A Brief Eternity by Paul Beaumont
Genre: Humor/Satire, Paranormal
Publisher: Dangerous Little Books
Published: October 25th, 2013
One glorious spring day in London, Jesus Christ rudely interrupts the morning rush hour by returning to Earth. The Second Coming has begun and Jerry, hitherto oblivious to Jesus and all of his friends, finds himself transported to Heaven to live a new life in Paradise. And that’s when his troubles really begin… Witty, provocative, subversive and surprising, A Brief Eternity examines mankind’s fondest wishes for love, redemption, happiness, immortality and, paradoxically, for death. Along the way it provides answers to the most important questions about the afterlife: what’s the food like; who cleans the toilets; and how will the Islamic suicide bombers react when they realise they’re all condemned to Hell, forever? A Brief Eternity is best read soon, while there’s still time. Just in case…
At its core, A BRIEF ETERNITY is a story about a forbidden romance between Jerry and Rachel. Jerry has a cynical and sarcastic view on life and his biggest surprise when the Rapture happens is that he’s got a one-way ticket to Heaven. Many of the descriptions are literal interpretations of quotes from the Bible and the result is a version of Heaven that will both fascinate and repulse. It’s an agnostic’s view of Heaven and while technically a paranormal novel, I’d say that this would appeal more towards fans of satires.
Although countless fiction books have been published about ‘dead’ mythologies, it’s rare to find an author willing to put the same spin on a current day mythology aka theology. The majority of books written about Heaven or Hell are either strongly supportive of the Christian religion or bastardize the religious portion until it’s not even recognizable. The former are books like THE LEFT BEHIND series, while the latter books are simply a good vs evil war.
In A BRIEF ETERNITY, it’s quite clear early on in the book that Jerry doesn’t fit in with the rest of the ‘believers’ sent to Heaven. Going to Heaven with Jerry’s attitude would be like going to Disneyland and telling everyone at the park that the mascots are just people in furry costumes. If you truly believe in the magic, then the details don’t matter. It’s Heaven! Why is he complaining, right? Still, I couldn’t help but laugh at the predicaments he ends up in and the company he has to ‘suffer’.
Jerry is loaded with questions about the policies of the place and can’t seem to get his mind off of his girlfriend, whose Jewish beliefs kept her locked outside the pearly gates. When the book switches to her POV, we get an interesting version of Hell. In these chapters, I’m reminded of the INCARNATIONS OF IMMORTALITY series, which offered a not-so-gritty version of Hell. Life ‘down under’ continues much like it did on Earth.
Judging by the cover and blurb, A BRIEF ETERNITY appeared to be preachy. I wasn’t quite sure when the author would stuff his personal beliefs down my throat but I was certain it would happen (spoiler — it doesn’t). I suppose that you could view this book as a religious satire. It’s has the humor of the HITCHHIKER’S GALAXY with a controversial plot like THE DA VINCI CODE. THE DA VINCI code asked what if Jesus had a wife, while A BRIEF ETERNITY asked what if the Bible was literally true…would you still want to go there?
I think that two types of people should stay far away from this book:
a) You think that religion is a load of horse-shit and all books mentioning it should be burned at the stake like the ‘witches’ during the middle-Ages.
b) You think that anyone who criticizes the way that God works deserves to burn in Hell.
Basically, this book requires either an open mind or someone who isn’t easily offended by jokes about their religion. I also want to point out that I’m not quite sure what version of the Bible was used when researching this book. Each religious branch teaches different things. For example, I was raised Catholic and never even heard of the Rapture until I had a Methodist boyfriend. This is about how our conversation went:
Me: You actually believe that ‘believers’ will one day go poof into thin air and disappear from Earth?
Him: You actually believe that the wine they serve during communion is literally the ‘Blood of Christ’?
(Although, in this case, he DID actually believed enough in the Rapture to slap a full size decal on his back window that said: ‘In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned.’ On an semi-unrelated note, he ended up totaling my car when I let him drive. No Rapture required for that accident.)
