Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘book reviews

Great New Review for CF, Plus It’s International Women’s Day!

with 2 comments

Folks, before I forget, I’m going to give you this link to the great new review I just received for my novel, CHANGING FACES:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3MR1UA67D6K0Z/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01N3CQKWJ

I enjoyed that so much. It made my day!

Now, as I promised yesterday, here’s a post for International Women’s Day.

There are many women in the past and present who’ve inspired me. Some are writers, like Rosemary Edghill, Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, Lois McMaster Bujold, Andre Norton, and Stephanie Osborn (just to name a few). Some are politicians, like Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm. Some are well-known political spouses, like Betty Ford, Ladybird Johnson, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (whose “second career” as an editor was also one to emulate). Some are musicians and singers (Rosemary Clooney, Diana Krall, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald), while others are people you might not know anything about, but are inspirational all the same.

International Women’s Day is about celebrating the power of women to get things done. All over the world, in every country, women are doing remarkable things. From young women like Malala to more mature women like Angela Merkel, there are so many different women in this world who’ve made a positive and inspirational difference.

So, who are your heroes? Who do you look at, when it comes to inspirational women? Is it your mother? Sister? Friend? Mentor?

All of the above?

I’d like to know, because that’s the best way to celebrate International Women’s Day overall.

But for female writers, such as myself, what are we supposed to do to celebrate International Women’s Day in particular?

My idea is simple. I’d like to encourage you to go buy a female writer’s books today. Whether you buy something by Bujold, Kimbriel, Edghill, Osborn, Kayelle Allen, Sherilynn Kenyon, Deborah J. Ross, Yasmine Galenorn, or any other female writer of your choice, you will be supporting the work of a strong, confident, and determined woman.

And don’t forget about writers who work in concert with their husbands, such as Debra Doyle (who writes with her husband, James D. MacDonald), Mrs. N. Light (part of the husband-wife writer team of N.N. Light) and Adriana Kraft (a husband-wife writer team). They, too, deserve to be celebrated, appreciated, and admired for their hard work.

That, to my mind, is the best-possible way to celebrate International Women’s Day. At least, for this writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Just Reviewed “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” at SBR

leave a comment »

Folks, I wanted to point your attention toward my latest book review of Charles Leerhsen’s TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty, which is up right now over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).

Now, why am I so proud of this review?

I think it has to do with two things. One, Mr. Leerhsen’s baseball scholarship is superb. And two, I was pleased to realize, after reading Leerhsen’s  book, that Cobb was not at all the virulent racist he’d been portrayed to be.

See, all of the stuff I thought I knew about Cobb was wrong — well, except for the actual baseball facts. (I knew Cobb hit .367 as a lifetime batting average, for example, and was the all-time hits leader until Pete Rose moved past him in the mid-1980s.)

Basically, Ty Cobb, since his death in 1961, has been the victim of a shoddy narrative. Apparently his “biographer” Al Stump was no such thing; instead, Stump invented the wildest flights of fancy about Cobb, figuring that as there was almost no film or still pictures or even radio accounts of Cobb’s play, Stump could do as he liked and no one would be the wiser.

Besides, monsters sell. So Stump made Cobb a monster.

Leerhsen proved just how fallacious Stump’s account actually was by going back and reading all of the various newspaper reports, which were readily available in the archives. (Thank goodness for archives, eh?) Stump made so many erroneous assumptions that it’s hard to believe Stump didn’t know what he was writing was dead wrong; in fact, Cobb himself was in the midst of a lawsuit at the time of his death, because he’d gotten wind of what Stump was about to do to him in the guise of Cobb’s “autobiography” (which was ghost-written by Stump), and wanted no part of it.

The most egregious fallacy of Stump’s was to paint Cobb as a racist. Cobb was anything but — in fact, according to Leerhsen, Cobb used to sit in the dugout with players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige during Negro League games, and famously remarked that “The Negro (ballplayer) should be accepted, and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly.” And Cobb was a big fan of Roy Campanella’s, plus he enjoyed Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson.

And as far as being a mean, nasty, vicious old cuss — well, how mean, vicious and nasty could Ty Cobb have been if he was willing to help the young Joe DiMaggio out when Joe D. signed with the Yankees? (Cobb understood baseball contracts, and young Joe didn’t.) How mean was Cobb when he helped Campanella and his family out after “Campy” became paralyzed? And how vicious was Cobb when, after his playing days were over and he had nothing at all to gain by it, he and Babe Ruth became fast friends?

