Book Review: Horizon by Sophie Littlefield

Horizon (Aftertime #3)
Sophie Littlefield
Luna, 2012
ISBN 9780373803422
Trade Paperback

Horizon takes up where Rebirth leaves off. Cass and Dor, with their daughters and a wounded Smoke, steer their little band of survivors into the rural area, hoping to avoid the zombie Beaters who prefer to swarm the city streets. They soon reach an encampment that takes them in, and for a few short months enjoy a modicum of peace. But a saddened Cass manages to find booze and starts drinking again. She–and Dor–have their issues with the camp leaders. The peace ends when zombies gather across the river. Since zombies don’t swim, the encampment believes they’re safe, until the unthinkable happens. Apparently the Beaters are learning new skills that will help them capture more humans. Worse,there are so many of them the camp is sure to be overrun.

The whole encampment starts off for the mountains where it’s said the zombies won’t follow. Barely away from the camp, they meet four strangers on horseback who are quick to take charge. They know a place, they tell Cass’s group, and while she and Dor distrust these men, off they go. Danger lurks everywhere along the way, not only from Beaters, but from, as they discover at the last minute, yet another group of men from the east who are trying to reach the mountains ahead of them.

As in all the Aftertime books, the story will enthrall you and the characters will keep you riveted, staying up late and turning the pages as fast as you can read. I just know there’s going to be another book, but I suppose it’ll be a year. I can’t wait.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2012.

Book Review: The Demands by Mark Billingham

The Demands
Mark Billingham
Mulholland Books, June 2012
ISBN 9780316126632
Hardcover

A man who’s lost faith in the justice system. A mother with a young child held hostage. A detective who’s life is in transition desperate to find answers before more people are killed. A police force held in limbo, trying to decide the next step in a crisis. This is what Mark Billingham‘s latest novel brings the mystery world. Subdued intensity and a day by day progress report keep The Demands in demand.

London Detective Tom Thorne is called to a hostage scene. Another detective, Helen Weeks, is being held by Javed Akhtar, a newsagent. Akhtar demands Thorne find out the truth behind the death of his son, Amin, who was an inmate in a juvenile prison. When Thorne starts investigating, he discovers anomalies in the supposed suicide and determines murder has been committed. He also ferrets out secrets. Secrets about Amin which may connect to the original charge that landed him in prison, and secrets that may lead to a motive and a killer. Thorne races against time to provide answers, but will those answers be enough to save Helen?

There is a lot going on in this book with several scenes occurring at the same time. Interesting characters keep you moving closer to the edge. Billingham comes up with another winner in The Demands and shows us he can write like the best of them.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, March 2012.
Author of Night Shadows and Beta.

Here Comes Lightnin’

Christine Kling has spent more than thirty years messing around with boats. It was her sailing experience that led her to set her first suspense novel, Surface Tension (Ballantine 2002), on the New River in Fort Lauderdale.  Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by Cross Current (2004), Bitter End (2005), and Wreckers’ Key (2007).  Her latest book Circle of Bones (2011) is Christine’s first sailing thriller. Having retired from her job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Christine lives aboard her 33-foot boat Talespinner and goes wherever the wind and free wi-fi may take her.

Many times I have heard the advice that writers need to publish at least a book a year or readers will forget all about them, their careers will lose momentum, and they will sink into obscurity. Up until a few months ago, I was afraid that was what had happened to me.

When I was a kid, my family nickname was “Lightnin’” because I was always so slow. I grew up in a family that loved to travel, go camping and we had our own adventures out in nature at many of the National Parks and on the beaches of the western US and Mexico. The whole family would pack into the station wagon and finally I’d come strolling over to join them. Usually, someone in the car would remark, “Here comes Lightnin’” and they’d all laugh. I imagine that is part of why I grew into an adult who loves sailing on small boats and traveling at 5 knots. I am a slow-moving, easy-going dreamer who struggles with schedules.

Then, ten years ago (has it really been that long already?), after dreaming of being a writer for years, Ballantine published my debut novel Surface Tension, and I found myself juggling a full-time job, family obligations, book publicity and writing deadlines. I didn’t have time for much else. Rather than getting easier, writing grew more and more difficult for me with each book. Because I wasn’t sailing any longer, wasn’t having adventures in my own life, I found it more and more difficult to imagine adventures for my characters.

