The Sunday Salon -It’s My Birthday!!

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Yes, today is my birthday for real. June 29, 1973. Other events of less importance that occurred on this day were:

  • The Grateful Dead played at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal, California.
  • George Hincapie, Olympic road cyclist, was born in Queens, New York.
  • On June 29, 1973, Walter Carr opens Elliott Bay Book Co. at 101 S Main Street in Pioneer Square.
  • Elvis Presley was in concert in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In Chile, a tank regiment under the command of Colonel Roberto Souper surrounded the La Moneda presidential palace in a violent but unsuccessful coup attempt. (the Tanquetazo)
  • In Bayview, Idaho, thirteen UFOs, which appeared as “steady white lights,” were reported over Lake Pend Oreille by a local family. According to one of the witnesses, the objects were in view for approximately one hour and were seen passing over the lake in all directions. They moved swiftly but emitted no apparent noise, according to the family.
  • 40 Carats, a movie comedy starring Gene Kelly opened to poor reviews.
  • Congress approved a compromise with President Nixon on the funding of U.S. combat activities in Indochina, agreeing that the bombing in Cambodia could continue.
  • An amendment finally passed by the Senate on June 29, 1973, after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements, to prohibit any future use of U.S. forces in the Vietnam War, specifically in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, without congressional authorization.
  • President Nixon establishes the Energy Policy Office. The office is responsible for formulating and coordinating energy policies at the presidential level.
  • Former top Nixon campaign aide Frederick LaRue pleads guilty to obstruction of justice.
  • Cubs were at 47-31, in first place by a margin of 8 ½ games.
  • Queen Elizabeth II passed through Brantford at 5:00 p.m. during a train trip of southern Ontario

Obviously, I was the best and most important thing to happen on June 29th, 1973!

Now, to my reading…

I am still currently doing my Jane-a-thon.  I’m getting ready to start Mansfield Park.  From here on, all the Austens are unknown to me, unless you count watching Clueless, a modern day Emma.  I must admit, however, that I have been cheating.  I’ve been reading The Boat by Nam Le when out or away from my Austen book.  It’s a book containing short stories of Vietnamese people who’ve left their homelands.  I’m in the middle of the first SS, and am entranced.  It’s so good, I almost want to pitch Jane aside for it.  It’s also a book I promised to review, so that’s another reason I want to read it… I have twelve such books!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics
Publish date: 2003
ISBN: 1593082010

“How despicably have I acted!” she cried. “I who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.”

Pride and Prejudice, or First Impressions, was first published in 1813 simply “by a lady”.  It is the story of two sisters, the one prefers to view the world through optimism, while the second with sarcasm and pleasure with her own wit and views.  While the first sister, Jane, learns by the end of the book that evil can and does exist in people, and that people can be vicious and cruel all the while wearing a pleasant face and friendly voice.  The second sister, Elizabeth, learns that all is not as it seems on the first impressions, and judgement should be reserved until more facts have come to light.

In Pride and Prejudicewe see Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s family of five girls and no sons,  whose estate must fall to a male heir,  deal with concerns for their future.  Mr. Bennet prefers retreat to his study and occasionally regret not having saved for his family’s future after his death.  He is permissive of his youngest daughters’ wild and flirtatious behaviour chasing after soldiers.  He continually berates his younger three daughters in deference to the older two “sensible” daughters.  Mrs. Bennet chooses to contrive opportunities for her daughters to be alone with a potential suitor, such as sending her daughter out in the rain so she can catch a cold and be forced to stay at the suitor’s home.  She shows wanton favoritism of her silly, ill-behaved youngest daughters, making a fateful choice to send her to Brighton where the daughter makes a socially reprehensible choice that threatens to ruin the family all together.

The lesson learned in Pride and Prejudice is that appearances are not often what they seem.  Mr. Bingley’s sisters seem friendly and doting to Jane, but it is all an act, as their true feelings are that of superiority and disdain.  Mr. Wickham is attractive, affable, and pleasant, but in truth is a wicked womanizer who runs out on his debts and responsibilities.  Mr. Darcy seems cold, snobbish, proud and ill-mannered, but this is really how his shyness and fear of meeting new people, as well as his choice not to reveal the truth of his past with Wickham in order to defend Wickham’s maligning him.

