35 Following

Imagine That

I just love books.

Currently reading

Speaks the Nightbird
Robert R. McCammon
The G.I. Diet Cookbook
Rick Gallop
Shift Omnibus Edition (Silo, #2) (Wool, #6-8) - Hugh Howey The Shift is comprised of three parts: Legacy, Order and Pact, which if you have read Wool, promises answers to some of your questions.

I have read some complaints that the characters in The Shift were too flat, not fleshed out enough to become invested in. It is true that some of these characters did come across as mere shadows but I cannot help but get the sense that maybe that was the point.

In brief, Legacy tells us about what is happening in the world prior to the destruction we have seen and know from Wool. It introduces us to the players, takes us inside their thoughts and doubts and dreams, well at least those of Donald. From the other major players what we see primarily is manipulation of the weaker, more reliant members of the party; those that are indebted to the manipulators, for their positions and opportunities provided. A glimpse, if you will, of what life had been, a sneak peek at some of the doubts beginning to infiltrate the minds of the manipulated and a front row view into the minds of those in charge. Or is it?

The Order tells us what life is like on the other side of that mirror of doubt. Here in silo 1 is where the main players come across as one dimensional, mere shadows; more like marionettes dancing to a tune orchestrated by others. Their purpose and their duty is all laid out for them, all they need do is comply and follow the rules, maintain order, until they can once again escape to the blissful void. Shift over. But first let’s take a peek outside…………

Throughout The Shift time moves back and forth. We see life before the big catastrophic event, life shortly after, and life many years into the future. It is in the future that we meet new people, living their lives in other silos, engineered by those original members of The Legacy. I really liked Mission and found myself cheering for him, but it was The Crow that truly captured my imagination reminding me of The Oracle from the Matrix. These people and more living their lives unaware that manipulation and control are afoot; unaware that they are merely puppets, dancing on a string.

The Pact comprises the rules that everyone not charged with maintaining order, live by. We visit silo 17 and meet Jimmy. We learn what happened to his parents and all the others and while this was interesting I confess I did not need to read about his isolation, his fears, his scavenging and mind melting loneliness, page after page, through all those years. I got it long before I stopped reading about it.
But back in Silo 1 Donald’s mind is beginning to thaw, things are unravelling, a new plan is emerging………………………

While this is not the adrenaline paced, thumb sweating read that Wool was, Howey’s world is still extremely well imagined. The Shift answered many of the questions I had and gave birth to scads more.

Count me in for Dust.
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
A coil of rope

A Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer only.
It is made on deck, so that it may be
Walked on, if necessary.


Much like that coil of rope, our protagonist, Quoyle, has also been stepped on all his life. A great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf, jutting from the lower face. He stumbles into the newspaper business through a friend he meets one night in a laundromat in Mockingburg, New York. He is not very good at it. He also meets Petal Bear, a small woman he yearns for, they share a month of happiness , followed by six years of misery, two children and a multitude of scars, seared into his flesh from her indiscreet, two timing ways. Petal Bear does not value Quoyle or his children. Alone, without work, without a wife, on the heels of his father’s death, he decides to gather his children and follow his Aunt Agnis to his ancestral home on Newfoundland’s stark and majestic coast.

It is there, working for The Gammy Bird, a small newspaper, covering the shipping news, that Quoyle battles his inner demons and struggles to build a new life for himself and his daughters. But Quoyle is a man defeated, a man with no love of self. He even considers himself as a headline for one of his stories. Stupid Man Does Wrong Thing Once More. I wanted so badly for Quoyle to find some gumption, to love himself just a little. When an oil tanker docks a Killick-Claw, Quoyle writes an article about it. Before release, the entire tone of his article is rewritten by the managing editor, only this time Quoyle is incensed. “This is a column”, bellowed Quoyle. “You can’t change somebody’s column, for Christ’s sake, because you don’t like it! Jack asked me to write a column about boats and shipping. That means my opinion and description as I see it. This” – he shook the paper against the slab cheeks –“isn’t what I wrote, isn’t my opinion, isn’t what I see.” At last! I was so overcome with sheer joy that I leapt out of my deckchair, threw my arms in the air and let loose a resounding “YES”! (okay so my neighbours may think I am a little hinky)

This is a great story, with a cast of truly colourful characters but if you will bear with me for just a moment, I would like to talk about what this book, wrong or right, said to me.

You cannot leave your past behind, no matter where you travel, there too, it is.

Everyone is worthy, not all heroes are tall, dark, handsome, beautiful, sexy, confident or comfortable in their own skin.

