Review of “The Overstory” by Richard Powers

This book won a Pulitzer Prize and I can understand why. It was a massive work of over 600 pages that literally took me months to read. The research is amazing and so is the theme. Most themes involve man versus something: man vs. man; man vs. himself; man vs. nature, etc. In this case it’s man siding with nature and trying to save the environment from exploitation.

I heard years ago that a moral dilemma always makes a gripping story. If nothing else, they’re thought provoking. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Is there really a difference? Or are both wrong in some way?

This story features a handful of unique individuals from diverse backgrounds whose experiences drive them to try and save the trees. Not just any trees, but primarily those massive giants like the redwoods which have stood their ground longer than civilization itself. Science has learned that trees, even those in the typical forest, communicate with each other. Some of us talk to our plants. I have five live oaks in my yard that I named. I had a bald cypress when I lived in Houston that I also named. I wrote a science fiction story about a telepathic walking plant, so I guess I fall out on the side of the people in the book. Of course their protests were directed toward big lumber companies and the like. To date, I have not gone that far.

Another character in the book was an individual who’d become crippled when he fell from a tree. His response was to become an IT guru creating gaming software that ultimately covered the earth, kind of like the old game SimCity on steroids. In other words, creating worlds while ignoring the one they live in.

The dilemma lies in the question how can our supposed civilization expand and prosper without exploiting the environment? Indigenous people are the only ones who “get it.” They understand that they’re an integral part of nature and honor it, giving thanks for those things they need to survive. Their attitude is more like being partners with the Earth as opposed to its conquerors.

More irony lies in the concept of using “renewable” resources. A tree that is a thousand years old is not exactly “renewable,” at least in our lifetime. They are no more “renewable” than fossil fuel and actually provide far more benefits, such as cleansing the air and providing oxygen. Have you ever seen one of these giants, or even a mighty oak, and wondered what it might say if it could talk?

This book is worth reading as it takes you into a world you have most likely never seen before. Sometimes it gets off in that realm where your unconscious probably understands it while your conscious mind doesn’t. It would have been helpful to me if the author had included a dramatis personae, since there were so many characters. There were only about three I could keep straight, while the other ones tended to blend together, especially the way the author skipped around. The ending almost felt as if Powers simply quit without really tying it all together. Yet that was probably deliberate to let each reader draw their own conclusions. I suppose I should issue a spoiler alert when I state the conclusion wasn’t in the “happily ever after” category. Frankly, if I were the story’s editor, there’s quite a bit I would have cut out.

All that aside, it’s an amazing work that will allow you to see the world around you through different eyes. You’ll probably appreciate nature a lot more, maybe even start talking to your plants. But it’s unlikely you’ll have any answers, either.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon from this affiliate link.

Reaching Out to the Heavens

October 22, 2020, 11:17 CDT. Canon Powershot SX530 HS.

I am fortunate to live in a rural area where night skies aren’t sullied by city lights. I’ve always loved astronomy and found stargazing inspiring. This crazy, obnoxious year has been stressful for everyone, myself included, though I have to admit I’ve been far less affected than others. Nonetheless, the background noise of a upended world has once again motivated me to spend some time with the night sky.

Of course when we see something inspiring, we want to preserve it. I quickly found my cell

phone couldn’t capture what I was seeing in the sky, at least a closer view. So I decided to buy an actual camera. It’s been great fun, especially taking pictures of the Moon, like the one above.

I was somewhat disappointed in the pictures I attempted of the planets, which came out looking like a powder puff as opposed to the familiar pictures we have courtesy of passing space missions. For example, the above picture is Mars. At least you can tell it’s a planet, not a star, and it’s the right color, but other than that, not too impressive.

Here’s Mars again, this time with the Moon. The halo reveals that there was a lot of humidity that night.

On December 21 Jupiter and Saturn will be in a very tight conjunction, tighter than they’ve been in 800 years! There are some speculations that such a conjunction was what comprised the Star of Bethlehem and guided the Wise Men to the Christ Child.

