The Buried Few is the debut novel by M.J. Lau, and I found it quite enjoyable. The pace was steady, storyline intriguing and the overall prose well-written. It’s set in a near-future society where the idea of privacy is extinct. Technology is now more advanced. The government knows where you are, what route you take to get home, and they oversee every child born for the rest of their lives. When Daniel Allingham finds a live baby buried, he takes the infant to the hospital (although it’s not a maternity hospital) with hopes of doing a good thing and washing his hands clean. Nonetheless, he soon finds himself struggling against the right thing and becoming entwined with a persistent government agent.
It took about three chapters for me to really get into the book. It starts off with the prologue some times in the distant past, then in chapter one, jumps to the present time. As we’re being introduced to the main characters, it hops from the present to the near past. The only way we know whether we’re in the present or the past is by the situation or the characters in the scenes. This made it a tad confusing to me; however, once I got a handle on the author’s writing style (and it didn’t take long at all), it was easy reading.
The only thing that would take me away from reading was the amount of adverbs in the story. There just seemed to be so many, it annoyed me. It doesn’t bother a lot of readers; however, it had become somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. About half of the adverbs in the prose could have been used in a way to show, rather than tell, all the more.
The characters were enjoyable and easy to love, particularly the main one, Daniel. I found that they all had “chemistry” through their interactions and dialogue. There were plenty going on to build up the drama and keep the story moving forward. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. While The Buried Few is a standalone story, it’s left open for a sequel. I’ve seen reviews on Amazon mention they could see it made into a movie: I have to say, I agree. As a bonus, I have to add, I love the cover.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
M. J. Lau is an English teacher by day, writer by night… or rather, a teacher day and night, and a writer any spare moment in between. He is the author of The Buried Few, a near-future fiction novel that is equally influenced by dystopian classics, fatherhood, and Wired Magazine.
He is currently working on a fantasy novel, tentatively anticipated to release in the spring of 2018.
From the Author
Dining and Driving With Cats is a heartwarming and hilarious true adventure of a couple who shares a love that most of us only imagine. Pat Patterson is a born storyteller and makes readers feel as if they are part of the road trip. This book will keep you up late into the night reading and laughing. Here is the remarkable story of how a girl who loved cats captured the heart of a young man who came in from the rain. This is their story of a shared love for travel and history, for food and for their sweet and wily cats Munchie and Tuffy. No cats were harmed during the writing of this book, although the humans have been left with minor physical scars from this very real trip with two very real cats. With the help of his Editor Bryna Kranzler, the award winning author of “The Accidental Anarchist”, a non-stop two hundred and sixty page adventure wrapped in a tender love story emerges from the author’s diary.
Alice is a real life brainy, successful business woman. Today she lives in San Miguel de Allende a small cathedral town high in the Central Mexican foothills. For over thirty years she lived in Washington D.C.. When she was fresh out of grad school and managing her firm’s D.C. office she captured the heart of a young man who came in from the rain. He fell hard. He pursued her. She said no –she told him she had cats. What she didn’t tell him was that she also had a secret. Over thirty years have passed since Alice revealed her secret. The young man is no longer young but he still pursues her. She calls him hubby.
Now sharing a dream home in San Miguel with their two cats Alice suggests they embark on a road trip from Mexico to Blowing Rock, N.C. in the Blue Ridge mountains. Alice insists the two cats Munchie and Tuffy must ride along. Hubby resists. Alice seduces him with a promise. She promises to buy him the perfect vehicle for the trip. He dreams of a Suburban SUV like the ones on CSI Miami and Criminal Minds or maybe a Ford Platinum F-150 4 Door Supercab like the one Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman drive. Alice surprises with a Japanese sub-compact. She buys him a Honda Fit.
The reader joins the foursome as an intimate passenger on the first leg of the journey from the Mexican border to Atlanta, Georgia. If you come along you will dine on scrumptious creations from America’s most acclaimed chefs from Austin and New Orleans to the Procope and Odeon Relais at Buci Market in Paris. You will laugh at cats stuck in boxes, cry over destruction beyond imagination, fight with a Pirate, terrify a US Vice-President, learn cat smuggling, thrill with a love that wouldn’t die, and learn how the Other Woman persuaded Alice to accept my ring. So what’s keeping you? Hop in ‘cause these cats don’t bite. Besides, “The Get In Here and Eat” pop-up food truck is waiting just up the Austin highway.
