October’s Book Club of the First’s Pick

Good morning.

Here’s a little something to whet your appetite for October’s Book Club choice, The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I’m on page 145 and I love the pacing, love the level of description when it comes to gore. I write dark fiction with its fare share of gore, but so many are written with much too much if you know what I mean. Also, this isn’t your every day vampire story. At this far in the book there isn’t even a mention of that being the premise of the story.


I’ve heard there is a great audio version available (I saw it on Amazon and at our library, both in CD and Audible) read by Ron Perlman. That is an excellent way to join us if you’re too busy to sit down and crack open a book.

Here’s Amazon’s Review:

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: Who better to reinvent the vampire genre than Guillermo Del Toro, the genius behind Pan’s Labyrinth, and Chuck Hogan, master of character-driven thrillers like Prince of Thieves? The first of a trilogy, The Strain is everything you want from a horror novel–dark, bloody, and packed full of mayhem and mythology. But, be forewarned, these are not like any vampires you’ve met before–they’re not sexy or star-crossed or “vegetarians”–they are hungry, they are connected, and they are multiplying. The vampire virus marches its way across New York, and all that stands between us and a grotesque end are a couple of scientists, an old man with a decades-old vendetta, and a young boy. This first installment moves fast and sets up the major players, counting down to the beginning of the end. Great summer reading. —Daphne Durham

Book Description

The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

The Strain

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.

In two months–the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city–a city that includes his wife and son–before it is too late.”

The first chapter is even available on Amazon if you are on the fence. Boom. Look at that.

Looking forward to next month!


Garden Gnomes and Book Club

Hello September!

I live in an eclectic town that is plum full of characters. My current favorite looks like a garden gnome. Hardly a day goes by without seeing one of the many interesting faces that live here. If you’re like me, it’s almost torture, in that every time I see one of them my mind starts spinning. It goes one of two ways. Either I can see them in one of the stories that I’m chewing on, or I start creating a story around who they are and what they are doing there.

Writing is going well, even though I never feel like I do it enough. How could it not go well with all of the great material my fair city is providing :-)? I think I’m almost done polishing Bliss. Long story short, I ended up tearing it apart with my Critique Partner’s (CP) comments, and then I put it back together again and cleaned up the fallout. It was so freaking hard, and yet, at the same time, much easier than doing it all on my own. I’m very satisfied with the results. Soon, after one more CP run through, I’ll be moving on to querying.

I’m actually so close to that being done that I’m dreaming about the next step for Glitter, which is in the beginning stages at 52K words. I guarantee it will have more than one of my neighborhood characters in it. Exciting I tell you.

Meanwhile back at the castle I’m happy to say that I’ve finished September’s Book Club read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve started the Book Club blog complete with questions, and will schedule it to go up on September 30th. Woot! That gives you FIVE days to read it. 5. You can do it! Have you ever wondered how many of the characters from the Harry Potter series were weirdos wandering around Edinburgh, Scotland? I am now. Anyway, read it, send me book club questions if you want them to go up with the blog, and come participate!

Now that Potter is finished, I’m moving on to The Strain, October’s Book Club pick. I’m about 140 pages into it. So far I’m really enjoying it. A quick heads up: the TV series under the same name butchers the heck out of the book. Anyway, October’s Book Club Pick will be the next blog to go up.

Happy reading!


August & September’s Book Club


It’s Wednesday and I’m recovering from an exhausting week filled with fun and family. It sure is nice to get back to routine, but I’m missing endless Pokemon Go-ing in parks. No little kids = no hanging out in parks. Sad but true. Without the little kid I just look creepy hanging out by myself.

To clarify I don’t play Pokemon but most of my family do. Yup, even the Oma & Opa in law.  If I had the time and energy I might just start playing so I can go to parks. Hm.

Okay now, I have some things we need to work on together. I need some more votes for future books so it’s not “Jen’s Personal Book Club.” Here’s a snapshot of the books that are waiting for votes from Facebook. If you want to add more, tell me in comments below. You can see by the blue shading where the votes are.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 6.52.12 PM


And then August/September’s book club! The current book is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.


The story is based on a the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. My oldest likened it to JKR sitting behind two authors (John Tiffany & Jack Thorne) “backseat writing” a fan fiction play. As I’ve yet to read it, I’m unable to comment on this🙂.

Description from Barnes & Noble:

“John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

I’m on page 140 of The Strain, which is next months book. I really like it. But I can’t renew it again at the library so I’ll return it and check it back out next month. I started the Harry Potter book with much trepidation. I’ll admit I’m not jonesing to read it, as I’ve already mourned the loss of that book world and going back in, only to leave it again in six hours might be painful. Oh and reading scripts (plays) is not my cup of tea. We will see.

Happy Reading to you!




