Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Gabriel's Redemption from the author after I sent out a request for Indie Sci-Fi books to be considered for incl...moreDisclaimer: I received a free copy of Gabriel's Redemption from the author after I sent out a request for Indie Sci-Fi books to be considered for inclusion in my upcoming blog post on NYX Book Reviews. Umstead was not guaranteed inclusion in the review nor was a review even mentioned. However, after reading his book I would like to include it in my list of recommended reads.
Gabriel's Redemption is a near future science fiction work that includes all of the hallmarks of top quality sci-fi. Umstead has created a readable, accessible and highly engaging world where intrigue, aliens, drugs and intergalactic travel work together seamlessly. There is never a moment in this book where you think to yourself: well now that didn't make a lick of sense! Instead we are presented with a combination of real and imagined science that is so commonplace to the characters it never occurs to the reader to question it.
Evan Gabriel is a taciturn and troubled man who has buried so much of himself in order to survive the horrors and injustices he has witnessed that he has become a mere shell of the hero we come to know and love by the end of the book. Quickpaced, Gabriel's Redemption is an easy read. It flows from scene to scene and moment to moment flawlessly, always leaving the reader begging for more. By the third chapter I was so hooked I read the entire novel in one night.
Umstead deals with issues like honor, responsibility and human nature. While deep in thematic content the forward thrust of the story never stops. In this way Umstead has been able to create a rich, dynamic and believable world with a cast of characters who entertain and inspire. The bad guys are quality villains and the aliens are just strange enough to evoke the reader's inherent xenophobia. At the core of the story is one man's pain and regret and the opportunity to redeem himself.
1 - It's a military based fiction which I personally don't generally enjoy. Umstead does a phenomenal job of making the military jargon and topics accessible to non-military readers without sacrificing the details. It just doesn't speak to me. I was able to enjoy the story despite this which if anything speaks to the author's skill at weaving a compelling yarn. 2 - It's not in paperback. This is one I'd love to have on my shelf.
One of the best pure sci-fi books ever written. I can't believe I didn't know about her sooner. Everyone will find something great in this story. But if...moreOne of the best pure sci-fi books ever written. I can't believe I didn't know about her sooner. Everyone will find something great in this story. But if you love Aliens, Sex, Race Issues or Post Apocalyptic settings like me...you are in for a real treat.(less)
This is a wonderful short. I picked it up during a free day and would recommend it even at the paid price. It's wonderfully complete in character and...moreThis is a wonderful short. I picked it up during a free day and would recommend it even at the paid price. It's wonderfully complete in character and world building. I really enjoyed it and can easily see it being a hook piece for a longer book.(less)
Caged is a fabulous erotica. In a market currently deluged with barely veiled porn, Deckard has brought readers a f...moreReview of Caged for Awesome Indies:
Caged is a fabulous erotica. In a market currently deluged with barely veiled porn, Deckard has brought readers a fully realized world and consistent, fascinating characters. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jon's escapades both as a pirate and as a lover. The sex scenes were blindingly hot, believable and well written. Just like an expert fight scene, a well crafted sex scene is a feat to behold. Not only does Caged give us the physical act, but the emotions and fears as well. I was especially impressed with the author's ability to capture the mindset of Jon when he's in the throws of "sub-space", something few erotica BDSM books bother to touch on, but which brought me so much closer to the characters and the depth of their relationship.
The editing and formatting were clean and well done, the POV consistent and never a problem. I have a few minor notes for the author on editing, but nothing major and nothing that in anyway distracted from the narrative.
