Fantastic illustrations, and a sweet engaging story with a wonderful message about turning off the devices in this tech'ed out life to simply "be" wit Fantastic illustrations, and a sweet engaging story with a wonderful message about turning off the devices in this tech'ed out life to simply "be" with each other.
A refreshing, optimistic examination of a New York City blackout far removed from what really happened that one time in 1977.
Jesus wept, but this is the real goods people -- gritty, raw, uncompromising prose that snaps and bites at your soft spots. I find it curious that soJesus wept, but this is the real goods people -- gritty, raw, uncompromising prose that snaps and bites at your soft spots. I find it curious that so many people have shelved Pollock's sophomore novel as horror, because while it is horrifying in places, and deals with some chilling characters, horror it is not. In his review of Pollock's debut Knockemstiff, Kemper uses the terms redneck noir and hick lit and that's much closer to capturing what this novel is offering to anyone who dares pick it up.
One of the things that impressed me so much here is how well Pollock is able to juggle multiple narrative threads, do each of them justice, and have them collide and intersect with one another in a convincing, satisfying way. He makes it look so easy. Of course it all comes together in the end, but I can't help but think how easily this could have been majorly flubbed, or how forced and deus ex machina it could have read in the hands of a lesser writer.
This is a dark novel, full of dark deeds, it almost suffocates you. This is not a novel of redemption or hope but an unflinching look into the dark heart of man (and woman), bringing all the monsters that lurk there out into the light, into the open to be seen and feared. I found parts of this novel very difficult to read, and not because Pollock is explicit in his descriptions, because he isn’t. He refrains from showing the reader everything, leaving room for what you can imagine -- and isn’t that always worse? I know it is for me. He gives you just enough rope to hang yourself with. But his prose is vivid nevertheless, and there are scenes from this novel that I will never forget.
Unlike Frank Bill's short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana , Pollock injects an emotionality here and manages to humanize his characters even as he shows how monstrous they can be. While I absolutely loved Crimes, there is a humanity distinctly missing from Bill's characters -- the violence and hatred taking precedence over everything else. Pollock's writing here is closer to Woodrell's Winter's Bone, another outstanding piece of writing in this vein of small town, hardscrabble folk. All men represent the very best of their craft however, when it comes to capturing a sense of place and the people who live there.
Unless he had whiskey running through his veins, Willard came to the clearing every morning and evening to talk to God. Arvin didn't know which was worse, the drinking or the praying. As far back as he could remember, it seemed that his father had fought the Devil all the time. ~The Devil All The Time
Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and
Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and overall high-riding bitch. And I love her! She is strength and smarts and dignity personified and in my opinion, one of the most vivid and memorable literary creations ever to walk the pages of any book. I don't say that lightly. Yes I'm a fan, yes I'm gushing, but this is also a more tempered, critical evaluation after living with her existence these many years. She has stood the test of time and I have no doubt she will continue to do so long after her creator has passed.
Arguably one of Stephen King's most underrated and dismissed works, Dolores Claiborne remains for me one of his best and most literary novels. The first-person narrative voice is brilliantly executed, the island dialect ringing true, the rhythm of the language making the sense of place so vibrant and tangible. The reading experience is only enhanced by the audio version (which I highly recommend).
Bringing nothing but his A-game, King delves into the life of a poor, uneducated, island woman, who marries young and gets to repent in leisure. I love this story so much because not only does it capture small town life and a woman's place in it, but also the unshakeable bonds of friendship that can be forged like steel between women, and the ferocious love a mother feels for her children.
This book is a powerful and naked look at mother-love, at how desperate, intense, and all-consuming it really is....But mainly this is the story of an unlikely alliance between two hard talkin’, high riding bitches; two women from very different walks of life who find that they have a similar core of bitter strength.
