"A Kevin Review"

The Long Way: Book Review & Blog Tour Giveaway!




Book for Review:
The Long Way
by Aaron Redfern

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure

Blurb: In a move that defies all logic and likelihood, a young boy named Spiff is called upon to carry out the most important quest that has ever been undertaken. His mission drags him headlong across the face of the world, through a veritable pantheon of hardships and threats that are at once chilling and baffling. Along the way he meets dragons and madmen, and learns that the lovable and the monstrous are two sides of the same coin.

Conceived as a darkly whimsical loose retelling of the Tolkien saga, The Long Way poses the question that high fantasy rarely cares to ask: Why?

Book Review by Kevin: A BookRix Team Member:
A friend threw this book at me with Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series as references, and the blurb mentions the Tolkien saga so I had an idea of the terrain; magic, magical critters; trolls, gremlins, wizards, elves, human types. For those of you who haven’t read this book yet, AR’s [Aaron Redern] got it going on! It’s a wild adventure with both familiar and really unusual characters. Some pretty cool stuff. It’s quite a trip.

There are lots of levels. Straight up excellent story-telling of a journey of search and discovery. It’s rich and gooey with abandon and insight. It reads like an homage to the tradition (of crazy fun) of which AR is obviously a big fan. In this generous offering of crazy fun he upholds those references and introduces some very unique twists and characters. This book rocks big!

In the beginning, our hero’s father, Scoff, lives and works on the farm he will one day inherit. Then one day, he receives a beautiful, seemingly innocent, gold and emerald ring in exchange for some handyman tasks he performed for a wizard. The ring, he then bestows upon his beloved Clara before asking for her hand in marriage. After more than a decade of married life, the wizard demands they return the ring to him without any kind of explanation or offer of compensation. Considering how a demand from a wizard isn’t a request, they send the ring back in the hands of their young off-spring, Spiff.

Spiff, the type who is often lost in whimsy, is in his own world until, in a flash, what was securely in his hand is snatched away. Now, empty-handed, he has no recourse but to pursue the thief fearing punishment from his father for the failed delivery, and the possibility of being turned into something small and slimy by an angry wizard. Fortunately he runs right into the wizard just as he is about to become something’s lunch and is saved. For the most part.

The explanation from the wizard about the importance of recapturing the ring falls upon ears without references or desire to understand. Spiff somehow only acknowledges his own silent fears and concerns for his own safety while almost hearing about things he could care less about: “He wondered why he was being told all of this and whether he would still be turned in to a worm. He didn’t want to live in a jar.” Well, he is a little young to be bothered by such things, right?

Before being scooted off to the unknown to retrieve the ring, the wizard arms him with tools to keep him alive to complete the task, including the assistance and company of an amazing critter, aptly named Euclid, who is kinda handy to have around and real, real funny.

The travel is all on foot and the sudden climates and terrain changes turn a long walk into punishment. One really gets that “real time” feeling when the passing of time is punctuated by occurrences one can’t immediately explain or understand; the behavior of people and beings one needs time to observe before deciding if they’re friend or foe. It reminded me of Carlos Casteneda and how Don Juan was constantly whispering in his ear. Even Euclid didn’t have all the answers all the time.

From the hilarious suggestions of the healers, the Merai; all comfort and refuge. Sanctuary. Euclid notes, “There’s nothing wrong with them, (but)…A place like this can’t exist… Life is change and imperfection, but nothing ever happens here….this place is a bubble” to the Nornmen, who live to fight, and the poetic wisdom of the last wooly Mammoth. There are such beautifully unique layers from each. Rich. Aye.

Euclid’s “reminders” to Spiff, who isn’t up for any of it, especially after getting to know the Merai, to allow himself to see the situation for what it is, “…you have to take it [the ring] there. There is no other way. Those are the rules. There’s no cheating… Can’t you just accept what you have to do?…don’t you realize what’s at stake?”, like Don Juan’s prodding of Carlos (Carlitos) to do something similar. The path.

