Monday, May 27, 2013

'The Misremembered Man' by Christina McKenna

Official Summary:
The Misremembered Man is a beautifully rendered portrait of life in rural Ireland which charms and delights with its authentic characters and gentle humor. This vivid portrayal of the universal search for love brings with it a darker tale, heartbreaking in its poignancy.

The Review:
When the cover of the The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna flashed up on the Kindle's screensaver two things happened:
  1. I bought the book based on the interesting title and pretty cover and;
  2. Amazon's ad executives had another reason to pat themselves on the back for orchestrating another successful attack on my wallet.
If you'll notice, at no time during the buying process did I stop to read the book description, check the genre or read any of the existing reviews which, at least in this case, may have stopped me from grabbing up the title in the first place. That would have been my loss. More to the point, if I'd read the severely cut down, vanilla description above I wouldn't have even given this title a chance mainly because it screams 'boring'!

Now literary fiction isn't usually my thing anyway - in fact, it's usually my experience that titles with more interesting descriptions than this one can result in some frustratingly mind-numbing stuff. And don't think for a minute that when I finally got around to cracking open The Misremembered Man  and realized that it was a staunch member of the dreaded literary fiction camp that I didn't contemplate cutting and running onto the next title on my list.

This desire to move on was amplified by the adjective laden opening chapters. Thankfully though, the overly descriptive style of the first few pages is tampered down once the stage has been set and the stories of both the weathered, rough-edged Jamie, and the spinster Lydia begins. Centered on each of these characters search for companionship using the classifieds section of the local newspaper, McKenna adeptly weaves in a poignant critique of the church and their gross abuses of children in the Irish orphanages in the 1930's while introducing some truly colorful characters along the way.

Bottom Line: Pick up The Misremembered Man if you have an interest in cultural books about Ireland, love this genre, or you liked titles like A Friend of the Family or Mariana, (although, in my humble opinion, this title is leaps and bounds better than either of those). Avoid it if you're searching out romance or humor as this title is really has very little to offer in either category even though the too short summary would lead you to believe otherwise.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

'Tempest: A Novel' by Julie Cross

Official Summary:
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun. That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him. Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

There's something about time travel novels that will always get my attention. The prospect of discovering a whole new theory that's been dreamed up is just too hard to pass up. So, when I saw 'Tempest: A Novel' by Julie Cross flash up in an Amazon wallpaper ad I couldn't help myself - the book was downloaded and available for reading in less time than it took you to read this sentence. And in case you're wondering, no I'm not kidding. I truly have that little self-control... especially when a tragic love story is promised on top of the already enticing sci-fi stuff. This self-admitting control issue is also the reason why you're seeing a review for this title and not one of the titles promised earlier in the month. The allure of 'Tempest' was just too great.

But was it any good? Was it worth shoving all the other books that have been patiently waiting their turn in line aside so that I could indulge in a bit of time-travel speculation?

The answer to that question boils down to a classic case of 'a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B', I suppose.

Column A: The love story was equal parts endearing and tragic. The bits involving the sister were memorable, sweet and always delivered with just the right touch of sadness. The best friendship felt real, grounded and comfortable. Overall, the characters really do make this story - even though it feels as though Jackson feels like he should have been at least 21due to all the drinking he's doing. Seriously. What 19 year old's do you know of taking their scotch neat?

Column B: Time travel in this novel is used a bit too divisively for my taste. In some cases the jump is about equivalent to an historical movie. The protagonist jumps back, can interact with the characters involved, even change outcomes - but the changes don't stick and the future is unchanged by his actions. In others, Jackson jumps back in a 'full' jump - but doesn't go back in his actual timeline, instead he's in something akin to a parallel dimension. It doesn't seem like Jackson can complete a full jump in the same timeline, or to go about it the long way, one where he can effectively change the actions in the past relevant to his current circumstances without just abandoning ship to another, entirely new dimension. Although, it seems as though some time travelers can. To confuse things even further everyone except those gifted enough to travel time is duplicated across however many of these parallel dimensions exist while only one of the time traveler peeps exists across all of them. In a strange way the time traveling aspect turned out to be a kind of similiar to that mid-nineties show Sliders - but without the pesky problem of consistently running into alternate versions of yourself, or the historical divergence. You'd think with all these timelines being created by the time travelers (or visited by them... I never really figured that one out), there would be some level of difference between them. But alas, each dimension (timeline? confused) seems to be a pretty good replica of the last one leaving finding what time they've landed in as the only real issue for the time traveler.  

Bottom Line: I could go either way with this one. The relationships in this book are engaging and the plot, while being a bit too heavy handed on the scattered and inconsistent time traveling, is a lot of fun. It's in that spirit that I've already downloaded the second book in the series, "Vortex". If you're usually reaching for YA fiction and enjoy titles like 'Whispers in Autumn ' by Trish Leigh than this should be added to your TBR pile. If, however, you're searching for the next great science fiction novel than I recommend you keep looking.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cover Reveal: 'Endre' by ST Bende

A few weeks ago, the incredibly talented ST Bende took some time out from her busy release schedule to visit with us here on TTP. Now she's gone one step further and I've been given the opportunity to share something with awesome with you guys: The cover of 'Endre', the newest book in the Elsker Saga!

Pretty cool, right? Personally, I'm loving the simplicity of the monotone trees and silvered text. Definite thumbs up from me, ST Bende - I approve.

What's even cooler is the official summary:

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she's knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak -- not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren't even close to ready.

Yup. Totally going to be picking this one up when it gets released on September 23rd! What about you?

More about ST. Bende:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

Author social media links
Twitter: or @stbende