First Review of THE ONLY THING, BOOK TWO: GANI & SEAN

4.0 out of 5 stars Two Women Vs A Drug Cartel, September 27, 2014
This review is from: The Only Thing: Book Two: Gani & Sean (Paperback)
The Only Thing is a sequel to the author’s previous book, Gani and Sean. Gani doesn’t appear quite as much in this book, for obvious reasons (obvious only if you’ve read the first one).

The story pretty much picks up where the first one ended, and to be truthful, I had to go back and peruse the last few pages of Gani and Sean to remind myself exactly what happened. Marian Watts has headed toward Mexico with a few kilos of Kristoff Koczella’s pure “product.” Sean LePen heads back to Chicago to pick up a “package” and then heads toward Mexico, herself.

We are introduced to a couple new characters as the story shifts to Mexico. Grandmama Maria owns a little shop in Oaxaca de Juarez, called “The Laughing Bowl.” Her grandson, Alberto, helps her run the shop. There is also a man named Paulo, who runs a nearby restaurant called “The Fighting Chicken.” All of the businesses in that town are terrorized by local thugs who work for the Los Zetas drug cartel. They come around periodically to collect “protection money.” But Grandmama Maria refuses to pay. They break her shop windows, along with some of the merchandise, and then they break Alberto’s arm. Maria heads to Mexico City to hire an assassin.

Sean happens to be in Mexico City and observes Maria attempting to hire an assassin, but the man will not take the job. He doesn’t want anything to do with the cartel. Sean introduces herself to Maria, and our new plot begins to take shape. Sean and Maria eventually meet up, and team up against the cartel, along with Maria, Alberto, and Paulo.

It’s an entertaining story and plot with interesting characters. Along the way, we get a little back story about the relationship between Gani and Marian, which we don’t know about in the first book. The ending is satisfying. Will there be more? Only Ms. Evans knows.

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A mini-review of AFTER JEWEL

Today I hear from behind me a faint comment, “I liked your book very much.”

I turn, come back. “Oh you did.”

“Yes.” A smile.

As usual, I beg a review on Goodreads or Amazon.com.

Then I ask about one of my main characters – how the reader felt about her? Did she like her? My reader hesitates. She doesn’t say that she doesn’t like her, just that the character is rather — “angry maybe.”

Yes. Yes. That makes sense. She’s angry for various reasons, all of them legitimate.

Unsolicited Praise

I received an email from my mother, then from my father informing me that a professor at the college where my father worked for thirty-two years was “very complimentary” of my first novel, METAL MAN WALKING.

My father also informed me that this compliment was “unsolicited” and that this form of praise “is the very best kind.”

Yes.

Review of AFTER JEWEL

4.0 out of 5 stars After Jewel, A Tale of Two “Jewels.”, March 1, 2014
This review is from: After Jewel (Paperback)
After Jewel is the author’s fourth book. To be totally honest, it is my least favorite of the four. That being said, I still liked it, as it frequently reminded me of Grapes of Wrath. There is, in some of the chapters, a great portrayal of a simpler time. A time when children were required to be stronger; a time when automobiles were the exception, rather than the rule; a time when eight grades of school met in one classroom.As Jewel begins, it is apparent that something odd is going on. We find Jules under the house with her Grandpa, “Pop,” watching him fix some plumbing. Her Grandmother, Jewel, died when she was around eight months old (I believe). But even at the age of five years old, Jules (nickname for Julia Lynn), hears an odd voice inside her head; a voice that, at times, can be rather intrusive.As the story unfolds, we get a few chapters of Jewel’s (the grandmother) life, beginning with her childhood. It is in these portions of the book that I’m reminded of Grapes, especially when Jewel, her husband, and her son, decided to move to Texas for work during the depression. Then we get a few chapters of the life of Jules, always being distracted by this voice in her head.

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel, but I don’t like Jewel (the grandmother, not the book), at least the Jewel that is inside Jules’s head. She is selfish and demanding. Almost mean at times. I do like Jules (the granddaughter), and have to say that I was mildly disappointed at the ending, which I will not spoil here.

After Jewel is a good read, but, as I said earlier, not my favorite of this author’s work.

Could Not Put This Book Down

I wish to write a review of Metal Man Walking, set in Charleston, SC, my city. The freedom that the character searches for is no less than any of us on a given day. I loved the description of the surroundings, as if you are walking with the character.

The challenges and struggle to survive are not emphasized as much as the love the character has for his siblings. I could not put this book down and when finished reading , wanted the book to go on.

– Cheryl H.

Mesmerized by THE EIGHT-FOOT BOY

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 8 Foot Boy. I was mesmerized from page 1 and felt that I understood the feelings that the main character had toward life, his parents and toward himself.
This is a very easy read and will enhance any weekend. I want to give credit to Carley for her imagination and creative spirit that is evident in this book.

The 8 Foot Boy would make an exceptional gift to anyone.”

Cheryl H.

A New Review of METAL MAN WALKING

A Great Take on a Modern Trouble, July 31, 2013

This review is from: Metal Man Walking (Paperback)

Really, a book about a homeless man? How good could it be? But I bought Metal Man Walking because Carley is my friend and I wanted to read my friend’s book.

Honestly, it sat on my shelf for quite a while until one dull, rainy Sunday afternoon. I had nothing better to do, so I figured I’d read a couple chapters. After those couple chapters I was still turning pages . . . straight through to the end.

