Quick Book Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

If It BleedsIf It Bleeds by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There really is nothing like a collection of King novellas. They’re almost always amazing, and we have a winner with this one. Ever since the COVID 19 quarantine started in April of this year, I’ve shied away and/or procrastinated reading current titles or physical copies of books. It’s been the reading version of eating mac & cheese inside a burrito – absolute comfort. Apart from a few exceptions, I’ve either been re-reading Stephen King stories or at least thinking about re-reading them. If It Bleeds was VERY WELCOME. Let’s break it down by story:

1. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – classic Stephen King. Creepy and nostalgic.
2. The Life of Chuck – a bit strange and kooky. I enjoyed the first segment more than the second but appreciated the actual Chuck and his motivation.
3. If It Bleeds – this was my favorite of the four. I barely remember Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes and haven’t read The Outsider yet, but the television version of the character, brilliantly played by Cynthia Erivo, immediately made her one of my favorite characters. A solo story for her was excellent. Bravo, Uncle Stevie!
4. Rat – Well, despite the title, that came out of nowhere and I loved it. You’d think my favorite author would write another tale about a struggling author and it would be lame and predictable. You’d be incorrect.

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Quick Book Review: The Writer’s Cut

The Writer's CutThe Writer’s Cut by Eric Idle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh, Eric. I love you and will forever cherish you until the end of time. You’re one of my comedy Beatles.

This is the first novel of Idle’s I’ve experienced, and it’s fun, silly, madcap, naughty, and a very quick read. Television writer Stanley Hay is the main character, and he’s not too unlike the author. I honestly thought the beginning of the book was an introduction by Eric because it’s filled with his usual name dropping and descriptions of ladies’ body parts (go read his memoirs and tour diaries – he’s a hilarious celebrity-befriended dirty old man). But no, it’s Stanley, a dude who finds himself overpowered by the Tinseltown machine after promising to deliver a tell-all Hollywood expose, and getting so caught up in the hype, he doesn’t seem to find the time to actually write it.

I wanted to try this to see what Eric’s fiction is like, but now that I know, I’ll most likely stick to the autobiographical stuff. The Writer’s Cut is fun, but not something I’d ever go back to.

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Quick Book Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha, #2)Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ah, the second book in a new series. What will happen? Will it live up to the hype of the first one? Will the characters become more evolved? It’s so exciting, and I feel bad for an author who feels the pressure to continue the magic (pun intended) of a beloved debut. That being said…….

Well, ummmmm, uh….. Children of Virtue And Vengeance is a bit of a letdown. Mostly because of the characters and their lack of progression. They all make dumb decisions at one point or another. Apart from poor Tzain, who just sort of hangs around. Don’t get me started on Amari. Zélie has the biggest challenges, now that she’s responsible for bringing the magic back to the land and gaining new powers in the process, but I only got the feeling she was up for it a few times (mainly when she’s teaching her fellow Reapers).

What I really enjoyed was the advancement of magic. That aspect really complicated the plot and kept me interested.

I will read future books in this series, but hopefully, they’ll have better arcs for the characters, and poor Zélie will be able to do stuff without experiencing pain. Boy, does Tomi know how to describe all kinds of pain.

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Quick Book Review: Oona Out Of Order

Oona Out of Order: A NovelOona Out of Order: A Novel by Margarita Montimore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Time heals all. But what if time itself is the disease?”

That’s the quandary for Oona Lockhart, the title character of Margarita Montimore’s second novel. She’s not the average time traveler; on her 19th birthday, she begins leaping from year to year, not knowing if she’ll wake up as her 50-year-old self or her 25-year-old self. Oona must learn to enjoy life to its fullest and accept the ups and downs. Easier said than done, of course, and it’s quite a ride going through the leaps with her. I wanted more! Especially after the ending. No spoilers here. I do think this novel would be great as a series, and I would totally watch a television version! Not to take away from the book, however. I love Margarita’s writing style, her love of pop culture, and the way she peppers aspects of herself in her main characters (you need to read Asleep From Day, her debut!). I suppose I should say that I’ve known Margarita as an online friend since 2001. We’ve sadly never met in person (yet!), but let’s just say I’ve been a fan of her as a human (and fellow fangirl), and it’s been such fun reading her books and watching her dreams come true.

The only thing that bothered me about the story itself is WHY AND HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO HER?! Part of my brain understands that this is supposed to be a fictional event and getting into the technical bits are not the point whatsoever, but being a pop culture nerd, the other part of my brain is dying to figure out if Oona is a Time Lord or if she is some sort of “chosen one” with the power to save the world (like Bill & Ted). Who knows, perhaps these questions will be answered in the future. Or past?

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Quick Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh boy, I was starving for a good fantasy escape, with amazing world-building, interesting characters, and most importantly, a solid story. Thankfully this delivered. Zélie is a badass heroine from the get-go. Her journey isn’t unique in this genre (think Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen), but the way the author incorporates themes from the Black Lives Matter movement and African mythology give it an emotional, weighty punch. She aids the fugitive princess who escapes evil King Saran, and thanks to a mysterious scroll, Zélie unlocks her magical powers. This leads to a mission to return magic to the world and restore her oppressed fellow diviners to the Maji they were born to be. Really good stuff. The novel ends on a cliffhanger too, so I shall be diving into the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, very very soon.

