Disclaimer:I received a copy of Exhale from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation
Review: First of all, can youDisclaimer:I received a copy of Exhale from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation
Review: First of all, can you believe that cover? How gorgeous is that?? I can't even get over it, it looks like something from a graphic novel. So amazingly fantastic.
Alright, onto the review! Exhale is a rare gem in the world of trilogy writing. For once there's a middle book that doesn't suffer from stagnation and info-dump overload. Instead, the action keeps building at a steady pace, new characters are introduced, some mysteries are solver, some expanded upon and new ones uncovered. The bad guys get badder and the good guys win and then break our hearts. A tremendously satisfying read in and of itself with a powerful momentum, making it impossible to wait even a moment before starting the next book.
I'm forcing myself to write this before I do, but believe me, I'd much rather be curled up with the giant dog reading!
In Exhale, the Dreaming continues to be under attack by the Fyres but their power base is weakened. The leader of the Fyre attack, Scarlet, is no longer only driven by her lust for power, she has her eyes set on Gavin, the now leader of the Sentinels (sworn protectors of the Dreaming). But Gavin has fallen head over heals for his Wyldling charge Zoe. Better than a love triangle, the tension and drama of Scarlet's desire for Gavin and hatred of Zoe drives her to do things only an author of Kendall's calibre could imagine.
Plot driven and action packed, Exhale delivers on every point. It's beautifully written, perfect in timing, structure, editing and tone. There's never a moment when the characters drift out of character. I'm at the edge of my seat to learn more about the prophesy and Zoe's role as translator. Kendall manages to mingle science with fantasy in a way that pulls it all together in a tight, taunt plot.
Now that we have solid character representatives from all the Elements (Earthe, Air, Wæter and Fyre), a solid understanding of the Sentinal political world, Zoe's role as a "translator" and the deepening mystery of who/what Sinnder is, I am chomping at the bit to dive into Book 3 - Just Breate.
If you haven't read Inhale yet, go buy it, you'll love it, and you'll love Exhale even more....more
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 ifOne 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....more
Disclaimer: I bought this book, the opinions of this review are my own.
Review: Now and then there are books which remind you why it is you love the thDisclaimer: I bought this book, the opinions of this review are my own.
Review: Now and then there are books which remind you why it is you love the things you do, why you started down the path you now find yourself. At one time I devoured books which crossed over the bounds of morality and common decency, now I spend more time breaking down the academic value of Vampires. Not a bad thing to spend your time on, sure, but not at all where I started.
Nira/Sussa brought me back to the girl I was when I discovered Antonin Artaud, when I revelled in his unrequited and insane adoration of Anais Nin, when I first read of June Miller, a woman who could have everything but wanted nothing. I was reminded of the girl who at one time had longed to write something as brilliantly deviant as this book. I was reminded that without the exercise of pushing limits, I myself am but nira.
Julian Darius has delved into the depravity of the modern sexual revolution to a depth which defies erotica, pushes beyond literature and broaches that which can only be referred to as truly transgressive. By breaking every taboo placed upon humanity at large - specifically rape, murder, and paedophilia - Darius creates a book truly sussa in it's scope.
This is not a sex positive book. This is not the kind of literature you will find next to Steinbeck and Shakespere, but it is a work which must be read. I encourage you all to read it, to allow your mind to become sussa and simply absorb what is presented without judgement. The reality is, this book is deeply disturbing and to the uninitiated terribly pornographic. However, if you can step back from your cultural assumptions and allow the demented logic presented some room to breathe within your mind, you'll find that Darius has done what all great literature sets out to do.
This book challenges your notions of self. It pushes your concept of humanity, morality and sexuality. But beyond that, it reaches in an unearths a deep truth we hide from. Only in this post-modern venue could a truth so raw be exposed and then serrated. Without Sussa we are Nira, but the act of fulling embracing Sussa will render us Nira.
From a literary stand point, this book is full of post-modern self-serving indulgences and stereotypical academic pretentia. Because the main character is named after the author in this fantastical fiction/completely true autobiography, it is difficult to dissect what is purposeful and what is arrogance. But again, like all great thinkers, Darius thinks either too much of himself or thinks to much, using himself as subject. Does it matter which?
