Quarterly Featured Book Reviews:
Mary Magdalene is the story of the biblical friend and helper of Jesus and his mother told from a different perspective. I liked it. Taylor’s story starts with Mary as a young girl and presents her innocence Throughout the story Mary makes sense. Since we know what Mary is thinking we understand her reasons, her trauma, her family, and more. This version makes sense in a real world not just in a spiritual world.
I love that this Mary Magdalene is not the person of ‘traditional presentation’ that I grew up with. I actually kept expecting the prostitute version and when it did not happen I went to my Bible to verify whether my idea of her was correct or not and found no clear connection. This opened the door to a believable Taylor version of Mary. This is a fictional story but it is nice to know that it could have been, at least partially, Mary’s story. It made me think and check things out, and question my assumptions of her as a person. I like that.
Taylor has a way of telling her story simply and believably. Her words connected me to some of the biblical references to Mary Magdalene, especially towards the end, “after Jesus”. Showing Mary in more of a humble and servant light, which is very much how the scriptures portray her and softens her in contrast to the harder servant image tradition paints of her. I closed the cover of this story with the feeling that Mary Magdalene was a humble, woman with strength of character, honor, spirit and the heart of a servant who had overcome difficulties so extreme that she understood what Jesus was facing in his last hours and stood by him and his mother through the end and into the beginning of a new era. This is someone I would be pleased for my daughter to look up to and emulate spiritually. Thank you Diane Wallis Taylor for a new look at this amazing woman who was in Christ’s inner circle while he was on earth.
Island of the Blue Dolphins was rather interesting. It had a wonderful source of action and suspense. Scott O'Dell went into great depth to bring a woman's true story to life, which was the best aspect of the tale. However, Karana's language was a tad hard to grasp, though that was to be expected coming from a character who had her own foreign language (which was not English). Though it made the story more difficult to follow, it also brought a realistic view to Karana's tale.
It's amazing how a story can have so few characters, and be felt with just as much sensation as an army of characters. Being alone with Karana day after day really brought sympathy and love to her situation that a reader could not feel when other characters are fighting the situation alongside her.
My favorite part of the story was her attachment she attains for the animals on the island. It reveals how things are not always what they seem in the real world. Her biggest enemy became her dearest friend which aided her - if in no other way - by keeping her sanity in tact.
I'm sure there are many deeper layers to discover in this novel - layers I will gladly save until the next time I read about Karana's triumph over the Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Shadowhorn: Age of the Revenant was a pleasant surprise. The story of a family who are unusually talented in fighting the vampires, known as the Revenant, that have ravaged the world destroying civilization, commerce, and most of humanity. There are pockets of human settlements, much like what was found during the settling of North American Continent. But most of the land is devastated and dangerous because of the beasts and Revenant who stalk and hunt the land. Most settlements have security forces called Watchmen and a few Stalkers, specialized in hunting and killing the Revenant. John Shadowhorn and his family are the best of the Stalkers, legends in their own time. Without being a spoiler, Shadowhorn: Age of the Revenant is an unpeeling of how they do what they do so well. Though, I suspect, based on how the story unfolds, there is more to their talents than is revealed in this story. A sequel possibly, Mr. Smith?
I enjoyed this book very much. To keep things honest, I must reveal that Smith is a relative and friend of mine and this is not a genre I normally read or enjoy. However, because I know how creative he is, I did buy the book and read it before being asked and deciding to review it. With that said, I was surprised that I enjoyed this story as much as I did. Vampire, zombie, and demon stories do not normally interest me as they are overdone and pretty much the same story with different names attached. Smith’s creativity with this genre delighted me. The ‘science’ and foundation he laid for this story, the cause and effects that he created, here were great. It made sense and told the story well. Relationships were revealed and created among the characters that made the flow of the story easy to read and allowed for more than one surprising turn of events, even for a seasoned reader. I love surprises in a storyline that enhance a story instead of just adding drama. Shadowhorn: Age of the Revenant has this. Character development was very well done. The ending gives closure to the story while leaving just enough questions like “what about…” and “what if…” that made me expect more later.
As a reviewer, I must point out what I missed, so here goes. There were some characters I would have liked to see fleshed out more, like Ethan Corey, Able Brewster. Who is Katherine, other than mom?
Jewel, though young, has talent only hinted at. Smashwords is a wonderful vehicle for e-books, but it would be great if I could get it on Amazon as well.
I cannot end the review without giving kudos to Mr. E. Lee Smith’s editor, Lisa Smith. Most self-published books have some trouble in the editing department. Shadowhorn: Age of the Revenant was very well edited. The only trouble I had was in reading on various devices and that was a Smashwords issue, not an editing issue. I recommend Shadowhorn: Age of the Revenant to any reader who enjoys a good story of discovery and adventure.