Regardless of my misgivings on the weather in Sand, Mr. Howey has penned another great story with characters you’ll love to fall in love with. I highl...moreRegardless of my misgivings on the weather in Sand, Mr. Howey has penned another great story with characters you’ll love to fall in love with. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for an adventurous tale set in an imaginative post-apocalyptic setting that touches on familial relationships.
I've been meaning to do a proper review for this, but time keeps escaping me, so I'll just offer some brief thoughts:
Disclaimer: Andrew is a friend an...moreI've been meaning to do a proper review for this, but time keeps escaping me, so I'll just offer some brief thoughts:
Disclaimer: Andrew is a friend and I read this novel prior to publication. Some things may have changed.
The story in The Glass Sealing follows two characters; one a determined daughter of a successful business man and the other an up-and-coming engineer. For a brief moment in time, together they think they have the answers that will fix their city, but events conspire against them and each must face decisions that will wreck havoc on everyone around them.
I really liked the setting in this novel. Part of a shared world series I haven't read, I enjoyed the way Mr. Hudson described the city's inhabitants, the mysterious black cloud, and the airships that ruled the skies. And I especially like the complex way all of them interacted not only with each other, but with our two protagonists. Arthur (our engineer) and Jocelyn (our ruthless businesswoman) are surprising characters. Each offering reasons to follow them on their plight and each will have you questioning early assumptions about them.
As with many tales, a story is only as good as its ending. While I liked the big showdown between Arthur and the city, the resolution for both characters didn't resonate with me. Regardless, this is a good read and I look forward to more novels from Mr. Hudson.
Tracks is action-packed, touches on a side of America few of us have seen, and promises a rich story steeped in magic and traditions. I highly recomme...moreTracks is action-packed, touches on a side of America few of us have seen, and promises a rich story steeped in magic and traditions. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new kind of fantasy with a bit of romance.
The Adjacent is a love story about two people torn apart by place and time. It has elements of H.G. Wells, World War I, an island nation, an Islamic version of England, and magic, but at its core, it is a love story.
In lyrical, but matter-of-fact prose, a complicated story of death unfolds as we are introduced to Tibor Tarent, a photographer reeling from the recent death of his wife, a nurse. He is returning from an aid mission to a southern country. Where exactly, we are not told. But he’s returning to England, London specifically, but it’s an English countryside and culture we would find hard to recognize.
Massive storms have scarred the countryside and a new weapon is burning out what remains. The residents live in a somewhat militarized society that has long ago embraced Islam. As he is moved from place to place, escorted by mysterious government officials, he grieves for his wife, who had been obliterated out in the desert by the same weapon plaguing London.
The book soon leaves Tarent’s story to plunge us into the life of two individuals shipped off to the World War 1 front lines for suspect reasons. In this section, we are given another, older, version of Tarent who happens to be a magician, one who uses a technique often termed an ‘adjacent distraction’. This is our first, most obvious connection between this story and the previous one with the photographer.
Don’t quote me on the sequence, but the story then weaves between Tarent’s story coming to terms with his wife’s death and the inexplicable events happening around him, and the stories of two women, one a pilot and the other mysteriously connected to him, but in a brief, adulterous way. Like the many Tarent’s in the story, inconsequential details blur the stories of his wife: the woman named Krystyna (or Kirstenya or any other variant), and ‘the other woman’. Each show up in Tarent’s (or Tommaz’s or Tomak’s) life at crucial stages. In one version of their story, we meet his wife in the guise of a Polish pilot helping out in the war effort as best as she can. She tells him her story and it seems that the version of Tarent she is telling her story to is a copy of the Tarent she left behind at home. While potentially confusing, what is clear in each section is the undeniable bond between the two; an everlasting love that transcends the cold vagaries of life.
Each section of the novel blurs the facts, doling out tantalizing details that you think will help you solve the mystery of the individual stories. But in the end, we simply discover what happens. Really, there is no mystery to solve (it is unsolvable). There is only a story to be enjoyed for its rich texture and a wonderful sense of warped place and time.
With that said, this is a book for Christopher Priest fans.
