J. R. Deans


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Smashwords book reviews by J. R. Deans

  • Home Port on Feb. 29, 2012

    I've been following Colleen Coover's art for some time now, and am always interested when artists expand upon their creativity into new arenas. I will admit that had I not been familiar with Coover's work, I would probably not have read this story. Being a fairly stereotypical heterosexual geek type, romance stories in general and homosexual stories with some graphic sex specifically aren't exactly on my radar. That said, for her first prose work, Coover has established a very promising future for herself in fiction writing. The story was compelling and intriguing, and the characters were well developed (not easy to do in only a few pages) and likable. While one major element is the sex scene, despite my apparent trepidation on my part going in to the story knowing this scene existed, Coover handled it brilliantly. At no point did I succumb to my "straight-ness" and feel the need to stop reading. Making a pathetic straight dude like myself enjoy something that is supposed to offend me has to be considered as a notch in Coover's belt. Coover led up to the sex with a wonderfully descriptive bar scene that introduces in a very easy manner the primary characters. She lays out in almost no time a very rich environment featuring characters that one is almost sad to see not continue in the story. It isn't easy to craft a story for just a few pages where you find yourself wanting more of the world presented simply because all of the characters are so likeable or compelling. The bar scene gives way to a sexual encounter between our hero, Dean, and someone he spots across the dance floor at the bar. This encounter is woven into the story very well, and is treated almost as a red herring to the plot. I leave it to you to read the story and hopefully key in on what I mean. Coover is a phenomenal artist and her graphic work runs the gamut of themes, and I expect her to experiment in just as wide a range with her prose. This is a very nice first effort that has few (if any, really) flaws and I believe indicative of the talent that Coover has only just begun to tap. As I have with her artwork, I will certainly continue to read whatever she shares with the public, and I cannot wait for the next ride. (Pun not intended.) JRD
  • Abed on March 07, 2012

    I fully admit that I do not like the zombie "genre." Like vampires, I find the whole thing just a bit silly, and very much overdone. However, I am a fan of Elizabeth Massie's work, and was willing to try "Abed" on the strength of byline alone. As with much of her work, Massie makes this zombie tale less about zombies and more about what zombies would mean for those "left behind." ABED begins as many of Massie's stories do, with an introduction that almost seems without direction. She slowly weaves in expert fashion a narrative that gives the reader a false sense of security, and then presents the reader with true horror. Massie does not smash the reader over the head with graphic imagery of blood and gore, or treat the reader to an onslaught of sensory overload. She builds the horror slowly, deliberately, and presents the reader with ultimately a fantastic tale told in such a way that it not only frightens or disturbs on the surface, but shakes itself into one's core. Massie's stories are truly tales of horror not for what you read, but how they make you feel. ABED becomes a crisis of conscience and belief that heightens the tension wonderfully. What makes ABED work so well is that it is a remarkably short tale despite the great depth of emotion and sense of place Massie evokes. That is probably her best strength: her ability to paint such a grand mental image with characters that the story cannot help but feel real, because the reader so easily connects with them. You feel their emotions and tensions, which makes the worlds Massie presents us all the more real. ABED is a great story, despite the "oogy" feelings it evokes (it is Horror, after all). It has just been made into a short film, and while I think it has great potential to work as a film, I also think that no adaptation of Massie's work will ever surpass the raw emotions of the source material.