All Spiff wants is to return that dang ring (somewhere, anywhere) and just go back to the comfort and safety of his home, his parents, and his life as his companion asked, “Why do I have to keep pushing you every step of the way?” There’s a few times when fatigue takes him off and in dreams he’s shown the historical significance, the unavoidable, dire importance of it all and his pivotal role in it, in Technicolor®. He could care less about any of it of course, so he tends to forget about it right away or just ignore it.

This is excellent reading, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the follow up!

*FYI – The Long Way is part one of a two book series – Check out The Forgotten Way to find out what happens to Spiff after the world is saved.

AND now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – THE GIVEAWAY!
At the end of the tour, BookRix will be giving away three great prizes to three lucky winners:
1st prize: A $100 Amazon gift card, a BookRix Sampler Pack (several great eBooks published by BookRix members), a copy of the newly released The Long Way, and also some great swag (t-shirts, bookmarks)!
2nd Prize: A $50 Amazon gift card and two free eBooks!
3rd Prize: A $25 Amazon gift card and a free eBook!

You know you want those prizes, so sign-up for the giveaway for your chance to win!
To follow the tour, please visit The Long Way Tour Schedule Page.

BUY LINKS: Amazon  Kobo  iTunes  BookRix  Goodreads

Aaron Redfern: Bio

Aaron Redfern

Aaron Redfern

Aaron Redfern has been reading and writing fantasy since a time when he could count his age on his fingers. He went to Williams College and studied English, a language in which he was already proficient, and although he learned almost nothing from the English professors, dead poets and novelists taught him a great deal. While at college, he fell thoroughly in love with New England. He has decided never to leave and currently resides near Northampton, Massachusetts.

Aaron has written three novels, including The Long Way and its sequel, The Forgotten Way. His short-fiction titles include Stories About the Rain and Crawl.
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A Kevin Review: Inside the monsters of “Evol”



Evol by Jess Wygle just finished its month long book blog tour (thanks to Reading Addiction Blog Tours).  Before we announce the winner of the BookRix Giveaway ($100 Amazon gift card, an Evol t-shirt and a BookRix Sampler pack of eBooks), there is one last thing that we need to do: A Kevin Review.

Evol is completely entertaining, a very well written, exciting, interesting story and I recommend it to everyone.


I thought I knew more or less what to expect from Ms. Wygle having read and reviewed Keep It Safe which I enjoyed very much. I was unprepared for what I encountered in Evol though. Apples and oranges. First, Keep It Safe is very short comparatively and while it’s kind of the same voice, this is clearly another level and another trip altogether. Seems while I was off busy with other stuff JW was off “wood-shedding” i.e. honing her craft. One has to wonder if she’s been signing papers down at the cross-roads (kidding). Chills and thrills are just the least of it! Holy…Okay, Uh…Evol is completely entertaining, a very well written, exciting, interesting story and I recommend it to everyone. It is also however, a very disturbing story upon which I will comment in a minute.

Story: Precocious young woman of 24, living the life she loves, acting, singing, practicing almost to the point of excess, diligently gathering and perfecting the tools of artistic interpretation like a hunter in sober, thoughtful consideration. (Completely different than Parker from Keep It Safe.) Working hard and keeping up with the required good living to sustain it; the love and company of family and friends, good food and drink. Working in a small theater in West London. Awaiting next week’s debut of a musical in which she’ll mark the fulfillment of one of her career objectives, the portrayal and her interpretation of Christine Daae in The Phantom Of The Opera musical. A role she’d been waiting years for, scored. In love and engaged to be married. It’s a good time to be Venna, the world is her oyster.

With Luke, her fiance, who was recently promoted from sous chef to head chef at a restaurant, busy with the selection and training of his replacement, he drives her to her parents’ house to say good-bye and to have some alone chill time at the house while they go off to her father’s retirement (from the US Marines) dinner with the President and his family in the USA…(One can only wonder what kind of infamy Dad is actually retiring from?) One of the underlined items on mom’s packing list was to pull out the guilt-tripping and brow-beating stops to get Venna on-board to forego her Phantom opening and go along with them. Fat chance. Nope. Dad supports her choice on it too. She’s definitely Daddy’s Girl, but there’s such a nice, sweet mother-daughter relationship there…and the birds were singing…this happens.

