If you've yet to begin on the wondrous and amazing journey that is Joe Hill's Locke and Key series, what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?If you've yet to begin on the wondrous and amazing journey that is Joe Hill's Locke and Key series, what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation? Life is short and our TBR piles huge, but this one? This one you absolutely, unequivocally do not want to miss.
It's so charming and whimsical, a touch of fairy tale mixed in to a raw and rollicking story about grief and loss, ghosts and monsters, mysterious doors and the magical keys that open them. It's about childhood and family and sibling bonds.
And it all comes back to the keys scattered about the magisterial and aptly named Keyhouse that holds a dark and dangerous secret. ...more
Outstanding!!!! I cannot wait for more! This series continues to get stronger with every installment. Since Chapter 1 "Sparrow" is dedicated to the grOutstanding!!!! I cannot wait for more! This series continues to get stronger with every installment. Since Chapter 1 "Sparrow" is dedicated to the great Bill Watterson, it is only appropriate that I express the extent of my pleasure in a happy dance thusly:
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.
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
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
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.
First line fever: The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born - we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Fanny, the loudestFirst line fever: The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born - we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Fanny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg....more
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
First line fever: I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, orFirst line fever: I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany...more
Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much mystery, tension, what the bleep mindfuck going on that it literally keeps you on the edge of your seat. As a science fiction story, I proclaim it a classic.
You really want to come to this novella completely blind, because the reveals are so rewarding you don't want to be robbed of them early. But I have discovered upon subsequent re-reads (and now my first "listen") that the story has legs no matter what you know or don't know when you begin it. As with The Long Walk, there are rewards every single time I read this story.
This isn't King at his most emotional or epic -- this is King at his most cut-throat, imaginative storytelling best. He is having delirious fun taking a group of people and putting them in an unknowable, impossible situation. He has created a locked room mystery -- a puzzle -- with a very real and logical solution, but I bet you five dollars he'll keep you guessing to the very end!!
This story is such kick-ass, high-octane energy you will fly through the pages and come out the end grinning like a monkey. I just love it.
[A word on the reader: Willem Defoe is pretty awesome except for the voice he uses when speaking for Bethany. Ahhhhh! Nails on a chalkboard. He makes her sound like an 80 year old Fran Drescher who's smoked and drank whiskey her whole life!]...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
I'm going to start this review with a humble caveat -- there's no way I can do these stories (or Pollock's writing) any sense of justice. But if I can I'm going to start this review with a humble caveat -- there's no way I can do these stories (or Pollock's writing) any sense of justice. But if I can get you to pause whatever it is you're doing, if I can get you to put down whatever else you happen to be reading, for just a moment to think about this book then I will be a very happy woman indeed.
What can I say? Knockemstiff knocked me flat on my ass. The interconnected stories are an assault on the psyche - a kind of brutalization lined with a deep and abiding sadness (Kemper calls it "emotional desolation") -- a hopelessness that is at times suffocating. These are tales about people trapped in a dead-end place in dead-end lives who don't even have the wherewithal or wisdom to get the hell out of Dodge even if it means chewing their own goddam leg off to do so.
Pollock's characters are not caricatures -- Pollock makes you care, he shows you their humanity in all of its glorious dysfunction, then he makes you root for them and sometimes even pray for them. You know it's futile but you do it anyway -- and then you get your heart broke, and that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. I don't know what that says about me that this sort of visceral reading experience appeals to me, but it does. Perhaps it's the cold comfort that no matter how bad my life seems at any given moment on any given day, it will never be as bad as that.
I also believe it's the cold comfort that's derived from knowing humans are survivors no matter what. No matter what we find a way to endure; no matter how badly we muck things up, we find a way to carry on -- even broken, busted up and beaten down. Despite knowing deep down: "anything I do to extend my life is just going to be outweighed by the agony of living it." That's some coldass wisdom right there and it takes an amazing amount of courage and resiliency to face your life armed with that knowledge (but people do it every day).
The writing here is phenomenal -- cutthroat and precise. I'm amazed how quickly Pollock was able to drop me into any story and feel like I'd been reading about the characters for hundreds of pages already. Short stories usually leave me wanting something more and feeling like there is something fundamentally missing. Not so here. I experienced each story as a distinct entity with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Each opening sentence made a promise to the reader that Pollock delivers on. Also adding to the overall reading experience here is the fact that many of these stories interconnect so that a character from one will reappear in another, usually older and even more damaged than when we first meet them. This gives the collection a kind of coherency where the sum is far greater than the individual parts.
And of those opening sentences? Here are a few of my favorites. By reading these I think you'll be able to tell whether this collection is for you or not.