I decided I wanted, no needed more in my life, so I bought myself a boat and moved back aboard. I wrote the last book of my Seychelle series on the main salon table in the cabin of my little sailboat. But like many mid-list authors, I had seen declining sales figures, and after that fourth book I decided, rather than try to sell Ballantine on a fifth book in my suspense series, I would try to write something very different.

When I told my agent that I was going to attempt to reinvent myself, she advised me to stop writing about “all the boat stuff.” Knowing I couldn’t do that, she and I parted ways. I found myself without deadlines or an agent, and I shifted into Lightnin’ mode.

It took me five years to write my next book. I started with a germ of an idea about the real disappearance of a World War II submarine, and I immersed myself in research – and I went sailing. I sailed on OPB’s (Other People’s Boats) as well as my own boat, and I had bucket loads of adventures. I wrote and blogged about my travels and met hundreds of other sailors. I gave away copies of my mass market paperbacks everywhere I sailed, introducing myself to booksellers and marina dwellers. I seeded my books on the marina book trading shelves, and gave copies to every mechanic or sailmaker or diver who worked on my boat. I’d like to claim that it was all part of my master plan, but in fact, I was doing what I loved and stroking my own creative fires in the process. I discovered that I needed time for reflection, to live life. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was also creating my platform and building my brand. And at my Lightnin’ pace, I continued to work on the new book. After one year for research, three years of drafting, and a full year of doing revisions with both a content and a copy editor – all while allowing myself time to sail off on adventures during my vacations from teaching – I finally had a 150,000 word draft of this new international thriller. I sent it off to my editor.

Four months later, he still had not read it. I guess he, too, had heard the oft-repeated maxim that writers who don’t write a book a year are bound to fail and be forgotten. And the fact that the book was soooo long went against another of the “rules” we mid-listers are supposed to follow.

True to my adventurous nature, I wrote him and withdrew my manuscript from consideration. I decided to leap into the world of self-publishing. In what was speed-of-light fast for me, I hired a cover artist and formatted the book myself in three months. In late December of 2011, I self-published Circle of Bones.

In January and February, my sales were so slow that I decided all that advice about a book a year was right and I was doomed. No one would ever want to read my books again. Still, I focused on my platform group and tried to get the word out to sailors and boaters via all the social media channels. My sales began to grow.

In March, everything changed when I did a KDP Select promotion, and Bones took off. I have now sold more than 10,000 copies of the book, and Bones has earned considerably more than the first per book advance I got from Ballantine. I’ve been contacted by a German publisher, and I’m in the process of negotiating a contract for the German translation. The book has garnered dozens of positive reviews, and I get the biggest kick out of all the readers who have posted that this (too long) book is such a “fast read.”

I’ve learned that sayings, clichés, rules and maxims really have no place in this world of writing and publishing. As soon as someone tries to carve something in stone, some writer will come along with a story that disproves it. I wanted to share my story because I’m certain there are others who have convinced themselves that because they can’t produce a book a year, they are bound to sink into obscurity.

I believe readers are patient. Readers are willing to wait because what they really want is a wonderful book that will transport them into a new world. It is more important for a writer to leave her writer’s garret and experience the real world in order to make her fiction rich and textured, than it is to write one or two or more books a year. I have tremendous admiration for those who can write fast, but I am at peace now with the fact that I am not one. And I’m certain I’m not the only writer who works at Lightnin’ speed.

So, I am hard at work on a new Riley and Cole thriller   – and while I hope this one won’t require five years – I am hopping on a plane Friday to fly down to the Exumas to crew on a sailboat headed for the Virgin Islands.  I’ll be doing very necessary research and reflection for the next month as I sail the Caribbean. If you want to see where I am sailing, you can follow my travels here http://tinyurl.com/talespinner.

Fair winds!

Christine

Book Review: Whispering by Gerrie Ferris Finger

Whispering
Gerrie Ferris Finger
Crystal Skull Publishing, November 2011
Kindle e-book
Also available in trade paperback

Step back into 1921, that free-for all time of flappers and bobbed hair, shortened hemlines, this romantic historical mystery gives one a glimpse into the lives of the privileged in a melee of fortunes won and lost all in the span of a few years.

Cleo, who has lost her fiancé in the Great War, takes a vacation with her wealthy cousin, Neill, south to Sago Island, Georgia, where they will vacation with his best friend and war buddy, Graham Henry, the son of a steel tycoon and his family.

Cleo is soon swept up in the beauty of this southernmost island and the indolent lifestyle with servants and dinner parties, and in a very short time, she’s also falling in love with the handsome Graham.

