Tip

"I just browsed your The New Book Review to see where your other contributors got reviewed and found two more resources for my books! Thanks, Carolyn. You provide a great service!"
~Jendi Reiter, author of the Sunshot Prize story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes."

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Book About Depression for Everyone!

Title: From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide
Author: Bob Rich, Ph.D.
Reviewer: Theresa Hortley I
Genre: Nonfiction: Psychology self-help
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-435-9 
Rating 5 stars


Reviewed by Theresa Hortley 

I don't suffer from depression, but read this book because I am privileged to be one of Bob Rich's beta readers. All the same, "From Depression to Contentment" has proven to be immensely useful to me personally.

Depression is everywhere. Every year, a distressingly high proportion of the kids I teach are obviously depressed. Friends, relatives, colleagues -- it's all around me. Now, I can understand where they are coming from, and can be more effective in helping them, though not as a therapist of course.

But this is far more than a self-help book. It is an inspiration. One sentence late in the book has captured me: "knowingly or unknowingly, all of us are apprentice Buddhas."

Depressed or not, if you read this book, you will become a better person.

You wouldn't expect a book about depression to be humorous, but in typical Bob Rich style, he got me chuckling time and again. Just one example: a patient told Bob that he'd known all his life that he didn't matter. Bob's reply: "Right. You crawled out of the womb believing you didn't matter?"

All of Bob's novels I've read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel.    

MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Theresa Horley is a high school teacher of English which makes her a formidable beta reader.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Bob Rich, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in psychology in 1972. He worked as an academic, researcher, and applied scientist until “retiring” the first time at 36 years of age. Later, he returned to psychology and qualified as a Counseling Psychologist, running a private practice for over 20 years. During this time, he was on the national executive of the College of Counselling Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), then spent three years as a Director of the APS. He was the therapist referrers sent their most difficult cases to.

Bob retired in 2013, but still does pro bono counseling over the internet. This has given him hundreds of “children” and “grandchildren” he has never met, because many of these people stay in touch for years. His major joy in life is to be of benefit to others, which is why he wrote a book that’s in effect a course of therapy.
You can get to know him well at his blog, "Bobbing Around," https://bobrich18.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobswriting and find his newsletter at https://bobrich18.wordpress.com. 

from-depression-to-contentment-book-review-on-Carolyn-Howard-Johnsons-New-Book-Review-blog


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS AND ANOTHER FREEBIE


 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.



Note: Participating authors and their publishers may request the social sharing image by Carolyn Wilhelm at no charge.  Please contact the designer at:  cwilhelm (at) thewiseowlfactory (dot) com. Provide the name of the book being reviewed and--if an image or headshot of the author --isn't already part of the badge, include it as an attachment. Wilhelm will send you the badge to use in your own Internet marketing. Give Wilhelm the link to this post, too! 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Be Inspired and Feel the Goosebumps of Amazing Coincidences



Tales2Inspire-Emerald-Collection-Beyond-Coincidence

Tales2Inspire ~ The Emerald Collection: Beyond Coincidence
  • Series: Tales 2 Inspire
  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492321397
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492321392

Be prepared to fee goosebumps while reading about amazing coincidences beyond belief -- except each story has actual proof. Actual proof is not usually available in anthology stories. It is fairly easy to find stories that are rather amazing and think, "Oh, sure, nice story." However, this book is not like others in that proof in the form of photos is included in each story.

From Carolyn Wilhelm's review on Amazon
My favorite quote from the book is as follows:
"There can be a silver lining after the storm. Just promise yourself and your loved ones that you will seek it out.” 
Each story is amazing, and when I thought a story was over the best part was yet to come! Incredible and true reading.

Reading the stories is one thing, but towards the end of the book, the author tells how writers can be part of the Tales2Inspire series. The requirements are strict and explain why each story is so wonderful. The rules for story submission impressed me even more, as I realized what each author went through to be accepted in the anthology. There is no fee for submitting a story, just an amazing coincidence. Reading the rules was what hooked me!

*Each submitted Tale must be an original, non-fiction story.
*Tales2Inspire ™ strongly encourages authors to include author owned, relevant images to enhance the impact of their Tale. 
*NOTE: The power of included images is factored into the final scoring, with the exception of the humor category, where no photos are requested
*It is the author’s responsibility to be sure any such images do not violate copyrights. 
*As an Authors Helping Authors Project, each author will judge three other ‘tales’ 

This particular collection is authored by Stern, Lois W.; Cupery M.D., Stan; Hofstadter, Cami Ann; Kosal Ph.D., Erica; Chippas (a.k.a. Martina Nicholas), Tina; Knorr, Anne; Osborne, James; DuPree, Heidi; Gustman, and Fran; Surface, Donna. 

