Sunday, March 29, 2015

Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Product Details

Swan Song [Kindle Edition]

Robert R. McCammon 
 

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Kindle Price:$7.99
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Book  Description:


"An ancient evil roams the desolate landscape of an America ravaged by nuclear war. 
He is the Man with the Scarlet Eye, a malevolent force that feeds on the dark desires of the countless followers he has gathered into his service. His only desire is to find a special child named Swan -- and destroy her. But those who would protect the girl are determined to fight for what is left of the world and their souls. 
In a wasteland born of rage, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, the last survivors on earth have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of humanity...."









Swan Song is a classic for our generation. It is a story of good versus evil, God versus the Devil and mans willingness to adapt and evolve even when it looks like they should give up.

The characters are either extremely likeable or extremely dis-likable. The are written with a lot of depth.

Mr McCammon builds a world that is so realistic, that you can just see this happening sometime to us in the near future.
One can compare this novel to the book "The Stand" and I would even recommend that you read them back to back if you really want something to make you cringe at the slightest noises.

"Swan Song" was the first of the apocalyptic type novels that I have ever read and I read it soon after it came out. But, it has certainly withstood the passage of time since I just re-read it and can still find new things in it to make me shiver in my boots. And, it will remain a favorite of mine no matter how much time passes.

Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler


Product Details

Pretty Ugly: A Novel

Mar 31, 2015
$19.25$25.99

Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on March 31, 2015.

 

“After eight-and-a-half years and three hundred twenty-three pageants, Miranda Miller has become the ultimate stage mother. Her mission in life is to see that her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. But lately, that mission has become increasingly difficult. Bailey wants to retire and has been secretly binge eating to make herself "unpageantable;" and the reality show Miranda has spent years trying to set up just went to their biggest rival.
But Miranda has a plan. She's seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl (thank God), and she is going to make damn sure this one is even more successful than Bailey, even if the new girl is a little different.
Miranda's husband, Ray, however, doesn't have time for pageants. A full-time nurse, Ray spends his days at the hospital where he has developed a habit of taking whatever pills happen to be lying around. His nights are spent working hospice and dealing with Courtney, the seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients who he has, regrettably, knocked up. With a pregnant wife, a pregnant teenage mistress, two jobs, a drug hobby, and a mountain of debt, Ray is starting to take desperate measures to find some peace. Meanwhile, the Millers' two sons are being homeschooled by Miranda's mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a God-fearing widow who spends her free time playing cards and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, Jesus.
A bright new voice in satirical literature, Kirker Butler pulls no punches as he dissects our culture's current state of affairs. It's really funny, but it's also pretty ugly.”


Pretty Ugly is a very apt name for this novel.  If you like reality shows like Honey BooBoo or movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous, this may be a book that is right up your alley.  It is claimed to be a satirical look into pageants, but I have a feeling that there is more truth to these observations of childrens pageants than there is satire.

Sometimes this book was captivating in a ‘if you can’t say something nice about someone come sit by me’ sort of way and other times it was just horrid. Ray and his drugs.  What was the author thinking of when he made Ray an indiscriminant drug addict?  I found this to be almost too much and at times I was almost hoping that Ray would just OD and leave the world a better place.

If you do manage to read this book long enough there is a HEA of sorts and frankly it made the whole thing worth reading.  Ray and Miranda are having a baby and they know it is a girl.  This is Miranda’s second chance at having a pageant Princess and she is thrilled…until the baby is born (if I say anything more about the baby I will spoil the book for you).  Luckily at this point in the book (the ending) makes up for everything that was annoying earlier.

Unfortunately, you will find that there are too many threads in this book that are never tied up; just left unfinished, and that may  leave you wondering…or maybe like me, you just won’t care.

I did manage to finish this though if that says anything!


Friday, March 27, 2015

The Murder Pit by Jeff Shelby

The Murder Pit (A Moose River Mystery Book 1) by Jeff Shelby (May 6, 2014)








The Murder Pit

I am not sure if I read the same book that everyone else did.   Here is what I feel are the Pro's and Con's:

It was a light, pop-corn type read.

No sex, just innuendo.

No violence, just a dead guy.

I finished it.



