Author Interview: Robert Krenzel, A Veteran Who Helps Veterans

Today’s author interview is with Robert Krenzel, former Army officer who served in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan with a specialty in Armor and Cavalry operations. He focuses on writing and helping fellow vets suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a serious problem that sadly goes untreated in too many vets. I spoke to him about his new book and his work.

S: You have some great military experience which suits you to write novels based on the battlefield. Can you tell me about how your experiences shape your writing?

RK: I think the equation goes something like this: Experience + Research + Imagination = Story. I have been around soldiers most of my adult life so my experiences with them obviously color my approach to writing about them. For example, I can’t write about British troops without balancing the research I have done (not all of it casts them in the best light) against the incredibly positive experiences I had with British troops in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan! On top of that there is a warm place in my heart for American troops; for one thing you never know what is going to come out of their mouths! In my upcoming novel there are a few scenes that are based on actual conversations I had with members of my tank crew in Kosovo. I think things like that add some color, warmth, and realism to my work…and I think they are a fitting tribute to my brothers and sisters in arms. Oh, and I know what it is like to be absolutely terrified, although that never really happened in combat (it was in an airplane).

S: PTSD is such a major issue, but one which unfortunately is not well understood by the public at large and is not well treated by the VA. Did you ever suffer from PTSD, and/or do you mentor other veterans, but in particular those who have PTSD?

RK: First of all, every war is different for every soldier, and PTSD is not something that goes away. I have seen and done things I would really have preferred to not have experienced, but I know men and women who experienced far, far worse. Yes, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and it has been a rough road, but I am doing very well now. I try to help others, and I try to raise awareness of this issue in my books. I also support organizations like Invisible Wound, a non-profit founded by friends of mine, Adrian and Diana Veseth-Nelson. Adrian and I served together twice in Iraq; he was decorated for valor (a well-deserved medal, by the way), and experienced some horrific things along the way. Check out their FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/InvisibleWound (BW note: Consider supporting veteran organizations which work directly with vets, such as Invisible Wound)

S: Tell us your thoughts about the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing path for authors. Why did you choose your path?

RK: My genre is not one of the most lucrative, and I was spending more time trying to convince agents that my book was worth their time than I was making the book worth the reader’s time. I also think independent publishing has a tremendous future. To top it off, the process of publishing was both fun and rewarding!

S: Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, what was your experience?

RK: I have never attended a writer’s conference. The closest I came was taking an online course on writing improvement; it involved a great deal of writing and feedback from other writers. I really enjoyed the interaction with other authors and potential authors. That course was so helpful in fact that the opening scene of “Times That Try Men’s Souls” originated as a homework assignment. I got feedback from my peers, developed it further, and am very pleased with the results.

S: How do you deal with negative feedback about your writing? Do you get back more positive or negative feedback?

RK: I have been fortunate to get mostly positive feedback. What negative feedback I have gotten has been constructive; I have been able to learn from it and use it to improve my writing. I also bear in mind that no matter how well I write, not everyone is going to like my work. Many people do, and I love writing, so that is what really matters.

S: How many Gideon Hawke novels do you intend to write? And tell us a little more about Gideon.

RK: I will write until the story has told itself. I have ideas for several more books in the queue, and it was a very long war! As long as Gideon remains committed the Cause I will continue to write about him.

Tell you more about Gideon? I will give you a little teaser about “Times That Try Men’s Souls”: Gideon’s biggest flaw is that he is too protective of those he cares about. He is willing to take risks, but he holds back others who are willing to do the same. Let’s just say that causes conflict.

Check out Robert’s website and Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels

http://robertkrenzel.com/

You can find “This Glorious Cause” on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/This-Glorious-Cause-Gideon-Hawke/dp/1511465190   

The decline in serious reading continues thanks to profiteering

hooked app

The Atlantic points out what we’ve known for a long time: Many students graduate unable to write coherent sentences or make a logical argument using writing. After all, why write when you can just text or Snap?

“In “The Writing Revolution,” Peg Tyre traces the problems at one troubled New York high school to a simple fact: The students couldn’t write coherent sentences. In 2009 New Dorp High made a radical change. Instead of trying to engage students through memoir exercises and creative assignments, the school required them to write expository essays and learn the fundamentals of grammar. Within two years, the school’s pass rates for the English Regents test and the global-history exam were soaring. The school’s drop-out rate — 40 percent in 2006 — has fallen to 20 percent.

