Wow! What a creative mind Suzanne Collins has! To have woven this story of a future world that has created a perpetual punishment as payback for a pasWow! What a creative mind Suzanne Collins has! To have woven this story of a future world that has created a perpetual punishment as payback for a past uprising and revolt, is just too fantastical to believe. Yet, we have the Hunger Games-a systematic and gruesome duel to the death.
Through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, we experience first hand the wonder, marvel, horror and desperation of tributes that represent each of the twelve districts of Panem (the country which has evolved from the ruins of America). While my five star rating reflects how much I was drawn into the story and the plot's ability to keep me engaged, I am ashamed to admit the depraved, and inhumane premise of the story could capture my attention so thoroughly while simultaneously repulsing me with its wickedness.
But, enough about my internal conflict. The real story is found in the characters. The hopeless helplessness of their plights linger long after they're gone. The innocence and single-mindedness seem entirely appropriate given the circumstances. The blossoming romantic conflict adds a strand of tension that provides relief when your nerves are frayed by the deluge of gore and grit. Wishing for an outcome that we know is impossible keeps us on the emotional roller coaster that is the glue to this series.
Because, of course, the story doesn't end when the competition finishes, we know that there will be more. While we know the victor, we don't know if the promised bright future is really as gleaming as the games producers promise. If you love fantasy and drama intertwined with the bravery and introspection of the young, the Hunger Games will certainly exceed your expectations!...more
Armando’s Daughter is an almost unbelievable, mob infused, multi-generational family dysfunction disguised as a campaign to save pools in a working clArmando’s Daughter is an almost unbelievable, mob infused, multi-generational family dysfunction disguised as a campaign to save pools in a working class neighborhood. Armando and Cassandra Pagliano accompanied by grand-ma, better known as The Signora, navigate their interpersonal disappointments and let-downs to hold off the mafia, give a boyfriend the boot and rescue the nursing home from The Signora. Actions move quickly accompanied by gritty and urban dialogue. You can almost hear the thick accents and see the hand gestures. A composed, though not polished, Cassandra exposes her mother’s boyfriend as the lascivious jerk he is and asks her father to ‘rub him out.’ This simple task is appended by sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. In true Cosa Nostra style there’s death and duplicity, wise guys and dumb as**s, and cloak and dagger antics.
The story is driven by dialogue, which while good, makes for shallow plot development. There’s a fine line between engaging discourse and a potty mouth. Readers must be prepared for the roller coaster like ride as the story unfolds and the characters are introduced. Hold onto your seats! It moves fast-really fast. Be sure that you like the ride before you get on. ...more
Forget what you believe about the ties that bind family and be prepared to wonder if those who populate your life are really who you think they are, aForget what you believe about the ties that bind family and be prepared to wonder if those who populate your life are really who you think they are, and you will have the crux of William Landay's riveting novel Defending Jacob.
To say that this is a heart-wrenching story understates the high emotional toll that events take as they play out in the story of one family's drama. Jacob is the teenage son of Andy Barber, a local district attorney in the tony suburb of Newton, MA, who is charged with the murder of his classmate.
Despite protestations of innocence, the community quickly abandons the Barbers. As the family mounts a defense and deals with this new world into which they've been thrust, we are privy to the tiny fissures that threaten to turn into gaping holes in the fabric of their lives. Two stories, ultimately sad parallels, are intertwined through the testimony of a trial. They reveal the hold that blood can have on one's choices and future.
In a voice that is at once determined and devastated, Andy recounts the details of the build up towards his son's trial and the monumental changes every relationship he has undergoes as a result of the charge. He laments that a 'not guilty' verdict doesn't remove the stain of assumed guilt from Jacob or the rest of the family.
Poignantly threaded throughout, Laurie Barber, the beleaguered wife and mother, grapples with the role she has played, must play currently and will play in the future. She asks the unthinkable questions, thereby providing the foil to Andy's unquestioning devotion.
The gritty discourse moves the story along briskly through plot twists and turns that seem like they've been lifted from today's reality television. Characters are the vehicles through which the story is conveyed. Major and minor roles offer depth to the proceedings and present the unspoken readers’ perspective. Simultaneously they move as the situation demands and answer our queries as they erupt.
Andy's voice is the common and mostly calm water in which the expository elements float. His deposition-like dialogue speaks to his profession and his perfunctory approach to achieving his son's exoneration. It's his steady pacing that leaves you unprepared for the shocking dénouement. This voice was especially powerful in the unabridged audio book. I listened to the entire book in a single day, so compelling was the performance.
