One of the first things I noticed about Sanctuary, as compared to a lot of indie books in addition to ones traditionally published, was the length. Sa...moreOne of the first things I noticed about Sanctuary, as compared to a lot of indie books in addition to ones traditionally published, was the length. Sanctuary is well-constructed and balanced, and approximately 260 pages, which especially for its genre, I’ve found to be rather rare. Some readers want longer books in order to get their supposed “money’s worth”, but if there is too much information, which hinders the story the itself, I’ll take a shorter work that flows well over a longer book that too long lags in places, any day of the week. This one, for the most part, had a flowing pattern though in the way of descriptive passages, showing instead of simply telling and smoother connectives would have improved that for me.
I have a distinct clause in my review request guidelines these days, which was updated not because I do not privately read works that may have religious or spiritual themes of some kind, but for review purposes, authors whose works I have read in those genres and may disagree with some of those aspects have ironically and solely been those abusive in their response to the review. Life’s too short for that nonsense. So, this work was on the edge of the religious themed fiction, as the main character is a priest which influences much of the storyline and dialogue. For the time period, however, even if I found it tiresome at times, this was understandable and in character for Daniel. The location itself, ancient Wales, was of particular interest as due to personal curiosity and a familial attachment, I began studying about Cymru over two decades ago.
Daniel, the protagonist is believable and distinct, but for my personal tastes the Christian overtones and theme as a whole, would limited my return to this world and life. Santuary is a solid read, which lovers of ancient history may very well enjoy, and is descriptive, gripping, and filled with action and emotionally engaging characters and situations. Sanctuary is just one of the publications of The 4th Realm, a collective group of writers specializing in indie fiction and non-fiction.
Reviewing a memoir can sometimes be more difficult as it’s a person’s life, at least from their perspective. By nature and subject matter, memoirs can...moreReviewing a memoir can sometimes be more difficult as it’s a person’s life, at least from their perspective. By nature and subject matter, memoirs can be intensely personal as you learn their thoughts, history, etc. as well as how they interacted with or observed others. With memoirs, you are not only revealing aspects of yourself but also those of other people, and that’s where I had a problem with Sons of Suicide.
As a person with painful personal history that is in the process of writing my own memoir, but more specifically as a psychological counselor now, I know that the after-effects of traumatic events can be affective one’s whole life. Those can take a number of forms, as coping mechanisms develop: these vary from person to person. Throughout this work I felt a sense of trying to make themselves look good at the expense of or in comparison to their brother. I don’t question revealing some things as facts, or events that happened, but just as that, so the reader can make their own decisions. Not having a judgement presented to them.
Although having an intriguing and sobering opening scene that sets the tone for the terrible tragedy endured and times of enjoyability when reading, the almost adolescently egocentric streak throughout of not thinking of the consequences of basically slamming their brother and pointedly showcasing how good they’ve adapted themselves really spoiled this memoir for me. Also, personally and professionally, I couldn’t help be aware of the possibilities of the manner in which this story was delivered could affect that relationship. A very good description but the memoir didn’t deliver that for me.
I just received my copy in the mail a few days ago, and it's a great read full of nostaglia, alternatively witty or melancholy or sometimes both. It's...moreI just received my copy in the mail a few days ago, and it's a great read full of nostaglia, alternatively witty or melancholy or sometimes both. It's also quite dense, meaning that it is a full collection of a variety of writing styles and methods, from front to back cover. No filler pages, etc. so you get your money's worth not only in amount but in quality, enjoyable content. I don't say it often, but it is really a beautiful trade-sized book. (less)
Whether its a theory, belief system, or science: there are many schools of thought, which may have similarities or basic premises that are common enou...moreWhether its a theory, belief system, or science: there are many schools of thought, which may have similarities or basic premises that are common enough to be believable, reasonable and/or acceptable in some way. I can completely agree that humans need to live in harmony with Nature, and also that there are similarities between some people/populations based on a variety of factors, though there are no hard or fast rules regarding that.
“We people have mysteries. Things we cannot explain. Things we don’t know how they came to be or how they stay alive but it’s all part of life. For some things we have legends and tales passed down from our ancestors, and they’re enough though now we have science and all kinds of stuff which explain how things work inside. Or they try to anyway. There are still mysteries and will always be. There are some things you don’t need answers to in order to have a happy life or just get by even.
