Time Framed by Roger Chiocchi explores the complex concepts of time travel, parallel realities, and a one-world-order. Since the arrival of the Mayflower into the New World, the Pennfield family has been cursed by a vengeful spirit. The curse claims its victim approximately every sixty years. But an unusual event alters the course of the curse, setting in motion a game of chess across time. Two branches of the Pennfield family, separated by almost 50 years, seek to realign this timeline in favor of their own respective goals. The fate of a seven-year-old boy hangs in the balance.
Honestly, the multitude of ideas in this one novel could span the length of four books. Not to say it wasn’t an interesting read, but the magnitude of each concept almost made my brain explode. The author demonstrates an impressive ability to weave various ideas into a cohesive plot; however, the impact of the story is lost within its seven hundred plus pages. The scattering of strong ideas throughout a novel doesn’t necessarily translate into a focused read.
Now, that being said, Time Framed is in a league of its own: imaginative, thought-provoking, and conceptually unique. The idea of psychic phenomena (ESP, clairvoyance, past life regression, out of body experiences, etc.) and psychiatric disorders (multiple personalities, schizophrenia, bipolar, etc.) emerging from superimposed realities is a brilliant notion. This idea deserves a book if not a series of its own.
Despite the novel revolving around time travel, the one-world-order dynamic intrigued me more. Chiocchi creates a futuristic society reminiscent of a medieval social hierarchy. There are no geographic determinants or boundaries but groupings designated by a person’s level of wealth and IQ. Each grouping is governed by its own tax system and laws, and stringent rules on procreation are implemented on those within this new hierarchy considered to be of a lower class. A fascinating representation of a very real possibility. The ability of the author to portray these concepts without hiccups is a testament to his writing strength. My brain is still trying to recover.
Disclaimer: NOT FOR READERS BOUND TO REALITY
Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow by Carlos Colón is the second installment to follow Nicky Negron on his path to construct a life between the undead and the living. Reinventing himself as Jorge Sangria, Nicky stakes the romanticized version of a vampire through the heart, revitalizing Bram Stoker’s Dracula into the modern-era. He struggles to balance human morality with his one basic need. Blood. Nourished by the lesser of two evils, this predatory killer rids the city of unwanted thugs. Instead of thanking him, the FBI targets his possible involvement in a string of drug-related decapitations. The ability to remain beneath their investigative radar proves difficult as the woman who turned him reemerges with a vengeance. The singular purpose to destroy her creates an unlikely alliance with a dis-credited epidemiologist whose determination to eliminate society of these ‘anomalies’ causes their alliance to teeter along a fine line of trust.
“I am a menace? Let us go back a bit, shall we? Since we’ve met, you’ve doused me in Holy Water, which is like acid to me, you had those young men take batting practice on my head, then you had them throw me down your basement and lock me in a box. Shall I continue?”
Written in first-person, the reader connects on a deeper level with Nicky, witnessing first-hand the struggle to satisfy his urges while maintaining his humanity. A surprising revelation at the end, however, shows how much more human than monster Nicky really is. The narrative flows smoothly, and Colón stays true to vampire lore. I found certain aspects of the novel difficult to read, not from a failure in style, but content. Some things are better left unwritten.
Leave romantic notions of vampirism behind. Lustful. Cruel. Murderous. Everything a vampire should be. Give him a conscious, and he’s a force to reckon with.
A QUICK GUIDE TO ARCHETYPES & ALLEGORY by Ken Johnson analyzes the multifaceted characters of myths, legends, and reality in this easy to read guide. The author anchors them into the established roles our subconscious mind allegorically (symbolically) attributes to each archetype. For example, the word dragon conjures images and perceptions without the provision of further details. Just as the word vampire, werewolf, or witch relies on an established bank of knowledge obtained from years of preconceived notions each archetype represents in both film and literature. This knowledge releases the writer from bogging himself into lengthy descriptions or backstory destined to detract from his current works overall theme. On the other hand, matching the wrong archetype to the wrong allegory will create a dysfunctional read. A storyline where a vampire survives on lettuce shifts this preestablished archetype into one of disbelief for the reader, ultimately causing a disconnect with the archetype and failure of the author’s work.
