Review: The Regulators


The Regulators
The Regulators
By Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
New York: Dutton, 1996, New York (1996)

The Short of It:

Brimming with wit but tame as far as horror stories go.

The Rest of It:

One sunny afternoon, an entire neighborhood finds itself the center of destruction when a group of demented villains show up in vans and basically shoot anything that moves. As the residents watch in horror, they suddenly realize that this is no random act and that their quiet little neighborhood is under siege.

The Regulators was published under the name Richard Bachman, but most King fans know that Bachman is the pen name King used for several years. As far as his books go, this is one of the tame ones. There are lots of characters to keep track of in this small neighborhood but their personalities are different enough (in most cases) to keep everyone straight. There is a supernatural element but he doesn’t spend too much time on that aspect of it, just the aftermath and how it affects this particularly unlucky neighborhood. The story is a little farfetched but by the end, I was buying it. It’s definitely not one of his stronger books, but I did enjoy reading it and it was a quick read.

The Summer of King

When I posted about The Summer of King, and how I wanted to spend my summer reading King books, some of you told me that The Regulators and Desperation happen to be related. When I chose those two to read, I had no idea that they featured parallel worlds. Talk about dense. I mean, if you look real hard you can even see how the cover art connects to one another. Anyway, so although this book was a little tame for me, I appreciate King’s classic sense of humor in relation to being blown to bits, cheating wives and annoying kids. I chuckled many times and now can’t wait to re-read Desperation as I read that one when it first came out and cannot remember a thing about it!

Have you read a King book lately?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Review: The Goldfinch


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
By Donna Tartt
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316055437,  October 2013, 784pp.)

The Short of It:

Memory, in and of itself, has the ability to restore and destroy.

The Rest of It:

While visiting a New York art museum, Theodore Decker, thirteen, is separated from his mother in an explosion that leaves him dazed and confused. In the immediate moments after the blast, Theo sees, and takes, a valuable painting for safekeeping. Not fully understanding what has happened or why, he stumbles out of the rubble but his life is forever frozen in time. When he realizes he has lost his dear mother, he finds himself floating through life, encountering many obstacles along the way and revisiting those final moments in the museum over and over again.

This is one hell of a book.

It’s long and I know some readers who won’t even touch it because of its length but they are really doing themselves a disservice because it is really a fine piece of work. I had planned to read it “someday” but when it was chosen for book club, I was pushed encouraged to read it a little bit sooner than I had planned and then it was awarded the Pulitzer which piqued my interest even more.

The Goldfinch  is an adventure. It meanders, there is action but not that much of it and it’s repetitive when it comes to behaviors like the excessive drinking and drug use that riddle its pages. But even with all of this going on, it’s incredibly heartbreaking and yes, beautiful. At first glance, Theo seems to be handling his loss quite well, but with each page, his pain and devastation become more real, more tangible and he becomes more reliant on the actions of others to save him. Not to mention the painting and the significance behind him taking it in the first place. Its purpose, so it seems, is to remind him of that fateful day but as it certainly does just that, it’s also a constant reminder of what he needs to do to keep it safe.

This is a book with some memorable characters too. Boris, the Ukrainian kid Theo hooks up with, is part hoodlum, part philosopher but more than anything, Theo’s best friend. Think “The Artful Dodger”. Popper, a mutt that Theo takes pity on, ends up being a loyal companion to Theo and one cannot forget Hobie, the lovable furniture maker who takes Theo in when he has nowhere else to go. These unlikely characters come together to essentially save Theo from himself, but it’s not always evident that that is what is happening. There are lots of pitfalls along the way and the journey can be tedious, but in the end, I found myself loving the story, wishing I had taken more time with the last few pages. It’s about love and trust and redemption and what’s not to like with its art world setting?

Talking about it here, I realize just how much I miss the characters. So, even though it’s long and intimidating to some, I urge you to pick it up because it’s really a book to experience first-hand.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: We Were Liars


We Were Liars
We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 9780385741262, May 2014,  240pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

Sometimes, the rich have it all. Most times, they don’t.

The Rest of It:

The Sinclairs. They seem to have it all. Money, power, looks and even a private island off of Martha’s Vineyard. Every summer they head to Beachwood to do whatever the rich do but it’s not all pretty. The adult sisters can’t help but squabble over what one seems to have over the other. The patriarch of the group, their father, seems to have his favorites, and the children, most in their teen years, are the only ones that seem to get along at all.

The story centers around the Liars, Cady (Cadence) and her cousins Johnny & Mirren and Gat, a friend of the family. For these kids, the summers are golden. Even with all of the family strife going on in the background, the summers they spend there are meaningful and wonderful, the way all summers should be at that age. But then, tragedy strikes. One day, Cady finds herself washed up on the beach. She’s sustained a head injury and can remember nothing in regards to how she got it, or what took place before the accident.

Two years pass as Cady is forced to recuperate away from the island. Two years of missing Beachwood. Two years without her cousins. When she returns. Everyone is secretive about what really happened. As bits and pieces of the events leading up to that day float back into her memory, she realizes that she’s forgotten all of it for a reason.

This book grew on me. At first, it seemed to halt along in a young adult kind of way. In that I mean, it seemed a little superficial on the surface but after spending some time with the characters, I found myself completely absorbed by the story. There are secrets of course, which makes this a page turner but the big twist that everyone talks about? Not such a big twist in my opinion. But, there is a lot going on here as far as class and social status.

