Phill Hammon's story of overcoming an abusive childhood is both powerful and inspiring. He paints an unforgettable picture of what life was like for h...morePhill Hammon's story of overcoming an abusive childhood is both powerful and inspiring. He paints an unforgettable picture of what life was like for him in an impoverished housing project in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Hammon is a good story teller, but as has been stated in another review, this book would have greatly benefited from a professional editor. It's a series of stories loosely strung together, grouped into three parts. It lacks a sense of cohesion. One chapter doesn't lead to the next. Instead it's a series of random anecdotes, some of them left me wanting to know more, and others didn't seem necessary to his overall story.
A memoir is by far the most difficult book to write, especially a memoir of an abusive childhood. Hammon has a good story to tell, and I hope to see an edition where his story is presented in the best way possible.
I'd give this a 3.5--between liked it and really liked it. Because some of the stories I liked and some I really liked.
It's an interesting collection...moreI'd give this a 3.5--between liked it and really liked it. Because some of the stories I liked and some I really liked.
It's an interesting collection of short stories, not scary as much as having endings that jump out at you, though there are a few out and out ghost stories. It reminded me of the stories on that lesser known Rod Serling series, Night Gallery.
My favorite is a story called "By Your Own Free Will" about a brilliant young business woman so in love with a co-worker that she seeks help from a witch to make herself more attractive to him. As you can guess, the results are not what she bargained for.
At the end of each story, Rayne Hall has a paragraph or two describing the inspiration for the story.
If you're in the mood for a few quick shivers and a scare, check these stories out.
Danny Torrence from The Shining. If you've seen the Kubrick film, you have an indelible image of a little boy riding around and around the foreboding...moreDanny Torrence from The Shining. If you've seen the Kubrick film, you have an indelible image of a little boy riding around and around the foreboding hallways of the Overlook Hotel on a plastic Big Wheel.
Danny and his mother escaped the horrific entity that possessed his father and the hotel burned to the ground. The book ends there.
But what happens to a kid who's been through something so terrifying?
He grows up and copes with it, that's what happens.
Unfortunately for Danny, he copes with his demons the same way his father did. With alcohol and lots of it. Dr. Sleep opens with Dan reaching rock bottom in, of all places, my hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.
He's a total screw-up, can't hold a job, can't have a relationship, no family (his mother has died). He can still "shine" although the power has dulled through the years. When he stumbles into Frazier, New Hampshire, he manages to get help through AA, and slowly, his life turns around. He gets a job as an orderly at the local hospice where, with his special abilities, he helps the patients die.
His tranquility is shattered when Abra appears, a girl whose power to shine is off the charts. Her powers have attracted the attention of an evil group of immortal nomads called the True Knot, who travel the country in Winnebagos, appearing to all the world as harmless middle aged retirees. The only threat they pose is slowing you down on the freeway and talking your ear off at the grocery checkout line.
A great cover for child killers.
It was so much fun to read this novel. I love the feeling of blowing off the morning chores because I have to find out how everything turns out. Also, King makes the point that the alcoholism can be just as horrifying as any supernatural monster.
I am giving this book three and a half stars, somewhere between liking it, and really liking it. I was intrigued by the story, Reece Daughtry is relea...moreI am giving this book three and a half stars, somewhere between liking it, and really liking it. I was intrigued by the story, Reece Daughtry is released from prison after serving 15 years for a murder he didn't commit. He puts his life back together, even falls in love with divorcee Dana Minnette, but wouldn't you know, there's another murder, just like the one that sent him to prison.
I enjoyed the whodunnit part, and Dana's abusive ex-husband is a villain you love to hate. It's a good read that keeps you guessing to the end.
This book falls into the category of Romantic Suspense, emphasis on the romance, which has never been a particular favorite of mine. I'm sure Polly Iyer did a fine job with the love story, I just don't like love stories. Those are the parts I skip over to find out who the killer is.
I also skipped over the descriptions of the prison rapes Reece endured in prison. I would have preferred it handled "The Shawshank Redemption" style. There's a scene in the film where Tim Robbins is surrounded by four men, the scene fades to black and you hear Morgan Freeman saying something like "He fought them off the best he could, but this is prison and there ain't no happy endings." And leave it at that.
I enjoyed this little cozy. It was nice to find out what botanist-sleuth Peggy Lee was up to. With a new husband, a shop to run and giving lectures on...moreI enjoyed this little cozy. It was nice to find out what botanist-sleuth Peggy Lee was up to. With a new husband, a shop to run and giving lectures on her specialty, poisonous plants, you'd think Peggy would have enough on her plate. But a there's a serial killer at large in Charlotte who murders his victims with poisonous plants. So the police force asks her to consult on the case as it's right up her alley.
