It was very exciting for me when I received a personally signed copy of A Circle of Souls from the author several weeks ago. Mini Synopsis: There's a s...moreIt was very exciting for me when I received a personally signed copy of A Circle of Souls from the author several weeks ago. Mini Synopsis: There's a serial killer on the loose, in this quiet upper middle class suburb, and he has stumbled upon a little girl. His killings are ritualized and have a psychological connection from his past and an exotic culture. The plot is further embellished by the main characters, a kind child psychiatrist with a fear of commitment, a gorgeous yet slightly damaged FBI agent, and an East Indian girl with a paranormal gift that is linked to her family and cultural background. A special quote from the novel: "Sometimes there are forces beyond our comprehension that we may have to accept without questioning their origins." What I thought about the novel: I adore thrillers with a medical/psychological flavor in the story line. This book had just enough to interest me and medical references were backed up with explanations making them accessible. It also had cultural interest, where part of this story is rooted in the ancient beliefs of the East Indian culture. I would have loved to see more. The characters were very likable (except for the bad guy.) There is some gore, but just enough to give you a taste of the violence that has occurred. The language is clean and the writing is easy to follow and flows easily. Summary: I truly enjoyed A Circle of Souls. It was like reading an American thriller, but with a touch of the exotic - just a hint of curry and spice - all blending smoothly into a story that I did not want to finish but couldn't put down. Very appetizing! I'm hoping for a sequel? (less)
Mini Synopsis: Samuel is in his first year of high school. He’s a good kid. He’s smart, popular, from a healthy family, and facing the normal challenge...moreMini Synopsis: Samuel is in his first year of high school. He’s a good kid. He’s smart, popular, from a healthy family, and facing the normal challenges which occur for most young teens. Coupled with his adolescent angst, he just lost his mother to cancer. In addition he is also harboring feelings of guilt around her death. In an attempt to create a video for a class assignment, he decides to record a local set of triplets whom have some unusual physical disabilities. Because of these oddities they are surround by local myth, mystery, ignorance, and sadly horror. When Samuel sees “the babies” for the first time, he has strong conflicting emotions, and an obsession develops for him to see them again, and again. This desire leads him to discover a terrifying situation involving them. As he becomes inextricably involved, he must ultimately decide what constitutes right action, and what defines men as evil. The choices he makes move him toward the beginnings of manhood. My thoughts: I gave this book 4 stars – I loved it. Sang Pak has given the young adult reader “a modern rites of passage” story, with many of the current day conflicts which boys and teens face. Samuel, the main character, is an excellent and important role model for growing men as they struggle with the inevitable tobacco, drug and alcohol exposure, and sexual introduction. What is important is that Samuel’s character immerses himself in these situations without loosing his sensibilities and balance. The character provides an example of neither abstinence nor abuse when confronted with these issues, which although not the only option is a sensible one. Speaking from the perspective of an adult with a background in childhood education I have been led to look at books for their “learning/teaching opportunities”. Waiting for Twilight has them. Because of the content in the story I do recommend this book for a mature teen, as well as their parents, or adults interested in issues around young adults. The book contains smoking, drugs and alcohol usage, safe sex, and violence. These examples can be used as a starting place to begin “conversations”, since as adults, we cannot prevent an exposure to them.(less)
Mini Synopsis: The story opens eerily 20 years in the past. In the middle of the Bermuda Triangle an incredible supernatural event occurs. It then move...more Mini Synopsis: The story opens eerily 20 years in the past. In the middle of the Bermuda Triangle an incredible supernatural event occurs. It then moves to the present day where a cold front has enveloped the the planet. Every one believes another ice age upon them. Little does the general population know that it is being caused by a young woman named Rose, whom is running from a number of dark super human factions with complex links that are almost biblical in nature. Most of them want her dead. As the story evolves into a convoluted urban fantasy, a touch of romance, assorted violence, and drama ensues. My Thoughts: With an exciting first chapter Three Seeds is hard to put down. It is an incredibly complex story with some very interesting dark characters. While I was reading it I was overwhelmed by the original ideas which where presented within the pages. If you like a story line that is fast paced, entertaining, and pulse raising this is a book for you. When I was finished it was clear that Gabriel is a talented individual with a vivid imagination. Although my reading experience was marred somewhat by some rather loose editing it doesn’t detract from this great story. With tighter editing and a bit more fleshing out of some key ideas, I would have rated Three Seeds at 4 plus Stars. On balance my final rating is 3 Stars. (less)
Set in war torn Europe during WWII where a group of otherworldly women – a vampire, a werewolf, and a demon - help the resistance move Jewish...moreSynopsis:
Set in war torn Europe during WWII where a group of otherworldly women – a vampire, a werewolf, and a demon - help the resistance move Jewish children to safety. They team up with an incognito Jewish doctor as they make their way across the countryside. The cast goes on to include a witch, fallen angels, a lesbian couple, and an interesting concept of the devil himself. Throw in a male vampire and demon, a priest fallen to the dark side and you have a complex set of characters, where some feed on humans but are saving children too. Most of the protagonists exist in a “grey area” of morality. All this is set within a horrific time period where factions of Hitler’s legions are attempting to connect with total evil.