At its heart, this is a book about a desperate woman who is driven to a very desperate act. It is a crime novel built around a detailed confession that's so urgent, so immediate, the story sucks you in like quicksand and does not want to let go. This is not a horror novel, but there are a few moments of unadulterated suspense and terror that had my heart jack-rabbiting in my chest. (view spoiler)[When Dolores returns to the well and Joe has nearly succeeded in climbing out and grabs her ankle, I just about screamed and threw the book across the room! When you have to do such a dirty deed, you want it to happen as fast and clean as possible. It could not have turned out more ugly and terrifying for Dolores and is it any wonder she imagines Joe's face grinning out at her from behind the wheels of Vera's wheelchair on the day of Vera's death? (hide spoiler)]
Dolores Claiborne is not the only high-riding bitch in this story, there is also Ms. Vera Donovan, her contrary, vitriolic employer who explains the facts of life thusly: "Husbands die every day Dolores. Why, one is probably dying right now while you're sitting here weeping....An accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend." Dolores and Vera make an unlikely pair, but over the years they cleave to one another in an unexpected, unforgettable friendship that runs dark and deep.
This review can also be found at Busty Book Bimbo["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Laini Taylor can string words together like pearls, her paragraphs glittering like diamonds on black velvet. She builds landscapes out of the ether an Laini Taylor can string words together like pearls, her paragraphs glittering like diamonds on black velvet. She builds landscapes out of the ether and births characters of blood and solidity. When I read her I am a woman possessed -- consumed, enchanted and enthralled. I am a child, gripped by a child's wonder and insatiable hunger for stories. I am in love with this woman and her pink hair and beautiful, crazy mind (where I would live if it were only possible).
What kills me is that some of the most heart-stuttering gorgeous prose I've ever read is to be found hiding behind some truly awful, misleading covers. It's amazing to me that Laini Taylor's fledgling, phenom writing career hasn't been completely sabotaged by the cover art chosen on her behalf.
Take this book for instance: the first cover is ... adequate, yet still terribly misleading of content and themes, while the second is just plain bad. Quite frankly, it stinks -- a Twilight-ish, vampish, Fifty Shades of Lipstick embarrassment.
That's just one example. Then came along the cover for Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Seriously? Try convincing someone that they MUST read this book working only with that confused and stupid cover.
Despite being constantly cover-challenged, Laini Taylor is blazing a permanent mark on the literary trail traveled by unique and intrepid storytellers. In the Author's Note, Ms. Taylor describes herself this way:
Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more.
I, for one, cannot wait to find out about the and more....more
My little pony, my little pony, I comb and brush her hair...
This is so twisted! What impresses me the most about this short, short story is that it dMy little pony, my little pony, I comb and brush her hair...
This is so twisted! What impresses me the most about this short, short story is that it delivers such a bang in so few words. The closest I can come to describing how it made me feel is how I felt after reading Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" -- high praise indeed. Don't miss this one! Story can be found here....more
All hail the King! Talk about ending the reading year of 2011 on a high note. Review to follow. Happy New Year everyone!
I may be a mad dog fan of SteAll hail the King! Talk about ending the reading year of 2011 on a high note. Review to follow. Happy New Year everyone!
I may be a mad dog fan of Stephen King, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes gets me foaming at the mouth. Over the years there have been disappointments -- but this book is not one of them. I would rank King’s foray into time travel and historical fiction as a rousing, emotional, unforgettable success for in it he is doing what King does when writing at his absolute best – create an epic, original story arc that grips the reader with a serious case of “the gottas” (as in, I gotta know what’s going to happen next) and people it with richly drawn characters with unique pasts and motivations that empower them to walk right off the page.
Kennedy’s assassination may not be THE shot heard round the world, but it definitely qualifies as one of them. For those Americans who lived through it (and other interested observers from afar) it became one of those watershed moments in history (where were you when it happened?) Not just because a President was murdered in cold blood (a rare event if there ever was one), but because he was the youngest President, a father of two small children with a beautiful wife, cut down in the prime of his life. Kennedy carried a mystique around him as a tall, handsome, capable man who was going to steer America into the horizon of a happy ending. He had his detractors (no doubt about that) and those who felt he robbed Nixon of the 1960 election, but his obvious charisma and charm garnered him an equal amount of support and admiration as well.
