I went into this book so ready to hate it to its core and add another 1 star review to my collection. "Hexed" was a dull catastrophe that leftDammit.
I went into this book so ready to hate it to its core and add another 1 star review to my collection. "Hexed" was a dull catastrophe that left me itching for more, and for the first half or so, I thought "Hammered" was eager to oblige. Mr. Hearne's sense of humor continues to fail at the most basic levels, and he fills the gaps with a level of nerd pandering that staggers the imagination. Reading about dignified immortals squeeing over a meeting with Neil Gaiman, or busting out I Can Haz Cheezburger dialogue, only makes me loathe the author all the more, and the first half of "Hammered" is chock full of awkward semi-jokes and lame attempts to look cool in front of all the internet kiddies. The bizarre sexism is mostly gone, but only because The Ladies get next to no screentime this time around. The book's initial salvo was utter trash, and I was pleased.
But then, the cast expanded and some odd immortals enter the fray, and they packed some wisps of personality and likable backstories... Nothing earth-shattering, mind you, and the author's skill with flowery high fantasy parlance is shaky at best, but I found myself Enjoying The Book and Caring For Its Outcome. "Hounded" and "Hexed" spent most of their energies building up to the climax of book 3, and while it was largely a fumbled, sloppy mess, I got some yuks out of it. My hate-boner dissipated, my prey escaped me; I had enjoyed this fantasy trash too much to tear it apart.
2 stars. Not 2.3 or 2.7. Maybe closer to 1.8, perhaps, but the fact remains that as much as I don't like you, I can't quite hate you. Begone - perhaps when my friend Matt throws me your next installment I shall not be so gentle....more
Hexed, the second book in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, is a little harder to go easy on than its predecessor. While Hounded was by no means aHexed, the second book in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, is a little harder to go easy on than its predecessor. While Hounded was by no means a great book, it did introduce the reader to an interesting world full of pleasantly intricate back-stabbing faerie politics, angry undead Icelanders, and other assorted supernatural oddballs. With a little luck and personal growth, maaaaaybe Mr. Hearne could pull together something solid out of this universe. There was promise here, is what I'm trying to say.
Instead of growing, however, Hexed just sort of flops around a bit while setting some events in motion for book 3. Atticus somehow grew more annoying here, switching between an immature stoner anime nerd stereotype and a holier-than-thou old man who scolds and reprimands everything he comes across. This is reasonable behavior, mind you, as all sorts of formerly reasonable characters try to kill him on sight, only quitting when Atticus' sage druid wisdom makes them realize the error of their ways. Those who don't try to kill him tell painfully corny jokes or just manage to embarrass themself for Atticus' amusement. I really hope the later books break this pattern, because I'm growing to dislike the majority of the cast...
Anyway, the plot summary: there's a couple new teams of bad guys in town, both of whom are groups of sex-crazed, murderous women, so Atticus teams up with all his old friends plus a few new ones to help take them down! The fact that the new ones consist of four additional sex-crazed, murderous women isn't helping the variety out much here. Oh, and there's also one fat lady tagged onto the team for diversity. The entirety of her presence is summed up as follows: *Eating cookies *Brushing cookie crumbs off her lap *Interrupting the story to go make popcorn *And losing a fight
Beyond the awkward sexism and unpleasant authority fantasies, the story just sort of meanders from point to point with no real sense of tension along the way, and the humor seems to have gotten weaker and preachier at the same time. I'll admit I laughed now and then while reading it, but there was a lot more dead air than I experienced with Hounded. Here's hoping the staggering amount of violence they suggest lurks in book 3 will help liven things up a bit......more
I am 30 years old, and I have just finished reading It. Liked It too, maybe even loved it. This is my second attempt on the book. I first tried to reaI am 30 years old, and I have just finished reading It. Liked It too, maybe even loved it. This is my second attempt on the book. I first tried to read It years back; I'm not sure how long ago, but my brother was alive. He saw me struggling with It and suggested a few other King titles instead, The Talisman and Desperation. I honestly don't know how deep a King fan he was, but he enjoyed them, and I'm pretty certain he realized how deeply caught up in the Kingverse I'd wind up some day.
I am 30 years old, and King was 40 when he wrote It, a story about middle-aged sorts and the children they once were and the odd uncanny gap between them. It's fantastic work on his part, considered by many to be his masterpiece (though I feel The Stand certainly holds its own). Even so, I'm only giving It four stars. It contains some of his most fleshed-out, believable, relatable characters, and demonstrates his knack for binding the unspeakably wrong to the every day through one of his most popular villains of all time (no small thanks to Tim Curry), but oh god, how it drags. The story takes place across a chasm in time - you see the cast as children - you see them as adults - you learn about the forces that shaped them over the last 27 years - you reminisce, remember your own childhood, your own chasm, but you do so quietly, because dear god Mr. King you're taking your sweet ass time building up these characters, and you pray he doesn't hear your life story and spend 27 more years drawing it out of you. There are lulls in the action, deadzones in the pacing, is what I'm trying to tell you, but in the end you see how worthwhile the time was; you wind up with a cast of human beings you care for and root for, and you can look back over their odd phantom lives with pleasure and sadness, and you damn yourself with a smile on your face for forgetting all the friends of your youth and oh hey the book's back up to five stars - I wonder how that happened.
