Archive | November 2012

Review – Under the Dome by Stephen King

I started Under the Dome not long after finishing The Stand.  For me, the feel of UTD is similar but King found a way to keep the story and characters fresh.

On a normal day in Maine, people are all around the town of Chester’s Mill.  Some are gardening, others flying planes, a few are coming and going to nearby towns.  In an instant, an invisible wall (a dome to be exact) seperates Chester’s Mill from the rest of the world.  Nothing can get in and nothing can get out.  If you (or a part of your body) was on the other side of the wall, well…let’s just say that would hurt.  Cars, a plane, birds and more hit the wall.  Nothing penetrates it.  As with most King novels, the characters and their behavior are the driving forces behind the story.  They start showing their true colors.  Some are positive leaders.  Some just want power – at any cost – and the Dome has given them the opportunity they’ve been looking for.

I’ve read some reviews that weren’t impressed with Barbie as the main character.  I thought his story was realistic and it didn’t bother me.  Julia was the star for me, though.  She never backed down and becomes the ultimate hero of the story.

There are too many characters to review them all but I do have to pay homage to Big Jim.  If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know a “Big Jim”.  He’s one of the wealthiest (but probably not the richest) in town, he has a small amount of political power (ex. town council), owns his own business and acts like a pillar of the community.  But deep down he is a snake.  He will degrade, steal or maybe even kill to gain power.  Go even deeper and, guess what, he’s a coward who is afraid of the dark.

Under the Dome is another Stephen King winner.  5/5.  This would make a great stocking stuffer – it’s 1000+ pages so it will take up a good bit of room.

Review – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Since I had never read a Gillian Flynn novel, I decided to get my first one from the library (why spend the money if it may not be one you want to re-read.)  I was very glad that I made that decision.  While I appreciate the writing and the storytelling (hence the 4/5 stars I gave Dark Places), I will never re-read this book.  I think one of my Goodreads status updates says it best – “This book is making my heart hurt. It’s a bit depressing.”

Here is the synopsis from Amazon: “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.  Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben its in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her or details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club…and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.”

So…here’s the deal – I didn’t care for one single character in Dark Places.  All of them are just unlikable and not good people.  You would think that the flashback scenes showing Libby’s mother and two younger sisters would at least give me someone to pull for (even if you know they’re going to die.)   But, her mother was weak.  You have to read the book to find out how weak but it’s disgusting to me personally.  I don’t have kids but NO WAY would I do that to my family.  And, her sisters were pretty much brats.  That didn’t make any of them deserve to die but they were just hard to like.  Libby, our MC, is not a good person.  She steals, lies and makes money off the horrible things that happened to her family.  The club members were disturbing to me.  Some of the women seemed to be prison groupies for Libby’s brother.

The conclusion of the murder mystery was well conceived and written.   But, again, it just made me sad.  So many bad decisions by all involved.  Ugh…

I may read another Gillian Flynn novel.  She has a talent for storytelling.  I saw an interview with her where she was asked about these awful stories she writes and how she separates herself to try to have a normal life with her family.  She said that she writes in the basement and leaves her ‘crazy’ down there.  I hope she can continue to do that for her family’s sake.  Whew.

4/5 stars but I can’t say it was an enjoyable read.

Review – Crewel by Gennifer Albin

I received Crewel as part of the Goodreads – Firstreads program.  First of all, look at that cover.  It is gorgeous – the colors, the script.  Love it.

Crewel is a YA novel that tells the story of future world where everything is dictated by the government.  Young girls are tested to determine if they have the gift to become a Spinster.  Spinsters weave the world and make any changes that are deemed necessary by the government.  They can even rip someone’s thread (yes, that means they are dead.)  Adelice has the talent but her parents have been secretly training her to fake her test (showing no talent) so that she will not have to become a Spinster.  She slips during testing and is chosen to be taken in for training.  Things don’t end well for her family when they try to help her escape.  Adelice is determined to figure out a way to make things right for herself (and anyone left in her family that she can save.)  And, she has talents the government doesn’t know about yet.

Adelice is a strong character and I want to know more of her story.  There is a love triangle, sort of.  We’ll see if it becomes a true love triangle or if it was just there for a little more drama in the first novel.

It looks like this will be a trilogy and the ending definitely left us with a bit of a cliffhanger.  I am looking forward to the next chapter for Adelice, Jost and Erik (and finding out about the “real world”).

4/5 stars.  An easy read that is appropriate for all YA audiences while still being enjoyable for adults.  Would be a great stocking stuffer for your daughter, niece or friend.

Review – Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius “Ig” Perrish was suspected of murdering his girlfriend, Merrin. The police were never able to charge him with the murder but it seemed that everyone believed he did it. The morning after the first anniversary of her death, Ig wakes up to find that he has no memory of the night before and he now has horns growing from his temples. As he runs into friends, family and acquaintances, he also discovers that everyone is telling him the truth (not the truth we typically tell each other, but the whole truth – “Yes, Ig I really do believe you killed her and, by the way, I’m doing some pretty awful things myself. Wanna hear about them?”) He can influence their actions as well. We see flashbacks to his childhood, his time with Merrin and that fateful night before. And we, along with Ig, slowly learn the truth about what happened to Merrin.

I was headed to the DMV and not looking forward to the long wait so I stopped by B&N to pick up some reading material. I already had “Heart Shaped Box” in my to be read pile so I thought I would give this one a shot. The next day, I went to the polls to vote and took this with me for the long line. I got a few strange looks and one simple question from a fellow voter – “Horns?” Over the next several days I savored this story.

