Reflections of Mamie: A Story of Survival by Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins AVIVA Publishing, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-938686-53-5 Hard Cover 286 pages Memoir
Reflections o...moreReflections of Mamie: A Story of Survival by Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins AVIVA Publishing, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-938686-53-5 Hard Cover 286 pages Memoir
Reflections of Mamie is a book you cannot read without being touched. Whether it be the gratitude shown so clearly to many of us in her life or the support of such important charities as DREAM CATCHERS for ABUSED CHILDREN or the moment when she reveals that her mother used to beat her with a coat hanger until the flesh was ripped from her tiny body, Mamie takes our hand and guides us through her life, her dreams and her hopes until we finally see her for the vibrant survivor she is.
A member of my family bought Mamie's book and declared it to be the best book she/he had ever read.
"What was it to me?" I asked myself.
The answer is not simple. I admire Mamie greatly—for the strength of spirit she showed by writing a book about the private details of a life where the abuse never really ended until the day her mother died, when Mamie was a grown woman still looking for a simple "I love you." she never did get. I treasure her capacity to make friends and forge unusually strong bonds, something you can see developing as you read the book. And I love her for her ability to hold her dreams and her hopes close, to never let go of them in the face of tremendous adversity, both as a child and now as a mature woman. Mamie is a light for other victims and a teacher for those of us who will never know the kind of suffering she writes about in her memoir.
If I had to guess, I would say that Reflections of Mamie is garnering so many accolades because there is no guile in her writing. This book is an honest account of a child who should have been left irreparable but who refused to give up and who learned, as an adult, to trust and to love far more deeply than most of us.
Review 1: Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road... 4.5 Stars
"This anthology contains some of the creepiest and unusual stories I’ve read in a long tim...moreReview 1: Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road... 4.5 Stars
"This anthology contains some of the creepiest and unusual stories I’ve read in a long time. While a few of the selections seemed out of place either by caliber or by genre, the best works in this anthology truly set the bar for greatness in speculative fiction. As a whole, I rate Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road at four stars and recommend it as a great addition to any speculative fiction library."
Review 3: Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road... Very Good (5 Stars?)
"The editing by Sassy Brit and C.C. Bye is excellent, and the entire presentation is beautifully professional. If you like the short-story genre and want something unique and innovative, you might consider this read. My personal favorite was Malpas, a novella, by Marion Webb-De Sisto, an erotica beauty and beast."
That was precisely the point of Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road; to take the reader off guard, similar to what the writers themselves must have felt as they explored new avenues and stretched their craft. Some pieces may have been formulaic, while others were seamless, but all represented the essence of skillful storytelling and every participating author should be justly proud of their willingness to get behind those unfamiliar wheels and step on the gas. I had been run down, backed over, run down and backed over again and again, mangled and rearranged and left gently on the curb, whole and wholly entertained.
Steve Beai is a professional author and musician whose short-story, novel and non-fiction work has appeared in numerous publications and has been recognized by both HWA and MWA. He is currently in the studio with the Rory Lewis Band, laying down the drums for their upcoming third CD, Belize.
Review 5: ..."Overall this was a really enjoyable read which I’d rate an easy four stars, with eight of the seventeen stories presented scoring four stars or up. Where there were problems, it seemed always to be with endings, endings too abrupt in otherwise well-written tales."
11/22/63 Stephen King Scribner, 2011 978-1-4516-2728-2 Hardcover 849 pages Speculative Fiction/Time Travel/Horror
11/22/63 is a wonderfully strange creature....more11/22/63 Stephen King Scribner, 2011 978-1-4516-2728-2 Hardcover 849 pages Speculative Fiction/Time Travel/Horror
11/22/63 is a wonderfully strange creature. A man by the name of Jake Epping (King fans will notice the first name immediately) is convinced by a friend to go into the past to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, using a bubble or rip in time that he has accidently discovered. The little thrill we fans will get from running into Jake as a grown man is soon followed by greater joy when Jake runs into two of the youngsters from IT, just after they’ve defeated the alien killer of children in the town of Derry. In fact, it’s this meeting, more than anything else in the novel that set the tone for me. Once King reveals that no matter where the novel goes it’s going to be a revisiting and summing up of the fantastic worlds he has written about so many times, well, let’s just say I was tickled silly.
