Saturday, January 28, 2012

Night Sounds by Pam Young

Night SoundsNight Sounds by Pam Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Night Sounds is an incredible set of character sketches of women in abusive situations and the men around them. It reads like a case study, especially for the main character, Samantha Jensen, who is a a successful professor and writer on the outside, but an abused wife with serious self-esteem issues on the inside. Secondary characters include a successful artist whose husband is going through a mid-life crisis and an irresponsible mother of two whose husband left her.

While I liked the character sketches of the women, their tormentors, abusers, and enablers, I felt the story tried to take on too much. The physical and emotional abuse of Samantha, the demons she fought in her nightmares and her downward spiraling life were enough to fill a single novel. Instead the author packs in a plethora of secondary characters complete with problems that could take up a few more novels, and adds a "friendship" subplot to explore the interactions between these old friends and how they are complicated by the past and guilt they feel for not helping enough. Other subplots involve a Native American torn between two cultures, and the cliched cop who has to catch the bad guy that killed his brother.

What happens is a compendium of issues that scatters our attention from the main theme--how a woman can suffer abuse and internalize it, and her personal journal of freeing herself from the abusive cycle and claiming her rightful place in a world where she is in control.

I would give it a 4 star on character sketches, but 3 stars on plot and 3 stars on the writing.

The plot jumps around quite a bit and the transitions are uneven. The point of view jumps around freely between paragraphs, and the transitions are awkward, either too long and drawn out, or nonexistent near the end, as if the author were rushing to finish. Cause and effect are also lacking in the subplots and the resolutions seemed rushed, and not motivated, like the author realized she was finishing and had to tie everything together into happily ever afters for everyone.

example of no transition:
In moments, Xavier would be coming for her. She had to collect herself, put on the mask that had served so well in the past, prepare for her final performance. Xavier watched as she picked at her food.

Pam Young (2011). Night Sounds (Kindle Locations 4683-4684). Kindle Edition.

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The writing style is in need of a good editor. Example of a sentence that could have been simplified.

Primed for violence by the series of frustrating hassles that had rained on him just like the wall of water now slamming against the windows here at Miami Airport, Jim crouched in front of the string of phones where exasperated businessmen hovered to grab one like coyotes at a kill. The

Pam Young (2011). Night Sounds (Kindle Locations 906-907). Kindle Edition.

Filter words, "she wondered", "she realized", "she felt" are used frequently, and the characters frequently stop all dialogue and action to analyze themselves.

Many scenes start with this construction: While someone was doing this, .... someone else does something.

While Samantha was waiting to call Fisher again, Susan was just waking in her apartment, still irritated with her dean,

Pam Young (2011). Night Sounds (Kindle Locations 4351-4352). Kindle Edition.

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In summary, I liked the protag and understood why she did the things she did. I just wish all the other clutter didn't get in the way, and that I could actually hear the character's voice through a Deep 3rd POV or even a 1st POV. Instead, the head-hopping, the distancing of filter words, and the authorial intrusion of unnecessary explanation kept me from truly understanding her organically and internally. Instead, everything is told about her from an armchair as she "realizes" things.

Because of the inability to really hear the character's voices, every character feels inauthentic, like walk-on sketches. At the end, everyone's problems are resolved with pat answers in the manner of case studies.

The subject material is rich and I walked away with a better understanding of women in abusive relationships. I only wish the writing hadn't gotten in the way of the story.

Disclosure: This review was part of the WoMen's Lit Cafe Review process. They require honesty. I received the e-book free as part of the program, and I do not know the author personally

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eulogy's Secret by Grace Elliot

Eulogy's Secret (The Huntley Trilogy)Eulogy's Secret by Grace Elliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightful romance set in Regency England, Eulogy's Secret is alive with details and setting that take you back in time to a society ruled by class structure and nobility. Eulogy's innocence, charm, wit and determination make her the perfect woman to enthrall the independent, savvy, and suspicious Jack Huntley.

Recently bereaved of her adoptive parents, Eulogy Foster travels alone to London to seek her family. She is immediately placed in danger when her only brother refuses to acknowledge her. Her troubles spur the protective instinct of the handsome, debonair Jack Huntley, who takes an interest in her well-being.

The story, while being somewhat predictable, is charming and paced quickly, yet full of descriptive details and scintillating dialogue, especially between Eulogy and her two protectors, Mrs. Featherstone and Mr. Farrell.

Suffice it to say, good eventually overcomes evil, and the reader is rewarded with a happy, but somewhat poignant ending, with the villain getting his just desserts.

Disclosure: This review was part of the WoMen's Lit Cafe Review process. They require honesty. I received the e-book free as part of the program, and I do not know the author personally

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Catch and Release by James T. Twerell

Catch and ReleaseCatch and Release by James T Twerell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book packed a dramatic plot-line with a punchy heroine but petered out at the end due to an overload of sentimentality. The climax hit at 75% and what happened afterwards was mopping up for the HEA.

I liked the story. It had all the elements of suspense, romance, danger, and plot twists. The heroine is mysterious, opinionated, plucky, yet insecure. But what dragged the story out was the long stretches of philosophizing, repetitive interior monologue, and stilted dialogue. Both characters seemed to talk with the same psychoanalytical voice, yet we know the female character has a lot to hide and would not express herself so openly. There is zero subtext, and everything is explained several times in dialogue and internal monologue.

I was not bothered by the shift between first person and third person. It made sense because the male main character (1st) is a psychologist and his voice, although overly pedantic, is illuminating and cozy. I was okay with him being overly analytic because that is his profession, to observe, analyze, and suggest. I expected the female character (portrayed in 3rd) to be more distant and to hide things, but she was just as annoyingly transparent. At 93% the author resorted to omniscient point of view to cover his tracks as he tried to explain the wrap-up where neither of the characters were present.

The potential of the book was also undercut by the need for editing. The author mistakes "smiled", "laughed", and other words for dialogue tags. He overuses introductory present participial phrases and misplaces modifiers.

Looking down at the parking lot, J's car and the limo sat where we left them along with both the driver and the shooter from the limo lying on the parking lot.

James Twerell. Catch and Release (Kindle Locations 1586-1587). James Twerell.

Simple grammatical errors are not caught:

"Don’t forget the tape lover. Without the tape we would be dead before we left Bingo.

James Twerell. Catch and Release (Kindle Location 2162). James Twerell.

I thought about the redhead J had mention, but didn’t see her anyplace.

James Twerell. Catch and Release (Kindle Location 2824). James Twerell.

Other distractions:

- too many "J" names. I got confused between Juan and Johnny, then there is Juanita, Julio, and Jennifer, Jason, Junior
- the repeated "little did I know" foreshadowing at the end of the chapters
- cliche's - dumb as the night was dark

Disclosure: This review was part of the WoMen's Lit Cafe Review process. They require honesty. I received the e-book free as part of the program, and I do not know the author personally.

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