His death shocked millions and left a generation of supporters to wonder what if? What if Kennedy had lived? It’s easy to build someone into a hero and a saint after they have died too young. It happens all the time. When it happens to a man such as Kennedy? That myth-building starts immediately and never ceases. The "walk on water" Christ mythology that sprouted up around Kennedy since his assassination definitely exists. Baby boomers like to believe that had he lived he could have saved an entire generation, but that's just wishful thinking. Kennedy was just a man. Not a saint or a miracle worker. He had his flaws and shortcomings like anyone else. Yet the temptation to believe an America where Kennedy had lived would be a better America persists to this day, and King, being the master storyteller that he is, taps into that long held dogma and runs with it as only he can.
At the heart of this story is the sexy question: if you could change history, would you? Should you? It’s nothing but hubris and complete folly to assume that the changes you wrought would guarantee something better. There are no guarantees in this life except for one: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. King is taking one of his country’s watershed moments – the Kennedy assassination – and sending an unassuming English teacher back in time carrying all the “good intentions” in the world. Jake Epping has a mission and his heart is filled with the certainty that what he is doing is the right thing. Such a man can be a fool, a hero, or very dangerous. At his most influential, such a man will be all three.
I love time travel – the unintended consequences, the paradoxes, the complete mindfuck it can turn out to be. That’s why The Butterfly Effect is one of my favorite movies and I adore when Homer sends himself back in time to the land of dinosaurs and tries to get back to a present he can live with. Without getting too geeky science-fictiony about the whole process, King creates a believable portal into the past complete with its own rules and peril.
Something else this novel does is paint a very intimate portrait of small town American life circa 1958-63 (and a visit to Derry!) King knows small towns like nobody’s business and when he writes them he takes the reader by the hand and drops them directly into the landscape. But King isn’t doing just small towns here; he is writing a particular time as well as place. He creates a sense of nostalgia, but one with teeth. There is the sugary, Land of Ago where everything is cheaper and shinier and seemingly more innocent, but mixed with the darker, hidden elements of racism, domestic violence, and poverty. King’s microscope misses no detail – there is glory and wonder, but there is ugliness and harshness too.
Under King’s microscope is also a very real historical figure, and that is Lee Harvey Oswald. I love what King is able to accomplish here, showing Oswald as a regular guy, a small man who beat his wife, a small man who suffered from a bad case of arrogance and delusions of grandeur. Under the microscope is also Oswald as the Lone Gunman. Was he or wasn’t he? I found this part of the novel to be the most gripping and engaging. Jake Epping’s long, lonely stakeouts, his stalking and hunting of Oswald made the most sense to me, and rang the most true. Jake Epping finds love and friends, but his relationship with Oswald is the one I will never forget.
Epping is us and we go on this adventure not just with him, but in a way as him. I figure this is as close any of us will ever get to traveling back in time in an attempt to change history. It all feels so real -- King hits upon every sense – you are seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and hearing all at once. It is an intoxicating brew, a cautionary tale for the ages.
The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle's shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless.
…when that happens, you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know that? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.
Camille Preaker is haunted by childhood memories of a cold, hysterical mother and the devastating loss of her sister, Marian, who died when Camille waCamille Preaker is haunted by childhood memories of a cold, hysterical mother and the devastating loss of her sister, Marian, who died when Camille was only 13. Literally carrying her war wounds upon her flesh, Camille is a recovering "cutter" who has carved a myriad of words into her skin as a visible record of the pain and trauma she's experienced. Having escaped from the clutches of a cloying family environment, Camille is being sent back into the cauldron, this time as a reporter for a second-rate newspaper to cover the gruesome murders of two local pre-teens. The more involved she becomes in the mystery, the more she uncovers about her town, her family, and herself. The discoveries are anything but pleasant.
