Book Review – Lace Bone Beast by N.L. Shompole

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Lace Bone Beast: Poems & Other Fairytales for Wicked Girls by N.L. Shompole is one of the most profound and engrossing books of poetry that I have read since reading The Death Notebooks and Live or Die by Anne Sexton in college. I am constantly reminded of the Confessional Poets throughout Shompole’s book because her poetic style mimics those of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, although Shompole has her own distinctive style. The poems, prose poems called fairytales by Shompole and the meditations all are unusually haunting. Shompole uses various literary devices such as repetition, imagery that flows consistently throughout the series and metaphors that give cohesion from beginning to end of the book. Her themes include love, death, and survival, reminiscent of wisdom shared from one woman to another in life’s struggles.

One image that Shompole uses repeatedly in this collection is bones, an image that resonates with and has always fascinated me. So naturally, I was sucked into each and every poem, prose poem and meditation that involved it. Other images are birds, dreams, monsters and seasons. All of these create a cascade of stark emotions that feed the reader’s soul and touches one on deeper levels than you’d expect.

The theme of love in this collection is both romantic and tragic, revealing the beauty and monstrosity that love can bring into a person’s life. Death is used not only as an ending, but also as a beginning, the process of birth, life and death as natural progressions. And survival is a theme used not only as cautionary, but also as empowerment.

Shompole reminds the readers to hold onto their dreams, to be cautious with their heart, to protect their bodies and yet, to be softened by life’s tragedies, not to be hardened by them. Monsters are real, love can sting, and yet life is also like the changing seasons, sometimes harsh and sometimes a breath of fresh air.

Shompole opens the book with these words:

Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free. – The Lacemaker

And closes it with these:

Remember,
everything that matters
comes slowly, the teeth
the bravery, the strength
the softness

– Meditations for the Soft-Hearted

Everything in between will leave you just as awed and breathless.

Lace Bone Beast is a beautiful collection of poetry, prose poetry and meditations that leaves me in awe. I’ve devoured it cover to cover twice since receiving a digital copy for review. I am so impressed that I had to own a book copy for my personal collection. I not only highly recommend this collection, I insist, that if you are a collector of poetry, this is one book you will definitely want in your collection.

Note: I was given a free copy of Lace Bone Beast for an honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Abstract Poetry

To Purchase: Amazon

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Book Review – Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd

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Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd is an intense, psychological thriller. Smitherd introduces us to Chris, a 20-something black man who lives with his parents, has a dead-end job in a call center and friends he doesn’t have anything in common with. On one fateful early morning, Chris, home alone as his parents are away, is awakened by a knock at the door. Upon answering it, his life changes forever. The Man in White and Klaus enter his home, tell him a fantastical tale and then gives him a choice – kill someone or some sisters, who’ve been kidnapped, will die slow, torturous deaths. This Process, as the Man in White calls it, appears to be some sick, twisted game thought up by some wealthy man for mere amusement. Many have already participated in it and many more will after Chris. Chris has a decision to make – play the game and save those girls or walk away and do nothing, resulting in their deaths.

Smitherd’s tale takes you on a wild ride, keeps your heart pumping, your breathing rapid as you go through the pain and torture that Chris must endure to save those girls. The story is told as a journal that Chris writes after the events have ended. As such, there is a lot of backstory told mixed with present moments.

These characters – Chris, the Man in White and Klaus – are well-detailed, full and rich. You cheer for Chris’ success, learn to cringingly admire Klaus, and desperately hate all that the Man in White stands for. Smitherd also has an excellent grasp of setting, creating detailed locations to work his plot around. And that plot, from beginning to end, has twists that will frustrate and empower you as a reader. It is the final twist at the end of the book though that will leave unanswerable questions in your mind – If this had been you, given the choices that Chris had been given, what would you have done? What would you do next? How do you want your story to end?

As with all of Smitherd’s books, you are always left curious. His work is edgy, outside the box and definitely worth reading. I highly recommend Kill Someone for thrill-seekers who like that psychological edge.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Psychological Thriller

To Purchase: Amazon

 

Book Review – Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland

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Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland is a novella and an introduction to the white hat hacking world of Brody Taylor. Taylor is a social engineer who hacks into companies’ systems in order to find flaws that can be manipulated by black hat hackers. He then teaches these companies how to plug up the holes in their security systems. This is how Taylor normally operates; however, he meets Mel via an internet dating site and his focus changes. Mel is an animal rights activist and the next company that Taylor will hack uses animals in their testings. What is Taylor’s true motivation and how does it affect his job and the relationship with Mel?

