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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