This brings me to my commentary on book trends today. I felt it appropriate to include this piece, which I’ve been thinking about writing for sometime now, because this book is a prime example of my point. Far too often in reading, and in life, we expect everything tied together with a happy little bows, but this is a lie we should not be telling ourselves because it does such a disservice, especially to our imaginations.
When the third book to the Twilight series ended, Eclipse, I cried because to me it was the perfect ending. Jacob running off to be a wolf forevermore, escaping the pain of his lost love. Bella to be a vampire or maybe not depending on how your imagination followed the story after putting down the book, and there it is - the issue with deceptive little bows. How can you the reader continue the story and live in the imagined world if all questions have been answered, if all roads have been exhausted? Isn’t it so much more fulfilling to be able to stretch your own creative thoughts and create a fantastic view of events that someone else may never know?
I put this commentary here because Darken the Stars does not end with happy little bows, and I LOVED IT! Thank you Amy A. Bartol for allowing my mind to stretch beyond your story and dwell upon the possibilities of what may happen in Kricket’s world. I looked on Goodreads to see if there was a book four planned, and I did not see one. I know that publishers today push for successful series to continue well beyond the point that they should, but I do hope that this is the final book. It does make me sad that we are finished with these characters, but I look forward to the time spent with them in my own imagination. If this is not the final book and more are planned, I, your avid fan, will be there reading, but please if we get to the point, consider leaving the vampire babies in the closet.
Earlier this month our reviewer, Mark Palm had the pleasure of interviewing author Jane D. Everly, who is an up and coming thriller writer. Jane D. Everly took some time to speak with us about her new book project, Havelock, a serial novel being released in six parts, her writing career, and random things she enjoys.
JDE: I originally pitched it as a full length novel back in February but I hadn't written it yet. With the release of Spectre coming up this November, the awesome folks at Curiosity Quills wanted to see it completed to somewhat coincide with the movie's release so they suggested a serial novel, knowing full well it would make me sit down and write the novel. They were absolutely correct.
BEF: What has the "serial book" experience been like as a writer and how does it differ from producing a typical novel?
JDE: I already had the story fully mapped out so it's been a matter of getting the chapters written to coincide with the deadlines. It's been an interesting way to write a book because I've had to hit those specific milestones and it's given me some interesting insight. Not least of which is that I can write a full novel within 6 months when properly motivated.
BEF: Everyone at The Bookend Family loves the multitude of "book lover" websites. We are especially fond of www.goodreads.com for it's wealth of information. On your Goodreads page it states that you wanted to be a romance novelist. Are you glad that you became a different kind of writer, and what has your writing career journey been like that has brought you to this point?
JDE: In college in the UK, romance seemed to be the right way to go. It seemed like the genre was on an upward trend and I had grown up reading romance novels because that's what I always thought I should be writing. However, it never felt fully right and although I had some short romance stories published in the UK, I kept being drawn to more enigmatic characters. A friend let me borrow his copy of Casino Royale (it wasn't long after the movie had come out) and I devoured the thing. Fleming's Bond had such charm, wit, and romantic inclinations (a trait they completely reversed in the movies) but was set in this world of espionage and intrigue. It had action and sex, villains and nefarious schemes. I loved it, but I always thought 'what if James Bond was a female?' So in answer to your question, yes I'm very happy with the route my writing journey has taken me so far. I'd doubt I'd ever go back to writing romance, at least not in the conventional sense.
BEF: Did you ever conceive of Havelock being a romance novel? Or did you realize from the beginning that it would be a thriller?
JDE: I suppose in its own little way, Havelock is a romance novel, just not between two people. For all the twists and turns, Eliana is in love with her life and the potential there and there's a romantic element to her origin and her mother's story that I can't reveal as of yet. But realistically, this novel was intended to be a thriller from the start. It opens with Eliana being tortured. Not many romance readers would enjoy that I don't think :)
BEF: If you could have one of Eliana’s skills which one would you choose, and why?
JDE: Hmm. That's a good question. I think her ability to adapt to any situation and improvise. I think that would be a useful skill to have. She has a lot of learned skills, but there are a few like her having to 'inventory' rooms when she walks into them that are more just a part of who she is. I kind of like that about her too.
BEF: I have read that you were heavily influenced by geek culture. As a fellow geek what affected you the most, and what would you say are your most favorite fandoms if any?
JDE: I could go on about geek culture all day! It is a golden time to be a geek, there's just so much that as a child I never would have thought I'd get to see transcend mediums. I was a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies (not the Hobbit, that was needless), I'm a massive Doctor Who fan, I love Game of Thrones and all the risks that show continues to take in adapting the novels . . . Walking Dead, Arrow, Flash, Constantine (very upset it got cancelled), all the Marvel movies, Daredevil on Netflix . . . there's just so many. I think what I'm currently most excited about though is the new Star Wars movie. I'll be at whatever late night IMAX screening I have to in order to see that as soon as it gets released!
