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Search tags: terror-in-a-small-town-square
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review 2018-10-23 18:48
Nope, Still Annoyed by This Book
The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie

I read the original bundle for this book back in 2017, so I decided to do re-reads, with stand alone reviews. Can't lie, this book still irks my heart. I read this one second since I knew it was shorter than "The Body in the Library" and that one holds a special place in my heart.

 

"The Moving Finger" takes a while to get going, and we don't have Miss Marple entering into some ways into the story. Instead, we have "The Moving Finger" told in first person POV by Jerry Burton. Jerry was a pilot who was injured in an airplane accident. Now he is back in England and recovering. Jerry is told he needs to go to the country to recover, and he and his sister, Joanna, decide to find a home that is available for them to stay at in the village of Lymstock. The two siblings right away learn that there is some randomness going on with a poisoned pen writer that seems hell-bent on stirring up trouble among the village. Eventually someone is found dead (by their own hand it appears) but then someone turns up murdered, and many in the village fear that more deaths are imminent unless the writer of the letters is found. 

 

Jerry is adrift while in Lymstock until he comes across a local solicitor's stepdaughter, Megan. Megan is described throughout this book as indecisive and frumpy. Although she is 20, Jerry treats her like a kid sister and feels annoyed by her inability to stand up for herself. When Jerry and Joanna see how her own mother treats her (married for the second time to Megan's stepfather and having two more kids with him) they just pity her. I honestly did too since she is not wanted at home, but doesn't know what else she can really do. When Megan suffers a personal loss, things seem even more frantic with her.


I did hate how Christie had Megan go through what I call "She's All That" makeover. Jerry takes her to get herself together with clothes, hair, etc. in London and then he starts having "feelings."


Joanna is a bright young thing that is not too serious until she starts to think on the local doctor, Owen. There is not much character development with Joanna and Owen though. We get some scenes, but Christie is focused mostly on Jerry. I wish that she had built up Joanna more. I loved the tv adaptation of this book since we get to see more of Joanna in that one. 

 

Miss Marple shows up around the halfway mark I think. The local vicar's wife (no not that one) calls up Miss Marple since she knows her way around murders. And Miss Marple and Jerry constantly have conversations about smoke and fire. It was so repetitive and annoying after a while. I really didn't feel like anything was found out by deduction as much as Jerry is told about things after the fact. He starts to feel a bit superfluous after a while. 


We have other characters in this one too such as Megan's mother and stepfather, the governess the family has hired, the older woman who has rented her home to Jerry and Joanna, the maids, Owen's sister, etc. Lymstock feels pretty alive with characters a history there. 

 

The flow was just off to me. And I have to admit the writing was okay, but this one took me a while to even get into. I just found it boring until the first murder. And then the ending just comes quite quickly after that. 

 

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review 2018-09-28 14:15
The Song of Carrie White
Carrie - Stephen King

 

King does a great job with setting up the main characters in this story: Carrieta "Carrie" White, Sue Snell, Carrie's mother, the teacher, principal, Chris, Billy, and Tommy. You can believe how a girl like Carrie could have been pushed as hard as she was in this book and decides to take matters into her own hands and make the people that she sees as the source of her pain (the kids at school, her mother, the town of Chamberlain) pay. There is no happy ending to Carrie. We have a teen girl who was bullied by her mother and her peers who in the end just wants people to feel even a sliver of the pain she has felt her own life. 

 

"Carrie" begins with Carrie White getting her period for the first time in the girl's shower room at her high school. What follows is an ugly look at teen girls at their worst. Led by one of the nastiest characters ever, Chris Hargensen taunts Carrie and leads the rest of the group of girls into throwing sanitary napkins and tampons at her. Carrie thinks she is dying and reaches out to her gym teacher,  Miss Desjardin who also feels repulsed by Carrie and then pities her when she realizes that Carrie really has no idea about what periods are and that this is her first one. 

 

From there King follows Carrie and several other characters, Sue Snell, Chris Hargensen, Miss Desjardin, and a few others that I am totally forgetting to the epic events that led to the destruction of Chamberlain, Maine. 

 

I ended up pitying Carrie. You find out that her mother is a religious dictator and that she has done her best to make Carrie ashamed of being a woman as well as punishing her if she does one thing that she doesn't like. King includes comments from Carrie's grandmother that shows that Carrie's mother has always been uber religious and off. I honestly wonder though how she got that way since it didn't seem like Carrie's mother was raised in a religious household.


Carrie's father died when she was young and we hear bits and pieces about him (always very religious but seemed to be into drinking) and he casts a long shadow on the book. 

 

King also includes back and forths with other characters who try to examine their behavior towards Carrie (Sue and Miss Desjardin) and we follow the road to what led to Carrie going to prom night with Sue's boyfriend Tommy. 

