Book Review: Dark the Night Descending

Dark

Dark  the Night Descending © 2014 Jennifer Bresnick

Arran Swinn is a captain without a ship, a man who is trying to rebuild after an unfortunate disaster at sea. After securing enough money, he buys an old ship, The Tortoise, and begins to look for a crew, though securing cargo becomes his next challenge.

When Elargwyd, one of the Neneckt – a race of sea-dwelling creatures who have the ability to change their appearance – comes to the captain, looking for passage, he reluctantly accepts the job, though one passenger isn’t much of a cargo. Arran looks for an old client in the hopes of securing something profitable, but he is turned away. He is  therefore surprised when packages mysteriously arrives from the client. Arran accepts the payment without regard to what the packages are.

That decision begins a series of disasters, each pushing Arran further along a path where he is no longer in control. The shipment put Arran in the cross-hairs of the Guild of Miners, a group regulates the trade of red iron, a scarce and precious commodity, and a target for counterfeiters.

Arran is forced into hasty alliances in the hope of clearing his name, and finding the a way to pay a debt to a mysterious creature, a payment whose forfeiture would result in his death. After betrayals and shifting alliances, Arran is confronted with his destiny, one that put his life and death in his hands. His fate, and the fate of mankind, may rest in his decision.

I’m familiar with Jennifer Bresnick’s work, having read a few of her short stories, and I even reviewed her first book, The Last Death of Tev Chrisini – the 2012 winner of the Shelf Unbound Contest for Best Independently Published Book. In this novel, I see a great improvement in her writing and storytelling.

In Dark the Night Descending, I found her ability to create a world uniquely her own as good as ever. Her world is inhabited by men and other super-human beings, creatures that have to power to terrorize mankind. It is not a safe world, and the terrors she writes are not unknown to the thoughts of men.

I can relate to Arran as a man trying to fight his way back after suffering a professional setback. He’s a man who finds himself dragged into a situation beyond his ability to cope, and his struggle is complicated by a cast of characters that have their own agendas, ones that finds Arran as dispensable.

Our hero has choices to make. Does he despair and accept defeat, or does he fight on, railing against the powers that seek to use and ultimately destroy him? When his allies betray him, to whom does he turn? Is there anyone left to trust?

The idea of a person finding that he has a greater destiny is nothing new, it’s a well-worn device in literature. What Jennifer does so well is that there is nothing remarkable about our hero, no super power or great ability that sets him apart. He is an every man, somebody who wants to make an honest living and do the best he can with what he has.

To me that’s the heart of the story, that though many powers have tried wrestle control of his life from our hero’s hands, what they can’t take is ability to choose for himself. He is unpredictable and thus he makes himself a dangerous power in his own right. That’s the lesson I take out of it, that we are ultimately in control of how we react to life’s surprises.

I have to give her effort a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars. The story is entertaining and never predictable. As a reader, I never knew who I could trust, or even like. I was left wanting more and having to wait for the next installment to be written and published. I can’t wait!

Dark the Night Descending is the Book One of the Dreamer’s Shadow Series. You can find this, and her other works on Amazon or Smashwords. Please check her out on her blog Inkless and on Facebook.


Jennifer Bresnick
The Last Death of Tev Chrisini

List of Book Reviews
Next review – Through Kestrel’s Eyes
Previous Review – Back From Chaos

No, I’m not dead

In case you’re wondering, I’m still alive. Now that the mystery has been solved, you may get back to living your lives. For some reason, I sense indifference from the audience, not that I’m surprised. If you’re anything like me, you have so many different people vying for attention that you don’t miss the peripheral things. I’m not peripheral, am I?

To answer the unasked question, I’ve finally been offered a full-time position at my job, with hints that they are interested in helping me towards a leadership position of some type. The transition has been a little difficult for me. It’s mostly getting used to working more hours and having an extended work week, which I’m grateful for. I just need to accustomed to having a real job again.