This is my first foray into Mr. Priest’s fiction. I’ve watched the movie adaptation of The Prestige, but I’ve never read anything by him. While I believe a new reader to Priest’s works do not need to read all his previous books to enjoy The Adjacent, I did get the sense that I was missing out on something. There were many references and/or details that I thought would have some significance to the story (or stories) I was reading (the wires, the cultural norms or ab-norms of the island population, that whole weapon thing, the city that was and then was not there, etc), but they never panned out. Or rather, the details didn’t seem to matter to the end result. All of which I think was the point.
Even so, I did enjoy this book. Mr. Priest has a wonderful way of creating a surreal experience out of the ordinary. And he does it in such a way that you’re not aware of it until after the fact. He gives so much detail and information in flawless, emotional prose that both enriches the reading experience and immerses you in the character’s world. Even so, this reader was left with a sense of mystery that pulled me along at every (potentially frustrating) turn in the story. I wanted to know what the dang weapon was and who was using it, but then we are left with what is really important – the bonds that hold us together through place and time.
It was wonderful to read Mr. Priest’s take on this novel (">see this SFFWorld.com interview). I especially liked that he didn’t think he was painting England in a grim light because it becomes, in The Adjacent, an Islamic state and environmentally damaged or changed. While reading his book, I didn’t get the sense that it was overwhelmingly grim, but only that it was simply different. I think that is The Adjacent’s triumph. It offers several alternative realities that feel as real as the world we live in today, and as easily visited as flying a plane over a wide, blue ocean (or reading The Adjacent).
I highly recommend this book to all fans of Christopher Priest as well as someone looking for a book that offers the sense of shifting realities as real as our own while offering you a different view of what we could have been and may become.(less)
Talus and the Frozen King is a story about the wandering bard Talus and his (semi) reluctant partner Bran. They are traveling across their world north to the lights that crash in the night sky, heralding a place where lost spirits might be found.
But before they get there, there are mysteries to be solved.
The book opens with Bran and Talus overlooking an island which happens to be home of the Creyak people. Shouts and wails can be heard and the two respond by going down to see what’s going on. To Talus’ piqued interest and Bran’s consternation, they find a dead king, frozen on his throne in a sheltered, outdoor courtyard. In the time it takes Bran to think they ought to move on, Talus claims that the death of the king is no accident, but murder.
Along with Bran, Talus then guides us through an examination of the body, the likely and unlikely suspects, the murder weapon, and possible motives. The plot thickens when a neighboring king shows up with his, let’s just say, popular daughter, who managed to string along just about all the dead king’s heirs.
As Talus gets closer and closer to the answer, the stakes are raised and Talus’ past catches up to him and even he is at risk in the final, frozen hilltop showdown.
All in all, I liked this book. The writing is clear, concise, and the plot moves forward at a satisfactory pace. I like Bran. He’s the down-to-earth counterpoint to Talus’ brilliant mind. The story is (mostly) told from Bran’s point of view and I really sympathized with his plight. The loss of a loved one, no matter what ice-age you may be in, is a terrible thing. Reading about him coming to terms with that loss added a texture to this story that I wasn’t expecting. I especially liked how the author worked in a few female characters that were not just bed warmers (which he could easily have done given the time period). Lethriel, a widow like Bran, proves to be a valuable resource to our budding detectives, and Alayin, the desirous daughter of the attacking king, is a formidable character trying to carve out a life of her own away from her father.
I also liked the stories that Talus tells the people of Creyak. Don’t quote me on this, but after one particularly confounding tale, Talus tells us that stories don’t necessarily have to make sense, they just have to touch us the right way. I completely agree with this sentiment. There are countless stories I’ve read that should have been put through the editorial process a few more times, but somehow connect in such a way that I overlook all its flaws.