 

King also did a good job of showing how people like Chris (bullies) can cause high school to just be a painful experience for a good many children. One of my favorite scenes was the school principal smacking down Chris's father who came and tried to have Miss Desjardin fired and her prom tickets given back to her. One wonders if someone had stood up to her father beforehand, maybe Chris's reign of terror would have been cut off. I think looking at Chris to Carrie you can see how parents can shape you for the best or worst. 

 

King includes personal testimonies from several of the townspeople to the police and to a committee, excerpts from a book written by Sue Snell, and even includes an autopsy report in the book. All of these working parts to the book do make it greater than if we just followed Carrie to the end of the book. This book seems to be King's practice case for "The Outsider" since he used similar narrative pieces in that book as well (he had witness testimonies, newspaper articles, etc.) This doesn't impact the flow at all and makes the book much more interesting. 

 

The setting of the book is a small town in Maine, Chamberlain. After the events of prom night, the town in essence dies. You can read the pain that many survivors have not just for those lost, but for those who didn't stop Carrie's mother and try to reach out to her so she didn't feel so alone.


The ending was sad to me. I can understand Carrie's rage. A world that overlooked her, mocked her, and seemed hell bent on destroying her. I can see why she wanted to watch everything burn. 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-09-27 19:35
Reading progress update: I've read 47%.
Carrie - Stephen King

And now we are at Prom Night.

 

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review 2017-09-21 21:29
Not Very Good First Book in Oak Knoll Series
Deeper Than the Dead (Oak Knoll) - Tami Hoag

If I had read this book first in the series, I would have never read books #2 and #3. Everyone (except for three out of the four kids) was terrible. Every adult was the worst ever. I felt like there were just too many characters for you to really focus on. I think if Hoag had either stuck with the lead detective to tell her story, or switched between him and the FBI profiler, it would have worked better. Instead we had at least 10 or more POVs I think. And we had the serial killer plot-line, the sociopath kid plot-line, the teacher and FBI agent falling in love, the detective trying to run his case, the one kid dealing with his terrible mother and absent father, another kid dealing with her parents, etc. Nothing hung together very well IMHO.

 

I can't tell you much about the characters besides what I said above. I liked the characters of Wendy and Tommy the best. Everyone else was awful.


The writing was not typical Hoag either. I feel like she was mimicking 1980s thriller/books back in the day which is the only way I can try to grasp why there was a lot of misogyny in this book. I just felt turned off by the two male leads, such as they were for this book.

 

The flow was pretty bad though. I think the main reason was that we had so many POVs and you found yourself (or excuse me, I found myself) getting impatient to get to who the serial killer was and the rest of the book felt like background noise. I get why Haog did it though, she follows up on two plot lines from this book (Wendy and her parents along with the pre-teen boy who is a bully and abusive) in book #2. 

 

I will say that though the setting is the 1980s and Hoag makes a big deal about not relying on DNA evidence, this book was pretty weak. We don't get to see how not having DNA hampers the case at all. The town brings in the FBI to profile the serial killer. He is able to put together a pretty good profile of the killer. I really did want to see more issues like the Kinsey Milhone series does with her having to go and read microfiche, she had to go and interview a ton of suspects, her having to do a lot of nitty gritty work. This whole book was the cops going around and acting like jackasses for the most part to suspects, suspects wives and to kids at some points in the book.

 

The ending was a miss for me. I don't know what big takeway I was supposed to get, but unless Hoag has another book in the series I don't see what the payoff would be. 

 

 

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text 2017-09-21 14:20
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Deeper Than the Dead (Oak Knoll) - Tami Hoag

I ended up only liking two characters (Wendy and Tommy) both kids. The adults in this book were terrible, and one of the kids was a sociopath. I don't think the book hung together very well and the ending was weird. 

 

I know that I read these books backwards (I started with book #3 and then read book #2 this year) but besides the books taking place in the 1980s they are nothing to write home about.


The sexism and misogyny at play with a lot of the characters was surprising. There was a stereotypical gay best friend that had me cringing inside. Also, I don't think this character (Frannie) even shows up in the second book.

 

At one point Detective Mendez asks if one of the victims is involved in risky behavior. Apparently going to bars = risky behavior.

 

I can't even get all hot and bothered about this though cause the book was boring. It was a lot of going back and forth and the FBI profiler (Vince) being a horn dog to the school teacher (Anne). And I am still baffled she was even interested in him. And we had Vince acting inappropriately towards one woman who dared to be mean to Anne. It was just gross. There's a line about him being primeval in that moment and wanting to protect his mate and I just rolled my eyes.  

 

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