book review

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars A cliffhanging sequel that can be admired as a standalone., February 16, 2017
This review is from: Maze (Daughter of Darkness Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
Some top-class writing is on display from Katya Mills. She picks up the story of Ame, and introduces a new character with Kell, a young woman raised on the Texas border and forced to flee to Oakland. The similarities between Ame and Kell do not end at exile to a new life. Kell acts as both a mirror and new set of eyes for Ame. Meanwhile, we also hear about Maze’s story.
Ame’s bad-boy skater dude love interest has a lot going on beneath the surface, and it’s not all good. Indeed, there’s lots of subtle interactivity in the various relationships we’ve been introduced to over the two-book series. There’s a cliffhanger in this too – but as a standalone slice-of-life involving supernatural beings, this is some great and unique stuff.
The (e)book can be purchased here:  MAZE on AMAZON

review

Book Review

Requiem for a DreamRequiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Selby Jr. follows four characters as they descend into the madness of addiction, in new york city, a journey the author knows well, having become addicted to morphine when he was suffering from tuberculosis as a merchant marine (and years later, heroin, which he recovered from in the late sixties). Harry and Tyrone are buddies caught in the lifestyle, embracing it at first, copping and selling dope, kicking back to enjoy the high, dreaming of some impossible free-wheeling wealth and luxury on top of some zion of dope… forced to face the danger in the streets, inevitable mishaps and kicking in the joint. Marion is Harry’s girlfriend, a wannabe artist who likes a small habit which grows and grows, only to push away all her old life’s ambitions and interests. The love affair is mostly content to stay in the confines of their apartment, saddled by the sad business of easing back, high and dreaming, making plans to open an café together, nodding and sleeping, happy plans in the head… then falling on hard times looking for money and drugs to fix. May have to get creative about it. Don’t expect a picnic, here, if you read Last Exit To Brooklyn (or saw the movie), you know this is a cautionary tale and all of it’s out in the open. I just love how Selby Jr.’s run-on prose moves freely in and out of headspace and lands like a kick in the gut between personalities. And how the characters seem to get over on themselves. Sarah is Harry’s mom and lives alone and dreams into the television and wants to be the lovely picture she once cut, to fit in that old red dress, and fancies she might lose some weight and make it in television. She starts on diet pills and goes mostly downhill from there. As flawed and impossibly dreaming as these characters are, the book was a page turner because I was not simply ambulance chasing, no, I really gave a hot damn about all 4 players and hoped against hope that they might figure themselves out and find a way out of hell and back to some decency and love and happiness. You never know. Addiction isn’t always a life sentence.

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book review

‘Forced Entries’ – a book review

Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries: 1971-1973Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries: 1971-1973 by Jim Carroll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading Jim Carroll’s movement from all out junkie in NYC to mostly clean weedhead in California then traveling back to NYC to re-experience it like a challenge he was taking on for himself in his new sparkly dried out persona. – may he rest in peace – You almost think the kid didn’t stand much of a chance, hobnobbing with celebrity at Max’s and getting dissed by Warhol over the phone, because Warhol only wanted to talk to him when he was wired on speed (and recorded these phone calls apparently). Great street level perspective of NYC in the early seventies. Jim Carroll is an brutally honest sorta writer, so be prepared to go under carpets with him and hangout with fragments of cheese doodles and mites. Or inside a festering abscess. He certainly won’t glorify substance abuse or addiction, so you don’t need to worry about your children. Or do you? I found the first half of the book a little harder to get through, a lot of socializing with Ginsberg and name dropping (though anyone could be envious to hang out with William Burroughs and Bob Dylan for a night). Sometimes I felt he was writing to impress his celebrity buds. But mostly I admire Jim Carroll, I consider him a strong writer and the survivor we know by his Basketball Diaries. This book was supposed to be a sorta sequel to that one. He didn’t stand a chance as a kid himself going deep on the streets, yet he always respected the muse and was a real creative mind, and a local new yorker in his heart. The second half of the book I found a bit clearer, more honest, and particularly his return from Bolinas to NYC. The last quarter of the book was a straight read, I hunkered down in my apartment and really got into it. It ends well, I mean, more intimate and heartfelt. A good read.

