Villains V. Anti-heroes: What’s the difference?

What? Why do you people always expect me to have an answer?

Kidding…

Villains are the ones that you love to hate. They are eyeball glue for fiction readers. Seriously–want to ensure that the reader will keep turning pages? Give them a well designed villain and an equally matched hero, and they will finish your book and get that Kindle pages read graph to sky-rocket.

When we think about the basic set up of a novel, what do we think of? Hero + Villain = story? Most of the time. Let’s look at that a bit closer.

Most people go that route because it is a less risky formula. It is easy, accepted and authors choose it for those reasons. The likeable protagonist is common because:

*The reader can identify with them easily and put themselves in the character’s place.

*The character embodies all the good things about ourselves and the world around us that we want to believe in.

*They offer one half of a classic dynamic that readers respond to on an emotional level.

Villains, adversely, prey on the primary and earliest fears of the reader. Remember that monster in your closet when you were six? He’s back. They open up our minds to the idea that not everything is as safe as we might have thought. They activate the fight or flight response in us that is hardwired into our brain (thank our ancestors for this trait. Try running from a hungry cheetah whilst hunting down your breakfast.) Or just go to Subway. Easier.

So–this conventional view makes sense. Hero that stands for all that is right and pure + Villain that is evil incarnate and stands for all the things we fear =

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

What if we want to do something different? What if we want to risk using an anti-hero as our protagonist? Can you do that? Of course you can. You can do anything–you’re an author.

Anti-heroes are an interesting and conflicted character type to work with. Though the reader may not easily be able to see things from their point of view and step right into those tarnished shoes, anti-heroes are built with some form of redeeming quality. The reader may not agree with them, but they will surely be able to understand why they act as they do. Also, the anti-hero does not have to be fully redeemed by the end of the story. That makes for an unexpected character arc.  Lets take a look at some differences between anti-heroes and villains

Anti-hero: The anti-hero is almost never a willing participant. They do what they do because they have no choice.

Villain: Do what they do out of selfishness and a desire to conquer. Willingly plot and plan against protagonists (or in the case of super-villains, everyone else.)

Anti-hero: Can be very average, or even very unattractive, both physically and morally.

Villain: Can be unattractive, but is rarely ever just an Everyday Joe.

Anti-hero:  Highly versatile and able to transition between scenes easily. Just killed a bus full of bad guys? No problem. Show up two minutes later for his daughter’s graduation looking not the slightest bit disturbed.

Villains: Ego makes them a show off. Just killed a bus full of good guys? Take over the hero’s daughter’s graduation event to use the mic and brag about it.

Anti-hero: A mess of contradictory qualities. “I hate animals rights groups. I will kill them all. Oh…a kitten. I love kittens.”

Villains: Rarely have any redeeming qualities and have no issue being evil.

Anti-hero: Complex MO

Villain: Power, revenge, powerful revenge–selfishness.

Anti-hero: Can often appear to blend in with the good side as well as the bad side, equally as easily.

Villain: Imagine Otto Octavius sitting quietly through a hero awards ceremony. Yep.

Anti-hero: when forced to make a choice between two paths, one right, one wrong–will sometimes willingly choose wrong because the results are faster or less dangerous.

Villain: Chooses wrong because of the pure joy of being evil.

So now that we know some of the differences, we can easily also see some of the similarities.

Both character types do bad things–but for different underlying reasons.

Both types live at the edge of society and make choices that the reader might not make, but will certainly find enthralling.

Both types have issues with authority, but for separate reasons.

Both types can be motivated by self interest, although the anti-hero can often be motivated by love or the desire to protect someone or something.

Both types of characters require the reader to think beyond what they see in the every day world. They make the reader feel vulnerable–frightened even. You want your readers to feel something.

So how do I build a good anti-hero? The anti-hero is an excellent choice for an author. He or she does not have to fit a specific cookie-cutter type. Your Anti-hero can be outrageously sexy, or the guy on the hijacked plane with the bald spot and the stained t-shirt. They can swear every other word and be a racist, an ex-con, a loser who is at the lowest point in their life. Whatever you choose to do with them. Whatever works best for your story.

