Monday, April 20, 2015

Current Reads and Why I Picked Them

When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning.
I've heard great things about this and my brain needed a non-fiction to refresh itself. I've read the intro and first chapter so far. Fascinating!

Hunt for Valamon by DK Mok. I enjoyed this high fantasy so much. I was lucky enough to read DK's manuscript (she is a friend and fellow Spence City author) last year, but I wanted a hard copy to cherish. 
The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian.
We are reading this for the junior high book club I belong to, and I'm enjoying the discussions about materialism with the seventh and eighth graders. We're halfway through with this our final book of the school year.

A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean.
This book was a serendipitous find. This is a middle grade book with horses and is written in first person. I'm reading it for both pleasure and for writerly edification. I'll start this one soon. Or tonight. Because horses.

What's on your reading pile? Why did you pick it?

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Latest Reads

My reading has been more eclectic lately. YA and Middle Grade for sure, but some great adult books, too:


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Brilliant plot, and the author's use of present tense was a delight. I had some trouble connecting to the characters, however. Still, I can see why it won so many awards - the writing was stellar.

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A contemporary read about a man dealing with the death of his son. Hyde is the author of Pay It Forward, which was made into a movie. 

I loved this story and stayed up until 1:00 am to finish it. Man, I wish I could write characters this three dimensional. The plot was crisp and clean, and the ending was flawless. I'm going to read more by this author, for sure.


Under Enemy Colors and A Battle Won by Sean Thomas Russell. (Charles Hayden # 1 & 2). In the tradition of Master and Command and the Horatio Hornblower books, these were such fun reads - I do like a good historical fiction. I would have liked a little less padding (the golf game???), but the author redeemed himself with both books with endings that had me holding my breath.

Sigh. I wish I could read faster. So many books...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Author Interview: DK Mok

Today, I welcome back DK Mok to answer some question about herself. Her newest book, HUNT FOR VALAMON, released this week (see my post from yesterday). Awesome read from an awesome author! Now, here's the interview:

1. Pantser or plotter?

Plotter. I love interwoven story threads and dramatic character arcs, and the only way I can make sure everything comes together is by planning out the key points beforehand. I’m in awe of writers who can create everything as they go, but I need my mountain of annotated notes.

2. Favorite genre to read?

I love fantasy and science fiction and most of their permutations. I’ve always been drawn to stories that evoke a sense of wonder, and I also have a particular fondness for stories with a sense of humour. Authors like Sir Terry Pratchett are always near the top of my list.

3. Plot driven or character driven?

Definitely character driven. If I like the characters, I can read about them pottering around and introspecting for quite some time before I get twitchy. But if I don’t connect with the characters, then I find it more difficult to feel invested in the story, even if the plot is brilliantly compelling.

4. Writing style: marathon or sprint?

Marathon. I tend to labour over every sentence, and I try to get everything to fit together like pieces in a dry stone wall. I’m a big fan of themes, foreshadowing, circularity and closure, but my brain just doesn’t have the ability to do all that on the fly. So it’s one steady step at a time.

5. Favorite author?

Sir Terry Pratchett. His books had a profound impact on me during my formative years, and I have great admiration for the way he blends imaginative fantasy, incisive social commentary and quirky humour in his stories.

6. Morning or night person?

Night owl. I do love mornings, but I tend to be most productive during the witching hours.

7. Beach or mountains?

That’s a tough one. Living in Sydney, it’s almost impossible not to love the beaches, but deep down, I have an affinity for the mountains. I love the sprawling scrubland and ragged sandstone peaks of the Blue Mountains, the wealth of wildlife and the endless vistas. If it were possible to have a sunny beach in the mountain scrubland, that’s where I’d be.

8. Beer or wine?

To be honest, I generally prefer a nice cup of tea.

9. Summer or winter?

Summer. I love the wide blue skies, the long lingering days, and the warbling of magpies in the bottlebrush trees.

10. Fancy hotel or tent in the woods?

I’d say I’m more tent-in-the-woods than fancy-hotel, although I still appreciate some creature comforts. I think a cottage in the woods would be just about perfect.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Darby!

Author Bio

DK Mok is a fantasy and science fiction author whose novels include Hunt for Valamon and The Other Tree, published by Spence City. DK's short story ‘Morning Star’ (One Small Step, FableCroft Publishing) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award and a Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award.

DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Psychology, pursuing her interest in both social justice and scientist humour.

She’s fond of cephalopods, androids, global politics, rugged horizons, science and technology podcasts, and she wishes someone would build a labyrinthine library garden so she could hang out there. DK lives in Sydney, Australia, and her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.

Twitter: @dk_mok

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


HUNT FOR VALAMON is the latest work from DK Mok. Her debut novel, THE OTHER TREE, was a favorite read of mine last year. But I got a chance to read an early draft of HUNT FOR VALAMON and went nuts over it.

What did I think of it? With a snappy style, and a cast of characters that flips every high fantasy archetype on its head, DK Mok's latest book simply rocks.

HUNT FOR VALAMON by DK Mok will be released on April 7.

"When Crown Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery.

Reclusive cleric Seris is happily tending to his book-infested temple until he finds himself drafted--for political reasons--to the rescue mission. His sole companion on the journey is Elhan, a cheerfully disturbed vagrant girl with terrifying combat skills and her own enigmatic reasons for seeking the prince.

Venturing into the wild, unconquered lands, Seris has no fighting prowess, no survival skills, and no charisma, as Elhan keeps pointing out. Armed only with a stubborn streak and creative diplomacy, he must find a way to survive outlaw towns and incendiary masquerades, all without breaking his vow to do no harm.

Chasing rumours of rebel camps and rising warlords, dangerous curses and the return of the vanished sorcerers, Seris and Elhan soon discover a web of treachery and long-buried secrets that go far beyond a kidnapped prince."

Author bio:

DK Mok lives in Sydney, Australia, and writes fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy novels and short stories. DK's debut urban fantasy novel, The Other Tree, was released in 2014 by Spence City (an imprint of Spencer Hill Press), and her short story 'Morning Star' (One Small Step, FableCroft) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award.

DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds, populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Psychology, pursuing her interest in both social justice and scientist humour.

She’s fond of cephalopods, androids, global politics, rugged horizons, science and technology podcasts, and she wishes someone would build a labyrinthine library garden so she can hang out there. Her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Amen and Amen

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
   Forgive them anyway. 

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
   Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
    Succeed anyway. 

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
    Be honest and sincere anyway. 

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
    Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  
    Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
    Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
    Give your best anyway. 

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. 
   -this version is credited to Mother Teresa