Love ensues within the intense drama of the story, however, in the end an important “soul” is lost possibly leaving the setup for another novel in her series.
This is a first novel for Nicole Hadaway and she has created a well thought out and mostly well explained paranormal world. She has taken one of the most horrific events in our collective consciousness and recent history, and coupled it up with the occult and religious mythology with some elements based in truth, thereby creating a very scary tale.
One interesting aspect within the story line is that the title is brought up on several different levels throughout the book. Which solidifies the concept and why it was used. It did take me some time to figure exactly why the title was RELEASE which makes it multilayered and intriguing. (No spoilers here.)
My only minor grumble is that I would have liked to see definitions for some of the otherworldly and biblical connections, names, and symbols, perhaps at the end of the book. The references are numerous and I believe many readers will not know what they are – I did not. This aspect does however make the book interesting, intelligent, and challenging. All good things. And thanks to Google, I now know some of their creepy definitions.
Highly recommended if you like historical fiction – especially WWII, vampires, paranormal, otherworldly, religious, occult, and mythical connections. If so, then you will devour this book.
I give the book 4 Stars since I enjoyed it immensely!
Mini Non-Spoiler Synopsis: Nick is a conflicted and slightly damaged person; although a good guy he has a past linked to alcohol abuse. With a number o...more
Mini Non-Spoiler Synopsis: Nick is a conflicted and slightly damaged person; although a good guy he has a past linked to alcohol abuse. With a number of colorful friends and family members, Nick sees his life and his relationships as a series of lists; indeed he thinks in lists. As he moves awkwardly through his difficulties, self doubt, and hilarious quirkiness, we see the “horror” of his insecurities through these lists. While he is connecting with family and friends he comes to realize through a series of related events that he has been cursed. A few of his friends share this curse too, so naturally drama, psychological distress, and some paranormal horror and dark humor ensues.
(This short novel was nominated for the Bram Stoker 2009 Award.)
My Thoughts: This is not your typical horror book, since there is only a slight amount of gore. The true horror in Cursed is actually the internal struggle within the main character’s mind and in his day to day life. Reading about it is bearably funny because of the subtle and quirky humor around Nick’s hilarious and relatable lists. Be aware that it is an uncomfortable humor which many of us may relate to, though some will not. It has a dry, offbeat, almost Monty Python-esque feel, only it’s very American rather than British. I was giggling while reading this novel, so John (my husband) kept asking me what was so funny. I read him a few bits, and he agreed that the book sounded extremely quirky. Perhaps that is the connection to the Bizarro fiction, which, after reading this I am beginning to define. I would say that Cursed is unusual, as well as complex and layered.
