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review 2017-05-22 23:11
Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King,Richard Chizmar

It's liking coming home after being away for a long time. 

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-19 14:54
Update - Things that should stay in the closet
The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

I couldn't go to sleep last night, and The Sugar Queen was within reach.  Even though I had signed off on it, I needed something to settle my brain for a few minutes.

 

I opened to a random page, read a few lines, and nearly heaved this library book against the wall.

 

P. 126

 

Josey went to her purse on the chaise lounge and took out her checkbook.

 

 

I dislike books that contribute to the dumbing down of our language.

 

Of course, by then I was angry and even more awake, so I skimmed through some more of the book until I finally discovered the big secret.  Oh, give me a fucking break!  The main character, Josey, couldn't figure out that

the woman living [sic] in her closet was a ghost?

(spoiler show)

 

I guess maybe this sort of nonsense appeals to readers, since the author is very popular.  It doesn't appeal to me.  I'm glad I only wasted a half hour on the rest of this book.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-18 21:32
Chasing nonsense
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

This one lost a whole rating point simply because the title had no connection to the story.  I hate that.

 

Various spoilers abound, so be warned.

 

I borrowed the book from my local public library, and some previous borrower had done me a huge favor:  She (or he) had neatly underlined in pencil all the instances the author referred to a character tucking her loose hair behind her ear.  There were a lot of them.  Enough to be annoying.  While I chalk part of that up to lazy writing, I put more burden on the editors.  This wasn't a self-published Kindle book; the Bantam editors should have done a better job.

 

The four or five typos didn't bother me as much as the business with the hair.

 

The writing style struck me as more suited to a juvenile or young adult book, and maybe this would be classified as YA.  Some of the themes were definitely more adult, I thought, but I'm not an expert on what constitutes young adult versus adult fiction.  I just thought the author's style was choppy and sometimes awkward.  At least for me.

 

Emily Benedict's mother Dulcie has recently died, so Emily heads to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with Dulcie's father, Vance Shelby.  Vance, who is eight feet tall, lives on the ground floor of the old family mansion.  He welcomes Emily and tells her to take whichever room she wishes; she settles in her mother's old room.

 

It's the summer before her senior year in high school, and though Emily's education has been received at the Roxley School for Girls that her mother founded in Boston, she has no apprehension about meeting people in Mullaby, a small Southern town notable for its barbecue restaurants.  Within her first few days in Mullaby, Emily meets Win Coffey, a young man her own age, and Julia Winterson, who was a classmate of her mother's.  Julia owns one of the restaurants and bakes cakes for it.  She also takes Emily under her wing, so to speak.

 

So far, so good.  The characters were three-dimensionally solid, if quirky, and I didn't have any difficulty making them come alive in my mind.

 

BUT --

 

Everyone seems to have secrets that they aren't willing to share.  Some of the secrets involve what might be called magic.  This would be fine except that there's no reason given for not sharing these secrets.

 

Now, here's the big spoiler.

 

Emily's mother Dulcie had a romance going with Win Coffey's uncle, Logan Coffey.  Dulcie forced Logan to publicly divulge his family's deep, dark, horrible secret, after which Logan committed suicide.  The Coffey family blamed Dulcie for Logan's suicide, but now everyone in Mullaby knew the Coffey family secret.

 

No one, however, would tell Emily.  Her grandfather warned her to stay away from Win; Win's father wouldn't let the two teens see each other.  Julia knew the secret, but wouldn't tell Emily.  And even though he knew everyone in town knew the secret -- and therefore could tell Emily at any time -- Win procrastinated about telling her.  No one in town ever spoke of it, even though Win and his father Morgan were always out and about around town.

 

And what's the secret?  Why is it that the Coffey men have to be in the house before dark and can't go out again until the sun comes up?  Are they vampires or werewolves?

 

No, not vampires or werewolves.  They have a genetic disorder that makes them glow in the moonlight.  Yeah.

 

 

This was just so silly.  And everyone knew!  So what was the big deal?

