wants to reunite with his family despite his wife’s disgust for him. A wider conspiracy puts the kingdom at risk, and the charming, flawed protagonists prove themselves a winning combo worth visiting again.

This rich fusion of crime and fantasy should enchant readers.

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bios

The writing duo of Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee have been life-long friends since high school in Manhattan, Kansas. (Affectionately known as the Little Apple, which was a much better place to grow up than the Big Apple, in our humble opinion.) We love reading, baseball, cats, role-playing games, comics, and board games (not necessarily in that order and sometimes the cats can be very trying). We’ve spent many hours together over the years (and it’s been many years) basically geeking out and talking about our favorite books, authors, and movies, often discussing what we would do differently to fix a story or make a better script. We also loved playing games, generally role-playing games, but also board games and card games, and would spend hours talking about why a particular game was fun or not, and what made the games fun to play.

In the early 2000’s we decided to not just talk about games but to start making our own games. We created Tangent Games and began designing role-playing supplements (adventures, modules, and role-playing aids) to be used for Dungeons and Dragons (3rd and 3.5 editions). We also designed our first card game (called Bankruptcy: The Card Game!), which was a finalist for the Origins Award for best card game in 2007. We continue to work on game design, and still play games at every chance we get, but in 2010 we decided to start working on a novel together. We work to our strengths and having collaborated for years on game design we work well together and make a very effective writing team.

Wrath of the Fury Blade is our second novel and started from a simple premise: In a world of magic and monsters how would the police solve crimes? That basic idea led Geoff to create the character of Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria and eventually the story that became Wrath of the Fury Blade.

Coy lives with his wife in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife and son in Tijeras, New Mexico. They are currently working on a sequel to Wrath of the Fury Blade called Joy of the Widows Tears.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Tree by Melina Sempill Watts


A moving story about a very special tree

Tree is a novel about a tree written from a unique point of view: the chief narrator is a tree. Tree uses magical realism as a key to access the interrelated emotional realities of the many species that share one pristine valley in Topanga, California. Grass, birds, other trees and animals come to life on the pages, while one 19th century Mexican woman and one 20th century school boy, hearts opened by grief and loneliness, come to know one California live oak whose 229 years span the evolution of four human civilizations, Chumash, Spanish/Mexican, Yankee and new money Hollywood, which each leave their mark upon the landscape and upon Tree. The author’s obsessive botanical, scientific and historical research give substance to a world that feels both as real as last weekend’s dust on hiking boots and as mind altering as a fully fledged mystical experience. Take a journey into the heart of the woods where every plant shines Tree will change how you see nature.

Review from Kirkus:

A debut novel tells the story of life in a California valley through the eyes of a tree.

The hero of this book is, as the title suggests, a tree. Specifically, a live oak that germinates in Topanga in the 18th century. The tale begins, more or less, at the protagonist’s conception: a new acorn drops from a tree and is picked up by a blue jay, which is in turn snatched by a hawk. The acorn falls from the hawk’s talons high in the air and comes to rest in a crack on the dry valley floor. It waits for days in the arid dirt until a mountain lion kills and eats a deer over the crack, coating the acorn in blood: “And the acorn responded to sudden moisture as seeds do. Things uncoiled and uncurled inside.” From there, Watts takes the reader on a journey through more than two centuries of California history with Tree right at the center, from the struggles of the surrounding animals and plants who serve as the oak’s neighbors to the human settlers—Chumash, Spanish, American, and contemporary Angeleno—who alter the face of the valley. The saga of Tree becomes a window into the immensity of nature, simultaneously dynamic and everlasting, and the ways that humans have come to upset the ancient balance. Watts writes in an elegant, highly detailed prose that shows an incredible knack for chronicling the minutiae of the natural world. Even more impressive is her ability to wring narrative from the most common interactions, reminding readers of the Homeric drama unfolding all around them, at every level of life. She makes the most of the novel’s conceit, going so far as to use a Tree-specific pronoun: e instead of he or she. Far from cute, this book takes a serious look at the value of love, the impossibility of permanence, and the ways in which humans leave the world. For anyone wondering about the outcome, Watts closes the work’s first paragraph with the reminder that “there is no happiness. Only serenity lasts.”

