The small hill towns of Western North Carolina can be a peaceful and bucolic setting. They can also be the home of evil. In A Land More Kind Than Home that evil manifests itself in the local town preacher, Carson Chambliss who uses his power and influence over his congregation to “praise the Lord” in his own bizarre manner which includes poisonous snakes.
The story is told from three different points of view. The first is young Jess who feels the burden of being responsible for his older brother, Stump, a deaf-mute. The second is the local mid-wife, Adelaide, a parishioner who is able to see through the charms and spells of pastor Chambliss and finally, Sheriff Clem Barefield whose job it is to bring justice to the small town of Marshall, NC.
A terrible tragedy strikes one of the characters and the book progresses from the three viewpoints which tell the story.
Wiley Cash, in his debut novel, proves to be a wonderful writer. His soft, almost poetic, style is perfect for conveying the mood of the town and the uniqueness of the area. His writing is powerful and some of the scenes are gut-wrenching but every page is a tribute to his writing skills.
A Land More Kind Than Home is an excellent book. It’s quite different from most of the books I have read and I am certainly glad I read it. I am giving this one four **** stars.
Joe Hill’s novel, Heart Shaped Box had been on my Kindle Wish List for some time. When I saw it offered last week for $1.99 I couldn’t resist the purchase. I knew from the start that based on the reviews I had read that this book was going to be a bizarre thriller.That turned out to be an understatement. The book was a roller-coaster of the occult. I can’t say it kept me up nights or woke me with nightmares but I also can’t promise that won’t happen to you should you read Heart Shaped Box.
Judas Coyne is a 54-year-old former leader of a heavy metal rock band. He has a penchant for collecting bizarre artifacts of the occult including a hangman’s noose, skulls and a “snuff” film. He also has a habit of collecting “Goth” groupies less than half his age. Judas seems to have so little respect for his collection of lovers that he tends to call them by the name of their home state rather than their given name. His last two lovers were Florida and Georgia. When his manager informs him that a dead man’s suit supposedly containing his ghost has come up for sale on an E-Bay like website, Judas can’t resist owning it. The suit arrives packaged in a heart-shaped box and the biggest mistake purchase that will alter and possibly end his life is now sitting on his kitchen table. The ghost of Craddock McDermott has only one goal in this after-life, to bring about the death of Judas Coyne and those who give him aid and comfort. The aging rocker is not a very loveable character but throughout the book he grows on you as he learns to rely on his dogs, his girl and his cunning in his fight to the death with the ghostly demon out to destroy him.
It should probably be said that I am NOT a fan of the horror story as a genre. For some unknown reason, I knew this book would appeal to me. I was definitely not disappointed. Joe Hill takes the reader on a 100 mile an hour ride on the “nightroad” that will have you turning pages to discover what horrifying acts will take place next. There were times when the gruesome action stopped just short of being too far-fetched but it managed to tip-toe along that narrow line of credibility and still stay focused. It is not totally surprising that Joe Hill would be capable of turning out a page turning book of thrill a minute terror since Joe is the son of someone who knows a little bit about writing horror stories. His dad is Stephen King! I enjoyed being frightened and gave Heart Shaped Box four **** stars.
Just today there was an article in the paper about the abuse and insults many returning troops face when come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and enroll in college. Here is a sample from that article: “Why should we pay for these guys to go to college?” Hakim said he recalls a female student asking during a discussion on the nation’s responsibility to service members returning from war. “Everybody who goes into the military is stupid – that’s why they joined the military instead of going to college.” Wow !! Those who think that way need to pick up Sean Parnell’s memoir of his year spent in mortal combat with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Outlaw Platoon tells the very real story of 24 year-old Captain Sean Parnell and the 40 brave men of the Army’s 10th Mountain Brigade. They fought almost daily against a well-trained, hell bent for killing group of fanatical insurgents. Several of the men would never make it home and four out of five were wounded during their 16 months in combat. Before, during and after the battles we come to know the men of Parnell’s team. We see them as the individuals they are, each with their own unique set of hopes and dreams. They come from all walks of life and what bands them together is their total love for and loyalty to each other. It’s this total lack of self and devotion to one another that enables them to survive. The count on one another to perform in the midst of the chaos of war and they do this so well that the enemy comes to fear this group of warriors known as the Outlaw Platoon.
Intense summer heat and bone-chilling winter cold were constant companions and Parnell as an author does an excellent job in making the read feel the horrific climate in which the battle take place.
Outlaw Platoon is a special book. The details are true and they force us out of our comfort zone here at home and help us to understand the pain and suffering, the agonizing and often paralyzing fear that our troops endure. All of them are there for a reason but none of those reasons are “stupid”. Very few books have a higher ratio of five star reviews than does Sean Parnell’s brilliant account of our military heroes in this far away land. Reading their story gives me a new appreciation of the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. I gave Outlaw Platoon ****1/2 stars.