Fiction Review: Patrick W. Carr’s The Hero’s Lot”

Well, Mr. Carr, you’ve done it again! I am singularly impressed, and even more eager to read the final installment of this trilogy!

I was very glad to get the chance to read this work, as I have been looking forward to it since I read the final page of A Cast of Stones. The world, characters, and story in this book are well done, carrying forward all the strengths from the previous one, and building upon them.

Once again, we have a “great quest” to follow along with, and therefore the book was heavily travel-oriented in plot, but never became dull or overly verbose. The realities of a group in a hostile land, with a dangerous mission kept the pace moving, and allowed the reader to completely believe each aspect of the tale.

Errol must deal with many new and nearly insurmountable challenges without, as well as wrestle with inner turmoil, yet the novel strikes the right balance between all its different aspects – action, humor, sorrow, anger – that it never becomes too dark, or turn into a “woe is me” tale. I appreciated this, as it made Errol and his companions even more relatable.

The story is told from a few different points of view this time around, and it was well-blended. Each part of the plot was woven strongly, and came together with a flourish. Once again, the crafting of each different land and its peoples was skillfully done, and the journey throughout them was well explained. This was no numbing caravan march, losing track of days and purpose, but instead a true journey. I also greatly enjoyed the description of the battles. The fights were well choreographed, and the reader was treated to actual displays of skill, not just fist-pounding brawls that are so often found in action-oriented tales.

My favorite part, however, was the amazing character development. Without slowing down, or detracting from the plot in any way, each of the caravan members had a moment in the spotlight – just long enough that we understood them, cared about their role in our little band.

This book will be on the shelves July 1st. I completely recommend getting a copy!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher Bethany House through NetGalley.

Fiction Review: William Azuski’s “Travels in Elysium”

This book was not what I was expecting, in ways both good, and less than I had hoped.

The people of the island, and the island itself are wonderfully crafted. Each character you meet in the town has nuance and depth. Each road, cliff, and area of the excavation is wonderfully wrought, and creates a backdrop to the story that completely enhances it.

This is not a book for the casual read, not something to sit on a beach and lazily go through on vacation. This is a book that takes work. The long philosophical discussions between the characters, the overlapping internal dialogues, the twists and turns of intrigue and mystery require a hearty plunge on the part of the reader to fully explore and appreciate.

The editor in me loves concision, and so I struggled with this work at times. It is an interesting premise, a well-crafted story, but like the ash the characters sift through, I felt somewhat smothered by the thick layers of words the author used to bring forth his tale. Words have great power, and to use them with reckless abandon does your reader a disservice, and can overwhelm.

That said, this was a change of pace from other works in the genre, and I enjoyed the new perspective.

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Fiction Review: Andy Gavin’s “Untimed”

I sometimes liken libraries, be they your physical building, or online collections such as GoodReads or NetGalley, to open-air markets, where you are free to browse about until something catches your eye, and then you can take a step closer, greet the stall proprietor and ask a little more about their wares. Such an experience brought me this book. I was passing by, and became intrigued by the genre, the cover art, and teaser blurb – I just had to know what was going on inside.

I got all the way to the author bio in the final pages of the book without initially realizing who Mr. Gavin was. I am a huge fan of the Jak and Daxter series, and Crash Bandicoot was my first introduction to console gaming. Finally putting two and two together was just the colorful sprinkles needed to complete a great read.

And what a read! The premise and plot of this work are fantastic, and the story very well written. The scenes are vivid and complete immersion, yet there is just enough haze lingering in each page that you get a feel firsthand for Charlie’s confusion at his new life, new adventure, and new identity. The historical aspects of the plot, the “lynchpins of history” as it were, were masterfully written. The reader is given just enough to care about the outcome, to understand the significance of what is happening in the scene and how the choices of the characters could impact the future, yet not so much that it clogs the progression of the plot. The author’s twists on the historical events and people are believable, and each further twist is done in stages, building upon the last, so that the reader stays with Charlie each step, in complete suspension of disbelief.

My only hesitation with this book came from scenes I felt did not have any real merit to moving the plot, felt like filler, and also made me question the audience intended. Charlie is introduced to us as a young man in highschool, dealing with typical highschool worries, such as bullies, teachers, and tests. I therefore question the sexual content upon his meeting of Yvaine. I understand she is portrayed correctly for her time, but Charlie’s attitudes and actions did not seem to line up with how he is first introduced to us. Also, the sexual content is quite explicit at times, compared to the surrounding plot, and makes me leery to recommend this work to the younger teenage audiences.

We are left at a cliff-hanger, so I can only hope there are more to come in this series! I will be waiting with anticipation!

I recieved a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley