Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Don't You Cry - Mary Kubica 5/5
                                                         
         


     After reading The Good Girl I became a fan of Kubica. She knows how to tell a tale and packs enough detail suspense to keep your eyeballs glued to the page. Take Don't You Cry which is her second novel I believe, and just from the description alone you get a sense of what to expect. It seems simple enough right? One woman disappears in Chicago, and another appears, but there's something else going on, something that seems easy enough to figure out. Looks can be deceiving, not everything is what it appears to be. What makes the book so unique is that the story is told from two viewpoints. You have Quinn who wakes up to find her roommate suddenly missing, and then you have Alex a guy who sees a woman at a dinner and develops a crush on her. From these vantage points, you see the story from both sides. It's a style that James Patterson has perfected and Kubica has borrowed, and developed her own twist to the formula. Instead of keeping the action moving, it broadens the story so that you can draw your own conclusions, as to where everything is going to lead.

      Quinn and Alex are interesting characters in that they have their own issues that draw them to both Pearl and Esther. The mysterious Pearl just shows up one day and it seems as if the mystery is solved, Pearl is in fact Esther and Quinn is somehow this horrible roommate or something. There are even clues that begin to appear that show that Quinn is right. I loved how Kubica slowly unravels the tension, and then just when you think you have everything figured out, she changes everything. This is a writer that you can't trust because you never know where she's heading. I like that she doesn't play it safe, and truly takes her readers on a ride. When you see her name on a book cover you know that the book is going to be good, and you're going to lose some sleep as you try and finish it just so you can see how it ends.

      I like books that demand your attention and keep you guessing. This is one that takes popular fiction and makes it fun, and unpredictable. The story here, is not that simple, it allows you to think you have everything figured out, but then you realize you're wrong and you stare at the pages open mouthed wondering how you missed it. This is one book that I have to add as a favorite. I loved the plot twists, and the way she sets up these characters so that they're interesting and more than just a way to move the plot forward. Quinn and Alex are connected in a way that makes the story engrossing. Are Esther and Pearl the same woman, and what's the deal with that abandoned house? A solid five star read that truly restores my faith in popular fiction. I found a writer that doesn't go for an easy read, or treats her readers like they need a simple straight forward plot to keep them entertained. Don't You Cry is an amazing piece of fiction that everyone needs to check out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

 Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher  5/5
                                                   


     Celebrity biographies almost always follow the same pattern, and then you read Wishful Drinking and the rules are thrown out the window. Carrie covers a lot of ground in such a short book, but through it all is a sense of humor,, and honesty over how her life has gone. The book is downright funny and Carrie is able to poke fun at herself which you hardly ever see in a book like this. It's a book you read and can't help but laugh. When you think about a celebrity you have all of these images in your head, but Carrie isn't what you expect when you think about what it's really like. It's not easy being bi-polar, and a drug addict, and Carrie is funny and yes, even a bit manic.

      There are a lot of surreal moments here, and they're all true. The drug addiction, the dead gay guy in her bed, and yes, even an ex-husband that she turned gay. If you're going to idolize a celebrity this is one you would want to idolize, or at least use as a cautionary tale. The fact that she tells her story in such a way is what makes Wishful Drinking so damn good. You almost feel as if the book was therapy in a way because it's so insane. It couldn't really happen could it? This isn't your typical bio, and I wish that more people approached these in such an honest, funny, and engaging way. You're taken for a ride that will no doubt make you laugh out loud, and that rarely happens in the world of celebrity bios. Most are bleak and depressing, but this one is a light that we didn't even know we needed or wanted to see.

   

Monday, January 9, 2017

 Postcards From The Edge - Carrie Fisher 2/5
                                                       
 

      You ever see reviews for a book and then decide to read it just to see what all the fuss is about? That was my experience with Postcards From The Edge. I vaguely remember hearing about it, but I was fourteen and wasn't really into books about drug addicts and recovery, or the experiences after said person tries to live a normal life. I've never even seen the movie. I finally tracked the book down after Carrie passed and was ready to be blown away by her literary debut, but was left feeling guilty that I didn't enjoy the book, or even find it as good as all the critics said it was. Then as I prepared to write this review I shoved aside the guilt because not everyone is going to feel the same way about everything. It's just a sad part of life.

