Lost Legacy (The Skull Chronicles Book 1) by D. K. Henderson

lostlegacy

 

A different approach to telling a fantasy story…..  ***

 

Normally, I do not read fantasy. After all once you have read all of J. R. Tolkien, what could ever measure up to his standard? However, when I received a request to review this book, I was intrigued.

The fantasy part of the story is straight forward. Thirteen skulls brought to Earth by aliens to be used by us to gain the knowledge they have acquired.  The skulls were brought years ago and as mankind becomes aware of the power they hold, there are some who try to steal them for their own purposes. Eventually the skulls are scattered and hidden in various parts of the Earth as the story reaches modern day.

Here is where the approach is different, at least in my experience.  As Henderson tells the  history of the skulls, she mixes in the modern day story of Gemma Mason who begins having dreams about the skulls. Gemma eventually decides to write a book about her dreams. This switching from the fantasy story to what is happening with Gemma kept me reading.

The writing is above average, and the philosophy that Henderson imparts is not only worth reading, but worth a pause for reflection. The novel suffers from more telling than showing but moves at a good pace.

This was a hard book to rate for me.  I give it three stars as a fantasy novel, but the writing style deserves four.  But since this is for fantasy fans, three it is.

Killing Rush by John Calvin Hughes

killing rush  

 

   Sadly this is only fiction…    ***

 

This is a fairly well written story of two brothers, Samuel and Adam. Adam is on a quest to kill Rush Limbaugh and his brother decides to go along for the ride and to hopefully dissuade Samuel.    Their adventure across the South is full of good dialog, quirky encounters, and some fairly heavy philosophical discussions.

This is the type of book that makes you think, makes you reflect on your own beliefs, and leaves you probably with more questions than answers.  Hughes uses the brothers to give us insight into issues that we all should ponder at some point in our life.

Some of the situations and personalities are stereotypical of an outsiders view of the South but there is enough realism to keep one turning the pages.  I titled this review “sadly this is only fiction” because we know (no spoiler here) that the brothers are not successful at killing Rush.

This one gets three stars and I would recommend it as a good read.

In Shining Armor: Talitha Cumi (Book One) by T. C. Leonard

Inshining armor

 

A bumpy ride that could be enjoyable…..   *

 

One of the joys of discovering a new author is finding a fresh voice that pulls you in and takes you for a ride.  This book does exactly that.  The author hooks you in the beginning and sets up a storyline that you want to follow and know more about.  The problem is, that like a kid sitting in the back seat on a long trip, I kept asking myself, “are we there yet?”.

Leonard is a good writer.  He creates images that make you feel the ocean, taste the sea air, hear the whack of a tennis racket hitting a ball and sense the emotion of his characters.  He sometimes gets a little carried away with metaphor, but so does Dean Koontz.

The problem is the fact that this is a serial in the complete sense of the word.  I am old enough to remember going to Saturday morning matinees and seeing the likes of Flash Gordon, Rocket Man, or Zorro.  All of which would end in a cliffhanger and I couldn’t wait until the next week to find out how the hero would survive.  This novel just stops.  No cliffhanger, although I do want to know what happens.  While I knew this was book one, there was no indication that none of the storylines would get wrapped up.

The novel has great potential.  It needs a good editor to trim it down and eliminate the parts that drag. It needs a good pass by a copy editor to fix the typos and missing words.  The story is a good one, just not sure why it is broken up into parts.

This, unfortunately, gets one star.  it should have been four.

A Sudden Light: A Novel by Garth Stein

615NEdQcUeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

A not so bright light…..  ***

 

Some novels make you say “Wow”, some are not very good, and some fall in between.  This would be an in between novel.

The writing is good from a technical viewpoint. The characters are bland and one dimensional. The story is predictable and there are no surprises.  The main character, Trevor, is telling the story of what happened when he was fourteen.  The problem is that his interaction with his father, which is one layer in the story, doesn’t ring true.  Much of his conversation with his father is beyond what a boy of that age would say.

Serena, who is Trevor’s aunt, is supposed to be a femme fatal but Stein doesn’t develop her to the extent he could have.  The family history is the backdrop for this story but also adds too many layers to the novel.  We learn about the timber industry, boat building, and what gay relationships were like in the early 1900’s. All of which is fascinating but not gripping.

This is one of those books that when you finish it you say, “okay, what book am I going to read next?”.   This one gets three stars.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

TheCircle-Jacket

 

1984 and then some…   ***

 

As technology encroaches into our lives more every day, it is not too hard to imagine the scenario Dave Eggers puts forth in this futuristic novel.  The thought of complete transparency of each of our lives seems just a few steps away from the current social media exposure most of us have.

This was a quick read, in spite of being just under 500 pages, and did hold my attention.  The ideas proposed by the company known as The Circle were fascinating in that on the surface, they sound like good ideas.  It is only after you think about all the implications that you realize the ideas might not be good. The suggestion of a complete democracy where every voice is heard on every issue is a good example.  The idea sounds good, but one has to wonder about the ability of the majority to make an informed decision.  Our forefathers thought this was not such a good idea, and I have to agree.