This story most significantly relates to his earlier and difficult to read novel, “Insomnia.” That book, too, attempted to tie in all sorts of loose ends from King’s years of stories set in the same magical worlds. But unlike Insomnia, 11/22/63 is a marvelous symphony of great narration, tidbits from past novels, fantastic mentions of a past almost forgotten and biting, horrific scenes that make those of wonderment and joy achingly sad—because no one lives happily ever after in a Stephen King novel. Just read a few other reviews. You’re sure to find someone who claims that King can’t write “good” endings. Maybe not, but his endings are true. At least they’re true to his imaginary worlds.
Why, King even tells us this in his own way (I’m going to take liberties here), “The past is obdurate,” his protagonist claims. “It doesn’t want to change. And it’s a machine with a mouthful of very sharp teeth.” If you pay attention to phrases like that, then you will be better prepared to be affected in ways no other King novel has managed, not even The Dark Tower series.
This book exhibits a mature and controlled King, a man in his prime, writing with the sureness of a master--pundits be damned. His narrator gave King enough distance to keep this monster of a novel under control. He also managed to tie up all the paradox problems of time travel to my satisfaction. Then, with an achingly beautiful ending, King left me melancholy for the better part of a day.
11/22/63 is a suspenseful, emotionally wracking and ultimately moving novel by the best story teller of our time. Yes, it will move you, if only you will allow yourself to believe.
After a few misfires, the stories in Mandy White's 2012 offering, Dysfictional, are interesting, unique and well edited. I especially enjoyed The Art...moreAfter a few misfires, the stories in Mandy White's 2012 offering, Dysfictional, are interesting, unique and well edited. I especially enjoyed The Art of Bathing, Zombie Cuisine and her novella, The Immigrant.
This collection is a solid, 4 star effort by an imaginative author. My one criticism is that the author sometimes gives away the story. She definitely has the ability to carry the reader to places of the imagination, but she must be cautious not to allow the reader to envision the ending before she takes us there: Ruby in the Mist and A Simple Life are examples.
Summary? The first two stories in the collection could easily cost White her reader. This is unfortunate, as the rest of the stories come in at 4 or even 5 stars. So, if the title catches your attention (as it did mine), then I say go for it--buy the book. Just know that the collection is much better than the initial stories suggest.
As one of the editors, I think the greatest compliment I can give this group of authors is I never tired of reading their stories.
Now here is what oth...moreAs one of the editors, I think the greatest compliment I can give this group of authors is I never tired of reading their stories.
Now here is what others think of the book:
The Speed of Dark is an anthology of twenty-seven horror stories by nineteen authors. The stories are macabre and disturbing and are as much literary in style as they are dark and horrific in their content. They are all stories with unexpected endings, but the darkness they portray is often more psychological than full of blood-splattered violence for its own sake.
So often horror stories do everything to shock and go to all lengths to terrify the reader into submission. Here the reader will be made uneasy as creepiness and fear will attack, but, though there will be feelings of discomfort, the memories after each story will not be ones of disgust and nausea. They will all be unforgettable and will leave a lasting impression that the writers have created an effective depiction of the genre. In fact, it may be advisable if reading the book in bed not to leave the curtains or window open as any whisper of a breeze might cause an extra gasp of terror. - Mike Brecon, Author
This was a horror anthology I was mightily pleased to have read. I've read some horror stories that are of the "gore" variety, which can honestly bore me sometimes. While everyone has their own tastes and preferences, it is "psychological horror" that gets to me, that I find a lot more dark and disturbing than explicit violence (i.e. the motivations and psyche behind brutal and/or cruel acts).
Perhaps the greatest thing about anthologies is that they feature a wide variety of authors--different voices, different styles, though the stories in this case are linked together based on that psychological horror dimension. The anthology is very aptly titled after one of the stories ("The Speed of Dark", by Clayton Clifford Bye)--in terms of concept and pacing. That story in particular is a great short story, in the sense that the writing flows in an effortless, succinct kind of way where all the pieces (the story has something to do with "food" *ahem*) come together really neatly.
