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

In the beginning….

I survived my Monday, how did you fare? Let me tell you a little of my day, starting with Sunday, weather-wise. Sunday, we had temperatures in the low 80’s. It was a nice and comfortable day. By the time I left the house for work on Monday, temperatures were in the high 20’s, a little over a fifty degree swing. Nothing like the schizophrenic nature of April weather!

Other than the light snow, the day was uneventful. I spent a considerable amount of time on the road thinking about opening lines. It started when I remembered one of Ron White’s jokes, “I was sitting on a bean bag chair, naked, eating Cheetos…” That has to be one of my favorite opening lines for a joke. You can check it out on YouTube.

The way Ron White delivers the line is magic. It’s as if it were normal for everyone to be sitting naked on a bean bag chair. It’s casual and easily sets up the ludicrous premise that is the rest of the joke. It’s all about setting up the tone.

Opening lines are a tricky beasts, if you ask me. There are plenty of famous opening lines in literature, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” – or – “Call me Ishmael,” – or how about – “It was a dark and stormy night.” Actually the last one is my favorite. It’s entered the collective consciousness as a bad opening line, which was in fact written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton for his novel Paul Clifford, though I mostly remember it used by Charles Schulz’s character, Snoopy. Actually, I need to add Paul Clifford to my list of Books I need to read, but probably never will.

The power of opening lines is not lost on men trying to score with women. That’s how we have classics such as “You come here often,” – and – “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” – and my favorite – “Haaave you met Ted?” I keep it simple when meeting people with “Hey.”

In real life, as in books, that first line can make or break your chance of continuing and growing a relationship. I know it’s a lot of pressure, and maybe I’m making too big a deal of it, but that first line is a killer for me. All I can do is write it and continue on. I may go back and tweak the line once I’m into the book, but probably not.

I was looking at some of my opening sentences of my pieces that I will someday actually sit down and finish. I’ve decided to let you take a look at the glory that is my madness.

  1. Paul Cardinal Dawson sat in his office drinking his black coffee, fuming silently. – Son of the Father.
  2. “Do me a favor Luke, and get me my lighter.” – Self Reborn.
  3. “Sheba! Time to go outside!” – Unseen Obsession.
  4. This was to be a reunion, years in the making. – Lily.
  5. I must say, I never thought I would ever write down my life’s story, and never in such a public forum, but yet I’ve decided to embrace this odd medium and so here I am. – Peccadilloes.

I don’t know, I’m probably stressing about nothing, but that’s what I do. I should probably let it go and stop worrying about something so inconsequential. It’s only one line, after all. But just to play Devil’s Advocate, here are a few more opening lines, from real life, to show you how important they can be.

  1. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
  2. “We need to talk.”
  3. “Joe, come to the office.”
  4. “You have the right to remain silent.” (Hasn’t happened to me, yet.)

The link between books, STD’s and really bad jokes

Here’s a news story out of WPXI Pittsburgh.

Herpes virus found on library copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

If you haven’t read the news story, please do so. I’ll wait.

Are you done? Great! After reading the article, all sorts of horrible jokes came to mind. Instead of my usual post, I decided to post those jokes. Read at your own risk. I’ve never been described as a comedic genius. You’ve been warned.

Here are my jokes about reading library copies of Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Photo credit: ellebnere)

  1. The only book I know of that wearing a hand condoms (rubber gloves) is recommended. Actual condoms may not be a bad idea, either. Practice safe reading.
  2. It’s not only that book, but think about all the other people who have been with that book. That’s how many extended partners you’ve been with.
  3. That book has gotten around more than my ex’s. (I warned you that they weren’t funny. They’re also tactless and bitter.)
  4. Try explaining to your husband of wife that you got herpes from reading a book. “Yeah, right! Skank!”
  5. When you go get tested, and they ask how many partners you had, you put x (where x = the number of sexual partners you’ve had) + Fifty Shades of Grey.
  6. The CDC is debating whether or not to quarantine libraries that have FSoG in their inventory.
  7. Book burning is no longer an option. It must be treated as Hazardous Material (HazMat).
  8. Have you opened up the book and gotten a whiff of the smell of a good book, and something else that you can’t quite figure out? Now you know. And now you want to take a bath. With bleach.
  9. When you borrow FSoG from the library, it comes with a free prescription for Valtrex.
  10. That damned book is getting more action than I am. That’s not a joke. It’s just sad. But it’s also a little bit funny.
  11. I need to read the book, but I need a virgin copy. Pun indeed intended.
  12. If you discuss this book in a book club, could that be considered an orgy?