The end is extremely satisfying and definitely leads the reader to want the next book without feeling like you're left on a horrible cliffhanger. The characters are deeply flawed, especially the captain of the pirate ship and I am looking forward to seeing what the consequences of some of his unresolved actions will be. Some people may not like the book as there are some upsetting moments which border on abuse and some unlikeable actions/too quick forgiveness, however, keeping the genre in mind and the background of the characters it is consistent and justified. Readers should know that when this book says BDSM it isn't kidding and we aren't talking some mommy porn weekend of furry cuffs and scented oils, we're talking the real deal. It's not always pretty but it is deeply erotic. Best line of the book: "little streaks of red in the fjords of her wrinkles. "
Disclaimer - I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have since given it to my 9-year-old daughter who has read it 3 times an...moreDisclaimer - I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have since given it to my 9-year-old daughter who has read it 3 times and refuses to give it back. Someday, if I'm permitted, I will read it myself. Until then, here is the Book Report Ninja did for her Third Grade Final Project.
Book Report on Toonopolis by Jeremy Rodden Ninja Tyler - 3rd Grade
The title is Toonopolis Gemini. The author is Jeremy Rodden. The setting takes place in the Tooniverse. The Tooniverse is a world full of cartoons on a big planet that Gemini got sent to. It is very crazy and chaotic. I don't know when the story took place. It is almost always summer in Book One.
The main characters are Gemini, Jimbob the talking eggplant, Hawk the knight, and Ms. Fire the Hero. There is also Wan Wan a robotic dog. Ms. Fire can throw fireballs from her hands. Gemini is a human boy who can pull things from C-Space. Hawk the knight is Sir Goodipants best warrior. Sir Goodipants is a Rogue. Jimbob the talking eggplant is Gemini's Toonopolis guide. Wan Wan is a transforming robotical Akita.
My favorite character is Wan Wan because he's cute and he can turn into a giant squirrel and a horse. He has a rocket launcher in his back and was made by an inventor name Yuki. Wan Wan lets Gemini pat his head like he lets Yuki. Wan Wan doesn't usually let people do that. He always puts a band-aid on people who get hurt.
Toonopolis is about a human named Gemini. Gemini falls into the Field of Dreams. He meets a talking mirror there and a animal that is a mixture of kangaroo, rabbit and duck. At the sorting square they have a problem sorting him and don't know what to do. They take him to the Master Sorter, Henry. He looks inside of Gemini and says he's an outsider. An outsider is a human. They go to Grayscale Village. The Village was black and gray and they saw a squirrel woman running around in circles three times. Four of her fingers have turned black. She was screaming because a shadowy figure was taking the color away from everything. Gemini tells the squirrel to calm down and says he'll defeat the shadowy figure.
Gemini goes to Stick Tent-City. The people in Stick Tent-City are stick people and one of the stick people's town gets absorbed by the shadowy figures black orbs. Gemini goes to Underwater City next and helps an Octonoid Princess. He frees her people from the Candemon. The Candemon wants Princess Polipo to be his wife. Gemini tries to free her people and father so that he can defeat the Candemon.
In underwater city Princell Polipo guides Gemini and his friends to the Cave of Dispair. In the Cave of Despair an ancient evil creature Gumthulu sleeps and feeds on fear and suffering. It has slept there ever since Princess Polipo can remember. Gemini and his friends go into the Cave to get to Licorice Lagoon where they travel to the Candemon's castle made of Toffee.
In the cave of Despair Gemini takes a already lit torch from C-Space and uses it for light. Jimbob takes the evil Gumthulu's eye from his socket and Jimbob yells “Yoink!” On Candy Island they find the Candemon. When Gemini starts to fight the Candemon the Candemon spits a wave of marshmallow at him. And then Gemini realizes his left foot was stuck in the marshmallow. The Candemon realized that Hawk shot some arrows into his gummy bear torso. The Candemon stood stunned and then after they landed, Hawk and Miss Fire helped Gemini.
At the end of the book Shadowy Figure and Gemini return back to earth. The Shadowy Figure is the bad side of Gemini in another form. Gemini learned that fighting bad guys who absorb cartoons was much harder than he thought.
