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School Shooter (In His Own Words) by Mark Frye

(2005 iUniverse)  Read more about the author & book here.

      Taken at face value, we know we have here a book centralizing upon the very sobering, contemporary social issues that we've all been forced to face more and more within the dawn of the new century involving youth and rage, betrayal and revenge, all of the ingredients necessary to invoke infamous chapters in our nation's history such as Columbine.  But it's not another typical biography or account

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(All reviews copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006 by Nicholas Grabowsky and Diverse Media, all rights reserved.   All book cover images are owned by their respective owners and used by permission.)

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detailing what took place in this school or that, chronicling what happens when a troubled student or students take out their frustrations on their classmates one day with guns they've seized from their parents' households to wreak a plague of vengeance on those who've done them wrong in their campus lives and beyond.  We're all familiar with the scenario, as it is all too real for us.  Some of us have lived it.  The rest of us have read about it.  Reading about it here, however, you'll find like I did that this work is not the result of any media hype or some journalist's opportunity to make a particular incident of this nature a cash cow.

     What we have here is a work of exceptionally executed fiction by an author who deals with high school students on practically a daily basis (he's a school librarian) and knows what makes them tick.  Mark Frye makes a statement we all must give a listen to......what he puts on our plate here is more than a mouthful in subject matter alone......but what truly makes School Shooter work is the superb writing style Frye utilizes to drive this serious matter more than home but straight to the heart.  James Toomey, due to Frye's skill and vision, is as real in character as any in our own mirrored world that has followed in the same footsteps, and Frye does everything it takes as a writer to paint a most vivid and intriguing picture of Toomey's circumstances and daily life even though we know where the story will eventually take us.  The use of fictional characters and situations to illustrate a point is a feat Mark Frye has bested with this book, and I do hope that we see more from him in the near future.  

The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell

(2005 Tor)  Read more about the author & book here.

     Any self-proclaimed aficionado of horror, be it in any form, ought to be ashamed of themselves if they aren't the least bit familiar with the brilliant body of work Ramsey Campbell has presented to the world over a period of time long enough to make him equal in ranks to horror literature as, say,  Asimov, Heinlein and (Arthur C.) Clarke is to science fiction, what Romero or Argento are to genre film.  Do your homework and find out for yourselves, for those of you who don't know any better. 

Whispered Words/Timeless Souls by Rainey Moon

(2004, 2005 Rainey Moon Publishing/The Lair)  Read more about the author & book here.

     I was first introduced to Rainey Moon and her works during one of those nights when I have enough time on my hands to randomly browse the web to see who else out there is worth paying attention to that I haven't heard of yet in this great big writing world of ours. 

     I'm not talking about eyeballing bestseller lists to tune

into what the rest of the nation is reading;  I like coming across those jewels the rest of the nation should be reading.  But my magnitude of praise for Rainey is bias in that I'm thoroughly enamored by the style and charisma of her web presence, her artwork, the promotional image she presents herself as and the remarkable literary talent to back it up.  Rainey Moon packs a good jaw-breaking wallop to much of what American literature has come to be known today.  She makes the state of Virginia sexy just because she lives there, as I told a friend the other day.  A good talent like that is worth paying attention to.

     Now, true poetry ain't easy, the sort of poetry that ascends the clichιs of love and loss and not the woe-is-me or the lovestruck kind of free verse anybody can write.  Essentially, with Rainey's poetry, the themes are of this nature, but passion and literary prowess gives each line in both of these books that satisfying Rainey Moon feel.

     Whispered Words presents two short horror stories, Festival of the Dead and the novelette The All Souls Fair.  Rainey's horror writing is what first prompted me to check her out, and the images of a helpless girl at a Goth concert gone to hell in Festival is vivid......the bonfire party of the dead near a cliff where distressed souls take a plunge into dark eternity exhibits the talents of a young writer with a heart driven to make you afraid.

     Kristy Tallman is Rainey's real name and day job while she raises three children.  She won Suggested Artist for Songwriter of the Year in 2004 by VH1's Save the Music Foundation, and song lyrics can be found in Whispered Words, though Timeless Souls inspired Australian band Honey Palace to produce the song "Love Never Stays."

     I hear she's working on entire novels, and I can't wait for that to happen.  I'm in love.