My Review Dining and Driving with Cats—Alice Unplugged was every bit as interesting and amusing as I’d imagined. If what you’re looking for in a book is a story that paints a picture, then look no further—Dining and Driving with Cats will take you along a ride of a lifetime.
It’s a true voyage of a couple who decides to take a vacation from Mexico and travel across the United States with nothing but a Honda Fit, suitcases, pet carriers, litter boxes, cat food, and of course, their two beloved cats. We get to take a peek into the lives of how the couple met and how they truly are devoted to one another.
It was a well-written story where you feel as though you were along for the ride. I love stories like that. It’s not always easy for me to imagine the scenes in books. So, when I do begin reading something that I can see in my mind’s eye, it’s hard for me to put the book down. I found myself laughing and at times in shock. In one instance, one of the cats does something completely hilarious, I had to fight back a fit of laughter while waiting for my oil change. And I thought my cat was a troublemaker!
From the history lessons to the eateries to the comic mischief of the two felines, Tuffy and Munchie, Dining and Driving with Cats—Alice Unplugged is a story to be treasured and enjoyed. Cats are certainly an interesting species and Pat and his wife Alice are certainly two likable humans.
*You can preorder this via Amazon now! The title will be available June 30*
Unless you’ve been hiding under a CPU and working on your own book, then you know how much I’ve enjoyed a book called Dancing to an Irish Reel by Award Winning author Claire Fullerton. But I made a mistake with that book review. And I want to correct that up front. I wrote the review too soon after reading the book and failed to give time for reflection and full comprehension to take place. I didn’t take it all in and examine all the nuances hidden within the story. Every day since then I’ve been working on some aspect of the Claire Fullerton Experience. Yes, I call time spent working with an author an Experience like that because it does not normally end with a review and/or an interview. There is a lot more going on in the background than anyone other than one of my authors knows.
During the Experience I realized just how much Claire put in her book and how much she put in to her book. The more I think about it, the more I love the book. I don’t normally dwell very long after a review and interview, I always have the next to go to and I have since. But this would had a truth about it, a realness that one connects with and it stays with you. But before I get too carried away, unless I’m already too late, let’s get to my discussion with Claire Fullerton, Award Winning author and #1 GoodReads Irish Romance.
Claire, for a book that finds itself at times falling into the category of Romance, I have to say I was surprised by what I found with keeping that genre in mind. Did you set out to write a Romance? Was that your goal?
I’m so glad you asked this question, Ronovan. Actually, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is literary fiction, which is a genre that means true to life. It’s a story about those near misses people experience on the road to a love that endures. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t been in this situation before; where all the variables of attraction are in play, while two people are coming to know each other, yet for one reason or another, they can’t seem to get it together. But there is always such hope, and I think new love is typically replete with uncertainty. There is excitement and high hopes, yet on the flip side there is unpredictability and attendant fears. Extending oneself in new love can be risky and can leave one feeling vulnerable. It’s my belief that most people experience uncertainty and doubt when in the throes of new love, it’s just a question of to what degree they’re going to admit it! This is what “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about. This is also why this book does not fall into the romance genre, but it does explore the subject.
Actually when I was thinking about this interview and the book I thought of real life with those moments of almost romance, or more relationship to tell the truth.
I think so as well. This is why I gave the reader Hailey’s thoughts throughout this book. I’m fascinated by the way people will say and do things in order to project a certain appearance, while thinking something completely at variance with their words and actions. I wanted the reader to know Hailey’s personality as she made her way in rural Ireland; that she saw things from an American frame of reference for much of this book, yet as the story progresses, that frame of reference was changed as she came to understand the Irish culture. I think this is what people do in life: they tend to resist what is new because their mind is already made up, but if one allows themselves to be influenced, there is much to learn!
The role of Hailey Crossan is a strong woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Where did those characteristics come from, as far as a model for her?
