Book Review: The Watchtower by Lee Carroll

Hi all…

About a year ago I entered the world of Garet James, a jewelry designer living in New York City, in the book Black Swan Rising. Garet’s artistic abilities and a family history she knew nothing about collide violently when she meets and is given a beautiful silver box by a strange shopkeeper. From the moment she opens that box, her life is never the same.

Black Swan Rising kicked off Garet’s story by writers Carol Goodman (Arcadia Falls, The Night Villa) and her husband – poet and hedge fund manager Lee Slonimsky – writing under the pseudonym of Lee Carroll. And with its Shakespearean faeries, evil sorcerer, and mysterious vampire, I was hooked. The book was well written and sucked me in immediately. (You can read my review here.)

Unfortunately, I found their follow-up The Watchtower to be extremely difficult to get into and a struggle to read.

Once again, we’re thrust into the world of Garet James, but this time we find her in Paris chasing after the potential love of her life Will Hughes the vampire. Hughes is trying to find a way to become mortal again after 400 years of immortality so he can be with Garet. When he journeys to Paris in search of the hidden path to the Summer Country, the magical realm of the faeries, Garet follows after him.

From the beginning of the book, the reader is set upon two separate roads. The first follows Garet as she navigates the obstacles in the modern world between her and finding Will. The second follows Will in the past as as young poet who fell in love with Marguerite, Garet’s ancestor. And quite honestly, though I enjoyed Garet’s journey as she meets several new faeries and mortals touched in lasting ways by their magic, I really didn’t care to follow young Will Hughes at all. He was a spoiled brat with no patience who is selfishly seeking to spend time with an immortal lover. The alternating chapters between Garet and Will made me dread any time I ended a chapter with Garet…

However, even as I struggled to get through the book to the end, the amazing back story mixing faerie lore and alchemy was fascinating. The alchemist/sorcerer John Dee is a right evil bastard and I knew any time he was in the picture something bad would occur. Learning how Will Hughes became a vampire in a double-cross by the malicious Dee was fun to discover. And meeting the various fae Garet (and Will) encountered along the journey was intriguing – from the 17th century botanist transformed into a tree by the fae to the octopus librarian, each had a history that gracefully weaved past and present together while educating the reader on a bit of faerie history.

Ultimately I didn’t enjoy The Watchtower as much as Black Swan Rising, but I look forward to seeing where the writing duo takes Will and Garet next. No spoilers here, but there was nice twist at the end that should make the next book quite entertaining if done well. Hopefully we’ll stay in a single timeline and not alternate between the characters next time. You can check out both Black Swan Rising and The Watchtower on bookstore shelves today!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

Enhanced by Zemanta

Book Review: Deadline by Mira Grant

Hi all…

Zombies. Love them or hate them they seem to be everywhere these days. There are zombies in Jane Austen and Mark Twain books. There are books describing the aftermath of zombie infections and outbreaks across the globe (and how to deal with one if it’s happening now). And there are zombie flash mobs popping up in cities all over. I think they are here to stay. There are even zombie processes on computers!

But not all zombies are created equal. Sure Milla Jovovich, Jesse Eisenberg, and Simon Pegg have been fighting a variety of zombies over the last few years, but beyond a bit of excitement and comedy on screen, all the zombies are loosely based on the George Romero standard. Viral, shambling mounds of what used to be people now seeking the taste of live flesh.

And then there are zombies used in more recent fiction from authors Jonathan Maberry and Mira Grant. Sure the zombies are still there, but the story isn’t about them. It’s about us. It’s about folks using zombies to further their own agendas, whether it’s fear or political will they’re after doesn’t matter. The shambling dead or infected living are simply tools to be used to achieve an end.

To me, that’s scarier than any monster zombie Milla will ever fight on screen (though she still looks good doing it). Evil intent trumps blind rage nine times out of ten.

When I finished reading FEED by Mira Grant last year I was blown away. Zombies, blogging, and politics? What a powerful combination. Within the first few pages she captured my attention with a detailed, logical setting and characters I could identify with and root for. And at the end, I shed a tear or two. Emotional punch AND zombies AND amazing writing? Epic win!

As soon as I finished, I was excited to read the next book in the series — DEADLINE. Could Grant continue the story and keep her readers hooked? After finishing DEADLINE, this reader says “Hell yes!”

