Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I know, it seems a little like cheating recommending the most popular book series of the last 20 years (21 actually, it came out in 1997) that also became hugely successful movies. However, it did occur to me that there may be a few people on this planet who have not heard of this series (they were probably all born in the last few years and have names like Hermione, Severus, Cedric, Sirius, etc.). I recently saw someone who was older than me admit they hadn’t read the series and was going to check it out. As with most things that become famous throughout the world, many people will be grouped into two mindsets about the work. Either it is the best thing ever, or they won’t read it and think it’s overrated. I’ll admit I’m stuck in the middle because I like so many things (I may be leaning toward the first group though). If you are being stubborn and don’t want to read it because you’re tired of your friends talking about it or think you know the story just from hearsay, stop being stubborn enough to give the books a chance. Maybe you haven’t read them because you’ve seen the movies. Try the books (books are often better than the movies, with few exceptions). If you’ve read the books, then let’s face it, you didn’t even bother to read this recommendation which means I wrote this sentence for no reason.

I grew up with these books. I was only six years old in 1997 and remember reading the books as they were released. I couldn’t just dive into the whole series at once (as you can now). I had to wait until a pallet full of books were delivered to bookstores before I could get one, go home, and devour the whole thing in a day or two. I remember waiting in line for the first movie, which came out in 2001. I grew up with Harry. We were close to the same age as I followed him on his adventures.

Another reason I’m recommending this book now is because I’m actually in London today on vacation. J.K. Rowling was born in the United Kingdom and wrote these books on this island. The original title of this first book is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The “sorcerer” switch happened when the books came to the United States (because we have to be different, also because we do speak differently).

If you’ve read these books, check out a previous recommendation. If you haven’t, this book is about a young boy who finds out he is a wizard and goes off to a wizarding school. That’s all I’ll give you about the book because I’d hate to accidentally give away a spoiler. This book is about magic. That might be all you need to know. I look forward to reading this series to my kids one day.

Happy Reading.

Elemental Cocktails

They weren’t strictly legal. Places that sold them always claimed to be on the level, but everyone knew what really went on, and it was only a matter of time before someone slipped up and the place would get shut down. Others would pop up as soon as one fell. Overnight, multiplying like a virus. They served anyone and everyone who wanted a taste. The problem was, one taste could be too much. Many died after one dose. Some people gained unnatural abilities most of which were temporary. Just enough to make a man feel immortal, and that was the draw.

Martin never considered trying them. The thought had occurred to him, but he kept to alcohol for any inhibiting drugs. It was predictable, slow, and his body could cope with the recovery. No risk of instant, permanent damage. Genetic Altering Tonics, or GATs, were the latest craze that had created a lot of problems for the city. To Martin, GATs were only slightly worse than cocaine or heroin. He’d never been interested in trying them but he found himself in a DNA bar nonetheless.

It was near midnight on Thursday and he’d wondered down the steps from the street, past a dark-haired man with glowing blue eyes smoking a cigarette, and through the solid wood door. It looked like an other bar. Tables spaced around the room. Booths along two walls. The lights dimmed and music playing just loud enough so no one could overhear your conversation. Martin picked a booth near the back corner and ordered a whisky; two fingers, no ice. At first he sat quietly and sipped his drink. When the waitress brought his second one, he pulled out his screen and flipped through some news and pop-culture videos. The bar filled up and the noise rose. Martin saw a young man following a waitress through the crowd. He got up and headed toward the hallway where he presumed the restrooms were located. His timing was exact and he exited crowd to fall in line behind the young man. The waitress passed the restrooms and knocked on a door at the end of the hall. She said something and the door cracked before opening all the way. Martin feinted toward the restroom door then followed the waitress and young man inside.

“Who’s this?” a voice said as Martin stumbled into the room.

Strong hands grabbed his shirt and lifted him up against the wall. Martin’s eyes followed the hands against his chest, down the forearms, and up to the eyes of the bald brute holding him in place. The brute broke eye contact to look at the waitress for an explanation. She pointed to the man that had followed her.

“I don’t know. He’s the only one who followed me.”

The brute cursed under his breath and turned back to Martin.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m just here for a drink,” Martin said. The bald man stared at him so he offered more. “Whiskey. Maybe a G if you have it.”

The brute lowered him to the floor and let him go. “We don’t. Whiskey is out front.” The bald head nodded toward the door.

“Too bad,” Martin said, brushing his jacket, “I came prepared.”

