My Constantly Evolving List of All-Time Favorites.

Kyle 's favorites books montage

Gone Girl
The Night Circus
The Woodcutter
The Graveyard Book
Sharp Objects
Dark Places
Shutter Island
The Passage
The Twelve
Rules of Civility
The Aviary
Heir to the Glimmering World
Wool Omnibus
The Weird Sisters
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones

Kyle Uniss's favorite books »

Monday, December 30, 2013

End of 2013, beginning of a New Year

Well, it is the second to the last day of 2013, and, since I am traveling tomorrow (home from Arizona), I'm going to write today. I have not been very active on here lately; been thinking about how to re-tool and change up what I'm doing here. Also, I had to finish my 150 book challenge for 2013, which I did. I did not finish pretty, reading some Kindle singles that I didn't really want to count, but I had to finish just so it wasn't hanging over my head, you know? I read some great books, some not-so-great books, and some great singles!

There are a couple of things I would like to put onto paper (screen?) before the year is done. First off, concerning my blog and the changes I plan to implement. I'm going to stick to a schedule. I would like to blog to you all three times a week, maybe a kid's book day, an adult book day, and a free day (Kindle single, a cookbook, maybe a non-fiction book?). That's my plan.

The other is my challenge to myself, and to you, reader, to read America back and forth with me. I'm going to try to find the best fiction set in each state, starting with Maine, and read it. Down the Eastern Seaboard, up-and-down the U.S. until Alaska. And then back to Maine. That should be 102, including D.C. Although, time permitting, I would also like to hit Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We'll see where we land and if there is time.

So there it is. For the next few days I'm going to highlight my favorites of the year; some books I  have blogged, but some will be new. I have had a great 2013, and here's to an awesome 2014!!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creepy Nights Without The Hubs and Night Film by Marisha Pessl

What a couple of weeks. All it takes is for the husband to go out of town for two weeks and you realize what you miss. I've decided to stop complaining (for awhile) about him leaving a little mess in the kitchen after he cooks dinner (which he usually does), about him parenting our children differently than I do (with the same goals in mind; on the same page, just in a different language), about him not pulling his weight. HE does. He's so much more than I give him credit for, and I realize that now that he's been gone. He'll be back in a couple of day, refreshed after fun with his younger brothers.

Not having him around, especially the week of Halloween, made a house with one adult seem ultra creepy. See, he talks A LOT and usually makes any quiet spaces not quiet or creepy. But I didn't have him, and our house seemed way too quiet. I kept expecting Michael Myers to arrive, walking way too fast for a man his size. I DID not share these fears with my daughters (although they don't know who Michael Myers is, yet). 

Adding to that creepy factor was Night Film by Marisha Pessl, a thriller with enough creep factor (the creepy part was not the little bit of gore, but the story) to really send tingles down my spine. but I couldn't stop reading.
"Life was a freight train barreling toward just one stop, our loved ones streaking past our windows in blurs of color and light. There was no holding on to any of it, and no slowing it down." 

First off, I 'read' the audio (Audible) version of Night Film, so it's hard to say if the read would have been as good, but I imagine that it is even better. The actual book is strewn with page props: website screenshots, news clippings, realistically weathered police reports, and other fun extras.

Night Film sucked me in so deep I didn't want to quit listening. It illuminated the darker sides of life as well as showing how bright the light sides can be. Spellbinding is a great word for this story. Marisha Pessl is a writer I've enjoyed before. Special Topics in Calamity Physics is another great book, but I'm not going to digress too much. Just enough to say that Pessl is a wonderful writer with an incredible imagination and a great ability to tell fantastic stories.

