The Next Chapter is the sequel to The Gaze. If you haven’t read it, you should because it’s awesome! I was very excited about The Next Chapter and couThe Next Chapter is the sequel to The Gaze. If you haven’t read it, you should because it’s awesome! I was very excited about The Next Chapter and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Because the author has become a friend, and because he’s just that damn cool, he sent me autographed copies of BOTH books! So I kind of had to ignore my usual policy of purchasing anything I review for this one, although I may at least go purchase the Kindle copy as a show of support for one of my favorite authors.
So, with all that said and out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty! Generally when I post a review I try to avoid spoilers. That will not be the case this time, so if you haven’t read it, plan to, and don’t like spoilers this is the part where you navigate away from this review. Just go knowing that I really, really enjoyed this book!
Characters: In this book our beloved Lewis finds love for himself. He is just as fabulous, if not more so, as he was in The Gaze. An all around loveable guy with an amazing wit that can make you laugh even at the worst of times. Samantha is, naturally, in this book as well, but she is nowhere near the mess that she was in her book. She’s still a bit of a mess, but she has come a long way and we get to see her wedding in this one. YAY! One of my absolute favorites is Lewis’ mum, and I feel like a complete ass because I can’t remember her actual name. I’ll just call her Ms. Bettford. Ms. Bettford is kind, witty, practical, loving, and accepting. She is everything you would want a mother to be. Finally we get to Lewis’ love interest. *SPOILER ALERT* Just thought I would give you more warning before telling you that while the love interest’s name is Quinn, Quinn is a chick! Lewis, the most awesome gay man ever, turns out to be straight after all. It’s quite alright, I nearly fainted myself. I’ll talk more about how controversial that little tid bit might be later.
Plot: This book is filled with drama! Duh! While the personal challenges that the characters each have to face may seem, at first glance, to be on a scale that the average person never has deal with, they are actually entirely relatable when you scale them down. By scale down I mean take away money and relative fame. Who hasn’t had a crummy ex, or even a psychotic one? Even if you haven’t personally, you can still see the plausibility of it. And although I doubt many people would openly admit to having ever been sexually confused, I’d be willing to bet there are tons of people who go through it. Robayo sets up all these interesting twists and turns throughout the book and somehow manages to avoid leaving any gaping holes. I’ll admit that the foreshadowing of Lewis’ relationship with Quinn may have been a tad heavy handed, BUT if he had just proclaimed his undying love for her without it, it wouldn’t have been nearly as believable.
Dialogue: Yay! My favorite part! The conversations in this book, as well as in The Gaze, are so well done that you feel like you really are a part of them. I love to talk (if you can’t already tell that by my really long reviews), so I always love it when I get so into the book I half expect to see my own voice in the pages. Of course there would be a lot of ‘OMG’ and ‘Oh hell no’ if my thoughts were added in. J Lewis gives a toast at Samantha’s wedding that made me cry like a baby and had my kids looking at me like I was nuts.
Okay, now for the maybe/maybe not controversy. (This will be loaded down with spoilers.) There was a lot of foreshadowing that hinted at the fact that Lewis wasn’t going to be finding his ‘happily ever after’ with a guy. I didn’t quite pick up on it at first because we don’t get introduced to Quinn until much later in the book. That fact alone should tell you that this book is all about Lewis and his personal baggage, less so his romance. Samantha’s impending wedding really screws up his head, but that is what sets him on the path to happiness too. And it was while he was still trying to cope with the wedding business that his secrets get revealed. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. WTF Lewis, ladies and gentlemen, was a virgin! *Gasp* I was totally not expecting that. To say that it floored me would be the understatement of the year. He isn’t written in the way that I suppose a stereotypical virgin would be. He comes across as a really loveable player. Maybe ‘player’ is too strong a word. A free spirit. Anything but a virgin! That’s what I get for thinking in stereotypes. Now I won’t get into all of the reasons for his sexual status and/or orientation, but I will say that like all of the other plots/subplots in the book, I felt that it was plausible. The reason I say that it might be seen as a controversial transition is because I’m not sure how the actual gay community would feel about it. I worry that it would be seen as the author taking the easy road by making him straight, rather than having him settle down with another man. I didn’t really care who he ended up with, or what type of equipment they had, so long as he got his happy ending. I hope that anyone else reading the story will feel the same way. When you love someone, real or invented, you should want them to be happy, regardless of who or what that involves.
