April 2013 Book Reviews

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Unbelievably, today is the last day  in April and the start of something new for Scattered Thoughts.  I am going to post a summary of each months books reviews on the last day of the month.  Hopefully, this will make it easy to find a new book to read, a book review you might have missed or a book you just might want to reconsider.  It also helps me gather my  Scattered Thoughts when it comes to the year’s Best of in  December.

It was a very good month, with some remarkable stories from new authors and beloved writers and everyone in between.  Trust me, there really is something for everyone here this month:

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           April 2013 Review Summary

5 Star Rating:

Collusion by Eden Winters

On The Lee Shore by Elin Gregory

The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

Touch & Geaux  by Abigail Roux

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati (4.25)

Brute by Kim Fielding (4.5)

Fire For Effect by Kendall McKenna (4.5)

Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick (4.75)

Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune (4.5)

Josh of the Damned, Triple Feature #2, The Final Checkout

by Andrea Speed (4.25)

Loving Hector by John Inman (4.25)

Masked Riders by Lucius Parhelion (4.5)

The Fight Within by Andrew Grey (4.5)

The Good Fight by Andrew Grey (4.75)

Unearthing Cole by A.M. Arthur (4.25)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Highland Vampire Vengeance by J.P. Bowie (3.75)

Love You Like A Romance Novel by Megan Derr (3.5)

Sensei by Karenna Colcroft (3)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Astral Mage by Hurri Cosmo (2.75)

Review: Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick

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Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

Freedom coverPatrick Henry thought that he had it made.  Patrick was tested by the Empath Center at New Las Vegas and now he was being promoted to Class One Empath.  As a Class One Empath, Patrick will have all the stability and success he has wanted, an apartment, independence and even a chance to partner and have a family.  Patrick has come a long way from being a scavenger on the streets of Neverneverland on the outskirts of New Las Vegas and appreciates everything the Empath Center has done for him.  So he is eager to succeed with his first assignment his Adjudicators give him.

The file reads Case #723, John Doe 439 and it is Patrick’s first solo assignment.  His advisors have warned Patrick that the man has tried to commit suicide several times and is to remain heavily medicated for everyone’s safety, including his own.  John Doe 439 was found tortured, raped and unconscious outside the city and since he was brought inside the Empath Center, he has been mute and unmanageable except with drugs.  Patrick’s assignment is to try and reach inside to see what is anything is left of the man they call 439.

What Patrick finds is a haunted, beaten and abused man that he is not only attracted to but can actually reach.  And the discoveries Patrick makes as he connects with John Doe shatters his notions of the society he lives in and the rules he has lived by.  John Doe 439 is actually  high-level Psychic Talent named Jac.  And Jac’s talents have made him a wanted man.  Soon Patrick must decide between the safe confines and regimented society of his world or help Jac flee to freedom in the outside, fighting the government forces every step of the way.

Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick was listed as one of the Best M/M Book by a Debut Author of 2013 by Goodreads and it certainly deserves that title and more.  What an astounding debut novel for Jay Kirkpatrick.   I kept returning to the author’s bio, sure to find previous works listed and finding none.  It is rare that an author’s first novel packs the emotional punch this one delivers, along with just terrific world building (I can count those other authors with one hand), but Jay Kirkpatrick’s first novel is just amazing.

First of all, Freedom is set sometime in the post apocalyptic future after some catastrophe has hit Earth.  Whether the “Blast’s”  origin was human or astronomical in nature is never stated but we see how the human societies have restructured themselves, the “civilized society” pulling back from the contaminated “outside”, where touch and the notion of romance is frowned upon and people are elevated by their “gifts” to a level where they are granted education, housing, safety and perhaps even a “partnership”.  A white city peopled with those in white, all seemingly isolated by their very politeness and niceties, a very chilling place to be sure.  Jay Kirkpatrick does a remarkable job in letting us feel how safe and content Patrick is within these regimented walls while still portraying how stark and barren of life the Empath Center and the City really is.  As Patrick meets John Doe 439 and we accompany Patrick through the halls and rooms that house John Doe and others, we start to get an uneasy feeling about the place and the rules Patrick has lived by, just as Patrick does.  The author slowly builds our suspicions and unease with each chapter until we feel like screaming at Patrick to grab Jac and run.  At that point, the reader is completely lost within the story and the plight of Patrick and Jac. A perfect blend of skillful world building, complex storyline and great characterizations.