Every body should just be how they are and be allowed to. I can be happy with very little because their definition does not apply to me. They might be unhappy with what I had. I think that’s why they are so unhappy and so far from the earth. They’re always looking at someone else and trying to change them when they don’t really know themselves in the first place.” M.G., Lakota Elder, from a speech recorded by me during an Indian Education gathering.
That is my feeling as well, but living in Germany as I do, and using its modern society as an example, there are so many people who are searching for some meaning to life and they look to this or this or that belief system, philosophy, ancient teachings or people, trying to find explanations on the “whys” of life and living, their failures in relationships, career, and so forth. They can fasten onto some particular belief or explanation that more suits their needs or what they know of themselves, things gleaned from their experiences and observations, and say, “Aha!” That belief system or philosophy can then explain everything to them they need, and they begin to work their lives around it and advocate it to others. That is what I felt this work delivered, but for me, I simply believe there can be too much overthinking, too much overstatement and all inclusiveness in terms.
All in all, it is somehow more of a distraction from simply coming to know yourself through yourself, whatever that takes, though some people clearly would feel Catalogs, manipulation modes, things advocated by this system, are tools to help an individual do so. I think the philosophy based on Shan Hai Jing manuscript is something you have to personally accept and believe in, and its a model among thousands or millions of others, and simply one interpretation of what the “human psyche” is, encompasses and needs. It was certainly a readable, well put together work that an individual should try for themselves, and see what it means to them.
As detailed in its description, this is a non-fiction work related to martial arts philosophy that is a compilation of quotes from the author and othe...moreAs detailed in its description, this is a non-fiction work related to martial arts philosophy that is a compilation of quotes from the author and others, combined with his artwork.
For myself, having studied a certain school of martial art before, as well as read various books on the subject, although certainly there are masters and students from other countries who have turned to Asian based arts in this way, I prefer to primarily read from "the originals," so to speak.
This very much had a contemporary American feel to it, though I believe something can be learned from anything we read, see or experience, yet there was nothing that really inspired me personally, providing a spark I needed to connect, a spirit of affinity. I wouldn't say it was an "enormous" cross section at all either, for at 67 pages, several of which are artwork exclusive, I would rather say the opposite.
Overall, I couldn't help but feel the amount of that artwork and the layout and design somewhat clashed with the messages being presented: color and contrast, page to page harmony and flow was at times abrupt. However, it is up to the reader to glean what they may from each quote and up to an individual to determine what is "the greatest lesson," as stated, "No answer (or review) will ever be correct or incorrect."
If open in the genre, it is a story that catches the interest immediately. And within a few paragraphs, if not a few sentences, the mood and tone is s...moreIf open in the genre, it is a story that catches the interest immediately. And within a few paragraphs, if not a few sentences, the mood and tone is set: a young woman, somewhat listless, dissatisfied, unsure yet at the same time, knows or feels action needs to be taken. There is a palpable feel of helplessness combined with a carefully contained frenzy of mania that may strike at anytime, yet no one around the individual may ever know.
The author accurately invokes the behavioral after-effects an adult can display when having experienced strong or continuing trauma as a child and/or teen. All the little thoughts, the impressions, the observations all mostly unspoken that cross the mind all referencing back to those times. Internally you think yourself insane, but you are actually one of the most sane because you daily, hundreds of times, have to face and overcome memories that might drive another crazy. Or, in this case, you can embrace a special kind of madness and make it work for you simply because you cannot find a way to be rid of it successfully.
Descriptions, something I often note, were in balance in my opinion. There are times when the story, the characters, the scenes needed more details, yet didn’t slow the pace and flow. Other times, a minimalist tone allowed for more focus on the emotions, the dialogue, arcs leading to the climax. Kaleidoscope World was balanced and enjoyable in that, with the only thing even somewhat of a hinderance being the length of paragraphs at times. I felt especially with certain dialogues and thoughts of Dahlia, the main character, they could have had more impact were structure different.
Invocative, beautiful but also agonizing in raw but necessary emotion, especially for those of us who have had to trod similar paths…or may still be doing so. This story could be anybody’s: a close acquaintance or even a past lover you never could understand but wanted to, a brother or sister…a parent. Quite outstanding and unforgettable.
