Communion is the story of young, lanky, nerdy Lester Fuller, a high school student who one day is fighting off a hulking bully and dealing with all thCommunion is the story of young, lanky, nerdy Lester Fuller, a high school student who one day is fighting off a hulking bully and dealing with all the problems that go with being an outcast, and in the next, discovers himself in an unbelievable situation with one of the hottest girl in school. And not like what you would expect. And that is certainly not where this story ends. Patterson cuts to the quick and dives right into Lester’s story, his life, and his struggles, giving bones and flesh to his characters and building tension and emotion between them.
Admittedly, I’m not huge fan of vampires or vampire lore in any form, either YA or adult fiction (probably from overexposure), but I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by B. Patterson’s unique and rapid-fire paranormal YA novel debut.
As a writer, Patterson has a straight shooting style of prose and a direct way of telling a story with the foot on the gas. He writes with a definite edge of youth and hipness that comes along with his swift styling, weaving the two together with ease. Along with his finger on the pulse of high school life, Patterson draws you into Lester’s growing world without the clichés and takes the story to incredible heights. He briskly touches upon topics relatable to teens mixed with the paranormal aspects of the dhampir - NOT vampires - within the social context of the group that draws Lester in. At its heart, Communion is a coming-of-age story and even a story of finding the acceptance that - in the end - everyone in high school is looking for.
A fantastic debut by a fresh new YA writer! ...more
Anyone familiar with author Mike Robinson’s shorter work knows he is a writer who loves a good mental sprint, birthing stories centered within the conAnyone familiar with author Mike Robinson’s shorter work knows he is a writer who loves a good mental sprint, birthing stories centered within the confines of the human mind, generally resulting in a great exercise in a certain character’s interior workings and feelings. Skunk Ape Semester is the exact opposite.
In his debut novel, Mike Robinson’s Skunk Ape Semester (SAS) goes far beyond the limits of one man’s mind and out into the deepest crevices of America, and the picture painted to the reader isn’t the prettiest. Not there isn’t a slew of very interesting sights along the way. Our hero, Jeremy Fishleder is a crypto zoologist—an expert on all things questionable legend—and was recently let go at the local university where he taught the different oddities of the unknown the world has to offer. However, with this loss comes a gain—he inherits a borderline magical van filled to the brim with more secret compartments than an African hunter’s safari jacket. No the van isn’t really magical, but there is certainly an air of mystical, mysterious history to it. Think Scooby-Doo’s Magical Mystery Machine through the eyes of Michael Crichton during his Travels days. Jeremy is given the van from his friend, Dwayne, who used it to do what he wants Jeremy to do now: travel the country to rediscover the odd aspects of the nation.
Before Jeremy sets off, three students join him on his excursion. Together, the four of them travel cross-country from Los Angeles via a disorganized slush-pile from Dwayne. It’s a unquestionable scene of passing of the torch, old to young, experienced to educated.
The gang goes to various spots across America known for the weird and legendary to investigate and have, not only a deeper understanding of Jeremy’s love of Sasquatch and Nessy, but of himself, as well. Robinson weaves the narration across the pages and across a nation chock full of mysteries that would make you believe there is a nine-foot tall ape-man around every corner and giant globulous sky entities at every sunset if you just squint your eyes hard enough to see them. Very quickly, you realize this story is the love child of Jack Kerouac and George Noory.
After a handful of bizarre encounters, with an array of strange and sometimes touching folks, the van-travelling gang is led to the strangest and most open encounter of all, not only for the characters, but the author and reader. SAS gives an outstanding conclusion (one that’s lacking in a lot of fiction today) of a trippy journey that looks into the heart and beauty of what education, passion, and a search for knowledge can bring.
Early in the book, Robinson speaks of a confused moment that would have fit well within the interior of this creative world they stumble upon, even if it’s all an illusion: “Despite the voices and the tension there was a strange and quiet psychological buffer around the whole scene that kept me from truly defining, truly absorbing, truly believing what was now transpiring.”
Robinson can do this with grace and elegancy, but can also suck you into the story when you least expect it too. Just like an urban legend. ...more
**spoiler alert** Author Marni Mann has written the literary equivalent of a scab that won’t ever heal, and I mean that in the nicest, most compliment**spoiler alert** Author Marni Mann has written the literary equivalent of a scab that won’t ever heal, and I mean that in the nicest, most complimentary way. The scab is the gritty - and very real - story of Nicole Brown, a young woman out of college and looking for escape in Boston. This ugly blemish doesn’t necessarily stare back at us from the start, but you’re cautiously aware of the choices that will ultimately transform Nicole into who she becomes: a desperate junkie; a young woman who is prone to picking scabs instead of letting wounds fully recover.
In Marni’s story of sorrow, pain and increasingly bad decisions, we keep telling ourselves that the scab either will fall off or be ripped off in the most gruesome of means, and in such, we keep reassuring ourselves that the fresh, clean, pink, healthy skin is waiting on the other side. We just wonder early on how bad the scar is going to look at the end. Because Nicole is an addictive personality and is, unfortunately, much more relatable than most of us would like to admit, we quickly start to know that the scar, in the end, isn’t going to be pretty. Her actions, denial and choices may not reflect our own thought processes at times, but we most likely know someone who would fit her selfish and callous personality when dealing with an addiction of any form. Obviously, when you are toying with some of the harshest of drugs, those actions and choices are viewed through a film of dependence and irrationality abides.
Throughout, we keep asking ourselves, ‘how much worse is it going to get? How bad is it going to be?’ But, just like with all addicts, they want to blame everyone else but themselves – the adage of three fingers pointing back at the pointer thrives in the bloodstream of her tale. In the end, this is a story about self-abuse and the long-term effects such actions take not only on the person involved, but their friends and family, as well. To say it is a cautionary tale would be an understatement. For this novel not to resonate with you would be foolish. To say that this is Marni Mann’s debut novel is, without question, heartbreaking. Bravo. ...more
Strange, self centered and hilarious, Leyner paints an incredible ego driven megalomanic portrait of himself that is beyond hyperbolic, yet, somehow sStrange, self centered and hilarious, Leyner paints an incredible ego driven megalomanic portrait of himself that is beyond hyperbolic, yet, somehow sadly foretelling of the future world we live in today of the ME generation. ...more