I love your use of the word role! I, too, see this book as a movie! You’ve just made my day! But seriously, and to your astute point, I know more women like Hailey Crossan than otherwise. When I consider all the close girlfriends, with whom I was lucky enough to grow up in Memphis, I realize they are all nobody’s fool. My mother was the same way. The women in my life have always been self-confident and self-reliant. They have a savvy, keen eye with regard to sizing people up. And the thing I’ve found with many of my friends is they rarely let on. They prefer to keep things close to the vest, so you have to know them for a while before you realize how aware they really are. This is how I wanted to write the character of Hailey. It was necessary that she was self- sufficient and sure of herself in order to move to another country without fear. She had to be able to hold her own in her new environment because she was a fish-out-of-water, so to speak.
I think your description of close to the vest fits Hailey well, now that I think about her. Cautious is another word that comes to mind. Recently I became a fan of a young man named Hozier, an Irish blues singer/musician/songwriter of about 26. I couldn’t help but picture him during my reading of Dancing to an Irish Reel. Did you have any images in mind, anyone in particular when you were writing Liam Hennessey?
Generally yes, but no one specifically. But I’ll use Hozier to make a point because the look of him is a good example; it is common in Ireland. There are many with dark hair and fair skin. And having lived in Ireland myself, I found the men to be subtle and beautiful, almost with a graceful, feminine quality. And those artistically attuned are the sensitive sort. This is what I had in mind when I created Liam Hennessey.
Oh, and one other thing before we move on, why that name, why Dancing to an Irish Reel?
In Irish traditional music, a reel is a tune that is circular; it goes back and forth and in and out in its execution, and to the listener it may seem unstable, but it is not. A reel has a plan! The title “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is meant to evoke this concept. It refers to the push and pull of the story and the search for stability. Hailey’s navigation of Ireland as an outsider and her sometimes off, sometimes on relationship with Liam Hennessey left her in the position of having to artfully manage a shifting tide, so to speak. She had to learn the ways of the Irish culture in order to live there inconspicuously, and the unpredictability of Liam Hennessey’s actions left her constantly searching for solid ground!
With regard to Maeve Binchy, because she was Irish, she handled Irish nuances effortlessly, as a matter of course. They were not unusual to her at all, but she reveled in their specific, unique quality. With regard to Ireland, she was in it as well as of it, yet able to stand back and observe the islands peculiarity in a way that celebrated its facets. I sought to do exactly this in “Dancing to an Irish Reel” because I carry a love and appreciation for the land and its culture. I find the Irish people earthy and authentic, unpretentious and in possession of a good perspective with regard to what is important in life. They place importance on quality of life and seem to me to accept life on life’s terms, as opposed to trying to manipulate their way through it.
When you were writing the book, was it an organic experience or did you have a specific outline in mind first? And whichever way, is that the same way you wrote A Portal in Time, your previous release?
For both books, I had a point to make, as in something to say. I started with a premise as a statement then set about getting there via a story that unfolded. As for an outline, my process is very loose. I leave room for the story to tell itself, which is something best exemplified as I write dialogue. I never know ahead of time what the dialogue will be, yet I aim for information to be revealed. We learn about characters through what they say and what other characters say about them. In both books, I was mindful of the spirit of intention and had a loose outline of what was going to happen with regard to turning points. I simply held a firm impression of who the characters were to make the events in both books plausible.
Reading your book and the description of A Portal in Time, I get the feeling of your enjoyment of writing about past lives, mystical and spiritual elements. Is this something that comes natural to you, I mean as in the aspects of writing?
My introspection must be showing! In truth, I’m not completely decisive on the subject of past lives one way or the other, but I do love the mystery. Perhaps the idea of past lives shares a blurred line with genetic memory, who’s to say? If you consider the idea of genetic memory, what it basically proposes is that we carry the impressions and experiences of our forebears because they are past down to us through genetics like imprints. This explains inherited talents and proclivities in an understandable way. And if you look at, say, the Druids, they didn’t believe so much in past lives as they did in the transmigration of the soul, meaning we are souls gathering wisdom in this business of living on earth, but it takes many incarnations to accumulate something with staying power. We can’t just get it all in one lifetime, if the aim is enlightenment, i.e, perfection. And because it is an ongoing endeavor, the idea is we return to this earthly plane repeatedly, where we try on different hats. I think there is confusion over the idea of past-lives because it places importance on the experience of the human as opposed to the experience of the soul as it seeks alignment with the divine, however you choose to define the divine. But this subject is important, and it’s enough for me to be mindful of the question. I think Sting touched upon something beautiful when he proclaimed we are spirits in the material world, and I know he wasn’t the first to posit this, but he did make a proclamation that brought it to the public fore.