I have read Pride and Prejudice before, and rereading it reminded me how much fun and funny it was.  Many of the tete a tetes between different characters are delightful: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s interactions, Elizabeth and Darcy’s verbal volleys, and best of all, Lady Catherine’s demand the Elizabeth NOT to accept a proposal from Darcy is met with the latter’s socially inexcusable refusal which leaves the Lady sputtering and hissing disdain for the entire Bennet family.

I have found that the first time I read this book, I was definately Elizabeth.  Now, about 15 years later, I am still Elizabeth Bennet.  I tend to jump to judgements, though not as quickly as before.  I am a fierce defender of my family, more now than before.  I have a sarcastic wit that I enjoy in myself, which is richer with the experiences of life and a better understanding of people.  I love and respect those who champion integrity and help the loved ones of the one one loves.  I am, however tempered with a little Jane: I do choose to believe people good until they prove themselves otherwise.

Like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice could be modernized and be just as true and socially relative as in 1813.  Parents still desire for their grown children to be successful and  happily married to a good person.  Children still die of embarrassment when out in public with their parents.  And the fiercest enemies of happiness is our own friends and family. 

Booking Throught Thursday -6/26

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What, in your opinion, is the definition of a “reader.” A person who indiscriminately reads everything in sight? A person who reads BOOKS? A person who reads, period, no matter what it is? … Or, more specific? Like the specific person who’s reading something you wrote?

I would call someone would indiscriminately reads everything they can get their hands on as a really and tryly bibliophile, bookworm, a true reader. If was a speed reader with a photographic memory, I could read a lot more than I do now, and maybe it wouldn’t be Mt. TBR, but a small hill. I’d call someone who could read everything LUCKY!

A “reader” in my opinion, it someone who reads when they can. WHAT is not as important is the simple fact that they prefer books over other media, and they read regularly. An “avid reader” would be someone who reads whenever they have a free moment, reading while eating and anytime they have to wait somewhere. A book junkie reads at the expense of showers, eating, cleaning their house, and even leaving the house. A book junkie would call into work to stay home and read. I rank somewhere between “avid reader” and “book junkie”.

One of my fantasies have always been to be locked in library and left to read away (of course food and bathrooms would be avaialble).   I often joke in the winter time that I’m praying for a freak blizzard while the kids are in school so I can just stay in and read.  I’ve stopped watching movies for the most part, because they lack imagination… the movie screen inside my head is much better than their pale interpretations. 

It shocks me to think that a lot of people never read more than 12 books a year, and some people don’t even read ONE book a year.   These people will joke about not having read anything since they were made to in high school.  I just don’t understand how people can say this in an almost bragging tone of voice!

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility

“You have no confidence in me, Marianne.”
“Nay, Elinor, this reproach from you – you who have confidence in no one!”
“Me!” returned Elinor in some confusion. “Indeed, Marianne, I have nothing to tell.”
“Nor I,” answered Marianne with energy. “We have neither of us anything to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.”

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel, and, as writing wasn’t considered something a “proper” woman would do, it was released anonymously as simply “by a lady”. It was never expected by Jane or her family to do well, and they were shocked when it sold out within two years.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who couldn’t be more different. Elinor prefers decorum and reserve, biting her tongue and following the rules or polite society. Marianne, on the other hand, is passionate, impulsive, and speaks her mind, society be damned.

When it is revealed to Elinor in confidence that Lucy is engaged to the man Elinor loves, it is a crushing blow. She cannot relieve herself of this burden by “getting it off her chest” because she has promised Lucy to tell no one on her honor. In contrast, when Marianne discovers the man who made promises of love to her by his actions is to wed another, she falls into an uncontrollable downward spiral of depression, at one point nearly dying from the sorrow.