But with the increase in hours comes a decrease in available hours to write. That wouldn’t be so bad, but I lose ten hours a week just on my commute, on top of which I do not have a set schedule. Some days I work a mid-shift, the next I work until midnight, and another day I might have to be there at six in the morning. It’s stressful and leads to getting no sleep and an increased level of stress. I’ve dealt with it before, I’ll learn to cope with it again and find my mojo.

The real reason for my absence, other than exhaustion, is that I haven’t had anything to say for the past few weeks. No, that’s not it. I do have things to say but I’ve decided this isn’t the forum to express myself. When I started out, this was a place for me to vent my frustrations and to be frank, a place to bitch. I don’t really need it, but trying to convert it to simply a writer’s blog isn’t working for me at all. I’m not so focused.

I’m considering making a move and starting fresh on a new blog, a place where I can post essays about silly observations, current events, and my favorite topic, the happenings of my life. That’s what I want to do. I don’t want to limit myself to just writing about writing, or reading. I want to go back to what I loved doing, which was writing about anything and everything.

I’m not planning on discontinuing this page. I still need to talk about what I’m working on, a place to review the occasional book, and to dream about actually publishing something. Maybe I will get around to it. I hope I will.

As such, I pulled out an old manuscript and I started polishing it up, rewriting what needs rewriting, editing what passes, and maybe making it presentable. We’ll see. I have an idea for NaNoWriMo 2014, something I’m excited about. I can’t wait to get started.

I also have a new book review coming out on Monday, October 6th for Dark the Night Descending by Jennifer Bresnick. I can’t wait to share it with you. Follow the link to see what it’s about, and maybe pre-order it as well. My thoughts will have to wait a few more days.

That’s it for now. I’ll stop neglecting my responsibilities and post more frequently. I’ll see you all on Monday, if I don’t post anything sooner. Have a great weekend and stay safe!

Conquering my fear…well, sort of?

Hallelujah! I survived another week. How did you fare? I hope you made it to the other side intact. Why else would you bless me with your presence, of which I’m extremely grateful.

Before I get started with today’s post, I would like announce the books I have lined up to review next month. I’m so excited I can’t wait to tell you. First up, I have Mitch Lavender’s book, Find My Baby. In it, we meet Zachary, an IT security professional who along with his wife, plan to adopt a child from the Ukraine, Unfortunately, a cyber-criminal with a grudge against Zachary kidnaps the child and holds it for ransom. My review will go up August 4th, but if you want to check it out, you can always follow the link.

The second book is Back from Chaos, by Yvonne Hertzberger. Back from Chaos is the first book of the Earth’s Pendulum Trilogy, which follows Klast, a loner whose destiny it is to heal Earth’s wounds and restore balance to the planet. I will post my review on August 18th.

Now, on with the show. I took a spontaneous trip to the DFW area last weekend to visit my best friend, Amy. Not much happened on the trip, though I did find myself trying to herd an alpaca off the highway last Friday. That was an interesting experience, and a topic for another time.

A fear of heights is illogical. A fear
of falling, on the other hand, is prudent and evolutionary.
~Dr. Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory~

Me and Amy posing for a cheesy souvenir photo. Photo by cheesy souvenir photo taker.

Me and Amy posing for a cheesy souvenir photo. Photo by cheesy souvenir photo taker.

What really made the trip interesting for me had to be the trip to Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas. The tower stands tall at 561 ft, and was completed in 1978. Dealey Plaza, the site of the Kennedy assassination is about 1000 feet away. Reunion Tower boasts two restaurants, Cloud Nine Café, and Fifty Six, an award-winning fine dining restaurant opened by celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck.

Did I mention it’s 561 fear-enducing feet tall?

I have a fear of heights. As with most phobias, I know the fear is not logical, but the knowing in no way mitigates the fear. On the drive to the tower, I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. Once we arrived, I balked and I wanted flee the scene. Amy assured me that if I didn’t want to go through with it, I wouldn’t have to. Knowing I was in control allowed me to continue.

