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Some Thoughts on “The Lines of Union” By K.C. Bryce Fitzgerald

Book Reviews

It is a world you don’t ever want to live in, but it is also a world that is inevitable. Censorship is commonplace, omnipotent over freedom. Set only 7 years in the future, the world has become a mash up of apocalyptic suppression and simmering beliefs. Expressions of emotions are intense and sharp, and words are used like weapons.

In the superb “The Lines of Union”, author K.C. Bryce Fitzgerald ornately depicts a world that though different than modern day, is entirely familiar and believable. The novel’s opening immediately pulls in the reader with the descriptive representation of the books titular hero, John Herald. A man who is not so unlike other fictional characters that have come before him, John is wounded and torn. He is also beyond intelligent and driven to foster a world where politics can be used as a tool to unite the separate factions of the world, not to destroy them.

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A Gift to Read “These Thy Gifts” By Vincent Panettiere

Book Reviews, Random Musings

Epic, uncomfortable, and, above all, important, “These Thy Gifts” by author Vincent Panettiere is a welcome addition to the canon of modern literature.

Told with an unabandoned ferocity that often does not accompany written pieces that deal with religion as its foremost subject matter, “These Thy Gifts” acts as a hybrid of the seriousness of literature and the whimsy of the human condition. Encompassing a period of 50 years, the books gifted author weaves a tale that is not only highly emotional, but extremely relevant to today’s world. With a tendency to act as both an omnipresent and intimate narrator, it’s clear from the book’s opening chapter (ominously titled “The Beginning of the End”) that the story that is to unfold before the readers’ eyes will be intense.

From a pedantic perspective, “These Thy Gifts” appears to have been written for the masses without losing its sense of affection for both the finely created characters or an all-too-familiar world. As someone who does not often review books that have religion and the institution of war as such a striking element, I was immediately engrossed by the author’s ability to weave the fine line of subtlety of the human experience to the contempt that so often follows the goings on of the Catholic Church.

Set in 2006 when the Catholic Church is embroiled in what appears to be controversy after controversy, the novel’s major character Monsignor Steven Trimboli is not only clearly affected by the tarnishing of his employer (so to speak), but also intent on fixing things that are within his sphere of influence. It becomes instantly evident that Trimboli is a deeply flawed but hopeful character. His interactions with the Catholic Church in 2006 act as a springboard to his life 50 years prior where Trimboli is doe-eyed and naïve, and fiercely intelligent.  The people he meets in his life act as the foundation for all of his future relationships, including the one he has with God.

Instead of writing a book that is knee-deep in dogma, the author of “These Thy Gifts” goes where the reader does not expect him to. The lens he chooses to wear is not steeped in ridicule or derision of the Catholic Church. Instead, he tackles the idea of Catholicism in America through an open mind, free of mockery. Atypical at best, Steven Trimboli’s long lasting friendship with a gangster’s wife and an extremely powerful tour of Vietnam as an Army Chaplain, sort of makes him not only incredibly endearing, but also incredibly real. He’s a hero you root for and wish the best for.

There is an inherent anger at the heart of “These Thy Gifts” that can perhaps be seen as one of the core flaws of modern society. Sometimes using religion as an excuse to act irresponsibly and kill in the name of a God, the violence, abuse and corruption that exist within many institutions of religion are coming to the forefront of the public consciousness. Here, the author really excels in enlightening the reader on the provocations of questioning the foundations of personal belief systems.

Yes, “These Thy Gifts” is a heavy read. The reader should expect as much by simply reading the book’s jacket. Where the narrative really shines is in the author Vincent Panettiere’s clear ability to share information without colluding it. The reader is encouraged to form their own standpoint on the many contentious topics written about in the book without being spoon-fed. It’s a talent to narrate without telling, and Pannetiere has clearly mastered it.

Pick up your copy of “These Thy Gifts” on Amazon @:

https://www.amazon.com/These-Thy-Gifts-Vincent-Panettiere/dp/1503199886

Learn more about the author and his other works at:

http://www.vincentpanettiere.com/index.html

 

 

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Spinning Them Tales

Random Musings

I’m always reading something or other. That seems fairly obvious, right?

