Sunday, December 25, 2011

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers by Nigel Cawthorne

Tis the season to read about some freaky and disturbing people! This is a collection of the most notorious, although in some cases obscure to me, serial killers and mass murderers. People like Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac, The Night Stalker, and over a dozen more. All of them were interesting. The only one that freaked me out was The Night Stalker. My only problem was for every person profiled, I had to read about what a horrible childhood they had. Not everyone that has a horrible childhood turns into a monster and vice versa. Some people are just plain evil.

4 stars

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery , one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker . "Powerful and haunting," and "nights of unrest" were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery:" with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson's remarkable range--from the hilarious to the truly horrible--and power as a storyteller.

I bought this just so I could read The Lottery. I wasn't too impressed by it. The story that really bothered me was The Daemon Lover. It was really sad to me. I had a hard time getting with the writing, and most of the stories I just didn't see the point of. I guess this is meant for someone far more intelligent than I, because after finishing most of them I thought "What?"

2 stars

We Have Always Lived in the Castle By Shirley Jackson

Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

This may be one of the top 5 creepiest families I have ever read about. I wasn't really into the book and kept waiting for the big reveal but I was kind of disappointed. I can see that, for it's time, it was maybe considered sensational, but I was so creeped out by the family I didn't really get into it.

2 stars

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Books of 2011

1. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
2. Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles
3. The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
4. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum
5. Iron House by John Hart
6. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
7. Back Roads by Tawni Odell
8. Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice
9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burberry
10. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Best Debut - Good Neighbors by Ryan David Jahn
Best Series - The Graveyard Queen by Amanda Stevens
Best Classic - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Best Book to Lose Yourself In - Back Roads by Tawni Odell
Best Nonfiction - Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum
Biggest Disappointment - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Best Suspense - Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Best Historical Fiction - The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen
Best Vacation Book - Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Moonlit Mind by Dean Koontz

In this chilling original stand-alone novella, available exclusively as an eBook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz offers a taste of what’s to come in his new novel, 77 Shadow Street , with a mesmerizing tale of a homeless boy at large in a city fraught with threats . . . both human and otherwise. Twelve-year-old Crispin has lived on the streets since he was nine—with only his wits and his daring to sustain him, and only his silent dog, Harley, to call his friend. He is always on the move, never lingering in any one place long enough to risk being discovered. Still, there are certain places he returns to. In the midst of the tumultuous city, they are havens of solitude: like the hushed environs of St. Mary Salome Cemetery, a place where Crispin can feel at peace—safe, at least for a while, from the fearsome memories that plague him . . . and seep into his darkest nightmares. But not only his dreams are haunted. The city he roams with Harley has secrets and mysteries, things unexplainable and maybe unimaginable. Crispin has seen ghosts in the dead of night, and sensed dimensions beyond reason in broad daylight. Hints of things disturbing and strange nibble at the edges of his existence, even as dangers wholly natural and earthbound cast their shadows across his path. Alone, drifting, and scavenging to survive is no life for a boy. But the life Crispin has left behind, and is still running scared from, is an unspeakable alternative . . . that may yet catch up with him. There is more to Crispin’s world, and its darkest corners yet to be encountered, in this eBook’s special bonus: a spine-tingling excerpt from Dean Koontz’s forthcoming novel, 77 Shadow Street .

Nice and short but very boring. Not even a little bit chilling. Reminded a little of Neil Gaiman's writing, but without the enjoyment Gaiman gives me. Will not be reading 77 Shadow Street.

1 star

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

"I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger . . ." writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922," the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In "Big Driver," a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Raped and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

"Fair Extension," the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

In "A Good Marriage" when her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

King's novels bore me to tears, with the exception of The Long Walk. His endless narrative almost puts me into a coma. However, I have always loved his short story compilations. The theme in all of these stories is a revenge of some kind. And for the most part it is an every day kind of revenge, due to a horrible every day circumstance. "1922" left me with feeling nothing; "Fair Extension" was kind of predictable, and "A Good Marriage" was pretty predictable too. The only reason this book gets 4 stars is for the story "Big Driver". Disturbing, hard to read,  and all too possible, this one story pushed the rating up from a 2 to a 4. You feel everything Tess is feeling, and can't help but go along on this horrible ride with her. I was up till 7 in the morning reading it because I had to find out what happened and had knots in my stomach by the time I had finished it.It really makes you think about what you would do if you were in a similar situation; contact the authorities or take matters into your own hands to save yourself embarrassment and get true justice for what you had to endure. King proves in this story alone, that all of his books don't have to have the supernatural elements, because every day life and circumstances beyond our control are way more terrifying, and he is the perfect person to write about them. Read this for Big Driver alone, you won't be disappointed, but you will be left disturbed.

4 stars

Don't Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons--the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball bad-boy. Shocked and shaken, he doesn't realize that he's accidentally captured a key piece of evidence. Ensnared in the city's most sensational crime in years, Nick investigates for a story of his own. Back off-- or die-- is the clear message as he closes in on the facts. Heedless, and perhaps in love, Nick endures humiliation, threats, violence, and worse in a thriller that overturns every expectation and finishes with the kind of flourish only James Patterson knows.

I keep getting more and more disheartened by Patterson's books and I'm not sure why I keep reading them besides the fact that they are a quick read. I was hoping for a good, quick mob story. What I got was a story with tons of characters that I had no feelings for either way. The whole thing bordered on absurd, the baseball "bad boy" tie in was ridiculous and seemed like it was just thrown in as a way to tie things together, and once again each and every chapter is peppered with unnecessary and overused exclamation points. I was thinking, same as I did with Now You See Her, how much crap happens to one person? I mean really.

2 stars