Book Review: Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren

It seemed like a good idea at the time….

Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.

And what originally seemed like a boring week in the mountains gradually becomes a nightmare of terror for the teens and their families.

Yet another great young adult book by Greg Herren. This mystery follows Scotty and his friends on a vacation to a mountain lodge that’s more popular in the winter. As such, they are the only guests there. After visiting a cemetery on the road, the five teens start to experience paranormal activities around the lodge. And Scotty can’t help but feel a connection to deceased Albert Tyler, whose grave he found.

The story that follows brings the kids on a frightening journey, which might put them and their loved ones in danger.

The book does has its scary moments, especially when the author moves into the stream-of-consciousness style. With the lack of punctuation, you can’t help but read it faster and faster, which puts you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. The scenes also shift from present to the past very rapidly. For the reader it can be disorienting, which is exactly how Scotty feels when it happens to him.

Despite it being a mystery and horror, there are some tender, romantic moments, and also some rather heavy sadness concerning Albert. I felt what Scotty felt, both the terror, the heartbreak, and the joy.

The only gripe I had was how abrupt it ended. I really wanted Scotty to get home to Marc and see the two of them interact outside of Scotty’s mind. But at the same time, the final line was perfect, and any more may have taken away from the bittersweet ending. I just wish Scotty and Marc got a moment together like the other two lovers in the story.

You can purchase this book from Bold Strokes Books.

Book Review: Timothy by Greg Herren

Blurb from Bold Strokes Books website: “I shall always be in his shadow, unable to live up to the standard he set at Spindrift, hoping that someday Carlo might love me the way he loved his lost Timothy…”

The memory of Timothy haunts every corner of Spindrift, the beautiful mansion on the Atlantic shore. His face was flawless, his body breathtaking perfection. Everyone who saw him loved him, desired him, wanted him—whether they first laid eyes on him in a magazine ad, on a billboard, or on a box of underwear. No one ever forgot him, once they had passed through his orbit. They remember his wit, intelligence, and sense of style. He was the perfect match for wealthy Carlo Romaniello. Spindrift was the perfect backdrop for the glamorous couple, and the unforgettable, fabulous parties they hosted there. But then tragedy took Timothy, and darkness descended on the beautiful house on the beach. Carlo closed the house, and its secrets remained hidden within.

When Carlo reopens the house as a home for himself and his new young husband, those old secrets begin to creep out into the light. And those secrets might just prove deadly for his new spouse, a young man who has to compete with the memory of the unforgettable Timothy…

Okay, give me a moment to recover before attempting to write this review…………….

Greg Herren has pulled off a wonderful young adult gothic romance in his new novel, Timothy. Fans of the genre will surely love this one, as it takes you to a world of the elite through the eyes of the young main character whose name is never revealed.

Told through his point of view, the narrator, called “Mouse” by his husband, is swept away from his life of work and loneliness into society as we know it today. As readers get to know his new world along with him, their hearts will break as he comes to believe his husband, Carlo, is still in love with his deceased husband, Timothy, who was perfection to all who knew him.

But there is a mystery here, and readers are pulled into it as the narrator’s world starts to unravel. I truly felt for him and at one point had to stop reading because I felt his despair so strongly.

I found it interesting that the narrator is never given his own name. He is so overshadowed throughout a majority of the novel by the dead Timothy that it is like his existence isn’t as important. Clearly it is as he is the narrator, but others are so enamored by the memory that they can’t even speak to him by his given name. And not even he uses his name. This technique reminded me of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which was another novel I loved, but for very different reasons. I was also reminded of Sarah Water’s The Little Stranger because of the presence of the house, Spindrift. It is one of the driving elements of the novel, just as Hundreds Hall is in Water’s novel.

In short, I loved this novel. I could write a paper on it, discussing the wonderful qualities it has, comparing it to wonderful works of classic and contemporary literature. I can only hope that Greg Herren writes more novels like this.

Timothy can be purchased from Bold Strokes Books and Amazon.

Book Review: Sara by Greg Herren

Are you one of those people who often can guess the endings of books or solve the mystery before everyone in the book even has all the clues? Because the book is often that predictable?

Fear not. This book will leave you guessing until the end, and when all is revealed, you will be blown away.

Sara by Greg Herren is the story of Tony and his friend, Glenn. When Glenn decides to come out during the summer before school starts, Tony stands by him, but finds it difficult to accept the change. Nevertheless, he remains a friend and when others turn their back on Glenn, he stays by his side. Despite feeling uneasy about his friends newly revealed sexuality. When Sara shows up in town, things start to go very, very wrong. All the students who have tormented Glenn start showing up dead. One after another they die, and Tony starts to wonder what is happening in their small town.

This book was incredible. It is a mystery that will stay with you until the very last page, but it does have supernatural/paranormal elements at times. After all, why do these kids start to die? How is it possible?

I don’t want to ruin anything by saying to much, because the story is just that good. Go read it for yourself. I will, however, say that I loved the characters. Even the teachers are fantastic. When coach gives a speech to Tony about trusting teachers, and the reasons people become a teacher, I felt as if the author had taken my words from my mouth and put them in the book. It is the same thing I have said to my students time and time again. The reason I teach is because I care, and I want to help.

But I see Tony’s view, too. Teachers are often thought of as “untouchable.” I also can’t tell you how many times my students have seen me outside of school and are shocked that I actually emerge from the building to live a life outside of my classroom.

Let’s talk about Tony. He is a fantastic narrator because of how honest he is. And I found his discomfort around Glenn to be realistic. Though there are many people who stand by their friends when they come out, it’s not unreasonable that some of them do feel uncomfortable around them for a while because of the changes and the potential fear that they will have to face whatever prejudices the friend faces. And Glenn’s hurt at Tony’s slight rebuff is also realistic. If Tony is such a good friend, he shouldn’t care, should he?

This is a book that needs to be read. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

This book is available for purchase at Bold Strokes Books and Amazon.