Hellhole by Gina Damico

Hellhole by Gina Damico

hellholeHellhole is a modern Faustian tale about Max Kilgore, his deathly ill mother and the devil.

Though written for a young adult audience, readers need to be aware that there are some bad words in the dialogue and innuendo in some situations. All kids are different, but I’d lean towards 15 and up forHellhole.

Our hero is just a regular guy: “Seventeen-year-old Max Kilgore suffered from the unfortunate curse of having a name that was far cooler than the person it was attached to.” pg 8, ebook.

Max attends high school, holds down a job and cares for his ailing mother in Eastville. “The town of Eastville was known for four things: its renowned hospital, its renowned high school football team, its renowned granite quarry, and its stupid, stupid name. No one could say with authority what Eastville was supposed to be east of…” pg 13, ebook.

One day, after a bad decision on Max’s part, Burgundy Cluttermuck (Burg) walks through his door. “The name is Burgundy Cluttermuck, devil-at-large. I do bachelorette parties and retirement galas, but no more children’s birthday.” He sucked in some air through his teeth. “Too much screaming.” pg 38.

How is Max going to get rid of him? And how long is this devil going to stick around? It’s dangerous to have a devil around the house: “He won’t go after you. He’ll go after the ones you love, and then you’ll have to live with the guilt. That’s your ‘punishment for dealing in devilry’…” pg 107, ebook.

Recommended for young adults, 15 plus. If you enjoy this book, a similar read is The Gentleman by Forrest Leo.

Thanks for reading!

Limitless Mind: A Guide to Remote Viewing and Transformation of Consciousness by Russell Targ

Limitless Mind: A Guide to Remote Viewing and Transformation of Consciousness by Russell Targ

limitless mindRussell Targ is one of the founding members of the Stanford Research Institute’s studies of psychic phenomena. He worked with Hal Puthoff and Ingo Swann to develop the remote viewing protocols for the CIA.

Remote viewing, though lambasted in popular culture in such films as “Men who Stare at Goats,” is an actual practice. It was utilized by United States and Russian militaries with some success or complete failure- depending on who you ask.

I thought that a handbook on remote viewing from this seminal scientist would delve more into the nitty-gritty of the practice. But, it doesn’t.

Targ does give a broad outline of what remote reviewing is. He also give examples of his research, but it wasn’t all that I had hoped it would be.

Limitless Mind is, however, packed with information about psychic studies from the late 1800’s until the current time. Targ discusses the studies from multiple countries covering such diverse topics as spoon bending, distance healing and psychic diagnosis.

If the reader is looking for remote viewing techniques only, I’d recommend Remote Viewing: The Complete User’s Manual for Coordinate Remote Viewing or The Seventh Sense: The Secrets of Remote Viewing as Told by a “Psychic Spy” for the U.S. Military.

Thanks for reading!

The Lumberjanes, Vols. 2, 3 & 4 by Noelle Stevenson

The Lumberjanes, Vols. 2, 3 & 4 by Noelle Stevenson

Welcome to a special triple review at The Help Desk! Today, we’re looking at The Lumberjanes– a delightful series of graphic novels that is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

The Lumberjanes are a type of girl scout, but so much cooler.

Their camp is surrounded by menacing forest from which comes an abundance of magical monsters. With their courage, smarts and friendships, the Lumberjanes overcome all obstacles.

It is similar, in theme, to Gravity Falls and may greatly appeal to reluctant readers.

lumberjanes2Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max

Is there anything a Lumberjane can’t do? I don’t think so.

From monsters to mysteries to zombified boy scouts, the Lumberjanessaga continues in this fun graphic novel.

Friendship to the max!

If only I could convince my reluctant reader to give it a try… I think she’d love it. Highly recommended for everyone.




lumberjanes3Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan

This entry in the Lumberjanes series opens up with the classic setup of ghost stories being told around a campfire. The girls’ different personalities are highlighted in the stories they choose to tell.

Then, the camp has a free day where everyone can pick their own activity. Hijinks ensue.

Mal and Molly go on a picnic date in the woods and, in typical Lumberjane fashion, something totally unexpected happens.


“Mal, come on. We’re gonna figure this out. It’s going to be fine…”

Are they doomed? Will April, Jo and Ripley be able to earn at least one badge before the day is up?

Read this book to find out!

Recommended for everyone.

lumberjanes4Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4 finally delivers a story line in which Jen gets a chance to shine. Yay, Jen!

We are also treated to a bit of background about Camp Lumberjane itself.