Subject or Object?
Nira or Sussa?
Based in structure and form on Nabokov's Lolita, this novel/exposé takes the classic to a new low/high bringing the modern world face to face with the worst of our reality/imagination. Darius plays with the narrative as easily and seamlessly as a child plays with legos. Switching at times from the dominant 1st person style to 3rd person depending on the impact intended and at a critical point passing into 2nd. It's a book to lose yourself in, to immerse in, but beware the wholesale absorption, lest you become Sussa to Darius' deviance.
Nira/Sussa is the epitome of the publishing revolution. Darius has founded his own imprint and with this work, forced upon the market the kind of raw brilliance usually shunned until well after it's time. Due to this there are a number of strange editing issues, incorrect words ("to" instead of "till") and missing pronouns. At times it's hard to tell if it's an error or a choice as so much of Darius' work is riddled with unanticipated flare. There are also stylistic choices which are not consistent like in the beginning Darius' lines are demarcated not with quotes but with "-" but this convention is later abandoned, sometimes making it difficult to know who is talking as the author shies away from too many dialogue tags, if he deigns to use any at all. However, I do think a line editor could easily do a pass to bring the work up to perfect. What I do doubt is that he could find someone able to do this who wouldn't get so caught up in the story they too would miss words for the rush of reading the next phrase.
Should I ever have the fortune to meet Mr. Darius, I shall say nothing and simply hand him a note hand written on blue paper:
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. She sent me this even after I told her I don't read YADisclosure: I received a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. She sent me this even after I told her I don't read YA and I hate Faeries. (esp with that spelling). I'm glad she did.
I hate Fairies. I hate everything that has to do with them. I'm not interested in their fairy realm, I'm not interested in their undefined and illogical power. I think they're dumb. The playground for weaker imaginations what can't bind their stories to rules of cause and effect. Other than Stardust by Neil Gaiman (reviewed here) I've NEVER read a fairy book I like. And God forbid you have the audacity to spell it Fae or Faerie. OMG, what a wanker thing to do. Really, are you THAT full of yourself you aren't even concerned with how ludicrous you look?
And now I have to eat my words. I have to be honest. I kind of hate LJ Cohen a little now for that. I liked my hating fairies high horse. And now I have to give her book 5 stars. I kept looking for SOMETHING to pick on, but it's just not there. Cohen's book is well written, well conceived, well plotted, well edited and well executed. Everything about it is gorgeous. From the use of Shakespeare's Oberon and Titania (which again, usually makes my eyes roll) to the pull of ingrained cultural fairy beliefs, Cohen managed to take what could have been an absolute laugh-fest for me and turn it into a beautifully written piece of literature that I read in 2 days.
Lydia Hawthorne is a Trueborn Fae. She was born to two Fae parents which is something that hasn't been happening in Faedom for a very very long time. Everything about her points to her deeper path, from her perfectly chosen last name to her seeming invisibility in the mortal world. Her lack of casual popularity has given rise to a young woman who is deeply committed to her family, fiercely loyal to those she can trust and who has no patience for the pretense of bullies.
At the end of The Between we are still left with a cornucopia of questions: what exactly IS Lydia, who is the other changeling, what was it Aileen meant? All of which have me itching for the next book (When's it coming LJ, come on now, you can't convert me then leave me hanging.) This action packed novel does something few YA books manage to do. It gives us a female protagonist who has a back bone. It gives us a male/female connection based on friendship, trust and loyalty and not teenage loin-tingling hormones. It gives us deeper questions about the impact of loss, the corruption of power and the necessity for change. And more than anything else it gives us an awesome book that I just want to read again.
