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review 2017-07-12 15:02
The Book of Dahlia, by Elisa Albert
The Book of Dahlia - Elisa Albert

Dahlia Finger is kind of an asshole. She's 29 and spends her days sprawled out on her couch, smoking weed and watching movies, funded by her well-off father. One night she has a seizure and learns that she has a brain tumor. Though no one will actually say it, she doesn't have long to live.

 

This is not one of those novels of illness where there's redemption ahead or that's supposed to make you hopeful and grateful for life (beyond not having a brain tumor). For that reason, I appreciated and responded to it. Unlike all the books on cancer Dahlia and her parents buy in bulk that say "you can beat this thing" if only you have the right attitude, in effect making you responsible (and to blame) for your own illness, The Book of Dahlia illustrates how we as a culture fail to deal with mortality. Though it's not addressed specifically in the novel, I personally wonder how much that American idea of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is at play, which easily translates into victim-blaming when one can't.

 

One of the platitudes often given regarding illness and healing is that a sufferer must let go of old resentments and anger, that these can make or keep one sick. As Dahlia considers and recounts her past, it's clear she has almost nothing but resentments, from a mother who essentially abandoned her family to the older brother, once close, who took out his own pain on her in the cruelest ways. Throughout her life she's plainly asked for help and been ignored. Maybe it says something about me that I couldn't blame her for her stubbornness in forgiving and forgetting. It feels like the only way she's able to have any agency during her illness.

 

If this sounds grim, it's not, or not only! Dahlia's voice is often funny, enough to make me laugh out loud while reading. Her humor may be bitter, but that suits me fine. At the end of the book there was a reading group guide that asked more than one question about whether one is able to sympathize with her; I absolutely could. I often like female characters in popular culture that others find abrasive, though I often wonder how much it's about gender.

 

The toughest and most affecting aspect of this book was the relationship between Dahlia and her older brother. As a younger sister myself, I'm always interested in and more sensitive to depictions of that dynamic. It broke my heart to read about the turn their relationship takes, how long Dahlia holds out and has faith in him, even insulting herself to get ahead of his insulting her. I both wanted and did not want Dahlia to forgive him. It made me want to call my own brother and thank him for not being a dick!

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review 2017-05-18 18:28
Review for Existential Series: Fallen Aces MC #4 by Max Henry
 
 
 


Title: Existential
Series: Fallen Aces MC #4
Author: Max Henry
Genre: MC Romance Suspense
Release Date: April 18, 2017  

 
  
 
 
 
How much suffering can a man withstand before he finally breaks? A question I used to ask myself often. Now I know the answer. 
 
As president of the Fallen Aces MC Fort Worth chapter, I’m looked to for guidance in times of crisis. I’m expected to set personal grievances aside and lead by example. Yet how can I do that when those grievances robbed me of my family, my life? My reason to be at the head of the table? 
 
My father: murdered. My baby sister: killed the same day. And my other sister? A mystery. I’m drowning in my desolation and yet nobody seems to care. Or maybe it’s the fact I won’t let them close enough to help? Either way, my losses are my own, and I’ll deal with them the only way I know how—by punishing myself. 
 
I’ve got it all figured out, at least, I thought I did. Until one woman, a traveller passing by, unravels the master plan. I see it in her eyes, the same distance, the same feeling that she doesn’t belong—that her time here is wasted. 
 
One woman who mirrors me in every way, and suddenly I find a reason to hold off the reaper a little longer. A reason to stay at the head of the table. A reason to show those who’ve hurt me that, although they brought the beast to its knees, I won’t lay down to die without a fight. 
 
Existential is book number four in the Fallen Aces MC series, but can be read as a standalone. 
What an enjoyable read for us we loved it from cover to cover.I loved the main characters Dagne and Hooch they made a great couple they were just what each other needed.I also have to point out that I loved the other characters as well and all their unique names .
 
A fast paced read that was filled with emotions,danger,love,healing deceit,loss and sorrow,intrigue and healing.The story had you engrossed from the very first pages.The characters were easy to relate to as well as love.
 
Favorite character is going to be Hooch as this man was just one great big mess.He had a coke addiction , battle depression, suffered from the pain and loss from the deaths of his sister and father.I choose him because this main was in so much pain you could not help but grieve for him for the misery he was in.My heart broke for him.I also love that he wasn't completely dead inside and was willing to reach out to Dagne for advice and comfort which was a major hurtle for this proud man.I loved his interactions with Dagne he teased was gruff and down right hateful at times he confused her to the point she thought he hated her .This was his way of covering up that he cared to much.I love a character like Hooch who was so broken yet one slip of a  gorgeous drifter brings the man back to life by being nothing other than who she is.
 
