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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-23 20:50
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (6-Nov-2014) Paperback - Joe Hill

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Victoria McQueen discovers her mind can do something very special - it can summon a bridge that can transport her anywhere she wants to go. One day, in a fit of dangerous thinking, she finds herself within the vicinity of a very unstable child abductor; Charlie Manx. Escaping Manx was a turning point in her life, and now, years later, she has a son of her own, and Manx seeks revenge on the one that got away.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Imaginative would be one word I’d use to describe this; crazy would be another. Not only does it implement so many different things, it does it exceptionally well. If I were to list off the elements that Hill includes, I’m sure you would (if you haven’t already read it) raise an eyebrow or two - I certainly did at first. I had no idea just what I was getting myself into, until it was too late and I was swept up into the mind blowing and twisted biography of Victoria McQueen. It started when she was just eight years old; a child that had a mind filled with fantasy, seeking some semblance of freedom upon her Raleigh Tuff Burner. I do favour tales than span a character’s life, from a young to adult age, as it truly highlights development and progression. The journey of Victoria was a rollercoaster of tragedy, and at times I deeply felt for her. This isn’t to say I particularly liked her throughout the entire book, because there were moments she was depicted as a very selfish individual, but over time, I came to love and accept her. Due to her trauma, life shaped her into a broken soul, and none of it was fair.

As for the numerous other characters, there were an interesting mix of personalities. Lou was a hero in his own right, and seriously a lovely person, whilst Bing was quite the opposite. He was the primary source of sexual violence, even if it was mostly glossed over rather quickly. Child molestation in fact didn't play a part at all in this book, thank goodness, so when I mention sexual violence, it relates purely to the abuse of adults. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Moving on to Manx himself, he wasn’t my most favourite antagonist. I prefer the charming, deceptive sort of bad guy, instead of the Joker-esque insanity, however he was most assuredly entertaining. The version of his inscape, “Christmasland”, had an undeniable, nightmarish vibe to it, and every time more and more of it was revealed, I became increasingly more fascinated. He truly had lost his mind, and I often wondered about his origins and how he came to be. I'm going to come outright and state that he wasn't a vampire, but the play on the title was pretty much summed up in the book itself. Needless to say, I'm sure there's a significant amount of history pertaining to Manx, that Hill could delve into, if he ever wanted to.

Despite Christmas being a prominent theme, it in no way diminished the bleakness that radiated off every page. I found there to be a particular beauty in the dark atmosphere coupled with Charlie Manx’s eternally joyful outlook. I even appreciated the occasional sprinkle of humour, as Manx and his partner in crime truly weren’t the most coordinated of villains. The plot itself was padded out with unnecessary information, yet it’s something I’ve come to associate with works similar to King - and of course the son would be inspired by the father. Sometimes I don’t really mind the veering off; it’s dependant upon the overall story, and if I feel the distractions are worth the outcome. With NOS4R2, it was definitely worth it.

I expected nothing less from the bittersweet ending. I got an idea of what would transpire, and I can't say my prediction was wrong.

In conclusion: A masterpiece of weird. Vic "The Brat" McQueen was a star, in all her tattooed glory. I can't say just how much I loved it, and since it was my first experience with Hill's storytelling, I can't wait for more.

Notable Quote:

She had said she could bring her bridge into this world but that in some way it also existed only in her mind. It sounded like delusion until you remembered that people made the imaginary real all the time: taking the music they heard in their head and recording it, seeing a house in their imagination and building it. Fantasy was always only a reality waiting to be switched on.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/06/23/nos4r2-by-joe-hill
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-12 20:46
Review: More Than We Can Tell
More Than We Can Tell - Brigid Kemmerer

Review: More Than We Can Tell

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I loved the predecessor for this book Letters to the Lost, which introduced one of the main characters in this one. There was clearly so much more to Rev than was explored in Letters to the Lost so I'm so pleased he got his own book.

 

Major trigger warnings for abuse - mental and physical. 

 

This book was a tough and very emotional read. I could only cope with about 100 pages at a time. (Same way I had to read the first one) On the one hand we have Rev, an apparent tough guy who keeps to himself. He lives with his foster mother and father (who are some of the best YA parents ever).

 

 

The novel starts with Rev getting an unexpected letter from his biological father, a bible thumping preacher  who was put in jail for some serious abuse of his own son. He used region as a weapon both to psychologically manipulate and terrorise Rev as he grew up as well as an excuse for physical punishment. 

 

Rev hasn't spoken to him in years and lost all contact. Despite his tough guy exterior Rev is battling some very complex and conflicting emotions. Regardless of the suffering his father put him through something about his words in the letter still resonate. It's heart breaking to read about as Rev struggles with his feelings and what to do. While he's not telling his parents anything, he does have the support of best friend Declan who's there regardless of the time of day or night. 

(spoiler show)

 

On the other hand, we have Emma, a girl in Rev's class. Up until now they've never had reason to cross paths. Emma is a gamer who loves to code, she stays up late into the night gaming. She even created and launched a game of her own, which seems to have a lot of players. It's a secret she keeps from her parents, particularly her mom who doesn't seem to approve of her habit of locking herself in her room and spending all hours on her computer. Mom is an overworked doctor and kind of a bitch. Emma's father is a computer programmer for a big computer game company. Yet Emma seems almost embarrassed to tell him about her own coding skills. 

 

She's dealing with some serious harassment problems from one of the players in her game, a player who calls themselves 'Nightmare' and seems to hate the fact that she's a girl and she's the moderator and one in charge. The threats and messages are getting nastier and nastier. She can't seem to tell anyone other than her best friend Claire, and Ethan, another player she has a friendship and a strong connection with. 

(spoiler show)

 

There's tension between Emma's parents and it's really uncomfortable, so it's not surprising at all that Emma's on edge, especially with her own drama going on. She runs into Rev one night whilst walking her beloved dog, Texas (Texy). They have a brief conversation but there are clear sparks (even though neither realise it until much much later) they've started a dialogue. 

 

Things are getting more and more tense in both their home situations. Emma's parents are fighting more and more, the harassment from Nightmare is getting worse. No matter how much she bans him, he pops up again and again and is sending violent images through emails as well as nasty messages. Rev has a new foster kid living with his family, a young teenage boy named Matthew, who's moody and uncommunicative. He's getting more messages from his horrible biological father, mainly revolving around bible quotes that actually have Rev reflecting on his own behaviour and not in a good way. He's trying to be understand of Matthew's difficult circumstances but it's difficult and with other things going on...there's only so much anyone can take before snapping.

(spoiler show)

 

 

Both he and Emma continue to meet and talk, both in person and via texting and email. They have developed a friendship in which they can talk to each other about personal stuff and things they have difficulty talking about to other people. And of course the friendship turns into something deeper and more romantic. It's a slow burn romance and it's wonderful. They're both so considerate of each other. 

 

Things are going wrong and darker in both their lives, eventually the other's families learn of the friendship. Emma's so frazzled with her family troubles and online harassment she's taking it out on her best friend, who doesn't know what's going on. Her relationship with her parents hits rock bottom. She picks fights over stupid things with people who haven't really done anything wrong. 

 

And when something really bad happens to Emma towards the end of the novel, it's those people who figure it out and turn up and save her. While the danger Emma finds herself in is quite frightening, its a little predictable as to how it's going to turn out.

 

That being said, it's a really good read. It's a tough one that deals with some hard subjects yet manages to be uplifting in its own way. Brilliantly developed characters. This is the second book I've loved by this author which puts her on my auto-buy list. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

 

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review 2018-06-12 05:31
Darth Plagueis
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

On the one hand, this book is an excellent companion to the prequel trilogy of films and I’m a little sad it’s no longer canon. On the other hand, this novel is so bloated with Extended Universe references that it’s a perfect example of why The Powers That Be decided wiping that particular slate clean was for the best. Still, I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how the Republic was so thoroughly corrupted. Most of that aspect is still canon. Just be prepared for more intergalactic politicking than you can shake a lightsaber at (yay!) as well as scads of scientific and philosophical discussions of midi-chlorians (boo). I would rate it higher, but I kind of hated the ending for reasons I’ll put under a spoiler tag:

 

Holy bantha poodoo, that climax was a letdown. I get it. I do. There was a lesson to be learned here. Plagueis got complacent. He truly felt the Rule of Two was obsolete and trusted that his apprentice felt the same. He thought he’d achieved immortality through his control over the midi-chlorians and was above such mortal concerns as assassination anyway. He rather thoroughly set himself up for a fall. And I wanted that fall to be spectacular. I imagined all these epic showdowns between Sidious and Plagueis, and what happens instead? Plagueis is defeated because he lets his guard down on the eve of victory and takes A NAP. And then Sidious just breaks his breathing mask with a little Force lightning and basically proceeds to monologue him to death while a vaguely described “force storm” knocks over some furniture. Are you kidding me with this? THIS is what the whole book was building up to? Bah! I’m going to listen to Duel of the Fates on repeat until I feel better.

(spoiler show)
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text 2018-06-05 03:52
Reading progress update: I've read 92 out of 481 pages.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

"Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice." ~Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

 

I haven't read any of the Legends stuff involving Darth Bane, so I'm going to make up my own head canon in which he started this "Rule of Two" rumor to throw off the Jedi. The REAL rule that the Sith actually follow goes more like this:

 

"Always at least two there are. A master and an apprentice. And a spare apprentice or two in the wings in case the first one doesn't work out. And the apprentices' apprentices. And probably a bunch of Force sensitive younglings kept hidden from the Jedi just in case it all goes pear-shaped."

 

Not as catchy, I know. My alternate head canon is that Yoda is a lying liar who lies. From a certain point of view, that is. ;)

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review 2018-05-31 12:18
Bel Canto
Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

I was in high school when the Japanese embassy hostage crisis, the inspiration for Bel Canto, unfolded in Lima, Peru. It lasted from December 17, 1996 to April 22, 1997. I remember how it was resolved, so I knew going in that this wasn’t likely to end well for anyone. I told myself not to get attached to any of the characters, just in case. I failed.

 

Despite my determination not to, I slipped into the Stockholm syndrome as unsuspectingly as the characters. One moment I was reading in a suitably detached fashion about child soldiers pointing guns at foreign dignitaries, and the next thing I knew I was super invested in even the tiniest things. (Did Gen Watanabe ever get to eat his slice of cake, or did one of his captors or fellow hostages swipe it while he was being forced to play interpreter/secretary to terrorists? THIS WAS NEVER RESOLVED OMG I AM SO UPSET I CANT EVEN PUNCTUATE WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAKE ANN PATCHETT ASDJGHKASDHKJAH)

 

The writing is beautiful and sucked me in completely. The story is so, so sad, and I can’t decide if I love or hate the epilogue. So I’m just going to sit over here and eat chocolate and stew in my conflicted feelings for a while.

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