I think I'd like it if Gemini would get back home in a safer way than traveling back from Tooniverse from the Shadow Lands. I think the ending could be a little better so it would be father and son together again.(less)
The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags is simply fabulous. A collection of short magical realism stories that hold together with a cohesive theme of beau...moreThe Evolution of Reptilian Handbags is simply fabulous. A collection of short magical realism stories that hold together with a cohesive theme of beauty, this work is exquisite on every level. Each piece is well plotted, beautifully crafted and full of unexpected twists. I struggle to select a favorite as they all spoke to me, singing in harmony to create a wonderful reading experience separately or as a whole.
From a critique point of view, The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags is a success not only in story telling, but also in craft and formatting. I found zero editing errors or misspellings, no odd turns of phrases or lagging pacing. In addition, the formatting is professional and quite beautiful. The author does an excellent job using the formatting to add visual interest to the stories. For example, in Mr. Happy the Sharpshooter, the inclusion of a riffle image at the section breaks adds a tone of menace to the story which enhances the entire piece.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to read this book. Short stories are an interesting and difficult medium and Ms. Lamaga exceeded on every level.
I received a copy of this book as a part of the vetting process for Awesome Indies. I have whole heartedly recommended this book be admitted.(less)
A fabulously amazing and all kinds of other fancy words that mean awesome book. Good Sex, Great Prayers is full on religious transgression in every wa...moreA fabulously amazing and all kinds of other fancy words that mean awesome book. Good Sex, Great Prayers is full on religious transgression in every way. From sexual content to questions about the power and efficacy of prayer this book doesn't hold back. It's beautifully descriptive, even in the most horrific scenes you can't escape the authors delicious use of language. And there is horror, violence and gore. And sex, lots of really raw images of transgressive sex. The concept of sex and faith being the most powerful when they intersect is an interesting one, and one I imagine has quite a lot of people hesitant about this book. However, it's not anti-religion or Christianity, simply a new twist on how God Worship based religions and Earth Worship based religions could have evolved together. The underlying questions of power and corruption are depicted in an over the top way, but the lesson remains and I think at the end of the book, what you'll find is that power comes at a great price, but those who wield it for the good of others are blessed.
Readers should note, this is written in third person omniscient with the POV changing not only within chapters but sometimes within paragraphs. However, it was well done and clear who was speaking at all times. I didn't find this to be an issue.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review(less)
I received a free copy of Carnal Machines while at the Book Expo America. No promise of a review was made, let alone a positive one.
As many of you kno...moreI received a free copy of Carnal Machines while at the Book Expo America. No promise of a review was made, let alone a positive one.
As many of you know, I'm hard on erotica (hehe, I said hard). I expect it to have some literary value in addition to titillation and I'm thrilled to say that Carnal Machines didn't let me down. It is of consistently high quality, which is rare in most anthologies, and follows the standard of the steampunk genre perfectly.
If you aren't familiar with steampunk I'd recommend reading something more mainstream before delving into this collection of perversion. Not because this isn't a good sampling, but because these short tales jump right in to the world, assuming a certain familiarity with steampunk's particular take on the Victorian Era.
From a Russian dominatrix with a penchant for domination and Tesla to devices designed to probe and exploit the baser desires of both men and women, Carnal Machines really has it all. A surprising amount of characterization and world building went into this collection and while each piece is by a different author, the through-line of style and quality connected the pieces enough that I enjoyed reading straight through.
Carnal Machines is a must have for connoisseurs of erotica, both because of its quality but also because of the innovation within the pages. The idea of an entire book about sex toys/devices, let alone ones powered via Victorian technology is as thrilling for the mind as it is the loins.(less)
Asha Bandele has written a love story. In fact the title of her first chapter is "this is a love story." The most important thing I want to convey abo...moreAsha Bandele has written a love story. In fact the title of her first chapter is "this is a love story." The most important thing I want to convey about this book is that love, true love, is something you can never know until you experience...unless you read this book. The Prisoner's Wife : A Memoir is an intensely intimate, overwhelmingly emotional and utterly heartbreaking work. I can't even call it a novel or a book, because the writing flows like poetry and the love seeps out of every word until you are saturated with it, consumed with her pain and confusion. Bandele has filled 219 pages with universal truths so powerful they cross all boundaries: race, gender, religion and yes, even convict status.
