What a happy day today is! I bought a new laptop, passed my desktop on to my daughter to use to play The Sims 4 on, and now I’m back in business, apparently. I’m able to log in to WordPress from Chrome AND Microsoft Edge. So, without going too far into detail, I will say that as long as I’m not having issues with my browsers and software, I should be able to resume writing reviews. First thing tomorrow morning, I’ll work out how I can space the late reviews in order to get them to you in a halfway decent fashion.
I thought I’d take a break from writing about books just to write about things going on in my own life for once. I don’t do that nearly often enough.
Anyhow, today was the first day of school in our county. My daughter started her junior year and my boys started their first days of sixth and eighth grade. Next year this time, I’ll be writing about having a daughter beginning her senior year, which quite honestly terrifies me to no end. So, today was fun.
In other news, our truck is back with the dealer for repairs. Repairs which, by the way, were supposed to have been fixed in April. Long story short, the piece they put on our truck was apparently faulty and now they have to redo the entire thing again, but it’s under warranty, so no big deal. Except now there’s another thing happening (with the steering this time) and I’ll have to pay some big bucks to fix that, right? Right. So, there goes all my pennies.
For those of you who come back here for book related things every now and then, relax. Reviews are coming again. I’ve really been struggling with things lately, but now that school has started, I feel like I should be able to get things under control again. No problem.
I still have writer’s block, though, so send good vibes or whatever you do. I really miss it.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I thought since the main character was a mother, I might enjoy it more, but this is unfortunately a book I only made it a few chapters into. So, with that being revealed, I don’t feel like I can give it a full review. I will tell you what I can about it, though.
It’s available for purchase through most retailers, Amazon being one of them. I believe both kindle and paperback are available right now.
I genuinely dislike having been given a book I can’t write a fair review for, but sometimes it does happen. Not all books are always going to interest me, but in the spirit of fairness, I will read and review a book I’m not interested in if I feel like one of my readers may also enjoy it–that way I can give an objective point of view in my reviews and others will know exactly what they’re getting if they buy the book. I can’t even do that with this particular book and I feel a bit odd about it.
BUT, moving right along, I’ll explain why I couldn’t get into it. First, I could NOT connect with the characters. AT. ALL. Second, I couldn’t connect the story to the characters. I could remove the author’s characters and plop any other woman in there and the story would be the same. I guess you could say the characters had no character.
In the event you all think I’m wrong and that I’m just being mean (I assure you, that is not the case), here is the blurb. If you’ve read and enjoyed anything else by this author, I’d love to hear your feedback and maybe you’ll enjoy this book, too.
In the meantime, hang in there. More romance novels, mystery novels, science fiction novels, and some horror novels are on their way to my little blog and we will dissect them all!
Here is the blurb:
Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.
Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.
If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I enjoy doing it and that sometimes WordPress doesn’t enjoy me doing it lol. What I mean is, there have been times that, for months on end, I haven’t been able to make a post because I can’t log in, no matter what sort of magic I can do via email. Sometimes it’s as simple as a browser issue and other times I never find out why.
The forces are against me, it seems.
For that reason, I feel like I should be heading down the lane toward an actual .com website. I haven’t worked out any details, so I don’t know when that will happen. I’ve never created a website before and, frankly, I’m quite inept with most things technical. But, I’m told even a caveman can do it, so that’s where I am today.
I’ve just recently reconfigured my entire desktop computer and, with those changes, some browser tweaks. As you can see, I am posting today–ha! But, I don’t know how long that sweet streak will last, so you, the readers, can look forward to some posts for the next week. I have a slew of reviews ready and more to come after. And, in the meantime, hang in there. Rhiannon Writes On will soon become The Rhino Review and have a .real .com somewhere after it. Exciting things, I suppose.
Apologies to anyone looking for reviews! I’ll have some sci-fi loving good stuff in here as soon as I can.
“Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it.” – Lord Varys, the Spider, Master of Whispers, caster of large shadows.
Consider me considerably shaken.