An ingenious and satisfying tale about a single live oak.

YouTube Video –

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bio:

Melina Sempill Watts’ writing has appeared in Sierra Magazine, the New York Times motherlode blog, Earth Island Journal and Sunset Magazine, in local environmental venues such as Urban Coast: Journal of the Center for the Study of the Santa Monica Bay, the Heal the Bay blog and in local papers such as Malibu Times, Malibu Surfside News, Topanga Messenger and Argonaut News.

Watts began her career in Hollywood as a development executive, writing consultant and story analyst working for such luminaries Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Peter Horton and at Dreamworks. She has worked as a watershed coordinator, run a stable, shelved books at a library and created, marketed and ran Starfish Catering. Watts graduated from UCLA with a degree in history. She lives in California.

Watts will come to university or high school classrooms to talk about “Tree.”


BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Way by Kristen Wolf


If Oprah likes it, it’s got to be good!

Anna is a striking and spirited young girl living in ancient Palestine where being a daughter is a disappointment. While her father excitedly anticipates the birth of his first son, the invisible Anna endures a life of drudgery. One bright spot in her world is the crippled old woman living by the village well who declares that the headstrong girl possesses a powerful destiny. But before the elder can reveal her prophecy an unexpected tragedy strikes Anna’s family and her father—dressing Anna as a boy—sells his daughter to a band of wandering shepherds.

Abandoned and armed with only bravery and wits, Anna must learn to survive the harsh desert and unruly men. Yet just when she masters her bold life of disguise, she stumbles upon a den of mysterious caves and is captured by the secret band of women living inside. Unable to escape, Anna soon discovers that the sisterhood’s mystical teachings and miraculous healing abilities have forced her to question everything she’s been told to believe and—to her amazement—unleashed an astonishing power within her.

But when violent enemies opposed to the women’s ways threaten to destroy them, Anna vows to save her mentors and preserve their powerful wisdom. Forced again to leave home and loved ones behind, a transformed Anna returns to the world of men—as only she can—determined to unfold a daring and dangerous mission: One that will put everything she’s become to the test. Will she succeed…or be condemned?


“The Way is a daring and passionate debut from an author to watch in the future.”

– Historical Novel Society

“Wow, is all I can say. This novel blew me away!”

– Book Pleasures

“THE WAY is a magical, evocative first novel that I plan to buy a carton of to give to my family and friends. This message of compas­sion, healing, and respect for women could indeed transform our world.”

–Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of A Woman’s Journey to God

“A young girl in ancient Palestine struggles with her calling as a spiritual leader in Wolf’s audacious, deftly woven debut.”

–Publishers Weekly

“This book took me on a journey… I was surprised in more ways than I ever could have imagined. THE WAY is one of those rare novels that makes you think.”

– Javier Sierra, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Supper

“Remarkable story, beautifully told.”

– Mary Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of An Unquenchable Thirst

“…sure to be a book-club darling.”

– Booklist

“The Way is a unique and ambitious debut novel, certain to provoke passionate discussions.”

– John Shors, bestselling author of Beneath a Marble Sky”

“This imaginative novel may make you a believer.”

—O, The Oprah Magazine

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bio:

KRISTEN WOLF is an award-winning author, creative and wondernaut living in the Rocky Mountains. Her debut novel, THE WAY, was hailed by O, The Oprah Magazine as “A Title to Pick Up Now!” Her second novel, ESCAPEMENT, won a 2018 IndieReader Discovery Award. A graduate of Georgetown University, she was nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and holds an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins University.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Our Own Little Fictions by Ron Rhody

Our own little fictions cover

Learn what happens you take the road not taken

This is a story about a slice of time, and a place, and cluster of people worth remembering. It begins in a small river town in the Bluegrass of Kentucky and concerns itself with beginnings and becomings, with home places and who you can count on, and where untaken roads lead. A few early readers comments “A beautifully written remembrance of a young man lifted and loved through the sheer ordinariness of family and coming of age. Well worth the read.” – Cynthia Kasabian, CKB Consultants, San Francisco. “An unconventional book but strangely engaging. Not a ‘must read.’ But definitely a ‘glad I did read.'” – Annette Bowen, Inside/Outside, Atlanta. “Fascinating! This book is like a conversation on paper.” – Charlie Baglan, Kentucky Afield radio, Frankfort, Ky. “Deeply personal, often moving.” – Bob Irelan, author, Rancho Murrieta. Ca. “Thought provoking. It causes readers, especially in today’s all-consuming digital world, to reflect on how memories have shaped their lives.” – Joseph Piedmont, Gallatin Public Affairs (Ret.) Portland, Or. Each life is a story. Each story is unique. If we don’t tell each other our stories, how will we know what life is all about? Pretend you’re listening.

