Book Review, Stephen King

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties

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Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 20 October 2017
Date Finished: 28 October 2017
Pages: 702
Genre: Horror

There’s just something about Stephen (and I guess Owen) King’s writing that I love. I know a lot of people will say that this book dragged on too long and there was a lot of pointlessness in it, but I truly loved every single bit of it. Even the seemingly pointless bits. It added another layer to the world created in this epic that made it feel even more real. Admittedly, it was damned difficult to keep up with all the characters, but at the end of the day each one played their part.

I had an interesting experience reading this book. In general, I frown upon authors using cheap tricks to manipulate the reader’s feelings. There were a lot of things that happened in this book that I would normally consider “cheap tricks”. However let’s look at this in context. This books is making an open statement of pretty much everything that is wrong in this world today. And a lot of that is centered around abuse towards women and minorities. So while I would normally roll my eyes when an author kills a beloved character to prove a point or further the plot, when it was done in this book, it went a little deeper than the surface. Because everything that happened in this book are things that are happening for real all over the world.

I’ve had my fair share of abuse from men, yet I still consider myself lucky because it could have been worse. You hear stories often enough to make you feel like that one boyfriend you had that left a couple of bruises wasn’t the worst you could have ended up with. And hey at least you got away. Even as a mom of a beautiful son who I love with my whole heart, I found myself wondering if I would have voted to come back to this world if I had an opportunity like the women in Our Place?

Sadly, I think there will probably be Stephen King fans who don’t agree with the opinions expressed in this book. He’ll most likely lose a few readers and there might even be an attempt at a “boycot” on his books. Yes, there were cliche’s in abundance and some truly foul characters normally played by men, and this will probably piss off a lot of people and start the shouting of not all men!!! But you know what? Enough men to make this book leave me with a knot in my throat.

Getting past the underlying agenda, the story itself is actually pretty freaking good. I loved Evie and I even found myself feeling sorry for Frank while at the same time I felt like knocking his head against something hard. That’s one thing I can always say about SK’s characters. They’re so rich and unique, they feel real in a way that a lot of fictional characters don’t. I’m pretty sure in another lifetime King would’ve been a pretty decent shrink… or maybe a profiler… which probably more his style.

Bottom line, this book was a great story with a lot of relevant subtext. If you can’t handle that then don’t read it.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Chalk Man

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Rating: 3 Stars
Date Started: 30 October 2017
Date Finished: 5 November 2017
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery Thriller

I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed in this book. Maybe it’s because I read the reviews before reading the book, and they left me expecting more. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have the expectation of it being “the best book of the year”.

Unfortunately, this fell far short of the best book of the year for me, but it was still an okay read. It had a good start, but I feel like I kind of lost steam halfway through. There was too much internal monologuing going on and not enough of anything actually happening.

The plot itself was pretty thin and not terribly interesting. I never found myself desperate to know what would happen next. The characters were a bit flat and generic, and the silly nicknames that the MC came up with and insisted calling them the whole time grated on my nerves after a while.

The overall writing was good enough to keep me reading though, and at the end it was satisfying to get to the conclusion. I guessed one of the twists only about 5 minutes before I actually read it, but the author also took some easy outs that felt a bit like cheating. I’m not judging though… I can only imagine how difficult it must be to write a novel. I think the author will probably only get better the more she writes, and I’ll look out for more of her work.

Book Review

Book Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings

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4 Stars

I feel kind of sad saying goodbye to Lady Trent… I’ve grown quite fond of her. She was a kick-ass woman who refused to accept the sexism of her time and worked relentlessly to pursue her passion and fight for her rights. By all accounts she’s pretty awesome, though she has the kind of luck that you have to wonder if it’s maybe a little unrealistic… even for a fantasy series.

This last adventure wasn’t the most exciting, but it was certainly the biggest discovery and it had it’s moments. It had a little of the “running out of steam” feel most series get after a while, and even the drawings were only so-so. While I’d probably still read another one if it came to it, I’m glad Marie Brennan knew to end it when it was time. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as dragging out a good series so much that it turns bad…

That’s not saying I didn’t enjoy it though…

It’s difficult to review this one without giving too much away, and honestly I don’t feel lus to try right now, so I’ll just go with it was a good ending to a good series. Maybe nothing spectacular about it that’ll have people talking about it for ever like Harry Potter. But it’s definitely a series I’ll recommend to other readers… and I might even reread it again in the future.