This is one of those rare books I'll actually gift to other people. In fact, I'll gift a copy to you. Enter at the end of this post and I'll gift 1 ebook copy to the winner. Already have a copy? I'll gift you something else awesome for the same appx price. I'm running a rafflecopter for this on my blog (GIVEAWAY POST)
Now for the criticism. This book is just about perfect cover to cover. I'm not 100% on the title, but it's ok, it's not terrible and I'm sure if LJ were to comment on here reasons for the title (hint hint) I'd conceed to it. What I DON'T like, at all, not even a little bit, is the cover. It looks like someone copied some avatars out of a SIMS game and tried to make a cover in paint. This book would be better served by a stock photo, or hell, a black cover with just the title in a funky font would be better than this. If I can make one serious plea to the author, it's to CHANGE this cover. I'll help you. I know a number of good designers. Or hell, I'll make you one! I'm not great, but I do ok, I made the Two Moons of Sera cover. Please listen to me on this. You NEED to do this. The cover undermines the amazing work here. It drags the impression down from where it should be (OMG AWESOME) to amateur. I know that's hard to hear, but I say this with all the love a 5 star review has to offer. I would not have read this book based on the cover alone....more
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and no promise of a positDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and no promise of a positive review was made.
Review: Kenya Wright is an absolute master. Book One knocked my socks off but Book Two has been sending her threatening tweets in my desperation for more. Book Three is almost done, and let me tell you, I'll be lining up to buy it as soon as I can.
Filled with sex, drama, vampires, family drama, murder and a supernatural world so brilliantly written you start to wonder where your brand is, The Burning Bush was an amazing read. I can't recomend this one strongly enough and if you read Book One, you may think you know what you're in for. Well you don't. The characters are as charmingly flawed as ever and the plot moves at a speed which will make your head spin in the effort to keep up.
Typically, I'm not so into these supernatural romances that are everywhere. I loved Sookie, sure, and I am a proud Wolf Girl, but the genre has played itself out for me. Wright's ability to blend believable characters in fantastic situations brought me back to the monsters I so love. I would read all her books if they came in paperback, hopefully someday they will.
One of the things I adore about these books, beyond the amazing story and skillfull writing, is that we are presented with a world that actually looks like the one we live in. There are black characters, religion and gritty realism I'm unaccustomed to seeing in the genre. Kudos to you for weaving issues of race, class, economics and religion into a thoroughly entertaining story. You don't have to get into the issues to enjoy the book, but it's hard not to have it affect you on a deeper level.
Now Kenya, if you read this, get your ass back to work and finish book 3!!...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
Disclaimer: This book magically appeared in my PO Box. I have no idea where it came from. I didn't buy it and the author didn't send it to me. It seDisclaimer: This book magically appeared in my PO Box. I have no idea where it came from. I didn't buy it and the author didn't send it to me. It seems I was meant to read this book and I'm so glad I did.
Review: If you're anything like me you read the description of this book and rolled your eyes. It starts out strong and then you have a Were-Cheetah, guys named Zulu and the use of the word "raunchy". I knew this book was a risk when I started it. It was either going to be the best book ever written in the Supernatural Genre or it was going to be a complete tomato.
By the time I was two pages in I knew which it was - this was going to be an awesome book. I'll list out below the major things that pull Fire Baptizedout from the crowd of crappy Supernatural Romance books out there right now, but the main thing that set it apart is that Wright buys into her own story so completely, it comes alive on the page. There is never a moment when it feels like the author is pushing too hard or where the prose comes across more tongue in cheek then actual. This book is written as fictional realism, contemporary mystery or literary romance, there just happen to be flying monsters and were-folk. It's presented as so common place that you can't help but believe the world created. Parallel to our own, it's a completely plausible alternate reality.
In addition there are a few points that separate Fire Baptized from the pack:
The Love Triangle:
Instead of some convoluted, unexplainable attraction, the romance in FB is believable and engaging. MeShack (the were-cheetah) is Lanore's ex-boyfriend, who is promiscuous and still madly in love with her. It's hard not to want these two to end up together, except for the fact that MeShack is led by his were-instincts more than his head and can't resist the seduction and conquest of a new lover. It seems like Lanore should just tell him to bugger off, but their love is the kind of soul-mate bond that isn't so easily broken. They were raised together and MeShack is conditioned, dedicated and biologically pre-destined to be Lanore's protector. Their childhood traumas and mutual devotion form a strong bond.
