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THE RAVEN ROOM: A Trilogy Mystery (Book 1) ~Ana Medeiros

Monday, November 16th, 2015

“Anything you can imagine. Everything you crave.”

“The Raven Room will have everything you could possibly want and more.” (The San Francisco Book Review – cover)<‘blockquote>

You need to be in Chicago to find the RAVEN ROOM finely tuned into Chinatown and the underground levels under traditional storefronts.  It is a Sex Club and offers its membership every delight they could possibly imagine and now there is a murder involved with the club; the press and police would like access.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review and I have mixed emotions about this request.  I was only offered Book One, which has a very unsettling ending and no book two or three in the offering.  The book is very well written and finds a hold on the reader very quickly and the sex keeps coming full throttle and does not let up page after page after page.   The characters are well developed and disturbing at times and have numerous psychological attributes, which can be overwhelming.  Even though I would rather not know about this kind of club and it’s activities the story is believable.

Meredith is a young journalism student and has discovered an older fellow who arouses many new feelings in her.  She wants to write an expose’ about THE RAVEN ROOM club and Julian is her point of entry member.  Julian is self-destructive, because of his abandonment as a child and his trials within the foster care system, and yet he is working on healing himself and has developed a fine reputation as a child psychologist and caregiver.  Meredith wants to keep him from self-destruction and yet will she be pulled into his controlling side life situations?

The book is about sexual deviations and I know I should not feel like there was too much sex, but I did feel there was just too much.  A loving encounter would turn into beatings and cutting and choking….  I just had to set the book aside and go do something else.  The who-done-it part of the story was wonderful and the development of the backstories was very good and kept me proceeding until the very rude, abrupt last page.  Yikes!  I kept trying to figure out where the story was headed and could not get it out of my mind.

I would offer a warning for those who are not wanting to read about such violence and so much sex – The RAVEN ROOM has it all and will take the purchase of 3 books to get the whole story.

About the Author

“Before THE RAVEN ROOM there was Paris, books, coffee, chocolate and zombies. Ana Medeiros lives in Toronto, Canada, with her boyfriend and two cats. THE RAVEN ROOM is her first novel.” (From Amazon’s page)

“Readers who enjoy complex stories with strong characterization and psychological depth will find The Raven Room a satisfyingly story of emotional turbulence…” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

HE, SHE, IT: A Novel ~Marge Piercy

Monday, August 31st, 2015

HE, SHE, IT is not a new novel and it is one from my own personal library. I read it the first time in 1991 when it was required reading at the college where I worked.   It was fascinating when I first read it and it stuck with me over all the years.   Then I saw it for 5 cents on a sale table and I purchased it to read again and I was not disappointed.  I even put it on our book group’s schedule for November of this year because I wanted to make sure I read it again.

Long story short of it, I liked this book then and I liked this book now. The writing is fabulous and the parallel stories give it a solid strength and dynamic, and I just could not get enough of the similarities to how our world is turning out right now.    Any binge TV watchers or movie series in the room?

The story takes place in the 21st Century after lots of pollution and soil erosion has ruined the environment. Shira is a brilliant tech person working for the Big Multi Corporations, who has just experienced a divorce and having her child taken away. She escapes her trauma and her job by going back to a free town, Tikva, where her Grandmother a brilliant programmer and historian reared her. Tikva is a free settlement and the people grow their own “real” not vat food and are working at restoring bird life and moral values to their primarily Jewish community.

Shira’s Grandmother and her colleague have built a robot/ cyborg to protect their community not only on the NET but also in their personal lives and this is illegal because the cyborg looks and acts human.  Shira falls in love with Yod and he assists her in recovering her son and bringing him to Tikva.

“As always, Piercy writes with high intelligence, love for the world, ethical passion, and innate feminism.”  (Adrienne Rich – book cover).

The parallel story of the Jewish Golem in Prague in the 1600s is quite fascinating and an interesting replay of that tradition in Jewish literature.  How to build salvation, redemption, and protection in a robot or clay to save the city and the religion from persecution?   A question with a lifetime of study and well handled in HE, SHE, IT.

There are so many parallels to our current lives that it is amazing that the story was written so many years ago.   We seem to need to be entertained and to keep our minds distracted.   We need to earn credits (money) to perfect our physical selves and to dazzle with our clothing and exterior bling.  We don’t seem to be able to control or understand our emotions and dozens of folks are on our streets with their own brand of justice and weapons. Women are expendable and lower class than men. Binge watching is our stimulation and we can download so many distractions and find ways to follow any fad or temporary fixes.  Distractions are us.   Not many thinkers or readers and definitely not many questioners and folks analyzing the situation.

I am looking forward to discussing this book with my book group and digging into the moral issues and the meaningful issues presented in this story. I think you will not be disappointed and I highly recommend HE, SHE, IT to my readers.

There is lots of action and romance in this story.  HE, SHE, IT stands the test of time.

About the Author:

“Marge Piercy is the author of numerous novels, among them Woman on the Edge of Time, Vida, Braided Lives, Gone to Soldiers, and Summer People.  She has written 15 volumes of Poetry by the time this book was published.  She has coauthored a play, The Last White Class, with her husband Ira Wood, the Novelist and screen writer, with who she lives on Cape Cod.”

I could actually just fill up this whole review with a list of her writing.  Piercy is prolific and an essential writer to everyone’s list of great reads.  She is an activist.

Marge Piercy Wikipedia 

Related:
The Sowing 
The Shock Doctrine 
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter 
When Women Were Birds

STONE MATTRESS: Nine Tales ~Margaret Atwood

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

I discovered that I could pre-order this book a full month before it would appear on shelves at the library or bookstore, I did just that.  I just felt hungry for the incredible writing of Atwood and as though I had been fasting and not indulging for a very long time.   I was not disappointed in the least.   I have already read the tales twice and will come back again to enjoy.

