The Ferryman by Amy Neftzger (Review)

INFO:

  • Title: The Ferryman
  • Author: Amy Neftzger
  • Pages: 204
  • Genre: Fantasy, Philosophy, Supernatural / Paranormal, Women’s Fiction
  • Price: $2.99 (as of 10/26/2014)

DESCRIPTION:

Like any significant career move, this one happened by accident. Karen spent a lot of time planning what she was going to do with her life, but Fate had other plans for her, as she often does for most of us.

As a single mother who’s struggling to make ends meet, Karen stumbles into the worst job on earth: transporting souls into the afterlife. To make matters worse, she is contractually bound to continue the job indefinitely, and her difficult employer is none other than Fate. It doesn’t take long for Karen to learn that Fate may be fashionable, but she’s also heartless.

In bondage to Fate, but in love with Fortune, Karen struggles to find a way out.

 The Ferryman by Amy Neftzger

REVIEW:

Supernatural, scary and paranormal activities begin when Karen finds herself face-to-face with Fate after robbing a dead man’s grave. Karen’s theft indentures her to Fate as a ferrywo/man of lost souls. Can Karen help these ghosts cross over to the other side? Can she find a way out of her depressing contract?

The author did a fantastic job of personifying Fate and Fortune. Fate is a stylish, quick-witted and confident lady who is married to Fortune, a breathtakingly handsome yet childish chap. Her descriptions from the cemeteries and ghosts to mundane surroundings were well-written; it felt like you were right there in the midst of everything, smelling the wet, earthy dirt of the graves; the natural, slightly fishy scent of the lake; the downtown slum with the alcoholic ghost marinating in his own stink. This was an exciting read from the first paragraph and would be a wonderful adaptation into a TV series. While I’m stuck between rating it as a 4-4.5 star book, it’s still a definite must read for any Halloween lovers – I can’t wait to read more of Neftzger’s work!

 

Loved:

  • Sharp, clever and biting writing style leaves you breathless from beginning to end
  • Personification of Fate and Fortune as wife and husband, including their respective roles in life/death
  • Unique characters with complex personalities take you on an emotional rollercoaster
  • Each chapter (called “episodes”) begins with spooky cemetery pictures & ends with a poignant thought or remark
  • Kindle edition is single-spaced instead of double-spaced, making it read more like a physical book

Didn’t Love:

  • Couple of spelling errors but there weren’t enough to detract from the story
  • Lacked description of strangers’ perceptions of Karen’s weird behavior (e.g. when Karen wraps her arm around a ghost’s neck, doesn’t that look weird to the people around her?)

Excerpts:

  • ”Karen studied the coffin she had just uncovered” (opening sentence)
  • “’Even when you live a long life, it’s never long enough. You shouldn’t waste time on people who don’t make you happy’”
  • “He seemed too nice to go anywhere else [i.e. hell], but Karen also understood that she didn’t know Scott’s whole story. It could be complicated. It usually was.”
  • “Karen slammed her mug against the hard surface, misjudging the distance from her mouth to the table”
  • “The only thing she knew for certain was that Fortune was what she wanted in life, and Fate was what she got. But she wasn’t sure if one was any better than the other.”

RECOMMENDED FOR: philosophy or psychology students, quick but captivating Halloween reading

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I’m Trying Here by Taylor Church (Review)

INFO:

  • Title: I’m Trying Here: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Misadventure
  • Author: Taylor Church
  • Pages: 106
  • Genre: Humor, New Adulthood, Romance, Coming-of-Age
  • Price: Free (as of 10/25/2014)

DESCRIPTION:

This is a memoir about being in your twenties, and all the foibles, misadventures, and heartbreak that accompany those years. Looking back on a time period that is hauntingly near to him, Taylor delves into relationships he’s had that have left him bruised, broken and oft times calloused and caustic, whilst exploring the trials of being broke, rudderless and confused with adulthood. Everyone has seen or read a love story; this is not a love story. This is a story of quasi love, of unrequited feelings and spurned advances. Despite the afflictions and sorrow, the story is told in a humorous and often optimistic tone. Though the author talks about many girls, the bulk of the text is about or returns its focus to one girl, the one that got away. Will Taylor find his way back to this dame, or will he be doomed to an impecunious life of lust and loneliness?

I'm Trying Here book cover

REVIEW:

I’m trying not to attack the author in this review but it’s a little difficult considering the book is a memoir. In “I’m Trying Here”, the author is a semi-attractive guy in his 20s trying to navigate romantic relationships. He places beautiful women on a pedestal and is later destroyed emotionally when things go wrong. Obviously no one is perfect but the kind of mistakes he makes are juvenile – you’d expect them from a high school kid but not an adult. I wasn’t impressed with the writing style; each sentence contains a superfluously big word, like the author was consulting a thesaurus with every line, but a few spot-on sentences kept me reading.

I didn’t like how the author focused so heavily on physical appearances and used sex/hookups in an effort to move forward from difficult breakups. In some ways this reads like the memoir of a PUA (pick up artist) especially when he talks about how women are mysterious yet are so easy to come by. He wants incredibly beautiful girls to overlook his less-than-masculine appearance while not registering other decent-looking women as potential life partners, then talks about some girls who display red flags even though he uses sex to move on from broken relationships. While he demonstrates some introspection in the memoir, both of these points were unmentioned. Even though this is a coming-of-age memoir, the author still has a lot of maturing to do.