Do you have an amazing coincidence in your life that you would like to share? Find out more at the following sites, and get a free eBook while you are visiting. 

GET A F*R*E*E TALES21INSPIRE E-BOOK AT:
www.tales2inspire.com/gift



Tales2Inspire websitehttp://www.tales2inspire.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tales2inspire2
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/tales2inspire
Tales2Inspire trailer: https://youtu.be/FuDgXkYMHvo
Blog: http:://www.tales2inspire/blog


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS


 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Carolyn Wilhelm's Early Learning Interracial Adoption Story

Title: Alex Asks About Auntie's Airplane Day
Subtitle: An Adoption Day Story
Author: Carolyn Wilhelm
Illustrated by: Pieter Els
An Easy Reader Book (2017)
ISBN: 9780999776612
Reviewed from a paperback copy.

Forever the teacher, Carolyn Wilhelm writes not only for the story but also to build vocabulary. Interest builds as children ask, "What is an airplane day?"  Ever the teacher, Wilhelm also introduces a child to terms they may not have yet learned like "lug wrench."  This story will help any young reader or listener know more about adoption, understand it better, and helps prepare them for accepting diversity no matter what their color, too.

The illustrations are reminiscent of color paper cutouts, colorful and graphics.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The idea for this book occurred to Carolyn Wilhelm when she saw her two-year-old grandson watch his Auntie Betsy from South Korea and seemed to wonder how she fit into the otherwise white family. Wilhelm says, "who knows shat he was thinking, but it appeared he was noticing Auntie
s eyes and skin color.  Wilhelm decided a book could help her grandson and other young children with older, adopted relatives understand a little about adoption. The author runs Wise Owl Factory, LLC, Minnesota. Readers, teachers, and parents will find her Wise Owl teaching materials, many of them absolutely free on Pinterest. Learn more about the author at www.thewiseowlfactory.com

MORE ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Pieter Els also illustrated "Surfer Kids Clip Art." "Jeffreys Bay," and "South Africa." Learn more at www.surferkiddies.com

Aunties-annual-airplane-adoption-day-celebration-story-for-children

In the time-honored tradition of the publishing industry, the reviewer of this book received a copy of the book at no charge..


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Leslie C. Halpern Collects Her Best Columns on Life and Entertainment Industry

Scantily Clad Truths
Subtitle: Essays on Life with Clothes (and without)
Author: Leslie C. Halpern
Cautious Optimist Publishing 2018
ISBN: 9780999376331
Genre: Essays/Memoir
Contact Reviewer: HoJoNews@aol.com
Rating: 5 of 5

                  From Bill Cosby to “Homeless and Sexy” 

 

Veteran Journalist Shares Memories 


True to journalistic ethics, here, a disclaimer. I started out in journalism. Printers ink has colored my thumbs (and given me asthma) since I first wrote kitschy columns for my high school newspaper, and I loved fashion and New York even in its grittier days when I was a publicist for the firm that developed the “10 Best Dressed List” and ogled the samples of Christian Dior samples in the stockpile of “props” the business kept for photo shoot emergencies. 

Perhaps this disclaimer explains why I was hooked from the first moment I heard the title of Leslie C. Halpern’s slim book Scantily Clad Truths. Add that to the amazing list of media outlets Halpern has written for and this provocative teaser on the back cover of the book: “What really happened when this young entertainment journalist in a sexy gold dress rode the elevator with Bill Cosby?” and I was ready to have some fun. 

It turns out Scantily Clad was not quite what I expected. It was much more. Call it a memoir of a journalist presented in a permanent collection of her best material. Bit by bit, a reader becomes familiar with Halpern. Her exceptional sense of detail. Her humor. Her occasional bravery about drawing conclusions about life as she explores life-altering anecdotes. And, yes. They somehow all have something to do with clothing from Mary Lou’s red lace panties to Homeless and Sexy’s no-shirt-at-all.

Because Halpern had to select only the columns and essays that fit with her theme, it made me wonder how many more books are to come. Halpern’s work is easy to read, refreshing. Most of us probably need her gentle take on life and humor in these political times.  

MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning author of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Her HowToDoItFrugally series of books has helped writers and retailers worldwide. She runs this blog with lots of generous contributions from Carolyn Wilhelm and Lois W. Stern. 

memoir-of-a-journalist-scantily-clad-truths


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS AND ANOTHER FREEBIE

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.