Everyone that’s read my review of your book knows I loved it, and that I suggested a sequel. We’ve talked about it and it hadn’t come to you as an idea until then. But you set it up so well with the tarot card reading of Hailey. Do you think maybe some of those outside forces were guiding your story during certain parts? Maybe they want you to take another trip to Ireland.
Actually, I have been back to Ireland since I wrote “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” and I plan on going again! As for going back to Ireland in a sequel, I never thought along those lines because “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is a self-contained story with a point to it, which is to say we make our choices in life and from them our lives are set on a consequential course. As of this interview, I am not ruling a sequel out. I’ll let Hailey decide.
Now let’s get something a little more personal. We have a lot in common. Southern. Music business. Location of living for a time. How does your time in the South influence your writing, and is that part of your heritage something that you think might have drawn you to Ireland?
Ireland and the American South share something in common, but do keep in mind that much of the American South was settled by the Scotch-Irish, so perhaps it is something inherent in the area. Both areas spawn terrific communicators in possession of the gift of the entertaining story. It is a cultural way of being in the world, and therefore something passed down to each generation. In both the South and Ireland, I’ve found extremely colorful characters, completely unabashed in personality. As for the South influencing my writing, all I can say is that I write as I think, from the internal monologue I have in my head as well as how I see the world. The South has clearly influenced this as an environment because it is my frame of reference.
What’s the most satisfying thing that has happened to you so far while you’ve been an author?
The writer’s life style. I write daily for one reason or another. It has transpired that with two books in the world and the dynamic that promotion brings therefore, that I am always writing something, and this is due to the affiliations my books have given me. Take for instance the Irish online community “The Wild Geese.” They’re a group of the most erudite, Ireland loving writers I’ve ever come across, all with the desire to communicate and share their love of the island. I contribute to this community regularly by writing pieces that appear as blog posts, but what they really are is a way to celebrate the business of what it means to be Irish! So there is that gift, but I have also spent the last two years writing my third novel, which has been a joyous process. Then, of course, I contribute to magazines. It seems I’m always writing something and sharing it, which to me is simply the high art of communication for its own sake. All this is my idea of fulfilling days with a purpose. Can’t get more satisfying than this!
Do you have a favorite line in Dancing to an Irish Reel?
Yes, it is this: “There’s a feel about Galway that you can wear around your shoulders like a cloak.” It is very true.
Thank you, Ronovan. This has been big fun! Thank you for supporting writers through your exceptional blog.
Claire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of literary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” which is set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. She is also the author of “A Portal in Time”: A paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a little village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing. Claire is a three- time award winning essayist, a former newspaper columnist, a contributor to magazines including Celtic Life International and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and can be found on Goodreads as well as the website under her name. Currently, Claire is writing her third novel, which is a Southern family saga based on her award winning essay in the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference.
* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which follows. *
Recently graduated from University, James is excited to get on with living the rest of his life. His existence in Canterbury seems to crawl by and his prospects are slim. With no job, no girlfriend, and without a place to call his own James drifts, all the while self-medicating himself with alcohol and women that mean nothing to him. One night, celebrating at a local pub with friends, James has a chance encounter with the elusive and stunningly beautiful Maisie. For James, Maisie is the stuff dreams are made of and he can’t shake her memory from his mind. He can’t wait to see her again, although it seems they are never in the right place at the same time.
Maisie has insurmountable problems of her own to contend with as her mother continues to lose touch with reality. Maisie struggles to live up to the demands her mother places upon her. Much like James, Maisie is floundering in an adult world while desperately trying to get on with the business of living and finding her own identity.
