Jill Bemis


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Smashwords book reviews by Jill Bemis

  • The Second Fly Caster: Fatherhood, Recovery and an Unforgettable Tournament on July 07, 2011

    A man must realize his tournament winning fly-fishing father is just an obsessive and compulsive human being with flaws before he can overcome self-doubts to deal with his own alcoholism and mature as a man. *** Author Randy Kadish draws parallels between main character Erik’s and his tournament winning fly-fishing father’s battle with alcoholism, unspoken horrors and feelings of failure as they both pursued unattainable goals. After cancer and alcohol took his father’s life, Erik picks up the fly rod and obsessively practices fly casting, sacrificing his studies so he can cast over 100 feet to win the next tournament for his father. For both, fly-fishing became an out, a way to side step the bottle rather than face their own demons. Although the author’s vivid descriptions of certain scenes engage the reader and generate interest in the main plot, the three main characters could have been more fully developed. This reader was left wondering whether the author deliberately left out what demons the father failed to face and what were the fly casting techniques left by his father. Overall it was a quick paced coming of age story.
  • Guardian of Eden on July 10, 2011

    Rape, incest, mayhem and murder is just business as usual in this violent coming of age story. *** A coming of age story about Garrett, a genius product of incestuous rape, abandoned at birth, reclaimed at age five, as he grows up in an ugly dysfunctional codependent mixed-race family. Leslie DuBois carefully treads the line between the tremulous minefields brought on by alcoholic mother Holly’s careless random abandonment mixed with her unacceptable boyfriends’ behaviors, Garrett’s exploration of his own sexuality with girlfriend Madison “Maggie” McPhee and ultimate responsibility for Eden, his young, near perfect, innocent angel sister. This story thoroughly explores the neglect, abuse, success and happiness of these vulnerable children. The author fails to address the shortcomings in adult relationships, (i.e. mother, boyfriends, father(s), therapist, social workers, etc.) that contributed to the ongoing violence, suffering, and cover up of a family’s dirty and shameful secrets. In the end, the reader has to decide if violence and silence is an acceptable price to pay for love in a world with few alternatives.
  • Leaves of the Fall on Aug. 06, 2011

    Life is definitely not rosy for Rose, as she gradually realizes she in trapped in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful and uncaring spouse. *** Author Violet Yates explores a wide range of emotions first love, infatuation, marital love, lust and unfulfilled love as told through Rose’s relationships with the man she loves and the man she thinks she loves. “Leaves of Fall” is a typical story of one person in a group of ordinary people living ordinary lives. Rose’s viewpoints on her life as she lives it, her thoughts and actions, doesn’t find her taking responsibility for her role in her relationships. Instead, the story is a “lay in the bed you made”, with a could have, should have, and would have if somebody else hadn’t made the decision for Rose. Husband Trevor, best friend Missy, friend Ethan, and Ethan’s wife Sherry are superficial characters used to direct action flow from plot to subplot and back again. Character motivation needs further development to understand why Rose and Ethan are so easily controlled and deceived by their spouses. Rose’s transition from co-dependency to free will freedom is glossed over in one leap of faith, a brief understated epiphany. The ending is uncomfortable, like there should have been more done to resolve Rose’s and Ethan’s situations.
  • The Virgin King on Aug. 07, 2011

    Henry VIII, King of England, King of France and Lord of Ireland, teaches William, his presumed illegitimate son, how to ensnare current Queen Elizabeth’s attention and recapture the throne. *** In this alternative universe, King Henry VIII did not die, but was exiled to an island along with his illegitimate son. Elizabeth finally inherits the throne, recognizes her father and takes a personal interest in young William when they return to England. While the tale closely follows William and portrays life as author Joseph Fullam imagined it occurred in the 1500s, there are gaps where the action seems to fade out only to pick up again with the introduction of a new character or setting. What happened to several of the characters, including dethroned Henry, was lost in the shuffle. The ending was confusing and the reader has to take a leap of faith that William could travel and that he did achieve any sort of relationship with the Queen, in order for this tale to be accepted as a plausible alternative Tudor universe.
  • Dirty Little Angels on Oct. 15, 2011

    This is an ugly and brutal tale of teenage life on the poor side of town. *** Author Chris Tusa tells a bitter descriptive tale of poverty, brutality and depression that leaves the reader headed to the shower to wash the filth away. Becoming poor white trash would be a step up for teenager Miss Hailey, her family, and so-called friends. Drugs, smoking, sex, and criminal behavior just as normal a part of daily life as brushing one’s teeth, that is if they brush their teeth or have teeth to brush. Unfortunately, the final chapter for these gritty characters is unknown. Only the baby molester, Moses the preacher and a Ferris wheel operator who was killed by brother Cyrus has a happy ending.
  • Gravity on Oct. 15, 2011

    Jenny goes missing and Ariel must seek the truth. *** Teenage girls in Hell, Michigan go missing in Abigail Boyd’s twisted paranormal description of teenage high school popularity, puppy love, and murder. Being fifteen is hard enough in a small town, but when Ariel’s best friend goes missing, she start seeing things. New best friend Theo and her wishful thinking sweetheart Henry stir up her already mucked up emotions and complicate her relationships. There is no happy ending for this teenage angst. The action quickly rises towards a climax but peters out without quite making it.
  • Isle of Stumps on Oct. 15, 2011

    Unexpected results can happen in military settings. *** If you blink, each story will have ended before you can issue an opinion. Isle of Stumps is a brief story about one military man’s sacrifice. Find out what he will do to fit in. Swallowing a Boot is an ironic boot camp story about having too little and too much of a good thing. In Eight Legs to Doomsday, one spider disobeys orders to save humanity. Author Bryan R. Dennis asks the same question in all three short stories, “Who benefits from blind military obedience?”
  • Surface in Heaven on Oct. 15, 2011

    Aliens Maher and Jules hop planet-to-planet, these desperate leaps for survival leads them to Planet Earth and a spiritual rebirth. *** Author Joseph Fullam’s planet hopping sexual escapades find teenagers Maher and Jules using their talents and inner energy to survive when they don’t automatically do what society expects of them. It’s hard when you find out everything you thought was true is not, and that your life of privilege was taken away because of your parentage, but in this case, shock, frustration and yearning lead two teenagers to develop and evolve into the spiritual beings following the true path of light. Fast paced and confusing at times, this story is about self-centered immature characters that stumble upon very limited enlightenment than any real sort of self-actualization. The climax literally and figuratively is just as baffling.
  • Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales on Oct. 25, 2011

    Mini horror tales twists from work, home and life. *** Author Suzanne Tyrpak offers little short story horror snippets. Ghost Plane, of which the book is titled, is the most promising of eleven stories. The description and sequencing Ghost Plane draws the reader in but does not fulfill the reader’s yearning to know the story behind each of the characters. While each vignette promises possibilities of much better full-length stories, the author delivers little satisfaction. Each story is like watching a movie trailer; you see the action without knowing what lead up to it and what happens after, just a teaser for what is to come.
  • I am Happy (A Mom's Choice Award recipient) by Alberto Agraso and Mony Dojeiji on Aug. 18, 2013

    Angela is a little girl who is content and happy with her life. This book counts all of her blessings and promotes a strong positive self-image. This would be a good story time selection to read aloud.
  • The Rock Star in the Mirror (or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life) on Aug. 18, 2013

    Joe loves Lynnie and will do whatever it takes to win her over, even transforming himself into the spitting image of rock star David Bowie. The last quarter of the book seemed rushed.