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Review: Flash Blood by Joseph Hirsch

23501227I don’t do drugs. I am drugs. – Salvador Dali

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. – Julius Caesar

 

I was really torn over my read of Hirsch’s “Flash Blood”. It starts out so well. James Arklow is a former cop turned detective/criminology professor/PI potboiler author of a ‘certain age’ who is approached by an ex-junkie – an ex-junkie with tons of money, and an offer of hundreds of thousands of dollars if Arklow will locate a single person. Thaddeus Smith is an ex-soldier who Dan Maple is desperate to find. And he will do anything – anything – to find Thad. For Thad is very special, in a very terrible way.

The story is very noir – the older detective, the sidekick, the gritty story line. The descriptive narrative is extremely well done, the character development is wonderful. That all works well, right up until the last few chapters. Then, in my opinion, it runs off the rails. There is no answer to some important questions – especially the question of how Thad’s blood wound up being so incredibly addictive. There is also a rather oddball twist to the ending that, to me, turned this from exceptional noir to something more akin to a 70’s model Batman cartoon. I found it disappointing. It almost felt like the author was on a roll – and then suddenly he ran out of steam, lost his concentration, and just gave up.

What could have been a 4-star dropped a full star for me, which is a shame. I read his Kentucky Bestiary and truly enjoyed it (Oddly attractive, oddly odd. . ., October 11, 2014). Possibly, at another time, I will give it another read and feel differently about the ending. Until then, I will stick by my 3-star rating as compared to my 4-star KB review.

I received the book from the author in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please leave a “Yes” response on Amazon. Thank you!

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Review: The Heart Of Christmas By Brenda Novak

21942804Sometimes, you really, really want to like a book. A book called The Heart of Christmas seemed so up my alley for this time of year. The holiday season is when I go for the ‘candy’ – the sweet, emotional holiday romances, especially if there is some suspense/action mixed in. As such, I had high hopes for this book when I received it from Netgalley. Sigh.

OK, some of you are going to completely disagree with this review, and that is perfectly fine. I write my reviews based on my own feelings about a book, not what others think, and apparently a lot of people enjoy them as well, so that makes it more fun, right? Be that as it may, I don’t know if I was more disappointed or irritated by the main character in this book. Both? Probably. So, here goes. Eve wakes up the morning after her birthday to find a man in her bed. Thirty-five, to her, is the end of her life apparently, she will never do or be anyone now that she has hit the big 3-5 and her friends are married off and most expecting kids. So, the guy she falls into bed with, Brent, (or maybe it is another name, he seems to have several) is very upfront that it’s a one-night-stand. And that is what she wanted as well, right? I mean, living in a small town in the mountains you don’t go sleeping with every guy that comes through your B&B if you want to keep your reputation. But, they do the nasty and he intends for them to go their separate ways, everything was upfront from the get-go, and everything should be cool. Right? Right? Well, not so much.

Had she crossed the line? Was she acting like a stalker?

Uh. Duh. You immediately start hounding your ONS with personal questions, go through his things, try to break into his computer . . . the list goes on and on. I pretty much wanted to bean her over the head with a baseball bat. Needy, whiny stalker? Check. Of course, he is coming back around for the under the covers exercise, so that is most definitely HIS fault. He contributes by coming back for more, so it isn’t all on her. He has good reason for doing what he does as far as not telling her anything – and besides, it’s not meant to be long-term, and he is never anything but upfront about that. He is a very dangerous man, with very dangerous enemies, and he doesn’t hide that from her. Then there is the trite ‘maybe baby’ routine that just, well, hum… And after one night he gives her a crud-ton of money, just in case? Wow. Uh, hmm again….. You bop a woman, she shows up the next day saying she might be preggers and you just fork over the cash? Wow. Do that a few times a year and you never have to work at all. Just sayin’.

I suppose when it comes down to it, you may not find her as absolutely and unutterably irritating as I did. Realistically, if you strip out the needy stalker traits I could see myself giving this book a lot better review than I am giving it. The situation Rex (his real name) is in is heartbreaking, and I have a lot of sympathy for him and for his friends who are in the same leaky boat with him. There is suspense and action, and of course the two make that whole Christmas thing happen in the end, which is the whole point of a Christmas romance, right? Part of me can sort of feel for her. She is in this tiny town, surrounded by a tight group of friends who have all married one another, and she is the odd-bird-out. Be that as it may, read it for yourself. Love Eve or hate her, I wasn’t really able to get over not liking her personally, but the book itself is well written and the ‘not-the-personal-relationship’ portions were really good. Maybe you will understand her neediness a lot better than I do. I can be incredibly compassionate, but I also don’t have a lot of patience with women (or men!) who agree to one thing, then . . .

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

What A Loss

I was going to post a rant, because I dropped my Nook on the floor, face down, and the glass shattered like spun sugar. Well, I have insurance (I never get electronics without the insurance – thank goodness! This is my second Nook in a couple of months – the last one the battery was no good on, but it was covered by warranty –  but the “Drop” insurance will come in really handy on this little ‘boo-boo.’

So I sat down to write, and just now found out about the passing of one of my heroes, Robin Williams. Maybe “hero” isn’t the right word for you – but whenever I was really, really down, or in excruciating pain (don’t EVER let anyone tell you chemo isn’t painful) he could make me laugh.

It is ironic that he left us due to his devastating problems with depression and substance abuse. But his generation, which is my generation as well, has always had problems with depression and substance abuse. What a terrible thing to happen to an amazing man. We just never know what is behind the mask, and how our icons suffer, no matter how popular or well loved they are.

We were raised in a time when depression was shameful – it wasn’t talked about, wasn’t treated and wasn’t understood. So, we self-medicated with alcohol, drugs and self destructive behavior. And sometimes, we can’t get over it – can’t get past the pain and shame and addictions. No matter how much we may be loved, the demons still live in our heads, eating away at our hearts, minds and souls.

Robin Williams is such a loss to the world. His humour brought us joy. How sad that it didn’t bring him joy as well.

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