One thing especially noteworthy (for me anyway) is how Venna didn’t cave-in or surrender her principles for a second and in the end even sought refuge in the knowledge that as painful as it was to endure, that it would most certainly end, eventually.

The dialogue about whether she should get pregnant before or after the wedding and Luke’s “thoughts” about it is just hilarious. Ah yes!, “Instincts win out” Hahaha! (Our species will survive despite this kind of eloquent blunders, I say. Barring some other catastrophe like…accidental self-annihilation by the military…) Then Venna’s well considered retort; “You make a valid and awfully convincing point. But we need to wait. It’s only a few more months. I promise.” Hah! An “old school” upbringing. There’s no lack of this stuff in her writing now and it really takes you right there. A good tight, colorful yarn, full blown. The banter, like that with mom over her priorities regarding the trip, the typical homey stuff and the attention to the accouterments of “home”, comfort and things we always notice but don’t always have time to bring up in the moment; the waft of flavors on the air upon walking right in through the unlocked front door of the house that “..was and would always be her home”, the music Dad’s listening to while writing out whatever secret military report he’s typing, dating him (his age) and shining up his ex-pat buttons (or medals). Jim Croce?! 70s.

There are so many items and characters I enjoyed in the book I’d like to make mention of but let’s face it, it’s not a short book so I’ll move on to the aforementioned thread.

Now. She’s been in the same theater regularly for 12 years, and met Merrick when she started. Ironically, hers was the dissenting voice among the people there concerning the strange behavior of the seemingly autistic, unofficial stage manager/set-builder/handyman who creeps out most people including her fiancé and her best friend. Merrick. Not a small or weak looking “chap” and easy on the eyes apparently, yet, he was still an easy target for cheap jabs (envy?) with his non-existent social skills and what seemed like a fear of looking people in the eyes. Still, Venna always felt that somewhere deep in there was a someone unworthy of such disdain and ridicule. Well, there’s always at least half a point in intuition.

In the time it took for Merrick to finally bring his plan to life and fulfill his…intentions that morning, we find Venna’s perceptions are drugged away in a blend being first lost and then found. The perceptions of the experience where she finds herself omitted.

We find consciousness safely on the other side of harms way after Venna’s been found. Once again we’re spared the details of what really happened before the fast-forward and held, captive, as the truth and girth of the insanity and the madness trickles in kernels of cautious recollection and conclusions…to summations. I loved it! After first feeling I’d been taken advantage of and forced to wait (not unlike Luke) ;D ..or when I’d felt l’d achieved a something like a complete idea of what had happened, I remembered wondering how one could possibly lay out all of that in “a session” anyway. It’s probably a very human tendency to want to somehow disassociate from such a nightmare too, however impossible it might be and Venna’s reluctance to discuss what really happened; what he’d most certainly done to her, with anyone as well. Of course, how easily can one explain how another human could be responsible for such terror. For one unfamiliar with the atrocities of war, it’s a lot of info to process.

One thing especially noteworthy (for me anyway) is how Venna didn’t cave-in or surrender her principles for a second and in the end even sought refuge in the knowledge that as painful as it was to endure, that it would most certainly end, eventually. Kind of a superhero of a character frankly, enduring such torture with the kind of resolve usually reserved for righteous, underdog patriots spitting victory, knowing they won’t live to regret refusing the opportunity to traitorously cave-in to their captors. Inspiring awe, admiration and respect from every normal person privy to an inkling of it. Especially in Lane.

Because I’m an American I know I’m predisposed (via societal conditioning) to receiving admonishments of the necessity to fear and mistrust and to expect ruin should I fail to heed xenophobic warnings of foreign entities promising unprovoked and senseless violence upon everything I hold dear and how such fiends should be (as they often are) isolated and “put-down” like the mad, rabid dogs they are. What other experience can perfect a mind-set capable of creating this kind of psychological terror as a means of reasoning and negotiation than the dehumanization necessary for war? That in the quest to understand the hows and whys of her ordeal, Venna has come to see through to the “other side”, where the madness makes a certain kind of sense; that he merely wants what poor, “…depraved on account of he’s deprived…” lunatics like Merrick see glimpses of but never participate in. The training received. Their history. You are what you eat.