The experiment suggests that the trend toward teaching creative writing was hurting American students. In a debate about Tyre’s story, we asked a range of experts, from policymakers to Freedom Writers founder Erin Gruwell, to share their thoughts on Tyre’s story.

So we can all safely agree that a lot of children are simply not writing well enough to function in the workplace. We don’t mean write fiction novels; we mean do enough to hold a good-paying job.

So we would assume the solution is for businesspeople to take a chance on returning us to learning the basics, right?

Nope.

New app offers ‘books for the Snapchat generation’

“Umm…why do u have Claires phone?”

“Well if u must know i sat down on this park bench to read”

“And sat right on someone’s phone. Claire’s I’m guessing”

“What r u reading?”

That’s an excerpt from a book meant to be read on an iPhone or Apple Watch. It’s available on an app that launched this week called Hooked.

Prerna Gupta describes her app as “books for the Snapchat generation.”

Hooked will feature short fiction for young-adult readers. Gupta said that 80% of young-adult novels are read digitally. So the teen-set seemed like the most natural audience.

Each book will be roughly 1,000 words and is designed to be read in about five minutes. The stories will be told entirely through dialogue and read like texts. Messages show up on screen when readers click “Next.”

“Epistolary literature is nothing new,” she said. “Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is one of my favorite books and the story is told entirely through letters.”

Gupta, who envisions the app as being like “Twitter for fiction,” turned to some of the top MFA programs to recruit alumni writers.

“We listed that we had paid creative writing opportunities and the response was overwhelming,” Gupta said.

While she wouldn’t disclose actual figures, Gupta said pay varied by story but was very “competitive.”

Initially, the app will only feature content from screened contributors. However, eventually users will be able to submit content of their own.

The app is free to download and features one free story a day. Readers can unlock more stories with the subscription service. A week of unlimited stories costs $2.99. A month is $7.99 and a year is $39.99.

There are currently over 200 stories and Gupta said they add more every day.

Stories are broken into categories such as “Dark & Stormy,” “Primal Terror,” and “Love as Deep.” There’s even a section called “Telepathic” that is “hand-picked” by Hooked editors to “blow ur mind.”

If you were able to stop pounding your computer in anger at the sleaziness of this app, then you should take note: sorry, improving literacy is NOT THE GOAL of these business ventures. Pandering to people’s already-short attention spans is not going to make kids smarter. I don’t think too many of us think the problem is that we have TOO MUCH serious thinking in this world.

There is no such thing as a 1,000 word “book.” Even flash fiction, the shortest form of long-form fiction there is, is 1,200 word limit. It’s okay to promote short stories, but you not get any meaningful text if you write a cell phone-style story.

Think about the last time you read a deep, profound fiction story in less than 1,000 words. The kind of story which makes you think. Yeah, I can’t either. If you want to Tweet a flash fiction piece, go right ahead. There’s nothing wrong with it. But these people ought not to act as though they are contributing to improved literacy.

What this appears to be is rich people preying on poor, aspiring writers by promising them what the internet generally will not do for them-pay them for their work. Toss up work you can write in 5 minutes, and you will get paid for it. Who among you wouldn’t take that offer? Unfortunately, you will end up so desperate to make any money you will do what you have to do to get attention, even if that means writing nonsense for the occasional money, distracting you from focusing on more serious efforts. What, you thought you’d rake in six figures writing flash fiction?

This is how Silk Road merchants made so much money: whoever controls the distribution controls everything. How else do you think social media companies make so much money without providing any content? Because they are great at getting you to give away your content for free, because they convince your customers that anything you write or post has no value at all. If you don’t agree to give away everything for free, customers will just go with whoever will. Essentially, you have no choice, whether you want to or not.*

*disclosure. Many people’s thoughts really ARE worth nothing. Ouch.

They then go to people uninterested in reading and, rather than promote a way to encourage learning, they seek to make a profit off exploiting people. This is no different than the trashy Reality TV and “pop music” industry where profanity and shallowness are celebrated and encouraged. The people running the shows and those who act in them get rich, but they leave behind a lot of impressionable young people who are less able to think deeply or do anything but curse or act dumb to be “cool”.

I know those who run these types of industries will make the usual claim that “hey, at least people are reading.” But in all honesty, encouraging shallow reading of other people’s texts is not an improvement. If anything, it teaches people to have “twitter thoughts”: anything which can’t be explained in 140 characters isn’t worth understanding. This attitude already has ruined political debates. This is not a case of a problem that need solving. This is a case of a married couple seeing $$$ and figuring out how to exploit that.

