Monday, June 25, 2012

New LupLun Review: Taken by Storm

Heads up, followers! My review blog is now host to my lastest review: Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Taken by Storm, the final volume of her totally awesome Raised by Wolves series. Check it out!

Friday, June 22, 2012

On nuances of plagiarism

I have a perennial interest in gamebooks, which are the perfect way to meld my love of video games and my love of reading. Recently I've been into Tin Man Games' Gamebook Adventures, which brings the genre into the 21st century by using code to automate a lot. This isn't really a new idea. Fighting Fantasy Project has dozens of independently-produced gamebooks, some web-implemented, others in .pdf or Word format.

After getting a iPod Touch for my birthday, I've been working my way through the available GA books one by one, my latest conquest being book number 4, Revenant Rising. I was enjoying it up until the halfway point, where a dead minstrel spoke to me, giving information about a evil army I was currently trying to thwart. I was instantly reminded of a similar situation that occurred in one of my favorite FFProject indies, Hunger of the Wolf. At the time, I brushed it off and went on, but then I found another familiar situation: a detachment of said evil army camped by a river that I had to cross. And beyond that, a third set-piece: a village on fire, and me given a choice to rush into a burning building to save a peasant woman's baby, or confront the soldiers who were laughing at it.

With an eyebrow raise, I re-downloaded Hunger of the Wolf and took a look at them side by side. Sure enough, there's some utterly blatant ripping-off in evidence. Not only are the broad strokes of the plot similar, but huge swaths of the middle of Revenant Rising are simply copy-pasted from Hunger of the Wolf, with only slight modifications for the new setting and characters.

Curious as to how they expected to get away with this, I checked the credits page for Revenant and discovered exactly how they got away with it. The writer for Revenant, Kieran Coghlan, is the same man who did Hunger of the Wolf. The credits page also contains this line:

"Revenant Rising is based on an existing gamebook entitled 'Hunger of the Wolf' which is licensed to TMG by the writer."

In other words, Coghlan... plagiarized himself? My first thought, before I read the credits, was rage. My second was laughter: well, I guess that's okay, then! My third thought was "Wait, so I just paid $4.99 for something that was already available legally for free? With zombies instead of wolves?"

(I'm admittedly biased on the relative lack of wolves being a grave injustice.)

But this raises some interesting questions. Can an author plagiarize himself? Arthur C. Clarke copy-pasted an entire chapter of 2001 into the sequel and insisted (with some snark) that it was perfectly alright to do so. He has a point. If plagiarism is the theft of intellectual content, one can't really be accused of stealing something that was already one's own.

But on the other hand, if there's no foul play here, am I justified in feeling ripped off? Or is that just the gamer's sense of entitlement speaking?


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Giveaway Results and Blog Hopping 6/15/2012

First things first: The giveaway celebrating Parajunkee's 100th Feature and Follow has concluded. Thank you all for participating. The winners are: Krista Bookreview (totally not an alias), Lauren Amy Watkins, and jenny. Winners have been contacted by e-mail. If you didn't win, there's another giveaway going on at Colorimetry through 6/27. Or you can buy the book at Smashwords, Amazon, or many fine e-book retailers.

With that said:

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at the personal blog of S.J. Bell, independent author. My first book, Bonds of Fenris, is currently available at Smashwords and Amazon. Link on the sidebar, get 'em while their hot! It's been making a big splash on the internet, check out the reviews on Goodreads.

I have been slacking off on posting here, I admit. It's a combination of working on a novel, a short story, and real-life drama all at once. But! I do have some substantial posts percolating, and I've been keeping up with my reading. My current read is Taken by Storm, from the lovely Jennifer Lynn Barnes, one of my favorite writers. I hope to have a review up ASAP.

In addition to this blog, I also have a separate blog for reviews, Lupines and Lunatics. Latest review is The Wolf Gift. Check it out!

Happy hopping!

This week's ice-breaker for Feature & Follow:

"Who is your favorite dad character in a book and why?"

Tough call, but I'd have to say Luke's dad from Wolf Mark. Largely because he trains his son to be Sam Fisher, but also because his parenting mantra is "Think about what you're doing" rather than "Do as I say." The text notes that this never works anyway, and is an unhelpful lesson for later in life.

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"From your personal collection of books, which ones hold the most value to you - is it signed by the author? or maybe it's your favorite story of all time? Share it with us."

Well, I do have one or two signed books, but it's really not something I collect. I'm more interested in stories. And on that subject, there are two series which I value above all others: Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville books.

The thing about Vaughn is, her stories are very down to earth. We're used to these epic conflicts and larger-than-life stories, but Vaughn is at her best when playing things low-key. She depicts ordinary people in extraordinary situations: vampires and werewolves and so forth who at their core are human beings with human desires and motivations. It's that realism, that focus on humanity, which elevates her stories above the sea of Anita Blake wannabes crowding the urban fantasy genre.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

#FF100 Giveaway Hop

Parajunkee's Feature & Follow Blog Hop has been going on for almost two years, and in that time it's been an invaluable tool for authors and book bloggers alike. To celebrate the 100th Feature and Follow, PJ's doing something different: a giveaway hop!

Giveaway Hop

As part of the hop, we each have to post a featured blog. So, I'm going to post one of the most unjustly under-appreciated book blogs on the net, You're Killing Me:

I found this blog a while ago, and the owners are two of my best blogging friends. Their reviews are thoughtful and detailed, two things that are rare and precious in the realm of book blogging. Also, they're expert snarkers. ^_^

But it wouldn't be a giveaway hop without a giveaway, and here's what I'm offering: three winners will each receive a copy of my debut paranormal e-book, Bonds of Fenris. Not sure if it's worth your time to enter? Check out Goodreads to find reviews and an excerpt.

To enter, all you have to do is follow my blog and the featured blog, but if you tweet about the giveaway, I'll triple your chances!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And that's it! Now, hop on for more giveaways. Have fun!


Hopping Bloggers

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review Roundup 6/4/2012 and other news

I apologize for not maintaining this blog much lately. I'm currently hard at work on not one, but two writing projects, in addition to all the other drama in my life, so as always, the blog feels the squeeze. First, the Bonds of Fenris reviews from the past week (or two):

  • Lili Lost in a Book gives it four stars and praises the deep themes and diverse cast.
  • Book Bite Reviews also has a positive opinion, calling it a "beautiful story."
  • Isa K over at Goodreads delivers a well-written review with some praise and some criticism. Also, puppies!

If you haven't read the book yet, it's currently available at Smashwords, Amazon, Diesel, Kobo, and it should be on and the iBookstore soon. Also, if it was too expensive for you before, the price has been dropped to $4.99. If you're still not convinced, an excerpt is available at Goodreads.

Additionally, I've got a review of Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift up on my review blog, Lupines and Lunatics. Check it out!

Have a nice week, all!