Review: Time of the Season by William Butler

“Ben cocked his head to the left as he looked at his reflection in her sunglasses.

“I look fucked up,” he mumbled.”

If you’ve ever wanted to read a story that artistically melds the world of boxing with the subterfuge of a robbery then Time of the Season by William Butler is the book for you. The titillating product blurb reads like this:

“A plot to steal 10 million dollars. A man down on his luck. A woman with a plan. A lethal affair that could only end badly. Ben Lyons is down on his luck, but his luck changes when he meets Lauren Tinsdale, the wife of loan shark and ex-boxer Freddy “The Beef” Tinsdale. Seduced by Lauren, Ben finds himself caught up in her plan to steal a large sum of money and then skip town. But is that all Lauren wants from Ben? Or does she have another plan…one that involves taking her husband’s life?”

The overall pace of Time of the Season was measured and well-timed and the plot was solid and well thought out. The voice with which Butler weaves the story is impeccable; as you’re reading, you feel as if you’re a part of the action. His use of proper terminology was spot on and helped to place you within the world he created.

The characters that Butler created are likable when you need them to be but detestable when the current of the story changes. Ben is a tight character, written to have an ease about him despite his personal damage. His passionate connection to Lauren has the ultimate feeling of danger and she is a delightfully aloof character at times. Her husband Freddy is the kind of character that is so beautifully written that you actually want to put your hand through the page and connect with his smug face. The cast of accessory characters supports the main players very well, written in such a way as to not take away from the intensity of the struggle between the main characters but complement them. As a whole, Butler has a definite and defined was of crafting relatable characters, even if you don’t relate to them directly.

“He pulled up to the bar and walked in. It was slow and with the regulars. You could always count on the regulars. They are what makes the place a home.”

Time of the Season was a great read. I found myself losing time as I got involved in the plot and in the lives of the characters. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an engaging read to escape into.

My rating 4 stars out of 5

Review: 848 by Robert Ropars

“I’m going to tie you up and get the hell out of here.”

Without spoiling the story entirely for you, here is a brief synopsis of 848 (the fourth story in Robert Ropars’ Dark Bites series). In the winter of 1979, the worst blizzard in history dumps 19″ of snow on the city of Chicago. Marie has flown all the way from France to catch up with a few friends when a cancelled connecting flight causes her to seek shelter in the city. As the city fills with snow, she takes her cab driver up on his offer to find her a place to stay for the coming week. Little did she know that she would end up trapped by a sexual predator in a fight for her life.

“You broke my wrist. I can’t tie shit.”

I picked up this eBook free on Amazon and was excited to delve into it. I have to say that I am definitely not sorry that I did. The story was extremely well written and the development was measured and precise from the beginning to its twisted conclusion. I never encountered a moment while reading where I felt the content not integral to the story.

The characters that Ropars has created are utterly believable. The picture that he painted in Marie is one of a strong female protagonist. As you’re reading, you absolutely feel for her; you feel her trepidation and terror as she realizes her stay in Chicago is not going to go as planned and conversely her sense of relief and vengeance when she turns the tables on her captor. The antagonist whom Ropars leaves somewhat unidentified is terrifyingly creepy from the moment of his first offer to assist Marie. As you’re reading you sense that something bad is going to happen and He is the perfect character to lay all of your suspicions upon; you want Him to be the bad guy, you want to dislike Him. And let me tell you, you will.

The plot while unfortunate is entirely plausible lending itself to the feeling of reality that encompasses it. As you go deeper into the story, it begins to read more like an actual account of an unlucky series of events. If you enjoy horror and stories with women featured as strong main characters, I do believe that you will enjoy this short by Robert Ropars. Pick it up on Amazon.

 

My rating 4.5 stars out of 5!

Review: Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer

“Women! You can’t live with ’em, can’t escape even by killing ’em.”

Recently I picked up this little gem for free from Amazon. Here’s the synopsis exactly as I first read it…

Linda’s had a bad day. First her boyfriend killed her. Then she woke up, still on this boring plane of existence, and with an odd obsession about her missing body. Mike won’t tell her what he did with her body, and she can’t find the stupid thing herself. There’s only one thing she can do – torment the bastard until he coughs up the information.