I can tell you that Jay Kirkpatrick had my stomach was churning with apprehension, because the author had lead me so skillfully to the point that I was so fearful for Patrick and Jac’s future.  I was absolutely invested in these characters and others around them because they were 100 percent real to me at that moment.  We watch Patrick evolve from a citizen complacent in his gilded cage he didn’t even know he was in to one shattered by the truths he uncovers and the person who revealed them to him.  A transformation made all the more believable because of Jac, the wounded, abused psychic Patrick heals and then loves.  Jac is also a beautifully realized character.  His abuse and the events that set off his broken mental state are shown to the reader in flashes, the worst of which occurs “off stage” as it were but the horrors inflicted upon Jac and others is still brought home to the reader and Patrick with skill and sensitivity.  And the villains are made more chilling because of their absolute belief in the rightness of their actions.

This book is divided into two sections.  The first called Confinement, taking place within the Empath Center and focuses on Patrick and Jac’s meeting and slowly building relationship.  The second is called Escape where Patrick realizes his world and work are a sham and has to decide whether to stay or flee with Jac.  That is all I will say but the focus does shift from the personal, intimate stage of Jac and Patrick to a much larger focus, with more characters introduced and a greater reveal of the world outside.  I think Jay Kirkpatrick handles the shift in focus smoothly and realistically. And while I do understand the direction the author took with the narrative,  I might have preferred the focus to have stayed narrowed to Patrick and Jac, but that’s just my preference.  Not all will feel like that.

The only quibble keeping me from a 5 star rating is a power one character demonstrates late in the book that had me wondering why it did not reveal itself before.  Either I missed something or this new power came out of nowhere, giving me a “huh” moment at the end of the story.  But that small quibble aside, the ending was everything I expected from this story and its author.  Heartrending, satisfying, while still leaving room for more to come.

So run, don’t walk to the nearest eBook store and grab this up.  What a remarkable debut, what a marvelous journey Jay Kirkpatrick takes us on.  I can’t wait to see what Kirkpatrick will come up with next.  This will be one of my top books of 2013.

Cover art by Anne Cain, just perfection in every way.

Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick

Dreamspinner Press, novel length, 232 pages

Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3618

Glorious Books, A Web Hunt and Glorious Weather Too! What A Week It’s Going To Be!

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The weather is perfection today so I am getting ready to pull on the gardening gloves, turn the water for the outside faucets back on and prepare to spend the day getting down and dirty.  I have ferns, some grasses and even an English Daisy or two to plant and weeds to uproot.  To say the least, I am grinning like crazy in anticipation.

Also this week I am reviewing some books that are not only on Scattered Thoughts “Must Read” lists, they have made my Best of 2013 List as well.  Among them are Sarah Black’s The General and the Horse-Lord, T.J. Klune’s Into This River I Drown, Abigail Roux’s Touch & Geaux and Jay Kirkpatrick’s Freedom.  I can’t remember when I had so many wonderful books to read and recommend that released almost at the same time.  A surfeit of riches for us all to enjoy time and time again.

And on Monday, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is participating along with many other websites in Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for ???????????????????????????????????????Abigail Roux’s Touch & Geaux, book 7 in the amazing Cut & Run series.  On April 8, 2013, all participating book blogs will be joining the party by posting about the book and including one of their favorite quotes from any book in the Cut & Run series. Readers who collect each quote and submit their findings to marketing@riptidepublishing.com will be eligible to win one of two runner-up prizes and one grand prize.  More about this Cut & Run fun will be posted tomorrow along with my blog of Cut & Run favorite moments in the afternoon.

What a week!  So here is the full schedule, don’t miss a day!

Monday, April 8:          Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for Touch & Geaux,

Scattered Thoughts Favorite Cut & Run Moments

Tuesday, April 9:          Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7) by Abigail Roux

Wed., April 10:             Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick

Thursday, April 11:      The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

Friday, April 12:           Brute by Kim Fielding

Saturday, April 13:       Into This River I Drown by T.J. Klune

Really, just turn this week’s lineup into a shopping list because you won’t want to miss a single one.  Now the flowers and worms are calling me, really I can hear them right now.  So off I go or should I say Geaux in keeping with the books this week.  Have a wonderful Sunday everyone and I will see you right here on Monday.