BOOK OF WORDS: Almost Dead by Lisa Jackson

This blog offers a different type of book review­—one that’s combined with vocabulary building.

Included here, following a short review, are a few interesting words I found in Almost Dead, one of dozens of novels New York Times best-selling author Lisa Jackson has under her belt. In researching for this blog, I was surprised to learn that she and another author I love to read, Nancy Bush, are sisters.

Almost Dead is the story of a young mother who’s awash in grief at the sudden loss of her grandmother. Cissy Cahill thinks that grief is making her lose her mind when she hears footsteps and senses strange shadows in the family’s San Francisco home. Then other members of the affluent family suffer sudden brutal deaths. Cissy is forced to dig into the family history to find answers and hope to discover the killer. Almost Dead kept me guessing until the surprise twist in the end, like Jackson’s writing often does.


A Few Words from Almost Dead:

Rabbit-Warren: n. a series of underground tunnels where rabbits live; a building or place with many connected rooms, passages, etc., where you can get lost very easily.  “The real work took place behind a solid-core door that led to rabbit-warren work spaces, of which Sybil Tomini’s was one of the largest.”

 Disabused: v. persuade (someone) that an idea or belief is mistaken  “‘It wasn’t all that terrific,’ Cissy disabused them. ‘We Cahills seem to have trouble in the happiness department.’”

Progeny: n. a descendant or the descendants of a person, animal, or plant; offspring.  “They all knew that was wrong, all realized that her father, and all of his progeny, had been scammed by that vile grandfather of Cissy’s.”

 Stygian: adj. of or relating to the Styx River. <SPECIAL USAGE> Poetic/Literary very dark.  “All the while she eyed the shadows and stygian umbras; the wet, shivering plants; the dark sheltered nooks where the exterior corners of the house met.”

Umbras: n. the fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object esp. the area on the earth or moon experiencing the total phase of an eclipse.  “All the while she eyed the shadows and stygian umbras; the wet, shivering plants; the dark sheltered nooks where the exterior corners of the house met.”

Moue: n. a pouting expression used to convey annoyance or distaste.  “Marla made a moue of distaste at the memories of her mother-in-law.”

 Definitions are typically from The New Oxford American Dictionary through Kindle or internet research, including Wikipedia.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

“The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning. Given that, why in God’s name would you want to make things worse by choosing a word which is only cousin to the one you really wanted to use?” — Stephen King, On Writing

What interesting words have you taken note of lately?


Daughter of the Howling Moon

I’ve read paranormal, but it’s not my favorite genre. I may have to change my mind after reading Daughter of the Howling Moon by R.H. Burkett, but this tale is more of a mystery/thriller with some paranormal elements. I was so impressed with the writing style, the storyline and the characterization that I had to tell you about it here.

FullSizeRender-2This book absolutely draws you in with the first chapter and keeps you in its claws with every turn of plot.

Here’s a taste of one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever read, Bethany Ann from Chapter 1: “Mama looked like always. Well, maybe there was hint of paleness around her mouth and a funny rattle to her breathing, but certainly not anything close to the feared shadow of Death. Then again, what was Death supposed to look like, anyway?

‘Is that you, Bethany Ann?’

‘Yes, Mama,’ I said and took her outstretched hand in mine.

Her hands looked the same too. Hard and calloused from years scrubbing clothes on the old washboard out back and permanently faded from the harsh lye soap. Washing, cooking, and cleaning, that was Mama in a nutshell. Probably would be the exact words chiseled on her tombstone too.”

I was intrigued by the synopsis and the first few pages of this book. I read on and couldn’t stop. I realized the thrill of the mystery in this story was pulling me from page to page, keeping me guessing and dying to know more. Burkett does an outstanding job of presenting her characters and immersing the reader in the story through her portrayal of those characters, making you care, root for them, against them and everything in between. When I turned to the last page, I was absolutely disappointed to have to let go of Bethany Ann and her Ben! The story was complete and Burkett did a great job of telling it, but I wanted more!

Here’s a snippet from Ben’s point of view: “Maybe he imagined it. Maybe the effects of a long day in the heat and sun coupled with a hungry gut, a tried butt and a short night of drums pounding his head had scrambled his thinking. He didn’t know. But stagnant, humid air cooled and whispered to the tree tops. Night sounds of swamp creatures hushed as if the crickets and bullfrogs were holding their breath. A shimmering, much like moonbeams on still water, danced just out of reach. He blinked, not trusting what he saw. And the girl in front of him stood taller and spoke with a dangerous, powerful voice that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention.”

The reader gets easily and totally immersed in the scenery because of the outstanding description. I was in the head of Bethany Ann and Ben with Burkett’s fine and inspiring writing style. This is without a doubt a fantastic book with a storyline that will keep you guessing until the end.

I highly recommend this read. Published by Pen-L Publishing, Daughter of the Howling Moon is a sure bet for any reader of mystery, paranormal or thriller.

Check it out on Amazon