So you can see why I was intrigued!

Normally I don’t review shorts (the story is only in the area of about 11,000 words). Heck, I haven’t reviewed anything in quite some time. As 2012 dawns on us, I’ve decided that it’s about time that I share my thoughts about what I’ve been reading. And I read this, so it counts!

Ultimately I found the story that Kramer wove together quite delightful! Fascinating even. But not from a “this has never been done standpoint”. More of a “why the heck haven’t I thought of doing something like this yet!”. The manner in which Kramer pieced together the plot through the use of multiple points of view was fun and just quirky enough to keep me intrigued. And her descriptions of what Linda does to Mike are hilarious!

“I look like a smurf, a munchkin and an oompa loompa had an orgy and I was their love-child.”

Just so that you’re aware, Linda is dead(ish) and Mike killed her. The novelette revolves around Linda’s search for her missing dead body. Actually, it’s interesting how Kramer tempers the spectral aspect in a fresh new way. In her story, Linda has the ability to reappear in her previous form, touch things, talk to people, most of the things any living person can do. It’s an interesting twist and I have to say that it helps to move the story along more quickly. And believe it or not, adds an aspect of conceivability to the plot. How else could she have secured the services of a private detective?

For a free novelette, this was a great value. It’s even the first in a series of books. Having read Dead(ish), I’m going to spend my money and pick up the other 2 in the series; (technically) Dead and Dead (as a doorpost).

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars!

Review: Ancient Awakening

Hell Comes to New Jersey…


Brief Synopsis:

The curtains open into the world of the Fallen, seven ancient demons that have awakened and this time around they’ve chosen New Jersey (of all places) as their home away from hell. Entering stage right are Mike and Ann who are joined from the background by Joseph Miller. Miller, the (self)proclaimed Ancient One turns out to be the only person with the skill and the knowledge to combat the Fallen and their offspring; the Cursed. Miller, Mike and Ann become trapped in a NJ hospital which is rapidly filling with the Cursed as quickly as the Fallen can infect the patients. It’s up to the three of them to unravel what’s really going on and hopefully escape with their lives intact (not to mention their humanity).

Review:

Ancient Awakening is filled with all of the demons, werewolves, vampires and all of the other mythical monsters that you could possibly fit into one book. (Okay, maybe there wasn’t an appearance by the Kraken…) One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is that Laube doesn’t rely on the accepted lore of monster mythos. Ultimately his vampires and werewolves have less sex appeal and more fright factor (as any good monster should!). I do want to note that vampires are meant to use seduction as a tool to lure their victims in but they are more scary in my honest opinion if they turn on you after you’ve been seduced.

The story is well written, fast paced and worth the read in my humble opinion. The concept is something completely new (to me) which made it compelling and unique. The characters are written with depth and have an instant likeability factor; you want to find out what happens to them which draws you further into the book. The dialogue fits the individual characters as well. As you’re reading you begin to develop a sense and a picture in your mind’s eye of each character and from start to finish, everything is flawlessly pieced together. No one is a handsome, strapping leading man, and the heroine isn’t the beauty queen;  they’re just ordinary people with the same issues as everyone else and that adds to their believability. Characters written with faults and a level of humanity have a tendency to worm their way into your heart and wrap you up in their struggles.

The humour, both subtle and distinct, treads that fine line of the sublime. Not many authors can scare you with one sentence and then make you laugh out loud in the next. Miller is the kind of character that you want to know. He’s the funny enigma that you meet at the bus stop or in the line at the grocery store. The clueless sort of funny that in the end proves that while he might look oblivious to what’s going on around him, the truth of the matter is that he’s more aware than you are.

The only criticism (if you can call it such) that I have is that the book felt too short. The conclusion was mind-blowing and leaves you open to what I hope is the premise for the second book in the series: Ancient Enemies. (Will I read it? Heck yes!) I do feel however that the length of the book worked for the story. The point of any series is to keep you coming back and with an ending like the one in Ancient Awakenings, I will definitely pick up the rest of the series if only to find out how it all ends.

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

A great read overall and one that I think you won’t regret picking up 🙂