Part thriller, part mystery, part Southern Gothic, Gillian Flynn's debut novel is simply outstanding. Camille Preaker is a heroine worth cheering for, as Flynn expertly delves into the female psyche and the delicate, often damaging ties between mothers and daughters. In the tradition of Flannery O'Connor, the writing here is so effective and evocative, this one will stay with you long after the reading is done....more
Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously an Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously and definitely the strongest in the series since Eight Million Ways To Die. While we've moved along in years out of the 80's into the early 90's, New York City continues to be a seething trap of anger and violence and desperation with all those ways to die and Scudder has stumbled upon yet another one. This time, he didn't even go looking for it, not really. It sort of finds him in a weird, chilling series of coincidences.
Two words: snuff film. Yeah, like I said, dark and depraved waters.
Scudder is moving along nicely in his life these days. He's sober and regularly attending meetings. He's got his girlfriend Elaine (who one dewy-eyed reviewer wistfully and with no irony whatsoever refers to as Matt's snuggle bunny) no matter that she's a call girl and continues to see clients. He's also forged a pretty meaningful friendship with Mick Ballou, the Irish gangster who may or may not have carried around some guy's head in a bowling ball bag, the man who proudly wears his father's blood stained butcher's apron (and which of those stains are man or animal, nobody knows).
I keep coming back to these books mostly for Scudder. He's such a great character to spend time with. But also for the sense of time and place that Block is able to conjure. I find the Scudder books act like time capsules in a way. So much of the plotting of this story relies on VHS tapes and renting them from a video store. It made me remember what that was like and how long it's been since I've actually done it.
I remember when my family got its first VCR ever and it was this huge exciting moment, like we had finally arrived at a Jetsons' version of the future. And with Block, it's so authentic, because he's not writing these books from a 21st century perspective and recreating 1991, he actually wrote this one in 1991 without the long view and hindsight that we have as readers. I love that. That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to Scudder aging and getting Block's take on a 21st century New York. I can't wait actually.
I'll wrap this up with a note on the ending -- holy shit snacks. (view spoiler)[If Scudder had done this in his heavy drinking days, I would have blamed it on the booze, but to do it stone cold sober, I'm positively shocked. Yet pleased. Satisfied. There was a time early on when I was so angry at Scudder for letting a child rapist walk free (forcing him to donate money to Boys' Town). I was so disappointed with his lack of action then. Well, no one can accuse him of lack of action here. Decisive. Unequivocal. Was this justice or cold-blooded murder? I loved when Scudder tells Ballou about his mentor who told him you don't ever do something with your own hands you can get somebody else to do for you. Well I guess Scudder decided that wasn't for him. If this was going to happen, he was going to have blood on his hands to show for it. I can respect that. (hide spoiler)]
Now I think I'll go for a walk among the tombstones. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book ::flails helplessly:: How do I begin to review these raw and ruthless stories and do them justice? I probably can't ladies and gents, but IThis book ::flails helplessly:: How do I begin to review these raw and ruthless stories and do them justice? I probably can't ladies and gents, but I want to try goddammit. Frank Bill's collection of crazies and crimes in southern Indiana deserves that much at least.
This is prose that sings -- not with the sweetness and harmony of a Mama Cass, but rather a whiskey-soaked growl and feverish screech of a Janis Joplin. It's jagged, fragmented, and toothsome; at any point ready and able to tear a chunk out of the reader and leave him or her panting and bleeding like the sordid cast of cutthroat characters that populate the pages of these 17 inter-connected stories.
The stories piece together a harsh portrait of poor, scrabbling, backwoods people -- where victims become victimizers, and the brutalized do their fair share of brutalizing in return. As Frank Bill weaves together his tales of madness and mayhem, he is not interested in telling mere exploitative snapshots of gratuitous violence; his carefully crafted stories resonate with gritty themes of PTSD, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, greed and corruption. Each story flashes bright and fierce, a powerhouse on its own, but when melded with its brethren, the sum definitely becomes more awesome than the parts.
Frank Bill is writing Southern Noir and making it his bitch. This is Quentin Tarantino meets Cormac McCarthy. For certain Frank Bill convinces his readers that his Indiana landscape is also no country for old men. How is this for a descriptive simile: Jagged marrow lined his gums like he'd tried to huff a stick of dynamite. But when he stuttered into Medford's ear he sounded like a drunk who had Frenched a running chainsaw.