There is a lot of scope and dimension in these short stories, all of which are accompanied by a short summary at the beginning of the story (I always like that with anthologies, so that I have a rough idea of what each story is about before I get into it further). I enjoyed stories like "Jesse's Hair" (by John B. Rosenman) and "Little Girl Lost" (by Lyn McConchie) for that same reason (the handling of macabre themes in a very stylish, understated way--actually this goes for the entire anthology; I'm just naming those two right now because I especially enjoyed the themes in those two stories!).
Do consider adding "The Speed of Dark" to your digital and/or paperback library, if you're looking for a good dose/exploration of original--and relatable--psychological horror. - Jess Scott
The Speed of Dark is an anthology of short tales of horror by Cynthia Ainworthe, Kenneth Weene, Clayton Bye, Micki Peluso, Mary Firman and more than a dozen other great writers. It's one of those hard-to-put-down books that keeps you up all night reading…and trembling. From the computer generated green terror in Retrovirus, to the dreadful secrets in the cellar in Taking Care of Mother and the unexpected fate of the man in room 600 in Hansom Dove, readers are sure to find that each of these macabre stories will keeping them wanting to read one more before, if they dare, turning off the lights. – T.R. Heinan, author of L'immotalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen
And yes, they're right about the sub-title which says Strangely Different & Disturbing. It's not that different from some horror anthologies that I've read, nor did it disturb me to a huge degree. But yes, some of it was still a bit different and slightly disturbing. The trouble with much recent horror that I've (unwillingly) read, is that those who write it go over the top. They bring in monsters, lakes of gore, dismembered bodies, and graphic sex. I like my horror low-key, understated, and more about the human condition. In The Speed of Dark I got two things. One was excellent presentation with very good editing, and the other was well-written work that in most cases wasn't overly graphic, but which was interesting, involving and rarely over the top. Much of it was quietly creepy and therefore very effective. And the editors were intelligent, where an author presented two suitable stories, they didn't insist on taking only one, and then, finding they needed more work, filling out the anthology with poorer-quality tales. Instead where they were offered two good stories, they took both, so that in a number of cases an author had two stories appear. And I noticed that when they happened those authors' work was often the work that I really liked. So – I'm not going to comment on every story, but that said, I didn't find any stories that I felt were inadequate. Some I didn't like that much as a personal preference, but I thought that all of them were well-written and of real quality. I've seen a previous award-winning anthology from this stable, and that one too fitted everything I've said here. This outfit could be one to watch.
The first story set the tone for this anthology beautifully. What About Mum by E.J.Ruek is horror, not because of anything in-your-face, but from the gradual realization of what this is about as you read it. It ends with a newspaper clipping that ties up the story consistently and neatly, and makes sense of some of the final loose ends. It's a story you may come across in the newspapers regularly, but the author makes you see it for yourself. Jesse's Hair by John B. Rosenman is again delicately intrusive. It begins in such a way that you sympathise with the protagonist, understand her pain, and wish people would be a bit kinder. And then you find out what the years of abuse have created. Which is brutally realistic because this type of low-level bullying can produce effects out of all proportion. Retrovirus by Clayton Clifford Bye was clever. It took an aspect of our computerized society and moved it into a new space and a new form of the 'post holocaust' sub-genre. Micky Peluso's Death of the Spider is both horrific and sad, while Lyn McConchie's Little Girl Lost is savage in a way that makes the reader like it. I was prepared to be horrified at the topic until I was almost at the end and realized what was happening, then I smiled, I do like evil to get its comeuppance. Unbreakable fetters of Admantine by Jim Secor is an interestingly surrealistic tale, it winds and confuses but ultimately satisfies. While Across the Tracks by Tony Richards has some of the same factors although with a very different background and protagonist but with an ending that is equally as effective.
