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review 2017-03-24 15:53
I haven't felt this way about a book in a while!
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

I actually wanted to read this book for so long! I was super excited when I saw my local library had stocked it in there EPUBs so I ordered it. So glad I did! Joe Hill has this amazing style of writing, he brings his characters to life. He honestly doesn't mess you around either he puts you straight into the story. It took me 2 days to read this book as I was so into it! And will probably be talking about it for a while.

 

 

So lets get to the story, then shall we?

 

It's a ghost story. It has an atmosphere to it, then literally sent chill's down my spine while reading. If you are shocked by abuse, then this book might not be for you. I have my limit's and I was pretty disturbed by some of the scenes and plots in this tale, Just a heads up.

 

 

I loved Jude Coyne the main Protagonist His morbid collecting I mean you could totally imagine rockstars collecting that kind of stuff!

If you like a really scary.. Then I really, really recommend this book. I'm sure you guy's no my style of review's i hate giving away the plot of book's but i know 100% you guy's will love this.

 

 

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review 2015-12-29 04:37
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

Find my full review over at Casual Debris.

Heart-Shaped Box should have been a novella.

Joe Hill’s debut novel deals with Jude Coyne, a self-interested burnt-out rock star who purchases a ghost off the internet. This transaction results in a series of events that forces Coyne to take responsibility for some past actions, and allows him the opportunity to escape his rut and build a foundation for a strong future. Hill tries to build a character-heavy horror novel, but the result is uneven, as ghost story and character examination often exist on separate planes, never truly fusing into a single, solid work.

Beginning as an interesting horror mystery, the novel soon turns into a road trip as dreary as its dusty landscape. Along with two guardian dogs, Jude and his lover, former stripper Marybeth, drive to each of their respective childhood homes to put to rest both figurative and actual ghosts from the past. (With bought ghost in pursuit, though most of the time you wouldn’t know it.)

Not much is achieved at Marybeth’s grandmother’s home, just a lost little girl and a tiresome Ouija board. Excitement abounds, however, when the group arrives at the former home of their ghost pursuer, when once again we have a horror thriller on our hands. The real disappointment comes at the end of the road, the arrival at Jude’s old homestead. What begins as a promising sequence with a strong character in Arlene Wade, Jude’s dad’s nurse, and a sickly and dying father who may or may not see and speak, ends up as a weak denouement for the novel as a whole. Hill had a great opportunity to achieve something of a study of Jude’s character in relation to his estranged father, but sadly all form of reunion is avoided. I wouldn’t want nor expect a heart-felt moment of forgiveness, not remotely possible for these two characters, but I would like something to happen between the two, some element of conflict, especially since this is supposed to be a mainstream horror novel driven by character. What better horror than to be forced to confront the father you've been running from all your life, and what a great contrast Hill could have built between disposed father and purchased ghost? But as I mention above, once the horror enters the pages, notions of character are flung aside, and since we are nearing page three hundred and fifty, what better time to have a climax than now?

Joe Hill evidently struggled with this book. There is a long list of names he feels he must thank at the end, people who have read various drafts in order to help the work along, and perhaps the novel suffer from too much feedback and input; too many cooks in the writer's kitchen (not to mention a few sous-chefs and some big dude with a deep fryer). Hill does at times come across as lacking confidence. He has the unfortunate habit of over-explaining characters’ motives rather than allowing the reader to gather that information through characterization, action, dialogue and all those other writerly tropes. This occurs frequently at the beginning of the novel, and once glaringly at the end, when Jude charitably slips some money into someone’s backpack. Since I included the adverb “charitably” I do not need to expand by adding a phrase at the end of that sentence for clarification, something along the lines of "in order to help her out because she was struggling and he sympathized with her unfortunate situation." Jude Coyne can’t seem to lift a hand without some narratorial comment which should have been stricken.

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text 2015-10-29 22:34
Halloween recommendations
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
The Girl On The Landing - Paul Torday
Nos4 R2 - Joe Hill
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
The Shining - Stephen King
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King

This is pretty much a re-blog of something I posted a couple of years ago during the 30-day book challenge.

