Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rain, rain, that didn't go away leads to a great new series:The Rain by Joseph A. Turkot

I have to admit a bias toward the author’s use of rain as the catalyst for the crumbling of society in this book. I have been the storm water program coordinator for my hometown for the past 20 years dealing with water quantity, quality, conveyance and regulatory compliance so going into this I figured I was going to LOVE it or HATE it – probably no middle ground (heh heh). I am happy to report: I loved it.

Written from the viewpoint of Tanner, a teenage girl that was found and rescued as an infant by a friend of her decease parents, the story is a narrative, with very little dialogue, of her journey across the treacherous, flooded land that was formerly Wyoming to Colorado. She and Russell, her adopted father, have survived the rain, rising water, and the dissolution of society for the past decade plus but not without some bumps and bruises, terrors and tragedies as they’ve worked their way cross country from Philadelphia to the mythical “rain-free” city of Leadville, Colorado.

The settings are familiar (having traveled in the general locations) and horrifying in their depiction of collapse and ruin under the impact of the unrelenting rain.

Turkot has given us some genuine characters to get behind: the single-minded, unwavering Russell and our heroine, spunky Tanner who is emotionally growing up before our eyes. The villains are frightening monsters: both the obvious ones (the “face-eaters”) and the ones that are not so apparent on first meeting.

I felt Tanner’s struggle and panic to survive when Russell suddenly becomes incapacitated and her yearning when coming into contact with a teenage boy her own age for the first time. I thought the author wrote “young teen girl” really, really well.

This is the first story in a series, and I will definitely be reading further.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Prequel to The Narrowing Path - The Cruel Path

The Cruel Path is an excellent prequel to The Narrowing Path, and the series by David Normoyle. If you hadn't decided if you wanted to read the series, I think this would positively cinch the deal.

As noted, this occurs 30 years prior to the incidents beginning in the The Narrowing Path and I believe gives you a fair grounding on the world of Arcandia and its way of life. Characters appearing in The Cruel World reappear in the series.

Having said that, I went back and reread this story after completing The Narrowing Path, and enjoyed it again for the glimpses of how the characters changed after 30 years had passed.

The Narrowing Path by David Normoyle - Great story – Great characters – Great beginning to the series!

Thirteen-year-old Bowe is the last surviving member of the Bellangers, one of the four ruling families of Arcandia. Soon after his birth, the entire clan which was on the cusp of financial ruin committed mass suicide/murder. Somehow, the baby Bowe, survived or was missed only to be discovered by leaders of the other families as they surveyed the tragedy inside the Bellanger mansion. One leader takes the baby back to his family to be reared by one of the childless wives of the harem as her own.

Every six years, the course of the moon (Helion) causes the planet to come so close to their sun that every living thing on the planet would burn up if they did not seek safety in a series of huge caverns that extend under the ocean. However, the capacity of the caverns are not infinite, and to keep the population size suitable for their sexennial retreat to safety, young teenage males of the ruling families are tested with 8 selected for entry to the “Refuge.” All the others are left to burn up and die or kill themselves.

“The Green Path” is the 50 day test of the boys’ skills, ingenuity, and potential usefulness to the families. Some are good fighters. Some excel at building alliances and trading. Others are assassins and seek to kill off the competition. At the end, each family will select one boy who will then make his own selection of another ‘green’ to accompany him into entry into the family and the safety of the caverns for the 2 week period of the Infernam.

As the only surviving member of a lost house, Bowe has always known that he was to be killed the first day of the test and, consequently, is ranked at the bottom of the list of boys for selection. At 13, he’s at the youngest age of the competitors and unskilled as a fighter. When another boy is suddenly killed on the traditional first day of the test, Bowe begins to understand that he may be able to find a way to survive. The game, and the action, is on.

The author has developed an interesting world with a harsh environment and rigid traditions for his characters to populate. There are some mysterious subplots which give the main storyline an added robustness. These subplots are not reconciled but lead us to book 2, The Treacherous Path.

One thing I really liked is that the author pretty much kept action, dialogue, and reaction true to the age group. Yes, the characters faced a horrible situation – one that they were trained from birth to expect, fear and agonize over. They had to do grown-up things and make grown-up choices earlier than what we would expect but when confronted with a girl his own age in a romantic situation, Bowe stuttered and stammered, blushed, and wondered what to say like most boys of that age and experience level.

