Strange Hwy: Short Stories

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Blurb:

If you ever find yourself on the Strange Hwy—don’t turn around. Don’t panic. Just. Keep. Going. You never know what you’ll find.
You’ll see magic at the fingertips of an autistic young man,
•A teen girl’s afternoon, lifetime of loss.
•A winged man, an angel? Demon—?
•Mother’s recognition, peace to daughter.
•Danny’s death, stifled secrets.
•Black man’s music, guitar transforms boy.
•Dead brother, open confession.
•First love, supernatural?—family becomes whole!
You can exit the Strange Hwy, and come back any time you want.
See, now you know the way in, don’t be a stranger.

My Take:

I am a super fan of this author. Beem Weeks just has a magical way of telling a story. Strange Hwy: Short Stories is another brilliant collection. Each story captures characters engaged in the simple act of living life. But these stories do not go where you believe they are heading. There is a twist at the end of most of these tales.

I am still amazed that this wonderful writer is not yet a household name among those who love to read well-told stories. Weeks covers multiple genres, offering a little something for all tastes. His characters are vivid and breathing and living. They will remain with you long after you set the book down.

This collection, much like his Slivers of Life collection, is a quick read. If you have ten minutes to kill, there’s a story in this book that will help you do just that. I finished the entire book in a few hours.

I’m still waiting on the Jazz Baby movie. And there are several of his short stories that would play beautifully on the silver screen. Come on, Hollywood. Enough with the sequels and the reboots. Here is a master storyteller just waiting to be discovered.

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The Outsiders

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Blurb:

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction that laid the groundwork for the YA genre. S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.

My Take:

This is the first novel I ever read more than once. To date, I think I’ve read The Outsiders four times. Unlike many others, I found the movie to be a disappointment. I read the book multiple times before the film adaptation made it to the big screen. The story remained in tact, sure, but the actors portraying the characters resembled little of the images my mind conjured. These were young Hollywood pretty boys up on the screen. In my mind, these were boys with scars on their faces, the rough life etched into their pores.

The book itself is a fantastic story. Sure, this is a YA novel, but anybody can enjoy the tale S. E. Hinton has woven. If all you know of this book is the movie, you really need to grab a copy and discover one of the great stories that transcends generations and eras. At 180 pages, it’s a great way to kill a few hours.

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Gates of Erebus: Dark Paranormal Short Stories

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Blurb:

Gates of Erebus: Dark Paranormal Short Stories is a collaboration of some of the best indie authors from around the world. All proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to a global charity. Our first charity is Reading is Fundamental.

Herein are the tales of a mother condemned for witchcraft; a demon who shows up in the oddest of places; a soldier who leaves you wondering who really is the monster; a crumbling mutant and a would-be assassin; a murderous imp and a story darker than a murderer’s heart; one man’s escape from Hell and the hell hounds that pursue him; a house haunted by more than just ghosts; a supernatural race born to keep the world of good and evil in balance; the devolution of the human race; and Death takes a wife.
Dream Weaver Novels has gathered some of the world’s best indie authors to bring you this dark anthology. So, grab your hot chocolate (or coffee) and your fuzzy warm blanket, and sit back and relax with these tales of horror…oh, you might want to check the locks on all your doors and windows first!

My Take:

This is an incredible collection of dark, haunting, short stories by some skillful storytellers. And the fact that all the writers collaborating here are indie authors. They do the indie world proud. There are monsters and vampires and those who dabble in witchcraft. The darkness seeps from each page, spooking and daring the reader to continue on.

There’s a recipe for chicken soup that can conjure a demon—but once that demon appears, it cannot return to hell without taking a soul along.

A person sentenced to death for the charge of practicing witchcraft. But who ie the innocent one here, accused or accuser?

A bloody murderer meets his own demise, and readers will be surprised how it all plays out.

The skill level here is well above average. Some of these tales verge on brilliance. Beem Weeks, my favorite indie author, contributed a fantastic piece called Demons. This dark tale centers on two young girls who find the courage to camp out on Halloween night in an abandoned farmhouse that thirty years earlier had been the site of a brutal mass murder. With Ouija board in hand, the two girls begin their search for the ghosts of the family that had died in the house. What they found was something even more sinister than the departed looking for revenge.

Most of the stories contained here are worthy of readers attention. If the dark and unknown are things that tantalize you, get Gates of Erebus today. Simply a fun and spooky read.

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Fantasy Patch

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Blurb:

Picture This! Danté Roenik creates ad campaigns, reveling in the fine art of rendering his concepts on million-dollar canvasses financed by big-budget clients. Intoxicated by the sheer power of directing public opinion, he dares wage war against the conglomerate behind a worldwide anti-depressant increasingly associated with sporadic violence. To juxtapose his images with reality, he enlists a mixed palette of business tycoons, his fiancée/attorney, a team of corporate-spy soldiers of fortune, one resurgent news anchor, and the best TV-production crew in Chicago. But the sharp lines dividing perception from truth begin to blur when the darker motives shaping mass media come to light. Forced to re-examine the ethics of designer pharmacology, Danté is painted into a corner, his future about to be erased as patients die, clients lie, and unhealthy doses of murder prove too hard to swallow. Too late to whitewash the stain of deceit, Danté must decide who deserves to appear in his picture, the true subject an unfinished self-portrait way past its own deadline. It’s not what you see, not what you get . . . But all you could ever imagine. Let Danté show you how . . . With a Fantasy Patch!

My Take:

Fantasy Patch by author Stephen Geez is another of the few indie books I really enjoyed. This is the second Geez novel I’ve read. The previous one, while an excellent story, could be a little slow at times. However, this one is all action from the get-go. Geez is a skilled storyteller, to be sure. He’s also brilliant at creating believable characters that really jump off the page.

