Friday, March 16, 2018

Controlled Descent by K.M. Herkes

In my home, there's a door.  It's made of gorgeous, aged wood.  It's a warm, safe, comforting and sturdy.  One side is left with a clear varnish so that you can see the beauty and history in the wood.  The other side is slathered with several coats of white paint.  It's sterile and clean.

That's how I felt reading this book.  The first nine chapters are covered in white paint.  It feels like it's been restructured so many times that it's lost Herkes' natural storytelling beauty.  Once I hit chapter ten, I flipped back over to the beautiful natural grain side.

I put the book down several times and nearly didn't pick it back up.  I'm glad that I did!  If I hadn't read Rough Passages before beginning The Restoration series, I probably wouldn't have.  I knew going into this that Herkes has natural talent. 

Once you get past chapter ten, you begin to fall in love with the characters.  They start to get to you and when they hurt, you hurt.  When they bleed, you don't bleed because that would be silly, but it still hurts your feelings.  Every triumph they make, you share with them. 

The world that she's created is still a little hazy to me, but that's my own fault.  In the beginning, there's just entirely too much description and I skipped over most of it.  You really don't need to understand the world to enjoy the story.  I've just been picking things up as I go along and I've done just fine that way. 

If you pick up this book from the blurb on the back and the front cover, you go into it expecting dystopian romance.  There's a bit of both in there, but it really isn't the focal point.  It's a story of humanity, survival, insanity, and overcoming your own self for the greater good.  It's a story of desperation and hope. 

There's a little bit here for nearly every reader.  Don't let the first nine chapters get you down!  You'll be glad you got past them!  It took me nearly two weeks to force myself through them, but it's more than worth it. 

If this is a series you're interested in, it has a bit of a different order.  Start with Controlled Descent, then read the first story in Weaving in the Ends (hopefully somebody knows where I hid my copy), then move on to Flight Plan, and finish up with the second story in Weaving in the Ends.  I'm told there's a prequel that's only available in e-format, but I won't be touching that until it's in print.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

As I'm reading this book, I had the same thought over and over.  Gehrman and I must have some of the same friends on social media.  You know the ones.  They're constantly seeking a guy that will give them what they deserve, to be worshipped.  "I want his every breath to be about me.  I want him to fall so helplessly in love with me that he can't function."  Every single one of those people should read this book.  The distance between 'I live for you' and 'tied up in phone cord and handcuffed to someone committing suicide' is sometimes a simple nudge. 

Because this book is told from the perspective of our two main characters, Sam and Kate, it gives us an in-depth look into their minds.  The real value here is that we get to watch Sam grapple with his motivations.  Not merely grapple, but make distinctions as well.  The problem wasn't that they had sex.  The problem was that he wasn't any good at it.  Those distinctions make a difference in defining the character.  For me, this study of humanity was absolutely fascinating.

The main characters are both aspiring writers, so it was really fun to see Gehrman throw in parts of the real writing/publishing world.  There's a scene where Kate is teaching about using different points of view and the purpose of each.  At the same time, you really connect with the reason Gehrman uses the point of view she does in the book.  There are lots of interesting correlations like that in the book.

As a thriller, it was pretty solid.  There isn't a lot of gore, but there's plenty of drama.  The psychological aspect is really the key ingredient here.  If you're a fan of suspense, you'll enjoy this one.  However, if you've been traumatized by a stalker in your life, you may want to pass this one up for PTSD reasons.

A Widow's Curse by Phillip DePoy

I have no idea where this book came from.  I was perusing the library for something to read and it jumped out at me.  Figuratively.  Being the Keeper of the Library, I'm familiar with every book in it...or so I thought.  I don't remember ever seeing this one before.  It was published ten years ago. Judging from the creases in the spine and cover, as well as rumpled and yellowed pages, this book has been loved well by someone.  I was intrigued enough to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did!

The mystery here is alright.  The characters are alright.  The setting is alright.  All of these things are definitely acceptable and when compared to 'good' literature, there's nothing here really of note.  It keeps in line with what it should.  I have zero complaints.

Where it really excels is in DePoy's storytelling.  Oh my goodness!  I have not been so captured by individual sentences since Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.  I'm reading along, and a sentence will just strike me with it's true brilliance.  Most of the dialogue in the book is filled with wit and intelligence, but even in descriptive and off-hand sentences, it's truly mesmerizing. 

