Book Review + Giveaway: Mask City

Mask City

Title: Mask City

Author: James Agee Jr

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Blurb: With James Agee, Jr.’s second work of fiction, Mask City, he presents a world where two siblings, Thomas and Lacy Farthur, are thrust out of their seemingly harmless world into a society they formerly didn’t know existed: an underground domain where the common adage, “A person is not a person without a mask,” is exploited in the most dreadful manner. Thomas and Lacy, through a series of dramatic and horrendous undertakings, eventually find themselves challenging the system that took everything away from them. This work is an exploration of friendship, trust, redemption, and discovering purpose.

My Review: Mask City is an interesting novel to say the least. As the blurb says, this story is about two siblings: Thomas and Lacy. The relationship between the siblings was loving and honest which I also enjoyed. They live a very sheltered life away from civilization. Honestly, at the beginning I kept asking myself what the title has to do with the story; Then the story unfolds and I was left with no clue what to expect.

After a series of events that I never saw coming, these two siblings end up in Mask City. I was very intrigued by the brother and sister in the story. In particular I really enjoyed Thomas. His way of surviving took me a few minutes to understand. His way of knowing his choices were taken away from him and that he must do as told to survive was kind of humbling. In literature, I have come to expect the protagonist to fight against the system. For his way of surviving to be, I don’t know, kind of heroic. Agee, in this novel showed that there are times where the only way to survive is to follow the rules set forth.

Mask City is intriguing and with the exception of the chapter where Thomas receives his mask, this was a pretty quick read. Every chapter has a little cartoon/ animation at the beginning. I really enjoyed these and thought it did wonders for setting the scene. In that particular chapter, the animation is someone crying and I’ll admit, it scared me off. I was expecting a very creepy and painful scene- and it was. So with the exception of my irrational fear of this scene I mostly read this novel straight through. It was intriguing and tended to be unexpected.

Now, I am a sucker for happy endings and Mask City had it in spades. Seriously, it was pretty great. After reading Jim, Agee’s short story, I was looking forward to seeing how he would do with a novel. Mask City is a fast paced novel, which I enjoyed, yet I was left feeling that the characters could have been better developed. I think that had there been more character development, I would have felt more of a connection to the characters- in particular that has more to do with Lacy. I sadly felt no connection to her at all. I think that had I felt that connection to the characters I wold have enjoyed the ending a lot more. Also as unreasonable as this complaint may seem, I felt as if that happy ending came a little too easily. Not that the characters didn’t suffer enough, it’s more that I feel the actions leading to it were just too lucky, too convenient. Everything just fell into their laps and the happy ending I first hoped for came about too quickly. I feel like a bit of an idiot with this complaint. No doubt, the novel was good, and I fully enjoyed reading it but I got to the ending and was left looking for pages. Like, is that it?

So even with the afore mentioned complaint, I enjoyed the novel. It was well developed and a page turner. This a novel that is unique and even their mundane kept me guessing and entertained. It was a guessing game and I never knew what to expect from it. Which tends I be something I enjoy.

Now, here is your chance to get a copy of Mask City and form your own opinion of it. James Agee Jr is giving away four ebook copies of this novel. Since Rafflecopter truly seems to be the way to go just click here to enter. Giveaway ends January 12, 2013

*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review

Spotlight Interview: James Agee Jr.

James Agee Jr. Has granted me this amazing interview. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and be sure to check out his links and follow. Also, I hope all of you great readers enjoy your holidays!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: I am a college student who is studying English in the hops of teaching it someday. My free time is spent writing, reading, and taking pictures with my Lomography and vintage camera. I have a passion for literature and hope to continue writing for years to come.

Q: Can you tell us where your love of writing originated?
A: My love of writing originated back in elementary school, my lover for literature in general did. In the fourth grade a teacher of mine read the book Because of Winn Dixie to my entire class. I don’t know why, but something about that book stuck with me. It was just a good story full of truths about life, and I liked that. My best friend and I liked the book so much that we each bought a paperback copy at the local bookstore and nicknamed it “BOFWD”, I have countless times realized that the abbreviation that we gave it does not make very much sense, but it did at the time. I guess you could say that my passion for literature started then and as far as writing, I have always wrote stories and it has simply been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

James Agee JrQ: I have learned that you love photography. Of these two creative outlets which do you enjoy the most and why?
A: I think I probably enjoy writing more than photography. It’s really a close call since they are so similar in my opinion, but in writing you can create literally anything that you want to whereas in photography you can only work with your subject to a certain extent. I love them both, but the freedom that is associated with writing for me is the best of all.

Q: What inspired you to write your first novel?
A: I had a lot of influences when I wrote my first book, Jim. I was at a point in my life when so much was changing in regard to my education, friends, family, etc. and it just made sense to create an alternate reality where people had problems but were still able to cope with life. For me it was just a way to put all of my emotions at the time into words and characters that were not directly me.