Mr. Geez adds elements from the real world into his story, and makes it seem as if Danté Roenik is somebody we’ve seen on the evening news, exposing the evil deeds of Big Pharma and the corporate empires. If you enjoy action, intrigue, and reality in your stories, get this book.

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Exposure

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Blurb:

Ann Rogers appears to be a happily married, successful young woman. A talented photographer, she creates happy memories for others, videotaping weddings, splicing together scenes of smiling faces, editing out awkward moments. But she cannot edit her own memories so easily–images of a childhood spent as her father’s model and muse, the subject of his celebrated series of controversial photographs. To cope, Ann slips into a secret life of shame and vice. But when the Museum of Modern Art announces a retrospective of her father’s shocking portraits, Ann finds herself teetering on the edge of self-destruction, desperately trying to escape the psychological maelstrom that threatens to consume her.

My Take:

This story follows Ann Rogers from childhood to dysfunctional adulthood and what might have been a promising career following in her late father’s footsteps as a known photographer.

Ann began her introduction into the photographic arts as her father’s young model, posing in various states of undress that stirred controversy while garnering her father with notoriety in the art world.

However, there are secrets that creep into her adult life that lead her to drugs, kleptomania, and other disastrous choices. The ending left me a little disappointed, but this is an intriguing story.

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Dance of the Lights

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Blurb:

Frank relishes fast success and early retirement–until the monotony turns to boredom and loneliness thrusts him into a desperate struggle to protect the people he cares about most. Beverly thinks moving south will mark a new beginning, but consuming grief steals control of her own destiny and threatens her very survival.

All twelve-year-old Kevin wants is attention from a man he can respect, yet tragedy proves even that might never be enough.

Together they must discover their own brand of unexpected love, a promise forged in adversity, enduring through loss, and sustaining that infinite potential to achieve more than any one person can alone.

Through it all, they’re teased by the mystery of those dancing lights, a million pinpoints in every imaginable color swirling into images of extraordinary lives, their brilliance whispered in the simplest truths as they discover new ways to teach us all.

My Take:

This is one of those stories that grabs the reader from the opening chapter and leads us on a wild ride. A young boy loses his childhood to the darkness of a family life gone askew. A young woman just beginning her journey loses her life in a tragic accident. Enter the mysterious lights that strengthen those left behind. These lights appear to restore those who have been lost. But is this really her?

Author Geez touches on some dark issues in this incredible story, including abuse of children and the elderly. But this one doesn’t leave us feeling hopeless or worn down. The writer weaves enough light into the story to keep readers turning the pages in search of the truth about those strange lights. Is there really a way to return from the dead? You’ll have to read it for yourself!

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Slivers of Life

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Blurb:

These twenty short stories are a peek into individual lives caught up in spectacular moments in time. Children, teens, mothers, and the elderly each have stories to share. Readers witness tragedy and fulfillment, love and hate, loss and renewal. Historical events become backdrops in the lives of ordinary people, those souls forgotten with the passage of time. Beem Weeks tackles diverse issues running the gamut from Alzheimer’s disease to civil rights, abandonment to abuse, from young love to the death of a child. Long-hidden secrets and notions of revenge unfold at the promptings of rich and realistic characters; plot lines often lead readers into strange and dark corners. Within Slivers of Life, Weeks proves that everybody has a story to tell-and no two are ever exactly alike.

My Take:

This book is a nice sample platter of what a gifted artist can do with words and situations. There are twenty short stories in this collection, and each one offers a voyeuristic gaze into various lives and moments in time. These are mostly normal people caught in not-so-normal situations. There always seems to be a little twist at the end of each story. I love the way this author’s mind works. I am a huge fan. Get this one NOW!

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I Know This Much Is True

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Blurb:

On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.

My Take:

Wally Lamb is a great American author telling amazing stories. I’ve been privileged to read a few of his works over the years. This one caught my attention because of the Oprah’s Book Club label. While I’m not a big fan of her former program, Oprah Winfrey sure can pick winners when it comes to books. I Know This Much Is True is one of a dozen or so I’ve read with the OBC designation attached. I’ve not been disappointed.

With this tale, Lamb takes on mental illness and twin brothers. His carefully constructed story is tight, deep, and fully developed. This story touches on alienation, religion, family, and reproduction. At 900+ pages, this book is long. But take my word, the journey is worth the time. I recommend pretty much anything from this author.

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To Kill A Mockingbird

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Blurb:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

My Take:

A perfect novel that spawned a perfect movie. Perfection is a strong sentiment when applied to pretty much anything in life. But this book and its accompanying film have earned this distinction. I honestly could not handle being on the island without access to this gem. There’s really nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about Harper Lee’s masterpiece.

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Winter’s Bone

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Blurb:

Ree Dolly’s father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn’t show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.

My Take:

This is one of those books to which I’ve often returned simply to enjoy the mastery Daniel Woodrell possesses over the written word. Examples:

Megan: What are we ever gonna do with you, baby girl?

Ree: Kill me I guess.

Megan: That idea’s been said already. Got any others?

Ree: Help me. Nobody’s said that idea yet, have they?

And then there’s this:

Sheriff Baskin: I didn’t shoot the other night cuz you were there in the truck. He never backed me down.

Ree: It looked to me like he did.

Sheriff Baskin: Don’t you let me hear that’s a story gettin’ around.

Ree: I don’t talk much about you, man. Ever.

Woodrell’s masterpiece is an exercise is what can be accomplished when one understands the nuances of dialogue. This is a quick read, running just 224 pages, but it’s packed with all sorts of brilliance. Looking to get better at the craft? Here’s one that will light the way.

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