You cannot run, but you can dig deep and you can find a new hope, a new joy in life.

Family is defined not only by blood but also by bond, by those who are there, in the dark and the light.

These homes of love we build, house many rooms, sanded and painted in the shades and colours of our life, furnished with those moments that, however inconsequential they may seem to others, have in fact, defined us.

Cover beauty is coveted and exploited; provides keys to all the right doors, but it is our inner selves, our own moral code that is the true compass to the coveted life of beauty, peace, happiness and love.

I am not going to lie. I love the fact that this story unfolds on the stark and beautiful, majestic coast of Newfoundland, a province in the land I call my own.

Very rarely do I change a rating on a book once I have set it, but in this case, how can I not. Trust me, this story is worthy of every one of those five stars.

Finally I would like to thank Steve who wrote an incredible, heartfelt review of this work that put it on my radar.


Starers - Nathan Robinson I was provided a free copy of this story, from the author. In exchange I promised an honest review. (my first folks)

And I so wanted to love this. I could say that perhaps I am just not the target audience for this story, but in truth I loved the concept.

A man, Dylan and his brother return to Dylan’s home late, after a night of drinking. They do not notice an old man, standing at the bus stop, in the rain, motionless, until they get inside, when Dylan spots him from his window and wonders when the last bus is. Come morning the old man is still there, has been it would seem all night, staring right at Dylan’s house, standing in the rain. And now their neighbour stands naked as a jay bird, statue like and equally focused, blankly staring, at their house. More are coming.

I should have liked this more. On Goodreads there are 48 ratings, rounding out to an average of 3.92.

Thing is, I had a difficult time warming up to the characters in the story. They fell flat for me, I did not know enough about them individually and therefore I did not understand or even care about their actions, or the impact of same, on other members of Dylan’s household.

The dialogue seemed forced, not real, more in keeping with the good qualities of a trusted tool, like one might use to fill in the voids. Who talks like this?

How old is Lucy now? Harry asked with a scratch of his beard and a quizzical eyebrow.
She’s twelve, Lennon answered for him, shaking his head slowly, features screwing up in mild disgust.
Jesus! said Harry, I always thought she was older than that, I mean she looks older.
Cheers, Harry you’re a great help, that makes me feel a lot better, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t have designs on my daughter.
I never said that Dyl! I’m just saying she looks old for her age. I thought she was sixteen, y’know legal tender.
Dylan turned to his brother, are you going to punch him or am I?
Less of the legal tender talk, Hazza, alright? Dylan’s depressed enough as it is.

Is the world over? Kirsty whispered.
I don’t know. I don’t want it to be.
Me too. I feel . . . strange . . . sort of content. It’s weird, like, even though the world’s gone to shit, I’m happy I’m spending it with my family. I know things haven’t been great, but I’m happy for what I’ve had. No family is perfect; we’ve all got our creases.
You sound like you’re giving your own eulogy.
Kirsty smiled and placed the tea-light down near the opening. Moving onto all fours, she crept towards him, her head bowed to one side, stalking him cat like. She gave her head a nod towards a patched portion of the roof he’d fixed.
Would you like to fix another hole? Kirsty breathed coyly, slinking closer.
You didn’t just say that did you? It was cheesy, you don’t do cheese.
I did, and I want it, she purred.

The focus is kept on the occupants of Dylan’s house but I could not help but wonder about the perspective from the “starers” round bowl of earth.

Near the end it became easier to get caught up in the fury of events and I could feel, for the first time, some passion in the story.

I wanted more of that.
Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey Hugh Howey paints a world, or what is left of one post apocalypse, with an eye for detail that is easily visualized; one that you can descend into and inhabit.

This is epic storytelling, told with a taut hand on the tiller, controlling the pace and direction, allowing the reader to uncover truths together with the many, care worthy, relatable characters that populate this place. I blinked a couple of times and found myself entrenched in this world. And it all seems so effortless, the narrative flows, the voices are real, the soup thickens and the heroine Jules is absolutely kick ass, with a mechanics cool composure; confident in her analytical ability to fix anything, determined to maintain that which is not broken. Stroke it or strike it.
She rocks!

I’m telling you I climbed those stairs from down deep, round and round, to up top, with these people, legs cramping, heart pounding in my ears, breathless and shaken from the trip. And every time I thought I knew where I was going, Howey held his grip firm on that tiller and took me someplace else. I laboured over the details, peeking in at the players, letting the pressure build, scarfing down every morsel offered, thumbing the pages, ingesting the words. Yum.