Book Review

Book Review: Columbine

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I have a morbid fascination with some things that aren’t very nice, and at one point my attention was brought to Columbine. I read up about it a fair deal, even watching a bit of the Basement Tapes, and thought I knew more or less what happened. I was wrong.

This book is a very well presented narrative of the culmination of years of investigation and evidence. I usually get bored with non-fiction books, but Dave Cullen managed to deliver the facts in an engaging way, and I found myself drawn into the mystery. The mystery of course being why these two kids, from normal households (as far as we know), did these atrocious things.

The catch, of course, is that even the answers that we get will never be enough. It will never be acceptable, because it isn’t. Everyone fantasizes about committing murder at least once in their life (most likely more than once), but you don’t act out on that…

Reading this book brought a lot of insight into the darkest depths of human nature… but as Patrick Ireland said: “When I fell out the window, I knew somebody would catch me. That’s what I need to tell you: that I knew the loving world was there all the time.”

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Book Review

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest

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****Spoilers Abound****

Man, what a ride. This book was so long, but it was all good. Everything that happened and that was described felt absolutely necessary in the scheme of things, and I didn’t skip a word. It completely absorbed me and when I finished I felt like I had finished a journey of my own.

In fact, it could have been even longer, because I’d have loved to have more detail of when Verity and Kettricken swooped down on Buckkeep and how they finally defeated the Red Ships. I’m not completely satisfied with Fitz’s recounting of it, and the explanation of how Forging was done doesn’t feel right. I mean it kind of makes sense if you stretched your belief within the scope of the world, but no… I need to know more.

And I need to know more about Fitz’s journeys as well. I want to know more about his year with Black Rolf and what he learned. Suddenly six years have passed and he’s acting like an old man when I make him still in his 20’s. Only six years have passed but now Nighteyes is graying when that would make him less than 10 years old. I mean surely wolves live longer than that!

The quick overview of what happened feels like a teaser and after spending so much time and emotional energy on this journey, I feel cheated out of a satisfying closure. There’s enough teased at in the last chapter to fill another book at least! My only consolation is the fact that I know there is more Fitz in the future books.

Coming back to the actual quest, I must say it was a good one. I like how Fitz is not your typical hero. He’s not so fanatically (okay maybe a little) loyal to the crown that he would give up his own child to it. He doesn’t even really want to do any of what he is doing, but is forced into it because of Verity’s skill imprint. All he really wants to do is find Molly and his child and lead a quiet life with them. Even though I never thought Molly was right for him, and I knew that would mean no more adventures, I like Fitz enough to want that for him too.

His PTSD is also heartbreaking, and I found myself missing the berserker of the second book. I hated Regal even more for what he had done, reducing Fitz to a cowering boy instead of the powerful warrior we had come to know and love (and maybe fear a little). I was all for him following through with his original plan of assassinating Regal, but ultimately I agreed that a better mission was to go looking for Verity.

The characters in this book were mostly familiar, with Kettricken and the Fool playing big parts in the quest. Chade and Burrich make appearances, Burrich mostly in Fitz’ skill dreams, but generally they didn’t play as big parts as formerly, and I found myself sort of missing them… especially Burrich. But then we got Starling and Kettle to make up the rest of the team, and as far as secondary characters go, they were okay. Both were irritating, but I liked them well enough.

There was a lot of intrigue sprinkled through the book, like when Starling tells Fitz that the Fool is a woman and I started questioning everything I ever thought I knew. Looking back over everything, I realized it was entirely possible that the Fool could actually be a woman. In fact, was it even gendered at all? Maybe it was a hermaphrodite. And when Fitz actually tried to ask him about it, he never confirmed or denied anything conclusively, except for maybe making a reference as to how he should have shown Starling his manhood when she mentioned “green manhood”. So from that, I think I’ll just go on and believe it’s a he, until proven otherwise.

The thing that really threw me started with the opening paragraphs of chapter 31. That already spoke of betrayal and his child being given up to the king. I thought the one who betrayed him would be Molly, maybe Burrich if I stretched. But then it turns out the elfbark actually hampers the Skill and suddenly it was Chade. That spiraled off into countless other deceptions and betrayals and I was actually freaking out a little. If the betrayer was Chade, that changed everything! Eventually, I carried on reading and the true betrayal came to light, but man, that was a stressful hour…

And last but not least, Regal. Spoiled, petty, clueless Regal. Who cared more about winning and power than what it entailed. I have to take a step back from my intense dislike of him and look at the bigger picture. Sure he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his beliefs and such, but if you think about it, his mother was a horrible person and did quite a number on him. She had fed and stoked his jealousy, planting delusions of grandeur in his head and making him believe he was so much better than Chivalry and Verity and should have inherited the crown instead. She basically moulded him, and if he had been stronger of character, or if someone else like Verity or Chivalry had spent more time with him and included him more, he could have turned out different. Or maybe not. As it is, I laughed when he was killed by the ferret.