Here are the important things:

*They must have some sort of reason for their actions, and the reader must know what that reason is. Give them a back story. What made them who they are?

*They must be equal in intelligence (although it may be displayed differently) to your villain.

*They must display their reluctance at some point in the story–otherwise they are just a willing hero with some less than savoury qualities.

* If heroes are blue and villains are red, think of the anti-hero as purple. He is a combination of all traits, to be used at your will and command.

* He usually will have a fragile sense of self worth–this can make him both dangerous and demotivated–so give him a strong reason to care.

A few examples of anti-heroes:

Luke Jackson–Cool Hand Luke

Shrek

Han Solo

Dirty Harry Callahan

Who hates Shrek? Not most people, I wouldn’t think. He is an oddball character type. Some gross antics, not the best manners, negative and suspicious, suffers from ridicule and not all that excited about saving the day–but people love him for all of those things and more. The perfect anti-hero. (No, you don’t have to have a green character who eats eyeballs as your anti-hero, but he is a good example.)

I realise this is a long post, so I will wrap it up. One of the most important things you can do for your characters and for your readers, is allow your characters to grow beyond your own experiences and beliefs. Have you ever crossed the desert on a grumpy camel to save a princess who will thank you with disdain and ignorance? Me either. I bet I could create a believable character who could. So could you.

Do not limit your characters to only believing what you believe, speaking like you speak, and seeing the world through your eyes. Wherever possible, make them your absolute opposite. Yes, the saying has always been “write what you know,” but that only goes so far. Do you think that Anne McCaffrey really knew the Dragons of Pern or that all of the famous sci-fi writers of the 20th century really travelled to other planets for research? Don’t be afraid to be different. It just might pay off.

Go write.

Indie Author Help Page Answers: Bianca Sloane

We have been very lucky and had a great response so far from people wanting to help out with the Indie Author Help Page. Today Bianca Sloane is in the hot seat, sharing her wisdom on this business. Thank you so much, Bianca!

We will continue to accept answers to these questions indefinitely so, why not? Share what you’ve learned with others! We can all learn from one another. What works? What doesn’t? The best way to find out is through actual experience.

Find those questions here:

http://readfulthingsblog.com/2015/07/18/the-indie-author-help-page-questions/

Website: www.biancasloane.com

Amazon: Bianca Sloane

1. How did you decide to become an indie author?

Back in the early 2000’s, I tried to find an agent, but to no avail. Discouraged, I let my writing fall to the wayside. Fast-forward to 2012 and an article I stumbled onto that changed everything. I used to follow late film critic Roger Ebert on Twitter and he retweeted an article about Amanda Hocking’s success with eBooks. Reading that article was like a lightbulb exploding over my head and after learning everything I could about the industry and doing some tweaking to my craft, I published my first novel, “Killing Me Softly,” at the end of 2012.

 

2. What genre do you write in and why?

I write psychological suspense novels because I love figuring out puzzles: whodunit, whydunit, howdunit.

 

3. What social media sites do you use and can you offer a tip for each one?

I use Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Twitter: Don’t tweet “buy my book” ad nauseum. Show your personality by interacting with others and being genuine.

Facebook: It’s okay to be a little personal on Facebook without a blow-by-blow of what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner that day. Post vacation pics, mention movies you’ve seen, TV shows you like. Again, you can show your personality without going overboard.

Goodreads: Post the books you’re reading so readers can follow along. Also, the Ask the Author feature is a great way for readers to reach out to you with questions about your books.

Pinterest: I use Pinterest to build boards for my books featuring who I would cast in the movie of my book (maybe one day!), book quotes and more.

 

4. How important is blogging to an indie author in your estimation?

I think it’s great for building the all-important author platform. Use your blog to share writing tips or other things that fit your author brand and to again, show a little about who you are. For example, my tagline is “Suspense Novels about the Dark Side of Love,” so I post blogs about my “Top Five Favorite Suspense Novels.”

 

5. How do you go about getting reviews?

I actively reach out to book bloggers who read in my genre. I can honestly say, it’s been a huge piece of the marketing puzzle for me.