Well, this summer I’ve immersed myself in the trials and tribulations of the folks who live at 28 Barbary Lane in Armistead Maupin’s genius “Tales of the City”. Set in my favorite decade (the 70’s, naturally), this iridescent gem of a novel has zany, colorful characters and plenty of WTF’s. In fact, there are so many funny and endearing plot points that I’m fairly certain many are going way over my head.

Check it out. Once I’m done the first book in the series, I’ll be posting a more in-depth analysis.

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Take This Walk: A Review of Creepy “The Road Cain Walks”

Book Reviews

It’s one thing to watch a horror film, and it’s a whole other thing to read one. Written words tend to spark something in the imagination that triggers such imagery that could never be recreated for the screen. This is precisely why I don’t tend to read them all too often (The Honorable Stephen King being the obvious exception). I’m glad, however,  I decided to read Matt Kilby’s “The Road Cain Walks”.

Tensely written, the novel is set in the picturesque, quiet and quaint town of Pine Haven, North Carolina. Seemingly out of nowhere and atypical of town behaviour, a horrendous murder occurs, giving instant infamy to Grady Perlson, convicted murdered and a complicated major character.

Perlson is serving his time at Starks County Prison, a place that certainly matches its namesake in terms of ambience and void of human empathy. Here, alone, Perlson suffers in reliving the awful tragedies of his past. But things around the world are starting to converge with Perlson’s despair. This is where the true horror of the novel comes into play.

The author cleverly denounces the typical horror trope formula wherein there is
a focus on one character, his or her horrific past, and either the continuance of horror or a redemption. Instead, the merging of inexplicable global events being documented by one ambitious psychologist who is trying to find an explanation to tie these apparently random events together. It is Joe Richard, the psychologist, who embarks the walk referenced in the book’s title. It’s both an allusion on the path of evil, and the quest for being understood.

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Reading “Love’s Long Road”

Book Reviews
Nothing like an old-fashioned suicide to really mess up someone’s life? Am I right?

In G.D. Harper’s “Love’s Long Road”, the suicide of Bobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend leaves her in all kinds of despondency – and understandably so at that, especially given the fact that her now long-gone boyfriend blamed her for his final act. As a result, and only as a twenty-something can vow to do, Bobbie swears off love and decides to embrace a wanton lifestyle only in the PM hours. The ‘Day Time’ Bobbie is as boisterous and energetic as she was pre-suicide, but at night she turns into the epitome of debauchery.

As the reader continues through the book, it becomes very obvious that Bobbie cannot maintain this duality of existence, even if the book is set in the ‘anything goes’ sentiment of the 1970’s. Along her journey, Bobbie is thrown into some colorful situations, ranging from isolation to drug addiction, but author G.D. Harper eschews any propensity to making this just another story about a wayward girl on the arduous journey towards adulthood. Instead, alongside many cool cultural references of the 70’s, Harper craft a tale about the power of guilt and the long-lasting effects of young love.

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Jason Tanamor’s “Drama Dolls”

Book Reviews

If you want to release a novel that maintains readers’ interests, it’d better have a LOT going on. Throw in a car chase, some crimes (both of the high and low kind), and some flawed heroes and you’ve got the key ingredients for modern fiction. Instead of losing his voice amongst conventions and familiarity, author Jason Tanamor puts a signature spin on a high-octane thriller and makes it both funny AND intense. Now that’s a combination that’s extremely rare these days.

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Joseph Ferguson’s “Southbound”

Book Reviews

Everyone knows a “Basement Man”. You know that guy who always seems to be doing something crazy and unpredictable, be it being day drunk in the local bar to waxing on the state of philosophy. Sometimes we avoid him, sometimes we embrace him.

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In Joseph Ferguson’s short story collection “Southbound”, one such “Basement Man” is written about. His zany situations are documented with precision and panache, clear signs that the author is adept at the written word. Ferguson ensures that he does not create one-dimensional characters or wooden dialogue. Instead, each short story comprising “Southbound” is almost like an insight into one person’s plot in life and their colorful approach to life without subscribing to any prevalent formulas encompassing modern literature today.

 

“Southbound” is edgy and unsettling at times, but it’s also quite riveting. The reader is along for the ride of life that belongs to one “Basement Man”, whether he likes or not. We are not judging him, and he is surely not judging us because he’s just trying to get by.

