In case you didn't know, this book is actually written by several Florida authors, each contributing a chapter and taking the story where they so chooIn case you didn't know, this book is actually written by several Florida authors, each contributing a chapter and taking the story where they so choose. I believe it was originally published in a magazine, with each author submitting the next installment of the story. The first is Dave Barry and the final is Carl Hiaasen with several other prime examples of Floridian writing genius in between.
This book covers the bases when it comes to Florida humor, taking place in Miami, we have nature lovers, skin divers, lawyers, police, Castro Impersonators, drug dealers, hit men, famous actors, and of course Castro himself. Throw in a couple of severed heads and a manatee with an identity crisis and you have an entertaining 201 pages.
The manner of the writing of this book leads to characters making drastic personality changes, some characters not getting a proper ending, and lots of laughter all around. The writing styles vary from chapter to chapter, some more focused on plot than others, but I recommend this book to anyone looking for a short entertaining read that they don't want to invest a lot into....more
Vonnegut is one of those genius writers that you can't help but love. "Slaughterhouse 5" was my first venture into the realm of Vonnegut, but I have tVonnegut is one of those genius writers that you can't help but love. "Slaughterhouse 5" was my first venture into the realm of Vonnegut, but I have to say that I think I enjoyed this tale much more. Perhaps because the topic is closer to my heart, or perhaps I was able to identify more closely with the characters, I found this novel to be both thought provoking and utterly hysterical.
The short synopsis - The heir to a ridiculously large family fortune would rather spend his days helping the poor and destitute than attending the large social gatherings which his family feels he should prefer. Naturally this means that he is insane right? His family and one rather unscrupulous attorney seem to think so. They begin their plans on having him declared mentally incompetent, but he may have a trick or two up his sleeve.
I often find that I have to be in the right mood to read through a Vonnegut book, for some reason this one gripped me and I was done with it in less than 2 hours. The characters were hysterical, slightly caricaturistic and over the top, but entirely identifiable and comparable to someone we all know. This entire tale is a treatise on capitalism, money, redistribution of wealth, and the question of selflessness vs insanity. If you like Vonnegut, then this is already on your list. If you haven't encountered Vonnegut, give this book a try for an amusing look at true satire. ...more
**spoiler alert** I read this book without knowing that "Summer of Night" came before it... which is sad because I bought them both together an am now**spoiler alert** I read this book without knowing that "Summer of Night" came before it... which is sad because I bought them both together an am now apparently reading them out of order. Never the less, I had no trouble following the story without having read the preceding novel. I think having read it would have filled me in a bit on some of the information that the sheriff seems to randomly blurt out toward the end of the novel, but it didn't really bother me.
Dale is an interesting character; pitiful, deplorable at times, yet not so appalling as to make him hard to root for. After destroying his life and his relationships through bad choice after bad choice, a failed suicide attempt sends him back to his childhood to try to write a novel while sorting through his past. Dale drifts in and out of possible madness, as the reader you are never sure... is he being haunted by ghosts? His past? Or simply madness? Is he loosing his mind or are there hell hounds growing and growling in the night outside of his childhood friend's house. The tragic death of his childhood friend has scarred him, though we are never sure how deeply. Is Dale writing notes to himself or communicating with his long dead childhood friend Duane?
Most of the complaints about the "slow pace" of the book come from the flashbacks Dale has of his life with Claire. Clair is not a very likeable person and we know that Dale has thrown his marriage away to be with her, and of course... it ended badly between them. Also we have chapters from the perspective of a spirit we assume to be Duane, watching Dale and telling us a bit of what he sees from the outside. The spirit chapters bothered me a bit; particularly at the end when I wondered why, if the spirit was so eloquent was it so cryptic in it's warnings to him. Perhaps it knew that Dale must traverse this path whether it wanted him to or not.
