Review of “The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree” by S.A. Hunt/Literary Tea Feature


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Taken from Author’s Website (Visual above is not my intellectual property, but that of the writer)

   Cautiously, I never deem  a book with the superlative “this is the best thing I’ve ever read,” just like I resent putting an arbitrary star-rating on a book,which I believe is bound to change, depending on my reading mood at a specific point in time. For this reason alone, I refuse to say S.A. Hunt’s The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, a  proverbial diamond  found in the rut of the wide pool of various self-published novels out there, is the best thing ever (because there are too many books like that, especially things I’ve read this year..)  I am very picky, when it comes to choosing things to read in the fantasy genre because the fantasy genre can prove to be something that either artistically succeeds, or fails miserably, and  then ceases to be only forgettable, formulaic drivel. It is a trying task for a fantasy novelist to write a novel that incorporates different archetypal character and plot structures, and provide an intriguing, hopefully ingenious gloss of unconventionality, to set it apart enough, to make it stand out in an overcrowded market of fantasy novels, which invariably get shelved, by the genre purists/dogmatists, into “genre ghettos,” never to be seen by the curious, inquisitive reader, hoping to find a read that defies genre standardization.

For the most part, self-publishing has been a boon to the general speculative fiction writer, who can write speculative, wildly imaginative fiction, that can coexist among different genres, even those generally agreed to be mutually exclusive, rather than mutually inclusive. S.A. Hunt’s The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree book is really a writer I see fitting in with the high-caliber adventurous speculative fiction writers, like David Mitchell or Lev Grossman. Both these writers released their own highly creative books, which I felt were exceedingly strong contributions to the literary world, as both their respective works -Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land and David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks- were unafraid of experimentation, nonlinear plotting, or confusing, yet ridiculously clever inclusion of simulacrum (in adeptly written fantasy fiction, “simulacrum” has a deeper role than just “superficial representation of something)..  In their works, the nonsensical pastiche of different fantastic visuals or plot devices may seem to be superficial or linear, yet they belie a much deeper psychical reality. And their pastiche is more nuanced, enigmatic, complex, unlike the deceptively instructional machinations of allegory.

How does S.A. Hunt fit into this oeuvre of sorts, of other speculative fiction writers, who excel in writing this hard-to-define form of post-modern fiction? Well, it is reductive, and even disingenuous to S.A. Hunt’s own artistic accomplishments, with the first novel of his Outlaw King series, to just lump him in with those two writers. But S.A. Hunt has a very deep,impressive grasp of how to shape evolved, interesting, and deeply psychological works, much like both Lev Grossman and David Mitchell, that really lend a psychical dimension to language, or at least tries to.

The basic story may be the journey of one character, named Ross, trying to uncover the mysterious legacy of his father, who wrote a series that held numinous meaning for the fans of the work, including two characters (who later become cohorts or friends later in the first book), who have a very deep,almost religious grasp of the inner workings of the book series that Ross’ father writes. And I better stop myself, from getting too far with this discussion of exactly what happens in the story. From my other reviews that I have written, I have a lot of trouble writing details about stories, for reviews, mostly because I prevent myself, unconsciously from doing so, to really try not to spoil the rich, cathartic, deeply engrossing (and emotionally empowering) experience of reading through any book, especially an interesting, infectiously creative book like this one.

The voice of the main character is pronounced, well-developed, and complicated. S.A. Hunt never skimps, fortunately, on plumbing the psychological depths of his main character, or exploring the ramification of being a writer, in a post-modern world. This is a question, explored through The Magician’s Trilogy,in a quasi-existentialist discourse on the purposefulness or meaning of magic, in a rational age. The same discussion, with a wholly different angle, is taken up, very subtly, throughout The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, exploring the philosophical depths of “what constitutes an imaginary idea, or why do humans even have this faculty to imagine things?” Is this ability, intrinsic to self-conscious beings, something vapid, or inane?  Was it the chief role of storytelling, in a world where the range of our emotions, to help us better understand the emotions that help enhance our ability to relate with reality?

    By a writer with less talent, these things could have become pretentious and overwrought, particularly in a story, with hackneyed character development? This is not a polemic, this story utilizes the rich art of subtle storytelling, the ability to believably shape an entirely different reality, apart from our own, that feels mysteriously tangible and emotionally palpable, in a world, where we sometimes question whether our own main reality, isn’t of that same surreal substance of a story.

