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WE’RE ALL DAMAGED: A Novel ~Matthew Norman

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have you ever hoped that someone who hurt you would find a bit of punishment? Maybe not really full on retribution or revenge, but a bit of pain or struggle – just enough?  WE’RE ALL DAMAGED is about recovery from a big hurt except the struggle keeps arriving at the door step of the victim and in quite funny ways.

Andy has escaped from his hurt self /life in Omaha, Nebraska to land in NYC and become a bartender.  Karen, his now ex-wife just announced at Applebee’s one night that she was done with the marriage and Andy.  Our hero is very sensitive and is left in pain, needs release from his job and to find new turf in hopes of recovery.  A year into his new surroundings he is still obsessed by his ex when he gets the call that his Grandfather is dying in Omaha and he needs to come “home.”  On the way to his apartment, Andy is hit by a bicyclist and suffers a bruised face and black eye; he will decide to head to Omaha anyway since his mother has purchased a ticket.

WE’RE All DAMAGED continues with proving this title to be true as Andy reconnects with his family, his former in-laws and is able visit his Grandfather in hospice.  Mom is a conservative radio talk show host who is opposed to Marriage Equality.  Dad is a retired accountant; brother Jim is a workaholic with two young children. The parents have moved to a new mansion of a house where Dad tries to shoot the squirrels in his bird feeders with a paint ball gun and Mom is working to get a contract with Fox News.  An interesting young woman and a senior in a blue bathrobe with matching slippers enhance the story and give it some bazaar twists and turns.

I had several laugh out loud moments reading this story and was so happy TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/02/matthew-norman-author-of-were-all-damaged-on-tour-june-2016/ sent me a copy for review.  It was satisfying, humorous, and very entertaining.

From the Cover:

“Matthew Norman lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.  His writing has appeared on SALON, the GOOD MEN PROJECT, and the WEEKLINGS.  His first novel, DOMESTIC VIOLETS, was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in Best Humor.”

Matthew Norman BLOG
Matthew Norman TWITTER: @TheNormanNation

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SING THEM HOME: A Wonderful and Restorative Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

I have just finished reading LANGUAGE ARTS by Stephanie Kallos and just wanted more of her writing to explore, so I treated myself to an e-copy of her novel SING THEM HOME.   I was not disappointed.  The read was delicious and it is going to challenge me to share just 500 words about it.  I am definitely going to read this book again.

I could approach this book by saying the Jones Family was the main characters of the story and I would be right.  Each member was well described and had enough story to make you feel as though you knew them well.  Dad was defined by the other members of the family and did not have long chapters of his life on his own merit but rather how he related to his family and community.

I could say that the community of Emelyn Springs, Nebraska was the main character of this story.  What is life in a small village, which is suffering from a demise of business supposed to do to prop themselves up and keep going?   It is a community with strong roots and traditions – it is Welsh, and the men all enjoy singing.  The folks spend a week singing the dead “home” and truly celebrate a life.  Music is vital to these people and they start singing as to give voice to problem solving and to call all to come together.

Actually, I think the weather in this part of Nebraska is the primary villain in the story.  Too hot and then again right in a Tornado Alley.  What they must contend with and the ways they must be safe are a tremendous part of the towns experience and it’s crucial to the Jones family and the lives that are shared.  Bonnie and her mother, Hope, are carried away by the storm and this changes the family forever.  The town finds Bonnie is a fallen tree and sings to her until a fire truck can arrive from a neighboring city to rescue her.  They keep her alive and now years later she is obsessed with picking up interesting finds and discoveries, riding her bike everywhere and talking to the dead.  Hope, who has MS completely disappears and is presumed dead.  The house is gone.

“When grounded, the dead mothers feel every footstep of every human being all over the world.”  (page 16)

Dad is the local doctor for the community, Larken is the oldest daughter and teaches Art History at the University, and Gaelan, the son, is now the weatherman at the big city TV station.  What happens to a family when their mother is ill and then gone? How are they changed?  How do they love again and what brings them home?

I could not put the book down, I was so transported into the story and the lives of each character.  I did not want to live in their town or even go for a visit, but I so enjoyed the way they used traditions and song to keep in touch and to sing each person “home”.  There was so much meaning and connection.

The writing weaves the story home and the weird keeps a twinkle in the reader’s eye all the way through until the plot straightens out and one finds restoration of the narrative to complete the picture.  It was just a perfect length and had a great ending and I was able to say; “Now the story is complete.”   It was just right.

Stephanie Kallos lives in Seattle, Washington with her big family and works at her art of storytelling.  BROKEN FOR YOU was her first novel and that was quite the wonderful read also.

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THE FOREVER MAN: A Near-Future Thriller ~Pierre Ouellette

Friday, July 11th, 2014

“Your cells are the product of millions of years of evolution.  They don’t answer to you.  They answer only to life itself.” “Through some kind of extraordinarily advanced genetic therapy.  To pull it off, you’d have to raise an entire army of very specialized artificial viruses.” (un proofed copy – at 70% location)


THE FOREVER MAN is quite an interesting read.  I received an unproofed copy for review from TLC Online Book Tours, Net Galley and Alibi books and I am pleased to have had this opportunity.   As much as I like books about the future and thrillers these days, I must say this would not have been on my radar without a gentle prod.  Much of the story takes place in Portland, Oregon after the USA has been devastated by a predicted economic crisis and the nation is being ruled by the extremely rich.  Now the city has been abused and the majority of the people are just hanging on as best they can; regional “gangsters” are running the show and it makes me so sad to even think about.  Beauty only for the few; drugs and starvation the rule of the day, it sometimes seems as though this is a too close reality.

Lane Anslow is a contracted police detective, who has always been his bipolar brilliant, brothers admirable care taker. He is drawn into something amazing by his sibling’s work in genetics.  His brother has been kidnapped after he escaped a plane crash.  Johnny Anslow is the key to this genetic manipulation which is changing lives and will definitely change the future for the very rich.  So the police detective, who has lost his job because he is too old in his 40s, undertakes to understand and help his brother escape.  The backstory is about the boys growing up on the water near Seattle, Washington and all the mischief they recovered from and how they each took different pathways based on their experiences.  There is lots of plastic surgery, prison experience, helicopters and worldwide weapons of mass destruction and I would not want to leave out the politicians.  There is something for everyone and at one point, it made me think of a futuristic Gunsmoke TV series.  The book keeps moving ahead with lots of description about how THE FOREVER MAN became how old he is and what needs to happen to keep it a reality.  Oh yes, and the world has run out of affordable oil.

The writing was “manly” and I found it sometimes sharp and disconnected and then it turned back around to keep the reader on edge – powerful devise. I had to read dialogue pages a couple of times to figure out which character was saying what.  Certainly the editors will clear up those moments before it is released on July 8th, 2014.  I wondered if I believed if life had a beginning, middle and end, would living until your new organs wore out, or these advanced genetic procedures were available to all be something you would want to contemplate?  Would you really want to live forever?

Pierre Ouellette lives in Portland, Oregon and has written a number of science fictions books which have done well. He owned a PR firm for a number of years and also plays guitar.

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