Q: What books have most influenced you?
A: A few books that have influenced me the most would without a doubt be: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson, and the Bible. All of them for different reasons of course. Because of Winn Dixie because it was the book that sparked my passion for literature. The Picture of Dorian Grey because it opened my eyes to classic literature and made me realize that the extraordinary and the ordinary so often make the perfect combination. The Fault In Our Stars because of the emotions that it seems to evoke in just about everyone who reads it. Steve Jobs because I have always admired his drive for success and determination when it came to his work and to get a behind the scenes look at the mind behind Apple was such an experience. The Bible because it has always been a strong foundation for my life and my go-to book for all of life’s problems. Books in general have such a powerful effect on me that it is hard to just choose a few, but if I have to pick, those would be it.

Q: Are you currently working on anything?
A: I am actually working on a brand new book! Until now it has only been mentioned to a select few people, but I think this is a great time to make the announcement! My new book is somewhat based on the crazy people that I have met, the unexpected and almost unbelievable experiences I have had, and discovering that people really are quite extraordinary. It’s a work of Fiction and currently has no set date of publication since I am taking my time with it to ensure that it is as perfect as I can make it. I can however tell you that a name that I have been playing around with for the book’s title is, Bontrix. The name is derived from a very prominent character in the book. I wish I could say more, but right now so much is up in the air about the story itself.

Q: If you can have one lasting impression on your readers what would you want it to be?
A: I would want my readers to be able to say that I was able to at least make them think after they read my books. It would be fantastic if they could take some emotional experience, new thoughts, or just the memory of a good story from my books, but I am leaving that up to my readers. I want my readers to remember that I have a passion for literature that I would love for the world to share.

Q: Lastly, being that you are now in the Spotlight, are there any parting thoughts you would like to share?
A: I believe that the only way to understand and know about things is to truly experience them, be it in the for of a book or an actual real life experience. When I was working a very crappy part-time job one summer at a grocery store pushing buggies I composed a quick poem that I have yet to publish or share, but that I think has some truth in it. I would like to share that here!

The irrational thoughts of a rational man
Are thoughts that will never be known
For a rational man who thinks these thoughts
Will always live alone

Basically, we all have hopes and dreams that need to be shared with the world. Keeping those to yourself is never a good thing. Share your ideas and thoughts with the world, it’s not crazy, it’s what people were made to do. Communicating with others is a brilliant ability that humans have, it just makes sense to use it. Write a book, a blog, paint a picture, do something to show the world who you are, because you are wonderful, everyone is. Thank you!

Q: Where can readers follow you?
A: Readers can follow me at any of my online profiles, including my personal blog!

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6437071.James_Agee_Jr_
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/NReluctant
My Blog – http://nreluctant.com/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/NReluctant
Instagram – http://instagram.com/NReluctant
Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/jamesagee

Book Review: Jim

Title: Jim

Author: James Agee Jr

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Blurb: Can you imagine living life with only memory from the day in which you are living? This is the story of someone who deals with just that and goes by the name of Jim. With an amazing cast of characters and an interesting plot this book is a must read!

My Review: Jim is a short story about a guy who after an accident in his teenage years developed a severe case of memory loss. He is now an adult and the narrator of the story. He’s had a difficult life with people continuously taking advantage of him. At some point something happens and he begins to remember. It’s an interesting story that gets better as it progresses.

Initially, the first thing that really captured my attention after I started reading was Jim’s description of flying: “The plane ride was shaky at first, but after about two hours of flight, I believe I took on my wings and grew to like the feeling that flight offered me. Being so high above the world, taking in scenery of the small patches of green that would differ from one another over the course of time, it was almost magical.” I found this so beautiful and very well said. In a sense, it is kind of poetic. It did the trick of completely capturing my attention.

At a certain point after reading, though, I developed a complaint. At some points more than others I felt that the story was told and not showed. I think that’s self explanatory but am still feeling the need to explain this. Again, this was not always the case, and the farther in I got the less this became the case. Yet there were many instances where instead of actions being showed to us we were told. Imagine watching a movie and the actors are acting and the story line is being established. Then at a certain point the screen goes black and it says ‘he watched tv’. As an audience we can all understand it but it can take away from the quality of the movie by the audience being told about it instead of the actor going through the motions. That to me is an example of being told not showed.

I think if the short story had been a novel, it would have been a lot better. With it being a novel I think a lot of things could have been further developed and I personally would of enjoyed that. More thorough explanations and a better developed story line could have made Jim a really great read. As it is, it was interesting and short and a decent read. On a very plus side, although you can buy it on Amazon and own it, you can also go online and read this for free on Wattpad.

Jim for me was definitely in the ‘not bad but could of been better’ category. It is a decent read and short enough that even if you don love it you wouldn’t regret reading it. šŸ˜‰ I would say to stop by Wattpad and give Jim a try.

Author Spotlight: James Agee Jr.

Have you guys gotten used to seeing one Spotlighted Author a month? This month, I’ll be shaking things up a bit. You guys got to know Cassandra Giovanni the first half of the month and this second half of the month we will have the pleasure of getting to know James Agee Jr. He is the author of two published works: Mask City, a novel, and Jim a short story. James loves coffee, blogging, photography, movies, art and many other things.

James Agee Jr

I have always imagined that there is more to the average than meets the eye. In fact, the average is what interest me the most. I can take a simple leaf and devise a complex past and future for it without having to compromise it’s current state of being normal, the power of imagination is great. Sharing the world that I see with others through literary works and written accounts, be they true or fictitious, is a passion and duty of mine.