It is best to read this book in uninterrupted silence and concentration, much like with David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks because it is a book that has more than just extremely clever linguistic wordplay, unsparing imagination, and great cultural references sprinkled in at just the right intervals in the story, to really get you more involved with the story (one culture reference is referred to in the GIF image, taken from Labyrinth, above). It is a novel that will invariably linger in your subconscious, forevermore. It is nice to drown into the wonderfully refreshing pool of a sea of dreams, made up of disparate fantasy tropes, etc. all winded together into a bizarrely cohesive whole, entitled The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree. It’s time to get myself out of this trance of mine, and remember that there is a sequel awaiting me.

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What better way to mull over the deeper meaning of S.A. Hunt’s The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree,than with a mugful of 
Mighty Leaf Tea’s Organic Cafe Orange tea,
which will set your uneasy, stress-filled mind, at ease with a nourishing, and intoxicating blend of fine black tea, orange herbs, and potent Mate. Much like The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree’s own unconventional blend of inter-dimensional narratives, this tea crosses the dimensions of the mundane realities of tea and coffee, which you might have mistakenly thought were mutually exclusive things.

When you need something that invigorates the creative faculties of your mind without stressing you out or perhaps giving you a sour stomach late in the day, it is this strong, refreshing tea blend, which is really the closest thing to “Chocolate Orange Tea,” that is the best alternative than being trapped in the indecisive mind-set, of not knowing whether to choose coffee or tea for your long reading marathons of this book.

    Mighty Leaf’s Organic Cafe Orange Tea is the literary tea blend that is best recommended to put you into a philosophical, cerebral trance, suitable for reading The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, as this tea is quite the trippy blend, for meditative fantasy-novel readers.

TEA GIVEAWAY DETAILS

If you are interested in winning a complimentary tea from Mighty Leaf Tea, be sure to enter the giveaway by clicking the Mighty Leaf Tea Holiday Guide Ad below (which has the link to the appropriate Rafflecopter App. attached)

**Contest Open Only to those who live in the U.S.**

THANK YOU TO MIGHTY LEAF TEA FOR SUPPORTING THIS CONTEST. FOR INDIE AUTHOR APPRECIATION MONTH!!

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Perdita by: Hilary Scharper Spotlight Tour

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Perdita
By Hilary Scharper
Sourcebooks Landmark
January 20, 2015
$16.99 Trade Paperback

“Stunning… richly complex and unpredictable.” —Historical Novel Review

Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it weren’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death. It’s life that’s much more mysterious…

Buy Perdita by Hilary Scharper: Amazon | B&N | BAM |!ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author
Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Author Website | Goodreads

Excerpt

MARGED BRICE
Cape Prius—1897
July 3

Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance….

“The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly.

I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon….

The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water.

Then—“There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline.

And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore.

“Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.

Giveaway (Click the Hyperlinked Text below to enter to win a copy of the book featured in this post)
3 signed copies of Perdita by Hilary Scharper (open December 15, 2014 – February 7, 2015)

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Review of “Neverhome” and The Journey: A Kronberg Thriller” Paula Tupper’s

Editorial Notes: Sorry to Paula Tupper, for the delay for the many wonderfully written reviews she sent me for the next three months. To make up for that wide gap of time that she she was left hanging, I will be dutifully posting all her reviews that still need to be posted over the next day or so!! Thanks again to Paula for another well-written/interesting pair of reviews!

Reviews Written by Paula Tupper 


  • Print Length:256 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Publisher:Annelie Wendeberg; 1 edition (August 4, 2014)
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language:English
  • ASIN:B00J28B5L4

 

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We have always been tantalized and fascinated with stories of women who crossdress as men in order to achieve their dreams, hide their pasts, or escape dangerous situations.  Women who take the place of their men in war, like Melinda Blalock, are heroines.   Women who masquerade as men in order to become members of orchestras or bands, like Billy Tipton, gave a clandestine furtiveness to the history of American Jazz.  Women who contributed to modern medicine in the guise of men, like Margaret Ann Bulkley, who ended her military career as Inspector General of Military Hospitals, overcame the barriers presented by their sex to excel in their chosen fields.  In fiction, the woman who must hide her true self in a world of frockcoats and trousers presents a wealth of dramatic possibilities.  Glenn Close gave a tragically beautiful performance in Albert Nobbs, a film about a woman who works as a male waiter in a hotel, hoping to save enough money to open a small tobacco shop, who is given a glimpse of the happiness she could be experiencing in sharing her life with a likeminded female partner.