Sutherland has created a unique story here which is told in a disjointed timeline from the recent past to the present, switching back and forth. Along the way, the reader learns how Taylor hacks HTL, a pharmaceutical company, his relationship with Mel and her friends, and his motivations. Although this is an introduction novella, Sutherland creates believable, well-crafted characters, a plot that keeps you guessing until the last sentence, and an interesting concept that makes you want to read more about this character, Brody Taylor.

I’ve read some critics who’ve said that the back and forth timeline of this story confused them. I didn’t have the same difficulty. I actually enjoyed this aspect of the novella as it gave me a chance to really get to know Brody Taylor more. There was also criticism that the ending was unsatisfactory, but that didn’t bother me either, especially since I know there are other books in this series. I found this an enjoyable, thrilling read and highly recommend it for anyone interested in thrillers and hacking.

Note: I was given a free copy of this novella by the author for an honest and fair review.

Rating: 5 Star

Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Technothriller

To Purchase: Amazon 

Book Review – Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

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Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn is a contemporary romance novel set in the coastal town of Miramar Bay in California. Bunn introduces us to Connor Larkin, a character actor who runs away to Miramar Bay to get away from a life he no longer wants – the fast lifestyle of Hollywood and a fiancee he doesn’t wish to marry. Once he gets to Miramar Bay, Connor hides his true identity and takes a waiter’s job at a local restaurant called Castaway’s owned by Sylvia Cassick, who also came to Miramar Bay years earlier with her father and decided to stay and make a life for herself there. Miramar Bay is a place of second chances and throughout this novel, Bunn reveals a cast of characters who’ve all been given second chances there – Rick, Marcela, and Estelle, Sylvia’s long estranged mother. From their first meeting, Connor and Sylvia embark on a relationship that blossoms, wilts and blossoms anew. Sylvia learns of Connor’s deception and then is accused of funneling drugs through her restaurant. And as Sylvia’s life begins to spiral out of control, Connor’s comes into focus. Can he, Estelle and the other people in Sylvia’s life save Sylvia and redeem themselves in Sylvia’s eyes in the process?

I don’t normally read romances, but there were two things about this book that peaked my interest – one, the title, Miramar Bay. Many years ago, I read a book titled Beachcombing at Miramar by Richard Bode and I have been fascinated by this place ever since. I don’t even know if Bode’s Miramar is the same as Bunn’s Miramar, but it didn’t matter. It was the Miramar of my dreams. Second, one of the critics had likened Bunn’s work to that of Nicholas Sparks and I am a fan of his work. I figured if Bunn’s book was half as good as a Sparks’ books, then I would definitely enjoy it. I have not been disappointed at all. I don’t like overly mushy romance stories and thankfully, this one is not that kind of romance at all. It is a whispering of romance, a remembrance of how beautiful falling in love can be, a craving for another’s soul, the tragedy of broken hearts and the joy of renewed love.

Bunn’s writing is casual, sensual, and effortless as he weaves a powerful story of loss, regret, friendships and love. The characters are rich, inviting and so well-developed. You cannot help but fall in love with them. The settings are beautifully written. You can place yourself there, sitting and watching the sunrises or strolling about the lovely town of Miramar Bay and eating at Castaway’s. The plot is well thought out. From the moment you begin reading this novel, you know something spectacular will happen. Second chances, renewed interests in old dreams, and community support are all highlighted in this gorgeous story. For anyone, like me, who enjoys romantic stories without all of the mush and sex, then this novel is definitely for you.

Note: I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book on Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Genre Fiction

To Purchase: Amazon (pre-order, release date March 28, 2017 – Kindle and Hardcover)

 

Health Update – Flu Edition

Hello dear friends and readers. Just wanted to take a moment to let you know why I’ve been absent. Story time….

Around the 28th or so of December (I can’t even remember the exact day now), my sister came to visit after Christmas. She is a nurse and works in a hospital and as such, she was required to take the flu shot. She came down with a horrible case of the flu. She hadn’t fully recovered when she came to visit. My dad and brother caught it first from her. She has a habit of kissing people on the mouth, but I don’t like that from her (feels phony and well.. I have issues with her so-called sisterly love) and I usually turn my head, but dad and brother didn’t.