 

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A Review of Ian Blackport’s “Those Who Remain”

Book Reviews
I like zombocs. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the apocalyptic genre, though insanely terrifying, also makes one extremely grateful for their current lot in life. Maybe that’s the allure. Like a subversive life gratitude lesson.
Canadian author Ian Blackport adds a piece to the dystopian/fantasy/zomboc genre with his interesting “Those Who Remain”. It’s hard to be creative and original in the genre of a world where unhumans co-exist with humans, but Mr. Blackport manages to eke some novelty into it.
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“Those Who Remain” has two sisters, who, well, remain in a British world full of danger and inhumanity. 10 years have passed since an incurable pandemic wiped out the population, and these two sisters try to hold onto whatever fleeting glimpses of hope to once again live happily.
Blackport’s portrayal of the intimate and strong relationship between the two sisters. They seem to have lost individuality on their journey, and instead co-exist in the bleak world that is depicted very clearly. Human emotions are what would guarantee death, so they must succumb to a hardness that is unnatural to them. In order to survive, they have to change.
A clever commentary on humanity in the face of inhumanity prevails here, making “Those Who Remain” more than your average fantasy book. It’s a post-modern take on what post-modernism is in the literal sense.
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Reading “Nakamura Reality” By Alex Austin

Book Reviews

Atmospheric and literally quite breathtaking, Alex Austin’s “Nakamura Reality” is an exercise in beauty. There are lessons to be learned in this novel about Japanese culture, and its vast difference to American culture. However, despite the many cultural differences presented quite efficiently by the author, there is still that underlying connection between humanity that intrinsically links us all to one another.

In “Nakamura Reality”, loss and tragedy quickly strike in the life of Hugh McPherson. His twin sons vanish into the ocean. Fervent surfers, the boys succumb to the immense powers of the sea and meet their demise. Hugh and his wife, Setsuko, cannot weather life together with the loss of their sons. Soon divorcing, the Setsuko chooses to leave her american life behind her and moves back to Japan with her writer-father, Kazuki Ono.

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Hugh, on the other hand, decides to continue his life in america with the sadness of his sons’ deaths never leaving him. As he grows more and more depressed, not only for the loss of his sons’ but also of the end of his relationship with his wife, Hugh decides to commit suicide by voluntarily giving himself to the waters that so maniacally took his sons’ lives. Whilst committing this act, Hugh sees his sons, who ask him to reconcile with Setsuko.

Now this is where the story gets super interesting. Hugh, who finds himself revitalized by this near-death experience, quickly comes to believe that perhaps the death of his sons’ wasn’t so clear cut. Sure, they had indeed vanished into the ocean, never having their bodies found – but they were also such AMAZING surfers. Could it be there’s more to their disappearance then what seemingly transpired? Is Setsuko’s father, who recently wrote a novel that seems to echo Hugh and Setsuko’s real life, behind this awful tragedy?

 

With this new idea, Hugh begins a new life where he begins to question the life as he had known it in the 10 years that have passed since the disappearance of his sons. The author shines in his portrayal of the mysteries and tumult that surround all the characters has created. His ability to easily sustain the readers’ interest page in and page out demonstrates the talent of an author that clearly knows the power that words can bring.

 

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A Quick Peruse of “Anemogram” by Rebecca Gransden

Book Reviews

It’s a thriller. It’s an expose on lost innocence. It’s also a finely written piece that brings a level of the extraordinary to the ordinariness of a simple life, depending on how to define ‘simple’.

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In richly detailed “Anemogram” by british author Rebecca Gransden demonstrates a natural knack for presenting the story of a seemingly lost girl holding a powerful secret. In the novel, a young girl literally emerges out of the woods and enters a world of convention and modern society. She meets David, a man with his own set of personal demons, and they begin a relationship that is, well, if you read this book, you’ll quickly find out.

It’s the blossoming relationship that is a roller coaster ride for the reader. Gransden subverts many popular ideologies in the process, showcasing her talent at prose, as well as creating situations that though familiar, have an edge to them.

It’s a bit Lynchian at times. There are many themes lurking beneath the surface of a standard fictional novel, with the reader being able to identify them depending on their own personal experiences in life. After the final word is read, the lingering feelings continue with the reader, creating an experience of ambiguity and interest.