Book Review: Vegas Girls

Title: Vegas Girls

Author: Heather Skyler

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: 2016

For those of you who may or may not know, I live in Las Vegas.  Obviously I was attracted to a book called Vegas Girls.  This story is about three best friends who come back together in their hometown, Las Vegas.

Quick personal note.  Dear Heather Skyler, Thank you for portraying Vegas as…Vegas.  The Vegas as locals see it, breathe it, and feel it.  I love it.  Love, Me.  Ok, now for the rest of you who may not be from Las Vegas PLEASE read this.  Especially if you think everyone who lives here lives on the Strip.  I appreciated every detail in this book because it was ALL real!  Now I must eat at the Mexican restaurant mentioned in the book (Ricardo’s) because I’m intrigued.

So the story.  Ivy is married and moved back to Las Vegas with her husband and son who is turning one.  Ramona and Jane both live out of state now and come back to town to celebrate.  It is the first time they have all been together in Vegas since they graduated high school.

Each woman is struggling with something in her life.  Ivy just ran into her ex-boyfriend at the grocery store and started a friendship with him.  She’s also worried to death that somehow she will just up and leave like her mother did to her when she was in high school.  Ramona is a bit of a wild child whose career in music just never quite took off.  She’s dealing with pain of the loss of her brother, mother, and a child she put up for adoption when she was in high school.  Jane has two children in tow and wants to leave her husband of eleven years.  She happens to meet a single neighbor while on her vacation and it helps her to see what she wants out of her relationship with her husband.

Every woman in this book is facing a tough spot in their life.  They are there to help each other and work through it and I am happy to report that each of these women gets what they need to move on with their lives.  The ending is very anti-climactic although someone does get shoved into a pool.  At first this disappointed me but after thinking about it, this book ended perfectly.  This felt like a real story with real people and this is how I would hope it would end for them.

I fell in love with these characters and I want more, so much more.  I will say it was a bit odd that the friends would just take off and leave without saying anything to anyone, but, I guess some friendships work like that.

I am giving this book 4 stars.  I am happy to have stumbled across the ad for this book on Facebook one day and bite the bullet and bought it.  It is a well written novel that will have you thinking about your life and how you are going through it.  Tune in next Thursday for my review of The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn!

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Book Review: The Buried Book

Title: The Buried Book

Author: D. M. Pulley

Format: Kindle

Published: 2016

This is another read thanks to Amazon Prime Reading.  As soon as I finished this book I immediately put her two other books onto my Amazon wish list and plan on reading them soon.  This book is out of my typical genre in the historical fiction category but I am so glad I decided to branch out and read this book!

A mother, Althea Leary, drops her nine-year-old son with her brother on his farm.  All she tells her son, Jasper, is that they are going for a drive.  When they arrive at the farm she pulls out a suitcase and it surprises Jasper because he had not packed anything.  She takes off and Jasper is left at the farm.

Throughout this book I just feel so terrible for this poor little boy.  His life gets turned upside down and he is trying to figure it out.  The author does a tremendous job at portraying the viewpoint of everything happening to a nine-year-old.  This was a page turner and I wanted to find out what was happening.

Jasper’s dad comes and visits him at the farm and no one has seen his mother.  She has disappeared.  Detectives start to visit and ask questions.  Her car was found buried under tree branches, everyone is assuming she’s gone for good.

If you go off of her background, she was seen as the bad apple in her family.  She ran away from home and wasn’t worth a dime.  Pulley does a great job at making us feel like Althea was one of those bad people and hung with the wrong crowd.  Jasper starts to uncover the person her mother truly is and how it unfolds keeps you turning the pages.

While reading this book it felt like I was right where it was set; in 1950 just outside of Detroit in farm country.  There is a Native American Reservation nearby and that integration into this story was remarkable.  It felt like I was on the farm watching everything unfold.  The amount of research that Pulley had to do for this book shows and is just written so appropriately well.

The ending left me happy, sad, and mad.  When you get to the end the short quotes at the start of each chapter make perfect sense, and that angered me.  The person gets dismissed as crazy when they are truly not.  They are a soul who is misunderstood and just wants to help.  I was happy for the family and sad at the same time.  Pick up this book and you’ll understand every emotion.  Even though I felt happy, sad, and mad, I also felt satisfied.

Overall, I give this book a 5.  It was a great mystery that I could not predict.  There were many turns and twists and it kept me turning the pages nonstop.  I appreciated how the story progressed and how we found out bits and pieces through the findings of this poor nine-year-old boy.  Go ahead and give this a read and then come back and let me know what you think!  Next week I will be reviewing a Celesta Ng novel so stay tuned!

