Review: Smoke Bellew

Smoke Bellew Smoke Bellew by Jack London
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reader beware - those who open this tale will find their days outside the novel filled with dreams of the Yukon, sled racing, and gold. I promise, you will never look at an egg the same again.

Christopher "Kit" Bellew is a yuppy, lazy, jocular youth who inherited his wealth through a father of hard work and discipline. Pining away his days bored and restless in the city he is given the opportunity to help his cousins and uncle trek their way into the Alaskan Gold Rush. Each man requires a literal ton of food to last him the harsh winter of the north and each man is required to haul it in himself (or with the aid of natives who put the white men to shame.) Without such supplies no man was allowed to cross the barrier checkpoint from civilized life to the wild. Yet, Kit finds a way and in the process earns himself the nickname "Smoke" - a name which will stick with him forever. Once through the icy lakes, rapids, and unforgiving territory, Smoke becomes a big man in a big country whom everyone loves, envies, and strives to compete with. You won't want to miss this incredible ride through the Yukon.

I didn't fall in love with adventure stories until my twenties when I felt an undying need to explore the world around me yet was surviving on the budget of a twenty-something. Required to stay put in my living room, authors like London, Beach, and Grey became Godsends and frontier hawkers. The kind to inspire the impossible and breed confidence in any intimidated explorer. While my immediate desires were appeased by reading about long nights under the stars in the desert canyons of Arizona or the frost biting wilds of the Yukon, these novels served to whet my appetite for adventure, danger, and fresh air!

Smoke Bellew is a prime example of such a tease. London hugs the reader in tightly, never letting go until the very last page with the charmed life of Smoke who seems to have a topsy turvy relationship with Lady Luck. With perfect precision we, as readers, toil through the slush of mountains under the weight of 2000 pounds of food and supplies. We labor with every step Smoke takes in the beginning chapters to such a degree that once over that hill and into the true start of the adventure we believe we are Smoke; his exploits become our own and his success ours alone. Together we are transformed from a dandy tenderfoot to the hardened veteran only the Gold Rush could properly create. No other author or novel has taken me so wholly from the sidelines and into character such as this. And never has there been a character I've felt more invested in.

Ladies, do not fear being left behind as Smoke finds out fast and early that the women of the Yukon are no easy target for charm and wit, but, rather, can stand quite proudly, successfully, and wealthy without the aid of man.

Enjoy your romp through the crystalline escarpments of Alaska. Try to not be too disappointed when you realize you were born too late to head for the hills in search of gold. Our generation will have its marvels just the same.

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Review: Seeing Ione

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a literary world filled with dystopian futures, wizards, vampires, and closet BDSM billionaires Jansen Curry's debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Seeing Ione is by far the most original story I have read in recent years.

Ione McCreery is a young woman with a mysterious past that even she can't remember. With it comes a special sight that only her late adoptive father knew about - her ability to read people's emotions like a world wide coloring book. McCreery is well guarded by a feisty friend named Jenny, who acts as a counterweight to McCreery's broody personality, and an ever vigilant companion wolf named Beo. But even they cannot protect her from the truth of her ancestry and the source of her gift.

I'd like to think I'm a rather clever individual who can spot plot twists a mile away whether it is in a book, movie, or television show. And I know I'm not the only one. So believe me when I tell you that even with hints about her novel, I still had no idea what was coming to me as a reader and what McCreery was about to face. A perfect mixture between lighthearted, genuine dialogue and gritty, gut squeezing tension, Curry sends you off on an adventure that will have you begging for a follow up of the series before the last page is turned.

I read this book in a matter of hours - not because it is easy reading or short, but because it reads so smoothly that you neglect time as the words lift off the page, seep into your mind, and take control of your imagination. It was a pleasure to read and an experience that left me thoroughly impressed at every chapter. In the end, I was gobsmacked - I felt utterly refreshed to know that good literature still exists.

