Short Reviews: Icefall, Gravity, 42, Z, and Lynda.com

Posted by John Brown on November 21st, 2013

The last few weeks I’ve been burning the candles at both ends with publication tasks. So no time for long reviews, but I still wanted to share.

Icefall by Matthew KirbyIcefall by Matthew Kirby

Wow. I loved this book. LOVED IT! It’s Norse historical fiction. A war is coming, and the king sends his children away to a remote fjord steading to keep them safe. He also sends a number of trusted warriors, a company of beserkers, a cook, a thrall, and a skald. But the fjord isn’t remote enough.

It’s a fine tale full suspense, wisdom, surprise, and two lovely character arcs. It’s told from the point-of-view of Solveig, the king’s plain daughter. And her voice and the details Kirby includes totally transported me to their world. A wonderful tale, wonderfully told.

Gravity

I don’t know if I like 3D very much, but Bullock and Clooney do a marvelous job. Do you remember Tom Hanks in the excellent Castaway where he’s marooned on a tiny island? This is Bullock’s Castaway, except the physics of space are deadly. A great film.

42

This film is about Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in the White leagues of American baseball, and recounts his first year. It stars Harrison Ford as the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the guy who is determined to bring Blacks into the game he loves, as well as Chadwick Boseman who is new to me. I watched this with the whole family, and we were all enthralled. What a great story.

World War Z

I not a big zombie fan. So for me to recommend this means it had to be good. It was good. A delicious thriller with plenty of scare. I really liked the thriller feel to this. My wife and two youngest daughters sat on the couch holding each other’s hands. I sat in my La-Z-Boy throne heart pumping with the action.

Lynda.com

As I mentioned above, I’ve been working hard trying to get my books out the door. (Please, boys, just get out! It’s time for you to make your way in the world!) I’m using Adobe InDesign to format them for Kindle and EPUB, but I barely know the program. That caused some big problems. But then I subscribed to Lynda.com–a training website. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did.

For $25 per month (and you can just subscribe for one month), you get access to hundreds of high-quality online classes recorded by experts. Each class is usually a few hours long, made up of videos that are usually each shorter than ten minutes. The site allows you to create playlists of various courses you want to take, makes recommendations, and lets you know which videos in a class you’ve watched. It also includes a verbatim transcript so you search for the part of the video that’s interesting to you.

The workhorse I’ve been using is “InDesign CS6 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad” by Anne-Marie Concepcion. It’s 7.5 hours long.  I’ve also been referring to parts of “InDesign CC Essential Training” by David Blatner and “Creating Long Documents with InDesign” by Mike Rankin. And I have 16 other courses in my playlist that I can’t wait to get to like “Designing a Book Cover” by Nigel French and others on graphic design, typography, and logos.

If you need training on some software product, go out to Lynda.com and see if they have a course for you.

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2 Responses to “Short Reviews: Icefall, Gravity, 42, Z, and Lynda.com”

  1. wasatchdan Says:

    Man, I’m excited for Bad Penny to turn up. I’ve been waiting for that one ever since you talked about it at the How to Write a Story That Rocks lecture at LTUE a few years ago. And Awful Intent sounds great as well. Can’t wait.

  2. John Brown Says:

    All I’m waiting for is the cover. That’s it. I don’t know if I’ve shared the tag line. I’m sure I have, but it’s fun enough to share again:

    “The Ex-Con, The Mormon, and The Woman in The Trunk”

    It’s all coming together.