Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.
DisclaimerDisclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.
Disclaimer Part II: I am thanked in the acknowledgements! The thank you is based on a conversation where Donna mentioned she was writing these stories and I said “Write one about X-10 losing his virginity! That would be epic!” and she did. I did not help with the writing or plotting of this story at all. But what she came up with is like 10x (hehe) better than anything I could have thought up.
Review: The Dark Inside is a series of short stories based on the world of Donna Galanti’s book The Human Element (you can read my review of that HERE). This collection is a fantastic niblet of dark perversion. If you read The Human Element you will adore the insight you get into some familiar characters and a terrifying introduction into some new ones. If you haven’t, you can still enjoy these stories out of context. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself rushing to Amazon to buy the Novel!
From Abusive fathers to sex as a commodity, Galanti doesn’t spare you any of the character’s dark thoughts. Personally, I was the most struck by the first story. Caleb is a character I hadn’t met before so the story, the setting and the premise were entirely new to me (proving that you can enjoy this if you haven’t read The Human Element). His innocence in juxtaposition with his brutal existence struck me the hardest. I was glad there was a second, follow up story about him and his father and now I’m anxious to know more about them. I’m guessing they are a part of the next book in the series :)
The character of Felix also really touched me. I liked him in The Human Element but always felt like there was something about himself he was holding back. And look! Proof! He is holding back and for good reason. To find out about these aliens, alien hybrids, and human disasters, pick up The Dark Inside....more
The Thing With Feathers by Anne Sweazy Kulju is an old fashioned multi-generational drama. Gritty and disturbing, Kulju looks at humanities darkest c The Thing With Feathers by Anne Sweazy Kulju is an old fashioned multi-generational drama. Gritty and disturbing, Kulju looks at humanities darkest corners and finds the spark of beauty in even the worst situations. It’s hard to believe, but the bitter sweat ending of this book was neither surprising nor unsatisfying. In fact, you close feeling like yes, this is how this story ends. The title didn’t quite jive with me. I get where it’s coming from and the reference and reading the book it’s a lovely theme, but as the title of the book, it’s a little misleading. But it’s not bad, just didn’t quite do it for me. I’d love to hear what others expect from the cover and title and see if it lines up with the content of the book.
Written in 3rd person distant omniscient with an occasional touch of deeper insight, The Thing With Feathers has a vintage feel appropriate for the historical setting of the story. Spanning generations and decades, I was pulled along through the story with not the need to know more, but the need to stay with the characters a little longer. The characterization was exquisite, clear and consistent and the many voices used throughout the narrative engaging. Never once did I forget who someone was, even the most minor characters were fully fleshed out.
Unfortunately, the writing is riddled with clichés (“hell in a hand basket” appears in the first line and it’s not cute or tone setting, it’s eye-roll worthy) and passive verbs: “was standing” should be “stood”. This is not a stylistic choice, it’s just wrong. I know how hard it is to get rid of these because I struggle with it as well but that is what editors are for and while I found no errors in the book, the wordsmything could be improved. Kulju has the talent and some amazing turns of phrase appear in the book. I’d love to see her publisher take another pass and improve these issues so it can be even better. After a little work I would easily give this 4.5 stars. Right now I have to come down at 3.5.
None-the-less, I would recommend The Thing With Feathers to anyone interested in historical fiction, turn of the century America or just a good character driven drama.