The bald man raised an eyebrow. Martin pulled a small wad of cash from inside his jacket. The man smiled, took the cash and flipped through it. He patted Martin on the shoulder. Then he turned toward the young man who came in with the waitress who also pulled out a wad of cash and handed it over, managing to look bored through the entire interaction.

The bald man turned toward the waitress. “Get back to work.”

The waitress scurried back into the bar as the bald man walked to a small table and sat down. He gestured for Martin and the younger man to sit. They did.

“So, what’ll be?”

Martin remained quiet, letting the younger man go first.

“Elemental. Windstorm.”

“Good choice. And you?”

Martin wasn’t expecting to make a choice that quickly. He was hoping to see how the younger man fared.

“Elemental. Lightning.” He managed, hoping he sounded genuinely informed of what he was doing.

The bald man smiled. “Looking for a little extra kick? You’re wife’ll appreciate you tonight.” He nudged Martin.

Martin smiled. “Someone will at least.” This brought a laugh out of the man while the younger one sat there impatiently. Martin placed his hands in his pockets. His left one gripped a pistol, the right rested on a button.

The bald man opened a cooler and brought out two tumblers, setting one in front of both men. Then he rummaged around doing something out of Martin’s view but eventually planted two cocktail shakers on the table. He shook one and held the shaker over the young man’s glass.

“You’ll have to drink this one fast I’m afraid. Not much to savor, but gives a good kick.”

He flicked the top off the shaker and let the contents pour into the glass. He quickly pulled shaker away but some of the liquid started rising out of the glass, floating as if untouched by gravity. The young man gulped down the tumbler’s contents and then rose from his seat to sip the three orbs of liquid floating above the table. He sat back with a smile on his face. His eyes glazed over and his arms rose, then the rest of his body lifted from the seat and he hung suspended in the air. Limbs moving glacially. His hair independent as if he were underwater.

“Alright,” the bald man said, breaking Martin’s attention from the young man, “Your turn.” He shook the container and poured it into the tumbler. The liquid was opaque, but glowed blue and white as electricity flickered through the it like lightning in a cloud. Martin stared at the drink. He’d already forgotten about the man floating across from him. Something irrational and unnerving.

“Drink up, before the spark fades.”

The voice brought him out of thought. He pressed the button in his jacket before reaching for the drink with his right hand. His left remained on the pistol. He’s pressed the button too late. There wasn’t enough time. The bald man would become suspicious if he didn’t drink the lightning in front of him. He held it in his hand and watched the flickering light inside the liquid.

“Go on,” the bald man said.

Martin took a sip hoping a small amount wouldn’t be too strong. He felt the liquid crackle down his throat. He placed the tumbler on the table before his muscles began flexing involuntarily. His mind shifted into overdrive as his synapses fired rapidly. He fought to remain conscious he began to see the lightning firing inside his eyes. He lost track of time but what little he took in of his surroundings showed him that his team had arrived and were detaining the bald man and strapping the younger one down.

He barely recognized his partner’s face as Skolfield hovered in front of him. His body was shaking violently as his muscles contracted so strongly he thought they might break his bones. Skolfield was yelling something at him but he couldn’t hear anything but a crackling in his ears.

Then his vision turned a pure white, as if looking into the sun, and he lost consciousness as his body discharged the energy that had wreaked havoc upon him.

Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd. Fair warning, there will be a few caveats in the recommendation, but know I am recommending this book because I like it. The story follows Isak who is a white-eye. White-eyes are born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men. Basically chosen by the gods to be leaders and, theoretically, guide humanity to create a good world (because we have a hard time of doing this for ourselves). White-eyes are still technically human though, and they have their faults. Bad tempers being one of them, which makes it hard going when they are often outcasts. Isak is an outcast, but is given an opportunity when he is chosen as heir-elect by Lord Bahl, Lord of the Farlan. From here the adventure ramps up. Full of magic and epic fights, this book and its sequels are a great read, especially for fans of fantasy.

Now, the few limitations I have to reveal about this recommendation are: It has been some time since I’ve read this book, and I have only read the first three books of this series. I found this book as most people find books, in the bookstore (you can find it in libraries too of course). I read it, then the next, and the next….and then I found out the fourth book was not yet published. Of course it was a bummer because that meant waiting for the story to continue (damn authors not finishing their work to fit my schedule, I say hypocritically (and in jest) while still working on my first novel). I went on reading other books and didn’t know that the next two books came out, but I will be returning to this series. I’ll probably start over and read them all the way through, especially since the series is now completed.

