Secrets in small towns spread like tumbleweed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That is to say a secret lasts about as long as a change in wind direction, oSecrets in small towns spread like tumbleweed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That is to say a secret lasts about as long as a change in wind direction, or a flying ball sailing across a major highway in the middle of rush hour traffic. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS brings up many of the negative points about small town life, and therefore it won’t be at the top of my Christmas list anytime this century. The third person multiple perspective nature of this tale peppered with the occasional flashback left me with a head scratch or two for my trouble, but I was in charge of my fate as I continued onward. Perseverance pushed me toward the finish line, not the writing or the story itself. Each perspective proved mostly unique, but I did feel as though it was all a bit convoluted.
Lee and Kip and Chloe represented a trio of selfish bastards and bastardettes. With more than a secret or two between them, I wanted to offer up a tongue lashing, but it might have fallen on a group more focused on a Droid phone clutched between delicate fingers, or lost in a previous reverie. With my thoughts scattered and my hopes shattered, I had really hoped a few more lives might turn out better, instead of shotgun weddings and battered relationships and subsequent divorces.
The story sounded better in the synopsis, or maybe I had higher hopes, or the bleakness of the tale shattered my optimistic dreams. Whatever the reason, I found myself more put off than satisfied, and that included the mostly unrealistic ending. If this story was supposed to represent life, it wasn’t a life I was particularly interested in living.
I think it’s safe to say at this point in my life I was not the intended audience for this book. I wanted to show up for the party, and I had every inI think it’s safe to say at this point in my life I was not the intended audience for this book. I wanted to show up for the party, and I had every intention of dancing with a pretty lass until the world ended, and I met my maker on the back of a pickup truck. But, alas, it twas not to be. The door was slammed in my face, and I was unable to march through the threshold. Or maybe I was at the bottom of a pit while the laughing hyena on top smiled and grinned at me.
Blythe Hallowell didn’t really work for me as a character, and as the leader of this charade, I felt more than a little cheated and dismayed. Sure, she’s lived a sheltered life, kept against her will, and has a son named Adam who is her pride and joy. But she seemed to travel back in time in both spirit and vocabulary, instead of dealing with the present apocalypse at hand. The plot seemed more than a little out of place within the ABOVE pages, and my mind raced a little too hard to fill in a few of the story gaps. Or maybe that was just my memory lapse.
Dobbs didn’t really have a decent bone in his body, and I like to see a bit more from my villains. He was more one-dimensional enemy than a man who got lost somewhere within the confines of this life or the next. And he had plenty of time to build up a little rapport with the heroine of this tale, but he failed on multiple levels.
The big escape left me grasping for more, even if my wishes were going to remain unfulfilled. And a life such as this could have used a little more bliss, even if the world was ready to end. And the big reveal at the end of this tale left me shaking my head, as I turned in for bed. I slipped away hoping to come back again someday, only to have my world filled with a shimmering array of darkness.
Maybe, though, I just need to blame myself for not getting it and call it a day, because while I like to think I have a grand master plan if the world were to come to an end tomorrow. I don’t. I’d probably just pack up my ship and sail out to sea and hope that a monster with a few extra tentacles somehow doesn’t find me.
Chet may be one brilliant bastard (for a dog), but I read this during my darker days where the nights were long and the radiator was cold, and it’s haChet may be one brilliant bastard (for a dog), but I read this during my darker days where the nights were long and the radiator was cold, and it’s hard to read (or sleep) when you have a flashlight shined in your eyes every half-hour. Sure, the cabin was fun for the first day or so, and I even pretended to like it, but not sleeping gets old really fast.
And so does Chet. Something was amiss, and I don’t think it was the lack of bacon bits. Sure, Suzie Sanchez makes an appearance, and where would Chet be without Bernie by his side, but I just wanted a bigger bone, and more fresh water in my bowl (and not the kind you get out of the toilet either as that’s saved for special occasions).