The Prisoner's Wife begins simply enough. A young poet agrees to go read her poetry at a prison as a part of Black History Month. There she meets Rashid who listens to her, values her opinions, takes her seriously and who cannot impose himself on her life. Asha's story is filled with abuse and disappointment and for the first time she is free to be with someone who can demand nothing of her time or self that she doesn't give freely and publicly. For the first time in her life she can control the pace and degree of their relationship.
It is counter intuitive to think that falling in love with someone in prison can offer you freedom but in this case that's exactly what happens. This is the story about two tremendously complicated and damaged individuals, because of their circumstances they are forced to talk and process and really think about what it is they feel and what they are willing to deal with. What's amazing is that their mutual respect and profound love managed to over come what seem like insurmountable obstacles. Because at its core, this is a love story.
I could go on about the plot of the story, the details, the van rides to and from the prison, the other women she met who shared her isolation and confusion. I could tell you of Rashid's crime and of his transformation and difficulties due to the prison system. I could rail against the injustices of our penal system and how racism and poverty feed a system that is fundamentally broken. All of that is in here, all of it is explored and will make you think, but no matter how profound these issues may be they pale in comparison to the raw emotions of Bandele's writing:
By the time we did finally come together, I had found the pieces of myself that had been forgotten, left in corners, swept under rugs. I told Rashid he was the first mad who had all of me, the beautiful and the ugly, the perfect parts and the parts which were help together with tape and a prayer. When we entered each other, we entered and then enjoined two worlds that were previously undiscovered.
And within that moment we found home in ourselves, lush and bountiful, we found a place only we could have envisioned and crystallized, a world which pushed forward new life, pushed down old boundaries, and embraced the new moons of its own black and perfect sky.
Wow. Just WOW. That's about all I can say about Space Junque.. The end.
You know how I rail against how badly Indies are regarded by the publishing ind...moreWow. Just WOW. That's about all I can say about Space Junque.. The end.
You know how I rail against how badly Indies are regarded by the publishing industry? Well, I'm going to tell you a secret. I do a little of it too. I have read so many Indie books that I don't put up here which are unedited and un-thought-through. Someone's mom told them it was good so they hit "publish" on smashwords. Uggh.
This one though? This one was everything I could have ever wanted a sci-fi novel to be and then you add the romance and man, I was captivated.
Space Junque. is different from the sci-fi I usually rave about. The world building is slow and presented to the reader in a matter of fact manner. It works because the author has empowed the main character, Char, to completely own her reality. The details about the word are dolled out in sparce and enticing pieces, making you want to know more about this world and how it got this way. As you read along you realise you understand more than you thought you did because this future isn't so different from our own.
Using pieces of current day politics and some very possible scientific possibilities Rigel manages to create a world our children might find to be real: The icecaps have melted bringing the water levels up and destroying entire cities, The oil spill of 2010 was much worse (or was it and we just don't know the ramifications yet?), fertility is dwindling and genetic enhancements are the norm.
Around our main character the world is filled with
* "Ghosts" (mutated humans who have lost all will to live or thrive but exist none-the-less and seem to have unnaturally long lives) * Hairless mutants who haven't "gone ghost" * Eco-terrorists called DOGs (Defenders of Gaia) * Religious fanatics called the TU (Talibanos Unidos) * Raptors (mutations within the animal kingdom) * An Emperor * Inhabited Space Stations * Oh and there's something called the "vault" which I'm not entirely clear on but I don't think I'm supposed to be.
There are two more books in the series and I definitely got the sense that this was a lead in. I'm dying to download the 2nd in the series but I'm making myself wait. I have too much going on right now to loose myself in another book but I really really want to. Seriously, I had this on my phone and I would sneak away from the kids to read a few more pages whenever I could.