James and Maisie’s stories wrap around each other while both live in the small city of Canterbury. Their lives intertwine through their friends, families, and life circumstances. Jakes, the narrator of the story leads you into the contemporary lives of Canterbury’s younger population who are filled with hope at the beginning of their adult lives.
“The Faces of a Small City,” is Paul Stears debut novel. Although, the book starts out slowly, I found myself swept up in the descriptions of Canterbury, the people, and the many life situations that are thrown at the characters of Maisie and James. It was easy to identify with both, James and Maisie as each seemed to be real characters with strengths and weaknesses just like the rest of us.
A true coming of age love story, Stears does a marvelous job depicting and adding depth to the characters featured in this story. Many times I found myself reminiscing about my own first love experiences and how it felt to be that young again. Throughout the novel, a message of hope resounds in the face of formidable life obstacles. I really enjoyed seeing James and Maisie grow up and enter the next stage of their lives.
If you enjoy contemporary love stories with the backdrop of an English city to add culture and ambiance, you will enjoy this book. It is a quick read that will leave you feeling hope that there truly is someone out there for each of us, sometimes found right in the small city we live in.
Character Believability: 4 Flow and Pace: 3.5 Reader Engagement: 4 Reader Enrichment: 3.5 Reader Enjoyment: 4 Overall Rate:4
About Paul Stears:
PAUL STEARS has recently released his debut novel, “Faces of a Small City.” Graduating from Canterbury University in 2010, he spent his time working and writing. Born and bred in Kent, UK, he lives to write. You can follow him and find out more information about him at his blog: paulstearsauth.wordpress.com.
Please make certain to connect with Paul Stears through his Twitter @PaulStearsNews.
If you have been around here long enough you know Book Reviews are something I am passionate about. How can someone be passionate about Book Reviews? I know how important they are to an author.
The more Reviews a book has on Amazon and other places the better chance of being seen by potential readers, moving up on lists of books that will be shared in emails and websites.
They give a potential Reader an opinion about the book.
They give the author feedback on what is working with a book and what is not.
Recently Author Jo Robinson, one of the Feature Writers here on LWI wrote Safe Reviewing. The article is well worth a read as can be attested by the record breaking numbers it is setting on the site to date in Views, Likes and Comments in just 24 hours. But it was also that article that reminded me of an article I had been wanting to write.
One of our LWI Authors has received what I will call Inconsistent Reviews. I had to think for a moment how I wanted to phrase that. One review on Goodreads simply had a Rating of 1 Star. When the book is consistently Rated 5 Stars, you know there is something going on, especially when there were no comments attached to the 1 Star. I did some research into the person’s Reviewing history.
Only likes a certain subject,style or author.
Seems to have a dislike for a certain type of author.
Another Review was a good Rating on Amazon but the actual Review was so completely opposite of the score I am questioning the person’s ability to do Reviews, only because they have their Amazon name include Reviews in it. The problem here is the person was expecting or wanting one kind of book and this was not that kind of book, so they decided to basically rip it apart in several ways that showed their lack of professionalism and actual ability to comprehend the book. I read the book. Every point made in the Review was such a sad piece of drivel that I was so angry by the end I wanted to somehow find a way to delete the person’s ability to write Reviews anywhere ever again.
That’s the purpose of this article. If you are expecting a Star Trek novel and you end up with a Dune novel, don’t complain. Science Fiction is Science Fiction. Just because it is not your flavor does not make it bad. If you feel let down because you were EXPECTING or HOPING for Star Trek and you didn’t get it, it’s not the Author’s problem. If you cannot find you are able to write a fair Review, then don’t write a Review at all.
I do my less than favorable Reviewing in Beta-Reading. When I Beta-Read I don’t hold back. That’s when you need to realize, especially with friends, there is no such thing as compromise or benefit of the doubt for that matter.That’s when the Author needs the absolute truth.
Will I give someone a bad Review of a book? I would prefer not to publish one. But there are times when there has been an agreement or an insistence and I had to do it.
So Review as you will but think before you Publish. As Jo mentioned, we as Authors nor Reviewers or even the basic Reader want to break down an Author. We want to help the Author and the Reader. You can do that in a Review if you take the time to do it right.