If you haven’t read FEED yet, there are spoilers ahead, so I’d encourage you to read it before you learn too much about the sequel.

Sure, Shaun Mason survived the devastation that occurred about a year ago. His sister Georgia didn’t. Neither did several of his friends and coworkers. But every day is a struggle. And though his sister is gone physically, she has moved into his head to help him figure things out when he needs her.

Crazy? Sure. But having dealt with the death of a good friend, I can identify with moments where you swear you can hear that voice as clear as if the person was sitting right next to you. Shaun talks out loud to his sister and his coworkers and friends think he’s lost it, but know (or hope) he’ll work through it eventually.

When Dr. Kelly Connolly shows up at Shaun’s home and the headquarters for their blogging empire for “After the End Times” in Oakland, he knows it’s not a good sign. The more Kelly talks about what happened at the CDC, the more that feeling grows. And the more people try to kill him and his friends as they ferret out the truth, he knows he has to get to the bottom of it. Ultimately the truth about who was behind his sister’s death is the only thing that matters.

Grant takes the political intrigue of FEED and ratchets it up to 11 to a stunning conclusion in DEADLINE. And we can only hope that the next book of the trilogy – BLACKOUT – serves to answer some of the questions asked in the first two books. The only bad part is we have to wait a while for those answers when BLACKOUT is released in May 2012. I’m not sure I can wait another year!!

For more information about author Mira Grant, check out her website at MiraGrant.com. Or check out my review of FEED here.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these great books at Barnes & Noble!

Interview: Dr. Laurence B. Brown – author of The Eighth Scroll

Hi all!

One of the books in my queue to read and review is The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown. Though I haven’t had a chance to dive in, it’s been described as a thriller in the vein of The DaVinci Code from Dan Brown, so I’m definitely curious to check it out.

In the meantime, I was granted permission to post an interview with Dr. Brown to get a bit of insight into his thought and writing processes…

Q: One of my favorite things about your novel is that you write great action scenes. What would you say is the key to writing a great action scene?

You have to write an action scene as if you are living it. The most important trick is to show the scene, not tell it. Telling the scene (i.e., narration, like this: “Jack turned to Jill, who pointed her gun directly at him.” *yawn*) kills action, whereas showing the scene (i.e., painting a word picture: “Jack turned to give Jill the good news, and stared straight down the barrel of her gun. Her eyelids were squeezed shut and her face turned away. His heart first skipped a beat, then pumped hammer-blows into his brain.) turns the written page into a movie in the audience’s mind. Remember to tickle all five of the audiences’ senses, always throw in some unexpected twists, and never let the scene end the way the audience might expect it to end.

Q: Your story could easily be described as a page turner. What would you say you did consciously to achieve this?

To me, writing a page-turner is all about dramatic pacing. If the pace of the novel is too fast in the beginning, you lose your ability to ramp up the action toward the end. You have to hook the audience with each scene, end each chapter with a cliff-hanger, build tension throughout the book and bring it to a head-spinning, knee-buckling climax at the end. To enrich the story I interweave multiple subplots, each with its own dramatic pace. Then I bring all of these subplots to a crashing crescendo so each page of the ending brings a new shock or surprising satisfaction. It’s kind of like having multiple . . . uh . . . donut holes. Yeah, donut holes, each of a different and shockingly good flavor *smiles and waves* “Hey, kiddies, you all like Dunkin Donut’s, don’t you?” *whispers aside to the older members of the audience* “You know what I’m really talking about, right?”

In any case, you’ll see what I mean. And by the way, although I joke, one of the things I take pride in is writing clean. In the words of one reviewer, “My congratulations to Dr. Brown for writing an exciting and thought-provoking book that is suitable for the entire family. The book contained no obscene language and no scenes that could be considered “adult situations.”

Q: Your “modern period” takes place in 1987. Why did you choose that period instead of the 21st Century?

The “modern period” begins in 1987, but follows the characters through their adventure into present day. If I had started in the 21st Century, the timeline would have been too compressed to be workable.

Q: Where can we get a copy of your book?

You can find The Eighth Scroll for sale on Amazon by clicking HERE.

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Brown and to Jeff Rivera, Editor-in-Chief at the Gatekeeper’s Post for hooking me up with the book and the interview.

I’m looking forward to checking out The Eighth Scroll this summer!!

–Fitz

p.s. Check out this book and other thrillers below!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...