Curiosity Quills is excited to reveal the cover for Edward Aubry's Literary-Fiction, Science-Fiction Romance UnHappenings, scheduled for release January 8, 2015. The stunning cover was designed by Andy Garcia. A review tour for UnHappenings is scheduled for0 January 5 - 16, 2015. If you're interested in taking part in the review tour, please sign up here.
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Review by: Avalon Palm
Holly Black is possibly the best. Author. Ever. Who wrote the best. Book. Ever. Which is this book. This book is the best. Book. Ever. Why, you say? She managed to make a book about galactic space coffee, a winged Godzilla, and the Doctor.
I rest my case.
Lights Out is about a person cough alien cough named 78351. He used to be a miner. He has a deadly fear of the dark, which he got when a mine collapsed with him in it. After that he bought a rundown ship and fixed it until it could fly again. Then he became a Transporter of Coffee Beans, which is a very important job. He goes to the ICRS (Intergalactic Coffee Roasting Station) to get the next shipment of coffee, and meets the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t recognize him, and Fifty One starts to explain that he saved him, but… then someone dies.
DAH DAH DAAHHHHHH!!!!
The Doctor and Fifty One go on a mission to discover who the is the murderer. More people die, there are more scary blackouts, and we discover more about Fifty One’s past. In the end, the murder ends up being
Review by: Mark Palm
When speaking about The Man Without Qualities Milan Kundera, the great Czech writer, said that it was a novel that he admired a great deal, except for it’s great unfinished length. He compared to the book to a string quartet that lasted for twelve hours, and a castle so big that you couldn’t see it all at once. I am not so audacious as to compare The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy by Jacobo dellla Quercia to the aforementioned novel, but the above quote popped into my mind when I thought of how I would review TGALPWC, (forgive the abbreviation, but the title is just too long to keep using), so stick with me for a while.
This book had a lot on its side when I started it, being that it was a alternate history novel with a bit of a steampunk twist, but it wasn’t too long before my goodwill ran out, and I found myself dutifully slogging my way through this book. Essentially this book is about Robert Lincoln, son of the President, who discovers a mysterious pocket watch that belonged to his father, and has been mysteriously running for decades. This watch starts and proves to be the key in a massive conspiracy that threatens the freedom of the entire world. After a fairly taut beginning, the whole story gets dragged down by a plethora of characters and storylines. The author manages to cram in President Taft and his wife, several members of his staff, Teddy Roosevelt, Tesla, J.P. Morgan, King Leopold of Belgium, Kurtz (from The Heart of Darkness), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Titanic, and tons of other fictional and historical personages and events. Add in an Air Force One dirigible, a robot Taft, meteorites and some under-imagines villains, and you have the basic plot.
Now there have been plenty of novels with complicated plots and a ton of slam-bang action and have managed to pull it off. Here Mr. della Quercia gets bogged down with a dizzy, slapstick style and telegraphed prose so that the whole thing feels more like a farce than anything else. There are few things that can cripple a book more than comedy that isn’t funny. This book contains several scenes that read like satire but are flat and uninspired. As the book nears the end it begins to feel even more and more rushed as battles and chases are glanced over in a pell-mell rush to the finale.
The author certainly knows his history, and has a genuine feel for the times and it characters, and showed enough promise ,in flashes, to make me give him a second chance, but in the end it was a case of too little too late to save this novel.
Review by: Stacy Palm
This is difficult to review because A.) I must have liked it because I read it in less than 24 hours, but B.) This story is still haunting me in a not so very nice way. Let me start by saying that the entire time I was reading this book I was totally creeped out, as in my mind was disturbed by what I was reading to the point that I was making grimacing faces while comprehending what was going on.
I work with foster children, I know the pain of abuse that they must overcome, and to read a book that really brings those horrors to life was not very much fun for me. I'm a "cheer for the heroes to overcome evil" type of girl, and well I guess honestly I'm always looking for my happy ending. Let me just say that this is NOT THAT BOOK.
This book is dark, depressing, haunting, and disturbing, but this book is also very well written, well planned, well paced, and above all else has real characters that you connect to from the start. Do I recommend this book, absolutely, but with the warning that what you read will invade your thoughts and pleasant dreams.
Review by: Mark Palm
On more than a few occasions my Dad said to me “From the smallest acorn comes the biggest oak”, a folk homily that nicely encapsulates The Bitter Trade by Alexander Piers. Set in England at the beginning of the Glorious Revolution and into the Restoration this book is the story of the wonderfully named Calumny Spinks, a young illiterate with a Huguenot mother, a guild-less weaver with a dark past for a father, and nothing going for him but a handsome face and a talent for mimicry.
