Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles, #2)

Author John A Heldt provided me with an e-copy of The Memory Tree, the second book in the Carson Chronicles.

I have had the pleasure of reading all of Mr. Heldt's books to this point. I have given five stars to each book so far on the sites that require them. That is 70 stars (I wonder where he keeps them all). The Memory Tree continues his run of fantastic books. I have been witness to his growth as an author, he continues to raise the bar for himself with each new book. Always an excellent writer/story teller, it has been fun to see his work evolve.

The Memory Tree continues the story of the Carson children playing time-traveler tag with their parents. This book, as is the first in the series, has a more adult feel to it. Some sexuality (not at all graphic, although in one case, almost. There, my spoiler), some  violence, mildly graphic. Mostly though it is a good family oriented time traveling adventure. The story-line(s) cover multiple countries as the family spreads out in their attempt to finally reunite with their parents.

We have historic events weaved throughout some you will know (you may have heard of WWI), some a little less well known, at least they were to me. We also have romance, loss, heartbreak balanced with humor, adventure, terror and uplifting humanity.

Our author does not shy away from the stereotypical difficulties presented in most time travel stories, he in fact embraces them and weaves them into at times, heartbreaking moments or heart warming ones. This story so complex it keeps the reader hooked. I don't know if it is purposeful or not, but Mr. Heldt uses a short chapter format, usually 4 or 5 pages at most. What this does is allow the many story-lines to flow without the reader losing track of where the story is going. It also keeps, me at least, reading further into the night than I should. It's just too easy to tell myself, "One more chapter" until five or six later when I say "One more", you get the idea.

Author Heldt (remember, John A. Heldt, leave out the A and you'll get the wrong author) has developed a family of characters that the reader comes to really care about. I unashamedly will admit to becoming teary eyed several times, he makes their situations so moving.

I could go on and on about the virtues of The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt, but suffice to say, this is an awesome book and I highly recommend you check it out. Enjoy!


Friday, May 4, 2018

Crooked E: A Short Story

Crooked E: A Short Story

Rebecca McNutt sent me an e-copy of Crooked E: A Short Story just because I requested it.

Crooked E is a retelling of the neighborhood haunted house story. The house with the spooky history that people use to scare each other. Ms. McNutt does a good job of telling the story. While it has been told in many incarnations, Crooked E does manage to be original in its own way. 

The author does a good job of creating the proper atmospheric dread. She created the perfect protagonist to relate the story. We want to shout "get away from them" as we can tell something bad is coming.

The ending was no surprise, but that is what I liked. It is what I wanted to read. Sometimes the "ending with a twist" just feels abusive when it doesn't fit the narrative.

A good quick spooky read, kind of like the ghost stories we like to share around a campfire. Enjoy!


Surfing with Snakes and Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia

Surfing with Snakes  Dragons

Author Roger J. Couture sent me a print copy of Surfing with Snakes & Dragons: and Other Tales of Suburbia for review.

For me this was not an easy read. The verbiage of Mr. Couture is complex and beautifully descriptive, but does not lend itself to quick reading. I don't say this as criticism but sharing how the book affected me.

There are eight stories on varied topics delving deeply into the existential conflicts the characters were dealing with. We see characters at all substrata of society dealing with similar problems. Social or financial status does not protect from such dilemmas.

Along the way we get a bit of a primer on such topics as surfing (Surprised?), street life, marriage, race car driving and relationships; both casual and committed.

We see there are people living "low" status lives in strictly honorable ways. We see the struggles of drug use and the paranoia that can come with it. We see the adrenaline junkies who will never "grow up". People who live life on the edge. People who live lives of quiet desperation.

Surfing with Snakes & Dragons explores all these themes and more. There are moments of levity, romance, tenderness and love sprinkled throughout. A balance of life in general.

As I said Surfing with Snakes & Dragons... by Roger J. Couture is not a simple read, but it is a satisfying one. Enjoy!