This novel rests on the question of whether mankind will find out about the always intriguing Egyptian ruins of a past or whether the past will find present-day human kind.
Deep down in the catacombs of newly found ancient ruin (Denibus Ar) two archaeologists (originally part of a great team of higher archaeologists) get not only the chance of a lifetime of finding a great six sided pyramid but perhaps begin to feel and be guided by the very ~presence~ of who and what lived in an ancient city 5000 years ago or more. It's a fact that energy cannot be destroyed so could the energy of the ancient pharaohs become entities and live in the past and present at the same time? Could an enigmatic amulet and a furry feline assist more honorable archaeologists to rescue the past and present? Or will mankind's ever and always present greediness and obsession to pillage for and gain materialistic relics ruin everything?
I must say that I almost gave up on the book for many reasons. I didn't feel that the prologue was necessary but I jogged myself through it. By the time I was 18% into this novel I was thrown into an overly descriptive story filled with an excess of unnecessary 10 gallon words and I almost threw in the towel at that point. But I trudged on anyway. The author seemed to be more occupied with impressing the reader with too much description and using those 10 gallon words consistently to do so. I must say that I learned to giggle at finding out the meaning of "niggle." But, really, why use perspicacity instead of insight? Or having a character "speaking pedagogically" or "didactically." Of course there is nothing wrong with these words (and one could indeed increase their vocabulary by reading this book) but such vocabulary need not be as persistent, frequent and therefore annoying as found in Denibus Ar.
It was not until well after halfway through the novel where some real action takes place. Before that everything was overly descriptive and so lacking in interest as to cause me mental weariness. Ironically, 38% into the novel, the main character (Carl Langley) is reading a novel that describes, verbatim, how I felt while reading Denibus Ar. Langley was "... unable to concentrate on the text, the action slipped from his memory, the dialogue seemed insipid, maudlin and distant. Despite his almost forcefully attempts at deliberately reading the text aloud word for word he could not follow it."
For these reasons I give this novel only three stars. HOWEVER, I can see this author having GREAT potential as his prose is very good and he was able to make the book a pretty good page turner after 80% into the novel.
Read more if you would like my old long diatribe of a synopsis of Denibus Ar (pardon any redundancies) :
So the stage is set. Denibus Ar is an archaeological compound in a virginal area in Egypt whereby several chief archaeologists get permission to excavate the site that was found when an unfortunate lad lost control of his plane at a much earlier date and plowed right into the sand unearthing that something, indeed, "was below." Because of the miraculous soft sand landing the pilot survived and was paid off happily while the great eager archaeologists began chewing at the bit to find and claim access to excavate a whole new untouched Egyptian area hitherto. One of great promise and great findings. A stark desert far away from any of the other already found Egyptian pyramids and ancient ruins. It becomes a well guarded site for those with power to oversee the excavation and to have their worker bees or underlings doing the hard work.
Carl Langley -- main character and one of many underling archaeologists working on the excavation of a possible find of the century in the form of a deep underground city that was alive 5000 years ago. After weeks and months of working under the blistering heat of the desert a proud pyramid, one-of-a-kind, is found. Using everything from primitive tools to state-of-the-art instruments and technology underground chambers and catacombs are no longer secret. Langley is "under the towering shadows of the hypostyle ruins of Denibus Ar" bored with the work but overly intrigued with a mysticism that has relentlessly grabbed a hold of him.
When Langley is working in the pit of the excavation rather early on he stumbles upon a "scarab amulet" or, rather, it stumbles upon Langley throw power of its own. And that seems to take an almost spiritual hold of him. Not too long afterward a mysterious cat appears out of nowhere when the team of archaeologists FINALLY reached one of the chambers of the underground find. An exhausting feat that takes up much of the story itself. Langley is sure that the appearance of the cat and the finding of the peculiar amulet (that seems to be more than a mere talisman) are no coincidence and, along with the voices in his head seeming to come from a presence or entity, there is more going on than the mere excavation of an ancient pyramid with its surrounding chambers and tombs.
At one point Langley begins to wonder if it is his own madness bringing and brought on by only images and presences that only he can feel and that no one else on the site is haunted by. Langley seems possessed by finding and secretly keeping the amulet that seems to have a power of its own. He is both obsessed and possessed by it.
Langley is eventually able to befriend and confide in another archaeologist at his level (Yasser) who has been keeping secrets of his own. Come to find out he is not alone when Yasser takes him away from the site one night to show him all of the artifacts he has slowly taken from the site over nearly half a year. Keeping them in a chest and well hidden outside the camp. Yasser tells Langley he has been addicted to collecting precious artifacts from gems to ivory. The artifacts themselves have some form of malignant influence over those that find them "precious" like Langley and Yasser. The question becomes WHAT FORCE (via some sort of ancient entity or presence) has them so entranced? Or is it just their imagination after being out in the scorching heat day after day for weeks on end? Yasser tells Langley that he has questioned the other guys on the dig and they don't have or share the same obsession and compulsion that has taken over them and them alone; albeit in different ways.
When Langley first found the amulet it drew him in but within a short period of time it began to take on a power of its own. Right alongside the cat. The "out of nowhere" cat was drawn to the amulet as much as Langley was. When they were found together under extraordinary circumstances (or impossible circumstances) Langley further begins to question HIS PLACE in this whole scheme of things.