From a fly spot of a village in the countryside Spinks travels to London, and finds himself, knowingly or not, right in the middle of people and events that will shape the future of England, and all of Europe. The reason for most of these calamitous events is that a handful of coffee merchants want to give the people a better brew to drink, and make a few fortunes on the way, and because of all the guilds and rules and tariffs that stand in their way they end up overthrowing a government. If this seems difficult to swallow you have to remember that in this era coffee-houses were the like the internet, a place where people of all castes and classes could meet and talk in anonymity.
There is a lot in this novel that smacks of the classics picturesque, but it is very much a modern novel, grounded in reality, and at times steeped in the brutality of the era. The story barely has begun before Calumny witnesses a member of his family being scolded, with in that era, as it does here, means being lynched, usually ending in death. From there Calumny gets caught up in a series of plots and encounter that flies by in a pell-mell fashion, as he moves through society, sometimes a pawn, and sometimes in charge of his own destiny, but always with wit, and a panache that I have seldom encountered. Mr. Piers does a sensational job of keeping the plot twists and turns come, while never slowing down the story. At the same time this novel is rife with characters, some with large roles, and other small, but all fully realized, and all seeming that as if their stories are going to keep going even after they step from the pages of this book.
I have yet to speak about Calumny. He is not exactly the nicest character, and often comes across as a selfish bastard, but he manages to redeem himself just enough, and he is always fascinating. This is one of my favorite novels that I have read recently, and am happy to say, for a change, that a sequel is in the works. I will be waiting with bated coffee-breath.
Review by: Stacy Palm
What perfect timing to run across this book, right when I'm preparing my Thanksgiving menu, but please don't limit this book just to this event. This book is filled with so many delectable edibles made with fresh healthy core foods. Just reading the Table of Contents can make anyone drool, but this book is not just about the recipes. This book is also filled with wonderful heart felt stories. The combination of which is striking and makes for a great edition to be added to any kitchen.
I do want to touch on a sampling of the recipes so that you get the proper idea. First the contents are split as Brown Lunch Bag, Treasure Hunt, Harvest Celebration, Winter Snow Day, Tapping the Maple Tree, Breakfast in Bed, Tea Party, Date Night, Rooftop BBQ, and the list goes on. You get the idea? Now the actual recipes (YUMMY!); here are some of my favorites, this is a micro list compared to what is contained within this book' Grilled Fennel and Watermelon Salad, Fried Hominy with Chile and Lime, Turkish-Style Eggs with Yogurt, Cumin Glazed Carrots, Pecan Pie with Salted Maple Ice Cream, Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Cranberries and Almonds, Spice-Rubbed Steak and Mango Chutney Crostini, Wild Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Leeks and again the list goes on and on. I highly recommend foodies go get this book now.
Review by: Stacy Palm
This is a collection of short stories and essays that are absolutely unlike anything else I've ever read from Piers Anthony, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. First, these are Cautionary Tales and Mr. Anthony does a great job of identifying what the cautionary material is in each segment prior to the reader diving in head first to discover a very taboo subject matter.
This book is very graphic, and some stories are flat out disturbing, but unlike other erotica short stories there are some very thought provoking contexts surrounding each story. It's my belief that this underlying context was what the author wanted the reader to start to contemplate because I don't really think alien sex was the main point.
An example of this would be the short story Serial in which (and I'm not spoiling anything here as the author warns you first what the story involves) a serial male rapist becomes the victim of a serial female rapist. This story was very graphic with some very disturbing imagery, but the story did more to promote a discussion regarding different types of power that people have over one another.
Overall some of the stories were enjoyable and some just didn't sit right with me. This is a book of cautionary tales so as adult readers you should be able to discern which stories you will enjoy and which stories you should skip.
Review by: Mark Palm
Let me start out by saying that Roosevelt’s Beast by Louis Bayard is a very good book. It‘s both smart and wise, and taut and tense, a well-researched novel that is both a work of literature and a solid thriller. So why didn’t I give it more stars?
I am a huge fan of Mr. Bayard, and have been reading him since his first book. In particular I would suggest The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, two novels cut from the same cloth as Roosevelt’s Beast. Also, Theodore Roosevelt is one of my true heroes, a man for whom my admiration knows no bounds. His life was so varied and interesting, and lived with such brio and passion that reading about him makes even some one as laid back as me want to go out and grab life and suck the marrow from its bones. So it would seem like the stars have aligned to bring me a book over which I would drool. Therein lies the problem. Perhaps. A case of expectations that is perhaps a bit too high.