Taking almost ten years to complete, The Agony of Joy, incorporates many of the author’s experiences and observations as a survivor of child sexual abuse, violence and suicidal ideation. But far from being the central theme although psychological and behavioral after-effects continue for many, the novel focuses on the courage it takes, often in the face of opposition, misunderstanding and/or apathy to not allow anything or anyone to keep you imprisoned by that past, not even yourself. Rated PG-13 for adult themes and some language. This is bisexual/gay contemporary fiction.
If you’ve ever read “The Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee, the story’s premise could be compared with Rossi’s The Perfect Family, as a relationship b...moreIf you’ve ever read “The Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee, the story’s premise could be compared with Rossi’s The Perfect Family, as a relationship between a human/humanoid and an android or artificial being is explored. The basic question seems to be: what is perfection? The difficulties arise when what we once felt to be perfection changes, but only because of humanity’s changeable nature. And daily observation of perfection can make one more critical to oneself, or conversely, oblivious to the fact you are being influenced.
The author is a native Italian speaker from Turin, and it wasn’t clear if this work was written in English or translated from Italian to English after being completed. There are some wording and grammatical issues, for either of those reasons. I liked the premise and how the story was presented, yet since it is a short story from a larger work supposedly a collection, it does seem to end abruptly and without any kind of resolution or satisfaction. For whatever reason, I liked it, and it might spur a reader to consider other works by the author, but it just might have the opposite effect for some.
A very well-written, edited and formatted book, which was what notably caught my eye when first viewing Shadowed. Crisp, clean and thorough, it was a...moreA very well-written, edited and formatted book, which was what notably caught my eye when first viewing Shadowed. Crisp, clean and thorough, it was a pleasure to see considerable care had been taken to present a professional appearance.
The premise of the story itself, someone discovering abilities in themselves they cannot fathom or understand, which distances them from other humans is a more common theme it seems these days. Paul, the main character, struggles with his heightened awareness, making choices and decisions after secretly observing sometimes nefarious others while still trying to protect his family and find out what happened to change him in this way.
Maybe it is why it took me a few tries to get started and finish, but I found I couldn’t connect with Paul and his motivations for the most part, nor the secondary characters with which he interacted. The story itself, however was told in a complex, suspenseful way other readers might enjoy.
Required reading, a required course. Overall you are presented with many of the theories psychology student would have already learned and become fami...moreRequired reading, a required course. Overall you are presented with many of the theories psychology student would have already learned and become familiar with but also presented the specifics of how it relates to a newer branch. Of course, you have copious quotes from other material, studies and psychologists, but I found the authors commentary still too directed towards certain majority populations. Instead of being objective and merely presenting information, there was more of what seemed personal opinion in the work than I cared for in a textbook. (less)
Heavy on description, many were completely imaginable, and vividly so, though like a bright, flashing scene viewed too long: it can be tiring. But con...moreHeavy on description, many were completely imaginable, and vividly so, though like a bright, flashing scene viewed too long: it can be tiring. But considering the synopsis of Retro Neon Super Life, a "boundary testing unreality; a glittery, vibrant cyber-world," that is exactly what the author might have been trying to convey, and so seemed to have achieved this aim.
You'll have to suspend disbelief or either immerse yourself fully, accepting of whatever comes, and though a short novel or longer novella at almost 115 pages, initially you're provided with a lot of information rapidfire. Why and how, a seemingly average, level-headed young man came to be in the situation he was: coming in contact with drugs, people, and ways of living for which he was unprepared and unfamiliar. These things were the bulk of the "rapid download."
There was some POV tics and lack of punctuation that had me rereading for clarity a few times, and I felt the story could have benefited from clearer breaks in scenes or character flashbacks, but even referencing the issues I felt were in the story: I felt Retro Neon Super Life was a little gem that more people should read and enjoy. I felt the author's strong vision, could understand the emotions and motivations of April and Jake Avery, the main characters. Minus a few things that could be teaked, it is a stand-out piece, and a cover more suggestive of content might help make it more so.
I knew going in, as most works dealing with indigenous or tribal peoples from an outsider's perspective, that the work can have aspects I find questio...moreI knew going in, as most works dealing with indigenous or tribal peoples from an outsider's perspective, that the work can have aspects I find questionable and which I may be more focused on. Although the author clearly did have a certain story they wished to tell in a certain way, as the description relays, I found the "primitives" (as they repeatedly called them) to be very stereotypical, as well as the suggestions that most anything western was great, good, and beneficial.