I highly recommend this to readers who like humorous satires such as THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE and don’t mind a book that provokes thoughts about what your own version of Heaven and whether people should take everything in the Bible literally. Paul Beaumont’s spin on Heaven certainly doesn’t match my own version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story within these pages.
P.S. I love the oxymoron title.
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
The Guardians (More #2) by T. M. Franklin
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Self Published – The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House
Published: November 7th, 2013
It’s not every day a girl discovers she’s not entirely human and unlocks hidden powers strong enough to make even the First Race take notice. Then again, Ava Michaels is no ordinary girl.
Now, the Race’s Ruling Council wants her under their control, and that’s just the beginning of her problems. Her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, has disappeared—accused of betraying the Race—and Ava herself is implicated in a crime she didn’t commit.
Clearing their names will mean uncovering a web of deceit and intrigue with Ava woven right in the center. To unravel the strands, she joins forces with some unlikely allies; a Protector who once haunted her nightmares, a young girl with secrets as unexpected as Ava’s, and a group of rebel Guardians who have their own fight against the Council.
Together they stand in a battle to find the truth, bring Caleb home, and secure Ava’s freedom—not to mention save her life.
THE GUARDIANS felt like a gutted version of the first book. The beginning is extremely confusing unless you’ve recently read MORE. There’s not even enough clues scattered in the novel to piece together the basic plot of the first book. Bottom line, if you want to read THE GUARDIANS, read MORE first. If you read MORE awhile ago, then reread it. Otherwise, don’t bother trying to figure out what’s going on.
It’s an easy read that focuses on the plot. The characters, setting, and everything else just seems less than what was in the first book. It was okay, but there wasn’t a single time that I loved what was said or what happened. The book didn’t spark any emotions. It wasn’t boring though.
Caleb goes through a personality adjustment for plot reasons and I was sad to see the shift. The chemistry between them is missing and there’s no sizzle between Ava and the other characters, even in friendship.
By the end, Ava’s abilities do get stupidly ridiculous. The twists border on predictable. I also thought that Tiernan was too easily swayed by Ava, especially considering the consequences of his actions.
THE GUARDIANS is a good self-published book. It’s a good sequel for fans of MORE. But, it won’t attract any new readers. It felt too ‘safe’. I won’t be continuing the series.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
It’s been two weeks since I posted my first review on Parajunkee. I decided to give you guys and gals links to those reviews in case you’d like to check them out. You can always use the dropdown menu on the main page to find just my reviews or you can click HERE. I’ll be updating my sidebar with that link for easy access. If you’re also subscribed to Parajunkee, then keep an eye out for my banner (shown below) or uber sig. Whether here or there, I just love that you enjoy reading my reviews.
No Surrender Soldier by Christine Kohler – YA Historical Fiction
The Troop by Nick Cutter – YA Horror
Delia’s Shadow by Jamie Lee Moyer — Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Mystery
The Genesis by K. L. Kerr — Paranormal, Vampires
(This post is much longer than my normal ones. It’s an honest view of how one author unknowingly helped me through the darkest times in my life. With one of my parents no longer alive to read this and the other much deserving of my honesty [although I still love her dearly], I decided that I could finally live with the consequences of this post reaching the hands of people I know. This post is minimally edited, since it’s difficult to objectively critique something so personal, so please forgive any grammar mistakes.) – yes, there are some spoilers for her old books
Anne Rice will always be my author idol…
Discovery — Interview with a Vampire series
A long time ago, I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice.
Back then, my book purchases could be no more than 10 cents a books. My father haggled sales like a man with only two quarters to his name. We purchased our dining room table for ten dollars. It was an orange monstrosity(looked like it came straight out of Hardees) that he painted blue and for the next ten years spent countless hours yelling at the kids for peeling off the thick blue paint with their fingernails. Our bikes were bought for a couple dollars each. I can’t remember how much he paid for that 1970s yellow canoe that my best friend and I spent hours paddling across the shoreline of the bay during the summer, but it was surely less than its value.