The beginning of what is most certainly one of the better episodes of season 8 takes viewers immediately to the writing table of Varys, as he’s scribbling Jon’s secret identity in letter form to someone–I never caught who–when a little girl enters and tells Varys she fears she’s being watched (by Dany’s men). Moments later, viewers are watching as the queen gives a calm “Dracarys” order and Drogon barbecues our poor, bald Varys to death, punishment for his treason. This moment quietly sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
If you’ve read my book reviews, you’ll know I don’t like to give out too many spoilers, if any at all. Lord Varys’s death is a pretty big spoiler, so as I’ve broken my own rule already, I feel like I should continue to do so. But, unlike our newly bonkers queen, I’ll try to hold a little bit back.
Long story short, Daenerys does her job as planned in the beginning, starting with Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet, burning them to the ground, probably with a smile on her exhausted face as Greyjoy himself is flung from a burning ship. With Dany in the air and her armies (and nephew, Jon Snow) on the ground, King’s Landing is soon taken and the bells of surrender ring out. Does she choose to fall back, as everyone hoped she would?
Queen Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons goes full on Mad Queen, channeling her late father, obviously taking his chants of “Burn them all!” straight to heart. Apparently, the dragon doesn’t fall far from the nest.
Absolute chaos ensues, starting with Grey Worm. Being loyal to his queen, Grey Worm sees her continue burning the city through the surrender and he follows suit, tossing a dagger into one of Cersei’s surrendered (read: unarmed) soldiers.
And, I had hoped Grey Worm would get some kind of a happy life after losing his love in the last episode’s beheading, but now I hope somebody takes him out. Without killing Grey Worm (and likely Drogon) first, I’m afraid taking Little Miss Crazy Pants Stormborn out is going to be next to impossible. And let’s face it, if Westeros is ever to see any kind of peace, she has got to go.
Speaking of going, where is Bran in all of this? Obviously Winterfell. But, couldn’t he have given some kind of freaky bird boy warning before everyone else left? Nothing cryptic as usual, but now that the Night King is kaput, doesn’t he think his siblings and their friends might deserve at least a little bit more direction? We know he could tell them things.
I guess it’s a busy, lonely life being a three eyed raven, knowing everything and being able to stop things from happening, but choosing to just sit back and enjoy the show. Bran’s upper half is becoming just as useless as his lower half these days. I still like his character, though. For now.
Oh, and did I mention CLEGANEBOWL happened? Cause it did. Sandor Clegane says goodbye to Arya, telling her to leave or die, too, and she listens. She even calls him by his first name. And, then The Hound finds The Mountain and a fight ensues, but only after The Mountain kills Cersei’s hand by tossing him aside like a sack of potatoes. Cersei exits the scene and an epic staircase battle scene begins. With fire below and a dragon flying above, it’s a scene that could not have been more perfect for the end of the Cleganes. I won’t miss Gregor Clegane, but I will most certainly think of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane most fondly. I’m sure Arya will, too.
Oh, and somewhere in here Jamie and Cersei are crushed beneath the weight of the very castle they’ve built their entire lives around. Poetic justice, if you ask me, though there are those who disagree and think viewers were robbed of a more fitting, horrible death for the Lannisters.
The end of the episode was sort of quiet. Arya has a bit of a rough go of things as she tries to exit the city, but ultimately — after Jon directs his men and others to “fall back”– she finds a lone white (or dare I say “pale”) horse and exits.
So, what will this mean for the next and final episode? Probably nothing any of us will be able to accurately guess within 90% accuracy, if the last handful of episodes have any leaning on things. There are good theories out there, but ultimately there is only a few ways this could end. None of them will be pain free. More people will die. And nobody will come out unscathed.
Tyrion Lannister should probably disappear because if Dany gets wind he’s still alive, he won’t be for long. I have a feeling he’s in danger.
You got theories? I’d love to hear them. Drop a comment if you please.
**Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher for the intent of an honest review. Sending me a novel will, under no circumstances, win the author a glowing review. It WILL win an honest one IF I like the novel enough to finish it, which sometimes doesn’t happen. **
In 1919, the National Prohibition Act was passed, making it illegal across America to produce, distribute, or sell liquor. With this act, the U.S. Congress also created organized crime as we know it. Italian, Jewish, and Irish mobs sprang up to supply the suddenly illegal commodity to the millions of people still eager to drink it. Men like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone in Chicago and Nucky Johnson in Atlantic City, waged a brutal war for power in the streets and on the waterfronts. But if you think you already know this story…think again, since you’ve never seen it through the eyes of one of the mobsters who lived it.
