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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

Richard Bausch: IMG Why Literature Can Save Us



Our title is, of course, a problem. "Why Literature Can Save Us." And of course the problem is one of definition: what those words mean. What is... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

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Customer Comments

nrlymrtl has commented on (191) products.

Reich by Drew Avera

nrlymrtl, August 30, 2014

Set roughly ~150 years after Hitler’s death, the citizens of Germany still live under the Reich, the Aryan Nation reigning supreme within her borders. Life is orderly, a little too orderly, and plenty of people stomp around in big boots and ill-designed uniforms. The average citizen of Germany lives in a tyrannical hell, and those that keep the order abuse it. Without giving away a huge plot twist, this book is more than the back cover description gives it credit for.

We open with a boy who runs afoul of authority. I have to say that the first three jumps, or was it four?, in point of view through me in a 'creeped out by the viciousness of authority gone astray' kind of way. Folks die in this book people, hence some of the shifting POVs. Yet, everyone is a hero in their own heads. I definitely enjoy a tale where everyone believes that they aren’t really all that bad. So it was good to show that through the shifting POVs.

At under 2 hours, the plot has to move along pretty quickly. So we start with the view of the average citizen born and raised this in this new Germany, then learn the BIG SECRET, which is followed by a rebellion of the citizens. A young mother ends up leading this rebellion and we end up following her for most of the book. While I found her character a bit lacking in military leadership skills (she is chaperoned around everywhere by chivalrous men), I can see her as a very efficient administrator of a country.

There wasn’t much in the way of character development once the character was established, but then, this isn’t a very long piece. I was more fascinated with the plot and the idea of a world where Hitler and/or the Reich are worshiped and carried on in some way. Other than that very questionable movie about Nazis setting up a long-term camp on the moon (oh and it was short story from the 1950s too, I think), I have never really contemplated this. Toss in Avera’s twist (which has something to do with misplaced authority on a very large scale) and you have an ever deeper level of contemplation.

All in all, Drew Avera is an author to keep an eye on, specifically his writing pen, to see what he turns out next.
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Treasure of the Silver Star by Michael Angel

nrlymrtl, August 30, 2014

Set in a far flung galaxy, we have a disgraced starship captain (Drake) and an independent archaeologist (Tally) who must join forces to save the galaxy and perhaps earn a little money. Drake’s command crew made me think of Star Trek (Sebastien, Kincaide, Ferra, etc.) and the space battle scenes were reminiscent of Star Wars battles. Definitely a mix mash of pulp fiction and space opera.Drake struggles through the book to regain his former polish and glory after wrongly being placed in the Losers box with a bunch of Loser rejects on a Loser ship.

Then we have the treasure hunter/archaeology aspect thrown in. Tally made me think of a female Indiana Jones; she was very focused on her goal and not afraid of the physical effort it would take to get it. She had some of the most interesting scenes because they had to do with history, and therefore, had the most detail.

The plot was pretty straight forward and the characters, once established, didn’t change much. The bad guys were stereotypical and our heroes are 100% good guys. Normally, I enjoy a bit more variation in all of that, but for a fast paced, short space opera, it was decent. If you have some task where you need your hands and a bit of concentration, then this would be good braincandy for the background.

We had more men than women and I would have enjoyed seeing that a bit more balanced. But the few females we had in the storyline added to the plot and weren’t just scenery. The one sex scene came off as a bit awkward and didn’t engage my libido. I like my sex scenes and if one (or more) are going to be thrown in, they should count.
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Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin
Deadly Curiosities

nrlymrtl, June 14, 2014

This was a fast-paced urban fantasy with a twist: antiques. So, lots of history was tossed into the mix, and I loved it. Indeed, I had a hard time putting this book down. It was easy to get into, easy to connect with the characters, and plenty of fun to watch them battle supernatural beasties, a demon, and a determined mad man. I thoroughly enjoyed how the tale pulled in historical aspects of the local area and smoothly blended them with made up ‘facts’ for the sake of the plot. There’s an old Navy yard that becomes a focal point for the mystery of the story, complete with a history of shady business deals, slavery, and pirates.

