Itty Bitty Book Review: A Good Man by Ani Katz (spoilers ahead)

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Image from Goodreads.com

I bought this book because my library is still closed. Don’t get me wrong, I want it to be closed because of a tiny virus making a big impact on the world, but I do prefer to borrow a book rather than buy it. I rarely read a book twice and just about never read it more than twice, so buying them seems a bit wasteful. Except they fill shelves and it’s nice to have a physical reminder of the words I’ve consumed, I suppose.

Anyway, I was glad I bought this one because I might like to read it again, now that I know how it ends. I suspect this book will reveal things to me that I didn’t see during the first read, and that I’d understand better now that I know the ending.

Forewarning to readers: this book was a bit disturbing.

The Gloss: This is a little book. Smaller than a trade paperback, larger than a pocketbook, and only 213 pages. The pages are soft, the typeface (thankfully) sharp and clear. Pleasant to hold and easy to read.

The cover is made of that nice, slightly rubberized stuff that’s popular right now. It makes the book feel like my fingers can grip it easily and without sending my fingertips into sensory overload.

There’s a fracture in the title. Nice and subtle, but there nonetheless. This is an excellent representation of the main character’s fractured personality. Not too broken, just slightly, uncomfortably, off. Well done.

I also like the image of the kinked hose. From my perspective, that image reminds me of one of the minor annoyances of life. I mean, has anyone else felt that grumbling irritation of having to unkink a hose? In addition, the kink indicates a pressure buildup, but one that’s contained. There will be no explosion, no debris scattered everywhere, just a rush of water the instant that the line is free.

The Characters: Thomas is the main character and the book is entirely from his perspective. He’s detailing his past to the reader, explaining why he did what he did, how he arrived at one particular decision.

Miriam is Thomas’ wife, Ava his daughter. Both are presented entirely as Thomas remembers them. The author maintains this perspective throughout, enough so that it’s a bit frustrating as the reader. I wanted to know things from Miriam’s pov, or even Ava’s, but I also know that additional perspective would’ve tainted the story.

There are other, tertiary characters, like his mom and sisters. The mention of his dad, but not too much. Instead, the author demonstrated the impact the father had on Thomas without Thomas saying too much about him. Enough to know that the father was abusive to the children, and that Thomas had a few of the more unpleasant traits like controlling behaviour and narcissism.

Readers do get a glimpse of Thomas in how other characters react to him. Or, more accurately, how he remembers people reacting to him. One scene describes Miriam talking to a group of people, how easy and relaxed she looked, until she saw him. Then she flinched hard as if struck. Thomas waves this away, makes excuses for what someone else might think is a hint of abusive tendencies.

The Plot: Simple and elegant. No extraneous plot lines, no plot points left without explanation.

Thomas has everything: prestigious job at an advertising firm in Manhattan, wife and daughter, and is a devoted family man. His ego is rocked and he does something horrible that he can never undo. The book details his introspection leading up to the pivotal event.

The Story: Beautifully told with rich language. Tidbits of foreshadowing are doled out just often enough to add a sense of foreboding. As a reader I was never rushed to learn something, nor ever left wondering where the tidbit led.

Thomas goes back and forth in time during his introspection but the reader is never left wondering when he’s talking about, nor are the transitions sudden or difficult.

Nitpicks: I didn’t have any. Nothing stood out as annoying or out of place. The only thing would be the near constant opera references, but those serve to highlight how Thomas views himself, so they have a solid purpose. They were abundant though, and for someone like me who knows absolutely nothing about opera, the author gave enough information that I wasn’t frustrated by the references.

Quick edit: The book has no quotation marks for dialogue. While this can be confusing, it fit well with the formatting of the story. Also, quotes weren’t required as Thomas was relating the dialogue to the reader, rather than have the characters speak for themselves, which also reflected the story well.

Overall: This book is excellent. Early on I had the sense that Thomas was an unreliable narrator, that perhaps the image he was presenting was false, but it was subtly done. Enough so that I could identify with him on several occasions, and felt bad for him.

I loved the language used, the way the author describes everything. Ani Katz is an author I’d read again regardless of content.

Itty Bitty Book Review: Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Image from Goodreads.com

It took me a while to finish this book. Actually, if I’m honest, it took me a while to even start this book. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, plus I managed to get a job, so my time’s been limited.