Most likely this app will fail within 2 years, though the market will decide that. I just can’t see too many people shelling out $40 a year for a blast of shallow short stories when you can already read flash fiction on the web for free (or at least for less). What we need is for business to create new ways to improve learning and literacy, so people will not just read, but understand what they read so they will become thinkers. I have seen far too many business people exploit this gap by pandering to the lowest-common denominator in our media. Pardon the language, but we need to call out these BS artists who are not helping us with the problem.

Image from CNN Money.

Find Out What Happens When You Click Bait a Book Title

To Kill A Mockingbird Link-Baity Title Remake

Today’s post is brought to you by the hashtag #clickbaitnoveltitle, courtesy of Hootsuite.

More than likely, you clicked on this post because I click-baited you. Since you are already interested in books, what happens when you try to find out when you click bait a title?

From Hootsuite, junior lieutenants of click baiting, serving Buzzfeed, the Lord of the Click Bait and Meme Realm:

“Love it or hate it, so-called click bait has become part of content marketing. While many people see these types of social messages or headlines as a trick being played on the consumer, the reason that they’ve become the norm is that they work. And they don’t just work once, they work over and over again.

This is not unlike classic literature, many examples of which have graced the high school desks of children, their parents and even their grandparents. The themes we see in Shakespeare and George Orwell were relevant when they were written and they are equally relevant today.

But as kids become more tech-savvy, many are turning away from reading as a means of education and entertainment. Just in case literature really starts falling by the wayside, here are 10 classic books reimagined with click-baity titles:

How not to end a relationship

A.K.A. Romeo & Juliet

These two kids were attacked by a racist. You’ll never believe who stepped in to protect them.

A.K.A. To Kill a Mockingbird

Old school Wolf of Wall Street? This author uses “damn” 85 times in one novel

A.K.A. The Catcher in the Rye

The “Rich Kids of Instagram” have nothing on this guy

A.K.A. The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby Link-Baity Title Remake

Can you create a better clickbaited title than these ones? Don’t forget to use the hashtag #clickbaitnoveltitle. And don’t forget to follow my page so you won’t miss any of the latest news, tips, and fun stuff!

A good reason to tune out “successful people”

willywonka - No, copying my candy factory idea will NOT  make you the next "Shark Tank" success story.

For those of you who write, or for those of you who are readers who want to know what an authors thinks about before writing, you need to understand that most authors are merely “wannabes” who aspire to become bestsellers. What I mean is, they want to be the next JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King, or even the next Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, or Amanda Hocking, all multi-millionaire authors.

Knowing this, there is a huge market of people trying to peddle “information” or “services” to help make those writer’s “dreams come true.” While some services and information are legitemate and honest, this tends to fall into one of 4 camps:

  1. The entity offering the “information” or “service” sees a lucrative financial opportunity to make money off unsuspecting and desperate writers, so they make promises they can’t keep and stick you with a high bill. Vanity presses work like this, such as this one.
  2. The “bestselling” author sees an opportunity to make money and sell seminars based on “here’s how successful I am. Just do what I do, and you can be successful like me too!” They then give you “advice” which sometimes is practical, and sometimes is not. Here’s one example. The end goal is not primarily to help newbies achieve success: it’s to establish the bestseller as a credible authority because s/he achieved success and financial fortune, and to make money either from ad revenue on hits to their web page, or on seminars or books dedicated to “helping” you. Whether or not their advice helps you is none of their concern.
  3. The wanna-be author, who lacks an understanding of branding and market principles, follows the herd, not understanding just how many other people are doing the exact same thing. Which companies tend to be most successful long-term: the innovators, or the “sheep”? Our wanna-be, however, does not know this. So s/he copies advice from
    “self-help” books written by successful people who of course want to help them personally, and then claim it does work because their sales went from 50 a month to 100. They then write it in blog comments or on their own website.
  4. The entity which studies information and claims there is a specific formula to doing something. For example, the perma-free strategy. I have come around on it to some extend, conceding that it does work for some people and to some extent. But not for everyone; if it did, everyone would be rich. So giving away lots of freebies isn’t going to work just because you did it. You really do need a solid strategy in order to lure people to other offerings, using your free book as a “loss leader” of sorts.