Called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” by the U.S. District Attorney, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo was just 15 years old when Prohibition became law. Over the next decade, Alo would work side by side with Lansky and Luciano as they navigated the brutal underworld of bootlegging, thievery and murder. Alo’s later career included prison time and the ultimate Mob tribute: being immortalized as “Johnny Ola” in The Godfather, Part II.
Introduced to the 91-year-old Alo living in retirement in Florida, Dylan Struzan based this book on more than 50 hours of recorded testimony–stories Alo had never shared, and that he forbid her to publish until “after I’m gone.” Alo died, peacefully, two months short of his 97th birthday. And now his stories–bracing and violent, full of intrigue and betrayal, hunger and hubris–can finally be told.
As far as I’m concerned, the years directly before and after prohibition and the events leading up to and following prohibition are the most interesting in American history. There’s no mystery why there are so many books and movies written to take place in that time period. Obviously, those were hard times. But, no matter how much I learn about those years and the people who lived them, I am always more than willing to learn more and experience more–even through the mediums of fiction and art.
I can only imagine the things Struzan learned while researching for A Bloody Business. And, what a telling title, too! Being released 100 years after the National Prohibition Act was passed was a happy coincidence, right? But, getting down to the grit of this review, I feel like I should warn you–the book is not what you might expect. It is less story, more historical account, but it isn’t as seamless as most would like it to be.
First, as most readers of historical novels would expect, there is language used within the text in both speech and expression that is unique to that era. There are lines like “Old Bill Rockafeller was a flimflammer,” tucked in here and there, which really made me think my granddad may have been telling me the story. I don’t mean that to be a negative, either, but it does take some getting used to at first if you don’t read a lot of stories from this time period.
I’m not sure if I should even mention characterization since Dylan Struzan actually met with a man who was called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” and listened to more than 50 hours of recorded testimony (see blurb above). I think she knocked it right out of the park. I think Dylan Struzan knew, probably within a week or two of research, exactly how her characters operated, what drove them to be the way they were, and got everything perfect, from mannerisms to thoughts, within the first few pages of a rough draft. I could be wrong, but I suspect I’m not.
There were bits of story here and there I feel could have been cut out during her first few rounds of edits and revisions, but those pieces are iffy, meaning they could have stayed or gone and nobody would have been the wiser. Usually in that case, a writer would cut those bits, but sometimes they get left and it doesn’t really change anything. It just takes a reader longer to read the story. Obviously, that can sometimes lead a reader to get bored and walk away and, because of this, I would urge the author to think about this next time she sits down to revise a novel. It’s not a deal breaker–but, it’s a slippery slope leading toward boredom.
I feel it worth noting, however, that the plot itself is little more than prohibition and organized crime itself. As a historical account, I feel like the story was delivered in an informal way (obviously), but an effective delivery was certainly given. After a few pages, you can imagine how Dylan Struzan may have felt whilst giving her interview of Alo. Maybe he said something like, “Well, ya see, what happened was…” and she began her notes. Probably not, but it’s very easy to imagine the story having formed that way. It certainly isn’t what I might call a campfire tale, but it bridges the gap between today’s more technologically advanced generations and the generation that our great grandparents grew up in. There are themes expressed that we can all relate to.
**Disclaimer– I was sent a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is my honest review.**
Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.
If you’re searching for books to read over the summer, buy this one. It’s available in most formats and I can honestly say that I will likely recommend it to everyone I know who comes to me in search of a good mystery. And, it’s apparently the author’s debut novel. Way to go, Fran Dorricott.
I don’t like to give out a lot of spoilers in my reviews, so I won’t because there is a lot I could tell you that would ruin the entire thing.
Fran Dorricott wrote her characters to be lifelike, enjoyable to get to know, and hard to forget once the book is over and done with. That is a quality I, personally, look for in an author I intend to keep reading. The elements of mystery and danger were ever present, whilst managing to tap dance all over the fine line between emotions.
I feel I should warn readers that the story goes from past to present quite a bit and sometimes that can feel a bit daunting to a reader. If that’s something you’re not into, maybe read something else, but why? The author handles this jumping quite well. There is no difficulty discerning which time frame you’re reading in (as some novels present).
Four stars, highly recommended.