The romance between Char and the endearing and passionate lead, Jake was somewhat glossed over. I can't decide if this is a problem or not though. I got their connection and their attraction, but I like a little more lemon in my lemonade. Since not everyone is a perv like me, this is perhaps not a real problem but I did want some more hot lovin'. It was nice to see a relationship in a romance that was equal and respectful and where the woman didn't just whine. I liked Char and Jake together and hope to see more of them.
About 2/3 of the way through Space Junque. we are introduced to a character, Asherah, who claims to be a God. There's a lot of mythology and innuendo, but basically it seems that Asherah is an incantation of the iconic fertility goddess - Isis, Inanna, etc. Another God, Samuel, is mentioned but we don't know anything about him yet.
Rigel does a delightful job of weaving the mythology aspect of the plot through the entire story, so when Asherah appears it's not completely out of the blue. In fact, much like the world building, Space Junque. manages to present these situations in such real terms that the expected Wait, now there's Gods? reaction doesn't occur.
Space Junque. is free. To me this is utter insanity. It's so good you should have to pay for it. So do yourself a favor and click on any of the 962 links in this post and download your copy now. It's short, it's fun, it's sexy and action packed and you are going to love it.(less)
Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton is not easy to characterize. I think Southern Literary Fiction would be the best description, but if that was...moreUnder the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton is not easy to characterize. I think Southern Literary Fiction would be the best description, but if that was on a book shelf I would have never picked it up! Which would be a tragedy. Newton has created a full world filled with fascinating and distinct characters. While it's a fluid read issues of mental health, abuse, homophobia, love and family are dealt with head on. You aren't spared the painful details of the character's inner demons.
At first I thought the book was about Martin, and as you read the description and even other reviews, perhaps it is. But to me the book was about Ivy. Each chapter is written from a different point of view (clearly marked and stylistically in character at all times, really great writing there). However the entire book is written in third person except for Ivy's. Perhaps this is because of her particular brand of crazy. She sees and hears ghosts so vividly, at times she forgets who is alive and who is dead. This is easier to relate to via the first person because you are so deeply within her personal experiences. However as the story goes on and generations linger long after they die, it seems Ivy's story of regret is the underlining truth.
Under the Mercy Trees: A Novel is set primarily in 1986. Back stories and personal histories go back fifty years easily, but the primary plot is set in the late 80s. With the main character being gay in a time of deep closeting and AIDS it is easy for authors to slip into stereotypes and outlines of characters instead of real people. Newton has expertly navigated the truth behind some of those stereotypes, allowing people to be as they truly are, while maintaining their individuality.
There are a few brilliant lines I'd love to quote for you, but was so engaged in reading I didn't bother to jot them down. So you'll have to trust me that the language is both authentically cultural for the south and striking in it's beauty. Under the Mercy Trees: A Novel made me want to be a better writer.(less)
Disclaimer: 86 gave me this ebook after we met during a Smashwords event. There was no promise of a review. He received a copy of Consumed by Love dur...moreDisclaimer: 86 gave me this ebook after we met during a Smashwords event. There was no promise of a review. He received a copy of Consumed by Love during the same event.
A post-apocalyptic poem written from the POV of a Turkey Vulture. Need I say more? If you don't want to read it based simply on the epic coolness of the concept, well, you're dead to me. This is one of the most awesome ideas I've ever heard of. Of course, there's massive potential for suckage, so as always, I shall venture into the fray ahead of you, ready to take that bullet.
Luckily, this wasn't necessary. You know why? Because this is brilliant! I don't like poetry much, unless it has naked ladies in it. And I'm not one for such a thematic approach, it usually ends up being far too contrived. Somehow 86 managed to write themeatic poetry that I loved.
Mostly it's the descriptions that killed me. 86's use of language is amazing, he really spares nothing when it comes to description and doesn't talk down to his readers. The images he invokes are visceral and often unpleasant, but his wordsmithing is so wonderful you don't even notice. As a reader it was a pleasant surprise to read a book that acknowledges I have a brain! (Incarceron I'm looking at you)
By the end of Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo I had forgotten I was reading poetry. This in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. I've studied so much theatre my brain tries to force everything into iambic pentameter. The characterization (can you call it that if they're all animals?) of every creature described and the narrator is three dimensional and consistent and the flow of the story rolls at an even measured pace that is both eerie and engaging.