As the investigation progresses, Peggy becomes a target for the murderer.
A good quick read. Now I have to read the next one.(less)
After Fifty Shades of Grey (no link as I think it's gotten quite enough attention already) reading The Given Day was pure heaven. Dennis Lehane truly...moreAfter Fifty Shades of Grey (no link as I think it's gotten quite enough attention already) reading The Given Day was pure heaven. Dennis Lehane truly knows how to string words together and did a wonderful job for the entire 700 pages.
Now that I've finished, it occurs to me it's similar to one of my favorite books ever Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. Lehane begins with two distinct story lines in 1918--that of Luther, a black man living in Columbus, Ohio; and Danny, a Boston police officer. Lehane weaves their stories together against the violent backdrop of the labor movement. He also manages to bring in Babe Ruth, Eugene O'Neill and even Calvin Coolidge.
I got so caught up in it, I couldn't put it down, and I was sad when I got to the end. (less)
I have never read a book so deserving of a single star. I’d say the only redeeming feature it has is to serve as a bad example. It’s a warning to all...moreI have never read a book so deserving of a single star. I’d say the only redeeming feature it has is to serve as a bad example. It’s a warning to all writers--Kids, don’t write like this. Or "Friends don’t let friends write books like Fifty Shades of Grey."
This book could have used a good editor. The same words and phrases are used over and over and over (and over and over) again. It’s maddening. Like using “murmur (and mutter, breathe & mumble) instead of “said.” Ana says “Holy shit!” and “Holy crap!” on just about every page.
But I suppose when Random House gave E.L. James the super duper book deal, they figured "Hey, this book is already selling like hotcakes. Why bother with an editor?"
By now, everyone knows the plot. Ana, who’s sweet 21 and never been kissed, finds herself the object of drop-dead gorgeous billionaire Christian Gray’s affections. Trouble is, the only way she can get close to him is to willingly take part in his bondage and sado-masochistic games. Holy shit! He wants to tie me up and beat me! That’s so scary. But it’s so hot! Holy crap!
Probably the biggest disappointment here is that Ana and Christian talk way more about the BDSM lifestyle than they actually do it. Forget what you heard. It’s mostly Ana going on and on about how hot she thinks Christian is and how much she wants him, but his terms are unacceptable, even though she accepts them. Apparently, that’s the conflict.
There are a few steamy sex scenes thrown in. But it’s mostly Ana’s babbling.
Honestly, I can’t see what makes Ana so special that a drop dead gorgeous billionaire would find her so fascinating. She’s like your best friend’s annoying little sister. You want to tell her to go to her room and read her Twilight books.
And yet, in spite of its myriad flaws, Fifty Shades of Gray was wildly successful. Women devoured it.
Which made me think of a second god-awful, yet wildly successful book that women devoured. The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller. Ana is a 21st century version of Francesca. Both are ordinary women leading ordinary lives when suddenly, out of nowhere, Mr. Incredible shows up and, out of all the beautiful women in the world, chooses them. They sweep them off their feet and take them out of their comfort zone to heights of ecstasy.
For Francesca, it’s an adulterous affair in straitlaced Iowa and crossing the color line to go to a blues club on the wrong side of the tracks. (Hey, it was the 1960s). For Ana it’s crazy sex with whips and handcuffs.
Both Waller and James tapped into Everywoman’s secret fantasy--that Mr. Incredible sees us for the beautiful, fascinating women we imagine ourselves to be, and chooses us. In the real world, billionaires date super models and wouldn’t give an ordinary college co-ed a second look. Likewise, in the real world, a sexy, well traveled National Geographic photographer would say “Thank you” for the glass of water offered to him by the dowdy Iowa housewife and be on his way, daydreaming of the silk merchant’s daughter who knows the Kama Sutra backwards and forwards.
Fifty Shades of Gray is a very, very bad book, and it deserves to be punished. Refuse to read it. (less)
I started out really wanting to like this book. I met the author at an event last year, and he was a great guy, very funny and engaging. The story sou...moreI started out really wanting to like this book. I met the author at an event last year, and he was a great guy, very funny and engaging. The story sounded good, so I bought the book.
I expected I would give the book four stars (really liked it) or at least three (liked it), but in all honesty I can’t. There are too many rookie mistakes—stereotypical characters, contrived dialog, lots of telling instead of showing and an overuse of cliches. Joe is too saintly to be real. Two-thirds of the way through I stopped reading every word and skimmed my way to the end.
It was also at the two-thirds mark that I was curious to see what other readers had to say about The Collectibles. There are plenty of people who love this book, most of them on Amazon, although a fair amount of Goodreads reviewers gave it four or five stars. It’s inspirational. It’s uplifting. It shows that greedy, selfish people can change and a good man can make a difference.