Now for the thing I wish I didn’t have to say. In the Acknowledgements, Kulju thanks Glenn Beck for his Challenge to America which drove her to finish this book. While I know nothing of her politics, I will say that this reference immediately turned me off. I went into the book with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s fine for authors to believe what they believe and talk about it-I certainly do-but I’d rather in not be cited in the book. Mostly because it’s sets a tone. The Thing With Feathers has nothing to do with any of the issues I associate Glenn Beck with and is neither Christian, conservative nor political in any way. And yet by listing someone with such a high profile stance on some seriously controversial issues I found myself expecting that to come. Better to let this great story stand on it’s own....more
Disclosure: Ninja is 9 years old and read/reviewed this book with my guidance. We received a copy of The Persnickety Princess from the author in exchaDisclosure: Ninja is 9 years old and read/reviewed this book with my guidance. We received a copy of The Persnickety Princess from the author in exchange for an honest review
The Persnickety Princess is about a princess who orders people around and wants a prince. She's been waiting for a prince for a long time. Finally, she sees a prince out her window but he is there to rescue her sister! Princess Lavender is mad and angry about that. She tries to get the prince to rescue her instead but his squire (who is also a prince) wants to rescue her. To try and get the prince's attention, she ties herself to a log and goes down a waterfall! But the squire rescues her every time she tries to get the prince's attention. The Persnickety Princess finds out the squire is a prince and... (read to find out!)
I really liked this book. I liked it because it's like me sometimes. Sometimes when I'm playing with my sister I always want to be in charge. I would recommend this book to other people because it is a really cool and funny book. I think you would really like it.
My favorite thing about the book is how Dave/The Squire rescues Princess Lavender every time she pretends to get in trouble. He is really heroic. He's a good character because he's a really shy person. Sometimes I can get really shy. I felt like we were alike in some ways.
I wish the other prince accompanying Dave would say Dave was a prince right from the start. It took me a long time to figure it out and even at the end I was a little confused.
I think the book is really good. I really liked it. I hope the author writes more books....more
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Dehumanized from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way and no promise of a poDisclaimer: I received a copy of Dehumanized from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way and no promise of a positive review was made.
Disclaimer about Review Content: I received a review copy via Smashwords on Feb 1st 2013. I note the date because the copy I reviewed is a hot mess. The editing is atrocious. There are missing words, misused words, clichéd phrasing, strange wording (like “every so while” instead of “every so often”), and extreme passive voice. At times it reads like it was written or edited by a non-native English speaker! I contacted the tour company I received the book from and they indicated that the publisher was hiring a new editor and putting out a revised edition of the book. In light of their acknowledgement and plan to fix the errors, I’ve based my review on the story alone and not let the wordsmithing effect it. However, it’s important to note that the book as it stands is not ready for publication. If someone lets me know about when the final editing is complete and the new edition uploaded, I’ll remove this part of my review and update my star rating. The below review is written as if this were an ARC and the expectation is that more editing will be completed.
Review: Dehumanized is quite simply fabulous. It is the most unique werewolf story I have ever read. Set in a near future dystopia, Ryan Zachary lives in a world where werewolves are real. Not only real, but manufactured by science. Ryan contracted Lyconthropy from a bite he received one night during an attack. He lived, but he’s not sure that’s a good thing. Now Ryan and all the other werewolves in the area live in a concentration camp located in Eastern Canada. The prison is promoted as a safe haven for those infected, but in reality the inmates suffer from the extreme cruelty of the guards and inhuman experiments of the scientists on staff.
The cast of characters in the story are consistent and well crafted. Ryan is sympathetic, despite his many flaws and while I sympathised with the werewolves significantly more than the humans, I still couldn’t escape the thought that letting them back out into society was a terrible idea. There must be a middle ground. They are infectious, dangerous and during the Change out of control.
Loring’s ability to write from Ryan’s POV is fabulous. Despite the occasional head hopping, the story flows from one scene to the next seamlessly. I was uber impressed with the insight the reader is given about what it’s like to be infected with a disease that doesn’t just change your body, but brings another consciousness into your mind. Ryan’s relationship with his inner wolf was expertly depicted, to the point, I stopped noticing when they communicated, it became natural.
Dehumanized is a great read, fun and engaging. The light Loring shines on the prison system used in his world draws parallels to the real world. I don’t think this book is meant to be a political commentary, but it’s impossible to read about the conditions of the inmates of the wolf camp and not form an opinion about how prisoners are treated. The ethical dilemmas the book tackles, are pushed along, driven at a fast pace through a plot full of romance, violence, and some serious medical horrors.