An amazing griping heart felt story that we loved.Looking forward to reading the other books in its series to read which we already purchased.
 
5 stars from us
 a more detailed review coming soon
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
He reaches out and threads his fingers under mine, bringing our joined hands between us on the floor. “Do you think it’s weak if a man admits his fears?” 
 
I frown, squeezing his hand tight. “No.” Why would he even think that? “I think it’s honorable. It takes so much bravery to admit you have faults.”
 
“You think?”
 
“I know.” After all, aren’t I the authority on keeping faults a secret?
 
He sniffs, staring at the toes of his boots where they rest against the base of the washer. “Since everything went to shit last year, I get … I guess the only way to describe it is angry at myself.”
 
“What for? Do you blame yourself for what happened?”
 
His head drops back again, and he closes his eyes as his thumb traces a path on the back of my hand. “Yeah, but I know I shouldn’t. Still, knowin’ what I’m thinkin’ is wrong doesn’t make it go away. I still blame myself for everything, still hate myself for it.”
 
“That’s natural, though. You went through something traumatic, from what you’ve said of it, so you’ve got strong reactions that need a place to rest.”
 
“I went on a bender after they died,” he explains, opening his eyes to stare at the ceiling. “Drank, binged on coke, picked fights with my friends, and it wasn’t until I couldn’t remember what it was like to be straight that I finally realized why I did it.”
 
“Distraction?”
 
“To die.” 
 
A lump lodges in my throat as I take him in. At face value he’s strength and dominance. He’s a huge guy, intimidating to those who don’t know him, with his black clothing, leather, and piercings. He puts out an image of power, over others, and himself. But underneath it all he hides this.
 
“Don’t,” I utter. “Don’t say that again.”
 
“Why?” He rolls his head to look me in the eye. “It’s the truth, Dagne. I don’t want to do this anymore. Every day is hard. I wake up wishin’ it was time to go to sleep again, dreadin’ the day before it’s even happened.” His face moves through frustration and anger, glimpses of pain and despair between. “You have any idea what it’s like to just want to curl up in a ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist?”
 
“Yeah, I do,” I say. “I also know what it’s like to want to die. To know you’re too gutless to do it yourself, so you wish for something that’ll do it for you, like an illness, an accident, or a masochistic fucking father who hates the fact you breathe the same air as him.” Hooch’s eyes go wide, and I realize in that moment tears streak my cheeks. But fuck it—he needs to hear it. “I also know what it’s like to be hurt so bad that you finally believe that day has come, and in that second your foolishness and selfish thoughts come back to haunt you. What it’s like to realize when you’re faced with your own mortality that you don’t want to die … you just wish you were someone else, living another life.”
 
“Dagne—”
 
“Ah.” I lift my finger to stop him. “Nope. I’m not finished, mister.”
 
A small smile plays at the corner of his lips, and he reaches out to wipe my tears. “Carry on.”
 
“What you have to face is that you have the power to be somebody else. Fuck what your head tells you, Hooch. Your mind is a goddamn liar. It feeds off your fear, shows you your flaws while hiding your strengths. If you’re not happy,” I say, jabbing him in the chest, “change it. Do something about it. But don’t quit.”
 
“I’ve tried.” He captures my hand, focusing on the flesh of my palm as he traces the lines with his finger. “I really have, but my battery’s run dry, girl.”
 
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “It hasn’t. You just haven’t found what charges it yet.”
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Max is the author of dark, and highly emotional romance. Her Butcher Boys series is centered around a group of ex-street kids who have teamed up with an indebted motorcycle club to take down a notorious drug lord. And her new series, the Fallen Aces MC, is a spin-off from this dark and dangerous world. Her writing has been described as 'gripping', and 'addictive', taking you on an 'emotional roller coaster ride'. Originally born and bred in New Zealand, Max now resides with her family in beautiful and sunny Queensland, Australia. Life with two young children can be hectic at times, and although she may not write as often as she would like, Max wouldn't change a thing. When she's not engrossed in her dark and twisted fictional worlds, she can be found enjoying the outdoors while 4wd-ing with her family.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








 
 
 


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text 2017-03-27 12:10
Existential Series: Fallen Aces MC #4 by Max Henry Cover Reveal
 
 
Title: Existential
Series: Fallen Aces MC #4
Author: Max Henry
Genre: MC Romance Suspense
Release Date: April 18, 2017 
 
 
 
 
 
How much suffering can a man withstand before he finally breaks? A question I used to ask myself often. Now I know the answer. 
 
As president of the Fallen Aces MC Fort Worth chapter, I’m looked to for guidance in times of crisis. I’m expected to set personal grievances aside and lead by example. Yet how can I do that when those grievances robbed me of my family, my life? My reason to be at the head of the table? 
 