But, when the young and unhappy wife of a family member goes missing, and her note indicates that she’s leaving the husband for Cleo’s new love, she’s confused and hurt, and now sure that she’s been made a fool of, she’s anxious to run away from her indiscretion and Graham’s awkward attempts to make amends.  She soon realizes that she needs to stay and resolve the mystery of Josie’s disappearance, if only to prove either Graham’s culpability or his innocence.

Drug running, fortunes won and lost, a mysterious man, who may or may not be the subject of a man hunt by the Pinkertons, a couple of East European refugee servants whose backgrounds make them suspect in Cleo’s sleuthing for the truth in Josie’s death. The mystery is solid and Cleo has reason enough to want to find out what happens, but I also enjoyed stepping back in time into this bucolic setting where big houses and bigger fortunes were reveled in before the crash of 1929 destroyed it all.

This was a very enjoyable read. I also really liked Ghost Ship for its historical mystery, sailing and the southern settings in Georgia.

Reviewed by guest reviewer RP Dahlke, January 2012.

Book Reviews: Confessions of a Catholic Cop by Thomas J. Fitzsimmons, Fade to Blue by Bill Moody, Fox Five by Zoe Sharp, On the Line by S. J. Rozan, and The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina

Confessions of a Catholic Cop
Thomas J. Fitzsimmons
Thomas J. Fitzsimmons Inc., October 2006
ISBN: 978-0-9789762-1-7
Trade Paperback

The authenticity of this first novel by Thomas Fitzsimmons fairly jumps off the page.  With good reason:  Following his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War, the author was an NYC cop for a decade in the notorious section of the South Bronx known as Fort Apache.  Not surprisingly, his protagonist, Michael Beckett, has a similar background, which also includes acting on tv, the fictional aspect having Beckett portray – what else? – a cop, on the show “Law & Order.”  Although there is the requisite disclaimer, there are immediately recognizable references to an incident infamous in New York City history, wherein an unarmed man named Amadou Diallo was gunned down by police in what was literally a hail of gunfire; a well-known local black leader known for inflammatory appearances at anything smacking of possible police prejudice or wrongdoing, here named “Dullard” instead of “Sharpton,” etc.

The action is disturbingly realistic, portraying the dope dealers, pimps, corruption, bad cops, and poverty rampant in such sections of almost any large city in the country, and the dedication of most members of the police force who try to make them safe and livable. When a hugely wealthy real estate mogul has plans for a large section of real estate, forcible evictions are only part of his modus operandi, and the fact that the mayor, the police commissioner and some of the cops are in his pocket makes matters that much easier for him.  But when a young girl and her infant daughter become victims of his ruthlessness, Beckett and his volatile partner, Vinnie D’Amato, are determined to obtain justice for them, with Beckett becoming obsessed to the point of putting both of their lives, and their careers, on the line.

As noted, this was the first of many books, fiction and otherwise, by this author, and that fact is reflected in the somewhat unpolished writing. But ultimately the gripping realism of the tale won out. The book was a fast, suspenseful read, and is recommended.

[It should perhaps be noted that the book was previously published by Forge Books as City of Fire in March, 2009.  The author has re-released the novel now under its original title.  It is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble only, in trade paperback as noted above and as an e-book, for $2.99]

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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Fade to Blue
Bill Moody
Poisoned Pen Press, April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-894-9
Hardcover

What a pleasure to immerse myself in my two favorite worlds:  jazz, and mystery writing!  Bill Moody has the perfect background for both, and extensive credentials in each.  In this latest work, Evan Horne, his jazz pianist protag, is hired by the agent for Ryan Stiles, a hot new movie star, one widely considered to be Hollywood royalty [“a new Robert Redford, exuding charm”], to teach Stiles how to look as though he is an accomplished jazz piano player in a new film.  [To further entice him, he is asked to score the film, and to stay at the actor’s Malibu beach house in the process – an enviable gig, to be sure.] This is not a new concept – examples given are “Bird” and Forest Whittaker, “Ray” and Jamie Foxx, Frank Sinatra with “Man with the Golden Arm” [a long time ago, that one, I realize].

Evan, who describes himself as a sometime detective [see prior entries in the series], is now living in Monte Rio, in northern California, but makes the not-hard-to-take transition to the Malibu scene.  Part of the equation, and the price, is putting up with paparazzi at every turn, with one particularly obnoxious photographer being excessively annoying and confrontational.  But when that photographer goes missing, the police, and Evan as well, suspect that Stiles may have played a role in his disappearance.  Ultimately there are two fatalities, which could easily have both been murders, or accidents. Evan is assisted by the two people closest to him, FBI Special Agent Andrea (“Andie”) Lawrence, and Lt. Dan Cooper (“Coop”) of the Santa Monica Police.  Stiles even agrees to hire Coop for the duration as head of security on the movie set.