I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in this series. The main characters are fantastic, but the supporting cast is even better. Dehumanized has a rare breadth, tackling many subjects, many personalities, but never losing focus on it’s driving action based plot.
Do note, there is quite a bit of violence. The author’s talent shines through in his ability to depict the graphic details of the anger and violence in Ryan without losing the readers compassion for the character. Truly the most interesting and original were-book I’ve ever read. Kudos!...more
Disclaimer: Eleanor is a consulting client of mine through Novel Publicity. However, I read this book BEFORE we began working together. In the interesDisclaimer: Eleanor is a consulting client of mine through Novel Publicity. However, I read this book BEFORE we began working together. In the interest of maintaining an ethical review policy, I will NOT be assigning a star value to Fallen Ruler or posting this review on Amazon.
Review: When did I start reading YA books? I mean really people, I’ve put up a good fight, like being all snobby about YA books not being good enough for me to bother with. And now, I find myself reading and LOVING yet another!
Fallen Ruler first grabbed me with the cover. I only knew Eleanor as an acquaintance and while she seemed like a lovely person (an impression proven completely true) I had no interest in reading her books. Because I’m a snob and I don’t read YA. But I LOVE a good alien book and since reading A Human Element I haven’t found anything I’ve really enjoyed. So when I saw the cover I was excited. It’s all Man Who Fell to Earth but it was of a woman and that was different. Cool. So I told Eleanor I’d review it and she sent me an ARC.
And wowsers! I loved it. I loved the influence of eastern philosophy, the edgy and dangerous undertones, the gritty look at what it’s really like to be a teenager in a dysfunctional environment. I loved the way the main character’s human experience of pain and mistreatment allowed her to evolve on her home planet. I loved the science aspect, even though it’s more fantasy in application Eleanor’s commitment to consistency allow the reader to completely suspend their disbelief.
I can’t say this is really a YA book. The inclusion of drugs, and allusion to sex and some really deep issues in regards to definition of self come up. The newly embraced category of New Adult fits Fallen Ruler better because it doesn’t shy away from the issues older teens face. It’s totally appropriate for the 15+ crowd though.
Fallen Ruler is a great read, full of action and mystery. There’s even some romance and a broken heart or two to engage the reader. You are surrounded by culture, from America to India to the planet of Ray and Eleanor doesn’t skimp on the details. Her world building and attention to detail are exquisite....more
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No promise of a positive review was made and I was not compensated in any way.
TI received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No promise of a positive review was made and I was not compensated in any way.
The Darkening Dream is spellbinding. Its meaty, it’s smart, it’s dark and all the books I read in 2012 are glad I read this in 2013 or they’d be fighting for favorite book of the year and probably losing.
In The Darkening Dream, Andy Gavin introduces us to a world steeped in mysticism, religion, romance and adventure. It’s not a world too unlike the one we live in now. Set in 1913, Salem, Massachusetts, its a familiar world, one we’ve read in historical novels, one we studied in school. Model Ts share the road with horses and corsets are less necessary but no less titillating. The difference is that the world of The Darkening Dream includes the impossible: vampires, gods, demons, warlocks, magis and parallel dimensions.
The main character, Sarah Engelmann, is innocent, cunning, relatable and fiercely independent. The book is told in perfect third person with no errors, no point of view confusion and expert perspective. Every page is another piece of a deeply threaded mystery. I may be somewhat dimwitted but it kept me guessing all the way to the end. Add in some gorgeous language and you have a best-seller on your hands. Absolutely, I have no doubt about it. Check this out: “Gavin clouds churned like milk poured into a draining sink, and huge white birds circled overhead.”