Review from San Francisco Book Review:

According to Ron Rhody’s wife, he is not eligible for authoring a memoir. He hasn’t won an Oscar or an MVP or a Nobel prize. And yet Rhody has a story he wants, needs, to tell. His story. And so that’s how he will tell it to us: as one of Our Own Little Fictions.

Reminiscent of Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, Rhody meanders through his memory and down the real roads he’s traveled all over the U.S., from his beloved Frankfort, Kentucky, to California and back (via Florida and Alabama) and then back out to California. Along this circuitous route through his youth, manhood, and ancestry, we encounter all sorts of colorful characters, historical events, family triumphs, and tragedies, which in large part amount to the man whose story we’re being told.

The place closest to Rhody’s heart is clearly Frankfort, Kentucky. It is there his father, a newspaperman, fought for civil rights and to put down roots for his forward-thinking family. Though a wanderlust would uproot the Rhodys and send them all over the U.S., Kentucky kept calling them back to the heart of the heart of their country. In Our Little Fictions, Frankfort is origin and refuge, and it serves as the Ithaca of the author’s Odyssey.

These chronicles of Rhody contain all the joy and pain of an American life that spans the Cold War to the present. We meet his parents, grandparents, wife and children, friends and mentors. From animated anecdotes of a hard-nosed football coach doling out life lessons to the memorial for a dear friend and author of “sixteen erudite books,” we witness a life pass in time-lapse frames of laconic, Hemingwayesque prose.

Hemingway and his suicide haunt the narrative beginning to end. On a road trip from California to Kentucky, Rhody and his son make a scheduled detour to Hemingway’s home in Idaho (where he’d put the shotgun in his mouth).

“It seemed wrong that Hemingway had killed himself.

Nature should have gotten him.

Or chance.”

Later in the narrative and earlier in time, news of Hemingway’s suicide reaches Rhody, and he reflects on the premature tragedy, as well as his own (missed?) calling. These two time periods intermingle, and Rhody leaves Idaho with “an answer to a question I hadn’t known I’d asked.” Authorship was an alternative path he’d bypassed only to embark upon late in life.

Late in life, indeed. The long road approaches its end and the loss of loved ones is an inevitability. Each story has the same conclusion, alas, and many of the characters we encounter in this Appalachian saga pass on in heartrending deathbed scenes and austere funerals. The depiction of these tragedies is sentimental, even cliched, but anything less/more would not be true to life. It is the commonality of these cliches that arise in endless variations, like updates of Shakespeare.

No, Ron Rhody is no Prince Hamlet, nor was he meant to be, but his story of “becoming,” with its conduplicatio, terse punch-lines, and homespun wisdom, is one that will always be in need of telling and retelling.

Reviewed By: Steven Felicelli

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bio:

Ron Rhody has been a reporter, a sportswriter, and a broadcast journalist before morphing into a career as a corporate public relations executive. He’s done four novels. This is his first stab at a “sort-of-memoir.” Find more info at   

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Influencer Fast Track by Gundi Gabrielle

influencers fast track_cover_small

Be the right kind of influencer

Gundi Gabrielle is the bestselling author of beginner internet marketing guides in the  SassyZenGirl series offers a new, no-nonsense advice for coaches, consultants, professionals, and entrepreneurs to go from unknown players to well-known and respected influencers in very little time. Her 2018 guide Influencer Fast Track-From Zero to Influencer in the Next 6 Months offers readers a blueprint for establishing themselves in their niche, making their name known, and becoming a trusted authority in their field.

