Joyland is a Stephen King novel, but it is not a typical Stephen King novel. First and foremost it’s short – just under 300 pages. Second, although th...moreJoyland is a Stephen King novel, but it is not a typical Stephen King novel. First and foremost it’s short – just under 300 pages. Second, although there is a ghost and a young boy who could be psychic, that’s not the heart of the book. The heart of the book is Devin Jones, a college student who has recently had his heart broken. Taking a summer job at a second rate amusement park called Joyland Devin becomes obsessed with the story of the ghost of a young woman who was murdered in the park several years earlier. Along the way he learns all about carny life, makes life-long friends and meets a unique little boy who ‘knows’ things and helps Devin in his search for the “Carny Killer”.
I really enjoyed this book. The main character was really likeable and King portrayed his broken hearted angst perfectly. And the book ending packs an emotional wallop. It was a perfect summer read and if you are a King fan you will enjoy this departure from his usual horror fare. Even if you aren’t a fan of King I recommend the book, it’s not scary at all. (less)
The Light in the Ruins is a hard book to classify. It’s part historical history and part murder mystery. What it definitely is is a haunting story abo...moreThe Light in the Ruins is a hard book to classify. It’s part historical history and part murder mystery. What it definitely is is a haunting story about the ravages of war and a chilling tale of revenge and murder.
The opening to this book grabs you immediately as it is told from a killer’s point of view, it was one of the best openings to a book I’ve ever read and it made me want to find out what has compelled someone to commit such a terrible crime.
The events of the book unfold in two different years, 1944 when the war came to Italy and 1955, years after the end of the war but the start of a well-planned act of revenge.
The Rosati family lives a life of privilege in their villa in the Tuscan hills. For the most part they are untouched by the war raging around the world. When two Nazi officers come to the villa, which is the home of an Etruscan tomb, their lives become entwined with that of the Nazis’ who are in the habit of plundering ancient art. Slowly, inexorably the Rosati’s way of life begins to unravel.
In 1955 we meet Serafina Bettini, a woman who has her own scars from the war. She is the police investigator assigned to the murder of Francesca Rosati. When another murder occurs it is clear that some one has a vendetta against the Rosati family.
I enjoyed the story; I loved the characters, all of which are not perfect and I thought the writing was excellent. I found myself wondering what I would do in a similar position as the Rosati’s, caught between factions in the midst of war. I was riveted to the mystery and the small clues that were sprinkled throughout. My only complaint is that the revelation of the murderer, while believable, seemed a little out of left field. Outside of that minor complaint this has been my favorite book by Bohjalian. (less)
Sometimes you need to just kick back and read a book just for pure enjoyment. This book perfectly fits the bill, an easy and hugely enjoyable book.
The...moreSometimes you need to just kick back and read a book just for pure enjoyment. This book perfectly fits the bill, an easy and hugely enjoyable book.
The Supremes are three life long friends. They have lived in the same small town for 55 years; dubbed The Supremes by Big Earl, owner of the All You Can Eat, where they have met for Sunday dinner after church. They have been doing this for more years than they can count, sharing the ups and downs of their lives.
This book is a time shift novel, exploring Odette, Barbara Jean and Clarice’s current lives and in flashbacks all the ups and downs of the past 40 or so years, when they first became best friends.
This was a delightful very entertaining read. While often very funny it also explores some very serious subjects, including racism, alcoholism and death. Besides the three main characters there are also husbands, friends, children and ghosts. Yes there are ghosts; Odette’s mother and the slightly loopy former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who keep making visits and having talks with Odette.
While reading this book I often thought of The Help and Steel Magnolia’s; it has that same very Southern feel and just the right mix of pathos and comedy; laughter and tears. I was sorry to read the last page. I’d love to drop my Earl’s and catch up with these three women and gossip for a couple of hours. To me that is the sign of a good book, to want to believe that these characters are real and live on.
This is Edward Kelsey Moore’s first book. Here’s hoping for many, many more. (less)
I loved, loved, loved this book. I don’t even know how to review it except to say I loved it. But I’ll try and put it into words.
First let me say that...more I loved, loved, loved this book. I don’t even know how to review it except to say I loved it. But I’ll try and put it into words.
First let me say that I was introduced to John Green by my Nerdfighter daughter. She kept telling me I had to read him and so I picked up The Fault in Our Stars and I fell in love. So when a few fellow reader friends started talking up this book I picked it up and I am so happy I did.
Will Grayson is a fairly typical teenager, trying to figure life out but also trying to distance himself from people as a form of protection – don’t get too close and you can’t get hurt. His closest friend is Tiny Cooper, his nickname an oxymoron because he is anything but Tiny. And he is proudly, flamboyantly and over the top Gay – with a capital G. He is also the very heart and soul of this book. Unbeknownst to Will Grayson there is another Will Grayson out there (OWG). He is also a teenager, but with serious identity and emotional problems, trying to deal with depression and thoughts of suicide. One night a very cruel joke is played on OWG and he crosses paths with Will Grayson. This meeting has consequences good and bad that reverberate through their lives over the course of the next few months as Tiny Cooper tries to stage the “Biggest, Gayest Musical” ever.
I know it sounds a little bizarre but it’s not. It is a book about growing up, growing pains, falling in love, friendship and its ups and downs. It is full of heart and full of laughs and full of pain. But it is ultimately uplifting. And all I can say is that everyone should have a Tiny Cooper in their life.
I read and listened to this at the same time (Whispersync) and loved the audio so much I stopped reading the book. The narration was perfect and it had the added bonus of hearing the songs in Tiny’s show. (less)
Some books are filled with non-stop action and if that is what you like this is not the book for you. This is character driven and slow moving. It’s a...moreSome books are filled with non-stop action and if that is what you like this is not the book for you. This is character driven and slow moving. It’s a book where nothing much seems to happen, but in truth a lot is going on.
In the small community of Shirley Falls, Maine a hate crime has been committed. There has been an influx of Somali people into the mostly white community and tension is in the air. When Zachary, a teenager from a well-known family, plays what he thinks is a funny prank, things quickly go awry. Soon this prank has evolved into a national incident, a hate crime with the possibility of serious consequences for the young man. When his mother calls on her two brothers to come home and help her we are drawn into the lives of this family over the course of a year.
While the storyline involving Zachary and the ramifications of his act are the center pole of the story it is the relationships between the siblings that are the heart and soul of the book.
Jim is the elder brother and Bob and Susan the younger siblings are twins. Their relationship has been strained over the years; their father died when they were young and one of them has been blamed for the accident that took his life. That one day informs the rest of their lives.
This is a beautifully written character story of the way family can pull us together and tear us apart. Through the crisis of Zach’s arrest we become privy to the details of the three siblings life. Jim is the high-powered attorney with the beautiful wife and perfect family. Bob is the affable brother who is very liberal and works as an attorney in Legal Aid, quite the opposite of Jim. Susan is the one who, unlike her brothers, never left home and is the one who seems completely adrift in the world. Little by little the characters reveal themselves to us, as we learn more about their lives. Everything gets turned around again when one sibling makes a confession that changes everything for the siblings. While Zach’s case eventually comes to an end, the changes in the Burgess family are just beginning.
I love character studies and I loved this book. I enjoy subtle storytelling and stories about the love/hate relationships siblings often have with each other. I especially enjoyed the writing; in many places it reminded me of the simple yet beautiful writing of Kent Haruf and his Holt County series. Without seeming to try Elizabeth Strout can reveal a community as well as a family by slowly entwining their stories. One of my favorite books this year. (less)
I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand it’s a well-written look at family relationships in varying connections; sibling...moreI have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand it’s a well-written look at family relationships in varying connections; siblings, husbands and wives and parent and child. On the other hand it’s very dark, with really unlikeable characters and some improbable scenarios.
The story takes place during the course of a dinner at a very exclusive restaurant. Two brothers, Paul and Serge and their respective wives Claire and Babette are having a night out, but it becomes clear that this is anything but a casual dinner. There are undertones and hints of something very serious involving their children, cousins that seem to have done something very bad and most likely of a criminal nature. The book is told through the voice of Paul, who seems rather staid and unremarkable. It soon becomes clear that Paul has secrets that are slowly revealed and lead to the questioning of his reliability as narrator.
At the start of the book I was very engaged and felt that this would maybe turn out to be the psychological thriller that was advertised. The story soon became bogged down in so many details of the dinner and the restaurant that the suspense slowly drained away. I really didn’t need to know the name of every dish and drink ordered, descriptions of the manager, the serving people, the owner and how the food was prepared, ad nauseum. I found it peculiar that people would leave the table for what seemed like long periods of time and nobody remarked on it. It just started to get tiresome, waiting for something, anything to happen. By the time things to start to happen it’s a just a little too late and I didn’t care very much.
While the book does provide some interesting topics to contemplate, including the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, for me it was a slog to get there and in the end I found the resolution a little unbelievable. (less)
I was not a huge fan of Twilight, I really disliked the concept and I thought the writing was terrible. Shiver makes Twilight seem like Shakespeare.
T...moreI was not a huge fan of Twilight, I really disliked the concept and I thought the writing was terrible. Shiver makes Twilight seem like Shakespeare.
The idea here is almost identical to Twilight; pretty girl becomes infatuated with a young man who happens to be a werewolf. She has loved him when he was a wolf, not knowing he was also a young man. He is equally obsessed with her. Her parents are oblivious to anything their daughter does, to the extent that she actually lives with said “wereboy” in her bedroom – for weeks. When she does tell them about Sam he inexplicably lives with the family. It goes downhill from there as far as storyline.