Unless you know a little about astronomy or astrology, you may wonder why this is the case. After all, it takes Jupiter about 12 years to orbit the Sun and Saturn about 29, so Jupiter will pass Saturn at least every 12 years or so, right? The plane of their respective orbits, however, is not the same, so while they may appear in the same latitude, their declination is seldom close enough for them to appear as one bright celestial object. How fascinating that in this rather unpleasant year of 2020 we can see this unusual treat in the night sky.

Here’s a picture of the Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon.

November 18, 2020, 7:09 p.m. CST.

Attempting a closer view of Saturn and Jupiter as they converge has resulted in another powder puff, but of a slightly different hue than Mars, with Saturn nearly invisible. Clearly to get the photos I really want is going to require a telescope. I was pretty proud of those Moon shots and checked out some of the astro-photography Facebook groups. Talk about humbling! Some of the pix out there look as good as what we’ve seen from the Hubble! A telescope has been on my bucket list for a while and even more-so now.

This picture of the Halloween Full Moon is one of my favorites.

Halloween Full Moon, October 31, 2020.

And here’s a comparison of how much the Full Moon changes in one day.

I was blessed this autumn with a beautiful color display from my crepe myrtle, which is especially appreciated here in Central Texas where autumn tends to be shades of green and brown as opposed to the spectacular fall colors found in more temperate zones.

November 7, 2020, 1:52 p.m.

I know this post isn’t particularly profound. What I’ve derived from these photos defies words, which for an author of 6 novels and an book on astrology says something in itself.

Perhaps the message I’m trying to convey is that even in a year that gave us a glimpse of the Underworld, there is beauty to be found in both the heavens and here upon our own planetary home. We can always hope that the Star of Bethlehem replay on 21 December is telling us there are better times ahead.

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month! FIG Blog Tour Day #8

Here’s Day 8 of my blog tour with yet another excerpt from “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.” Many thanks to Forrest for his post!

Forrest takes a Journey!

Welcome to Coffee Chat with Forrest, as we talk to two wonderful authors from Fresh Ink Group, Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun!

Take it away Marcha and Pete!

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”

by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun

“An exceptional novel complete with conspiracy, intrigue, and murder that will enthrall everyone who has an affinity for suspenseful thrillers with just a smidgen of the paranormal.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

BLURB:

Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?

BOOK TRAILER

EXCERPT CONTEXT

In this scene Charlie conducts a sweat. Rocks the size of cantaloupes are heated for an hour…

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FIG Blog Tour Day #4

Here’s Day Four of “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” blog tour with another excerpt. Many thanks to Karen Ingalls for the post.

KAREN INGALLS, AUTHOR, BLOGGER & SURVIVOR

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun

“Containing a fascinating combination of Cheyenne and Dine spiritual practices seasoned with astrology, the novel is educational as well as entertaining.”

–Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

BLURB

Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?

BOOK TRAILER

EXCERPT CONTEXT

Charlie uses a variety of ways to obtain guidance from the Great Spirit (known to the Cheyenne as Maheo). In this scene he’s employing the medicine wheel coupled with small stone carvings of animals known as fetishes, which serve as proxies for spirit animals.

EXCERPT

Charlie set the medicine wheel on…

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The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

This may look redundant to yesterday’s reblog, but it has a different excerpt from the novel. 🙂 Many thanks to Stephen Geez for the blog post!

Stephen Geez Blog

“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”

by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun

“Infused with a sense of danger, the intricate plot and dramatic storyline create a breathtaking and intense story.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

BLURB

Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?

BOOK TRAILER

EXCERPT

HIGHWAY 17

RURAL FALCON RIDGE

FASTING VIGIL DAY 1

April 20, Friday

5:55 a.m.