I came upon her book by accident. It was a well-loved book with a crinkled cover that someone decided to throw into the yard sale pile. My parents didn’t care what kind of books I salvaged from the yard sales, only that I got them for a decent price aka nearly free. When I showed my dad this book by Anne Rice along with a handful of other books that were more age appropriate for a ten-year-old, I don’t think he understood how graphic the words were within its pages. Anne Rice didn’t write about vampires. She wrote about tormented souls, who felt cursed by their own existence.
I discovered Anne Rice’s vampire series at a perfect time in my life. My parents fought terribly. I grew up beneath the strict Catholic moral code and felt smothered by it. I felt like no one understood the internal battle raging inside me…until I read her books. Although the books were paranormal, the connection I felt was on a spiritual level. I felt like Louis, when my religion felt false around me. I felt like Lestat, searching endlessly to discover what my purpose was in life. I felt like Claudia, having to parent my parents sometimes (especially though the alcoholism)…when I was still too young on the outside for the world to listen to my voice.
Exploration – under the pen name Anne Rampling
A bitter divorce left me with a non-existent relationship with my dad and a turbulent one with my mother.
My mother always had a love for writing, but the stories she shared with me were uplifting and fake. It wasn’t until I tried to mimic the dark emotions that Anne Rice whispered to me, that I felt an outlet for my own. While other girls wasted their teenage years on silly crushes and frivolous get-togethers, I stayed inside my house with only my books and writing to let me explore the world around me. It was only though books that I felt safe enough to act my age and let the harden defenses fall.
Only while reading did I not have to worry about whether the ‘adult’ of the house would remember to bring me home dinner. That the five dollars I stole from my mom’s wallet wouldn’t be missed – while I ate the bag of potato chips and downed the two-liter of Pepsi that the stolen five dollars purchased. That I wouldn’t have to spent another chilly night sleeping in the car because my mom kicked me out of the house for hiding her car keys or alcohol. That I could ignore the piles of garbage and filth inside the house so thick that my sister and I had to create pathways from one room to another. That I could forget wearing second hand clothes stained by iron-infested water, because my mom was too embarrassed to have a plumber fix our water.
The only time that I felt a connection with my mother was on our trips to the bookstore. She’d let me slip into the horror section. My first choice was always Anne Rice. My problems seemed trivial compared to the boy with the beautiful voice whose balls were chopped off so he’d never hit puberty (Cry to Heaven). Or the island where people went voluntarily to be sex slaves (Exit to Eden). Or the forbidden romance between man and girl (Belinda). The stories were so dark and forbidden in themselves that I never felt tempted to make anything less than a logical decision when it came to my life. After all, my life could have been much worse.
So, I explored the marshy backyards instead of hanging out with friends that would ask too many questions about my life. I said goodbye to romance when I left the school bus. Except for my neighbor/best friend, no one knew what I came home to every night. No one knew that school was the only highlight of my life and if I missed the bus, I’d sneak into my mother’s car (not announce my presence until after she left the driveway) and plead with her to take me to school. No one knew of the times that my best friend and I used to knock on our drunken neighbor’s door and ask a 40-year-old single man to drive us to school when everyone else said no.
When my high school days finally came to an end and I resorted to rooming with an asshole co-worker because I had spent the past week living out of my car, there were still more books to look forward to. I finally read The Witching Hour, which spoke of a legacy of witches haunted by a ghost and restricted by the rules of their inheritance. The heir had a bittersweet end, when she was able to keep her lover but lost her child.
