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Review for G.M. Lawrence at The New Book Review

My recent review of G.M Lawrence’s first novel Q: Awakening is posted on The New Book Review.

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G.M. Lawrence’s career as an author can only excel from here given the sophistication of his first novel. Q: Awakening focuses on the quest of conflicted hero, Dr. Declan Stewart, in not only searching for an ancient manuscript (“quelles”), a lost gospel believed to be written by Christ, but also regaining his faith in people and God after years of hiding.

The writing in Q: Awakening is elegant and clever, providing multiple layers and insight into a variety of complex cultural, political, and religious components. While this is an action-packed, save-the-world adventure, there is significantly more depth due to the philosophical aspects and the conflicts among and within the characters as well as the motives driving each of them. And all of this can draw a variety of audiences ranging from diehard adventure/thriller fans to those interested in modern philosophical fiction.

The read is captivating and enjoyably consuming in everything from character development to the vivid settings covering anything from New Zealand to the deserts of Saudi Arabia. While most plots have one villain, Q: Awakening has multiple villains with multiple agendas. Some want to profit from Q while others want to destroy it.  

Beyond struggling with accepting that Q is his destiny and obsession, Declan is also interesting because of his struggle with moving forward after already having lost so much during his prior search for Q. As with any good and believable hero, Declan is flawed and even mysterious. His constantly weighed conscience forces him to accept his mission despite the fact he insists he doesn’t believe it is the salvation of the human race.

The quality of writing and imagination mixed with the detail and realness of the characters and places is quite refreshing. Since Q: Awakening is the first in Lawrence’s trilogy, the remaining novels have quite a bit to live up to as well as a lot of questions to answer. Given the complexity and adventure in this novel, a screen adaptation would also be successful and well-received.

G.M. Lawrence

 

Larry Batchelor’s first novel, Miss Fannie Mae’s Girls, is a compelling story about a small-town family in Georgia. It focuses on the five daughters of Fannie Mae Turner and how they reunite after her death. Though there are many underlying themes here, this novel is just as much about culture in the Deep South as it is about the dynamics of family and specifically, about the love/hate dynamics of sisterhood. And as with most towns and families, there are always secrets and reasons to gossip. The death of Fannie Mae brings Belle (“Lil Buck”), Nettie (“Sis”), Rosalie (“Big Red”), Christine (“Sweetie Pie”), and Elenora (“Girlie”) back together in a time of bereavement, change, and celebration.

There were moments in this novel that literally made me laugh out loud and other moments that made me worry someone would walk in and see I was teary eyed. I loved every time Christine misused a word and anything that came out of the flamboyant Marshall Tate’s mouth. And I’m not much of a cook, but I think I might have to experiment with some of those Southern-style recipes that are printed in the back of the novel.

What is especially interesting about the five sisters is their strong, unique, and clashing personalities. Throughout the story, we see them grow and change because of Fannie Mae’s death. And even though Fannie Mae is not present, she is a well-developed character who is the driving force of this story. Everything that happens is only possible because of her, and even in death she is able to get what she wanted for her daughters: unity and happiness. Although they are initially gathered because of a funeral, they end up celebrating a marriage.  

Culture and tradition are such important elements of this novel, and they are quite beautifully illustrated from the introduction of major and minor characters right down to the subtle presence of delicious Southern food. Another theme in this novel is change and the town is not the same racist, close-minded community it was when Fannie Mae was growing up. In that sense, there are many underlying elements of acceptance and forgiveness on a small and large scale.

While there are great male characters in this novel, the women are the ones that dominate in this story. In a nutshell: Belle is the loyal one, Nettie is the quiet one, Rosalie is the loud one, Christine is the strange one, and Elenora is the actress that never made it. Without giving too much away, Elenora goes through the most positive change, redeeming herself and reclaiming the life she left behind so many years ago despite the rumors. Though she seems one way at the beginning, she surprises everyone, including herself.     

The story of this family coming together is sweet and touching. Larry Batchelor is a promising writer and his ability to show the dynamics of this family makes me wonder what he may come up with next. Each one of these women can stand on her own and I’d love to read more about each one of Miss Fannie Mae’s girls in the future.  

Image of Miss Fannie Mae’s Girls

Book 1 of Michelle Gamble-Risley’s California Girl Chronicles is not what you’d expect—it sure wasn’t what I expected anyway. And I’ll admit I wasn’t disappointed at all. Everyone loves an entertaining, escape-for-awhile novel, and that is exactly what Brea & the City of Plastic is. Book 1 takes us through Brea Harper’s journey of moving to Los Angeles to make it as a screenwriter, while going through some fun, sexy, humiliating, and heartbreaking moments along the way. In a world where business and professional lines are blurred, this novel is more than appropriately titled, and there’s never a dull moment.

While Brea may be a born-and-raised Cali girl, women everywhere can relate to her on some level. She is genuine, unpredictable, good-hearted, at times fickle, and well-aware of her flaws, which makes her all the more likable. There are moments where she is vulnerable and other moments where she is strong. Who can’t relate to that? I found myself having shake-my-head moments when Brea knowingly makes mistakes as well as ha-take-that moments when she triumphs.

The characters Brea meets along the way are as equally intriguing and multi-dimensional as Brea, with some you will love to hate, others you will hate to love, and everything in between. While I was rooting for Brea every step of the way, I also couldn’t get enough of Brea’s love interests, especially Kale, the successful, sexy, almost too-good-to-be-true movie producer who is head over heels for her. And add into the mix Brea’s new and old friends, including Kale’s Latina housekeeper, Maya, and Brea’s straightforward roommate, Denise.

Michelle’s first novel is refreshingly honest. With Brea, we see and experience things that most women think but rarely admit. The narration is playful and humorous, though we can easily feel Brea’s conflict and dilemmas at the right moments. The dialogue is enticing yet real, which Michelle uses to bring more depth to her characters than initially meets the eye. Since Book 1 is such a fun read, I can’t wait to see what new adventure Brea will take in Book 2. Honestly, I think I may like this even more than Sex and the City.

Image of California Girl Chronicles – Soft-cover Edition

I recently had the opportunity to read The Immune, Doc Lucky Meisenheimer’s debut novel, which is set for release this May and is currently available for pre-sale order on Barnes & Nobles.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a sci-fi fan, but I found myself having difficulty putting it down.  And quite honestly, if a novel can keep me that interested, I’m all for it.   

A genuine page-turner, Doc Lucky’s The Immune offers enticing plot turns and well-developed characters that attract and engage readers from all ages and backgrounds. This novel will garner substantial interest to demand a sequel or screenplay. The humor, action, surprises, and suspense create a fantasy world any reader will find difficult to pull away from. With underlying themes that address justice and injustice along with government corruption and escalating control, The Immune is not just any sci-fi adventure, but also an intriguing look into human drive for survival and revenge during a time of disaster and loss.

Doc Lucky has managed to create some of the most exciting characters with John Long (“The Immune”) and Admiral Beckwourth pushing readers to root for the good guys. With this sci-fi debut, Doc Lucky has created a compelling landscape where nothing is what it seems and determination goes a long way when human existence is at stake.