Booyah Books! A Little Madness In The Month of March
It was a mad, mad, mad, mad month for reading, and I’m so excited to be back to share some fantabulous finds with you. Or what I hope will be finds. Some of these books have been around for a while and I’ve just been über-slow finding them, so they may not be new to you. If you have already read them, then I hope you loved them as much as I did, because there’s nothing else quite like falling in love with a great book.
I’m going to confess that I got a little bit stuck on two particular authors this month, so bear with me because, yeah, I was just blown away and I want to celebrate them. One author you all know quite well; the other, you might not know as well, but we’ll see.
Though these authors write in different sub-genres—one writes primarily contemporary romance, while the other writes Alt U/Fantasy—what they both do equally well—no, what they do spectacularly—is to write with the sort of feeling that reaches out from the page and seizes you with its poetry. For someone like me who loves and needs to make an emotional connection to the characters and their struggles and triumphs, these authors deliver in a big way.
So, without further ado, here are my outstanding reads for March:
Amy Lane. What can I say about Ms. Amy that hasn’t already been said? Her words speak to me on an entirely different plane than most contemporary romance authors. I knew this from the first few sentences of Talker and it’s carried right through to Chase in Shadow, the story of a young man who, through a long and torturous journey of self denial, we watch slowly unravel like high tension wire from a wobbly spool, until he finally snaps and succumbs to the burden of attempting to be someone he’s not.
There’s a pain in Chase’s past that haunts him, and it’s all wrapped around an antagonistic relationship with his father that keeps Chase on the razor’s edge of sanity throughout the book. Chase is one small step from the abyss that he peers into every time he becomes Chance, the alter ego he adopts that allows him to live the life he’s meant to live, even if only for a little while. His story is a painful and beautiful exploration of the shadows we create in the darkest recesses of the heart and soul and mind when we accept the tenets of normalcy and reject who we truly are.
Chase and his lover Tommy exorcise demons and conquer fears and come through it all to find happiness in the end, but the way is littered with the debris of shattered truths and steadfast lies, which exacts a heavy toll from Chase, Tommy, Mercy, and from the reader, who suffers right along with them.
My second Amy Lane recommendation is for anyone who loves fairy tales and loves to see them re-imagined, fractured and then reconstructed into something familiar yet wholly new. Truth in the Dark is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I don’t mind telling you that even though I knew what was coming, when it finally happened, it cut to the quick with the precision of an author whose words are as keen as the knives Naef uses to carve his creations.
This story scrambles what is beautiful, what is beastly, and shows that true monsters are often those disguised behind the mask of humanity. Through the ordination of the Fates and the whims of chance, Naef was assigned the burden of physical imperfection upon his birth, though as he grew, he recognized what beauty was and was able to translate it into his art, the perfect masterpieces he created with his imperfect hands. And though his body knew pain from his very first steps, it was his soul that came to know what true pain meant when the cruelty that lies within the hearts of man bled Naef of the gentleness he’d possessed, fracturing his belief in good and crippling his heart to match his body. He becomes “Knife”, serrated and steeled, ready to impale the world that has never shown him an ounce of compassion.
But this is a fairy tale, and in every fairy tale there is a hero—in this case there are two heroes—one whose curse was unavoidable, and one whose curse far outweighed the infraction for which he was being punished. Aerie-Smith is a man who made the mistake of stealing a kiss from a faerie, and we all know there is always a price to be paid when dealing with the wee folk. And when dealing with the fae, we also know that that price often includes great sacrifice, and that sometimes that price is paid with blood, even when tears would be enough.
With eyes wide shut, Naef and Aerie-Smith discover the truth in the dark; they navigate with touch, feel with guarded hearts, and find that love and kindness and kinship are all it takes to transform.
Buy Truth in the Dark http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1879”>HERE
My next featured author was new to me until just over a week ago, when a friend recommended one of her books to me. Since that moment, I have consumed, with a fierce and burning passion, every single word Carole Cummings has written—or at least has published. And believe me when I tell you that’s no small feat, because Carole doesn’t just write books; she writes epics, which translates to almost two thousand pages of wonder and drama and action that often left me speechless and in utter awe of her brilliance.
Carole’s books are very much character driven, and while the stories take place in fantastical settings of magic and wonder, those worlds are the footnote to the keynote of her characters’ lives and the challenges they face and ultimately, their evolution. These books are legend and legendary, lore and lyrical, mythology and mystery, and if there is such a thing as poetic prose, Carole has harnessed it, mastered it, and turned it loose to enchant and entertain.