When Langley and Yasser dig deeper (pardon the pun) 75% into the book they find trouble more than ever expected and have to run underground for their lives.
King Of Paine
on Nov. 16, 2011
Before I had heard of this novel, I had just finished reading THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. A novel I had not heard of either but that had been given to me by a friend. I wasn't quite sure what to think of the title (girl with a dragon tattoo) and really had no idea exactly what it was about. Let me just say that I enjoyed it GREATLY.
Only days after finishing that novel, author Larry Kahn was offering some free copies of his novel -- KING OF PAINE -- on Goodreads of where I was greatly obliged to receive a copy. A very strange coincidence indeed. Another novel with a peculiar name and a very elusive description. With some trepidation, I decided to begin reading KING OF PAINE right away and am so glad I did!
It was only after that whereby I read that those who had read and enjoyed the novel THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO would also really like the novel KING OF PAINE. While I can see how some people find similarities between the two novels, both books are extremely unique in their storylines and both in a great way! Learning from my own ignorance, don't let a novel's title sway you away from reading it!!!
I applause those on Amazon who have given great reviews and summations of KING OF PAINE but, alas, I will try to write up my own review/summation of this great novel. My summary of the novel is included only because there is not a great number of summaries about it and one more can't hurt for this newer author. Yet I feel that it pales greatly in comparison to READING this supercharged suspense novel!
PLEASE don't let the sexual content of this novel scare you away because, for me, it only made up about 2% of the novel and only because it was necessary to provide a creative, unique plot with wonderful heroic, moral and ethical characters! Ultimately, the novel is about true love and to what great lengths GOOD MEN will go to and how much they will risk to find and save their soul mates.
Special Agent Frank Paine sacrificed everything to join the FBI. Nonetheless, those sacrifices landed him a job with the Bureau and he was assigned to the Atlanta Field Office. Frank's first "bust" as the FBI "new guy" led to coming across a scene that Frank was all-too-familiar with (via the Internet). The FBI, with Frank at the forefront, was showing up at a hotel room prepared with force to take down a suspected pedophile after receiving a anonymous tip that the "adult male" subject would be found in a room on the 10th floor with a 13-year-old girl. What they found, instead, was a young lady and an older man playing out a BDSM charade but looked like a rape. It had been a set up (rape by proxy). Someone had set up both of these innocent individuals to make it look like a rape was taking place. An unknown predator with "yet unknown" relentless future plans had these two people set up and it was only the beginning. NOT the beginning of focusing on that subject alone (online and in-person adult entertainment) but using or murdering anyone who got in an unidentified subject's way of finding a deep-seated need -- saving his or her own life (literally).
Frank had just cast away (for good) a long-term addiction that the Bureau was not aware of. It took three years and therapy but Frank Paine turned his life around regaining his personal integrity and moral principles. And hoping some day to win back the love of his life --Jolynn Decker. He knew their loving but painful past may never have her forgiving him but there is always his hope for that. Jolynn is also a woman who becomes a secondary character in the novel and who also has some pieces of information that may unravel the mystery that has eluded so many in this novel.
Frank Paine had been an online King of "Real-Time" role-playing sexual adventures -- specifically Bondage, Dominance, Submission and Masochism. But he never, NEVER did anything "sick". Limits were set by both online parties and respect came first. Staying committed to a 12 step program to put a permanent end to his kinky past, leaving a lucrative career of Hollywood acting, spending every penny he had to join the Bureau and losing the love of his life... Frank finds himself having to use his kinky knowledge of online skills to try to find and bring down a perpetrator bent on ruining the reputations of dominate men, killing two innocent people who were simply in the way, putting fear into many and going to beyond extreme means to find his or her own ends. That being -- what the psycho wants and what he or she NEEDS.
This may sound like your average novel but I can only say NOT BY FAR! When the young lady in the hotel room uses the phrase "Take Me to My River" much of the rest of the novel is a rabid chase to find out what and where "The River" is and why.
The first recognition of the phrase is recognized by a Bureau member and says that "Take Me to My River" is part of a poem. A New York Pulitzer Prize winning reporter was known for its popularity. This very reporter, Roger Martin, is becoming somewhat desperate for new material and Roger has a deadline to come up with something good before getting canned. Roger Martin is the second main character in this novel.
This is where author Larry Kahn alternates chapters in his novels; one chapter devoted to Frank Paine's mission to find an out of control perpetrator and solve the case and opposite chapters devoted to Roger Martin's mission to bring more news to the front page. Roger uncovers, one by one, popular or wealthy people (or both) who just seem to disappear off the face of the earth for no apparent reason. They become "The Missing."
Like Frank (and so many men) Roger is not alone when trying to find, and keep, the woman he loves. Roger's love is known literally and figuratively as his "Angel" (Angela). Angela is nothing less than Roger's true 'Angel' and a woman who literally lives up to her name not only to Roger but to anyone who comes in contact with her. Her personality beams with light, compassion and love. But Angel has her own secrets and her private life is kept from Roger for a long time. Angela's secrets capture the reader at the same time. Is she harboring good secrets or bad secrets?
It would be no surprise that Frank's efforts and Roger's efforts eventually intertwine. I really enjoyed how the author revealed the separate efforts in separate chapters and then slowly blended the separate, yet common, missions and how they thread together for the perpetrator to be captured and the mystery in the novel solved. The mystery in this novel is just as exciting as the suspense!