This collision of secrets, sensations and saga brew together and form the perfect overflow of tragedy. Ultimately, Defending Jacob confirms that love can drive us to protect in ways that are inconceivably sorrowful. It is a modern day lesson in the perils of believing we know what may actually be unknowable....more
** I received this book for free from the Bookplex **
Sleeping in the Attic is not as much about the title as it is about Annie, theStory Interrupted!
** I received this book for free from the Bookplex **
Sleeping in the Attic is not as much about the title as it is about Annie, the story’s voice, and her life between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six. Annie talks about how difficult her life is as she exposes one hurt after another in the saga that is her reality. Family dysfunction, including a frigid mother and a brute of a father, abounds. Post pubescent angst aggravates. And, amongst it all, Annie must try to make the best out of the cards she’s dealt. Themes of teen pregnancy, sexual assault, gender identity and homosexuality are deftly addressed in the context of the late nineteen-sixties. Annie morphs to Ann, commandeering her life and making no apologies as she deals with the consequences of her preferences. This transition changes the novel's trajectory as Ann determinedly pursues her goals. This is where hope is interjected and Ann sheds the victim stance.
The author's writing style is clear and enveloping. This story is engaging, but it is superficial. Characters are not multi-dimensional and the snippets of Annie’s life seem to bob around with no rhyme or reason. Add to this an abrupt ending that literally left me thinking that parts of the book had been left off when I downloaded it to my Kindle, and you have the beginnings of something good that didn’t quite make it to a full end. The promised revelation at her mother’s death never materializes. Readers are left wondering.
While I don’t regret reading it, I am left frustrated with Dane Kemp, the writer, for not clearly communicating the vision for this character and this story. I am hopeful that the author issues a future edition that develops the story and draws us to an expected conclusion....more
** I received this book for free from the Bookplex **
Dr. Kathleen Carpenter is a former nun, current psychologist and aspiringSearching Soul Sister!
** I received this book for free from the Bookplex **
Dr. Kathleen Carpenter is a former nun, current psychologist and aspiring detective. She winds her way through They Still Call Me Sister initially at a snail’s pace and eventually hurtles towards the climax at break neck speed. Two stories parallel each other as the novel unfolds. We are offered insight to the journey of an eighteen year old Kathleen approaching the novitiate, building composure in her religious calling and ultimately recognizing her need to leave the cloister, accompanied by her reentry to the layman’s life, managing a growing counseling practice and solving a patient’s murder. Add her wild sister, elevated politicos and a mystery man with peculiar peccadilloes and you have the recipe for an entertaining and surprising hunt for a killer.
Despite the molasses-like start, once engrossed, the lure of the resolution takes over and one is easily hooked-determined to reach the unbelievable conclusion. Peppered throughout is current music, hip attitudes and designer fashions. A family-centric theme pervades and amplifies the role of faith as the exposition unfolds. This is the right combination of God and gumption.
If you’re looking for good, clean, interesting, mystery reading, They Still Call Me Sister is for you. Be prepared, it could be habit forming (no pun intended). But, don’t worry. Something tells me that we’ll see ‘Sister K’ again!...more
Surly, sardonic and surprising! Seouled Out is a romp through the ‘flawed’ life of Andrew Henderson-Henderson. Filled with the woes of one who has comSurly, sardonic and surprising! Seouled Out is a romp through the ‘flawed’ life of Andrew Henderson-Henderson. Filled with the woes of one who has completed an advanced degree in a profession he despises, Andrew seeks an international adventure to right the course of his life and ‘give back’ to society. Henderson-Henderson is painfully honest about his shortcomings, shortfalls and short attention span. Approaching his lack of money, lack of options and lack of a return ticket in exactly the same rambling, tongue-in-cheek way, Henderson-Henderson humors. One finds themselves smiling, giggling and outright knee-slapping, roll on the floor laughing as we read about his redemption attempt as an English language teacher and his constant fight with Sallie Mae (of student loan fame)-the only woman in his life. It’s not all kicks though. You can feel his desperation as his alter ego Owen tries to find his place in a middle of America town that has no space for him. Standing in a day laborers line and fretting over the risk of losing his chance to earn “forty dollars or less” for the day if he gives up his place to go to the bathroom, his condition is palpable.