In addition to the solid mystery, there are frequent musical and, in particular, jazz references, including one to Yoshi’s, a beloved S.F. mecca for jazz lovers/musicians alike [I’d forgotten that there were two establishments bearing that name, the second being in Oakland], and invaluable little-known and fascinating anecdotes referencing jazz legends such as [Thelonius] Monk and Bill Evans.  Things take a sudden and ominous turn when a case from Evan’s past comes back to haunt him, in unforeseeable ways.  The book is consistently enjoyable on many levels, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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Fox Five
Zoe Sharp
Murderati Ink, August 2011
Kindle e-book

The author, who has written, among other things, nine books in the acclaimed Charlie Fox series, has now published in e-book form what is termed an “e-thology,” a collection of five short stories, and an excellent addition it surely is.

The first, “A Bridge Too Far,” is, appropriately enough, the very first short story ever written featuring the ex-Special Forces soldier turned self-defense expert/bodyguard, Charlotte [“Charlie”] Fox, whose background further includes teaching self-defense classes for women before ultimately working in “close protection.”    The plot deals with members of a Dangerous Sports Club who engage in activities which justify its name.  The action takes place on a morning in May in Lancashire, in the UK, described, in the author’s typically wonderful prose, as an hour when “the last of the dawn mist clung to the dips and hollows [of the valley], and was quiet enough to hear the world turning.”  Lest this peaceful scene lull the reader, the tale concludes with a stunning ending.

The second story, “Postcards from Another Country,” was the second Charlie Fox short story, fittingly, and deals with Charlie’s employment by an old-money family, the titular country being “the world of the very wealthy.”  Close protection in that milieu is more of a challenge than usual, as Charlie finds when she is hired after a failed murder attempt on the male head of the family, whose members have come to believe that money is the answer to everything.

The next tale, “Served Cold,” was nominated for the CWA Short Story Dagger Award in 2009.  The only one in the collection where Charlie is not front and center, its protagonist is a waitress and stripper.  In “Off Duty,” the fourth Charlie Fox short story, the incidents there recounted were originally intended for inclusion in the US edition of Book #6, Second Shot, but ultimately not used as such, and is a sort of lead-in to Book #7, Third Strike.  “Truth and Lies,” the concluding piece, was written especially for this “e-thology.”  The reader is treated to author notes prefacing each short story, giving insights into its origins, as well as bonus material at the end, with biographical details on the author and her masterful creation, Charlie Fox, all of which just makes the reader look forward to the next novel in the series [working title Die Easy ] that much more.  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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On the Line
S. J. Rozan
Minotaur, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-60924-5
Trade Paperback

What, exactly is “on the line” in this newest novel from S. J. Rozan is nothing more nor less than the life of Lydia Chin.  For the uninitiated, Lydia, a young ABC [American-Born Chinese, and described as ‘Chinatown’s only PI, with a non-Chinese partner her mom doesn’t like’], is the sometime partner of Bill Smith, a chain-smoking middle-aged white guy.  And no one writes protagonists of a different gender and ethnicity better than this master-craftsman [excuse me, make that ‘craftsperson’].

As the novel opens, early one morning late in the Fall in NYC Bill receives a call made from Lydia’s phone.  The caller, who doesn’t identify himself and whose voice is electronically altered, says that he has Lydia, and for Bill to get her back he will have to play a ‘game’ whose rules are laid out:  Bill will have to follow a series of clues that will be doled out to him in an unspecified manner, but he has only twelve hours to find her.  Of course, the game rules keep changing, and Bill has no idea who the kidnapper is.  He seeks help from Linus Wong, Lydia’s young cousin and a talented hacker, and Linus’ assistant, a teenage Goth girl named Trella.  The ‘game’ becomes much more complicated when Bill discovers the dead body of a young Chinese woman he thinks at first might be Lydia, but turns out to be that of a hooker.  Immediately after this discovery the cops turn up, and Bill soon finds himself hunted by the cops as well as by the girl’s pimp and his two very scary associates.  The game soon threatens the lives of several more young girls, with Lydia the prize for whoever wins.

