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Carrie - Stephen King
I really enjoyed this novel (actually, more a novella) by a very young Stephen King about a bullied and alienated young girl's burgeoning psychic (telekinetic) powers and her journey from scapegoat to enraged, half-insane murderess. I love King's early writing, the fluidity of it, and this novel was the "perfect" length for me (some of his stuff tends to drag on a bit, in my opinion). The bullying scenes are timeless and true-to-life and I felt myself both repelled and enchanted by the characted of Carrie. Part of me pitied her, another part of me thought she was exceptionally strong (emotionally) and regarded her with esteem and another part of me felt scared of her rage and abilities (and scared of the "black man" that resides within us all). The character of Margaret White (Carrie's domineering, abusive religious zealot mother) was the icing on the cake. One of my favourites by King.
Cell: A Novel - Stephen King
Eerie apocalyptic tale that centers around humanity's growing dependence on cell phones. In this story, a mysterious "pulse" flashes a signal through the cell phones, effectively frying the brains of anyone unlucky enough to own a mobile and making them go batshit crazy. The "phoners" (as they come to be known) are impervious to physical pain and filled with maniacal rage. At first they attack anything that moves: dogs, "normal people", each other but soon begin to develop a sort of flock or hive mind which increases the danger. In true Stephen King fasion I thought some parts were a little too out there (I prefer "less is more") and I already know that if this story is ever made into a TV movie it is going to be over-the-top cheesy and not translate well. Still enjoyed reading it.
Very interesting book about theories of non-local consciousness (conscious awareness not generated by a physical organ like the brain) based on the work and research of Danish cardiologist Pim van Lommel. The author doesn't just present us with accounts of near death experiences but debunks classic "scientific" explanations for NDEs and explains why science has, as of yet, failed to prove that NDEs are merely a product of an oxygen-starved brain (verifiable out of body experiences during periods of confirmed brain death, enhanced lucid consciousness, etc). He gets into theories as they relate to junk DNA, epigenetics, DMT and more. Very interesting and highly recommended for people who want "proof" that life may not be the end... but merely a transition.
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales - Stephen King
Really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Stephen King. I enjoy picking up a book and being able to read something in one sitting and this book had enough stories that clicked with me to make it worth reading. I particularly enjoyed "The Man in the Black Suit" (ironically, this was King's least favourite of all the stories in this collection), "1408" and "Lunch at the Gotham Cafe". Something for almost every "type" of Stephen King fan in this collection, from those who like to read about sheer psychological torment ("Autopsy Room Four", "That Feeling You Can Only Say What It Is In French") to those that like pure insane blood spatter ("Lunch at the Gotham Cafe") to those wanting to read about people meeting up with demons, devils and ghosts ("Man in the Black Suit", "1408", "Riding The Bullet"). I didn't care for Little Sisters of Eluria much, because I am not a hardcore fantasy fan, but even that tale was creepy and had its charms. Excellent book to have on hand for rainy, dark evenings when nothing is on the television and you want to cuddle up with the cat and got lost in a fun, slightly freaky other-reality for a half hour or so.
Grave's End - Elaine Mercado
Interesting "true life" story, written by a nurse, about the haunting which took place in her home in New York state starting in 1982. If this is a real account, and not merely a work of fiction, it points to the reality of "life beyond death". The writing style didn't engage me, but that is a personal thing.
I loved this novel so much. The reader follows the mental processes of an intelligent imaginary friend named Budo. Budo is the creation of 9 year old Max Delaney, who by all accounts seems to suffer from Asperger's disorder or at least some high-functioning form of Autism (his precise diagnosis is never mentioned outright). Budo also comments on the reality and actions of other imaginary friends and introduces the reader into a slightly surreal and charming world that is both profound and childlike. I really wish there were more novels like this out there. Very original and easy to read, without being simplistic. One of my new favourites.
Mysterious Skin - Scott Heim_II
This novel is a contradiction in terms- both beautiful and foul. It deals with the afteraffects of child sexual abuse on two very different boys. Sexually precocious and unsupervised Neil grows to remember the abuse at his coach's hands as acts of love. He develops into a sarcastic, sngry and rebellious hustler. Shy, introverted Brian Lackey fugues out during his "encounter" with his Coach, and comes to believe his missing time as a child is the result of a series of alien abductions. Eventually, these two disparate personalities reunite. This is not a book you "enjoy", but one which peels back the masks of secret human encounters and shines the flashlight on the fragile, complicated, sometimes self-destructive and perverted but always fundamentally *real* relationships that exist beyond closed doors.
I thoroughly enjoyed David B.'s first (graphic) novel "Epileptic" and this one didn't disappoint, either. If you are fascinated by the strange, discordant but always compelling imagery of dreams and nightmares I think you will find this slim volume worth your while. I also really enjoy David B.'s drawings and the use of "cool colours" (purples, greys, blues) to denote the nocturnal landscape. Will look for more of his stuff in the future. This graphic novel is essentially a visual diary of a series of random dreams the author experienced, dating from the early 1980s.
This novel was interesting to read. If you feel plagued by supernatural happenings or beings, or are merely interested in the possibility of such encounters, then this book is worth taking a gander at. It gives practical, easy-to-follow advicue or strange, nocturnal experiences are the acts of intelligent beinds (demons, ghosts, etc). To many people this book will read like the rambling of a madman (and maybe it is) but to those who believe in such entities, this may be an invaluable tool.
Red Rain: A Novel (2012)
R.L. Stine attempts to write a scary novel for grown ups and... more or less fails. There are some single scenes which I think are *almost* at the grown-up level, but overall this book reads like one of his Fear Street novels, except longer, and with slightly more explicit sex scenes. I did find myself enjoying aspects of it, or certain interactions, and the dreamy imagery at the beginning was potent enough that I got into the novel in high spirits, hence the 6 stars out of 10.
Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
Very interesting novel about a woman in her early thirties who comes back to her childhood home to investigate the murders of prepubescent girls whose teeth have been removed by the killer. The character we are rooting for is 33-year-old Camille Preaker, an investigative reporter from Chicago who doesn't get along with her histrionic, hypochondriac mother and is haunted by memories of her little sister, Marian, who died in 1988, when Camille was 13. We meet Camille's 13 year old half-sister, Amma; a girl both infantile and precociously sadistic who seems to get her jollies harassing other children. We meet the other bored house-wives of "Wind Gap" and learn about the murder victims and their slightly deranged pre-mortem interests (killing birds with pointy sticks, biting people). We learn that Camille was recently released from a psychiatric hospital and has a long history of self-mutilation (namely, carving random words into her flesh... everywhere but an area on her back she can't reach and her face) and as the novel continues, we realize what a sick, sick place Wind Gap is and how eerily dark reality often is. Great novel. Couldn't put it down.
This is a joke book that pokes fun at "educated", "discerning" "white people" (the type that love Ikea, Wholefoods, organic foods and believe that big Corporations are taking over the globe). I literally laughed out loud in several places, and I don't laugh out loud easily (I have a dry, somewhat "mean" sense of humor). If you take yourself too seriously, you might very well come away from reading this and feel downright insulted. If you are the type of person who wants to write authors and chew them out for writing stuff that pokes fun at you or your lifestyle and you shop at Wholefoods, maybe stay away from this one. I took the "How white are you?" quiz at the end of the book and am only 10-20% "white" (despite the fact that, phenotypically, I *am* "white"). The book also mentions the "wrong-kind" of white person (those that shop at Walmart, like sports and fastfood, etc). Good for a chuckle or three.
Simplistic account of one of the Mount Cashel children's experiences in foster care and an Irish-Catholic orphanage (Mount Cashel) which became infamous for sex crimes against children in the late 80s. This is the autobiography if Dereck O'Brien, a young boy who suffered greatly in "the system" in both foster care and a residential school/orphanage in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada in the 60s and 70s.
Cute little collection of comics (single panel) that will appear to Gary Larson fans. I enjoyed these comics, but this is not the type of subject matter which makes me guffaw, it is the type of subject matter that makes me (and others, I guess) smile knowingly and photocopy the page and cut out the cartoon and then tape it to the office door to prove a point.
Great "autobiography" of Dale Cooper, the leading detective from the classic Lynch television show, "Twin Peaks". We follow Dale from his thirteenth christmas and his first reel-to-reel tape recorder, through his angsty teen years, his search for meaning and understanding of life and the "big questions" in his twenties and finally, eventually, his entrance into the FBI. The book ends with Dale's arrival to Twin Peaks. Very fun little read for any Twin Peaks fan... or Cooper lover!
The Mist - Stephen King
Creepy novella (albeit a bit dated) about a mysterious mist which engulfs a small New England town and unleashes the horrors of another dimension (possibly Hell itself?). The US military is behind the titular mist and the ending is pleasingly ambiguous. I enjoyed it.
I didn't particularly care for this novel. It is a true story about an 8 year old boy named Micahel who comes into foster care because his father (a single father) is terminally ill. Micheal's foster carer wrote this book and was impressed with his faith and courage in the face of his dying father's experiences, but I didn't feel myself particularly engaged and the writing style seemed a little simplistic and grade school to me.
What I Hate: From A to Z (2011)
This was a cute little A-Z alphabet book with charming illustrations outlining one neurotic New Yorker's fears (yes, a fear for every single letter in the English alphabet). Anyone who has ever suffered a panic attack or thought "crazy thoughts" about "what if" scenarios will get a kick out of this one. Or develop a few new phobias. Maybe both.
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