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Book Review – The Nixie’s Song

Title: Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles.  Book 1 The Nixie’s Song
Authors/Illustrators: Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi
Format: Hardback
Published: 2007

 

So I feel that I need to start this with a preface that I know absolutely nothing about the series.  I saw this book when I was walking down a row in the library and grabbed it in a hurry because I recalled that the series was popular and I wanted to see what the hype was.  It wasn’t until after I got the book home that I realized that it was a second series about the same thing (sort of?  Apparently?)  So I don’t know if you needed to read the other series first, but it said it was book one so I dove in.

In this series, Nick’s dad is a developer on a project in Florida so he moves his sons down there, along with their new stepmother and stepsister Laurie.  Laurie is obsessed with a book and she’s determined that it’s real and the odd creatures she’s reading all about are really just outside her window, only she can only hear them and not see them.  Nick, bored and in need of something to do, begrudgingly humors her on a walk and realizes that she may be able to hear the creatures, but he actually has the sight.

The two end up with a Nixie on a quest.  Her sisters are missing and she’s got to find them.  They agree to help.

 

So, for a children’s chapter book, the thing isn’t bad.  It’s written well enough that I didn’t mind that I was 25 years beyond the target age group (at least) and it was cute enough that I see no issue with a kid picking it up.  

The Nixie is really an unhappy camper when she finds out that two of her sisters are dead, but the group soldier on to find the others and instead find a giant.  

Which appears to everyone around them as just a mound of mud.  They’re trying to get people to leave the thing alone while they try to kill it, and everyone else wants to move what they think is a dirt pile to somewhere a little more slightly.

Oh, and along the way the group picks up a few more people.  For starters, Laurie’s book is supposedly written by information from Jared and Simon Grace, so they track the twins down for help.  They also find a guy named Noseeum Jack – or more accurately, Jack finds them – who gives them a lot of information that they will need as they continue on.

Just as the book got interesting, the chapter was over and with it went the book.  Dang it.

 

So my review.  Again, I’m a bit *ahem* beyond its target age group, but I found that I didn’t care.  The story was pretty quick and I blamed most of that on the genre.  I hadn’t intended on reading more of the series, but the action stopped mid way through the friggin end of the book.  Like, a creature was on the move and then BOOM and we’re expected to pick up the next one to see where it goes.  

I hate that.  It’s like the worst thing ever.  I mean, I’ll have to read another book or something.  (Ha!  I’ve already asked for it from the library.)   

 

Bottom line, it was decent enough.  I think that a kid in the right age group would really like this, and I’m guessing that whatever happened in the main series connects to the book that Laurie carries everywhere with her (she even says she does) and people who haven’t read the other could read this.  I know I followed it around just fine.   I think this would be a great book for “what do I give to a eight-year-old interested in fantasy…? “ and because of that I’ll give it a 4/5 page rating.

Writer Wednesday – Bob Freeman

1. Tell us who you are and a little bit about what you write.

My name’s Bob Freeman and I write occult detective fiction. It’s a genre I’ve been enamored with since childhood. The early seventies had sparked an occult revival of sorts. Real life witches were showing up on talk shows, movies like The Exorcist were dominating the box office, Marvel Comics was publishing Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf By Night, and The Son of Satan (to name a few), and on the small screen you had things like The Norliss Tapes and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Coupled with my early reading of Dennis Wheatley’s Duc de Richleau novels, it’s little wonder that my adult predilections have led down a similar path.

2. What is something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?

That’s a rough one because I’m something of an open book. One thing that may have slipped under the radar is my love of musicals. My favorite is the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar which, in and of itself, is probably a big shock to people who are quite familiar with my body of work and religious proclivities.

3. What made you become a writer?

I think most writers are shaped to become storytellers from an early age and I’m no different. I always loved a good ghost story, and growing up pretty isolated in rural Indiana, I spent a lot of time reading and letting my imagination run wild.

4. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser, all the way. If I know where a story is going, I lose interest right away. I enjoy the uncertainty and discovery that creating stories entails.

5. What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

Not finishing what you’ve started. I’m an author who really needs to keep that fire lit. I am…easily distracted. Buckling down and seeing a project through to the end is the best advice I could pass along.

6. What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

I just finished Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot which offers a great new take on interpretations for those with an interest in cartomancy.

7. Would you like to pimp a specific project?

My latest collection is First Born, the first book in my Liber Monstrorum series. The book collects several stories connected to that mythos and particularly concerns my occult detective, Dr. Landon Connors.

8. Is there a URL or social media account you’d like to share?

My website/blog is http://occultdetective.com. The best place to connect with me online is through my twitter account: http://twitter.com/occultdetective

 

…On Life and Writing…

Life is not fair, nor just, nor even-handed. Bad things happen to good people and vice versa, not because of karmic debt, but because life happens. It is unpredictable. It is sometimes cruel and unforgiving, but this is the canvas upon which we work, where our seed has been planted, where our sword is sharpened.