The tension never lets up, with Bill desperately trying to obtain and then figure out the clues left for him in varying places all around the city, as well as identifying the man who hates him this much, because it is soon apparent that this is very, very personal.  The novel is exquisitely plotted, all leading up to a breathtaking denouement.   More than highly recommended, this one is a Must Read.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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The End of the Wasp Season
Denise Mina
Orion, May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4091-0095-9
Hardcover
Available in the US from Reagan Arthur Books, September 2011

Each of the first three chapters of this newest novel by Denise Mina, author of the Garnethill trilogy among other wonderful books, introduces the reader to three women, each of them strong and independent, and each tested by events which follow.  The most dramatic, and tragic, is Sarah Erroll, 24 years old, who is sexually mutilated and brutally murdered in the first pages.  [The full extent of the savagery is not known till nearly half-way through the book, although it is strongly hinted at.]  In Glasgow, the Strathclyde police are called in, and the DS handling the brunt of the investigation is DS Alex Morrow, not quite five months pregnant with twins.  The third of these women is Kay Murray, a single mother of four who had worked for the dead woman and, coincidentally, had been a schoolmate of Alex many years ago.

But the central figure throughout the book is Lars Anderson, multimillionaire banker who believed that “you couldn’t trick an honest man.”  He appears to be a UK version of Bernard Madoff, having ruined many lives before taking his own in the early pages of the book.   There is plenty of family dysfunction and family tragedy to go around in this book, the Andersons only the worst of these.

Alex thinks, as the case begins, that “she hated sexual murders.  They all hated them, not just out of empathy with the victim but because sexual crimes were corrosive, they took them to hideous dark places in their own heads, made them suspicious and fearful, and not always of other people.”

The author kept this reader off balance, with having to figure out who some of the characters were and their relationship to other players, and to the plot itself.  The book has sudden shocking moments, only adding to that sense of being off-balance.  The author mentions Alex’ looking forward to a night going over her notes and trying to fit together the pieces of the puzzle that is her investigation, and “the promise of utter absorption” that it holds.  I could completely relate to that description, for that is precisely what this novel provides.  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

How My Life Affects My Writing

Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and three kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren’t for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.

You can check in with Rebecca on her Goodreads page.

To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the website below.

http://www.autisticadvocacy.org

Authors are frequently asked if anyone they know or anything they have experienced have affected their writing. I often find this question hard to answer. If they mean directly, then that would only be somewhat true, and it’s not something that would be seen much in my currently published works. If they mean indirectly, then it affects every last corner of my writing.

Starting with the internal, I have a lot of social issues. In person, I never feel comfortable around people, I overanalyze everything, I talk too much or shut down completely.  Sometimes I have panic attacks. Most who have “met” me online have never noticed. Others pick on it a little. And of course this affects my writing! It takes a lot for me to get my ideas across clearly and to show relationships between characters when I have less skill and experience with person-to-person relationships. Body language is a struggle for me much of the time.

Externally, I have sensory issues. I’m hyperaware of things. I notice details most people don’t, I associate emotions with scents and tastes and sounds, and I experience little things more intensely. For example, just the thought of touching a cotton ball makes my skin crawl like nails going down a chalkboard. I also can become extremely irritable if my clothes get wet (such as from rain) and especially so if it’s the bottom of my jeans. And speaking of jeans, there’s only one brand of jeans (and 2 styles of that brand) that I can even wear. Everything else feels uncomfortable to me. I guess you could say I’m picky, but from my perspective, it’s more than that. It’s a curse in some ways but I think it’s a blessing because it’s helped me to offer fully-realized details in my writing.

Another huge influence in my writing is my son. Those who follow me know he has autism and that I advocate for autism awareness, but I’m not sure how many know the details behind it or why I feel it inspires my writing so deeply (even when I’m not writing about Autism). I’ll attempt to explain it briefly. When my son was diagnosed, his disorder was more apparent. He wasn’t talking. He wouldn’t potty train. He had physical delays (couldn’t feed himself when he should, had poor coordination). His sensory problems were more severe than my own (couldn’t touch grass, would freak out if he got food on himself while eating, would sometimes have a tantrum if you walked past his peripheral vision while he was stimming). The stimming itself was another sign, from banging his head, to lining things up, to engaging in other repetitive action. That was where we started. And we received a lot of compassion then.