The reason for my trepidation is simple. Back when I was in high school, I went on a band trip to San Antonio. While there, we visited the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas. I entered the elevator and rode to the top, blissfully unaware of how I would react once we reached the top.

Me and Amy after arriving to Reunion Tower, to meet my doom. Spoiler alert, I survived.

Me and Amy after arriving to Reunion Tower, to meet my doom. Spoiler alert, I survived.

Well, not quite unaware. As we ascended, my panic seemed to rise with the elevation, and when the doors opened, I found myself almost immobilized with fear. I somehow managed to step out of the elevator. I don’t remember much of the experience  other than having to endure the stomach-churning anxiety and the cruel taunts from the other band kids. Never before had I been as happy to be on solid earth.

Fast-forward over twenty years, and the memory of that day come flooding back. I steeled myself against the inevitable desire to flee. I knew I would have to face my fear. If I were to have left at that point, yes I would have felt immediately better, but I would have reinforced my fear. No, I had to immerse myself completely.

After enduring more cruel taunts from the bitch at the ticket desk – which makes me wonder why do people think making light of someone’s phobia is funny? – we joined the line to the elevator. Soon enough we were on our way to the top. In a way, those 68 seconds seemed to last an eternity, but the steady stream of trivia delivered by the elevator operator helped focus my mind on something other than my anxiety.

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Posing calmly for a photo on the outside balcony of Reunion Tower. Only over 400 feet above Dallas. No worries. Photo by Amy.

With a calming breath, I walked off the elevator, determined not to let my fear get the best of me. I felt the familiar waves of anxiety, dizziness, shortness of breath, but I refused to succumb to the panic. When Amy suggested I take a seat, I kept walking, stubbornly refusing to lose the battle. Soon, I began walking around the floor, looking out the windows. After a few minutes acclimatizing to the height, I opened the door stepped into the open air of the balcony, where I stood briefly at the edge to have this photo taken before retreating to the relative safety of the inside wall.

After returning to the inside of the observation deck, I played around with the interactive screens, watched a ten minute video of the JFK assassination as told by the last surviving member of the Secret Service detail to have ridden in the presidential limo that fateful day. Then it was time to go down. We spent about thirty minutes at the top, but again it felt like an eternity.

Is this the face of a scaredy cat? Um...yes. Yes it is. Behind me is the inside wall of the observation deck of Reunion Tower. Photo by Amy.

Is this the face of a scaredy cat? Um…yes. Yes it is. Behind me is the inside wall of the observation deck of Reunion Tower. Photo by Amy.

The ride down was excruciatingly long. The operator first went up one floor to the café level, then back down to the floor below, before taking the 68-second journey to the ground floor. At one point, I squeezed Amy’s shoulder out of fright, possibly leaving her bruised. (Sorry, Amy!)

But I survived. The ordeal turned out not to be as bad as I had expected. I did experience nausea, light-headedness, and other unpleasant feelings, but I also had a fantastic view of downtown Dallas at night which I enjoyed. I faced my fear, and though I’m in no way over it, I didn’t let it hold me back! I’m also in no hurry to repeat the experience.

Once on the ground, we visited the gift shop, stopped at the Starbucks for a drink, and I was forced to pose for more photos. I hate taking pictures. I’m so not photogenic! I let my nerves calm down before walking back to the car and riding around downtown Dallas, then heading back to the house and a good nights sleep. I survived.

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My reward, a hot cappuccino to calm my frayed nerves. Reunion Tower is lighted up behind me. Photo by Amy

Book Review: The Ship

Finally, Cassandra slumped against the wooden rail and murmured, “It’s coming… we have maybe two hours to prepare…”

The Ship © 2014 Allan Krummenacker

The Ship © 2014 Allan Krummenacker

Happy Monday! Hope you had an exciting 4th of July weekend. Now it’s time to get back into the swing of things. To help you out, I’m back with an all-new book to share with you. The Ship is the second book of the Para-Earth Series by Allan Krummenacker.