While the book reads easily, it’s not clear that the author has a particular message to send beyond revealing the mire that can trap a person in their life. It is a slice of his humanity. Hopping from one scene to the next, he tantalizes you with that unspoken hope that never materializes. While there are funny moments, it’s not a light read. One wonders, if this is his real experience, how he can stay upright long enough to record the words on the page. Why hasn’t he been prostrated by the perpetual crisis that seems to plague him? Well, he’s sold out and buoyed by his sensational quest for the next right move. These moves aligned allow him to hold his head high and learn as he goes!...more
Exit: How to Leave Debt Forever is a solid historical loMoney History Informs Debt Departure Strategy
** I received this book for free from Bookplex **
Exit: How to Leave Debt Forever is a solid historical look at money and indebtedness, accompanied by a simple, though not easy, plan to live debt free. Author Nicholas Maze begins his story by defining terms that we take for granted in our everyday commerce transactions. He begins with exchanges of cattle and property for services and products, leads us through the introduction of precious metals as tender and finally arrives at our current credit dependent economy. Throughout his 'lesson' he doesn't hesitate to express his disdain for a system that indoctrinates us from our youth by acclimating us to the quest for extra credit. This effort to get extra credit begins the erosion of our freedom as debt takes its viselike hold.
The book is a series of short chapters that follow an introduction that takes a close look at money history-first globally and then in the US. The language isn't academic, which contributes to easier reading. However, at times is seems like a sermon offered by someone converted from what he preaches against. This isn't bad, but bears note because it may diminish the impact of the content as a reader may fixate on the method. The author shares openly about his experiences and is able to relate to some of the pitfalls he describes. He doesn't position himself as one who hasn't been seduced by our debt-filled society. It's his real and exposed anecdotes that connect with the reader.
It's this ability to empathize with the reader which may be Exit's biggest strength. Because, let's face it, talks of money are often fraught with stress and tension. Maze matter-of-factly presents steps to relieve oneself of the monkey on their back. He not only offers solutions for individuals, he addresses the unique concerns of couples who may or may not be on the same financial page. The proposed steps help one to identify, commandeer, conquer and overcome debt. The best aspect of his book is it's future focus and commitment to leaving the next generation less encumbered than the current one. The book offers a glossary of financial terms and Maze's practical definitions, as well as a resource list of dividend reinvestment plans.
Mr. Maze writes from his experiences, research and concern. He uses common language to illustrate an unusual construct. As a result, his book can become a tool for the masses. The message is as appropriate for a third grader as it is for a retiree. Ultimately, his hope compels him to believe that anyone can benefit from removing the burden of being controlled by established debt....more
This Time You Lose is the perfect choice for a suspense seeker. If you want to have a tense, tight and t** I won this book from a Bookplex giveaway **
This Time You Lose is the perfect choice for a suspense seeker. If you want to have a tense, tight and terror filled read from practically the first page to the last, you've found the right book.
The story relates the occurrences, over a day, in the life of child care provider Lisa Kaamp. She is accompanied by many supporting characters and one seriously sadistic antagonist. It is difficult to discuss my experience of this story without revealing key elements of the plot. Suffice it to say, there is a conflict that consumes the entire novel and is resolved very quickly at the end.
Herein, for me, lies the problem. The writing is done in real-time and presents an hour-by-hour capture of the action. However, it was sometimes unclear what the chronology was as events described occurred concurrently. The book would be well suited to a time stamp for each chapter, so that the reader can keep the timeline straight. I also found the unanswered question, which is threaded throughout, an unsettling feature. It's not clear if it is intentional, but the reader never knows why TITO, the depraved aggressor, targets Lisa so vehemently. I was left to wonder and this was not good when there was so much that transpired that seemed inexplicably evil. I don't mind some uncertainty, but this seemed to be an excessive amount and it detracted from my enjoyment of the story. As the novel reaches its climax, we have to hold our breath as we wait to find out how the situation is resolved. This state of protracted agitation is precisely the condition I was in for the whole book. It's the reason that I didn't award five stars.
Chris Stralyn is a very good writer. She uses language that is real, raw and appropriate for the character. She reveals dimensions of their personality through thought insights and memory recollections. Aspects of all ring true and the reader can find areas of relateability. The main characters are equally determined, though their goals are at odds. She writes TITO in such a way that one feels no mercy towards him. The insertion of her daycare charges and their families only layer the sensation assault, by displaying heroics and humanity simultaneously. The story is told through Lisa and her thoughts foreshadow as well as retell. Her singular focus drives the story and mirrors the accompanying police action. One wonders if they too would be able to withstand the travesties brought upon her and similarly survive.
Though we get to know the characters, the lack of exposition leaves the understanding to be situational. It would have been helpful to have more background. The story could have been a richer read and less break neck in its pacing. Though it would have made it a longer book, with those additions, we'd care about the characters because we know them and not because we know right from wrong.
