Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Post-apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 262
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Something is out there . . .
Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.
Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?
Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

My Thoughts:
I picked this book because I was looking for a book with an X in the title for the What’s in a Name challenge. After checking out reviews from a few friends I decided it might be good.

It was even better than I had expected. Set in a post-apocalyptic Detroit it’s focus is on Malorie and her two young children. The kids are four, born after the only way to stay alive was to never look outside. Malorie has decided that now is the time to venture out on the river blindfolded in hopes of reaching a place of safety.

The story of Malorie’s terrifying trip down the river is interspersed with flashbacks that gradually fill in what has happened to her, her family, and the group of people she joined to stay alive. The menace that is out there that must not be seen is an unknown. No one knows what it is that makes people go mad and become horrifically violent and suicidal. They only know that in order to stay alive they must not see outside. They hide inside behind barricaded windows and only venture out blindfolded.

This is an increasingly suspenseful story. As the flashbacks gradually fill in the extent of the threat as well as what has happened to Malorie and her housemates the tension builds and builds.

I liked this one a lot. I’m glad I read it and while not all the questions are answered it’s a satisfying story that was delightfully creepy.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Book Review, Jeffrey Archer | 2 comments

The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer
The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Hardcover
Series: The Clifton Chronicles #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 339
Source: Purchased (ebook) and Library (hardcover)

The Book:
From the publisher:

It is only days before Britain declares war on Germany. Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of a family scandal, and realizing he can never marry Emma Barrington, has joined the Merchant Navy. When a German U-boat sinks his ship, Harry and a handful of sailors are rescued by the SS Kansas Star, among them an American named Tom Bradshaw. That night, when Bradshaw dies, Harry seizes a chance to bury his past—by assuming the man’s identity.

My Thoughts:
I love big family sagas. This one is 7 books covering nearly a century. The Hubster has finished the whole series but I’m taking my time with them. I don’t like to binge series like he does. I need variety in my reading menu. When I want something relatively light, entertaining and fairly quick to read Jeffrey Archers books work well.

They aren’t great literature and there’s not a lot of character development but they’re fun.

This volume of the series covers the period of World War II. Chapters alternate between the primary characters and the time frames of the sections tend to overlap so sometimes the rest of the story is a couple of chapters later.

I’m glad I’m reading this after the final book in the series was published (in November). The Hubster warned me that every book ends with a cliffhanger. While I may wait a bit to read the next in the series I don’t have to wait a year for the next one to be released.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit and look forward to continuing with the series.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman

Genre: Fiction, Horror
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 140
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” continues to thrill and unsettle readers nearly seven decades after it was first published. By turns puzzling and harrowing, “The Lottery” raises troubling questions about conformity, tradition, and the ritualized violence that may haunt even the most bucolic, peaceful village.

This graphic adaptation by Jackson’s grandson Miles Hyman allows readers to experience “The Lottery” as never before, or to discover it anew. He has crafted an eerie vision of the hamlet where the tale unfolds and the unforgettable ritual its inhabitants set into motion. Hyman’s full-color, meticulously detailed panels create a noirish atmosphere that adds a new dimension of dread to the original story.

My Thoughts:
I saw a mention of this on Twitter last week and since my library had it available I picked it up that day. The Lottery is such a classic. When I found out that the author and artist of this graphic adaptation was Shirley Jackson’s grandson that just added to my interest.

It’s a stripped-down version of the story. It’s almost all just the dialogue. Hyman’s artwork is striking. It’s richly colored and definitely evocative of mid-century small town America.

In some ways, the graphic adaptation was less chilling than the original story and in other ways it was more so.

The preface by the author was interesting. He has vague memories of his grandmother but I loved his story about ‘Grandma Shirley’s music box’.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Maureen Johnson | 4 comments

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal Fiction
Format: Paperback
Series: #2 in the Shades of London series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 372
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

The Book:
From the publisher:

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Rory Deveaux has changed in ways she never could have imagined since moving to London and beginning a new life at boarding school. As if her newfound ability to see ghosts hadn’t complicated her life enough, Rory’s recent brush with the Jack the Ripper copycat has left her with an even more unusual and intense power. Now, a new string of inexplicable deaths is threatening London, and Rory has evidence that they are no coincidence. Something sinister is going on, and it is up to her to convince the city’s secret ghost-policing squad to listen before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
After following Maureen Johnson on Twitter for years I finally read one of her books. I read the first book in her Shades of London series (The Name of the Star) earlier this year. I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed it because it’s not really my normal thing. I have a fairly low tolerance for paranormal stuff and in particular young adult paranormal stuff.

This series, however works for me and it’s due to Maureen Johnson’s talent as an author.

Now that I’ve read the first two books in the series I need to get the third one soon because this one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

I enjoy Rory as a great main character and the people she met in the first book are back and just as interesting and complicated. The ‘sight’ that Rory discovered she had in the first book that allows her to see and interact with ghosts has developed into something a bit more frightening. While Rory tries to return to her life at school she soon finds that it is going to be much more difficult than she thought.

Don’t let the Young Adult and Paranormal labels dissuade you because this was just a good and interesting series.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Trade Paperback
Series: #1 in the Morland Dynasty Series
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: 1980 (originally), 2010 (this edition)
Pages: 539
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.

My Thoughts:
This was actually a reread for me. I originally read this back in 2011. I picked up the second in the series a few months later but never got around to reading it. When I was weeding out my bookshelves a few months ago, I kept the second in the series but decided to reread this one before moving on to The Dark Rose.

This is a rather daunting series currently at 35 books. It’s unlikely I’ll ever read them all but who knows. It could happen. The series follows the descendants of the characters introduced in The Founding from the 1400’s up to the latest book set in the 1930’s. I’m not sure if there are more books to come in the series.

I love a big family saga. This is probably the saga-est saga there is. This first book covers the period of the Wars of the Roses. Eleanor Morland aligns her family firmly with the Yorkists. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how things are going for the family in the next book with the Tudors on the throne.

It’s interesting and entertaining historical fiction. Plenty of real historical figures make appearances. Eleanor is the main character of this book and while there are things about her that I liked there are other things about her that are awful. Her many children and grandchildren become involved in the second half of the book and the family tree was quite helpful in keeping all the similarly named people straight.

I enjoyed this one the first time and enjoyed it just as much the second time.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Trade Paperpack and ebook
Series: #1 in the Kopp Sisters series
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 408
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

The Book:
From the publisher:

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

My Thoughts:
Oh, this was just fun. Stewart based this on some real people and events but it is historical fiction. In the author’s note she explains which people and events are real and which she made up. I was surprised at how much was true.

I loved the setting and time frame. The early 1900’s in New Jersey and New York was an eventful time and place.

Told by Constance this story is entertaining and full of humor despite the threats and violence the sisters endured. All three sisters are great characters and their personalities are very different yet complimentary.

The local sheriff soon realizes that Constance isn’t going to back down in the face of the threats and violence from Henry Kaufman’s thugs. He helps the sisters as much as he can but Constance’s skills as an investigator are what drives the criminal case.

I definitely plan to read the sequel and hope you decide to check this one out if you haven’t read it yet.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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