I borrowed this one from the library because I really liked the author’s other book The Gone World. I will read any genre if I like the author, so I figured this was a sure bet.

I was wrong.

The Gloss: I like the cover art here, but I thought the book might contain elements of inter-dimensional travel or alternate worlds. It did, sort of, but not in the way expected.

Otherwise, I have nothing really to say. The typeface wasn’t remarkable, nor were the pages.

The Plot: was so confusing. The book started with a murder mystery, kind of a hard-boiled detective drama, and ended with a conspiracy….I think? I admit that I read this book in fits and starts so maybe I couldn’t hold on to the details of the plot like I would’ve if I’d read it in larger chunks. But there were several things going on and somewhere just after the middle I got lost.

What I do remember is that the plot of the person who died took a back seat to the plot of covering up other deaths. Maybe. I really need to talk about the world before continuing.

The World: People have implants in their brains called adware. This is a spiderweb-type interface that allows the user to overlay virtual reality with actual reality. This was awesome and well constructed. Pop-up ads invaded the character’s life, which absolutely would happen and would be targeted to the user.

This adware also comes in the gleaming, fantastic, expensive version and the low-end version, also very accurate to what I’d expect. Well done.

A huge part of the world is a city, Pittsburgh, that had been blown up ten years prior. The main character’s spouse and unborn child died in that explosion. With adware, the characters can visit the city any time they want. All footage is provided by an archive project to preserve what was once there. I can definitely see this happening, even at the loss of privacy to the residents.

The Characters: The story followed one, John Blaxton, as he tried to solve a murder. Everyone else was secondary with every woman being beautiful.

The Story: The cybernetics kept me reading through the confusing plot. I enjoyed the way the main character wanted to stay in the virtual world and how it affected his daily operation. I didn’t enjoy the number of times I read about how beautiful a woman was. That got pretty old.

Nitpicks: Apparently the book was written in journal style, which I didn’t know until I read a review on it. I didn’t like it. No I did not.

The author used more emdashes than I personally like to see. Every conversation was fragmented, every idea cut off. This broke the flow up for me and made it really difficult for me to follow along. Now that I know the book is supposed to be a journal it makes more sense, but the story ended up feeling discordant to me.

Overall: I was disappointed. I couldn’t follow the plot, the story kept referring back to Pittsburgh and that bugged me. Yes, the city blew up, but it didn’t need to be mentioned as much as it was. I felt like the author couldn’t trust me to remember the bombing of the city.

As for the discordant feeling, well, if I pretend like I have adware attached to my brain then I feel like I’d be interrupted often also, so there’s that. Maybe the author wanted to portray a disconnection feeling or constant interruption feeling through the body of the story. If so, then success! If not, then frustration mounted early.

Itty Bitty Book Review: The Most Fun We’ve Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (spoilers ahead)

The Most Fun We Ever Had
Image from Goodreads.com

After attempting to read four other books, I made it through this one. Why? Mostly because of the author’s voice.

I know a lot of people will chose books by genre or subject matter, but I will often chose by the author’s writing style. Well, that and character development over plot development. This book is a good example of that. Let’s get started.

The Gloss: The cover art fit the story quite well. I wasn’t sure about it but the more I read the more I understood the artist’s choices.

Four leaves could represent the four daughters nicely, but could also represent how the book is quartered into seasons. Note the leaves are in varying stages of decay.

Genres seem to have specific art formats and this one fit the general fiction category.

The rest was disappointing. Nothing special about the font, or the texture of the pages/cover. I borrowed the book from the library and the cover had the standard plastic over the dust jacket. The glue to bind the pages was strong and the book heavy.

The Characters: are many. There’s the main couple and they’re four girls, plus the tertiary characters. This is a lot to keep track of but the author did a good job. Multiple points of view were presented in each chapter but it flowed surprisingly well.

Thinking of pov, what stood out was how well the author managed to view everyone through different eyes. Each character had a different view of each other, just like real life. I mean, you know your own life and your own choices, but how someone else views you could be remarkably different than you would believe. The author represented this beautifully.

Each character is wonderfully well rounded, something I appreciate in a book. I could understand each character’s motivations and behaviours with ease. Delightful .