I have to confess that I'm a bit of a wuss when it come to scary books and movies, and I'll always choose pschological subtlety over buckets of blood. So if you want a good old-fashioned ghost story, with chills and things you just catch out of the corner of your eye, then these will be your bag. They are all very atmospheric with spooky houses and things that go bump in the night.


Dark Matter – Michelle Paver
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
The Girl on the Landing – Paul Torday

Or maybe you lean towards a bit more gore and/or horror? You can’t go wrong with Stephen King and Joe Hill. I had no idea Joe Hill was King’s son, but he’s certainly following in his father’s footsteps.

NOS 4R2 – Joe Hill
Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
The Shining – Stephen King
Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

But if short stories are more your bag, try these Victorian/Edwardian classics.

The Monkey’s Paw – W W Jacobs
The Signal-Man – Charles Dickens
Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad – M R James

And finally, I have to recommend Ray Bradbury. His books and short stories are perfect for autumn and Halloween.

Something Wicked this Way Comes
The Halloween Tree
The Golden Apples of the Sun

Happy Halloween!

 

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review 2015-08-26 13:00
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (GR Cleanup)
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

GR Cleanup Project. Read in October 2011.

 

This is a very creepy ghost story. Judas is an aging former rock star who has a passion for bizarre things and much younger goth chicks. When his personal assistant spots an email offering Jude a chance to bid on a ghost, Jude agrees and gets much more than he bargained for when his past comes back to haunt him. This is an extremely creepy and well written ghost story and character study that I highly recommend. Though nearly all of the characters weren't exactly what I'd define as likable or sympathetic (except for the two german shepherds) I will definitely pick up this guys next book.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-07-15 23:00
Top Story of the Hour: Nothing Happened Today, So Instead We'll Be Playing Music from an Orchestra
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

Full discolsure: I've recommended this author to a great many people, based solely on his writing for the Legacy collection worthy Locke & Key. Does this book bring all of the boys to the yard in the way that Locke & Key did?

 

dear jude
we will ride at nightfall we will ride to the hole i am dead you will die anyone who gets too close will be infected with the death on you us we are infected together we will be in the death hole together and the grave dirt will fall in on top of us lalala the dead pull the living down(...)

 

Joe Hill is someone that I want to adore on the strength of what he seems to mean. (He's also the only "celebrity" that I have attempted to talk to on the internet, using the magic of Twitter. He... either did not get it or he can go fuck himself for blowing me off *sob*) In case you don't know, Joe Hill is actually the man whose birthname is Joe Hill King, making him - Stephen King's son and therefore most obvious heir apparent. That is, if he can write worth a damn.... Which is something that I would flippantly say, if I had walked into this without having read a good deal of his forays into comic book writing, A.K.A, Locke & Key and The Cape. Holy shit, guys - I cannot recommend either of these enough - I almost forgot about The Cape, because it's about as Lovecraftian in tone, like its brother comic, Locke & Key, as I am into dat country music scene aww yeah, turn that Toby Keith UP n' roll the windows down n' moooovvee

 

#sorrynotsorryexceptthatI'mlegitsorrysososorry


So yeah, I walked into this one a fan of his comic book writing, which, for good or ill, gave me some serious hopes and thoughts about what the rest of his writing would be like. I don't know if he can do classic Stephen King writing as good or better than dad, but with comic books? This guy's got some serious talent all his own.

 

Even if I did not have any sort of a background for what I was getting into by way of my having read the comic books, I got told by Monster Man that the first Plot Point is pretty shocking. As in, there's a moment where he stopped reading altogether because of how jarring the scene actually is to read.

 

So, that's interesting. You know what else is interesting? Why in the fuck Hill thought that Coyne was a good POV to read from.

