Review of The Kure by Jaye Francis

The Kure

Hi there! I finally have a new review! Ta-da! This is a horror story with a romantic element by Jaye Francis. This tale introduces us to the main character, John Tyler. It is set in 1865. Poor John has a dilemma of the medical nature. He has to make a choice out of two possible solutions, and neither are savory. We must remember at this time in history, medicine was still very primitive. The doctor tells him that he must use leeches to cure the lesions on his manhood, or it will fall off. Horrified, he begs the doctor for another solution. The doctor tells him about an ancient solution in a book but it was dangerous and he could possibly lose his soul. He is adamant to try it, so reluctantly the doctor shares with him The Kure. This involves finding a virgin, who, on her 18th birthday, will put the member in her mouth until the burning goes away, or to run naked through the rain with a female no more than 6 years his junior, that has no idea of his affliction. This is where Sarah Sullivan comes in. He finds her on a birthday registry and goes to her home to see how he can approach her about this. Will she help him or be horrified? He is running out of time.

Ok, I don’t want to tell any more of the plot to you. For the outcome, you must read the book.

Now, for my thoughts. If you are on Goodreads, you may have noticed that I finished this book some time ago. I noted then that I was conflicted, and that is the reason for my delay in this review. There was some great suspense and wonderful description, and the grammar and typos were not an issue at all. I like horror, mind you, but I have to admit that this subject matter did gross me out. That is an aside however. My main problem with the book was one of plausibility. I don’t believe, even in a spell book, that this would be an option. In that time, it would be virtually impossible to find a willing participant, especially under the conditions it required. I have this in my Kindle, and I could only read a few paragraphs at a time before I had to put it aside. This is not a good sign. I just couldn’t like or recommend this book. Maybe you will like it. Definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

In full disclosure, I was provided a free copy by the author for this review.

I give this book this many smiles: 🙂 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

New Review: Willow Pond

Willow Pond
Today’s review is from Ameica’s history of prohibition and the age of the Great Depression. Bootlegging is a flourishing business and speakeasies were plentiful. In Willow Pond, by Carol Tibaldi, we see the dark side of this history rather than the glorification. Victoria Kingsley is a successful and powerful speakeasy owner and rubs elbows with the criminal element of the day. She has one relationship that means more to her than any, that with her niece, Laura. Laura’s baby son is kidnapped and it throws her into a turmoil and fearing that the local authorities are incompetent, she sets out to find the culprit and bring the baby home. Due to Laura’s ex-husband’s high public profile due to his movie star status, this is a high publicized case and Laura develops a relationship with the reporter handling the case over the course of the investigation.
That is all the description I can give without giving away too much of the story.

My take: This is an interesting story that starts a bit slowly. Some of the characters are developed very well and others are left lacking. Virginia is an interesting character that is loving and has an edginess to her. She is smart and capable. The husband, Phillip is not a likable fellow. He is a vain, pompous, and a philanderer to the extreme. Laura is the most under developed character. She could be so much more but we see her as a hand-wringing devastated mother at one point, then in a very short time span, she is finding comfort in another man’s arms during the investigation. Then she is emotionally unavailable to him. She is very inconsistent and not too believable especially for what she is going through. Although I really wanted to like this story, this is a major character, and I couldn’t muster up much sympathy for either her or her ex–husband. Although I can’t say why without giving up a spoiler, Virginia also loses sympathy as well with some of her actions..so I end up left cold. The ending seemed too contrived and slapped together, but by this time, I wasn’t really caring too much to be honest. I think this book has too many problems for me to be able to recommend it.

Star rating: **

Literary Agents: Beware!!

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Let me first of all thank everyone for their patience! I finally have another review for you! Normally, I only review those that have 3 or less published books, but I spoke with the author of today’s review, Johnny Ray, several months ago about reviewing LITERARY AGENTS–BEWARE, AN INTENSE ROMANTIC THRILLER, and I thought it was so catchy and interesting for debut authors, that I said that I would be happy to review it anyway. Johnny Ray is the author of not 3, but 10, international romantic thrillers.

This is the story about an aspiring author who just happens to have bipolar disease. She meets and has a fling with a literary agent, hoping this will get her book read. When she is rejected, she is angry and vows revenge. In the meantime, there is a serial killer targeting literary agents. Is she guilty? What is the connection?

I do not like to give away any plot points or spoilers, so I will leave you to finish any descriptions of the book as mentioned on Amazon.

