Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Running Into the Darkness" - D.A. Bale (Tribute Books Blog Tour)

"Death follows Dr. Samantha Bartlett throughout her life until it claims everyone close to her. There's one powerful man responsible on whom Samantha sets her sights for revenge. The price is her soul. For centuries, sex has been the weapon of it's her turn.

“I never intended to kill the President. As a doctor, I swore an oath to protect life – not take it. But that was before...”

Second year resident, Dr. Samantha Bartlett, is swept from the frigid New York winter to once again confront the sting of death back home – and face those she left behind. But she’s not alone. A strange man she dubs Shades haunts her every step as she seeks answers to the inferno which claimed her grandmother, an eerie reminder of her parents’ deaths. The secrets Samantha uncovers forever changes her image of those she only thought she knew.

Confronted by Shades, Samantha joins a secret underworld known only as the Elite, where a web of power and control is woven deep within governments worldwide. Their sights are set on the power structure of the United States, and Samantha becomes the unlikely key to infiltrating the White House at its most intimate levels.
The quest for blood threatens to destroy Samantha. From the darkness there is no escape. 

Sometimes life emulates fiction.

Life is filled with tragedy and Ms. Bale's writing reflects this reality. However, there is always a silver lining...even if one must spend their entire life searching for it.

In her previous career, Ms. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes "not so pretty" reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

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For some reason, we seem to enjoy a good crime thriller.  Maybe it is the psychological Gestaltian moments of "ah ha!" that we love as we learn something new about how a crime scene works, or when we finally figure out whodunit.  Perhaps it is purely an interest in the macabre that draws us to this genre.  Maybe, perhaps.  What is assured is that this genre is so popular that many have delved into works depicting various aspects.  "Law & Order" is insanely popular in its many incarnations, "Castle" has many devoted fans (myself included!), etc.  Stories are done and done to death.  Multi-millionaire dead?  Suspect children.  Beautiful model bit the dust?  Try a rival model, or jealous boyfriend.  We kind of know what to expect...

Not here.

The Good
"I'm surprised you are still up." 

"What is going on?"

"You still reading that book?  Do you know what time it is?"

The above phrases all came from my dear husband as I read "Running into the Darkness".  This book is tremendously good!!  I absolutely loved it, and was more than a little annoyed when my Kindle app would no longer advance pages, for the pretty little cliff hanger ending that Bale deftly crafted left me wanting...needing....more!

Let's see - a woman finds herself in an impossible situation.  Highly intelligent, well-educated (she is in medical school completing residency, for goodness sakes), driven, and haunted by those in her past who seem to have either died or be dying around her.  Gramm is gone.  Her parents are gone.  Who is next?

The better question is "what is next?"  This page-turning and incredibly well-written thriller grabs readers by the seat of their pants and refuses to let go.  It is fast-paced, intensely engaging, and completely unpredictable.  Seriously, I had no idea who was going to show up when, and what was going to happen.  

Can I just tell you how refreshing it is to read something that is from a familiar genre, uses familiar tropes, and yet is completely and utterly unpredictable?

I'll just say it again, I loved this book.  Is this because the characters are deftly created in a way that makes it clear that Bale took the time to get to know her characters before throwing them into a story and trying to make their personality fit the story?  No, it definitely appears that she bonded with the characters and allowed them to write the story as much as she penned the work.  This means that each character has a distinct voice that does not blend with the rest - Samantha speaks in a particular way, Marcus speaks in a particular way, Joe speaks in a particular way, etc.  :)  Me likey.  :)

Is my love for this book stemming from the fact that, as perhaps Samantha would say, Bale "knows her sh**" about the difficult realities of the political world?  Maybe.  It is clear, at least to me, that Bale had first-hand experience with politics, for details and nuances came forth that would have been awfully hard to craft from research alone.

Perhaps my adoration of this work falls out of the fact that it is incredibly well-researched?  Maybe.  There are historical nuances and details that lend much in the way of credibility and assumes some knowledge from the reader, so readers are not just spoon-fed all the historical details they need.  It is safe to assume that many in the U.S. know Hitler was a mass murdering f*** who gave other mass murdering f**** license to visit horror upon innocents, including upon the innocent of the innocent: children.  Not having to build a complete history and back story for her work meant that Bale could focus more on the story itself.

Ohmigosh, the story itself!  I began to summarize it above, but bunny-trailed...sorry.  Anyways, a highly intelligent woman gets caught in an impossible situation where those who own her (essentially) force her into a horrible and disgusting situation that pushes existing borders of definitions for rape.  Samantha - the woman - is forced to take on an altar ego in a form of imposed multiple personality disorder that I (as one well-versed in psychology and who works in the field of psychology) found particularly fascinating.   It has been well-documented that memories can be created within one's mind...but entire different personalities?  Ooooooo....just read the book to see what I mean!  

Oh, and of course Samantha is being used to further the power and political agenda of another person...but just who is this person and what exactly does their devious scheme intend to accomplish?  While the first of those questions is answered by the end of the book (let me just say...*GASP*), the second is tantalizingly still unanswered when one gets to the page which says "Stay tuned for the upcoming sequel". can be sure THAT book is going on my "to be nabbed as soon as it comes out" list!!!!!!!

Characters are true to themselves, the story-line is engaging while every chapter leaves readers going "wait...tell me what happened!", the language is approachable....I don't quite have enough good to say about this work.  I loved it.  :)  Love, lust, power, intrigue...oh, and the President of the United States might be involved.  Are you intrigued yet?  You should this book!  It is worth the cost!!!!!!!!

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
A couple of things (hey, I said I loved the book...not that it is perfect):
  • There are some editing details that need to be fixed.  An occasional extra comma appears or is missing, something pluralized that should not be, etc.  In other words, common boo boos that happen when one person stares at the text for so long that minor problems become invisible (I can't tell you how many times I've proofread papers...and these posts....and thought they were perfect, only to go over them later and find grammer goofs).  These boo boos are very few and minor, not distracting unless you are a grammar fanatic such as myself.
  • The science behind the usage of a particular plant seems a little wonky...but maybe I'm not allowing my brain to bend enough to allow this to work within the story.  Keep in mind that I'm always the one yelling at the TV "that cop would so NOT be wearing 5 inch heels while chasing a bad guy" and "lady cops wear their hair in ponytails and buns so it does NOT get in their face like that!" or "that's not how physics works!  You can't ignore gravity to further a plot!"  
Over all, this is a fabulous book that anyone who considers themselves a fan of criminal, political, or macabre works should definitely have on their reading list.  Now, there are some rather *steamy* scenes that mean I would not recommend it to those unable to buy adult material in a store by themselves.  Think the television series "Alias" meets the movie "V for Vendetta" and you get kind of the feel for it - high action plot combined with woman who is thrown into difficult situation.  READ THIS BOOK (if you are old enough, or reading it with a parent)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, excuse me as I figure out when and how to get the sequel...

On a scale of 1 to 10, this book receives a 9.

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  1. Nora, you always write one heck of a review and this one is no exception! Thanks for proclaiming your enthusiasm for D A's work. You rock :)

  2. Nora - I've been sitting here forever trying to figure out how best to convey my gratitude for your most generous review. Thank you seems completely inadequate! Anyway, thank you so very much for your kind words and for participating in my tour. It's been a true honor.