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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Vine: An Urban Legend book tour: review + giveaway

I Smell Sheep is honored to be the first stop on Michael Williams' book tour for 
Vine: An Urban Legend 
presented by the wonderful people at First Rule PR.

Vine: An Urban Legend 
by Michael Williams 
Genre: Mythic Fiction 
192 pages

Amateur theater director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces. 

Michael Williams' Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion 

I am going to be honest… I can’t give this book a rating. I don’t think I was able to fully appreciate what Williams accomplished because I am somewhat culturally illiterate; my Greek mythology and knowledge of ancient Greek literature is way too rusty to help in my understanding of the story. I was able to grasp the author’s intent, but it reads to much like something I would have read in college, which is why I went into the sciences. <G> I don't think I am the demographic he is trying to reach because I found it work to read and understand. While the book was entertaining in its premise, it requires picking apart and analyzing (like in school) to truly appreciate it... a great choice for a book club. It needs your full attention and I like to think it was more my metal laziness than my intellectual failings that created the great WHOOSH sound I heard as parts went right over my head. (Kalpar: Weakling! Analyzing books makes you strong like Kalpar! That is how we do it in the old country!) 

Williams wrote a Greek tragedy set in modern times, but he wrote it in the classical Greek play format. There is a large cast of characters including a host of narrators and a chorus giving commentary on the events. The author also has an amazing grasp of language and a vocabulary that had me looking up definitions at least twice per page (thank goodness for the dictionary function on the kindle!) I understood the basic premise of the story and even got some of the clever hidden layers of meaning woven through out, especially when Williams compares the gods’ petty and vengeful behavior to man’s and shows that they are the same and things haven’t changed since ancient times. 

I liked how Williams used the play within a play, like in Hamlet, as a vehicle to prove how alike the gods and man are. The protagonist, Stephen, is directing Euripides’ tragedy The Bacchae and the cast is also unknowingly playing out the story in real life as the ancient gods manipulate them for fun and for vengeance. The principals in the cast are also being manipulated in the same way by a vengeful game master, who behaves in the same manner as the gods, at their weekly D&D RPG. Like a vicious ironic circle of petty behavior. 

I've read other reviews by people who are familiar with Greek literature and they are all impressed with the technical brilliance of the story and able to throw around words like allegory, metaphors and sub context… Oh, My! And they are right, it is all impressively there, but this story isn't for everyone. I am glad I read it. I feel a little smarter for it and learned some new words I will definitely be pulling out at parties <G>.

Sharon Stogner (editing and snarky comments by Kalpar)

About the author:
Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.

Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010).  
He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

Vine: An Urban Legend Tour Dates: 
Tour URL:
12/1 – I Smell Sheep – Review 
12/3 – From the Bootheel Cotton Patch – Excerpt 
12/3 – Book in the Bag – Review 
12/4 – Lost Inside the Covers – Review 
12/4 – Come Selahway With Me – Interview 
12/5 – Unabridged Chick – Review 
12/6 – Sheila Deeth – Guest Post 
12/6 – AO Bibliophile – Excerpt 
12/7 – Window on the World – Review 
12/8 – Wholly Books – Review 
12/8 – Beth’s Book Reviews – Character Interview 
12/10 – AO Bibliophile – Review 
12/10 – I’m a Book Shark – Guest Post 
12/11 – Workaday Reads – Review 
12/12 – Alexx Momcat’s Gateway Book Blog – Guest Post 
12/13 – My Chaotic Ramblings – Guest Post 
12/13 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Guest Post 
12/14 – Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy – Review 
12/15 – Night Owl Reads – Guest Post 
12/16 – Miraculous! – Guest Post 
12/17 – The Book Diva’s Reads – Guest Post 
12/18 – WTF Are You Reading? – Review 
12/20 Once Upon a Time – Interview 
12/21 – Darlene’s Book Nook – Guest Post 
12/23 – The Independent Review – Review 
12/25 – Jess Resides Here – Interview 
12/26 The FlipSide of Julianne – Interview 
12/27 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Guest Post (Top 10’s List) 
12/28 – Fighting Monkey Press – Review 
12/29 – SpecMusicMuse – Review 
12/29 – Free Book Dude -Review 
12/30 – Bee’s Knees Reviews -Review 
12/31 – Celtic Lady reviews -Review 
1/1 – Full Moon Bites –Interview 
1/1 – Read2Review – Review


One winner will receive a signed copy of Vine: An Urban Legend

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. I enjoy lots of plays in the Greek tradition. I can't remember their names but the ones I really liked involved Orphic mysteries.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. i have to admit, i think i'm way worst than you sharon. my knowledge in greek mythology stretch only to what i've seen on tv (hercules and xena the warrior princess mostly) and some books that i get to read. and they're all got mixed in my head :))

  3. My favorite play is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I would love to direct it, unfortunately my theatre does not have anyway to do the costumes it requires.

  4. Christopher KokoskiDecember 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Micheal is a kind man with a magical ability to pen prose that is both riveting and beautiful.

  5. I like Phantom of the Opera.

  6. I've been fascinated by Phaedre ever since reading Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series.

  7. Thanks so much for letting Michael visit the Flock today! :)

    1. Thanks for letting us be a part of it :)

  8. Because it was my first, I would have to say Phantom of the Opera. Saw it in Toronto, Canada. It was quite an experience. I also saw Les Miserables there and very much enjoyed that.

    1. I saw Phantom in London back in the 90's. fantastic! :) I am looking forward to the Les Mis that is coming to the movie theaters at Christmas.

  9. Sharon, this was a very positive review because it was honest and cut to the point. I was once asked to review a book and my dislike of the style or content had nothing to do with the writer's talent at all, it was very much the fact I was the wrong audience for the book.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks :) you are right, just because you don't like or understand a book doesn't mean the book is the problem.. Sometimes it is the reader .

  10. Loved Wicked!

  11. yeah..I love Phantom of the Opera..:D

  12. I totally love Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  13. nope don't have a fav play, thanks for the giveaway - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

  14. My favorite play is Phantom of the Opera. Thanks for the giveaway! cheryllynne(at)rocketmail(dot)com

  15. My favorite play of all times is A Midsummer Night's Dream!

    Thank you for the giveaway ^^

  16. I think my favorite play is The Importance of Being Ernest. Such good wordplay and witticisms!

  17. My favorite play has to be MacBeth, just because... (Well, and partly because of the Monty Python sketch)