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review 2018-01-15 21:17
The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus
The Infinite Future: A Novel - Tim Wirkus
The Night Ocean - Paul La Farge

The Infinite Future involves nesting stories: There is a fictional 'Tim Wirkus' who receives this manuscript out of the blue from a distant acquaintance. The manuscript is the story of how the acquaintance, Danny, uncovers a literary mystery with two other people that leads them on a altogether different kind of spiritual quest. Danny begins as a former Morman missionary and financially strapped would-be author who has run afoul of the thugs of the religious-fiction industry. In Brazil, while doing research for a doomed novel he is befriended by a librarian, Sergio, who introduces him to an obscure Brazilian sf writer - Salgado-MacKenzie - who left hints of a trans-formative novel, 'The Infinite Future', and vanished without a trace. On their search for more answers they meet Harriet, an excommunicated Morman historian who had corresponded with the author some years before.

The three of them have little in common, but they are inextricably drawn together by what Salgado-Mackenzie's work makes them feel. Each finds themselves hinging their different hopes on what they may find when they track down the elusive author and the manuscript for his masterpiece. What they discover is too good a story to reveal here. The second half of the book is the novel-within-the-novel 'The Infinite Future'. Readers can judge for themselves its worth.

Along with Paul LaFarge's The Night Ocean, The Infinite Future is inaugurating a new generation of genre-fiction that is examining itself and pushing into new boundaries. This is an unusual book, but that is its primary strength.

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review 2018-01-15 19:55
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Cold Comfort Farm. - Stella Gibbons

This is novel is an artifact of the interwar years of Great Britain and a satire of the great and small English authors who wrote so passionately about the deep and rich life of the rural poor. I confess I'm not as familiar with the authors Stella Gibbons is lampooning in Cold Comfort Farm as I should be, other than Austen, I've read a novel and a half of D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy apiece, and I'd never heard of Hugh Walpole until I had to find out who she was mocking in the preface. Other popular writers of the time were more responsible for the content and the character of the Starkadder Family and Cold Comfort Farm itself were so bludgeoned into obscurity I can't bring myself to name them here.

The plot involves one Flora Poste, an elegant and educated girl of 19 who finding herself without parents and knowing the stigma attached to living off of friends, decides to foist herself on some unknown relatives in Sussex. She finds the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm to be hampered with ignorance, psychosis, stifled ambitions and general uncleanliness. One by one she begins to transform them to her liking.

It is all very contrived and patronizing, but a few cuts come in close and I can't say Gibbons was wrong. It was entertaining and passed a few cold evenings. I read the Folio Society edition and was disappointed, for the first time, in Quentin Blake's illustrations. They didn't do anything for me or for the story. Happily, the text carries itself.

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review 2018-01-11 20:34
Only the Rain
Only the Rain - Randall Silvis

By:  Randall Silvis

ISBN: 978-1542049948

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date: 1/1/2018 

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

From the internationally acclaimed author and gifted storyteller, a master of complicated human souls— Randall Silvis bring readers his latest, ONLY THE RAIN —a gripping and emotional story of an ordinary man faced with a split second decision, leading to dire consequences. 

One which could change the course of his life and those near and dear to him. 

A short book (read in one sitting), A remarkable heart-rendering blending of literary, drama, mystery, suspense, and psychological thriller. Most importantly, as with all Randall Silvis’ books, THOUGHT-PROVOKING and INSIGHTFUL. 

The author's lyrical prose is "spellbinding" drawing you into the raw and emotional world of his characters. A given—numerous highlighted, bookmarked, pages and passages. 

Told in the form of email entries written from a man searching for answers to his good friend and Army buddy from Iraq, Spencer. (has been six years since he has seen him), the story unravels. 

“Thing is, there’s just too much I have to tell somebody, and nobody else I can tell it to.”

Back from Iraq, Russell Blystone is an average guy. A former soldier still haunted with dreams and nightmares from the war. The horrific experiences continue to make him feel helpless and guilty. He continues to fight his demons even back home, attempting to live a regular life.

“Personally, I’ve come to believe that theories are of small value when it comes to actually living your life, to making all the hard decisions you have to make and then dealing with the consequences of those decisions.”

Russell now has a family. A wife (Cindy), and two daughters (Dani and Emma). Another baby on the way. He has a secret. He must tell someone. The computer is his only outlet and email communication (even though he may not send).

He is too ashamed to tell his wife and his Pops. Pops and Gee, the grandparents who raised him after his mother died. Gee passed on a year ago, and now Pops is living at Brookside Manor, an independent living facility. They are very close. 

He got himself into this mess, and he has to get out. 

Pops is strong, funny, witty, wise, and caring. (loved his character). He has a smile that lights up a room. Russell cannot tell Pops what he has done. Russell loves his Pops and respects him. (enjoyed the interaction with other residents). 

Pops and Gee would be ashamed of him. However, if he cannot figure a way out of this, he may have no other choice but to tell Pops. Pops, also a veteran from the Vietnam War understands the horrors of war. However, will he be so understanding of his most recent actions?

Cindy, Russell’s wife (a bank teller) has not had a comfortable life. A drug dealing abusive low-life dad (Donnie) and mother, Janice. She managed to escape. However, he continues to try to worm his way back into their lives. They keep their children away from him. 

Here is where the nightmare began: 

Russell and Cindy finally have their home and trying to live a healthy family life. He has just lost his job at the plant which is being shut down. He does not want to tell his wife yet since she worries so much. 

Due to her past and the current pregnancy, he wants to try and find another job before he causes her more stress. He wants her to feel safe and secure. He still has a few weeks to wrap up the situation before the Chinese take over. 