However, the style in which Talus and the Frozen King is written, left a sour taste. I guess, more accurately, I just didn’t like the whole premise of the book. A Sherlock Holmes/Watson set up (along with a counter “evil genius”) placed in the ice age just seemed…silly. I don’t see why a traveling bard would be interested in solving a mystery that had nothing to do with him and that could put his life at risk. Even if he didn’t care about his own life, why would he risk Bran’s life that way? I mean, they’re in an icy world, with few resources, and they have some place to be. Would they really stop and muck up a frozen king’s funeral when no one is asking them to do so? It just didn’t make sense. (view spoiler)[Maybe I missed the bit where Talus knew his arch-enemy would be in that village before they went down to it, but I’m pretty sure he was just as surprised as everyone else when they find out the shaman was not who he said he was. (hide spoiler)]
Most mysteries I’ve read include a crucial, triggering event that makes it absolutely impossible for the main character to move forward without solving the mystery. In Talus and the Frozen King, I was not convinced that that was the case.
So, if you’re a die-hard mystery fan, that lack of plausible motivation on the part of Talus may put you off. But if you can jump over that tall bar of disbelief, give Talus and the Frozen King a try. You just might like it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Chasing the Star Garden, book one of The Airship Racing Chronicles, by Melanie Karsak is a steampunk fantasy about Lily Stargazer, a drug addict and airship pilot extraordinaire.
The book begins in the middle of a race. Lily and her crew are sailing through the sky above London, hot on the heels of her racing nemesis, an obviously better pilot than she because he wins and she doesn’t. Lily does come in second place, which isn’t half bad, but before she can claim her trophy, a man dressed in harlequin assaults her by shoving a long, clothed cylinder down the front of her pants – then promptly plunges to his death.
Thus begins the strange and adventurous tale that will lead Lily across Europe to Venice, where she finds out that she has a connection with a god and that god needs her – now. She must find the statue of Venus before art hunters take the last earthly avatar of Venus and move her away from those who would worship her properly. Along with her casual lover, a Venus devotee, and an obedient crew, Lily heads for Greece to find Venus before anyone else does. Along the way, she must cross war-filled seas, challenge her physical fear of water, and finally allow a happiness to enter her life that she has pushed away since the day Lily’s mother left her.
An adult tale with steamy sexual scenes, I really wanted to like Chasing the Star Garden. Ms. Karsak writes well and has given us a courageous, but flawed, heroine who is capable and comfortable with her skills as a airship pilot. The author also builds a steam-punk world filled with alluring devices with several chase scenes that should have pumped my heart. Regardless, the story fell flat for me.
I’m not entirely sure why, but I think there were several points that tripped my disbelief sensors. The first was the harlequin shoving something long and hard down Lily’s pants. Lily takes the assault all in stride, and even hides the fact from the officials around her that the man gave her something. The author failed to convince me that someone, even someone as sexually focused as Lily, would do that. Why would she trust a complete stranger that then kills himself? On the same token, I couldn’t buy Lily’s motivation for taking her airship on a journey across Europe based solely on that stranger’s suggestion.
In addition, though Chasing the Star Garden was an interesting read and had some wonderful airship maneuvers, I never felt a connection to the main character. Lily’s life begins with the strict attentions of a couple of horrendous male guardians. She’s psychologically scarred and becomes an opium addict because of them, but somehow Lily ends up with well-intentioned men around her during this story. Though her love affair with Lord Byron, also a benefactor, might be construed as damaging, he does not demand much from Lily. He seems more of a easy crutch for the author to give Lily what she needs when she needs it.
And then we have the older, endlessly accommodating Sal, willing to do anything for his younger lover. He seems more of a father figure than a lover, and when they finally hook up, I couldn’t help but think that Lily was using him to fill her needs of a loving patriarch. Another point that grated my nerves was that everyone was beautiful and sexually hip. That’s fine and all, but that is not something I look for in my fiction.
Despite all this, Chasing the Star Garden was a quick and entertaining read. If you like your lofty steampunk sexy and adventurous, you may want to give this story a try.(less)
Because these books are not filled with battle scenes, blood, gore, and sex (all things I love, but don’t mind going without), they are perfect for th...moreBecause these books are not filled with battle scenes, blood, gore, and sex (all things I love, but don’t mind going without), they are perfect for the young reader. These books are a great introduction to a new place filled with magic and characters they can look up to while entertaining them with two intriguing mysteries. I highly recommend these books to the pre-teen in all of us.