Annalie Wendeberg has created just such an intriguing character in her Sherlockian series, the Anna Kronberg thrillers.  Anna Kronberg has taken on the disguise of a man in order to attend medical school, complete her training, and practice medicine.  She remains undiscovered until she is called to perform an examination on the corpse of a cholera victim.  Her secret is quickly discarded by the detective evaluating the case, the great Sherlock Holmes.  So begins Wendeberg’s continuing series about Dr. Kronberg, as she helps Holmes unravel the mystery of the cholera patient and a threat of biological warfare, becomes a prisioner of Holmes’ archenemy Moriarity, and has to flee for her life from Moriarity’s murderous henchmen.

Kronberg is a wonderful character, prickly, independent, analytical, intelligent, and often unreasonable, but grounded in altruism and a deep love for her father, who always encouraged her and never constrained her ambitions.  Holmes is presented as a brilliant but flawed individual, damaged by the psychological torments of his childhood, and with a mildly autistic inability to respond with appropriate human reactions to emotional situations.  Much like the Mary Russell books by Laurie King, the Kronberg stories show Holmes drawing emotionally closer to his distaff companion.  The male masquerade aspect of the stories is handled deftly, with a great deal of insight into what care someone like Anna must take in maintaining the illusion of masculinity, and the stresses it induces.  It would best serve the reader to begin with the first book in the series, as this third volume stands alone only with some difficulty, but it is a welcome addition to the chronology and whets the appetite for the next episode.

 

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Neverhome Review:

  • Print Length:247 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:0316370134
  • Publisher:Little, Brown and Company (September 9, 2014)
  • Sold by:Hachette Book Group
  • Language:English
  • ASIN:B00HQ2N0D4

Less light entertainment than the Wendeberg is Laird Hunt’s book, Neverhome.  Fantasy freak has already done a review from the more sociological aspect, so I shall only add my impressions of the book as literature and entertainment.  Neverhome is a tragedy, a heartbreaking narrative of a woman who takes her frail husband’s place in the conscription of the American Civil War because she is stronger, a better shot, and more able to deal with the emotional aspects of leaving home for the unknowable events of a war.  Ash Thompson undergoes a multileveled transformation from farmwife to hardened soldier throughout the course of the book, suffering great indignities among her fellow soldiers, confused epiphanies in the care of a widow drawn to her strength, harrowing experiences in a madhouse, and a denial of peace even when she is able to return to the home for which she longed.

Laird Hunt’s writing is lyrical, and his characters breathe with a light that illuminates their deepest thoughts.  The book compels the reader to turn page after page, begging the story to give up its twists and turns.  Ash always rings true.  Her attempts to reason out her situation, to make the right choices, and to achieve her deeply desired goals plunge sharp thorns into our emotions, making us wish we could give her access to the peace and calm she needs.

Neverhome is a lovely prose poem, and a compelling story that directs the introspection of the reader and introduces an unforgettable protagonist in Ash.  I strongly recommend it.

 

  • In accordance with FTC guidelines for bloggers and endorsements, I would like to clarify that the books reviewed by me are either purchased/borrowed by me, or provided by the publisher/author free of charge. I am neither compensated for my reviews nor are my opinions influenced in any way by the avenues in which I obtain my materials. I received Neverhome for free from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

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Review of “The Night Butterflies,” By: Sara Litchfield/ Literary Tea Feature


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Encapsulating the experience of reading Sara Litchfield’s intense, almost psychedelic/nightmarish dystopian novel The Night Butterflies in linear words feels self-defeating, or even borderline futile (much like the process of reaching genetic perfection, for a certain crop of children, a central conflict of the novel). Venturing into this month-long quest (for the whole of December, here on this blog) to read a litany of self-published novels, has involved dipping into many genre pools in a single book. Sara Litchfield’s book may be dystopian and post-apocalyptic, categorically-speaking, yet the core of the novel’s rare beauty is in its unvarnished, non-bowdlerized linguistic experimenting, where we see a development of language emerge, as readers gain more knowledge of the mechanisms and the overlay of the story’s dystopian world.

