Thursday, November 20, 2008

'Lighting the Dark Side'

by William R. Potter
Fiction/Short Stories, 2008
Xlibris, trade pb, 245 p.
Featuring three novellas and three shorter works, Lighting the Dark Side covers a wide range of fiction genres including action, thriller, mystery/detective, suspense, and even romance. Join regular people who find themselves caught up in extraordinary situations. Some are simply down on their luck; while others struggle for survival. Each is locked into circumstances rendered more complex by their own weaknesses. Only when the shortcomings are recognized can they overcome these limitations and succeed. This collection of Six Modern Tales is designed to exercise your emotions, capture your imagination, and challenge you to think in new directions.
When given the choice between short stories and a novel, I usually pick the novel, although that's not to say that I don't enjoy a good short story sometimes. Well, this was a very enjoyable collection of short stories and novellas, and unlike many anthologies or collections where I like some of them, but not others, I liked each story in this one. They also cover a wide variety of genres so this meant that each new story was a surprise, in a good way. You could certainly never accuse the author of following a pattern or being predictable!

The thing that stands out the most though, and that all the stories shared, is wonderful character development. Considering these are all short works, William Potter has done a fantastic job bringing these characters to life, making them seem like people I could pass by on the street. In his interview at Divine Caroline, when asked what he’d like readers to take away from his book, he answered that he “would like readers to find themselves unready to leave the lives of the characters, thinking about the stories later on, wondering about Dwayne and Dee-Dee or James and Ashley and wishing that the stories would go on a little longer”. I can say that for me at least, he has completely succeeded. I’m still thinking about some of the characters, wondering how their stories continue to unfold.

The stories:
The first story, Bent, Not Broken is one of my favourites. It’s the story of a relationship between two characters that are flawed, yet very real.
In the Gray is, I believe, the shortest story in the collection, but again the characters were vividly drawn, and the story was very touching.
My only complaint about Prominent Couple Slain, a mystery, is that it felt a little rushed. Catching the perpetrators felt just a bit too easy, and I suppose I just wished the story had been developed a bit more. William is working on a novel that will be a sequel to this story though and I’m looking forward to seeing the character of Detective Jack Staal fleshed out more and given a case to really sink his teeth into.
May 18, 2010, reminded me a little of the movies Groundhog Day or Sliding Doors. It was an interesting look at how even the small choices we make can have a ripple effect on us, and those around us.
Blessing or Curse? was quite suspenseful, like an episode of Without a Trace, but without the FBI!
And the last, and longest, story, Surviving the Fall, was a testament to the extremes of human nature, from selfless kindness to selfishness and greed.
All in all, there seems to be a little bit of something for everyone in these stories. Recommended.
“What are you up to?”
“Just spending some time lighting the dark side,” she said in a serious voice.
“Hmm? What is that, a Star Wars marathon on the Space Channel?” He pulled a chair from the kitchen table and sat puzzled by her declaration.
“No, I’m in a mud bath – meditating – concentrating my good energy so I can work the bad stuff.”
“What – I don’t get it,” Dwayne said understanding her less and less.
“Everyone has a dark side – even you, Mr. Johnson.”
“Dark side?”
“Yeah, that ugliness about our personality that scares the people who see it. It can be simple like getting angry and yelling instead of talking it out or something really horrible like child abuse. The trick is to fight it, to turn on a light against it.” (Bent, Not Broken)
Author's website

My Rating: 4/5
(#49 for 2008, 2nd Canadian Book Challenge)

You can find out more at:
The Writer's Life - An interview with the author (you need to scroll down, it was posted on Nov. 4th).
The Plot - An interview with Dwayne Johnson and Dee-Dee Roland, characters from the first story 'Bent, Not Broken'.
The Book Stacks - A guest post in which William Potter talks about his love of writing.
The Book Stacks - Review
Fiction Scribe - Guest post on self-publishing and Print on Demand.
Fiction Scribe - Interview with the author.
The Book Connection - Guest post in which the author discusses the common theme running through this collection of stories. (You have to scroll down, it was posted on Nov. 7th).
The Library at the End of the Universe - Synopsis of each story and review.
Divine Caroline - Interview with the author.
Beyond the Books - Interview with the author.
Zensanity - Interview with the author.
Scribe Vibe - Guest post in which the author talks about the 'dark side'.

A big thank you to William Potter for sending me a copy of his book, and to Jaime of Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.
You can follow the rest of the tour here.


The author has also graciously agreed to send a signed copy of his book to one lucky winner. In the first story, Bent, Not Broken, the main character Dwayne suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). So to enter, please leave a comment here telling us one of your book or reading compulsions or quirks.
The winner will be drawn at random and announced next Friday, November 28th, and international entries are welcome. Good luck!