I believe in inspiration and I can use as much uplifting as the next person. I also want greedy, selfish people to change their ways and I believe good people can make a difference. I don’t object to the story. I just wish it were written in such a way that I could feel uplifted and inspired instead of just “meh.”
This book as caused a good deal of fuss on Goodreads, I've seen more than a few reviews condemning the author for his not so veiled revenge fantasy of...moreThis book as caused a good deal of fuss on Goodreads, I've seen more than a few reviews condemning the author for his not so veiled revenge fantasy of killing Goodreads reviewers. I could see how prominent reviewers could see themselves and their friends as targets for murder.
But that's what fiction is for--it's a way to live out a violent fantasy without committing any violence. Sue Grafton is famous for saying she came up with the Kinsey Milhone series when she was lying in bed thinking of ways to kill her ex-husband.
Back when I was in high school, after the humiliation of being the last one chosen for a game of basketball in gym and having to endure the team captain's nasty digs at me throughout the game, I wrote a short story for my Creative Writing class about a fourth grader who strangles a bully at a school picnic. It was immensely satisfying. And I got an A in the class.
So I don't believe Dave Franklin wants to kill anybody, but he probably has thought about it.
This book reads like someone recounting their own revenge fantasy. I really expected it to end with Thomas finding himself back in real life where everyone's alive and that whole Killer For Hire agency for artists was just a daydream, along with the hot receptionist who came on to him.
Even though it was short, I had a hard time getting into it. I really didn't care about any of the characters and while it was supposed to be satire, it just came off like a whine. Not all that funny, not all that interesting.
However, there was a kernel of truth in one part. When snarky reviewer Bryan is about to die a horrible death because of the damage he's done to Thomas's psyche, Bryan can barely remember writing the review. Which often happens in bullying situations--the victim focuses so much on the person who's caused them such anguish and when he confronts his tormentor, he discovers that person never gave him a second thought.
I've never been the target of snarky bad reviews and the few one star reviews I have given have been to authors who are so successful they can cry all the way to the bank.
My daughter received this book when she went to Freshman Orientation at the University of Greensboro. It was part of their First Year Summer Read prog...moreMy daughter received this book when she went to Freshman Orientation at the University of Greensboro. It was part of their First Year Summer Read program. This past weekend, members of the Lacks family spoke at the University. I hope my daughter had a chance to hear them.
I'd been wanting to read this book ever since I heard the author interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air.
It's as much the story of the relationship that developed between author Rebecca Skloot and Henrietta's daughter Deborah as it is about the "HeLa" line of cells created from cancer cells taken from Henrietta's cervical tumor in 1951. There's a wide range of characters in this tale, from the doctor who treated Henrietta at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, to the researcher who developed the first "immortal" cell line and made a point of giving them to whoever needed them, to the founders of biomedical companies who made huge profits from the medicines and treatments that resulted from research on HeLa cells.
And then there's Henrietta's family. The husband and children she left behind, the abuse her children suffered at the hands of their stepmother, how the whole family spent their lives struggling just to get by. Family members point out that they didn't have proper health insurance and couldn't afford to pay for the treatments made possible by their mother's cells. And they were often mistrustful of doctors who they believed wanted to experiment on them the way they had in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
Skloot conveys the scientific material in a way that was easy for this scientifically challenged layperson to understand. (Full disclosure: I took biology pass-fail). She explains the concepts and processes clearly without getting bogged down in too much jargon.
A lot of difficult questions are raised in this book, chief among them, do we have a say in what happens to the cells and body tissues taken from us during medical procedures? And what does "informed consent" really cover?
According to the courts, giving people control over the samples taken from their bodies would have a chilling effect on medical research. They're like trash--you've discarded them and no longer have any rights of ownership.
Besides, there are millions, if not billions of cells stashed away in medical facilities all over the world. Every time you have your blood taken, or go in for surgery, or have a procedure like a biopsy of a suspicious lump, tissue samples can be taken for research purposes.
So for all you know, there's a doctor experimenting on your cells right now.
Blake Sanders has issues and plenty of them. He's trying to deal with the break up of his marriage, the death of his son and with his perilous financi...moreBlake Sanders has issues and plenty of them. He's trying to deal with the break up of his marriage, the death of his son and with his perilous financial situation (he lost his cushy job at a prestigious Seattle PR firm and is reduced to delivering papers).
And then his favorite customer, an elderly woman named Midge, turns up stabbed to death, and he's charged with her murder.
So Blake sets out to find the truth. Seems that Midge discovered a deep dark secret about hidden treasure and something very sinister, possibly hidden beneath an old convent. On top of all his troubles, Blake's got a renegade French spy out to kill him.