This Time You Lose is a worthy effort and a worthwhile read. I would read this author again and recommend that thrill trackers find their way to this book....more
Acacia L. Slaton is not ashamed to profess and proclaim the lordship of Jesus in her life. Nothing is more evideConvicted, Compassionate and Christian
Acacia L. Slaton is not ashamed to profess and proclaim the lordship of Jesus in her life. Nothing is more evident in her practical tome Launch Out Into the Deep. In this seminal work she covers every day topics and proposes the right Christian attitude in each situation. Keenly aware of the pitfalls that await believers, she isn’t afraid to describe their foibles and weaknesses as they encounter opportunities to lift each other up and instead tear each other down. Using poetry and the inspired word of God, she addresses topics such as the pursuit of fame, readiness for Christianity and being ‘single, lonely and broken hearted.’ Exposing her own life and those of unidentified friends, she is immediately able to relate to the masses.
The book itself is arranged as a reference based on common experiences a believer encounters. One can read the book in its entirety or skip around based on their spiritual need. While the writing is clear, there were some instances that the voice seemed less personal than the subject matter demanded. The tone is academic, but the content is too real for that elevation. The absence of characters allows the reader to insert themselves, but is also contributes to a sense of disjointment. You could start with any chapter and finish with any chapter. The random insertion of poetry provides a kind of song-like transition for weighty topics. The title challenge is evident throughout. One must leap with faith, knowing that the mercy of a loving God will carry you no matter what. I found myself refreshed and reinvigorated n the possibilities of faith and the assurance of an almighty being.
If a reader is not a Christian, or is somewhat hardened by life’s trials, this book will call out to you. If the reader is a believer and humble to their room for error, this book will call out to you. If the reader is simply looking for interesting words, will illustrative verse, this book will call out to you. Where you come from or where you’re going makes no difference, this book can call out to you!...more
Three Bags Full is a quaint story peppered with a murder mystery. In addition to getting the reader to understMeandering Munching Meets Murder Mystery
Three Bags Full is a quaint story peppered with a murder mystery. In addition to getting the reader to understand the title, Leonie Swann brings to us the efforts a flock of sheep make to find their shepherd's killer. I won’t belabor the premise. It’s cute and the sheep personalities are distinct and reflective of those found in the general population. One can see hierarchy, ageism and social dysfunction just as rampantly and vividly through the sheep’s eyes. I would recommend this story, but reading it once was enough for me. The pace was much more meandering than I prefer. I started out with a hardcover, but opted to listen to the audio book. This made the various characters come alive. Munching and talking along their way the sheep commandeer the story. I’m sufficiently impressed with this writer, and I’d read her future works. I’d be particularly interested in the sheep’s next adventure....more
The Other Covenant, by Caroline Crosby, is the story of multi-billionaire Richard Bennett’s murder. SA Mystery Wrapped In a Secret Solved by a Promise
The Other Covenant, by Caroline Crosby, is the story of multi-billionaire Richard Bennett’s murder. Shrouded in the miasma of a centuries old occult tradition, enforcer Elizabeth Mitchell answers the call to avenge Richard’s death the night before he dies. Forced to accept her duty, despite his seemingly ‘black magician status,’ magically ‘talented’ Elizabeth embarks upon a journey to bring Richard’s killer to justice, protect his successor, Althea Bennett and secure the future of his benevolent foundation.
Having been tutored in magic privately for years, and living in relative obscurity, ‘talented’ Elizabeth must accept the challenge and do whatever she can to accomplish her mission, even if it means her life. Aided by her ‘non-talented’ cousin Neil Hawkins, Elizabeth has to conquer betrayal, retribution and the Covenant which seeks to initiate her to its genealogical magic heritage. Intermittently fueled by conviction, compassion and the beginnings of passion, Elizabeth deftly proceeds until the story’s gentle crescendo.
The intrigue of this novel keeps the pages turning, but be prepared to become familiar with the occult terms of initiate, adept, resonance and many others as the book unfolds. The language is simple, but the there are dual stories interwoven to explain the present and the past. A cast of supporting characters is inserted to set the stage for what no doubt will be a long series. Vibrant imagery illustrates internal visions as well as external scenes. The exposition is driven by Elizabeth’s thoughts and conversations between the primary players. The pacing is mild and consistent without a sense of fear. Caroline Crosby knows how to weave a compelling tale.
The title refers to a promise. There are many promises that feature prominently in The Other Covenant. Fortunately, through the skill of the author, a contemporary take on the occult and blooming romance, a reader is only too delighted to read all about them. ...more