Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Secret Seekers Society

Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of BladenboroSecret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro by J.L. Hickey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At times, Joe Hickey's Secret Seekers Society invokes fond memories of Harry Potter. It genuinely is that good. The story concerns a brother and sister who enter a new world where strange creatures (Known as cryptids, such as Bigfoot and Nessie) exist. This emergence into this new world creates a lot of conflict, as the protagonists are not only just learning about this society their parents one belonged to, but there is also a strange creature on the loose--the eponymous Beast of Bladenboro--that the kids are on the move to stop. It makes for compelling fiction.

What I think I like most about this book is the pacing. All throughout, the story moves at a steady clip and it never really slows down (Even though the beginning takes a little while to warm up). I think this is mostly because the characters are likeable, especially Uncle Joe, so you genuinely care about them. There is also a great deal of intrigue as the author keeps his cards close to his chest about the society until the very end. This is both a positive and a negative, as the last few pages feel kind of bogged down with information. Still, I do prefer this over getting inundated with info too early on in the story. I don't know. I'm a little mixed on the matter.

One other thing that I thought could have used some work was the primary antagonist, which, being the beast, doesn't really have much to say other than growls and snarls. It's an interesting approach, making the bad guy a monster that doesn't really have anything to say, but it is fascinating to say the very least. We learn more about the characters and the organization because the main enemy doesn't talk back. Again, I'm a little mixed on how it was handled, but it works.

Overall, Joe Hickey's Secret Seekers Society is one of the few independent books that sustained my interest all-throughout. I highly recommend this story for any and all ages. There's a little bit of magic for everyone. Definitely pick it up.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 3, 2014

Win a FREE, signed copy of my new book, A Boy and His Corpse

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Boy and His Corpse by Richard B. Knight

A Boy and His Corpse

by Richard B. Knight

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Review: The Toynbee Convector

The Toynbee ConvectorThe Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Toynbee Convector is highly misleading in both title and cover. Ray Bradbury, who has written both exceptional novels (Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes) and short story collections (The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man) swung and missed with this book of bite-sized tales, and mainly because it feels so disjointed and aimless.

The stories in this collection are all over the place, and only one of them ("The Toynbee Convector") could even come close to being considered science fiction. This is the reason I said the title and cover are misleading. Most of the stories feel hollow, and it's strange, given the richness of most of Bradbury's work, rest his soul. There are a few highlights here or there, but mostly, the stories are unfulfilling. You're left wondering, why did I read that?

Overall, The Toynbee Convector is a weak book of short stories from a master in the field. It happens, I guess. So even if you're a Bradbury fanatic, there's no need to read this book. There is much better material in his collection out there. Read that instead.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Boy and His Corpse is Now Available!

Just in time for Halloween is A Boy and His Corpse, my latest novel. You can find a print version here on Amazon. A digital version is coming soon. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Teacher Man

Teacher ManTeacher Man by Frank McCourt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frank McCourt was the kind of teacher I always wanted, and somewhat, the kind of teacher I usually got when I went to school--supportive, open, and revealing. It just goes to show that a truly great teacher cares more about the student's well-being than the lessons themselves.

Being a teacher, I saw a lot of my own faults while reading this book, which is both enjoyable and insightful. Having read Angela's Ashes, I already knew that Frank McCourt was a masterful writer, but I actually believe this book is even better. It's probably because I relate to the subject more, and can find ways to grow from it. Even when writing about his own life, Frank McCourt found ways to teach life lessons that truly resonated. And when reading his books, we see ourselves in his characters, who are actually real people. This just goes to show how alike we all truly are in the long run. McCourt was a genius in finding this out about people by finding it out in himself. That's incredible.

Teacher Man is an excellent book about learning by teaching others. It's fitting that the last book in his memoir trilogy actually leads him to thinking about writing Angela's Ashes, making it circular in its delivery. We lost a good soul when we lost Frank McCourt in 2009. This book is a testament to his talent.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Rabbit Is Rich

Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3)Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Spoilers of the first two books abound)

While reading Rabbit is Rich, I often wondered why this book won the Pulitzer Prize, especially since nothing major seemed to be happening in it. But by the end of the book, I think I figured it out, and it's BECAUSE nothing really major happened that it won the prestigious award. By this point in Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's tale, we've seen him desert his wife, lose a home, and even lose a baby. And in this third book, which deals with him in his mid-40s, I expected all the trappings of a midlife crisis novel. Getting the motorcycle. Shacking up with another hooker. That sort of thing. But what we get instead is a man who finally appears to be comfortable with himself and where he is in life, and why not? As the title proclaims, he's rich now. And like many of the circumstances of his life thus far, it seems unjustified. He really shouldn't be rich. I'm not going to go into why he's finally in a comfortable spot with his finances, but if you read the other two previous books, you can probably figure it out. It has something to do with a death in the family. I'll leave it at that.

Throughout the story, Rabbit is his normal, selfish self, but you actually don't hate him for it anymore. At least I didn't. There's growth in him, but it's a growth that I don't think the character even realizes, which is difficult as hell for any writer to do. Updike fully created a three dimensional character in Harry, whereas before, I think he kind of painted a facsimile of one in the first two books. This time, thought, I think I truly actually GOT Rabbit as a person, and that's why he is the way he is in this story. He's more a human being than he's ever been before.

There are also a lot of familiar faces from previous books in this entry, and it's both exciting and frightening to see them ten years older. One character in particular has changed a great deal (Nelson), and another, not so much (Janice). But in the end, I think the book paints a very intriguing story of growth and the lack thereof, and it works. Well, most of the time anyway. If there's one thing I didn't love about this book, it's that there really isn't any major event in the story to really push the characters to other places. Besides Nelson's story arc, the rest of the characters are pretty static. I'm sure that was the point--to paint middle age as not being a horror show, but rather, more like a nice settling in period if you allow it to be--but it doesn't make for the most interesting novel at times. That said, I enjoyed it for the most part, and I'm looking forward to the last official book, Rabbit at Rest. It's been an interesting journey.

View all my reviews