In Night Film, the main character, Scott McGrath, is a soiled and sullied investigative reporter sucked back into the story that ruined him, the life and strange happenings of the reclusive cult-horror film director, Stanislas Cordova. When Cordova's beloved daughter, Ashley, commits suicide, McGrath is drawn into the search for the truth of the girl; tumbling head first into black magic, cult films, sex clubs, and small towns. He's accompanied on his strange journey by a cast of interesting characters. This is a thriller and a mystery, but it is much more, making you quetion all you know about reality, art, magic, fear, and fame. This book takes hold and doesn't let up, even on the last page. Take your time, enjoy every word. Because when it's done, you'll want more.


Kindle Finds 

$3.99. Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland, 1939-1945. This book looks really interesting. Dr. Edward Reicher used his skill as a meticulous doctor to write down in detail his observations during WWII, first in the ghettos of Warsaw and Lodz, where he was forced to treat the Gestapo, and then on the run on the Aryan side of Warsaw, where he survived by donning disguises. He witnessed and documented the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It is hard to believe that he was a dermatologist before the war.

$1.99. David Wroblewski writes an emotionally turbulent book about a mute young man born into an idyllic life on a remote Northern Wisconsin farm where they breed and train dogs so fantastic we can only wish they were real. When Edward's uncle returns and his father dies suddenly, his world turns violent chaotic. Edward is forced to flee and comes of age in the wilderness, with three young dogs at his side. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a wonderful story so much more than a boy and his dogs.

$3.99. Laurel Saville uses real family letters to tell a fictional version of her great-grandparents in Henry and Rachel. Henry and Rachel work hard at the plantation where Rachel grew up, and seem like they have a happy marriage. But when Rachel takes off without a word with their four younger children, leaving Henry and their oldest son to board a steamer to New York. Saville weaves a wonderful tale about a family mystery.

$2.99. The Tin Drum is one of those books that I've always wanted to read but never gotten there, but now I have no excuse. A runaway bestseller, this book, translated from German, has inspired many modern writers. Gunter Grass's novel is described as "miraculous," "inventive," and "moving." Can't wait to read it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Bone Season and Some Great Deals

Recently I read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon because it was EVERYWHERE. I mean, there was a lot of hype about this book, most of touting it as the next Harry Potter. It is nothing like the HP books, but I think it was hyped this way for a couple of reasons: Shannon is British, she grew up reading HP, and this is the first of seven books. I guess you could also say it is set in a magical world, but that would be a stretch.

Don't get me wrong, this is a very good book. I would make it more dystopian science fiction with a little fantasy thrown in. Shannon does a good job creating this world and creating complete characters that are sympathetic and as real as they can be.

The main character is Paige Mahoney is a young woman living in the underground of Scion London in the year 2059. Scion is the security force that runs London, and wants to start running other parts of the world as well. Paige works with an underground criminal group known as The Seven Seals. Paige is a rare type of clairvoyant, a dreamwalker; she can break into other's minds and steal information. All types of voyants are illegal, and just by being she is committing a crime.

Paige is arrested and learns that captured voyants go to Oxford, a prison city erased from the map but run by a new race of beings, the Rephaim. They value the voyants as servants and soldiers in their army. Paige is assigned to Warden, a high placed Rephaim who is her enemy, or is he? Paige must learn to trust in herself, her keeper, and those around her. She must learn to harness her power if there is any hope of escape and of a different world.

I think this series is only going to get better. Shannon has created a world that is fantastic and perfectly flawed heroine in Paige Mahoney. I can't wait for the next book. I give it a four out of five stars.


Day One is a new weekly literary magazine for the digital age. Featuring short stories, poetry, and translations of stories. Each issue will highlight one writer and one poet, with author interviews and occasional exclusive content. The cover art is done by emerging artists. Because it is a Kindle magazine, it will automatically download onto your Kindle. Try it free for the first month. A year subscription is only $9.99, which breaks down to $.19 an issue. Or you can get each issue for $1.99. Sounds great!

$2.99The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl was the National Book Award non-fiction winner for 2006. It's a look at those who stuck in out in the 1930's national disaster that created the Dust Bowl. The 'black blizzards', the blinding dust storms, the crop failures that lead to an even darker time during the Great Depression. We've all heard stories of those who left and migrated west, but these are true stories of those who stayed, eeking out a living when there seemed to be no living available.

