Review: August Prather Is Not Dead Yet

Finished: 9/13/2019

Danielle K. Roux is one of my fellow Parliament authors, and when I read the blurb for this book including LGBT characters and a road trip, I knew I had to pick up a copy!

Garnet is a trans woman who is a diehard fan of August Prather’s books – so much so that she breaks into her car to read her unfinished manuscript of her next book before it’s even been published. Being the quirky and unpredictable person that she is, August isn’t even mad when she finds out either. Before Garnet knows it, she’s dragged into a road trip and an adventure that helps her put her life and goals into perspective.

First of all, this book is experimental. You can tell from the structure and from the plot that this story is different from most other books on the shelf. If you’re looking for a book that has a single, easily understood storyline, you probably won’t like this book. There are three different timelines going on concurrently throughout this book, and one of them you don’t understand who the narrator is until the end.

That said, this book explores some big topics. From gender identity, to mental illness, to trying to figure out your place in this big hamster wheel of life, this book will change your perspective. I can feel the characters reaching for purpose, I can feel the juxtaposed glossy sheen that is so opposite from the rawness of our characters.

Garnet’s apathy and floating through life makes little sense until you understand what all she’s been through. Each stop they take on their road trip lets you see a little bit behind the curtain. Each incident helps you understand your ragtag group a little bit more.

Also there is a lot of explicit sex, assault, and dark moments of mental illness in this book. Just a heads up if any of that makes you uncomfortable.

Also that ending! I never saw it coming but it just so fits!

Even three months later, I can still confirm that this book is still just as good at getting under my skin as it was when I first read it. When I’m asked what’s a recent book I’ve read that has made me think, this one immediately comes to mind. I’m so looking forward to reading more of Roux’s work!

My overall rating: 5/5

Review: The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

Holy cow, I knew it had been a while since I had posted a book review, but I didn’t realize it had been since August, you guys. Oops! I guess you can tell I’ve been balancing a bunch of projects lately. Expect to see several posts over the next few days as I catch up!

Finished: 7/10/2019

I checked this book out from the library on a whim, trying to find a book to read that was light, but still interesting. I wanted to find a book I could learn something from. Writing fiction all the time means I sometimes have to be picky with how engrossed I get into fiction books. I’m always afraid I’ll fall into someone else’s story and world and have trouble crawling back out again.

I really enjoyed this book! I learned quite a lot from it and found it inspired me to get outdoors more. Even though it’s a few years old, the examples of lush cities, nature bathing, and using nature to treat PTSD were still just as relevant and eye-opening.

What caused me to knock off a star was the occasional negative tone the book would take. It didn’t happen very often, and for most readers it probably wouldn’t bother them like it did me. However the narrator at times was just so pessimistic and almost insulting occasionally. For someone who was a world traveler I was shocked by some of the phrases that were supposed to be quirky but weren’t.

However if you’re looking for a book to motivate you to head into the forests for a weekend, or want to learn more about how nature influences the mind and body, this is a great read! Just prepare yourself for the few weird anecdotes and occasional tone shifts.

My overall rating: 4/5

Review: Henry Franks

After reading his fantastic novella, Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds, I was eager to hop into more of Peter Salomon’s work! Fortunately he’s got a few other books that he’s written, and this book, Henry Franks, was his first!

Instantly you get the kind of dark book this will be…

Finished: 6/26/2019

Henry Franks is a novel about a teenage boy with scars that are always itching and a terrible case of amnesia. He doesn’t remember anything that happened before the accident, and he suffers from not recognizing his own name or his own father. As Henry slowly unfurls out of his shell around his talkative neighbor, Justine, the newspapers are full of murder reports happening all across the quiet island of St. Simons island.

So first off, having grown up in Georgia myself, I love that this happens in a known Georgia location during specific years and during a very specific weather pattern. I think it’s incredible the amount of work and research it takes to create a world within that space, but Peter does a splendid job with it.

Another piece I want to include, and perhaps the part that made this book glow for me, is the clear knowledge of cognitive science and the effects of head trauma. People forgetting who relatives are and sometimes, more importantly, not having the same feelings of warmth as they used to are known side effects of that trauma. Read up on Capgras syndrome for more information on this very real phenomena.

What makes life worse for Henry is that his father seems untrustworthy. And you’re not sure if it is a case of head trauma or if he really is acting suspiciously. So you’re not sure if Henry’s lack of emotion for his father is truly from head trauma and amnesia, or if his father isn’t who he says he is.

Anyway, you get the idea of how tangled this story is and how much fun it is to unravel the mystery! I honestly love that about Peter’s books. The ending absolutely threw me for a loop too!