“A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: think Alias Grace.” (From Amazon’s page)

There is a creative psychological component to Atwood’s writing which just holds me to her words and the play she gives them.  The first three stories are loosely connected by an early on romance and Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady play with growing old, loss of a partner, and the choices made early on in a life returning to be studied as the body can no longer comply.  Ice and snow and winter are big themes as is escape and control.

Lusus Naturae is about a child born with a defect and how she learns to cope with her situation; is it really coping or more the hiding mode? What society fears?  As a man is “kicked out” of his relationship he purchases a storage unit at an auction and is amazed to discover its contents and the preserved relationship within its walls.    I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth and The Dead Hand Loves You are again exploring the writer’s world and where it has taken the author  or the character and then brought them back with some kind of protection or blindness to deal with the reality of the moment.

Stone Mattress brought revenge on an artic discovery cruise for a horrible crime perpetrated on a young girl, which radically changed her life and future.  The writing was precise, cold and successful; a bit chilling for the reader.   Torching the Dusties is about a woman with Macular Degeneration who can only see the periphery of her world, she is living in a senior center that is now under siege by a group calling themselves “Our Turn” and burning down home care buildings and the residents living there.   Once again the theme is about growing old and coping, worth and vision, and adversity and control.   Fascinating story and I am so glad I read it a second time.

The political climate of the day is so subtle and yet shouts of what we do not hear clearly within all the noise around us in our world.

I am very fond of Margaret Atwood as a writer and she is so prolific I can honestly say I have not read all of her work or even come close – just the highlights.  I am very fond of short stories and combining that fondness with this author’s tremendous skill was a gift to my experience.   I could not put this book down and just enjoyed it cover to cover several times.   I rate this highly and humbly top of the line and believe my readers would not be disappointed and instead relish this book –  STONE MATRESS

From the book:

“MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.  In addition to THE HANDMADE’S TALE, her novels include CAT’S EYE, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; ALIAS GRACE, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; THE BLIND ASSASSIN, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, ORYX AND CRAKE, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize.  She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.”

Related:
Our Love Could Light the World
Olive Kitteridge 
The Boys in the Boat
The Signature of All Things

THE DEAD KEY: A Mystery & Thriller Award Winner ~D.M. Pulley

Monday, March 30th, 2015

“ ‘The board of the bank is made up of every old money man in town.  No project gets built in Cleveland without someone from the bank being involved.  Every project that lost money had a board member of First Bank of Cleveland at the helm, but the feds can’t put a case together.  City council won’t provide corroborating witnesses.  Judges won’t grant search warrants.”  He shook his head, exasperated.” (Loc 4599 of 6682)

2014 WINNER – Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner.

The DEAD KEY was not a high-speed page-turner, rather the story built upon the measuring tape and efforts of a very young recent engineering graduate and her new job, documenting a very old bank, which had been locked and abandoned in 1978 – December 1978.  The 15 story huge building had captured the interest of some developer and they needed architectural plans for the new designs and expectations.  Iris the recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University is hired to complete the survey and get the plans processed, and then translated to the computer as fast as she is able in the summer of 1998.

I went to High School in Cleveland, moving there from a State of 3 million people to a City of 3 million people when I was 16.  I found the city grey and ugly and so dirty.  My Father was constantly explaining it was Industrial and depressed; the flowers and trees seemed to be depressed and the snow grey and dirty.  I loved sitting in on lectures at Case Western Reserve University and on Saturdays spent the day in the Hough Area working in the Homework club with new readers and later in the day with seniors that needed housekeeping or shopping completed for them.  I learned that the vegetables in the Hough area were not fresh nor- the same price as out in the suburbs. I won a Microwave oven from the Cleveland Illuminating Company with a whole package of new innovations for the kitchen after taking their class.  I gave the package to the Hough Area schools because my high school thought it was demeaning to want to know about these kinds of products.

Why does my story make any difference, because Iris, our main gal in the story is sullen, and bored and trapped in her situation and feels the same as I found people in the late 60s.  Iris is definitely depressed until she starts to use her mind and is scared by the strange things and sounds going on in that old and dark, dank, hidden bank.  Iris feels she is being followed and talked too though the duct work and as though messages are being left for her from Beatrice Baker, a very young secretary in the Audit division of the Bank.  The story begins to build on Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998.  The tension builds with flies and spiders and tunnels and noises and strange and cryptic writing.  I don’t want to leave out the dirty old men and their born to wealth children, the snobbery and the power / control issues all experienced from the secretarial pool and the people working on survival mode.  Lots of womanizing and Mad mannish drinking and roughing /threatening folks who are doing the work.

Cleveland crashed because of the dirty old wealthy men in 1978

I was excited that there was a bit of discussion about Mayor Dennis Kucinich and Nixon’s laws for the white and wealthy, but very little and that made me sad.  Iris and the author keep those discussions small and focus on how they might be reflected on the building and the outcomes for the future.

As Ohio is on the royalty list for voter suppression and economic inequality – especially for women and ethnic groups there is quite an exciting opportunity for more books from this State of Being and such a depressed environment.

About the Author (from the cover)

“D.M. Pulley’s first novel, THE DEAD KEY, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio.  During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe-deposit boxes.  The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing.  THE DEAD KEY as the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize Winner.  Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations.  She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and two children and is currently at work on her second novel.  Visit her website at www.dmpulley.com

TLC Book Tours  sent me an un-proofed/uncorrected digital copy for review.  Digital copies are being offered for free on Amazon on the first few days of the book tour.

Related:
In Doubt 
Accidents of Marriage
The Fixer
Duke City Hit