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review 2018-08-10 22:30
BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr

The reason I requested this book from my library was because of Megan Abbott's 

excellent, succinct review, which can be found here: BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN

 

 

This is the shocking true story of a mentally challenged white man who was railroaded into confessing to a rape and who was then sent to a state hospital for over 14 years WITH NO TRIAL. It's a story of racism, small town corruption, networks made up of good old boys, and most importantly, a tenacious reporter named Mabel who never, ever gave up.

 

You know, I say it's a "shocking" story, but unfortunately, it's really not. Black or white, (mostly black), mentally challenged, and ALL poor-many people have not received a fair shake in this country over the years. It's unfortunate to note that many of them STILL are not receiving a fair shake. This book only proves how important a free press can be to the causes of justice and fair play.

 

Even though she has since passed of cancer, I feel the need to say WAY TO GO, Mabel! If it weren't for you, poor Jessie Daniels would probably have died in the state hospital.

 

Thanks to Megan Abbott for her intriguing review and thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free. Libraries RULE!

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review 2018-08-04 19:36
Formulaic, problematic
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring - John Bellairs,Richard Egielski

And then there was The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring which focused almost entirely on Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman's adventures over the summer while Lewis was at Boy Scout Camp. (So why then is this often referred to as The Lewis Barnavelt Series?) Rose Rita is a full-fledged tomboy and is dissatisfied with being a girl. She wants a chance to prove herself and she gets the perfect opportunity when Mrs. Zimmerman becomes afflicted by dark magic and then mysteriously vanishes. [A/N: Richard Egielski is the illustrator of this volume and has a much different style.] If you haven't picked up on this by now it seems as if Bellairs sticks to the same narrative with only slight variations which is the main reason why this series got so stale by the second book. I don't have a lot of hope for the fourth but maybe with a different author at the helm (books up until 2008 and they began in the early 70s) there will be an uptick in excitement and narrative diversity. 3/10

 

Source: John Bellairs Wiki

 

Compare the illustrative styles from the first two books. While all are enjoyable they evoke quite different feelings.[Source: Tumblr]

 

 

What's Up Next: One Step at a Time by Sara Y. Aharon

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-08-04 19:31
Back at it again
The Figure In the Shadows (Lewis Barnavelt) - John Bellairs

I gobbled up The Figure in the Shadows in one sitting. This could lead you to believe that I thoroughly enjoyed it but really it was super short coming in at 160 pages with quite a few of Mercer Mayer's illustrations sprinkled throughout adding to that number. The plot of this installment revolves around an amulet which Lewis acquires and which seems to hold a 'spirit' of some kind which he has awakened and which turns out to be rather malevolent. (If you think this sounds similar to the first book you're not alone.) Once again, he keeps this a secret from his uncle and the witchy neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, next door. Instead he shares his discovery with his new friend, Rose Rita, who is virtually Lewis's opposite in every conceivable way. I will say that Lewis is a unique character in that he's not brave, overly intelligent (although a voracious reader), good looking, talented (described as quite fat), or particularly good-natured (in fact he's rather whiny and prone to childish fits of anger). He doesn't fit the prescribed parameters of a typical protagonist. He's bullied and anxious about the possibility of even being bullied or 'bawled out' by adults. (I was nervous about the latter through my adolescence as well so in that regard I can relate.) Magic + mystery + misadventure = the plot 5/10

 

Source: Amazon

 

Mercer Mayer's work (Edited as original post credited Edward Gorey.) [Source: Pinterest]

 

 

What's Up Next: One Step at a Time by Sara Y. Aharon

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson

 

 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

 

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.

 

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.

 

If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.

 

Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2018-07-25 17:54
For whom the clock ticks
The House With a Clock in Its Walls - Edward Gorey,John Bellairs

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs is the first in a series which (mainly) revolve around a boy named Lewis Barnavelt and his adventures living with his uncle who is a magician. I originally searched this book out because I saw the trailer for the upcoming film and got that familiar itch of "I must go to there". Then I found out that Edward Gorey was the illustrator and that clinched the deal. Bellairs blends mystery and magic to tell the story of a lonely little boy who is suddenly orphaned and thrust into the custody of a man he has never met before. Uncle Jonathan is unlike any person that Lewis has ever known and that's not only because he's a magician. Uncle Jonathan's house (a character in its own right) contains a mystery that all starts with the man who originally owned the property and who was himself a magician...a dark wizard in fact. With the combined forces of Uncle Jonathan and their neighbor (and witchy friend) Mrs. Zimmerman they begin a desperate search for the source of a mysterious ticking inside the walls of their house because they are certain it was magicked their by the original owner who no doubt created it with nefarious intentions. Our main character, Lewis, is at the same time struggling to fit in at his new school and while trying to impress his new friend he finds himself going against his uncle's wishes and trying a little magic of his own. Surely nothing could go wrong... This was a strong start to a series which began in 1973 and ran until 2008. [A/N: Books 4-6 were written after the death of John Bellairs from outlines and notes he left behind. The remainder were written entirely by Brad Strickland.] This book was a solid 8/10 but (as a heads up) I'll be reviewing 2 & 3 in the not too distant future and they didn't quite live up to this first book.

 

Check out the trailer which initially piqued my interest: The House with a Clock in its Walls.

 

 

 

One of the Edward Gorey illustrations from inside the book. [Source: Pinterest]

 

 

What's Up Next: The Outsider by Stephen King

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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