Using the most unlikely events and keeping in mind that "people know people who know people"... author Larry Kahn delivers a story that is so real and so intense that I felt I couldn't put the novel down -- even when I had to. Besides getting to know Frank, Roger, Angela and Jolynn (and so many others in this tale of suspense and intrigue) I was on a physical and emotional roller coaster taking me one way and then another keeping me glued to each character and each situation at every turn. Mr. Kahn is easily able to get you into the hearts and minds of several other characters in a way that I have not seen done before. I felt like I knew each and every one of them!
For those who may think the novel is about erotica... it does not fall into that category. Erotica, in this novel, is uniquely used by this author because, like other not, it does exist and it is used as a tool in this novel to show how certain activities (no matter what they be) have consequences. Good or bad. I think it was a great idea to tell a story describing people's uninhibited actions and not put blinders on when broaching the subject of online (or off-line) sexual fantasies.
I am glad to see on Mr. Kahn's website that he is planning to continue to write more fiction and I am so glad to hear that! His prose is perfect and makes reading a breeze. KING OF PAINE is a complex novel of sorts but not so much whereas to lose the reader.
**** Semi-spoiler from this point on :
Without spoiling where the novel eventually leads... it leads to a place (a physical place) that was created by people and FOR PEOPLE with similar circumstances. And it has NOTHING to do with sex! The place in this novel takes an extraordinary amount of revenue, people and resources but it is not without the realm of possibility. It hit home with me on a deep level because I tried to create a similar place about five years ago but lacked (and still lack) the resources to be able to do so. The place in this novel, along with its residents, are completely different than what I have in mind but, at the same time, have many of the same needs when all is said and done. There is also always the hope for many such "places" to actually exist.
Having only one other experience in reading Historical Fiction I stepped, with great trepidation, into reading this novel. I was surprisingly pleased! Firstly because I am very interested in the Aztec history and, secondly, how their individual cultures and beliefs have left us both history and mystery, folk and lore, and the supernatural or paranormal history and legend that is known amongst Indians from all lands. Briggs allows the reader all of this and more.
Thankfully, for the benefit of the readers, Briggs understands that the spoken word that dominated large parts of Mesoamerica (the Nahuatl language) would deem most difficult to read. Instead, he eloquently and wisely chose beautiful [English-based] names for persons, places and things to which readers can better relate. For those interested, the provides a brief guide at the beginning of the novel to show what wonderful meanings the Aztec vocabulary has.
In this novel, "Wasp" (a leader, a husband and a father) tells the story of his place and time in one of the many ethnic groups of central Mexico shortly before the Spanish Conquistadors take over completely. I found it pleasurable reading for the author to have Wasp tell us his story in the first person narrative. This way, the reader is privy to all of Wasp's innermost feelings, his actions and reactions, his explanation [in descriptive detail] of his surroundings and all of the activities during this tumultuous time. All told in a colorful way.
The year is 1519. The main character (Wasp) is one lovable angry warrior. He is also known as "Angry Wasp" for good reason. He loses a very young daughter into the slave market trade with no easy way to get her back. He is leader of a small nation having just as many opponents as allies. Who is friend or foe at every turn makes for uneasy living although, over time, that really hasn't changed much for humans.
Wasp must protect his lands and his people learning that he must become a more 'Angry Wasp' as he very highly ~feels~ and knows that the "outlanders" (conquistadors) are coming to threaten everything the old Mexico ever knew. Wasp must pick and choose his battles carefully. There is the battle of finding his daughter. There is the battle to keep everything his culture and tradition held dear. Wasp must choose what takes precedence as time marches on.
Games (in every sense of the word) are played to win and lose loved ones as well as making a final decision on WHO may be sacrificed at any given time. The sacrifices are not for the weak of heart but those were the times of such practices. Briggs does not leave Montezuma out of this novel but calls him, instead, "Stern Lord." Stern Lord takes part in these games to see who is to be sacrificed and how so.
Wasp's wife of nature (Broken Plume) is a powerful influence upon him -- not only as his wife but as a woman of nature; a sorceress. Such people of of nature or the forest are called Otomíes and not looked highly upon from other "cultured" Aztec peoples. Not surprisingly, Wasp had a second wife (Rainbow) who is a Toltec. I was pleased to see at least one character of the "Toltec" culture brought into this novel as I am somewhat familiar with the legendary Toltecs. The Aztecs saw the Toltecs as their own predecessors whom they glorified in order to be able to legitimize their own structures of power by claiming royal descent from Toltec lineages. In Wasp's own words, his Toltec wife (Rainbow) "was the pride of my family and my bid to equality with all the rulers of the One World. Having a real Toltec wife was as important to enter the select clique of nobility as having land for the peasants to cultivate." A personal and political advantage for Wasp. Rainbow also gave him a son. Needless to say, Rainbow is not fond of Broken Plume but is a man to do? It worked in history and it works for Wasp.
Finding Dew (his daughter with Broken Plume that was lost in the slave trade ever since she could walk) was a personal matter for Wasp and finding her was one mission among others in this novel. He works with others to try to find his daughter (who became a nameless youngster among hundreds sold in the slave trade) while trying to dodge the enemies bent on destroying taking over their lands and, therefore, culture. This is where a novel of this type could use a little (or a lot) of paranormal activity to get what they need. Wasp has learned that smoking a potent mixture of mushrooms and bark can solve a lot of problems -- gaining paranormal means -- but always at a price.