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks again for the great review and posts about my book!

    take care,

    William Potter

    (reading quirk to start things off) I won't read the same author's books back to back...and I never read without a cup of coffe more than an arms reach away! The cup must be a certain very large red mug. :)

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  2. Hey, Tanabata! Thanks for the e-mail at Win a Book; it's always super to meet new friends.

    I've got this posted for you at the site. There's no need to enter me (My TBR is WAY too big as it is!) and besides, I don't have any reading quirks. Give me a book and I'm happy. :D

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  3. I am looking out for books to be read for Canadian challenge. I am interested!

    Please do count me in!


    gautami.tripathy[at]gmail.com

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  4. I love that this book challenges you to think in ways that are not typical for you. An OCD about reading that I have is that if the book is part of the series I feel that I need to read the previous books in the series first.
    I'd love to read these stories!!!
    Thank you for the opportunity,
    Darby
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

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  5. Oh! My interest in short stories has grown tremendously this past year and would love to read this book. I really like the idea that there are many genres presented in this collection. :)

    Here's my compulsion:

    Before I read a book, I must rub the spine to get it warmed (actually it can get quite hot), so that it won't crack when it is opened.

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  6. I'd love to be entered into this giveaway! I guess I have quite a few quirks but to most big readers like y'all here, I don't think they'd seem too quirky. :)

    Anyway, one maybe unusual thing I do is when I read a novel by an author for the first time and I end up loving it, I go back and read all of his/her novels chronologically before reading any new ones.

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  7. I cover all my books with a plastic cover. I feel very uneasy reading a book which is not covered.

    Please enter me!!!

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  8. This sounds like a great collection of stories. I would love the opportunity to win a copy.

    Let's see . . . A reading compulsion: Before beginning a book, I always have to check to see how long it is, exactly how many pages I will be reading.

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  9. My book quirk is that I kinda hate lending out my books because if the books are returned with page corners bent over,etc I get really irked!

    Elaine R
    emrosser@shaw.ca

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  10. My biggest quirk is I won't stop reading a book in the middle of a chapter! I have to end on a chapter and if for some reason I dont (which doesn't happen much) then next time I go to read I will start over at the begining of that chapter. Thanks for entering me.

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  11. I have enjoyed reading the various excerpts from this book. They have me quite intrigued and I would love to have a copy of "Lighting the Dark Side".

    My reading compulsion is that I hate to read old books that aren't my own...maybe they are too dirty or something?? I don't know... :~) This habit has gotten worse the older I have become.

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  12. William - Thanks for starting us off. I have a couple of favourite mugs too. I'm so glad it's the season for hot drinks again!

    Thanks Susan! My TBR pile is way too big too but that doesn't seem to stop me from wanting more!

    gautami - To be entered properly, please come back and tell us one of your reading quirks.

    Darby - I have the same compulsion about needing to start series at the beginning. :P

    Joy - Interesting! So does it work?

    Teresa - I think a lot of us probably have the same 'quirks'! :P

    Violet - Your books must feel very well cared for! :P

    Wendy - LOL, I check how many pages there are too!

    elaine - I feel the same! I'd rather give someone the book outright than get it back looking the worse for wear.

    AmandaSue - I always try to finish a chapter too. When I haven't been able to, I'll sometimes go back a page to remember where I was, but I don't think I've started the chapter over. :)

    Crystal - There is something so appealing about a brand new book! :)

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  13. Absolutely! :) My dad taught me that when I was just a little girl. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember.

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  14. I'm always nervous about reading self-published books, but I'm glad this one didn't disappoint.

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  15. Sounds like a great book! As for a quirk, sometimes I'll read the book out loud and change my accent to fit the characters. I do this in private though...I wouldn't want my family to start looking at me any weirder than they already do. :p

    Also, I know I'm a little late, but welcome back Tanabata!

    ~ Popin

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  16. Sounds like there are some great stories in this book. I'd love to read it!

    My compulsions: I have to read a series in order. I also have to stop reading at the bottom of a page.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

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  17. This may seem like a weird quirk, but it's mine. I like to open a brand new book in the middle and take a good, long sniff. Ah, the scent of new book and printer's ink!
    Jane White

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  18. Joy - I'm going to have to try that then! :)

    John - It's true that there can be more of a risk with self-published books but it's good to take a risk now and then! ;)

    Popin - LOL. Sounds kind of fun actually. And thanks for welcoming me back. I'm still so behind though, that'll teach me to take time off from blogging!

    Janel - I can definitely relate to needing to read a series in order which is why is sometimes shy away from starting any new ones that have a lot to catch up on.

    Jane - LOL. I think you're not alone in enjoying the smell of a new book! :)

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  19. Let me know how it works out. :) (Be careful, it gets hot!)

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