Clayton Bye's title story, The Speed of Dark is plain creepy, a little sickening when you see where this is going, and very well handled as a theme. Taking Care of Mother by Mary Firmin is unpleasant, it has something to say about society's attitudes towards those marked in our minds as either 'less fortunate' or 'the dregs of society,' and just how wrong we can be in some of our assumptions. It may also be a warning about being patronizing. Lyn McConchie's Sowing On the Mountain is all too realistic in some ways, and delicately drawn fantasy in others. And yet, the fantasy element is sketched in so lightly the reader is uncertain as to whether it really existed, an aspect of the story that enhances it considerably. And the final story, Plastic People, by Lisa Lane chronicles a descent into the darker places of the mind and is exactly the right note on which to conclude. All in all the editors have done a fine job on this anthology which only confirms my impression of the previous one the publisher had out. Take a look at the site, http:shop.claytonbye.com Buy this anthology, and maybe copies of the previous one as well. I think it would be money well spent. - Glenda's Bookshelves
Review: Speed of Dark Anthology By Kimberly Morgan
As children, we’re frightened of the things that hide in dark places. As adults, we learn that it’s the things hiding in plain sight of which we really need to be afraid. This anthology underscores that fact.
Some of the stories in “The Speed of Dark” are terrifyingly mundane, making me want to check over my shoulder to make sure the sweet old lady next door isn’t hiding some horror inside her house. Others make me want to laugh, but the kind of laughter that happens when you realize you’re the last person in the world to get the joke, and you’re the punch line. And still others make me wince, as conventions of comfort and polite society are ripped away, exposing ugly truths you suspected might have been there but were never really quite sure.
All of them, however, make me glad I have a large watchdog, a phone in every room, and a bedside light to keep the shadows away while I read.
Not for the faint of heart, I felt violated by a few of the pieces, repulsed, as, I believe, was intended. The writing is sometimes so beautifully lyrical and descriptive, however, it makes it hard to put the book down. Shame on me for appreciating the clever turn of a word. And these authors are wordsmiths, whether or not you’re a fan of horror. There’s a beauty here that mocks the subject matter – or maybe it’s the other way around. Things this eloquent shouldn’t be so vulgar, should they?
I received this book for review purposes, and I’m grateful to have been one of the lucky ones. No matter what I think about the ugly, fantastic side of human (and inhuman) nature, “The Speed of Dark” is a winner.
Johnny Cash: The Life Robert Hilburn Little, Brown and Company, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-316-19475-4 Hardcover, 680 pages Biography
From touring with Elvis, Jerry...more Johnny Cash: The Life Robert Hilburn Little, Brown and Company, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-316-19475-4 Hardcover, 680 pages Biography
From touring with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and June carter to his final days and perhaps the best song he ever recorded, Johnny Cash lived his life and managed his singing career on his own terms. This is the one thing Robert Hilburn makes abundantly clear in his exhaustive commentary regarding the career of Johnny Cash, a career that spanned 5 decades (1954-2003). It didn't matter if the record was bad because Cash was wired on drugs or if it was a gospel record when his fans wanted more country or if he was recording punk rock in an effort to connect with the youth of today, Cash always had an album concept he was working on—the record label be damned. He was the original outlaw for both country and rock and roll, and unknown by most people, he never really gave up those titles. Cash was simply overshadowed during the latter part of the 70's and most of the 80's. But he never stopped touring and he never stopped making records.
"From his early days as a pioneer of rockabilly and rock and roll in the 1950s, to his decades as an international representative of country music, to his resurgence to fame in the 1990s as a living legend and an alternative country icon, Cash influenced countless artists and left a large body of work. Upon his death, Cash was revered by the greatest popular musicians of his time. His rebellious image and often anti-authoritarian stance [even] influenced punk rock." - Wikipedia -
Sources disagree, but to the best of my knowledge Johnny cash recorded: 55 studio albums, 104 compilations, 6 live albums, 2 soundtracks and 153 singles. With the constant touring this man did, the number of songs he wrote and the number of songs he recorded is mind-blowing.
I can't say this with more passion. If you have ever wanted to know about the life of a rock or country music star, why not study the greatest of them all: Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn.
Author’s Note: “In addition to being a ghost story, The Hidden Valley is an experiment in structure. The reader will find that nearly every chapter is, in itself, a work of flash fiction. Also, each main character’s story may be read individually, and for a different effect.”
Reviewer’s Note: Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature of extreme brevity. There’s no widely accepted definition of the length of such stories, but they tend to vary from about a 300 hundred word minimum to a maximum of a 1,000 words.
The Players… Grant: The father who rips the family apart to move from Las Vegas to the valley-hidden town of South Bend. He blames his wife, but Grant has a secret that could destroy them all.