I definitely recommend taking a chance on this one.(less)
Born into a crumbling society plagued by zombies, all 15-year-old Temple knows is to kill or be killed. When s...moreThe Reapers are The Angels by Alden Bell
Born into a crumbling society plagued by zombies, all 15-year-old Temple knows is to kill or be killed. When she is assaulted at a safe house, she murders her human attacker, Abraham Todd, and runs from his vengeful brother, Moses. Temple soon acquires a traveling partner, a slow mute by the name of Maury, and begrudgingly takes responsibility for his care, remembering a young boy she swore to protect but couldn't save. Fleeing Moses, the "meatskins," and her own battered conscience, Temple still finds moments of simple joy in the brutal world. Bell has created an exquisitely bleak tale and an unforgettable heroine whose eye for beauty and aching need for redemption somehow bring wonder into a world full of violence and decay.
Alden Bell's The Reapers are The Angels is the perfect combination of Charles Portis' True Grit and the classic zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. If you are a fan of the highest quality literature, thought provoking themes and the supernatural than there is nothing lacking in this book. I often pick up a book, hoping for something new, something unexpected, only to be disappointed with another piece of drivel. Now don't get me wrong I'm not above drivel *cough*Twilight*cough* but the quest for quality adult literature is an ongoing one. In fact, I often feel like Don Quixote himself, always trying but never succeeding. For once my high hopes were rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable and at times profoundly disturbing story.
Reapers follows a young girl named Temple who has learned that not only isn't it safe to live in the world because of the "meateaters" but sometimes because the other surviving humans are the worst monsters of all. At the beginning of the book she is living alone on an isolated island, sleeping in an abandoned lighthouse and fishing for food. We are immediately given the sense of desolation that she feels, her language is unsophisticated and she is harder than anyone should have to become. But Temple was born into this world of horror and death, this is where she belongs and the only thing she knows. In the manner of a true survivor she can find beauty in the simple things around her and even in the very monsters that threaten her life.
Bell tells a simple tale. A girl is forced to leave her island and travels with the dream of someday seeing Niagara Falls Along the way she meets many different kinds of people and monsters, until in the end she must face what it ultimately means to be human. In Moses Todd Temple finds her counter part: a man as hard on the outside as she is on the inside. Their stories are intertwined and the relationship between them is romantic without any of the complications of sex. Perhaps romantic is the wrong word, what they feel is more like the mutual respect of an honorable enemy or perhaps a brother. There are no shocking twists or sudden revelations. There is no deep mystery. What there is, however; is a story so eloquently written, full of so much truth, that you almost expect to walk outside and see "slugs" slowly lumbering toward you.
So what does it mean to be human? When we look at our lives what separates us from the "meatskins" who go about their days simply reacting and moving on instinct? Are we only surviving or is there something more to being human, something beyond eating, breathing, working, plodding through life. For Temple there is. There is something sacred and precious about life; there is a plan and God has seen to it that we're all in the place we're supposed to be. Even id we don't understand God is a "slick" God and he knows what he's doing. Temple has seen the very worst of what people are but she has also seen the beauty of miracles.
Temple is a difficult character to relate to. She's tough and hard. She handles herself in a way I'd like to think I would should zombies take over the planet. She kills with precision, both zombie and human when necessary. But she is broken. The world that she lives in is a terrible place and it has been her mother, father and mentor through life. She knows nothing else. Responsibility and honor guide her through a world with no rules. The small havens of normalcy she finds feel as alien to her as the outside world of Reapers would appear to us; she will never belong there, but there is nothing in the world that matters more to her than the safety of those who do.
