Star Rating: 5 / 5
I’ll get this out of the way first: I liked this book in part because I like Avengers fanfic. Not that Déjà Vu is Avengers fanfic, but there were enough similarities that it was the first connection I made, and that connection was one which enticed me further into the book. After all, the book is something like a comic book made into a novel. It follows a hidden group of superheroes, primarily an enhanced soldier from World War II.
There, however, the similarities stop. For one thing, the enhanced soldier Daniel Hecht, also known as Lionheart, is Jewish, which raises the stakes considerably for his past. For another, none of the other members of the team bear such similarities to the Avengers; their abilities tend more toward typical comic book fare.
For yet another, this book is less a superhero movie than a romance. There’s still plenty of action, but the plot is as much about the growing relationship between Daniel and his new neighbor, Nina Asher, as it is about the possible end of the world.
Daniel first meets Nina when he helps her move in, and he finds himself inexplicably fascinated by her. His fascination only grows when he finds she works with the hidden group, though they don’t know what her abilities might be. In fact, they know nothing about her. She was found with complete amnesia about her past, and the only clue anyone has about her is that she can speak Sumerian. As the book goes on, she learns more about who she was, but that knowledge causes trouble for her blossoming relationship with Daniel. Her true identity is not at all the woman Daniel believes her to be, and the woman he found himself falling in love with seems to be vanishing.
And the end of the world? Well, anyone who knows the superhero genre knows that will be averted, but the truth is that even the protagonists don’t know whether the world’s about to end or not. They just know that strange insect-like things with venomous stingers are after them, and it sure seems like something apocalyptic is happening.
Overall, I loved the book. It was a fun ride, and the relationship between Daniel and Nina has the perfect balance of heat and humor. However, comic books don’t always translate well to the written word, and there were times when I wished something had been illustrated rather than written. Also, the beginning could have used more exposition to help me understand the world. Despite that, I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much. -- Reviewed by Jo Niederhoff
Manhattan Book Review, Book 2: All Our Yesterdays:
Star Rating: 4 / 5
Frequent readers might remember that I enjoyed the first book in the Persistence of Memory series. Déjà Vu began a saga of superheroes, romance, and quite possibly the end of the world. (I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say the world doesn’t end in the first book, especially when there are two more coming.) Daniel Hecht, a Jewish Holocaust-surviving supersoldier who mysteriously survived to the present day, works for WISE, an organization that essentially collects superheroes. There, he meets and falls in love with Nina Asher, a woman with an equally mysterious past, amnesia, and the ability to swear in Sumerian. The book is funny, sweet, and sexy by turns, providing an excellent superhero romance. By the end, we learn Nina is actually Inanna, daughter of Ishtar, and realizing her divinity has brought out a new and somewhat terrifying personality in her.
All Our Yesterdays, the sequel, picks up right where Déjà Vu left off. On the whole, it’s an excellent continuation of the story. Many sequels struggle with where to go next, but the author neatly avoided that trouble by not having much to wrap up at the end of the first book. Rather than starting fresh with a new plot, the reader dives right into where things left off, and the storyline feels very natural. I would suggest anyone who hasn’t read the first book in a while to go back and at least skim the last couple of chapters to ease back into the world. It’ll help you follow the first chapter of All Our Yesterdays a bit better.
Unfortunately, continuing the story from one book to the next also exposes some weaknesses in the first novel. I hadn’t minded them at all in Déjà Vu since it was a quick, breezy read that was easy to fall in love with, but through the second book, I found myself forgetting who some of the minor characters were and getting lost in chapter transitions. All the chapters begin in medias res, which lends immediacy to the action, but sometimes makes me wonder how we got to where we are.
Don’t walk away from All Our Yesterdays, though, especially if you read and enjoyed Déjà Vu. It has all the strengths of the first book, and I’m confident the third in the series will keep that up. Karen Janowsky has a gift for balancing heat, humor, and heart, which in my opinion means she deserves to be a known name in the romance world. --Reviewed by Jo Niederhoff
Manhattan Book Review, Book 3: The Beginning of Always:
Star Rating: 5 / 5
The end of a trilogy is always something beautiful and bittersweet. Over the course of three books, readers have gotten to know and love a set of characters, have been enthralled by story lines, and have gasped over twists and turns in the plot. The Persistence of Memory trilogy is no exception. I’m grateful to have had the chance to review all three books and to have a front seat view of just how exciting superhero romance (a subgenre I hope to see more of) can be.
