Thursday, January 22, 2009

J. Timothy King; "The Conscience of Abe's Turn:"

Based off of the title of this book ending with "Volume 1, Season 1, episodes 1-4" I am led to believe that there are probably many more books to come in this series. To be honest I don't know if I will read any of the follow up novels.

Short Summary: In a small fictional town, a sheriff holds the town under his thumb by abusing his power and smiting his enemies with brute political and police force. Our four main characters, Ted, Clydene, Mira, and Michael, fight the sheriff's power through protests. They find themselves in a quagmire of trouble as one is falsely arrested. They encounter several individuals who need their help in fighting the Sheriff and his abuse of power.

The writing style in this book flows well and is very easy to read for the most part. At times the technical jargon and step by step wading through of the computer process that Clyde goes through becomes tedious and it becomes quite easy for the reader to tune out. However, on the whole this is a very simple book to get through, and I notice only one typo through the entire book. The cover and printing is attractive enough, and the writer is skilled. At the end of the book I did have trouble when we started leaping backward and forward in time, predominantly because the story had been linear up until the last 50 pages where we begin leaping backward and forward in time for no real discernable purpose. I didn't feel that the "back in time" bit added anything at all to the rest of the story. Perhaps this will become more important in a follow up book; however as a standalone, I felt that it should have been cut because it adds more confusion then important information.

I wish I could rate this book higher, because the writing style is very effective and the author has a wonderful flow of words. The tale itself however was a fairly overblown story that my mind could not completely wrap around. Perhaps it is supposed to be an allegory to other current world events, but for the life of me I can't understand why a group of professionals who are supposed to be so brilliant are holding protests and playing hippy saboteurs rather than just contacting the Feds and getting their problems solved. While I was reading I just kept shaking my head at how overblown the plot seemed to be, and at the same time how self-important the characters were that they were willing to break the law, and endanger themselves rather then just going to the proper authorities and letting them take care of it all. I almost felt that rather then fixing the problems in their little town, they were dragging it out in the attempt to make themselves saviors. Others may not read it that way, but to be honest, it's how it came across to me. As I said, this is a well written book, but in my opinion, it just was not a very interesting book.

3.5 of 5 medallions

The Conscience of Abe's Turn: The Birth of the Conscience, Volume 1 (Season 1, Episodes 1-4)
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: J. Timothy King (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981692508

Ray Spengler; "Not a Good Time to Die"

What is the worst thing about this book? The fact that the synopsis does no justice to the tale contained within. After reading the back of this book I thought to myself - "dear Lord I really don't want to read this" but once I opened it up and started reading, the book was wonderful. Sure the idea is very similar to the movie "The Butterfly Effect", but the story is different enough that there is very little comparison.

A more accurate summary: Douglas has just lost his wife; Jane, to Cancer... in his grief he considers taking his own life, and suddenly discovers that time has stopped... only its two hours before his wife's death. Now he has the ability to go back in time to different scenes in his life and relive them, can he find a way to save her? Or is there a deeper meaning to this sudden gift of time?

So as a reviewer I'm going to tell you, ignore the cover art which makes this look like a gothic horror - there's no horror here. Ignore the title, which sounds like a James Bond film - there's not much action here. And most of all, Ignore that little blurb on the back of the book that makes this sound like a bad sci-fi channel movie. What you DO have here is a story of a man who is very much in love, trying to go back and right the wrongs of his past, to save life of the woman he loves. As we go back in time with him (he's an old man now) there are 35 years of marriage, ups and downs, joy and pain. The readers relive all of this with him, hoping that this time he'll say the right thing, or make the right choice to change the course... or if nothing else to be a better husband. He never doubted his love for her... but when traveling through your life in high speed... your negatives glare out at you. And maybe this time he can to it? His time is running out, and his options are running thin... why would God give him this gift to relive if it wasn't to save her?