So that concludes my review of The Next Chapter. I highly recommend it because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Javier Robayo has an amazing ability to pull you into the story and not let you go until the very last page. The characters are the kind of people I would love to just sit down and have a drink with. You just can’t help but like them. I look forward to reading his next book My Two Flags. ...more
From the first sentence, to the very last, this book pulled at a part of me that has long been buried and forgotten. It is an incredibly powerful narrFrom the first sentence, to the very last, this book pulled at a part of me that has long been buried and forgotten. It is an incredibly powerful narrative on teen suicide in the 90’s, a time when suicide was reaching nearly epidemic proportions for Generation X. I don’t know if anyone my age, anywhere in the country, made it out of high school without knowing at least one person (however loose the association may have been) who committed suicide. Personally, at 32 years old, I have still attended more funerals for suicides than all other causes of death combined. Some of them were mere acquaintances, some of them were so much more, and the impact their deaths had on me is something that I still carry with me today, for better or for worse.
If you’re looking for a sweet, fluffy, wholesome read…look elsewhere. This is book is deep.
On to the more technical type stuff:
Characters: I have to say that Jeremy, was hands down my favorite, despite his seemingly small role. His part near the end is, absolutely, the most critical for the future. I know I’m being cryptic, but if you read the book you’ll understand. I refuse to give anything away though.
I loved Bridget as well. She is incredibly bold in her craziness, but then I don’t think that she really is crazy, not in a clinical sense. To me, she is just misunderstood.
Thomas, I don’t even know what to say about, really. The way his thought processes are written, they feel so authentic and so real. It was like taking a walk inside the mind of a teenage boy…as scary as that sounds.
Jackie, while not the most likeable chick in the world is also a very believable character. I felt that her motivations were very realistic. We often wonder why a character does whatever it is that they do, but in this case, the reasoning behind her behavior makes perfect sense in the way that only the teenage brain can make something so stupid make sense. Did that make sense? Again, I know I’m being very vague, but I really hate throwing out spoilers.
Plot: No Alternative has an excellent plot that reads very much like your average teenage drama, but with the wisdom, humor, and insight that can only be achieved by someone with greater analytical prowess than my own. Jackie isn’t the only character whose motivations are clear and genuine, everything and everyone in the book behaves pretty much the way you would expect from a teen, but unlike when we were actually in that age range, we get to see WHY they act that way. Being able to, not only see, but recreate those behaviors in such an authentic fashion is brilliant. It is like a behind the scenes look at the inner working of the teenage psyche.
About halfway through this book I realized something; I enjoyed the writing style so much, that I really didn’t care how it was going to end. The end could have been horrible, and I would have still felt the book was worth reading. It is gritty. It is real. It is horribly depressing, and yet oddly uplifting, in its accurate depiction of life.
There was only one thing that left me really at a loss; the suicide. But then I suppose that question is all part of the point. Whenever anyone commits suicide, the first question is always, “why?” There is never a clear answer, and after reading this I can only come to the same conclusion that I came to in high school; you’ll never know why. The person committing suicide probably couldn’t give you a clearly defined answer themselves. It is easy to sit on the sidelines, look at your accumulated knowledge of a person and their life and say, “But he had so much going for him, why would he throw it all away?” It is impossible to ‘put yourself in someone’s shoes’ to the point where you could ever really understand what would motivate them to take their own life. To quote directly from the book, “At the most basic level, I think the real answer to the question was ejected from my brain the second I put a hole through it.”
Some things are simply beyond words, and beyond understanding. ...more
I could sit here writing about this book and its main character, Samantha all day. It has taken me some time to put all of my thoughts into a hopefullI could sit here writing about this book and its main character, Samantha all day. It has taken me some time to put all of my thoughts into a hopefully organized and concise review. I truly enjoyed it, and although I have a multitude of personal reasons why, I will be keeping those to myself for now, so the more technical aspects will have to suffice.
•Characters: My overall impression of Samantha, was that she is something of a walking disaster area, and should come complete with a warning label attached. She is a good person at heart, but creates a great deal of trouble for herself. She demonstrates both weakness and strength, simultaneously. Her strength is evident in the fact that she is still alive and kicking, against all odds, and her weakness is shown by her drinking habits and self-destructive nature. Despite all of her myriad flaws as a human being, I still wanted to get to know her. I was still concerned about how things would turn out for her, and her character touched me in a way that few fictional characters do. She is one of those rare few characters that make you wish they were real.
Tony’s role is the story is of enormous importance, but his actual time as an active participant in dialogue is very short by comparison to that of some other characters. He’s a good, honorable man, but subject to making the same mistakes that the rest of us mere mortals often do.
Gwen, oh what to say about Gwen? She is everything that anyone could ever hope to find in a friend. I won’t say too much for fear of adding spoilers, but if you read the book and find yourself questioning her actions and reactions, take a moment and really think about her position. She may, on the surface, seem too good to be believable, but if you examine her character at a greater depth, everything becomes clear. I’m sorry if I am being vague, but I really don’t want to spoil anything because I know how much tension her interaction with Samantha created for me while reading, and I wouldn’t want to deprive another reader of that facet of the story.