My Thoughts: This seemed a rather tongue in cheek slant towards literary agents, of course, but not in any derogatory way. The main character is bipolar, as I mentioned above, and it is a bit tough to follow their thought processes at times. I do understand this, I once had a roommate with bipolar disease, and it can be hard to deal with. The author did quite a good job at depicting this. Her building of hate and feeling of rejection was very accurate. Her later actions of falling for someone that she hated so intensely, not so much. Although the beginning was a bit slow, it was a good buildup. I was really enjoying the first part of the book because of that. About 2/3 into the book, the pace increased as you would expect it would, but in my opinion, maybe a bit too much. When she totally throws her hate away and starts behaving out of character, I kept reading, but I stopped caring. I kept hoping for a bit of slowing the pace down a bit, but that never happened. The ending felt rushed. I felt a bit let down. I honestly wanted to be able to recommend this book highly, but I just can’t do that. I know that he has many books out and I have purchased a few others, which I do intend to read. I truly think that he is a very great storyteller, but this one was really not for me.

My Star rating: ***

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my review in any way.

My First Interview With Ginger Myrick

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Welcome back to Becky’s Book Notes! Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Today, I have a real treat. This is my first author interview, and I am pleased to introduce Ginger Myrick, author of El Rey: A Novel of Renaissance Iberia. Thank you Ginger for being here today. I have asked Ginger a few questions and here are her responses.

1. Tell me a little about yourself; where you grew up, your life, a typical day..anything that you would care to share with your readers.

I grew up in SoCal in a very different area than where we live now. I spent my school years in a suburban middle class neighborhood where everybody wore Vans, listened to Journey and Kenny Loggins on the radio, and made the exodus to the beach on the weekends.

I have now lived in a ski resort town about 40 miles east of Los Angeles for nearly 20 years but have NEVER been skiing. I have two grown sons, a 9-year-old husband, a dog and a cat, and my mom lives two blocks away. Bits and pieces of each of them were incorporated into the characters in El Rey to some extent (except for the cat!)

A typical day goes like this: I get up around 7, have a cup of coffee while I check my profiles for messages. I walk my dog, come home and answer all of my emails until about noon, do an hour of yoga then back to some actual writing while I facebook and Twitter to promote. I walk the dog again in the evening then more writing and promo until about 7:30. Then I read to wind down (something other than my own work!) and usually get to bed between 9 and 10. The rest of my time is spent picking up after my family.

2. Have any authors influenced your writing? How?

I began reading at an early age. My grandmother was also an avid reader, and she had boxes and boxes of books in her closet. That was where I was introduced to the world of historical fiction by such authors as Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt, Ayn Rand, and Colleen McCullough. James Michener, James Clavell, and John Steinbeck came later from my father, and my elder brother got me into Stephen King. I think my writing style is probably closest to Anya Seton’s, but some of the plot elements of my stories and the way they develop are reminiscent of Colleen McCullough. I would feel extremely honored to be likened to any of them!

3. I understand that you write historical fiction. Is this also what you prefer to read, or do you read a different genre in your spare time?

It is my preferred genre, but I can find something to love in almost any book. I read fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, straight historicals, biographies. I am an absolute freak when it comes to Stephen King. I have only read a couple of stories by him that I didn’t love. But I think the real key is the storytelling and the talent for making a reader feel connected to the characters, no matter the genre. Those are the books I love to find. They help me escape from me!

4. What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite part?

My favorite part it the telling of the tale. I love the idea of putting the same old everyday words together to create something unique and my very own. I also love the research. I have found that I adore learning new things. It’s part of why I could never decide what path I wanted to follow when I was in school. If I could have made a career out of being a student, I would have done that.

But I detest the marketing and promotion part of it. I am reclusive by nature and don’t find myself very interesting, so trying to convince others that they should be interested in what I have to say is beyond me. And finding a balance between obnoxious and just right is extremely difficult. I always feel I come off as pushy. I’m still learning.

5. If given the opportunity to sit down and talk to your favorite author, what would you ask him/her? How would you answer it?

Hmm … this is a great question, Becky, and I had to think about it a long time. I actually left it for last, and I’m still mulling it over as I answer. It is between Jean Plaidy, whose real name was Eleanor Hibbert, Ayn Rand, and Colleen McCullough. I’m not sure the questions I would ask would be writing related.

The first two have passed away but led very different lives. I suppose I would ask Ms. Hibbert how she managed her research. Back then it would have been a very daunting prospect to have to physically go to her resources as opposed to just summoning them on the computer. With Ayn Rand I would just like to hear her talk about her experiences. She led an extraordinary and somewhat charmed life, although she became obsessed with her Objectivism philosophy in her final years. And I would like to just sit down and have a female bonding session with Colleen McCullough. She has like four degrees in very dissimilar areas, even a PhD in neuroscience. But despite having such a brilliant mind, she seems to be such an earthy, unpretentious sort of woman.