$2.99. Wrapped in Rain tells the story of Tucker Mason, an internationally famous photographer, and his trip home to his childhood home, Waverly Hall, a sprawling Southern estate. He is forced home when his brother escapes from a mental institution, and he must come to terms with his past.

$1.99. Spitfire is the story of Tomi Reyes, a documentary film maker who works as a receptionist to pay the bills. When she gets a promotion, he boss goes from nice guy to creep in a matter of minutes, and then her friends are murdered in bizarre ways. Signs point to Tomi, although she believes its her boss. When an old friend is assigned the case, romance is in the air and Tomi is caught in the killer's crosshairs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Listening Versus Reading and Deals of The Week

I love reading, and mostly I love reading fiction. I mean, I love movies, too, but it a totally different way. Reading allows me to fall into the story, to create my own vision and picture the characters in my own way. This is why I do and don't like it when they make a book into a movie; sometimes it's great to see my vision come to life, or to change my vision into something even better. Usually I'm disappointed by the movie; they edit out the 'best' parts, they change the characters or they completely decimate a great story to make it a box-office hit.

I often listen to books, too, because I'm home alone all day, or I'm in my car, and I like to keep the fiction going. Sometimes a book is just better when it's read to you. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is such a book. I read it the second time around, but it didn't match the audio version. A story about a future world where everything is done in an online world created by a guy who grew up and LOVED the 80's. The heir to his online creation is to be determined by a contest comprised of a maze of 80's trivia, including music, movies, books, and video games. The story is told in first person, and is wonderfully read by Wil Wheaten-an 80's piece of pop-culture himself. The book was great when I re-read it, but it wasn't as good as the audio version because of Wil Wheaten.

But there are many more books that are better when read, in my humble opinion. Take the book I'm listening to now, The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. It is the story of a painting told in two parts, from WWI France and present day England, and the passion it instills in people that fall into its spell. It is a wonderful story so far; I have about 1/4 of the book to go. Now, I love the story, but I almost gave up on it because of the beginning of the book. The first part of the story, maybe the first third, is told through the eyes of a woman in a French town occupied by the Germans in WWI. The narrator of the audio book uses an effective French accent, but it is a little off-putting and took me away from the story a bit. I almost gave up on the story, but powered through and I'm glad I did. I find myself loving this story. I have cried for the characters and felt sadness for a time when the characters are sad. I think, for me at least, that this is one that I would have loved more if I were reading it.

But reading is nothing if not arbitrary and very personal. One person's perfect listen is another person's perfect read, and a third person may dislike the story altogether. And that's okay. That's what makes it such a great hobby.

Amazon Kindle Deals

$6.99. This is the third and final installment of Veronica Roth's great YA series (but we all know that half of the YA readers are adults). Allegiant is a brand new release, and the $6.99 price has been in place since pre-release, but this is cheaper than the second book, so you might want to scoop this deal up before they get wise and raise the price!

$3.99. While I'm on this tangent, This is the first book in the series. Divergent is a good, quick read in the whole Dystopian, I'm-a-teenager-and-I-want-to-control-my-own-destiny genre. Worth the two days it takes to finish it.

$5.99. Yes, it's that James Franco and it's gotten pretty good reviews. Actors Anonymous is the a bunch of stories of members of Actors Anonymous, a 12-step group with a high power known as The Great Director. It's a look into the actor's world from the view of an insider who finds it all a little ridiculous and funny.

