Beyond The Gate

Beyond the Gate (A Kathy Ryan Novel Book 3)

Beyond the Gate by Mary SanGiovanni

This was my first Kathy Ryan book & it was a trip. Kathy Ryan is an occult investigator that is hired to investigate the disappearance of a team of scientists. But this team didn’t disappear under mysterious circumstances here on Earth, but in another freaking dimension. This alternate dimension is discovered in a lab run by the Paragon Corporation, a super shady government research organization. When the Green Team scientists first venture into this dimension, the world appears to be abandoned & void of any sentient life. However, as the team has disappeared, the question becomes whether or not this dimension is as truly empty as they thought.

I was a little worried as this is the third book in the series that I would be missing out on a huge back story, but I think it held up pretty well as a stand alone book. It also makes me want to go back & read the first two books in the series.

Thank you to the author, Mary SanGiovanni, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Historical fiction has not been a genre I have read a lot of over the years. This book was highly recommended to me by a co-worker, so I gave it a go. And OMG…. am I glad I did. One of the best novels I have read over the course of my 35+ years of reading. This novel made me straight up ugly cry. I can think of only one other novel that made me cry like this that didn’t involve the death of a pet & that was Les Miserables.

The story takes place over the course of thirty years in Afghanistan, a history of which I was not familiar, covering from the Soviet invasion to post-Taliban rebuilding. We follow the lives of two women & their experiences during these volatile times. Not only do we follow the jarring aspects of survival in a war torn country, but survival as women with no choices & no control over their lives.

It is a heartbreaking story & one I highly recommend reading.

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Colombiano by Rusty Young

Wow. What an intense read.

The novel begins with a teenage boy, Pedro, living as much of a “normal” life on his family farm as he can with the ongoing civil war between the guerrillas, the Colombian government & private armies. After Pedro is forced to watch the execution of his father by the guerrilla, he vows revenge against his father’s murderers. Pedro drops out of school to join the private army, the Autodefencas, to fight the guerrilla forces.

The story follows Pedro from the age of 15-18 & his rise in the ranks of the Autodefencas. We follow his friends from back home as well as his fellow soldiers. We are privy to the inner workings of the trainings of a private army, their leaders & their missions. We also follow Pedro’s mission to avenge his father’s execution by utilizing his rank in the Autodefencas to hunt down the 5 men responsible for his father’s death.

This novel is not an easy read, but a good one as you are pulled into Pedro’s life from the very beginning. Many times I had to remind myself that these are 14/15/16 year olds committing these acts of violence. What makes this novel more unsettling is that, while a fictionalized account, some parts of the story are based on real events pulled from interviews with real child soldiers. It is a well-written & researched account as the author draws from his own experiences in a U.S. government counter-terrorism program in anti-kidnapping & historical research.

*Many thanks to Lily Green & publisher Havelock And Baker for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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The Tommyknockers

The Tommyknockers

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

Warning: Spoilers in this review
So, this is definitely not my favorite King book. I’ve been reading his novels in order of publication & have yet to come across a book I struggled to finish like this one. A few of his novels I’ve read more then once over the years & still didn’t have as of hard of time finishing as I did The Tommyknockers. I’ve read across platforms that this novel is typically one of the least favorite among King fans & I have to say I agree.

The story itself I enjoyed. The telling of it, I did not. Weird stuff going on in town in Maine, aliens & alien technology I’m all down for. Loved the Talisman easter egg & all the other King universe references. But, the digging. All the freaking digging that went on forever. As a King fan, I’m aware of his writing style, but this just dragged on & on & didn’t enhance the story telling to me. Gard with this guy, & then that guy, then another dude… just digging up the ship.

You hit certain points where you think the story is about to go full throttle, but then it lulls again. It really isn’t until the 3rd section where things really get going. And that was the best part. Because I knew I was near the end & was everything I had been waiting for.

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Different Seasons

Different Seasons

Different Seasons by Stephen King

This was my third read of Different Seasons. I have embarked on the journey of reading all of King’s works in chronological order, even though I have read this twice before. I will probably read it again a fourth or fifth time even.
If you are not familiar, this collection contains some of King’s best stories, but also those made into the best well known adaptations of King’s works. The Body, aka as Stand by Me. Apt Pupil, aka, well, Apt Pupil. And of course, Rita Hayworth & the Shawshank Redemption. If you have not seen this movie, see it now. Actually, read Different Seasons first. Because if you see the movie before you read, you will have the same problem I did on my reread this time. Morgan Freeman narrating in my head…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The collection is broken up into four themes or “seasons.”
Hope Springs Eternal contains the Shawshank Redemption novella. The story is told from the perspective of Red, an inmate at Shawshank prison, where everyone is “innocent.” Until one man arrives that actually is. My favorite story in this collection & one of my all time favorite movies ever.
Summer of Corruption is the Apt Pupil novella. I had forgotten how disturbing this story truly is. It is a tale of teen who befriends an old man & the boy uncovers the old man’s sordid past as a Nazi soldier.
Fall from Innocence is the novella, The Body. It is the tale of four young boys that set out on an adventure in the woods to find the body of a missing boy. My second favorite story in this collection.
A Winter’s Tale is the novella, The Breathing Method. My least favorite in this collection, but is still a good story & wraps up the collection nicely. The novella is a story within a story. It is about a unique club where folks gather & tell tales, in this case, the tale of a woman that is determined to give birth, no matter what.
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