Book Review

Book Review: And Then There Were None

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Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 06/21/2017
Date Finished: 06/25/2017
Pages: 264
Genre: Mystery

Dude! So this is what a real honest to goodness mystery is really like!?

At first, I found it a bit difficult to get into the writing style, and I feared this would turn out to be another “classic” I wouldn’t finish. I persevered though, and pretty soon the writing style was the last thing on my mind!

The story and the mystery more than carried this book along, and the fact that I couldn’t figure it out was driving me barmy! Every time I thought I knew, bam, they’re dead, and the mystery continues. I guess with some of the glaringly obvious mystery novels of today, I never considered what a true mystery would look like. At one point, I was so convinced I knew who it was, that when that person also turned up dead I felt like tearing my hair out!

Of course, after everything is explained (and honestly, without that confession in a bottle I would still be sitting here pulling out my hair trying to figure it out), you realize that it all depends very heavily on some super duper timing and planning that just seems unrealistic. I personally don’t think the killer could have known how people would react or where exactly and when exactly they would be at a certain spot, but I guess you have to leave some room for creative imagination…

It’s been a while since I’ve read such an intriguing mystery, and a good one like this always leaves me wondering about the author’s state of mind. Surely you’ve got to be a little bit off a psychopath to be able to come up with such fantastically mysterious murders!?

Get your copy here: And Then There Were None

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Book Review

Book Review: Kindred

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Rating: 4 1/5 Stars
Date Started: 9 June 2017
Date Finished: 12 June 2017
Pages: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is one of those books that aren’t quite 5 stars, but which will stay with you for a long time…

It’s difficult to gather my thoughts to write a coherent review for Kindred, which usually happens when I come across a book that is as jarring as this. There were scenes of abuse so heart rending that I can’t even begin to try and articulate how I feel about it. Suffice it to say that I’m so grateful that I didn’t live in that era. Not because I wouldn’t want to see that happening (which I seriously don’t), but because I’m scared that like the characters in this book, I’d get used to it and it would just be a part of everyday life after a while.

I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.

This line in particular is one that will haunt me for a long time to come. And I think that’s good. I think it’s important to remember, because there are all kinds of slavery. Coming from an abusive household, I recognized a lot of the mental games that were part and parcel of slavery. And I also recognized it in today’s society with the news and politicians and wars getting progressively worse and desensitizing us to the atrocities that happen on a regular basis.

There were a lot of plot holes, and most of it didn’t make sense even in the context of the story, but that just underlines the irrationality of it all. At the end of the book, there was this essay, and one of the lines caught my eye and explains why these things don’t detract from the story:

“Kindred, one could say, is no more rational, no more comfortably explicable than the history of slavery itself.”

Dana was an extremely relatable heroine. She didn’t have special powers or knowledge that helped her defeat the baddies. She was just a regular person that extraordinary things happened to, and she had to deal as best she could. She was definitely brave, though after a while (desensitization) she got used to being a slave and her bravery faded into the background. And you can’t fault her because as you read along, you’re right there… you’re her. You experience her pain and the after effects and you can’t help but implore her to just go along with it to avoid more pain. And that’s how they kept the slaves in line.

Kevin was a bit more of a mystery, but ultimately I liked him. We don’t really get to know him as intimately as we do Dana, but by his actions and what he tells Dana he did during his own journey, you can kind of get the measure of him. His life was infinitely better than Dana’s when it came to their trip back, but it must also have been difficult for him on a different level than it was difficult for Dana. The 1800’s weren’t very kind to sympathizers and abolitionists…

And then we have Rufus. I didn’t like him at all and while I understand Dana’s reasons for saving him all the time, I still think that she forgave him and let him get away with more than she should have. I get that he’s a product of his time and his upbringing, but damnit, he had the potential to be better! And I guess that’s the ultimate tragedy. It’s easier to swim with the current and believe and act like everyone else tells you to than to stand up against something that’s dangerous to oppose.