Saturday, March 1, 2014
In conclusion, I recommend this book. Wait. “In conclusion?” That’s not how a review should start, is it? Generally speaking,no. But when a book starts with Chapter 36 and ends with Chapter 1, it kinda sorta makes sense.
Starting at the end with Chapter 36, I thought, “I don’t know if I can read this. It’s too weird.” Continuing from the end to the beginning, around Chapter 32, I decided I was getting it and to stick with it.
“You’ve always liked this author, so just keep going,” I said to myself. Chapter 20 – “I can’t stand this anymore! I am so confused. Maybe I should just go the end and start with Chapter 1 and read backwards. Or is that forward?” Chapter 15 or so – “No, he’s doing this for a reason. It’s starting to make sense. Stick with it.” Chapter 12 – “This is not making any sense at all!”
And then came the beginning, at the end of the book – Chapters 5, 4, 3, 2 and finally 1. “OMG!” “Is this for real?” “Are you kidding me?” “I can’t believe it.” “That is so bizarre!” So after finishing the beginning, no, wait, the ending, oh, heck, Chapter 1 at the end, I read the dedication, forward and acknowledgements that followed Chapter 1 at the end and then had to go read the end at the beginning of the book again – good old Chapter 36.
So, in conclusion (see, I got back to the end again), if you like intriguing books that are mysteries, this is a good one. Or if you like mysteries that are intriguing, this works for that, too. And now that I am at the end of this review, I give you what would normally be the beginning, the title and author: The October List by Jeffrey Deaver.
Reviewed by Bea Webber Haskins
Also available on Kindle and Nook, and as an audiobook
Jeffrey Deaver, The October List (Grand Central Publishing, 2013).
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Stephen King, Doctor Sleep: A Novel (Scribners, 2013).
Also on Nook, Kindle and Audiobook
Stephen King reads an excerpt on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATChLGnJLrg&noredirect=1.
Reviewed by Kevin A. Penrod, Jr.
So after a discussion with my Gramma, who worked hard to teach me the magic of books, we discussed my favorite author Stephen King. She told me that she doesn't have a review for one of his amazing books (the word amazing is my words, not hers). Here it is: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.
From the author who has done so much, here is his first ever sequel. Doctor Sleep reintroduces us to Daniel Torrance, the little boy from The Shinning who is now an adult. And has followed in his fathers footsteps in the way of alcohol. After hitting bottom and starting AA he volunteers at a hospice where he uses his shinning to help the old residents pass on. He then gets a psychic message from a girl named Abra. Abra had a vision of a group of people calling themselves the True Knot torturing and killing a young boy who also has the shinning to suck up his steam, which children with the shinning give off when tortured. They do this to stay young and always young. The leader of this group becomes aware of Abra and tries to hunt her down. So it's up to Dan and Abra to stand up to this evil group and end their reign of evil. This culminates in the ultimate battle of good vs evil.
This book is a great read from the master storyteller who never disappoints. I tore through these pages on the edge of my seat. Stephen King delivers with not only a great suspenseful thriller; he puts you in the middle of all of it. You feel the characters’ joy, fear, anger, disappointment, and depression. I didn't think it was a good idea for Mr. King to write a sequel to such a great and terrifying novel as The Shinning, but he blew all my doubts and expectations out of the water. This is a must read for fans of Stephen King and fans of suspense alike. I once again, as with all Stephen Kings novels, short stories, and essays, highly recommend this book. Happy reading to all.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Julia Alvarez, Before We Were Free (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002).
Julia Alvarez, Before We Were Free, read by the author (Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2004).
Also available on Kindle and Nook. Spanish translation (Antes de ser libres) available as book, on CD and Nook.
Recommended by Wilda Morris
Julia Alvarez’ father was involved in an underground movement seeking to overthrow the brutal dictatorship of General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The secret police (SIM) had captured and tortured some members of the group in 1960. With the help of a friend, Alvarez’s father was given fellowship in a surgical specialty, so he was able to flee the Dominican Republic with his immediate family. Alvarez says there is a tradition in Latin America of survivors giving testimony to those who die in the struggle for freedom and justice. This book, though a novel, is her testimony (testimonio) in honor of her family members and others who fought the bloody dictatorship, especially for those who died.
Anita’s aunt, uncle and cousins flee to the U.S., where they join other members of the extended family who have already gone New York City. Anita, her parents and her older sister (who views Anita as a little child, hardly worthy of attention, remain in the family compound, along with Chucha, their Haitian maid. Anita’s young, unmarried uncle (Tony) is in hiding.
Anita is not quite twelve when the story begins. She is not aware of the evils of the administration. Trujillo’s picture is in the classroom at the American School she attends, and also in her home, so she assumes he is good. Alvarez helps us see through the eyes of this young girl the loneliness created when families are broken up; SIM’s searches of her home, her fear for her father, uncle and brother; the strains on the relationship between Anita and her mother when they are in hiding in a closet for an extended period of time; the betrayal of the rebellion by an army officer who had promised to announced the end of the dictatorship once he had proof that Trujillo was dead; and the sacrifices some people make to protect others.
The book provides some interesting insights into the cultures of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Also, Anita’s relationship with the son of a US envoy provides some comparisons between Dominican and US culture.
Before We Were Free is a historical novel; it is also a coming-of-age novel. Anita has to manage her transition from child to young adult under horrific circumstances. Will she be able to make and keep the promise her father asks of her, to spread her wings and fly?
I highly recommend this book to anyone from teenage to 110.