Aztec cultures are steeped in rich and complex mythological and religious traditions. They also see the world in many dimensions. The author takes advantage of this and also what puts FIVE DANCES WITH DEATH into the category of fantasy or supernatural or paranormal as well as a stroke of Historical fiction.
In this tale, some Aztecs (including Wasp) are able to separate their mind, soul and spirit from their body and create a "double" of themselves. For history purposes, this is very common among any Indian or Aztec tribes. In doing so, they can go and visit others with the same paranormal gifts (those who can create doubles of themselves) and get a sense of what is happening in other lands as well as with other people. Wasp finds that he can have a little fun with those people [especially his enemies] by visiting and entering their minds and therefore playing with their heads.
Wasp knows that he needs to stay grounded in the real world (instead of enjoying the stalking others by instant travel via smoking and being able to make a double of himself in the spirit world) to both protect his lands and find his daughter but he also needs such an occasional relief from the common stressors of a leader in the real world. Wasp chooses to smoke a bit too much which leads to him leaving his body too often. His wife of nature (Broken Plume) showed him many things from the natural world by being a sorceress but she strongly and adamantly advises Wasp NOT to enter into the fantasy or paranormal world by smoking too much. Her wisdom is profound but Wasp does not listen since euphoric activities and instant travel are too much of an attraction - or addiction. Being allowed instant travel out of his body certainly has its advantages but just as many downfalls. This is simply because one easily loses control of themselves as well as drains themselves of their necessary energy needed as a leader of clans and lands. Yet if Wasp did not have some relief from reality and something else to occupy his mind he may end up destroying himself.
A man named "Hernan" becomes Wasp's first victim to play mind games with. In historical fact Hernán Cortés was the Spanish explorer who is famous mainly for his march across Mexico and his conquering of the Aztec Empire in Mexico. The perfect victim for Wasp to have control over. Having the ability to leave his physical body and become a spirit entity certainly has its perks. Wasp's initial out of body visits to enter Hernán's head and thought briefly reminded me of how the ghost of Marley (in 'Scrooge') visits, taunts and scares Scrooge. Wasps further visits into Hernan's mind did have its advantages -- in war time especually. Although, as we know from history, Wasp had no real control over Cortés since Cortés and his army wiped out two thirds of the Aztec population. But this is where the FANTASY of this novel comes into play for the reader.
From there, the novel takes us through the old Mexico with the Aztecs (specifically Wasp and Broken Plume) battling wits and strength with others who have sorcerers of their own (the Mayans and other peoples of the area). The reader is taken firsthand through ceremonies and festivals. Places where games are played not only for fun but for the winners to sacrifice the lives and souls of those they have put in cages in a nearby room. The killings are for the gods and nothing more. The sacrifices are quite descriptive but the norm for the culture at that time. One such game in the novel became more fun to read because in legend or lore one can't physically kill an individual of nature (or sorceress like Plume). Her heart may be physically torn out but her spiritual being remains and is seeing those killing her. Undoubtedly a plus for not only Plume but for Wasp himself.
Beginning in 1990 [why then I have no idea] I began to feel a certain "link" to not only Native American Indians but other cultures... including the Aztecs. Even without having much knowledge whatsoever of either one. I also do not have the desire to read dry history so FIVE CHANCES WITH DEATH offered me the unique opportunity to live during the time of the Spanish Conquistadors and their conquest of the Aztec empire. In all honesty however, I think I would've enjoyed the novel more if Wasp wasn't fooling around with his paranormal abilities as much as he did but the author chose to have that amount of supernatural fantasy and I can't blame him as it is what he found pleasure in writing.
Without a doubt, Author Austin Briggs, has done his research on the Spanish conquistadors & The Aztec Empire. Historical fiction can be good or bad but with the Briggs' travels to different places in our world to gather FIRSTHAND information certainly puts this historical fiction novel right up there with the best.
I read this short novel at a perfect time. I needed a break from the usual longer novels (350+ pages) but needed a good, shorter "comfy, hometown read" full of mystery, suspense and surprises and I wasn't disappointed.
The setting is a small town in Australia whose residents have always been completely dependent upon the livestock industry (cattle, sheep, etc.) that are raised on several family farms throughout the town. So when the farmers began losing their livestock to some mysterious overnight predators they not only feared losing what they needed to make a living but the very existence of the old town that depended on the farming community.
While a majority of the residents have lived in the small Australian town their entire lives (along with their ancestors) a few had ventured out into the bigger world beyond their borders and one of them was a woman named "Beth Margraves" -- the novel's protagonist. She had left her small Australian town right after high school to become a journalist and did just that in Sydney Australia. She also left her widowed father and her best friend/boyfriend from grade school through high school to follow her dream. Her dream was about to become bigger (by being promoted to a higher class journalist position in New York City) if she was able to grab and write up a blockbuster story about the supposed mystery going on in her old hometown. For Beth, she knew it was only on a wing and a prayer that something "big" was indeed going on in that small town she was raised in.
When Beth was asked by her boss to investigate some strange goings-on in her hometown she didn't have much choice but to return and hunt down a story that would promote her to bigger and better things. She just didn't know then that she would become the hunted to get her story.