Note: Participating authors and their publishers may request the social sharing image by Carolyn Wilhelm at no charge.  Please contact the designer at:  cwilhelm (at) thewiseowlfactory (dot) com. Provide the name of the book being reviewed and--if an image --isn't already part of the badge, include it as an attachment. C. Wilhelm will send you the badge to use in your own Internet marketing. Give Carolyn the link to this post, too! 



Friday, January 25, 2019

Guest Blogger Shares How To Combine Marketing and Pleasure

Lois W. Stern is a frequent contributor to both this #SharingwithWriters blog and my The New Book Review blog. I always enjoy having her as a guest blogger. 

MARKETING YOUR BOOK WHILE ON VACATION
by Lois W. Stern

Going on vacation? Bet you can’t wait! But with a little advance planning, you can combine your fun in the sun with some book marketing.

Here are a few ideas to set your marketing wheels turning.

1. Can you find an audience who might be interested in a topic that relates to one of your books? If so, consider inviting them to an informal gathering to discuss your subject. If your book is non-fiction, share some interesting information about your topic. If it is a work of fiction, share a segment that will hold your audience in rapt attention. Avoid a ‘salesy' approach. Instead, encourage your audience to get involved. You might want to ask them to predict the outcome or relate to your story by sharing a similar experience or emotion. 

Example: The condo where my husband and I winter each year holds a regular Thurs. evening cocktail hour. We decided to host one Thurs. evening, providing hot and cold h’ors d’oeuvres while I told a few inspiring stories from my Tales2Inspire books. I then invited audience members to share their own inspiring stories.

Outcome: One member of the audience told such an incredible story! We titled it “Hand of Destiny” and it is now included in my Emerald Collection of Beyond Coincidence stories.

2. .Think of a topic for a workshop you could relates to one of your books, but isn’t just about selling books. 

Example:
My current books are filled with inspiring, true stories that come to me through an “Authors helping Authors” project I initiated seven years ago. I decided that I could create a workshop on “How to Write a Winning Short Story”. using stories from my books as vehicles for honing some specific writing skills. (See #4, below for details about that workshop,)

3. Create a flyer with your name and headshot, title of your presentation, and its proposed length. Be sure to include your contact information: phone and e-mail address.

4. Find a venue for your workshop.

If you want to present at a local library, you should begin well in advance of your trip, as libraries often schedule their events as much as six months ahead. Do a Google search for the closest libraries. Get their phone numbers. Call and ask for the name and e-mail address of the person in charge of booking presentations. Talk directly to that person if you can. it always helps to learn what topic would interest them and perhaps tweak your presentation to meet their needs. If e-mail communication is all that’s available, send a brief message putting:“Follow up to my phone call” in the subject line.

Example:

I gave a presentation at the Venice, Fl. library one winter, using some of my inspiring stories as a vehicle for practicing skills such as developing an elevator pitch, creating one central story theme, and building a compelling story based on that theme.
Outcome: Aside from selling some of my books,I received an honorarium and met a motivational speaker who entered and received a Finalist Award for her story: At Least Nothing Bad Happened, a story now added to my Topaz Collection of Personal Awakenings stories. So it was a winning day for her as well as me.

5. Think of other venues that relate to the topic of your book. If you have a book about photography, think about art centers or museums. If your book relates to an historical event ,try to connect with a like minded group or club. The local reference librarian might have just the right venue for you. Again, a Google search is often helpful in connecting you with just the right venue.

Example:

Cruise ships often hold talent nights, another good venue with a captive audience. Why not plan a moment of storytelling where you share a compelling scene from one of your books. Add a bit of drama to hold your audience in rapt attention: wear a special hat, bring a significant object, use different voices, add some background music - anything to grab their attention. 

6. Call the local book store in the area where you plan to vacation. Introduce yourself and your book, inquiring if they would be interested in scheduling a book talk/book signing event while you are in the area. There always seems to be an element of mystique surrounding the person from fifty miles or more away!.Be sure you understand and agree on all terms in advance: (i.e. who purchases and returns the unsold books, net to you the author, what publicity they provide and expected audience size.)

7. Think “Outside the Box” for other venues.

Example:

A favorite little gift shop I frequent in Venice, Fl. carries an interesting assortment of costume jewelry, knick knacks, women’s purses and more. I am a regular customer there but never noticed their small book corner. Once I did, I brought in proof copies of my Tales2Inspire books and she ordered six of them, paying me cash up front at a 60% 40% ratio. 