The writing was just over the top, with our young man writing really bad song lyrics in his head. At one point he describes himself as a leaking womb and I was dumbfounded by that metaphor. Overly descriptive writing that was often laughable. Characters that had great potential to bring some tension to the storyline are disposed of or never heard from again. And like the gorgeous Edward of the aforementioned Twilight we have constant commentary and descriptions of Sam’s yellow eyes.
Of course the biggest plot hole, which at first seemed clever, was the fact that when the weather turned cold is when our shape shifters turned into wolves. Once the weather turns warmer they shift back into humans, and are only able remember vague parts of their lives as wolves; except for Sam who remembers Grace, mostly by her scent. The big question is, why live in Minnesota? I was thinking this as I was reading by the pool in Florida where it is never really cold! When you turn into a human – move, to any southern state or Hawaii maybe. Don’t stay in Minnesota dreading the return of winter. It was just too hard to get over that gaping hole in logic.
So read this if you want a fairly boring story about teenage love and angst. Better yet – dare I say it? - Read Twilight. (less)
So a description I read said this was “a gloriously funny novel of sibling rivalry” and I thought “well I could use a laugh”. I’m sorry to say I don’t...moreSo a description I read said this was “a gloriously funny novel of sibling rivalry” and I thought “well I could use a laugh”. I’m sorry to say I don’t believe I laughed once. Shook my head a few times maybe, but laugh – no I did not.
It’s not that this is a bad book, but it isn’t a very good book either. I am pretty ambivalent about the entire story and am sure a few months from now it will fade from memory entirely.
In a nutshell the three grown Coffey children, for varying reasons, have all moved back home to try and straighten out their lives. Mom Weezy is an empty nester with what appears to be no life outside of worrying about her children. Dad Will mostly hides in his office and has virtually no part in the storyline.
If you weren’t told at the start that these five were a family you wouldn’t know it. Claire is approaching 30, has ended her engagement and has chosen to live in the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, an apartment she cannot afford and therefore pays all her bills with a credit card and has acquired a boat load of debt, so back home she goes. Martha is an RN who has given up nursing to work at J. Crew as a manager. It is very clear that Martha has extremely poor socialization skills, so she too is living at home. Will is a college senior with a beautiful girlfriend, Cleo, who has a distant relationship with her mother. The two of them move into the basement when they run into a bit of ‘trouble’, and so all three kids are home and all the old sibling stuff rears it’s head. And we spend a year with some of the most annoying, whiny people ever. They all seem to be very concerned about Will ruining his life, when in actuality he is the only one who is confronting life straight on and dealing with the upheavals.
This book was 353 pages and felt twice as long. The writing was okay, the story was okay but I never connected with any of the characters and didn’t much care what happened to them, except maybe Will and Cleo, they were the only people that seemed to have some clue about enjoying life. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, which makes it a solid 3 star, it was okay read. And I never did figure out who "The Smart One" was.(less)
It seems as if another day brings another post-apocalyptic book; The Dog Stars is in a class of its own.
Flu pandemic has killed off most of the world...moreIt seems as if another day brings another post-apocalyptic book; The Dog Stars is in a class of its own.
Flu pandemic has killed off most of the world’s inhabitants, people and animals alike. It is nine years after the outbreak and there are pockets of survivors struggling to live in a world where all the rules have changed. Hig and Bangley are two such men who have formed an uneasy alliance with each other. They live on an abandoned airfield in Denver; they scrape by and care of what they have, even if it means shoot first, and shoot to kill.
Hig is our narrator; we see everything through his eyes. He is the moral compass of the book, remembering his past life and questioning his current existence. Bangley is far more pragmatic, we don’t learn much about him but he has no problem defending his home against all intruders. The world may be coming to an end, but he will go down swinging.
Most of the book is written in a stream of consciousness style; there is very little dialogue because there is no one for Hig to talk to except for Bangley and Hig’s beloved dog Jasper. Sometimes thoughts aren’t completed or go off in tangents, much like most of our inner conversations. This is a style that can be hit or miss, in this case it works and I think that is due to the writing, poetic and beautiful in equal measure.
This is a book you should not know too much about before reading, so I don’t want to go into details about the storyline. It is a book that is dark, it’s hard to write about the end of the world and not be dark. But it has humor and humanity. There is compassion and there is hope.
Many reviews I have read compare the book to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”. I have not read that book so I cannot comment, although I believe that this book is not quite as bleak. I also believe that one of the best aspects of the story is to make us wonder what we would do in the same circumstances. Most of us would like to think we are good and possibly noble. But when it comes down to it just how far would you go to survive?
I was sorry this book came to an end. I cried a couple of times and I have thought of the story and the people in it often, always the sign of a good book. Read it. You won’t regret it. (less)