John: A teenager who insists on running with the wrong crowd and doing wrong things—in Las Vegas and, now, in South Bend. His wrong choices are just too easy to blame on his screwed up family.
Jane: In apparent response to a teenage pregnancy and abortion, this former cheerleader and popular high school student is now anorexic and agoraphobic. But does anyone know the whole story?
Carrie: A confessed adulteress, she blames herself for fracturing the family. Grant says they can start over again in South Bend, but his behaviour says differently.
South Bend: There’s something very wrong with this town. In fact, things are so wrong that should one of these four put it all together, escape will still be virtually impossible.
Maxwell Smart: Otherwise known as “Smart Kitty.” This is Jane’s cat, and he’s able to see what the humans cannot. Will he somehow find a solution, a way to save them from the hell in which they are about to descend?
The Hidden Valley: The Whole Story is an ambitious novel. First it attempts to tell the story from 5 different viewpoints. One of these characters is a cat (shades of Robert A. Heinlein?). Second, most chapters are supposed to be flash fiction—very short, fast reading, stand alone stories that, in this case make up the body of the larger story at hand. And, finally, the novel is heavily influenced by Stephen King. Considering that Lane’s last book was a tribute to Poe, one wonders if this novel is meant to serve a similar purpose, that it’s intended to give an obvious nod to King. A lot for a reader to take in, isn’t it?
But there’s nothing wrong with that. Each reader will take away what they want and are capable of discerning, based on their knowledge of flash fiction and Stephen King. Having had some experience with this kind of novel (I’ve written one book that was almost completely flash fiction, although most people refer to each chapter as a scene, and another book where there were two stories, one beneath the other, with many people never getting past the first story.)
So where do we begin our analysis?
The different viewpoints: I found the different viewpoints were almost necessary to this novel. The family is one which holds many secrets, and riding along with the different characters is the only way some of them are revealed and explained. I will say including a cat in the mix threw me off for awhile, but as the study was done so well, Smart Kitty and I were soon good friends. No, there’s only one issue I had with the multiple points of view. I found that Grant’s story was somewhat chaotic or patchy. Leigh M. lane could have used Grant to create a much darker flavour of novel, but her choice of extremely short chapters or scenes made that kind of development almost impossible.
Using Flash Fiction to create the form and pace of the novel: I’m all for flash fiction. The form has been around for a lot longer than its name. Vignettes and short, short stories and novels written in short punchy scenes (James Patterson, in his early days) have been used experimentally for decades. In fact, I must confess that until recently I had no idea what flash fiction was. So, when I came across the definition, the light bulb in my head came on, and I said “You’ve used this style before.” My poetry, novels and even short stories have quite regularly used the ultra short style that is flash fiction. But I have, on occasion, mostly in my last novel, run into problems with the form. Lane has done the same.
If you're going to use experimental forms in literature, it pays to know the basic rules so well that either you never forget to apply them, or you break those same rules consciously and obviously. While I enjoyed Lane’s story and found that, for the most part, it flowed well and was filled to the brim with interesting characters, her flash fiction was incomplete. Any story, no matter how short, demands a conclusion. And in modern literature that conclusion must also demonstrate how the character has been changed or enlightened by his/her experience in said story. Lane’s chapters did not always do this, and when they did I often found them unsatisfactory as a sub-story within the larger story.
Enter Stephen King: whether consciously or unconsciously, I think that Lane did indeed pay homage to King. Yet… her story was different enough, no one could ever say it was anything but influenced by the famous writer. For example, while Stephen fills his books with terrible human and nonhuman monsters, those monsters are never placed in the role or roles of protagonist. His heroes may be quirky or incomplete, but I don’t think they’ve actually been dark to begin with (some have become evil, but only through a complicated progression). Lane’s “family” is so damaged as to be morally corrupt and uncaring. It’s only against the backdrop of a far greater evil that we can forgive these things and begin to hope for these people.