$1.99. I reviewed this one awhile ago and it was good.The Neighbors gets off course a few times, but I enjoyed it. A great read for Halloween, especially for $1.99.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My 2013 goal of 150 books and Kindle bargains for today

In January I set myself a goal to read 150 books. Really ambitious, right? Especially considering I have a job (I'm lucky, I get to work from home), two children (one with special needs), a home, a husband (he should come further up on the list, and he does in my heart, but there are somethings that don't care what I love, they just want what they want. Like my job, and my house, and kids . . .), activities, homework, working out, and this wonderful blog. But somehow, this year, I have read almost 107 books (I will finish number 107 today), which leaves me 8% behind where I should be to reach my goal (thank you Goodreads for setting up that wonderful counter to keep me on track, I say with disdain dripping from my voice).

107 isn't bad. Some may say I cheated to get to this point; I listened to books, I read a few Kindle Singles, which counted on Goodreads as a book. I would love to only read, but I have to make a living and get my kids to where they need to be and make sure they're doing what they're supposed to do. And I do have a social life, so I sometimes talk to people when I should be reading (GASP!!).  I sometimes drink wine instead of read, or watch a movie, or just hang with the family. But I do read a lot of those times, too. Because reading is a wonderful way to get through a swim meet, or a swim practice, or a family movie that you just cannot watch (any Barbie movie, for instance) but you want to seem like you're watching.

So, I keep plugging along. And I try to fill you in on the books I enjoyed on my journey, and some that I hated, and some that I haven't read that I want to read. I'm trying to fill you in on the bargains, but sometimes life gets in the way.


Amazon Kindle Deals 

For $1.99Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson looks really good. Miss Buncle is looking for money, and writing a novel seems to be the best way. But she has no material. So she takes stories from her friends and neighbors and uses them to write a novel under a pseudonym. The small village of Silverstream is in a uproar, and so is Miss Buncle when the village people start sharing experiences with their fictional counterparts. I just scooped it up; you should, too!

$1.99, Joyce Carol Oates is sometimes wonderful, sometimes really out there (I just finished Zombie), but I always find reading her worthwhile, The Tattooed Girl is about a reclusive novelist who is forced to take an assistant, this book treads on anti-Semitism, sensuality, "our excepted limits of desire." Sounds good.

$3.99Carved in Darkness is the story of a Melissa, a teenaged girl, abducted, tortured, and repeatedly raped for 83 days, and the woman she becomes, trying to put the darkness behind her.  As an adult, she changes her name to Sabrina, gets a new face, and becomes a homicide detective. But when someone from her past finds her and claims that his sister was killed by Sabrina's abductor, she is drawn back into a world she has tried desperately to forget.

$3.79. This one looks really good and very Halloween-y. Hemlock Grove is the story of a Pennsylvania town and the old family that runs it. Their fortune was built on steel, but they now are turning to new industries, namely biotech. When a body of a young girl is found, all eyes turn to the White Tower, the biotech facility which fosters rumors of unethical biological experiments. "An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mr. Penumbra, The Magic of Words and Deals For Today

This week I finished reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Actually, I finished listening to it. I should have read it. I usually love listening to books, but this one was all about reading and the wonders of books AND technology, and how the two can work together, but can also be wonderful apart. How magical the written word, printing and FONTS can be. Who knew? So, yes, I felt like I was betraying books by listening to a book about reading. I probably would have felt guilty reading on my Kindle, but I rarely buy 'books' any longer. I guess guilt was going to happen no matter what.

This was a wonderful story, combining many of my favorite things. The wonder of words, the beauty of books, and the mystery that books and history can hold. It also was the story of two types of people we all know; those refusing to embrace technology (call them Luddites if you will), and those who believe only in technology. This book shows that there is a middle ground, and in that middle ground lies the mystery and the answer.  It was a wonderful listen, but I think it would have been a better read.

Kindle Book Deals of The Day

$6.99--This is a deal on the pre-release of Allegiant, the third and last book in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. This is a REALLY GREAT deal. And the best part of buying a pre-release book (especially when you get it for a great price)? On the release date (in this case, October 22nd) it automatically and auto-magically downloads on your Kindle. I love that!!!