Review from San Francisco Book Review:

Author of the bestselling beginner internet marketing SassyZenGirl books series, Gundi Gabrielle offers no-nonsense advice for coaches, consultants, professionals, and entrepreneurs to go from unknown players to well-known and respected influencers in very little time. Her 2018 guide Influencer Fast Track-From Zero to Influencer in the Next 6 Months offers readers a blueprint for establishing themselves in their niche, making their name known, and becoming a trusted authority in their field.

Influencer Fast Track is a quick, conversational read full of valuable information. Learn what makes one an Influencer, marketing secrets, and how to use the power of the internet, social media, networking, and digital publishing to grow your brand. It took Gabrielle 30 days to become an Amazon bestselling author, and she believes that “bestselling publishing” is the fastest way to add authority, a following, success, and traffic to your brand.

“Publishing a nonfiction book is not a herculean task, but can easily be achieved within the next 30 to 90 days,” Gabrielle writes, “For marketing, there is a proven, simple, step-by-step system that can easily get you to bestseller status, possibly even a #1 Bestseller.” Gabrielle includes a link to a free 1-hour training video, “7 Steps to Your First Bestseller.”

Gabrielle’s 7 Step Formula, or the Influencer Fast-Track, provides readers with an incredible wealth of information. From designing a great brand to connecting with the major players in your niche to making a solid growth strategy to growing your customer/ reader base, this book gives you a multitude of business tips you can implement today. Gabrielle recommends additional resources and provides free training videos along the way. One can’t help feeling empowered.

While I was initially skeptical of Gabrielle’s claims, I read this book through to the end. She made a believer out of me. I have yet to try her “30 days to bestseller” advice, but I love the straight-forward way she lays it out and her helpful training videos. I learned a ton about marketing, how to find influencers and trending topics, and how to become influential in your field rather than lost in the crowd. No matter your business, Influencer Fast Track will provide you with fresh ideas to build your brand. It inspired me to check out the rest of Gabrielle’s marketing series and her Facebook group, SassyZenGirl. If you’re a woman with an idea, coaching or consulting firm, business, or you’re a professional in any field, read this book today. Gundi Gabrielle is about to change your life.

Reviewed By: Jennifer Melville

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bio:

Gundi Gabrielle, aka SassyZenGirl, loves to explain complex matters in an easy to understand, fun way. Her “The Sassy Way…when you have NO CLUE!!” series has helped thousands around the world conquer the jungles of internet marketing with humor, simplicity and some sass.

A 10-time #1 Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur and former Carnegie Hall conductor, Gundi employs marketing chops from all walks of life and loves to help her readers achieve their dreams in a practical, fun way. Her students have published multiple #1 Bestsellers outranking the likes of Tim Ferris, John Grisham, Hal Elrod and Liz Gilbert.

When she is not writing books or enjoying a cat on her lap (or both), she is passionate about exploring the world as a Digital Nomad, one awesome adventure at a time. She has no plans of settling down anytime soon. Find more information about Gundi Gabrielle and her books at

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Every Night’s Friday Night: Time and Freedom for the Rest of Your Life by Andrea R. Huff

Every Nights Friday Night book_cover_photo

Retirement is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life, so make sure you have the correct tools to do it

Are you ready to transition from a full time career into active retirement? It’s a wonderful opportunity to shift gears and focus on what you want to do, and who you want to become. So many retired people say they are busier than when they were working. The question is, are you following your calling and living life on your terms? Do you know who you really want to be at this stage of your life? Do you know what will give you the greatest sense of purpose and satisfaction?

The third stage of life is an opportunity to shift gears and focus only on what you want to do and who you want to become. Some people have it figured out, but many don’t, and end up feeling like they’re spending time on busywork, property maintenance, appointments, or whatever activity demands their time. Leisure is fun for a while, but even people who didn’t like their jobs much find that they miss working. They haven’t found a roadmap to transition to a new life of purpose. Every Night’s Friday Night is your guide to creating that roadmap.