Note: Read the omnibus containing all five parts.
Joyland - Stephen King JoyLand is a slow burn of a book and that was alright by me. I love getting to know King’s characters and Devin Jones is no exception. He’s our young, intelligent narrator, burning with the passion and enthusiasm of youth; he is also healing a broken heart, his first, when he signs up to work at the carnival.

This is a Hard Case Crime file so one would expect a murder or two and there is, except it happened years ago and remains unsolved. While never really taking center stage through most of the book, this crime remains a backdrop to the story being told, one that is never forgotten but somehow seems to thrive in the shade, where Jonesy and his new friends are coming of age: it waits quietly, constantly there, carefully camouflaged in shades of fear.

If you are looking for fast paced, adrenaline fuelled horror, look away, but remember this is King, who spins a good yarn and we are at a carnival; you do the math. As for me, like my Doyl every time I get the brush; I lapped up every stroke.

And I fell in love with Mike, who wouldn’t? And his little dog Milo too.

I like the fact that it was told from a distant perspective, as a recollection of events past, the ones that shaped Dev’s 21st year of life.

After all………When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.

My goodreads friend Brandon Sears, in his review of this same work, says Stephen King is like literary comfort food. I couldn’t agree more, in fact, I wish I’d said that.

The Lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan To set the stage; it is 1914 and 39 people, including our narrator Grace, are adrift in the Atlantic, in a life boat that was not designed to hold so many. Their provisions are scant and the possibility of imminent rescue is at best uncertain; but for the reader this story actually begins some time later when Grace our narrator, is about to stand trial for her life.

In preparation for this Grace must recall as much as possible about what happened on that lifeboat and when.

What follows is a captivating, believable, harrowing tale of survival. Imagine 39 separate personalities thrown together in uncomfortably cramped quarters; quarters that brook little movement. Now colour them hungry, thirsty and terrified for their loved ones, whose fates are unknown; colour them fighting both physically and psychologically, for their very own lives.

Imagine yourself and perhaps others you may or may not know, in that boat. Stephen King says; When it comes to the past everyone writes fiction.

I could not look away. This is, gasp and breathe, superb storytelling!

I was also about to say that this is three for three, but on second thought it is actually four and I am sure there will be more. I’m talking of course about the number of excellent books that karen has led me to. So it is then, that with an outward sweep of my arms, that I do bow down and say..... thank you.

Never Saw It Coming

Never Saw It Coming - Linwood Barclay Actually 2.5

In my house a Linwood Barclay novel never graces a book shelf until it has been read. They are my liquid gold these days and this was no exception, the minute I saw it was the same minute, it superseded everything else on my to read shelf. It’s an affair we have been having, one that started three books ago; this marks the fourth, one of those sinful delights.

I love getting into his stories involving ordinary people, or so it would seem, living their ordinary lives; until….drum roll please…. and a domestic thrill ride ensues.

This one started out that way and I was in, still there were some parts where I felt an involuntary eye roll coming on. It was like I was trapped in a hyphen, you know the type I have that connects Arah and Lynda only this one seemed to connect books, at least one of which I have not read.

I was not looking for a hyphen, it was a thrill ride, I lusted after. Still I gave myself over to Barclay’s magic pen, but this pen of which I speak, left me on a bridge with no exit sign in sight and quite low on gas.

I feel duped.

Perhaps my rating is too harsh; Mr. Barclay is a fine writer. In fact, I am sure it is; but hey when I fly high, I crash hard.
Moonlight Mile - Dennis Lehane So I picked this up at my local superstore. Bargain bin…. $3 hard cover; Dennis Lehane why not? I had read Shutter Island and liked it. And so it was that I even started reading this, sans knowledge, until a nagging familiarity prevailed and I realized this was the sequel to Gone,Baby,Gone. Never read that, but saw the movie.

The theme of moral dilemma that permeates that story is alive and well here. Only different…… more grey and black, less white!

Thinking this was a 3.5, I pondered having read the sequel only, considered; having still remained engaged throughout, and generously bumped it up to 4.

I’m not saying I will never read Gone,Baby,Gone but right now I am thinking I should read a different Lehane. Any recommendations out there?
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey I feel like Katy Perry.

Except I read a book about alien invasion, and I. Liked. It!

Who would have thunk. What did I like?

The pace
The characters, not a one wasted; all well envisioned
Unexpected tenderness
The aliens
The matter of fact voice of the narrative
The paradigm of perception

A fellow reader took the time to let me know she was reading a Linwood Barclay novel I had reviewed. She said the word she would use to describe it was relentless. It’s a good word and I told her so. It certainly works for this review.