$3.99--This one is on my to-read list. Christopher Finch's Good Girl, Bad Girl is the story of Alex Novalis, a New York City private eye in the sixties hired to find a construction mogul's missing 18-year old daughter in the crazy Manhattan art scene. It s said to be a great look at NYC in the swinging sixties.

$1.99--I'm currently reading The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. This is her second book in as many years to make it to the National Book Award longlist. Set in the seventies, this is the story of Reno, a young woman fascinated with art and speed and the turning of speed into art. She begins an affair with an older Italian artist, the semi-estranged son of an Italian motorcycle and tire mogul, and then falls in with a radical Italian group on a visit to Italy. So far, it is really good.

$2.99--This one is this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. It's a really good price on an award winning book. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America is a look at Florida in the late 40's and early 50's and the rise of Thurgood Marshall and the Civil Rights movement. Well worth the $2.99.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sad News, Good News, Doctor Sleep and Kindle Bargains

I have to start off today with a bit of a tribute. I have loved Tom Clancy since my twenties, when I devoured his spy novels like candy; an Everlasting Gobbstopper that goes on and on with many layers and different flavors that surprise you at different times. I fell for Jack Ryan and his wonderful family, for John Clark and other super-secret spies. I gave him up for a few years--when he wrote less about the Ryans and the people I knew and more of his books that centered around video games. Lately, though, he found the Ryans again, and let us read about young Jack Ryan Jr., and "The Campus."

I was very sad today to learn that Clancy had died. I loved the Ryans, and, although I believe he was probably cantankerous and curmudgeonly, I loved Clancy. He will be missed.

Now, some happy news, at least for me. My new Kindle Paperwhite is on its way!!! I cannot wait.


And a quick review:
"God’s a connoisseur of fragile things, and decorates His cloudy outlook with ornaments of finest glass."
Doctor Sleep was incredible. It made me laugh and cry, and it brought Danny Torrance full circle. It was scary and creepy but also really well written with wonderfully real characters. It did make Danny the main character without making it all about Danny and his life after coming to terms with his "Shine".  In other words, Kind does a great job on this one, showing us his creepy literary-ness as only he can do. I wish it wasn't over, but on to other stories.


Amazon Kindle Deals

I kinda have a crush on this awesome young writer, who happens to be the son of the esteemed Stephen King. What a household this must have been--and how macabre their family gatherings must get! I have not read Heart-Shaped Box, but I snatched it up for $2.99

This one looks pretty good, in a chick-lit, Lifetime movie kind of way. Megan is the mother of three beautiful girls, but goes slightly crazy when her youngest daughter, Emma, goes missing. She never gives up hope, although her husband and friends keep telling her to give up and realize Emma will never come back. And her hope may just pay off. Steena Holmes wrote at least two follow up books, so I'm thinking this book must have some steam. $1.99. 

Mystery Girl is the story of a failed novelist who takes a job as a private detective when his wife walks out on him. The job is simple: follow a mysterious woman around L.A. But he starts falling for her, and is drawn into a murder mystery. $1.99.

All My Friends Are Superheroes sounds amazing. A quirky love story that has some
amazing reviews behind it. I'll definitely be reading this one soon! $2.99. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Daily Deals Worth Reading for September 27th

If you're one of the many people eagerly waiting for the last installment of Veronica Roth's Insurgent trilogy, Allegiant, on October 22nd , than "The Transfer" and the other singles written by Roth from different points-of-view will whet your appetite. $1.99. 

This is the third in a trilogy that is pure Margaret Atwood. MaddAddam brings together the two groups from Atwood's previous dystopian books Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. This book is a new release and is a deal at $6.49. If you haven't read the previous two, they are not bargains (at $9.99 each), so get them from the library and then read this. Well worth your time, if you want to read adult Dystopian.

Vincent Zandri has done a great job hooking me with his mysteries, and I'm buying this one in the hope that it will do the same. A woman abducted as a child must face her past to solve a mystery involving an autistic child and her dead (and also abducted as a child) sister. Great reviews, so, for $1.99, I'll give The Remains a try.