Anyway, so they got sick and for about four days, I was okay. But now I too am sick and have been for several days as well. It is a horrible case of flu – the cough and congestion, the stomach issues and of course the overall body aches and continual fevers. This is far worse than what I had in November and I thought that was pretty bad. Anyway, I was a bit prepared this time (since I saw what dad and brother were going through) and have taken better care of myself during the whole ordeal – drinking lots of fluids, sipping broths and taking meds – but I am still sick and quite weak and just don’t have the energy to do anything but sleep.

I had hoped to be better by tomorrow and begin my round of writings again, but it just isn’t going to happen and for once, I am not going to push myself.

I hope all of you are well and if any of you are sick, you have my sympathies. This is a horrible flu that is going around. Please take care of yourselves. I’ll be seeing you all, when I recover fully. Much love and blessings.

What’s Lori Reading? 2017

I thought I would give you all a list of books I am reading so you will know what reviews will be coming up in the near future. Links are to reviews I’ve already written.

Note: I may not always read these in order. Depends on my mood and interest, or the urgency to read, if review was asked by author.

Latest Update03/05/17

Completed List:

**Splinterlands – John Feffer (100% complete)
*Miramar Bay – Davis Bunn (100% complete)
Kill Someone – Luke Smitherd (100% complete)
**Social Engineer – Ian Sutherland (100% complete)
**A Cerberus Jaw (short story) – Lee A. Jackson (100% complete)
**Escape from Witchwood Hollow – Jordan Elizabeth (100% complete)
**Lace Bone Beast (poetry) – N.L. Shompole (100% complete)
**Wind Catcher (Chosen #1) – Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef (by Feb. 24th) (100% complete)
*Boogerman’s House (novella/short story) – Dax Varley (100% complete)
*Who Watcheth – Helene Tursten (100% complete)
**The Murder of Manny Grimes – Angela Kay (100% complete)
**Nutribullet Soup Recipe Book: Low Carb Nutribullet Soup Recipes for Weight Loss, Detox, Anti-Aging & So Much More! (Recipes for a Healthy Life, #3) – Stephanie Shaw (100% complete)

Current Reading List:

#Hegira (The Brin Archives Book 1) (K) – Jim Cronin (31% Complete)
*Burning the Vines (Memoir) – Michelle Mazal (30% complete)
**Success Is Natural with Practical Benefits of Spirituality (K) – Rohit Chauhan (10% complete)
**Alien Infestation (K) – Peter Fugazzotto (by March 31st)
**Keep in a Cold, Dark Place (K) – Michael F. Stewart (by March 31st)
#The Spiritual Awakening Process: Coming Out of the Darkness and Into the Light (K) – Christine Hoeflich (ASAP)
*A Step Too Far: A Dryden Universe Corporate Wars Novel – Daniel B. Hunt (12% complete)
*Lyme Madness: Rescuing My Son Down the Rabbit Hole of Chronic Lyme Disease – Lori Dennis (4% complete)
*The Art of Finding Yourself – Fiona Robertson (18% complete)

Upcoming List:

#Soul Retrievers (K) – David C. Burton
#The Grid Trilogy/The Secret Bunker Trilogy  (K)- Paul Teague
The Eternals (The Eternals Book 1) (K) – Richard M. Ankers
Hunter Hunted (The Eternals Book 2) (K) – Richard M. Ankers
#Secrets in the Shallow (Book 1: The Monastery Murders) (K) – Kimberly Brouillette
#Desciccation (K) – Sarah Potter
#Broken Worlds (THE ALORIAN WARS Book 1) (K)  – Drew Avera
#Whisper (The Whispers of Rings Book 1) (K) – Catherine LaCroix
The Observer (short story) (K) – Lee A. Jackson
#The Untethered (K) – S.W. Southwick
#Hippie Mafia (Granola Gang Book 1) (K) – Jessica Evans
#Vengeance is Mine – Leon Opio
#Mr. Nimbus and the School Bullies – Leon Opio
##The Eternity Prophecy (K) – S. G. Basu
*Little Deaths – Emma Flint
*The Goddess of Fortune – Andrew Blencowe
*The Tale of Miss Berta London: “Recollections of Accomplishments” – Jihan Latimer
*Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness – Anna Akbari, PhD
*The Returning (Seer #3) – Rachelle Dekker
*Trojan (Andrew Harvey #1) (K) – Alan McDermott
*Fragile Dreams – Philip Fracassi
*Fate of Perfection (Finding Paradise #1) (K) – K.F. Breene
*Buried Biker (A Jesse Damon Crime Novel, #3) – K.M. Rockwood
*Siracusa – Delia Ephron
*Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) – Vic James

