This time around we’re doing something just a little different…
Here I’m reviewing Windswept by Diana MacArthur, and the difference is that Windswept was just released on November 14, 2012 and Diana will be here to Guest Blog on November 22, 2012. Yes, on Thanksgiving Day!
Before we get into the review, I think I should mention a short caveat…Diana and I both write for Siren/BookStrand. Yes, I’m not above being a little biased in favor of Siren, but that’s with good reason: Siren is a top-shelf publisher, and they release quality books. By “Quality”, I mean that unlike so many of the e-publishers out there, Siren puts the same work and effort into their books as do the big names in the print world. Trust me…the edits alone are vicious! With all of that said, I have tried to keep my positive bias for Siren/BookStrand under control, but I make no promises.
Now, let’s talk about Windswept…
First Impression – 5 Stars
Windswept is a short book checking in at just under 25,000 words. Let me just say for now that this is MUCH shorter than I would have liked. My first reading took only about twenty minutes, and I would have LOVED to stay in the world Diana created for a lot longer.
The first thing that grabbed me was the cover. Siren/BookStrand has a slew of great cover artists, and Ms. Kirchoff did a great job on Windswept.
After that, there is the overall professional appearance of the book in the reader. Nice layout and easy to read. More on this later.
The final thing is that we find out on the very first page that Cadence has got 99 problems, and not all of them have anything to do with music.
I knew at once that I was going to love this story.
Story and Plot – 5 Stars
Let me remind you that I’m deaf. As in “Deaf As A Post” deaf. I do love music, but that comes in a way that most hearing people can’t even begin to understand. I can’t, obviously, hear music like you do, but I can feel it. I can pick up the vibrations and follow the music well enough to sing along and dance.
The bottom line is that many of the things in Windswept about music are completely outside of my experience, and to a point are totally lost on me. But even though I don’t understand those things—and I have no way of ever understanding them—the little musical tidbits weren’t a distraction for me. In other words, the story is strong even without that aspect.
And that, my friends, is the sign of a well written story…when you take out a good deal of the back-story, can the book still stand? Well, rest assured, Windswept passes that test.
I’m a character freak. I like detailed, well-developed characters. Without strong characters, a story just simply falls flat on its face. Let me tell you about the three main characters in Windswept…
I mentioned Cadence briefly above, and she is, of course, our heroine. Pretty, bright, and a technically accomplished musician, Cadence Bennett looks like she’s on her way to stardom. Wrong…Cadence has so focused on the mechanics of music that she has completely lost sight of the emotion of music. Along with that, she has built a wall around her own emotions and has become cold and distant. I was reminded of an old episode of the M*A*S*H TV show when Charles told a young soldier who was a concert pianist but had now lost function in one of his hands that, “…I can play the notes, but I cannot play the music. You capture the heart and soul of the music in the notes you play.” Cadence knows this, but she doesn’t know how to fix it. She needs help.
Chris Clements…other than “damn it”, what else could I add? I could tell you about how wonderfully delicious he looks, or how his passion flows through his music and spills over into his work-a-day life and words, but I could never come close to telling you how strong and intelligent Chris is. Let me just add that Chris has an entire menagerie of great things about him…some are even above his waist!
Ryan Matias is at least as amazing as Chris, but there are subtle differences, and those differences make the two men compliment each other. Given a choice between them, I’d take both.
Just like Cadence.
Continuity – 4.5 Stars
Windswept flowed very well, and the internal consistency was great. There were no loose ends left hanging that distracted me from the story, and in general Diana did a wonderful job with the tale.
The only issue I had with this area goes back to the cover…while Ms. Kirchoff created a great cover, I felt that the piano on the cover was a bit out of place. The group that Cadence, Chris, and Ryan form is wind instrument group, and I would have liked something more directly related than the piano.
Editing and Mechanics – 5 Stars
One of the things that Siren/BookStrand does best is the editing process, and Windswept is no exception. In my half a dozen or so reads of the story, I found no errors that are even worth mentioning. They did not detract from the book at all.
Overall Rating – 4.9 Stars
If you have read any of the above, you know by now that I loved Windswept. In case you missed that fact, take a look at my overall rating. I’m the first to admit that I’m tough on reviews…maybe too tough. An author—and the story itself—has to work very hard to get an overall rating of 4 Stars from me.
I gave Windswept 4.9 Stars, and that is an honest number.
Unlike some books I have reviewed over the years where I felt that the number was too high or too low due to the simple math of the equation, Windswept earned this number, and I feel good about it.
My only complaint is the one I mentioned at the start of this review…I would like to have seen the story longer so I could spend more time with Cadence, Chris, and Ryan. The world Diana created is a wonderful place to enjoy an escape from life, and the trio provides a veritable explosion of passion, desire, love, and carnal excitement.
I highly recommend that you drop by Siren/BookStrand today and pick up a copy of this wonderful first book from Diana MacArthur. You won’t be disappointed.