Our bottom line is to sell our books. But how we go about it makes all the difference. Think in terms of how you can give back and you will stay ahead.
___________________


Get a FREE sampler of 6 Tales2Inspire stories at: www.tales2inspire.com/gift/


MORE ABOUT TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER AND HER TALES2INSPIRE PROJECT



  
Lois W. Stern's Tales2Inspire was a kernel of an idea that started in 2012 and has grown to proportions even she didn’t dare to envision. Her innate curiosity about potentially fascinating human interest stories was the spark that ignited this idea. Tales2Inspire delivers exactly what it promises as both an ‘Authors Helping Authors’ project and a contest. Winners get their stories published in print, e-book and sometimes even in video formats, with their names, headshot photos, and mini-autobiographies included. Then she spreads the word about the winners and their stories on her blogs, social media and monthly newsletter. FREE to enter, this is a great competition for talented newbies and seasoned authors alike.  Learn more here:
Tales2Inspire websitehttp://www.tales2inspire.com

GET A F*R*E*E TALES21INSPIRE E-BOOK AT:
www.tales2inspire.com/gift



Tales2Inspire websitehttp://www.tales2inspire.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tales2inspire2
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/tales2inspire
Tales2Inspire trailer: https://youtu.be/FuDgXkYMHvo
Blog: http:://www.tales2inspire/blog

Tales-2-inspire-free-gift-new-book-review-post


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS AND ANOTHER FREEBIE


 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.



Note: Participating authors and their publishers may request the social sharing image by Carolyn Wilhelm at no charge.  Please contact the designer at:  cwilhelm (at) thewiseowlfactory (dot) com. Provide the name of the book being reviewed and--if an image or headshot of the author --isn't already part of the badge, include it as an attachment. Wilhelm will send you the badge to use in your own Internet marketing. Give Wilhelm the link to this post, too! 


.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Learning from Literary Criticism

Title: The World Broke in Two
Subtitle: Virginia Woolf, T.S.Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year That Changed Literature
Author: Bill Goldstein
Publisher: Picador, Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 351 Including Bibliographic Notes, 32 pages of Notes (resources and attributions). The Acknowledgments is a five-page trove of gratitude as well as resources for writers seeking professional support for everything from “book jacket” support, to agent and editor, to foundations, fellowships, and libraries.
A Magical Resource
20th Century Literature Come Alive
Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
“I inherited [my father’s] love of books and reading, and I grew up surrounded by his vast book collection, which made me feel close to him and continues to, now that so many of his books, all faithfully kept by my mother through many years and her move from our house to an apartment, are mine. My father collected the works of his contemporaries—Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Philip Roth, and others . . . but he had a copy of Thomas Seltzer’s trade edition of the early 20th century greats I cover in this book. I didn’t realize growing up that we had no Woolf in the house . . . but a visit to my mother’s apartment is also a visit to my father’s library, and there are books behind the books on all the shelves, and I will keep looking.” ~From the” Acknowledgments” of The World Broke In Two.
This anecdote included in Author Bill Goldstein’s Acknowledgment may be a sketch of the kind of reader who will appreciate this book. A more precise list might include readers who appreciate finely researched history and how it affects today’s literary world and, by extension, the world at large, literature majors, and, of course writers of any genre—especially those who seek to apply early 20th century ground-breaking techniques to their own work.
If I had read this book sometime during my creative writing and English literature classes, I would have had a greater appreciation of the assigned novels and poems and, by having a better understanding of this history of the changes in literature, been better able to assimilate the pre-Proust literature I had read along with the post-Woolf (sometimes labeled post modernism) techniques my teachers were trying to get across to me. To put it more succinctly, I would have been less bored with the blue mixing bowl eliciting memories in Woolf’s The Hours (and more likely to apply what I  now call the “blue-mixing bowl and teacup” technique to my own work. If my clients better understood it, they might be less tempted to stick their internal dialogue into italics!
If, as a reader or writer, you understand the literary term “modernity,” you might neglect (or accept) the conditions—political and personal depredations—that attract authors (and thereby literature) to it and to this book. If you believe writing should be a joy, you may be disillusioned by these stories, essentially the stories of the greatest writers of their time (Woolf, T.S.Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E. M. Forester and—coincidentally others who influenced them like James Joyce and Proust. If you love a good biography, you might fall in love with it!
Though for some this book may be an uphill climb over the intricacies of the literary world, this is a book that, like the author’s tender anecdote in his “Acknowledgments” quoted above, will not go into the charity giveaways for Salvation Army shoppers but be tucked into the back corners and nooks of those who treasure books and keep the most valuable, the best of the best for future reference. Mine is full of tweaked corners, underlines, and margin notes for future information.