It’s an alien invasion! Of course it’s relentless. I am sure there is a car on this train, where people can relax and casually poke holes at this, but you will not find me there.

I am riding the wave. Woot!
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
This incredibly beautiful story was inspired by and tenderly envelopes an Old Russian folktale. One evening an elderly, childless couple build a girl out of snow. Come morning it is missing, leaving faint footprints, from where the snow child once stood.

Set deep in the Alaskan wilderness, the environment is like a mirror on our couple, one that Ivey breathes life into, through the many seasons of this tale. I loved the stark, majestic beauty of the always there and always demanding landscape.

Our couple, Jack and Mabel, have left Pennsylvania behind, with their still born child, and invested all they have in a homestead in Wolverine River, Alaska. Each of them pack up their own baggage, their own heartache, their own hopes, and they keep them close, insulating them from the memories of what might have been and from each other. But love has many rooms and Jack and Mabel have built a home.

With the dream like quality of a good fairy tale I was quite simply enchanted.

A simple story, a wonderful rendition, an enchanting cover….come on!
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape - Jenna Miscavige Hill, Sandy Rustin, Lisa Pulitzer Jenna was raised to obey.

She is the niece of the leader (David Miscavige) of The Church of Scientology. While still a toddler, Jenna’s parents became members of The Sea Organization, the church’s, elite, inner clergy. Such membership demanded all of their time and attention, leaving Jenna and her brother to be raised by other caretaker members of the Church, until their formal education at “the Ranch” began at the age of seven.

The clocks do not strike thirteen in Jenna’s world and this is not some imaginary place, but people still call her mother Sir. I had to remind myself of these things as I read her indoctrination to a life that served the greater good of The Church.

A life of work, study, measure; audit, correct and control. Lather, rinse, repeat; Jenna’s was a life of strictly imposed conformity, strange rituals, back breaking work, mind- numbing, repetitious training routines; with endless audits, peer evaluation, hunger, sleep deprivation and an active, obsessively enforced devotion to L. Ron Hubbard and his teachings.

During our course period, we were now required to get a daily meter check, to be administered by a supervisor. The supervisor would use an LRH invention called an electro-psychometer, but everybody called it the E-Meter. The person being assessed held two soup cans. Then, a tiny electrical current was passed through the cans into his body as he was asked questions. The E-Meter had a needle, and after each question, the needle would fluctuate; those movements were then interpreted by the person operating the machine. By carefully watching the motions of the needle, the operator supposedly could figure out whether someone was telling the truth. The E-Meter was viewed as a tool that helped the auditing process.

Jenna tells her story in a very down to earth, matter of fact, child like voice, that drew me in right away and was easy to understand despite all the Scientology speak that litters the narrative.

I read this three weeks and three books ago and I have still not succeeded in evicting Jenna’s world from my mind. It is like an inner rage that cannot be quieted. I have sat down several times now in an attempt to purge this rage by writing this review, still it remains unquiet. Maybe that’s because despite all the controversy over the real number, Scientology still has thousands of followers or perhaps because children are still being raised on one version or another of The Church’s “ranches” or could it be that this oppression that starts with a c and shares a u, but should never be considered a church; also enjoys public endorsement from some rather well known celebrities.

It is alive and well and thrives among us, in a free and democratic country. The quiet my mind seeks eludes me.

A final thought from the founder himself, L. Ron Hubbard, whose own death is shrouded in mystery and controversy.

If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster - Jon Krakauer Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it- mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. I thought that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn’t of course.

But it is the way this reads, as Jon Krakauer, a client of Rob Hall’s, Adventure Consultants Guided Expedition, takes us step by brutal step up that mountain, in the spring of 1996. And back down again! Clearly the account of an anguished man desperately trying to make sense of it all, by telling it all. Not an easy task.

The Everest climb had rocked my life to its core, and it became desperately important for me to record the events in complete detail. The staggering unreliability of the human mind at high altitude made the research problematic. To avoid relying excessively on my own perceptions, I interviewed most of the protagonists at great length and on multiple occasions. When possible I also corroborated details with radio logs maintained by people at base camp, where clear thought wasn’t in such short supply.

Chances are I would not have read this were it not for my daughter’s unbridled enthusiasm in discussing it one Saturday morning when I was over for coffee. When I left that day Into Thin Air left with me. Hands down the greatest adventure, survivor story I have ever read. How could it not be? The author's visceral honesty in portraying his own part in this tragedy, took my breath away and lends undeniable,crediblity to this account.