    There are no love-triangles, trysts, torrid affairs, or general romantic melodrama to speak of, but plenty of nuanced human psychodrama, deep sociological/even anthropological study of a degenerative society (after nuclear holocaust of some kind, or even just an environmental/quasi-Global Warming event). The Night Butterfly is about both life and death, and how the meaning of this central dichotomy of our lives is altered by the circumstances of our own environment, which predictably shapes the dystopian world that grows to seek to erroneously deal/or try to adapt to new environmental conditions. Before getting bogged down into too much dystopian vs. utopian semantics, I will say that The Night Butterfly is a unique dystopian book, in that it takes scattered dystopian ideas and concepts from past stories- the ideological control of 1984,the polarizing gender politics of  The Handmaid’s Tale- and creates an even more subtly crafted dystopian world, which has a story that could behave as a commentary about gender politics, the toll environmental catastrophes have on our own social laws/mores, the idea that desperation and fear from the human psyche allows everything we love and cherish about the world (and the very concept of beauty) be tamed and controlled by some omniscient governmental force that preserves peace, while sacrificing our freedom and sense of identity.

   Narrating the story are different representatives of this new world-the mothers that are used as “experimental breeding mothers” to help the government reach genetic perfection w/ the new crop of infants (purposelessly using the demeaning terms to show the mechanized/ almost utilitarian function of a dystopian government); the batch of children themselves (with powerful telekinetic abilities);the servile scientific men that worked on perfecting genetic experiments and creating many drugs;and the “brain” of the operations itself. In many dystopian narratives, the shadowy, militant, dictatorial leader is always the classic mythological vice model of “hubris,” a vice of “overweening pride,” that has almost always been related in fiction as something that is a grave transgression, from the story of Oedipus, to Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein. And the surprise behind the slow reveal of just how this leader has control over everyone, and keeps them imprisoned in their specific societal role (very much hearkening back to Charles Dicken’s Hard Times, the original dystopian book, in a sense).

The beauty of Sara Litchfield’s writing is the expert use of subtle writing, exemplifying the rule of “show. don’t tell.” The theme of change and metamorphosis, served by the story’s  symbolical representation of butterflies and moths in the novel, are implicit in their development throughout the novel. And the incendiary spark of silent, though effective psychological bravery- the miracles of edification and clear-headed epiphanies- are the things that allow a grand metamorphic process to be effected in the second half of the books. Meanwhile, the first half is really the quiet, somber, cocoon period of the novel, where we are given very visceral, very poignant images of the muted trauma, felt by the various characters of the story, and the ongoing conflict to really break free of the shackles, induced by a society that needed a fear-driven dystopia to help shield the world from the trauma of change. Change of any kind is an unsettling experience for any of us, causing violent revolutions, wars (two world wars were essentially the consequence of the seismic changes of modernity). It is no wonder that dystopian fiction is here to stay, and Sara Litchfield’s very well-written, poetic beauty of a novel, The Night Butterflies, is a eye-opening, haunting, infectiously engrossing dystopian novel, that any fans of the genre should really consider reading.

 

Recently, a  Bibliophile’s Workshop (my freelance publicity/formatting/editorial/audiobook narration for self-published writers) has been given the awesome privileged, granted by Sara Litchfield (the author herself) to publish a sample audio narration I did of two select chapters, from the beginning of her book The Night Butterflies. Her beautiful, poetic, subtly deep language was something that totally invigorated me as a writer, to always be sure to write by painting pictures, versus ponderously describing exposition-related details. The minute you telegraph your book, it becomes didactic, and staccato-like knocking your reader out of the story. If you are far from your character’s psychological core, you are writing with your own feelings of the world, versus the feelings of those characters themselves. I have been very careful recently to only write, while diving deeply into the minds of my characters, then write, while wading in the deep depths of their subconscious pools (the pool imagery makes me think of CS Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew.) But that is what I loved about Sara Litchfield’s book most of all, the commentary to be gleaned from reading the story is entirely subjective, and can be altered based on different thoughts readers project onto the story.

Anyways, here is the two chapters, one from the viewpoint of one the experimental children, who speaks in a mechanical, staccato-like language, showing how the minds of those in this dystopian world are so divorced from emotion, that they cannot talk with the same enthused way, we talk about something, when passionate. The next section is from his mother’s perspective, who experiences a different sort of undetectable repression of sorts, through the administering of mind-altering drugs, produced by the main government in this world, to help the citizens of the world escape the trauma that lurks in their minds. All the drugs of the world protect from physical rrealities like pollution of the decaying,post-nuclear holocaust world, and the psychological dissolution of the world itself.

