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Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

bazaar_cvr

As we plow headlong into 2016, I couldn’t help noticing the latest King book (finally!!!) sitting in my stacks and eventually … in my hands. Unlike many of his novels, this was an actual collection of stories: some scary, some downright disturbing, and a few that were pretty much WTF. Throughout the book, King would offer a “behind the scene” moment at the beginning of each story which was rather interesting. For some it was an eye opener, whilst others were basically fill in the blanks. The one common ground with all those behind the scene moments was that it gave the reader some insight to his genius/madness and I suspect it was but a mere peek through the curtains.
Best of all, Bazaar seemed geared toward engaging more than a few emotions, rather than the usual ones solicited by fear and suspense. The stories are a strange myriad: a stalled car, on a highway, that is a Venus fly trap for unwary humans; a sand dune on a small island that, mysteriously spells out the names of those that will soon die; an indecent proposal to a struggling couple of the twisted variety (and no, it is not quite like that Robert Redford/Demi Moore slap and tickle bit); a pink Kindle that predicts the future; a rich burn victim who realizes that pain is something that might be literally (lurking) in his head and elsewhere in his body; a news writer whose fake obituaries create real deaths and even more dire tragedies; the strange world of two families who have the strangest July Fourth fireworks competition. And there are more. Confused? Befuddled? Scared shitless? Tickled pink (are you kidding … uh, no)? Yes, all these emotions and thought processes will be addressed in reading Bazaar. In some parts, it might bollocks up your view of the world, scare you senseless, appreciate baseball (aye, you’re reading correctly), or even question how much acid did King drop back in the days. Premium King, as usual, with a story for (dare I say) everyone to curl up to on a warm El Niño winter night.

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mistermercedes_cvr

Sorry for the late post. It has been a wee bit crazy this month at my library. I now hate teachers … you get summer off and we get the privilege of running around the stacks hunting the TONS of books that you so casually compiled for your pupils. For some reason I can hear Q Lazarus’ Goodbye Horses playing in my ear the more I think of this. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing the Buffalo Bill dance routine to it. But enough about the bollocks and no let’s head off the matter at hand (if I haven’t creeped you out at this point).
It is clear to me that there is NOTHING out there that Stephen King can’t take and into suspenseful, horrifying prose. Absolutely nothing. So taking a cue from the current state of employment in this country, the book starts out with a bunch of people lining up in the pre-dawn hours at a site for job interviews. Yes, apparently there are things more important that iPhones and other such bollocks worth waiting for in line. It is a scene that reads like a near-dismal modern day version of Grapes of Wrath minus the billowing tumbleweeds and complete dark looming clouds of despair. A young woman, with a baby, befriends a gentleman on the line. He in turn gives her a sleeping bag for her to rest in with her infant. It is touching, and just as the warm cockles of your heart start warming up along comes some wanker in a Mercedes-Benz car and plows through the entire crowd … intentionally. And this is all within the first chapter.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective who lives a very simple – retired – life. His usual daily regimen involves watching some self-righteous, indignant female judge verbally pummel unsuspecting litigants and a certain show involving people, screaming audience and DNA tests. He’s had quite an accomplished career closing many great cases … all except one. I guessing you can guess which one. Then one day, Hodges receives a letter from a certain Mr. Mercedes. Though seemingly apologetic, the letter is a thinly veiled taunt at Hodges’ inability to close the case.
Meet Brady Hartsfield, by day he works at a discount electronics store and is part of Cyber Squad (or something like that), a team that drives around in lime green Volkswagons fixing people’s computers. On the side, Mr. Hartsfield also drives an ice cream truck which allows him to dispense ice cream to sugar-starved kids whilst keeping an eye on Bill Hodges. After a grueling day of fixing computers and selling ice cream, Mr. Hartsfield goes home to his mother. This is where it gets cringeworthy for Brady has very unusual fascination with mum (as in incestual with a capital I), though not as sexy as anything you might see on Game of Thrones. And for the record, I’m not implying that incest is – sexy. Allow me a moment to deal with the slight vomit burped into my throat and is slow being re-digested. Oh the things I must endure for my blog and readers. So aside from planning psychotic bollocks and taunting retired detectives, Mr. Hartsfield is an avowed racist as is seen in his hatred that is directed towards Jerome Robinson; a young black man that is befriended by Hodges and is brilliant beyond his age. He is also quite the adoring wiseass.
So there is Brady Hartsfield in a nutshell: racist, a bit psychotic and lives with his mum that he’s sexually fascinated with. Hmmm … sounds like a good percentage of the trolls that hang out on Yahoo and other news site messageboards. Now I know what some might be thinking that I’ve tossered up and decided to reveal the killer to you. Sorry mates, hate to break it to you, but King beat me to that within the first three chapters.