 

I mean, maybe it might have worked in a more visual form (like, let's say... A comic book?) But reading from the asshole's cradle-robbing, borderline sanctimonious POV is painful. I mean, well done with bringing to life what feels liek an accurate representation of an aging rock star's life, but I think I see now, more than ever, why people have such a hard on for the hero's tale instead of the Asshole's tale. I mean, this is a guy that think he's found someone special with a girl-woman 20 years his junior (gack).

 

Now, this would be more palatable, if that wasn't such an integral part of the story. Because it does, strap in if you find this less than pleasurable to read, because you're going to be dealign with it for most of the book.

 

That is not the only failure of the story. Disappointingly, this story's pacing was completely missing, leaving me with a story filled with scenes overexplaining Jude's reason for this, Jude's memory here, Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude. It bogs the story down, miring what should be something great into something borderline mediocre.

 

This is especially true after the first plot point makes an entrance. Wheras the structure of a normal story would generally have the middle racheting up and up and up, with maybe a few dips here or there, Hill has the concept into much more of a deep plunge and crawl back to the top with pitiful effort. This, when taken with conjunction with Jude's constant thinking to himself about his babyish attitudes towards women and his selfish thought patterns that juse refuse to cease makes this one worth skipping through.

 

It's not all bad - it's just that the true spots that seem to shine through what I can see as something that dear old dad could have done (and, let's be frank here, dear old dad already wrote a road trip story fairly recently, with Doctor Sleep) gets tempered with shit, the sort of thing that makes me wince and wish that it didn't have to be included with the package as a whole - like when you're trying to install an update of some kind, and you find that you've accidentally left a box that forces you to deal with some other skeevy program installing itself along with the program that you actually need. 

 

No Hill, I do not want an old man with a a twin lolita/victim complex downloaded with this copy of Scary Ghost Story.

 

Stay tuned for a more in-depth anlysis of what I'm actually referring to.

 

 

 

The near-murder of Marybeth via Craddock early in the book is a haunting thing to think about. When coupled with Jude's nasty little snuff video story, we get off to what seems to be a great head-start, before we tumble directly into the bramble bushes, head-first.

 

I never quite see where Jude gets the balls to decide that his life is worth endangering two dogs and a nice younger lady who was kind enough to suck his ding dong, but there you are with the plot in a nutshell. Jude had a mean daddy who didn't want him to play music and so he gets to have sex with girls right on the borderline of illegal. Ugh.

 

Jude is the big stink that needed to be cleaned out of this story. It's alright for characters to smell bad, but why does this one reek so much and can we just throw him out please?

The story seems to particularly fizzle out for a long time as soon as the Mystery Van its the road with the dogs acting as stupid plot devices because dogs are angels or some such shit.

 

You know, why aren't cats ever the thing that protects against evil? I want to bring up that it seems racist, but I don't think that cats are a race, per se. I guess peope's reliance on the perpetually naive dog's world leads them to see cats as the polar opposite to the so-called "loyalty" of a dog. I posit that dogs are friends with anyone that feeds them and scratches them behind the ears, whereas true friendship from a cat can take years to foster and earn.

 

So I guess that people who like dogs like the idea of an instant companion, even if than companionship is drooly and... Dubious at best.

 

Speciesm can suck it.

 

So, where was I? Oh, right.

 

The ending creeps my shit out - and not because of anything meant to scare. Jude gets two of his almost criminally youthful females all in one convenient body and it's wrapped up nicely that one of the girls didn't happen to die because of him, but rather because of the villain oh how lovely let's all be happy together a la laa.

 

 

(spoiler show)

 

 

So, this was a book that, just like Joe Hill, I really wanted to like more than I ended up liking, mostly for issues of pacing and characterization.

 

What this is like: the movie Insidious + a road trip + the rock band Black Sabbath. Dump Sherri Moon Zombie on top with the corpse of a near-clone of her. Serve on top of an ash tray and with some uber manly beer aww yeah - hey, wait a sec - there's something weird about that beer, I feel like I've seen it before -

 

Huh. I peeled off the label and there was this other label just under it.

 

It's Castle Rock Ale, but someone put this other label over it.

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