 

6. What do you price your books at and do you give away free copies?

When I came into the industry at the end of 2012, I priced at $.99, as everything I’d read pointed to that being a sweet spot. Earlier this year, I raised my prices to $2.99. I only wish I’d done it sooner!

I do give away free copies of my books. I take advantage of KDP Select Free Days as well as Goodreads giveaways (for paperbacks). My novel, “Killing Me Softly,” is available as a permafree (permanently free) book on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

 

7. Do you use a cover artist or make the cover yourself?

I have an amazing cover artist, Torrie Cooney. She’s been invaluable to me on this crazy journey.

 

8. What do you do about editing?

I’ve started to engage a developmental editor to help me identify plot holes and other weak spots. I also use a copyeditor and proofreader and have also started to do my own “audio edit,” where I load the book onto my Kindle and read along while it reads the text out loud to me. It’s amazing the number of errors that get caught using that method.

 

9. What do you do when sales are slow to encourage more books to be sold?

I haven’t paid for any advertising, though that’s something I’m planning to do in the near future now that I have a bit of a backlist. Setting one of my books to permafree a few months ago provided a huge boost in sales across my other books and a recent Countdown Deal I did for my novel, “Every Breath You Take,” provided a nice bump as well.

 

10. What do you know now, that you wish you had known before?

I wish I had realized just how time-consuming this business is. It’s 24/7. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to step away from the computer and remember to re-engage with your life. Still, I love it and wouldn’t change a thing.

 

11. Do you use a mailing list or newsletter to promote?

Yes, I send out a newsletter to my mailing list when I have a new release.

 

12. Any further advice, tips or tricks you think would help others?

Even if you write standalone novels (such as I do), don’t think you can’t brand your book covers to look the same (see Gillian Flynn, Danielle Steele, John Grisham – especially his early books). Branding your covers sets the expectation in the mind of the reader about what kind of book they’re going to get from you, which in turn, encourages them to buy more of your books.

Be prepared for the long haul and don’t be afraid to experiment with blurbs, covers, pricing, etc. Above all else, keep writing!

 

13. Where do you sell the largest majority of your books and do you do just ebooks or print as well?

The majority of my sales come from eBooks on Amazon. I do offer print versions of my books as well, though they make up a very small percentage of my overall sales. Still, it’s great to offer that option to readers.

Tits and Bobs and perfectly passionate poetry

Nope, not a typo.

A couple things to cover. First of all, I can’t stop thanking people for all they have done for me since releasing my book last week. Carmen Stefanescu rocked my world this morning with her awesome and unexpected promo on her site, which you can find here. http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ro/2015/07/guest-promo-ci-ionia-martin.html?m=1 I hate to admit that I cry, but I did.

Thank you Carmen. Love you.

Also huge thanks to people who left a review on Amazon. I was so excited I nearly peed.

Second, some questions and a few declarations.

I have new respect for all of you indie authors. I have been writing and publishing for years under a couple of different pseudonyms and have always had a publishing house behind me. Even when I put out some previous “indie” novels, I had other people working on promoting and covers and such. I didn’t do it all myself, by any means. Now, I’m doing that for the first time and I’ve got some questions for the pros out there.

Other than the titles that appear here, under Ionia, I write adultish-romance and erotica books. I’m not ashamed of this. I enjoy doing what I do. I review everything but those, because believe me when I tell you there are some strange…worse than strange sub-genres out there in the erotica world and I figured I would spend more time updating my guidelines to exclude dinosaurs and bigfoot than I would reviewing. Erotica books tend to sell themselves. If you’ve got a kink for sale, then there is usually an audience for it somewhere. I’m concerned with the other, less vice-like titles.

HOW DO YOU PEOPLE FIND TIME TO WRITE, EDIT, MARKET, WRITE BLURBS, DESIGN COVERS, MAKE DINNER, DO THE LAUNDRY AND STILL SLEEP?

SUPERHUMANS!

Question 2. How do you get over the shyness of asking people to help promote you? Even when someone does something you didn’t ask them to do, don’t you kind of blush and kick your heels in an awe shucks manner? I do.