The Reapers are The Angels is a mature book, the violence and gore are intense and the lessons in it are hard learned. It's the moral though; that I think takes an adult mind to truly grasp. Concepts of sacrifice, family, and morality are rarely conveyed as profoundly as they are in Reapers. Bell has managed to give us the perfect Anti-Heroine in a world without heroes in a time without hope. Temple takes us on a journey through the worst parts of human nature only to show us that in the end, all that matters is what you hold inside of you.(less)
This is an excellent book. The author has given us a profoundly unlikeable character in the beginning and interwoven the POV of an eight year old boy and a woman who is clearly deranged. The genius here is in the details. Biddle's writing reads so authentic in each character's voice that it's possible to get lost in their thoughts and believe what they are telling you is real.
The storyline is surprisingly straightforward, without any huge twists or unexpected surprises. However, there is tremendous change and transformation within the characters, keeping the reader invested in every word.(less)
Beautiful collection full of insight and grace. I'm overwhelmed by the talent of the author here. Thank you! Looking forward to finding more work by h...moreBeautiful collection full of insight and grace. I'm overwhelmed by the talent of the author here. Thank you! Looking forward to finding more work by her!(less)
A wonderfully unique Young Adult Novel, Pills and Starships has an amazing premise. People no longer just die, they choose the time and go on a kind o...moreA wonderfully unique Young Adult Novel, Pills and Starships has an amazing premise. People no longer just die, they choose the time and go on a kind of family retreat to "be" and "heal" together before their final goodbye. Kind of fucked up right? But also kind of awesome. And that's the problem. The main character Nat, pulls us right in to the story by using the "Healing Journal" she's given during her parent's GoodBye Week and writing down everything that happens, everything that led to this trip and her thoughts on it. The author does a great job getting inside Nat's mind but not making the whole thing feel like a whiny confessional diary.
I don't usually like YA books, but this one had tremendous depth as a Sci-Fi and very fleshed out world building. Also, I really enjoyed that while there was a character she was attracted to, it didn't become all about romance or some boy. This felt more REAL and her love for her parents and brother made Nat not only a likeable character but one I really rooted for.
My only frustration was the lack of information she had. Her brother and Kaehi dolled it out as they thought they should and just expected her to go with it. Personally, I'd be demanding more details. But it did play into some of her character flaws so maybe the frustration was mine, not the books.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Akasha Publishing.(less)
Deadly secrets have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of...moreThe Gaia Wars by Kenneth G Bennett-
Deadly secrets have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind.
Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn't like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer's property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed.
Disclosure:I received a copy of the The Gaia Wars from the author in exchange for an honest review. This was done in collaboration with the Blog Tour organised by Novel Publicity. While I am an employee of Novel Publicity I have never worked with Kenneth Bennett and have received no incentives or income for reading or reviewing this book.
Review:The Red Badge of Courage can suck lemons. The Gaia Wars should be what's taught in schools! I'm going to buy a copy of this and the sequel for my daughters' school library. I'm not kidding.
Neither Fantacy or Sci-Fi The Gaia Wars does what every good book does. It makes you think. The genre is irrelevant because the writing and meaning of the story transcend whatever box you might want to put it into. In reality this is a work of literature, it just happens to be aimed for younger readers.
Typically I dislike MG and YA literature (as you know) so it's quite a feat for someone to impress me so completely with a book for this audience. However Bennett managed to do it. His book is not only well written but it's a story that has to be told the way he did. If it wasn't YA it would lose some of the innocence and wonder which make the world of Warren Wilkes so compelling
There's a new genre I've been hearing about called #EcoFantasy and it's a really interesting idea. While Bennett doesn't use this term I think it's completely appropriate. Here we have a thoughtful book which compels the reader to think about the world they live in. While the focus is on eco issues, it is not a call to arms or some kind of manifesto, it's simply a well written story which creates space for the reader to grow and learn.