The Plot: Um, I’m not sure of the main plot line. This isn’t a bad thing, I don’t mind a meandering story.

I’d say it was about a woman who got married, had four children, and experienced life with a man she loves.

Another plot line: one daughter gives a child up for adoption and that child re-enters the family’s life. How each character deals with that child is demonstrated. I was wrong about who the father of that child was though. The author hinted that the child’s mother had sex with someone another sister would find upsetting. I guessed the father was the sister’s new husband and I guessed wrong. But I didn’t mind being wrong. By that point in the book I was in it for the character development and not the Big Reveal.

The Story: was about the characters, and I really enjoyed that. I felt as if each character was presented softly, gently. Even at their roughest points I felt as if I was viewing them through the hazy lenses of memory.

The author gave a huge amount of information about each character, but did it in a way that I found easy to track and understand. At no point did I wonder who was talking or which head I was in.

I’d also classify this book as gentle erotica. There were a lot of references to sex. Having sex, talking about sex, and enjoying sex, all without explicitly describing sex.

Nitpicks: If I saw one more emdash I was going to throw the book at a wall. This drove me absolutely bonkers. I felt like the majority of dialogue was interrupted, jarring, and hesitant and it irritated me to no end. I get it, people talk like that in the real world, in incomplete sentences and repetitious phrases, but I read a book to escape my real life. I wanted to yell at the author to just let the damn characters speak.

The two main characters, Marilyn and David, were in lurve. I got that early on. Cool. No problem. But I was so sick and tired of reading about their sexual life that my eye sockets hurt from the orbs rolling around in there. This couple had sex like they were new-ish lovers throughout the book. Always ready for each other, making out like teenagers, semi-public sex, all good things but seriously pulled me out of the story after a while. I was expecting their sex life to change much more than it did.

Overall: Very enjoyable. The book was like a slow, epic saga without being an actual epic novel. I was in it for the character development and wasn’t disappointed. Each person grew and changed throughout and interacted with each other in a realistic manner.

But dammit older couples just don’t make out like teenagers at every opportunity. I had a hard time accepting that tiny bit.

Itty Bitty Book Review: Anyone by Charles Soule (spoilers ahead)

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Image from Goodreads.com

I’ve read a lot of book reviews and many don’t cover some of the elements I’d like to know. So, with that in mind, my Itty Bitty Book Reviews will include those elements. Things like cover art, how the book feels in my hands, world building, general impressions of the characters, and possibly memorable moments. Basically just a mishmash of what I want to say about the book. I prefer physical copies of books because the story isn’t the only part of the book to have personality. Other elements like the weight, page appearance and feel, typeface, and glue help me grasp this portal into a new world.

Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional editor, just a reader who likes books. Now let’s begin.

The Gloss: Let’s start with the colour. Oh my goodness I cannot rave about this enough. The photo doesn’t do it justice. This outstanding bright blue is a definite eye-catcher. I’d like to paint every wall in my writing room this colour. I mean, that might be overwhelming, but still. This colour is amazing.

The texture is rubberized somehow. Not a lot, not enough to feel like the book is sticking to my fingers, but enough that the book feels warm and cozy in my hands. The image of the fingerprint isn’t rubberized, it’s pleasantly smooth. The black chosen for the lettering stands out against the stunning blue in a way that draws my eye away from the blue.

I love the fingerprint as the ‘O’ in the title as well as the background image. This gives a visual of the plot very nicely.

The glue to hold the pages to the spine is gentle, so when I open the book and hold it in my flat palm the book stays open. Someday I’ll learn the right terms for this, the kind of glue and the effect it has, but that day isn’t today. By the way, my arthritic hands really appreciated the gentle glue. It made reading the book a delight as I was able to simply lay it flat on my desk instead of hold the pages.

The pages themselves are delightfully textured to give a gentle feel of recycled paper. Not too smooth and not too rough, the parchment colour was easy on my eyes. The pages were thin enough to see the reverse side’s text through, which was a bit annoying at first but I got over it fast.

I loved the font. Easy to read, structured, and even. I don’t know the typeface and there wasn’t a note at the back of the book, but whatever it is, it’s pleasant.