The loving imprisonment and violence meted out for her own good, which is implicitly “the greater good” with sweet words of endearment, the promises of the end of the pain….amazing stuff. It is almost too believable.

The visceral accumulation of the facts of torture and the effects left behind have in Evol become an intellectual accumulation and along with Venna we see a widening glimpse of a side of humanity we keep telling ourselves in an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ way, doesn’t or just barely exist. They’re rendered to the “necessary evils” category and kept out of polite conversation. Y’know even the idea that the barbarism of “military actions” could be somehow necessary. I mean, she presents the answer for the “whys”. For her, in the moment it’s simple. The training.

That this individual represented by the character has been corrupted as a human by his “line of work”, been trained not only to cause pain, kill and maim but being trained to willfully cause such fear…I know of it because I’ve read about it. I know it’s real and it’s this fact which I find distrubing. Okay, I don’t read books as an excuse to write essays to answer such questions for me or anyone else BUT, I had a nerve struck. In a world where we’re explained how this kind of brutality is necessary and yet we’re answered by a sweet, gentle character in a novel and told that inside that monster there is a hunger for the warmth of touch, for the closeness of intimacy and love that is being confused by the power and permission to commit acts which take it all away.

There are many other reasons to read this wonderfully entertaining and very touching book and I sincerely hope that people read and see what a vision springs from Ms. Jess Wygle, The Vigilante. Just kidding again! It’s scary to think she’ll be ever better the next time. (Shudders!) Don’t miss this one!

- Kevin

Check out other books by Jess Wygle by visiting her BookRix Profile Page! To see the BookRix review of Evol, click HERE. For more reviews, check out the Evol Tour Schedule.

Buy Links:
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iTunes

A Kevin Review: The Talented John C. Laird



This week, I read three short stories by John C. Laird. The first is a completely beautiful kind of modernized fable, a tale of prophetic justice and the possible aftermath of living one’s life according to certain principles. Christian principles. While not supposing Mr. Laird is a Christian at all (because he may well not be one),these images and characters are free to be used by anyone. I am not a Christian, but I know them well, and I still found You Get What You Pay For (YGWYPF) fun to read and a totally imaginative, boldly written story and my little synopsis here will take little away from the fun and surprise of reading it. So, here we go:

…a completely beautiful kind of modernized fable, a tale of prophetic justice and the possible aftermath of living one’s life according to certain principles.


After two decades of marital well-being with his beloved high-school sweetheart/wife, Wendy, she is diagnosed with first one, then another, then another of various degenerative illnesses. After over a decade of accompanying, and caring for, his beloved mate down the path of gradual physical deterioration ending with her early “release”, we find Adam, facing an imminently fatal brain tumor, the effects of which were already becoming painfully apparent.

“Putting his affairs in order” included naming his divorced sister and her young daughter sole beneficiaries of the death benefit of a life insurance policy on himself. Then, between the fruits of prudent investments over the years, the death benefits from his wife’s life insurance policy, and the sale of the house, there is a small fortune to leave behind. With the end of his journey calmly in sight, the void from all those years of abstaining from sex/sexual contact altogether because there was no desire for it amid Wendy’s suffering, he decides to go out out with a bang, literally and figuratively. One day, he finally gives-in to the goading of one of his good buddies: Use the small fortune to go to Las Vegas and purchase the services a high-end “escort”/prostitute, the kind usually reserved for the big spending, high-profiling movie-stars, politicians, royalty, etc. He was going to die, after all, right after twelve years of celibacy. He could afford to do it, and suddenly it was a no brainer.

Upon hearing Adam’s story of honor; marital fidelity, non-abandonment, sacrifice, and suffering, the super fox of an escort promises him an experience which will surely be the best that money can buy. Well, it doesn’t end after only one night and not even two. Laird’s account of the dying man’s last ever intimate encounter with a highly skilled, professional sexual pleasurer whose “…knowledge was the sexual equivalent of the Library of Congress,…” is handled with tasteful analogies of the breadth of symphonic and artistic creation, in moments like brush-stokes of tensions, releases, textural syntheses on the canvases of their humanity, and just left me breathless.

