Search

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Tag

Ghost Town

Review: Welcome To Fat Chance, Texas

Welcome To Fat Chance, Texas“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

Clarence “Cutthroat” Johnson certainly changed huge chunks of the world. And yes, he cast his stones across the waters and created many, many ripples. The thing is, of course, that the huge chunks of the world he changed crashed in on the people who inhabited those chunks, and the stones he cast destroyed lives and crushed families. He always said, “You have to have a tough hide to succeed.” Yep. And succeed he did. He succeeded in making billions, more than he could ever spend in several lifetimes. But that doesn’t do you any good when the Reaper comes your way. The Reaper doesn’t take checks. He doesn’t even take cash. But seeing the creature in the black robes standing over your shoulder can make you look back at what you have done with your life – and sometimes? It makes you think. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance is all natural – but sending his spoiled rotten daughter, who never worked a day in her life, and lived for her hair and nails and various charity events and social gatherings, to live in a ghost town in the Texas Hill Country with seven other people, and told to “make something” of the town before she can earn her inheritance?! Seven other people from the “lower” classes at that?!

How are we going to shop? Can I get my nails done?

Yep. This isn’t starting out well. And telling Daddy’s Little Princess she should be a “good sport”, well, you know that went over well. So, Daddy’s Little Cleo sets out with an eclectic band of misfits to Fat Chance, Texas. Well, not exactly “with” – Daddy may have taken away the family private plane, along with all access to the family funds, but there is no way she is climbing on a rented RV with Titan, Polly, Dymphna, Elwood, Wally Wasabi, and Old Bertha. So, she packs up more fancy clothes than she can fit in the trunk of her stretch limo (Stilettos? And mink coats? In a ghost town? Really?), stuffs her family retainer behind the wheel, and they leave California for Fat Chance. Fat Chance this is going to work out, right? Especially when the unexpected seventh person in the group turns out to be her ex-husband, Marshall “Let’s call me ‘Powderkeg’ like a Pirate cause everyone else has cool nicknames!” Primb.

Cutthroat destroyed these seven people’s lives, or the lives of their families, in one way or another through his long, money-grubbing career, starting with Wally’s grandfather and working his way down to his latest bit of destruction, buying the land Dymphna live quietly upon, raising her sheep, spinning yarn and selling her knitting, right out from under her. A pristine, pastoral life, destroyed in the name of greed and rampant over-development. Now, he is determined to “help” them to “Get up, get out, and achieve the American Dream.” If they can live in Fat Chance for six months and create a functioning, successful town, Cleo gets her millions – and the rest get three years’ wages. And if three years wages for each doesn’t add up to $100,000, well, they each get that amount. As Dymphna puts it, “I guess he figures if we’re stuck there for six months, we might as well give it a shot.”

What happens next, as these eight completely disparate people come together in a dusty, ramshackle town where the buildings seem to be holding together on a wing and a prayer, the only road has been washed out for years, and no one has been near the place since the 1950’s – well, except for crotchety, gun-wielding old Pappy, the town’s Mayor, Sheriff, Banker, and all around butt-kicker. An old, “old” friend of Cutthroat’s, Pappy is there to make sure they don’t self-combust in the first week.

This book really touched a place deep inside for me. People with no shared history, no common interests, thrown together in a place where they are pretty much completely isolated and forced to learn to barter goods and services and to rely on one another for survival, in what amounts to a “post-apocalyptic” landscape. The only store for fresh food and supplies is a four-mile hike, with only Jerry Lee the mule and Thud the Bloodhound for pack animals. Watching these strangers pulling together to make a community is charming. Developing a fellowship, learning to survive with little, as well as learning to be a grocer, a hostler, and myriad other business owners – well, the story was so creative, and so positive, I couldn’t resist reading it straight through. There is pain and disappointment, but there is also hope and happiness to be had in Fat Chance. And at the end of the six months? Well, read it and see!

I received this book in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Oh, and one thing I really liked about it? Everybody learning to live and work closely, without the author falling into the whole “let’s pair everyone off romantically” trope. Refreshing!

If you enjoy my reviews, please do me the honor of clicking “This review was helpful” on whatever site you are reading it on (I post my reviews to several!). I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you.

Celia BonaduceAbout the author


Currently a Field Producer on HGTV’s House Hunters, Celia Bonaduce’s TV credits cover a lot of ground – everything from field-producing ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to writing for many of Nickelodeon’s animated series, including Hey, Arnold and Chalkzone. An avid reader, entering the world of books has always been always a lifelong ambition. Kensington eBooks’ The Merchant of Venice Beach, first in The Venice Beach Romance Series, is available now!

Advertisements

Review: Windwalker By Natasha Mostert

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
-Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
William Blake – The Everlasting Gospel

 

 windwalkerHaunting and elegant. I have head Ms. Mostert’s works described this way before, by other reviewers. This, and so very much more, is the work of Natasha Mostert. For she has a voice that is deeply evocative, an exceptional, mystical writing style. Natasha’s turn of prose is both otherworldly and sensual, a voice that sends chills down my spine and reaches into my soul, making a home for itself in the sweet, dark recesses of my existence. Her writing comes to mind over and over, in the dark of night or the bright light of day, a paean to her brilliant style, as her ability to paint rich, intriguing portraits with words which steal into my awareness in the most common of moments. Words which bring me to my knees, to weep and sigh, to long deeply and without respite.