So where does King’s influence show itself. The cat, right from the beginning, reminded me of PET CEMATARY. The quirky characters—while most definitely original—are a page right out of the imaginary “King’s Guide to Writing.” The Rock Lady is a perfect example of a character that cries out King’s place in Leigh M. Lane’s life. Other obvious nod’s are THE MIST that envelopes the valley, a fog we know will contain a monster or monsters but that will also mark the boundaries of its power. In the possession scenes, we eventually get to see the monster as a predator rather than a completely evil being, reminding me of THE DARK HALF and SECRET WINDOW, SECRET GARDEN. Stephen King has also dealt with the idea of possession in many different ways: THE SHINING and DREAMCATCHER being the first of many to come to mind. The Hidden Valley also nods to King’s revisiting the theme of possession in that there are not only multiple possessions (The truck driver, Carrie, Jane and, to lesser extents, both John and Grant), there are layers of possession within South Bend itself. And finally, do you think that the primary character in the story is named CARRIE by accident?
But this is what makes Lane such an effective writer: most of the references to King aren’t just giveaways—you have to look for them. In fact, I wouldn’t have put all these things together as readily if Lane hadn’t slipped and told me the book was influenced by King. Well… I probably would have caught the CARRIE reference.
What I think: The Hidden Valley: The Whole Story, as an original novel that’s a combination of ghost story and horror, is a solid 4 stars. If the family had been a little less dysfunctional and the efforts of the monster a little more insidious, Lane would have a 5 star novel on her hands. But, as flash fiction stories gathered up and formed into a novel? The author was less successful here. Her endings definitely needed some work. From this perspective only, you might expect the novel would come in at 3 stars. Not. The missing endings don’t matter in a novel; we expect to have to turn the pages to find an answer or conclusion to a story thread. It may be that to make the book work Lane had to change the endings to her flash fiction, but as readers you and I won’t know unless we go back and read the actual flash fiction series that’s included with the book. I just don’t have the time.
So, to Summarize: Experimental form. Only two words out of place. Flawless sentence structure (flow). Imaginative “bad things.” And the hard work of paying homage to The Master of Horror. The Hidden Valley: The Whole Story is the real deal, giving a 4 star performance and offering readers something truly new to read. This is quite an accomplishment.
Take Back Tomorrow Richard Levesque Format: Kindle Edition 2012 File Size: 3729 KB Print Length: 318 pages Science Fiction/Time Travel
Eddie Royce is a wanna...moreTake Back Tomorrow Richard Levesque Format: Kindle Edition 2012 File Size: 3729 KB Print Length: 318 pages Science Fiction/Time Travel
Eddie Royce is a wannabe science fiction writer who, by stealing the storyline of such greats as Shakespeare, is on the brink of making it. Then a bizarre visit from his favourite author, Chester Blackwood, gives him the power to live his stories rather than writing them. It's 1939, Asimov and Heinlein have barely begun their careers, Hollywood is run by gangsters and Eddie Royce can now travel in time. He can actually steal stories before they've ever been written, rather than copying those of the past. He can become a player.
Except there's this girl and these bad guys and he's limited to just a few visits to the future (or the past). Does he help her or does he help himself?
Take Back Tomorrow is one of those stories that lifts you up and transports you to another place and time. It's science fiction the way it was written in the 1950's when that kind of writing was hitting mainstream. Yet the tale takes us back even further—to a time when the art form could be found in just a handful of pulp fiction magazines.
And let me tell you this guy Levesque can write. There is non-stop action, the plot is a beautiful thing to see, as it sweeps in and about the characters until it comes full circle and leaves us satisfied but melancholy. Satisfied because this is a very good read; melancholy because one knows he will not read another book like this. That age of science fiction is gone. Some say this is a good thing. I, who cut my teeth on space operas and the grand speculations of the 50's, say not.
I give this one 5 stars and a personal recommendation.
This is a group of stories about man's inhumanity to man. The book is thoughtful yet entertaining. It is unlike other detective stories yet it capture...moreThis is a group of stories about man's inhumanity to man. The book is thoughtful yet entertaining. It is unlike other detective stories yet it captures our attention. The title is a clear nod to Poe. And the writing is superb.
If you want something different to read tonight...something unlike anything you've read before...writing the way it should be, then pick up a copy. You won't be disappointed.
