DANDELION WINE Review

Review:

Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

While no one can top Stephen King (for me), Ray Bradbury is certainly my second favorite author. His writing is so precise — he says neither too much nor too little — with nary a word out of place. He evokes emotions buried deep within me, every damn time.

 

Dandelion Wine is magical realism mixed with coming of age; this story oozes charm and is filled with quotable passages. While the main character is Douglas, a twelve year old boy who is realizing what it means to be ‘alive’, the narrative does shift focus to several peripheral characters. I must admit I didn’t quite know where the plot was going some of the time (I felt it meandered a good deal), but I’m not sure if that was just me not understanding, or the book failing to engage me at certain points. Those times were few and far between, however!

 

This is excellent reading for summer. Bradbury uses the season and locale to his advantage, making it all come alive with his pen. While a little confusing at times, this deeply poetic novel is one to be read and treasured. A definite classic.

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FINAL GIRLS Review

Review:

Final Girls - Riley Sager

Release Date: 07.11.17

 

I finished this novel in two sittings, over the span of five hours. This debut release from Riley Sager is a story that must be completed once begun — so don’t start it on a school or work night!

 

To discuss much of the plot would spoil the story, and that’s no good. So, I’ll say this: Final Girls is the story of three girls (though we see the story through the perspective of only one, as is necessary), all lone survivors of gruesome massacres. They share a bond with one another, and it is from this bond horrific secrets and ties come to light. I would love to say more, really, but I can’t. I don’t want to risk spoiling anything.

 

Written in the vein of Gillian Flynn (though this is grittier and scarier than Flynn’s stuff, I found) while being its own thing, this is a stunning ride — one on which the brakes stop working just after it begins. This author successfully pulled the rug out from under me no less than six times; every time I thought I knew the direction in which this grisly thriller was going, it galloped somewhere else entirely. I had to give in and give up, and put myself totally at this author’s mercy. If it weren’t for a dinner break, I would have read this book even faster.

 

A totally original and complex exploration of a hellish scenario, Final Girls might just be the best book I’ve read this year. I suspect it will become a runaway success upon release, and rightfully so.

 

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the ARC, which was given in exchange for an honest review.

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THE MAILMAN review

Review:

The Mailman - Bentley Little

This is my first Bentley Little novel, but it certainly won’t be my last! A quick, smart, and surprisingly bleak horror tale about a small town under siege, The Mailman is one of the finer horror stories I’ve read lately.

 

The premise is a simple one: our main characters are Doug, a schoolteacher on summer vacation; his wife, Tritia; and their son, Billy. Peripheral characters are their friends and neighbors, but the focus is on this family — especially Doug . . . and, of course, the titular mailman, a newcomer to town.

 

This one was published in 1991, and certainly shows its age: characters actually receive letters from relatives (*gasp*!) and totally rely on landlines. Yeah, this one is dated, but that adds to the charm. And despite feeling very early ’90s, this story still has relevance today. Being a habitual online shopper, I check the mail religiously and have struck up a sort of friendship with my mail-woman. The mail is a big part of my life, so this novel’s magic really worked on me. Little makes something so mundane as mail delivery terrifying!

 

I enjoyed this one to pieces, and I cannot wait to read Little’s other novels. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun and exceptionally scary summer read.

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BEARTOWN Review

Review:

Beartown: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

What can I say? Fredrik Backman, you’ve done it again. I am speechless and shocked and in awe etc etc.

 

I had the time of my life reading Beartown: a chilly, honest examination of a small, poor town whose future rests on the shoulders of the local teenage hockey team.

 

Unlike Backman’s previous works, which focus on one (sometimes two, but usually) one character, Beartown features a large cast. I was very thrown off by this at first, as I’d become used to Backman’s style; he really changes it up here. It took fifty or so pages for me to get a handle on all the characters, but once I did I really enjoyed the ride. All these people are endlessly fascinating to read about–they harbor grudges and secrets and hopes; Backman writes about the powerful, underdogs, and everyone in between with precision and raw skill. Topics such as homosexuality, the alluring power of groupthink, small town politics, rape culture, and parenthood are handled with surprising ease and dignity. Backman is a master of misdirection: he leads his readers in one direction, only to reveal it’s all a fake out and, instead, takes them to a much more fulfilling place. Sorry, fanboying here. I just really love this author, okay?

 

Beartown is a fabulous novel. I couldn’t find anything to complain about if I tried. I don’t even like hockey, but the author made it not only interesting — he actually had me on the edge of my seat during the game scenes. That’s a feat in itself!

 

Highly recommended to any and all readers. This is slightly different from his previous work, and I welcome the change. An author has to grow to survive. I cannot wait to see what Backman publishes next!

 

(I’d also like to show my appreciation for Neil Smith, who translated this fine novel from the original Swedish to English. Great job!)

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