The other man in Lanore's life is Zulu (yeah, I laughed at the name at first, but it fits him once you get into his story). He's mysterious, political, influential and driven. As the leader of the MFE (Mixies For Equality) he represents a Black Panther or ACT UP! kind of movement. Lanore is drawn to him for his politics, his beliefs, his devotion to her as well as a sick body.
While there's definitely a choice for Lanore to make, there is no flip flopping or whiny "Oh it's so hard to be me" Twilight bullshit. Instead we have a sexual woman, with a past and a future which includes two wonderful men. Both have flaws but both are fully developed three dimensional characters.
Thank Baby Buddah! For ONCE there is a book set in the supernatural world which includes people of multiple races. I've read a few who have tried to do this but it's usually a "hey, look! I have a book about black people!" Instead Fire Baptized is just a book, set in a world where diversity is the norm. Race is discussed, joked about and sometimes even an issue, but it's as much a part of their lives as it is for most of us who live in a multi-ethnic community. Lanore isn't just a black girl. She isn't defined or announced by her race, instead MeShack helps her wax her dreads after a shower. It's a normal and real part of her existence. This is the kind of writing which brings diversity into a story without making you feel like you're getting some kind of lecture.
Fire Baptized could easily be seen as a exploration of race relations in America, with segregation and internment camps from our past coming to a speculative reality. If you dig deep, you can see issues of desegregation, inter-racial relationships and children as well as an us vs. them theme. These themes are there, but they aren't teaching us or lecturing us, instead Wright has built on the reality of racism/sexism/homophobia and used them to create a world which presents as true.
Fire Baptized is a stand alone book. The story is completed and the reader is satisfied with what they have read. However it is the first book in the Habitat Series. Book Two Burning Bush will be coming out in August and I have to say I am chomping at the bit for a copy. FB did what the best First Book of a Series will do, it made me want to read more, but left me feeling satisfied with the adventure I had been on. Wright also has a free ebook called Caged View which appears to be little character explorations for The Habitat MCs. I'll check it out at some point but I hate ebooks. However, I love this series so much I'm going to try and pick it up. In addition The Habitat World is used as the back drop for another series Wright is working on called Cage Punks. Book One Chameleon is coming sometime later this year. I'm a little giddy...
Another HUGE plus for Fire Baptized is the fact that it is NOT YA. When's the last time you read a good Supernatural Dystopian book that wasn't written for teens? Oh you can think of one? Bet'cha a nickel it was full on romance or erotica. Not so with Fire Baptized. Here we have characters who are strong and vulnerable, smart and emotional. We have a woman who isn't ashamed of her body but who also isn't a slut. Sexy men who serve as more than just masturbation material (although there's some of that too.) This is not PG or PG-13. This is a book meant from grown-ups, real people swear, real people fuck, real people cry. Lanore and her co-horts are more like us than one would expect from a book about Fairies and Were-Cheetahs.
In the end, Fire Baptized is what every Indie book should strive to be. I found ZERO typos or other editing issues. I'm sure there are a few (there are in every book) but I've gotten to be a pretty critical reader and they either aren't there or I was too wrapped up in the story to notice. The book is beautifully written, expertly constructed and fully realized.
If Sookie Stackhouse is a penny that Lanore Vesta is a million dollars. This is the next big thing, buy it now....more
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 aboAsha 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.
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
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC of this book as a part of the author’s promotional blog tour.
The Carny is a delightful read. Super fun, fast and well wrDISCLAIMER: I received an ARC of this book as a part of the author’s promotional blog tour.
The Carny is a delightful read. Super fun, fast and well written. The dialogue flows easily and funny and the characters are familiar. The Carny is a sweet read that makes you fall in love with the possibility that men like Vincent Youngblood could possibly exist. He’s funny, charming, handsome and totally climbable. Through the whole book I wanted to just vault up him like a rope ladder.
Set in the Pacific Northwest, Moss has built a world that is believable and complete. Set in Astoria, Oregon, a small fishing town, Charlotte Davenport is the black sheep in her perfectly uppercrust family. Moss paints an amazingly accurate picture of the kind of small town snobbery that goes on amongst the affluent. The running joke of “I’m not racist! I gave to this or that charity just three years ago!” cracked me up throughout the book. She captures the kind of narrow focused thinking that so many American’s suffer from. Amazingly, Moss manages to keep from making her characters the butt of their own jokes and finds something special and human about each of them.