Have a listen, to the clip below, and please be sure to visit the Audiobook sub-page on my Bibliophile’s Workshop  page, for more details if you wish to inquire after the services I offer self-published authors, to produce crisp, (hopefully) high-quality recordings of their cherished works!

Night Butterfly Tea, or Mighty Leaf’s Celebration Tea aka. Metamorphosis Tea

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      The featured tea for Sara Litchfield’s is Mighty Leaf’s intoxicating, bold, darkly sweet Celebration Tea. This tea is composed mainly of really good, strong Black Tea, with some sweet, resilient Chinese Fruit Longan to soften the boldness of the black tea base. These two distinctive, almost clashing personalities of the tea richly embodies the paradox of inhabiting a dystopian world, a paradox felt by all the characters in different degrees, throughout the engrossing tale of the novel. Meaning, they know they inhabit a somber, moody world, and one might think of Black Tea as having a deceptively somber mood to its rich,bold taste. How can black tea be also sweet, and memorable? Well, the tea also contains a  slight note of sweet Longan, and even the semi-sweet taste of chocolate liqueur, to further deepen and enhance the experience of drinking Mighty Leaf’s Celebration Tea (or metamorphosis tea). This blending of different tones, attributable to the three core ingredients for this tea, metaphorically reflects the  fact that even though tthe dystopian world in The Night Butterflies may seem hopeless at times, there is always an underlying optimistic passion and zeal,in the psyches of all the characters, yearning for a more freer world.

    And the Celebration Tea perfectly embodies that complex, paradoxical relationship in the minds of the characters of Sara Litchfield’s story, who are fighting, essentially, for freedom. This is the tea to drink after you triumphed over an evil, oppressive, dystopian regime, because it delicately blends the memories of the suffering wrought through dystopian type situations In the end, and also perfectly caps off the pure, celebratory occasion of finally psychologically emancipating yourself from the demeaning hardship of once being under the power of a corrupt, tyrannical government.

Drink it, and savor it during the end of any dystopian novel!

TEA GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

If you are interested in winning a complimentary tea from Mighty Leaf Tea, be sure to enter the giveaway by clicking the Mighty Leaf Tea Holiday Guide Ad below (which has the link to the appropriate Rafflecopter App. attached)

**Contest Open Only to those who live in the U.S.**

THANK YOU TO MIGHTY LEAF TEA FOR SUPPORTING THIS CONTEST. FOR INDIE AUTHOR APPRECIATION MONTH!!

 

 

 

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Review of “Burn” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge


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Review of Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Reviewed by Christina R. Olivo

Fiction has a lovely way of working its way just when reality gets ugly. It also tends to have impeccable timing when it comes to current events. Most of the time we notice this when Hollywood releases movies just at the right moment. However, it is rarely noticed now and days when literature pairs up with events. That is the case one could not help but notice with James Patterson’s latest work “Burn.” If it would have come out a year later, or earlier it would not have the same impact it does right now to the reader.

James Patterson’s “Burn” is about Detective Mike Bennett finishing up a major case involving catching the leader of a cartel in California, and looking forward to heading back to his home New York City. However, he does not exactly get the homecoming he was looking forward to in the NYPD. The structure of the book is one I find very interesting, but also seems to be gaining in popularity among authors. It is broken up into a prologue that has eight chapters, four parts each centering around certain events, and an epilogue. The prologue having chapters is actually a benefit for the main story as it sets up the events. It also gives anyone new to James Patterson, and Detective Mike Bennett an idea about Mike’s personality. Detective Bennett is a feisty Irish man who loves his job, loves his kids, and loves ruffling feathers. The man also has some swag as he exits the courtroom in the prologue after testifying on the stand against a cartel leader. Normally on the news we see anyone who testifies surrounded by security for their protection. Mike instead brushes them off, and exits the courthouse alone while angry protesters are outside.

Honestly it was rather amusing picturing this proud peacock of a guy strutting right out of the building so confident nothing would happen.

