Unbroken

This is a book that doesn’t need much description. The book is a best seller and was made into a movie which I haven’t seen yet. It’s the story of Louis Zamperini who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He then served in World War 2, was lost at sea for over a month in an inflatable raft with two others and then was tortured as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. Louis went on to find God and overcome his PTSD.

The story of Louis Zamperini is amazing as I was reading it I found myself thinking that this story is unbelievable. You hear what they have to do to survive at sea then the story of survival in the prison camps. Even before that you here Louis’s story of growing up as an outcast and then becoming a world class athlete. If I saw the movie before knowing about the man I never would have believed it to be true. For instance when they are being shot at by a Japanese fighter plane in their raft and then having to deal with sharks trying to jump out of the water to eat them it seems unreal but to here Laura Hildebrand describe it you believe it. Also thanks to Shark week on TV I did know that in some areas sharks do that.

What drew me to this book was I wanted to hear how someone can survive what Louis went through and go on to become a man of God. You have to wait til the end of the book to find out how he does it but it’s worth the wait. I enjoyed how the author analyzes the Japanese prison guards in the story, describing how their culture shaped what they became. I also liked hearing how the war prisoners found small ways to reclaim their dignity against their captors.

Another thing I found interesting in the story is how the POWs had to steal food to survive. The prison guards kept food delivered to prisoners by the Red Cross and sold it to the public. The prisoners had to steal to get enough food to survive but as they found out how the Japanese civilians were suffering due to the war they stopped stealing because they felt bad for them. The Japanese people suffered greatly due to their government and it was interesting to hear their story as much as it was to hear about the prisoners.

If I had any complaint about this book it would be that I wanted to hear more about Louis’s life after he found God. I think you could have another good book covering how he started a camp and helped kids find their purpose. This is an amazing book and the best part was hearing how one man survived something horrible and became a better person.

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Swan Song

I’ve been wanting to read a big epic novel and was pretty happy when I found Swan Song on Amazon prime. If you’ve been a fan of horror in the last 30 years you’ve heard of Robert McCammon and his almost 1,000 page book on the apocalypse. It was written in 1987 when everyone feared a nuclear war was a possibility between the U.S.S.R and the U.S.

This book is a masterpiece on story telling and developing characters who are memorable and go through major transformations. The book follows several characters and is divided into three major storylines in the post-apocalypse world. In this world we have a woman called Sister Creep who was homeless living on the streets of New York; Swan, a young girl with the power to make things grow; Josh an ex wrestler and protector of Swan and Roland who was in an underground bunker when the war started. Of the three major storys I liked Swan and Sister Creep but I found myself rushing through Roland’s story so I could get back to the other two.

You could teach a class on novel writing with examples from this book. It may be long but it doesn’t feel like it because you care about the characters and you’re hoping they can find a better like in this harsh new world. This book mixes elements of fantasy into a realistic world which felt like it could be a reality if you were alive in 1987. This book also has lighter moments like when Swan and Josh enter a Kmart that has been taken over by mental patients and when the come across a circus train. Swan Song runs you through several emotions as you read it and it’s hard to put down.

One of favorite characters in this book is Sister Creep. I love the idea that one of the main heroes of the story is a crazy woman living on the streets. As she puts it the apocalypse turns her sain again because there is no other way for her to survive this new world. I also loves Swan who has the tendency to make everyone around her a better person but she still doesn’t see herself as special. In one scene early in the book one of her mother’s boyfriends stomps her flower garden, rather than getting upset she forgives him. This leaves the boyfriend in shock and shows how special Swan is.

This is an epic battle against good and evil set in a world that is like our own but is more bleak thanks to the power struggle between various nations. Another great reason to read this book is that the characters in it our nothing like the heroes you might find in other novels. I dont think you could ever do a movie on this book because the characters aren’t the types to transfer over to a visual medium. These characters aren’t pretty, they have a rough life and it keeps getting rougher as the story moves along but they keep trying to build a better life despite the odds and the despair all around them. This book is about the triumph of the human spirit and a must read for fans of epic fantasy.

Carnival Of Fear

For any small town a traveling carnival is a huge event. This traveling carnival is a little different because not everyone will survive this one. This carnival’s Castle Of Horrors is the real deal. Aliens, zombies, vampires and werewolves. They’re all here and waiting for the unsuspecting townspeople. When JD Cole and the other kids from the local high school entered the castle they thought it would be fun, instead they have to count on each other to survive.

Carnival Of Fear by J.G. Faherty is the type of book that to me shouts: “Read Me Now!” Monsters, a traveling carnival and a bunch of teenagers who can’t get along, what’s not to like? This book was really a mixed bag though, it kind of felt like a YA novel but with more violence. It has its moments though, I liked the idea that all these kids from different social backgrounds had to work together to survive and because of this they grew and changed. On the bad side there was so much going on in this book it bordered on ridiculous. If you can suspend your disbelief though this is a fun book.

