Oct
6
2011

Lunch with Philippa Ballentine and (MIA Tee Morris)

     Meet a published writer: Check!          About a couple months ago I started to follow the blazing trail of Philippa Ballentine and Tee Morris across the Internet.  I picked up the trail when I caught wind of the name “Phoenix” in my Twitter stream.  Those that I follow is mostly made up of technology and design geeks.  If you’ve been reading my previous post I’ve designated one of my characters with that name.        It is the original re-tweet from Pip to Tee then by Joel Cochran (BlendSig founder) as a follower of Tee:      I hit the link and found a rabbit whole worth exploring.  I purchased Pip’s Geist first, because out of her books I thought this would fit right in my spectrum.  I read it in 2 days and posted a review.  It fit my mold, but then it did something else exciting.  It opened my eyes to an array of explosive creativity.  Pip’s world, in A Book of the Order series, re-organized my book collection (so to speak, as I read a lot on Kindle now) and pointed me at a new direction of fantasy novels.  She also expanded my reading range and introduced me to Steampunk.  I knew of it, but had a wan interest.  I equate it to be like when someone mentions LARP (live action role play) and considered it a nerdy fad.  To answer your question, yes, I realize that I am a geek, but not a nerd.  Over the last two months I have become very excited about learning more on Steampunk.      Back to the topic, today I had lunch at Bungalow Alehouse in Gainesville, VA (one of their favorites) with Pip Ballentine.  Unfortunately, Tee Morris was unable to attend.  He was needed at work to provide business justifications to his IT department on why he should have a Mac (tell them you need to test the company sites from a Mac for accessibility).        I went into this luncheon with the mind set of zero expectations and no in-depth questions.  Mainly, I just wanted to be friends with these awesome folk who I have a lot of commonalities with.  This is the first time I’ve ever reached out to a celeb personality, although Pip doesn’t admit to it.  For as outspoken as they are, I would expect that the sky is the limit, as far as media popularity is concerned.      The first thing she did when we meet was gave me a hug.  All of my friends who read this now know exactly why I like her.  We talked about Tee and Boom (yeah, you know it), books and stories, tips and support for writing, NaNoWriMo, writing music, traveling, parents, dragons, and laundry.  It was a wonderful 1+ hour of friendly conversation.  I had no reason to be nervous, especially, as we easily jump into our conversations.  It was an enriching experience and I hope that we can do it again.     Thanks Pip for your entertainment on the paper, internet, radio, and in person!  Congratulations to Pip and Tee for their wedding on Saturday 10/8/2011!
Aug
5
2011

Book Review: Geist (A Book of the Order)

This is my first official written book review.   Please bear with me as I muddle through this.  I would also like to mention this was my first book that has a splash of steampunk in it.  For those of you who don’t know what steampunk is--look it up.  I’m not that familiar with it myself, but I can tell you that I like it.  You will find no spoiling here.     Geist (A Book of the Order) Amazon:  Author Page Author: Philippa Ballantine Published: October 26, 2010  How I Found It My knowledge of this books existence came from my Twitter connections.  I started following @TeeMonster (if you are reading this I am sorry that I haven’t read any of your books yet) due to a comment from a couple friends of mine in the technology community, Joel Cochran (@joelcochran) and Andrew Duthie (@devhammer).   TeeMonster had comments in his feed from Phillippa Ballantine (@PhilippaJane) regarding “Phoenix”, which you all know is the name of one of my creations, and it caught my attention.  I also thought it was very cool that they both lived only 30 minutes away from me. {Wave to Manassas,VA} I then did what I do best, browsed the internet on Philippa Ballantine and found that she had few books under her sleeve.   On the night of August 3rd I purchased her Kindle version at $7.99 and sent her a tweet “@PhilippaJane just purchased Geist for my Kindle. Looking forward to becoming a fan!”  Her response was quick “@Tevyn That’s great. I’m looking forward to that myself! :)”.  The reason I selected her book is because of my attraction to females that kick butt in a fantasy role and it took me only 2 obsessive days to read it.  I finished reading late (1:00 AM EST) last night and wanted to share my thought before I dive into her next book in the series Spectyr (A Book of the Order).  My Review After I read the first chapter, I had to take a giant breath.  The concepts, terminology, and imagery were all so new to me I found myself utterly confused, yet completely enthralled.  The world that Philippa created was like nothing I’ve ever pictured before.  I have felt this way with one other book Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny and you may find me crazy but I still don’t understand that book.  Ballantine’s writing felt like she wanted you to jump straight into the boiling water as apposed to what I was used to with slow character build ups.  In the first chapter alone I was submerged in action with guns, mystical power, swords, ghosts, monsters, paring, and drama.  Admittedly I was trying to hard to find meaning in everything, but had to relinquish that intent and put my trust in the author that these new words would be explained (don’t worry she does).  As I was learning about the unliving I kept visualizing them like the creatures in the the movie Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within (Special Edition).  They are opaque creatures that used humans as they hungered for souls and blood.   I am not sure if I’ve even captured that right, but it is how I saw them. This story has three viewpoints with its main characters.  I wouldn’t say the story revolves around any specific one, because they all have an important part to play.   Deacon Sorcha Faris – Sorcha is powerful, proud, beautiful, and knows when her hand has been played. If you take away her gauntlets she would be extremely normal.  What make her stand out is her power and experience.  She is placed into a lot of trusting situations and has more confidence in her partners then the average person has in the real world.  She is very controlled, even though sometimes she gives the appearance of being wild. Deacon Merrick Chambers – Merrick is my favorite character in this book.  Despite him being green around the color he is adventurous.  He is youthful and still has his eyes open to possibilities.  They haven’t been narrowed by experienced and a continued practice of the Order.  I enjoy watching how he handles Sorcha, it’s almost like he was born with a politicians play book in his hands.  He has a power of his own that I hope will go into more detail in one of the next books. Read (The Pretender) – I think of him more as the Charmer, then the Pretender.  He has more courage than he thinks.  How he deals with his curse is very moving.  It even makes me wish that Read could break through to his curse and force its will. As the story moved along I came to understand that the action was never going to stop.  This is why I described this book in a recent twitter comment as being one word: INTENSE!  Throughout the book I was always near or on the edge waiting for something to happen or waiting to see how they survived a vicarious situation.  If I could say one think to the three main characters it would be BREAK THE DAMN RULES, EVERYONE ELSE IS! My personal rating I give this book from 1-5 is 3.7.  Now you may be thinking this is low for my boasting, but I ached for more details.  My imagination is great, but I’ve never been in a world like hers before and I really wanted to make sure I got it right.  Even now I’m not so certain of what the Strop actually looks like.  What do an Activist, Sensitive, Rossin, and Prince have in common?  Read the book to find out.  Well, I am off to buy her next book and start reading.  I am excited to watch these characters grow in strength and hopefully break some rules. ---------- Spectyr (A Book of the Order) the second book by Philippa Ballantine.  

About the author

Hi, I am Jamie McCoard (also known as Tevyn or JMcCoard). This blog is about my thoughts and dreams towards becoming a published writer.  It's a long term goal.

If you would like to read more about me please visit About The Author.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.