Horns was a thoughtful, sad, scary and wonderful book. Merrin’s story broke my heart. Ig made a few really bad decisions but didn’t deserve what happened to him either. As with most books that come out of the King family (everyone knows Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, right?), there are some really AWFUL people in Horns. Too many to list. It doesn’t help that we know way too much about them since they were driven to be so open with Ig once he had his powers. The ending is definitely not a traditional HEA but was an interesting way to end the story.

What can I say, I loved it. 5/5 stars. If you like horror, suspense, thrillers, paranormal or really ANYTHING, I think you will enjoy Horns.

Review – The Stand by Stephen King

Do I believe the government has testing facilities where super-germs/viruses/diseases are tested?  Of course.  Does it worry me?  Only when I think about it.

“The Stand” begins with a breach at one of these testing facilities.  A strain of super-flu is out of containment and while the facility is being locked down, one of the workers escapes.  He takes his family on the run and the super-flu spreads from there.  Very few people are immune and they ban together into two major camps – Good and Evil.  The “Good” survivors are drawn to Mother Abigail, an elderly African-American woman who knows that she is meant to lead them in their fight against evil.  The “Evil” meet up in Las Vegas and are led by Randall Flagg (familiar to those who have read The Dark Tower series) a.k.a the “Dark Man”.  The majority of the novel details the travels of the Good Guys to Colorado (where they settle) and their time preparing for the upcoming battle.

Stephen King created a believable world where people, faced with a horrible situation, make decisions that don’t always turn out for the best.  I felt that I was travelling with Stu, Fran, Nick, Larry and all the others.  People died, fell in love, tried to gain power, turned from good to evil and back to good again.  These characters stuck with me and, for me, that is the sign of a successful novel.

I especially enjoyed Fran’s story.  She is TOUGH.  The only thing that was hard for me is that I couldn’t shake the image of Molly Ringwald.  I’ve never watched the mini-series adaptation but I did see scenes while flipping channels one day.  Look, I loved Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.  BUT, she is not at all what I would have pictured for Fran.  (Gary Sinise as Stu didn’t bother me as much.)

The Stand is classic Stephen King.  A great story with great characters.  A little scary, a lot smart and always entertaining.  READ IT!!  5/5 stars.

Review – The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Anne Rice used to be one of my favorite authors.  To be fair, I guess she still is based on her older books.  I must have been living under a rock because I didn’t know The Wolf Gift had come out this year.  I saw it on the shelf while walking through B&N (doing my weekly book exploration that restores my soul.)  That day, I came home and ordered it from Amazon – sorry, B&N, it was cheaper and I got free shipping.

I’d say this is a good book but that just isn’t good enough for Anne Rice.  Where is the storyteller that I loved?  It’s not a bad story but *shrugs*…  Easy to read, I would give this one 3 stars.

I cannot even muster the energy to write a proper review.  Liked: slightly different wolf mythology, Reuben’s family.  OK: Laura (the love interest), wolf elders.  Blah: “the Man Wolf” – seriously?  I know some people have had issues with the wolf sex scenes.  It’s Anne Rice – what did you expect?  She always writes it a little weird in that arena.  I had a bigger issue with Reuben being a cheater.

If you enjoy Anne Rice, I would recommend giving this one a shot.  You might like it.  But, get it from the library.

Review – “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin

I received The Twelve as an ARC through the Goodreads – First Reads program.  Yes, I squealed a little when I got the email confirmation.  I really liked The Passage and wanted to see where The Twelve took us.

Once again, it was a very enjoyable book with a lot of positives.  It wasn’t quite up to the level of The Passage but I still think it’s a 4-star read.

What I loved (minor spoilers):

– We got to see more of Amy and Peter.  I’d love to know where these two are headed and cannot wait for book 3 (which BETTER give me an answer.)

– Surprisingly, I liked the update on Grey (after the first book I really didn’t expect to read any more about him.)

– The Dee/Voorhees/Tifty triangle – this was just a small part of the book but it worked for me.

– Sara – she may be one of my favorite characters.

Things that make you go “meh”:

– Alicia’s story.  There were times I felt her pain (she went through a lot) but I just didn’t connect with her as much as some of the others.  And, for some reason, the description of her horse and their relationship was a little weird (Note to authors: talking about a horse’s tongue is just gross.)

– “Sergio” – this storyline was missing something for me.

The bad and the ugly (may include major spoilers):

– Lila.  When she showed up I was surprised but when the bigger reveal happened later in the book (what she became and what she did as a result), I called it well before.  I just have a very hard time believing that a woman who’s been strong enough to go through medical school, marriage/losing child/divorce/re-marriage/pregnancy, etc. is going to go CRAZY (and, for Lila as written, crazy is a nice way of putting it.)

– The first few pages of the book – HUH?  I don’t have a problem with religion or spirituality being part of a book but this seemed to be out of left field and it was weird.  Yes, the number twelve has religious overtones – twelve disciples, etc. and I’m starting to see where this is headed but it should have had more of a basis in the first book.  And, Amy’s transformation at the end seemed very biblical.

–  Time jumps.  When we went back in time to catch up with some of the minor characters from book one, it was a very “What the Heck” moment for me.  Not at all what I expected and a little confusing for a good portion of the book.

A very good read and if you enjoyed The Passage I think you will like The Twelve.  Just be prepared – it’s probably not what you are expecting.  Regardless, I am counting the days until book 3.