The Aisling series is, at its most basic, a story of good versus evil, but where Carole’s books are concerned, nothing is ever truly basic.
Wil Calder is a man who was dreamt into existence, tethered to the world and its people by what he is, yet is unanchored by his lack of connection to a history or even an identity that he can claim as his own. Wil has been made a tool to propagate the sinister plots of a man who would use him as a means to his own bid for power, against the gods themselves who have their own unique claim to Wil.
Where there is evil, there must be good to balance it, and Constable Dallin Brayden helps to bring that balance to Wil’s life, though Dallin is unaware of exactly how he fits into the scheme of the universe and all its complexities. That is, until he meets Wil Calder and the picture is slowly and artfully revealed.
Wil and Dallin serve a grand purpose in the order of the relationship between man and his gods, and eventually, they serve an even grander purpose to each other. Duty, choice, honor, and ultimately, love and sacrifice coalesce until they are bound together by something so much bigger than themselves. Theirs is an evolution—the Heart of the World, the Beloved Son, finds his heart in a beloved son who was saved by a mother’s love for a higher calling than he could ever have dreamt of.
Wolf’s-own, Carole’s latest series, is high fantasy at its finest, a world so complex that it’s impossible to sum it all up in a few tidy paragraphs. It is a world where war was waged against the race known as the Jin, who possess magic that is now outlawed by the ruling Adan, but where there is oppression, there is also aggression, and there are those who would see the Jin in power again, regardless of the cost.
Fen Jacin-rei and his twin brother Joori were born in the Wolf cycle, one spirit-bound, the other earth-bound. Jacin-rei is the Ghost; he is the conduit through which the spirits of the Ancestors speak. Jacin is the Untouchable, a young man shaped and honed by a pretender to the proverbial throne of power, a maniacal monster, a foe who bartered for Jacin’s very soul, owned him, subjugated him to the point of ruin, then betrayed and lost him, set lose upon the world to find the one whose Heart’s Blood could be tapped in a grandiose play to usurp the gods so the pretender might become savior and dictator to his race.
Fen Jacin-rei is a pawn in this game of gods and monsters, so broken and so strong, so vulnerable and so impenetrable, so utterly starved for touch and for love that he will deny himself those things to the point of insanity, for no other reason than he doesn’t believe he deserves them. He lives with a madness not his own, and he’s survived by inflicting pain upon his own body to contain the madness that resides within. Until he finds the Temshiel, that is; Wolf’s-own, Malick, the favored child among all of Wolf’s children, the man whom Fen has been ordered to deliver to the betrayer as a sacrifice, but it is the betrayer himself who will pay the price for his duplicity. It’s difficult to play a game as dangerous as this, when no one plays by the rules and the game is constantly being manipulated in order to serve the purpose of each of its players.
And as is the case in a battle such as this, there are wins and there are losses, and those losses are painfully great and greatly painful. But there is also survival, if for nothing more than to honor the sacrifices of those who paid with their lives for the right to fight on the side of the just.
You can buy the first two books in the Wolf’s-own series http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=carole+cummings&osCsid=tuugbpd98t46n5qbshtfbaemp5&x=41&y=16”>HERE
And now that I’ve run the gamut of Amy Lane and Carole Cummings books for this month, how about a couple of honorable mentions as well?
Eden Winters’ latest book, Diversion is the story of a career criminal whose conviction is being served in a rather unorthodox way. Lucky Lucklighter is now working on the right side of the law, helping to catch and convict the lawbreakers like he himself had once been. It’s not working on the side of justice that brings Lucky redemption, though. No, redemption comes in the form of Bo Schollenberger, and that redemption doesn’t come without a price. Check Diversion out http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/Diversion.html”>HERE.
Jordan Castillo Price’s The Starving Years is a contemporary story that offers an alternate take on the present. Science has provided a viable food source called Manna that’s both plentiful and easily produced, but where science and big business meet, there’s always room for a little duplicity. Where there’s money to be made and an unwitting public to be scammed, there are always those who will step up and demand that the truth be told and the offenders be punished.
Nelson, Javier, and Tim, with the help of a couple of strangers who quickly become allies are the Davids who fight to topple the Goliath of industrial deception, but the three men also find a little more along the way.
Check out The Starving Years http://jcpbooks.com/ebook/starving.html”>HERE.
And until next month, happy reading!