My own sex life was carefully monitored. I purposely waited until after my eighteenth birthday to end my virginity, since I wanted neither parent of mine to ever have influence over any child of mine. The only foolproof way to ensure this was abstinence. After I turned 18 and knew that I would have 100% control, I was willing to have sex using condoms or birth control. I also felt like I was corrupt. I thought that it wasn’t possible for me to ever have a child and NOT continue the cycle of abuse (which in my case was at least never physical). So, I made sure as best I could to practice the safest sex possible. If pregnancy happened, I was fully prepared to either adopt or abort. In my own way, I mourned the fact that I thought I’d grow old without ever having a family of my own. But, I just couldn’t risk the chance of sentencing a child to the same misery I experienced.
Betrayal — Christ The Lord series
When Anne Rice lost her husband and subsequently wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, I felt betrayed. That imaginary kinship I had with her over the years was shattered. There was a void between us now. It was the same with my best friend, whose teenage pregnancy I couldn’t handle and I left her instead of helping her with diapers and baby daddy drama.
I never once outright said that I didn’t believe in God. I always did, but I felt like He was never on my side. I only felt the judgmental rules and saw His hypocritical followers. I knew that I wanted Heaven, but I wasn’t willing to follow blindly. I’d rather sacrifice my own morality than condemn someone else’s. And it hurt that after years of having Anne Rice be an ex-Catholic with me, she decided to sort out her spiritual side with a handful of books about Jesus.
I stopped buying her books, yet I could never fill the void she left in my book obsessed self. The horror shelves had sadly disappeared from bookstores. I dove into high fantasy instead, but it wasn’t the same. The villains were bad and the heroes were good. From my own life, I had trouble relating. I knew many people who did bad things to me, yet weren’t evil people. I only knew of one or two people that acted like Saints regardless of the occasion. The heroes in the books were nothing like them.
I eventually drifted away from books. I ventured into video games, always playing the bad side. It reminded me of the times I played Barbies with my little sister. I always played the bad guy, since she wanted to be the good one. But although we called it “good” vs “evil”, in my mind, the bad guys weren’t that bad at all. They craved power and let their emotions overshadow logic. They made mistakes and my sister’s good Barbies always won. Though, I felt like I won because I got her to play with Barbies far past the “cool” age to play them.
Playing the bad guys in video games, it always felt liberating. I didn’t have a moral code restricting my decisions. I could be bad or not and the game didn’t care. People expected the worst and were often surprised when I did the decent thing instead. It was nice to feel that appreciation when the rest of my life had still not recovered from my teenage years.
And it didn’t for several years. Not until I decided on a whim to get away from every negative person in my life. I hopped on a plane and visited a guy I knew only by his online screen name. I fell in love with freedom and with him.
Reunited — The Wolf Gift series
Anne Rice didn’t re-enter my life until she came out with The Wolf Gift in 2012. It was her grand return into the paranormal. I was hesitant. So hesitant that I didn’t buy the book – I borrowed it from the library. In this book, I fell in love with her writing all over again and yet her main character, Ruben, was someone I didn’t recognize. He felt calm, comfortable in his own skin. It wasn’t the hyper-active, bad-boy Lestat that I remembered. I nearly gave up on her again.
But then, I looked at my own life.
I finally had a family of my own. I didn’t have to worry about where I’d find my next meal or worry that if I pissed off my housemate that I’d end up back in the street. Although I have pissed off my husband (especially during PMS), we’re both on the lease…so technically neither one can kick the other out. Thanks to my younger sister, who raised two kids on her own for several years (until she met an awesome guy), I no longer felt like I was cursed to become a bad parent and decided to have a child of my own.
Though The Wolf Gift wasn’t as compelling to read as some of her other work, it felt like Anne Rice had finally made peace with herself. She’s religious yet an activist for gay rights. She’s managed to find a perfect balance between what religion tells us we should do and what our heart tells us to do.
And though, I will probably never again receive Communion…I think that I too have found peace. I believe, but not at the expense of others. If that means that I won’t get that magic ticket into Heaven, then that’s okay. At least I made the Earth a slightly better place.