But even though I missed the smell of bacon and water and more than a few scratches on my belly, I still enjoyed frolicking around inside Chet’s head. The air was crisp and plenty (since it was blowing in my face), and I leaned my head out the window and squirrel and then he was running and I was running and my teeth were smacking and his lips were jabbering and I found myself being yelled at for no apparent reason. And that’s sort of what PAW AND ORDER felt like. It started out as great fun, but I ended up getting scolded in the end.
On the one hand, I could give this book a scathing review, clap my hands together and walk away; on the other, I could do a bit more analysis, delve aOn the one hand, I could give this book a scathing review, clap my hands together and walk away; on the other, I could do a bit more analysis, delve a bit deeper than its rusty surface, and throw in a few psychobabble terms for my handful of diligent readers out there. Let’s see, I think we’ll go with Option B, Alex, and let’s make it for $600, just to make things interesting. And…here…we…go.
More than a few reviewers have been less than generous, and if I could offer up a deduction, I’d say it stems from the following sentence: “A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.” This, unfortunately, does not do Jennifer Hillier any favors, as THE BUTCHER is not that type of novel. To be perfectly blunt about it, another publisher has fucked an author in the ass. If I were king for a day, I’d probably fire more than one marketing department, and send them back to school for their MBAs. Because we certainly didn’t learn that shit in any marketing class I ever took. But in my experience, most publishers are experts in publishing, not marketing, and yes there is separation of church and state, at least in this case. Sorry, the chopper interrupted my train of thought. Let’s move on, shall we?
Instead of taking a cleaver to this tale, I actually was rather happy to bump and bounce along through the streets of Seattle with Pike Place firmly etched in my rearview. Sure, the characters might have been a bit one-dimensional—Matt and Edward were certainly no exception—but that was all part of the experience. Sam, on the other hand, proved a tad more interesting, at least in my estimation. Even though the killer is revealed in the first 30 pages, the real fun is in seeing how it all goes down on the playground, and what will await us at the end of our journey.
With a clipped pace and bodies stacking up to the left and right, I found myself rushing forward with both hands in front of my face to swat away errant limbs and branches. And, yes, you have to be of a particular persuasion to enjoy this tale, since it covers sunny topics like rape and incest and murder.
So, yes, we can castrate the author or the novel for what it isn’t based on the last paragraph in the description, or you can expunge that last sentence from your brain (as I did) and focus on what this particular novel is. If you can reach a separation of church and state, then you may have found yourself a winner.
If I want to learn how to turn a phrase, and fill my life with words and sentences that will make your world spin, I shall to turn to Amy Bloom. If IIf I want to learn how to turn a phrase, and fill my life with words and sentences that will make your world spin, I shall to turn to Amy Bloom. If I want to fill my world with characters like Iris and Eva, who may not be the most likeable characters on the block, and yet still get you to continue reading, continue your evaluation of a novel all the way to the end, I shall turn to Amy Bloom. If I want to find a historical novel during the period of the Holocaust, where the world was filled with despair and hate, and yet find some token of goodness to keep your spirits up, I shall turn to Amy Bloom.
If I want to hold onto hope even as I turn my head away, and find myself somehow lost along the road that never ends, I shall turn to Amy Bloom. If I want to think about a story after I have finished a novel, where worlds have collided, and my feelings have not subsided, I shall turn to Amy Bloom. If I want to hear phrases that speak and words that sing in a compact tale of less than 260 pages, I shall turn to Amy Bloom. If I want rich characters, filled with thought, and dialogue that’s both realistic and possibly experimental, I shall turn to Amy Bloom. If I want to call myself lucky, or maybe refer to ourselves as LUCKY US, I shall turn to Amy Bloom.
And if you want to read a familial saga told over a period of years with strong women and even stronger prose, maybe you should too.
When you slack off for a few days and seek praise in your own writing, bad things tend to happen. With me, my memory went to shit on a stick. So (likeWhen you slack off for a few days and seek praise in your own writing, bad things tend to happen. With me, my memory went to shit on a stick. So (like Will Ferrell in Old School during the great debate) let me regurgitate DEAR DAUGHTER in a stream of consciousness before I’m even more fucked than I already am.
