Joint Venture explores the blossoming relationship between Laura and Matt in a gentle romance that is filled with the starts and fits and misfires that mark all genuine friendships. Maddrey's storytelling is sweet and simple yet far from mundane or predictable. The author has a way of taking ordinary events and characters and weaving them into a tale that is both captivating during the reading and satisfying at the end. Recommended for all who enjoy inspirational fiction.
Joint Venture (about 100 pages) is available as an ebook from Amazon and will soon be on other platforms as well. It's published by a new small press, HopeSprings Books.
Other great reads I've polished off this past month or so include (in no particular order):
Travellers' Rest by James Enge, a 33 page novella from Pyr.
Travellers' Rest, featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. Enge describes “Traveller's Rest” as “a story that's been trying to chew its way out of my head for a while now, and this seemed like a good time to release it as an introduction to Morlock. Also, Morlock’s apprentice Wyrth has a small but discerning fan base, and ‘Traveller's Rest’ gives them a chance to encounter him again.” If you are new to Morlock, it should make a fine introduction to Enge’s creation, and if you are not, you will be pleased to see the return of at least one old friend.
In the Land of the Blind: A Zombie Story by Robert Swartwood (43 pages)
Here's my review: "Allegories seldom work well as literary pieces, they're usually too blatant, characters too flat, the moral too simple. 'In the Land of the Blind' is a wonderful exception to the norm as Swartwood handles the story, characters, and moral theme adeptly. The 'reveal' is gradual, gentle, and transparent which allows the reader to enter into the main character's enlightenment, confusion, transformation, and final acceptance with full empathy. Wonderful story about 'zombies' but in a literary vein. Refreshingly different. Recommended."
(BTW, both Enge's and Swartwood's stories are free, or were free recently. Check them out.)
The Bainbridge Killings by Rick Soper (124 pages)
Here's the blurb: "In this prequel to The Rock Star, Jon Stevens is in his prime, and he is forced to go to Bainbridge Island undercover to investigate the deaths of three couples. The local Sheriff has classified the deaths as suicides, but Stevens thinks they’re killings, and with just over twenty thousand inhabitants on the Island, Bainbridge has a small town feel, where everybody knows everybody else’s business, so Stevens has to investigate without the killer knowing he’s there. Which could be next to impossible."
I emailed the author and had a great conversation with him about his series. The success of this longish novella seems to indicate that there is a place for the 100 to 150 page short novel. I hope so! I like writing and reading stories this length, that's for sure.
The Super Chronicles. I think he has three stories in this series so far, and all feature regular people with extraordinary powers who get in a heck of a lot of trouble. Fun, pulpy, with a subtle moral and a whole lot of action. If you like your stories quick and easy to digest over lunch, the Super Chronicles are for you.
Well, that's the low down on what I've been reading lately. What are some of your recent reads? What are you planning for 2014? More novels or novellas? Fiction or nonfiction? Favorite genre or are you gonna mix it up? Comment away!