Friday, June 14, 2013


Brian Keene
Reviewed by: Nancy
3 out of 5 stars


From award-winning author Brian Keene comes a darkly suspenseful tale of crime and the common man–with a surprising jolt of the supernatural…

Tommy O’Brien once hoped to leave his run-down industrial hometown. But marriage and fatherhood have kept him running in place, working a job that doesn’t even pay the bills. And now he seems fated to stay for the rest of his life. Tommy’s just learned he’s going to die young–and soon. But he refuses to leave his family with less than nothing–especially now that he has nothing to lose.

Over a couple of beers with his best friends, John and Sherm, Tommy launches a bold scheme to provide for his family’s future. And though his plan will spin shockingly out of control, it will throw him together with a child whose touch can heal–and whose ultimate lesson is that there are far worse things than dying.

My Review

25-year-old Tommy O’Brien learns he has terminal cancer and has only a month or so to live. He has no health insurance, is deep in debt, and recently lost his job. Desperate for cash and wanting to provide for his wife and son, he and two best friends, Sherm and John, plan to rob a bank. 

The main character is very well drawn, his suffering and desperation very real. This story accurately portrays depressed US industrial towns and their inhabitants who have lost jobs and are unable to get out of poverty. It is a bleak exploration of the finality of death and life's possibilities after learning you don't have much time left. 

Tommy is a very likable character who’s easy to connect and empathize with.  He loves his family deeply and doesn’t want to hurt them by telling them he has cancer.  I wanted him to succeed, even though he made a lot of wrong choices.  His wife and son were interesting characters who could have been developed further.  I also would have liked more about Tommy’s feelings concerning his impending death.  

This was an engaging and compelling story that was difficult to put down.  Once the bank robbery got under way, the story became very predictable.  Tommy’s friend, John, is a little slow, but basically a likable guy.  Sherm was always crazy, his dark nature becoming more apparent later on in the story.  Tommy just wanted the money; he never intended to hurt or kill anyone.  Things go wrong and hostages are taken – among them an old man with a heart problem, a single mother and her son with unusual abilities, a nutty religious fanatic, and an overweight loner who likes comic books.

Most of the hostages were stereotypes and not very well developed, especially Martha, so I really didn’t feel too much when the body count started to rise.  The most interesting hostage was the little boy with a healing touch.

Reading Terminal is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  You just know that nothing good will happen, but you can’t stay away.

Also posted at Goodreads.

The Forbes 25 Reviewers - #12 Emily May

Today's guest is Emily May.  Emily also posts at The Book Geek.

How did you discover Goodreads?
I'd been aware of goodreads for quite some time before I joined in 2010 and I'd seen people talking about it on various forums. I've always loved reading but failed to see how a huge catalog of books could benefit me anymore than my library's online services could. However, my love affair with goodreads began when I decided to use it as a way to keep track of my thoughts on a reading experience - like a book diary, of sorts. I never had any intention of gathering a following and expanding to blogging; I'd never even heard of an ARC when I began. If you read some of my (embarrassing) early reviews, it's obvious that I never expected anyone but me to read them.

What have been your most memorable Goodreads experiences?
"Memorable" is an interesting word because I suppose it can include the good and the bad. Crazy author behaviour and trolls have made up the not so good side. But, thankfully, there's been plenty of good memories for me on goodreads: having inside jokes with people on the other side of the world, the first time I showed up in the GR rankings, getting mentioned in Forbes(!), teaming up with other GR members to send gifts to one another... it's been a fantastic ride so far.

Name one reviewer not in the Forbes 25 that people should be aware of.
Damn. The problem isn't thinking of one but trying to narrow it down from about fifty. Literally. I can't possibly do less than three, I just can't, and that's really difficult. Firstly, I'll say Blythe who always writes detailed and thoughtful reviews and has a great blog. Same goes for Keertana (blog), I will read anything either of these ladies write. Now for someone a bit different - s.penkevich. He often reads very different books from what I would choose but I always read his insightful and beautifully-written reviews anyway. Okay, and just one more mention for my co-blogger - Brandi.

What was your initial reaction to Amazon buying Goodreads?
My initial reaction was "people are not going to like this". I knew there would be drama surrounding it but, personally, I didn't care too much that it had happened. The people running Amazon are business-minded, smart and they bought goodreads because of its success doing what it currently does - I can't imagine them changing goodreads that much when it evidently works well the way it is. Or, at least, I see no reason to panic just yet.

How many books do you own?
Hundreds. And if you count ebooks - thousands.

Who is your favorite author?
I could write an essay on this and include many different authors but I'm going to pick Margaret Atwood. Though there may be certain books I've enjoyed more than Atwood's work, her writing is consistently good. Whether it be novels, short stories or poetry, I know I can always count on her to deliver something effective and memorable.

What is your favorite book of all time?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I actually wrote a lengthy description here of why I love it so much but, in short, it's such a wonderfully atmospheric novel about an unlikable set of characters who somehow capture my sympathy nevertheless. It's a powerful tale of social class, cycles of violence and second chances; no other has ever really come close to overtaking it, for me.

What are your thoughts on ebooks?
They're convenient and I read many of them but I think the prices of some are outrageous. I can't fathom why anyone would pay more for an electronic copy than a hard copy.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
I think it's great, in theory. The literary world has long been ruled by the "Big Six" publishing houses and now, with the internet, others outside of what the "Big Six" deem desirable are able to get their books out into the world. It's also good for books that cross multiple genres and are not favoured by big publishing companies because of their difficult marketability. Problems arise when it comes to professionalism - many self-pub authors don't have experts behind them advising them what they should and shouldn't do. I've seen these authors attacking reviewers on GR and this is the fastest route to having your books blacklisted.

Any literary aspirations?
I think most people - book lover or not - would like to one day put their name to a fictional masterpiece. I definitely would. But I don't think I'm ready right now; my ideas need to mature and develop and I need to become more patient, disciplined and less critical of myself. One day, though, I would love to write a clever, twisty murder mystery. Or an epic fantasy with unicorns. Or a sci-fi set in a far off galaxy. Or something else. But definitely one of those.