webelos8’s CBR V Review 7: “Shudderville (1-5)” by Mia Zabrisky

Do you like scary stories, but not so scary that you’re up all night wanting (or not) to look under your bed with a flashlight? Creepy stories, kind of along the lines of “The Twilight Zone”? Mia Zabrisky’s first few episodes of “Shudderville” are perfect for this time of year.

 
Mia Zabrisky has created a series of novellas revolving around a man who can grant wishes. But at what cost? Unforeseen circumstances are the order of the day. Supernatural activities, creepy families, scientific discoveries-all are in the “normal” order of things here.
 
Shudderville 1 kicks off with Sophie, a woman who has taken to drinking heavily after the loss of her daughter in a car accident. When her neighbor tells her he can grant her wish to have her daughter back, and it goes really wrong, she goes looking for him to make him get her daughter back. What we end up finding out is the wish granter, an old man named Tobias Mandelbaum, has had his fingers in more people’s lives with his wish granting than we’d ever imagine. Zabrisky intertwines the stories and relates them together in ways that make sense, and explaining the back story of Mandelbaum and others with flashbacks or with stories that have no time period mentioned. Overarching and creepy-scary, Mia Zabrisky’s short stories keep me entertained and looking for the next ones. Since I haven’t finished the series, though-I can’t vouch for how much more scary they get.
 
I’ve only read 1-5, and I loved them.
5 stars

webelos8’s CBR V, Review 6: “Read No Evil” by Steven W. White

Ask nearly anyone who reads anything for fun, and they will tell you that certain books can change them, at least temporarily. They’ll tell you that it’s fun to be transported through words to a different place or time; it’s wonderful to be someone different for a while; or that hey, even non-fiction can make you smarter. 

But can a book really change you? Change how you’re actually hard-wired to do certain things? Affect your personality permanently? Not in an “I read Atlas Shrugged/Catcher in the Rye so I’m going to be insufferable for a few years” type of way, but real, fundamental, permanent change? What power, good or bad, can a book actually have over a person? What if a book could change you? 

In “Read No Evil”, by Steven W. White, the author dives into the theory that a book, specifically a digital e-book, can really change a person. The main conceit of the book is that it’s affecting all of these people around this town-suicide, missing persons, violent tendencies-boiled down to this book.

To get to the root of the problem, the protagonist, Jan Fitzgerald, reads the book and we read along with her. Who wrote it? Why? How is affecting everyone? Jan believes she is immune, mostly, to the effects of this book. In one episode, we find out she isn’t completely. 

Overall, it was a fairly quick read, and the story-within-the-story is a basic quest, and sadly, not available on Amazon. I really did like this story.

webelos8’s #CBR5 Review5: Firecracker by Charles R. Vehey

OMG–WHEEEE!!!!. I haven’t ever really read much YA literature, but this book looked like a good read on the Kindle Buffet, so I grabbed it.

I read it in a day; I even stayed up late reading it.

It starts off with Aideen Cassidy (aka Cass), sitting in an office waiting for an interview with a group called PsychTeam. See, Aideen is a pyrokinetic, and has set several buildings on fire because of emotions. Whenever she gets mad or upset, she loses control of her powers and stuff just kind of…catches on fire. Or blows up. The last one was a car wash.

She has money troubles, because in this reality, psychics are real, they are acknowledged, and so she is paying penalties for the buildings and car wash she’s exploded to the tune of LOTS of her minimum wage being garnished in whatever job she has at the time. In other words, PsychTeam is more or less her last hope.

Meanwhile, we find out a little bit about Voss and Tina, two psychics who belong to PsychTeam but are on the other side of the country (Cass is in Detroit, Voss and Tina are in the Southwestern US) and how they are faring, which is to say, not well. They both have nightmares about what lives out in the dark; Cass is blissfully unaware.

Back in Detroit, the man who interviewed Cass (Li Hung) is more than reluctant to hire her for PsychTeam; he’s dead-set against it. However, Miyuki, who runs PsychTeam, is adamant that Li hire Cass, and her reasons become clear as the story progresses..which you should read.

At any rate, Cass is on one hand, your typical aimless 24-year-old, trying to find her way. Add in prophetic dreams, psychic powers like pyrokinetics, telekenesis, clairvoyance; and just plain old evil stuff, and you have a pretty good mix that makes a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really hope that the author is going to come out with a sequel; it sure seems like he does.

You can now borrow this book for free with Amazon Prime, or purchase it outright; I found it for free on Kindle Buffet. Link: http://www.weberbooks.com/kindle

overall rating, 4 stars: a great book

webelos8 CBR V #4: “Don’t Let Me Go” by Catherine Ryan Hyde

A building in Los Angeles is home to a group of residents: Billy, agoraphobic former Broadway dancer, who hasn’t left his apartment in a decade; Rayleen, a manicurist; Ms. Hinman, the elderly lady who lives on the top floor; Mr. Lafferty, general all around unpleasant person; Felipe, a young man who lives by himself; and Grace, the 9-year-old daughter of an addict.

 

When Billy sees Grace sitting outside on the front stoop for hours at a time, he finally gathers the courage to crawl out, literally, crawl, out to his small porch and ask what she’s doing out there, why she doesn’t sit inside. She answers “If I sit inside, then no one will know I’m in trouble.”

What follows is a story, told in Billy’s perspective alternating with Grace’s, about how these building residents, strangers, really, come together to help a little girl they don’t really know. Through her mother’s addictions, relapses, clean periods, and more relapsing, we find out more about Grace, more about Billy, and how she helps him while he’s helping her; and what happens when Grace’s mother finally sobers up for good (not good). 

Although this book has its moments where you just want to rage, overall, this book was fantastic. I’ve not read any of Hyde’s other books, but I will make it a point to do so.

Overall, 4 stars. :)

webelos8’s #CBR5 Review #2: “Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Lost” by Ron Vitale

We in the CBR were offered the chance to read and review two books by Ron Vitale, “Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Lost” and “Stolen: Cinderella’s Secret Diary”.

Since I never turn up my nose at anything free, I read the first one, with the understanding I had to be honest, and place it in the “priority read” pile.

I did both.

webelos8’s #CBR5 Review #1: “This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store” by A K Turner

Title: “This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store” by AK Turner

Ok, first a little about me. I am a longtime lurker at Pajiba, and an infrequent poster. That being said, I read the reviews of the cannonball readers, and am always envious of the reading.. I LOVE TO READ. :)So I sneak my reading time in after dinner, or while the kids are getting baths; or on the weekend, I stay up way too late and regret it the next day because, yeah, I’m not as young as I used to be. And my attention span is much shorter. That’s why I signed up for what, a half cannonball? I don’t remember.

Onward and upward.

 This book is a memoir, which usually I don’t read many of because the authors are more self-involved than I feel is necessary. Yes, a memoir is about the author, but you know, Author, there ARE other people around, I’m sure that help you become the person you think is so compelling, that you need to write about it.

The book is grouped into chapters, but not necessarily chronologically or in any kind of subject. This doesn’t really matter to me, because I found all of them equally entertaining. The author, Amanda was a person who decided she didn’t want kids, or a family, or a husband, ever ever. Long story short, she found the man for her, and they eventually decided they wanted to have kids.

The author lets us in to her world of kids, husband, and domestic less-than-bliss, human errors, foibles, and vodka. Lots of vodka. Anyone who also feels that the best way to get through a family gathering is “mildly drunk” is calling to my soul. I enjoy that while she does talk about parenting, she admits that it’s not a perfect world, it ain’t easy, and we all make mistakes–and everyone is fine! Really! Martha Stewart need not apply.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her. Four stars!