Future List:

*The Art of Stone Painting: 30 Designs to Spark Your Creativity – F. Sehnaz Bac
*Last Hope Island: How Nazi-Occupied Europe Joined Forces with Britain to Help Win World War II – Lynne Olson
*Cynopolis (Nightscape #2) – David W. Edwards
*Berlin Calling – Kelly Durham
*Origins: A Dryden Universe Collection (K) – Daniel B. Hunt
*The Eclipsing of Sirus C: A Dryden Universe Novel – Daniel B. Hunt
*Crossings – Sarah Blake Johnson
Soul Survivor (Spirit Shield Saga Book 0) (K) – Susan Faw
Seer of Souls (Spirit Shield Saga Book 1) (K) – Susan Faw
Soul Sanctuary (Spirit Shield Saga Book 2) (K)   – Susan Faw
The Reapers (The Hunted series Book 1) (K) – Ali Winters
The Exodus (The Hunted series Book 2) (K) – Ali Winters
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) (K) – Meg Elison
*The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2) (K) – Meg Elison
*The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli – Alyssa Palombo
*The Shroud Conspiracy – John Heubusch
*This Book Needs a Title: Volume 1 (poetry) – Theodore Ficklestein
Brayden Rider: Tales of a Medieval Boy (K) – C.L. Barnett
*Brayden Rider and the Amulet of the Templars – C.L. Barnett
*Waking Lions – Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Book 1) (K) – Marko Kloos
Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2) (K) – Marko Kloos
Angles of Attack (Frontlines Book 3) (K) – Marko Kloos
Chains of Command (Frontlines Book 4) (K) – Marko Kloos
*Fields of Fire (Frontlines, #5) (K) – Marko Kloos
The Last Pilgrim (Tommy Bergmann Series Book 1) (K) – Gard Sveen
*Hell Is Open (Tommy Bergmann #2) (K) – Gard Sveen
*The Hidden Light of Northern Fires – Daren Wang (by July 31st)
*Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street – Heda Margolius Kovaly, Alex Zucker (Translation)
*Ordinary Light – Tracy K. Smith
*The Dead Play On (Cafferty and Quinn, #3) – Heather Graham
*Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation – Judith Mackrell
*Afterworld (Orion Rezner Chronicles, #1) – Michael James Ploof
*The Travelers – Keith Wayne McCoy
*Losing Faith – Adam Mitzner
*Finding the Lost Ones: A James & Lacey Ford Mystery – Sandra Olson
*The Memory Painter – Gwendolyn Womack
*A Little Blood, A Little Rain (poetry) – Mary Carroll-Hackett
Life Drawing – Robin Black
#Devil in the Details (Book 2: The Monastery Murders) (K) – Kimberly Brouillette and Karen Vance Hammond
#Method in the Madness (Book 3: The Monastery Murders) (K) – Kimberly Brouillette
#Recusant (The Brin Archives Book 2) (K) – Jim Cronin
#Assured Distruction Series (K) – Michael F. Stewart
**Into Darkness (K) – Peter Fugazzotto
**The Witch of the Sands (The Hounds of the North Book 1) (K) – Peter Fugazzotto

Side Reads (when I get the chance):

Our Revolution – Bernie Sanders (2% complete)
It Can’t Happen Here – Sinclair Lewis (2% complete)
*Robot Coconut Trees (on writing) – Kelsey Horton (15% complete)
The Writer’s Journey – Christopher Vogler (1% complete)
The Castle of the Pearl – Christopher Biffle (9% complete)
*Consciousness Archaeology – Maximus Freeman (8% complete)
*The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It – W. Chris Winter, M.D.
Nutribullet: Recipe Book (Recipes for a Healthy Life #1) (K) – Stephanie Shaw
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

* – books won via Goodreads Giveaways to review
**- books given from authors free for a review
# – Promised reviews, books purchased by me
## – books from Kindle Scout to read/review