Roosevelt’s Beast also deals with high expectations, since the book’s main protagonist is Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore’s son, who never lived up to the expectations set by his father, which is entirely understandable. The novel is set during the expedition led by the Roosevelt’s into the backwaters of the rain-for the origin of the Amazon. During the trip Kermit becomes increasingly aware of his Father’s deteriorating condition, both physically and mentally, as the expedition begins to unravel in the unforgiving climate of the Amazon Basin. All of this is conveyed with considerable power by Mr. Bayard as he contrast the physic world of the two men with the physical challenges that they f ace as they limp on towards their seemingly impossible conclusion. During one particularly grueling episode the Roosevelt’s become separated from the expedition, and are found by an obscure primitive tribe, who are being hunted by a monster that may or may not be supernatural. Living with this tribe is a woman who is not a native, and speaks Portuguese, and through her the tribe enlists the Roosevelt’s aid in killing the beast.
Now all of this is laid out in harrowing detail that practically makes you feel like you are dripping with sweat and stinging from the bite of various no-see-ums. Both Roosevelt’s are living breathing characters, and Luz is affecting. The plot however takes a strange psychological turn that I cannot reveal without spoiling everything, that was consistent with some of the book’s themes, seems somehow disappointing, and makes the latter section of the book a rather heavy slog, as the adventure and excitement are replaced with a kind of lingering dread. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like in this book, and it kept me riveted for most of its length, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. It’s entirely possible that it was my fault for having such high expectations going in, but I guess that Mr. Bayard wouldn’t mind that too much.
Review by: Mark Palm
At first so many people were enraptured by the seemingly boundless freedom of the internet and the information age that no one seemed to see the downside. Well, if you look at publishing lately you will see that the people who see the downside have begun to step up. The Circle by Dave Eggers was one such book, and it was quite good. The Word Exchange by Alana Graedon is another, and it’s even better as far as I see it.
In the near future almost all books, newspapers and magazines have been replaced by Memes, devices that keep people constantly in touch, and call us cabs before we leave a building, and order food at the first sign of hunger. The story is about Anana, and her father Doug, whom are both working to produce the last printed edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. Right before the launch Doug goes missing, and leaves Anana a cryptic note that says ALICE. From there, like the eponymous note, Anana begins a trip down the rabbit hole into a world rife with conspiracy as she tries to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance as the outside world slowly begins to come unraveled, struck by a pandemic called
“Word Flu”, which seems to be carried through Memes and the internet itself, and that leaves its victims losing first pieces of their language, and sometimes their lives. Anana’s husband Max, who is quickly on the way to becoming her ex, meanwhile, is a dot.com entrepreneur who is hip deep in the conspiracy, which also touches the lives of her co-worker Bart, who has a crush on her.
That would be enough to make this a good book, but on top of its thriller-like elements Ms. Graedon makes her story a joyous mash-up of several different genres, from romance to comedy to philosophical ruminations on the nature of language. Her own use of language is spot-on, elegant and flexible enough to move confidently from character to character, each of whom comes alive in their own voice. It’s all laid out in alphabetically-ordered chapters, and even that arch touch manages to work. Any work that cares this much about language, the written and even the spoken word, is going to mean a lot to me, so if I climbed atop of my soap-box a bit during this review, I do heartily apologize.
Having said that, this novel is funny, scary, and exceptionally smart; It’s as much a thriller as a meditation on how we speak, listen, and try to make our shared words meaningful to one another, and anyone who cares a fig for the written word and the barriers we face as we try to use language to apprehend the world, should read it.
The Murder of Adam and Eve
By: William Deitrich
Reviewed By: Brennan Palm (15 yrs old)
This book is one of those rare cases where when it begins you think it has a chance of being a horrible book, and then it just keeps getting better, and better, and better, all the way to the very end where it proves to be one of the best books of the year. Yes this book is a YA book, but it is living proof that a YA book can easily be better than an adult book. (so that IDIOT who said adults should be ashamed to read YA books can go stuff it up a pipe and smoke it) It has many strengths compared to the conventional YA book, the foremost being that it’s damn surprising, just when you think it’s going to go like this, then it turns upside down and go’s the other way. It is seriously insane; there are nearly as many plot twists in the last chapter as the last episode of Sherlock.
As for the plot itself, the story is that an alien race called the Xu abducts a teenager named Nick to participate in a test. The Xu think that humanity as it is cannot live without destroying things so they give Nick a challenge. The Xu are going to travel back in time and kill the biological Adam and Eve, destroying humanity, and Nick has to stop them.
The whole middle is like a mix of an episode of Survivor Man and The Bourne Supremacy. Then the end is like (text lost) HA HA you won’t know till you read it. *****