The House By The Cemetery

Mike didn’t want to take the job remodeling the old haunted house by the cemetery but his back was against the wall. His friend wanted to turn the house into a haunted attraction and not only was he unemployed but his wife left him and he needed something to get him out of the dumps. His luck was changing as a mysterious young woman and her odd friend started showing up at the house and helping him with his work. Soon enough set decorators start to put the attraction together but is the blood on the walls real or fake.People start to disappear, some of the dead bodies look too realistic and a local ghost hunter thinks the ghosts of the graveyard are angry. Mike may not know it but he’s started a ritual that will kill dozens before its all done.

The House By The Cemetery by John Everson was an odd read for me. I got this book because I loved the concept of turning a real haunted house by a graveyard into a haunted attraction. You already know where this story will go from the first paragraph and That’s the type of story I love to read. The weird thing is that I ended up not liking this book for the horror aspect. What I liked was that there is a bizarre love story in this book and I loved Mike’s story.

You feel sympathy for Mike from the beginning, the way he looks at his friend as he gets offered a job and how he sees himself in the mirror and how he is getting older and running out of chances to make a good life for himself. You then watch Mike and see what he is willing to do to get what he wants and you see how he is being manipulated and you wonder how far is this going to go. This is a book you don’t need to be a horror fan to enjoy, in fact the story could have worked in a non horror setting. John Everson is awesome at creating tragic characters that are easy to relate to. He also writes stories that are hard to put down.

The Siren And The Specter

David Cane has made a living exploring haunted houses. He has yet to find proof that the supernatural exsists but that may soon change. His latest project is to write about the Alexander house, a place that has a horrifying history for both Daid personally and for the community surrounding it.

The Alexander House was built in the 1700’s by a land baron. He used it as a home for his son who practiced black magic and murdered several people in the town near by. David is haunted by the home because 20 years ago he broke up with his girlfriend who committed suicide in the house. Now his former friend Chris and his wife want him to research the house but they may have an agenda and David may find that the supernatural is real and he has to pay for his past sins.

The Siren And The Specter by Jonathan Janz is a haunted house story that rises above other haunted house stories. This book starts simple with a paranormal researcher spending time in a haunted house. Then it builds on that by adding layers with complex characters, plot twists and sub plots. What was really interesting was how every little detail adds to the whole story. For instance at one point we’re introduced to a dysfunctional family and after that a love story. When we first got into it I wondered how does this add to the ghost story but it does and it makes the book better.

My favorite part of this book was when David reads from a diary of a paranormal researcher who visited the Alexander House in the 1800s. The diary excerpts show how good of a writer Jonathan Janz is. The way the diary is written is in a style that makes it feel like it was from a different era and then we hear David’s findings from the present day. Jonathan uses two different writing styles and it adds a lot to the book.

The characters are brilliant also, they aren’t all good or all bad, they have layers and come across as real. For instance the lead character David is self-absorbed but as you get into his bacstory you see why he is that way. Then you have his ex-friend Chris who is a jerk but you see how he acts and knows he has a sympathetic side.Though some of his acts are unforgivable I found I could relate to him. The Siren And The Specter isn’t just a good horror novel, its a good novel period. You don’t have to be a horror fan to like this one, if you love great writing you will love this book.

No End Of Bad

Margaret Turnbull had a great life. She was proud of her house and loved her family but everything changed when her FBI agent husband Clay is falsely arrested and killed by other agents working for a drug cartel. Several members of the FBI are part of a drug ring but the cover up that Clay was working to expose goes even farther up the ladder, even into the White House. Now because of what Clay knew Margaret and her daughter are no longer safe and assassins will stop at nothing to kill her and silence anyone who knows the truth about the drug ring.

No End Of Bad by Ginny Fite is a political/conspiracy thriller with a human touch. What drew me to the story was I thought it would be interesting to see how a normal housewife deals with her world falling apart and having to deal with a dangerous situation where she’s over her head. You do get that story but there is a lot more going on. Which brought me to the part of the book I didn’t like which was there were two many sub plots. I would have liked to have heard the whole book through the point of view of Clay, Margaret and their daughter Melissa. Instead we also get the story of several other characters from high level people in Washington to drug dealers involved in the ring.

All in all though this is an enjoyable book, there are several pieces to it and it was interesting to see how it all came together. I also enjoyed how some of it felt like I was reading a newspaper. The author is a journalist so it makes sense. I also enjoyed how her point of view on politics and the FBI came through in the story. I wouldn’t say this book is action packed but it does have a good story, good characters and a realistic look at how things work in Washington D.C.

The Austin Paradox

The Austin Paradox by William R. Leibowitz is the sequel to Miracle Man. In this one we see a different Robert Austin, one who doesn’t have the intelligence he once had but still wants to work at curing diseases. He still has to deal with his personal demons, forces that are trying to destroy him and a government that wants him under control. He is determined to do what’s right though whether he still has his intelligence or not.

This book is much like the first one, what it lacks in action it makes up with a good story with multiple meanings and some great characters. I find it interesting in this book that Robert Austin is helping the world to be a better place yet there are so many people who don’t see it that way. People have there own perception of what right and wrong is and to some curing diseases is doing wrong and I’m not just talking about the pharmaceutical companies point of view. If you like books that make you think and has a lot of deep meanings then check this one out.