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Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Reviews - The Presence, Paul Black, and Enemies & Playmates, Darcia Helle

It's 2 am and insomnia has me in its grasp. My house makes funny noises in the night, especially when the wind is blowing and a storm is moving in. The cat paces restlessly, adding his own set of noises. I know if I don't go back to bed soon, I'll never make it to work in the morning. When it gets really bad, I read books until I can sleep again. Just a warning, neither of these books will let you sleep.

The Presence, Paul Black

I met Paul Black at FenCon last September. He was nice enough to give me an ARC copy of his book to read. We have something in common: we both published a book titled Nexus Point. He didn't have a copy of that one handy, besides his is book 3 of a trilogy, so he handed me The Presence instead. If this book gives any indication of how he writes, I may have to squeeze money to buy the other trilogy.


The Presence is near future science fiction. Sonny Chaco is an agent of the NSA, a net jockey, surfing the expanded and intricate waves of the future version of the internet. He's set on bringing down Albert Goya, big businessman with links to organized crime. He romances his information source, the beautiful Deja Moriarty, trying to walk the line between milking her for information and falling in love with her. Enter a mysterious man that has no past, no records, nothing, and a beautiful and highly illegal clone of Goya's wife, and the story spirals out of control, pushing the characters into places they never expected to go.

The book is fast-paced and well written. Paul pulls futuristic tech into a believable and seamless world. Although it was a bit confusing at first, because the characters understand the tech and feel no need to explain it, the story pulled me in, submersing me in the world Paul created. I'd recommend this book for anyone who wants a fast read with a complex world and storyline. It's not a thick book, but it's loaded with action.

One warning, the book uses the f-bomb, sometimes to excess.

Enemies and Playmates, Darcia Helle

I confess, I didn't finish this book. Not because of the writing or characters, both of which are well crafted, but because the subject is just too dark. I read for escape. I prefer my books light. Enemies and Playmates is neither. It deals with abuse very frankly.

Lauren Covington's father is a highly successful businessman who shows the world a face of compassion. But to his family, he is brutal, vicious, and unforgiving. Lauren wants to escape, to just live a normal life of a college student, but feels trapped by her mother's helplessness and the need to protect her younger brother. She meets Jesse at a bar, feeling an instant attraction to the man, without realizing that he works for her father, handling contract jobs her father wants kept off the book and out of sight.

Darcia doesn't hold anything back in this story. This story went places I just didn't want to go. I couldn't finish it. If you want a compelling story dealing with abuse, I'd recommend this book. If you want a beach read, try something different. This book will give you nightmares.

Language warning on this one, too, although not as frequent as The Presence.