J. B. Garner
J. B. Garner was born in Baltimore, MD on December 1, 1976, the youngest of three children. While still young, the family moved to Peachtree City, GA. His parents always encouraged his creative side and J. B. began writing and drawing from an early age. Though considered talented by his teachers, he never fully applied himself and bounced through high school and into college at the Georgia Institute of Technology. During his freshman year, his father died suddenly.
Grief and lack of purpose caused J. B. to drop out of school. If not for a few close friends, he might have dropped out of life as well. Taken in by his friends and given a second chance, J. B. matured, applied himself, and finally, after over a decade of hard work, is now back to doing what he loves the most: writing.
Where to find J. B. Garner online
Where to buy in print
The Tale of the Tape
Forced apart by the Von Richters, rookie wrestler Leilana Ito finds herself facing a gauntlet of rigged matches and dangerous trials alone. Her only hope is Dana Harding, the reformed veteran, who follows the trail of her friend, spurred on now only by danger but the unspoken love in her heart. Can they find each other and, if so, will they be enough to stand against the Von Richter clan?
Three months after the Whiteout spawned superheroes and villains, Irene Roman, a.k.a Indomitable, is near her breaking point fighting to protect the normal people. Now, what began as a simple kidnapping investigation catalyzes overnight into the worst threat the city of Atlanta has had to face. Will this finally be Irene's breaking point or will she prove to be indefatigable?
The Opening Bell (2nd edition)
When Leilana Ito, a rookie wrestler with an unknown past, and Dana Harding, the heelish veteran looking for one more bit of glory, meet in the ring, both of them are embroiled in corporate machinations, family rivalries, and the secrets of the past. When everything is put on the line, will Leilana and Dana rise to the challenge and find a path to victory?
Indomitable (2nd edition)
Irene Roman never wanted to be a hero, but when a strange betrayal literally changes all of reality, she may not have a choice. Now the Earth is filled with superhumans, both good and evil, and Irene is one of the only people on the planet who knows why and may be the only person in the world who can set things right. What price will Irene pay to be the hero she never wanted to be?
J. B. Garner’s tag cloud
Smashwords book reviews by J. B. Garner
- Hybrid (The Evolution Trilogy)
on Oct. 15, 2014
This week’s main course is Hybrid, the first book in a paranormal romance series, The Evolution Trilogy. What you say? The guy who writes superhero and wrestling fiction picking up a romance book? To that I say, ‘Broaden your minds! The Tale of the Tape had a huge romance sub-plot! Plus I was starving!’. As per my standards, I will do my best to make this review as spoiler-free as possible and to see this in the light of a fan of the genre in question.
Let’s start off by saying this: On a technical level, the writing is quite good. The pacing, character development, and depth of story are well ahead of many of Hybrid‘s brothers and sisters in the paranormal romance genre. On a personal relationship level, there are fewer contrivances and those that do come up fit into the well-worn tropes of the romance genre … in other words, they are things that the readers will want to see. The inevitable romantic entanglements and love dodecahedrons fit together much more naturally than most books of this kind.
In fact, talking about the genre tropes, at first blush, Hybrid seems to be a standard, if better written, book of the type, very paint-by-numbers. However, at about the quarter way mark, Ms. Wester eschews the paint brush and brings in an industrial car painting robot, setting it on ‘CRAZY’ mode. That may sound bad. It’s not. In fact, it’s almost glorious in the insanity it reaps!
You see, Hybrid goes off the rails now in the sense of the personal relationships and characterizations, which remain solid, but in a very Silver Age comic book/1950s atomic horror kind of way. As the paranormal species that is core to the book is introduced and explained, the book takes glee as it smashes basic conventions and sets up the world these beings live in and how they operate. I can’t really go into details without major spoilers, but simply let me say that I, as a comic book fan, really loved the general crazy involved. It is a good kind of crazy and one that, for a genre that generally has more angst that sense, delights in that as much as the interpersonal conflicts.
Another point where Hybrid bucks the usual paranormal romance formula is in the rather expansive range of characters and points of view it dances over, adding to the narrative depth. Add on to that the fact that the main PoV character for large sections of the book is the male lead and you get another turn off the over-trod path of the first person, female lead formula. Refreshing.
Now, Hybrid isn’t without flaws. Sometimes the over-the-top elements become too much even for a lover of such things to take seriously. One incident in particular involving a mass mental manipulation (that should be vague enough to dodge the Spoiler Police) really made me pause and the later explanation of it did nothing to make it better. There is little action, which while not a requirement in this genre can add to it, and the overall dramatic and romantic tension is uneven at times. There is a fair amount of world-building that goes on in this book and, while Wester does a fairly good job at weaving it in with the actual story, there is a bit on info-dumping and a few cringe-worthy scenes of ‘As You Know‘ exposition. Final flaw: the sudden climax and twist to set up the next book comes out of nowhere at the last minute, though the epilogue sweeps in and salvages part of it with a clever bit of follow-up on foreshadowing early in the book.