Review from San Francisco Book Review:

What do you do when you can’t find a book that addresses the issues you want to hear about? You write it! Author Andrea R. Huff’s book Every Night’s Friday Night is a book about the third stage of a person’s life when they are about to retire. Retiring can be a scary thought for some people. What am I going to do with all that spare time? How do I know if I have enough money saved up to retire? What do other people do after retiring? All of these questions are addressed in this book. A fascinating group of people was selected by Huff to be interviewed about how they prepared (or didn’t prepare) to retire and the tips they would give others who are retiring. Huff gives the reader several resources so that he or she can research the suggestions given by her interviewees. I found this book to be extremely informative and loved the ideas of downsizing and traveling the world on a simple budget when retiring. All of the interviewees were so different, ranging from an attorney who never planned for retirement at all and who considers himself a “lucky pessimist” to a corporate bigwig who retired to become a civil volunteer. The author herself was a coach and consultant by trade who found that, among other things, she loves to repurpose jewelry both for herself and others. She addresses the importance of having your partner on the same page to make things a lot easier. As someone in the fitness industry, I loved that the author talked about the importance of staying healthy and fit as we age. There are several books that the author listed that I will be reading, such as Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. A book for all ages, even those who are not in the third stage yet.

Reviewed By: Kristi Elizabeth

Book may be purchased at

Author Bio:

Andrea Huff is an expert coach and consultant for people entering the third stage of their lives – ages 50+. From her background as an Executive Team member and the founder of the Executive Coaching practice for the global career and leadership consulting firm, Lee Hecht Harrison, she coached thousands of clients to identify the next stages of their careers. Now in her own practice, Third Stage of Life Consulting, she created a holistic process to help people prepare for an active retirement outlined in her book, Every Night’s Friday Night: Time and Freedom for the Rest of Your Life.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: A Tool Case For Language Learning: 40 Tools to Become a Top-Notch Language Learner by Nagi An

A Tool Case For Language Learning:
40 Tools to Become a Top-Notch Language Learner
by Nagi An

toolcase for language learning cover

Learn how you should be learning a language the right way!

You can approach language learning from many different perspectives. You may think that the best way to learn is through immersion and seek an opportunity to live in a foreign country for a while. Maybe you are good at memorizing lists and therefore tend to learn best by applying mnemonics techniques. Some learn via song, some prefer flashcards, and others learn by watching movies with subtitles. Other approaches include keeping a diary to reflect upon your performance and reading a lot of material in the target language.

Until we know what other techniques or tools exist beyond what we already know or apply, we can’t be sure that we are learning in the way that suits us best. It’s essential to experiment with tools we haven’t tried before to determine the most effective ways for us to learn.

In this book, there are 40 such tools for learning languages. The aim is to show you why, how, and when certain tools work, and to give you a thorough understanding of the techniques you can employ as you are learning languages.

Try them all, experiment with them, and mix and match to create a personalized process for yourself.

You are different from other language learners. That’s why your learning path should be different, too.

Build a language learning path that is right for you.

From the San Francisco Book Review:

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when it comes to how we approach learning new things. Yet if we do not experiment with learning methods, how can we truly know that we’re getting optimal results?

In A Tool Case for Language Learning: 40 Tools to Become a Top-Notch Language Learner, author Nagi An provides readers with a wide variety of tools to utilize when learning a new language. “People learn in different ways and for different reasons,” An writes. “Until we know what other techniques or tools exist beyond what we already know or apply, we can’t be sure that we are learning in the way that suits us best.”

The first part of this reference guide is designed for beginning language learners, focusing on vocabulary acquisition, and the second offers more advanced speakers ideas for improving their reading, writing, and conversational skills. The tools and techniques are based on what the author used as she was learning German, Spanish, English, and Japanese.

The author offers sound advice and backs it up with scientific studies as well as useful examples. And she advises learners to try a variety of tools and to mix and match them in order to create a personalized learning process. In Utilizing Tool Number 1, An recommends looking for ways to group vocabulary words by theme or family. Smaller chunks are easier to memorize than long lists.

The Feynman Technique, Tool Number 15, is brilliant. Choose a topic, learn about it, then articulately explain the concept to yourself or to another person in clear, straightforward language. If you’re unable to do so, you do not thoroughly understand the subject and need to learn more. The process starts again.

Tool Number 35 is one of my favorites: making mistakes as a speaking technique. “If you want to become fluent, perfectionism can be your enemy,” An writes. “Start making mistakes as early as possible, as this will allow you to get early feedback to learn from.”