You can substitute books and authors for any other topic, such as “how to grow a successful small business” or “how to reduce stress from your life”, etc. I just use books as an example. Again, some people do offer quality advice, but not always, and even then, you need to pay attention.

What the “successful” people fail to tell you, however, is how many factors, both in your control and out of it, play into achieving success. Yes, there is an element of luck and timing and various other factors, including socio-economic background, college education, access to capital, work ethic, ambition, being a producer first, not a consumer first, etc. Yes, there are some universal truths. But like religion, I really believe it is impossible to say there is one “true” way to live life to achieve the goals you want to achieve. Each of us is an independent human being with success as being defined by us, in the way which works best for us. A person who makes $30 million a year as an actor has different success than a kid living in a single-parent home in a federally-classified “war zone” who graduates college and earns $90,000 a year as a lawyer. Both are successful, in different ways. Very unlikely the actor and the lawyer could switch places and have the exact same success.

With that comes a post from the Huffington Post, which I believe is being unfairly maligned, but hits home some uncomfortable truths (bold emphasis mine):

“No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.

Unless they’re four gorgeously written, painstakingly molded, amazingly rendered and undeniably memorable books. If you can pull off four of those a year, more power to you. But most can’t. I’d go so far as to say no one can, the qualifier being good books.

Beyond the fact that the marketplace is glutted with an overwhelming number of books already (many of dubious quality), writing good books simply takes time, lots of it. There’s no getting around that time. It involves learned skills, unhurried imagination, fastidious drafting, diligent editing, even the time to step away, then step back, to go over it all again. And, unless you’re a hack (and we know there are plenty of those out there), isn’t the whole point of this exercise to write good books?

So, her (blogger Penny C. Sansevierifirst piece of advice to self-publishing authors wasn’t to put more focus on fine-tuning one’s craft, it wasn’t about taking time to mull and ponder what stories, what narratives, most inspire you to put “pen to paper”; it wasn’t even a suggestion to be relentless about working with professional content/copy editors and cover designers to create the best possible version of your work. No, it was the insanely insane advice to pump out at least four books a year.

And people wonder why there are stigmas attached to self-publishing.

First of all, in looking at her point of reference, I suppose it depends on what you define as a “successful author.” I have a distinct feeling this may be where the disparities lie. Perhaps my own definition is a different one.

When I self-published my first book, After The Sucker Punch, in April of 2014, I had, by then, put years into it, doing all those many things I itemized above. Because I not only wanted to publish a novel, I wanted that novel to be a work of art, a book of depth and merit, one that would not only tell a compelling story but would meet standards of publishing that authors of the highest regard are held to. I wanted it to be a book that would favorably compare with anything put out by a traditional publisher. My choice to self-publish was a result of not having engaged a publisher by the time my book was done and I was ready to market it. It was not based on the notion of joining the “second tier club” where one is unbound from the stricter, more demanding standards of traditional publishing.

“Second tier club”? Yes. As insulting as that sounds, particularly in relation to self-publishing, there is no question that there are two tiers operating in the culture of the book industry. Take a moment to think about it: based on what advice is given to self-published writers, some of which I shared above; based on the”free/bargain” pricing paradigms of most book sellers hawking those writers; based on the corner (quality)-cutting measures required to pump out endless product to meet the purportedly endless demand of those sites and their bargain-hunting readers, “second tier club” is no misnomer.”

The author of that post was attacked by well-known authors like Larry Correia, who admitted he “averaged 2 a year until I quit my day job.” Now that he earns a solid living writing full-time, he can write more books and do so more efficiently. Good for Larry, but few authors earn a full-time living writing. so someone like me, with a full-time job (and seasonal/free-lance too!) who has no name recognition is not going to be able to churn out solid books every quarter to keep up with Larry, who is writing full-time because he was both lucky and good to make a lot of money. Of course, I may very well be so successful that I can do it, but even then my success wouldn’t necessarily translate to success for you because you did what I did. “First to market” principle is in place here.

Lorraine’s (HuffPo article author) attackers don’t get that she’s not saying you shouldn’t do it under any circumstances. She means you should do what works for you, not what others are telling you to do just because it worked for them or someone they know. Just because a few authors in this world got mega-rich, or even 6-figure rich, doing something doesn’t mean you will too, even if you do what they did, even if you’re a talented writer. Luck and timing are as important to the free marketplace as they are to casinos. My only advice is, consider advice from different sources and make your own decisions for your life. And quit propping up the “self-help” industry, because more and more I am convinced that most of those people are less interested in truly helping YOU than in helping themselves to some more money by dangling that success stick in your face and telling you how you can join the elite club for just $19.95.