While putting forth an interesting view of where technology can take us, the problem with this novel is that is was predictable.  The story itself is simplistic and at times a little unbelievable.  The next to last scene reminded me of the song by Roy Orbison, “Running Scared”.  The main character, Mae, has to make a decision and the reader is not completely sure what she is going to do, “which one would it be?”.  Is she going to turn around and do as she was asked or something else? But since I don’t want to spoil the end, I won’t answer that.

This is worth the time to read it, and for that I give it three stars.

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

drop

Let’s call this what it is……    ***

 

First, this is not a novel, it is a novella.   Actually an expanded short story.  Okay, by word count maybe it is a novel, but for this reader it is an expanded short story.  Too short to justify the price, even discounted.

Having said that, the story is face-paced and a good read.  I wanted to read this before seeing the movie and although this may not be Lehane’s best work, I can see where it might make a good film.  It does read more like a screenplay with very little description.  The style of writing is simplistic yet it held my interest.

Lehane manages to surprise us in a couple of places and in the end, I did want to know more about what happens to Bob and Rocco.  So for holding my interest, even if it was short, I give this one three stars.  I will review the film after I see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Coming: A Love Story by Scott Pinsker

The_Second_Coming-_A_Cover_for_Kindle

 

When A Fiction Book Is Nonfiction        **

 

This is an interesting approach to writing.  The author has written what he is calling a fictional account of the second coming. What this really is is a dissertation listing all the sides of the debate over which is the truth of Christianity.  Taking no side himself, Pinsker gives us all the arguments from those who feel Christ is the sole gateway into heaven versus those who take a more inclusive view.

Couched in a fictional narrative are all the elements man has debated for centuries regarding the meaning of life and whether or not there even is a god. The problem here is, had it been published as a nonfiction treatise, it might have some merit.  As fiction it is neither a compelling read nor a page turner.  One of the irritating parts to the story is that as the author tells us of the conflict between the two camps of belief, he has a narrative running in the background regarding the original fall of Satan.  Bringing in a combination of biblically-based information and all the myths that have been added over the years, the author inserts this narrative in a way that most of the time is jarring to the reader most of the time..

By not drawing his own conclusion, Pinsker at least makes one think.  If you have never thought about religion or the possibility of god or the meaning of life, then this might get you to dig a little deeper.  It doesn’t resolve any of those issues but it does cover most of the points in a discussion.  As for being a good work of fiction, the author leaves us disappointed.

Two stars for fiction, three for nonfiction.

 

The First Noble Truth by C. Lynn Murphy

thefirstnobletruth

Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde  ***

 

Can a book be good and bad at the same time? Evidently! This novel reads as if written by two different people or if by one, a person with a split writing personality.

The story is written from two points of view. One, first person, the second third person. The parts in first person are gripping, dramatic, page turning, emotional, and paint a very good story. The second viewpoint is sluggish, boring, way too much telling, and difficult to slog through. The author seems to be trying to capture the mindset of the character in third person by writing as if that character were narrating. If that was the author’s intent, it didn’t work.

My view here is that the author when writing first person is writing from the heart, from experience or at least a close knowledge of what this character feels. When in third person, the author seems to be reaching for words to tell us that character’s story. There in lies the issue, too much telling and not enough showing. I did not have a reason to like or dislike the character, she seemed flat.

Krista, who is the first person narrator, kept me reading until the end which was worth the wait. This should have been a four star book.

Saints in the Shadows: A Mystery of the Mind (The Madame Budska Series)

 

thum         Madame Budska or Maud Strand………  ****

Wow. Sometimes one finds a diamond in the rough. Having been asked to review this book I bought it for my kindle as I was drawn to the description which said it “dabbles in provocative subjects such as psychic phenomena, economics, morality, masochism, color, jazz, history, and a bit of romance with an NYPD detective”.   I was not disappointed.

First, let me talk about the negative aspect of the book. The author would have made this even better with just a bit more editing and maybe one more pass with a copy editor. Each scene change has a heading which in the beginning was distracting but I will say as the story developed this was not as bothersome.

The story itself is gripping and I found it hard to put down. The writer draws you in quickly and at times I forgot I was reading a work of fiction. If you have ever seen a film with a famous actor who makes you forget that you are watching them act, then you know what I mean. The transition from past to present was easy to follow and never “pulled” me out of the story.

The character, Maud Strand, is one I would like to read more about. She seemed to me, to be more interesting than Madame Budska. Based on the title the author seems to disagree, hopefully she will change her mind.

The ending was slightly rushed and left me wondering about what was going to happen to Maud. Maybe it all wrapped up too fast. But I will say I look forward to more books by Alana Cash.  This gets a well earned four stars!

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

fiftyshades

And Women Read This???   *

Everything that can be said about how bad this book was written, has been voiced by other reviewers.. What I cannot understand is a woman’s fascination with the story. The popularity of this book among women makes one wonder what they really want from a man.