Book Review Tuesday – Ungrateful – #BRT


Ungrateful is really more of a short story than a book, clocking in at just 28 pages (so says Amazon – I read the digital version in about an hour). In this parable by author Candace Nadine Breen, Dorsey is an accomplished woman who makes questionable choices in life. Smart and educated, she falls for Tyrone, who might have a good head for business, but claims he can’t be limited to just one woman. With three children between, but with Tyrone unwilling to be faithful to her, Dorsey files for divorce. She continually dwells on the past, wishing she were once again “young and attractive,” imagining she wouldn’t again make the mistake of falling for a man like Tyrone. She sits in her car and drinks from a bottle, then opens her car door and blacks out.

The story continues, but now Dorsey is confident and self-assured. I was unsure how she transitioned, and the abrupt change was unsettling. Was she dreaming? Hospitalized? What happened to bring her to this new attitude? Dorsey celebrates herself, but a woman appears before her, asking to “collect,” presumably on whatever magic she performed to bring Dorsey to her blissful state. Dorsey puts her off, eventually screaming at and throwing the old woman from her apartment.

Dorsey drives to the mall, looking for a new pair of shoes (hence the silver stiletto pump on the book’s cover). She finds it odd that the mall is empty at noon on a Saturday, but shrugs it off. There is plenty of foreboding in the scenes leading up to Dorsey’s encounter with destiny.

This was a quick and easy read, and I understand the author used this tale as a parable. I did have an issue with the shift mentioned earlier, but overall, it was a well written, very short story.

You can pick up a copy of Ungrateful in print of digital form from Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/y42yh8at).

Book Review Tuesday – Murder in the Limelight – #BRT


This novella, the first in author T.R. Rankin’s series (Matthew and Martha Mysteries), was a very enjoyable read. I felt absolutely transported back to the year 1898. Set on Martha’s Vineyard, this book features Capt. Matthew Reynolds, widower, and Mrs. Martha Dickinson, widow. [The fact that the characters have both my first and last names did not influence this reviewer’s opinion of the story!]

Early on, there is a tremendously destructive storm on the island, and while this story is fiction, the author cleverly draws from real-life events, in particular, the Great Portland Gale of 1898 in this case. The storm wreaks havoc on the vessels in harbor, and the description of the catastrophe is chilling. In the midst of all this mayhem, a body is discovered on one of the lime schooners, and Matthew and Martha become amateur detectives, assisting the police in tracing the events leading up to the man’s demise. It’s a fast-moving and exciting tale, and if you weren’t familiar with nautical terms and technology before, you likely will be very well versed in these subjects after you’ve finished the book! There is subtle yet undeniable chemistry between our main characters, and the author either did a great amount of research or is an expert in the workings of late 19th-century ships and schooners – the storytelling is very authentic.

There are some errors throughout that a good proofreader would have spotted, but they don’t detract from the story itself. And once in a while, a shift in scenes might be clearer with more of a break in the paragraphs, but overall it’s a well written tale of murder without gore.

As a bonus, Rankin gives the reader a ‘sneak peek’ at The Gilded Murder, the next installment in the Matthew and Martha mystery series. I can’t wait to start reading!

You can download a Kindle copy of Murder in the Limelight at Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/yc74unex).

Book Review Tuesday – Love Winning – #BRT


Love Winning

Play Ball! Author Mike Squatrito describes himself as “the greatest knuckleball pitcher never to pitch in the Major Leagues.” Cheeky! But he backs up this self-assured claim with stats. Playing for the Rhode Island Brewers, a team of men who all share a love of America’s pastime, Squatrito details the wins (and occasional heartbreaking losses) of the team from 2005 to 2018.

But this isn’t just a baseball memoir. Squatrito recounts the innumerable exploits of grown men who work hard and play harder. Each of the men has a nickname, and Squatrito includes a handy reference guide at the beginning of the book to keep the reader apprised of just who is who.

“The consumption of beer is almost as dear to most Brewers players’ hearts as the game of baseball itself.” That truth is portrayed throughout the book, as cases of Bud Light are consumed with a frequency that is sometimes mind-boggling. There is even a “constitution,” written by a couple of the team members, where those who commit infractions are fined not with monetary reimbursement but in the form of “cold calorie-reduced alcoholic beverages,” usually a 12- or 30-pack, bags of Doritos, or boxes of pizza. Describing his teammates as “well-lubricated animals” seems appropriate after reading about the boys’ escapades in strip clubs, getting thrown off an airplane, or even being stopped by law enforcement for questionable driving.

Squatrito delights in telling stories, and is good at it. He recalls details of games played years ago (or perhaps he kept notes), and brings the reader along for one championship playoff game after another. The book is a comfortable, well-paced read. Men – who love baseball – would enjoy this book the most, I believe. At times the stories seem somewhat redundant (there’s beer, and pizza, and chicken wings, and going to Hooters), but Squatrito tells it all with a true fondness for his fellow teammates.

You can pick up a copy of Love Winning from Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/22zsfcww) or from your favorite independent bookstore. Learn more about the author by visiting his website https://www.mikesquatrito.com/

Book Review Tuesday – Bonebelly #BRT


Bonebelly

The theme of good vs. evil is a tried-and-true theme for novels of virtually any genre. With an opening line of “Here follows a true account of my first thirty days in hell,” the reader has an idea that this book will not be a light and airy read.

In the tradition of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, author Christine Lajewski (pronounce it “Lah-JESS-ski,” please) takes the reader on an unusual ride (a hayride, even) through the dark world of the damned.

Bonebelly is the name given to the creature who pens that ominous opening line, and the name is bestowed on him by a young couple who discover him at a farm turned haunted playground for paying visitors somewhere in South County, Rhode Island.

“I know what mercy is, but I am certain I have no right to any,” Bonebelly asserts. We know he has been condemned to hell, but we don’t know why (until much later in the book). What we do know is that he is a gruesome, ghastly, gross being with a ravenous appetite that cannot be satiated. But he has human emotions, and understands that “it is left to [him] to chart [his] path, if there is one, toward redemption.”

Other characters appear, some on the side of good, like Sean and Amy, the young couple who are aspiring graphic novelists and take a keen and compassionate interest in Bonebelly. “Exploring the great darkness of the world of horror allowed them to set aside the lesser shadows in their lives.”

There is Demon, kind of a caseworker who oversees Bonebelly’s journey. And there is evil in the form of a shapeless mass that preys on innocent victims, eventually transforming himself into a handsome and charming human being. These main characters, along with a host of others at the farm, play parts as the battle between good and evil escalates, culminating in a faceoff between Bonebelly and his nemesis, Martin.

As a rule, I don’t read horror. But I must say that Lajewski writes beautifully and nails the language of someone who lived three hundred-plus years ago. While the pacing is at times slower than I would like, the story does progress and builds as it should. She includes dates ahead of most chapters so the reader will have a sense of date and place. At times it seems as though a chapter is being repeated, when Lajewski tells the same tale but from a different point of view.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, or thinking of trying it out, Bonebelly is a good place to start. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can purchase a copy of Bonebelly from Amazon (https://tinyurl.com/ycxk9dc8) or through her publisher, Divertir Publishing (https://www.divertirpublishing.com/books/bb.html), where you can read the first 60 pages for free.

Next book review coming Tuesday, January 25!