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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The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson – Audio Edition

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Audio, Book Review, Craig Johnson | 0 comments

The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall
The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audio
Series: A novella related to the Walt Longmire series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2016
Length: 3 hours, 43 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago. With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman”

My Thoughts:
The bad thing about being caught up in an ongoing series is that wait for the next book. With the next book in the Walt Longmire series due out in September I was happy to hear a few months ago that Craig Johnson was releasing a novella featuring characters from the series. I almost got the print edition from the library even though I prefer the audio editions of this series. Then I found out that an audio edition was coming and that sealed it for me. I could wait for that.

George Guidall does an outstanding job of narrating this series and it has been one of my favorite audio series for several years now.

I was just glad to have the chance to get a bit of a Longmire fix while waiting for the next book.

Walt and Henry Standing Bear are away from home so most of the usual supporting characters are not part of this story and it’s not attached to any of the ongoing storylines in the series. For that reason it works well as a standalone.

As has become normal, there is plenty of mysticism and slightly paranormal stuff in this ghost story but there is also plenty of Walt and Henry’s easy banter and friendship that is quite enjoyable.

It’s a little mystery, a little ghost story, a little suspense and as always just enough humor to break the tension.

Rating
4 stars 4/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Posted by on Jul 29, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Jeffrey Archer | 0 comments

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Hardcover
Series: #1 in the Clifton Chronicles Series
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 360
Source: Purchased (ebook) and Library (hardcover)

The Book:
From the publisher:

The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father and expects to continue on at the shipyard, until a remarkable gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again…

As Harry enters into adulthood, he finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question: Was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line? From the ravages of the Great War and the docks of working-class England to the streets of 1940 New York City and the outbreak of the Second World War, this is a powerful journey that will bring to life one hundred years of history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.

My Thoughts:
Oh this was just the kind of family saga I was in the mood for. Archer is a long time favorite author of mine for books that are entertaining and interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve read one of his and I’m glad I finally pulled this one out of my ebook files.

The Clifton Chronicles was originally planned to be a five book series following the life of Harry Clifton. Plans change and the final (and seventh) book will be published in November. So by waiting so long to read this one I have done myself a favor. This first book ended on a huge cliffhanger and from what I have read so do the rest of the books. At least I won’t be stuck waiting for the next one to be released.

Starting in 1920 and ending just as Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 the story is primarily about Harry Clifton but also about several other members of the Clifton and Barrington families.

Each section of the book focuses on one of the several main characters. Each begins with a short first person introduction from the character and then follows that character for varying periods of time. The time frames of the sections overlap so along with multiple viewpoints there are multiple time periods.

It’s an interesting way to tell the story. Things mentioned early on in a part about Harry’s mother might be fully understood several parts later in one about Harry’s friend and mentor Old Jack.

Archer is great at rags to riches stories and those that highlight the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

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

4 stars Rating 4/5

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