Question 3 Would you be interested in sharing a bit of your journey? I am figuring things out as I go, but I’m thinking about putting together a page here on Readful that is an advice from indie authors page. Free for anyone to look at if they want some info, and just collecting answers to some basic questions about writing and publishing indie stuff from various authors who would like to contribute. Links to your blogs would be included, of course. Would anyone be interested in doing that?

Next Useless factoid: I’ve only got a couple of indie novels left on my reading list and will soon be accepting more titles. I will still have to limit how many I take on. (Not just indie books, but books in general–I’m an addict and books are crack.)

I will start considering review requests unsolicited books again on September first.

Finally, Poetry. I love it. Poems seem to be closer to the heart of the author than a lot of other forms of writing. They can express mood, thought, emotion, a personal viewpoint–so many things. That said, it is also a really difficult category to sell books in. I would like to offer a spot on Readful Things every Friday for one author to promote your poetry, either through a poem with links to your blogs or books or through a cover image and sample of your work. I don’t guarantee thousands of views, (I don’t guarantee one, for that matter,) but if it will help get the word out then let’s do it! Contact me via readfulthings@gmail.com and send me an HTML post. I will let you know what date I will have your post up.

It will look something like this:

(Shameless best friend promo to follow)

Pamela Beckford writes poetry designed to inspire emotion. She is the author of three solo poetry collections and co-author of another. If you are interested in some steamy, emotional reading to share with your lover or to read on your own, check out her solo works, which show many different aspects of love, in beautifully worded poems.

Dreams of Love

Cover 5

LLaF

VoN

Find Pamela’s entire catalogue of works on her Author Central Page

Pamela Beckford’s Author Central

Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

Center of GravityCenter of Gravity by Laura McNeill

The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This is really a very compelling and exciting book. I read this in the space of one evening as I found it impossible to put down.

For anyone who has had issues with a crazy ex–this book will remind you why you were lucky to get away. I loved the relationship between Sam, Jack and Ava. The way the author portrayed the selflessness of the main character and her desperation to be with her children was so on target. I found myself wishing I could jump into the pages and fix the situation for her.

This story unfolds rather quickly, and after the first few chapters there is no way you can put it down without thinking about it when you walk away. The writing is excellent, the conversations seem realistic and the emotions that the characters display are genuine. This is an author who knows how to captivate her readers.

I did find in some places that Jack seemed a bit advanced for his age. Particularly in one spot where he is using a computer, it seems he has knowledge of how things operate way beyond his years, whereas the rest of the book he appears as an intelligent, yet appropriately minded young boy. I wanted to hug him.

Still, this was a nearly perfect book. It grabbed my attention early on and gave me a reason to keep turning pages–I even found that I missed the characters when the story was finished.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read. Fast paced, witty and well planned.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

A spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate. Watch the exciting new book trailer.

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
Serafina and the Black CloakSerafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Serafina and the Black Cloak is promising to be one of the biggest books released this year. After reading it, I can see what all the hype is about. This is a book that much like Harry Potter did, will keep the kid’s imaginations wildly anticipating what is going to happen next.

I was taken aback a little by how dark this novel is. I don’t expect everything to be roses and butterflies, but for a first book, this was rather dark. I do however, thank the author for keeping those elements consistent throughout the story. Serafina is a character that was designed to carry a book like this, and she pulls it off well.

This book fascinated my children and they were insistent about getting to the end of it, which is usually a pretty good sign that they care about what you are reading with them. As a mum, that makes me happy.

The setting for this story is unbelievably interesting and allows you a chance to open a conversation with your kids and teach them something fun.

Overall, this was a great book for kids, and even for the adults in the family. I think you should check it out.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

Thank you :)

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has bought and helped promote my book. I am humbled by all of your kind comments and thoughtful gestures. It is a bit odd for me to be on this side of things. I am so very lucky to have the support of such great people.

And now that my academy award speech is over, here’s a shameless plug. I promise this is the last one. Unless you count that great big image over there —> in the side bar. Don’t count that one.

Excerpt:

“Should we not be doing something? Surely characters in a romance cannot just stand around on board a ship all day long making eyes at one another. Don’t you have a map of buried treasure or a key that opens a treasure chest or something to point us in some kind of direction?” asked Candy, looking around her at the storm brewing overhead. The storm was made possible by our sponsors, Pointless Pancakes. They were too broke to offer up a real storm, so the characters will now spend a minute or two yelling boom! While attempting to make rain noises.

