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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Royal Perfects

The Royal Perfects

Review of The Royal Perfects by Jeremy Neeley

Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: Plagued by a rare disease and the vengeful curse of a former school headmaster, Timmy Wicketts finds himself a directionless vagabond on the streets of the 19th century English town of Upper Southrump. Out of desperation he turns to street performing, and that choice leads him on a journey grander than any he could have imagined. His is a true tale of love, friendship, and perseverance.

My Review:

Timothy Wickets hails from the strange sounding Southrump in Victorian England, where he has been expelled from a prestigious school just a few months shy of graduation. Unfortunately his former head master had put the word out around town about him and no one will hire the young man.

This forces him to look for a work at the bottom of a pig trough, literally. The only man who will hire him, Samuel Mudd, is an entrepreneur with a revolutionary idea. He wants to start his own pig drawn cart to transport customers around the city. Wickets readily agrees and before long he has made quite an impression as well as some money.

However as things start to go downhill, Timmy quickly finds himself living on the street until one day he runs into a fellow school chum who offers to buy him some food in exchange for an encore performance of some of his skills as an impressionists. Wickets agrees which leads him into a whole new life as an actor, eventually founding a troop of his own called The Royal Perfects.

The book tells the story of his adventures in this endeavor as well as his other jobs but mainly focuses on the story of The Royal Perfects in general which was something of a disappointment to me. We started with Timmy as our main character and I really thought it was going to stay that way but once the other characters got introduced the author did some head hopping, more than I would have liked.

The other thing I didn’t care for much was the style of writing in some passages. For example at one point when The Royal Perfects hold an audition for more actors, we get at least a paragraph summarizing the back story of the seven guys who are auditioning for three spots. I thought that perhaps this was to build up sympathy for these guys who all have had a rough go in the world but later when three of them walk out to join Timmy’s nemesis John Smith, I felt let down. I was hoping that they might redeem themselves later on in the story but they don’t. So tell me again why I needed to know their back story?

On the plus side, I liked the characters. They had charm, spark and personality. They could also be very funny.

I also liked the story itself, most of it anyway. It was not dull most of the time and I loved the humor in the characters in spite of their circumstances. Give it a try.

Contains: some sexuality

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Jailer's Son

The Jailer's Son: The Legend Begins

Review of The Jailer's Son: The Legend Begins by S. A. Ferkey 

Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: A boy becomes a man before his time...
Maxwell Beck is no average boy. Thanks to his pa's insistence, he's a sharpshooter, sleight of hand artist, acrobat, and cardsharp. These are handy, yet highly unusual skills for the son of a traveling salesman. Even so, Max thinks he's living a normal life, until one fateful day when he inadvertently sets a chain of events into motion.

My Review:

Surprisingly, I am back to Western genre again this week with this new story, the first in a series. This was a free one that I thought I would take a chance on and it seems that normally the free ones are the first in a series.

Our main character is a young fifteen year old named Max. One day as his father takes him out to teach him something (as he was frequently wont to do), Max accidentally shoots him.

As it becomes apparent that his father will soon be dead, he begins to tell him things about his past life and childhood. The most important fact that his father tells him is that he needs to go to Deadwood to meet up with a man named Turtle.

Determined to save his father’s life since he is still in denial about his father’s imminent death, he does as he asks, taking his father to Deadwood with the help of his Indian friend, Hinto. As he reaches the town he immediately encounters Turtle who is none too pleased to see him or his father. Max immediately decides that he wants nothing to do with Turtle or the town of Deadwood.

The story is entertaining. I like the characters but what I think I liked the most was that it was told from the point of view of a fifteen year old boy. Thus you could say that it is also a YA or maybe a YA Western if there is such a thing.

It makes perfect sense for the time period also that although Max gets a lot of teasing for his younger looking appearance, in most ways. His life is that of a man. He eventually gets a job as ranch hand where he becomes more like a son to the owner but while he has many adult responsibilities, he also has many teenage characteristics such as a first crush on a local and a general longing for his dead parents.

The plot is also interesting and yet not too violent. This is a typical Western though perhaps not an R-rated one, so it could make a good gift for a teenager in your family or for you if you are a teenager. I’d like to read the next in the series, if I ever have the money to buy it.

Contains: some violence and language

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sidetracked

Sidetracked


Review of Sidetracked by Brandilyn Collins

Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: Thirty-four-year-old Delanie Miller has fled her dark past and is now settled into a quiet life in small-town Kentucky. She has friends, a faux "family" who lives in her house, and a loving boyfriend who may soon ask her to marry him. Her aching dream of a husband and future children are about to come true. But protecting this life of promise means keeping a low profile and guarding the truth of her past-from everyone.
The town's peace is shattered when Delanie's friend, Clara, is murdered, and Delanie finds her body. The police chief quickly zeroes in on Billy King, a simple-minded young man whom Delanie knows would never hurt Clara. Delanie can hunt down evidence and speak out publicly against the chief-only at great risk of her own exposure. But after suffering such injustice in own her past, how can she keep silent now? Delanie must find a way to uncover Clara's murderer yet save the life she's created for herself-the deceit-ridden life that will forever distance her from others and God.
With page-turning intensity, Sidetracked hurtles between Delanie's trauma in Redbud and the chaos of her past. Those experiences forced Delanie to reinvent her present-but at what cost to her future?

My Review:

Delanie Miller has spent years rebuilding her life after her mother’s murder only to have it torn apart by the murder of her best friend. This is the point where the story begins, well, almost.

The book is really two stories in one. The first tale is the one where Delanie finds her best friend dead, apparently murdered, and sees a suspect in the vicinity. The second is Delanie’s own story from her past of being falsely accused of murder herself.

Delanie’s story alternates between these two equally captivating stories. Both involve her though the one involves her as a suspect while the other features her as an eyewitness.

I have to confess that I was captivated by them both. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go back to one story when I was in another one and the best part of the story was how the two mysteries were connected to each other. Each one was not isolated from the other one but it was necessary to understand Delanie’s earlier life to understand what was happening in the present.

I also liked the way the author didn’t just change point-of-view from one chapter to the next but allows the reader to always at least get two chapters of both of Delanie’s story. And we know where we are not only by the name that Delanie is called by but also the point-of-view. Third person is Delanie as a young teenager and first person is Delanie telling her story as a friend to a murder victim who comes upon the body shortly after death.

The characters in this book are also interesting. Delanie’s housemates are not like most characters that I have read in previous books. The town of Rosebud itself also seems to live and breathe like a separate character all its own.

And while the plot is mostly believable, I like that there is not a lot of swearing in the dialogue or first person narration. Not much in here could be found objectionable I think, other than the crime scene details.

Underlining the entire story is Delanie’s dilemma about living a life that is lie. She can’t tell those she loves about her deception for fear of getting hunted down by her nemesis Tina. She even feels that she can’t talk to God about it as she desperately wants to and that hurts her the most.

When she comes face to face with the truth, she wonders if she will have to turn away. Or can she face it head on and finally stop running from the past? Read the book to find out for yourself.

Contains: some violence but not excessive