Something changes when your struggles become more internal, when your disorder becomes less obvious on the outside. We tried the autism diet (gluten and casein free) with my son when he was about four years old. Within a few months, slowly, he started talking. He potty trained. He started making eye contact. His sensory issues lessened. It wasn’t a cure. He’s almost seven now and he still struggles. He’s still in speech therapy, but he talks just as much as anyone else. He only has potty accidents when he eats foods with gluten or casein. He’s social, but he’s not socially appropriate. But because he is more advanced than many other children with the autism label, he’s sometimes treated like he’s just a bad kid. He doesn’t have friends, and now he’s aware of that, cares about it, and is hurt by it. He’s judged not by how he experiences the world, but by how the world experiences him. I understand this, deeply. The only thing that works is to adjust how he acts so that the world will experience him differently, but that is easier said than done. Even when someone in his situation tries to do that, there is still another mountain in the way … and that is understanding how other people think. And heck, that is HARD to do. Just as it’s hard for them to understand how he thinks, it’s hard for him to understand how they think.

I understand this first hand, and I think this is the biggest influence in my writing. It’s why I write the characters I do. It’s why I choose the personalities and character roles that most people wouldn’t naturally understand. I want to give readers a chance to get into the head of someone who thinks differently, so that even if they wouldn’t think the same way, maybe they can come to understand why someone else would think that way. I face my own struggles in trying to achieve this, but it’s important to me.

I don’t believe the world will ever say that the “typical” are the ones who need to understand the “atypical”, but maybe the struggle for those who are “atypical” will be a little easier if more people are willing to consider another perspective instead of labeling someone as bad or stupid. I wish this didn’t happen, but all too many times someone will say a person’s disability has nothing to do with their struggles in life, simply because they can’t see those disabilities and how it specifically affects the person who has it as an individual. When these problems are more obvious, it’s considered politically incorrect to attack these people for their struggles. For example, very few people would mock someone in a wheel chair for not being able to walk. But with disabilities that are less obvious, some people are more willing to separate the person’s disabilities from their problems and blame the person without any compassion at all.

None of this is to say people with disabilities shouldn’t work on themselves, but more that people who don’t have disabilities might also work on being more compassionate to people and problems they can’t understand. In the end, it’s all very much the same thing; the main difference is who is common and who is uncommon.

So, at the end of the day, the emotion and thoughts behind what I have said here affect my writing in a huge way. This is my life. I live it. I live it in myself, I live it with my son, and I try to bring it to life in my writing. Not necessarily by writing a disabled character, but usually by writing a character who wouldn’t be considered mainstream  in their thinking, choices, or what they struggle with.

Thanks for having me on your blog. I hope I’ve offered something worth some thought!

Go here for a review of The Forever Girl

http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2012/04/23/book-review-the-forever-girl-by-rebecca-hamilton/

Book Review: The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey
Rebecca Hamilton
Immortal Ink Publishing, January 2012
ISBN 978-0-9850818-1-2
Ebook
Also available in print

Recent college graduate Sophia has come back to her small hometown in Colorado and is living in the house left to her by her grandfather while she works at a diner, unable to find a job teaching history despite a degree. Observers might think her life is pretty humdrum but that would be because they are not Wiccan and having to deal with an extremely religious cult (including her own mother) who not only want to drive the demons out of her but want to take possession of her house, voluntarily or by force. In addition to those annoyances, Sophia has been hearing a sort of jumble of sounds in  her head for years and doesn’t know how to get rid of them. Having townspeople whisper about her being a witch—with no understanding of what Wicca really is—doesn’t help.

Fortunately, Sophia has a few friends but can they help her when she starts seeing people in hooded cloaks apparently watching her or when she stumbles across some animals that have been violently killed? Is there a connection between all these issues and her family’s history which apparently includes a woman executed during the Salem Witch Trials?

Then, when a friend takes her out to a strange place called Club Flesh, Sophia meets an entrancing man named Charles and all bets are off.

As a fan of dark fantasy and mystery, I’m always looking for something a little different and The Forever Girl fits the bill quite nicely. There are a few minor failings—for instance, I wonder why any 22-year-old college graduate would not have her own computer—but I chalk them up to this being Ms. Hamilton‘s debut. I also wish there had been a bit more worldbuilding, especially in explaining why Belle Meadow and its environs would attract so many supernaturals, but perhaps that will come in future volumes of the series.

What sets this story apart from so many vampire-centric books is the introduction of “elementals”, whereby supernaturals are identified by the four more common elements of earth, water, air and fire and, in some cases, spirit. I was quite happy to spend a little time with all sorts of otherworldly beings and their various activities, not to mention an eventful side trip to Damascus, and will look forward to the next book in the series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2012.