Friday, July 24, 2015

Words Upon a Tombstone Book Review

A collection of short stories highlighting the author's youth growing up in North Wales. Its wide variety includes:

• “The Ghoul School Bus” where students inadvertently board the wrong bus, one filled with surprisingly lively skeletons.

• “Déjà vu”, a spine tingling paranormal account of a drowned mother and a lost child.

• “Challenged”, a hilarious tale of a failed attempt to retrieve a rare oozlum bird’s egg.

• “The Rock Castle Overseer” where the forever damned spirit of a crual plantation manager rises whenever the cicadas sing.

• “The North American Rocketship”, a point in describing the X-15 vicariously brought to life in useful minds of all ages streaking across imaginary skies, slashing to ribbons clouds it did impede its passage.

My Review:
4 stars

Wow...I don't know what to say about this book. It's definitely an eclectic collection of stories, that's for sure. The book starts with paranormal and other odd stories. Now this truly was an odd collection. The stories were a mix of fiction and nonfiction (and often a little bit of both). There were several ghost stories which were intermixed with perfectly ordinary stories dealing with family and love (Everything Will Change) or odd occurrences that have nothing to do with the paranormal at all (such as Obituaries). I enjoyed most of these stories for one reason or another, and I liked the fact that many of the stories had photographs to go with them. The author also included author's notes at the ends of several, explaining how much was fiction vs. nonfiction, background, etc.  

My personal favorites though were actually the author's stories about his life. I figured this would probably be the most boring section of the book. The first story, Growing Up Deprived, started out slow, but ended sweetly and sentimentally, which I liked. However, once I started reading the stories of his adventures in the Boy Scouts, it was smooth sailing. Reading about the training and challenges they don't see that anymore. It was even shocking at times what the scouts were expected to be able to do, and that no one ever got sued. For example, one of their scout masters made them start setting up camp and then out of the blue announced that they were actually in the wrong spot and needed to hike 4 miles to the correct location. It was fascinating getting this glimpse into another place and time, and was surprisingly my favorite part of the entire book. Other stories about crazy coincidences and events from the author's life rounded out this section, leading into four poems previously written by the author, and now being published in this format. The poems were oddly enough a great way to end out this book, and I enjoyed it till the end.

My only real complaint about the book was the editing. I think the story needed to go through another round of edits just to fix the grammatical mistakes that spellcheck should have caught. I started marking and editing as I read, it was bugging me so much. This would have definitely been a 5 star read for me, if it wasn't for the bad editing.

All in all though, this is definitely not your typical book. This is the kind of book you need to approach with an open mind. While the stories didn't always seem to go together, they still fit together and were enjoyable. I would definitely recommend giving this a try if you're looking for a challenge or something different than what you would normally read. Even with the editing errors, I still enjoyed the book, and would read it again in a heartbeat.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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