Kepler’s Bay. A remote and forbidding town in a remote and forbidding land, bitter and forlorn. Perched on the razor edge between the Namib and the sea, Kepler’s Bay clings to the edge of the world with barely restrained ferocity, much as do the creatures of the great desert upon which it backs. Kepler’s Bay. The melancholy call of the soo-oop-wa, the never-ending wind, maddens, takes piecemeal grains of the soul, eventually leaving behind naught but a dry, desiccated husk – a body walking with no spark within.

The Namib, oldest desert in the world, ‘The land God made in anger,’ say the San people. But he had always thought that only a god in pain could have imagined a place like this. And from this land of soaring dunes and brutal winds one day appears a wild man, filled with pain, with fever and madness. Madness and passion. Violence and death. Samuel Becket said: “All men are born mad. Some remain so.” And is madness not pain, turned in upon oneself?

Across the desert, in the lush green of the English countryside, a woman arrives. Lost and maddened in her own right, she arrive upon the doorstep of a sad and haunted estate. As she sinks into the stories of this place of madness, fratricide and pain, broken shadows and haunted rooms, one soon cannot truly discern where the house leaves off and the woman begins. Quiet desperation. Ghosts and haunting images through a camera’s lens.

They are so close, and yet so far apart. So very, very far apart. Has it been this way, lives upon lives, sinking into the past? And what of unintended consequences, the vagaries of fate and karma?

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Through our lives, do our souls search? Do they seek desperately, yearning for that which was, which could have been, or which shall never be? And is evil merely the absence of good, demons playing bones with our lives?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Balen All rights reserved.

How many paths must we walk, how many lives to be lived? How long must we suffer before paths may cross, before we might know peace? Do our souls wander alone, searching beyond ourselves for knowledge, deep in the rending silence of the night? A photography of insanity may be a shard of light. Questions and blood and dreams of deaths long past, pain and ancient desire. All are spread before us between these pages. Allow her words to reel you in, to touch and tease, sooth and savage by turns. To think. To dream. To sorrow.

To hope.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. It touched me more deeply than any of her works yet have – and those have been absolutely brilliant. I hate reviews that begin with “If you like the works of” to be honest, but if the interspersed quotes touch your soul, I strongly, very strongly, encourage you to read Windwalker. And then her other works as well. I don’t believe, once you have read this one, that you will be able to resist.

Review Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2-Kate Danley

Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2

maggiegetyourgun
Click to get your copy. You will want to, because her new one is now out!

First, if you are looking for “serious” UF, before you pick up either of these volumes, let me warn you. Ilona Andrews or Mark Henwick, this is not. What this series is, though, is lighthearted fun with an interesting twist that keeps you reading. Sometimes, that is all you really need from a book, and Kate Danley delivers in spades.

One of the best things about this book is why Danley wrote it. Proceeds from the write-a-thon where this book was mostly written benefited the Young Writers Program, which funds free creative writing programs in hundred of schools and communities around the world. With the state of public education and the lack of support for the arts, I give Ms. Danley full kudos for her work.

The story itself picks up after the action in Maggie for Hire (Maggie MacKay – Magical Tracker). Maggie has her dad back and he and her mom have gone off for a nice weekend away to celebrate his return from two years stuck in limbo. Now, a new client walks in her door, with what seems a ridiculously simple job. To retrieve a simple ladies hair comb, ‘dropped in the desert’ outside of Calico Ghost Town on the far outskirts of Las Vegas. What happens next is a rather slap-stick (read ‘vintage Danley’) chase through deserts and down mine shafts to an old fashioned “Standoff At The OK Corral” ghost and monster style, in the streets of a real “Ghost Town” on the Other Side. As always, the good guys win, but only by a ‘ghost’ of a chance and with enough snark and ‘F’ bombs to float the Marie Celeste. (I will admit that I would appreciate some different and more creative expletives – the bomb is getting rather old . . .)

All in all, this series is funny and charming and is quite a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon. It doesn’t put a strain on the brain, the characters are to my mind quite likeable and you learn a bit more about Maggie’s mom in this one. I like her more even than I did before. I am really looking forward to the next one. I haven’t read The Woodcutter yet, that is on my list of must reads. Thanks, Ms. Danley, for a fun read and I look forward to more soon.

Funny throughout, good world building, likeable characters, lots of “F”bombs if you are offended by that sort of thing. Kate still needs a good editor, a few too many errors are creeping through that could set off the “Grammar Nazis”. Nothing five stars, but still well worth the $3.99.

The newest, Maggie on the Bounty (Maggie MacKay, Magical Tracker #3) was published July 15, 2013 and flew in right under my radar. I will be checking it out soon.

From the GoodReads blurb:

maggieonthebounty
The newest Maggie!

New business partners, Maggie and Killian, are looking forward to their latest gig: finding out why all the ghosts are disappearing from the Empress Adelaide, a turn of the century ocean liner who once shuttled Hollywood’s finest across the Atlantic. But Maggie and Killian find themselves trapped in the past, caught in a time rift with only a ghost of a chance of escaping. This ain’t no pleasure cruise.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