Dale's choice to live in his dead friend's farmhouse is a strange one, and when it seems that the reader has figured out what is going on, the twists guide you into a new direction. I went through a range of guesses hoping always to be wrong. For the most part I was, and I am glad for it. I like to be surprised by a novel. Though I didn't find the book to be "Hair Raising" or "Spine tingling" I did find it to be a wonderfully enjoyable read. Well written and perplexing without being confusing. You find yourself just as baffled by events as Dale and hoping that he finds a way to survive either the madness or the haunting....more
Let me begin by saying that for the most part, I LOVE Dan Simmons. I was very excited when this book arrived and dug right in. That's when my disappoiLet me begin by saying that for the most part, I LOVE Dan Simmons. I was very excited when this book arrived and dug right in. That's when my disappointment hit... I couldn't wait for this book to end. Within the first 3rd of the book I caught myself skimming, throughout the rest of the book I struggled with the fact that I was not enjoying the story and had to force myself to read.
This was a book that should have been about telepathy and mind reading, should have been a very exciting read, and could have been brilliant. Instead Simmons spends large parts of the book dropping the plot and spending page after page explaining the physics behind mind reading, and it doesn't make a whole lot of rational sense. Jumping back and forth between a plot that could have been entertaining, and a lecture on the physics of mind reading wore out my brain... especially since the physics part was completely unnecessary to the story. Then you throw in the completely out of nowhere idea that a mind reader would end up in all the different situations that occur in this book from serial killers to gun wielding Mafioso none of it came together. I struggled with this book, not because it was overly difficult, but because it was completely un-engaging to me...more
This book is touted as a "Scattershot of writing" and the reader is "Guaranteed to find at least one novella that they will love" the problem with sucThis book is touted as a "Scattershot of writing" and the reader is "Guaranteed to find at least one novella that they will love" the problem with such a scattershot approach is that with people's varying tastes, odds are that they will only "Love" one or maybe two of the stories rather than all or even most of them.
The first story in the book is "Entropy's Bed at Midnight" - 38 or so pages of a panicky father's musings on life and death as his paranoia about his daughter's safety hamper's his life. This story was extremely well written but never really went anywhere. Still I won't say that I didn't enjoy it, it was rather interesting to read about.
The Second is "Dying in Bangkok" probably the most controversial of the stories in this collection... yes what the other reviewers have said is true, this story has some extremely explicit sexual scenes that seem to go on and on and on. The story does actually go somewhere, so if you can stomach the almost pornographic level of sex described in the story, it actually turns out pretty good in the end.
"Sleeping with Teeth Women" was strange. The tale of a Native American boy who is extremely horny, wants to marry the pretty young maiden in the tribe, but ends up on a vision quest instead in the hopes that he would save all of their people. This tale had a lot of potential but wandered all over the place as if Simmons was never 100% sure where he intended to go with it. It was well written but meandered about to the point of losing the reader's interest.
"Flashback" was more of a Sci-Fi story about a drug appropriately called "Flashback" that people are addicted to. The drug allows them to relive their memories and stars causing chaos throughout society. It reminded me somewhat of "Strange Days" though not as interesting. I had a hard time getting through this story; I guess I just really can't get into Sci-Fi. Sorry.
"The Great Lover" the final and longest story in the book... more of a war story told through the journal of a great poet. Though this was the best researched and "educational" of the stories in the book, but it failed to hold my attention. I don't know why, but I just couldn't get into it.
On the whole, all of the stories are very well written they are just so different in their topics and styles that odds are very few people will either love or loath all of them. I personally enjoyed the first three and had a hard time with the last two; my friend liked the last three and hated the first two. Either way if you find a copy of this, odds are you will find something you like and something that really isn't your style. I don't find this is indicative of all of Simmons work, which I generally enjoy. His short stories really seem very hit and miss. ...more
After reading several of Masterton's books, I have decided that he writes for a very specific audience. People who want gore by the truckload, a smattAfter reading several of Masterton's books, I have decided that he writes for a very specific audience. People who want gore by the truckload, a smattering of nakedness, and don't mind a plot that stretches plausibility. Masterton consistently finds unknown religions and myths to capitalize on and stretch to (and sometimes beyond) their breaking point.