Books change how we look at the world. I grew up with The Handmaid's Tale to shape my psyche and politics. My children with grow up with The Gaia Wars, and I couldn't be happier. (less)
Each chapter is begun with a quote. Sometimes it is theological text, sometimes from the bible, sometimes it is the musings of the author. Regardless, the connection of the quotes is the theme of the mountain as a sacred space. It's interesting that the story itself has nothing to do with a mountain, but the emotional path the characters are on is much like the experience of climbing the summit of a great peak. The climb is exhilarating, the expectations great, but the way down is often the hardest and more important part of the journey.
Written in third person, Lee's main character Paul is consistent and beautifully depicted. He is the minister of a small Christian Church. He is struggling with the meaning and beauty of life. Since his wife's death, his inspiration and meaning has been lost. It is not until one day, upon seeing a man who enters the Narthex, searching for an AA meeting, that Paul's imagination is re-kindled.
Having lived a predictible life, Paul is overwhelmed by his sudden attraction and obsession with the man he meets. Throughout the book Paul struggles with his identity. I'm not like him he thinks to himself when confronted with a gay man her refers to as "swishy". Definitions of sexuality, identity, faith and love are explored deeply and intimately throughout the book.
Personally I adored this section of the book. Especially the lines: "Bisexual" was the obvious (and least absurd) choice, but it didn't feel right to him either. Paul had always associated that word with people who wanted to play around and experiment with sex. To his mind, it lacked commitment and serious intent." Ahhh yes, I've heard that before!
Although Angel is listed under Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, GBLT Erotica, General Erotica and Religion & Spirituality Romance, as well as Contemporary Romance. I think it's really Literary Ficiton. I would even agree with the Religion & Spirituality Romance category, but to gall it Erotica in anyway is just inaccurate. While the two men who fall in love do have sex, it is not detailed for the reader. This is a general frustration of mine. Just because they're gay doesn't mean it's Erotica! This isn't the author's doing, but either the publisher or the people who read it. I just don't get it.
Angel is an exploration of faith, an exploration of the nature of love, and forces the reader to think about the difference between private and public identity. I have to admit, this one made me cry a number of times. The raw emotions, the lyrical writing and the unadulterated adoration Paul felt for Ian was overwhelming at times.
Things that struck me was the relationship between Mary and Stuart, small incidental characters whose lives mirrored in many ways the issues gay couples face. What is the label for your "special friend". How is that enough? What are your rights? How is the mourning one goes through as part of an unofficial couple different from when a married person looses a spouse?
Angel is a book that needs to be read a few times. It should be essential reading for Gender Studies and Seminary in dealing with issues of Sexuality. It's deep, it's thoughtful, its beautiful and evocative. Angel challenges the reader to look at themselves, their lives and re-examine their preconceived notions.
Most of all though Angel is a love story. And you should read it.
Later this week I'll be having Laura Lee on my blog to give an interview and do a small giveaway. I hope you'll check it out and pick up a copy of Angel. If you have any questions for her, send them my way and I'll make sure to pass them on.(less)
Set in a distopian future, Strain has all the elements of a great read. Exciting adventure, monstrous bad guys, humans who are worse than the monsters...moreSet in a distopian future, Strain has all the elements of a great read. Exciting adventure, monstrous bad guys, humans who are worse than the monsters, a reluctant hero, religion and romance. Add on top some of the best M/M erotica I've read, positive representation of couples in "lifestyle" relationships, power dynamics that will mess with anyone's head and even a beautifully included trans character who isn't a sex object.
My hat is off to Ms. Gormley. She has woven together a thrilling sci-fi adventure with serious issues and erotica. When I first got this book I thought, "damn, this is long for an erotica, is it going to be just repeat after repeat wank material?" It's not. I was so pleasantly surprised to see creative world building, sensitive characterization and big picture questions like "why are we here", "what makes us human", and the morals of sex.
This is definitely not a light read nor is it for those just curious about the world of erotica. This is full on balls to the wall sex romp with voyeurism, non-con (almost), BDSM, and some serious powerplay. It even approaches some issues of age-play. If you're ready for something meatier than the average erotic bedroom romp and like a little man on man sexy time, this book is for you.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)