Both sisters approach life from different view points, both thinking the other wrong for theirs. But in the end, like most black-and-white views, they come to realize the validity of the other’s point.

What is interesting to me is that I have read this book twice in my life: the first time when I was about 21 or so, the second one now, on the precipice of 35 (my birthday is in four days). At each point in time, I have been first Marianne and now Elinor. I, like Marianne, had to learn that passion burns fast and leaves you with nothing but an empty stomach and disconnect notices. Like Marianne, I also had to learn that a handsome face that spews sweet words and then disappears like a fall-morning fog when the sun comes out cannot compare to an average man who’s not quite so eloquent but is there for the long hall and can be trusted.

The main points I think Austen was making in this book is that the society of her time was too quick to judge and condemn a woman for doing the same thing it found amusing in its men. A woman who expressed her mind was considered ill bread and of low-class, whereas a man doing the same thing went to Parliament.

Austen shows the results of society’s double standards with the dinner party at the Dashwood’s party. As the women are sitting at dinner, Austen describes the conniving thoughts behind Mrs. Ferrar’s behavior and treatment of Lucy over Elinor, whom she believes is trying to trap her son into marriage (Lucy is really the one she should worry about, yet she unwittingly encourages her in order to humilate Elinor). An argument begins over whose son is taller, Fanny’s or Lady Middleton’s, and lines are drawn, offending each other, in an attempt to gain superiority.

Ultimately, of course, love wins out, wrongs are righted, and justice is served.

Jane-A-Thon In Progress!

Jane Austen

I have finally begun my Jane-a-thon, which I’ve been dying to do for some time now. I’m putting aside ARCs, books to review and overdue library books. But such is the sacrifices I make for my obsession!

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is one of the greatest authors of all times, and possible the greatest woman author as well. She cleared the way for many others, the Brontë sisters, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolfe, and so many others. There were women writers before her, but there was something in the way that Austen wrote that proved a woman could write with a balance of logic and emotions, and that both sexes could enjoy her work. In Austen’s short life of 41 years she published a book every year or so after the 1811 publication of Sense and Sensibility.

When I was in my high school honors English reading club, I read Pride and Prejudice, and I read Sense and Sensibility after watching the Thompson-Grant movie. These two are the only Austen’s I’ve read before, never really taking notice of the others. However, a couple months ago, I thought it might be interesting to read all of them, straight through chronologically to see how Austen grew as a writer, and to get a fairer sense of the life and times of Georgian England.

The following are the Austens in chronological order:
Sense and Sensibility published in 1811
Pride and Prejudice published in 1813
Mansfield Park published in 1814
Emma published in 1816
published in 1818
Northanger Abbey published in 1818

And now… a Janing I must go!

Tuesday Thingers 6/24

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Last week I asked what was the most popular book in your library- this week I’m going to ask about the most unpopular books you own. Do you have any unique books in your library- books only you have on LT? How many?

 I have quite a few unpopular ones, and one that is unique to my library.

I am the only person on LibraryThing to have a copy of The Wild Bunch by Peter Dawson. It’s a little pulp fiction dime store novel I got for free when our local homeless shelter (it’s in a former school) cleaned out their library.

I have several that I share with only one other person:
Chills and Thrills: Tales of Terror and Enchantment by Priscilla Hawthorne

Doctors of Death Volume #3: When Man Became a Guinea Pig for Death by Philippe Aziz

Writing: Style and Grammar by James D. Lester

Boys Are Even Worse Than I Thought (Cousins Club 4): Boys Are Even Worse Than I Thought (Cousins Club)</a> by Patricia Hermes

The Dilemma of Education in a Democracy by Richard Powers

Families – The Future of America by Harold M. Voth

Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories (Unabridged) by Washington Irving

Sun Yat-Sen, Founder of the Chinese Republic by Cornelia Spencer

Hitler Vs. Roosevelt: The Undeclared Naval War by Thomas A. Bailey And Paul B. Ryan

Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things?