P.S. The inhabitants of Orïsha ride big cats. BIG CATS!!!!

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Quick Book Review: Speak of the Devil: How The Satanic Temple is Changing the Way We Talk about Religion

Speak of the Devil: How The Satanic Temple is Changing the Way We Talk about ReligionSpeak of the Devil: How The Satanic Temple is Changing the Way We Talk about Religion by Joseph P. Laycock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After seeing the documentary Hail Satan? on Hulu a few months ago, I was intrigued by The Satanic Temple and joined up. A community that promotes activism? Cool. Exposes the Christian majority hypocrisy? Cool cool. Welcomes intelligent discussion? Nice. A sense of humor? Love it. Engages in philanthropy? Wonderful. I’ve never been a fan of organized religion, but TST sounded like what the idea of religion should be.

This is a very thoughtful piece that describes the history of TST, interviews current & former members, and gives insight on what religious freedom really is. Very interesting stuff!

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Book Review: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

Lost Hills (Eve Ronin #1)Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have no recollection of how I found out about this book. Was it a free (or less expensive) deal on Amazon? Did I see a review while scrolling through Twitter? I honestly have no idea. I do know that I didn’t have any new books on my Kindle, and I needed one to help me snuggle down in bed and read in the dark. So here we are. I wasn’t familiar with Lee Goldberg before and didn’t realize this was a first in a new detective series. Cool beans! I love a good murder mystery/crime series, and this was nicely paced page-turning with interesting characters. Eve Ronin, the ambitious & determined newbie detective doesn’t let her YouTube fame deter her from getting the bad guy, and she knows how to deal with the sexist donut eating older chauvinistic veteran cops. She’ll make a great hero in future novels, I’m sure.

I definitely recommend this if you love crime novels. The author’s written tons of stuff for television along with plenty of other books, so go to town! I’m sure I’ll read more of his stuff in the future.

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Quick Book Review: Stephen King’s Revival

“We came from a mystery and it’s to a mystery we go Maybe there’s something there, but I’m betting it’s not God as any church understands Him. Look at the babble of conflicting beliefs and you’ll know that. They cancel each other out and leave nothing. If you want truth, a power greater than yourselves, look to the lightning – a billion volts in each strike, and a hundred thousand amperes of current, and temperatures of fifty thousand degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a higher power in that, I grant you. But here in this building? No. Believe what you want, but I tell you this: behind Saint Paul’s darkened glass, there is nothing but a lie.”

The above quote says a lot about this novel. As a Constant Reader of Mr. King, I went into this one blind (only because I put off reading it for years and forgot the plot by the time I finally started it). I thought the little boy, Jamie, would be one of King’s “gifted kids” and Jacobs, the minister Jamie befriends, would be some kind of monster. Well, I wasn’t 100% wrong.

We see Jamie grow up to be a drug addicted musician who reunites with Jacobs at a very vulnerable moment that cements a forever connection between them. And boy does it get creepy after that. No spoilers from me, but believe me, this book’s climax is DARK AND EXTRA EVIL. Totally worth the slow build up. Kudos to Uncle Steve for yet another story with emotion and heart that will also scare the hell out of you.

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Quick Book Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have to admit, my expectations were not high when I started reading this one. The idea of another “teenage girl in a dystopian shit show” story was not appealing to me. I wasn’t super impressed with Roth’s writing style, either. Like some other reviewers on here, the present tense storytelling really irked me. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised overall. It was well paced, the different factions were intriguing, and the unanswered questions were numerous enough to get me to read the next book, eventually. The ending came around so suddenly, though, due to the movie tie-in version given to me. There was so much bonus material, that took up about 40-50 pages, which deceived me into thinking I had a long ways to go. I didn’t realize the climax was the climax! Whoops. Guess I should have paid closer attention to the table of contents.

If you’re into it, check out the Divergent playlist made by the author. The taste is a bit questionable to me, but hey, I shouldn’t be too judge-y. I’ll listen to the songs.

I suppose I’ll have to check out the movie too, huh?

Quick Book Review – NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

My last book club selection (that I read anyway – yeah, I’ve been a bad member lately) was Doctor Sleep, by my favorite author of all time, Stephen King. I had had NOS4A2 on my to-read list for a while, so when it ended up on our book club future list, I skipped ahead and read it. Why? Well, firstly, Joe Hill happens to be Stephen’s son, and I’ve really enjoyed his last two novels, Heart Shaped Box and Horns. Secondly, there were connections to Doctor Sleep. I was intrigued. 

Victoria McQueen is special. She can create a psychic path, or inscape, in her head to help her find lost things. She hops on her bike and will always find a covered bridge that takes her where she needs to go. She’s not the only one with this talent that shows up in different ways. There’s Maggie, who can discover stuff with her bag of Scrabble tiles. And then there’s the monster known as Charlie Manx. He can stay young by kidnapping kids and transporting them to the terrifying Christmasland in his spooky Rolls Royce Wraith. These three come together in an intensely creepy journey. Holy crap, Christmasland is creepy. Oh, look, there’s a cute snowman! Why does it have an axe? AAAAGGGHHHH!!!! Thanks, Joe, for creating this wild saga. Vic was such a wonderfully flawed hero, as was her dude Lou. And Manx? Ewwwwwww.