All posts by Lo Potter

Upcoming Reviews for November 2019

Happy November! I’m excited to share the following upcoming reviews:

If you would like to be among the future books that I read, please let me know! Requirements:

  • Print Edition Must Be Available (preferably paperback)
  • Under $20 (USD)

You must respond to either one of my calls on Twitter (the 15th of each month) for new books to read in the upcoming month. Occasionally, I will not make calls because the 4 slots for the next month are already full.

OR

You can send me an e-mail with the subject line: Only a Hippopotamus Will Do (e-mails not including this subject will be ignored)

In this e-mail include:

  • a link to where I can purchase your book.
  • a brief introduction to yourself
  • a link to your Twitter and/or personal website (if applicable).

IF you are interested in sending me a copy of your book, please send me an e-mail with the subject line: The Buffalo Seem Fine to Me and I will respond to each inquiry on a case-by-case basis.

I got published! And a note on trigger warnings.

I’m excited to share that After Alexei published my short story “l’appel du vide”.

I learned that though we all experience invasive thoughts that constantly sit in the back of our minds, sometimes reminders can be deeply affecting.

For that reason, I’m not sorry for writing it. This story came from me writing these thoughts down to manage them. It’s a fictional story where all of these images invade the narrator, too. In 2008, when the first draft was written, this was a way to manage these thoughts.

I am both sorry and thankful that …

… my readers have this shared experience to the extent that my story makes a connection.

… you’ve ever thought about these things to the extent that I have.

…this exposed the wounds we share and made you feel vulnerable enough to talk to someone about it.

I’m thankful that my friend is getting help. I am here for anyone that wants to talk if this story brings up anything difficult or uncomfortable. Email me lopotterwrites@gmail.com or contact me through twitter @dreaminventor

I have learned 2 lessons from this:

1. Writing has the ability to force people to examine their own experiences. This is sometimes very painful.

2. Not everyone is ready for that. It’s okay to need a warning about graphic content regarding suicide, or suicidal ideation.

I love every single person that reads this story. You are a beautiful part of my life. I honor you and your struggles. If you are currently suicidal or feel that you may be at risk, please do not read this story. If this story brings up any difficult feelings, 24/7 help is available via these hotlines:

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 142; for children and young people, 147

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 188 for the CVV National Association

Canada: 1.833.456.4566, 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Estonia: 3726558088; in Russian 3726555688

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 0800543354

Norway: +4781533300

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Portugal: 21 854 07 40/8 . 96 898 21 50

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

Veterans’ Crisis Line: 1 800 273 8255/ text 838255

With that, here’s the actual link to my story:

l’appel du vide

October 2019: “Then Came Darkness” by D.H. Schleicher

Summary (Warning: mild spoilers):

It’s the Great Depression. The world is on edge as global tensions are building, and economic collapses rip apart every continent. To have any money you have a lot. Religious fanatics have latched on to the sense of impending doom, with the rise of vagrant workers as the Dust Bowl tears apart the United States Bread Basket. D. H. Schleicher pulls us into his setting where an evil force is about to burn its way through an entire family as it seeks revenge.

Joshua Bloomfield is a one-armed man of mystery. He hasn’t had a home since he escaped from his dark origin. He wants to get back his money, and he wants to kill the family that stole everything from him.

The Kydd family wants to survive. As Evelyn’s health is deteriorating, she deep down hopes her husband doesn’t come home after a family tragedy breaks her heart. Her two other children, Tyrus and Sally, and the dog, Sue, are all she has left. Can they protect her from the consequences of her own actions?

In “Then Came Darkness,” D. H. Schleicher brings early twentieth-century mysticism, the Great Depression, and a thrilling story of a family trying to escape the clutches of evil. After all, evil can look just like a friend.

Later Addition: This is one of the briefest summaries I’ve written. This is to reduce spoilers as the book builds details upon themselves. Highly recommend this read.

My Overall Response:

D. H. Schleicher blew me away with this emotional story told from multiple perspectives. I laughed. I cried. I had to take breaks because some scenes tore me to pieces. It’s dark, gritty, and I love it. Highly recommend!

First, let’s talk about Joshua Bloomfield as a character. All he wanted was to kill his father, then steal all of his money as an act of grandiose revenge. Why doesn’t anyone understand him? He also has a peculiar way of showing people he loves them. Or hates them. Not really sure. He’s a messed up dude, okay? Yet, I say that while defending him in that weird antihero way.

Next, there’s Evelyn Kydd. Evelyn is a character that is often in her own head through reliving memories, having seizures, and with those seizures sometimes visions. This gift is enough that her get-rich-quick-scheme husband wishes he could have taken her on the road. But she loves her children more than anything, especially her oldest child. She’s full of self-blame for things that she has done. The majority of the blame is a result of a society always telling her how unimportant she is. As a reader, I am saddened and frustrated by the way Evelyn believes she deserves what is happening to her. She’s an exceptionally well written female character.

This book has some death scenes. Schleicher uses these to his advantage as he first tells you that a character experiences heartbreak for the first time, then proceeds to make you, the reader, feel that heartbreak. The catharsis of emotional writing in this book was incredible. For reference, other books that have done this to me include “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy, “Bright as Heaven” by Susan Meissner, “The Sun Also Rises” and “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. It’s not easy to make me feel things!

I loved the structure of the novel as it continually brings flashbacks to fill in the gaps the reader may have little by little. Nothing is revealed immediately, though the reader may figure some things out. Such as the exact location of a particular setting, based solely on the description of walking up a set of brick steps from the James River up to the street in Shokhoe Bottom, Richmond, Virginia. As someone that has walked those steps, the description was accurately written.