Douglas is a very human character... at times we love him, at times we want to slap the bejeezus out of him. Many times we'll wonder why Jane stayed with him at all. The story is very human... something that perhaps we all wish we could do after the loss of a loved one. For a first time author, this is a very good book. As far as an age rating - this one is not for the kiddies, minor instances of foul language, infidelity, a couple of lives lost, some bad behavior, alcohol abuse, basically think of bad things in your life that you wish you could change, and determine if you want your child reading about it. This book is NOT graphic, but the subject material might offend some parents. Also there are religious themes in this book that may upset non-Christians.
Either way, I recommend reading this book.

4.5 of 5 medallions

Not a Good Time to Die
Ray Spengler
Paperback: 305 pages
Publisher: Infinity Publishing (November 17, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0741449641

Robert G. Brown; "The Book of Lilith"

I've come to think that author Robert G. Brown might be one of those guys who really likes to hear himself talk. This isn't said with any malice, of course. He’s invested a good deal of his wild ideas and ruminations into this work. It is the product of an active, imaginative and thoughtful mind; taking an existing mythos and making it his own. I normally dislike this genre of book; mostly because they just come off as a blatant show of the author’s brilliance and wit; smug and lofty. But I couldn’t bring myself to hate the Book of Lilith. Trust me, I tried. The truth is, I kind of liked it. I kind of really liked it actually. ::sigh:: I know… The horror!

It’s the dawn of days… and God’s a-creatin’… Contrary to popular belief, God creates Lilith first. Lilith is vastly intelligent, but the moment she opens her eyes she is full of questions and confusion… and then God gives her Adam, a narrow-minded, prideful man, and things just get more impossible for Lilith. Their new home, the Paradise of Eden is a ticking time bomb—and then boom, ground zero—it goes up in a mushroom cloud. The effects of Lilith and Adam’s stormy relationship balloon outwards like a shock wave across the known world and the fallout washes over unsuspecting and unenlightened people.

It really is elegantly written on the most part. A couple of duplicated duplicated words are the only grammatical issues I happened upon. The style and voice is really quite excellent. Lately, I’ve had a hard time keeping focused on reading, yet this book had my attention whenever I had it in my hands. I kept reading it; I wanted to keep reading it, despite the fact that I don’t even like books about spirituality or etudes related to religion beliefs. This book was far from mind-numbing.

Problems? As a mean, I tend to have an issue with men writing in the voice of a woman. Mostly because men tend to write masculine traits into them; including the male sexual being. That irritates me, because there is pretty much always a failure to make it believable. You see, apparently, all it takes is a glance at a ‘well-formed’ turkey neck and wattle to get her motor revving—she doesn’t need anything else. Pardon my crudeness, but it's a thing I find very common in books where men create heroines... They are pretty much men when it comes to the libido. I also found that Lilith's emotional being is a bit stunted. She experiences various moments of deep introspection, and is faced with tragedy and horrors that would break anyone, yet Lilith’s emotional essence just isn’t there save for the occasional breakdown. It is the thing that bugged me the most about this book. Lilith behaved much of the time like a man. Even her motherly instincts were weak. It's possible the author is trying to stay true to the frame of Lilith's various more unseemly incarnations in myth, but still, he could have padded her out a bit more. She is a woman after all; a highly emotional creature.

I confess that for me, the most entertaining part of the book was the introduction; an email supposedly received by the author from a much-molested Iraqi girl who had apparently stumbled across the most profound archaeological and spiritual discovery ever found… That bit had me giggling out loud. It drew me right into the book. It was an intelligent choice to open the book with it.

All in all the Book of Lilith is up there in the ranks of self-published books. The quality of writing, the style and voice of the author made the book quite compelling and a good read. It gets a bit preachy in some areas, but it’s not slathered on too thickly. It did also run on a bit at the end too. A nice neat, elegant exit would have done well to finish up what is in all, a very professional package.

I give this book 4.5 medallions

The Book of Lilith
Robert G. Brown
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: (July 31, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1430322454

Patrick M Garry; "A Bridge Back"

Nate Morrissey has hidden from his life and his past amongst the millions of people in NYC. Now a high profile lawyer, Nate has been asked to take up a new case. This case will lead him back to his hometown of Mount Kelven, a sleepy town he has avoided for over 19 years. He has hidden from that town and everyone in it since the funeral, the accident that changed his life forever, and the event that he was never able to forgive himself for. Now Nate must go back, and dig into the accident that claimed his parent's lives, and destroyed his. But what will he find when he returns after a 19 year absence?