After such amusing, and heartwarming scenes of his family traveling back to New York part one begins ominously as we are given the main focus of the book. A vehicle drives up next to an abandoned building, and out come three men. One is a New York financier said to have unlimited wealth, the second is a young wealthy British man named Martin, and the driver named Alberto who has a violent history. It is revealed to us that Alberto has claimed he was the former assistant to the infamous Jim Jones. For those who are not aware Jim Jones was the founder, and leader of the People’s Temple. He was also responsible for the mass suicide of 909 members in Jonestown, Guyana. Both Martin, and the wealthy NYC financier are revealed to be part of a secret club made up of wealthy members started by them. The club itself seems to have a lot of requirements. It is only Martin, and the financier though who seem to appreciate something truly special. Well it seems special to these two anyway, and Alberto just seems willing to help. At first you wonder what it is these two only like that needs to be shared in a abandoned building until a brown suitcase comes into play after we see a grill. Horror comes over the reader as it is revealed that the suitcase is holding a live young female. The details of what happened to this girl are not revealed until another part of the book, but it was obvious what was going to happen.

James Patterson leaves us worried for this girl as he moves back onto Detective Bennett’s first day back on the job. Things have changed around the NYPD, and personnel is different after a somewhat cold welcome home. To Mike’s surprise the new commissioner is an old rival by the name of Raymond Starkie who has it in for our hero. Having someone like this out to make your life miserable does not bode well for Detective Bennett in the future, and Starkie does not hold back. Right away Mike is demoted to an outreach program in Harlem. The outreach program Mike is sent to is where all the trouble cops seem to be sent to. It appears to be worse than the DMV with people looking for help to their problems with crime, and instead of having immediate action are giving time consuming paperwork that will most likely be pushed aside or underneath other things. While at first glance the outreach staff is lazy, and each policeman has their problems their hearts are in the right place. They want to help the citizens of Harlem, but seem to have lost the drive. Towards the end of part one is when things start to heat up. Facts, and clues come up on the case involving our two wealthy New Yorkers that affect Detective Bennett close to home. Every step though is stopped by other cases popping up around the city, in the department, and by issues affecting the Bennett family. Whether or not Detective Mike Bennett’s world will ever be the same as it was before, and will the cases be solved is up to the readers to find out.

Certain cases from the novel seem to have been inspired from the headlines around the country as well as internationally. One case in particular involving smash and grab thieves in the novel seems to be taken from the news in Houston, Tx where bold organized thieves ran into jewelry stores during daylight in front of the public, smashed the display cases, and grabbed the items. This James Patterson novel has such perfect timing with current events because we are shown the ideal law enforcer. The ideal law enforcer is someone who does their job right, protects the citizens, searches for clues before marking someone as a suspect, loves their job, and has an outstanding reputation with their community. Those law enforcers do exist out in the real world, but it is more often that the bad ones get national news time due to what they did. There are corrupt officials out there, there are tensions between groups, and trust is clearly lacking in areas around the world when it comes to their law enforcement. However, that does not mean the good ones are completely extinct. They are out there, but it is clear we need more of their numbers. Something must inspire people to want to be better, to do better, and I believe the character Detective Mike Bennett does that. I think he can inspire others to be good cops, or encourage others to join the force. He is an important character right now with current events, and we need more people like Detective Mike Bennett who are not so quick to judge as well as care. I will have to admit I have never read a James Patterson novel so I had no preconceived notions of what to expect. I also do not know the history of the main character Detective Mike Bennett from previous novels. James Patterson’s “Burn” is a great introduction into the author’s writing style, the main character’s world, and into crime thrillers as well. It gives an interesting view of the city of New York that has not been shown in other crime shows, or movies. The reader will not want to put this book down. James Patterson’s “Burn” is out now.

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Review of “Falling Starr” Trilogy, by Dani Hoots, Special “Literary Tea” Feature, Tea and Book Giveaway

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Click this picture o be redirected to the Rafflecopter APP for a special giveaway

 

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!!!!!!

ENTER TO WIN AN OMNIBUS COPY OF DANI HOOT’S FALLING STAAR TRILOGY, BY CLICKING THE PHOTO ABOVE!!  (Also, a special giveaway, from Mighty Leaf, is also featured towards the bottom portion of this post!! Be sure to enter that as well.)

All contests are open only to those, living in either the US/Canada.

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Right now, Dani Hoots currently relies on the services of A Bibliophile’s Workshop, to help w/ editing two of her series!

