REVIEW: Last Straw – David Rheem JARRETT * * *

Last Straw - David Rheem Jarrett

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STAR RATING: 3 Stars

Book Description from Amazon

If you cheat a man out of his future, be prepared to pay the price. Vengeance is not always the province of the Lord.

LAST STRAW tells the story of such a man — tough, resourceful Thomas Pickering, robbed of his future by unscrupulous financiers and betrayed by an unfaithful wife — who finally snaps. He makes it his mission to punish those who wronged him in very creative and ugly ways. He finds he is good at dispensing justice and begins to enjoy the game.

Mike Kingman and Tess Brogan, two young police officers, themselves embroiled in an escalating affair, are assigned to investigate his crimes and discover enough evidence to arrest and convict him. In the human chess game they are playing, Pickering has the advantage. They have rules they must follow — he does not.

From the Berkeley hills, to the Ghost Fleet of ships in Suisun Bay, to the towering Campanile in the center of the University of California campus, Pickering is always one step ahead, in a race that challenges his considerable intellect and skill, and tests the relationship of the two young officers.

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 MY REVIEW

While reading this book I was constantly in two minds. I enjoyed part of the book immensely, but really disliked other parts. I downloaded the sample and it drew me in enough to download the rest of the book, especially the beginning. I did not expect what happened so early in the book which was a pleasant surprise.

What I liked about the book

The story line was good and the character development spot on. There were quite a few twists and turns which I enjoyed for the most part. The book was well written and I loved the descriptions and the way in which the writer dragged me into the story.

I liked being in the killer’s mind and reading his thoughts. His justification for his actions were fascinating but warped.

What I didn’t enjoy that much

Throughout the book I had to remind myself that the characters were not hormonal teenagers. Most of the characters were so sex obsessed that it became off-putting and unrealistic.

There was only one character I liked in the story  – Trent Willoughby. The rest I struggled to identify with. Between their overly sexual nature and strange way of viewing the world I had a hard time finding common ground.

Final thoughts

Apart from the above niggles, this was a good story. There were plenty that kept my attention and I wanted to know how it would all end up. Overall this is a well executed thriller.

STAR RATING: 3 Stars

REVIEW: Impromptu Scribe – Alex Morritt * * * *

Alex book cover

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STAR RATING:  4 Stars

Book Description from Amazon

Whether it be nail-biting courtroom suspense surrounding a celebrity star on trial; the tear-jerking return journey of an ageing war veteran to the battlefield of his youth; an hilarious account from a dog’s perspective of the eccentric clientele that frequent his master’s restaurant; a bittersweet tale of a vendetta waged by a young girl denied her favourite ice cream; or the adrenalin-fuelled adventures of a terminal cancer patient turned base jumper – these make up just a handful of examples of what to expect in this riveting short story collection. ‘Immensely Visual’ and ‘Highly Versatile’ are by far the most frequently recurring descriptions of the author’s bold style of writing given by early reviewers of ‘Impromptu Scribe’, his début short story collection.

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MY REVIEW

Impromptu Scribe is a great collection of short stories for all tastes. The collection doesn’t follow a theme which means there is a wide variety of topics.

What I liked about the book

The stories were well written and I could find something for every mood. I particularly enjoyed Hubert and Hector and found the story being told from the dog’s point of view interesting and funny. Alex Morritt did a great job in his descriptions and I loved how I was able to visualise each story.

What I didn’t enjoy that much

My only niggle, and it is not exclusive to this collection of short stories, is that I sometimes felt the stories were not finished. As if they were more Flash Fiction than short story. I would love to see some of the stories expanded on.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. It is ideal for a tea time or lunch time read or a quick trip on the bus. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more work from this author.

STAR RATING:  4 Stars

Breaking the chains

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I once heard that for each negative comment, we need ten positive comments to counteract the effect. I’m not sure how accurate those numbers are, however I have noticed that as people we seem to place more stock in the negative than the positive. A compliment is accepted and appreciated for a short time, but an insult often clings to our minds and grates our souls for years.

So powerful are the hold of negativity on us, that we often carry it with us and allow it to affect our view of ourselves. This is best seen in the ‘baggage’ we bring from childhood into adulthood. They say context is everything, and each person has their own context which shapes and moulds them into who they eventually become. The way we think about ourselves is directly linked to the way we think about others. Simply put, if you have no self worth, you are unlikely to find true value in others. If you don’t love and accept yourself, you might find it difficult to love and accept others in a way that is healthy and constructive.

I see many broken lives in my line of work. Young people who have been taught in both word and action that they are worthless, a burden, in the way, something to be used and abused. These young people eventually turn into adults and, if they are unable to find healing for their life-scars, continue to exist in their emotional prison or worse, inflict the same burden on others.

Each of us have scars that remain part of who we are. It could be a painful childhood, it good be grief, it could involve abuse and neglect, it might be the dark dungeon of addiction. Some of us find healing by using our experiences to become better people, to gain wisdom and then turn the negatives into positives.

Breaking the chains that hold us captive is not easy, and many find it easier to remain a prisoner. Breaking free very often entails making an effort to change the way we think about ourselves and others,  it means getting out of our comfort zones and exploring painful memories. Sometimes it might even require seeking professional help, and other times it might simply be an acceptance of what happened in the past and a resolution to draw something positive from the experience.

The process also involves looking at the effect of our past on our present and asking the hard questions: Has my past made me bitter? Am I projecting my experiences on my family, friends, co-workers. Am I abusive toward others due to my own issues with self-worth. Am I inflicting the same behaviour that scarred me onto those around me? What legacy am I leaving behind for those who come into contact with me?

For many of us that first step to breaking the chains is very daunting. We know a change is needed but, since most people are habitual creatures, we kick against change, even a good change. Instinctively we know it’s going to be painful, we know it’s going to be hard work.  When those thoughts run through our minds we should remind ourselves of the following:

I’m worth it. I might not feel like I’m of value, but I am.

Much love XXX