Mr. Davis Ashura’s debut novel, A Warrior’s Path – Book One: The Castes and the Out Castes, is told from the point of view of several characters. The first we are introduced to is Rukh Shekton and his cousins out on their first, their virgin, mission across the monster-ridden spaces between protected cities. Their caravan is about to be attacked by those monsters, the Chimera, creatures cobbled together from different parts of other animals by an insane god, Suwraith. The troop, hundreds strong, prepare to outrun the Chimeras. They discard their wagons and any gear not necessary for survival. Scouts are dispatched and a small contingent sent back to Asoka (their destination) to relay events.
Golak is Part 1 of The Deadlands Trilogy, a story set in a post-apocalyptic near-future society reeling from a collapse due to ecological, scientific, and political catastrophes. Our main character is Jonah, a young man on the cusp of becoming an adult who fights every rule set before him by his elders. Living in a small, enclosed, god-fearing and sheltered community, this breeds trouble for Jonah and his family.
The story begins with an attack on their village. The golaks, the result of terrible genetic experiments, approach the village walls pleading for food and help. The villagers, along with Jonah and his brother, attack the golaks, driving them off.
In the process, Jonah kills two of the golaks who look a lot like a woman and child instead of the monsters he expected. After the ordeal, once everyone is safe behind the village walls, they realize Jonah’s younger sister, outside the walls grazing her cow, has been taken by the fleeing golaks.
A search party is organized, including Jonah, his estranged brother, and another village boy who is slated to marry Jonah’s sister. They scour the nearby woods, but do not find her. Jonah is convinced if they just keep at the golak’s trail, they’ll find her. Jonah loves his sister and will do anything to save her, but the elders in the search party determine it is too late. The girl is lost. They order that everyone turn back before it gets too dark.
Against their wishes, Jonah and the other village boy run off in the night to hunt the golaks and determine where they are. Early the next morning, they find them in a cave, but there is no way he and his friend can hope to enter their lair and/or fight off the golaks, who are described as, basically, ugly neandertals.
After a long day waiting for the golaks to go back into their cave, Jonah and his friend rush back to the village for reinforcements. Again, a group is organized but Jonah is not allowed to go. For his initial disobedience, he is told he can not go and so he waits.
The party returns, but everyone who had gone are terribly affected by what they have seen and though they have Jonah’s sister’s body, she has been beaten and tortured. She is not the same person and she clings to her betrothed, barely able to function.
The story continues with a devastating turn of events that will scar Jonah for the rest of his life. And throughout his sister’s recovery, Jonah’s mind is reaching for answers about himself and the world around him. Answers that no one will give him.
The society he lives in is based on fear, secrets, and the suppression of knowledge. All things Jonah continually butts his head against while he searches to help his sister and the village. This long, searching story ends with a series of disturbing and horrific revelations about who Jonah is and what he will become.
The author is a seasoned writer in Denmark. Though I read a translation, it is clear that Ms. Josefine Ottesen knows how to draw out the most emotion out of a scene. Many times I found myself on the verge of tears and a few times I shut down my Nook, angry with a decision Jonah’s father made or furious over the self-imposed impotence of his mother. Ms. Ottesen knows about secrets and the harm they can do and she yielded that idea to its fullest in her book. And for a young adult book, I was so happy to see the adults in the book portrayed as flawed (oh, deeply flawed in this case) characters rather than used as stupid props to push our hero’s story along.
Despite all this book has going for it and even though I managed to finish this lengthy novel, in the end, I found this book most off-putting.
Incest and inappropriate sexual relations run amok in the town, as does the male-dominated culture that determines not only behavior but marriages, often favoring the men. Women have self-regulated themselves to willing sub-participants in a patriarchal society. In addition, they use religion in its most controlling form to proliferate fear and ignorance. If that’s not enough to leave a very bad smear on your brain, there’s poor Jonah’s fate that will leave you truly horrified.
9127010In my opinion, the story’s greatest failing is all the waffling. Boy, does this boy waffle.
Does he follow his heart and mind, learn new things and improve the village as best as he can, or does he follow the orders from his elders, do as he is told and show no individuality or special knowledge?