The plot of the story is based around the love at first sight/fated pairing of Charlotte and Vincent Youngblood who she meets as a teen at the local carnival. Their meeting and later reconnection flows like a perfect dream. Exactly the way love should be. Overall I found The Carny to be fantastic. The quick turnaround of Charlotte’s mother’s behavior was a little out of character and hard to swallow, but other than that I found the pacing and story to be great.
Perfect for a summer read, you’ll devour The Carny and fall in love with Vincent Youngblood....more
I downloaded this as part of a free promotion. I have never spoken with Thea Atkinson but O.M.G. I so want to. Seriously, I'm like all fan girl crusheI downloaded this as part of a free promotion. I have never spoken with Thea Atkinson but O.M.G. I so want to. Seriously, I'm like all fan girl crushed out on her now. I might have to stalk. This short story is so good, creepy, beautiful, and epic there aren't even words.
I can't really give you a synopsis beyond what's above because the piece is quite short, but every second of it is fulfilling. Atkinson's use of language is perfection and her imagery, both religious and profane, is exquisite.
I have added her to my next book buying round if I ever make any money because I would be thrilled to read anything else by her after this great little piece. As usual, I don't really recommend buying short stories because full length novels are only $0.99. But this one might just be worth it. If you have a taste for something short this is the one to get. It's fantastically crafted and is exactly the length this particular story is meant to be....more
Disclaimer: I purchased this book on Amazon.com. While I know the author through social media no promise of a positive review was made. Review: InhaleDisclaimer: I purchased this book on Amazon.com. While I know the author through social media no promise of a positive review was made. Review: Inhale by Kendall Grey proved to be a surprising read. The reader is landed right in the middle of a conflict between the Elemental Fyres and the Sentinals. Words and Terms swim by with contextual clues only, but the world building is woven into the story line so well, the reader soon catches up. This is the first full length book I’ve read on my iPad and I was a little hesitant. In general I dislike ebooks, I’ve only ever read them on my phone and while the iPad is better, I still really don’t like reading that way. So it should be a pretty profound indicator of how good this book was that I could not stop reading. I took my iPad everywhere, even to my daughter’s gymnastics class, just to keep going. The premise of the book is simple in conception but intricately depicted. There is a place beyond the physical world around us where humans go to dream. The Dreaming is a place where the mind has power over the environment and it’s possible to access essential aspects of the self which are hidden or too vulnerable in reality. Ancient beings of demi-god like power called Elementals are banned from The Dreaming. They draw power from humans by accessing and siphoning off their life force. Almost like spiritual vampires. An ambitious Fyre has found a portal into the Dreaming and has invaded. She and her Elemental brethren are wreaking havoc on the human unconscious, causing psychosis and in the extreme even death in the real world. Concurrently, a woman who has the power of Lucid Dreaming is being called upon by the Sentinals – the sworn protector of The Dreaming – to join the battle. But what happens when a human falls in love with her otherworldly protector? An exhilarating read, INHALE doesn’t pause long enough to let you catch your breath. Every moment is filled with character, conflict and layered with meaning. It took me a whole to get into it. I mean, anytime the æ is used I resist the draw of wanker fantasy, but INHALE never jumped over that cliff, it maintained a pure purpose with consistently high quality story telling. The sex is hotter than a lot of the erotica I read, the emotions truer than a lot of the romance, and the danger more thrilling than many suspense novels. Grey does a fabulous job of keeping the reader engaged while holding enough out of reach to always leave you wanting more. At the end of the book, you are satisfied at having read a great story, the conclusion brings you to a natural denouement, but you still want MORE. I want to know about Zoe’s father who was taken by what her child mind thought of as “blue fairies” (Wæter Elementals?), I want to know what Sinnder’s deal really is, I want to know about the love story and where it will take us. At one point one of the characters was reading Carl Jung and I had to laugh out loud (scaring the giant dog, he’s such a wimp). I had already thought how much Jung would love this book! Kendall brings the theory of the Collective Unconscious into vivid reality. Plus, if any book has ever utilized the concept of Archetypes, it’s this one. But again, the skill shown in the word crafting is phenominal. Archetypes, but NEVER stereotypes. Insightful but never preachy. I highly recommend INHALE if you’re looking for a fun read with some meat to dig your teeth into. Grey respects her readers enough to leave us guessing, titillate our senses and engage our minds....more
Disclaimer: I bought this book at a Chapters (Think B&N in Canada) with real money I really earned.