Leerhsen has dozens of stories about Cobb, and very few of them depict anything close to the man Stump portrayed (and Tommy Lee Jones later masterfully acted in the movie version, Cobb).

While Cobb was a difficult man to know — he was prickly, quick to anger, and settled things with his fists more than once — he was not a monster.

Instead, Cobb appears to be the victim of one of the worst narrative frames in the history of all narrative-framing.

So do, please, read my review of Charles Leerhsen’s book TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty. Then please, if you have any interest whatsoever in early 1900s to the “Roaring Twenties” Americana, baseball history, or just want to find out what’s actually the truth about Ty Cobb, go read his masterful book for yourself.

My Fifth Blogiversary — and a Great New Review for “To Survive the Maelstrom”

leave a comment »

Folks, this is my fifth “blogiversary” — that is, the fifth anniversary of my blog, affectionately known as the Elfyverse. (Or Barb Caffrey’s Elfyverse, if you prefer.) Here, I’ve talked about everything that interests me, whether it’s baseball, politics, current events, music, writing, or something else — whatever it is, I’ve probably discussed it.

(Writers do that, y’know.)

Anyway, today I have a special treat for you, in that Pat Patterson of Papa Pat Rambles reviewed my story “To Survive the Maelstrom” over at Amazon — and he gave it five stars. (Thank you, Pat!)

Maelstrom3Here’s the blurb for “To Survive the Maelstrom,” which was written in my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s Atlantean Union universe (and thus he is credited):

Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union has lost everything he holds dear. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.

Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.”

Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?

So if you want to read “To Survive the Maelstrom” in honor of my fifth blogiversary — or just because you like solid military SF — please go to Amazon and grab yourself a copy. (I do intend to get this story to Barnes and Noble and Smashwords within the next ninety days, somehow, but for now it’s on KDP Select. So if you have Kindle Ultimate, you can read “To Survive the Maelstrom” for free — right now.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm

New Review Up at SBR, and my Writing Journey Continueth…

leave a comment »

Folks, before I forget, go read my review of Deborah J. Ross’s epic fantasy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. (You’ll be glad you did.)

Why did I want to start with that? Well, it’s rare to see a strong, yet quiet and scholarly woman as the heroine of an epic fantasy. Yet Tsorreh, heroine of THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD, is exactly that — and I loved reading about her.

In fact, I enjoyed reading about her so much that I delayed reviewing THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD for several months. I was afraid I would not do justice to it, because when you reduce the plot to its bare bones, it sounds like many other epic fantasy novels.

But it’s nothing like them. It isn’t predictable (except that Tsorreh’s son Zevaron is young, impetuous, and you want to kick some sense into him, but isn’t that the way of younglings everywhere?). It’s quite spiritual. And the writing, editing, and presentation of Tsorreh’s journey is so good that I wasn’t sure anything I said would come close to matching it.

I don’t often feel quite this overawed by fiction, mind. (Not even by someone with the stature and longevity of Deborah J. Ross in the field of science fiction and fantasy.) In fact, me feeling like this is quite rare…and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

Anyway, I’ve now reviewed it over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always), and I even wrote a review (a different one, earlier this evening) over at Amazon. I think very highly of this book, and I hope that if you like my work and trust in what I say, you’ll give it a try. (Trust me — it’s different. And it’s even better than my words have made it out to be.)

Now, as for my writing journey?

Most of you know that I’m going to put out my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s Columba Chronicles again. (They were briefly available in 2010 and into 2011 via E-Quill Publishing in Australia.) But I realized on my re-reads that there was more that needed to be added.

It’s kind of like what I’ve tried to do with Michael’s military science fiction. I know there is more to the story. I try to add it, and remain faithful to Michael’s words; then, as I feel more confident, I write in Michael’s milieu and do what I think he’d do if he were still alive. (Or at least what I want to do, because I believe he’d trust me enough to know what that is.)

So right now, I plan to write a story about Cat, Columba’s husband the shapechanger. (We find out about Cat and his unusual courtship of Columba in the “Columba and the Cat” novella, available now.) I’ve called this “The Quest for Columba,” and I’m even mentioning it in the “coming soon” part of all of the novellas currently out there (including the two earliest, “A Dark and Stormy Night,” and “On Westmount Station“).

