Tag Archives: Things in Ditches

‘Poison Makers’ by Jimmy Olsen (September 22nd, 2014)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

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I just finished reading Jimmy Olsen’s Poison Makers, a great novel set in the seventies, revolving around South and North American political conflict, and voodoo. There are ten years between Poison Makers and Olsen’s first novel,Things in Ditches. The years have been good to him. He has matured in his style and truly reached the heights of his potential in this novel. I enjoyed Things in Ditches, but Poison Makers actually taught me about a completely different way of life, a different time, and very different struggles than my own while still keeping the characters incredibly tangible and down to earth (I felt like EJ could be my next-door neighbour or someone walking the streets of my own city). Olsen manages to take voodoo (and specifically, zombies), topics that are often joked about or over-dramatized, and bring their realities to light, challenging misconceptions while still underlining the power of belief and the power of voodoo as something to respect and properly fear. After reading this book, I respect the combination of faith and drugs that is voodoo more than I ever did before, because the power of the human mind and will is something to be in awe of (and sometimes protect oneself from).

Mr. Olsen ties the zombie/voodoo drama into conflicts between the continents of North and South America, (specifically the countries of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the United States of America, even Cuba). This book has so many levels. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share one island (Hispaniola) and yet, as EJ (who is from the Dominican side of the island) states in the book about the people in Haiti,’Their poor are starving, ours are only hungry.’ Olsen makes a point of connecting that juxtaposition with the complications of life as a South American minority living in ’70s-era United States compared to the privileged life and condescension of the Caucasian majority. The general point is that we as people underestimate and abuse one another, for power, from bitterness, with hatred. My favourite part about this book is that Jimmy Olsen spent years living in the Dominican Republic and his opinions and observations are taken from first-hand experience, which lends a credence to this book that truly ups the ante.

All in all, even though I found the ending to be a little weaker than the rest of the book, there were a few spelling/grammar errors, and I think the cover of the book needs a different design to draw in more readers (the photograph really embodies the spirit of the book, but only after I had read it did that truly sink in, and I was a little put off by the cover at first), I give this book a 5 out of 5. Mr. Olsen, I love your books. Please keep writing more!


‘Things in Ditches’ by Jimmy Olsen (March 13th, 2014)

Originally posted on LiveJournal:

This was the lovely book sent to me to review by the ever-obliging Jimmy Olsen. AND I LOVED IT.

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I did not expect Things in Ditches by Jimmy Olsen to be as good as it was. A murder mystery set in a small town in Minnesota? What could be interesting about that? Plenty, it turns out. Having lived in small towns most of my life, I was pleasantly surprised by the true-to-life foibles and quirks of the characters of Willow River, Minnesota, who seemed as though they could step out of the pages at any moment to give me their small-town gossip. This book especially shone in comparison to an anthology I have recently read, all stories claiming to be in small towns of just over 700 people, yet complete with street gangs, multiple insurance firms, and booming coal businesses.

The mystery itself was intriguing and kept me guessing, even, at times, laughing. The conclusion was all one could hope for, with a resolution to every loose end and a twist at the revelation of the true killer that infinitely satisfying.

One other aspect I found endearing, being from Winnipeg myself, was Olsen’s mention of it as the protagonist’s possible getaway point.

All in all, I give this novel 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to anyone looking for a mystery that could be happening right now, next door.

Congrats to Jimmy Olsen for a stellar first novel.


Happy 2014! (January 7, 2014)

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Happy New Year, everyone!

2014 promises to be a stellar year with many new opportunities and surprises, if 2013 was any indication. I got married, got pregnant and, yes, HAD A BABY in 2013. My daughter, Ivy Mae Podolecki, was born at 9:41 am on December 24th, 2013. That’s right, I had a Christmas Eve baby! She was 8 lbs. 4 oz and 20.5 inches long. She has a LOT of curly dark hair and so far her eyes are blue. She was definitely the best Christmas present I have ever received. Graham has turned out to be an amazing father already. It’s pleasantly surprising how naturally motherhood comes to me, and even more pleasantly surprising how much I love it. Ivy is an exceptionally content baby, it’s true, so I do have things quite easy in relation to all the many problems so many new parents and babies often face, but because of having a mood disorder, I have always been afraid that I would be a terrible mother. So far, I am very very happy, and I think that’s what’s most important. I have a supportive partner and there has been so much love from family and friends for all of us. It’s almost (but not quite) overwhelming. Graham and I are definitely humbled and grateful, that’s for sure.

