Broken Sky by Saurav Dutt is a very cerebral and involved mystery, character study, and social commentary. The story begins on the streets of Manhattan as a middle-aged cop stops to talk to a very unique homeless woman. The woman has clearly been on the streets for some time, but is wearing expensive items, such as a minx coat and diamond rings. She carries with her two suitcases, the contents of which she seems to have no memory, as she claims to have amnesia.
The scene soon changes to follow Andie, a young mother recently moved to Manhattan with her son because she is divorcing her husband. Dutt’s portrayal of these characters, their situations, and their world is incredibly detailed. The reader soon becomes engrossed in their stories, wondering what these two seemingly separate situations have to do with each other. The story quickly becomes a mystery as the reader finds out that Andie’s father is a convicted felon, her mother is presumed dead, and the homeless woman is searching for something important, running from something sinister.
The cover of the novel is beautifully done. It depicts the figure of a woman carrying a suitcase back dropped with rich colors. The reader will immediately want to know who the woman is and where she is heading, a question whose answer is not simple or easy, but fraught with danger, hurt, and uncertainty.
Although the formatting has some glitches (sometimes two or three different characters talk in the same paragraph, making it hard to follow conversations, some sections have weird spacing issues, and in the first part of the novel, dialogue is denoted with a single apostrophe instead of two and then it switches, etc.), these errors cannot fully distract from the rich detail of Dutt’s prose and the intricate characterization of the people and their situations.
Despite small editing issues and bits where the timeline gets jumbled and confusing, Dutt spins a beautifully written mystery and commentary on relationships, both familial and otherwise.
The Gnostic Prophecy by Mike Vasich is a mystery thriller with spiritual undertones. The story begins when Dr. Russell Kellar meets with a potential client to appraise an ancient scroll. During the meeting, Kellar realizes that the scroll could contain important religious connotations. After he texts a photo of the writing to his girlfriend, Professor Cerise Davenport, a mysterious being attacks. From that moment, Cerise is embroiled in a deadly mystery. Along the way, she meets an enigmatic little girl who seems to appear and disappear at will and enlists the help of an old friend who has a death wish.
Vasich’s writing is superb. The plot is intriguing, and the characters are interesting. The style and detail in the prose invokes an emotional response to the material. It is easy for the reader to sympathize with the characters and become involved in the action. The book is formatted and edited well, making it easy for the reader to appreciate the prose, the detail, and the story. The cover fits the novel well, using striking colors and images.
Readers will be sucked into this story easily. The mystery is an interesting one, with a variety of different players, all with their own roles to play. Who are the super strong figures that show up every time the scroll is mentioned? Where did the little girl come from? Is Russell still alive? The questions keep popping up, none with ready answers. Even agnostic or atheist readers can enjoy the depth and beauty of this tale.
Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle by Marie Harbon is the second installment in the Seven Point Eight series. Although this book can be read as a stand-alone because the first few chapters allude to the first novel, readers may be less confused about what they are getting into if they start with The First Chronicle.
The story is about three main characters—Paul, Max, and Tahra—who have begun a project in 1967 having to do with astral projection and other dimensions. Each person has his or her own agenda, some good, others not as noble. This installment begins after the seeming failure of the project, as twelve psychics’ souls are trapped in a multitude of different worlds. Tahra, who was guiding them on their journey, must now search the ether, bringing each person back, each one changed by their experience. Tahra must also deal with the repercussions to her own psyche, as she discovers powers and instincts previously unfamiliar to her.
This futuristic pilgrimage is juxtaposed with Ava and Sam’s journey in 1994. Ava knows nothing of her past, only that she suffers from hallucinations and appears to have advanced healing powers. Twenty-seven years after the OOBE project, what does Ava’s DNA have to do with anything? And why does she feel drawn to Sam?
From the front cover to the very last page, Harbon takes the reader on an intricate journey across universes. The cover itself sets the stage with dramatic colors and a science fiction feel. The editing and formatting aid the reader in understanding the plot. There are so many different characters and worlds and timelines, that italics and scene breaks are crucial to knowing who is talking when and in what reality it is happening.