You see, I figure Cat’s story is vital to understanding why he went after Columba in the first place. Michael only hints at it. But I know how he worked, and I think he would’ve written about it if he’d only had time.

There also was another story on the way that Michael did not get a chance to finish called “Columba and the Cromlech.” I have tried a few times over the past several years to get into that. My problem was always that I didn’t completely get where Cat was coming from, and because of that, I only could write Columba. (And my version of Columba was always a little more in-your-face than Michael’s.)

However, once I finish “The Quest for Columba,” I think I will again turn my attention to “Columba and the Cromlech,” and will have a much better idea as to where that story is going.

That being said, my version of the second story Michael wrote, “Columba and the Crossing,” will be different than the version E-Quill Publishing put out in 2010. I’m adding in more romance, as I think it’s needed — Michael left a lot in subtext, and I think at least some of it needs to be brought out.

Furthermore, I’ve gotten much better at matching Michael’s writing style even though it’s a thousand times different than mine. And because of that, I feel far more confident in adding my own touches. I knew my husband very well, and I believe that he would want me to do this — since he’s not able to bring these stories to their complete fruition, I believe he’d trust me enough to add what I know must be there.

Maybe this sounds strange to you. Perhaps it is strange. I haven’t a clue as to how other writers do this, though I’ve read what Brandon Sanderson said about his collaboration with Robert Jordan (facilitated by his widow the editor), I’ve read what Ursula Jones said about collaborating with her sister Diana Wynne Jones after the latter passed away, and I’ve done my best to figure out what these authors did and why they did it after the fact.

But no one has collaborated with their deceased spouse when neither of them was well-known. That means there’s no road map to what I’m doing, and no one can give me much in the way of advice other than “Trust yourself” or “You’re a better writer than you think” or even “Michael trusted you, so why can’t you believe in yourself more than this?”

All of these things are good to hear, mind. (Don’t get me wrong about this.) And I have listened.

Still, this is my path. I chose it years ago after Michael unexpectedly passed on. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I said I would find a way — and I am.

I only hope that readers will enjoy what I’m doing, and know that there’s a method to my madness. Because I really believe that Michael would be trying to do exactly what I’m doing…even though I can’t prove it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 9, 2015 at 5:47 am

Savory Saturday Goodness: A New Review at SBR…Plus a Book Giveaway for E. Ayers!

with one comment

Folks, this past week I was consumed with editing. (My book may be in, but the editing goes on. Which is probably just as well…don’t want to be out of a job, methinks.) So I didn’t get a chance to blog.

Now, though, I have two reasons to blog.

First, there’s a new review up over at Shiny Book Review for Mary Robinette Kowal’s VALOUR AND VANITY. This is the fourth book in Ms. Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, and I enjoyed it immensely. But please, read my review, and let me know what you think.

Blank bookcover with clipping path

Blank bookcover with clipping path

Second, for the first time ever here at the Elfyverse blog, I’m going to give away a book for a friend, E. Ayers. Her newest novel is called A RANCHER’S DREAM, and it’s a Western set in the U.S. during the Victorian Era. (Say that five times fast. I dare you.)

Ms. Ayers and I know each other through the Exquisite Quills writing group. She’s a fine writer with a keen mind and an excellent eye for detail, and I’ve enjoyed all the novels she’s written to date. (I intend to review a couple more of ’em next week for Romance Saturday at SBR, if all goes well, one being A RANCHER’S DREAM.)

All you have to do to win an advance e-book copy of A RANCHER’S DREAM is to tell me why you love romance novels. It doesn’t have to be fancy…just tell me why you love romance novels, and the first person who comments, either here on my blog or at Twitter (by time-stamp) will win a copy of Ms. Ayers’ newest novel. (You’ll have your pick of formats, too, in case you’re interested.)

promo1

Widowed and raising a young daughter by himself,
Tiago has only one goal – to work a ranch of his own and build a
future for his small family. When fate deposits a young woman in
his path, he believes he has found the help he needs to care for his child
as they journey to their new home in Creed’s Crossing.