A Tool Case for Language Learning offers helpful advice for anyone learning a new language. While some professional formatting and copyediting are suggested, it’s an easy read offering excellent advice. I would recommend it to students and teachers alike, as it significantly expands the memory tools available to them at home or in the classroom. An’s techniques are useful and scientifically sound. One could take these tools and successfully master any new subject they set their mind to.

Reviewed by Jennifer Melville

Purchase book through Amazon.

Author Bio

I’m committed to understanding how we learn and create in adulthood. On the one hand, by increasing awareness of effective learning strategies, we can learn faster. Experimenting with different tools allows us to unleash what works best for us. On the other hand, the most desired outputs of learning are exploring and creating. That’s why I do research in both areas – how knowledge building and understanding work, and how we can improve skills like ideation, analyzing and evaluating – so that we can be more productive and creative. I write books and design courses based on the findings of my research, trips I take and experiments I carry out on my small business. To read nuggets of my current work, you can visit



[This is the seventh installment in a series. The whole series can be found here.]

In the sixth chapter of S. we learn that our characters reading Ship of Theseus are named Jennifer and Eric. (This may have been revealed earlier in the book but it was in this chapter that I picked up on it.) Naturally, the use of the names by the characters gives more credence to their developing relationship.

 It is in this chapter we have one of the most impressive pieces of media in the book, with multiple pages of yellow-lined legal pad paper with carefully detailed writing on both sides from Eric as he recounts his moving personal story from childhood of how he first got into Straka with a family tragedy he was blamed for. It continues to shock the reader how far the people who worked on this book went for authenticity and realism, how these pages even feature stains from water and/or coffee, as well as smudging and other stains that would be normal for a document like this. It is also interesting that Eric uses some unusual contractions even though he has as much room as he wants to write what he wants. It is part of his character; indicatory of the way he thinks.


We also discover that the crew of the ship Theseus are definitely a few sandwiches short of a full picnic as we witness one crew member getting his lips and mouth sewn together to silence him without any anesthetic while the rest of the crew watches.

Eric and Jennifer finally meet in real life, details of which are not readily revealed, but they have a good enough time to want to meet again. It also seems that Jennifer’s scholastic career is still on very shaky ground and she is unlikely to graduate now due to failing a class.


It is explained that the confusing postcards in the previous chapter of birds from Brazil were actually written by Straka, which wasn’t completely clear until now. But then S. is the sort of book you have to work at.

Meanwhile Jen is becoming more and more convinced that she is being watched and followed, which comes across as being overly paranoid, but with what has happened so far and the weird stuff going on in Ship of Theseus, even though she’s an unreliable narrator and Eric only seems to vaguely believe, it seems there must be something to it. The question is who is watching and following her?


The idea is put forth that has been discussed between Jen and Eric: Straka and the translator were secretly communicating with each other through edits of the book and through the footnotes, a coded message that remains in the printed version of the book.

This is a big reveal chapter in many ways for the character of S in knowing that he is important to everyone around in some way and he gets handed special materials to complete his apparent destiny, but still not knowing who he actually is. While for the secondary characters – Jen and Eric – they meet on multiple occasions in real life and is clear to the reader that they are falling in love with each other and their lives are becoming more important related to Ship of Theseus.


Have another cliffhanger ending to the chapter with a scary fire at the motel where Jen is staying, though it’s unknown who is behind the arson, but is definitely tied in with the story and what they’re working on.

What makes the story wonderfully eerie at times is that so many events in the story of Ship of Theseus end up being mirrored in the lives of Jen and Eric in some way, most notable with the terrible fires.



[This is the sixth installment in a series. The whole series can be found here.]


They key to a good book is that it needs to keep you hooked, and S. certainly remains true to this, as does the sub-book within it – Ship of Theseus – which goes from the mystical to the action-packed to the outright bizarre. There’s a little bit of everything to keep you interested. What’s also interesting is that the book Ship of Theseus, being Straka’s last book, features numerous references to his other books, all clearly cited by the translator as well as pointed out by the two readers – Jennifer and Eric.