Books on the Porch

Good morning from the back porch! No that’s not slang. Get over yourself.


Over on Facebook we’ve voted in the next two books for our book club. First one up, is Jack Thorne’s (JK Rowling’s story) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, deadline September 30th, and then The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro for October, deadline the 31st. Read up and come join us!

We’ve got family over and it’s been pretty toasty so I’ve been spending my mornings writing on our back porch, a forest and trails stretching out in front of me.


Deadlines don’t care if I’ve got other things to do or not. The view is breathtaking, the sound of black squirrels chortling is entertaining, the dog next-door barking incessantly is not. He’s got issues. Distraction is good for me, right? Makes my writing skills stronger. I’m going with that angle.


When all of the animals go silent and you only hear cars driving by once in awhile and construction going on a few blocks away, it’s pretty close to heaven. Those times in between I relish.

Like now.

Anyway, hope you all’s summers are going swimmingly. I’m sure dreading the end of this peaceful time.

See you all soon!

Time for Book Club of the 1st!

Good evening all!

I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. Phew. Please forgive me for not catching any errors. I am having a difficult time staying awake for simply editing this post. Oh my.

Super busy weekend working with my pals over at the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) putting on their summer conference. And yes, I caught folks playing Pokemon Go, but not in the pitch sessions. Not quite as entertaining playing in the lobby of the hotel, but still made me smile.


I finally finished STORM FRONT, Jim Butcher’s first published book, and the first in the Dresden Files series. Bravo! Great book. I’m a pretty critical reader, so I don’t say this lightly. This to me, is what boils down to a paranormal action adventure beach read. Super easy to digest. I’d give it an A.


My much loved copy of Storm Front.

This book has been everywhere with me over the past two months, including but not limited to therapy, school functions, Montana, Idaho, California, and of course, lost in bag x between it all. It belongs to my oldest kid, Bunnywabit, and won’t he be upset with me when he sees how badly the book fared. Note: I’m not normally this hard on books. Its been a busy two months.

Okay, lets get to it! I’ll put my questions up here, then do a comment with each question below, and my comments of course, so there is a place to answer. Please feel free to answer as many or as few as you want😉.

Let’s start with the description from Mr. Butcher’s website:

“Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.”

This book was published in April of 2000 I believe. From his About Jim page, where it talks about how he got published, it looks like it was written in the mid 90’s. He’d already finished the third book in the series before this one was picked up.

After this point folks, if you haven’t read it stop reading here. There are spoilers below.

I was having a huge amount of problems coming up with questions on this one. I feel I’m usually pretty good at digging deep into a story and sussing out things others don’t see. This time, its such a light book that it was tough.


I found myself drawing a parallel between Butcher’s wizarding world and JK Rowling’s. Both heroes were named Harry. That’s a little funny. They were both conceived about the same time. Also funny. But Butcher’s was in an adult world and Rowling’s was in a kid’s world. Which is where my question start:

  1. In Butcher’s world, adult wizards are kick ass. Oh. My. Gosh. Loved it. In Rowling’s the adults really weren’t, at least to the naked eye, because it was basically focussing on the kids. Do you think that Storm Front is a totally different scenario and that the wizards are just way better at their craft than in Rowling’s world? Or do you you think that the adults in Rowling’s world were pretty awesome and we never saw it?
  2. Am I crazy to see the parallels? And then, moving on to other questions…
  3. Was the magic believable? Was there any point where you were you thought it was too outlandish?
  4. I’m going to give a nod back to some questions I asked earlier, see link below. How old do you think Harry is?
  5. Was there enough of a romance for you? To little? Too much?
  6. Did you like the pacing?
  7. Were there too many given’s in this world, like: was it too easy that Harry worked with the police department? Was it too easy that things died that easy? Did he conveniently forget things or just not do things that would harm/do him good?
  8. Was it believable that Morgan forgave him and didn’t kill him, even after he’d pretty brutally beat him up?
  9. What did you think about the villain(s)? Any complaints?
  10. Did anyone have problems reading this? I mean, seriously? It had to be the smoothest read I’ve undertaken in ages. A beach read for the paranormal action adventure type.
  11. Again, a note to the blog down below: How did you feel about the description of his surrounding? As in, his office, his home, the final house they battled in? Could you picture them?
  12. Are you going to read more of the books in the series?

Here’s the first part of of the questions that came to mind, along with some thoughtful comments, STORM FRONT Discussion, Part 1. I’m using a template that won’t allow me to sticky things to the top of the page – so I apologize for not having that one up top for perusal.

What are your thoughts?

Now I’m going to go before I fall over on the keyboard. Night all.

***Edited to add: I should have offered a contest that if you can find an error I’ll send you a shopping bag or something😉. Thanks to my anonymous helpers! Please feel free to share if you find something. I’m still not quite recovered.