Gavin did an expert job of research and story crafting. I know my religious studies pretty well and it takes a lot to impress me, but I surely am this time. From the correct names of Islamic hell dimensions to expert explanations of mystic Kabbalic rituals, even I was lost to unweave what is reality and what is fiction. Creating a world with a vivid religious culture is difficult enough, but in The Darkening Dream we are given many including, Orthodox Judaism, Greek Orthodox Christianity, Congregationalism, Voodoo, Egyptian faiths, Dark Paganism and Satanic/Demon Worship.
Deeply engaging characters, a forbidden and intoxicating romance, and vampires worthy of the name. The Darkening Dream is dark and everything I could have wanted from a novel to read while away with my In-Laws. Not for the faint of heart, this book is dark and challenging. It’s also brilliant. You should pick this one up before you pass go, before you collect $200, before you finish reading this review....more
A thoughtful and engaging read the reviews of Wool show that not only is it well written, but it’s timely and touches on something we as a culture areA thoughtful and engaging read the reviews of Wool show that not only is it well written, but it’s timely and touches on something we as a culture are attuned to. Wool isn’t so much about living underground in a silo, really it’s about power, control and how science dictates culture.
Hugh Howey has taken a unique approach in presenting his view of a dystopian future. Instead of the dramatic moment where the world is annihilated, or the cathartic return to the world outside, he gives us the moment of human awakening. Wool depicts a precipice and that moment of change is the real thrill of quality science fiction.
Despite being a science fiction novel, Wool’s isn’t really about science. In an uncharacteristic move for the genre, Wool does not feature high tech science. There are no ray guns or delithium crystals. In fact the focus is on the mechanical workings of industrial machines. Nuts and bolts are far more frequently discussed than what little technology there is.
What brings it into the world of sci-fi though isn’t what science there is, but how it’s used, who controls it and the impact it has on those who live under it’s influence. Howey addresses these issues in two ways, one by showing us the effect of science on humanity (being forced to live underground as the air above is toxic) and through the use of technology within the silo (as controlled by the IT department).
The possibility of Wool is what thrills and terrifies readers. I know, without a doubt, that the things Howey describes are possible. I believe humanity is capable of the kind of atrocities which led to the creation of the silos. And the idea that we would use power to manipulate and control a populace is not only true; it’s been proven throughout history.
In the words of L. Ron Hubbard: “…science fiction, to be credible, has to be based on some degree of plausibility.”
The thing I find so thrilling about Science Fiction is exactly this: it is possible. It’s not going to happen now or maybe at all, but the possibility seals my mind in the world of a book. I’m invested because I believe.
Another hallmark of the Science Fiction genre is the inclusion of the cultural sciences. If done well a sci-fi novel will include not only technology but psychology, anthropology and sociology: creating some of the most realistic and fleshed out cultures that have ever existed in fiction. The reason for this is the Science Fiction writer’s commitment to writing about the real and the possible. Once you’ve researched how a nuclear reactor works and figured out a way to make it propel a space craft it’s only natural to put the same effort and commitment into every aspect of world building.
Wool details the culture within the Silo with subtlety and ease. People are sorted by living quarters, jobs and even the color of their work clothing. The mastery comes in with how completely everyone buys into the system. Even though the novel follows characters who are questioning the rules, their mind set is so ingrained with the status quo, the simple act of thinking takes tremendous courage.
From food preparation, population control, government and law enforcement, Howey creates a fleshed out world with attention to detail so meticulous that by the end, you find yourself looking at the open sky, wondering why you’re above ground.
The other door Science Fiction opens is for the author to explore issues of philosophy, religion and culture. Because technological advancement and cultural shifts are fundamentally tied – this is proven throughout history – it is logical to think through the effects that the imagined technology will have on the people who live with it.