     I'm glad I borrowed this one from the library and not bought it like I planned. I found Post Cards rather boring, and oddly disjointed. There's parts of the book that seem to make zero sense and you're left trying to figure out why this is even part of the story. The main problem was that Suzanne really isn't  all that likeable. When I read a book I want to connect with a character, or at the very least have a reason for reading, but here, there's nothing. At times it's quite amusing and then my mind began to wander and I forgot half of what I read. The best parts for me were in the drug clinic. There was a linear pattern to the story and it made sense. After that it just fell apart and I couldn't even finish it. I understand what Fisher was trying to say, or at least convey, but I just lost interest and threw in the towel.

     While most of the reviews reflect the passing of Fisher, this one is about my experience with the book, and how I had hoped that it would live up to the hype. It didn't and I don't feel bad about not liking it. I wanted too, but after almost nearing the end I had to quit. I couldn't take anymore. While most books like this try and keep a serious tone throughout, Fisher takes a different route and we see just how difficult life can be when your life spirals out of control and you're trying to find some sort of balance. For Carrie's debut there's not much balance here, just a story that some people adore, but me? I just didn't like it all that much.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Dude has issues

   The Day I Stop Dreaming About Some Porn Star from the 90s named Sunny Jeff O'Brien 5/5 Stars


     I can't really talk a lot of shit about this book, I mean I could, but it would be pretty mean because this is a free ezine. For fans it's like a stop gap between releases so you kind of get something to tide you over, or if you keep asking him for a new book this should keep you quiet so he can play with his dogs, and smoke cigars. In all seriousness I have nothing to complain about here. As a fan, I got some really cool stories that once again prove why Jeff has such a strong under ground following. Each of these stories are hilarious and remind us why we like him so much. The fact that they were inspired by porn makes them that much cooler because no one admits that they like porn. The only thing that I didn't care for was the Morrissey essay because no one actually gives a shit about the guy, or The Smiths. I'm lying about not liking it, I did, but I had to give Jeff some shit about his love for such a shitty band.

     If you have never heard of O'Brien and want to see what all the fuss is about this is a nice intro into his fiction. You get to read a book for free and if you like it, you can buy more. If you buy more books, he gains new fans which is really all of us writers want to do. We would like to make money, but it's not a realistic dream or goal. The bad news is that for those who don't like Jeff, nothing's changed. He's still writing the same stuff that could be classified as bizarro, or as I like to call it B-rate fiction. It's the kind of stuff that makes you chuckle for reasons you can only describe. Everyone reacts and laughs in different spots. Just ask the man for a copy and you too will find out just how funny the guy is. If you don't like him, well I guess it sucks to be you.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

#findtommy

 Disappearance At Devil's Rock - Paul Tremblay  3/5 stars
                                             
                                                       



     So, A Head Full Of Ghosts was one of my favorite novels of 2015, and then I heard about the new book, but I kept forgetting the damn title. Finally remembered it and then I got a copy for my Kindle app which I don't recommend by the way. There's a problem with Tommy's notes not showing up well and the only way to see them is by zooming in on them which becomes a pain in the ass after awhile. Fork out the cash for the dead tree version. Anyway, Devil's Rock is the story of a boy's strange disappearance, but this is a Paul Tremblay novel so nothing here is ordinary or run of the mill. I have twins that are Tommy's age so I felt a connection with this book. It's a parent's worst fear and Paul doesn't waste any time in getting us close to Elizabeth so that we feel her anguish. Each character is molded well, and realistic. They act exactly as they should, and you don't feel as if they're just there to move some pages around.

     The book itself is well written, which is exactly what drew me to not only this book, but Ghosts as well. This is a writer that has a knack for creating a story that moves at a steady clip and keeps the tension tightly wound. There's a darker, more sinister element lurking here and as the story develops you get pulled in without even thinking about it. I loved that he has given us a story that we can relate to and then throws in a few curve balls just to keep you on your toes. Paul Tremblay is a writer that knows how to hook the reader. Just when you think you have everything figured out, he switches things up. The mark of a good story teller is when he makes his readers feel comfortable, and then he changes the way we see a story, and the idea of how we think things are going to end. Just by reading this novel we already have an idea of what's happened, but it's the why that truly makes this book so good.