 The Visible World is a wonderfully moving story told by the American-born son of Czech immigrants, telling the stories and fairytales he overhears in his boisterous, immigrant New York neighborhood. $2.51.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Doctor Sleep and Deals for September 26th, 2013

So far, Doctor Sleep is really good. Granted, I have had virtually NO time to read; younger daughter's birthday, Wine Wednesday, swim practices, parent/teacher conferences--they are all getting in the way. Not to mention that I have not read the book for our book club on Friday (which is a crime in and of itself).

I have not reached Danny's adulthood yet, and have realized this book has its own bad guys that have very little to do with The Outlook Hotel or Danny's own demons (although those do show up). So far, so good. I haven't read any reviews; I like to form my own opinions unless I am deciding on a book.

So, that's where I am. More updates to follow!


Kindle Deals

The 1965 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literature, "The Keeper of The House" is the story of a successful family following the War of 1812, whose success is threatened after their mixed-race heritage is discovered. A story of love and hate, acceptance and prejudice. $1.99.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" was a hit a couple of years ago, although I couldn't bring myself to soil Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (and I LOVE zombies). But I do love the opening line:
       "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains
        must be in want of more brains."
Elizabeth Bennett is a determined zombie hunter, but when she meets Mr. Darcy she is thrown off her game. $2.79.

The Arthur C. Clarke classic, although we know that it did not come true in 2001. $1.99. 
Kindle Singles are a quick read and usually well written, and this one is funny and poignant all at the same time. "Almost Tall" is the story of a 14 year-old midwestern ballerina sent to live with her rich uncle and his 'mercurial" partner in NYC. $1.99. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Doctor Sleep is FINALLY available and The Deals of The Day

Today is the day I have been waiting for--Doctor Sleep is finally here!! At 5:00 this morning I checked my Kindle and it had downloaded--I still think it is amazing that books arrive just like that. But I also loved the pre-Kindle days when I would order a book (thinking the later Harry Potters) and it would arrive the day of release. I also got excited, and still get excited, when the a book I requested from the library is FINALLY available.

I haven't started reading yet, and I realize that all my excitement will probably lead to some sort of let-down. But I'm kind of a King geek (my college lit profs and I would go round and round about him. I still think he is a great writer, and just because he can scare the bejesus out of me doesn't mean he can't set a scene and create real, deep, believable characters), so even a little let down will make me read it again. And maybe again after that.

I also am nearly finished with a book that I am enjoying, and it is a library book that I waited for and downloaded as soon as it was available (and said a quiet 'yes' when it did become available.) It isn't as good as I hope Doctor Sleep will be, but it is good. It is another series I have followed for years--Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus by Faye Kellerman. The latest one is The Beast, and I will finish it before I read King. But I am hoping to start Doctor Sleep tonight or tomorrow. So, I will slog through work today, read the other book during stolen moments, and get to my newest book as soon as possible.


Deals For Today

$.99 This version is awesome for Kindle Fires, as it has pop-up text that shows up beautifully over vivid pictures. Fun for kids AND their parents.  Curious George and The Birthday Surprise is also available for $.99. 

This looks like a really great book. "The Disenchanted Widow" is the story of a widow in the 1980's and her young son in Ireland, running from the IRA who believe they have the ill-gotten gains from a bank heist. She ends up in an Ulster town, where a mystery needs to be solved. $3.99. 

Very much chick-lit and lots of fun. "Changing Lanes" is the story of Abby Halliday, a woman whose dreams of a perfect life fall apart and she comes to terms with imperfection. $1.99.