You can buy this novel from Amazon in most formats. Links above.
**Disclaimer** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Here is my honest review.**
The near future. Following the death of his daughter Martha, Remi flees the north of England for London. Here he tries to rebuild his life as a cycle courier, delivering subversive documents under the nose of an all-seeing state.
But when a driverless car attempts to run him over, Remi soon discovers that his old life will not let him move on so easily. Someone is leaving coded messages for Remi across the city, and they seem to suggest that Martha is not dead at all.
Unsure what to believe, and increasingly unable to trust his memory, Remi is slowly drawn into the web of a dangerous radical whose ’70s sci-fi novel is now a manifesto for direct action against automation, technology, and England itself.
The deal? Remi can see Martha again – if he joins the cause.
The picture of the near future M.T. Hill paints in Zero Bomb is most certainly a worrying one. Even more troublesome than the automation and technology mentioned in the blurb (above) is the notion that this future laid out in broad strokes could nearly become a reality. It’s absolute brilliance and I loved it.
I did find characterization to be slightly less than I would have liked. Remi, as a father, is fully fleshed out, but I didn’t get to see much of him outside of fatherhood and I think a little bit of that would have gone a long way. Obviously, in a standalone novel, there isn’t time to write every single aspect of a character’s life and personality, but a tad more could have given the story a boost.
The story itself moves quickly, slinging the reader to a whole new world, much to the author’s praise. I sincerely hope M.T. Hill keeps writing great books, perhaps taking a tad more time to work out the main character’s lives before the novel takes place and presenting the relativity to the story in a more articulate way. I look forward to it and I hope M.T. Hill is up for the challenge.
**** Four stars, because it was–characterization aside–a wonderful (read: terrifyingly electric) book.
Imagine being a werewolf pretending to be the pet dog of a woman you find yourself completely crazy for. She feeds you kibble, she pets you, she scratches behind your ears, and you are becoming more and more smitten by her as time passes.
And, imagine having to call home one day and tell your entire family that you’ve found your mate, but she thinks you’re a literal dog…named Fluffy. This is the life of Max Adams.
Max, the sometimes four legged, sometimes bi-pedal hero, is a strong lead, but also refreshingly sensible and kind. JC, his sometimes owner, sometimes love interest, is a hairdresser in Hoboken who just doesn’t want to be lonely and thought she was going to adopt a cat from a shelter.
Obviously, she adopts “Fluffy” instead and hilarity ensues. It’s a wonderful story. There is a satisfactory amount of comedy, but also a very touching, albeit hot, romance within the plot. The characters share a beautiful chemistry and the secondary characters are interesting, too.
Personally, if my dog starts talking and becomes a person one day, I’d probably not react so well to the transition. JC and Max, however, happily fall into place quite well.
I can recommend this book easily to any one of my booky friends. It would be a really fun book club read, too, perfect for lighthearted conversing.
Release date: February 5, 2019 **Note– This book was first published in 1975 and is a re-release!**
If you keep up with my blog and my reading lists, you will note that I’ve read one of Donald E. Westlake’s books and reviewed it here before. If you’re interested in hard case crime novels, as I sometimes am, you should check him out.
But, being that this novel was written quite some time ago, a reader must understand that the language and the story itself is very much a product of its time. For example, in the second chapter of Brothers Keepers, there is a small section where a monk is writing a letter to Miss Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times. There are many starts and stops to the letter, but the letter itself is set up in a style in which not many younger people today might recognize with a name and address in the left corner, date in the right, and a formal letter following. I was taught how to write a business letter in high school, but a lot of schools aren’t teaching this skill today and it’s becoming lost in translation with email writing as a preferred method of conveyance and text messaging coming in a close second. Obviously, it takes on a second to figure out what’s going on, but the difference in the times might come as somewhat of an amusement to some and makes this story even more fun to read.
A world without cell phones and internet in every device? How novel.
Mostly, Brothers Keepers is a timeless story. The monks themselves are all very well written and their attitudes toward their home being scheduled for destruction in order to make way for modern growth within their city are well portrayed. Westlake’s writing–and the humor within–is absolutely delightful as usual. Whatever feelings and anxieties over a dire situation the monastery went through in the story can easily be translated into the issues and goings on of today. The story and characters will resonate well with a newer generation and likely generations to come.