Now that I have made my break from Bismarck, ND, I can once again write reviews of my own volition. It’s much easier to let the creative juices flow wNow that I have made my break from Bismarck, ND, I can once again write reviews of my own volition. It’s much easier to let the creative juices flow when you are no longer chained to a radiator. Anyway…M.P. Cooley knows her small towns and she knows her cops, but pages and plots filled with motorcycles and biker gangs turned me off a tad. Needless to say, my redneck status has been revoked by the great state of Mississippi.
But the picture she did in fact paint of Small Town USA made me wish I had enjoyed it more than I did. But I cannot stop the demented demon, as he often has a mind of his own. And maybe I might have enjoyed the meth lab a tad, if I didn’t have such a clear image of Breaking Bad in my rearview mirror. Or maybe I should be shunned by the great state of New York, have toothpicks jammed in my eyes, shoved in front of a television, and have Sons of Anarchy reruns shoved down my gullet.
The pages did not move at a breakneck speed, and I did not experience even the slightest hint of a wow factor. But that could just be me. I can never really tell these days, and once the nightmares cease (No, not the knife!), I may be able to offer a more coherent interpretation.
I received this book for free at Left Coast Crime.
If points were awarded for style and having his way with the English language, then Dean Koontz deserves a solid 8.5 for THE CITY, where the prose sinIf points were awarded for style and having his way with the English language, then Dean Koontz deserves a solid 8.5 for THE CITY, where the prose sings soprano, and hits all of the high notes. But if you want to award an author for his plot and filling a novel with substance, instead of flowery language comprised of mums and daffodils and rhododendrons and roses, then he gets -7 in this arena, and that may even be a tad generous. I mean, this is the same man who takes the mundane and turns it into one machete-wielding bastard. Forget Freddy and Jason, and all the other hacks, this man takes a father figure, stuffs him full of crazy, and sets him loose on society. If that shit doesn’t freak you out, then you’re probably not thinking hard enough.
If names were any indication of a person’s destiny, then it’s no surprise that Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk is a musical prodigy and can recreate a song after listening to it. Sure, he’s one brilliant son of a gun, and this novel shows plenty of brilliance, but it gets caught up in the mundane. And I found myself asking the question about when the train might pull up to the station and take me away from this universe with verse left to spare on some unsuspecting ne’er-do-well.
There’s a cutting fiend who takes up residence on the sixth floor, just above our nine year-old hero in Apartment 5-C who wields a knife at his throat, and leaves a few trinkets behind for the residents to remember her by. But it seemed like more of an artificial way to ratchet up suspense, instead of grounded in a more concrete foundation. Where this story really failed, though, is it never went anywhere. Similar to a hitchhiker who gallivants across the country, stopping in Nashville and Columbus and Chicago and Denver and Albuquerque and LA and then Las Vegas before finally settling in Lincoln, it just seemed all over the place.
If our personalities are derived from the characters and novels we tend to enjoy (in my case both reading and writing), then I’d make a strong candidaIf our personalities are derived from the characters and novels we tend to enjoy (in my case both reading and writing), then I’d make a strong candidate for Shithead of the Year. Hell, I don’t even need a running mate. I suppose I could leave it at that, and just walk away, probably leaving more than a few of you scratching your heads. But I might as well expound upon my point, because once you start shoveling shit you might as well keep going.
You see, James Stark is a character I’m not supposed to like. In fact, he burns jackets, kills people (bad ones), and even manages to piss off a few angels just for fun. He’s the kind of guy you’re better off pretending you don’t know. If he does happen to come around, you barricade your front door, and then you call the fuzz. If the cops can’t keep him at bay, then you leave LA (it’s filled with people more fucked up than Stark anyway), and head somewhere safer like Mexico or Colombia.
Despite all of that, though, I actually liked the bastard. I rooted for him to rein hell-on-earth and kick the shit out of evil, and ruin a few more coats. I could almost feel his hatred coursing through my veins, and rather than be turned off, I was actually a little turned on. To be fair, it wasn’t all fireflies and sparklers, and I did manage to cringe once or twice, based on yet another terrible path he took. But if I didn’t see at least a fault or two, I’d probably be in more trouble than I already am. So maybe there’s the slimmest of slim chances I’m not completely fucked up.
In the spirit of Stark smashing a few faces, SANDMAN SLIM smashed together more than one genre, and made it work. The plot and dialogue raced forward (other than enough editing errors that I couldn’t help but notice); all the characters were filled with warm and gooey goodness (smirks); the action made it seem as though I was driving on two-wheels down Wilshire Boulevard (without traffic); and I even discovered another reason to hate a junkie or two (when you read it, you’ll see what I mean).
Like this novel so aptly proves time and again: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
I received this book for free at Left Coast Crime.
If God wants to punish some poor bastard, I mean really punish him till he’s ready to poke out his own eyeballs, swallow a .44 Magnum, slit his own wrIf God wants to punish some poor bastard, I mean really punish him till he’s ready to poke out his own eyeballs, swallow a .44 Magnum, slit his own wrists, or end his own life in front of a city bus, he should force him to come back to earth as a teenage girl. In less than a month, you’d read about the extravagant deaths of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer and even Hannibal Lector. Yeah, and those sonsofbitches never stood a chance either.
But the true beauty in this novel, aside from the sudden death experience, is all the voices inside the heads of the characters. I happen to hear a voice of my own (my muse), and no, I’m not crazy. But sometimes it feels like I am, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to walk around LA and hear the voices of poodles and porn stars and strippers and businessmen and models and actors and who the fuck knows what else. If I could end my life in Santa Monica or on the Redondo Beach pier, it’s an offer I’d probably consider, just to make all those bastards shut up. So, yes, one voice is more than enough.
Not all writers can pull off first person plural (in fact I can’t recall another book I’ve read off the top of my head that uses this particular device), but Sarah Mlynowski pulls it off to perfection in DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Even when she drifts a bit into first person, you’re more than ready to go along for the ride. So while you may not want to think about this story, or have it stuck in your head, in the end, it just does.
Other than Cooper and Olivia, I wouldn’t say any of the characters are particularly loveable. In less deft hands, this could be a detriment to the story, as a number of characters spring off the pages clamoring for attention, but I found myself in a happy state of ignorant oblivion, where the pie was sweet even if the characters always weren’t.
This novel is sassy and flirtatious and coy and just downright fun all rolled up into one blast from the first page to the last.
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.