Dani Hoots was someone’s writing that I discovered through pure happenstance, and it all began with an email back in April, requesting to be added to my blog as a book-reviewer contributor. Since then, we have grown exponentially, in terms of the increase of  active reviewers, who sometimes write faster than I manage to post (I still have a few reviews to post, of those individuals that wrote them up). Thus far, I have edited nearly four novellas, and almost one complete novel of hers, so reviewing her other novella series, The Falling Staar Trilogy is bound to feel heavily biased in some sense, as though I am bound by my duty as an editor to say only extremely effusive things about her series. Also, as someone that has spent long hours, reading through her stories very carefully, while a few are in the editing phase, I have a strong knowledge of her weaknesses and strengths of a writer, in the same startlingly intimate way, that I sometimes can view my own weaknesses (never strengths) in my own writing. Usually, an editor has a better chance to have a more balanced, less myopic view of a certain writer’s abilities.

One of the things that has really captured my imagination and appreciation of Dani Hoot’s writing- a feature strongly represented in the Falling Staar Trilogy- is Dani Hoot’s ability to write concisely, or deceptively simplistic. And the deceptively simplistic is the ability to weave a rich story, with as few words as possible, making the ability to get sucked into her stories such an easy task. There is no aridity in her prose, it is suffused with color-charm, pop-culture references, fun character quirks, great banter- and sometimes her books seem like a really great episode of a tv-show, which isn’t a criticism, as it is more of a compliment. Her deceptively simplistic prose, built with strong dialogue, is the greatest strength of a skillful tv writer. And the type of writer able to curtail the verbiage, in favor of short, sweet, almost fast-paced, cinematic prose are the types of writers who are doing something that is really appealing to those discovering the world of indie-publishing.

This novella trilogy is very much like an extended, two-part television program, and the episodic nature of the story-a story streamlined into a well-executed adventure, scifi story (with bits of timey wimey thrills thrown in)-  is a very engrossing, fun read that really sucks you in from the start. It is comparable to watching something on Netflix, where you begin watching one episode of a show, then start another. The story’s protagonist is Angela Starr, a science major, at Portland University (I am so, so bad w/ names), and the story starts out with deliberate mystery, as you can tell Dani Hoots took the time to contrive certain events to be divulged at a certain time, or throw in a certain suspenseful moment- a chase, or a total proverbial “rug pulled out from under you moment. The action scenes are frenetically paced, and are never bogged down with too much technical details. And her dialogue is filled with Buffy-esque quips, and even Buffy-esque pop-culture references. As someone that has watched Doctor Who (and considers myself a “minor” fan of it), I loved the fact Dani Hoots exemplified her knowledge of all things contemporary tv-show. There were some shows I jotted down to watch, and I now love, including NBC’s awesome show Grimm. 

Beyond the snappy dialogue, quick-moving, suspenseful story-line, the heart of the story is a subtle meditation on the fleeting nature of memory, and how it is our memory of events that chronological details or animates our own life stories around us. Can memory be altered, and do we subconsciously alter our own memory, due to external circumstances? Also, there is some interesting bits of physics in the story. It is minimal, and thankfully not too ponderous, as to chase us scientific illiterates away (like myself). But I enjoyed the bits that were in there, just enough to make the world feel more intricate and detailed.

This is a fast-moving read, a relaxing read. Not every book released these days needs to be some sophisticated, Booker Prize winning novel. There is a strong need for books, like Dani Hoots novel, that is written with adventure, thrills, and quick page-turning in mind. So turn off Netflix, and read a book, from a great indie writer instead!! Then return to Netflix, with your laundry list of shows you “wish to watch,” after tagging all the pop-culture references in the story!!

     To interact with Dani Hoots, or to find out what other books she has published, be sure to browse the below social media networks, which Dani is a part of!
Website: http://danihoots.com
Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/UrbanWriter13
Blog: http://confessionsofageekess.com/
Book Reviewer: http://bibliophilesreverie.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/danihootsauthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/danihootsauthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/danihootsauthor
Tumblr: danihootsauthor.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/danihootsauthor
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/urbanwriter13

BE SURE TO PARTAKE IN THE FACEBOOK-EXCLUSIVE, MULTIDAY LAUNCH PARTY FOR THE FALLING STAAR TRILOGY PAPERBACK!! 