Okay, fast-forward to Adam’s funeral where familial intrigue enters as the disinherited brother slithers in to pay his respects (…not) with his lawyer in tow and they proceed to challenge his/their misfortune. While very real characters, they’re also pretty funny and even referred to as a comedy duo. (from an early 1900s comic strip, which makes Gabby about the same age as Sarah Conventry from Redemption) They know all about the monies spent or “squandered” in Las Vegas and claim that Adam had obviously become mentally incompetent, the proof being the “Las Vegas fiasco” where he was taken advantage of by the hooker. In the meantime, the loving sister and niece are simply glad to have this friend of Uncle Adam’s from Nevada, who had brought him such happiness in his last days, in attendance at all.

Cutting to the chase, after being called a “two-bit whore” by the brother’s lawyer, the “escort” reveals she has uncovered enough embarrassing dope on the brother and his lawyer (pretty bad stuff too) to land them each either in jail or run out of town on a rail tarred and feathered and can probably find more, all of which she would make known to the appropriate legal institutions and would even come (all the way) back to do it unless they stop proceedings contesting Adam’s will and make themselves scarce. It’s pretty comical. Well, the surprise ending is huge. She then gives an envelope to Adam’s little niece, instructing her to give it to her mother, along with the explanation of what and why, once she’s gone.

…my theory of Laird setting a trap for men. Between the three books his scenarios are using all the “objects of temptation” of which men are susceptible…

Going Home is powerfully written and in very few pages places you there…in harms way. It’s almost too good in it’s descriptions of catastrophe. Very cinematic. The implications at the end are thought provoking indeed. Who gets to go home? The pure? The virginal? The innocent? The story is a little gory and causes discomfort… A Catholic necessity? Laird is a very good writer and probably even an open minded sort (given the subject matter of YGWYPF). I got caught up with this pattern in Redemption just before the tense chess match after her sentence was brought to life. YGWYPF being the clincher in my theory of Laird setting a trap for men. Between the three books his scenarios are using all the “objects of temptation” of which men are susceptible, things men like and do at basketball games and chess matches, a new twist on the selling your soul game.

Now. I really enjoyed reading these and I figure there’s is no harm in my mentioning the “contractual loop-holes” in each story. Lessee… celibacy rewarded with a cornucopia of sexual indulgence? There seemed to be a warning at the end of going home about how few are allowed into heaven. Lastly, in Redemption, the Devil can be out-witted and instead of winning a soul he loses two. I liked it a lot in spite of the Souls – kind of a direct rewriting of the basic tenets of the Christianity we all know.

To wander a little, Sex. Traditionally, references to archangels are only in masculine or in other words genderless and only masculine to denote authority or importance. In YGWYPF there are both and they each exist at the same time. I mean, given there’s usually no sex at all concerning what we know about angels, why not? This is a perspective I (for one) have never heard of or even imagined. Angels in such roles doing such things. “My goodness!” The expressions “giving in to lust of or temptations of the (pleasures of the) flesh” come to mind. Also it seems there is no fee for bringing a little happiness to this deserving soul before he leaves behind his earth-bound existence. He has earned it. Hence the title. You find these two names (M & G) in Going Home too but in a completely different social role, although performing the same actual function – That of comforting.

With all that said, John C. Laird is a very powerful storyteller. I have to say I liked YGWYPF the best, second is Redemption, Going Home is good however unsettling. Powerfully spun yarn in each. Great storytelling.

-Kevin

(A Kevin Review is something special. Our team is filled with so many fun and charismatic characters, all vying for the chance to write a witty review. Lucky Kevin came out on top – always entertaining us with his offbeat, and sometimes eccentric, opinions and curious ideas.)

A Kevin Review: Grasping at Shadows (and looking under the bed…)



As you probably know by now, BookRix has recently decided to invite a couple of our more entertaining and insightful team members into the blogging inner circle to write some book reviews. Here is the fourth one, written by Kevin: The dark and thrilling Grasping at Shadows: A Collection of Dark Shorts by Laurie Paulsen (lauriemariepea).

Not for the kiddies.

Not for the kiddies.