Here is a picture of my beautiful little girl. She’s very active and alert already, at only two weeks old. She seems to be a smart cookie already. I love her to bits!

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The next item of business on this post: my first book review (on Firebolt by Adrienne Woods) has been published on page 102 of the January 2014 issue of BTS Book Reviews!!! Read it here at http://www.btsemag.com! It’s super exciting to see my name in print. There is indeed nothing more satisfying.

As for my other literary endeavours, I’m working on revamping some old poetry right now, as well as attempting to finish my final assignment in my writing course, though having a newborn and getting my book reviews in to BTS Book Reviews have been taking precedence .

I am still reading Things in Ditches by Jimmy Olsen, which I am loving, and Dracula by Bram Stoker for my book challenge. Graham is already halfway done Dune by Frank Herbert, but in my defense, I’ve got a few more things to read and write than he does. 😛

Until next time, God bless you all in 2014 and thanks for stopping by! Leave me a comment and tell me your favourite thing that happened in 2013! As for myself, I can’t choose between marrying my best friend or having my little girl, but that’s a pretty great dilemma to be in, so I don’t mind. Peace out!


Finally, An Update! (December 8th, 2013)

Written December 8th, 2013 and posted on LiveJournal:

Hello, friends!

The past month has been crazy busy, with obstetrician appointments, sleepless nights, baby preparations, and reading my first book for BTS Book Reviews,Firebolt by Adrienne Woods. I just submitted the review today and as primary reviewer, I will be published for certain in the January issue, which can be found at http://www.btsemag.com! I have also been writing the first few chapters of my own novel, which will be submitted by January 16th as the final assignment for the correspondence course I take via the Institute of Children’s Literature in West Redding, Connecticut, USA.

As soon as I listed myself as a book reviewer for BTS Book Reviews on LinkedIn, I was pleasantly surprised to be inundated with connection requests from fellow book reviewers and authors, some of whom have asked me to review their books. Jimmy Olsen sent me hard copies of three of his books: Things in Ditches,Poison Makers, and The Hero of Blind Pig Island, all of which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing first exclusively on this blog! Charie La Marr has also sent me a copy of her book Bumping Noses and Cherry Pie, and while I am currently up to my ears in books to review, if you have written a book and want an honest, constructive review for it, as well as a chance to be advertised, please contact me and I would love to do that for you! I will simply have to add you to my ever-growing list, but I will get that review done for you!

It’s amazing to me how quickly the ball started rolling for me after such a long dry spell in my writing, even in opportunities for me to write. I had an account on LinkedIn for almost a year with barely a notification before Myra Nour contacted me about BTS Book Reviews, but since I was accepted as a reviewer, I have had connection requests daily and have found an incredibly supportive circle of literary people who are willing to help out a newbie like myself. I have to say, the power of the Internet is astounding.

When my review for Firebolt (and subsequent books to be reviewed for BTS) is published, I can post the link to BTS Book Reviews here, but you’ll have to go to the website for the full review. Independently done reviews will be posted here in full as well as shared on Facebook and Twitter, reviewed on Goodreads and, if applicable, on Amazon as well.

Anyway, enough promotion! I hope you are all having an excellent December and finding as much comfort in being warm and indoors when it’s so cold out as I am (or cool and indoors when it’s hot out, if you are from the land down under!!!). I am immensely excited for Christmas, not just because Baby is due January 1st, 2014 and could be early, but simply because it’s my favourite holiday.

Does anyone have any good books they’re currently reading? My currently-reading list includes the NIV Archaeological Study Bible (published by Zondervan), A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin,Searching: A Research Guide for Writers (edited by Susan Tierney), and my husband Graham and I are just starting the second book in C.S. Lewis’ The Cosmic Trilogy, called either Voyage to Venus or Perelandra, depending on the publication date.

Well, I am done my first book review and Graham is done his final assignment ever for his Bachelor of Arts in History, so we are off to celebrate with popcorn and some Doctor Who. Wishing you all an excellent holiday season and happy reading,
SharaLee Podolecki. ❤ ❤ ❤