Last month I was finally given the opportunity to meet Anne Rice. After a two and a half hour wait in line, unfortunately, whatever brilliant speech I had planned to tell her came out in some nonsense babble instead. I wish I could have told her how much she helped me get through the most difficult times in my life. I wish that I could tell her that even though I might not like her new books all that much, I still have the upmost respect for her and her writing. She’s taught me that I can write about anything. She’s taught me to bend the boundaries of what to expect in a genre. She’s taught me that it’s okay to rebel and take chances (like what she did when she decided to write religious books instead of paranormal/horror). And she’s taught me that the most important thing is to discover what will make me at peace with my life.
For that, she will always be my author idol.Read More
When I come across a book like Blood Relations that promises an enticing mix between paranormal, horror, and the male perspective; it is quite difficult to refrain from reviewing (though it’s the only way to clear that otherwise endlessly expanding review list). But, after being teased by the Amazon preview, I have a feeling either book or author may make another appearance on here in 2014.
Family by choice
Fiction and our private lives
by Caroline Frechette
The other day, someone asked me if I was an orphan. I was a little taken aback. I lost my father a little over ten years ago, but I’m not an orphan, I replied. The person proceeded to ask me whether I’d run away from home, or if my family was horrible.
Those are odd questions to ask of someone, point-blank, like that, and yet, I have to admit I know where they come from. In my stories, not just Blood Relations, the first volume of the Family by Choice series, my latest release, but in all my stories, the protagonists almost never have a relationship with their parents. Their parents are either gone, or dead, or abusive, or neglectful, and more often than not, when there is a parent in the picture, the characters end up cutting off that relationship for good.
I didn’t run away from home. And my parents were not abusive or neglectful or bad parents in any way. They were loving, tender people who were always there for us, whether it was to give us a ride out of a bad situation, or lend us a non-judgemental ear when we were in trouble. They supported us, drove us to accomplish everything we wanted. We were loved, and we knew it. In short, they were the best parents anyone could ever have.
So why write consistently about absent relationships with parents, if I didn’t go through that? The answer is both simple and complicated. The short version is, when you write fiction, you try to tackle your inner pain, your unresolved conflicts; it’s what gives true emotional depth to your stories. I don’t really have unresolved conflicts and emotional pain when it comes to my parents, so I don’t feel the need to explore the parent/child relationship from the child’s point of view.
Why then do some of my characters have painful memories when it comes to their parents? For the same reason as above, actually. The exploration of pain and all that. My parents really did their best, and I have no issues with them, but I do have pain and unresolved issues from my childhood. I think everyone does. So I give my characters baggage. It’s not the same as mine; it doesn’t have to be. And, like I said in a previous post, sometimes putting another angle on your issues can act like a safe distance, a protective glass beyond which you can safely observe, and give yourself the opportunity to heal without re-living the trauma.
Because the point to giving your characters your pain is to help yourself heal from it. And, in doing so, you’re helping your readers heal from their own pain. Pain is a universal human experience. It doesn’t need to be the exact same experience for us to relate and heal.
Blood Relations by Caroline Frechette
Published: October 12th, 2013
Life has not been easy for Alex Winters since he used his pyrokinetic powers to take control of the Russian district. Violence and betrayal have become a way of life, but he’s somehow managed to keep the gangsters in line. At barely sixteen, he thinks he’s seen it all. He hasn’t. Things spiral out of control when the latest double cross takes a turn for the supernatural. The new group muscling in on his territory turns out to be a brutal gang of vampires. Can Alex defeat an enemy even more powerful than himself? Can he keep his people safe and his boss happy? Can Alex survive in a world that just keeps getting more dangerous?
Caroline Fréchette is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region for the past 9 years. She is a sequential artist and author. She has published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, all on the French Canadian and European markets. She was the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. She has been teaching creative writing since 2005, and manages the popular writing page and blog Ice Cream for Zombies.