Looking for a literary reference, I see a parallel between Nick and Gregor, the main character from The Metamorphosis. Both characters are caught within some difficult life circumstances mostly beyond their control, yet remain reflective and sensitive almost to a fault. Another example of a connection is where The Metamorphosis has a sort of periodic angst; it has an emotional discord which can only truly be defined within the early 1900’s. Cursed too is periodic but has a contemporary feel. Reading Cursed was like reading a book by a friend whose experiences are based during the present day, and whose guilt, self doubt, abandonment issues, and alcohol abuse all bunched up into a story that could only be set recently.
I do think that the book could be paralleled and contrasted with The Metamorphosis more, but will leave that to the scholars. In summary I immensely enjoyed this creative, quirky book. It is thoughtful, original, disturbing, sensitive, and funny and rate it at 4 Stars. It was a needed break humor break. (less)
An epic young adult fantasy with a modern and creative twist. A humorous and mildly scary hero’s journey,...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
An epic young adult fantasy with a modern and creative twist. A humorous and mildly scary hero’s journey, this book is perfect for smart youngsters from tween-age into ancient adulthood.
About: In a fantastical world where spells are created from magical languages, the main character Nicodermis is a trainee in the skills needed to create these spells. He believes himself to be an insignificant part of a bigger picture. There is a big problem with his spelling (he can’t), so his teachers place him with a variety of other “marginal” acolytes with various disabilities. Here he becomes a leader (of sorts) in a world which does other than appreciate them.
In this mountainous and almost medieval world, Nicodermis’ connection to his greater purpose is not quite clear and all is not well. Evil powers are bent on keeping everything as it is or worse - imbalanced and dark. They will do anything to stop the fates in motions of which Nicodermis is key.
My Thoughts: Fresh and inclusive of a wide variety of diverse types of characters, this is a fun read. Nary a bad word, or sexual reference, it’s a perfect read for young adults and those looking for a “clean” fantasy setting. The author has some interesting swaps for cursing which are in fact quite hilarious. Here are examples:
"Splattering spud”; “Ooo, you dirty son of a rat-eating butt dog!” And an example of a curse as bad as it gets - “Drink goat piss, you slimy pigeon penis”.
Kids of all ages will have to laugh at this. I did.
The characters are wonderful and loveable and Nicodermis is a very relate-able main character. A humble hero who is on his journey and refuses to admit that he may just be the one to save his world. There are also several flawed and interesting supporting characters - a blind old wise man with dreadlocks and magic gargoyles that are created from the written spells, a wonderful talking bird named Azure that loves to be scratched on its head (gosh darn cute and I want one), a dream dragon, and elemental ghosts. But don’t worry there are exciting and dark bits too involving a scary and ancient evil; also a clay Golem housing an amazing monster which is frightening and imaginative. This is definitely the beginning of an epic series.
An impressive first novel - the book has an easy to read style that is imbued with a subtle humor, a characteristic which is apparent on Blake Charlton’s blog and in his interviews. I cannot say one negative thing about this debut novel and am expecting some amazing fiction from this new and talented author. I can’t wait to read the next in this series, Spellbound, which I understand is even better than this first novel. 4 stars for this fun, creative and giggly debut novel.(less)
Daddy is going away on a trip. A long trip. He will be gone a long time. It’s called deployment. A big word but a child hears it. It could mean anythi...moreDaddy is going away on a trip. A long trip. He will be gone a long time. It’s called deployment. A big word but a child hears it. It could mean anything but the child knows it’s important. What is a parent to do to help a little person, who knows something scary is happening to the family, to understand?
This book will help. It’s simple with cute pictures and a positive message. Daddy loves you even though he’s going away. He will be back.
It has resources for the parents. Giving both mom and dad constructive ways to help a young child (and older children too) deal with this recurrent theme within the United States. An excellent example of one of these methods is the use of colored tacks on a map to show where daddy will be staying, as well as weather research for the area of deployment.
Being a teacher for a number of years, with some graduate level courses in early childhood education, and caring for young family members on a consistent basis – I have some personal and professional knowledge about small children. I highly recommend this book for use as “a teaching moment tool”. It would be wonderful to use for repeat readings helping a child understand this difficult and all too common transition.(less)
In this future world humans are not aging, there is no disease, and their IQs have been enhanc...more 3.5 stars - Original review posted on Layers of Thought.