Likewise, the terms hero, villain, or scapegoat creates the foundation of a dimensional character. The word hero immediately conveys someone who will save the day, not someone who brings about death, destruction, or misery. To portray a hero in this light contradicts the very definition of a hero making him the villain.
Johnson does a marvelous job using relatable, not archaic, examples in this quick guide. His explanations help readers understand on a deeper level the vital relationships between various archetypes and their allegories. Using past and present works, he delves into allegories otherwise unnoticed. This would be a great addition to any college curriculum or high-school honors class for the study of literature or cinema.
*I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. *
THE PETERLOO AFFAIR: A TALE OF THE ST. PETER’S FIELD MASSACRE by Lucinda Elliot portrays this historical event through the eyes of a young girl as she and her family navigate the hardships of the period. Joan, desperate to escape the tedious life of textile production, dreams of becoming a doctor with her best friend Marcie. Her herbal skills prove sufficient for healing sick villagers. However, gender rules of a woman’s role in early 1800 Lancashire hang like a dark cloud upon her dream. Young love, too, threatens the girls’ future beyond their current lifestyle. Corn Laws imposed by Parliament have left most scavenging for food, leaving little to feed the multitude. Starvation is a real possibility. A protest march with neighboring villages against Parliament leads to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, where 18 are killed and more than 400 innocent people are injured according to historical accounts.
Elliot brings to light a piece of history long forgotten. However, reading through the dialogue proved to be a challenge. I struggled, often re-reading the conversations between the characters to fully understand their meanings. The number of egregious grammatical and punctuation errors did not help. The beauty of the story is touching and still comes across despite the strain upon my brain to unravel the dialogue. The characters are not lacking in depth or purpose. Joan is thoughtful, compassionate, and head-strong. Her interactions with fellow villagers and her family ring true. Absolutely love her. The villagers’ struggle and hardships are felt throughout the reading, and the author has portrayed their unjust treatment by Parliament with ease. This story is exceptional! I believe it would be a best-seller were it not for the laborious wading through difficult dialogue.
With adequate revision, this novel has the potential for a 5-star rating.
What the Flower Says of Death doesn’t tug at your heartstrings. It forever binds them to Violet as she faces death in more ways than one. The author, Danielle Koste, masterfully intertwines pain, death, and forgiveness with hope, acceptance, and love. Violet must learn to let go of those she loves in order to really live. Past resentment and pain shackle her to an evolving plan to commit suicide on her eighteenth birthday. The breadth of letting go, overcoming family secrets, and accepting the inevitable provides healing beyond the capacity of a therapist. Jack, instrumental to Violet’s earthly existence, comforts and guides her along her journey. As her bucket list receives its checkmarks, glimmers of life seep once again into her broken soul; death puts a new perspective on dying. But choosing life will demand a price she is not ready to pay.
This is one of the most emotionally moving novels I have read in quite a while. It is an absolute page turner but not in the way one might expect. There are no secret agents devising plans. Or super-heroes saving the world. No. This novel goes beyond the surface. It reaches deep into your heart and pulls you with an incessant need to know Violet’s outcome.
A disclaimer for all future readers: TISSUES REQUIRED…MULTIPLE!!
A historical spy-thriller. Explores the keen ability of two women to outmaneuver a world dominated by men. Loved the strong female protagonist! Her grief, pain, and struggles equip her with unique skills and set her upon a destiny to ensure Abraham Lincoln’s survival.
Just finished reading. Loved! The eloquent portrayal of Elizabeth Schuyler and all she endured during the birth of our nation is beautifully written. Her experience with Alexander Hamilton is an unparalleled peek into a life long forgotten. A must-read!!