In this final installment, Daniel Hecht and Nina Asher are engaged, bound by an ancient ceremony that baffles their friends. (To be fair, Nina came back wearing a bracelet made of thorns, something unfamiliar to anyone born in the twentieth century.) This isn’t a book all about the trials any couple must face between their engagement and their wedding, however. Daniel’s old friend is still trying to bring about the end of the world, after all, and that’s a rather pressing matter. This isn’t to say there aren’t pre-wedding struggles. Anyone who’s read the series will know the author keeps a balance between the superhero half of the story and the romance. She continues the trend in this book, making sure to follow up on both plots. Daniel and Nina must face Paul and prevent his plan from coming to fruition, but they must also deal with their respective bachelor and bachelorette parties.This is probably my favorite thing about the series: the balance. The author doesn’t just make sure equal weight is given to the plots. She makes sure equal weight is given to the tones as well. Though The Beginning of Always can grow serious, as much as the other books; it has just as many moments of levity, none of which detract from the heavier parts.
Some may recall I had a few complaints about the previous book. I’m happy to say I had no such troubles with this one. Though scenes do often begin in the middle of the action, only very rarely did I have trouble catching up to where the characters were (and when I did, it was with something relatively low stakes that didn’t require me to be swept up immediately). The book flowed very smoothly, providing a quick, enjoyable read. I didn’t breeze through it as quickly as I did the other two, but only because some parts encouraged me to slow down and linger. My other problem was that I couldn’t get as connected to the secondary characters as I might like, but at the end of a series, I can offer a possible solution. Hopefully someday we’ll see a sequel series about another member of WISE. Reviewed by Jo Niederhoff
Kirkus Reviews, Book 1: Déjà Vu:
This isn't your average superhero story... Daniel and Nina’s nascent romance eventually becomes the main focus, culminating in engagingly steamy chapters at the end of the novel.
BookLife, Book 1: Déjà Vu
"Janowsky's prose is adept and well-crafted, with a very skillful balance of action, interior monologue, vivid setting details, and nimble dialogue...Janowsky's story is unquestionably original and wonderfully imaginative, incorporating diverse aspects of history and mythology into a romance that transcends time."Self-Publishing Review, Book 1: Déjà Vu:
“Romance and mystery fuse in this supernatural thriller that is perfectly timed for the tastes of today’s readers, but also touches on classic themes in multiple genres…[T]here are flashes of brilliance in the writing…It is this beauty in the prose that carries the book, even with a riveting story and unique take on the superhero genre.”
"Readers will experience heightened tension in this first installment of the fantasy romance series as shocking mystery unfolds, leading to a heartfelt climax. Janowsky skillfully reveals the duo’s intricately complex attraction to each other, allowing their romance to develop with sensuality.”
Skillful characterizations, heated romance, and a good dose of fantasy… Janowsky delivers an exciting series! Janowsky has this ability to create a gripping narrative which is rich with details and shines with romantic intrigue.Book Viral, Book 1: Déjà Vu:
With a highly satisfying denouement and solid backstories developed it’s clear that Janowsky’s series has great potential. With more celestial and superhero intrigue to explore in forthcoming releases Déjà vu is highly recommended.
A superhero novel with real heart and an exciting read All Our Yesterdays is sure to be well received by Janowsky’s fans and is recommended without reservation.
Janowsky has pitched the perfecting ending. A superb series and a must-read for fans of Superhero Fantasy Fiction The Beginning of Always is unreservedly recommended.
It is one of those stories you just simply cannot put down because you are always searching for the next step, the next move in the relationship. The erotic writing in the book is a very small part, but an extremely powerful part. I felt the author handled these scenes with such tenderness and care that it was an absolute pleasure to read. If you love good science fiction or fantasy with plenty of twists and turns, or if you just love a ripping good adventure yarn with plenty of romance, you will love this book. I did and I can highly recommend it.