The Author/Editor made a lot of mistakes, enough to pull you out of the story occasionally and go 'Huh?'.  This might make you lose your place as you check back in the book for some confirmations.

Was there a book before this one?  I know there wasn't, but there are parts to this story that make me think there should be...things that are assumed but never explained.  For instance -why did Daisys husband get so upset that she had a date before they got reacquainted? This detail was over-looked and under-played.   The back-story was undeveloped.

  The town’s residents and especially her so-called friends are just horrid.  The kids are pretty annoying too.

Home-schooling seems to be a major theme and I don't like to be preached to.  I did not like how this author treats home-schooling.  Do the kids actually ever get any lessons?  Do they really learn things while playing in the snow or video games or even board games?  Yes they read -wonderful - but not enough educating.

I found this not to be a humorous book.

The main characters are (especially Daisy Savage) ditzy, easy to anger and somehow unlikable. Jake was just an annoying passive/aggressive complainer.

The reader goes through the book never knowing how the dead guy died.  And yes I doubled back to double-check.


All in all, I ended up doing a lot of skimming a second time to see if I had missed something important to the story.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Border by Robert McCammon


 
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The Border

May 31, 2015
by Robert McCammon
$21.37$26.95
Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on May 31, 2015.





"World Fantasy award-winning, bestselling author Robert McCammon makes a triumphant return to the epic horror and apocalyptic tone reminiscent of his books ''Swan Song'' and ''Stinger'' in this gripping new novel, ''The Border'', a saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations.
But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger. Into these desperate circumstances comes an amnesiac teenaged boy who names himself Ethan--a boy who must overcome mistrust and suspicion to master unknowable powers that may prove to be the last hope for humanity's salvation. Those same powers make Ethan a threat to the warring aliens, long used to fearing only each other, and thrust him and his comrades into ever more perilous circumstances.
A major new novel from the unparalleled imagination of Robert McCammon, this dark epic of survival will both thrill readers and make them fall in love with his work all over again."





This book is an interesting mix of Robert’s earlier work Swan Song, mixed with Stephen King’s The Stand add a healthy dose of War of the Worlds and stir.  Then you shake all these up and add a smidgen of comic book action –Zombies, flesh eating and shape shifting, Area 54 - to it you will have The Border.

This was a great book, although pontificating and plodding at times; then there are other times that it just felt it was going at warp speed.  Some of this book really made me philosophical and had me pondering the state of our universe, the world cockiness as to how we think we are ‘the big bad’ and what may or may not be out there;   some other parts just made me roll my eyes.


It seemed to me that the characters had not been fleshed out very well.   I never really felt for any of the characters.  I never had any sympathy for what they were going through nor did I ever feel enough about them to have any empathy for them. Learning about Ethan –what he was becoming, what he was is a fascinating aspect of this book.  I wish this aspect had been explored a bit more. I never thought I would say this about a book, but I think it should have been maybe 200 to 250 pages longer and then it really could   have  fleshed the characters more, made the story seem less comic bookish and made more of an impression on me.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dietland - Sarai Walker

Dietland
Dietland
by Sarai Walker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

The diet revolution is here. And it’s armed.
Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.
Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.
Dietland is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.

 Bleak yet Mesmerizing and Thought Provoking

This novel is as I said in the title, a bleak but mesmerizing look into feminism, the weight loss industry and one woman’s dissatisfaction with her rotund body.  To top it off there is a fascinating and mysterious side story about a group called Jennifer who are in the business of revenge and avenging mistreated and exploited women around the world.

This is not a frothy story with a typical happily-ever-after; this is the real deal –alternately depressing and eye-opening.  This novel is written in a rather unique style, more like and auto-biography than a fictional novel.  The characters are well fleshed 9no pun intended) and mostly depressing or down-right dislikable,   at times that will include the main character Plum AKA Alicia.  Plum will run the gamut from a whiney, overly self-involved egotist.  I can sympathize with her at times because I too am a fat woman, but only at times.  Sometimes I just want to smack her hard with a turkey  and wake her up out of the dream that dieting ( if skinny is all she really wants) is going to be a piece of cake –that a program will do it for her, that she doesn’t need to change, that dieting is easy.  Other times I want to laugh with her.