These are not tales for children. However, IF you like having what I call “the pattooties” scared out of you – and delight in images so frightening they linger and wait for you in that short-cut through the cemetery in the wee hours, epitomizing our worst fears from childhood not yet convinced there is nothing really out there, or under the bed or in the closet or the basement or in the mind of the person standing before you, to be afraid of or at least a little concerned about – you’ll really enjoy this one.

Ever read something so disturbing you keep stopping to look up, scan around the room, you feel vulnerable, feeling the people around you, on the subway, bus or in the laundry, can sense your…discomfort, “Hahaha, this is…sure is scary…”, wet armpits, nervous laugh?

There is something about the way women write about the hardships of life, abuse, retribution, justice, love in chains, children, etc., in art. For me, these were obviously penned by a woman. They are all startlingly original, with an eye peeled for our sometimes twisted “humanity” (whatever that is) in the most bizarre of circumstances and an acceptance of it.

Laurie Paulsen obviously sees the world a little differently than most of us, but after a peek at her list of favorite books/writers it all made sense immediately. She’s raised on the milk of the wild, mad, great ones. S.M Stirling, Stephen King, and Alice Walker to name just a few from her list (some of my favs too).

Lessee, I will here sidestep my inclination to want to allude to each story. They’re so different, it’s impossible to have an absolute favorite so I’ll just say this; “Killing Chickens” and old Egg….the love of Egg…wow, where did that come from?

An exciting, fast, chilling read you won’t want to end. Remember, not for the kiddies.

Buy it now:

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A Kevin Review: Keep It Safe



The BookRix Team is filled with fun and interesting characters, so we decided to invite a few into the blogging inner circle to write some book reviews. Here is the third one, written by Kevin: Keep It Safe by Jess Wygle (jesswygle)

This “shortie” reads fast and tense, punctuated by a few short breaths and some panting. I imagine our heroine, Parker, is aged probably mid to late 20s. She’s been recently orphaned and widowed. (in the last 3-4 years perhaps?) After another incredibly exciting day at work…not, she swings her Malibu onto the highway, engages the auto pilot and just zones-out / heads to her small town, Iowa abode and the company of the only family she has left, her aging doggie. Then in the pitch darkness she glimpses something in the air for a mili-second before it bounces heavily off the hood of her car. Upon examination she finds the bouncer is human, very broken and handing her a small object along with the request that she hides it, keeps it safe, and that it be given to no one, and then, he exhales his last. It’s on.

In a flash Parker’s life switches from routine boredom to blinking, open-mouthed amazement and she ponders what might’ve happened had she left just a minute or three later, “…I would still be so naive and oblivious to the evils and wrong-doings in this world.” According to Jess Wygle this is the first book she’s finished yet her ability to grab the shirt collar and sweep us along through Parker’s wide-eyed, naïve bumbling discoveries is impressive.

Even the introduction of the Witness Protection Program and the mob which seem like ‘filler matter’ in the context, (…end of Goodfellas..does that apparatus still exist?) is kept relevant with the dreaded ‘instantaneous localization’ and murderous thugs who are also highly skilled hackers and appear with quick shock and surprise. Way cool.

I’m missing the development of the romance which keeps almost happening but then it’s probably just like Parker to misread the cues and awaken in bed at 3:34AM and suddenly realize the missed opportunity and exclaim: “Oh!” LOL! I like this character a lot.

All the background information coloring and defining characters usually served-up straight at the beginning of a lot of novels I’ve read, which is usually awkwardly bludgeoned into the first few pages, is not there and frankly, not missed. Funny. Whether left out purposely or not we’re left with more wiggle room for the imagination, like different people looking at the same painting, and what’s wrong with that? I think there’s more to be developed in there, with or without Parker. We can go out and talk about it later, I have her number. I’m looking forward to reading more from Jess Wygle. Congrats Jess!

-Kevin

Want a taste of Jess Wygle’s writing? Come and check out some of her free short stories HERE!
(Also, for those of you having trouble with cover design – take a look at Jess’ covers because they are simple, and yet fantastic.)

