Reviews from a writer's point of view

Friday, April 30, 2004

The Summer Of My Discontent, By: Mark Roeder

In this much anticipated sequel to Roeder's A Better Place, we return to Verona, Indiana to visit Ethan, Nathan, Brendan and Caspar who are better than ever and still in disbelief over their lives. Tossed into the mix is Dane, a runaway gay boy who's come to Verona in search of sex, Austin, a rent-boy who gives Dane a place to stay, and Boothe, a creepy ex drug dealer who's moved on to grave-robbing. Sex-starved Dane set out to make the gay boys of Verona miserable by making an ass out of himself, and end ups finding himself in more trouble than he'd ever imagined. And our heroes Ethan, Nathan, Brendan and Caspar work hard to make ends meet on their farm during a drought while bills and the threat of losing the farm hangs over their heads.

I wish I could say something good about this book, but I can't. I somewhat enjoyed Roeder's A Better Place. Caspar is one of Roeder's few compelling characters, but The Summer of My Discontent breeds only more discontent. I read the whole book waiting for some sort of plot, but I never found one. Dane's runaway character and calculating mischief had a great deal of potential, but the potential was wasted in pages of syrupy sweetness, adolescent lust, and too good to be true relationships. Even the somewhat sinister Boothe lost his creepieness after his first few appearances. I finished reading this book and wondered why I'd bothered. There is absolutely no story, no conflict, and no plot. As with all of Roeder's books, this one is chalked full of grammatical errors, but at least the phrase, "I still couldn't believe he loved me," only appeared a couple of times.

Available from: Iuniverse

Reviewed by: Vicki McElfresh

Vicki 4:22 PM

Sunday, April 18, 2004

A Fire In Arcadia By: Warren Ockrassa

In this prequel to Ockrassa's Beasts of Delphos, and entirely new world, closely mirroring the attitudes and actions of the United States is revealed through the eyes of Nikolas. As Nikolas matures from a child to a young man, he learns about love, friendship and heartbreak on his homeworld of Arcadia where love between two people of the same sex is forbidden and punishable by retraining and sex before marriage, even between members of the opposite sex, has severe consquences. Nikolas will learn all about the consequences in very personal ways, and he may or may not survive. In this stunning novel, Ockrassa weaves a tale about adolescent love that is both heartwarming and tearjerking.

I had asked to read this novel purely because it sounded interesting with no intentions of reviewing. I simply wanted to read it, and I found myself blown away by this story. Beasts of Delphos left me unsettled, but A Fire in Arcadia left me hungering for more. I fell in love with the characters of Nikolas and Jek, and I laughed and cried along with them. Though this novel is billed as a science fiction novel, and there are some science fiction elements in the story, do not expect space battles, photon torpedoes, or starships capable of warp speeds. This novel is highly character driven, and a story about the life of an individual in a society where difference and individuality are suppressed and often stamped out. This is a human story, a beautiful story, and I highly recommend it. The writing is superb. The characters lovable. But be prepared to spend a chunk of time reading it since it's almost 700 pages in length. And keep the tissues close at hand.

Available from: Nightwares Ebooks

Reviewed by: Vicki McElfresh

Vicki 12:14 AM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Gather My Bones
By Laura J. Underwood

Published by Jintsu, an imprint of Eggplant Productions.

The tales of Rhoyd, Connor, and Eithne are quickly becoming favorites of mine, and this one is no exception. Underwood's fantasy world is so rich and detailed that the many nods to Celtic lore and mythology only cause to heighten the pleasure of reading a new adventure.

Conor is a mercenary, and his small family travels with him on his journeys. Having a mageborn adopted son can't be easy, but it's quite obvious that both Conor and his wife, Eithne love the boy. The many exchanges between father and son are very well done. The author has a wonderful ear for dialogue.

Like all small children, Rhoyd bites off a bit more than he can chew. His intentions are good, of course, but even mageborn lads aren't infallible. One of the things that I like about this author is that she's not afraid to hurt her characters. I cannot abide reading a story in which no one ever gets hurt. (Long story, there...) And the plot has twists and turns a-plenty.

My only concern is the length of this piece and purely selfish. While Gather My Bones is a complete story, it's much too short to satisfy this reviewer. I wanted to read more of their adventures. Thankfully, there are plenty more to choose from, and I look forward to reading more about Keltora in the future.

Reviewed by Jennifer St. Clair

Jennifer 1:10 PM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

A little late, but here is this week's review.

Isabel's Heresy

by: Tadhg O'Muiris

Warning: This book contains explicit sexual material and is not recommended for young adult readers.

I chose to review this book for two reasons, one because I wanted to read something from the publisher, Extasy Books and two, I really enjoyed this book. Isabel's Heresy is set during the Spanish Inquisition, and Isabel is the daughter of a librarian in a noble house. Isabel falls in love with the son of her father's employer, and when he dies, she is cast out of the house. Her lover gives her enough money to set herself up as an herbalist, and soon Isabel finds herself accused of witchcraft and in the hands of the Inquisition, who sentences her to death. She is rescued by her interrogator, Di Marisco, and a whole new series of adventures begins for her as she and Di Marisco find themselves on the run from the Holy Office and from Isabel's former employer.

Isabel's Heresy is an unlikely love story, with well-drawn, realistic characters. The writing is superb, and best of all, there is actually a story behind the sexual situations in this book. This is not a book for the faint of heart, and not a book for someone who doesn't like explicit sex in their love stories, but as an erotic title, it was original and enjoyable.

Available From: Extasy Books

Reviewed by: Vicki McElfresh

Vicki 8:07 PM

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Ratings and reviews of small press ebooks and small press ebook publishers. We will branch out to small press print publishers in the future, but for now, the focus is on ebooks.

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