The story is a grisly one. Beth finds out right away that a pack of wild dogs of an undetermined genus and species were ripping the town apart -- literally. Sheep and cattle were found ripped to sheds and when Beth became a victim similar to the lady stuck in the car almost identical to the Stephen King novel and movie "CUJO" she had no idea what she would be up against. Fortunately, like the lady in CUJO, Beth survived the episode but she, and the town, are facing more than just one big bad dog. Others in the town wouldn't be as lucky as Beth.
Every good journalist can use good photos to go along with their stories and Beth is no different. To get what she needed Beth plans an afternoon trip, along with her old flame from school (Gabe), into the area where the wild dogs were supposedly nested (an underground location in The National Wildlife Park). Climbing down underground one afternoon with Gabe and an old hermit who resided in the National Wildlife Park (Clement Jackson) to scavenge the possible "home" to an undetermined number of wild dogs in the pack ... Beth got more than she bargained for. She obtained journalist award winning photos of the underground macabre -- a tomb of many bones. Only for the near future to potentially and easily have her own skeleton added to that very tomb.
When Beth, her father, her old boyfriend and others come face-to-face with the jaws and fangs belonging to the mysterious dogs (that are much bigger versions of dogs) who seem to possess the same thinking abilities as humans... many lose life and limb.
The story was supercharged with a small town in terror, a potential headline for Beth to capture for a big promotion, a romance rekindled between Beth and her boyfriend from 12 years ago when she left her small-town, and entire futures left to fate by fangs.
The novel was also packed with action with everyone trying to survive a ferocious pack of animals no matter where they went. It was certainly a page turner and very well written. With more than enough horror to rival Stephen King and with a sprinkling of Dean Koontz's supernatural creatures... THE PACK was overall a good read.
*** WARNING -- A semi-spoiler below.
What was disappointing was the fact that the wild creatures were just brought into the novel for Beth to gain her story and for the several days she stayed on the farm to do so. The long-term residents of the town knew that the creatures had been around for decades but apparently they hadn't caused trouble before displaying a sudden overkill with their need for feed. Further, at the end of the novel "the pack" didn't just "go away" so the whole story could just start all over again. Therefore there is plenty of room for more bloody carnivorous steam and a scream for a SEQUEL!!!
I did not know until I finished the novel that the author is much more than an ordinary, everyday individual trying out a debut novel. For anyone who is reading this, I will leave it up to you, if interested, to research the interesting accomplishments of this author (Les Turner).
SYSTEMS is described as a utopian, dystopian novel involving reincarnation and a computer program. I have not been an avid reader of either a utopian or dystopian novel... let alone both. So can this novel be both? By definition... absolutely! Especially the definition that says that a dystopian society is a "society in a repressive and controlled state, often UNDER THE GUISE OF BEING UTOPIAN."
My review MAY contain some spoilers but it is of my opinion that this book needs to be read to understand my review. Therefore, *small spoiler alert*
1) BEFORE OR AFTER reading my review... the trailer to this novel is excellent and will definitely engage you and grab you MUCH more than my meager review so please take a peek at it here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x4Cw6WolVo
2) This novel incorporates a little of the paranormal and the theory of reincarnation. As an individual, do I buy into either as actual true happenings? Put succinctly... I don't know. But I don't dismiss anything either. Neither of these two subjects are "pushed" into your face in this novel so if you are squeamish about either subject please to not let it deter you from reading this very well written, great story!
-- SYSTEMS -- A novel after my own heart. What I mean by this is that this novel takes one through a journey whereby the government appears to shine for those that it controls; especially a semi-futuristic novel whereby war and poverty are a thing of the past and a new and better government exists. But there are a small number of people who know and understand that all is not what it seems and, more importantly, something needs to be done to make a profound difference -- no matter how much it takes or how much sacrifice is necessary. Put another way, the plot of this novel reveals that it takes the characters KNOWING the past (and BEING PART OF the past) to find out how people can easily become victims of a system all gone wrong in the name of those who have control over the rest of the population and will go to any and all lengths to keep it that way.
-- SYSTEMS is also an exquisitely penned psychological thriller at your fingertips. Do any of us really know who is who in our deepest of hearts in this world of uncertainty? Including your friends, your family members, acquaintances and your neighbors? Do we really ever know WHO to trust especially factoring in the power of the government (of any country) and what lengths they will go to control their people? This topic has been one of many a novel -- but not written in the same league as it does in SYSTEMS!
-- The author reveals how one person's conspiracy theory is another person's belly laugh in this world but there is usually one truth to strive for when it comes to liberty and justice. In this novel we have a cast of characters coming to understand who they REALLY ARE to answer lifelong questions that have plagued them. These characters have ALSO lived past lives with questions needing answers. By having lived before, the cast of characters in this novel therefore have an edge to prove how "the powers that be" rewrite history and do it very well to suit their own purposes.
Just when "the powers that be" believe they have everything (and every ONE) under control along come their "experiments" from the grave (in this case the main characters of the novel) to try to get justice and let truth prevail. The author's illustration of character and conquest of accomplishing this makes this tale a true page turner!
[My] Highlights for SYSTEMS :
-- The protagonist (Elise Archer) is a fascinating character. She is a young woman who has already lived twice and has to discover the cruel nature of reality, the essence of her true self and the very foundations of good and evil.