If you’ve beaten me to finishing this series, please let me know how you liked it (spoiler free please). If I end up beating you to finishing the series, I’ll update this recommendation

Happy Reading.

Health and Happiness

The worst possible outcome. His doctor had briefly mentioned it as the worst case scenario. Both of them shrugged it off as the faintest of chances that would never  come to pass. An expected reaction, but here it was quickly killing him from the inside. Johnathon sat across from his doctor while his wife Jen held his hand. Dr. Peterson’s words lapped against him, but he hardly noticed because he was slowly sinking into an ocean of chaotic thought.

“John, did you hear that?” It was his wife. She was squeezing his hand harder than he’d have liked. She was no longer attempting to comfort him, but trying to hold onto him to comfort herself.

“What? I’m…sorry, I lost myself there for a moment.”

“There might be cure,” she held onto him eagerly.

“Not a cure,” Dr. Patterson corrected, “A new treatment that has yielded high results in combating this type of aggressive growth. It has proven to halt the spread and even clear early areas of infection. Some patients have even gone back to their lives as normal. Not completely cured, but a remission of sorts.”

“But you will live.” She sounded relieved, as if the problem was already solved.

“There are side-effects though,” the doctor continued, “Some of them are quite severe. I can’t recommend this without full disclosure.”

Johnathon waited for him to continue.

“In one, peculiar case, a young woman in Canada had significant biological changes to her body that…well…complicated her life to a point where she sought exile. No one knows where she is, but her doctor claimed that her last visit showed progressive healing that would have removed the infection completely.”

“So it’s possible to actually cure me?”

“What kind of changes?” His wife quickly added.

Dr. Patterson looked from one to the other then settled on Johnathon. “Possibly. Like I said, it’s simply theory at this point since the woman cannot be found. As far as the changes, her skin slowly…altered…into a pale, thick hide that would be more common in a larger mammal living in extreme environments. Almost like whale skin.”

“She turned into a fish?” Jen didn’t attempt to hide her disgust. “I don’t know…”

“That would be the absolute worst case scenario I assure you. The chances are nearly non-existent. Many of the early trials were successful with almost no side-effects. The only other severe side-effect was paralysis, most commonly in the legs, but the patients survive. This treatment currently has a ninety percent success rate whereas the traditional route only has thirty percent.”

“What do you think John?” She gripped his hand harder.

“If this treatment is successful as you say, why isn’t it more common?”

“It is still in the trial period. They plan to make a few more adjustments to reduce the side-effects mentioned before making it a standard treatment. The Canadian women caused quite a stir.”

“I can imagine.”

“Take your time to think about this,” Dr. Patterson said, “but I suggest you make a decision within the next few days. We need to start some form of treatment soon at the rate your infection is spreading.”


 

“I think you should do it.”

They were barely out of the hospital. Johnathon didn’t answer but knew what she was thinking. Ninety percent is incredible. He definitely preferred that over the thirty percent, but something about the woman from Canada made him hesitant. His luck wasn’t really running with him on this, obviously, since the infection had spread into three of his five vital organs. If he didn’t do anything, he would be dead before the end of this year. He didn’t want to die. He also didn’t want to go through hell if he wasn’t going to make it either. There is the third option, he thought, but I couldn’t…

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Yeah,” he lied.

“Well?”

“I don’t know. This isn’t a simple decision.”

“Yes it is. You have to do something, and soon.”

“I don’t have to do anything.”

“Johnathon!”

“Okay. Okay, I’ll do it.” He knew it was the best option and he would have gotten there eventually. She was right though. He had to do something soon.

“I’ll call Dr. Peterson now.”

She was on the phone before he even started the car.


 

He began the next day. Six hours of intravenous treatments every day the first week. They kept him in the hospital for observations for the first month. Jen was with him for the first week and a half then visited every other day. He started looking forward to the time without her. He loved her, more than anything, but she seemed to be taking it harder than he was. She had lost weight and looked as if she wasn’t sleeping. He asked Dr. Patterson if he could do anything for her and he prescribed her a sedative to take before bed.

After the first month was over, he was allowed to leave the hospital. The first few results showed impressive progress. The infection had left his lungs and kidneys. He was feeling a little stronger despite having spent most of the past few weeks in a bed. He’d lost nearly forty pounds. The worst was over. He only had to return every two weeks for treatments and check-ups. Jen started sleeping better and stopped using the sedatives. She worried less with each result that came in.

During the third month, he was able to return to work and could exercise. He put twenty-five pounds back on and no longer looked ill. He felt luck was finally running with him. The fourth and fifth months went by without any issues.