As Hodges pulls himself back into the case he encounters Lauren Trelawney, whose sister was driven to suicide by Mr. Mercedes since it was her stolen Mercedes that was used in the crime. He is hired by her, as a private eye, to investigate her suicide. Of course, Lauren is a hot 40-something and yes their relationship becomes more than professional. Awww, older folks having hot sex. It is only a matter of time before things go awry (I’m not going to say what -) and before you know it Hodges is joined with a strange motley crew (Olivia Trelawney and Jerome) as they pursue Bray in what turns out to be a terrifying race against the clock where there is a lot at stake … to lose

King’s Mr. Mercedes, though not your typical preternatural horrifying tale, is more of psychological crime thriller that nevertheless scares you breathless. Especially when you realize, based on current events, that there are tons of Brady Hartsfields out there – minus the incest factor. Maybe. I hope. Please.
All in all, it is premium King that, as always, never skimps on the excitement and throat-grabbing suspense, and leaves you waiting for the next book.

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doctorsleep

Back in the 80s, I remember sitting under this house with a bunch of people in a makeshift cinema that was comprised of several benches, a large telly and a Betamax video player (the size of the Hoover dam), watching The Shining. Aye, in Guyana they tend to build houses on pillars, that way you get to use the full yard and still have a very large house with two stairs. I was in my early teens then, and along with a few of my mates, I had paid my two quid to get the bollocks scared out of me … and let’s just say that The Shining didn’t disappoint. What I got from that movie was about a week of sleepless nights and me pledging to never accept any carnal proposals from any strange naked women, I encounter, emerging from bathtubs, in strange hotels. Then again … about the last part … oh come on, just kidding. Maybe.

The last time we heard of (or saw) Dan (Danny) Torrance, he was escaping, along with his mum and chef Dick Hollaran, from the Overlook Hotel … and the psychotic wrath of a possessed father. Up until then no knew what happened to Danny Torrance beyond Overlook. Apparently, for many fans, inquiring minds wanted to know and this specter may have raised its head at several of King’s signings (or so I had gleaned from his Author’s notes … aye, I tend to be a bit thorough with King’s prose sometimes). And so, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining was born: Doctor Sleep. Here we find a middle-aged Danny Torrance, drifting around America, a full-blown alcoholic and occasional drug user (if there is ever such a thing), from job to job. His mother had passed on (now please folks, this is not much of a spoiler, for you will learn this early o’clock in the book … and no, I would never be such a wank). We are also introduced to a group called the True Knot that travel by RVs and Winnebagos across the country and they seemingly have an appetite (literally!!!) for young children that have the shining ability. Immortal and viciously terrifying, they are lead by the charismatic Rose the Hat; a woman whose viciousness and charm are so bloody terrifying that it makes Hannibal Lechter looks like a dolled-up children librarian that wears lots of pink (the colour … and not the Victoria Secret brand … it is troubling that I know this). If you look closely on the cover you’ll see a depiction of the sultry Rose (yes, it took me awhile to figure that out … and to notice the outline of her tophat) which more or less dampens the pure malevolence that hides beneath the surface of this bird. The paths , between Rose the Hat and Danny intersect, when both (sort of) encounter Abra Stone: a young girl that is born with the shining, very powerful and is perceived by the True Knot as some sort of Holy Grail. Aye, sick, twisted and bloody creepy. And so a battle royale begins, as the Rose and her True Knot cult try to capture Abra. For Danny, it is déjà vu all over again where Abra is the same shoes as Danny was at Overlook and Danny, now, has to become a mentor of sorts, as chef Hollaran was to him, to her in face of an emerging and terrifying battle.
King does not hold back nor spares any punches as this terrifying sequel explodes, on your senses, with the force of high yield megaton atomic bomb as it often not only makes your hair stand on end but bloody glow with tension and anxiety. There is a mixture of everything for every emotion in this book … and most of it …very twisted. We learn about Dick Hollaran’s disturbing pass as a young child. We get to cheer (a bit) when Danny finds his way to recovery whilst working in a New Hampshire hospice and because of his shining “ability” he has this unique way of helping people to pass from this life into the other (hence the title “Doctor Sleep”). And of course, there is one of the most touching endings I’ve read in Stephen King book that almost got me sobbing like a little nancy. Okay, my eye got a wee bit glazed over … but THAT’S IT. (Forgive me, Jason Statham, Patron Saint of Manliness).