The plain truth is that I knew better but went to Everest anyway. And in doing so I was party to the death of good people, which is something that is apt to remain on my conscience for a very long time.
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes I personally, am happy, that I went into this story knowing little about it. I believe it to be best read that way, so I will not be spoiling it here.

The last quarter of this book I read, well beyond the time, I should have been sleeping; but even when I tore my eyes off the page I could not get my mind off the story.

And so I read; emotionally eviscerated though I was. Doyl, my Mau, noticed this and set about pawing down the book so he could lie upon it. Having failed in this fashion he then tried to wedge himself between me and said object of my attention.

Damn thing is he would not even have to be the most astute feline out there to figure this out. I was a train wreck after all with tears and nasal expectorant running down my face, while laboriously hitching down each breath. Even so, I never once felt manipulated. No.

My feelings were raw because the story was real, so I moved my, by now, vibrating Mau over, and read the words.

This is a story about life and love and you should read it!
The Green Mile, Part 6: Coffey on the Mile - Stephen King This time I headed back towards the park and the shelter of a weeping willow, with the heron in the water, close by, watching, waiting; while I learned the fate of these men, and felt the helpless fury of Paul Edgecombe’s wife Janice as she realized what was to be.

She sat without answering. She sat that way for almost a full minute, and then she did something which shocked me as badly as my sudden flow of tears must have shocked her. She reached out and shoved everything off the table with one wide sweep of her arm – plates, glasses, cups, silverware, the bowl of collards, the bowl of squash, the platter with the carved ham on it, the milk, the pitcher of cold tea. All off the table and onto the floor, ker-smash.

As we all did.

I loved those six little books and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting them and remembering that which was then.

If you have not already done so, it is not too late to walk The Green Mile. Highly recommended!

The Green Mile, Part 5: Night Journey - Stephen King Somewhere in here, life got the upper hand and by the time I strolled once more past that bat tree I was able to buy both the 3rd and 4th booklet in this series and the clerk at the store informed me that the 5th was expected any day. I was on the cusp of a long weekend with a veritable feast in front of me.

And so I ate; ramming it in, taking huge gulps at a time, as Paul Edgecombe suffered through the worst urinary infection of his life, All the time trying not to shiver, because the fever had turned cold, as they sometimes will. Except for my groin which still felt as if it had been slit open, filled with hot coals, and then sewed back up again. when he put himself too close to John Coffey’s magic hands.

Wild Bill Wharton goes to the back room, the one with the soft walls and we meet Melinda Moore, the warden’s wife. It is the characters here, on King’s Green Mile that bring life to the pages, even Mr, Jingles, mouse extraordinaire; all of them so finely painted, so accessible.

And honestly, if King is able to so shake me with emotion over, well, vermin, what other power lay in this man’s hands.

And then Eduard Delacroix walks the green mile and once again Percy Wetmore stains the page and we the reader learn just how bad things can get on the mile. Can any good come of this?

Thankfully the clerk was right, because when I walked past the bats the following day, book 5 was waiting for me.

And so I ate some more, having my lunch with the other guards at Paul Edgecome’s house and listened as he outlined his insane plan, the one that resulted in a journey, late at night, a plan that was fraught with peril and put everybody’s livelihood at risk.

Still, we all went along. only this time Percy Wetmore was surrounded by soft walls, and John Coffey could not take his eyes off the night sky, as our journey began.

Coming back was different, we were all stunned sure, but Coffey was suffering real bad from his own part in the nights adventures, we all were, except nowhere near like this humble, mountain of a man, about whose huge neck hung Melinda Moore’s fine link chain, with the silver St. Christopher medallion.

As it turned out our evening was far from over.

And so I waited for August, as did, countless others.

Lost Horizon - James Hilton In 1931, four people, including Glory Conway, escape the political unrest in Baskul, China by boarding a plane, bound for Peshawar. The plane, however, much to their dismay, has been hijacked and eventually crash lands deep in the far reaches of the Tibetan Himalayas. Seeking shelter, the group soon finds themselves in the valley of the blue moon, guests at a lamasery, called Shangri-La.

Reading this is like stepping slowly into a hot, fragrant bath while strains of your own audio preferences delight; lapping against your tired muscles as you immerse yourself deep within its hypnotic scent. Even silence has a melody.

Though I have no specific memory of having read this before or having seen the movie, Hilton’s story is very familiar to me. More legend really, it transcends its medium, provoking deep, meaningful thought on spirituality, love and life’s purpose.

The water is just warm now; I have long since found my sweet spot and I tarry, reluctant to leave this precious paradise.

Be sure and read what gave birth to this legendary utopia.