Real Life: My father showed me how to hurt a man one August night at the Torch Drive-in when I was seven years old. It was the only thing he was ever any good at.
Knockemstiff: Tina Elliot is leaving tomorrow, heading off with Boo Nesser to shack up in a trailer next to a Texas oil field, and I feel as bad as the time my mother died.
Hair's Fate: When people in town said inbred, what they really meant was lonely. Daniel liked to pretend that anyway. He needed the long hair. Without it, he was nothing but a creepy country stooge from Knockemstiff, Ohio--old people glasses and acne sprouts and a bony chicken chest.
Fish Sticks: It was the day before his cousin's funeral and Del ended up at the Suds washing his black jeans at midnight. They were the only pants he owned that were fit for the occasion.
Bactine: I'd been staying out around Massieville with my crippled uncle because I was broke and unwanted everywhere else, and I spent most of my days changing his slop bucket and sticking fresh cigarettes in his smoke hole.
I've put off writing a review for this book because I always struggle with the great ones and Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of those (with a capitalI've put off writing a review for this book because I always struggle with the great ones and Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of those (with a capital G). It's craft and heart and drama and beauty. It's poetry and grit, entangled in an embrace of love and hatred.
Woodrell offers up a stinging portrait of impoverished life in the Ozarks, where kin saves as often as it condemns. The hill people of Ree's world live by their own laws separate from that of the state -- of paramount importance, don't be a snitch and mind your own business. Bad things happen to anyone who talks too much or asks too many questions. Unfortunately, sixteen year old Ree has a lot of questions that need answering with only her to ask them. Left on her own to protect a shattered mother and two helpless kid brothers, Ree is desperate to uncover the whereabouts of her meth-making father. She must venture into the cold and ice and pass over hostile thresholds where she is neither invited nor wanted.
Ree’s fierceness and courage stole my heart. She ranks as one of my favorite literary characters OF ALL TIME. Her stubbornness and smart mouth made me smile as much as it made me fear for her safety. Ree has her own set of rules to live by that include, stepping in to do for her brothers where her parents have failed and “Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.” Ree is an old soul, mature beyond her years, forced to grow up fast and smart in a world that has teeth and a taste for blood.
This is a harsh story, one where the author pulls no punches. Woodrell is not out to romanticize this hill life or the hardscrabble characters living it. He wants us to see the ugly, to feel it in our bones, but for all of that there is tremendous beauty here as well, not just in the prose that SINGS but in the simplicity of a proud people who do what they must to survive in an environment that does not forgive weakness or stupidity lightly.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I am also going to recommend Kemper’s review here, because he does such a wonderful job capturing the book’s honesty and intensity. If I haven’t convinced you to read Winter’s Bone, he will.
***A note on the audio version: Outstanding! Emma Galvin captures Ree’s strength and vulnerability perfectly. Woodrell’s prose is so gorgeous it soars when read aloud.
Love and hate hold hands always so it made natural sense that they'd get confused by upset married folk in the wee hours once in a while and a nosebleed or bruised breast might result. But it just seemed proof that a great foulness was afoot in the world when a no-strings roll in the hay with a stranger led to chipped teeth or cigarette burns on the wrist. `Winter's Bone
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.
Amazing. What could have easily been a sensationalist and exploitive book about a horrific event, in Cullen’s hands becomes a sincere, in-depth analysAmazing. What could have easily been a sensationalist and exploitive book about a horrific event, in Cullen’s hands becomes a sincere, in-depth analysis about adolescent depression and clinical psychopathy. Cullen did his research and it shows – the result is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre and the disturbed minds behind it. Cullen’s approach is thorough; he systematically debunks many of the myths that have surrounded the tragedy for years.
The most pervasive and long-held belief about Columbine of course, is that the perpetrators of the shootings – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold – were bullied outcasts and that it was the daily abuse they tolerated from their tormentors that drove them to kill. The reality could not have been further from the truth, and Cullen’s revelations about each boy are staggering ... and chilling. Cullen uses Eric Harris to show us psychopaths are born, not made. For me, the other shocking truth Cullen reveals about Columbine is that: “It had not really been intended as a school shooting at all. Primarily, it had been a bombing that failed (p 125).” Had Eric’s maniacal plan succeeded, the death toll for Columbine would have been in the hundreds.
The survivors of Columbine and the families of those not so lucky, show how humans are incredibly resilient. Most picked up the pieces of their lives and moved forward. Their stories humbled me, especially that of Patrick Ireland (a.k.a “The Boy in the Window). A quote by Ernest Hemingway appears in the book that especially captures the resiliency of all those touched by the Columbine massacre: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”