This isn't a collection to love per se; it certainly won't leave you with the warm and fuzzies. It will shake you up and smack you around a bit though, and you definitely won't forget it easily. It also made me green with envy over how easy Frank Bill makes it all seem. What he accomplishes isn't easy; if it were we'd see the likes of this kind of writing more often.
Iris kept driving. Turned onto the county road, glanced over the field and acres of cedar, saw the smoke rising above the land. He reached over and rubbed Spade between his black ears, not knowing where he was headed, but knowing he wouldn't stop until he was several states shy of the crimes in southern Indiana.
Neil Gaiman weaves a tale in such a way that he transports me back to a state of childhood wonderment when being transfixed by a story seemed so muchNeil Gaiman weaves a tale in such a way that he transports me back to a state of childhood wonderment when being transfixed by a story seemed so much easier and so much more pleasurable. Gaiman reminds me of why I love to read and I love him for that.
First-line-fever: There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife....more
Samuel L. Jackson makes everything better in my books. He is the King of All that is Awesome. I can't say it any better than Becky does here. If you hSamuel L. Jackson makes everything better in my books. He is the King of All that is Awesome. I can't say it any better than Becky does here. If you haven't already listened to Mr. English-Do-You-Speak-It tell all the world's children to go the fuck to sleep, do so immediately. I hear it's quite cathartic for parents currently battling the bedtime wars! Here's a working link. Watch it fast because these are being blocked soon after they're posted. ...more
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea. ~Genesis
In the end, living is
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea. ~Genesis
In the end, living is defined by dying~Genesis
Wow, wow and more wow! I have been swept away and truly humbled by this little book that's filled with such big ideas. The blurb on my edition calls it "sinewy" and "cerebral" and for me, that hits it just right.
I want to start by first giving a shout out to Stephen; his unbridled enthusiasm for this book is what brought it to my attention. I didn't even know this book existed until I read Stephen's wonderful review, so thank you Stephen! I also want to bring attention to Lyndsey's review here as well because she does such a phenomenal job describing what makes this book so special and unique. Trust me, go read those reviews and you will absolutely have to read this book like I did, and you will be the happier for having done so.
I've become so accepting of the watered-down, popcorn-esque dystopias that have invaded mainstream YA of late, that I forgot just how satisfying a carefully constructed and believable dystopian landscape can be. I feel like it's an itch I haven't had scratched in a looooong time. Pardon me while I exhale a sigh of bliss. If I were a cat I would be purring my head off right now.
In less than 200 pages, the author is able to create not only a convincing post-apocalyptic scenario where a society isolates itself behind a huge sea wall, but gives the reader three memorable characters who aren't in the business of making you cry or clutch your chest, but they will make you think -- they will make you think about the nature of fear, the ethics and possible outcomes of technology, and most of all, what it means to be human. What makes us who we are? What we are? Which differences matter and can change the course of everything?
This book is OVERFLOWING with thinky thoughts. The language is precise and careful, taking the reader on a philosophical journey that asks the hardest questions. At first, the answers may seem easy, but they won't by the end. And that ending!!! That made me clutch my chest. There is an undeniable tension that threads through the whole story. As a reader you sense this is all headed towards climax and epiphany and let me tell you, getting there is so rewarding.
The narrative device works brilliantly here -- young Anax facing her three Examiners in an oral interview that will last five hours. It is mostly through her eyes we come to know this world and all the events that have led up to this point in history. But we are also privy to transcripts that give voice to Adam and Art, man and machine. It is their words that give the book its resonance and meaning. What do they learn from each other? What do we learn from each of them?
My only critique: I wish it could have been longer! I was so swept up in the narrative I could have gone on for hundreds of pages more. The real wonder is that the author did not need those extra pages to weave his tale. This novel's brevity is also what gives it its power.
I will be thinking about this book for a long time; I will remember it forever.