Jonah struggles with these questions for the entire book. One day he exalts in learning new things and the next he is self-admonishing himself to be more like those around him. He is a perpetual pendulum and at times during the story’s narrative, I got confused as to whether he was in his manic I-can-do-anything-phase or his depressed I-must-do-what-I-am-told-phase. In fact, I think even the author got confused somewhere in the middle of the novel.
Regardless, the author does do a good job of making us feel how hard and terrible the young man feels about himself and his place in the world. I felt his anguish and was truly sorry for him (and especially his sister). I wanted the boy to rail against his elders and his family for demanding that he be anything but himself.
(view spoiler)[In the end, however, someone else makes that decision for him.
In a fit an anger over the loss of something special to him, he strikes out, sealing his fate as an outsider. I was very disappointed that Jonah didn’t come to the conclusion to leave on his own, but rather it was thrust upon him by the actions of others, and his uncontrolled reaction to that action. I guess, that’s true to life, but I had wanted it to be his decision to leave that repressive society and not a default condition based on an irreversible action. (hide spoiler)]
Coupled with the fact that it took an incredible amount of words to get to that point, this is a book that did not leave me wanting more of Jonah’s story, even though I think it is a story worth telling.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Feyre have long lived among humans. With a strained treaty between them and humans, with one of the Feyre Courts wanting to eliminate humans altogether, and with the fact that Feyre and humans have started interbreeding, there are plenty of problems for our hero, Niall Peterson, to attend to after he realizes he’s one of the dreaded waithkin, the type of aforementioned Feyre that want to end humanity.
Niall Peterson came late to his Feyre powers after suffering a heart attack on the London underground. He’s recently divorced, feeling estranged from his only daughter, and a bit out of shape. He’s saved by Blackbird, a several hundred year old half-fey, but only temporarily. For the entire first book in this series, Niall is running for his life and he’s lucky enough to have Blackbird along to help him (and fall in love with).
In the second book, The Road to Bedlam, the overall conflict between the untainted waithkin and the fey-mongrels (half Feyre, half human) is brought to the fore, introducing a new twist. Feyre lines have gone stagnant and since the High Court (made up of seven lords from the Seven Courts) cannot figure out what to do about it, it seems that the fey have been quietly have a sort of sexual revolution. There are half-breeds everywhere. And a secret government branch has started to use and abuse them – including Niall’s daughter.
In Strangeness and Charm, the story shifts to tell Alex’s (Niall’s daughter) story. She has been traumatized by the events that occurred to her during her government incarceration, and being a teenager, she’s having a lot to cope with. She just wants to fit in somewhere and she finds a group of half-fey peers that are willing to take her in (because they couldn’t manage to kill her). But, unfortunately, that proves disastrous because their leader is trying to destroy the world. However, Niall managers to save us all (again), while he learns more about who he really is and the stage is set for the waithkin to make their move.
Which they do in The Eighth Court. The untainted, pure Feyre, are divided into Seven Courts, but with the emergence of the new half-breeds, another one is proposed so as to deal with the special problems that the half-fey/half-humans pose to the Feyre and to humanity. Blackbird, its de facto leader, is negotiating hard with the other court lords to sort out their differences and actually physically create an Eighth Court to handle all the half-breed’s business.
As a court Warder, sworn to protect all the court lords, with no bias and regardless of court affiliation, Niall is, of course, in the midst of all this sea-change in the Feyre culture. Not to mention Blackbird is his wife and mother to his newborn son. If that wasn’t enough, his daughter falls in love with a colleague. Among all this, the waithkin maneuver events so they can move in and finally do want they have been gunning to do since, well, since forever – take over.
The Eighth Court starts out with a mysterious interchange of information. Someone is betraying the High Court (where all the courts gather to settle differences and plot against each other) and offering Niall’s hide. And from there on out, nothing is as it seems. Niall is pulled between his family and his duty throughout the story, making it hard for the story to gain any momentum. We then get yanked from Niall’s trials to Alex’s growing affections for a man she barely knows, and who may be a 1000 years older than her. But, hey, she’s an adult…more or less. And the prophecy first hinted at in Sixty One Nails comes into play, sealing all their fates, while Blackbird makes one of the biggest mistakes in her life as a lady.