The focus of Wool isn’t science, or even a dystopian future. The focus is humanity. Out of all the questions the human species has asked itself in the history of our evolution, the most important, by far, is ‘Why are we here? What is our purpose? What will my life mean?’ These questions have been the driving factor behind every war, on both sides. Acts of great charity and great evil are borne out of the need to find these answers. And so is great fiction....more
An impossibly good book which is impossible to review
Please don’t ignore this post based on the cover of the book and summary. The cover is so bad myAn impossibly good book which is impossible to review
Please don’t ignore this post based on the cover of the book and summary. The cover is so bad my husband was surprised I let the book in the house (and the man on the cover looks NOTHING like the character he’s intended to portray) and the summary is about the last 3rd of the book and doesn’t begin to cover the scope of this novel. Please note – there are spoilers in this review!
As a general rule, I tend to not be interested in African history. It’s just not my bailiwick. Therefore, I don’t end up reading much Caribbean literature or African American literature. Similarly, I don’t read much Christian fiction or epic fantasy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good, just not my usual fare. I’m glad I agreed to review Forbidden when Williams approached me on Good Reads. Despite being outside my preferred interest, it is a wonderful and important book. Taking on issues of such magnitude only this 640 page novel could encompass it.
Williams traces one colonial estate from the early days of the slave trade in the West Indies to modern day. Spanning cultures as diverse as British, Irish, French, Creole, African, Native Islanders and the culture created by slavery in the community, Williams manages to pull the reader into the complexities of day to day life as well as addressing larger issues of colonialism and racism.
Because the novel tackles such an incredibly broad scope it’s difficult to summarize. The first 2/3 of the book is really background to what the author lists as the main story, however, in many ways, that is the most interesting stuff. The writing is third person omniscient with moments of close POV, but the essence of the story is in the large sweeps. If you want a modern book with all that showing, then this isn’t the book. The prologue alone could easily be made into a full novel if you took that approach. But that’s not the point of this book. The point isn’t the characters, it’s the broad strokes. Racism and colonialism don’t happen in just one life time. It takes generations of upheaval, unrest and complacency for cultural phenomenons like the ones addressed in Forbidden to take root. I’ve never seen a book handle this as well as this one. I’m floored by the expanse the book takes in combination with the intimacy of the writing.
The narrative is beautifully written as well as poignant:
"Nature’s power to create and destroy was evident all around. It was visible in the multifarious flora and fauna blooming gloriously, only to wither and die and then be born again. It was manifest in the florid species of birds flitting in and out of the trees and filling the air with their gutsy shrilling; the swarming lizards and bark beetles; the plethora of flying and crawling insects intermingling, warring and devouring one another."
There are some problems in the book which the author needs to address before I can actually recommend it. Not because it’s not a phenomenal read, but because there are some content errors.
~ Pg 129 “[Victoria] returned home a married woman and pregnant…gave birth to a son. They named him Author.” but on pg 131 it states “Two years after they arrived from England [Victoria] became pregnant and gave birth to a son whom she named Author.” Which is it? There aren’t two sons named Author in the rest of the story. ~ Pg 174 reveals that (SPOILER) Victoria is Isabelle’s mother, making Isabelle and Author half-siblings. I find this impossible to believe because the narrative up until then has been following Kojo. In that narrative a liaison between him and Victoria is never disclosed. This doesn’t make any sense because of all the intimate things that ARE disclosed. There’s no way the story of Kojo wouldn’t include an interlude between them. He was so in love with her, his narrative MUST include this. I think the author was going for the shock value instead of character consistency. The only hint is Isabelle’s complexion and Mary’s lack of bonding with the baby. I believe that but the story doesn’t feel authentic with this being glossed over. ~ Its hard to believe Kojo would be so supportive of Isabelle and Author’s romance. He would know they were siblings since he’s the father of Isabelle and there’s nothing in his history which would indicate that he would approve of incest. If he’s overlooking the incestual nature of their relationship because he’s proud of his daughter’s further indoctrination to “white-ness” than that needs to be discussed and explored. Otherwise