The truth she’s exposing is that there is no “magic bullet” to success. Maybe an author who sells 10,000 copies can call it a day. Others could sell 100,000 and feel like a failure. But the people and businesses who earn money with seminars and books telling you how to do it don’t want you thinking independently, or else you won’t need them anymore. So they try to get you hooked so you can

If you don’t believe me, try writing a poorly-written erotic novel that sells over 100 million copies. Yea, thought so.

Do you agree or disagree? And it doesn’t just have to be books- how do you feel about people who offer advice or services, free or paid? Do you find most of them to be sincerely helpful, or are they tooting their own horn?

Book Review: The “Next Harry Potter” That was Lost in Time

Fablehaven (Fablehaven Series #1)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to “Molly of Mars” and thought it was a solid story, and the author’s series could have had a small run from a traditional publisher (assuming the author wanted that). This week’s book WAS traditionally published, way back in 2007, and after reading it, was surprised it didn’t sell better. If you’ve never heard of Fablehaven, but want to find a book you might have missed, here it is. Upper Middle Grade (UMG)

*note: I am an Oxford Comma-nist. So there.

Where I found it: Barnes and Nobles, a PHYSICAL STORE! If you can believe those exist anymore.

Plot: Kendra Sorenson and her younger brother Seth are sent to stay with their grandparents because, you know, convenient family vacay that doesn’t include the kids. And of course the grandparents are keeping a magical secret and just so happen to want to share it with their grandkids.

After the first four chapters, the plot comes through. Kendra and Seth learn about Fablehaven, a magical sanctuary which protects magical creatures, good and bad, from being discovered by the outside world. Think a wildlife preserve you can’t see. Early in the book Seth finds a witch bound by ropes. If she gets free, she intends to unleash an ancient evil.

As I must, anyone who writes a children’s fantasy series must be compared to The Greatest Book Series Ever Written (other than the Bible). In fact, it actually was. So, here goes: Mull loses on originality. Both use trolls and witches, but there was more creativity from Rowling when it came to magic spells and the objects and creatures of the world. Fablehaven is generic fantasy, in terms of creatures and world-building. Also, the book is very long for a book officially aimed at kids (353 pages for book 1- longer than the Sorcerer’s Stone, which was 309 pages). That is a minus point.

Having said that, I was more hooked at 26 years old on Fablehaven than I was at 11 with the Sorcerer’s Stone (disclosure: It was the Chamber of Secrets which got me interested in the Harry Potter series). Seriously. Now the Potter series I expect is better, which I presume having not read the final four Fablehaven books. But Fablehaven goes toe-to-toe with the third-most-famous-Harry-from-the UK. Because the plot is so sound, I will give him his point back for my previous mentions. 2/2*

Style: There were a few times in the beginning when the author did the ol’ switcheroo with character viewpoints within chapters, something I don’t like. Then, he stopped doing it. I won’t dock him for the switching in chapters because he only did it a couple of times. Seth annoyed me in a kid-like way, acted immature, which is exactly what I want to see: an eleven-year-old who acts and speaks his age. 2/2

Editing: Well polished, with a consistent story. I spotted no errors in the plot or in the proofreading. 2/2

Book Cover: Just look at that adorable black creature with razor-sharp spikes on its jet black back. Yes you’re adorable, you cuddwy thing, you. 2/2

Intangibles: If you like Harry Potter, you WILL love this one. No, it will not grab you quite as much, but you will feel Kendra’s sense of urgency when something terrible happens to her family. No magic wands or spell classes, but you will get to know Fablehaven and why it matters. The second book in the series is set up nicely. 2/2

Overall: Like Molly of Mars, I have to give a top score for this book. Even if I thought it was a little too long for book #1 for UMG or not original enough I’d award him a bonus for the plot anyway. Too bad for Brandon his series never caught more fire, and thus did not become the “heir” (translation: another pre-teen book series which catches a sliver of Potter’s fire) For those waiting on the movie version, try Kickstarter. I’d go to see it, but I doubt Hollywood is going to ever get around to making it. 10/10

Buy the book here

Visit the author’s site here 

Seeking my Mr. or Mrs. Slave…ahem, Guest Bloggers

I am opening up my space to folks who would like to reach an audience of several hundred unique visitors per month, and have a passion for books. It’s very simple: You reach out to me, and tell me what you want to write about. If I like it, the post is yours for an available post day, which is typically Monday or Thursday.