Let’s bring it all together then.
Hybrid is a solid paranormal romance and a good start for it’s series of books. There are some intriguing surprises and Vanessa Wester wisely is not afraid to blaze off of the over-used pathways other writers in this genre have tread, bringing about a gleeful insanity to the whole thing. It’s not perfect, but it stands above the majority of this genre that I’ve read. If you enjoy this genre, definitely give this a read. If you don’t, you may still want to give it a shot. The first book is free, after all.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (Vanilla on the outside, crazy mix of flavors on the inside)
- Dust and Sand
on Dec. 09, 2014
Literary genre fusion is much like culinary cuisine fusion. It can combine to make fantastic new delights, taking in the best concepts of two or more different sources, or it can ruin an otherwise tasty treat, mixing conflicting flavors until the whole thing is a muddled mess. Both of those possibilities wavered in my mind as I cracked open Dust and Sand, a book with fusion concepts from Westerns, horror, and fantasy, and sunk my teeth in. Did Dust and Sand deliver a wonderful new taste sensation or did it go down like its namesake?
Before I answer that question, let us remind ourselves of the Starving Review creed:
I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
Let’s start with that answer in broad strokes. Tasty.
Hey! I said broad strokes, right?
The mixing of those three genres actually comes together quite easily in Mr. Wallace’s hands, which may be why I can so nonchalantly say that it was a good meal. The elements are all there, if you think about it. The Western and the fantasy often feature rugged heroes dealing with dangers both environmental and adversarial. The fact that the Wild West *was* untamed and unexplored provides the horror connection through the inherent mystery caused by such a vast untamed space. Horror and fantasy, then, complete the genre triangle with their shared love of supernatural content. Dust and Sand deftly connects those pieces and does so in a solid, imaginative fashion, weaving a well-thought alternate history and deviant United States.
Each ingredient of the genre mix gets its fair share of time in the pot and that leads to a well-blended mix of all three. A lover of any one flavor won’t go lacking and may even develop a taste for the others in the process. Aiding this mix is a solid cast of protagonists. Though the major players are certainly archetypical, they are not cardboard, being fully realized and stepping beyond their core archetypes. All of the main protagonists run a full character arc and the set-up for future tales is handled with aplomb, neither cutting off the first book’s plot prematurely while leaving a clear path to move forward (much like my last review Orconomics).
The action itself is well-paced and well-plotted, vital to an action-heavy piece like this. Also, the overall solid world-building leads to a fairly consistent set of rules in regards to what supernatural elements arise. All of that makes the integration of supernatural things and good old fashioned Western gunslinging come across smoothly and keeps the action moving hot and heavy. For all the action, though, Mr. Wallace isn’t afraid to slow down for important parts to build both character and plot for the next shoot-out, keeping a steady pace for a majority of the book.
Now, you may have noticed that I only mentioned protagonists above. While I did truly enjoy my dinner with Dust and Sand, there were some flaws and the biggest one would be in the antagonists. In big concept terms, the overarching antagonists as they are set up are quite intriguing and will certainly lead to fascinating future adventures. The problem lies in that the specific antagonists for *this* singular volume are fairly uninspired. Most of them are very stock and the one that shows some very intriguing promise doesn’t really follow through with that promise. I wanted to know more about him, about his character, and why he did what he did, but those things are only hinted at before the end of the book with no indication that they will ever be answered. The bad guys are certainly evil enough and threatening enough, but there really only exist as things to thwart and not as full-blown characters so far.
There is one other minor flaw in Dust and Sand, and I do stress this is fairly minor, that comes into play in certain expository sections. For the most part, Mr. Wallace handles the set-up and world-building smoothly, weaving it in with the rest of the story’s events. There are a few parts, however, when one of the characters feels inclined to have a moment of total introspection, info-dumping chunks of history and/or biographical data in a multi-page sequence. Now, these dumps aren’t handled as badly as they could be … while they do disrupt the pacing the couple of times it happens, they do make a degree of sense to have happen at those times, they remain personal remembrances, and still feel ‘in-character’. The fact remains though that, after how well all the other exposition is blended, those few moments stand out sorely.
So, how does Dust and Sand pan out in the end? The book was a delightful treat for me, filling my belly with a tasty blend of cowboys, monsters, and magic that would satisfy a fan of any of those elements. With only a few minor hitches, none of which ruin the book, Mr. Wallace has whipped up an excellent first volume for this book series.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (A delightful blend of Westerns, high fantasy, and horror, with just a few minor bland spots to work through!)