Now, I was really looking forward to this last (I thought it was the last) installment to the series. I had put off reading it so that I could savor the story and the ultimate sword fight that I just knew – just knew! – must happen between Niall and Raffmir (Niall’s waithkin cousin). I even forgave the waffling, disjointed story that is the bulk of The Eighth Court, anticipating that the final fight would be worthy of all the unnecessary setup.
I was pretty disappointed in the end, more of a fizzle than a bang.
After reading, I thought my feelings about this book were too harsh and unwarranted. I thought, maybe it was just me. The story just didn’t resonate with me. But then, while writing this review and re-reading my notes on the previous books, I realized how much fun the other books are. Niall is a great character and his magical ability set him apart from most of the other Feyre and half-fey. Not only that, he really struggled to reconcile his humanity with his fey nature. His story up till this book had been vibrant and interesting. But in The Eighth Court?
The first three-quarters of the book seemed very disjointed. We jumped from several POVs in rapid succession, making it hard to figure out what’s going on, Niall managed to get a human killed (right under his nose!), and the dreaded waithkin weren’t all that dreadful.
And to top it off, there were an inordinate amount of typographic errors.
Yup. I said it.
I don’t normally mention typos. They’re like errant nose hairs. Best not to mention them in polite company. And I normally do not need to mention them. Any book worthy of my time to write a review for generally do not contain a noticeable amount of typos. Oh, all books have ‘em. Like zits, it is impossible for a few typos not to squeeze through. But when I find myself highlighting line after line because they contain a typo and not because they are worthy of remembrance, well, let’s just say, I noticed. So, shame on Angry Robot for not putting this through the proofreader one last time.
(NOTE: I did not receive a review copy. I bought my copy at its full price on Barnes and Noble – before Angry Robot’s big sale!)
So, should you read The Eighth Court?
If you are new to Mike Shevdon’s work, I would say no. Mr. Shevdon is an excellent writer. I’m a fan and I will continue to read whatever he puts out, but this book doesn’t reflect his talent. Start with Sixty One Nails.
If you’ve read all the others in this series, The Eighth Court does (for the most part) wrap up all the story threads, and, for some, that may satisfy.(less)
The God-Blasted Land is about a young man named Avril. His mentor and guardian drags him around an apocalyptic world that has been Cleansed by the god...moreThe God-Blasted Land is about a young man named Avril. His mentor and guardian drags him around an apocalyptic world that has been Cleansed by the gods. Their world is a mix of fantasy (shape-shifting dragons!) and science fiction (modern cities with motorcycles, cleaning robots, and laser-like guns - oh, and swords, of course).
There's not much sense to the mix of gods, magic, and tech, but that's okay because the story is pretty darn good. If you want to enjoy the ride, just ignore the genre-mashup and run with it.
For soon, so too are our heroes running from the gods. Ethan, Avril's mentor, tries his best to keep Avril from the manipulations of the Lord they are bonded to, but he fails.
(view spoiler)[Rant Alert: This is one of my other pet peeves with YA fiction: the older mentor dies stupidly. Or rather, he dies because he wasn't paying attention. Really? I mean, the dude is supposed to be a bad ass warrior and protector and he dies during a moment of distraction? (heavy sigh) (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, that of course leaves Avril alone and on the run. He encounters a girl, Ranora, who has a special power allowing her to convince people of whatever she wants by just talking to them. They, of course, hook up and now they are both running from the assassins who want to capture Avril and the Lord who wants his bonded man back.
The reasons for both are not entirely explained, but it is hinted that the Lords and gods are manipulating what is left of humanity and Avril is key to those machinations.
This short, entertaining read ends with Avril's future on the cusp of change. He has returned to his lord, who allows him to decide his own fate. We find out this kid may very well end up fighting the gods.
The author's writing is professional, clear and easy to follow. This is a quick read and you will most likely enjoy it. Avril, though a bit dense at times, is relatable and Ranora, his new sidekick, is admirable in her determination to avoid the violence around her (though that proves impossible).
Unfortunately, for me, it has too many of what I see as YA 'trappings': Adults are easily foiled (though they are supposed to be great warriors/assassins) by a young adult who can barely keep his thoughts straight.
