You Can Go Home Again, It Ain’t Easy

This is a reviewed copy from the author.

Many have heard of the term “nuclear family.” Without reference to the Hermit Kingdom, it is generally known that collections of nuclear stuff can achieve critical mass with explosive results. Material scatters everywhere. That is what happened in Idabel Allen’s novel Rooted. Readers did not witness this explosion; we will join the decimated family as a group with its fewest members in the beginning chapter of the novel. After the explosion, after a few years, the same scattered material may begin to coalesce. Allen will relate the painful process and problems with this “coming together.” As Allen points out “It all comes from the root. And Grover McQuiston was the root of it all.” (loc56-57).

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Lame Story With Tacos

Despite the self-deprecating title, this is the third edition, published in 2015, of Dan’s Lame Novel by Dan C. Rinnert. The first edition was published in 2012, the second in 2013, then there was a stumble with no edition published in 2014, a further support to the claim of being lame.

There can be little critical comment about any breaking of rules of good writing because Rinnert preemptively criticizes himself. In a foreword, wisely written after completion of most of the novel, Rinnert identified most writing canon that he had blown up (pun intended) and proudly proclaimed that he had the right to do so. The warning for the reader is “You have been warned that this is a lame novel, read it at your own risk.”

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What Did You Do For Your Summer Vacation?

I received One Night by Deanna Cabinian from the author. At first a bit reluctant to read something described as a “coming of age” novel, I am glad I did. I have a category I like to call a “comfort read.” Nothing in it should give offense to anyone (IMHO). It borders on fantasy in that the characters are almost too perfect and, in several cases, too mature in behavior and opinion for their chronological age. In the first few pages, I worried the story would spiral down into sappy, syrupy, sentimental storytelling in a nostalgic search for an imagined perfect past. That did not happen. The tightly controlled crisp writing moved the story along at almost page-turner speed. There are nicely woven reflections on quality of life, the inevitability of death, different perceptions of love (requited and unrequited) and the values of a strong family life. What could have been sappy was rescued by the writers skill into something really good. On an Amazon scale, I gave this a five-star rating, something I have never done with a “comfort read.” I highly recommend this for the YA crowd and will nag my son until he reads at least parts of it.

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Unusual, but with a Gracious Ending

The Cupboard by Charles Harris is a collection of seven unusual stories. That is what is stated on the cover so as I go through each story I will be looking at the “unusual” factor and rate each story accordingly.

Unusual rating = U + 1-10 (10 being the most unusual)

The Cupboard (U8) There is no end to this story. It is a realistic ending without being an ending. Our unnamed narrator is a film director who is not always employed. His upstairs neighbor, Frank, turned out to be a cameraman with a gift for lighting. When Director found a script about a magician that he thought worthy of production, he also found magic to be one of Frank’s talents. Frank helped correct a few errors in the script and Director went on to production but felt Frank’s talents as a cameraman weren’t sufficient to include him in the project. Frank didn’t actively complain but became increasingly quiet and didn’t visit Director’s apartment as much. The film was a success and Frank was invited to a party where he performed his most astonishing trick of all. It would affect others present in different ways in their futures. The story is unusual and so is the phrasing used to discuss some of Director’s observations. Describing his marital relationship with wife Rosie, Director noted: “She was attractive enough to find her own lover if she wanted to, and in her mid-thirties was still more than serviceable.” (loc 68-69). I found that a bit jarring. Such phrasing contributed to what made the story unusual for me.

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Good Ol’ Boys at Work & Play

The cover of Cigerets, Guns & Beer by Phillip T. Stevens catches the eye immediately. Beer and cigarettes are present, necessary for any good breakfast. While a gun is not displayed, bullet holes are, perhaps from the night before. A reader might predict that this will be a “good ol’ boy” novel replete with rednecks. The reader would be correct. This novel will make those who grew up in a small town nostalgic; a place where there might be only one law enforcement officer who also read water and electric meters, sold alcohol in defiance of Sunday “blue laws,” was a source of under-the-table porn, and served as a de facto judge deciding what town residents could and could not get away with.

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