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A Human Element by Donna Galanti
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A Human Element

by Donna Galanti

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*I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Donna Galanti and Auspicious Apparatus Press. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Chase is a new voice for me. In the first chapter I wanted a little more emotion from him, to feel Ben's excitement at looking at the starts and his stunned sorrow at what happened when the meteorite hit. After listening, Chase did do some softer tones with the female characters or deeper tone if noted for a male character. But not a lot of difference between characters other than that. Chase was an okay voice for me. The audio felt clean and no mistakes while I listened.

We have two characters we follow through their lives, Laura and Ben. Ben lives a completely different life than Laura, it's a bit darker in growing up and living. We see little things that Laura does to help those she meets and cares for. Ben...I wasn't sure he has any abilities, but he's had a rough life after the meteorite crashed into the cabin his parents were in. We get the answer to why Ben is so important. But Laura has abilities and we see that from the beginning. There is something more to her.

I know the beginning is building up our relationship with the main characters, building who they are from main events in their lives. But it felt slow for me. We get glimpses of their lives over the years, moments that are (I guess) to be huge impacts on them. I liked Laura but not Ben as much. I should feel bad for Ben with his upbringing, but I just didn't feel it.

Laura makes a vow when her parents die, to never use her powers again. I found this to not connect for me. She wasn't there to try to help them when they died, so that wouldn't connect to her powers. The other two vows, yes they fit and connect. Though I grew to accept this vow as the book progressed.

We get most of the story between Laura and Ben. But there are a few moments that we get from others. The other views share input on if that person is really good or bad, or shares about things we don't know yet. These characters are interesting and highly influential to out main characters.

Each chapter gives us the year it's happening in. We also get told how old everyone is. It's specifically given, so we don't have to do that math but feels like it's an extra in each chapter. After a while, I got tired of being told.

In the chapters there are moments where we reflect on things that happened or how the character came to this moment. Sometimes, with being audio, I would get confused as to when I am in their lives. But then the author would give a solid line that lets me know what I read was a reflective moment and where we are now. There's a lot of reflective moments.

I struggled with believing Laura and her reasoning. At times it felt like she was doing what the author wanted, not living her life. That sounds strange as it's written by the author, but her movements didn't feel to have a continuous flow for me all the time, she was going through the actions of the story. I guess it's more I just didn't feel the sympathetic or empathetic feel for the characters.

The story felt traditional in the genre it's written. This isn't a bad thing, just didn't wow me either. ( )
  MelHay | May 14, 2017 |
By a lake surrounded by mostly empty cabins, a spaceship crashes and the government covers it up, calling it a meteorite. Ben Fieldstone lost his family that night. Sarah, a teen runaway, wouldn’t know just how affected she was by this event until 9 months later when she gave birth. A mysterious man in black from the government was there to whisk away the unusual child. The doctor and nurse did their best to hide the twin sister, Laura, that was born that night, turning her over to the loving Armstrongs to raise as their daughter. Years later, Laura survives one tragedy after another even as she starts manifesting powers from out of this world. Something hunts her but means to make her suffer emotionally before the final confrontation.

This is a science fiction story that turns into a romance. There’s a smidge of thriller in here as well as the hunter catches up to it’s prey. I enjoyed the scifi part and the thriller part was pretty gripping. However, the romance part was a bit too much for me. The middle of the books spends a little too much time talking about emotions and learning to love one’s self and how to love others, etc.

For the most part, Laura Armstrong was an interesting central character, though later in the book she ends up unconscious and needs to be carried to safety several times. I found the antagonist, X-10, to be the most captivating character. Right up to the end I kept hoping ( or wondering?) if he would be able to change despite all he had been through. He was raised in captivity undergoing tests and torture on a regular basis.

Ben ends up in the military and so there’s some true-to-character swearing and objectifying of women. It takes some serious events for him to decide he wants something else, even if he doesn’t know what he wants. I give full marks to the author for including a near-rape of an adult male situation as it is something that is not often addressed in fiction even though such crimes occur in real life. Once Ben meets Laura, he goes all mushy and doesn’t do much beside explore his feelings until the big action scene near the end. I could have used a bit more action in the middle instead of it being solid inner exploration of Ben’s character.

The plot was OK though certain parts were no mystery at all. We know from nearly the beginning that Laura’s twin is going to be a problem child. Even though Ben is ~10 years older and he traveled the world with the military, I knew that somehow he and Laura would have to come together. Still, I had to know how things would end. Mostly, this was because I wanted to see how much X-10 could change, if he could change at all. Part of me wanted him to continue on for the next book and part of me knew that wouldn’t be possible.