Review:It's all about consent. That's what onDisclaimer: I bought this book at a Chapters (Think B&N in Canada) with real money I really earned.
Review:It's all about consent. That's what one of the characters says in the second vignette piece in the book. It's all about consent. Right and wrong have no place in this book. Your moral compass is unwanted and unnecessary. Here it's just about the consent of the participants. Be they animals, siblings or a co-worker in a dark alley.
This book is comprised of 3 connected vignettes which detail stories of unconventional love and desire in the fullest detail. Each is titled after the classic art piece it is modelled after and delves into levels of taboo sexual behavior with a depth, sensitivity and insight rarely offered. This is not porn. This is a book about love. And the dirtiest book I've read in a long long time. It takes balls to not only write about these topics, but to do so in a way that makes the reader invest in these unconventional relationships despite the taboo discussed. When Paul (a German Shepard) dies, I teared up as his human lover mourned him, when Katherine discusses the loss of passion in her sexual relationship with her brother, I felt her pain like a tangible thing.
I have to wonder how this book made it past the censors on Amazon or onto the shelves of a mainstream bookstore. I'm thrilled it did. It's rare that I can pick up a book, flip to any page and blush, and then do it again, and again. By the third random flip, I knew I had to buy this.
Susanna and the Elders -
In this piece, Susanna is born into a deaf family, and although she herself can hear and speak, she comes to relish the silence of her childhood. The imagery of sound and it's affect on Susanna's state of mind is phenomenal. As lyrical as poetry but sensual and evocative. And we haven't even hit the dirty stuff yet. This first vignette is relatively tame (considering the rest of the book), delving into the addiction of internet sex chat rooms and videos.
The art chosen for this piece is important. The woman (Susanna) is nearly naked but the men are fully clothed. The character Susanna finds the woman's exposure unsettling and later, during her internet chats, she refuses to turn on her webcam, sticking to the shadows to speak to the men and women she meets but refusing to expose herself. Even with her online love interest she remains unseen and unheard.
It's only when she's completely and physically exposed in her desire that she's able to surrender and find love.
The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife -
Leda (named after the Greek Myth of Leda and the Swan) is an innocent young girl who sees bodies as ways to express affection. When her German Shepard, Paul, humps the sheets of her bed, all she knows is that it makes him feel good and that this is a good thing. As she gets older and discovers what sex is, her love for Paul takes a sexual turn. At school, Leda meets a girl who doesn't fit in, but the two hit it off, becoming friends in their discussion and curiosity about sex. This too becomes sexual when Leda and Rachel spend the weekend alone at Rachel's uncle's farm. Yes, I said farm. As in with animal in a barn. You see where I'm going here?
This story is filled with the normal emotions and longing of a girl during her sexual coming of age. Jealousy, adoration, devotion, curiosity, experimentation. It just happens that all these things happen in a bestial and lesbian context. But as Rachel says, it's all about consent. In the minds of these girls, the animals are giving consent, the girls simply offer the opportunity and the animals make the decision. It isn't until years later when Paul is dead and Rachel is no longer a part of her life that Leda ventures into non-con. Can sea life consent? If it's not a mammal, can it understand Leda's mammilion invitation?
Leda's story becomes about sensation. The feeling of the cold water on her naked flesh and the strange caress of an Octopus (yes, you read that right). When Rachel returns to her life the realization that she had turned her back on her pack, her human lover and herself due to petty jealousy, something the animals never succumb to, she is overwhelmed by the desire to put her zoo family back together. Then, Rachel suggests they go online to find other people like them... to an internet chat room...
