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review 2018-07-30 18:35
Whodunit: Horror edition
The Outsider - Stephen King

The Outsider is the newest notch in the belt of one of the most prolific writers of supernatural horror, Stephen King. It's been a good long while since I've sunk my teeth into a King novel but when I read the premise (and saw the ultra rad cover) I knew that it was time to take a bite. (That metaphor got away from me.) The very beginning launches the reader into a graphic description of the murder of an 11 year old boy named Frank Peterson. [A/N: As this is literally the first two pages I don't consider this a spoiler. I do want to point out that it is very graphic and involves a sexual element so if this is in any way triggering to you please steer clear.] It seems to be an open and shut case because of the preponderance of evidence which points directly to a prominent member of the community...who also happened to be the coach of the Chief Detective assigned to the case. Can anyone say conflict of interest? However, things are not so cut and dry because it turns out that this man has an alibi with witnesses. So how was he in two places at once? What next occurs is a roller-coaster of police procedural drama with a heaping dash of supernatural horror thrown in for good measure. I wrote tons of notes about this book after I had read it but because they are mainly about the plot and super spoiler-y I don't feel that I can enumerate them here. Suffice it to say that in trademark King style there are always more twists and turns just when you think there couldn't possibly be any more. I enjoyed it thoroughly right up until the very end which I felt was not up to King's usual standard. With that being said, I did really like it and immediately lent my copy to another coworker with my recommendation so I can't help but give it a 9/10.

 

What's Up Next: The Figure in the Shadows The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs

 

What I'm Currently Reading: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-06-11 14:42
Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore
Sweet Jiminy - Kristin Gore

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Jiminy Davis abruptly quits law school and flees Chicago for her grandmother Willa's farm in rural Mississippi. In search of peace and quiet, Jiminy instead stumbles upon more trouble and turmoil than she could have imagined. She is shocked to discover that there was once another Jiminy - the daughter of her grandmother's longtime housekeeper, Lyn, who was murdered along with Lyn's husband four decades earlier in a civil rights era hate crime. With the help of Lyn's nephew, Bo, Jiminy sets out to solve the cold case, to the dismay of those who would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

After suffering increasingly crippling anxiety, depression and extreme exhaustion, twenty-five year old Jiminy Davis decides to drop out of her Chicago law school and return to her grandmother Willa's farm in rural Fayeville, Mississippi. Once settled in, she stumbles upon a family mystery / unsolved crime from the 1960s featuring a different Jiminy. This other Jiminy was the daughter of Willa's black housekeeper, Lyn. Lyn's daughter and husband were murdered in a hate crime, but the killer was never brought forward. The local police instead decided to label the deaths as "accidental drowning".

 

 

 

Consistency was a virtue adults overrated so they didn't have to focus on how utterly boring everyday existence was.

 

Though law school might have proven to be too much, modern day Jiminy can't resist trying to solve this cold case, hopefully bringing justice to her namesake. Enlisting the help of Lyn's nephew, medical student Bo, Jiminy hits up the library's newspaper archives and jumps right in to interviewing the older citizens of Fayeville who knew and remembered 1960s Jiminy and her father. 

 

She learned to be quiet and small, to disappear into backgrounds, to suffocate her sentences before they could betray her. She learned to bottle herself up.

 

It won't take long for the reader to see modern day Jiminy going into her investigation with a cringe-inducing naivety. It seems that she just can't honestly fathom that racism would still exist in this day... I mean, we've progressed SO much, right?! Girl gets the shock of her life when she tries to start up something romantic with Bo and not even a full day of official coupledom passes between them before Bo & Jiminy come face-to-face with death threats from local KKK members (posing as "concerned citizens"). Jiminy also seems shocked that virtually no one in town, even now, wants to come forward with the truth. Why is everyone encouraging her to just leave the past in the past?

 

"Do I remind you of my mom? Do I seem like I'm going crazy?" she inquired anxiously.

Willa continued buttering her biscuit, and for a moment Jiminy wondered if she'd even heard. Jiminy had a tendency to speak too softly, and for all she knew, her grandmother might be going deaf as well. 

But just as Jiminy was about to repeat her question more loudly, Willa cleared her throat.

"You seem like you need a good, long rest," she said. "The world's what's gone crazy. You just got old enough to notice."