Cassidy herself is well-rounded, having both strengths and weaknesses, concerns and confidence. She and the other main characters have to deal with getting injured, protecting each other’s backs, and eating regularly. There are few superhumans among this crew, and even Sorren (the vampire) has limitations. I enjoyed that Sorren was just another character �" not some evil, icky bad guy, nor some romanticized love interest. Then we have Teag, and to some lesser extent, his partner Anthony. Teag was in the thick of things for most of the story, and Anthony put in a few appearances, trying hard to accept what Teag does for a living. I can definitely see these two being featured more heavily in future additions of the series. Lucinda, a local voudoun witch (or practitioner) calls upon the Loas for her brand of magic, offering the crew another layer of defense. And of course, her presence made it simple to pull in a few more bits of history.

As the story moves forward, a few more characters are brought in, so by the end you have a sizable list. But it was done very well, pacing the entrance of the characters throughout the book so I didn’t feel that I was ever overloaded with new characters, scrambling to keep them straight. My one little complaint is the final fight scene: I was pretty darn sure that some of the good guys had taken out one of the bad guys, only to have the bad guy rise two pages later to continue wreaking havoc. I reread the section 3 times and didn’t feel there was a clear transition. Perhaps the author wanted the reader to be surprised…..but the good guys didn’t seem surprised. Anyway, that is a very small criticism and it won’t keep me from reading further works by this author.
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Unlikely by Frances Pauli
Unlikely

nrlymrtl, June 8, 2014

This story was rich and magical. Frances Pauli created a world with its own lingo, a rich atmosphere that I sank into. I loved riding around in Satina’s head, figuring out her world and the mess she stepped into in Westwood. There’s history and lost knowledge to be considered, different cultures and peoples, and the broken down disarray that allows the gangs to rule. And of course, there are the other magical denizens keeping a low profile in Westwood.

Enter the imp Skinner, Marten. Is he a bit of a mischief maker? A little chaotic good? At first Satina isn’t sure. Marten runs a little store in Westwood and the bullying gangs aren’t above wrecking the place and roughing up Martin to force Satina into helping them with their plans for total local domination. Marten was an intriguing character since I was not sure where he stood at the beginning. Of course, I became quite fond of him by the end. And one gang, lead by Zane, became more of a pain in the ass than the others. While Zane threatens Marten’s health to get Satina to help him, he also lets Satina know that more of her is desired.

My favorite aspect of this story was the pockets, magical bubbles closed off from the real world unless you have the magic and can enter them. In these pockets, many of the remaining magical folks (faeries and such) choose to live. These pockets range in size from small grassy knolls perfect for a lovers’ tryst to small villages (where the magic folk can romp and play). Satina uses the pockets to travel safely, often setting up camp in one at night (provided she can find one). We learn a little about the magical denizens of these pockets, how they have chosen to shut out the real world and humanity. And because of this, much of humanity has forgotten how magic works.

All in all, a very good start to a fantasy series. There’s been great set up of Satina’s world, with plenty more left to discover.
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The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Allison Pataki
The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America

nrlymrtl, June 8, 2014

Ah, the 1770s of the American colonies was a lively time. Well, for the well to do. There were balls at least every month, and small dance parties with card gambling nearly every night. Peggy revels in being chased after by most of the men. She also enjoys making snide remarks about the other ladies’ dresses. Truly, she is a pretty shallow thing. As the tide shifts for the city of Philadelphia, Benedict woos Peggy, and eventually gets to marry her. She is half his age and it shows. He promises her the moon, and when he can’t deliver, she pouts. Pouting turns to sulking, which turns to frigidness, and eventually to scheming.

Allison Pataki does a great job of showing the very logical route from dancing to traitor activities. Peggy wants all the fun, the fancy clothes, the attention, and none of the mess. Benedict has already been serving his country for decades, having taken crippling wounds and depleted his own funds keeping his men fed. The American government has yet to repay Benedict and that ways heavy on him.

The book is told through the eyes of Peggy’s maid, Clara Bell. This was a great way to see all the main characters, both their good and bad sides. Peggy is obviously a selfish brat, but she does have a few moments where she treats Clara with true affection. We see that Benedict had true reservations about betraying his country. It made for a fascinating read. The revolutionary war affected everyone, from the poor to the rich. The servants of those rich would go to great lengths to stay employed; after all, if they lost their position, they also lost their home, being kicked to the street.

In the end, I found myself hoping that Benedict would be able to extricate himself not only from his traitorous dilemma but also from Peggy. Clara was the true hero of this tale and by twist and turn, I cheered her on. This was an excellent read and I truly had a hard time putting it down.
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