Romulus & Remus -
Aaron is addicted to internet porn. Despite the naked body of his devoted love/sister lying in the next room, he finds himself in chatrooms nightly, falling in love with one woman and watching the mating rituals of a young zoo family. He finds comfort, companionship and distraction in the images before him. Men and women just as broken and lonely as him. His marriage to the woman he's loved since he was born with an adoration that overwhelmed his young heart is stalled, flaccid.
She too feels this and falls into depression over the mundaneness of their life together and her job. While he finds his online, she has an affair with a co-worker. Affair might be a misnomer, a ravaging? Can the siblings find their way back together, to be as close as the wild twins Romulus & Remus suckling from the same wolven teet? Can their love overcome the day to day of married life? Perhaps a little internet exhibitionism and anonymous admission of their familial sin will renew the taboo rush which first brought them together....more
I recently traveled to Maine and had the chance to visit The Mystery Cove Book Shop. It's a great little shop and if you're ever in Bar Harbor just thI recently traveled to Maine and had the chance to visit The Mystery Cove Book Shop. It's a great little shop and if you're ever in Bar Harbor just the kind of place I love to browse, full of wonderfully hand selected books and wonderful little gems. I was able to pick up the paperback ARC of The Peculiars and sat down to read it as soon as I got home.
The Peculiars is YA, which I don't read, Steampunk, which I have never read, and fantasy, which I usually shy away from. Based on the math I shouldn't have liked this book, but I adored it. Despite a few little niggling issues, this book was just about perfect. I can't wait for this book to catch on so I have someone o talk to about it.
Based in the late 1800s The Peculiars is set on the East Coast of America near the outlands of Scree. The main character, Lena, is more than likely half Peculiar, a breed of humanoids who are outcast from mainstream society. Her smart and inquisitive nature drives her to set out alone to find her deadbeat father. The thing I loved the most about this book is the way McQuerry weaves in historical philosophies and inventions. From Darwin to Lister, she intersperses the excitement of the late 1800s around progress and invention.
At the beginning of the book there is a strange device used where we switch from first person memory (in italics) to third person narrative. It's odd because it only appears again once during the course of the novel. I hope that in the process of taking this from the ARC I received to the final product these sections are removed or reworked. It was distracting and unnecessary.
Overall, this is a top notch book with all the qualities of a great story. It's definitely intended for the YA audience, however, the annoying new YA-Supernatural-Romance-Stupid-Girl tendency is completed avoided. The characters are smart, relateable and completely fascinating....more
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....more
Disclaimer: Although I know Anderson O'Donnel through the Indie Community I bought my own copy of this book and made no promises to him regarding a reDisclaimer: Although I know Anderson O'Donnel through the Indie Community I bought my own copy of this book and made no promises to him regarding a review.
Fast-paced, visceral and closer to probable than possible, O'Donnell has created the best near-future dystopian Lit Fic I have read since The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Bio-Punk isn't a new term, but it's gaining ground and KINGDOM deserves to be at the top of the list of books to read in said genre. There simply aren't enough stars to communicate the impressiveness of O'Donnell's work here. He has taken religion, science, politics, theory and philosophy and blended them all together to create what is easily one of the most important books to come out this year. And I say that with all the humility of a fellow author who has written a Lit Fic that I wrote to try and do my part to change the world.
O'Donnell's writing is impressive in craft as well as scope. His prose weaves through the stories of three men, Dylan Fitzgerald, whose father was a US Senator who committed suicide, Michael Morrison and Jonathan Campbell - co-creators of the Exodus program. Each man's experience of the narrative is unique, but beyond Anderson's ability to capture characterization is the remarkable work he's done to write in completely different styles for each voice. Dylan's sections are particularly notable because of his use of narcotics, despite being written in third person the stylistic writing creates a world the reader experiences through the lens of the character in question.