Please, authors, label your books clearly that they are Young Adult so that I don't read 'em.
But if you don't mind YA, please do read this book. It is fun. (And the dragons are super cool.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is one of those amazing finds on Amazon that make it worth slogging through all the ‘less than perfect’ self-published novels. Once you start reading, this book is hard to put down. But before I start gushing too much about this time-travel tale of mystery and deception, allow me give you a rundown of the story.
Initially released as a serial, The Cutting Room’s first section introduces the reader to Blake Din’s world, a world where a young boy is on the cusp of being brutally murdered – again. But Blake has traveled back in time to stop it.
Okay, wait, back up.
Not our timeline. That’s Primetime, and strictly off-limits. No one goes back to mess with Primetime, but havoc can and does ensue in earth’s multiple, parallel timelines.
So why is Blake visiting a parallel universe to save one boy? Is one boy’s life worth the potential ripples of change that could drastically change that timeline?
Well, yes, it is, because the killer is from Primetime and preying upon the multiverse. It’s Blake’s, along with a cadre of time-travel agent’s, job to stop them.
When Blake arrives a week before the death of that six-year-old boy, his task is to find the killer before the killer can carve up the boy. Blake stakes out potential suspects using 1970’s technology and his instincts. He gets close, but he’s running out of time. He does the one thing that he shouldn’t – contact the victim. Together, the boy and Blake manage to allude the murderer. But when Blake returns to Primetime, his superior informs him that the boy ends up dying anyway. More than ten years later in his timeline, he has a fatal car accident.
Did Blake fail or was his death just fate?
Blake intends to find out. In the process, he tells us his own fate and it includes dinosaurs.
We travel with our hero to a futuristic world where Blake and his new partner, Vette, have seven days to thwart another murder. They soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery that spans multiple timelines. They fail at saving their target, but they don’t give up. In the third part of the series, they travel as far back as the western frontier town of Brownville in hopes of finding the criminal time-travelers that are unraveling that timeline at the source of their meddling. The two find they are always one step behind the criminals. Blake and his partner try to outsmart the rogue elements, but only after spending a lifetime together do they get close to the answer.
A first person narrative that is steeped in hard-boiled detective language, I fell hard for our hero. For me, he’s a great character. Blake Din is nothing like most modern detectives we see on TV or in our fiction. He doesn’t have a drinking problem (thank goodness!), nor is he constantly chasing skirts. He’s smart, dedicated and does right by whomever he encounters. He’s just a good guy up against impossible circumstances. He wants to set the world(s) right. Frankly, he’s the sort I like to read about.
The pacing in The Cutting Room is quick, but the writing is vivid and poignant. I can’t begin to list all the profound and funny one-liners Blake doled out on a regular basis. I laughed out loud many times and was brought to tears a few times, too. Though his writing is spare, the author packs emotion into every scene. When I got to the end of the story, I just didn’t want it to end. Though there are inconsistency in the plot, don’t let it fret you too much. This is a time-travel story, and what time-travel story makes perfect sense? They just don’t. Read The Cutting Room and enjoy the journey through Blake’s many lives. I promise, you won’t regret it.
This anthology's theme centers around dreams. From the fantastical to the uncomfortable, this anthology does not disappoint with its range of topics....moreThis anthology's theme centers around dreams. From the fantastical to the uncomfortable, this anthology does not disappoint with its range of topics. However, the execution is a bit spotty. Even so, at this price point, it is well worth the money.
My favorite stories among the bunch are quite different from each other. The first is Dream Job by Milos Petrik, where harvesting and selling dreams lead to unfortunate events. The second is This Thing of Darkness by Yzabel Ginsberg became a favorite simply because it really felt like a dream, terrifying and otherworldly. Lovers' Fugue had the best premise, in my opinion; in a world awakened to their dreams, we find a society devoid of dreams because they are too dangerous. Quite an adventurous love tale. And the one that I most enjoyed, probably for its understated promise, was Finding Marty by Katherine Ganzel.
Though heavy on the romance side and despite the uneven stories, this anthology was a pleasant surprise. And all proceeds support LitWorld, a non-profit literacy organization.(less)