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BOOK REVIEW

Book Review

Indestructible & Other PoemsIndestructible & Other Poems by Kristy Rulebreaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Indestructible is Kristy’s sophomore effort as an indie author and poet. She is beloved for her contributions to social media circles, particularly the poets of ‘G+’ If you follow closely, you can see her evolution. She is experimenting with form and verse in interesting ways. I feel as though I am walking through life with her, and it is not sugar-coated. I appreciate her honesty. “The sun is posing but I don’t have enough tears to cry for a sunny day that does not warm the heart” she says. In other verses, she gives us a fresh take on the gap between rich and poor. You almost feel as though justice has already been served: “I couldn’t buy calm nights with my soul bright as lighter, I couldn’t buy clean days with my heart as cotton tender.” There is exciting talk about nature, and dreaming about nature overrunning the unnatural world and reclaiming it. In her poem “The wind has lost his mind” she personifies nature well to describe her grief. Her expressions are often spare and crystal clear. She opens windows into relationships and little loves of her life. I really love her work. She beckons me to the living of an authentic sorta life. The one and only way to live.

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book review

Book Review

The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a vivid picture of the work camp life in Siberia from a great author who was sent there and subjected to horrors most people could not survive. Solzhenitsyn’s triumph over his bitter and cruel life circumstance gave him a second lease on life, as he made he way to New England and lived out the remainder of his life in respectable fashion, known the world over and cherished for his spirit and writings. The story and history of Russia and Russian literature cannot be whole without mentioning the tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, activists, artists, citizens, and poets who were ‘disappeared’ by an authoritarian regime. This resounding text, The Gulag Archipelago, is a must read to round out the picture – the reality – and honor those who suffered and never made it home. Solzhenitsyn lived to tell, and became not only author but historian. Hopefully after reading this work, you will become excited (as I was) to locate the many other great works of his contemporaries. There is a treasure chest of art, poetry and literature. Brilliant lives, abbreviated and extinguished. One quality will surely be enhanced by reading Solzhenitsyn: a deeper appreciation for the great freedoms of speech and expression!

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book review

Book Review: The Outsiders

The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ponyboy narrates the story of his teenage life within a sewn together band of brothers and young ‘greasers’ in small town America (reminiscent of American Graffiti) who include working class orphans, school dropouts, criminals, athletes. He provides an emotionally-centered account of these trying circumstances for kids on the back side of the mainstream. Desperate times give rise to fierce loyalties, and it’s easy (as a reader) to love Ponyboy and root for him and his friends as they fight the rich kids and steal the hearts of their girls. The action includes drive-ins, cars, turf wars, switchblades, leather, cars, hair, grease, cocacola, madras, cops, heaters, music, ‘weeds’ (smokes), denim, runaways, sunsets, vacant lots. A whole lot of fun as you get to know some of the characters on deeper and deeper levels. Ponyboy’s not afraid to give you his opinion on people and things, and he’s not cool with all the greasers, either, but he sees the good in people when he can. It’s a sweet and tragic story and you might feel it all ends too soon.

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2. Girl Without Borders

THE BOOK:  Girl Without Borders PUBLISHED IN: 2013 THE AUTHOR: Katya Mills THE EDITOR: Katya Mills THE PUBLISHER: Amazon.com SUMMARY:  Chicago. West side. Follow the paths of three young lovers, at…

Source: 2. Girl Without Borders

franny and zooey. book review

Book Review: Franny & Zooey

Franny and ZooeyFranny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Franny and Zooey. What was the book about, anyway, if not about what we do to ourselves in a world of criticism and judgment, when we get carried along that way and lose sight of what our indy purposes are, if not about what happens to a family that was once seemingly so united and celebrated for its little unit of togetherness and genius, when it deteriorates and gets cut up by suicide and sending some to war and leaving the rest to smoke and think and worry and carry on in pursuit of something or in pursuit of not pursuing anything, detachment, if not about the funny window into a messy nuclear home life and the quirkiness of moms and sons and sisters, if not about prep schools and homecoming football games and lunches and fainting spells… if it wasn’t about all that, to me, it was about something a bit more thoughtful, less fanciful, more serious even grave, gravely concerned with how we go about our lives faced with the butchers and fat ladies, the disappointments, the faded dreams and painful realities, the fakers finally unmasked and left with what if i’m a faker too, the horrifying naked truth somewhere… and alot of this was also covered in the Catcher In the Rye, so you know it was Salinger in that little bunker on his property in NH where he stole away for weeks at a time in his infantry boots and clothes, probably touching his dogtags from time to time not knowing day or night, night or day, trying to get off the edges and into the heart of something even if it left him with no peace of mind, celebrated in a world he once wanted to celebrate him then reclused himself from, the painful residuals of an earlier attachment, having to detach but going on writing all the same and living a pretty damn long and pretty well respected, earned kinda life… not caring about being prolific or getting his work out even while he was alive necessarily… and i love that about the man and the work… and what i most love about Franny and Zooey whatever it was about, was the smallness of the book in my hands, and the spareness of the cover, the clever east meets west font… but most of all, just the way the two grown kids got around-about-way to the heart-centered business of helping one another out. That’s what i loved about it most of all.