The Characters: …are two dimensional. I didn’t see much of an arc for any of them. The husband of the MC was irritatingly congenial about having had his body taken over by his wife. I’d’ve had a lot of issues with that and he seemed to get over it pretty fast. None of the characters grew much or had much change happen. I felt like many of the characters were simply vessels to move the plot forward.

The Plot: The story jumps between current day and past, but in a way that’s easy to follow. I think of the overall plot points as bunny-hopping, which can be good. Each time there was a problem, a solution occurred right away, with the exception of the main plot line which was revealed in bits. I didn’t mind this bunny-hopping until near the end. By that time it was tiresome and I’d think, “oh look, a problem, solution’s gotta be a few pages away”. I felt exhausted by the end from the sheer number of mini plots or obstacles to overcome.

The Story: Different from points on a map like plot, the story of being able to project your consciousness into another person is interesting. “Big Corp” takes over and develops the technology while the underdog fights the Big Wigs. Giant spoiler: underdog doesn’t quite win. The ending is a bit vague and didn’t give me the satisfaction I’d hoped for in taking down a huge corporation. Judging by the structure of the plot points, I felt like the ending was a solution to a problem that would simply net another problem, as had happened so many times before.

The World: The author did a fabulous job in developing the world. I mean, let’s think about this: if you can hop into another body then biometrics would be useless for security. Travel by plane would also become rare instead of the norm, and renting out your body for money would be prolific. The author even addressed the underground economy, the ‘dark share’ idea that people would hop around into other bodies for nefarious purposes and the hosts would be paid well for the time.

The author also addressed the concept that some wouldn’t be able to host or hop into another body. This helped flesh the world out nicely. I always like to see a good consequence to an action.

Because the world was so well laid out, I can see fan fiction being created out of it. I definitely felt like I didn’t get to spend enough time meandering around in the world and would’ve liked to read more of the character’s experiences with body-hopping. While a lot of this fanfic could be smutty – I mean come on, someone hopped into another body, there’d be sexy time stuff happening on a grand scale – a lot could be a deep dive into occupying a young body or going on an adventurous vacation.

Nitpicks: Some things bug me in books and pull me out of the story. In this case, it was the author’s use of underlining instead of italics for emphasis. This jarred me every single time.

Another tiny nitpick is the structure of dialogue. Occasionally there’d be a line spoken by MC, then two sentences of what MC is doing, then another line of dialogue by MC. I had to check to see who was talking each time because, to me, if the same person is speaking and the speech is bracketing action it can all be done in the same paragraph. “New speaker = new paragraph” comes to mind and isn’t used in the book.

Overall: I really enjoyed the book. I love books about consciousness/body sharing and found this one to be an easy read with a good story line. I may read it again sometime, and that says a lot as I don’t generally read the same book twice.

Intro

I should be writing, but no, instead I’m creating a blog. I fully intend on keeping this blog about writing and reviewing books, but my mind wanders like a plastic bag in the wind so we’ll see.

The novel I’m currently writing is DIMENSIONS: CREATORS. At some point I’ll learn the ins and outs of this site and have nice little links for everyone. Until then, I’ll just tell you about my book.

Originals are energy-based entities that begin as a collective and are divided into groups. Once groups are established, each group divides into individuals. Those individuals are tasked with completing a capstone project.

Aught and Naught are Originals and assigned the capstone of universe creation. They, like all groups in their collective, are given the following tools: a segment of space surrounded by a vibration barrier, a ball of creation energy, matter blocks, life spores, and a quantum processor to code it all. Once completed, the Original group moves on in accordance with tradition.

Coding goes reasonably well considering their processor is an upgraded model. Aught believes the capstone to be too simple and designs dimensions within the segment. Each dimension contains a minimum of one universe. Naught contributes by adding beauty to an otherwise bland assignment.

Aught questions authority to the point of banishment. Their rigid world has no room for the degree of individuality this collective demonstrates. While banished, Aught discovers humans.

Naught, distraught over the loss of Aught, learns what moving on entails. Naught chases after Aught in hopes of avoiding moving on. But what Naught doesn’t know is that Aught has a plan to usurp authority and banish the practice of moving on.

So that’s my book. I’ll work on the blurb when I’m done writing and starting to query. I’m on the third draft now but I don’t know how many drafts it’ll take before it’s readable by strangers.