Dirt Music by Tim Winton Penguin Books, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-14-356879-7 Literary Fiction
Blurb Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, s...moreDirt Music by Tim Winton Penguin Books, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-14-356879-7 Literary Fiction
Blurb Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, she finds herself stranded in White Point with a fisherman she doesn't love and two kids whose dead mother she can never replace. Leached of all confidence, she spends her days in isolated tedium and her nights in a blur of vodka and self-recrimination. One morning, in the boozy pre-dawn gloom, she sees a shadow drifting up on the beach below—a loner called Luther Fox, with danger in his wake.
Full of unforgettable characters, Dirt Music is Tim Winton's classic love song to land and place.
Review The story of Georgie and Luther (Lu) is set against a wildly beautiful but deadly Australia, one that sings to those who live there while also cutting deep. A terrible and unforgiving place, much like Georgie's lover, Jim, the land is just as much a character in this awesomely alive novel of epic loss, unforgivable transgressions and ultimate redemption. The prose has raw power that compels the reader forward through stunning landscapes and unforgettable places to seemingly inevitable personal disaster for Georgie, Jim and Lu. I couldn't rip my eyes from the pages.
Before you go on to the review of Succumbing to Gravity I must confess I haven't read the book. One of my staff members did that. Here's her review an...moreBefore you go on to the review of Succumbing to Gravity I must confess I haven't read the book. One of my staff members did that. Here's her review and my reflexive editorial.
Great concept. The story pace was fast, almost too fast. I would have liked to see a longer story with more character development and suspense. In the end, though, everything seemed to work, making this compact thriller a story many are sure to enjoy.
Criticisms: the editing was just not up to par, a problem many self-published books fail to avoid. Past and present tenses were mixed together or improperly used. A much smaller issue was misspelling, usually due to dropped letters. As I don't know who the editor and proof readers were, I suspect the writers themselves. And I understand how difficult the job of self-editing is; I've been there. Especially when it's your debut novel.
So how do I sum up "Cruelty to Innocents?" The loss of a child, anyone's child, makes me physically ill. Webb and Weaver wrote down to this fear, then showed it to us. That's great writing. And because of the short length of the novel, the sense of panic and hurt and anger never really dissipated. I understand that this is both a mimicking of real life terror and a plot tool to keep this story raging along. These are all good things, and "Cruelty to Innocents" nailed them!
Then why only 3.5 stars? Very simply, the length. This could easily have been a much better book. If it had been longer, a greater suspect pool could have been written in (allowing for mystery as well as suspense, to give one example). Using the same "If," the main characters could have been developed through actions rather than thoughts and emotions, that oft-broken rule of "showing rather than telling." Basically, we're just beginning to know Sloanne and Shawn at the end of the novel. Perhaps this was intended, as the authors have at least two more books planned for this series.
Fast, attention-catching and filled with examples of strong writing, "Cruelty to Innocents" is also fundamentally flawed. But then Steven King was once referred to as "that hack!" and Asimov was derided for the simplicity of his stories and Robert Heinlein was chastised for writing fiction with all too apparent meaning. I have no problem recommending "Cruelty to Innocents." I also intend to read the next two books in the series; I suspect they will be better!
Gillian Jane Sims | 5 out of 5 Stars! Your poetry is just unbelievable.
Lucille P. Robinson | 4 out of 5 Stars Note: due to size restrictions, the follow...moreGillian Jane Sims | 5 out of 5 Stars! Your poetry is just unbelievable.
Lucille P. Robinson | 4 out of 5 Stars Note: due to size restrictions, the following represents only a small portion of the original review... "I found the following truths about Clayton Bye’s What I Found in the Dark poems. They make you wonder, ask questions, imagine, and, yes, feel sadness, joy, discomfort, and perhaps a yearning for love, for understanding, for a close mate to share your life with. Yes, these poems are deep, some rhyme, some don’t, some are clear on their own, some become clear from the introduction that comes before it."
John B. Rosenman | 5 out of 5 Stars! By all means, be sure to read Clayton Bye's What I Found In The Dark.. It's nice to see a poet with a sense of structure and restraint. When it comes to poetry, restraint magnifies freedom. The brief introductory comments are great, too. They tell us just enough without spoiling it for us. I like their thematic tie-in with darkness, love, and related emotions. Most of all, this is a volume you can read repeatedly without exhausting its richness.(less)