In this future world humans are not aging, there is no disease, and their IQs have been enhanced - but at what cost?
Mini Synopsis: Set within a future dystopian world where nanotechnology has cured aging, death, and disease. All humans are dependent upon the main computer: AI – Artificial Intelligence, for everything including daily downloads, as well as for food, and increased IQ for everyone. Humans and robots are beginning to terra form other planets within the Solar System to house the inevitable population explosion.
Which brings us to the main character, whom is an extra ordinary natural genius at 25 years old. His name is James Keats, and as the planet’s youngest genius, he is attempting to transform the Venusian landscape for habitation. When doing so, he and his crew escape their latest infected nano technology download, due to some apparent electrical malfunction. After that its a fight for their lives, in this combo dystopian/apocalyptic fantastical sci-fi novel.
My Thoughts: This is a short book, with a lot of big ideas. It has a fun and action imbued plot, with some very interesting ideas about a future world for our planet. A very fun, action packed read.
My thought is that, although I believe it was created as an adult novel, it felt more like a young adult novel but with some adult themes and language. Which is why I am so glad to hear David Simpson has created a graphic novel based upon the story. I do think Post -Human will be an incredible adult, or older teen graphic novel.
I also believe that if the book could be extended and fleshed out to include more character development, enhanced dialogue, more scientific explanations of his grand ideas, and a bit more world building (which I was really craving with all the action and technology) it would truly make this book outstanding.
Since this is David Simpson’s first novel, I would say it is an excellent effort for a self published author. With editing errors at a minimum, a great story line, and some interesting scientific concepts, I really enjoyed it. I am hoping to see it in graphic format and can’t wait to see what this creative author/entrepreneur will do next. I say 3.5 stars. Great first self published novel effort! (less)
About a persistent woman who holds onto her dreams. It is about her life during the sexual revol...moreThis review is originally posted at Layers of Thought.
About a persistent woman who holds onto her dreams. It is about her life during the sexual revolution, developing feminism, and the war in Vietnam.
About: A contemporary story about the life of Merrilee Hennessy, a woman born in the US during the late 1950’s. It extends through her life experiences into the early 2000’s. With an omnipresent narration we see her life and what she feels and thinks, as a strong and driven woman, at first in her late teens and then into her middle age. With the historical back drop of the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution and the growth of feminism, it is a look inside a woman, her beliefs and the myths of her life and the generation.
Thoughts: Chasing Stardust starts out slowly, almost like a diary, with the issues being resolved through the main character’s ability to hold on to her dreams through pure perseverance and positive thinking - an important perspective for understanding the character and her life during that time. As she struggles with her dreams of a romantic ideal, akin to the romance novels she devours, she is strengthened by the ideals (held internally and supported culturally) of the perfect home and family. While things are not quite right for her, she perseveres by pushing the acknowledgment of her difficulties out of her consciousness; a key element for the story.
Some significant themes within the novel are - contrary to our internalized myths about motherhood, at times and even with a woman’s best efforts, bonding with one’s child is not a possibility; the love of a woman’s life is not necessarily a romantic love, but can be the love of a child; issues related to drug and alcohol abuse; the US legal system and its methodology for placing children from neglected and abusive homes.
My recommendation for the reader is to be aware that the first part of the novel moves along with Merrilee with her ups and downs just a bit slowly – as readers we are sometimes accustomed to the “drama and trauma” contained in the very beginning of books. It is, however, important for understanding this character. The story significantly picks up about a third of the way through and becomes heart wrenching and insightful where the consequences of the main character’s choices are made clear.
Highly recommended if you enjoy women’s fiction, strong female characters, this recent era in period fiction, and/or if you like stories with addiction and recovery as a theme. It is a wonderful self published and edited novel, amazingly without any errors in syntax as well as spelling. I give this excellent effort and book 4 stars.(less)