It may not have been what the author intended at all, but in their attempt to build their plot: the primitives had to be morphed into caricatures. Especially to the extend they were throughout the whole book, I really feel Nirvana Effect would have been a more balanced, believable and memorable if the members of the Onge were treated as human beings. Just because a group of people or culture are not like one's own, doesn't necessarily make their way of life or them inferior to one's own.
I found the plotting of the story predictable, with the protagonist doing almost everything just as you expect: being forbidden to view a ceremony, but of course he dismisses this warning because he wants to see it anyway. Naturally, he gets in trouble. Repeatedly. Doubtless, some readers may see the Onge tribes as just primitives, exactly the way the author wrote them, so they won't be bothered by how they were portrayed, and they may like this book well enough. It wasn't one I found especially readable, but I think it's important readers give it a chance and make their own decision.
Please see the note below regarding edition, which is primarily the reason why it took me longer to read and review this book than my average: I had a...morePlease see the note below regarding edition, which is primarily the reason why it took me longer to read and review this book than my average: I had an earlier edition that had many editing errors.
That being said, there was an edge to Shadows of a Dead Star, incorporating mystery and darkness, an eeriness that attracts you but creates a sense of anxiety so that you’re reluctant to look full on: for fear of what you might learn. Mood and tension was great, and main character Walken, was both sympathetic and strong, with understandable vulnerabilities. Very well presented, I thought.
It might be considered strange but in conjunction with everything else, what I liked most about this book was its length, approximately 115 pages. There wasn’t pages and pages of superfluous information, slowing pace and progression. The writing was stylish but not trying to overly impress; instead the author used language that was gripping but not pretentious. Shean used vivid descriptions and imagery that surprised and satisfied, just enough, never over the top. Very much reminding me of Christopher Hinz’s, Paratwa Trilogy, which had a strange beauty but was undeniably shocking and sometimes brutal, Shadows of a Dead Star was a book I was glad I gave another chance.
Note: This novel was listed as being self-published by Michael Shean, June 2011, then assumingly republished by Curiosity Quills Press, December 2011. After completing my review, as usual, I read through others, a number of which used editing and grammar issues as reason to rate the novel lower. Please take this fact into consideration regarding edition, making sure to get the updated, corrected version.
The Red Sun Will Come is the debut novel by Australian author, Mark Morey. Mostly on location in Moscow, Russia, I picked this one up especially havin...moreThe Red Sun Will Come is the debut novel by Australian author, Mark Morey. Mostly on location in Moscow, Russia, I picked this one up especially having spent a couple of years learning the language, have travelled there and have been fortunate to have a couple of close Russian friends, which immensely helped me to understand more of them from an insider's perspective. I was quite interested what the author's take would be, and must admit within this work I did find most of the stereotypes perpetuated about the country and its people. Not to say some stereotypes aren't accurate or generally accepted as true even by Russians themselves.
Greg is the finance rep turned journalist investigating the world of Russian mail order brides, yet after choosing his own "girl" who he travels to Russia to meet, and whom he falls head over heels in love with, finds a more sinister situation behind the initial story. In what I felt to be an improbably gullible and heavy-handed way, he begins to pursue Russian gangsters in the middle of a drug war, which naturally prompts dangerous confrontations, threats and events. His new Russian girlfriend, if as canny as most of her countrywomen, should have warned him away from his "research" for his own safety, but miraculously they survive virtually unharmed to carry on their precipitous romance.
Even with those things aside, and knowing Russian myself, my biggest problem with this novel is the amount of phonetically spelled conversations in Russian. Generally I've noticed many authors who use other languages than the primary one in their manuscripts, use italicization of those foreign phrases, which wasn't done here. As there was so much Russian within the work, it really interrupted the flow and pacing for me, especially when having characters speak Russian when its only translated immediately by someone else in the book anyway or not fully translated at all so a non-Russian speaking reader wouldn't know what was said at all. Though I realize the author may have been trying to show their proficiency with the language, and some people less familiar with Russia might be satisfied, with that and other things, I would have preferred the knowledge presented to extend to rounding out the Russia personality and cultural observations in a way that wasn't so trite.