JDE: Thank you so much for this interview, it means a lot to me. I'm a big fan of the Bookend Family! :)
The Bookend Family would like to thank Jane D. Everly for taking the time to answer our questions and writing one hell of a book. We hope that you take the time to check it out for yourself and follow along as each part is released. The Bookend Family will be sure to keep you posted when each new part is available. Happy Reading!
Mr. Edwards does an excellent job of highlighting and contrasting the past and the present, and wrings a great deal of tension the couple's situation. The sense of fear and evil that he achieves left me wondering until nearly the end of the novel if the incident and it’s source are supernatural in origin. If you want to know you are going to have to read because I am not spoiling it for you.
John and Laura are well-rounded, believable characters. Edwards does a good job of showing them unravel before our eyes. Some of the other characters are solid if unspectacular, with the exception of Alina, whom seems to vibrate with life on the page. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, and it never seems to contrived or forced. The prose is smooth and capable, and Mr. Edwards does an exceptional job in showing the characters question and struggle with their grip of reality.
Where Mr. Edwards really shines is in his portrayal of evil. A lot of writers try but he really brings the dark side to life with an almost tangible effect. Without being too disgusting or bloody Mr. Edwards made the hair on the back of my neck stand up more than once. The title of this book is very appropriate, because this novel followed me even after I finished it up.
There are a lot of things that I am skipping in this synopsis, to avoid spoilers, but I was very charmed by the way that Ms. Swyler mixed the the two stories together, often linking the threads with Tarot cards. The present narrative, told in the first person, and the past, told in the third, were both equally engaging. The ways that each narrative fed and supported the other showed that Ms. Swyler has a real feel for character and a flair for plot and technique. Near the end the present story, the struggles of Simon and Enola and Alice and Doyle, and their quest to end the cycle of tragedies that haunt them seemed to me more engaging than the stories from the past, but it was a quibbling matter. All of the characters in the present tale were so vivid, and their stories were so captivating to me that the tales from the past, became, well, the past. I don’t know if that was Ms. Swyler intent, but I found that it was entirely fitting, and an appropriate and satisfying end to a very good novel. For me, there is no speculation in that.
Conan Doyle and Wilde are both fully realized, rounded characters, not heroes. The struggles of their historical lives are artfully intermingled with their fictional problems in just the right dose. It’s obvious that Mr. Entwistle has done plenty of research on the famous writers, and it shows in an unstuffy way.
Most of the other characters in the book are solid, and Mr.Entwistle writes with an assured, solid hand. There are a few times where some more experimental sections get away from him, but he remains in firm control for most of the way. The big, busy plot flies along, and there is plenty of action. I was fond of the way Mr. Entwistle conveyed the protagonist’s valor without turning them into action-movie heroes. So all of the derring do is more satisfying when you realize that it’s being performed by a couple of well-intentioned writers.
The first novel had a group of interesting scenes where Holmes showed up to the day-dreaming Conan Doyle to act as a back-seat driver concerning Conan Doyle’s detective skills, or lack of them. Mr. Entwistle jettisons those sections here. I found them enjoyable, but their absence has little effect on the final product. It just goes to show that an author doesn’t have to follow a formula for a book to be a success, and The Dead Assassin is solid proof.
In the future, one hundred fifty years after war and disease and famine have nearly destroyed the world, St. Louis, now called the Sanctuary, is a shielded community that has managed to survive through a militant defense and draconian leadership. Life there is brutal and harsh, unless you are the Mayor or one of his cronies. For all they know they may be the last city left in the world, until one day a rider shows up, claiming to be from the West, with tales of bountiful water and food, but also the threat of a dangerous army, bent on conquest. Her name is Gawea. The Mayor, who is almost a caricature of the evil bureaucrat, wants to execute her. A guard, Clark, and the town historian/curator, Lewis, decide to sneak out of the city and head West. They are followed by a small yet plucky group of ragtag explorers, and the rest of the novel follows the explorers on their trek, and some of their friends left in the city who decide to rebel and overthrow their dictatorial leaders.
Mr. Percy’s prose is startling, but at times stilted. He knows how to plot, and keeps the various story-lines and characters rolling along. The action scenes were well-handled, and there was a lot of suspense. The main problem I had was with the characters. There are a variety of types, but I found most of them boring. With the exception of Mina, I was pretty much indifferent to their fates. While I kept reading to find out what would happen next, I really didn’t worry about the fate of most of the characters, which damped down the tension a bit. It wasn’t a question of them being likable or unlikeable, but just flat.
My other complaint was that near the end the action felt very compressed compared to the pace of the rest of the novel. It felt like Mr. Percy didn’t want to past a certain length, so he had to cram a lot in at the end. The world was a bit wonky as well, with giant vampire bats and charters developing “super” powers, which took away from what was otherwise a gritty and believable world. What frustrated me was that this book was so close to being a real knock-out, but fell just a little short. The Dead Lands is a solid novel, but I’m really looking forward to see what Mr. Percy does next.