The Sinclairs are THE stereotypical rich family. Gat, the family friend serves at the voice of reason. He’s a constant reminder that not everyone owns an island, that some people DO have to work to make a living. Cady falls in love with Gat, which further complicates things since her grandfather does not approve of him. So while the adult sisters drink and fight over material possessions, these teens have deep, meaningful conversations about life.

There is a bittersweet quality to the novel even before you get to the twist. That sense of lost youth as you transition into adulthood. Summers on the beach as a kid, are quite different from summers on the beach as an adult. You have a whole set of new worries and concerns and being rich doesn’t shield you from them. Lost innocence and how it’s captured here is what made the book for me.

There is a lot of hype for this book with some reviewers calling the ending “shocking” but if you go into it with an open mind, and just go with the flow, I think you will enjoy it. Bit if you go into it expecting to be shocked, you might be disappointed. Plus, there’s the mystery behind the title of the book too. The meaning of the title is not spelled out in so many words, but as the events unfold, that title means many things. One item of interest is how Cady lapses into fantastical tales to tell the story. Think fables and fairy tales. I found it to be an interesting device.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: We Are Called To Rise (audio)


We Are Called to Rise
We Are Called To Rise (audio)
By Laura McBride
(Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442370791, June 2014.)

The Short of It:

Four, seemingly independent stories collide and the results are devastating for one immigrant family.

The Rest of It:

Vegas is a town that reeks of desperation. Spend a few days there and you’ll know what I mean. In We Are Called to Rise, the Vegas we see is not what you’d expect, but rather bleak and depressing all the same. This is the suburban side, where immigrant families struggle to make ends meet, where people go to basically start a new life. The story is told in four voices:

  • Bashkim – a second grader, living with his Albanian parents and his baby sister. Bashkim’s parents own an ice cream truck and want to live the American dream, but they struggle as there is never enough money to put anything aside, and when Bashkim’s sister falls ill, a trip to the doctor pushes the father over the edge.
  • Avis – a married woman in her 50’s who has just found out about her husband’s infidelity. In addition to her marital problems, she’s struggling to understand her son Nate, a war veteran, who hasn’t been right since returning from his third tour of duty.
  • Specialist Luis Rodriguez-Reyes – he wakes up in a hospital after losing his best friend in Afghanistan. He begins a pen pal relationship with Bashkim as a class project, not realizing how entwined their lives will become.
  • Roberta –  a social worker who becomes involved with Bashkim’s family.

As you can probably guess, something terrible happens to Bashkim and his family. This is a very sad story but it’s also one of hope and renewal. The audio production was very powerful to listen to. There were times where I just had to pause and think about what just happened. The title makes you think this is a book about religion, and maybe there is a little bit of that in there, but it’s not really centered around religion at all.

Overall, it’s a book about second chances. How one small act of kindness can mean so much to an individual and how it’s possible to pick up the pieces when all is lost. I enjoyed listening to it very much and had no problem following the different story lines.

As for discussion, this would make a great book club book. There’s so much to think about and yet it’s a very accessible read. I highly recommend it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Mr. Mercedes


Mr. Mercedes
Mr. Mercedes (book #1 of 3)
By Stephen King
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476754451, 437pp.)

The Short of It:

The Girl (my daughter) asked, “Why is there a bloody umbrella and a tiny happy face on this cover?”

“Because it’s Stephen King,” I said.

But of course.

The Rest of It:

Mr. Mercedes is a departure from what we’ve come to expect from King. Kind of. Sort of. Okay, maybe not. Stephen King himself is calling it his first hard-boiled detective story. It is that, but it’s got his signature KING stamp all over it and if you handed it to me without a name attached to it, I’d still be able to tell it’s King’s writing. For this, I am glad because I’ve really come to love King’s writing and his deft handling of the characters he develops.

The book opens with a Mercedes plowing into a crowd of people at a job fair. Eight people are killed and fifteen injured. The killer is never caught. Bill Hodges, the cop who tried to solve the case has since retired. He spends his days sacked out in his recliner, watching Jerry Springer. When he gets a letter from Mr. Mercedes himself, his first reaction is doubt but as the communication continues, he realizes that this is his chance to catch the one that got away. But he’s not in shape and he’s technically not a cop anymore which makes him the underdog. An adorable, lovable underdog who you can’t help cheering for.

King tells us who the killer is very early on. This is no secret and is shared in every blurb you’ll read, but what I love about giving us this info so early is that we get to spend time with  a true, twisted individual. Brady Hartsfield wears many hats. He’s a computer geek by day, going out on service calls to “fix” the computers that others have f’d up in some way but he’s also the Mr. Tastey ice cream guy, driving around the neighborhood handing you a cold one while thinking terrible thoughts about you. He has a super-special relationship with his mother which is classic King in my opinion. I’ll let you ponder that one.

As with most King books, included are a host of characters that you end up loving in some way. There’s plenty of action, especially towards the end and now that I know this is book one of a trilogy, the ending makes a little more sense. Overall, I really loved it but while talking to others, we all agreed that the ending was a little too easy and for that, I might shy away from giving it a perfect five stars but as a King fan, I felt like it had all of the required elements to satisfy me and it was fun to read. Especially fun to read with others.

This would be a good book for someone brand new to King. There’s no “woo woo” supernatural stuff going on. No clowns in sewers. Just good storytelling. I encourage you to pick up a copy and I cannot wait for book two, Finders Keepers to hit shelves early next year.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 493 other followers