Some of this book just doesn’t seem as if it really needed to be included.

It may take you a while to get into this book; it took me quite a few chapters to do so. Sometimes while reading this, I would think that I should be scouring my toilets instead of reading this (I thought I might not be able to finish this book) so I wouldn’t be forced to continue reading it then there are many moments later on where I don’t think I could have put it down even if my hair had been on fire.


The ending is a bit predictable.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lacy Eye


Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway (Mar 10, 2015)










Book Description

 March 10, 2015A haunting, evocative novel about a woman who might have to face the disturbing truth about her own daughter.
Hanna and Joe send their awkward daughter Dawn off to college hoping that she will finally "come into her own." When she brings her new boyfriend, Rud, to her sister's wedding, her parents try to suppress their troubling impressions of him for Dawn's sake. Not long after, Hanna and Joe suffer a savage attack at home, resulting in Joe's death and Hanna's severe injury and memory loss. 
Rud is convicted of the crime, and the community speculates that Dawn may also have been involved. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to live in the family home, Hanna resolves to recall that traumatic night so she can testify in the retrial, exonerate her daughter, and keep her husband's murderer in jail. 
But as those memories resurface, Hanna faces the question of whether she knows her own daughter-and whether she ever did.


Wow...just WOW.  This is by no means the perfect book, nor is it even the most enjoyable.  However it is a book that grabs you by the back of the neck and shakes you until you don't know whether you are coming or going.  It forces us to face the question of -do we really know the people we love the most in the world, and how far would we go to make them happy.

As the synopsis says - Hanna is the only one left alive when her husband and she are attacked by Cricket bat wielding intruders.  Hanna did live through massive injuries but not with all her memories intact. Now the man put behind bars for this murder is getting a new trial and just guess as to who his beloved girlfriend is, and she has been since before the attack...Dawn, Joe and Hanna's youngest and oddest daughter. She too had been implicated but never brought to trial.

This book is told from Hanna's point of view, more like an autobiography than a novel. This ploy helps us keep on track of wondering what really happened that fateful night.

This story skips around quite a bit, helping us to fill in the personalities of the main players.  It helped me so much that I wanted to alternately smack the heck out of the parents sometimes and then smack the daughter other times.  The mother can come off as very naive, head-in-the-sand type,  yet she is loving with her whole heart.  The daughter can come off as a pathetically bullied misfit - but on the other hand, she can give you chills.

Now Hanna is regaining her memory-in huge chunks and it is fascinating to be there when she realizes just what happened that night and all is not what she was led to believe.

An ensnaring novel that is both gritty and clever, at times tedious yet still fascinating enough so you can't put it down.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kittens Can Kill: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir by Clea Simon (Mar 3, 2015)

Product Details

Book Description

 March 3, 2015

The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will. Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital's money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl” animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?



This was an interesting book that could be called a ‘cozy’ although I would not do so. This is the fifth book in the Pru Marlowe series.  While some people could read this as a standalone, I would not suggest you do so. This was the first book I read in this series and found that because I hadn’t read the other four books, I was at a disadvantage.
The concept behind this series is an interesting one, although it has been done before.  Pru is an animal behaviorist who can also ‘talk’ to animals and they talk to her.   In this novel she sort of stumbles into, what on first glance, looks like an accidental death.  A kitten that one of the deceased daughters got him is what causes Pru to be there in the first place.  Confusion ensues, accusations are thrown back and forth and Pru is in the middle.  Now Pru’s instincts are telling her it is murder.

I had several problems with this novel and the most difficult for me was the fact that the protagonist Pru is a difficult person to like or to feel empathy for.  She may care for the animals but she sure doesn’t seem to give a darn for any humans and I have a feeling that this may have been explained in earlier books. (like why she is the *itch that she is). Her heavy drinking and bootie calls, leaves something to be desired also.

The writing and especially the dialogue is choppy and sometimes very difficult to follow, the clues are all there (some things are quite obvious right from the very start) but the characters choose not to ‘see’ them.  While this pushes the book to the climax, it can make this a frustrating read.

I will admit to a curiosity that will have me reading at least the first book to see if some of my difficulties with this book and these characters had already been explained.

ARC supplied by publisher.