The story will keep you guessing as to who will live and who will “fall from the path,” die. (Spoiler: The author is not afraid to kill off major characters.) It is fast paced and intriguing. I think it will hook you from the very beginning and have you staying up past when you should have shut down your Kindle for the night.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stitch by Samantha Durante has a surprise waiting inside for you

Stitch, Book 1 in the Stitch Trilogy, begins life as a good ghost story. Alessa Khole, a freshman at Eastern State University, is living in an old house that is the Zeta Epsilon Pi sorority house. But as schools begins, so do Alessa’s eerie and brief sightings of a young man dressed in clothing from an earlier era in her bedroom. There one minute but quickly fading from sight, the young man stares pensively out of her bedroom window unaware of Alessa and evoking in her overwhelming feelings of grief and longing.

Alessa's life, this past year, has been tough. Both parents were killed suddenly in a car accident sending her, a previously stellar student, into a downward spiral of depression, where she eeks through her senior year of high school. Instead of the coveted entrance to a previously guaranteed prestige college she finds herself begging for a place in any second rate university that will take her. She ends up at ESU and things here aren't what they seem to be on the surface. For one thing, there are security cameras literally everywhere.

Then with limited living spaces available, she and another freshman, Janie, are forced on the Zeta Epsilon Pi sorority house by the university administration. Neither girl fits in, and aren’t particularly welcome. And then there is the ghost ...

Just as Alessa begins to unravel the mystery of the ghost, the story takes an amazing, “out of the blue” left turn, and the action really takes off. Fans of the young adult, dystopian novel should enjoy this very, very different story, and I look forward to the next installment in the trilogy myself.

daynight by Megan Thomason - a tense, young adult dystopian story

daynight is based on the intriguing premise that Earth has a “sister” world, Thera, where those that have had their lives cut short can go for a second chance at a longer life. Specially gifted individuals can go back and forth via portals between the two worlds (without having to die). Kira Donovan, is unknowingly gifted with this ability and as her tragic junior year of high school year ends (110 of her classmates, her boyfriend and best friend were all killed in a house explosion at an after party for the Winter Dance), she chooses to complete her final year as a recruit of the SCI - the Second Chance Institute. The Second Chance Institute is the corporation that makes possible the "second chance" at life for the deceased.

Blake, a classmate that also escaped the house explosion, signs on with SCI as well but he has a secret agenda behind his decision. Ethan, the son of a prominent family on Thera, attends college on Earth during the school year and interns with his father in the Theran government during summer break. The three main characters are united on Thera and an angsty love triangle develops.

Life on Thera is governed by strict rules with harsh consequences for non-compliance. It is also a physically, harsh environment with the outside temperatures reaching 150 degrees during the day. As an adaptation to the heat, the inhabitants live their lives and are awake during the cooler hours of darkness and sleep during the heat of the day.

The Second Chance inhabitants are unaware of their previous lives on Earth. They come to Thera the same age they were when they died with no memory of their past. When Kira realizes that her former boyfriend, best friend, and many of her former classmates are now on Thera as Second Chancers, it becomes a stressful struggle for her to maintain the pretense that they are meeting for the first time and have no history with each other.

The story is an adventure, a mystery, a romance and thriller all blended to create a highly enjoyable reading experience. The main characters are flawed, yet very likeable; the situation on Thera, tense; and the machinations behind the scenes on Thera, frightening and dangerous. All of which will keep the “pages” turning.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Wrath of Potter - Finale of the Blood Thirst Trilogy by Stephanie Jackson

The Wrath of Potter is the concluding installment of the Blood Thirst trilogy by Stephanie "Tate" Jackson. It is a very good finale for this very good story. It ties up the stories of Beck and Richard, Potter and the hunters, but still leaves the door open for another go should the author ever decide to revisit this series. Very enjoyable story again with vampires, vampire hunters, fighting, gore, violence, time travel machinery, romantic love all over the place!, and even a witch this time around.

The book could definitely benefit by having an editor give it a good look. There are just so many misspelled or misused words that could easily be fixed and give this so much more polish. Still, I fully intend to read more by this author.