And although I would be flattered beyond giddy if anyone would like to do the same thing with me, I would probably have to wake her up after about 10 minutes so boring is my life!

6. At what age did you start writing and when did you decide on writing as a career choice?

I have written poetry, songs, and short stories my entire life but never aspired to anything grander. I began writing El Rey on November 29, 2009 (I was 44 at the time) and there was actually no choice in the matter. I call the whole thing a Divine Inspiration. Even now when I write, I still feel that I am merely the instrument, and I have yet to figure out where it is all going.

As far as the career part of it … well, all I can say is that I’m fortunate that my husband has a good job and doesn’t depend on me to contribute. Some other writers whom I have met are actually trying to pay their bills or quit a second or third job. I don’t know how they do it and admire them for their tenacity. I think that sort of pressure would take the pleasure right out of it for me.

7. Do you incorporate any of your favorite things, places, or hobbies into your books?

I always use my own interests in my writing. The singing, cooking, horses, dogs, interest in plants, needlework, are all things that I love. I have never been to any of the places except on the internet, so all of that was purely elaboration upon wishful thinking. But I did use the pictures as a starting point to describe the locations. I find that if I write what I know, I convey it convincingly.

8. What movie (if any) do you flat out refuse to watch no matter how good people say it is? What book do you refuse to read? Why?

I don’t like to watch movies that are too teeny bopper, like the Twilight series. Ditto for the books. I did venture to watch The Hunger Games but was left unimpressed. I thought they tried to make it too grandiose for what it was. I much prefer The Running Man (again Stephen King.) I also have trouble with time travel and highlander romances. Something about the time travel is never quite convincing enough, and the highlander books just seem forced. I don’t like anything with graphic or gratuitous sex in it, so 50 Shades of Gray is also out. I cannot read Tom Clancy, but his books make fantastic movies!

9. Do you have a favorite character either from your own work or another author’s?

This is also a tough question. So many to choose from! I really love Iñigo from El Rey. He represents the ideal father, something I never really had. The largest part of him comes from my grandfather, and he also has attributes of an uncle who was very dear to me with hints of my two brothers. Now that I think about it, he is also very much like Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, whom I also adore.

10. Tell us a little about your most recent protagonist.

I released my second novel at the beginning of November. It is titled The Welsh Healer and is about a young girl who is forced from her childhood home by the Welsh uprising against England in 1400. She is endowed with a mystical healing gift passed down through an ancient line of healers. She has been told her entire life that she is the fulfillment of a prophecy and destined to preserve the bloodline of kings. The character was largely based on a new friend, Arleigh Johnson, who runs Historical-Fiction.com. Her picture is even on the cover.

11. What is the setting of your current work in progress and when can we expect to see it?

My WIP is set in Manhattan during the Gilded Age (1874.) It’s about a girl who emigrated from Ireland and works for a well-to-do lady in a fancy neighborhood. It is a Pygmalion/My Fair Lady type of story with a twist. I hope to have it done at the end of January or February 2013.

Thank you again for being here Ginger.

Have you read a book that seemed to stand out in your mind, long after the book had ended? The debut novel by Ginger Myrick, El Rey: A Novel of Renaissance Iberia, did that for me. I found myself wondering about the characters long after the end.

Set in 16th century Portugal and Spain, El Rey is rich in characters that will touch your heart, with the core as a love story between Inez Garcia and El Rey. Inez is an outspoken daughter of a wealthy merchant and El Rey the sea captain and nephew of the King of Portugal. It begins with the story of Inez as an elderly woman telling her great-granddaughter the story of herself from a child of 11 to adulthood and of El Rey. They meet at a party in his honor and strike up a friendship. Inez vows that she will never love another and El Rey tells her he will one day ask for her hand in marriage.

This is a sweeping saga of the story of her mother, Joanna, her father, Inigo, and others that are important in her life. Interwoven in the main body of the work are four narratives that move Inez’s story.

As a historical fiction reader and writer, I can appreciate the amount of research in this novel and it is meticulously accurate and even more important, not preachy. It is interwoven seamlessly into the story. The first impression I had however, and it continued throughout, was the author’s use of imagery. The reader is there, they can smell the sea, hear the seagulls. I consider her very masterful with description. I don’t want to give too much away because my words could not substitute for reading this book. I highly recommend it. I rarely give a 5 star review, but I would rate this up there with the masters of this genre.

Have you read a good book lately? Please share your thoughts. I appreciate all comments and would like to hear yours. 🙂