Showing posts from July, 2014

Book Review: Hubris Falls

Hubris Falls by Matthew S. Hiley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One last huzzah after cramming four years of college into five, Brian Hamilton and his friends ride off together on a rafting trip in an effort to thwart the real world for just a little while longer. The story evolves with a few flashbacks, a lot of stoner humor and man-child antics, but goes from darkly comedic to darkly life-altering just as fast as the rapids.

In general I have really enjoyed all the Matthew Hiley books I have read, and while this was no different it was a bit of a departure from his other books. Still a lot of drugs and swears, but definitely more thoughtful, attacking issues head on instead of through satire. While I don’t know Hiley’s history, this story seemed more introspective, more personal. It is a well-crafted story that has long term implications for the reader, and forces you to confront issues that you might not have been expecting to deal with on a post-college river trip. If you enjoy challen…

FIghting a Cold using EOs

Last week I got sick. This may not be quite as earth shattering for you as it was for me, I realize. But I haven't been really sick for quite some time - well over a year and maybe more. We all have those times when your body just can't quite fight it off, and this was one of those times for me. Since it happens rarely, I thought it might be useful to let everyone know what worked for me and what didn't.

First off, let me tell you the cold really only lasted three days or so. You read right - three. Not two weeks, like usual, 3 days. I've had to blow my nose occasionally for the past couple of days, but nothing like the hacking and dripping that used to plague me for at least ten days.

The first thing I did was suck on an On Guard drop, which I love. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't taste great. However, when you are sick you can't taste much anyway, and this really helps you start draining and numb your throat a bit. I also "bombed" myself…

Book Review: The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary by Cassandra R. Siddons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lydia has a problem. Her recently and unexpectedly deceased husband had kept a secret from her that may now cost her land that has been in her family for generations, an island off the coast of South Carolina called The Sanctuary. To get it back she rallies her group of girlfriends who call themselves the Carolina Girls Forever. This starts a cross-country road trip, a reconciliation, an intervention, and a few other instances of heart-pouring. Lydia isn’t the only Carolina girl with secrets and problems, after all.

The Sanctuary seems like a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants cross with Steel Magnolias. While a good warm fuzzy sisterhood book - complete with recipes at the end, which I loved - I was a little underwhelmed by the writing. There was a LOT of emotion being experienced by the characters, but the writing itself was sort of just a flat description. I thought it was odd that so much emotion was written so emotionl…

Book Review: The Bed

The Bed is a deceptively simple two act play portraying a married couple, Joe and Sara Isaia, at various stages in their lives, beginning on their wedding night and ending in the year 2045. Note, as stated this is a play, and is written as a script, not a novel. I really love that about it though, it adds to the appeal. If you are familiar with live theater you can see everything unfolding in your imagination, and it adds to the ambience.
Joe is going to be a famous painter, and Sara is a nurse. Their marriage is not perfect by any means, but it is clear that they love each other. I love the theme and the representation of the bed as the constant in their lives. I am thrilled to see a story celebrating a long marriage without diminishing the difficulty of it; I wish there was more of this out there. I think this would be a great play for college students to perform, and it seems like it can be done well without a lot of high budget flashy effects, which I appreciate. Sometimes the mos…

Book Review: Mineko

Mineko: Book of Sisters by R.G. Dillon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 17th century Japan a little girl is ripped from her home and is forced to be a slave to a house of vicious Samurai. As she grows up she only wants one thing, vengeance for her slain family and to find her surviving sister. So begins the story of a female assassin, trained in the ways of the Samurai and ninja - unusual but not impossible.

I really enjoyed Mineko; Dillon creates fantastic imagery and the story flows at a great pace. You can feel the emotions of tortured Mineko as she is betrayed and beaten, and struggles to survive in an impossible situation. Fight scenes are meticulously choreographed and delivered in a way so that you see it all and are rooting for the underdog Mineko, and the description of ancient Japan takes your breath away. She is a strong female protagonist without being unrealistically perfect. I look forward to reading about more of Mineko’s descendants, and hope they inherit some of her skill …

Book Review: Life with One Eye Open

Carlson begins by explaining Dopplegangers, and how the main character in Life with One Eye Open is being viewed by her dead Doppleganger, who provides the narration for the story. It is an interesting perspective, as the Doppleganger does not provide character names, but instead refers to My Twin, the Young Girl, etc. These names persist throughout the story, even though it is quite clear the Young Girl is no longer young by the end. Everyone seems to exist as they are when the Doppleganger first met them.
This is a tragic story, admittedly, spattered throughout with poetry from the perspective of My Twin. However, both Doppleganger and My Twin seem to come to the same conclusion, that by the end of her difficult story - and the book - the better story that you must invent for yourself is merely the beginning. But while providing detail it is quite clear that the reader has to invest some effort in finishing the story, and it seems quite autobiographical in some respects.…

Book Review: An Alien to Existence

An Alien To Existence by Jon D Gemma
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whoa. After reading this book I kind of feel like I’m waking up from quite a trip of the substance aided variety. Ok, honestly I have never had that type of trip, but if I had I imagine it would be a lot like An Alien to Existence. The story by Gemma follows the subject Newell, who is a gifted artist with the personality to match. He navigates childhood aided by the misguided but loving attempts of his family, but is not so good at being an adult. When his book bombs he goes into a nervous breakdown, that presumably summons the beings of the afterlife.

There is a lot of fabulous imagery used, but it is difficult to follow. I know that Newell was going on a journey of finding himself, and that we are supposed to do likewise, but I feel like Newell ended up far more lost than the author intended him to be. I don’t know if this is somewhat autobiographical or not, but given the creative nature of authors and the genius that som…

Book Review: How the Water Falls

How the Water Falls by K.P. Kollenborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I am an avid student of history, I’ll admit that I don’t know much beyond the basics of apartheid-era South Africa. Because of this I jumped at the chance to read How the Water Falls, since I find it is often so enlightening to see the story through a character’s eyes rather than a dry textbook. As I had hoped, Joanne and Lena proved to be fascinating teachers.

How the Water Falls primarily follows Joanne, a white South African of British descent, and Lena, a black South African activist, focusing primarily on their interactions with the Borghost brothers, Hans and Jared, who are Afrikaaners (of Dutch descent) and members of the police force. Joanne writes for a small newspaper, and Lena would love to write,but is prevented by her status and activist record. She is frequently harassed by the police, captained by Hans Borghost. Joanne tries to tell Lena’s story, but is prevented by politics and fear of retribution…

Book Review: Realm of the Unknown

Realm of the Unknown by James B. McPike
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Follow Vince Ramsey and his new acquaintance, the knowledgeable April Fulton, as they track down a serial killer who does not seem to be entirely human. Their journey takes them all over Israel and a few places in Europe as they follow the trail of a secret society based on the teachings of the ancient Pythagoras and slightly more modern Albert Pike, whose secrets are slowly revealed by clues found on an ancient amulet unearthed by Ramsey at the grizzly site of a brutal mass murder. In this Dan Brown meets Left Behind style script you are introduced to a new secret society with a penchant for summoning the apocalypse, and wonder just who is it that is trying to keep Vince and April from learning the truth.

The Realm of the Unknown is a fast read and keeps you engaged with a lot of action interspersed with history and perhaps a blossoming romance - not that there’s time for that. I really enjoyed the teasers, and partic…