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text 2017-07-05 18:45
June 2017 Round up!
The Changeling - Victor LaValle
Ascent - Luke Walker
Empire Falls - Richard Russo
The Memory of Running - Recorded Books LLC,Ron McLarty,Ron McLarty
The North Water: A Novel - Ian McGuire
Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King,Richard Chizmar
Criminal: The Deluxe Edition - Volume 1 - Ed Brubaker,Sean Phillips
The Fever: A Novel - Megan Abbott
Hoodoo Harry (Bibliomysteries) - Joe R. Lansdale
DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates

I read 18 books in June!

 

 

Graphic Novels

 

Criminal Deluxe Edition 5*

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger-Last Shots 4*

American Vampire 5 4.5*

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger- The Man in Black-3*

Total: 4

 

Audio Books

 

Empire Falls by Richard Russo 5*

The Fever by Megan Abbott 3.5*

The Memory of Running by Ron McClarty 5*

Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo 4*

The North Water by Ian McGuire 4*

Total: 5

 

E-ARCS

 

Ascent by Luke Walker 4*

The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss and Brian Freeman 4.5*

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones 5*

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey 3.5*

The Changeling by Victor LaValle 4.5*

Hoodoo Harry by Joe R. Lansdale 4.5*

Dis MeM ber by Joyce Carol Oates 4*

Total: 7

 

Random Books

 

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar 4*

The Summer Job by Adam Cesare 3*

Total: 2

 

Total books read in June: 18

 

 

 

Reading Challenges

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

January Count: 1

February Count: 2

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June: 0

Running Count: 5

 

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

 

Running count: 24

 

I'm ditching the Coolthulhu Crew 2017 challenge. It just seems to be too much work for me right now!

 

Keep Calm and Read On!

 

 

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review 2017-07-02 00:00
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson,Joyce Carol Oates 3,75 stars. I liked it, but in a way that's really hard to pin point. Everything about this was better than average, yet nothing blew my mind.
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review 2017-06-09 13:45
Dis Mem Ber by Joyce Carol Oates
DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates

Dis Mem Ber is an excellent collection of stories previously published elsewhere. The only threads they have in common is that they are all from a woman's point of view, (except for WELCOME TO FRIENDLY SKIES!), and they are all unsettling.

 

My favorite had to be the first story, DISMEMBER, in which a young girl narrowly escapes what could have been a nasty end.

 

HEARTBREAK was the story of two sisters, one beautiful and the other, not so much. Sometimes jealousy can get out of hand, before we even realize we are jealous.

 

I also enjoyed BLUE HERON quite a bit. This is the story of a widow dealing with her grief while trying to avoid her scummy brother-in-law who wants her to sell her lake-house.

 

Lastly, WELCOME TO FRIENDLY SKIES! had to be one of the funniest stories I've read in years. I'm not going to say anything further about it, as I think it's best to go into it cold.

 

Overall, this was a satisfying collection of stories from one of the masters of American short fiction. Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Mysterious Press for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-05-02 17:50
Review: A Book of American Martyrs
A Book of American Martyrs - Joyce Carol Oates

Fact: There are some people in the world who make their ideology into a crusade. They believe they are right, even if they're presented with information that they are wrong. They stop at nothing to force their way of life onto others. They will resort to extreme measures if necessary.

Fiction: Everyone who shares that same belief or ideology also shares in the crusade. They all believe they are always right no matter the evidence against them. Everyone of a particular ideology charges ahead in the quest to convert the world to their way of thinking.

Joyce Carol Oates presents this “fiction” as a fact in her most recent novel, A Book of American Martyrs and it's troubling. The promise to present both sides of the abortion debate with empathy and an unbiased perspective is complete rot. On one side of the debate we have Augustus Voorhees, an abortion provider who is a community leader and a loving family man who is brilliant and well-spoken, a man who provides free abortions to women who cannot pay and does so because he is truly kind-hearted. Then there's Luther Dunphy. Dunphy is a Christian man who believes God is telling him to murder abortion doctors. Dunphy is ignorant. Dunphy is a common man who contributes nothing to society. Dunphy is a hypocrite who cheats on his wife and abuses his children. The Dunphys are against radio, television, movies, sex education, contraception, vaccinations, Tampax, alcohol, carbonated beverages, chewing gum, sugar, sugar substitutes, games like Monopoly, and a slew of other things. (No, I'm not making any of this up.) And all that is fine. There are men out there like Voorhees and there are men out there like Dunphy. The fact is, there are some people in the world who make their ideology into a crusade.

The problem comes in the blanketing stereotype of everyone. Every single pro-choice character is intelligent and wonderful, a model citizen. Every single pro-life character is a hypocritical and ignorant extremist. This is fiction. How is it that we open-minded individuals who have opposed these kind of blanketing statements now embrace them? Merely because the shoe is on the other foot? Come on, I expect more of us. If this book were making such statements about a marginalized group we've become accustomed to defending, we'd be up in arms about it. We'd call the author a bigot and demand a boycott. But simply because the group she attacks “deserves it,” we turn away and smile indignantly. I, for one, choose not to smile.

For the most part, A Book of American Martyrs fails for this very reason. It is fiction with an agenda. And it's not even masked in the slightest.

Luckily, the book gets away from Luther Dunphy and Augustus Voorhees. It becomes a novel about their children. And fortunately, for the sake of this story, Naomi and D.D. are much more rounded characters than their parents. They do not blindly follow the path that has been made for them. It's a much better and balanced novel in the last couple hundred pages, but that does not diminish the hatred of the first several hundred. The whole novel is well written and very Oatesian in all ways, but in the end, propaganda is propaganda, no matter how beautifully it is dressed.

This novel made me angry, but that can be a good thing: we need to talk about this. What worries me however is the direction we're going. Hatred and prejudice are wrong regardless of the recipient. Let's not lose sight of the truth.

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review 2017-05-01 02:22
Lost Landscape
The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age - Joyce Carol Oates,Cassandra Campbell

 

 

Although I have read quite a few of Joyce Carol Oates's works, since she is so prolific, I think I've just barely scraped the surface.  One of the things I admire about her is her eclecticism.  She doesn't confine herself to any one genre nor fall back on any sort of a formula.

 

Probably the first book of hers that I read was Them.  I recall it was on my parents' bookshelf.  My dad was in her graduating class at Syracuse University, and he used to tell me with some pride that he and she were both on the school paper, The Daily Orange.  While I was a PhD student in the 1990s, she gave a talk at my university, and I was lucky to be chosen to attend the post-talk dinner.  She couldn't have been a more gracious dinner companion.  And no, she didn't remember my dad, but I didn't necessarily expect her to!

 

I enjoyed this memoir, and it made me realize how little I knew about Oates's personal life.  One of the things I enjoyed was the afterword, in which she makes a distinction between "memoir" and "autobiography" and explains which elements and details she had changed in order to protect the privacy of some of the people she wrote about.  She also described some of the people and events she did not include and explained why she made that choice.  Ever the teacher, she teaches her readers about the text they have just read.

 

The narrator of the audiobook has a very pleasant voice, though it often struck me how unlike the author's voice it is.  Like the word "demure."  I recall at the talk she gave at my university, Oates sharing with incredulity that people are always expecting her to be demure.  And her pronunciation of the word, in her Western New York accent, sounds quite different from the narrator's rendition.  Still a good reading, though.

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