“I have neither a map, nor a key, miss,” Captain V.D. announced, as he tossed the map and key he was holding into the ocean. “I am not one of those clichéd pirates that female authors put in their high-seas themed smut books.”

“Boom!” replied Candy.

“That scene has ended. It’s time to move on to the part where you see my sensitive side and fall helplessly in love with me.”

Candy looked him up and down. She wondered why the 1500’s seemed to be such a popular theme in romance. Didn’t authors know that deodorant had not been invented yet and soap was more of a luxury than a prerequisite? She could smell him from 11 and ¼ feet away and she was pretty sure that if she moved even farther away, she would still be able to. She wrinkled her nose. That’s what characters do when something smells bad, apparently.

Stormy looked overhead at the clear blue sky and thought about how inconsistencies in romance novels can really kill a story. He ran a hand through his closely cropped red hair and jumped a little when a thunder blast struck overhead. He admired Candy from far enough away that he hoped she wouldn’t be able to smell him. His hopes were obviously in vain, as she was covering her nose with one of those pointless decorative fans that women of the era liked to carry.

This girl is an odd one, he thought. She wasn’t particularly difficult to talk to, as women were supposed to be. She didn’t try to run from him, of course, at this point in the story he was too tired to chase her anyway and she did not seem to be the slightest bit in need of rescuing. He was wondering how he was going to rescue her from danger even though he was the one who originally kidnapped her and put her in danger in the first place, when something happened that changed both of their fortunes. A seagull flew overhead and dropped a coin. One of them was about to be a coin richer.

They both scrambled across the deck after the coin (it is so annoying when an author keeps using the same word over and again.) Crashing into one another and falling to the deck, they watched as the coin rolled away down to a grate and nearly tipped inside. Captain Ahab, I mean, Captain V.D., flared into a pyre of burning temper. “Dammit woman! That coin could make all the difference right now! I’m going to go get it and you stay here! Stay put! I’m not kidding,” he reminded her, pointing his index finger in her face.

Suddenly Candy began to behave exactly as a romance heroine does, and burst out into a flood of enormous tears and began to sob and wail and sniffle and sniff and cry and moan and snuffle and weep and then the author ran out of synonyms. Naturally, this made Stormy feel terrible, so he took her chin and lifted it so he could look deeply into her eyes and convey his silent apology. “I’m Sorry,” he said, not silently at all, still keeping an eye on the coin perched precariously at the edge of the grate. Pirate.

Candy continued to carry on for a moment, before trying to pull away and hide her tear-stained face, because no romance heroine wants to admit that they do the ugly cry. Candy continued to wriggle and struggle against his firm grasp. (Why he would grasp her firmly on the chin is another matter entirely.)

“I didn’t mean to upset you. I will go get the coin and once I have the coin I will allow you to hold the coin until we get to wherever the author decides we are going and then I will use the coin to buy you something pretty, after I buy myself a drink, with the coin. If there’s enough left from the coin, I mean.

Candy dried her cheeks upon her skirts and stared up at him, eyes still glistening. “Stop saying ‘coin’” she said in a trembling voice. “It is annoying the fuck out of me.”
Captain felt his heart do a flip flop. She swore like a sailor. Sexy.

Plundering cover

Available on Amazon

Wonder Fire By B.J. Webster

Wonder FireWonder Fire by B.J. Webster

1666, was called “The Year of Wonders”, despite it being a year of great calamity and disaster in London. The joke was, at least things weren’t worse than they were.

Who really started the Great Fire of London? Nobody knows for certain. The official line is that it was started in a bakery on Pudding Lane. The Privy Council concluded that the fire was caused by nothing other than ‘the Hand of God, a great wind and a very dry season’. But what if that was not the case? Could the Great Fire, which destroyed so much of the City of London, have been the result of a deliberate act? Let’s assume this is the case and delve into the motives of ambition, illicit affairs, unrequited love and political intrigue, none which was a stranger to the court of King Charles II.