Since a lot of my books came from friends and relatives, garage sales, library sales, thrift stores, Goodwill, and free from the mission’s clean out, my library has quite a variety. Now that I’m on BookMooch, PBS and LT, though, my top six tags (after unread, TBR, no longer own, etc) are series, 20th century, 1001, non-fiction, adventure, and fantasy.

Have you ever looked at the “You and none other” feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?

I didn’t even know there was a statistic page until I read this question… could’ve saved some work on my library page… so I guess that answers the first question.  To the second:  Yes, I have made LT friends through the shared library thing.  Though, because of my Doc Savage books, my weighted shared list is kind of messed up.

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

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TITLE: Hope’s Boy
AUTHOR: Andrew Bridge
PUBLISHER: Hyperion
PUBLISH DATE: 2008
ISBN: 9781401303228

My mother… wrapped her arms around me tightly, and whispered fircely several times, “You are my boy. Remember, you are my boy.”

-page 164, Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

 

This is an emotionally difficult book to read. It is the story of a boy who leaves the loving stability of his grandmother’s care in Chicago to fly across country to live with his mother Hope, whom he barely knows. In the two years he lived with her he was beaten by his mother’s boyfriend, was taken on a burglary run by his mom and her best friend, watched Hope be raped and was powerless to stop it, evicted from an apartment and forced to live with strangers who looked at the two of them like something they’d scrape off their shoe, and finally to the motel where he was taken by the county from her. Of all the things she did and didn’t do, she DID give him love and made sure he knew he belonged to her.

Hope’s Boytears back the curtain of the life of a child trapped in a system that does little to help reunite families, explains little to nothing to the child in its care, and abandons him with empty promises of return with a family that is free to go unchecked in their abuse of the intruder in their home. A system that abandons those who age out to the winds, where thirty to fifty percent are homeless within two years. The majority of the nations 500 thousand plus foster children never graduate high school, and possibly as few as 3% graduate college. It is a broken system of hopelessness, in which children are wharehoused instead of cared for. This book is a clarion call to change.

My heart broke for young Andy. He endured helplessly watching his mother’s descent into madness, paranoid schizophrenia the most likely diagnosis. He is ripped from her arms by a social worker as a police officer shoves Hope to the ground and holds her there with his knee in her back. Wharehoused in a huge county orphanage that feels more like a criminal detention facility, he is placed with a family only after he has completely withdrawn into himself. He spends the remaining ten years of his childhood with an abusive, tyrant foster mother, whose rare kindnesses are few and far between.

Throughout it all, he hangs onto the few messages of encouragement like “You are my boy”, “Do not allow the world’s injustices define you”, and “You are my little genius”. Despite all this, and defying all statistics and odds, Andy, now Andrew Bridge, succeeds to become a Harvard Law graduate and Fulbright scholar.

This book is a must-read for anyone working with or within the foster care system. How we treat these children, children who have no control of the events of their lives, is an indicator of our civility as a nation.  Throughout the process, it must be remembered that LOVE is one of the most essential nutrients a child can receive.  Without it he will fail to thrive, slip through the cracks, and become just another statistic.

Love may not be enough to wake a child in the morning, dress him, and get him to school, then to feed him at night, bathe him, and put him to bed.  Still, can any of us imagine a childhood without it?

-page 295, Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

The Sunday Salon -Book Overload!

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This last week has been a busy book-week. My middle daughter went to her dad’s the week before, leaving me with just my 15-year-old. She’s in summer school and can’t go to her dad’s until next weekend after S.S. is over. Then I’ll have about a week alone (since June 29th is my birthday, this will be a wonderful present!)

July 5th will see the return of my youngest, Photobucket who starts summer school on the 8th (High school and elementary take their SS at different times).
I’m kind of starting to miss the little bug. (Her nickname when she was younger was “Lady Bug”)

I finished four books this past week: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, Two For the Dough by Janet Evanovich, and Cell by Stephen King. Six is the most I’ve ever read in one week, and Skeleton Crew was only the last third, but it’s still a lot of reading.