"Devil in Gray" combines a series of gruesome murders, the Civil War, and an Ancient African Religion to come up with an interesting and at times disgusting read. Our lead, Decker, is a cop who suffered a great tragedy when his girlfriend was murdered. Now he is suddenly on a case where people are dying in locked rooms, no witnesses, no clues, and the deaths are extremely violent (the queasy need not read this book). The hunt for the truth will take him deep into the past, bring visits from the dead, and long forgotten gods will make brief appearances. Decker is not the most likable guy to follow through the story, but at least his partner is a good character. Even though this book is very supernatural in nature, at times it reads more like a crime novel than a horror story. There is a significant amount of time spent on the police work side of "cracking the case." Some people may find this bit to be dry or bothersome, however I didn't mind it.
Parts of this book I really liked, the gore was pretty nasty, the Civil War stuff was fun (I'm not much of a Civil War buff, but it's still interesting to read about) and the sense of impending doom was very well written. There is just enough history here for the history buffs to start whipping out their text books to look up the "Devil's Brigade", and anyone with a book on martyrs will be inclined to leaf through it when they are done. This is one of the more well written Masterton books that I have read. Often times his characters are so paper thin that you can see through them. They aren't great here, but they are certainly a lot better than in some of his other books.
Some of the things that I would have liked changed - because Masterton always picks such unknown religions and bits of history to base his books off of, there is ALWAYS a character who stands there and tells us exactly what is going on and spends several pages of exposition giving us history. I can't help but think that there would be a better way of working this into the story. In this one, we have one specific character whose sole purpose is to tell us what the heck is going on... then we have the diary which magically appears telling us the history and tying it all together.
Also it would have been nice if our main character hadn't been such a sleeze... he's torn up over his girlfriend's death so he hops in the sack with the Captain's wife, female officers and anyone else who looks willing. Sadly all of this bed hopping adds nothing to the story other than to turn me off to the main character as a person. I would have liked for him to have been a little more amiable because I think it would have increased my concern for him as a reader.
There is one specific line in the book that really threw me and jerked me out of the moment and just in case you might think it is a spoiler here is your warning [possible spoiler: the spirit has been trapped since the civil war and makes the statement "I have been trapped for a thousand years" um... the Civil War wasn't THAT long ago] That line really threw me for a loop... I found myself counting to reassure myself that it has not actually been 1000 years since the Civil War. Other than that this was a pretty fun book to read. The gore was spot on and very gross. The opening scene was slightly nauseating if you sit there and think about it at all. I would suggest reading this book on a rainy night, until you get to the end, it's just creepy enough to keep your mind checking out the room for the boogie man....more
I wasn't able to finish this... too much time jumping, dream scenes, stories, halucinations, and too little actual story or sense made. I only had 50I wasn't able to finish this... too much time jumping, dream scenes, stories, halucinations, and too little actual story or sense made. I only had 50 pages left and just couldn't force myself to finish it. Editing was terrible as well - Run-ons, bad grammar, etc....more
I was not in a hurry to read this book, the title just seemed so… Dumb, but I let Rosco (the family sheepdog) pick my most recent read and this is whaI was not in a hurry to read this book, the title just seemed so… Dumb, but I let Rosco (the family sheepdog) pick my most recent read and this is what he came up with (mainly by sniffing this cover first out of the stack of 100 or so books stacked neatly on the floor). I was surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. I wasn’t a huge fan of “Coffin County” but I do remember that I enjoyed 9/10ths of the book, so I did have a flicker of hope.
Short synopsis: The tale is told by a mystery man in a bar, he tells the story of a child who is a killer of children, and a woman who has lost her child, and slowly the three stories weave together into the story of Mr. Hands.