As chapter five progresses, it’s revealed that the likelihood of Jen actually graduating appears to be more and more remote, as she does worse in her classes, the book and Eric clearly distracting her, absorbing her life to the point where she doesn’t seem to really care, even though Eric continues to point this out to her. Much like the character S in Ship of Theseus, Jen is also adrift in this story. (See what I did there.)


A problem that does start to develop with S. from the reader’s perspective is all the cool handouts and media that are part of the book are not always clear and obvious with their intention and/or meaning. Sometimes there will be a reference in the story, or the characters reading the book will mention or point it out in some way. Other times there’s nothing and the reader is left feeling a little confused why there’s a postcard from someone and what bearing it has on the book. Perhaps there should’ve been some sort of separate handout listing and giving a brief explanation on the inserts. I know it would’ve detracted from the overall effect of the project, but it risks losing the reader a little, which one should really avoid.


It’s revealed that the translator for Ship of Theseus is working on a code with the footnotes, which Eric and Jen deduce and discuss, as well as the apparent fact that the translator was working on this code for years. It’s the start of what will turn out to be a complete hidden communication between the translator and the author, a most unusual relationship.


The abundance of strange “S”s found around the world continues, and is discussed a little in the context of the story with Straka saying he was unaware of this, even though it seems pretty prevalent both in Straka’s life, Jen’s and Eric’s lives, and even in the story of Ship of Theseus, adding to the overall weirdness of the book.


At the end of the fifth chapter of Ship of Theseus there is a basic return to how the story originally started off with S on the ship with some unusual characters, and now he’s back even though things are different and yet still the same.


S. V


[This is the fifth installment in a series. The whole series can be found here.]

In the fourth chapter of Ship of Theseus it almost seems as if the events taking place within the book take a secondary stage to the seemingly more important story of the two commenters discussing the chapter, but also revealing details about events in their own lives and their developing relationship. The female commenter wants them to finally meet in person and see if they have more in common other than Ship of Theseus and V. M. Straka, while the male commenter pleads that he is simply too busy with his work, though it is clear that while he would very much like to meet her, he is also extremely nervous about it. The female commenter addresses this by discussing a future job prospect and how she will be graduating soon, which the male commenter then takes on by trying to get to her confirm she will definitely be leaving the area.


In this chapter reader learns that the notes being made in the margins by each of the characters are not all within the same time frame. There are intense discussions between them on a couple pages, which is not continued but just ends, because that was as far as they reached with the reading at that time. Is a little unusual to deal with as a reader, but once the reader understands the construct of the margin notes, it becomes more acceptable. This is further confirmed when these characters reference discussions made at an earlier points in the book and what bearing it has on the current context.


Learn that the names for the margin characters is Jennifer and Eric.

Events begin to have a stronger bearing on their lives as there are a series of fires occurring near to Jennifer, scaring her, while she becomes distant and estranged from her roommates, as well as at times she wonders if there is an intruder in her place of residence. Lends an air of tension and fear with the idea that with the more of the book they read, the worse things seem to become in their lives, with supposed people knowing what they are doing and wanting to terrorize and stop them.

As things continue to get weirder in their lives as they continue the reading, learn that there have been a series of “S” symbol sightings throughout the world, being collected and tracked through specific websites. Eric believes most of them to be hoaxes, while Jennifer is not so sure, especially when they continue to be discovered in unusual places, including recently excavated caves. Seems clear that Straka was unaware of the occurrence of the Ss during the author’s lifetime.


It was in read this particular chapter that I realized the sort of code to the different colored margin texts that may have been apparent to other readers earlier on, which is that each specific color of text is done during a specific time and specific read through. Eric read the book the first time when he was a teenager, which are all the notes in pencil. Then the specific color texts of Eric and Jennifer discussing back and forth are from different moments in time, some occurring closer to the present and presumably the end of the book.  Therefore have points in the book of Eric and Jennifer talking about finally meeting, and other points when they have already met and are discussing the text.

This helps to add another level of drama to the overall book as the reader tries to work out at what point they are discussing the events of Ship of Theseus in their own lives and what has been happening to them. Just another level of complexity added for the enjoyment of the reader.

It was at the end of this chapter that I got the sense that S. is one of those books that could use multiple readings (much like Ship of Theseus is for Eric and Jennifer) and with further readings, new things will likely be read and discovered and appreciated.