Music for Torching

I really can’t remember why I bought this book. Someone at some point recommended it to me, I guess. However, this wasn’t one I enjoyed, but only because it isn’t my genre of choice.

I’ve read many dysfunctional family books. More than I can list. And they just aren’t ones I enjoy. I don’t really want to read about unhappy marriages, bratty spoiled kids, or miserable lives. As much as I liked Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, I despised The Marriage Plot. It took me months to get through because the characters were just so awful. This book felt very much the same, though I did read it quickly because I wanted to see where the characters were headed.

Let me say this, though, if this is a genre you enjoy, you should absolutely read this book. It is beautifully written with several stab you in the heart moments. I’m not going to dwell on this book because I don’t want to turn anyone off if this is one you think you would enjoy, but it just wasn’t for me.

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After the Cure

I get free books daily. Some aren’t really worth reading, but I download them anyway, because maybe someday someone in my house will read them. But ones that sound mildly interesting, I keep on my Kindle to read at some point. If you remember, I’m using a lottery system to pick my books right now since I have so many that I’ve been meaning to read for years. And the lottery selected this one.

I really liked the premise. Most zombie books are about the initial outbreak and how people survive. But this one takes place after the Infected are cured. The world is divided into two halves, the Cured and the Immune. The fun twist is that the Cured remember what they did while they were Infected. And many can’t live with their actions, even though they couldn’t control themselves. Many of the Immune shun the Cured and refuse to interact with them.

The main plot line involves a trial involving the scientists who created the virus and are now being held responsible for the aftermath. Our main characters are an attorney (a Cure) and a psychologist (an Immune) and their relationship, the discovery of some secret information, and how to handle said info. The story was a bit disjointed (at one point a character is near death and in the next scene the character is up and chatting), but overall, the premise was worth the lack of cohesion. Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy for my taste, but that’s just my personal preference.

There are 5 books in this series, but only the first is free on Amazon. The others are reasonably priced, though, and I plan on reading the rest at some point. I enjoyed this book and its unique premise.

Revolutionary Suicide

I was dreading having to read a political memoir for the 2016 book challenge. I just had no idea where to begin and I really didn’t want to read anything presidential. It just doesn’t interest me at all. I debated on reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Che, but that was mostly because it was short. However, a friend recommended this one, and given the times, I was willing to give it a chance.

This book is really half political and half memoir. Written by Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panthers, we learn a lot of his history. His childhood, family, upbringing, educational experiences, and his troubles. His first 16 or so years was very formative and shaped his political beliefs. He graduates high school not being able to read, but knew that he needed to teach himself. He used Plato’s Republic as a guide, asking his brother for help, looking words up in the dictionary, and learning all he could. Republic was the first book he ever read. And once most people today have never read. This should tell you quite a bit about the kind of man Newton was.

While in college, he began to speak out of the injustices facing Black people in our nation. He, along with a few friends, began to gather and discuss what they could do about it. They created the 10 point platform which was the foundation for the Black Panther Party. And, much to many people’s surprise, they weren’t a violent group at all. They obeyed the letter of the law because they knew the police were targeting them (and they were…the sheer number of times Newton was pulled over is staggering). They learned the law and what their rights were.

At one point, Newton was pulled over and shot by police, for (as he states) no reason. He was falsely accused of murder and, through a jury of 11 white people and 1 black man, he was sentenced for the crime. He was not given the death penalty, however, he fully expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. He had been in and out of jail for various minor offenses, and because of his fame and reputation with authority figures, he was kept in near solitary confinement. While most people broke down, Newton never did. He kept his mind, his focus, and never lost his soul.

Newton was murdered in 1989. At this point, the Black Panther Party had lost its focus (according to the brief research I have done. This isn’t in the book, of course). It was being targeted as a hate group. However, Newton still worked to help Black communities. His last words were “You can kill my body, and you can take my life, but you can never kill my soul. My soul will live forever!” And this is absolutely the truth. Newton saw real problems facing the Black community in the 1960s. And, you know what, they are the exact same problems facing Blacks today, which leaves me wondering when will we ever learn from our past mistakes?

Ink and Bone

Thank you Netgalley for another great title! I have been a bit discouraged with the thrillers I’ve read lately. They seem to be lacking some unique quality, jump the shark at some point in a very unsuccessful way, or are just plain boring. Thankfully, Ink and Bone was one worth reading!

When doing a little background research, I discovered that the setting of this story, The Hollows, NY is a fictional town, but there is a town called the Hollow (formerly named Allentown) that was founded by two families that has only recently become slightly modernized, think indoor plumbing a few years ago, but no telephones, and the residents live in near isolation. Here’s a link the Hollow to a NY Times article about the town. In the book, however, the town is a tourist trap with abandoned mines nearby, and the mountain folk aren’t as isolated as you would think. Interesting tie to real life, however.

The main character, Finley, can see and communicate with the dead. A little girl goes missing and, as a last resort, Finley is asked to help find her. The police have no leads, the parents are desperate, and Finley has been hearing a mysterious noise that leads her to the grieving family. I’m not one who believe in this kind of stuff, however, that didn’t really matter in this novel. I took it as a work of fiction from beginning to end and the author did a great job of creating a character to relate to. Finley struggles with her ability. She wants to help families, but she wants to be a normal person, too. She is a college student, with a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, a mother who doesn’t understand her, and a grandmother who shares her abilities.

The story is told in multiple perspectives, which is interesting, but a bit hard to follow at times because it takes a few sentences of a new chapter to realize who the narrator is. However, because this is from Netgalley and isn’t an official published copy, maybe some clarification was added to the final version. It’s certainly not a reason to avoid this book, though.

Overall, really great thriller. Goodreads has it listed as horror, but it’s really not. It’s more of a mystery/thriller, and a great one at that!

All Involved

I have so many ebooks on my Kindle that I’ve had to resort to a lottery system to select my books. There are so many that I’ve bought when they went to $1.99 on Amazon and I just add them to my Kindle and then never read them. I’m trying to clear all these books out. So, I literally draw numbers to select my next book. My only rule is that if I select a book that is the middle of a series, I go to the first book instead. So far, that hasn’t happened. But I’m sure it will at some point, given the number of series I have.

So, when the lottery selected All Involved, my first thought was “oh, yay!” because I’ve heard some great things about this one. Written from multiple perspectives, told in the days following the Rodney King LA Riots, the reader sees events unfolding from a variety races. The stories are mostly told from Mexican gang members, but there are some Koreans who are simply trying to protect their property, a nurse in a hospital treating victims, a fireman trying to keep the city from burning down, and some people trying to keep their heads above the water of crime.

The best part about this book is when one person dies (spoilers, but really, it’s pretty clear this will happen considering the people “All Involved” in the gangs) the next perspective picks up with the friend of the victim or even the killer. You never lose the path of the narrative, even after death. I don’t know much about the author, Ryan Gattis, but he crafted an excellent book that felt very in the moment of the few days it covers. I really enjoyed this book. The race relations presented are still a part of our society today, so it has a double impact on the reader.