*** HOWEVER, the other main characters are all male and just as exciting and intriguing by living and surviving and FIGHTING FOR liberty and justice. Therefore this novel will speak to male readers as these men fight for truth and get caught up in an adventure of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The novel also speaks volumes because the storyline covers the undercurrents of existence of which so many are totally unaware. A frightful realism and a moral imperative!
-- Police never, if ever, acknowledge that they often seek the help of a psychic aide in public but behind the scenes they often will give credit where credit is due.
Protagonist Elise Archer (a.k.a. Joanna Sinclair from a previous life) comes to America from England and works with the police department as both a worker in the field and a psychic aide. Psychometry (social sciences) is one of her specialized areas. She freely admits that she can't read minds or predict the future. However she CAN see, hear and feel everything from the suspect's point of view and can make brief connections with the victims as well. This certainly can come in handy for police work. But in ways that she can't understand Elise becomes a great asset to not only finding a killer but becoming part of a team of individuals who share past lives. These are the individuals who have been the "subjects/experiments" of a government conspiracy and need to find out sooner or later what the hell is going on before they lose their lives again!
A fanciful, light read into the author's interpretation of flowers (and their individual colors). The author proclaims to be able to take a "reading" on flowers in general and bring to light the relationship between flowers, humans and the world around us.
This book predicts what each color of the flower represents (or a combination of colors) as well as the flower itself. The author takes on the role of a "flower psychic" and down a path of enlightenment. A reader can get the warm fuzzies as to what flowers (and their colors) an individual flower species represents and precisely tells about a person. As such, and as I would suspect, she believes that there is a spiritual side to almost every flower. In fact, like many new age type thought flowers ooze spirituality in this book. As well as Chakras! I think the author has chosen about every positive adjective and noun that could be found in a dictionary to describe any type of flower or flower color! A little over the top for my tastes but cute in its own way.
The author takes the reader through a variety of flowers (that this short book can hold) describing both the positive and negative effects the color of a flower, or the flower itself, may behold for a person. She also bounces back-and-forth with the strength of a dynamo the powers and forces and weaknesses of flowers and their colors.
According to the author, each and every part of a flower can "signify" one attribute or another for a person. Whether it be love, fertility, egotism, and at least over 100 other attributes.
This inspirational book is a map of the lineaments, characteristics and quality of the world of flowers.
For me, 'Flower Reflections' was a fun read! However, I can't deceive myself into believing that a flower's individual colors, or the flower itself, actually has a complex array of all the attributes that the author claims. In other words, I do not buy into any notions that a flower can tell SO MUCH about a human -- the behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental qualities that characterize a unique individual.
This book is DEFINITELY targeted towards "New Age" readers who, along with the author, truly believe in the supernatural power and spiritual essence of flowers. While, at the same time, ANY reader can kick off their shoes and enjoy the sauciness and merriment found in this ~flowery~ book! Unfortunately, the book did not cover my favorite flowers of all time (Lilies of the Valley and Lilacs).
Love the book cover!
The following is my review of both THE MAN WHO CROSSED WORLDS and the very short prequel to to that novel called THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT.
I have not read anything under the genre "urban fantasy" before so I have nothing to compare it to. Therefore, this is my first introduction to any "urban fantasy" novel.
I have learned, with this novel anyway, that there are no rules to the world(s) involved. This is a novel whereby the main character, Miles Franco, and others like him can punch holes into reality and can travel from one world to another and be able to understand the realities (fixed or not) in both worlds to survive.
The prequel to this novel (THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT) introduces us to Miles Franco. Miles is an individual who has been gifted with, and schooled in, something called "tunneling." "Tunneling" allows an individual to travel from Earth to another world called Heaven. In this novel, Heaven is not what religious peoples envision as a place to go after death; it is just another world that has an entirely different reality than what is on Earth. Heaven, in this novel, is simply another world with another species of individuals called "Vei" who reside there. They are a little peculiar but, after all, they ARE aliens with their own culture. Heaven is not like Earth in many ways and it has its very own sense of existing. The laws of physics are completely different in this other world of "Heaven" and only experienced "tunnelers" who have traveled there frequently can understand its twisted and fluid realities and therefore learn their way around this other world and the culture that reside there.
Miles Franco is an experienced "tunneler" and has the necessary skills to harness the strange reality that exists in "Heaven." For this reason he is a wanted man. The cops on earth want to work with him to try to keep peace and harmony between the two coexisting worlds. Individuals in both worlds have a need for his special skills and he finds himself stretched very thin while trying, almost single-handedly, to keep peace between the two worlds. A little too much to expect out of one man but that does not stop Miles!
No matter how hard Miles tries to avoid getting involved in the smuggling of immigrants from Heaven to Earth and avoiding getting involved with the smuggling of drugs between the two worlds -- avoidance never happens for poor Miles. He finds himself in the thick of it more times than not.
Via the short prequel to this novel -- THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT -- the reader gets a small taste of what Miles can do (for who and why) along with the type of person he is. The reader learns specifically HOW Miles "tunnels" back and forth and what he needs in his possession to do so -- including what it's like INSIDE a tunnel while traveling to or fro. The reader also get a peek into what the "other" world (Heaven) is. Even though there are so many different theories to describe Heaven, Miles explains that it is just pure and simple chaos. But far from a terrible kind of chaos. In fact, many times Miles could have been pleased to take up residence in one corner of that different world.