The mystery man in black eventually plays a larger role, though I sometimes found him a convenient catalyst, suddenly showing up with certain powers or knowledge, that helped move the plot along. The elderly Mr. B. was a lovely addition to the main cast. I adored his thesaurus skills and his grandfatherly guidance for Laura. All in all, I’m glad I gave this book a listen even though it left me wanting a bit more action and little less on the touchy feely bits.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Chase Bradley was OK as the narrator. Initially, his voices were all distinct. He even had a few accents, like for Andy’s wife, which were well done. Once Ben and Laura meet, they always talk so soft and sweetly to each other no matter the subject or the situation that they actually sounded too much alike and sometimes I had trouble keeping track of who said what. He did have a lovely deeper voice for Felix and I wish he had used that voice for Ben as it would have worked so well for the sex scenes. And speaking of those few sex scenes, Bradley sounded a bit bored during them, like a yawn was just hiding in the corner of his mouth. He did a great job with Mr. B’s voice as he aged and he had an excellent wicked voice for X-10. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Mar 26, 2017 |
I don't know how to describe this book. It was horror, love, loneliness, connectivity; it will toy with your emotions. It kept me in its grip from beginning to end. I wanted more; I felt this book; I wanted everything to be alright yet not; I wanted to know what would become of humanity and inhumanity. Lucky for me, this was book one of a trilogy. Strangely, for whatever odd reason, as I read the wind began to whip around our house, the trees bent half over, thunder rolled and lightning flashed. I am not blaming the book (nor the weather), but it almost made me wonder about these odd elements at this particular time. Of course it wasn't the book, it couldn't be, but what an additional background to what I was reading.

I was held in a death-grip wondering what would come next every step of the way. Just when the worst would be happening, good would appear from what would seem to be nowhere. I was in awe of how Donna Galanti could maneuver my mind in so many ways with her words. She has an amazing array of feelings that she works to a frenzy then calms. I have never read a book that was so alive, so twisted and yet so vulnerable. It is the ultimate in a personal war of good and evil. It is a possibility of whatever, whoever may reside on a dying planet. This is a book I will clearly not forget, because I will have to read the next and the next.

There is strength in all of us, we don't always use it, but it is there when we need it. Laura Armstrong has strength and compassion of a very special kind, in fact she is a very special girl. Horrific things have happened in her life, but she is a survivor. Ben Fieldstone has also lived through horrific events, but has come out in need of help, he doesn't feel strength or love. They are connected but neither knows how. Bereaved as children, they've never met. But they are connected, perhaps by the man in black who always seems to be there to calm a crisis. If you want to be thrilled, terrified, enthralled, I know you will enjoy this book. ( )
  readerbynight | Mar 24, 2017 |
With A Human Element by Donna Galanti being her first novel, I can only imagine what is to come!!!! I am very excited to find out. I will definitely be following this author.

I have heard so much about A Human Element from my sister, Laura, so when Donna Galanti offered me the book to review, I jumped all over it.

I mean, check out that ominous cover. It oozes mystery and danger to me.

A Human Element is about man’s inhumanity to man, man’s callous disregard of other’s lives, but also, the lengths some people will go to do the right thing.

Evil, yes.

Aliens, yes.

I LOVE this book. The further into A Human Element I read, the more engrossed I become. My heart beats faster as my eyes race across the words…faster and faster. I just have to know what is going to happen. I read on and it gets creepier and creepier.

Ben – he was only nine when his parents were killed by the meteorite that crashed in town and changed his life forever.

Sarah - swore she had never been with a man as she struggles to deliver the child. The nurse stands over Sarah, saying it is her own fault for sinning. She has no empathy for her, even as she lay dying. I found the nurse’s behavior real enough that I became pissed off and would have liked to smack her up side the head and ask her who died and made her God. I mean, how low can you get, especially being in her line of work. Have you even seen or felt the mean hand of righteous indignation and hypocrisy?

The doctor and the nurse will lie to everyone about what happened that day. Crappy people have to find a way to justify their crappy actions. The doctor’s guilt over what he has done, does not outweigh his greed. Karma is a bitch and she demands justice be served. I don’t feel sorry for what happens to him.