There's a definite generational gap here. Stephen's kids grow up in an era nearly 30 years before I was born, and was written by a man 30 years after his own youth, recalling childhood as best he can while writing a story at least heavily concerned with that dark space between now and then, You Today and You The Delightful Scamp of Yesteryear. It doesn't matter though; even with occasional bursts of King's trademark oddball dialogue, the attempt still succeeds spectacularly, and you get hit by all the waves of nostalgia and forgotten memories roughly 1100 pages can hold. At least when the dark and horrible things aren't creeping in, of course, but It wouldn't be a King book without the things that go bump in the night, which certainly can't quite technically be real but feel all too horribly familiar, or the things that absolutely are real but which you never chalk up as something that could happen to you.
I wouldn't suggest It as an introduction to King simply due to the sheer mass of the thing. As a child, It discouraged me pretty handily barely a hundred pages in. For anyone who's already in the know, however, (or who read one of his crap pieces and is convinced the guy's a cheap hack) It is one of the best reads the man has to offer.
...Just don't hold me responsible when you discover yourself stuck with a new mantra....more
Needful Things is the first book I've read from Stephen King's Castle Rock series, which is silly considering that it's also the last book in the seriNeedful Things is the first book I've read from Stephen King's Castle Rock series, which is silly considering that it's also the last book in the series. This is a huge breech in my usual protocol, and probably ruined the experience for me in ways I will never truly understand. In my defense, however, it wasn't my choice. I picked it up as a discard from my little brother who received it in the mail after attempting to order another (far more culturally substantial) book from a disreputable Amazon dealer. Coincidence? Probably, but it's fun to think otherwise.
NT is a story about a small town which suddenly finds itself host to a new salesman in a new store, one which conveniently and miraculously sells everything a person could ever want... but nothing that anyone would ever need, and always at a price much steeper than it initially seems. The concept's not particularly original, but the story is told delightfully, building up to one of King's trademark grand sweeping climaxes. While it is happy to pile on throwbacks to earlier books in the setting, it's a tale that stands fine on its own, so don't be frightened off if you haven't yet tackled Cujo or any of the other pieces of the puzzle that came beforehand.
In the end, it's a bit tricky to categorize the book - it's too ghoulish and sadistic to be a morality tale, and too derpy and self-aware to be horror. Lovecraftian KingChristian dark comedy maybe? Regardless, it's yet another solid echo in the Kingverse, by no means a must-read but enjoyable all the same.
Be good. Be kind. Be clever. Be sharp. Be mindful. Be honest.
What's there to say? Butcher continues to write massively enjoyable, silly, death-defying antics. It is still very good, though it took me about a hunWhat's there to say? Butcher continues to write massively enjoyable, silly, death-defying antics. It is still very good, though it took me about a hundred pages to really get hooked in. That being said, the whole Dresden-Never-Gets-Laid thing is getting more than a little old. Ah well....more
A lone man capable of phenomenal magical feats hides in plain sight in modern day America. His daily dealings involve witches, werewolves, and vampireA lone man capable of phenomenal magical feats hides in plain sight in modern day America. His daily dealings involve witches, werewolves, and vampires, and he does his best to handle his capricious friends and bloodsworn foes from the realm of Faerie, all the while just trying to get by quietly and enjoy his oddly geeky white male life surrounded by beautiful women and comical animal buddy.
...I really didn't want to make the comparison, but dear god, it's just too obvious and unavoidable. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series will almost immediately pick up on the similarities as soon as they hit the first page of Hounded. There are some key differences quickly presented to the reader, mind you; where Dresden is a plucky young ball of inexperience and moxy, Atticus is a 2000-ish year old druid whose power level is high enough that he generally flicks away any threats that don't fall into his kryptonite categories, and rather than following in Dresden's footsteps when it comes to dealing with women (generally unsuccessful, often spectacularly, usually comically), Atticus just sexes 'em all up with wild abandon. And oh, the women... These are evenly divided between insatiable sex-fiends and inhuman killers who are also insatiable sex-fiends. Males, meanwhile, are short-tempered, dim-witted, and prone to embarrassing themselves about two or three times per scene.