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excerpt

 
 
“I watched over my little sister of the emerald eyes, she had fallen fast asleep on the leather beside me in the back of the sweet car Freddy had brought back to life now pushed into fourth gear, the tachometer up then backed up off the redline, all the windows open for the salty sea reconditioning of hair, lungs and spirits, Bless in the shotgun looking back at us, Kell using me for a pillow, and above us the towering red of the golden gate aspiring to the heavens, as we cruised on and on, into Marin county and the break of dawn.”   — from Ame & the Tangy Energetic

book review

Review: Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party

Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner PartyOrdeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stewart focuses on forming an accurate logistical picture of the travels and trials of 87 members of the Donner Party against a harsh environment, whose wagon train came together around July 1846 near the Great Salt Lake and headed to California over a newly inspired yet little tested route over a dangerously steep pass in the Sierra Nevadas, which the trusted and well-traveled Hastings recommended they try in order to save 300 miles had they taken the known (and therefore safer) emigration trail around the mountains. Unfortunately the going is rough in Utah and Nevada, and they are doomed to hunker down and camp beside what is now known as Donner Lake. This tale of tragedy and triumph ends in April 1847, after several relief parties (often comprised of family members of the original caravan) made successful rescues over the course of the long and brutal winter featuring several devastating storms packing snow 30+ feet in some parts. Amazingly, 42 of the 87 characters (many of whom are painted in thin brushstrokes by the author, but just enough to begin caring about them) make it out of the mountains and down to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, a lush valley ripe for settling, and the promised land which was the basis for most of the families making the trip in the first place. Many, including the Donners, had been farmers in the midwest, and envisioned taking a grand adventure in a well-orchestrated way (books and goods and kitchen utensils and blankets all packed into wagons driven by teams of oxen with cattle and pack animals behind) providing comfort for the many women and children, some as young as one year old. The families were mainly of Irish and German and English descent, and we get a glimpse into the different and resourceful ways they survive, as the elements ultimately cause each family to fall back on itself for support. As a city dweller in the 21st century, I could only marvel at the kind of grit and determination displayed by these pioneering folk 200 years ago. As the winter progressed, the snowbanks rose far above the chimney tops of the cabins they built lakeside. Game was scarce. Only timber and religion were of endless supply to them. The ones who were snowed in at the camps had mostly to combat slow starvation and cramped conditions. They lived off of rawhide before resorting to cannibalism as a last resort on the well-preserved bodies of the dead in the snow. Some went mad. The ones who ventured out from time to time in last ditch efforts to cross the towering pass to the 100 mile or so stretch of canyons and valleys which lay on the other side to take them down to Sacramento, showed incredible tenacity and spirit. Others were selfish and cowardly, and abandoned all scruples in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Such was the kind of language the author used to recount the stories. A bit old-fashioned but powerful nevertheless, and kept me reading well past my bedtime!

Here are some vivid images circling my mind still, well portrayed by the author. A man wrapped in blankets propped up against a snowbank beside a campfire, smoking the last of tobacco after saying goodbye and courageously telling the hikers to go on without him, and left behind to die alone in the mountains. Five women who made it over the pass on snowshoes, coming into an Indian camp looking like skeletons on broken frostbitten feet and half-clothed, being taken into warming huts and given acorns to break the starvation. A father returning two months after leaving his children in the camp, on a relief mission funded by the rudimentary California-Mexican government, and finding his 8 year old daughter sitting on the edge of the roof of the cabin he built for them, her feet scraping the receding snowbanks. In the time he was absent, he had survived war, flood, fire, starvation, cold, and thirst. Unlike the others, his entire family would survive the ordeal and live to tell. Another image of a group of nine hikers, long starved, mostly young children, holding on for dear life in the midst of a snowstorm in the mountains, 30 feet down in a hollow made by a campfire which grew and ultimately sunk down into the snow by the heat, and made a space large enough for all of them to climb down into, to stay warm until days later when they were found. One who had died there had their liver and heart taken for boiling for sustenance of the remainder. Solitary men and women at Sutter’s Fort, finally arrived, gazing back to the foothills every day, wishing and wondering whether their loved ones were still alive on the other side.