Lewis is, by far, my favorite character in the book. His dialogue with Samantha felt so natural and so right, that it was like they were real people, people that I would gladly go meet for a drink or two. I look forward to reading his book in the future. Lewis is, in short, Samantha’s rock. But he isn’t afraid to tell her how it is, without all of the sugar coating.
There are several more characters, including the villain, Brooks, but I won’t go into any depth on them. I will simply say that they were all well rounded and fleshed out to the degrees necessary for their parts in the story.
•Plot: The plot takes a number of twists and turns. While I saw some of them coming, there were others that took me entirely by surprise. In the beginning portion of the book, I was sitting there with a million questions running through my head. There are many events that are hinted at in those first chapters and those hints made it difficult for me to put the book down, without first knowing the answers. The answers came a piece at a time, slowly unfolding from Samantha's mind as memories and flashbacks. I know some people hate flashbacks, but these were very well done. There wasn't a moment where I was confused about the time frame. It was always perfectly clear and the transitions were smooth. By the final chapters, I was completely up to speed on exactly who Samantha was, and all of the events that made her that way.
•Dialogue: An area where a lot of authors fall flat. As I mentioned above, the dialogue between Lewis and Samantha was excellent and this held true for the entire cast of characters throughout the book. There wasn't a single point where I felt that a conversation wasn't completely realistic.
•Overall Summation: To say that it was a good read, would be an understatement. I laughed, I cried (which I hate doing), but more than anything, it made me think. It spawned a lot of self-analyzation, and a storm of memories. I could relate myself, or someone I knew, to every single character in the book, even Brooks, in some way. I don't usually have a huge emotional response to the characters in a book, but these made me wish that they were real (except for Brooks, him I would push into a fire), because they come across so genuine on the pages. As I read, I found myself wanting to know more about them, and that is what pulled me through the whole book, that need to see what happened to them.
•The Bad: My only issue with the whole book was the length. I felt it got a little slow at some points, but it wasn't terrible and it was necessary. I don't think Mr. Robayo could have achieved the same depth in his characters, if the book were shorter, but at the same time I wanted to hurry up and get to the end. I wanted to know how everything ultimately turned out and even while I was frustrated with the length of it, everything that happened was necessary to the over all progression and flow of the story. So I guess I can't really say the length is bad, only my impatience with myself, for not reading fast enough to satisfy my curiosity on a schedule equal to that of my patience levels.
I think that last sentence may be the most conflicted thing I have ever written, but it should speak volumes about my feelings towards this book. It is a five star read, and I highly recommend it. I will in fact, be shipping a paperback copy to a friend of mine. She's my Gwen and my Lewis, all rolled into one and this story made me think of her.
My hat's off to Mr. James. The imagination and creativity that went into this book is absolutely amazing. From character development and plot, to settMy hat's off to Mr. James. The imagination and creativity that went into this book is absolutely amazing. From character development and plot, to setting and dialogue, it is sheer perfection. The descriptive language used detailed every monster with crystal clarity and at some points I found myself cringing at the mental picture created.
Jordan is a well written character that you can't help but respect. Strong, gritty, flawed, conflicted, but most importantly, self-aware, he's a very believable good guy. He isn't the "perfect" hero and that's what makes him great.
This is not the kind of book that rapidly sucked me in. It was a much more gradual thing, so subtle that I didn't realize how caught up in it I actually was until my kindle app crapped out on me about two chapters short of the end and left me in a panic to solve the problem and finish the book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy, horror, or just good old fashioned blood and guts. Hands down, a five star read!
This book is a collection of short- stories and poetry that is delightfully dark and disturbing. I’ve read over some of the other reviews on it and IThis book is a collection of short- stories and poetry that is delightfully dark and disturbing. I’ve read over some of the other reviews on it and I think the biggest complaint anyone had was that it is randomly assembled. There isn’t really any obvious rhyme or reason to the way it is compiled. I might be mistaken but I believe that was intentional. I find it hard to believe that a writer as talented as Mr. Hutchings would accidentally or unwittingly assemble his works in such a manner.
Speaking of the writing itself, I found the stories to be clever and entertaining. While I don’t necessarily agree with every opinion reflected therein, I can appreciate the humor in it all. My particular favorites are as follows; Everlasting Fire, If My Life Was Filmed, The Moon Sailed Sadly Through the Sky, Death and the Merchant, The Bird and Two Trees, The Sailor, Local News and Charon.
All in all, I thought it was pretty damned brilliant and I would recommend it to anyone with a thing for dark fantasy and satire. ...more