Needless to say, it is premium King at its most thrilling, frightening … and yet, oh so touching. An adrenaline-induced, horrifying, roller coaster ride that you never want to end. The much anticipated sequel was well worth the wait. Though now I am a bit ever more cautious about RVs and Winnebagos that I may encounter on travels on the highways of America, for you never know who …or WHAT is in them (also echoed in the Author’s notes). Mr. King you are one scary bastard … a loveable scary bastard.

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Reuben Golding is an aspiring journalist for the San Francisco Observer who meets with an elegant, older Marchent Nideck to write a story about her house. He’s seduced by her charm and after a night of passion, Reuben soon awakens into a living nightmare and a life-altering fate … along with a murdered Marchent. Enter the world of werewolves.
The Vampire Chronicles (in my humble opinion) pretty much altered many of our perspectives of the world of Vampires. Which pretty much accounts for my occasional chuckling and mockingly pointing at the likes of the Twilight … umm, epic. Aye, that’s the word I was “really” looking for … epic. Don’t get me wrong, it is admirable what Ms. Meyers has done for the vampire genre, but the truth be told reading the Chronicles and then looking at the Twilight Epic is sort of like learning about flat screen colour television and then looking back at those cute bubbly black and white cathode-ray tubes. Did I just start a war of sorts … maybe I did. Sadly, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. And yes, I’d pit Lestat against the Cullens, and the Voltaris any day … oh schnapps … me and my big mouth. I guess I did go there and has henceforth issued an invitation to “bring it”. Along with that, it seems that I have detoured.
Now when this book was first released, several gothic poseur messageboards basically proclaimed that Anne Rice has returned to the “dark side” (or goth poseurspeak: she was “readable” again). The truth is most of her books written prior to the Wolf Gift were great reads, though they may have seemingly offended “certain folks” as too Christian-y. Seriously ??? Whatever happened to just good writing … period? Can’t please everyone, it seems.
As Reuben Golding comes to grips with his new preternatural abilities and a budding romance born out of an encounter in the woods during his lycanthropic adventures, he finds himself pitted against sinister enemies (not of his choosing) and soon finds that there exists under this sun secrets and creatures that are dark and enigmatic. He’s slowly indoctrinated into the inner sanctum of werewolves and is taught the rules of the community. Now throughout most of the lore’s history, becoming a werewolf was deemed a curse, but in Wolf Gift the perspective is delightfully changed from curse to gift. In a sense, Wolf Gift pretty much rearranges everything that we know of the lycanthropic world and lets us view this world with new eyes.

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Running Title – Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into The Violent International Empire Of Naples’ Organized Crime System

In this current world, there are two types of journalists. On one side there are those who choose to remain in some lily-white/ white picketed fence backdrop such as Colorado, Connecticut or Virginia as they basically rehash the leanings of whatever political or religious drivel that they subscribe to. Once in a while they’ll further rehash this bunk as some superform of “the truth” in a book, on sale at the local book stores, that sucker unsuspecting sods into parting with their hard earned cash. Poor bastards. To add to their delusion, they’ll sometime invoke quotations by greats such as Cronkite and Morrow … simply because it makes them sound journalist … like. Tossers !!!!