This book held my interest--I wanted to find out who did it and what the big secret buried beneath the sidewalks of Seattle was, but I often found myself looking at the "percent finished" line at the bottom of the page and thinking it should be done by now. And it was a bit heavy on the similes. But I did enjoy it.(less)
Miller's description of growing up in a house filled with paper, junk and filth is sad and funny and uplifting. At a young age, she became very protec...moreMiller's description of growing up in a house filled with paper, junk and filth is sad and funny and uplifting. At a young age, she became very protective of her parents, both of whom she loved dearly. But she was also angry and afraid of the filth they forced her to live in.
Her mother had tried to keep the mess from taking over the house, but after surgery that left her disabled, she became a compulsive shopper, ordering countless items from the Home Shopping Network that were never opened. Needless to say the boxes piled up, making the situation worse.
Miller relates her story of her life of contradictions well, painting the picture of two very lovely people who are smart and funny but are incapable of keeping the trash from piling up in whatever place they live in.
It's been a while since I've read a book that kept me reading well into the night, especially for 800 plus pages. Of course, when you're reading on a...moreIt's been a while since I've read a book that kept me reading well into the night, especially for 800 plus pages. Of course, when you're reading on a Kindle, it's hard to tell how long a book is.
This book asks that questions that's been around since late November of 1963--if you could go back in time and found yourself in the same room as Lee Harvey Oswald, would you kill him? Could you kill him?
High School English teacher Jake Epping is faced with that task when he is introduced to the rabbit hole in Al's Diner--a passageway back to September 9, 1958. His friend Al has been traveling through the rabbit hole on a regular basis, and assures Jake that you can stay as long as you want but when you come back to the present, it will only be two minutes later than when you left.
Al is intent on stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy and has already tried once, but had to return when he contracted lung cancer. So he passes his mission on to Jake. Unmarried, no family, Jake is the perfect man to go back in time and save the world.
Stephen King is old enough to remember the late fifties and early sixties. (In fact so am I, although the only thing I remember about 1959 is cutting my foot in the backyard and the birth of my little sister in December). But remembering it and recreating it are two different things.
And of course there are all the "butterfly effect" conundrums Jake has to contend with, since everything he does changes history.
There are a number of different stories going on here, Jake's life in the present, his attempts to change outcomes of tragic events for people he cares about, the new life he creates for himself as an English teacher in a high school in a small Texas town outside Dallas, and of course, his cloak and dagger spying on a small time Communist sympathizer named Lee Oswald.
It could be a complicated mess, but King managed to keep me going, if only to find out what was up with the Yellow Card man.
I recommend reading the afterward where King recounts his resource material for the sections on Oswald. Hundreds, if not thousands of books have been written about the Kennedy assassination, and King explains how he slogged through all of them and which works helped the most.
You got to love a mystery where the heroine is is a sassy 50 something with a taste for sexy lingerie. Jessie Hewitt is a successful author and pool s...moreYou got to love a mystery where the heroine is is a sassy 50 something with a taste for sexy lingerie. Jessie Hewitt is a successful author and pool shark, living a full and happy life writing steamy historical romances and hanging out with her quirky group of friends.
And then her friend Candy's fiance stumbles into her apartment and dies on her couch.
Jessie wisecracks her way through the investigation, not content to leave well enough alone.
This was a Twitter find, I'd never heard of Russell Blake before. So here's a shining example that readers will stumble upon your works with no help f...moreThis was a Twitter find, I'd never heard of Russell Blake before. So here's a shining example that readers will stumble upon your works with no help from a high priced publicist.
Probably the best advice any aspiring writer can get is to read a lot and write a lot and of course, become very good at writing. Blake has followed that well. Night of the Assassin had me hooked from the beginning. I'm not a big fan of violent action thrillers, but this one held my interest to the end.
It's the story of El Rey, the best hit man that the Mexican drug cartel money can buy. In this book, Blake shows the forces that molded the assassin and how he worked his way to the top of his profession. There's a great deal of violence, revenge and the bodies piling up.
I'm looking forward to reading more books by Blake. Definitely worth the price of a latte.
This was an attempt to give a new author a chance, someone I connected with on Twitter, trying to make a go of it in indie publishing.
They can't all b...moreThis was an attempt to give a new author a chance, someone I connected with on Twitter, trying to make a go of it in indie publishing.
They can't all be gems.
I really wanted to like this book. By the way, two stars means "It was OK." It's written in first person by a man describing the story of his many crimes (burglary, fraud, murder, including police officers) in his quest for revenge. I got about three or four chapters into it, and decided I'd had enough. I just couldn't get into reading a book written from the point of view of the bad guy.
I am not deterred. I will keep downloading ebooks. And giving indie authors a chance.