Literary Fiction is often looked on as snobby. Those of us who write it take a small amount of pride in a certain academic or intellectual value to our work. Lit Fic isn't "just for fun." That's fine and dandy as long as you can still enjoy the story. Well, I can assure you not only is O'Donnell smarter than I am, he's a whole lot Lit Ficier. KINGDOM can be enjoyed as a sci-fi tromp through near future dystopia without worrying about the deeper levels of religious lore or political and artistic trends but here are a few things worth noting when you read KINGDOM:
* Tiber City pulls it's name from the Tiber River. I don't know O'Donnel's reason for this but I immediately think of Romulas and Remus and the founding of Rome. I'd love to know if that played into the narrative at all. * Obscure but prophetic reference to the punishment of Korah: "During their journey through the desert Korah, Dathan and Abiram revolt against Moses's leadership. God punishes the lot - the ringleaders plus 250 followers - by having the earth swallow them whole." * Assassin named "Al-Salaam" which translated from Arabic to "of peace" * Repeated and non-traditional use of the trinity motif, including a miraculous conception and 3 Kings wandering the desert in search of a savior.
O'Donnel's take on religion, the soul, the value of church vs. the value of community are all very complex. He touches on the corruption of the church system and magnifies it, introducing the reader to the CitiMart Church of Christ with a video greeting from a polished "Pastor Rick." While religious imagery and themes run deep in KINGDOM, I personally didn't see a criticism of faith or any particular belief system. Quite the opposite. O'Donnel has imbued his book with the necessity of a spiritual community, an internal faith that burns true without definition. Even the most hardened scientists of The Exodus Project ultimately have to reconcile their calculations with the existence of something outside of definition.
In addition of the beauty of the following passage, I hope you can see the truth. I do, I think part of my own emotional issues come from the same place as described here. Plus, who can resist a grover reference?
In Dylan's opinion, this trend - the embrace of the euphemism - only made the inevitable breakdowns in civilized behavior all the more atrocious. It was as though when the stark realities of life finally slithered their way under, over, around , and through all the artificial constructs man threw up, the strain was too great and people just snapped.
Inside the bleak depictions of an America gone mad, magnified and personified by Tiber City (which even has it's own little Coney Island!), there is a message of hope. The possibility of redemption remains and the existence of, if not God, a little something extra beyond our humanity that connects us and binds us to the divine, confirmed. KINGDOM is a heady book, a dense book, a book for thinking and mulling. It is also a good book.
Anderson O'Donnel has created in KINGDOM everything the Indie Revolution is supposed to stand for. A voice that otherwise wouldn't have been heard, a message which couldn't stay silent and an art that breathes new life into the stagnant waters of commercial publishing. The Hugo and Nebulous Award Winners have nothing on O'Donnel. Perhaps, he might just have something on them....more
Deadly secrets have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out ofThe 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. ...more
Disclaimer I received a copy of this book I'm exchange for an honest review.
The Sundered is a surprisingly engaging and complex novel. From the firstDisclaimer I received a copy of this book I'm exchange for an honest review.
The Sundered is a surprisingly engaging and complex novel. From the first paragraph you are pulled into a world where Nothing is quite the way it should be. Friends aren't loyal, the water is trying to kill you, and the people, well, the humans are pretty recognizable but the Sundered Ones... they're something you'll never imagine.
Completely original the story line of The Sundered is captivating and engaging. While the book itself was the perfect length for the story I couldn't help but want ,ore and more and more. Completely mesmerizing Reid captures the inner life of the male Mai. Character perfectly. Even his inconsistencies make sense from within his mind
The truly miraculous thing about The Sundered is the manner with which Reid deals with issues of class and the ethics of owning another living creature. Between the Sundered characters of Gorish who is more like a pet than man, and Aakesh who presents as something like a fallen God, we are given the ability to see the innocence with which the humans accept their subjugation of the Sundered. It's been taught to them in schools and as a necessary part of the human Eco system.
The humans are able to somehow take control of the Sundered's minds and mentally leash them and their abilities. This is explained but I don't want to give it away. The Sundered are broken, their minds their souls, their culture, and the humans see nothing wrong with their enslavement. But as Harry, the main character, proceeds on a quest for The Hope for Humanity to try and heal the dying world he lives in he learns more about the Sundered, humans and humanity than he ever expected.
A fantastic, fast, and thought provoking book The Sundered is highly recommended....more