Learning from Literary Criticism The World Broke in Two

---
The reviewer studied English, American, and Russian Literature in college. She was graduated from USC (University of Southern California) and did post graduate work at Arizona State University, Herzen University (St. Petersburg, Russia); Cambridge University, Trinity College (UK); and Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic). Her most recent book of poetry, Imperfect Echoes (http://bit.ly/ImperfectEchoes), was released to accolades from Midwest Book Review. 


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG AND GETTING REVIEWS AND ANOTHER FREEBIE

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ) that covers 325 jam-packed pages covering everithing from Amazon vine to writing reviews for profit and promotion. Reviewers will have a special interest in the chapter on how to make reviewing pay, either as way to market their own books or as a career path--ethically!

This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.


Note: Participating authors and their publishers may request the social sharing image by Carolyn Wilhelm at no charge.  Please contact the designer at:  cwilhelm (at) thewiseowlfactory (dot) com. Provide the name of the book being reviewed and--if an image or headshot of the author --isn't already part of the badge, include it as an attachment. Wilhelm will send you the badge to use in your own Internet marketing. Give Wilhelm the link to this post, too! 

Monday, December 31, 2018

"Strange Stars" Critiques Connections Between Sci-Fi Rock, Films, Books

Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded 
Author: Jason Heller
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Melville House; First Edition edition (June 5, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1612196977
ISBN-13: 978-1612196978
Purchase at Amazon


 Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton originally for BookPleasures.com

When I read a blurb describing Strange Stars, my first reaction was that Jason Heller had beaten me to the punch.  I had long thought the connections between sci-fi flavored rock music and sci-fi films and books in the 1970s would make for an interesting critical analysis. I was right, except Heller was a much better critic to pull all the strings together than I would have been. By miles and miles.

The book’s title is a tad misleading if you assume David Bowie will be an important thread in the story.  Yes, Heller bookends the decade with Bowie’s 1971 “Space Oddity” and its 1980 follow-up, “Ashes to Ashes.” Sure, Ziggy Stardust and The Man Who Fell to Earth aren’t neglected. And the book ends with Bowie’s 2018 death and the release of Black Star.

But Heller probes a rich well of evidence demonstrating that the ‘70s was the decade when sci-fi began to be taken seriously in popular culture, its impact ignited by two films by Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange. The Planet of the Apes also contributed to a growing interest in sci-fi and the phenomena of Star Trek was just beginning its widening cult status.  

Sci-fi authors cited by many musicians as influences included Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, William Burroughs, Philip Dick, and Frank Herbert, among many, many others. To greater and lesser degrees, these writers influenced popular rock musicians like Paul Kantner’s Jefferson Starship (“Blows Against the Empire,”) David Crosby and The Byrds (“Mr. Spaceman,”) Elton John (“Rocket Man”), Black Sabbath (Iron Man”), and the psychedelic Pink Floyd. At the same time, futuristic electronic sounds and cover art helped define Progressive Rock groups like yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (“Tarkus.”)

Heller also explores cult favorites including the French Magma, Germany’s Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Gary Neuman, Devo, as well as the often forgotten Hawkwind, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, and the avant-garde jazz figure Sun Ra. And these are but the best known of the musical performers and groups Heller lists and describes in minute detail leaving no rare single or obscure album unturned.

Along the way, Heller discusses sci-fi lyrics, the burgeoning use of futuristic synth-sounds, new sub-genres like sci-fi-funk and Kraut-rock, concert events like 1979’s Futurama and the impact of films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Star Wars and Star Trek. Occasionally he layers in historical events that piqued public interest in space, futuristic technology, and dystopian predictions like the disappointing passing of Comet Kohoutek and the crash of Star Lab.
In his “Acknowledgements,” Heller credits one reader with keeping him from publishing an encyclopedia instead of a story.  There are many, many passages where readers could be forgiven for feeling like they’re following long, encyclopedic entries, especially when Heller recites band name after band name, album title after album title.    Such passages might inspire skimming along and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Strange Stars can serve as a reference volume as well as an analysis of an amorphous genre, or at least a many-tentacled realm of popular culture.   Strange Stars belongs in pretty much every public library and on the private shelves of both sci-fi and rock lovers.  

MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Dr. Wesley Britton IS THE AUTHOR OF The Beta Earth Chronicles and a reviewer who love science fiction.  Learn more about him:

"Strange Stars" Critiques Connections Between Sci-Fi Rock, Films, Books


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