In the prequel (THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT) Miles helps a lady from Heaven (of the Vei species) to return to her home city in Heaven after being on Earth for quite some time for personal reasons. What Miles is actually doing, however, is "smuggling" her back to Heaven.
SO SETS THE STAGE for the novel THE MAN WHO CROSSED WORLDS. Pardon some of the redundancy :
Told in first-person, we get a first-hand account of what happens via the main character -- Miles Franco. Miles is a young man who was educated and gifted with his forte of being a "tunneler." Miles is able to construct tunnels that can whisk him, and anyone who might be with him at any given time, from one world to the next. But this is no easy task and the risk for anything to go wrong is close to 100%. To Miles' advantage he is an expert in tunneling and traveling but not without high costs or losing his life at any given time. Especially when tunnels are beyond unpredictable and the other world (Heaven) has twisted realities.
What happens when two separate worlds (literally) in the universe with two separate cultures (human culture on Earth and a culture called "Vei" on Heaven) are aware of each other and often coincide with each other while the residents living in both worlds share some of the same evils? Pure hell, uncertainty and screaming chaos abounds.
The same evils in both worlds -- namely being gangsters, doctors and drug smugglers -- become inevitable. In this novel, creating and distributing powerful new drugs can change the course of history for both worlds. Or calls for a multi-world war. Author, Chris Strange, weaves a fantasy tale that is not too far from nonfiction for those with open minds.
Because the residents of Earth (humans) and the residents of Heaven (Vei) exist in both worlds and travel back and forth, depending on the circumstances, they have to learn to coexist with other which is far from easy to do. The one thing the two worlds have in common is that there is madness and undesirables in both cultures. But the biggie that exists is the quest for drugs along with the drug lords who will do almost anything to acquire those drugs and be in control of them.
In this novel, a new drug surfaces (created by a chemist) called "Chroma" which has the ability to wreak havoc with individuals. It is a potent drug that has the ability to turn those who inject it into their system into an entirely new species! What transpired with people high on Chroma in Heaven was downright scary enough and those who were on it would always be coming back for more. Miles was beyond nervous as to how his city (Bluegate) would have to deal with the deadly drug. The gangsters who had some of it began to kidnap innocents and "tested" Chroma on them. If it drove normal people mad, the violence would be horrifying. If tunnelers got their hands on it the universe would have gone mad. Therefore, MILES FRANCO TO THE RESCUE!!!
Miles just wants his own little world of peace and harmony with a few dollars to rub together to get by but, being a wanted man, he is always being sought out after and, being a man of great morals, ethics and principles, he wants no great payment for his skills and therefore really can't be "bought" to help others in both worlds of uncertainties. He just wants to keep the peace for humanity in his city on Earth (Bluegate) and save it from falling apart from the inside out because of so many corrupt peoples, greed and drugs that are causing it to fall apart. Sound familiar? As a result, Miles does what he does best -- "tunneling" back and forth between two worlds to try to make a peaceful connection between the two realities of the two worlds. In fact, tunneling REQUIRES that very thing (connection). Because Miles is a "freelance tunneler" he is definitely a wanted man by the best and the worst of both worlds. Miles is wanted by upstanding citizens in both worlds to prostitutes to drug lords.
Miles finds himself trying to figure out who the "bad guys" really are. Who is REALLY killing for the new drug "Chroma?" Could it be the Vei gangster (known as John Andrews) who resides on Earth with a whole lot of money and people behind him or the human detective (Detective Todd) who is supposed to be on Miles' side along with the other cops on Earth? Or someone else?
Miles finds himself working with an attractive female human cop (Vivian) but what part in all of this mess does SHE really play? Miles finds himself torn between the good, the bad and the ugly. Everyone wanted Miles to play their game, from the cops to the gangsters. The cops are always after the gangs and drugs but they never get ahead. The game still exists (as well as the drugs) and that's where Miles Franco shines.
Miles repeatedly finds himself trying to single-handedly do his part (to keep as much peace and harmony as possible) using his educated gift of "tunneling" which has him traveling from one world to another. He accomplishes this by both creating tunnels to travel back and forth from one world to another but, at the same time, also finding himself being sucked into interdimensional abyss' whereby he is not always in control.
Miles is also reckless and bold which even he realizes, after the fact, that these qualities end up in stupid moves putting himself and others into great jeopardy. This makes Miles all the more real to the reader. He is not completely supernatural (with his educated gift for tunneling) and has flaws of his own.
Between Heaven and Earth we shall abide. At least that is what protagonist Miles Franco shows us. In this novel Heaven and Earth are simply two different worlds. One world (Earth) is fixed in what we all realize "reality" is. On the flip side, another world (Heaven) is quite the opposite. This is where we have reality and fantasy mixed together. But what in the world happens (pardon the pun) when gangsters and drug cartel want what they always do (power and control) in both worlds?