I am looking forward to getting to read more of Peter’s work!

What I consider a 5-star book:

  • Is it a fun read? I turned each page with growing concern, eager to unravel the mystery at hand, so yes, definitely a fun read!
  • Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely! I loved the twists and turns this book took, and the horrific encounters they had.
  • Does it stick with you? Definitely! It’s a storyline that you’ll find creeping into your mind again and again.

My overall rating: 5/5

Review: To Dream Is To Die

Sarah Lampkin is another one of my incredible Parliament House Press sisters, and we’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside each other at not one, but two events this year!

(Check out our interview on YA Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Alabama Book Festival below!)

I look like a Batman villain in that preview pic!

Sarah is awesome to work with. She’s also a gym rat and is a big inspiration to hit the gym if you follow her on social media! So I was thrilled to get a chance to review her book, To Dream Is To Die.

Brenna is clearly ready to kick some ghost butt!

Finished: June 5, 2019

First of all, the concept behind The Dead Dreamer series (this is book 1 of that series) is so fascinating! I love the mixture of dreamers, spirits, and portals for demons and fairies. Brenna is a tough-as-nails protagonist and although her pessimistic personality took a bit to win me over, her friends and experiences soften her hard exterior throughout the story.

I also loved the mystery that takes place on a haunted college campus! I mean, technically anywhere Brenna goes is ultimately haunted, but you know what I mean. As someone who works on a campus, this especially appealed to me. I really enjoyed the fast pace and the way each of the characters change and evolve over time. For fans of ghost hunters, conspiracy theories, administrators hiding the truth, and characters with big secrets to hide, this is a novel for you!

I’m really excited to read book two in The Dead Dreamer series, To Wake The Dead, coming in October!

What I consider a 5-star book:

  • Is it a fun read? Although it took a little longer for Brenna to grow on me due to her pessimistic outlook on life, once the story got going I had a hard time putting this down!
  • Would you recommend it to others? If you love ghosts, people who turn into ghosts, or ghosts co-existing with demons and the fae, then this is definitely a book to check out!
  • Does it stick with you? This book has some scenes that will absolutely stick with you for a long time to come!

My overall rating: 5/5

Note: This book follows Brenna in her first year of college and she’s surrounded by party people who drink a LOT, with all the detail of having to puke into trash cans and whatnot. For me, this was triggering, but I’m a little squeamish about that sort of thing. For others, it may not be a problem at all. So just a warning if you’re squeamish like me to tread cautiously!

Review: Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds

This was the first book I had read from my fellow Horror Writers Association member, Peter Salomon. He reached out to me back in January of this year asking for a blurb for his new book. I had never been asked to do anything like that before, but he enjoyed The She-Wolf of Kanta so much that he wanted to hear what I thought of this.

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Finished: January 31, 2019

What starts out as a very stream-of consciousness style slowly pieces together as the story progresses. You get snippets of details as each person explores memories. You get insight, piece by piece, into what happened that led to this bizarre state of existence. You start to understand the mistakes, the terrible decisions, the consequences of being so very intelligent and untouchable.

After reading this book, I’ve started to keep an eye out for any of Peter’s other work because I binged this in two days. Yes, it’s a novella so it’s shorter than a novel, but the sun had gone down and I was sitting in the dark reading on my phone because I just couldn’t put it down and hadn’t noticed it was nighttime. I don’t usually do that, I can disconnect and pull away, but this book sucked me in entirely. Maybe it’s because it taps into psychology and cognitive science, two fields that I adore and almost went into in college. Maybe it’s because it explores teen abuse and neglect from highly intelligent individuals, something I haven’t seen much in YA fiction. Either way, I devoured this book.

This book is an intense, terrifying foray into a dark future where two survivors must piece together the end of the world through the jumbled memories of six abused teens. A wonderful read that I couldn’t put down by a writer who understands the biological, technological, and research worlds, this is one science fiction thrill ride you won’t want to miss! If you enjoy exploring cognitive science, AI technology, biological weapons, and a mystery of global proportions, this is definitely the book for you!

What I consider a 5-star book:

  • Is it a fun read? Didn’t even notice it was nighttime, remember? It’s a ridiculously fun read once you get on board!
  • Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely! Especially if they enjoy science fiction thrillers.
  • Does it stick with you? Peter’s writing gets under your skin in a good way. I’m reading another book from him now, and I just end up falling right into his voice again. So yes, it sticks with you. Like glue.

My overall rating: 5/5

PS. I’m reading another book by Peter now, Henry Franks, and I’m enjoying it just as much so far. It’s more of a straightforward horror rather than a science fiction piece though. Expect a review for that to come soon! He’s quickly become one of my favorite authors.