In the blink of an eye, his life would go from secure and hopeful to being one step away from homeless. Without health insurance, the mortgage, utilities, taxes, and a family of four to feed. 

With Cindy's bank job, the income would be of little help without his salary. He is stressed. He cannot let his family down. With minimal jobs in the area, he must keep this a secret until he lands another job. 

It is raining one day, and he is on his motorcycle. Due to the traffic, he takes a different route. He passes a worn down house when he sees a woman dancing naked in the rain with Gregg Allman music playing loudly in the background. 

She seems to have fallen, and a pit bull is chained nearby. Out in the middle of nowhere. He must make a decision. To keep going on the slippery road, or turn around and stop to help the girl. 

At first, he decides to keep going, but then again he thinks she needs help. He turns around. He helps someone who does not want help.

Always spells TROUBLE. 

The girl seems to be strung out on drugs. When he stops and carries her inside, she is wet and muddy and appears to be alone. He tells her she needs to get in the shower. She is in the other room, and when he pulls back the shower curtain, he sees four cardboard boxes with duct tape. He lifts off the lid and sees bundles of cash.

A drugged woman trying to seduce him, and cash. Fear, panic, excitement. Should he leave it, or take it. Most likely the money was from drug dealing. Who would know if he grabbed it? Just one box. The money would help him pay the bills until he found another job. It would save his family. 

This one impulsive decision would haunt him. He was no better than a typical thief. Shame. Grief. Fear. Disgust. The war before and the battle waging within him now. A strong need to feel loved and safe. Thinking about the same decisions he made during the battles in Iraq. 

Why did he take the money and what was he going to do with it? His daughter gets sick, and he has to use the money to pay the hospital bill. Now what?

Then the worst happens. His boot prints. The drug dealers. He needs more than Spence. He needs his Pop. He has to tell him. To help figure a way out. A strategy. Pop's storage unit. 

Now the drug dealers are on his trail, and his low life father in law Donnie is involved. In a race against time, he has placed his family, his Pops, and himself in the middle of impending danger. A race against time. 

What is his exit strategy? He needs to be the kind of husband and father Pops had been. What about plans A, B, and C. The Domino Catastrophe Theory. The dominoes do not stop falling.

An ordinary man struggling, trying to do the right thing during childhood, college, adulthood, the army, marriage, and parenthood. Stealing the money involved his entire family in one way or another. He lost his job and when he saw the money he thought this was the answer.

Secrets and lies always have a way of snowballing. The day of reckoning. The McClain brothers are an extension of Iraq. As if the same war. 

“Is it possible to hate something you did and to hate yourself for doing it, yet still be glad you did it?”

With gut-wrenching intensity, action-packed ONLY THE RAIN draws you into a realistic world of one man’s choices and consequences. Crossing ethical lines in order to save his family. A man, struggling with his inner demons. 

What makes this story so absorbing (in addition to the correspondence to Spence), his friend— is the heartwarming and intricate relationship between Pops and Russell.

Life. “You gain, you lose. You win you fail. You spin, you die." 

“Spin and die, To live a butterfly again.”

 

 

 

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 10, 2018 at 3:26pm PST

 



I adore Randall Silvis’ writing style. In addition to the digital copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Eric G. Dove for an engaging performance. 

I became an instant fan of the author when I first read (Ryan Marcus Mystery Series #1) Two Days Gone. (fabulous). Top Books of 2017! 

Be sure and add to your reading list, Walking the Bones, coming Jan 23, 2018. A second book in the series. Another 5 star! Blog Tour Host, Jan 23. Enter a book giveaway contest starting Jan 15-Feb 1. Working on my review now. Top Books of 2018.

"...[a] deeply satisfying sequel....this solid procedural offers heart-pounding moments of suspense. Silvis smoothly blends moments of exquisite beauty into a sea of darker emotion to create a moving story heavy with the theme of the 'past is never past.'" - Publishers Weekly Starred Review Walking the Bones. 

If you enjoy sophisticated and intelligent thrillers with a literary flair, highly recommend this author. There is another author who is one of my favorites ,T. Greenwood. These two authors have a remarkable talent for storytelling. Both authors have a rare gift of making you fall magically in love with their words. Also, check out her upcoming book (Aug 2018) Rust & Stardust

If you enjoyed ONLY THE RAIN, recommend James Hankins’Shady Cross and Dennis Lehane's Since We Fell. (currently reading/listening) narrated Julia Whelan (one of my favorite narrators). 

JDCMustReadBooks 

If you missed this Kindle First read during Dec, you should grab it now. In e-book, hardcover, and audio formats. Highly Recommend.

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/15/Only-the-Rain
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review 2018-01-11 04:09
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

Over fifty years later and people are still trying to match this book. I grew up in a small town in America, and had a childhood very unlike the one Will and Jim were enjoying before it was interrupted, but Bradbury writes in such a way that his nostalgia becomes your own. I felt it. The narration feels like a fairy tale, this is a book that does well aloud.

I meant to re-read this for Halloween, but I didn't get to it until the turkey was gone. <i>Something Wicked This Way Comes</i> is about childhood, and growing up, and what fear can drive people to do to each other and themselves. It is the stuff of a million novels, but Bradbury makes it work with his fantastic elements, the carnival-as-explicit-metaphor, and the acknowledgement that the character's lives cannot go back to the way things were.

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review 2018-01-06 22:53
A book of stories about the female experience with a powerful voice
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories - Carmen Maria Machado

I finally read this celebrated book, and it’s quite a read. It’s all at once devastating, complicated, weird, queer, scary, sometimes funny, and the writing was always beautiful. Machado has written about the female experience in a number of different stories, some I enjoyed vastly more than others, some captivating me, a couple dragged on a bit. But this is unlike anything I’ve read before. A book YOU should probably all read! 

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