It was still dark when Charlie sat before the fire pit the next morning. He made an offering, then began a ceremonial fast. The last time was under Eaglefeathers’s direction, prior to leaving for college. It was difficult. He didn’t make it through the entire four days, even with his grandfather’s…

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The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is on a blog tour this week! Many thanks to Beem Weeks for this one.

The Indie Spot!

Today I am honored to host authors Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun here on The Indie Spot.

FIG Blog Tour Day #1

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits
by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun

“The Cheyenne fasting vigil, spirit animals, and the medicine wheel combined with astrology readings are intriguing aspects of the story that are genuine and authentic.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

BLURB
Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?

BOOK TRAILER

EXCERPT
CHARLIE’S CABIN
RURAL FALCON RIDGE
April 19, Thursday
6:19 p.m.

The log cabin was a vestige from another time. Within its rustic interior, Charlie sat in a…

View original post 1,290 more words

5-Star Review from Readers’ Favorite for “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”

Authors are always sensitive to both praise and criticism. When I received an email this morning from Readers’ Favorite I braced myselft. I realize that it’s next to impossible for EVERYONE to like your book. Everyone doesn’t even like the Bible, for heaven sake (pun intended.) But when you give it your all, then someone rips it to shreds, its pretty devastating.

To use a Texas term, this is not my first book rodeo. I look back at some of my earlier work and cringe. But this is published novel number six and I like to think at this point I know what I’m doing.

This review validated that for me and felt really, really good. It made me cry. Here is what it said:

Reviewed By Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

Conspiracy and murder have taken place in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the chilling thriller, The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon (Cheyenne Spirits) by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun. Both of them dying at the scene of a car wreck, Sara Reynolds watches her husband Bryan go into the light just before returning to her body. Before he moves into the light, Bryan requests that Sara expose those who murdered him. However, when Sara awakens in the hospital, she has no memories relating to the day their pickup plummeted down the side of the mountain. As her health improves, the feeling that the wreck wasn’t an accident persists. When she is once again the victim of another near-fatal accident, Sara realizes someone wants her dead. Why is Sara being targeted? Had Bryan’s computer hacking skills unearthed a deadly secret that someone thinks Sara knows?

Brimming with drama and suspense, The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon (Cheyenne Spirits) by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun is the first book in an exciting new series. Opening with a heart-rending scene, the story captured my interest from the outset. Infused with a sense of danger, the intricate plot and dramatic storyline create a breathtaking and intense story. Containing a fascinating combination of Cheyenne and Dine spiritual practices seasoned with astrology, the novel is educational as well as entertaining. The Cheyenne fasting vigil, spirit animals, and the medicine wheel combined with astrology readings are intriguing aspects of the story that are genuine and authentic. It is an exceptional novel complete with conspiracy, intrigue, and murder that will enthrall everyone who has an affinity for suspenseful thrillers with just a smidgen of the paranormal.

This review was especially sweet because a few months ago I paid big money for a Kirkus Review. It sucked. It was apparent from the poorly written choppy paragraph that the person had not even read the book. It was slapped together like a 7th grade book report written at midnight the night before it was due. I would bet dollars to donuts that this supposed “professional reviewer” was some down and out semi-literate individual trying to make a few bucks with no sense of honor or integrity. Furthermore, Kirkus PROTECTS these people by allowing them to be anonymous, PLUS you cannot complain–they make you sign a release upon submitting your work. They pile a boatload of requirements on you while not maintaining professional standards themselves.

I complained, nonetheless, and wrote them a scathing letter to which, as expected, they did not respond.

Authors, please take note: DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A KIRKUS REVIEW! If you are an indie author who is relatively unknown, they will throw your book to some unqualified cretin who probably won’t even read it, much less give it an honest assessment. They are just another one of those fraudulent services preying on indie authors. I am not the only one who has had this experience with them. Besides putting a huge hole in your wallet (which would be better spent on classes or promotion), they do NOT give you a fair shake.

