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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Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: Career of Evil

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Arrrrrgggghhhh! How you wanna go and end the book like that! OMG no, come on!

some-time-later
Ok, I’ve come down from that ending (which still pisses me off) and think I can manage a coherent review now.

There was a lot going on in this book, and we learned a lot more about Robin and Strike than the trickles of information from the previous books. Their relationship shifted slightly and we finally had acknowledgement of the sexual tension between them, although we’re still left without any relief or hope that anything will ever happen.

I enjoyed learning more about the 3 suspects that the duo investigated, although they were despicable to the last. The brief chapters we got from the killers point of view was also no fun, and it made me feel okay about the prospect of being single for the foreseeable future. I know it’s fiction, but sadly, it’s firmly grounded in fact.

The investigation was tedious, with a lot of time spent on surveillance… which I guess is a good approximation of the actual profession and highlights that being an investigator isn’t all chasing criminals and catching killers. It was also pretty obvious from at least halfway through who the killer was… although I had some weird dreams last night where I woke up convinced that it was in fact Matthew…

On the subject of Matthew… what didn’t make sense to me is that we see this picture of Robin as a strong character, but that doesn’t reflect in her relationship with Matthew. Obviously there should be more, things that we don’t see that explains the love Robin feels for this character that is so obviously written to be the cliché’d douchebag boyfriend, but instead we’re left with this picture of the last person on earth someone like Robin would like. It doesn’t make sense and it feels like a cheap trick used by the author to direct the reader a specific way.

Specifically, we seem to be pushed to root for more between Robin and Strike, which is obviously the main relationship here… but surely there are other ways to create the will they/won’t they undertone than to create this awesome female character that is supposed to be strong and smart and incredible — then you saddle her with an insufferable Ken doll as a boyfriend and a backstory to “explain” her motivations.

And that’s another thing… this book focused a lot on various sensitive subjects… mostly about some of the abuse and prejudice women are subjected to. There are some graphic scenes of violence that will most definitely trigger unhappy memories in each and every woman who reads this book. The main theme is misogyny and the power men hold over women. Even Strike can be an insufferable sexist pig.

I want to ask why Robin had to be given that particular history, but on the other hand it’s a common enough occurrence that it’s completely plausible. People will say that it’s unnecessary and a dirty trick used to make Robin a martyr, but I don’t feel that. I think Rowling gave Robin that experience to show readers who might not know how something like that can affect your life, but it doesn’t define you and you can still be a hero even if someone made you a victim too. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The guy who narrated this book (and the previous ones in the series) was amazing. He had exactly the right tone and accent for each character and brought them to vivid life in my mind. The action sequences were done so well that I almost hyperventilated, and his natural English accent was extremely drool-inducing.

So in conclusion, even though I felt like Rowling was using trickery to try and manipulate me, I still think this was the best of the series so for. And even though that ending was infuriating, it left me salivating for the next one… which doesn’t even have an expected publication date yet!

P.S. I love the casting 😀

View all my reviews

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: Slipping

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Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 22 April 2017
Date Finished: 29 April 2017
Pages: 288
Genre: Various

Lauren Beukes is a fantastic writer, no doubt about that. Her stories are beyond imaginative and quite often disturbing in a way that left me feeling slightly uncomfortable after reading some of them. And I’m a hardcore Stephen King fan, so that’s saying quite a lot in my opinion!

Although this is the first time I’ve actually read any of her writing (except for Survivor’s Club), I’ve been assured that she can pretty much be counted on to deliver when it comes to a craving for WTF creepy stories. And I must say that even though I was super disturbed by most of these, I’m really looking forward to reading more of her work now! I know, I know… I’m asking to be traumatized!

It is extremely clear from these stories that LB is a feminist and believes in equity and diversity. In fact, sometimes it felt like the emphasis on diverse characters and their respective characteristics were a little over pronounced and shoved in your face instead of just treating it like it’s normal. But then again that might just be my white privilege poking it’s head out again… Something I’ve noticed about myself is that I enjoy stories with diverse characters where a big deal isn’t made of the fact that they’re diverse. That’s my fantasy I guess, and upon closer inspection it might actually be a stupid one, because like it or not, prejudice is sadly still a big issue in real life. Sigh

Back when I fancied myself an author, I always felt uncomfortable writing from a POC perspective because I’ve never experienced what they’ve had to go through in life, but LB seems to have no problem with that and actually does a pretty good job of it in my admittedly naive opinion. I’d say about 80% of the stories are done from a POC perspective, and not once did it feel like just another stereotype. The characters were all believable, and if not exactly relatable, they came off real.

When it comes to content, there was a pretty good mix of ideas in this collection, though naturally I enjoyed the fictional stories more than the couple of non-fiction articles. Although the letter to her daughter gripped and squeezed my heart. It’s actually something that I’d probably read again and again, wishing that I had had a mother who told me these things, and hope that I can be a similar role-model for my son.

Most of the stories were almost dystopian in nature, but some shied just short of actually being that and actually represented the current emotional climate in a very stark and scary light. One story that jumps to mind thinking about this is Tankwa-Karoo, which very realistically portrays a possible outcome of some of the paranoia that is being spewed in social media these days. But then the last line of that story sticks with me too and gives me a little hope — as a member of the world population, but mostly as a South African. “This country doesn’t fall apart that easy.”

There were too many stories to review separately, but there was only one that I didn’t finish, and the rest I devoured… even if they did disturb the crap out of me. The title story was the main one that freaked me out, and I keep thinking of that last race and the lengths people will go to for fame and money. It’s not the only story in this collection with that same theme either, and you’ll probably notice a running theme of the greed of men and it’s effect on the world and other people.

I would definitely recommend this collection, though the recommendation would come with a warning… NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok so this book made me soooo mad! I actually had to distance myself a bit to get through it, because I was starting to smoke from my ears…

It’s set in a totalitarian distopian world, where woman are basically cattle, but worth less. I think for the time it was written and compared to it still being relevant now is just a sign of how screwed up this world is. I mean we’re making great progress with the Feminist movement, but even there you have people who completely misrepresents, which is not helpful at all because they make it a men vs women issue where it should be men = women… but anyway, I digress.

The story follows Offred, who has been beaten down and her spirit has been pretty much crushed. What hasn’t been broken she tries her best to tamp down, because any show of individualism could get her killed. I couldn’t even begin to try and imagine how I would have acted in her stead, because it is just so horrific… I’m pretty sure I would have been dead because I would kill if anyone touched my child… and I guess it would explain her actions when it comes to Nick and the Commander, although she really didn’t have a choice with the commander… but the recklessness to be with Nick, who can blame her for doing whatever it takes to feel even slightly human again… even though she judges herself harshly for exactly that…

You don’t get all the information at once, and it’s set in present time with occasional flashbacks that offer some backstory of how you ended up in the beginning. I don’t think the delivery really matches with the very end of the book ((view spoiler)
Clare Danes was an awesome narrator, and I’m actually really glad that I listened to this on audio instead of reading it myself, because the writing was made to be read aloud and appreciated for it’s beauty and cadence… I’m not Margaret Atwood so I can’t even really describe it, but it was almost like seeing it and feeling it instead of just hearing…

The ending was ambiguous, but I think it was perfect. Something like this shouldn’t have a clear-cut, quick and easy ending. Because why should there be an ending when it hasn’t yet ended?


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