 

This is a pretty short novel, less than 300 pages. While it touches upon an important topic -- that racism is still very much a real issue in the world today -- for much of the novel Gore still treads pretty lightly around the issue, tiptoeing where you'd expect or hope to have her characters stomp in combat-ready. The plot itself also takes time to heat up. Much of this book just felt like it was left on simmer a little too long.

 

 

 

That said, the character development is actually decently done (if you're a patient reader), lyrical descriptions in parts, and there are some honestly moving scenes and truly great, memorable lines within the dialogue. This is one of those stories I'd recommend sticking with til the end (especially since it's a short read anyway) because the plot intensity definitely delivers in the closing chapters.

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text 2018-04-18 17:27
Will the real Thomas Jefferson please stand up?
Burr - Gore Vidal
America's First Daughter: A Novel - Stephanie Dray,Laura Croghan Kamoie

Jefferson according to Burr. Jefferson according to his daughter. These are fun to read at the same time!

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review 2018-03-10 01:33
I swear I'm okay
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Doughty

I've been thinking about death a lot. And not in an existential way or in a 'oh man she needs professional help' kinda way. I've been thinking about the culture of death and how I'd like my own death to be handled. To that end, I chose a few titles which I'm convinced has skewed the way my co-workers view me. (lol but really) The first is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. (I'll be discussing her second book at a later date.) This is the autobiographical story of how Caitlin came to work in a crematory and the path that it led her down to discover the 'good death'. It's an exceptionally frank discussion of death but more specifically death culture (or lack thereof) in the United States. Here in America it's a taboo subject. Many people choose to remain ignorant of the reality of death because of a fear of their own (and their loved one's) mortality. Caitlin talks about the current death practices of burial, embalming, cremation, green burials (many different kinds), and donation to science. It reminded me that I should really draw up a will with the specifics of what I want and then discuss it with those who will most likely be honoring my wishes. (And you'd better do what I say or I'll haunt you! hahaha but really)

 

The truth is we are all going to die one day. Wouldn't it be better to see this as natural and be prepared for it? Having open discussions with those who will be charged with taking care of you after you have died makes the process less fraught with uncertainties and fear. Centuries ago, death was embraced because it was necessary to confront it head-on. There were no mortuaries like we know them today. The family was the one who cleaned, wrapped, and sometimes buried the bodies. The grieving process wasn't rushed but was allowed to progress naturally. (Think about the last funeral you attended and how the viewing was timed. Nowadays, you have to leave the cemetery before the casket is even lowered into the earth. Everything is orchestrated and sterile.) I don't think it's morbid to plan ahead and to try to make it as simple and straightforward as possible so that in the end it's about the life that I led and not the stress and confusion of what to do with me once I'm dead. 8/10

 

Something I made a few years ago about a similar book.

 

What's Up Next: The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-05 22:54
Stephen King: Master of Horror
It - Stephen King

I don't remember if I've ever talked about my fondness for Stephen King before on the blog. I know that I've mentioned that horror is a genre that from time to time I thoroughly enjoy. There was one summer in particular that I found myself binge reading some of King's works. I read through Carrie, The Tommyknockers, The Shining, and Needful Things that summer but that wasn't where my love affair started. It actually started with It: King's novel about a group of kids who face an unspeakable horror while growing up that comes back to haunt them as adults. I've actually re-read this one a few times simply because I find something new each time that I read it. There are all of the elements of horror as well as a healthy dosage of psychological thriller which King is known for. It's all set in Derry, Maine which I for one would love to visit as it seems to be the epicenter of King's works. It is not for those who suffer from Coulrophobia or the fear of clowns. The nexus of evil in this novel is a shape-shifting entity that primarily takes the shape of a clown so that it can lure children to its lair. (Not sure what kid would willingly follow a clown but these kids seem to be into it.) The main group of children that this book focuses on were outcasts who formed the 'Losers Club' and because of their combined strength they were able to provide a united, threatening front. The book flips between the present day (1984-85) and the past (1957-58) and tells each of the main characters stories. You get to know them and root for them all to various degrees. If you've never read any of Stephen King's books and you want a good place to start then I definitely recommend It. (Warning: There are adult themes and coarse language so keep that in mind.) If you'd like to delve into horror but you're a little overwhelmed with all of the choices then I recommend this one to you as well. :-D (Warning: Likely to induce nightmares for the faint of heart.)

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