Janie Jenkins decided to take everything she had discovered over the course of her life—before she ended up in the pokey—and leave it on the side of the road. Her clothes, hair, name, and confidence…broken like a baseball bat. Her ability to mess around until the sun goes down with a semi-famous rock star. Gone. She may have been tabloid fodder with her feet firmly planted in an alternate reality, even as her mom tried to pull the minivan out of the driveway. But she had more than enough intelligence to jam a crucifix in that plan, and stay in the course in that multi-horse town.
With her eyes downcast, and nothing to go on but a place and a date, she seeks justice for a crime she didn’t commit, even if she can’t get those ten years of her life back. But she’s bound and determined to even the score. Her character reminded me of a stray cat that had been kicked a little too much, and missed more meals than she received. Her mom couldn’t have offered a better plug for contraceptives, although she didn’t end up being a total loss.
All the small town and South Dakota atmosphere needed was a six shooter, black hat, cloud of dust, and some western theme music. Yeah, the town nearly became a character in the story, and I reminisced about my brief stint in Rapid City, where the land was flat and the trees were sparse.
The plot nudged along, until Elizabeth Little revved the engine and it took off near the end like a turbocharged Harley, and I nearly fell off and struck the pavement. Other than whiplash and a near brush with asphalt, I managed to keep my butt in my seat. I didn’t even need to dust myself off.
With that being said, I didn’t like the end. It felt like I put my head through a glass door. Otherwise, though, I was good to go. If I pick up another Elizabeth Little novel, I’ll just make sure I walk with my hand in front of my face.
I had decided to linger awhile before I opened up my world to this particular read, but then I reevaluated my original decision and decided a few moreI had decided to linger awhile before I opened up my world to this particular read, but then I reevaluated my original decision and decided a few more of you need to get on the Craig Johnson bandwagon before we run your ass over. Whether I decide to drive this truck, or sleep in the passenger seat, this is one ride filled with beautiful prose and strings of curse words (courtesy of Victoria Moretti), a rather large Indian, and more than a little folklore and Wyoming history weaved through its elegant pages. And that doesn’t even include the man himself. Longmire, or so the TV series goes, but most of you probably know him as Walt. He may have his way with the ladies, and he hates to run for more than a mile or two, but he can drink a longneck better than any redneck, and he has friends who can commune with the spirits, so yeah, he’s got that going for him. He’s also a bit stubborn, and he has this habit of actually finishing his cases, and not leaving a single man…or woman behind.
To top it all off, he’s on the verge of his first grandchild, and he’s been left to the Wyoming elements more than once in his life, but that just means he’s gotten good at dealing with the cold and the snow and even a few coldhearted souls who show their fangs at the first available opportunity. With a lingering sensation at the back of my neck and hairs standing at attention saluting the sky, I charged through this read with my elbows out and my game face on, and I plunged into a universe filled with more than just dead bodies.
Victoria “Vic” Moretti might just be one of my favorite fictional characters of the female persuasion. She’s got a mouth on her that could get you arrested in Colombia, and she has more curves than the letter S, and she nips earlobes and other available body parts at will. Boy howdy. That’s all I have to say about that. Now that I have picked my jaw up with the back of my right hand, we’ll move on.
Dickzilla. Not to be confused with Bridezilla can be one evil bastard. He’s not known for intelligence, or even a slight amount of competence, but he’ll lead the charge and stomp you into the nearest cow patty. But once you hose yourself off, you’ll soon realize it’s nothing personal.
ANY OTHER NAME certainly made me loud and proud and more than a little glad I had the opportunity to do so before the masses. I was entertained for the better part of this tale with my six-shooter on my right hip, and my wink ready to go, along with my cowboy boots and sweet lass on my right arm. But if you really want to see Craig Johnson exhibit his true talents, you may want to start a bit earlier in this series. If you’re a longtime fan, or even if you’ve fired off a round or two with the man himself, you may find yourself happy you hopped along for the ride.