Romance fans who were rooting for the couple during the first book are certain to enjoy how hot and heavy the second book truly is. Moving Daniel into a passionate stage of allowing himself to be free in the modern world is a sharp move, and author Karen Janowsky does it just at the moment when his and Nina’s relationship is about to take another terrible hit. More monsters and historical bad guys abound, blending historical fiction with comic book style superheroism, and still giving readers a strong erotic love story at its core. The work in these pages is both atmospherically complex and multi-layered, telling several stories from different genres which come together, on the whole, more balanced and easy to understand than book one. Overall, The Persistence of Memory: All Our Yesterdays is a superb sequel not to be missed.
>Readers Favorite Book Reviews, Book 3: The Beginning of Always:
The Persistence of Memory: The Beginning of Always, penned by author Karen Janowsky, is a work of urban fantasy fiction with romance and superheroes, and is the third and final book in the adventures of Daniel and Nina. Written for adults due to explicit content, sex, and graphic violence, this shocking conclusion to the Persistence of Memory series really amps up the tension and heat as our central couple’s time-travel-tangled past threatens to rip them apart once and for all. Whilst the past two novels have centered on them beating back the flood, we now realize that Daniel and Nina aren’t just fighting for themselves, but for the stability and nature of time itself.
Author Karen Janowsky has always featured fantastic moments of drama and intense personal connection in the Persistence of Memory series, but none more so thrilling than this final installment. The heat is turned up to the max as Daniel and Nina cling to one another for survival, their taut romance giving way to moments of absolute darkness and devastation. The paranormal and superhero/villain elements are fully in play when the central danger plot takes over, accompanied by graphic and visceral description quite unlike anything readers have seen before. This results in a heart-in-mouth reading sensation that takes the intensity of previous books up to eleven, whilst also maintaining the character integrity of the developmental stories and putting them to their absolute limits. All in all, The Persistence of Memory: The Beginning of Always is a superb series conclusion not to be missed.
[Deja vu] is a love letter to the genre...I recommend this book to those who'd like to see the superhero genre merge with the romance genre to create a perfectly balanced story that blends the best of both of these worlds into its own unique subgenre.
Litpick, Book 3: The Beginning of Always:
I found this book to be a satisfying conclusion to the series. Much of the action is replaced by deep, human conversations about devotion versus respect, to honor versus obey, romantic versus unrequited love, and cultural religion versus spiritual religion. Pretty deep themes for a story about superheroes, but Janowsky crafts very realistic characters despite their sensational situations, giving them humanity and depth that keeps you rooting for them until the final pages...If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, I highly recommend finishing what you started.
***Karen Janowsky’s debut novel and the first of her trilogy, The Persistence of Memory, is a beautiful story and, in my opinion, something totally new in a crowded field of superhero stories; an adult work of fiction that takes the characters seriously… “Déjà vu” is a remarkable and gorgeously crafted debut novel. Ms. Janowsky solves the Rubik’s cube of how to blend the science fiction, superhero, fantasy and romance genres seamlessly into a deeply satisfying story that won’t disappoint lovers of high-adventure or romance."
***"Déjà-Vu, the first novel in a new trilogy titled "The Persistence of Memory", was handed to me to read by a friend who knows that I don't like romance novels and don't know beans about superheroes. I began reading the first few chapters and quickly was drawn into the story. My dislike of the romance genre is largely due to its usually hackneyed language, coma-inducing plot lines, and unintentionally comedic sex/love scenes full of throbbing this and moaning that. My lack of interest in superheroes stems from a disinterest in two-dimensional characters placed in predictable plots, and a general lack of subtlety or depth. Janowsky's book bends genres by combining romance and superheroes, but it also defies expectations in terms of quality: the storyline in "Deja Vu" is clever; characters are very well fleshed-out; descriptions are clear and robust and original (no hackneyed language here); and the pace is well-maintained throughout. I had no difficulty following the changes in scene/time or point of view, as these were indicated by simple opening statements with each change. I cared about the characters and couldn't wait to see what happened next. It is also well-written, which so many recent literary offerings sadly are not. The sex scenes were refreshingly down-to-earth, free of silly euphemisms, occasionally wryly witty, and convincingly human. One of my favorite aspects of the story was the choice to embed the main female character (Nina) in Sumerian mythology, and the skill and scholarly accuracy with which this was done. It is a facet of the book which may serve to illuminate why "Deja Vu" stands above many of its genre peers, and why it held my interest so well...Originality of conception allied with quality of execution make this a great read. I look forward to reading the next two books in the series, and to seeing the characters really come into their own as they use their superhero capabilities to protect the innocent and each other.