My father: murdered. My baby sister: killed the same day. And my other sister? A mystery. I’m drowning in my desolation and yet nobody seems to care. Or maybe it’s the fact I won’t let them close enough to help? Either way, my losses are my own, and I’ll deal with them the only way I know how—by punishing myself. 
 
I’ve got it all figured out, at least, I thought I did. Until one woman, a traveller passing by, unravels the master plan. I see it in her eyes, the same distance, the same feeling that she doesn’t belong—that her time here is wasted. 
 
One woman who mirrors me in every way, and suddenly I find a reason to hold off the reaper a little longer. A reason to stay at the head of the table. A reason to show those who’ve hurt me that, although they brought the beast to its knees, I won’t lay down to die without a fight. 
 
Existential is book number four in the Fallen Aces MC series, but can be read as a standalone.

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
He reaches out and threads his fingers under mine, bringing our joined hands between us on the floor. “Do you think it’s weak if a man admits his fears?”
 
I frown, squeezing his hand tight. “No.” Why would he even think that? “I think it’s honorable. It takes so much bravery to admit you have faults.”
 
“You think?”
 
“I know.” After all, aren’t I the authority on keeping faults a secret?
 
He sniffs, staring at the toes of his boots where they rest against the base of the washer. “Since everything went to shit last year, I get … I guess the only way to describe it is angry at myself.”
 
“What for? Do you blame yourself for what happened?”
 
His head drops back again, and he closes his eyes as his thumb traces a path on the back of my hand. “Yeah, but I know I shouldn’t. Still, knowin’ what I’m thinkin’ is wrong doesn’t make it go away. I still blame myself for everything, still hate myself for it.”
 
“That’s natural, though. You went through something traumatic, from what you’ve said of it, so you’ve got strong reactions that need a place to rest.”
 
“I went on a bender after they died,” he explains, opening his eyes to stare at the ceiling. “Drank, binged on coke, picked fights with my friends, and it wasn’t until I couldn’t remember what it was like to be straight that I finally realized why I did it.”
 
“Distraction?”
 
“To die.” 
 
A lump lodges in my throat as I take him in. At face value he’s strength and dominance. He’s a huge guy, intimidating to those who don’t know him, with his black clothing, leather, and piercings. He puts out an image of power, over others, and himself. But underneath it all he hides this.
 
“Don’t,” I utter. “Don’t say that again.”
 
“Why?” He rolls his head to look me in the eye. “It’s the truth, Dagne. I don’t want to do this anymore. Every day is hard. I wake up wishin’ it was time to go to sleep again, dreadin’ the day before it’s even happened.” His face moves through frustration and anger, glimpses of pain and despair between. “You have any idea what it’s like to just want to curl up in a ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist?”
 
“Yeah, I do,” I say. “I also know what it’s like to want to die. To know you’re too gutless to do it yourself, so you wish for something that’ll do it for you, like an illness, an accident, or a masochistic fucking father who hates the fact you breathe the same air as him.” Hooch’s eyes go wide, and I realize in that moment tears streak my cheeks. But fuck it—he needs to hear it. “I also know what it’s like to be hurt so bad that you finally believe that day has come, and in that second your foolishness and selfish thoughts come back to haunt you. What it’s like to realize when you’re faced with your own mortality that you don’t want to die … you just wish you were someone else, living another life.”
 
“Dagne—”
 
“Ah.” I lift my finger to stop him. “Nope. I’m not finished, mister.”
 
A small smile plays at the corner of his lips, and he reaches out to wipe my tears. “Carry on.”
 
“What you have to face is that you have the power to be somebody else. Fuck what your head tells you, Hooch. Your mind is a goddamn liar. It feeds off your fear, shows you your flaws while hiding your strengths. If you’re not happy,” I say, jabbing him in the chest, “change it. Do something about it. But don’t quit.”
 
“I’ve tried.” He captures my hand, focusing on the flesh of my palm as he traces the lines with his finger. “I really have, but my battery’s run dry, girl.”
 
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “It hasn’t. You just haven’t found what charges it yet.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Max is the author of dark, and highly emotional romance. Her Butcher Boys series is centered around a group of ex-street kids who have teamed up with an indebted motorcycle club to take down a notorious drug lord. And her new series, the Fallen Aces MC, is a spin-off from this dark and dangerous world. Her writing has been described as 'gripping', and 'addictive', taking you on an 'emotional roller coaster ride'. Originally born and bred in New Zealand, Max now resides with her family in beautiful and sunny Queensland, Australia. Life with two young children can be hectic at times, and although she may not write as often as she would like, Max wouldn't change a thing. When she's not engrossed in her dark and twisted fictional worlds, she can be found enjoying the outdoors while 4wd-ing with her family.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOSTED BY:
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2017-02-16 16:28
Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet
Sweet Lamb of Heaven: A Novel - Lydia Millet

Hm. Hmmm. This is a difficult book to write about as it defies easy genre placement. It has notes of thriller, horror, SF/speculative fiction, and philosophy. I chose to shelve it under "literary fiction" because I don't see a conflict between the literary and genre elements.

