Friday, September 21, 2012

Book review: Rising by J. R. Nova

Rising is a spectacular first novel in the Czar Chronicles series by J. R. Nova about a young woman on a mission of revenge. The revenge theme runs strong throughout; it's all Clara can think about -- it's her life's purpose. However, things don't go quite the way she plans when she runs into Zen, a young man with problems of his own.

There are several plot threads woven together to create the overall story and though the main line is about Clara, I have to say, I'm most intrigued with Franz Deckard. I admit to being a sucker for the anti-hero, but I feel like this character has a huge role to play and it's going to be fantastic. I can hardly keep from rubbing my hands together in anticipation. He's a nicely fleshed out character in his own right; I can't wait to see deeper inside such a ruthless, yet perfectly flawed man. All the characters are like this. Wonderfully imperfect; very human.

Another thing that stood out is the canon. Very original take on traditional beings such as witches, werewolves, vampires, and other various paranormal creatures. Absolutely a delight to read. J. R. took time and care in creating this world and its workings; it shows.

The cherry on top of this lovely novel is the nearly flawless editing. What a treasure.

If I had any complaints about Rising at all, it would be the end. It's a part of a series and it doesn't dance around that fact when it drops you like a hot brick. It serves its purpose by pretty much guarenteeing that I'm tapping my foot impatiently wanting the next book; as if I needed a reason. Rising is stellar reading in its genre. If I could rate it more than five coffees, I would in a minute.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tagged! The Next Big Thing

The lovely Sophie tagged me last week for the Next Big Thing where I answer some questions about my current work in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Shattered Bones for now.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was doing a portrait of both characters in my novel Fragile Bones, which is from Nathan's POV, and I thought, hey, I should write Michael's story. He's such an interesting character, but you only get the smallest glimpse into who he is because you can only see him from Nathan's perspective. And so it began.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I'm still trying to figure that one out. Whatever Fragile Bones is, so would be Shattered Bones. I'd call it sort of an esoteric dark urban fantasy for lack of a better idea.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Gale Harold as Michael. I think he'd perfectly capture the nuances of a long carried pain, the cool aloof exterior, and the fiery, passionate heart of the hidden killer.

Andrej Pejic if he let me dye his hair black. I don't know if he can act, but he's got exactly the right look.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the darkness fills the furthest reaches of your soul, only the darkest heart can lead you to the light.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Most definitely self-pubbed. I find it rather fullfilling and of course, I have complete control. Not that I'm a control freak or anything, but my stories are my babies.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still working on it. I'll be working on it for quite awhile, I'm sure. It took a full five years with long breaks between to pen Fragile Bones. I don't expect such difficult topics to come any easier the second time around. I sometimes have to wait patiently for the characters to speak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've not read anything like it, so I don't know.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I have a keen interest in digging around the parts of human nature that really should probably be left in the dark. We all have these dark spots we keep hidden, whether we want to admit them or not. My characters are put in extreme situations and they aren't too heroic about how they deal with those circumstances. Even though these books are in the gay category, the subject matter deals more with coming to terms with one's inner darkness and not overcoming it, but recognizing and directing it.

I've got excerpts of Fragile Bones here on my blog and you can of course read quite a ways into the first part of Fragile Bones on Smashwords and Amazon. (see the links on the sidebar)

10. Tag you’re it!
Alas... I'm floating alone in the great wide world. If you find the message in the bottle, pick it up and let me know... I'll link back to you here. ;)

Reviews - two short vampire stories

From the unique mind of Gabriel Fitzpatrick, comes two short vampire tales that will leave you a bit unsettled. Without further ado...

An Anecdote at Dinner by Gabriel Fitzpatrick is a welcome change from the vampire genre where the shine of glitter seems to have blinded those who seek out the more traditional vampire canon. It's about time.

I've been a long time fan of the vampire; cutting my teeth (if you will) on movies like Gary Oldman's Dracula and reading about the notorious vampire Lestat, for example. So while I love the idea of what Gabriel tried to do here, I couldn't fall in love with the nameless vampire narrator. The cold detachment was perfectly executed (pardon me again for the puns) but the POV character lacked the allure of the beautiful, but deadly seductive tragic monster I enjoy reading about. The humanity is completely gone from him and so he loses his power to enchant.

Gabriel is definitely on the right track here with An Anecdote, but when I got to the end, I felt nothing except a bit startled. Perhaps that emptiness was the point of this avant garde story. I suspect fans of true horror would have a much better appreciation for it.

I dug the treatment of the vampire overall, but I have to take away some points for the cold, impersonal narrative that left me feeling too detached. Three and a half coffees.


The Centurion's Commencement, also by Gabriel, is a leap across time from the previous short. I have to admit that I'm a little perplexed by this story. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I just don't know what to think about it as a take away. It's almost dread slice of life, yet there's this stark otherworldness about it that skims along just below the surface--highlighted by the introduction of the vampire character. This transforms a perfectly ordinary tale into a somewhat odd excursion.

Having read three of Gabriel's stories now, I've come to expect the unexpected with his twisty, pop in your face endings. Still, knowing ahead of time something odd is going to happen doesn't really prepare you for the oddness, because he has a talent for taking 180 turns at the last moment. Even though the prose remains somewhat distant, I did feel the centurion's apathy; like a struck match throw sparks.

Gabriel's work as a body, in my opinion, is not for mass consumption, but more for tasty little nibbles, a piece at a time over time.

This particular treat of a story gets five out of five coffees for being fabulously what it is. Even if I can't quite figure that out; I did enjoy reading it.

Where to find his work: