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review 2019-09-13 10:02
or "For The Rest of Their Lives"
Obsession - Ramsey Campbell

Obsession is a book and a half. From the afterword I learned that the title was forced on the story by the publisher and Ramsey Campbell wanted "For The Rest of Their Lives". While Campbell's preferred title would have grabbed me more quickly, I do think "Obsession" suits the story, which deals with the destructive power of an obsessive idea - that having wished for an received something four children would spend the rest of their lives repaying, well at least in the case of one of the four.


<spoiler>Peter is a hero when he saves his grandmother's life, but when she moves in with him and his parents life becomes difficult for all of them. He wishes she would leave, and she does so by dying. The guilt he carries poisons his adult life and drives him to do terrible things.</spoiler>


It's powerful stuff and the clever twist makes it tragic. So much is lost and so little gained for a moment's breathing space. The maxim "Be careful what you wish for" has never been more apropos.


I read this as part of Halloween Bingo. Assuming it is called the planned square is SMALL TOWN HORROR.

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review 2019-09-04 16:23
He Continues To Dazzle
Obsession - Ramsey Campbell

I woke up this morning - having finished Obsession late last night - feeling that Ramsey Campbell's excellent 'pact with the Devil' novel was a 5 star novel that somehow changed into a 4 star novel before its conclusion. I still loved it, but I did not feel compelled to up my rating, even though this morning has brought me the feeling that Campbell did sew all the terror up quite nicely...better than I gave him credit for, while I pondered my reactions to the sum of the book's parts last night. A wonderful Horror tale, but not as great as Nazareth Hill, or The Count of Eleven.


In the small town of Seaward, around 1958, four kids - chums, three boys, one girl - sell their souls to the Devil when he comes calling, offering to solve whatever their biggest problem is at that time. They're not spoilt whiners; they actually have some fairly major shit going down in each life - parents really can screw kids up - but the are not old enough to know that things change, time heals...and you don't sign a letter from the Devil that will solve a dilemma but make you pay later. It's not even like they wish for a million dollars or their own island paradise; their wishes, if granted, will just alleviate angst, teenager pain; you have to be able to spot a raw deal, but it's tough when you're young, and the Devil would know that. And if you're wish is "I wish my grandmother wasn't here anymore..." - uh, quick tip: once the signed letters have been grabbed by a breeze and whisked away (oh, that means they're mailed, kids, believe me - this is the Devil, supernatural stuff; forget all this "oh, I now we won't get our wishes" business just cuz they blew away; they are mailed, and you signed)...once the signed letters are delivered, there's no point begging the Devil, hours later, with "okay, when I wished my grandmother gone, that doesn't mean I want her dead, please please please don't kill her. please please, not what I meant.".


The too lateness of regret, and the Devil doesn't listen to that crap.


I assumed they sold their souls, but about 24 years later, they are still alive and all languishing in Seaward - and that's when payment is due. And payment is misery, misfortune, death and tragedy. A happy future on Earth seems to be what got signed away. All for a happier - well, less unhappy - childhood. So Peter, Steve, Jimmy, and Robin have to wonder: "can we wriggle out of this? because if not, we are doomed".


I thought a few sequences - just a few, particularly in the back half - were a bit rushed...which is a very odd sensation to get from my favorite Horror writer. However, this morning I am more in tune with the last 50 pages of the book than I was last night. I see the whole effect, and how the ending actually rounds it off. I'm staying away from "If it were me, I would have written it this way...". It works. Working perhaps better were the ghosts, the effects of the curse, and the way I really came to care about these characters, and wanted them to somehow get around the horrible mistake of their childhoods.


Campbell's The Long Lost was a 4 star book all the way through. Obsession hit me a bit different; it's a 5 star book that became a 4 star book - and who knows, that's just what happened to me; maybe it's really a 1 star book, or 5 stars because I just need a few more hours today to completely come around to how the circle got closed. I'll reflect a little more...this book will be on my mind for quite a while. But I'm not doing any quick-fix deals with the Devil, just for instant clarity or epiphany. I get it.

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review 2019-07-23 09:32
Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2)
Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession - Alison Weir

In the first book of the series, Weir’s Katherine of Aragon saw Anne Boleyn as a petty, vindictive avatar of evil incarnate. I was super curious how Weir would depict Anne in her book. Every one’s the hero of their own story, so how would this historical “villain” see herself? I’m not sure how Weir feels about Anne Boleyn personally, but for fictional purposes she seems to have taken a more sympathetic stance than historians usually do.


Weir’s Anne Boleyn is a complicated woman. She’s skilled in “the game of courtly love” (or “harmless flirting” as it were) and also zealously guards her virginity. She’s a feminist who wants to see more women in positions of power. She chafes under the double standards women are subjected to (which is a nice touch considering one of those double standards gets her executed for adultery while her serial philanderer husband is free to marry his new mistress). She has no romantic feelings and little respect for Henry VIII and doesn’t try to attract his notice, but when he notices her anyway and relentlessly pursues her (for years) she decides “What the hell, I’m gonna get me a crown and be one of those women in positions of power I want to see more of. And I’ll make Henry reform the super corrupt Church while I’m at it.”


She then proceeds to nag her way into a crown and then nag her way straight back out of it. Anne sees what a shrew she’s becoming, and she occasionally tries to correct her behavior. But as Henry’s divorce proceedings drag on year after year, and as her enemies begin to vastly outnumber her friends, the strain of her increasingly untenable position erodes her self-control until there’s almost nothing left but her sharp tongue and bitterness. Her favorite nagging subjects involve punishing people she feels have wronged her, and considering her targets include some of Henry’s favorite people on the planet, it’s quite amazing to me that he didn’t kick her to the curb long before he found himself threatening his first wife and daughter, executing his most loyal advisors, and risking excommunication by the pope and war with his in-laws.


The overlap of this book with Katherine’s manages to be interesting rather than repetitive, though I’m not sure I’d feel the same if I’d read the two back to back. Events of course look slightly different from Anne’s point of view. I liked Anne’s story more than Katherine’s for the simple fact that Anne was more proactive and lived a more interesting life. Five hundred pages of waiting and scheming beats five hundred pages of waiting and praying.


I’m anticipating Jane Seymour’s book will overlap both previous books as she served both queens as a lady in waiting. Weir’s Anne Boleyn declared her someone who was “sly, deceitful and never had a word to say for herself!” I’m looking forward to seeing how she’s portrayed, and how she feels about being the next chosen one after personally witnessing Henry getting rid of two wives in increasingly cruel ways.

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review 2019-06-27 16:06
Their Obsession (Four Mercenaries #2) - K.A. Merikan

This author did a wonderful job continuing the story of Clover, Pyro, Drake, Boar, and Tank. It's a little bit dark and a little bit bloody, but a whole lotta awesome! We get to learn more about all the guys in this book. Some issues come to light during this story within the group and some bad things happen. I really liked the interactions between the 4 guys and Clover. I was really happy to see that Clover got his vengeance. The story flowed really well and sets up the last book to hopefully resolved everything. The end broke my heart and I am really counting on the author to put it back together in the next book.

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review 2019-04-29 02:23
Most of the Book Focused on Suspense Not the Romance
The Obsession - Nora Roberts

Not too much to say here. Roberts focuses mostly on the suspense aspect of this book and it works much better. The main reason why I gave it three stars is that I think that it would have been smart to include the POV of Naomi's brother as well. Thank goodness though he doesn't enter into a romance in this one. I loved how they both changed based on what happened with their parents and the paths they took. Other than that the book felt a bit boring to me. I guess because bad guys like depicted in this book seem really stupid. I guess I have been reading too many books about serial killers (Ann Rule) to think that anyone would be this freaking stupid, I digress.

"The Obsession" shows the aftermath when a pre-teen Naomi Bowes follows her father into the woods. Her father is a hard man, but Naomi, her mother, and her brother live to please him. Until the day they find out her's not what he seems. Naomi and her family's life gets turned upside down. I think at least the first 30 or 40 percent of the book follows the ups and downs of Naomi's family's life. I do wish we had gotten some background about why she likes taking photos though. It seemed random. Or maybe after reading "Sanctuary" I am realizing that this is one of Roberts go to careers for her female characters.

Naomi's brother Mason who goes into psychology and then the FBI was very  interesting to me though. I found myself wanting to read more about him. 


The bad guy in this one was super obvious though. 


The writing in the first parts were great. One wonders why Roberts doesn't just write thrillers. She does that part well. I found myself bored with Naomi's love interest Xander. I maybe laughed though because Roberts includes a lost dog in this one that becomes attached to her which reminded me of "Shelter in Place." The flow was so-so. I think it was because until things get going with the serial killer in this one we just read about Naomi renovating a huge house she built. And read about furniture she is buying. And we read about her painting and floors. I just renovated a major portion of my house. I didn't care. I just started skipping over things after a while.


The setting of Sunrise Cove read very small town and I don't know how realistic it would be for the town to be so welcoming when they find out who Naomi is.

The ending was rushed and ends abruptly. This definitely needed an epilogue and more interaction with the uncles. 

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