While I was doing some research on the book, I noticed you can buy it on Amazon for a penny.  One single cent.  I strongly urge readers and writers alike to pick this one up.  Now, the reviews I've seen for it were mediocre.  Not everyone will see what I see in it.  However, if you're seeking to broaden your horizons a bit, this is exactly what you need.  Every sentence is intricately placed and worded.  I'm simply fascinated by DePoy now and cannot wait to get my paws on the rest of his books.  After that, I'm anxious to check out his plays!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bulwark by Brit Lunden

The town of Bulwark is being plagued by something paranormal and it's up to Sheriff Finnes to figure it out before everyone dies. 

At first glance, this is a middle reader book.  It's page count is at 104 and most of the wording is set for 'newer' readers.  However, adult themes such as sex and violence are prevalent.  This book is perfect for an adult who has difficulty reading or is newer to the world of reading.  In my world, everyone is a voracious reader.  That isn't true for everyone.  This book definitely satisfies the need for paranormal-thriller fiction that isn't too intimidating.  And let's be honest, sometimes you really want a quick, adventurous read.

Lunden is also published under Carole P. Roman and I found her adult writing to be every bit as satisfying as her childrens and nonfiction books.  It's fast-paced, full of action and adventure.  The characters are easy to figure out and identify with.  The book isn't cluttered, so it's a quick and smooth read. 

Fans of paranormal and folklore will get a kick out of this book.  Admittedly, I read the entire thing in 30 minutes, but it was 30 minutes where I didn't want to be interrupted and pulled out of my world.  Despite the length, I felt content upon finishing. 

Rough Passages by K.M. Herkes

The trouble with short stories is that you have only a few pages to establish your world, characters, and force the reader to care.  Because of this, I normally shy away from anthologies and collected works.  This is one of the few exceptions to the rule.  Herkes does an amazing job of filling in her world and making you fall in love with her characters with only a few words.  I actually became teary-eyed.

Herkes' storytelling abilities are surprisingly great.  It's a fast-paced read, but you tend to soak up everything as you read it.  It's captivating and exciting.  The characters are easy to relate to, while being interesting.  The world is similar to ours, but with a few serious changes.  Herkes eases us into these changes without overpowering us with a ton of information that we can't process all at once.

What I enjoyed best about this book is that most of the stories are intertwined.  We meet several of the same characters in different stories. 

Though I sincerely wish that Herkes would take this world and create a full-blown novel out of it, I thoroughly enjoyed the short stories.  I'm looking forward to jumping into her Stories of the Restoration series.  Though these are also short stories, if they're as well done as Rough Passages, I'm sure to love it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Wraith Knight by C.T. Phipps

It's Saturday night.  It's gaming night!  We're hanging out with our friends, getting ready to begin a grand new adventure.  Jason's aunt made everybody cupcakes.  Jim brought ten bags of Cheetos.  Shawn (that's me!)  remembered to bring 4 cases of Mountain Dew in various flavors (two of Voltage). After the original jabbing and catching up, we breathlessly begin.  First, we gear up for battle and begin right away.  In our new world, we have political crap going on everywhere.  Somebody's king is a jerk so we're gonna help take him out.  In the meantime, we learn all about this world we're entering.  Afterwards, we sit around and recuperate.  Everyone takes turns talking about their character and back story.  Then, once again, we're plunged into grand adventure.

For me, this (see previous paragraph) was reading this book.  It was a safe, comforting and exciting place.  Then there was a whole lot going on that I didn't understand, but I had fun with it anyway.  Then I tried not to space out while everyone else was talking.  Then I sped through the rest and wondered why I didn't have more.  Don't worry, the sequel is currently in production.  If you're anything like me, you'll have it on pre-order.

Now, on to the real picking apart of the book.

The world and characters have been intricately carved so that there's no doubt that the author sees and knows them clearly during the writing.  It's a fun plot.  There's plenty of action and adventure.  There's also plenty of politics and religion if those are your things. 

The trouble with most fantasy books is that the first book has so much information to give out and there really isn't a good way to do that.  Just getting to know the characters and what's really going on takes close to the first half of the book.  Still, by the end of the book, I didn't really feel connected.  Once I start the second book, I know it will be different.  Everything has been laid in place so there's a lot more room for building the reader/character/world connection. 

Phipps keeps plenty of humor running throughout the book.  His dialogue holds plenty of wit and banter.  It does a brilliant job of breaking up all of the adventure, revenge, hatred, and fear that are the main components of the book. 

If you've read Phipps previous works, expect this to be different.  The writing style, voice, character and world creation, are vastly different than his other books.  Not less, different.  Those who enjoy fantasy are sure to love this book.  They'll love it even more once it officially becomes a series.

Giveaway Notice

All winners of giveaways will be notified as soon as their name has been drawn. Each winner will have two weeks to respond in order to receive their prize. Prizes cannot be delivered without an email/physical address. Any prizes that are not claimed within a two week period will be forfeited.


All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.