*** What I really liked about this novel and what I could've done without :
Author, Chris Strange offers the reader to really know his protagonist -- Miles Franco. Miles is full of humor and self-deprecation which allows readers to easily relate to him. He is a do-gooder in both worlds with high standards and principles. But, boy, does he get himself into some messes! He is also a smartass which had me laughing many times while reading the novel. I was going to give this novel only 3 stars because these messes are really over-the-top but then I remembered that this is a fantasy novel and these very "out of this world" messes would be normal in the fantasy genre. Pardon the pun again (re:"out of this world"). :-)
I could really relate to Miles' feelings toward his own hometown on earth in this novel. Miles grew up and lives in a town called "Bluegate" on Earth and is familiar with it even though it fell into a very depressed, trashy state of affairs over the years. My hometown area on Earth did the same thing. My hometown is something I remember knowing and loving (like Miles) yet I can never go back to it expecting it to be the same when it's totally different. And certainly not for the better.
While every reader likes the storyline, I am no exception. But I am also a reader who takes good notice at the style of writing by any author. Chris Strange writes extremely well with fantastic analogies, metaphors, humor and great descriptions of the people and places throughout the novel. Therefore I was easily able to see, smell, taste and feel people, places and things in the novel as if I were right there. This was a huge plus for me!
*** What I didn't like about this novel was that no action really began until after about 50% into the novel. I know that the author had to describe the two worlds, had to describe "tunneling", had to go into detail to let the author know "what was what" but taking 50% of the novel to do that made it quite slow going.
Then, just the opposite occurs. The last 25% of the novel drove me crazy! The last 25% of the novel was consumed with a combination of Cujo, The Langoliers and a whole lot of crazy "new creatures" fighting and chewing and ripping and tearing apart those involved in the last 25% of the novel (including Miles who had to be on his 90th life going through all that). Because of this, the last quarter of the novel lost its credibility with me. I don't mind blood and gore but when it takes up a great deal of a story it seems endless. Especially when it is happening all at once for so long. This paragraph in the previous paragraph is why I rate this novel 4 stars. If there was a 3.5 choice of stars... I would choose that. :-)
Miles is always (too much) in a perpetual state of motion throughout the novel which also took away some of the credibility of the novel for me. On the flip side, however, one might say HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE when visiting a world (Heaven) that is always fluid and flexible and moving all the time as well as Miles being thrown in between both worlds -- among gangsters and drug lords and cops and 'new creatures.'
Lastly, the author made a brief introduction (VERY BRIEF) to a character early on in the novel who was nothing more than a passerby. Yet, toward the end of the novel, the author has Miles fighting to make sure this character was okay and going through hell and high water while risking his life TO ENSURE that character's safety. As if the character had been of great importance to Miles all along... which wasn't the case at all.
Author Chris Strange certainly has a gift for writing and his prose is excellent but, in my opinion, he needs to make things more cohesive in future novels as well as avoiding the pitfalls that I just described that made the storyline more boring than it could have been.
The author, Chris Strange, certainly has a great philosophy about writing that I think almost any author would agree with and to read what that is (if you are interested) go to his website found here: www.Chris-strange.com. With that type of philosophy the sky is the limit for his future writings!
I didn't know what category to put this book into so I decided not to categorize it. Definitely never read a book like it! It is written in the first-person style (by George!). George writes as though he is talking to you and I liked that aspect of it specifically because of the content. George is a husband and father. However, he finds himself living quite the quandary. While finding out his 24 year old marriage has been, in part, with a cheating wife he takes you through his very personal emotions about this and how he feels about it. If you have not read this book you will not be surprised that he isn't your average husband and is willing to embrace his wife's choice. He then flat out opens all his feelings on just about everything surrounding his life.
I would have to imagine that this is a real story because I can't imagine it being made up. As a female, I really like George or, perhaps, his way of explaining every detail of his feelings and laying everything on the line. This book has humor, real life situations, philosophy and much more. There were many times (because George rambles on relentlessly with very long run-on sentences) whereby I didn't think I would finish the book or I would just fast forward to the end. Instead, I stuck with it so as not to miss anything and glad I did. I was somewhat disillusioned about 80% through the book because I felt cheated (how ironic considering the nature premise of the book being adultery) when George revealed all is not as it seems. But it was the truth so I had to give him that. I am thankful for the free read and I hope that George is doing okay today. He mentioned a goal for 2012 so I hope he accomplished it.
I wish I had read this book a year ago for one simple reason -- I needed the commonsense kick in the butt that is offered on the last page to every reader. How to treat your spouse every day in every way. I lost my husband very unexpectedly in a split second in June of 2012 and my regrets are many. I have never loved anyone so much in my entire life (besides my parents and grandparents) but I could have done so much more regarding the way I treated my beloved; especially re: respect and dignity in an OUTWARD way and much much much more often. If I could turn back time I would have read the last page of I'm George, mwm, 52 several times a day when my husband was alive, act upon those words, and perhaps still have him here with me today.
This is a terrific suspenseful short story written extremely well. Six teenagers who have been friends for a long time set out on a camping trip together. One morning one of them is missing and the story turns into one of mystery, suspense, confusion, deception and then murder. The story reminds me of something I think about all the time and that is: Who is REALLY living in your neighborhood, living next door, in your friendship circle and considered even your best friends? Like those people behind closed doors and the very people that you think you know and trust ... are they really known that well and to be truly trusted? This book includes that, of course, even the most possible suspects behind evil actions are the ones who hide behind their religion. Enjoyed this ride of who is who and what is what and what motivates people to do the unthinkable. The only thing that bothered me about this novel is that the author loved to use exclamation points much too often and unnecessarily. Other than that, a great read and a page turner!