I was thoroughly amazed at Carley’s development of her main character and his life, where he came from, his relationships, his potential and his reasons for being homeless. Carley weaves the story from the present to the past and back. You meet his family, his baseball buddies, his friends, and most importantly his sister with whom he has a special connection that keeps him going when times are really difficult.

When I closed the book, slowly, I had been touched by Chuck and his hardships, his strength of character, and most especially by his choices.

This is a great story of the trials of modern times. Read it!

Another Review of THE EIGHT-FOOT BOY

When one enters the world of “magic realism” created by Gabriel Garcia Marquez one is never certain if events that he describes could actually happen.  However, under his inimitable spell  one quickly understands he is weaving a world where such things not only can happen, they must happen.  A similar kind of experience awaits those who read THE EIGHT FOOT BOY, a new novel by Carley Eason Evans.  Unbelievably believable events happen to young Tim Holden, a boy genetically destined to be astoundingly different from his peers.  Although he does not achieve the height attributed to him in the book title, he does come close by the time Ms. Evans elects to close the story.

Not only is Tim preternaturally growing into a physical giant, he also is evolving into a mental giant who, almost from infancy, grasps facts and ideas that will remain arcane to most children well into their teens and beyond.   One of the constant delights of the novel lies in watching Tim, by the time he is only six or so, chat on a near equal footing with characters far more advanced in education and training than he.  Such scenes present the reader with a palpable idea of how astounded we might be had the scriptures recorded verbatim the discussions the boy Christ had with the priests in the Temple.
Tim is blessed, and at the same time, cursed with parents who keep him at a distance yet still enlist Scott Flanders, a 20 something out of work philosopher to be the boy’s tutor.  Scott, a marvelously dimensioned character is secondary only to Tim.  He proves to be a lovely person, intellectually brilliant, empathetic to Tim’s plight and thus a near perfect mentor to address his charge’s disabilities and strengths.   The two prove to be soul mates, each helping the other to negotiate a hostile world as Scott evolves into the caring parent Tim’s own parents fail to be.
The “magic realism” aspect of the story concerns the startling physical effect that well performed, emotionally engaging music has upon Tim.  We may not conceive that such thunderous collisions between boy and song could occur in life.  Perhaps not, but to our delight, in the novel they do occur with ever increasing danger and ecstasy.
The story details a life full of events–dangerous, triumphant, enlightening.  It concludes with Tim’s graduation from college at age 15 and foreshadows a future life for Tim that will never be easy, but also will never be mundane.
— OleTBoy

First Review of THE EIGHT-FOOT BOY (**Spoiler Alert**)

The Eight-Foot Boy
by Carley Eason Evans

Jeff Bickley’s review Jul 18, 13
4 of 5 stars
Read from July 13 to 17, 2013

** spoiler alert ** In The Eight-Foot Boy, we follow the early life of young Tim Holden. Not Timothy, just Tim. Tim is born a bit longer than the normal baby, and continues to be taller than anyone else his age. By the time he graduates college, he is taller than anyone. He is also extremely intelligent. He graduates college at the age of 14, after spending the majority of this schooling being tutored by Scott Flanders.

In truth, it’s a delightful (sometimes scary) story about the relationship between a boy and his tutor who becomes his best friend. Scott becomes a father-figure to Tim, mostly because his real father is a pompous jerk.

Most interesting to me, is the effect music has on Tim. At one point in the story, he finds an old record player and some vinyl records. When he plays the records, the music literally knocks him down. Yet he finds great pleasure in music, even stating that it is the only thing that makes him happy. We leave Tim at college graduation, wondering what happens next. Satisfied, yet not quite.

NEW REVIEW – Carley Eason Evans’ ANNIE DREAMING

In Annie Dreaming, how is Carley Eason Evans able to create a complicated plot involving many characters from across several generations and still manage to keep all those balls in the air at the same time?  Hard to say, but she manages it like a true word charlatan.
The character who most engaged me was Rick–in all three of his time segments–as Charlie’s big brother, as the Viet Nam prisoner of war and as the returning warrior struggling to find peace and a future after the terror of torture.  All those sequences were especially gripping.  As soon as Rick had been captured I dreaded the possibility of scenes in which he would be tortured, but when those scenes inevitably came I found they were told in a manner that made the horror of the events bearable.  Thanks for that.
Evans floats new characters in and out of her tale with amazing ease and deftness.  As example, the memorable, but misguided Methodist preacher, a minor participant whom she sketches in two brief, sharply outlined appearances.  Or the instantly engaging Viet Cong nurse whose small kindnesses bring hope to the despairing Rick.
It also is remarkable how Evans sells us on the idea that the siblings Annie and Charlie, although miles apart–perhaps never to see each other again–talk to each other in surreal ways.  Then, at the novel’s conclusion, she is able to bring their surreal chats to an expedient and organic end.
Eschewing melodrama, she draws her characters in lifelike tones of gray.   None of the people we care about are either fully good nor totally bad.  They are like ourselves, and kin the folks who live next door to us.  To my delight her women are tough minded, able to bear up under the variety of assaults they face when loving, parenting, working or striving to achieve better lives.
All told Annie Dreaming is a good, satisfying read, a deeply layered story graced with interesting and engaging characters.  There is always something going on that we easily are led to care about.   This second novel does not seem to have, nor seek, the depth of thought that was so apparent in Evans’s breakout piece, Metal Man Walking.  Yet, offering new takes on many of the characters from that earlier work, she spins a fascinating, fast paced, mosaic of a tale.