Do not begin this tale without the desire to be swept away for hours. The in-depth characterization, intricate plot, detailed worlds, and mysterious intrigue require complete attention. One moment the reader will find herself on a world with mechanical elves and in the next moment mapping genomes in the twentieth century.
RSD in Me! by Barby Ingle is a guide to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and other chronic pain conditions. It is full of information and advice for patients with RSD and their caregivers—doctors, therapists, families, and friends. The author shares her personal experiences with RSD after a car accident in 2002. It affected all aspects of her life—from daily routines to her career to her marriage. She includes definitions, causes, and tips from a personal perspective.
The cover is simple, mirroring the format of the book itself. It’s just text on a background, leading the reader to focus on the content. The content itself is fairly straightforward. Ingle breaks down the complex medical disease into categories. She seems to write from her heart—including personal bits throughout. At the end of each chapter is a “recap” section that lists all the important bits. The format makes it easy to gleam pieces of information out of this dense work. RSD is not a straightforward disease because it can literally be caused by anything and have symptoms ranging from pain to depression.
Writing about a medical condition is not easy, especially when the author adds personal experiences. The reader should applaud Ingle’s emotional strength in sharing such a private journey with the world in order to help others suffering the same. That being said, it can sometimes be difficult to understand what Ingle is trying to explain. This could be due to the complexity of RSD itself, the vagueness of the medical terms, or the writing style. Readers dealing with RSD will appreciate their feeling being validated, and doctors may gain a deeper understanding of their patients, but someone who has not experienced RSD may walk away from this book more confused than when they started.
Ingle achieves her goal—to get knowledge of RSD out there, to show support for her fellow suffers, and to reach out to the medical community. RSD in Me! reads more like a textbook than a memoir. The general population of readers may have gotten more out of this work if it had included more personal experiences and if the medical side had been illustrated with examples.
The Complete Guide to Writing a Successful Screenplay by Melissa Samaroo delivers on the promise inherent in its name. Samaroo discusses everything from Hollywood/audience expectations, to developing plot and characters, to finding an agent and selling a script. The process of writing a screenplay is laid out in detail, with supporting examples that any reader could relate to.
The cover of the guide sets the mood. The colors chosen are professional and clean, the model is smiling, and there is a crew in the background. All of these elements scream success—the very thing the reader is trying to achieve. And which Samaroo is trying to sell between the covers of this book.
The editing and the format lend to an ease of comprehension and reading. Important points are set into sections by bullet points or subtitles. Key passages are highlighted or set apart from the body of the work with special indents or formatting. Thus, the guide can be read cover-to-cover by a beginner just looking for information on what to expect, or used as a sort of textbook, in which the reader flips to the sections that pertain to their individual process.
Samaroo writes a very thorough guide to screenwriting. She uses numerous examples, hoping to find something that strikes a chord with all types of readers. She gives information about less successful scripts/movies to shine a light on what to shy away from. It will even be interesting to apply knowledge about industry secrets when watching your next rental DVD.
How to Write Really Good Research Papers, Really Fast by Bob Ward is a how-to guide for college students on research papers. Ward writes in a straightforward manner, so that the reader can easily follow the concepts. The cover is simply a woman sitting in front of a laptop, clearly indicating (along with the non-complex title) that this is a manual, not a groundbreaking piece of literature. Ward creates something the most basic reader/writer can follow, which is his goal—to help anyone write a good paper.
The format of the piece also lends to ease of reading. Ward breaks down the process of writing into a few distinct steps, which if followed in detail, will lead to a good paper in limited time. Each step is clearly explained in each chapter, along with clear examples. There are clear headings for each step and example, making it impossible to forget or miss a concept. At the end, Ward shares his entire paper along with notes on his process/thoughts as he was writing it.
For a student in need of a quick guide to writing research papers, Ward does a great job. For most students, the concepts will not be new (or at least, they should not be), but Ward offers a great way to organize data to make the writing process flow easier.