Feel what it was like to live in 1666 and better understand the intricacies of politics, power and class divide of the time. Be drawn in by the fascinating web of intrigue and how it plays out to create one of the most devastating events in history.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonder Fire by B.J. Webster, is an awesome book filled with historical knowledge as well as the author’s take on the happenings of London in 1666.

This is a great book for a variety of reasons. The setting was interesting and hasn’t been overused by other authors. The characters were realistic and I found the speech to be very authentically written. I want to shake this author’s hand.

I find that when you read a book that the author was really passionate about, it shows in their writing and this was definitely the case here. The author has written a beautiful book, but has also shown the true historical side of things. The depth of her research is clear in the little known facts available in this book.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Highly recommended to anyone curious about this period of history.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Awake by Natasha Preston

AwakeAwake by Natasha Preston

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst I liked the idea behind this novel, I felt the execution was somewhat lacking. I struggled with getting into this book, since I didn’t find the main character’s personality to be very appealing. If I can’t relate to the MC, I have a hard time relating to the rest of the story.

The author has a good imagination, and some interesting ideas and I think this is a matter of staying tuned to see what happens next, after this book.

I thought the beginning of the relationship between the main character and her love interest had promise and hoped that would be the redeeming agent for the rest of the novel, but in the end, that did not happen in my opinion either.

I didn’t hate this book, but I can’t recommend it as one of my favourites either.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

The Idea of LoveThe Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

As we like to say in the south: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Ella’s life has been completely upended. She’s young, beautiful, and deeply in love—until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she’ll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers’ block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He’s on the look-out for a love story. It doesn’t matter who it belongs to.

When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It’s the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It’s an opportunity to live out a fantasy – the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what’s a little white lie between strangers?
But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right? –goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating novel right from the start. The premise here–that two people could fall in love even if they hadn’t been honest with one another from the start, was explored in detail in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined.

Patti Callahan Henry has a gift for creating characters that are flawed, but in such a way that they feel so human, so familiar, you want to know them better. When I read her stories, I often find myself forgetting that this is a book and that these are not real people. They become your friends, your family, people you feel you could open up to. That’s a hard quality to find in a lot of contemporary literature.

From the start we, as the reader get that the characters are not being completely honest, and it makes for an interesting journey. Whilst part of me wanted to scream at them and tell them–“Stop! You are going to ruin a good thing,” part of me wanted them to continue and see how things would turn out.

This book also has some of the most honest sounding and genuinely believable dialogue I’ve seen in a long time. The writing flows so smoothly that you feel as if you are overhearing a private conversation.

The story never slowed down, the plot never lost steam and the characters got more intriguing with each turn of the page. A great book that you won’t want to miss out on.

An unusually enchanting novel with captivating characters.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Trust No OneTrust No One by Paul Cleave

In the exciting new psychological thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, a famous crime writer struggles to differentiate between his own reality and the frightening plot lines he’s created for the page.

Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter-a name that has been keeping readers at the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-nine, Jerry’s crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes. Those close to him, including the nurses at the care home where he now lives, insist that it is all in his head, that his memory is being toyed with and manipulated by his unfortunate disease. But if that were true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?

Hailed by critics as a “masterful” (Publishers Weekly) writer who consistently offers “ferocious storytelling that makes you think and feel” (The Listener) and whose fiction evokes “Breaking Bad reworked by the Coen Brothers”(Kirkus Reviews), Paul Cleave takes us down a cleverly twisted path to determine the fine line between an author and his characters, between fact and fiction.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book had a really interesting premise and was excited about it–but wasn’t as excited after I started reading it. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it as much as some of the other reviewers have.

I expected that the story might be a bit difficult to follow based on the idea that the main character had Alzheimer’s, but that wasn’t really too bad. What bothered me was that it seemed like this story would get going for a bit and become exciting and then drop off into useless exposition again–just because. Perhaps that was just my interpretation of the story, but I felt like the harshness of the coarse language was only there for shock value, and not that it really added anything valuable to the story.

This is interesting, but I viewed it in a rather removed sort of way, as there were no characters I felt close to, nor any that I really desired to get to know better.

Overall, it wasn’t a book that I think everyone will love, but one that I would recommend to those who like to read things outside the box.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.