I know it can feel overwhelming sometimes, but it’s not. It’s just life. It breathes in. It breathes out.

For all the heartache, all the loss, there is still beauty to be found in the wreckage and words to be written in blood.

I talk a lot about the negative side of writing, the work part… you know, the struggle. I’d like to take a moment to comment on how freaking thankful I am to be blessed with the storytelling gene.

Writing is ecstatic intoxication. It is surreal and wonderful and fulfilling in every way imaginable (except financially, but that’s for another blog). Brutal? Unforgiving? Yes, it is all that too, and more, but truthfully, there’s an almost indescribable elation that comes from stringing words together, from building worlds and giving life to characters, from sitting before a blank page and then filling it with nothing but your imagination.

I just felt like I needed to say that.

For all the misery and heartbreak and soul sucking excrement you have to put up with, it’s all worth it.

Words are everything. Especially when they’re yours.

Writer Wednesday – Jacob & Jenny Floyd

Writer Wednesday

 

1. Tell us who you are and a little bit about what you write.

Jacob: My name is Jacob Floyd, I write paranormal nonfiction with my wife, Jenny. We are also ghost hunters who own and operate two history and haunts tours in the Louisville area—Jacob Floyd’s Shepherdsville History and Haunts Tour and Jacob Floyd’s NuLu History and Haunts Tour. I also run a blog called Jacob Floyd’s Ghosts and Monsters, which focuses on dark fiction and nonfiction paranormal topics; on it, I conduct interviews, post reviews of books, film, and television, and post other articles on related topics. I also write horror, as well.

Jenny: My name is Jenny Floyd. I am co-author of Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions. I am also a photographer that specializes in cemetery photography. I love antiques and Disney, and I am a ghost hunter.

 

2. What is something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?

Jacob: I don’t know. Maybe that, other than my wife, my best friend is my toy poodle named Snow White, and we call her BooBoo. People are also often surprised to find out that I’m a fan of pro wrestling.

Jenny: I am a descendant of Daniel Boone. Also, the northern route of the Wilderness Road once crossed through the property of the Brooks Plantation, which was a family home and the first chapter of Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions.

 

3. What made you become a writer?

Jacob: It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was a kid, I used to carry notebooks around and write down everything that came to my mind. As a teen, I wrote poetry and outlined a lot of stories I never finished. As I got older, I started writing full stories. After my wife and I started getting involved with ghost hunting, we both decided it would be cool to write books about the things we found out. She has a lot of ideas and knowledge regarding the paranormal.

Jenny: My dad used to give me antique books—the chapter books with the gilt edges—and I always thought, “I got stories to tell.” In first grade, I wrote a book called Ghost, and it was about a ghost that did different things. The most memorable thing was that he ate pizza. The book was a hit with my class. LOL

 

4. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jacob: Mostly plotter. For the ghost books, Jenny and I always sit down and lay out a table of contents before researching. For fiction, I always have to plot. I write out what’s going to happen chapter by chapter and then get to writing. But, it’s only a vague outline. The details often evolve organically around the plot. I used to be a pantser, but the storyline always suffered. It’s better for me to have an idea where I’m going.

Jenny: I’m definitely a plotter. My goal is to have a series of paranormal books.

 

5. What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

Jacob: For nonfiction paranormal, writing something down without thoroughly researching it, even if it’s something as minute as a detail of the building or what street corner it’s on. You have to always make sure to get that right. For fiction, not plotting the story was the biggest mistake I always made.

Jenny: Not to get ahead of myself.

 

6. What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

Jacob: I just finished reading Knife’s Tell by Daniel Dark. I thought it was a very unique and engrossing book. I wrote a review for it on my blog, Jacob Floyd’s Ghosts and Monsters.

Jenny: Skull Full of Kisses by Michael West. I really enjoyed the stories.

 

7. Would you like to pimp a specific project?

Jacob: Well, I already mentioned my blog, and our tours. You can check out my Amazon author page for my books.

Jenny: We are working on our next paranormal books, so stay tuned to see what’s forthcoming from the Frightening Floyds.