I’ve also been working on writing my novel. So much of the process is in figuring out how everything works together, not just the fapping the keys and filling the screen with words. It also seems my writing is having some sort of breakdown, incurring the red wrath of Bic more and more. Don’t care.. edit later… write now. I may have a title for it, also. Mirror Image maybe, but that is subject to change.

Last week I also learned never to underestimate the Mooch. In trying to scrape together the point to mooch a book I wanted, I added Skeleton Crew (I was only 2/3 the way through) and Two For the Dough (which I hadn’t even started). I figured since there was plenty of those available, mine would be safe and I could finish at leisure. WRONG! My Skeleton Crew wasn’t even the best copy available, but it was mooched from me. Go figure. So now I won’t post until I’m done (or at least certain I’ll be done in a day or so.)

For this week, I’ve already started reading Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge. It’s a heart-breaking memoir of a boy who went into the foster system in Los Angeles county at the age of seven. He’d been living with his grandma in Chicago and was loved, cared for, and secure. But when his mom got out of prison in California, she demands her mother (Andy’s Grandma Kate) to send him to her. There he’s beaten by her boyfriend, used in a burglary by his mother and her girlfriend, and ignored often. The book just makes me want to cry.

After Hope’s Boy, I want to read all my Austen’s in chronological order. I have wanted to do a Jane-a-thon for a couple months, but haven’t been able to. The week alone (hopefully!) will give me the chance to just read-read-read straight through. :-D

Booking Through Thursday -Flavor

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Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

What sets an author apart for me is the style and imagitnation with which they write.  Whether it’s King or Evanovich, the author’s ability to convey the books events in a unique, verbally savory way makes or breaks my pleasure of the books I read.   What’s more, an author’s ability to paint word pictures on the back of my mind will always make me come back for more. 

Here are a few of my favorites and why I like them:

Stephen King   If you look at my LibraryThing catalog you’ll find I have 14 Stephen King books, making him my top author.  King is probably one of the most successful and prolific authors of our time, perhaps ever.  He is second only to J.K. Rowling on LibraryThing’s most popular author by number of copies found on Zeitgeist. (In fairness to King, she has only written 9 books, all relating to a single series.)  What I love about King is he is highly imagintative, writes on the edge of the accepted norm, and challenges people’s perception of what is real and “normal”.  His concepts are usually things I relate to as I mentioned  in my review of Lisey’s Story.  I particularly love the suprenatural flavor of most of his books.  I’m not very fond, however, of his books-to-movies.  Because so much of King takes place in the minds of his characters, the stories do not translate well to the film.  My 5 favorite King books are: Lisey’s Story (you guessed that, I’m sure),  Dead Zone, Hearts in Atlantis (probably THE worst film version of any King book), The Shining, and Pet Cemetary.

Bentley Little  I’ve actually only read one book of his so far, BUT he is one of Stephen King’s favorite authors, and what’s good for Sir Stevie is good for me!  The Store was a bizarre and terrifying story of Wal-mart’s effect on small towns… Oh, no… wait, it wasn’t called Wal-mart… it was just called “The Store”. In my very brief LT review I said this about it: “Think: Scientology-run Wal-mart from Hell owned by Howard Hughes and Satan’s love child! and Bentley Little reads like a mixture of Orwell, Bradbury, King and Brothers Grimm!” How can you not love an author like that?!

Janet Evanovich I am new to the Stephanie Plum novels, having started with Plum Lucky. I was an instant fan of Evanovich somewhere between Lula’s boob falling out on top and her thong disappearing out of sight into the dark crevice below while she bent over to pick up her spilled bucket of nickels, and the “Leprechaun” believing if he stripped naked he’d be invisible (The rottweiller told him so!). It is an absolutely crazy/fun/impossible/hilarious series, and I’m dying to read more! My favorite characters are: Grandma Mazur (When she shoots a chicken in the gumpy with Stephanie’s gun in book one, you know you’re in for a hilarious treat. I want a Grandma Mazur!), Lula (retired prostitute, files papers in Vincent’s office and is the Cagney to Stephanie’s Lacey… or the Lacey to her Cagney, did they ever solve that argument?) and Diesel (y’all can have Ranger, I’ll take Diesel).