it feels like a big issue which isn’t explored. Honestly, the incest storyline feels undeveloped. It needs to either be more of an issue and addressed or it needs to be removed from the story. ~ Another timeline error: pg 264 “Two months before she was due to give birth, her husband suddenly upped and left for America…Four months later Matilda took ill…she was forced to seek help…for her survival and that of her unborn baby.” The issue here is that she would be 2 months after her due date and the baby is still unborn! ~ pg 265 “Two months after moving in, Edward’s mother gave birth to him.” So this would be 6 months after the point when the husband left, making her 4 months past her due date. ~ Christian is an unlikeable character. There are no redeeming qualities about him that I can decipher. He thinks he’s better than everyone and is always getting offended by how he’s treated but he shows literally NO ONE any respect. Perhaps the priest who raised him, but even that feels forced. For a character so much of the book is focused on, I should be able to like him at least a little, but as it is, I can’t figure out how anyone can tolerate being in the same room as him. Seriously, it’s inconceivable to me why April falls in love with him. He’s rude, abusive and constantly belittleing her. And if she could hear the things that happen in his head! Whoa! He’s more obsessed with the idea of her than in love with her. He doesn’t even seem to like her. The romance between Kojo and Isabelle was MUCH more believable. The issue here is that the book is written with a distant perspective, but then with Christian, the author attempts to bring us into a close POV. But he’s still maintaining an issue based style, making Christian a symbol, not a person. Because of this, the close POV feels detached and unauthentic. ~ Content discrepancy: pg 362 “Originally from Rhodesia, he migrated to Scotland with his mother following the death of his father.” and later on the same page “Five years after arriving in Scotland, at the age of eighteen, he joined a Catholic seminary. While his father had encouraged him in his aspirations, his mother had been dead set against him joining the priesthood.” Ummm…Isn’t his father dead? ~ For a 640 page book, the ending feels surprisingly inconsistent. We jump from Christian about to meet his mother to him leaving for England. Considering the close following of Christian’s experience in Soufriere and the pivotal experience of finally meeting his mother, it’s extremely disappointing not to have it written out. In addition, the revelation that Christian is born of incest is never made, another reason why it needs to be beefed up as a part of the book or removed. I adored the characters at the end of the book, the lead up and the revelation is fabulous, but then it just stops leaving the reader feeling cold and abandoned. ~ Another issue which isn’t addressed at the end is the matter of April and Lulu. Christian says April is going to wait for him… Okay… where? on the mountain? Back at Patrick’s? Is she living with Kojo (hahahahaha)? The entire status of their relationship is completely not addressed despite it being forced on the reader as a plot point for the last 200 pages. Despite it’s length the reader needs another 2-3 chapters MINIMUM at the end before Christian can leave for England to have it come together as a book.
Because of all this, I can’t really review Forbidden (I’m also totally unclear on why this is the title). But I also can’t walk away from it. The author has created an epic story in the tradition of multi-generational fiction like A Suitable Boy and The 19th Wife. It’s brilliantly woven together with an astonishing amount of research and ingenuity. What Mr. Williams has accomplished here is beyond anything I could ever hope to approach in my own writing. His creation of the Negre Guinea people alone is testament to his talent. There is no shortage of brilliance in this book. In fact, it’s because of the amazing work the author has done, the issues I have stand out so much. The smallest error suddenly becomes inexcusable when it’s set against the backdrop of such masterful writing.
I hope my readers and Mr. Williams can see that my goal here isn’t to trash Forbidden. Quite the opposite. This book should be taught in schools. High school if they can manage it, college definitely. This book should be sold in book stores, discussed over coffee and given to the next generation of all races and religions so we can hope to learn from the over arching effects slavery and racism have had on our culture. It may be set in the Caribbean but the message spans the globe and transcends even the race issues it addresses in specific. Anyone who reads Forbidden will have no choice but to re-evaluate the way they look at the world and how they understand our collective history.
I only hope the author is able to make some of the changes I note above, perhaps do another round of work with a fiction editor. The spelling was immaculate and the structure well done, but the eye of someone who works with fiction would greatly improve this work....more