 

Johnathon was confident he was cured when he went in for his last round of treatments. Dr. Patterson stopped by to take the final blood samples.

“How are you feeling?”

“I feel great.”

“Have you experienced any side-effects? Anything out of the ordinary?”

“Nothing. I’ve had some headaches the past few weeks, but I’ve been catching up on work.”

“I see. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.” Dr. Patterson filled the last vial and removed the needle, swabbed the area, and bandaged it. “You’re all set to go. Just a few final check-ups before all is said and done. Then we only need to see you every six months to make sure nothing changes. If you notice anything unusual, don’t be afraid to call me. You have my number.”

“Thanks Dr. Patterson. I appreciate everything you’ve done. I feel good.” He pulled his sleeve down over the bandage. “Did they ever find the Canadian woman?”

“No. A few reports about two months back stated a humanoid ‘alien’ was seen in Greenland by a few locals. It could have been her, but it also could have been someone claiming to have seen Bigfoot.”


 

Johnathon walked inside after his Thursday run. Jen was cooking. He walked up behind her and kissed her on the neck. She laughed and shrugged him off of her. “You stink. Go shower.”

He kissed her again before heading to the bathroom. He stripped off his clothes and stepped in the shower. He ran his hands through his hair and held his head beneath the water. When he opened his eyes and reached for the soap he saw skin dangling from a finger on his right hand. He looked at it closer. Beneath the flap of skin was a white, rubbery layer. He reached to fold the flap back into place, but it detached and fell. He ran a finger over the missing skin and placed a nail under the edge. His skin peeled back slightly, ripped, and the remaining skin, including the nail, on his finger fell off and onto the shower floor. His right forefinger was now a bone-white…thing.

When he reached to turn the water off, the water pressure shredded the skin on his left hand like paper revealing the new layer of skin. He panicked. Every move he made caused more skin to abandon him until his forearms were pure white and the shower floor was layered with pieces of his skin.


 

Jen was crying as they sat in Dr. Peterson’s office. Johnathon wore long sleeves and gloves. His pants hid the skin peeling off his right leg. He wore a hoodie even though no skin had yet to peel from his face.

“What are my options?”

“There aren’t any currently able to help with this side-effect. I’m sorry,” Dr. Peterson said, “but I’d like to run some tests to see if there might be something we can find.”

“Anything,” he said. He reached over to grab Jen’s hand but she flinched away. He let his hand fall back to his side as she tried to stop her tears with the soaked tissue in her hand.

Dr. Patterson put down the x-rays he was reviewing. “The good news is the infection is completely gone. Your organs have improved significantly. I predict you’ll soon be healthier than someone half your age. You’re on track for a long, healthy life.”

“That is good news,” he said absently. Johnathon tried to smile, but he couldn’t take his eyes away from Jen. She hadn’t looked at him in two days.

 

First Weekly Book Recommendation

I’m starting a weekly book recommendation (if you couldn’t tell by the title). For the first week I’m going to be recommending a book I found earlier this year and enjoyed greatly. It originally came out ten years ago. If you’re a fan of Fantasy, you may find yourself reading through this one pretty quick. Without further adieu, the reading suggestion this week is: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.


What you just read was the first of my weekly book recommendations. It was originally and exclusively posted on my Patreon page since that is where the recommendation idea started. I first posted the above recommendation on October 20th, 2017. You can find all of my recommendations from 2017 here.

So, this first recommendation was terrible as recommendations go. My deepest apologies to Patrick Rothfuss for the poor promotion of his amazing work. Here comes an actual (still rather short) recommendation for this book.

The Name of the Wind (TNotW) is phenomenal. I often recommend it to my friends (I picked up a copy for a friend this week) as a mixture of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Both of which are fantastic and I know they’ve read them and loved them, but TNotW stands on its own merits. It is incredibly written and captivating. I read this book and its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, in less than two months, which isn’t bad considering the size of these bricks. There is too much story to focus on a few details. If you want to discuss how great the book is, there are plenty of fan pages for these works out there (I am even a part of one on the old Facebook) or you can talk about it here on my blog. There is a comments section. This series will become (if it hasn’t already) an essential read for any fan of fantasy.

Back to the book. I hope to one day write as well as Patrick Rothfuss. I’m not sure if I can give any higher praise than that.

Happy reading.


P.S. I like this book so much that I bought a poster made from the entirety of the text. All 256,656 words. I built the frame because this thing stands taller than me (and I’m 6′ 3”). You can find this, and other awesome literary treasures, at Litographs.com.

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