 

Well, then there's the business with the wallpaper in Emily's bedroom.  It keeps changing.  First it was just pretty violets.  Then it turned into fluttering butterflies.  Then glittering stars.  And Emily never questions this?  Never asks her grandfather?  Never says anything to her friend Julia?  Nor is there ever explanation given as to why the magical wallpaper matters.

 

Julia, the baker of cakes, has her own little bit of magic, and hers is probably the best integrated to the story.  I liked Julia, and I liked her story of unrequited love, heartbreak, emotional abandonment, and finally her ambition as an adult to succeed against all odds.  Her backstory was also the most believable, the most uplifting, and the twist to her stepmother's revelation was the most emotionally satisfying part of the whole book.

 

If not for Julia, I might have given up on the book at about the 30% point.  Julia had emotional baggage.  The teen-aged Emily, though she had gone through a lot of emotional turbulence in her young life, didn't have the angst necessary to pull this reader in.  Julia did.

 

The silliness of the "magic" aspects of the book pulled its rating down another full point, but there was still another weakness that I couldn't get past: The author had difficulty making her male characters multi-dimensional.  Win was so sweet, and his insta-love for Emily was so precious.  His father was just the opposite, all bitterness and anger.  Even Grandfather Vance, the "gentle giant," was more a caricature than a character -- and his gigantism had no real relevance to the story.  The author just seemed to have stumbled across the fact of the early 20th century giant -- who died at age 22 and height of almost nine feet -- and decided, oh, this is cool, so I'll have a giant in my story.

 

Only Julia's love interest, the handsome Sawyer Alexander, was more than a cardboard figure.  He, too, had emotional baggage that developed slowly and carefully through the narrative, and his little bit of magic was, along with Julia's, crafted to be integral to the tale rather than grafted on.

 

Overall, a light, pleasant read with little substance other than Julia's story.  I wouldn't offer a positive recommendation, but it's not terrible, either.

 

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review 2017-05-17 22:30
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Mark Bramhall
Those Across the River - Christopher Buehlman

 

Those Across the River is my first Buehlman, but will not be my last. In fact, I downloaded another of his books just now.

 

I recently got a new phone that came with some fancy earbuds, so I decided to head over to Overdrive and check out an audio from my library, so I could try them out. I saw this book available and remembered that my friend Tressa has just recommended to me a book by this author just a few days previous. I downloaded Those Across the River knowing nothing about it, and I think that was the best way to go in to this story.

 

Set mostly in GA in the early 1930's, a damaged WWI veteran moves down from Chicago to a house he has recently inherited. In the letter he received about the inheritance he was warned not to actually live in the house, but of course, he does so anyway-along with his fiance Eudora. What follows is a well told, atmospheric and creepy story that went in a totally different direction than what I expected. There's nothing new or extraordinary here, but a well told and atmospheric story is always welcome on my Kindle, (and now on my phone!), and I enjoyed this immensely.

 

The narrator, Mark Bramhall, was absolutely phenomenal-I loved his Southern accents and voicing-they brought the story alive for me. I will be keeping an eye out for more of his work in the future. As for right now? I'm on to my next Christopher Buehlman book!

 

I highly recommend the audio of this novel!

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review 2017-05-02 18:45
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger -The Little Sisters of Eluria
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Little Sisters of Eluria #5 (of 5) - Robin Furth,Peter David,Stephen King,Luke Ross,Richard Isanove

 

This was a disappointing foray into a side story of the Dark Tower.

 

What I liked about it was its connection to King/Straub's novel, The Talisman. (Which is one of my favorite books.) If you've read it, you know that young Jack is trying to save his mom, (who is a Queen in another world), and she is very sick. When we first meet her, she is in a huge tent, fighting for her life. That huge tent is the main setting for this story. (A nice explanation of this comes in the foreword.)

 

This tale comes before the last entry in the graphic novel series, so we've gone backwards a bit in the timeline. I was okay with that but I'm not really okay with the change in how Roland looks and the artwork. While I loved the pencil drawings in the back, Roland looks like an entirely different person than in all the previous comics. I am having a hard time dealing with that. I think that the graphics in the previous novels are superior than the ones in this volume.

 

Overall, I liked the story and the setting, just not as much as the previous entries in this series.

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