Vote! Sci-Fi from the Rock!

So, that last Sci-Fi from the Rock anthology title was in 2013, and that’s a darn shame. The main reason for this has been waiting for the next epic installment of the Full Moon series from Steve Lake, but that’s no excuse. So, Engen Books will soon be formally announcing a new Sci-Fi From anthology collection to be released at Sci-Fi on the Rock 2016!

We’re opening up the entry to anyone who attends and loves Sci-Fi on the Rock, and we need your help deciding on a title! Please vote or comment below, and make your voice heard! :)

Please note: if “horror” wins that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll have only horror stories, but it will likely mean a focus on those types of stories. The same is true of all possible titles.

Not sure what we’re even talking about? That’s okay! You can read Steve Lake’s short story “Legacy of the Full Moon” short story for free here on Goodreads!

Legacy of the Full Moon (Full Moon Series, #1)Legacy of the Full Moon by Steve Lake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

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BBC Booklist: My Quest

Sometimes I think I’m well read. Then I play a game like this:

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. Give yourself 1 point for every bold and half a point for every italic.


1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen


2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien


3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte


4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling


5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee


6 The Bible


7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte


8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell


9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman


10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens


11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott


12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy


13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller


14 Complete Works of Shakespeare


15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien


17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk


18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger


19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot


21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell


22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald


23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens


24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy


25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams


27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck


29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll


30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame


31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy


32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens


33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis


34 Emma -Jane Austen


35 Persuasion – Jane Austen


36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis


37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini


38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres


39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden


40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne


41 Animal Farm – George Orwell


42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown


43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez


44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving


45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins


46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery


47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy


48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding


50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen


55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth


56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon


57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens


58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie


70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome


78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

My final score is 15.5/100. That is obscene. While higher than the BBC average, I still find it unacceptable.

I hope to cross the other 85 off my list soon.

Never Look Back
Matthew LeDrew

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The Return of 5 Quick Reviews From the Writing Desk

In a lot of ways, writing a review can be just as hard as writing a piece of fiction. Sometimes, not matter how passionately you may feel, the material doesn’t leave you with enough meat for a full review. As such, here are five quick reviews of books like that!

Savage She-Hulk by Fred Van Lente: this more-than-unwelcome introduction of the new, non-Jennifer Walters She-Hulk should have been axed at the idea stage. 1/5 stars.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds by James Moore: a novel based on a video game based on a television show that was based on a movie? This book can be best described as entertainment incest. 2/5 stars.

The Human Equation by Kenneth Tam: an interesting premise with great characters, told with some early foibles of an author that would go on to amazing status. 3/5 stars.

Civilization and its Discontents by Sigmund Freud: the foremost text on the early study of the mind. 4/5 stars.

The Little World by Kevin Woolridge: without a doubt one of the most enjoyable and imaginative strip comics you will ever read. 5/5 stars.

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From the Writing Desk: Planning and Plotting

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Top Ten Character-Driven Novels!!

10. The Whirlpool, by Jane Urquhart
09. Wolverine Classic volume 1 by Chris Claremont
08. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
07. Hearts in Atlantis (short story) by Stephen King
06. Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov
05. The Long Road, by Matthew LeDrew
04. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
03. Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
02. Dark Avengers – Ares, by Kieron Gillen

What’s #1? Sorry! You’ll have to watch the video to see! ;)

Never Look Back
Matthew LeDrew

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Sci-Fi on the Rock 7: Looking Back

Sci-Fi on the Rock 7So Sci-Fi on the Rock 7 has come and gone, and it’s always a weird time. This convention, more than any other, marks the passage of time for me. It’s been seven years since Engen Books started. Since that first spark when I was talking to Kenneth Tam and went “I can do this,” and started this weird, oddball publishing company that has shaped so much of my life since.

Every convention is different and every experience is different. This convention, I’m happy to report, was our biggest in terms of sales: both in number of books moved and amount of money made, according to our accountant — I can’t be trusted with the money.

And really, that’s incredible. That should not be possible. We’ve been coming to the same convention 6 times in a row — logically, everyone who was going to buy a copy of the book should already have it. But there’s a reason I’m an author and not a marketer, and this year really proved me wrong.

Every convention has it’s stories. The weird little behind-the-scenes tidbits that nobody sees that just makes it real. At Sci-Fi on the Rock to it was singing “Old Man River” with Boba Fett. At Polaris 24 it was making an ass of myself in front of Claudia Black. At Hal Con 2012 it was having a chat with John Rhys Davis about politics — and then getting tickled by him during a picture. This convention was different though. This time it was special, and had nothing to do with rubbing shoulders with the A-listers and then coming home to write about it, hoping that blog hits from someone searching that celeb will result in book sales for you. Nope, this time the coolness came from a very, very different place.

The Real Engen CrewThis year we sold more books than ever before, and got more positive feedback than ever before. I didn’t print any ads. I did very little to hype it on Facebook. I don’t think the newest books are even available on the Engen website as of yet (coming soon, website’s getting revamped). There was no social-media marketing. There was no air-time on VOCM. There was no web-presence to speak of. Engen Books had it’s best day ever for one reason and one reason alone — positive word of mouth.

No less than a dozen times did someone come up to us and say “My friend read your first book, and he can’t stop talking about it. I’d like to pick up the whole series.” Those people pictured on the left? That is the Unofficial Engen Street Crew: the people really spreading the word about Engen Books. I left Sci-Fi on the Rock 7 with a renewed sense of purpose and a new conviction to continue doing what we’ve been doing — and to get better. Because this crew deserves for it to get better.

Did I sing a song with Dominic Keating? No. Do a jog with Gary Jones? Nada. Embarrass myself in front of Dean Haglund? Not this time. What I did get was validation — this is working for us. We’re doing what we love and other people love it too. There is no better feeling than that. Than having fans who are just as into your thing as you are, and it’s reminded me who we are.

We are Engen Books.

We write amazing fiction. We take the mundane and make it spectacular. We create worlds and craft ideas and change thought. And we are good at what we do.

And we never look back.

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Iron Man 3 Review: Return of the Awesome

Iron Man 3So five years ago I went to see the first Iron Man movie with my buddy Jordon Pollard — great guy, never had a book dedicated to him. I didn’t expect much, because honestly I didn’t think much of the character at the time. I’d never read Iron Man. I didn’t particularly like Iron Man. Then the movie came out and it just blew me away — stylistically, thematically, everything was perfect. And that Nick Fury cameo at the end? Got goosebumps. Everyone did. It was an awesome day.

For the next few years I continued to hold Marvel films to that standard, with varying degrees of success. Incredible Hulk was okay, Thor was great, Captain America and Iron Man 2… not so much. Iron Man 2 was the worst of these offenders, as it failed to live up to the level of the original. So when Iron Man 3 was announced as launching Phase Two on the Marvel Cinematic Line… I was cautious.

But honestly, they couldn’t have made a better choice.

Everything in this movie works. It delivers on all promises. I deconstructs Tony Stark in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible again, and really reminds us why we fell in love with the Avengers franchise. It continues from Avengers in an amazing way, with Tony Stark suffering from PTSD after the results of that film, making Avengers not just a crossover, but an essential part of the Iron Man saga. That was appreciated. Beyond that, it’s a wonderful story with believable characters and interactions. Downey Jr. really gets to have some fun with his dialog in a way that wasn’t there in the second movie and it just makes the film.

I’m not going to ruin anything — but anyone who loved Iron Man but has been ho-hum since then on Marvel Movies, see this flick. It’s very much worth the price of admission.

Matthew LeDrew
Engen Books
Never Look Back

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