Special Literary Tea Blend- Falling Staar Tea (subtitle: “Forget-Me-Not Tea”), Featuring Mighty Leaf Tea’s Pear Caramel Tea

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Seeing as how it is winter, and sometimes we feel like the blistering, cold world can leave us feeling isolated, when trapped indoors due to inclement, snowy weather, the Falling Staar Trilogy‘s special tea is Mighty Leaf Tea’s delicious, tangy, and subtly succulent Pear Caramel Teawhich has the right balance of a slight pear/fruity taste, with the undertone of a weirdly nourishing/comforting caramel taste. The comforting aura of the tea, triggered by your sensory neurons (a little bit of science, as we’re dealing with a scifi series), will instantly unlock memories you thought had been lost to you. Maybe you’ll remember family gatherings, with homey food, or just desert time (all of this is beginning to feel cloying, I know, it’s a tea affectation) where the pies are laid out, and your grandmother is recollecting on how bewildering modern-day contraptions are or something. And as you are about to sip the tea just a second time, you’ll start laughing to yourself, weirdly loving the fun memories of the awesome foibles of people around you.

In Dani Hoot’s Falling Staar Trilogy, there are many things around Angela Starr (the main character of the novel), that pop up or materialize at intervals in the story, that create a parallel story of  unleashed memories of her home planet, and the world she grew up in, which she thought were long-forgotten. At one point, she didn’t even know they ever existed, making that the most uncanny feature of the way our brain stores memories. We think they’re lost, and most of the time, we didn’t even know they existed, but then we see something, or smell  some faint smell or  even taste something nourishing, or rich (like the Pear Caramel Tea from Mighty Leaf Tea)  that triggers this memory ( and a slew of others). Then, we remember that we experienced this one thing in our lives-a long time ago- and oddly enough, we start to oddly question whether these memories really existed in the first place (a Descartes Philosophical discussion I’ll leave for later).

Anyways, this tea is really the perfect beverage to accompany your reading marathon of Dani Hoot’s Falling Staar Trilogy, which may serve to help you to recollect on your own supposed “lost” memories. That is because Mighty Leaf Tea’s Pear Caramel Tea is a Forget-Me-Not Antidote that unlocks memories you once thought were lost (memories about as elusive as the slight note of caramel in the tea).

TEA GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

If you are interested in winning a complimentary tea from Mighty Leaf Tea, be sure to enter the giveaway by clicking one of the photos below (which has the link to the appropriate Rafflecopter App. attached)

**Contest Open Only to those who live in the U.S.**

THANK YOU TO MIGHTY LEAF TEA FOR SUPPORTING THIS CONTEST. FOR INDIE AUTHOR APPRECIATION MONTH!!

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Dani Hoots’ Review of The Rebel Trap, Rebel #2 by Lance Erlick

The Rebel Trap, Book #2 of Rebel by Lance Erlick

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Publisher: Finlee Augare Books

Review by: Dani Hoots

The Rebel Trab by Lance Erlick follows a young girl by the name of Belle who has been thrown out the Mech Warrior institute because of not killing a young man she met on the battle arena. The story is set in a futuristic world where men have been outcasted and only women remain. Some men have been captured and are either imprisoned or used by the Mech Warrior institute for practice in how to kill. We are thrown in the middle of the action, where Belle has been kicked out of the Mech Warrior institute, if only for a second. Secretly, the leader of the institute wants her to stay and spy on the police force, as they fear it may be corrupt. Meanwhile, Morgan, the boy she saved, has escaped with other imprisoned boys and somehow is able to talk to Belle through a device in her brain. Along with this, Belle’s sister has been secretly recruited to the Mech Warriors as well. There are many twists and turns through this story and it always keeps you on your toes.

I found the characters to be quite dynamic, Belle being strong, yet still acting her age, he being only 16, which gave her a sense of realness. I wanted to know more about Morgan, but I think that more was explained in the first book, which I have yet to read. Belle reminded me a bit like Katniss, in that she was a strong warrior but sees the corruption of the world.

But also you know there is something going on, and the world is full of secrets…

There are a lot of secrets going on throughout the book, which left you wanting more when ending a chapter. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in only a few sittings. I loved how Lance Erlick was able to weave so much together, yet execute it in a way that made sense. The only problems I had were that I didn’t understand why the men had been exiled and I also didn’t like how he had a change in point of view since Belle was in first person, and in other chapters it was another person in third person. To me, that distracts from the flow, but it could just be a personal thing and I got used to it after a few chapters.

So if you like military science fiction, young adult science fiction, strong girl characters, or a complex plot and secrecy, this is definitely the book for you. It is a lot like Hunger Games meets AeonFlux, so if you enjoyed either of those movies, you will enjoy this series! I give it 4.5/5!

Check out the Rafflecopter HERE! Ends 12/15

The Rebel Within, Rebel #1 by Lance Erlick

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Revels Divided, Rebel #3 by Lance Erlick

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Lance Erlick

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