Saturday, December 17, 2011

When Love Isn't Enough by Stephanie Casher

Title: When Love Isn't Enough
Author: Stephanie Casher
Genre: Romance
Publisher: The Pantheon Collective (TPC) (November 1, 2010)
Available: $15.95 at Amazon
Rating: 3 stars
Rater: Lauri

Plot summary: After awakening from a drunken one-night stand, Sam, a college student, heads to the Santa Cruz beach, where she meets Tony, the guy from up the hill who has apparently been observing her oft-times trips to watch the sun set from this spot. They click, and spend the day together. During their frolic, Tony admits that he's not single, but the something that's between them means Sam's not willing to walk away. And then Angela, the girlfriend, gets involved.

The good: I loved that this story abandons the too-common worship of all that's blonde and blue-eyed, and instead features a panoply of non-white and less than perfect characters. Second, I like that this story works hard to abandon the tired old romantic plots and reaches for something else.

What needs work: The author tells way too much and shows far too little, and she narrates this story from what I call "movie-viewer perspective" (more commonly called "shallow third person"). I could not get inside any of the characters, and had a hard time caring about what happened to any of them.

In sum, the story offers a refreshing change from all that's tired in romance, and if you're looking for something a bit less predictable, this is one you should read.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silver Thaw By Amy Rose Davis

Title: Silver Thaw
Author: Amy Rose Davis
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self-published 
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Pippa

Plot Summary: In a mining town filled with forgotten men and used up women, a handcuffed girl and her deaf guard arrive just as a blizzard descends. Lured by the girl’s singing and driven by an old obsession, one man releases an ancient spirit that could destroy the town and the estate it supports. As the year wears on, the murderous spirit tightens its grip on the town and the estate, living on an ever-rising wind that descends from the mountain. Brave and holy men seek to destroy the evil, but few return alive. Those who do return have few wits left.

When others fail, a donkey handler named Clem must risk the simple, peaceful life he’s carved for himself to save it from destruction. Unfortunately, Clem knows that when the wind comes down the mountain, even the most steadfast men can’t resist its call.

It takes a lot to hook me into a story these days, but this one did it. Silver Thaw is an entertaining fantasy, smoothly told, with wonderful world-building and believable, consistent characters and a chilling edge of horror. If I was pressed to make any criticism, and I’m struggling to do so here, it would simply be the POV characters who die. Having gotten so far into their heads and characters, it just jarred a little for me, though I think that's a tribute to the writer's skill in making me empathize with them so deeply. The author clearly knows her craft and how to spin a good tale. The ending left me with tears in my eyes and the intention to read it again very soon.