LGBTQA Friendly?

This book does not directly address issues of the LGBTQA community or have characters identifying as such. This does not impact my recommendation to read this book.

Grammar:

This book is well within the standard of 1 error per 10,000 words. The only derailing issue was the use of “pealing” (a loud noise) instead of “peeling” (lifting in a layer from another surface). This may not be noticed by other readers, though.

Twilight Zone Moment:

Every book has at least one. These are the moments that don’t quite add up and throw a reader rolling down into the uncanny valley for a moment in an otherwise brilliant scene.

Where did Myra go? Why did we not meet Myra again? We spend an entire chapter of the book meeting a character named Myra, who is going back to New York City because a young man in love with her has died. Yet, she doesn’t visit the family or her own father?

You can purchase “Then Came Darkness” by D. H. Schleicher on Amazon

To read more about D. H. Schleicher, read more of their work, or contact them, you can visit their website The Schleicher Spin or visit their Twitter @schleicherspin

October 2019: “Honor” by Francis Williams

Summary (Warning: mild spoilers):

After the Roman Empire has withdrawn her presence from much of Europe, the chaos of competing fiefdoms and the rise of powerful families set the stage for political tensions and invasion. This overwhelmingly beautiful and well-researched novel by Francis Williams realistically depicts fictional representations of the lives of real and imagined historical figures otherwise shrouded in mystery.

Tracing back the history of the British Isles and seafaring families of greater Europe, we are introduced to the ever-present issue of early, corrupt Christianity plotting for power. In the time of popes known for their infidelity and rather not Christ-like behaviors, the Bishop Germanus acts as an ever-present villain manipulating the weak king, Ceneus ap Coel of Ebrauc (modern-day Northern England). The king calls on his merchant friend, Hall. He strikes a deal to have Hall and the village he helps to lead in modern-day Bourdeaux relocate and provide him the military advantages of a navy and experience. Once resettled, the king hopes that Hall will lead an army in the kingdom’s name on a quest north of Hadrian’s Wall.

Concurrently, Colgrin plots to overthrow a syphilitic king and requests for his brother in law, Jorrit, to get captured by the Britons to gather intelligence. Colgrin hopes to embark on a journey to invade and overthrow an area to establish his own kingdom. Jorrit sails off to be captured and ends up in the new settlement provided to Hall and his crew.

Upon capture, Hall and Drysten learn from Jorrit that their village was raided by a known slaver, and the surviving wives, children, and elders left behind were captured. In a heartbreaking scene, Drysten realizes that among those imprisoned includes his lover, fiance, and future mother of his child, Isolde. With the promise of release upon finding their loved ones, Jorrit accompanies Drysten on his fairytale-esque quest to save Isolde and free the rest of their family members.

Hall and Bors, the Elder, must then embark North with Prince Ambrosius Aurelianus of Powys and the cowardly, vile son of King Ceneus ap Coel, Prince Eidion. By befriending the estranged brother of King Ceneus ap Coel, the Prince Ambrosius and Hall gain enough force to take the stronghold requested by the king. However, as the pieces fall into place, questions arise as to the quality of the king being served.

In this engaging, thrilling, and emotionally dynamic first book of the “Thrones and Soldiers” series, the reader experiences the life of an early European after the fall of the Roman Empire. Giving a new spin on the minimally understood history of the foundations for a unified kingdom of Britons, “Honor” enlightens readers and demonstrates the power of combining research and imagination.

My Overall Response:

Williams went above and beyond my expectations of what a good historical fiction novel is. The amount of research involved that synergistically applied to be this book must be astounding. I had the pleasure of contacting the author about the research and being shown pictures of a single page of notes that pertained to one of the thousands of scenes depicted. 

I am reminded of “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett in terms of the attention paid to detail and the storytelling style seamlessly blending into the backdrop of history. The details engaged my brain, and each chapter ended with the excitement of wishing there were more. With twists and turns, characters are rounded out.

Additionally, the question of how mental illness was perceived through the lens of spirituality in the early history of Europe makes for a thought-provoking subject reasonably included. Instead of dismissing the stories of witches and godly visitations, the story legitimizes these experiences. It shows how they can be both helpful and harmful.

It was an honor to read and review this book. I hope anyone reading this considers providing themselves the same intellectual pleasure found in its pages.

LGBTQA Friendly?

I believe that attitudes of characters are reflective of what is known to have been the cultural standard of the time. That said, I would not recommend this book for an LGBTQA reading list.

Grammar:

Assuming the industry standard is 1 spelling error per 10,000 words, then “Honor” more than meets the standard. The only “errors” involve inconsistency in punctuation that does not interfere with the reader’s experience and is likely to be completely unnoticed by the average reader.

Twilight Zone Moment:

Every book has at least one. These are the moments that don’t quite add up and throw a reader rolling down into the uncanny valley for a moment in an otherwise brilliant scene.

I honestly struggled with finding a solid “Twilight Zone Moment.” At the end of the book, there is a character named Argyle that engages in the following exchange:

‘Drysten glanced toward the stairway as the last light from his captor’s torch faded away. “What kind of criminal desires to be in a place like this?”

“Simple,” Argyle said through thick laughter, “the sort who desired to be captured.”‘ (page 352)

This exchange brought me back to Colgrin’s original goal of sending out scouts with the intent to be captured. Still, I am unsure as to if this is related, and perhaps this will be resolved in the next book.

If you would like more information on Francis Williams you can follow their Twitter @IamFrancisW or their Instagram @IamFrancisWilliams

If you would like to purchase a copy of “Honor” you can do so here 🙂