A Kevin Review: Almost “Betrayed By A Vampire”



The BookRix Team is filled with fun and interesting characters, so we decided to invite a few into the blogging inner circle to write some book reviews. Here is the second one, written by Kevin: Betrayed By A Vampire by AnnaRose Vittoria (annarosemydarling).

Well, of all the books I ever read…. The protagonist, a teen-aged Goth girl named Emily, happens to be in a relationship with a real, daylight shunning, no reflection having, non-photogenic, neck-biting, sustaining himself entirely on blood, young vampire named Jagger. (Yes, as in Mick.) She inadvertently revolutionizes the social norms at her high school (in which she is a relative new-comer).

While there’s no concrete, documented philosophical doctrine to be found anywhere on the present Goth culture that I could find, the best I can figure is: it exists in contradistinction to lots of things perceived as defining or symbolic of the “status quo”. Goths are into the darker side of life; vampires, cute little bats and fashion trends involving colors which are deliberately too dark or too bright or in odd combinations, taking them way off the beaten paths of most runways. Fashion originality and invention (within the dark theme) is favored and opposed to the “holding the fort” stance of the preppy / popular kids and their penchants for all that is established and traditional, (“normal”?) wearing Hollister® (Polo® type clothing tuned for high school kids – had to look it up) fashions which our Goth see as “overpriced garbage”. Probably is, I dunno.

Also implicit is the suggestion that one’s allegiance with either Goths or the Preps might be influenced by which side of “the tracks” one hails from, along with a thick thread of “moral / fairness codes / protocols” woven through-out a refreshing ‘live and let live’ mind-set, which is (at least implicitly) another distinction between Goths and Preps, with Goths having particular emphasis on being and “keeping it real” without pretenses. (i.e. Illusions of grandeur / superiority)

The setting: The high school social battlefield and the lines are already drawn. The new Goth girl in town moved in with her Rock musician father, a member of the band, “Vampires Walk Naked”, from whom she’s also “inherited” a taste for vintage Metallica, etc, (easy house-mates).

Before going further into the book, the title’s suggestion of a “betrayal” by a vampire, never actually happens. Having an idea of performing an act which hasn’t been agreed upon by the parties involved isn’t an actual betrayal. It’s nothing but talk until it happens, or is it? (Who asked me right?) Look: In the book, a common expectation of at least the immortal in the relationship of a human and a vampire is the eventuality of “the bite”, which would transform the mortal’s lifestyle along with her/his eating habits rather completely, thenceforth. If there is a deep, soul-mate type love connection between the two, this can be taken up a notch by performing the biting ceremony on sacred ground (cemeteries, churches) rendering this joining an eternal bond. Our heroine overheard her boyfriend bragging to other vampires that he’d soon have his true eternal mate and she would move-in with him, when she hadn’t actually definitely consented to doing it at all and especially not soon. This is the extent of the betrayal. Now, perhaps I’m revealing my gender by wondering where the betrayal is here. Huh? I don’t pretend to know everything.

So while the above “technicality” could’ve brought the title into question…”Almost Betrayed…Could’ve Been Betrayed..”?, the book is actually very enjoyable and an easy read for young adults (YA). The characters are solidly created, and very real and colorful. Without giving away too much, it concludes with a reconciliation between previously warring parties which, while highly unlikely if not impossible in the real world, is still a very desirable scenario. Why not? In some schools the “social friction” of this spontaneous xenophobia (?), mixed with dining table taught ethnic and the social prejudices of misguided missiles of misunderstandings, becomes hard daily manifestations for some, sometimes with dire consequences. The “just harmless teasing” that is bullying / mobbing. Some kids just lose focus of why they are really there anyway. Validation by condemnation or at least making sure one is “better” than somebody. Ferchristsake! The added pressures on top of the workload. Even the author recognizes the Utopia she’s created, rendering the happy ending almost euphoric, but perhaps, or I’m just too cynical? It would be revolutionary indeed for a Goth girl to become the home-coming queen in any school I can think of. Imagine, people having reasons to confront their own prejudices that way. There are lots of surprises in there.

Interesting stuff. Kudos to ARV [AnnaRose Vittoria].

-Kevin

Buy it now:
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Also, make sure you check out the first book in the series (It’s FREE!): To Love A Vampire

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