The author's enthusiasm was clear and tangible in The Red Sun Will Come, but I felt the execution and characterization could have been improved, and limiting the use of extended Russian dialogue would have been advantageous in creating greater depth and atmosphere. (less)
Even though this was a fictionalized account of the author’s own early life and young adult years, the pressing issues addressed are no less important...moreEven though this was a fictionalized account of the author’s own early life and young adult years, the pressing issues addressed are no less important or impacting. Also, I do not believe the novel itself should be considered a less accurate portrayal of mental illness and alcoholism which many children have to grow up with, just because it has fictional characters acting out the parts the author experienced personally.
Just as a side point, my personal angle of reading When Red Is Blue, I couldn’t help but view the different circumstances of setting and players, fictional or real, in which such situations are seen as dysfunctional and terrible, abnormal, yet for some who do not know Native Americans but think they do or accept the stereotypes, they consider this normal and widespread in native households.
It’s hard to critique such a work, or I find it so, because it is intimately, crucially personal to the author. Some reviewers don’t seem to care one way or the other, just concerned with “spot-checking” or personal opinion, seeming to lack empathy or concern for such matters but I do. I can prefer a novel might have been written in a way that showed more through descriptive actions than what the reader was told happened, and happened in thus-and-so way, for this read more like a memoir or autobiography, where such style is often an inevitable part of presentation. The progression of the story, the events introduced, the repeated “little” devastations that still can somehow inspire you to be stronger and overcome? In this overly coddled age (for some), a story like this makes you remember the “get it done” roots that has kept families and individuals going, though sometimes they felt they were going to fall apart.
When Red Is Blue is a vivid, sometimes blunt, but never less than enlightening work which, whatever your background or socio-economic level, can be understood and poignantly so by those who’ve had to deal with the same on some level.
An intriguing premise can always catch my eye, and having a character whose face changes pattern daily whether they wish it to or not, was definitely...moreAn intriguing premise can always catch my eye, and having a character whose face changes pattern daily whether they wish it to or not, was definitely one. And even as basically simple as the cover image for Clown is, I felt it strongly and strikingly conveyed most of the mood of the story: a kind of aimless wandering of Clown, both physically and emotionally.
That being said, it’s that same quality which made it rather difficult for me to progress through the book. Especially, at over 450 pages of roughly the same feel, I didn’t experience a sense of purpose, a build-up, climax or true resolution even if there are some scenes and characters who brightened or added complexity to the narrative. Overall, I just felt a number of revisions could have added focus and drive, which certainly can always be challenging to any author. Maybe I've missed the point of the work, but it's listing as Book One suggests there will be more and many of the questions might finally be answered.
Quoting myself from a previous review, “Human and alien interaction in sci-fi is one of my favorite themes when it’s done in an intelligent manner, su...moreQuoting myself from a previous review, “Human and alien interaction in sci-fi is one of my favorite themes when it’s done in an intelligent manner, such as in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner Universe and many others by her, or with humor, such as in the League of Peoples series by James Alan Gardner’s, which began with Expendable.”
In Cherryh’s Foreigner Universe, human and alien contact began eagerly on both sides, as they seemed similar superficially similar, yet the situation precipituously dipped into danger resulting in violence and aggression but eventually ended in a wise stalemate and limited contact between the two groups only through a translator/diplomat. In Wyle’s Twin-Bred, the situation is more ambiguous and the solution far, far more distract.
My question was, since the two groups couldn’t readily communicate and understand each other, how did they come to the conclusion something as intimate as shared fetus pregnancies would be a possible solution? How could the aliens agree? Yet it takes place, which of course, is the theme of the book, clearly though out by the author and intelligently presented.
There were times when the reflection between Mara and her deceased though “present” twin Levi might have been lessened, as I understood the concept through the description of Twin-Bred in the first place, yet I could understand how this relationship was explanatory for other knowledge and emotions experienced throughout, and the scientist’s driving force behind the experiment.
There was believable complexity and conflict in this moderately paced, lengthy novel, and a mature feel to the characters and writing style. None of the truncated or abbreviated feel some books have these days, Twin-Bred is in classic mode, which might certainly be appreciated by those searching for immersive science fiction.
Specifically for Goodreads rating system, I toggled between a 3 and 4 for this book, because I liked it but it is not one I'd likely go back and read, but there was clear enthusiasm by the author within the work. I can appreciate that immensely, which bumped up the score.