I think it’s safe to say that I will not become a comedy writer anytime soon. The only thing I can be sure is that I amused myself. I guess that means you all are on your own.

Telling you about my first time

all's well that inks well

all’s well that inks well (Photo credit: b1gw1ght)

Today starts the first week of my break between classes. I have three weeks to do nothing resembling anything academic. Just me and my computer, television, and maybe a few good books. As soon as my new book arrives, I’ll begin to read it for next month’s book review.

Of course I’m going crazy, obsessing over what my grades will ultimately be. So far it appears as though I’m going to pull straight A’s, but it’s not definitive. As soon as I know I’ll drive you crazy with my pathetic display of self-congratulatory behavior. I’m stretching as we speak to give myself a hearty and well-deserved pat on the back. I don’t want to pull anything as I contort myself awkwardly.

But while I wait, I did something last night that I’ve been toying with for a long time, but finally worked up the nerve to do; I submitted a short story for publication. To be honest, I think this rates higher on my “Hurray!” scale than my grades so. I finally did it!

Okay, I know this doesn’t seem like too big a deal. People submit short stories, essays, and novels everyday. What is a big deal, at least for me, is that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I sent my first submission. Now all I have to do is wait the appropriate amount of time to receive my first rejection.

Hey! Think positive! Yeah I can practically hear you screaming at your computer screens. I am thinking positive. I’m thinking I’m going to hear a response. Joking aside, although I really do hope they decide to publish it for me, I’m okay if they pass on my piece. I think I expanded my boundaries just by filling out the form and sending my story “Letting Go” to Agni Online. Everyone has to start somewhere and this is my start. And if they do reject it, I’ll send it to another site. Try, try again, as they say.

I’m also working on a short creative nonfiction essay that I plan to submit to Hippocampus Magazine. My essay chronicles my struggle with depression after the turmoil of my divorce up to leaving my job and spending a year unemployed. It’s set on my first day back to school, thirteen years after I dropped out. It’s nowhere near completed, and I’ll probably obsess for a few weeks before I submit it, but we’ll see where it takes me.

And finally, I still have to finish my rewrite of my novel. Once I’m done, I can evaluate where I am there. I’ll probably have to do another rewrite (and then another) before I’m satisfied letting this one out into the world. As you can tell, I plan to spend a good part of my time off writing. I let my classes get in the way of writing so I have a lot of time to make up. Then my last class will start next month and I may temporarily lose track of writing again, and that’s okay. By July I should be done and then I’ll be able to move forward in my life.

Hopefully I’ll also have a published story to go along with my sheepskin. I hope, I hope, I hope!

The one where I think about doing book reviews

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS (Photo credit: jm3)

Too much to do and so little time? Welcome to the end of the semester! I know I have nothing to complain about, and in contrast to the utter boredom I suffered mere months ago, this is a very welcome change.

I have a few projects staring me in the face, and although it’s crunch time, I’m not sweating it. Not yet at least. My lowest grade at the moment stands at 89.68%. I’m sure I can raise that to a 90. So unless I have a complete meltdown in the next few weeks, I am sure I can make the Dean’s List. I’m not counting on it, though. I still have work to do to make it happen.

In addition to my course load, the too few hours I’m spending at the place of my employment, and my writing, I’m thinking about starting another project. I am considering doing a monthly book review. My plan is to review only self-published novels. The next part is how to choose which books to review.

My goal is twofold. One, I want publicize unknown authors and get their works seen by people who might not otherwise have a chance to come across those works. Secondly, I want to improve my own abilities to critique other literary works, and in the process improve my own ability to write. I know, I know, it’s always about me isn’t it?

I’m still not entirely sure I’m going to do this. I have had many grand ideas that never came to fruition and this may be another one of those failed ideas. We’ll see. I already have a book in mind for my first review and if the tracker on Amazon is to be believed, it just left Hebron, KY. I should have it in a few days. What I don’t know is when I’ll do the review.

I have a few technicalities to work out, as in how I’ll post it. I’ll post it on here on my blog, but probably not on the blog feed. I’ll start a new page solely for book reviews with a link on the menu bar on the top. I’ll have to figure out the how later.

Right now I need to get back to work. I have Grammar class in less than an hour and we will have a quiz. Yay! Ugh….  At least the semester is almost over. I just don’t know if I’ve learned anything there. Oh well, education ho!