In the second book, we follow Cassandra “Cassie” Elliott, heiress to the Elliott family shipping fortune, and a family with a dark secret. Cassie is beginning to embrace her gift as a psychic, a gift that unbeknownst to her is putting her in danger.

Cassie is also learning to accept her sexual identity and is beginning a relationship with Julie Cloudfoot, a gifted woman of Seneca descent, who harbors her own personal demons as well. Little do the pair know that more than attraction binds to two together.

As the book opens, we find Cassie is hosting a memorial for Julie’s uncle Jason, a Seneca shaman, at her beach house in Santa Cruz, California. It’s at the beach where odd things begin to happen, and where her psychic abilities beacon a danger that has haunted the seas for centuries, and which puts her and her new lover in danger.

A ghost ship – an entity that hunts and absorbs into ships into it’s being, and captures her crew, absorbing them into it’s grotesque form, prolonging their lives in unimaginable suffering – is drawn to Cassie by her abilities. She has become it’s next target for assimilation.

Thus begins a race to find its weaknesses, to subdue this malevolent creature before it can take Cassie into itself. The heiress finds help in Julie, who is coming into her own as a shamaness, Julie’s parents and family, and an unknown alliance from the mysterious Z, a man who has his own nefarious plans for Cassie and her abilities. Can this other-worldly ship be destroyed? Can the group save Cassie and themselves from a fate worse than death?

First, I want to say that though this is the second book in the series, it is very much a stand-alone book. It’s not necessary to read the first, but if I were to be asked for my opinion, I would suggest read The Bridge first. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Now for the book itself, I found myself engrossed by the telling. I could not guess as to what was coming next, which was a nice surprise. It is an original tale from a highly imaginative mind. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

It would have been to easy to exploit the main character’s newfound sexual identity. Instead, Allan balances Cassie’s journey into her first lesbian experiences with the needs of the story. There’s nothing gratuitous or pornographic. We see glimpses of a tenderness and passion, enough to satisfy the readers while keeping the private act private.

The focus instead is placed in the characters as individuals, Cassie as a psychic, and Julie as a shamaness. It’s is their gifts as well as the affection for one another, that is their greatest asset. It is their reliance on their support group, a network of friends and family that is at the core of this story.

It is the uniqueness of the cast, their mutual respect and admiration that I found most appealing. There is love, both romantic and familial, that drives the story through is climax and to its conclusion.

My verdict? This is a great book, one that I have no qualms recommending to all readers. Please give The Ship a try. You won’t be disappointed. You can find the book on Amazon or on Smashwords.


The Para-Earth Series
The Bridge
The Ship
TBA

List of Book Reviews
Next Review –  Find My Baby
Previous Review – The Trinity

Book Review: The Bridge

I will post my review of the second book in the series on Monday. I wanted to share my review of the first book before then. Please check it out and have a great weekend!

Joe Hinojosa

thebridge_allankrummenacker2 The Bridge – Allan Krummenacker

The Bridge is a paranormal thriller written by Allan Krummenacker. The story follows a psychic, Alex Hill, as he is slowly forced to embrace his abilities once again to help solve a crime, and in the process, absolve himself of the crime.

The story begins with an automobile accident witnessed by sergeant Veronica Ross, Alex’s girlfriend. Two teens who sergeant Ross mentors die as of a result of the accident, setting off the chain of events.

When it is discovered that the teens, who supposedly died in the crash, had in fact drowned several hours before, this brings Alex into the investigation, albeit reluctantly. No one in the town knows of Alex’s psychic abilities, preferring to keep it suppressed due to a tragedy many years before, but he is almost manipulated by happenstance to use his gifts to help his girlfriend, and his sceptical…

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