 

Judging by the three-star average rating, most will either love or be confounded by and hate this novel. It took some warming up for me, and I have other quibbles about characterization and writing style. But when I finished the book, I wanted to jump back in and discuss it.

 

It's a novel of big (and politically relevant) ideas wrapped in a domestic thriller. The story centers on a mom and her young daughter. The mother, Anna, hears a voice. Not voices, one voice, and much of the novel's first quarter or third is spent characterizing this voice--what it is and isn't, if not why it is at all. Then, the voice stops. Anna is relieved but still puzzled. More importantly, she has to get away from her husband, who is revealing himself to be a sociopath. She sets out on her own with her daughter and shacks up at a motel in New England. Her husband doesn't care until he decides to run for a government office. He wants his estranged wife and kid around as political props. Anna resists but is threatened.

 

Interspersed with events are bits of research Anna has done on the voice--on language and communication across species, flora and fauna, on God and mental health, community and self-hood. She's found a small community at the isolated motel, and they contribute to her understanding. The closer she comes to making sense of things, the more danger she's in until matters reach a breaking point, not felt until she realizes just how much she's been manipulated.

 

Millet is posing some big questions and making assertions that ring especially true in our new extreme-right and digital environments. I haven't yet sorted through all the implications of the story, but I'm happy for the challenge.

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text 2016-08-10 01:11
Stand by the King, Stand by Your Brother
The Shawshank Redemption - Stephen King
The Body - Robin A.H. Waterfield,Stephen King
The Shining - Stephen King

When I received the incredible opportunity to meet Stephen King, I pondered for days beforehand about what to tell him, what I wanted to share with this man who had shared so much with me through his words.

And then I knew.

But If I were to get the words out in the moment, it had to be a just-us.

 

My husband went first. Then I stepped forward and King's eyes smiled into mine and held them. I leaned forward, the distance balanced between no one can overhear/this is special and I'm a crazy stalker who is going to bite off your nose. His eyes told me he understood. And then I told him.

 

I told him that "The Body", the novella that became Stand by Me, helped me, with every reread, with my delayed and complicated grief from my little brother's death. In the obvious ways at first, but, finally, as I aged--

 

through Chris, as he cried about wanting to go somewhere where no one knew him and start over (unable to shoulder my identity as the Older Bereaved Sister, wanting to drop it)

 

and as Chris, in the quoted scene below, tells Gordie that he is stuck in his grief, stuck thinking the wrong brother died, stuck in his anger, and that he has some writing to do.

King had looked down while I was explaining, to carefully sign my first edition of The Shining. When I got to that last specific bit, he finished, dropped the pen, and met my eyes again. His eyes were damp.

 

"I am so very glad," he said, "and so, so very grateful you were able to tell me."

 

We looked silently at each other for another moment. He slid me my book, and said, "What was his name?"

 

"Eric."

 

He nodded as a man does when he mentally puts something in his pocket. "Eric."

 

--

 

The movie came out when I was in high school, still in the middle of it, still trying to figure out the answer to the question about how many siblings I had. The truth--one but he died? Way to bum everyone out, Morticia. None? Betrayal. Just being tasked with that (tasking myself with it) ramped up the grief-anger. Perfect timing. This movie owns a piece of my heart, and I don't want it back.

 

Gordie: Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid. It's a stupid waste of time.
Chris: That's your dad talking.
Gordie: Bullshit.
Chris: Bull true. I know how your dad feels about you. He doesn't give a shit about you. Denny was the one he cared about and don't try to tell me different. You're just a kid, Gordie.
Gordie: Oh, gee! Thanks, Dad.
Chris: Wish the hell I was your dad. You wouldn't be goin' around talkin' about takin' these stupid shop courses if I was. It's like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, "This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it." Kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.

 

--

 

Thank you, sweet, loving Naomi King, for sharing so much of your father with the rest of us weird motley fools and discontents. Please accept this story as a token of gratitude from one Constant Reader, who is a better and healthier person for it.

 

Impetus: http://wilwheaton.net/2011/03/though-i-hadnt-seen-him-in-over-twenty-years-i-knew-id-miss-him-forever/

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