Book Review

Book Review: The Beholder

The BeholderThe Beholder by Ivan Amberlake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: 

Around the world, people die under mysterious circumstances. Each has a sign. Each is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. A NYC interior designer Jason Walker receives a message saying he is the final piece.

Emily Ethan, a startling beauty with supernatural powers, appears and tells Jason that powers dormant within him are about to wake. He is the only person who can prevent darkness from enslaving the world. He is the Beholder whose advent has been awaited for many years.

Setting out on a journey with Emily, Jason discovers the world he could have never imagined, but the greatest surprise arrives the moment he realizes he has fallen in love with Emily.

Review:

Jumping into the world of The Beholder began with a refreshing jolt. No easing the reader into the back story, no time taken to explain the current context. Right from the opening scene, we are thrust into the midst of action. And what action! I was also happy to note that the writing itself was smooth and easy to follow, and the pacing of events unfolded at a good rate.

What I enjoyed the most about the novel were the following: 1) Amberlake describes some very difficult, abstract events quite well. Things like, experiencing the stopping of time, what energy bursts look like at night, how to ‘cut through’ space and time, as well as his general use of metaphors and similes, are all very well done. For most of the book, the imagery is quite strong; 2) as mentioned above, the pacing was good. There was rarely a dull moment, as the reader is taken to various local and international locations, meets new characters on both sides of the Good vs. Evil coin, and is plunged deeper into the mythology and the back story connecting the characters. There is no room for boredom in this book; 3) I also enjoyed Amberlake’s spin on magic/special powers being rooted in Energy, which the way it is described in The Beholder, is a refreshing change from a lot of books out there.

I did struggle with some things in the book. 1) In contrast to point number one above, sometimes I felt certain details could have been elaborated on. Lack of information left me feeling disoriented in time and place, and which ultimately impacted general comprehension. For example, at times it wasn’t clear where a character was, or when or how they got there, requiring me to scroll back to situate myself. Another example is, towards the end of the story, when I had difficulty differentiating dream from reality. 2) The basic rules of Energy were not always clear, so it was difficult to measure one Sighted against another. When Emily does something amazing, how does that measure up with what Pariah can do? With what Jason can do? What are the limits to Energy? Are there any weaknesses or an Achilles heel to using this power? Some of the explanations were not detailed enough for me to get a good basic grasp, which left me feeling as though some of its uses were random or convenient. 3) I would have liked to have seen more character development, as we don’t know that much about more about Jason or his friends by the end of the novel than we did when we first met them.

My over all feeling is that The Beholder is an exciting, swiftly-moving novel that brings something new to urban fantasy. The characters are young, fun, and dynamic, and Amberlake’s usage of language, imagery, and pure unbridled imagination all connect to create a good, solid, enjoyable read. This book is recommended, and I expect the sequels will be equally entertaining.

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Author Interviews

Sara Stinson, Middle-Grade and YA author of Finger Bones

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing an old friend, Sara Stinson. Sara is wonderful, friendly lady, a great encourager of writers, and she is the author of the middle-grade/YA book, Finger Bones. But rather than introduce her and her books myself, I’ll let her do that. She’s already done such a great job. 🙂 Everyone, please welcome Sara Stinson! 

Hello, everyone!  I hope you have had a wonderful summer.

Something new and exciting is happening to my series called The Finger Bones Series.  The first book cover has been updated and the second book cover was completed by illustrator Bradley Wind. 

Please be on the lookout for updates in October.  The first book, which was called Finger Bones, has been updated to Finger Bones and Wendy.  The second book will be called Finger Bones and The Ghost DogFinger Bones can be purchased in paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble (click on image below to find out more).

Finger Bones, by Sara Stinson
Finger Bones, by Sara Stinson

About the book:

Finger Bones has sent ghosts to their next destination for many years. Now it is Wendy’s turn. e

When ten-year-old Wendy Dee Winkelmann needs to do some serious thinking she likes to chew bubblegum. While sitting on a bench in town reading, she becomes friends with an old man the townspeople call Finger Bones. Some locals consider him odd and spread rumors about the ghastly man who lives up a dirt road in an old ramshackle cabin. Yet Wendy knows different.  She soon discovers this old man, who walks to town with a burlap bag tied to a stick, has a special job. He sends ghosts to their next destination, and the stick and burlap bag he carries are magical. 

Now Wendy chases the lingering spirits, and her two best friends, Claire and Henry, are determined to help her. Soon she finds herself caught up in a devious plan of a dark sinister power. It’s all up to Wendy to save Bridgeville before the evil power takes over the town.

Sara Stinson, author of Finger Bones
Sara Stinson, author of Finger Bones

1) So Sara, can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Sara Stinson and I am a middle-grade to young adult author.  I am also a retired teacher.  I was also a Speech-Language Pathologist.  After working in the public schools for twenty-five years, I am now substituting and devoting my time to writing.  I am married to my high school sweet heart for twenty-eight years and we have two wonderful grown children, and a Yorkie named Addie.

2) Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

As a hobby I have painted with acrylics.  Recently, I purchased a sketching pencil.  The series The Finger Bones Series has a journal in it.  The character Finger Bones writes in the journal during his many years of chasing ghosts.  What I drew portrays his journal.

I started writing after I retired.  I was watching the interview of Stephenie Meyer with Oprah Winfrey.  My son casually mentioned that he thought I could write.  So I said I would give it a try and have not stopped.  🙂

Family, friends, and the students I teach keep me motivated.  They genuinely want to hear about Finger Bones, Wendy Dee Winkelmann, and her friends.

Author friends are always encouraging too.

3) What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?  

I am an eclectic reader.  I don’t think I could say I have a favorite when reading.  If the author is good, I will read it.  When writing, for now I write middle-grade to young adult.  I write for this age because I have been around children most of my adult life.

I have jotted down some ideas and notes for an adult book about a family of five children who have been adopted.  The story will be about their life and what they went through during the childhood and teen years.  I want to focus more on what they endured from each other.

I laugh if I try to write a kissing scene.  So you can guess the genre I couldn’t see me writing.  🙂

4) I’ve read books which really annoyed me. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing? 

A writer who has my interest on the first page is a good writer.  The characters develop and grow as the story progresses, and it flows and makes sense.

Verb tenses were my weakness.  Especially when writing in the past.  I have learned to improve this area by reading others…who may have a harder time.

5) As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The five elements have to flow and work together when writing in order to allow it to run smoothly and make it develop in a logical way.  The five elements are:  characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.  All five are important.

I have to work at sticking to the topic.  I tend to stray at times.  🙂  I want my characters to have conversations to make them believable and I end up allowing them to chat more than they need to. 

 6) Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

I have completed the first book in The Finger Bones Series.  It’s called Finger Bones and Wendy.  A 122-year-old ghost helps three eleven-year-old kids chase ghosts to send them to their next destination.  The use of magic and incantations are used to finish the job.  All the ideas thrown together create a different and adventurous story for all ages!

The second book in the series is called Finger Bones and the Ghost Dog.  A ghost dog, twins who are ghosts, and a ghost bounty hunter appear in this installment of the series.

7) How can readers get into contact with you? 

LINKS:

Website for Finger Bones:  http://www.sarastinson.com/

Blog: http://stinsonsara.wordpress.com/

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Finger-Bones-             Series/229155180433981?ref=hl

Thank you so much for being with us Sara! I am so happy to hear how Finger Bones has developed as well as the success it has had since it went into publication; you’ve moved on to writing book 2! Readers, go check out Sara’s links and discover what antics old Finger Bones and his friend, Wendy are up to. It’s fun for all ages.

Until next time!