Monthly Archives: December 2014

GUEST REVIEW: Does Not Love

Today’s Guest Review is by our friend Indreni. She selected to read Does Not Love by James Tadd Adcox. Without further ado here is her Guest Review:

Does Not Love

Chicago author James Tadd Adcox’s debut novel, Does Not Love–a noir thriller, social commentary, and in-depth meditation on marital love all rolled into one page-turner–was released this past October and published by indie press Curbside Splendor. What’s more fun than taking a gamble on a debut author’s small press novel that you stumble across at your favorite local indie bookstore?

Part of what caught my eye with this book right away was its setting in an alternate version of Indianapolis. Midsize Midwestern cities are relatively untapped goldmines for dystopian or science fictional novels, filled with post-industrial landscape, abandoned (or not really) buildings, homes, or entire neighborhoods, and colorful characters who struggle to redefine and re-engineer the new urban order they find themselves in.

Adcox’s novel has all of these—the main character, Viola, works in a grand old public library in a tough Indie neighborhood that’s seen better days. Her husband, Robert, is a corporate downtown lawyer representing the local pharmaceutical giant Obadiah Birch. The supporting cast includes a shady-but-romantic FBI agent sent to Viola’s library to enforce “the secret law,” which gives the nation’s authorities complete power over its citizens, and a ragtag, mistreated tribe of drug company “guinea pigs” that have taken up residence in abandoned storage facilities and are planning to overthrow the pharmaceutical company Robert represents.

But all this is merely the surrounding storm to the fact that Does Not Love is a surprisingly intimate and detailed case study of a marriage. The social malaise, upheaval, and paranoia that Adcox so accurately nails is a mirror reflecting that malaise in the characters’personal lives. Viola and Robert find themselves at a crossroads after dealing with a series of miscarriages, each grieving in their own ways–Robert wanting to turn more towards Viola and Viola turning away from Robert. Viola is a refreshing female character—she’s analytical and distant, whereas Robert is more sensitive, lovelorn, and perhaps the more sympathetic one.

The forces of social and personal unrest and upheaval converge when Viola becomes involved with the FBI agent, who is all too willing to fulfill her S&M fantasies that cause Robert alienation and discomfort, and when Robert’s friend, an Obadiah Birch representative, tells him “there’s a drug for that”—a drug that can make Viola fall in love with Robert again. He explains that love is a purely chemical process that can easily go wrong, resulting in such physical maladies as, “Hypoactive Desire Disorder…Erotic paranoia. Erotomania, also known as Clerambault’s syndrome…Sexual Aversion Disorder….” From here on, we can no longer trust Robert and Viola’s actions and feelings—where the organic stops and the drug effects begin—but Robert’s ultimate desire to uncover the truth leads him directlyinto the underworld of pharmaceutical “guinea piggers,” their secret society, and their struggle for revenge against Obadiah Birch’s unethical research.

Does Not Love is a fast-paced, offbeat, and truly perceptive read that questions at what point societydeems our human emotions and actions pathological, as well as how arbitrary that point might be. It is also a biting satire of our nation’s nebulous post-9/11 laws, and the potential outcomes when the extent of corporate and government involvement in our lives isnot so much blatantly dictatorial, but unclear.

Advertisements

Bringing A City To Life

City Of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

This is one incredible book! A very well crafted world with a truly interesting look into the divine. This story is people with such vibrant lifelike characters that you feel you should be sitting down to tea with them after you finish reading their story.

As I stated above the author provides a truly interesting view into the divine and what life would be like if your gods walked among you or if they left you. How would that affect the mind of a nation? Of an individual? This book discusses these questions and so much more.

I felt that the writer addressed many aspects of life and that they refused to avoid tough questions. The pacing was good, the action intense, and the dialogue enjoyable. This story truly brings a city to life before your eyes. Altogether this is a book that makes you think while encouraging you to turn the next page. This is one book I encourage you to grab a hold of and enjoy.

IMG_0234.JPG

Half A King, Twice The Emotions

Wow. What a story. Wow. I’ve just finished Half A King by Joe Abercrombie and I am impressed. This was the first book of Abercrombie’s that I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last.
This book is full of powerfully raw emotions. It has a better start than most author’s dream of, and it follows through on that promising start. The short chapters keep the action fast paced while still feeling whole.
Here is pain, heartbreak, sacrifice, vengeance, betrayal, heroics, and villainy. This is one good read. Well done, sir author. Well done!

My Unexpected Book Holiday And What’s On The Horizon

So today I had an unexpected day off work (thanks poison oak!) and I used that time combined with the weekend to get caught up on my book reviews!

I had fallen behind on books I had been approved of for NetGalley and I had promised a couple authors reviews so this seemed to good an opportunity to pass up.

First I read The Martian by Andy Weir (loved it! Read it ASAP) and then I followed that up with Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells (gripping page turner!). Moving away from SciFi I picked up HellBoy In Hell by Mike Mignola (a masterpiece) and then I finished it all off with a Russian SciFi from the 60’s: Hard To Be A God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (beautiful but difficult read) that I had started a while back but just hadn’t finished yet.

I considered spacing out the reviews more, but honestly I was having too much fun reading and sharing about the books, so I’ve been posting like a mad man lately. Unfortunately I know this will slow back down with my return back to work, but I did want to let everyone know that something special is on the horizon!

One of the reasons I created RedStarReviews was to open up the door for fellow book loving friends of mine to be able to share their thoughts on the books that they’re reading. I’m happy to report that a few of them are now preparing to write some reviews for everyone to enjoy! The books are their own selections and their reviews will be in their own style and voice. I’m very excited about this and hope to be able to share these reviews with everyone soon!

As always I am very thankful to all who have joined me on this journey of being a book reviewer. Really this has been such a source of joy to me and all of y’all who have encouraged me are appreciated beyond words. Thank you all for being a part of this and here’s to a bright future!

A Beautiful But Difficult Read

Hard To Be A God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

This book is a beautiful work of art. It is a deeply moving work, that causes you to ask yourself questions and consider the consequences of actions you would take if you were in the lead character’s shoes.

Although this was a very beautifully told story I had a difficult time connecting with the characters myself. This is one story I am glad I encountered, and feel that I will appreciate it more when I return to it later down the road.

HellBoy Goes To Hell

HellBoy In Hell vol 1 The Descent by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart.
I have missed Mike Mignola’s unique artwork and this graphic novel is a welcome return to it! The HellBoy franchise has been interesting from the start, and this volume is no exception to that. Filled with dread, confusion, mysteries, and hidden perils Mignola sets wheels spinning within wheels. A good creepy story with amazing art that sets the stage perfectly. Mignola’s work touches some part deep within, and he truly does so with this story. Looking forward to the next volume!

IMG_0173.JPG

First Contact Complete, Next Contact Needed

Having just finished reading Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells I am left with one question: When will the next book be published?

This SciFi book is a page turner that is peopled with such vibrant and lifelike characters that you find yourself drawn into the story right from the start and held into it until the end. Fluency is full of adventure, excitement, mystery, and revelations that are blended together in such an engaging style. The author teaches us something about humanity while introducing us to a broad galaxy! Here is an author worth following.

Read this book and you’ll be eagerly anticipating the next book just as I am!

IMG_0113.JPG