Then there are those that take themselves out of the comfort zone and risk life, limb, sanity and even hygiene to bring to life things that are vile, vicious and occasionally heartwarming. In Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano does the thinkable and goes beyond his call of duty, as a journalist, to do the unthinkable. On the outskirts of the ever romantic Naples, is place called Camorra, where any and everything is for sale and life is cheaper than cheap.  Drugs, prostitution, gun running, smuggling, sweatshops, and land being sold to nations to dump toxic materials are all controlled by the Camorrista, the Camorra mafia.  Posing as a Camorrista underling, Saviano goes into the underbelly of this criminal underworld and brings to life all the viciousness that saturate the underworld. And yes, he even named names (the unthinkable part). Not exactly your tea and crumpets book-discussion group book, it spews out barbaric violence that could seem like a Quentin Tarantino wet dream and levels of corruption that would make Machiavelli blush outright.  The bad news is that this is non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction as in this shit has actually happened. Some scenes are graphic as is memorable such as a scene where a junkie overdosed after being given a “test batch” of heroin only to be revived by his junkie girlfriend who simply squatted and urinated on his face. Bloody hell, who needs a stab of adrenaline to the heart when female junkie piss would suffice quite nicely. And there are many more memorable gems such as this that grace the book. I kid you not. Really.

 In 2009, the movie adaptation of this book (Gomorrah) made its debut and was shown at several select theaters. More than 180 minutes long, the gritty portrayals was enough to send many folks running from the theatre. I guess they were expecting some artsy-fartsy foreign love movie. Surprise. It was Grand Theft Auto in reality. The frightening thing about this was that as vicious and gritty as the movie was, it was the mere tip of the iceberg in the accounts of barbarism. Gomorrah smacks away the romantic imagery of gondolas guided by oarsmen singing operatic love lullabies and takes us to a whole different side of Italy.  Note to self: Stick to the tourist areas if ever should I visit Italy. The sad part, about this is that Mr. Saviano’s brave effort to bring light to the dark deeds of a few has resulted in him living in an undisclosed area under police guard. All the more reason to read this compelling and fascinating book yet extremely violent book. My hat’s off to Mr. Saviano

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It is Memorial Day so I felt that this would be an appropriate book review. Back in the late 80s into the 90s there was a great show on the telly called Tour of Duty. You remember those days, when networks actually took the time to show great shows instead of the heavily scripted and possibly rigged bollocks that is now called “reality tv” … talk about a big, buggering oxymoron. Well, every Saturday night many of us ran home to curl up in front of the telly to watch Tour of Duty, a series that centered around a group of characters that were serving in the armed forces deployed in Vietnam. The show was gritty, though not so gory, and it probably mirrored what really happened to many servicemen and women that served in Viet Nam.

I came across Fallen Angels in the YA (young adult) stacks and I was drawn to the illustration the cover. I had to satiate my curiosity. And I was not disappointed. Fallen Angels is centered around Ritchie Perry, a young black man that is recently deployed into the scary mess that is Viet Nam. Enlisted in the hope of earning money to send back to his mother and brother, he hopes that a busted knee would exclude him from active duty. Unfortunately, someone did not get the memo and Ritchie got sent to a fiery vacation point in South East Asia.  As you read the book you come across his fears, apprehensions as encounters bumbling bureaucracy, bouts of racism, spurts of cowardice and insanity, the hint of a love that will never be (not going to spoil that one for you, mates), an unnerving amount of body bags, and an appreciation for God Almighty. It would be a far stretch to say that this was as good as sitting next to the blokes in Quonset huts during the this moment time, but I’ve got a really vivid imagination and I’ve seen tons of Viet Nam based war movies. Though I must safely and honestly add that, despite all of that, I would never be able to truly grasp what those brave souls that served truly went through over there. I would be foolish to think otherwise. Still it is delightful pieces such as Fallen Angels that give us a slight glimpse into what our servicemen and women endured. All the more reason to be more respectful and grateful of their service. Fallen Angels is a quick read, and though it is centered around the somberness of war, there is mixture of everything … even humour  (watch out for bloke named Peewee). Interesting fact about this book: it was on the ALA list of banned books for it was challenged in some schools, in 1990, for profane language. And if you meet a vet, be kind enough to say thanks or lend them an ear as they tell their stories. Thanks mates, for your service.

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