The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen has a title that immediately provokes reader thought. If Mercy is unraveling, she (a gender presumption, I know) must have been tightly wound. So if she unravels, then what? Will she have to be reassembled or will she just cease to exist? The reader will discover immediately that Mercy is indeed tightly wound. She lives with her grandmother (Maw-maw) who feeds Mercy information that her mother is a crack whore who abandoned Mercy at birth and has never tried to contact her daughter. Mercy is also driven to succeed as a basketball player by a high school coach who drives the team with the discipline style of a military drill instructor. Mercy lives in a small, socially close-knit town where everybody knows everything about each other; if not, they gossip. She is discovering her sexual self. And, since this takes place before December 2000, ultra-religious Maw-maw has convinced Mercy that the New Year will arrive at the same time as the Rapture, so everyone is going to die soon anyway. Tightly wound, indeed.

Tick by Allison Rose is a book without an ending. I don’t think that is a spoiler but it is disappointing. And it’s my fault. I read a description of the book and was so taken by the interesting description that I clicked “read for free” on the Amazon site and read it as a Kindle Unlimited (KU) book. So I can’t complain about paying too much. (Even though the “read for free” claim on a subscription site that I pay for bothers my sensibilities as an English teacher.) But these are mostly administrative details (except for the “no ending). It remains my fault that I read my way through this interesting dystopian novel expecting answers and when I didn’t get them, I complain.

Jo is the 17-year-old hero of this YA novel. She has problems she cannot even define and she knows it. Some problems she can define. Mom is somewhat off the rails in a mental alternative world, but not all the time. Jo can remember an earlier youthful time when mom was fun, before Rick. He is mom’s current partner; Jo’s real dad died years earlier, a suicide. So we start out with two well-defined problems and we add Jo’s hatred of Rick. While this looks like a set-up for an abuse by stepdad story, I will reassure readers this does not happen. It is not a spoiler as early in the book Jo solves her problem by removing Rick’s brain and placing it on his lap. That was before she went to prison. First problem solved but now we have the prison situation to deal with.

But you are always there … somewhere …

12 Shocking True Crime Murder Cases True Crime Anthology Vol. 3 by Jack Rosewood presents itself just as the title indicates. Because I had earlier read and reviewed a previous Rosewood publication, Patrick Kearney Serial Killer, I was interested in comparing this work with his earlier work. I received both books through the Library Thing Member Giveaway Program in return for an honest review. In my earlier honest review, I was unimpressed to the point of negativity with Patrick Kearney. I thought the content lacked depth and the organization of the work was difficult for the reader to follow events. In this book, however, I found the organization much better and the content, while still shallow, was improved to the point that I would recommend it to my students studying English as a Foreign and Second Language. My students are in university. I would not recommend this at high school level for two reasons.

The Damage Done by Mark Matthews is a short read, only 36 pages. (ADMIN NOTE: I write this for my…

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman is a book for travelers, especially first-time travelers. As far as preparations and planning for travel, Susan and Claire made just about every mistake possible. The fact that they survived was just plain “dumb” luck. They were traveling in the mid-80s to China, a country that was characterized by suspicion when it came to contact with foreigners.

Claire had money, at least her family did. We get to know her as sort of a spoiled rich girl. This story is related by Susan, who had to work hard for a long time to save money for the big adventure the two planned. She was helped financially by a grandmother, but mostly she had to work for things Claire might take for granted.

I received this novel because I nominated it through the Kindle Scout program and the book was selected (won). The preview I read prior to nominating the book was quite interesting.

Poisoned Rose by Nathalie Saade is a morally depressing book. An interesting story? Yes. Some interesting and unusual twists? Yes. Predictable? Well, yeah. We know early on that there are traitors inside a closed network of people where loyalty is everything. In a group of traitors, there has to be a supreme traitor. We get that. We know that low-level traitors or rogues will be revealed, tortured, and, if we can let them live long enough, the captive will provide clues as to the identity of the conspiracy leader. There is a romantic interest. We are pretty sure how that will work out.

A Year of Stories – Collection 2: Black Coral by Steve Spalding is a project with the intriguing premise that a story will be written each day of the year. Specifically, each weekday, but there are sections entitled weekend writing. I reviewed the work Spalding published for January and paid attention to two things. Firstly, did he write every day? Yes, and has been mentioned, sometimes on the weekend. Secondly, were the stories interesting or was it just a vocabulary dump? For January, yes stories were interesting, some more so than others, but I was overall impressed.

Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig begins with his acknowledgement that Lithuanian pornography is a source of inspiration. That is in sentence three of the acknowledgements and I am not going to put the book down until I get to the end. Maybe there will be pictures.

Because this is a book of short stories, I want to make some observations on each one. From beginning to end there may not be any single unifying theme. But watch out for the occasional appearances of cats with wings. And in the last paragraph of the last story (not a spoiler, by the way) is the best depiction in words of a Fourth-of-July fireworks demonstration I have ever come across. It is not actually about the Fourth-of-July but if you get there, you will see what I mean.