Harlan Coben How could I not include Coben as one of my favorite authors? If it wasn’t for The Woods I’d still only be reading the classics, terrified to try anything contemporary. I’ve read three of his books so far, and have 5 others on Mt. TBR right now (more on the way from BookMooch). Hold Tight, his newest and best book so far, is a harrowing book for any parent to read. The thought of not being able to find your child, fearing his involvement in something dangerous and bad, was gut-wrenching for me. Coben’s writing is fluff-free, without the need to show off with an overload of details, and his language is easy to read and understand. He makes pop-culture references, I.E. McMansions, use of the word “ginormous”, and others, makes him a pleasure to read. He has a great balance of schtick and levity, which makes for a great coaster-ride of reading.

Other favorites include: Jane Austen (she made being a woman author a little more acceptable), William Shakespeare (one of the biggest Booya Moon pool drinkers), Lois Lowry (she made my kids think, and brought our family around the table to read The Giver) and so many more. 

Cell by Stephen King

Cell cover art

Title: Cell
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Pocket Books (division of Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: December 2006
ISBN: 1416524517

The phone-crazies own the days; when the stars come out, that’s us.  We’re like vampires.  We;ve been banished to the night.  Up close we know each other because we can still talk; at a little distance we can be pretty sure of each other by the packs we wear and the guns more and more of us carry; but at a distance, the one sure sign is the waving flashlight beam.  Three days ago we not only ruled the earth, we had survivor’s guil about all the other species we’d wiped out on our climb to the nirvana of round-the-clock cable news and microwave popcorn.  Now we’re the Flashlight People.

          -Page 161 of Cell by Stephen King 

The apocalypse doesn’t begin with the deafening boom of war, but with the quiet ring of a cell phone.

 According to GEARlog, as of Nov. 2007 82% of United States citizens have cell phones, a number of  1/4 billion.  In fact, the United States is second only to China in number their number.  With that number in mind, imagine what would happen if some tech-terrorist broadcasted a virus, relaying it through the cell towers,  and anyone using a cell phone had the hard drive of their brains stripped to the core programming of violent, animalistic survival.  Those on their cells when The Pulse, as it’s called in the book, is activated and they become raging, psychotic, murdeous beasts ripping the throats out of those around them with their teeth and tearing the limbs off people with their bare hands.  If you were witnessing this, your first instict would be to grab your cell phone and call someone, getting an earful of the mind-scrambling Pulse and going mad because of it.

This is what happens to Clayton Riddell on the afternoon of his life, after he’s sold his graphic novel series and has achieved sudden weath.  As he sits on a park bench reflecting on his turn of luck and enjoying a beautiful October afternoon in Boston, he observes a man in a business suit biting a dog’s ear and ripping it off the side of the screaming animal’s head.

Clay is able to survive the initial event and hook up with a few other “normies” and head north to Maine, where Clay’s estranged wife and his 11-year-old son John live.  Reuniting with John is the only thing on Clay’s mind.  Two things plague Riddell, though: One, the ever-present fear John had been on his own cell phone when it happened, and Two,  the “phoners” are evolving, gaining new and unusual powers.

When Clayton’s band of survivors kill a flock of the phoners, they find themselves public enemy number one and are driven to the place of their intended doom by The Raggedy Man, spokesman for the new world.  Can they survive?  Will Clayton find his son?  if he does, What will he find left of the boy?

Stephen King’s Cell is remeniscent of several dystopic/apocalyptic books and stories, including King’s Mist and Stand.  In Cell we find Mrs. Carmody reincarnated in “Bible Thumping Bertha” as they make the exodus out of Boston, and we see a version of Randall Flagg in The Raggedy Man.  I was also reminded of McCarthy’s The Roadby the interactions and relationships of the survivors.  The visciousness of the phoners (they are very much like zombies) made me think of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.  Though not a dystopic, The way the book ends reminds me of The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini.  Even with the similarities, and perhaps because of them, Cell is is a gripping page turner that you won’t be able to put down!

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