Please spread the word. It’s too bad we can’t find all their victims and go after them with a class action suit, except we’re too busy writing. Attention, those of you who write murder mysteries! Try this for a premise: Author goes psycho over bad review and tries to find, then stalk the anonymous reviewer.

Revenge is sweet, n’est-ce pas?

I was not only insulted, but upset for all the reasons stated above. Some little demon in the back of my head kept telling me that the book was no good. Now I’ve been vindicated and it feels mighty good.

Take that, Kirkus! May your dirty deeds be exposed along with all the other corrupt, blood-sucking services targeting me and my kind!

Yet Another Hilarious Installment to Scott Skipper’s “Alien Affairs” Series

This is the best episode yet of this hilarious series. I’m so glad the author has kept them coming. As always, the title is brilliant, which you soon discover once you catch on to what the Alien Affairs gang is up to this time. Nothing makes me laugh harder than the antics of Carrie, Terrie, Deshler, Eddie, Emelda, the Musk boys, Cassiopeia (who now has a hot body and narrates the story), and a multitude of thinly veiled representations of political figures we all know, but probably don’t love. (And if you do, you most likely won’t like this rather politically-incorrect book.)

In this story Deshler, the odoriferous grey alien without whom this series wouldn’t exist, decides to run for president. This, of course, requires a few time-travel tricks, such as making sure his birth occurs in the USA instead of Tau Ceti, making him an anchor baby. There’s also the matter of his appearance, which is changed via holographic chicanery to look like a past president I won’t name but will let you discover for yourself. Things are complicated further by the invasion of another alien race dubbed the “spade heads” which necessitate all sorts of diplomatic exchanges to conquer them before they take over the planet.

I highly recommend reading the precursors to this story, however. While the plot is self-contained, the relationships between the characters and reference to various past situations are much funnier when you have the full context. Inside jokes, if you will. I’d give examples, except they would constitute spoilers for the previous books. It might also be a lot of characters to keep straight if you haven’t known them for a while. You know, like going to a family reunion for the first time when you’re 50 years old.

Nothing helps break the tension of the crazy times we’re living in than reading about situations that are even crazier, yet somehow relatable.  I highly recommend this series to those who have a dark, albeit sophisticated, sense of humor, which should tip you off regarding which political party the story favors. Those who occupy the other side of the fence should avoid it since they are already angry and destructive enough without further provocation.

You can pick up your copy of “Quantum State” on Amazon here.

If you want to take my advice and start from the top, here they are with links to my previous reviews. As you can see I’m a loyal fan, so much so I just bought them all in paperback. I’m old-fashioned enough to engage more closely with a story in a print book, even though I’ve read all these previously on my Kindle. Maybe it just shows my bibliophile hoarding instincts. And here they are! There’s just something about holding a print book in your hand that makes it come alive.

Alien Affairs

My Review of Alien Affairs

Amazon link to Alien Affairs

Alien Eyes

My Review of Alien Eyes & Alien Child

Amazon Link to Alien Eyes

Alien Child

Amazon Link to Alien Child

Gravity Waves

My Review of Gravity Waves

Amazon Link to Gravity Waves

Dark Energy

My Review of Dark Energy

Amazon Link to Dark Energy

Book Trailer Video for “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”

Nothing gets my endorphins pumping like the creative process. Writing novels is my first passion, but when they’re finally published I find it tremendous fun to put together memes and a short video to get the word out to potential readers. It’s a considerable challenge to compress an entire novel into a two or three minute video. Doing so forces me to distill its essence into something that others can relate to and hopefully tickle their curiosity enough to want to read the book. Here’s my latest for “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”

New version with spelling issue noted in comments corrected. Clearly right-brain creativity doesn’t always operate in concert with the left-brain. 😉

So what did you think? Curious? Assuming the video achieved its objective, here are links where you can pick up a copy of your own in either electronic or paperback format.

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

Google Play

Kobo

iBooks

Other Sales Options

Goodreads

You can learn more about the story, which is the first volume of a trilogy, on its website here.