This is a tale of vengeance, pity, and monsters… not the creeping around under the bed, or hidden in the sewer grates monsters… people who are monsters - child abusers, neglectors, and killers… and those who have to cope with living in the same world as them. The title story in the book is 269 pages, with a short novella in the back titled “The Mudmen” to bring it up to the standard 330 page Leisure Fiction length. I know that this is a horror story, but it really never FELT like a horror storey. Rather than scaring me, terrifying me or disgusting me… I felt pity, remorse, and a bit of loathing at what Braunbeck points out. Being a parent, the concept of losing a child and the damage it would do not only to me, but to my relationships and my sanity was all too real. Now should that actually happen, and someone hand me the tool in which to gain vengeance, not just for my child, but for all children that have been brutally murdered and abused… and I am not sure that I would be strong enough to turn that away. When seeking vengeance it is all too easy to become what we hate most… a monster ourselves, and that is exactly what Braunbeck points out in this novel.
For the most part this novel is well written and keeps your attention. What drove me completely insane though is the use of run-on sentences that never ended. Page 102 in the paperback is all one sentence… and it runs on to the next page. It never occurred to me what effect run-on sentences like that would have on a reader… but it made my head hurt a little, like I wasn’t able to stop and regroup to let the previous sentence sink in. These run-on sentences occur throughout the book, though none stuck out so blatantly in my mind as that one. I’m a bit disappointed in his editor for letting that one slide by. Also the combination of the cover and the title make this a hard book to take seriously and really get excited to read. The good news is that it reads fast, takes place in the familiar territory of Coffin County and seems to have a pretty good resolution to it all (which was my issue with the book “Coffin County”). This book is not at all scary though you will find yourself reading from beginning to end, and there is quite a bit to think about, particularly if you are a parent.
The three star rating is due mainly to the typos and run-on sentences in the book. There is nothing worse than reading a book and suddenly your mind slams on the e-brake because of a typo or bad grammar. You are pulled completely out of the story as your brain tries to process the bad data. Still, it’s an entertaining read if you can get past that. ...more
I had “viddied” this “sinny” many times at a young age “Oh my brothers” and it was real “horrorshow” but I had never read the book. Let me tell ya… thI had “viddied” this “sinny” many times at a young age “Oh my brothers” and it was real “horrorshow” but I had never read the book. Let me tell ya… the language takes a bit to sink in. Even at the end of the book there were bits and peaces that I had to mentally translate to myself. Burgess wrote this from the POV of Alex, a nasty little 14 year old who enjoys theft, burglary, assault and battery, rape and then the dabbles into manslaughter. I say manslaughter because I don’t believe that Alex and his friends intended to kill anyone, they just laid on the beat down a bit too hard.
Oh, and Alex speaks directly to us… the readers, who he refers to as “my brothers” but Alex speaks in a slang that I hear is a mish-mash of Eurasian languages, particularly a lot of Russian thrown in. It takes a while for your brain to process this language. It’s not hard to figure out through context what each of the words means, but it will certainly slow down your reading. The version I read was 149 pages (the original European publishing that DID include the final chapter) and it took me close to a week to finish it. Now I had been told that this was an ultraviolent book… and at the time it may have been… but I didn’t find it to be any more violent than “In Cold Blood” or some other classics that I was encouraged to read. However, the book keeps referring to the goings on as “ultra-violence.” True there are several beatings, a knife fight, a few rapes, drug use, etc… but with the mental translation it took to figure out exactly what was occurring… sure I knew it was wrong, but it didn’t “horrify” me. Then again I grew up in an age where this kind of thing actually does happen. I believe that when this was written, they had a belief that the world was a better place than those of us from later generations believe.
The underlying theme is the question of – if you could force someone to be good… force them to only be capable of doing the right thing… is that good? Or is it better to allow them the option to do evil, provided they have options. What is the “Christian” thing to do in this case? Would God be pleased to see his creations only doing good when they have no choice but to do it? There are other themes running amok through this book, childhood, growing up, the violence inherent in the system, and the futility of rehabilitating prisoners when our prisons are overcrowded and unmanageable to name just a few. There is a lot of meaning in this book, if one can manage their way through it. Some will be turned off by the difficulty of reading the made up language, others will be turned off by the violence… but those who make it through certainly are left with quite a few tidbits to mull over in their minds. I would suggest reading this with someone, or a group, because I assume that the most enjoyment can be reached by really discussing this book with someone. Good luck, enjoy and know that this is a very interesting, vile, yet purposeful book. ...more