 

8. Is there a URL or social media account you’d like to share?

Here is a link to our Facebook page, The Frightening Floyds: https://www.facebook.com/FrighteningFloyds/

Our cemetery photography: https://www.facebook.com/FloydsCemeteryPhotography/

Here is my author page: https://www.facebook.com/jacobfloydauthor/

A page to my blog: https://www.facebook.com/JacobFloydsGhostsandMonsters/

My blog site: https://wordpress.com/view/jacobfloydsghostsandmonsters.wordpress.com

The tour pages:

https://www.facebook.com/shepherdsvilletour/

https://www.facebook.com/eastmarkettour/

 

On Writing

We just think it’s important to keep writing and moving our work forward. We are trying to create our own brand on the paranormal side, which is very meaningful to use because it’s something we have created together. Jenny has a lot of ideas on the topic, and we bounce those ideas around and come up with great projects together. We have a few series planned for the paranormal writing. We built the tours together through a lot of interviews and research, and it’s been a great experience as they have helped us get the ball rolling for our books.

As for fiction, the same thing only reversed: I have a ton of ideas and my wife helps me make them better when we bounce ideas around; often times, she helps me fill in plots, or come up with great beginnings and story arcs. I have a lot planned for the fiction side of things, as well. We have a ton of ideas and don’t plan on stopping. We work together on everything and that’s why we love what we do.

We also work together on ideas for the blog, which helps us progress in both arenas—fiction and nonfiction paranormal—whether it’s who to interview, what to review, or what topic to tackle. Jenny has really gotten the hang of designing the ads, and that has given the blog the necessary visual to bring it attention. That’s how the Frightening Floyds work!

 

2017 YITB Review

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This is the smallest update/year in review I have ever done, and I want to take a minute to apologise to loyal readers of the blog.  It would seem that my bloggers have been in a pretty constant state of flux over the past year with lots of changes (some good, some not so good) and we’ve just let reviewing books slide by the wayside.

I am actually ashamed to say that I only managed to read about half a dozen books last year.  But this year seems better.  Things are leveling out.  I’ve made a list of the things that really matter in my life and I’m going to be doing a big push at the blog.

 

Thus, this year’s list is small but mighty.

The top Book in the Bag Books of 2017:

  • Go To Sleep, Little Farm – Mary Lyn Ray
  • Mix It Up – Herve Tullet
  • Owls Don’t Blink – A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
  • Desert Solitare – Edward Abbey
  • Lexicon – Max Barry
  • Idolators of Cthulhu – H David Blalock

Book Review – Such Small Hands

TITLE: Such Small Hands
AUTHOR: Andres Barba
TRANSLATED: Lisa Dillman
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2017 (Original Spanish Version – 2008)

 

At the very beginning of this story, there’s a car accident involving seven year old Marina and her parents.  Her father died immediately, her mother later at the hospital, as they tell you several times in the book.  She’s sent to live in an orphanage with a random group of possessions and a doll whose eyes quit opening and closing like they should.

The other girls in the orphanage are unsure of how to act around her, and what ensues from that is a weird dance of small children who want to know each other and yet can’t bring themselves to say what they mean (or perhaps lack the ability to do so).

 

There’s something about Spanish fiction.  It’s like this beautiful string of poetry that dances in on a gentle breeze, twirls around you a few times, and then leaves you breathless.  Unlike American fiction, there’s no fucking blue chair to understand (ie, no heavy descriptions to bog you down), you get a strand of blonde hair here or a white scar there, never before you need to know about them, and never again after their usefulness is done.  Because it’s not about the overly described thing in the corner that doesn’t even matter, it’s about the moment and about you being a part of it.

The skin around the scar contracted in a fleeting spasm and the girl opened her mouth as if she wanted to devour everything: the air, Marina’s arrogance, her own fear.

This book is in three parts.  Part one is the accident and getting Marina to the orphanage, all Marina’s point of view.  Two and three switch between the other girls, who are seen as a descriptioneless collective.  Parts of a whole that we never talk about individually because they aren’t ‘the other girls’ if we do.  In fact, their names are mentioned individually and then as one collective long name with no spaces.  To Marina they are one, so to us they will be too.  Part 2 is about Marina and the other girls seeing each other and keeping their distance.  Part 3 is about the contact between them.

I want to talk more about part 3.  About how something so sad and so helpless can be made so beautiful.  But I also don’t want to give away what happens.

The book was terribly sad, but in a beautiful wrapper in such a way that I hungered for more.  I felt like the girls, who just wanted to reach out a finger but were afraid of interrupting the magic if they did.  I wanted to know more about so many things, but I knew as soon as I did, it would have the subtlety of a pencil to the butt and that wasn’t at all what I wanted.

It’s only a novella, or maybe even a novelette (My very basic word count estimate is 20k, so novella, but it’s definitely not an accuracy level I’d swear by) which actually enhances the story.  This could be a novel, but you wouldn’t want it to be… it needs to be the single movement and not the whole symphonic performance for the night.  So I give it a very high 4/5 – read the book, somewhere quiet with no distractions, and let it be your own music.  But I don’t think you’ll need to read it more than once, because I think this one will haunt you for a long time to come.

 

 

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