Also, the weather takes a turn as a winter blizzard appears out of nowhere… in the middle of summer.

Things are awfully weird around here. Good thing the Lumberjanes have each other.

Recommended for the adventurous reader and timid reader and everyone in-between.

Thanks for reading!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

bravenewworldAlthough not my favorite of the classic dystopians, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is certainly a ground-breaking work about societal control through genetic manipulation, subliminal conditioning and socially acceptable drug use.

You are not born into this world; you are decanted. The institution of the traditional family has fallen apart- is even considered obscene.

Children run about naked and wild, experimenting with sex from a shockingly young age. This is a world where everyone’s body belongs to everyone else. Promiscuity is encouraged as well as mass consumption and instant gratification.

Men and women take a drug called “soma” to mellow out any pesky emotions. It is also used in quasi-religious ceremonies and public gatherings to create a kind of ecstasy.

A strict caste system is in place from the moment a baby is decanted. Societal mores are whispered into children’s ears thousands of times per week while they sleep. So, when they grow up, they fit seamlessly into the role that the world has chosen for them from conception.

Not everyone is happy in this world. Can you imagine that? Perhaps they just need more soma…

Recommended for those who enjoy classic works that examine the way society’s systems constrain and suffocate those who, for whatever reason, don’t or can’t fit in.

Thanks for reading.

Time in a Bottle: Mastering the Experience of Life by Howard Falco

Time in a Bottle: Mastering the Experience of Life by Howard Falco

timeinabottleTime in a Bottle is a self help book about changing your perceptions to improve your life. Though not a new message, some readers may find this book worth the time.

Howard Falco presents this knowledge with a spiritual slant. Readers who are turned off by that kind of thing may want to choose another book.

The main premise: “Our misunderstanding of time- how our thoughts relate to time, how time is actually created, and how time seems limited- is one of the biggest reasons we suffer and at times feel hopeless or powerless in our lives.” pg 1, introduction.

One of the ways to “master the experience of life” is to realize that you are infinite potential like the universe itself: “You are a part of infinity. To the degree that you feel that life is finite and limited, you will act out of this fear, and work to create an experience that is a result of this fear.” pg 33.

I agree that mindset is important to determining your life’s path. Love and fear seem to be the two driving forces of our world. Wonder why that is…

Falco also discusses giving up resistance to how life is: “It is critical that you know that the ending of your resistance toward any particular thing (sickness, layoffs, war, family, financial trouble, death, political chaos, natural disasters, etc.) is not in anyway condoning these terrible things or giving up on change. It is simply the full acknowledgment that for the moment this is what is happening.” pg 40

He talks about giving up regrets about the past that could potentially be holding you back: “This is not about accepting that something had to happen to you; it is about acknowledging that it did happen and standing in front of the universe saying, “I trust that there is perfection and a specific, divine purpose for my past and the exact way it unfolded. Because of this, I am realizing more of my unlimited potential for the future.” So then, unburdened, you step into your future with faith.

Falco incorporates quotes from famous philosophers and scientists along with anecdotal stories to illustrate his points. As I said, no new wisdom here, but plenty of good reminders to trust, forgive and move forward to a life outside of time.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

nightNight is Elie Wiesel’s memoir about his experiences during the Holocaust. It is shocking and sad, but worth reading because of the power of Wiesel’s witnessing one of humanity’s darkest chapters and his confession on how it changed him.

In the new introduction to the ebook version I read, Wiesel talked about the difficulty he had putting words to his experience. “Convinced that this period in history would be judged one day, I knew that I must bear witness. I also knew that, while I had many things to say, I did not have the words to say them.” pg. 7, introduction

The original version of Night was written in Yiddish. I wish I knew enough Yiddish to read it. There’s something powerful about reading books in their original form.

Wiesel closes his introduction with his reasons for writing this book:“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” pg 12, introduction.

Even though a member of his community warned Wiesel’s village about the horrors that awaited them, they didn’t believe him. After they were placed in a ghetto, the Jewish population of Sighet thought that the worst was behind them. “Most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war, until the arrival of the Red Army. Afterward everything would be as before. The ghetto was ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion.” pg 26, ebook.

If I had been in their place, I don’t think that I would have acted any differently. How could one possibly imagine the horrors that they were going to face?

Wiesel is starved, overworked and beaten in the concentration camps. He loses more than his family and faith: “One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.”pgs 110-111 ebook.

Another Holocaust survivor’s memoir that I highly recommend isMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Never forget.

Thank you for reading.