***The Persistence of Memory: All Our YesterdaysIn Janowsky’s second book, All our Yesterdays, we continue to follow Daniel and Nina through their journeys and adventures. They battle monsters, internal struggles, and all those determined to keep them apart. The action is intense and quick-paced. The character development is surprisingly deep and well-constructed. I enjoyed the deep relationship displayed between Daniel and Nina – it’s not just about the sex. Their relationship goes beyond physical nature and is truly a soul-deep connection. I enjoyed this second installment in the trilogy and look forward to the third.
***In All Our Yesterdays, the second book in Karen Janowsky’s genre-bending masterpiece trilogy, The Persistence of Memory, we follow our heroes, Daniel and Nina, as they battle against monsters, internal betrayals, and other forces arrayed against them who are determined not only to break them apart, but to destroy the world and all of history. The battle and action sequences are some of the best fight-scenes in any genre that I’ve ever read. As well, the romance and steamy erotica sizzle and are rendered with a careful attention to underlying emotions. There’s no gratuitous sex here—each instance deepens our understanding of the characters, of their relationship, and moves the plot forward. The secondary characters are also carefully drawn. Some are lovable, some detestable, but all are three-dimensional; each has their flaws and redeeming qualities. Another great thing about Ms. Janowsky’s books is that she’s mastered the discipline of a “series.” Each book, so far, has its own satisfying plot-line and yet still manages to move the overarching plot forward. The characters also continue to grow from book to book not only as individuals, but as a couple. The relationship between Nina and Daniel is a romantic tale of epic love across great spans of space and time that’s breathtaking. Top-tier writing here that I couldn’t put down. On to the third (and hopefully not last) book in the series!
***The Beginning of Always is Karen Janowsky’s third and final book in her “Persistence of Memory” series, and marks a solid and satisfying conclusion to her epic saga. We travel around the world and through vast spans of time with our heroes, Daniel and Nina, as they fight monsters, complex and twisted villains, and fate itself to protect the world and to stay together as lovers.
Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that the villain in this series (and especially as they reveal themselves in Book Three) is as tragic, complex, and unorthodox as any villain I’ve ever come across in literature. The backstory and character arcs of all the major players are skillfully conceived and executed with flair and freshness. For those of us who delight in deep and complex characters, this book (and series) was a delight to read.Let me address an elephant in the room: There is sex in this book. A lot. For those who are anti-sex, you may find yourself skipping quite a bit. There’s plenty of action, fight scenes, drama, humor and so forth, too. But yeah, there’s a heaping helping of very hot, usually explicit, and gorgeously (albeit unabashedly) described scenes of sensual and carnal delights. Fortunately, it’s part of the story, part of the characters’ nature and personalities (as it is for all of us), and not a bit of it is gratuitous or cynical. Rather, it’s a joyous affirmation of life itself, and gives to the story a sparkling joie de vivre that’s infectious and much needed in times such as these.
In her debut trilogy as a novelist, author Karen Janowsky has taken a huge risk. All innovation and fresh, ground-breaking creativity is always about taking risks. Creating an entirely new genre that weaves elements of romance, action-adventure, super-heroes, science fiction and fantasy, with attention to deep character development takes guts and, to pull it off, takes talent and knowledge of craft as well, not just courage. Ms. Janowsky’s triumph in pulling it off will open doors to other authors, and will no doubt earn her a well-deserved following of devoted readers.