A Bridge Back is a very quick read, the prose flows smoothly allowing the reader to fly through page after page without even noticing it. The characters we encounter are fairly multidimensional, each of them with their little quirks and their own past. Garry (our author) spends much of this book focused on our characters and their inner selves, which I truly enjoy. I wish he had spent a little more time giving physical details about the people and places though that is only a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things.

In the end this is a very enjoyable book about dealing with the pains of our past, and getting through them. Forgiveness, love, charity, and trying to make a better future rather then running from previous hurts. Being an avid horror and thriller fan, I did not expect to truly enjoy this book, and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I would consider it more of a Drama than anything else... I mean sure there is a bit of legal intrigue and some mystery in there, but the focus is on overcoming the past. And in the end who DOESN'T have pains from their past that they would rather just run away from? That is primarily why this book is so accessible.

As far as age ranges go I don't recall any undue profanity. Due to some of the themes involved I would probably hold off on the under 15 crew. This book is geared for adults but should be accessible to 15 and up. If you are a fan of redemption tales, then pick yourself up a copy of this. It is an excellent book with very few flaws. And the flaws it has are so minor that you probably won't even know they are there (example - missing closing parentheses). Again I highly recommend this book, enjoy!

4.5 of 5 medallions

A Bridge Back
Patrick M. Garry
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Inkwater Press (February 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159299332X

Dennis Dufour; "Child of Darkness Child of Light"

I know there is another book with this same title, and no, I haven't read it. But I did read this one, cover to cover, in about 45 minutes.

"NO WAY" you say?

"Yes Way" I reply.

First of all, the book is only 171 pages, and it's not like they packed the text in there tightly. So is it good or bad that I read the whole book while waiting for a meatloaf to cook? I guess it depends on the reader... whoever they are, they will fly from beginning to end. The text flows well, the majority of the characters are stereotypes that we know (sure they are multifaceted stereotypes, but they are stereotypes none the less) so we don't have much trouble figuring out who is the good guy and why we like him.

Short Synopsis (but better than the back of the book): We have a nasty serial killer on the loose, and he has a very specific agenda... harming our hero - Simon Reynolds. Good thing Mr. Reynolds is a detective! We follow Simon through the investigation as the case gets personal, and he discovers that everyone he holds dear may be in jeopardy if he cannot catch the killer... a killer who knows him better than he should.

Ignore the back cover because it makes this book sound like a bad rehash of Law and Order. In a way this IS like most of the cop books/movies you've seen/read. You feel like you know all of the characters, you feel fairly comfortable that you know where this is headed, and right from the beginning you feel safe with how this book is going to turn out. For having a serial killer, the book is very low on the gore scale... though we see one of the murders, the truly disgusting aspects are kept from us. The focus of the book is instead on Simon and his search for the killer.

So is this a good book? I will say that this is a wonderful author capable of writing a very fast paced and fun novel. This book IS fun. Where is the problem? Well, from the second he walked across the page I knew who the killer was... but I thought - maybe he's a red herring... but... he wasn't. There WERE a few red herrings but none jumped out at me like the true killer... which kind of took a lot of the fun out of the ending for me. On the whole this book was very safe, it played it safe in every sense of the word, it never strayed out of it's genre, it never pushed the envelope, and it wrapped up just how the reader wanted it to. Sometimes you need a book like that. Lucky for me I was in the right mood for the book, on a different day I might have hated it. But as it stood, it was a very enjoyable 45 minutes spent reading.

If I could change anything about this book, I would cut out the paragraphs from the serial killer's point of view, and then smash this book together with another as a double feature having both run at about 120 pages or so. That would be in my ideal world. But even if that never happens, this is a fun bus read, or short plane trip read. I wouldn't mind checking out more from Mr. Dufour in the future.

4 of 5 medallions.

Child of Darkness Child of Light
Dennis DuFour
Paperback: 174 pages
Publisher: Trafford Publishing (June 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1425141056