Bah, I could complain about the quality of the book for longer, but it's not all bad. The world created here definitely offers enough unusual and tantalizing paranormal weirdness details to keep me interested, and the comedy connects solidly at least as often as it whiffs. It's far from grade-A material, but if you enjoy popcorn fantasy punch 'em ups, find Irish pride to never be out of style, and can handle an above-average dose of trying-too-hard nerd humor, Hounded might be worth giving a try. It's a short, easy read, and hey, Butcher only pops out so many new books a year....more
Coming in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work wiComing in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work with, King puts together and fleshes out an excellent cast (definitely not a guarantee in his work) and runs them through his authentically horrific post-apocalyptic vision with time to spare for insightful dissection of the modern man and the technological house of cards we've built around ourselves. More than that though, it's reassuringly hopeful, and even though my credentials as a Christian are more than a little expired, it's one of the most moving defenses of God in an age of science and death I've yet read. This is coming right after my experience with Desperation, another King and an absolutely disappointing instance of Christian Horror. But regardless of the Jesus stuff, it's a fantastic book, even if I can see why the editors felt the need to trim a good 40% for its first publishing. An excellent novel to sit down with for the long haul, and a massively revealing piece in the puzzle that is King's endlessly multifaceted book-universe....more
As much as I enjoyed the first volume of Fletcher Hanks' work, I feel like they already used up most of the wild, out-there material by the time theyAs much as I enjoyed the first volume of Fletcher Hanks' work, I feel like they already used up most of the wild, out-there material by the time they decided to make a second. While there are still some extremely uncomfortable, Axe Cop-style insanities thrown at you (particularly in the second half of the collection), you'll see the same napkin-thin plot used again and again, the same phoned-in artwork, and after the first book I'd already gotten over the shock factor of it all. More interesting, I found, was the tragic biography of Hanks provided in the foreword; as I read along I couldn't help but wonder what kind of life this abusive comic jockey was leading as he scrawled out the adventures of "Space" Smith and Big "Red" McClane, and the epilogue just concluded the whole Fletcher Hanks experience perfectly....more
It's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong goinIt's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong going that insane again. Instead you have This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It), the logical progression to that first mish-mashed slag of Lovecraftian/Kevin Smith-style ultra goremedy, because somehow we managed to salvage some characters and setting and linear plot from that wonderful debacle.
This time around, Wong takes a swing at the currently-impossibly-popular Zombie Horror fad that has consumed the internet for the last half a decade or so, simultaneously lampooning it and nailing all the necessary uncomfortable spots. While significantly less authentically eerie than JDaTE (thank you Jim), it still has some masterful settings that turn the stomach and punch the brain. Overall though it's a more pure-hearted comedy than the first; in spite of a slightly weak opening, I found myself stopping every few minutes for an uncontrollable cackling fit the last 150 pages or so, and that deserves serious praise. Like any good book two of a trilogy, I both look forward to and dread book three for the closure it will bring. If you only read one book about the Satan spiders that live inside your face this year, make it this one.
This review was written primarily so I could use the phrase, "the nefarious Mr. Wong."...more
It's a shame, really. After starting off on a really strong note with one of the most likable King villains I've seen so far, Desperation reveals itsIt's a shame, really. After starting off on a really strong note with one of the most likable King villains I've seen so far, Desperation reveals its true colors, giving you much too much stumbling development of flimsy, annoying characters and reducing the big bad guy to a moronic ghoul who fails to use its near-omnipotence to any meaningful effect. Toss in an overbearing dose of grim-yet-indecipherable Christian apologetics and hey, you've got another stinker from the Master of Contemporary Horror....more
While the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, anWhile the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, and the series served as an excellent vehicle for that. In spite of the hokey dialogue and action-flick writing quality, my 10-year-old self loved the grotesque ugly bastards.
By The Night Eternal, del Toro's all out of horror ammo. The vampires never manage to do more than occasionally kill off bit characters, and the Master's more concerned with gloaming around his evil lair than doing anything actually impressive. On top of that, the world has essentially ended and it's made everyone so dreary and annoying. The most interesting character went and kamikazed at the end of book 2, and the remaining cast is just generally pretty flat and colorless. There are still some fun spots here and there, but overall I can't say this is worth the read....more
Everyone's favorite two-fisted wizard detective is back in his 14th installment, and the stakes have never been higher! Again! It's actually kind of rEveryone's favorite two-fisted wizard detective is back in his 14th installment, and the stakes have never been higher! Again! It's actually kind of remarkable how well Butcher manages to keep outdoing himself, book after book, in shoveling mountains of disaster on this geeky do-gooder's head... Anyway, we're 14 books in here by now. You know the guy's formula. If you like said formula, buy this! It's good! The ridiculous deus ex machinas and blatant male power fantasies are thicker and richer than ever! I believe it also actually answers more questions than it raises for once, though just barely. It's excellent popcorn fiction, easily capable of being polished off in a sitting or two....more
A pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end ifA pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end if you're lucky. Not quite horror stories or even creepy stories, the intended tone seems to be depressing, settling darkness (suitably enough given the title). Fantastic supernatural elements are kept to a minimum but show up from time to time, while the common-people characters are likable (if occasionally a bit threadbare from showing up in so many other Stephen King stories already). My only real gripe would be that his male characters seem nearly incapable of anything but despicable, self-serving sneakery, but oh well, them's the breaks. Average but serviceable, and better than not reading a book....more