Laura – as she grows up, she knows she is different from everyone else. She keeps her abilities a secret. At times she wonders, do miracles happen or is something else going on. Laura can read minds, among other things. Would you want to have that ability?

“Hmph…of course it makes sense you would have polite powers, doesn’t it?’

When her parents are killed and she is left alone, she is committed to finding the killer.

Jim and Scooter – what can I say. I love them both! I believe you will too. They are all that is good in this world. I worry about them. Please let them be okay.

Jim and Laura’s thesaurus game, with their lively and fun banter, lends the book some humor. It is writing like this that gives Donna Galanti’s work that something extra, that something special that takes her work to the highest levels.

Charlie – HE knows hate, luxuriates in it, thrives on it, is driven by it. Hate oozes from his pores like sweat. He hates everything, but mostly he hates Laura. He vows to take her life with his own two hands, to feel the life flow out of her.

Felix - the green eyed man – is he good or bad?

Donna pulled more than one surprise out of her hat and she does an excellent job of showing humanities weaknesses. All the darkness and evil is shared with light and goodness. Human emotions run the gamut – pain and torture, hate and greed, love and generosity, sorrow and bliss.

Each character is forced to assess what is important to them as their moment of destiny approaches.

I love the part about sunrises. Laura explains to Jim how they are like snowflakes, no two alike. I have many sunset photographs of Cape Cod over the years I vacationed there. Friends and family would ask me why I am shooting more. I would tell them that each is unique.

I felt such tension, suspense, fear and dread for the characters, that I was talking to them. Shouting at them. Telling them to watch out. He’s coming.

I had thought A Human Element was paranormal, but it is not, even though powers are involved. They come from another place. A place out of this world.

I never saw the ending coming. Fantastic. I kept trying to figure it out and felt tortured and pained as I raced through the pages – I HAVE to know – now!

I am sitting here, finished, looking at nothing, in complete disbelief. Awesome! Donna Galanti’s imagination knows no bounds.

I am so bummed the story is over. I want so much to read more. I am afraid, yet hopeful because of Laura and her innate goodness. Can it overcome what is lurking on the horizon? My sneak peek has me craving more.

But, wait, it goes on - A Hidden Element, Book II, sits on my Kindle. Must ...read...now.

I was given this book in return for an honest and unbiased review. ( )
  sherry69 | Jan 25, 2016 |
I don't know how to describe this book. It was horror, love, loneliness, connectivity; it will toy with your emotions. It kept me in its grip from beginning to end. I wanted more; I felt this book; I wanted everything to be alright yet not; I wanted to know what would become of humanity and inhumanity. Lucky for me, this was book one of a trilogy. Strangely, for whatever odd reason, as I read the wind began to whip around our house, the trees bent half over, thunder rolled and lightning flashed. I am not blaming the book (nor the weather), but it almost made me wonder about these odd elements at this particular time. Of course it wasn't the book, it couldn't be, but what an additional background to what I was reading.

I was held in a death-grip wondering what would come next every step of the way. Just when the worst would be happening, good would appear from what would appear to be nowhere. I was in awe of how Donna Galanti could maneuver my mind in so many ways with her words. She has an amazing array of feelings that she works to a frenzy then calms. I have never read a book that was so alive, so twisted and yet so vulnerable. It is the ultimate in a personal war of good and evil. It is a possibility of whatever, whoever may reside on a dying planet. This is a book I will clearly not forget, because I will have to read the next and the next.

There is strength in all of us, we don't always use it, but it is there when we need it. Laura Armstrong has strength and compassion of a very special kind, in fact she is a very special girl. Horrific things have happened in her life, but she is a survivor. Ben Fieldstone has also lived through horrific events, but has come out in need of help, he doesn't feel strength or love. They are connected but neither knows how. Bereaved as children, they've never met. But they are connected, perhaps by the man in black that always seems to be there to calm a crisis. If you want to be thrilled, terrified, enthralled, I know you will enjoy this book. ( )
  readerbynight | Aug 22, 2015 |
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We all have something redeemable in us, no matter how small. - Laura Armstrong
Someday you might not thank me. Someday you may not survive. - The Man in Black
I saved my mother's life once and my friend, Mr. B, but I couldn't save my other friends. They died in horrible ways all because of me. - Laura Armstrong
I never made love, only hate. Hate for myself mostly. - Ben Fieldstone
What if you discover me, the real me. Things I've done, things that have happened to me and decide you don't want me? Will you help me remember love then? - Ben Fieldstone
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