On the run for her life, Ingrid needs to get as far
away from Texas as she can. Her brother and father have
been murdered, and those responsible would see her dead, too.
Desperate, she accepts an offer to help Tiago with his daughter,
but Ingrid’s past can destroy everything Tiago is working for.
Worse – her very presence places him and his daughter in peril.

Amid secrets and danger, a single father
and an orphaned woman on the run must fight all odds to fulfill
A Rancher’s Dream

Coming June 16, 2015

Now available for pre-order at Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00YJP19TI

…and Amazon International: http://authl.it/B00YJP19TI

*****
So there you have it — a new review at Shiny Book Review, and a brand-new book by E. Ayers that you can win if you tell me why you love romance novels.

How’s that for some savory Saturday goodness?

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2015 at 11:15 pm

Just Reviewed Two Books at SBR…and Other Stuff

leave a comment »

Folks, I remain much closer to ill than well, I’m afraid. But I was able to get up a new “2-for-1 SBR Special” — that is, two new book reviews instead of one over at Shiny Book Review — a few, short minutes ago.

What books did I review this time? I picked Mercedes Lackey’s BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, both featuring Herald Mags and his love interest, Amily, along with an interesting mix of characters and Companions.

Did I enjoy these books? Without spoilers, I can say honestly that I did. But one was far more predictable than the other.

Anyway, please go check out my reviews for BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, and see what you think.

Aside from that, I’m gearing up for my first-ever book promotion for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Because of that, the price has been temporarily dropped to only ninety-nine cents. So get your copy now, if you haven’t yet…the price will be going back to $3.99 in early December.

Finally, I wanted to pass along a bit of a wonderful new review I received for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at Amazon:

Fresh, innovative and daring, this story comes across as something very different from the rest. It offers new fantasy concepts, including a unique take on elves and their relationship with humans in a contemporary setting.

(Go read the rest of this rave review for yourself!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 23, 2014 at 1:25 am

New Book Review is up at SBR for Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s Worthy “Spiral Path”

leave a comment »

Folks, as most of you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging. I had surgery two weeks ago, and while I’m slowly recovering, many things went by the wayside.

Including book reviews. Edits. Writing of any sort. And as of yet, I haven’t been medically cleared to resume performing on my musical instruments, either . . .

It’s because of this that I was sorely in need of constructive diversion. And as I’d been sent an ARC of the inestimable Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s third book in her ongoing Night Calls series several months ago, I did my best to first re-read the previous two books in this series (NIGHT CALLS and KINDRED RITES respectively), then read her newest, SPIRAL PATH, several times for good measure.

Along the way, the ARCs kept getting updated. Cover art was added. And the book was released earlier this week.

So even though I have other reviews pending at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always) that have been in the queue nearly as long as SPIRAL PATH, I didn’t hesitate to review Ms. Kimbriel’s newest book this evening. (Or, considering it’s 4:38 AM as I write this, maybe I should say “this morning” instead.)

Because it’s late (or early, depending on your mindset), I can’t recall right now if I’ve mentioned that I find Ms. Kimbriel’s books — all of them, but most particularly the Night Calls series — to be “comfort books.” That is, books that make you feel better about yourself, and about life in general; books that, no matter how terrible you feel, always help to cheer you up.

So I freely admit that I’ve read and re-read Ms. Kimbriel’s books many times since I first was introduced to her work in late 2012 with FIRES OF NUALA (reviewed in March of 2013 at SBR). Everything she writes is well-researched, has depth and purpose and feels like a real place with real and vital people doing really vital things . . . and it’s just as well that e-books don’t fray with age and use, or my advance reader copies of Ms. Kimbriel’s stories would’ve all frayed into disintegration by now.

Anyway, while I slowly take up my life again, and all of my various responsibilities, I’m very glad I was able to make some time to review SPIRAL PATH this evening/morning.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my review as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that you’ll check out all of Ms. Kimbriel’s work without delay. (She’s having a sale right now on her first book in the Night Calls series, the not-so-coincidentally named NIGHT CALLS, if you’re interested . . . I know I picked up a spare copy, just to loan to other people later on, as I am not giving up my treasured ARCs for anything.)

———–

P.S. I wonder, sometimes, whether my late husband Michael got a chance to read any of Ms. Kimbriel’s work “the first time around” (that is, when her first five books were put out in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s). I like to think so, because she’s exactly the type of author he’d have adored — and for much the same reasons as I do.