 

Loved:

  • Lots of emotions – men are often pressured to keep their feelings private and it was refreshing to hear the author talk about crying in public or to his best friend
  • Attempts at humor to balance the emotional highs and lows

Didn’t Love:

  • Overly flowery language (e.g. “verboten”, “mawkish”, “homologated”)
  • Author’s hypocrisy as demonstrated by:
    • 1) he’s decent-looking and wants incredibly beautiful girls to ignore his moderate looks for his witty personality, yet similarly decent-looking girls barely get the time of day with him
    • 2) he examines other girl’s red flags while ignoring his own

Excerpts:

  • ”All prepubescent romances and lesser paramours aside, I was not really affected by women until she came along” (opening sentence)
  • “I was fighting back that inevitable choking in your throat when crying is knocking at your windpipe”
  • “She had put me in checkmate before I had a chance to give my pawns a pep-talk”
  • “I could not quite grapple with all that I was feeling, for I was lost in a moment, lost in Lilly’s kiss. And in this instance, there was nothing better than being lost”
  • “When your head is barely above water you don’t concern yourself with your swimming technique, you just try not to swallow water”

RECOMMENDED FOR: young men, light readers

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Ebola K: A Terrorism Thriller (Review)

INFO:

  • Title: Ebola K: A Terrorism Thriller
  • Author: Bobby Adair
  • Pages: 205
  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
  • Price: Free (as of 10/21/2014)

DESCRIPTION:

Ebola, Terrorism, and Hope
In 1989 the Ebola virus mutated to into an airborne strain that infected humans for the first time on American soil in Reston, Virginia. Through belated containment efforts and luck, nobody died.

Now, in the remote East African village of Kapchorwa, the Ebola virus has mutated into another airborne strain without losing any of its deadly potency.

In this thriller, terrorists stumble across this new, fully lethal strain and while the world fearfully watches the growing epidemic in West Africa as Sierra Leone goes into country-wide lockdown, only a few Americans are aware of Ebola K and the danger it poses—to be the deadliest pandemic in the history of mankind.

Can they do anything to protect themselves from this killer disease? Can they stop the terrorists?

ebolaK

REVIEW:

Most Kindle books I review earn 3 stars – they’re OK, but not great. Ebola K bucks that trend with a captivating storyline, life-like characters and intricately woven plot threads. Half terrorism thriller and half medical mystery, Ebola K is all excitement. In this first book of the Ebola K trilogy, we meet our American hero, Austin Cooper, who is volunteering in Uganda when terror strikes: ebola has mutated into an airborne virus & a powerful jihadist leverages this opportunity to infect greedy Western countries. Can Austin – or anyone? – stop the virus from spreading further?

Loved:

  • Short, action-packed chapters make it easier to digest the complexities of the storyline (e.g. what ebola is, how it works, etc)
  • Fresh writing that captures your attention from the opening sentence; you definitely feel like you’re in the midst of all this adventure, traveling with Austin in the dusty, arid and diseased areas of Uganda
  • Multifaceted characters who feel real and relatable, even the jihadi antagonists whose characters and personalities become increasingly complex and 3D as the story develops

Didn’t Love:

  • The story dragged on at times, especially during points I found less interesting e.g. NSA or CIA conversations
  • Nitpicking here, but the first and last terrorist actions were actually terrifying but in between terroristic threats lacked a little meat

Excerpts:

  • ” ‘Seems like ever since you got to Uganda, you can’t stop talking. But today, you’re quiet. What’s up?’ ” (opening sentence)
  • “Austin laughed– the laugh of someone who was twenty years old and still believed that bad things only happened to other people”
  • “Ebola was the kind of disease that scared the shit out of everybody”
  • “But just as life in America has a way of killing the soul with vapid pleasures, life in Africa broke the heart through random brutality”
  • “And in moments of clarity, Austin knew the pain that lived behind the sallow, dejected eyes of all those third-world children on all those television commercials that begged for his latte money when he was back in Denver”

I really loved how well the characters were written, from Austin and his family (dad, stepmom, sister) to Najid and his crew (brother, financial advisor) and even the questioning jihadists, Salim and Jalal. There were many characters but each with distinct personalities, drives, motivations, fears, beliefs, etc that it was not difficult to keep track of everyone. I also loved the way each character’s storyline started at a different place & slowly converged to eventually meet at the end of the first book.

Another high point was the irony in Najid’s character since he’s an insanely wealthy Arabic man who criticizes Western nations’ greed and reluctance to help poor people yet doesn’t financially support them either, and **SPOILER ALERT** secretly burned hundreds of people alive in order to destroy evidence of his evil work there & protect his future reputation as a sympathetic hero **END SPOILER**. Najid is a well written antagonist, and Salim’s conflicted feelings on jihad (“are we just trading evil Western rulers for evil Arabic ones?”) are on point especially when it comes to Najid’s hypocritical nature.

RECOMMENDED FOR: adults, post-apocalyptic and contemporary fiction lovers, heavy reading

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Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by my book blog! I hope to review one book a week but know that might not be possible due to time constraints with work and family. Let’s see where life takes us!