     While I loved the book, I didn't much care for the ending. It seemed to run out of steam at the end. These are all great characters, and the elusive Arnold is someone I wish we got to see more of but Paul seems to keep him in the shadows. As the book ends there's a surprise, but it feels almost like an after thought. After all of the buildup what we get is a bit of a letdown. I was expecting more, and as I sat there blinking at my tablet I was blown away by how good the novel had been. The race to find Tommy, and the reveal of who Arnold is, is the moment where you begin to hold your breath. There has to be something serious coming right? Right? No, it ends limply, but the entire novel was so damn good I can forgive him for that. I loved it even thought I felt the ending lacked some real power, and Tremblay is without a doubt one of my favorite authors. Is Disappearance At Devil's Rock one of my favorite books of year? Yes, and no. Yes, because Devil's Rock is a damn good book and one I will probably read again just in case I missed something the first time, and no because of the way it ended. I expected so much more and I kind of feel cheated.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Good Girl

    The Good Girl - Mary Kubica 5/5
                                                     
 

      When I borrowed this one from the library the librarian told me this was a little bit like Gone Girl, and I couldn't disagree more. Gone Girl burrows into your head kinda like a tapeworm, and refuses to leave, but the Good Girl is a different animal entirely. For a debut, this is quite strong and has the usual likable, and not so likable characters. James for instance, is a cold feeling father that makes the perfect villain. He's a horrible father, and a terrible husband so anytime he enters a scene you can almost hear a few boos and hisses. While the similarities to Gone Girl are no doubt popping up everywhere this one has sort of the same ideals, but Gone Girl is a much better novel and the surprises there are mouth dropping. I don't want to take anything away from The Good Girl because it does have its share of jaw dropping moments, but they just don't have the same impact.

     Mary Kubica is a decent writer and manages tell the story through three characters without the story becoming cluttered. This way, you get the entire story from a variety of different viewpoints instead of just one. This gives The Good Girl far more impact and you get to see a mother try and redeem herself while going through her own period of mourning. Owen of course, is the point of view that reveals the relationship between himself and Mia and how it begins to evolve from a simple kidnapping to something deeper. It's a plot twist you can see coming from a mile away, but it doesn't hurt the novel any. You already can suspect what's going to happen, but it also has one hell of a plot twist that you don't see coming. The detective portions are okay and are expected. We all know what his job is and his insight to the story doesn't add much depth, but it's a little break in the action.

     As far as thrillers go, this one was decent and continues the trend of smart, intelligent novels that keeps you interested without overwhelming you with plot twists that seem to go nowhere. Kubica's debut is suspenseful, and she keeps the story moving at a steady clip. It's those last few pages that really grab you, and ties everything up nicely. It's a well written, nicely paced piece of fiction that you'll find just about everyone gushing over, and for good reason. In the summer you want a novel that you can read at the beach, and in the winter you want something that makes you forget just how cold it is (if you happen to live in places where it gets cold). I'm a writer that loves a well paced novel and Kubica's debut is a solid read that grabs your attention and holds it. Is it better than Gone Girl? No, but it's still a damn good book and one I highly recommend.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Haunt

    Haunt - Laura Lee Bahr  5/5
                                                 



      Haunt could easily be described as an anti novel. It takes pride in not existing in just one genre. The strength of Haunt is in the writing itself. Bahr has a gift for creating a story that takes the reader on a journey that doesn't follow routine story telling. If you love books that break new ground this is a book that you will no doubt devour, and come back to just see if there's something you may have missed. For those that like books that follow routine story telling are going to find this frustrating, but that's okay. At its core is a narrative that flows well and you feel as if you're a part of the story even at its most confusing, but in the end everything comes together.
 
      The question is how do you review a novel like this? You can only talk about its brilliance and how it's a ghost story with enough twists and turns to give you whiplash. Each character is well thought out and interesting so that when the narrative shifts you don't get bored. All of these characters have some connection to each other and the narrative itself is what makes the story so unique. Haunt may be described as a bizarro novel but it's more than that. It's a well written anti-novel that takes the reader for one hell of a ride. You won't find a novel like this because it's original and groundbreaking. If you like your novels deep and beautifully written, then Haunt is a novel you should read.  When people tell you that genre fiction is dead, they're lying and Haunt is proof that it's alive and well.