If you are an author, and you want a review or a interview (author or character), you may message me. Unless I previously agreed to an interview or book review before September 1, I am seeking only children’s literature, or books written by kids. Books can have pictures, but they must be mostly text and targeted at an audience for 8+. Also, you must be 14 years old to request any review or interview. Otherwise, I need a parent’s permission first.

You are not required to offer me a reciprocated post, but if you do, I am more likely to take you up. So go ahead and send away- welcome to Bradan’s World!

bonus if you got the reference in the title. Post it here and let’s see who gets it first!

Book Review: If You Love Minecraft, you’ll Like This Book

Minecraft is the game that’s swept the world. Following in the traditional of MMORPG’s, Minecraft is one of those games where you have to build everything from scratch. There is no plot, no particular purpose- YOU create the kind of game experience you want, with only the program’s created elements at your disposal.

It should shock no one that Minecraft-related books are frequently at the top of the most popular kid’s book list, especially for boys. It should also shock no one that a bunch of writers want to cash in on the craze and write their Minecraft-inspired fanfic.

Today’s book is one such fanfic, by author Stone Marshall. The title is “Flynn’s Log 1: Rescue Island”. I read the first book in his series, which is the one being reviewed today.

Where I got it: Free from the Kindle Store off the Choosy Bookworm list.

Plot: In the true tradition of Minecraft, this book didn’t have much of a plot until about two-thirds of the way in. It was mainly about the main character named Flynn running around a Minecraft-inspired world, fighting giant spiders and zombies as he builds his fortress on Rescue Island, where the majority of the action takes place (here’s the map). Later in the book, he meets Zara, a zombie who has been deprogrammed and exists in the game to help the main character escape the digital world and return to the real one.

A true book lover would scoff at the lack of plot. However, in Minecraft fashion, the book doesn’t need one. The world IS the story. 1/2

Style: Another toughie. I abuse the ! more than 99.7% of authors on this planet. And yet, this got on my nerves. If I was eight, the constant shouting would be funny, which is why I’m scoring him for this book as if I was an eight-year-old kid. But every page had some type of shouting action as if this guy, living on a tiny island, was about to die. Otherwise, the style was fine. 1/2

Editing: The book was well-edited. Besides the frequent exclamation point use, I didn’t see sloppy errors or major problems. 2/2

Book Cover: It’s creative, like Minecraft. I will include the pictures he drew within the book for this as well. I’ll give him points for original fanfic drawings. 2/2

Intangibles: The “feel” of the book. I was torn. As a video game fan, I can now understand why kids and adults love Minecraft. If you have a lot of free time, don’t mind the endless world mechanism, and love to build things, this game looks fantastic. As is true of video games, Flynn’s Log shows the main character dealing with the Minecraft world. When he introduces Zara, the portals, and the underlying theme that Flynn must escape, he added an actual story to the Minecraft world.

As an older reader, this was tough. Forget about kids being the target audience- Even Pokemon has a purpose: To catch ’em all, to collect all eight gym badges, and to beat the Elite Four. My main complaint about a lot of games today is, they have no purpose other than filling in free time that ought to be spent reading or doing homework. They become addictive, like World of Warcraft, because you really can never win but if you stop playing, you lose. Reading this story makes it clear the Minecraft world scenario was prioritized over telling an actual story, which is what a novel is supposed to do. 1/2

Overall: 7/10 The book is solid, if not memorable. If you are a kid, or a parent with elementary school children who like or love Minecraft, I would recommend this book. It brings in all the excitement of Minecraft, in an easy to read style, with a lot of cool drawings rendered by the author. The author’s plot points were enough to intrigue me to want to buy the rest of the series, which I probably will now. In that sense, Stone did a great job.

From a literary standpoint, I have to image there is Minecraft-inspired fiction that’s just as good, if not better. Perhaps a fictitious scenario within the world, kind of like a scenario within Sid Meier’s Civilization games. If you or your children/grandchildren are not fans of Minecraft, you will probably not like this book.

don’t forget to follow my page and offer your comments. They help other readers make informed decisions. Thank you!

Buy the book at Amazon here
check out Stone’s fan club here