This book will find its way to best sellers lists and nightstands across the world - and I won't be surprised if one day, in the near future, I am sitting in a movie theater waiting for the show to start.

Review: Soul Music

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ok, I'm going to say this very quietly because I know that Terry Pratchett has a devoted following who loves and appreciates his writing style and creativity:

I hated it.

Soul Music follows many characters of the Discworld through an independent collection of self awakening. While Susan, the granddaughter of Death (yes, THAT Death), takes over the family business when Death experiences a mid-life crisis, Imp the Bard and his band of misfits are playing for their lives when they create the new sound: Music with Rocks In. Imp catches Susan's eye and a youthful romance emerges as Susan fights the sands of time to save his life. All the while, the music rocks the academic world sending stuffy professors of all things occult into a frenzy over studded leather and rebellion.

I have had this book in my possession since January 2015. I have picked it up, read a little, and set it down over and over again. I have read over 10 books since this book came into my household and I have suffered through it. It has flown with me to and from Orlando, Florida. It has sat on bookshelves, night stands, end tables, coffee tables, desks, and swam in my giant purse. I have tried to commit to reading it and failed, repeatedly. It was out of sheer willpower that I finished it, and then, it was only out of the intentions of writing this review. Writing low scored reviews on books I didn't like is one of my least favorite things to do. The last thing I want to do is turn a reader away from a book that they could potentially love just because it didn't set well with me or connect on whatever level I needed it to connect on. So here is what I can appreciate about Pratchett's Soul Music.

Pratchett has a vivid imagination that is insurmountably clever. If you're paying attention you will catch on quickly to his ability to twist common bits of our world's culture and history and place it into the seemingly naive universe of the Discworld. His ability to create an entire world on the backs of elephants who are standing on the back of a turtle who is standing on something, but that's not important, is worthy of praise and I admire his creative genius. When he passed away it was brought to the world's attention that he was suffering from alzheimer's and still writing. That alone is an incredible feat and I respect him as an author.

Now here's why I didn't enjoy this novel - although the characters are rich and entertaining, we spend so little time with them in one sitting (merely a paragraph or two before jumping to another bit of the Discworld), that there is no opportunity to become invested in the character's success or demise. These exceedingly short blips of character storyline mingle with so many other character storylines that there really is no telling if a paragraph was actually going to go somewhere. I know I've been reading a good book when I'm sweating out the final pages, worried there aren't enough pages remaining in the book to satisfy a proper ending for the characters I have grown to love. Soul Music was the complete opposite - I chugged through, flipping the pages, eager for the finish with zero concern for whether or not the characters' plots were rounded out.

In the end, it felt I was reading the book for the sake of reading it with no entertainment value or appreciative experience. Now to tell me friend, who lent me his beloved book, the truth of my reading. Send your prayers.

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Review: Marred

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't want to say this book is nightmare fuel, but this isn't the kind of book you want to read before going to bed. Especially as a woman. Even more so as a single woman living alone in a dark apartment with no one to hear you scream.


Excuse me.

It's the kind of book you read with all the lights on and the doors locked. It's the kind of book you have a light hearted chaser for; like watching a Disney movie after watching Friday the 13th. And why, after storming through the first third of it in my initial reading that I went to bed with a harmless western in my hands instead of my Kindle.

Sue Coletta isn't going to spare you the gory details or an honest look behind the crime scene tape. She's a well versed author in all things crime who indelicately dumps you into the middle of a life which has been disrupted, disturbed, and marred by the evil acts of a solitary man. When there is a serial killer on the loose targeting young women and seemingly no connection between them it's hard for a community to sleep at night. But when your twin sister suddenly goes missing and you answer the phone to an unfamiliar, sinister voice - that's when your life comes to a screeching halt. We are there when our heroine, Sage Quintano, comes to terms with her past, when she bursts out against those she loves, and when she decides to take back control.

You won't have to wait for the action to start in this novel, so buckle up and prepare yourself for a dark ride through a dark tunnel with only Coletta to guide you out!