I loved this book. I bought it as soon as I found out it was JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. I actually had been looking at it prior to that, but just hadn't bought it. She does a great job of setting up a mystery and creating a believable cast of characters. "The Cuckoo's Calling" is worth a read. $5.99. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good deals for Monday, September 23rd

Lately there's been a lot of Vonnegut available at unbelievable prices. "Slapstick" is a little 'unstructured' but is an interesting read. It is supposedly pretty biographical. It's the story of twins who are very 'in sync' (not like Justin Timberlake) in feelings and communication, relating to Vonnegut's own relationship with his sister, who died of cancer in childhood. $1.99.

"Descent" is a memoir by the author of "Snow Falling On Cedars" (which, if you have not read, you should), telling the story of his descent into depression following 9/11, and his slow ascent back to his family, friends and writing. $2.99.
I have not read this one yet, but I bought it when it was a little more expensive than this price. It looks very good. "The Sisterhood" is the story of a child adopted after a tragedy in South America and raised in the US by a good family. At age 19, on track to have it all, another tragedy derails her. She travels to Spain to finish her college thesis on a 16th century artist who has connections with her past. $3.99. 

A wonderful children's book by Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman from cookbook and Food Network fame. Charlie, The Ranch Dog is very cute, very loveable, and a favorite of my younger daughter. $1.99. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good deals for today and re-scaring myself with The Shining in anticipation of Doctor Sleep

Every day I scour Amazon for the best deals, trying to find the gems among the dirt and dust. Mind you, there are a lot of great authors writing today, and many are doing direct publishing, so I know I miss a bunch. Thinking too hard about this can make me crazy--I want to read everything worth reading, but this means sifting through the others that might not be so worth my time. But then there are those books that may hold in them lots of promise; the book might not be great, but you know that author will do well.

I'm going to take some time every few days (maybe everyday? but no promises) to highlight 'GEMS' I have found. I know there are a lot of places to find the 'deals', so I really only want to do those that are worth buying. A deal is only a deal if you're going to read it, right?

P.D. James is always a good bet, especially for $1.99. "Unnatural Causes" revolves around a famous author found dead in a lake with both hands cut off, and Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh is called upon to solve the mystery. James creates a cast of unlikable authors, making you wonder WHO she's talking about.

I LOVED this book. Vincent Zandri had some set backs in his earlier career, but took to direct publishing to get his books and himself back out there. "The Innocent" is a great mystery for $1.99.

Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News" is one of the best books I've read. I loved this book, and love her as a writer.  This story of a writer who returns to his 'ancestral' home of Newfoundland with his two daughters after his wife is killed, this book won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Well worth the $1.99.

"That's your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on."

I decided to re-read The Shining in anticipation of Doctor Sleep and was pleasantly surprised. I first attempted to read this book when I was eight, at which point my mother discovered it and took it away from me in horror after nightmares kept me awake for a few nights. I went back to it in my teen years, and read it at least three more times. And then I put it away as childish.

Don't get my wrong, I love Stephen King. And The Shining was a must for a child of Colorado, growing up not far from Estes Park. The Stanley Hotel is said to be The Overlook, although it is in Estes Park and not higher up, and it is reachable in the winter. But there came a time when I believed I had outgrown that kind of scary, forgetting how psychologically scary The Shining actually is.

I re-read this just in time for the sequel Doctor Sleep, about 35 years after The Shining. And it is just a creepy-scary, just as real. Just like many books, re-reading it creates a different feeling. Reading it as a child I identified with Danny, the young son with "the shining." This time I'm a mother and a wife and I read it identifying with Wendy AND Jack. Both are flawed but wanting to be better, but sometimes the demons find you.

And, like most Americans, the movie has snuck into my thinking. I remember both Jack and Wendy differently because of the movie (which is good, but doesn't do them justice). In the movie, Jack lets the evil in easily, which doesn't happen in the book. And Wendy is a dishrag of a woman, which she definitely is not in King's original version of her.

So, this book still scared me, maybe more than in my youth, because you know, as an adult, how hard it is to keep all the demons out (although we usually don't have to deal with a possessed hotel). Even beyond that, it scared me in a things-that-go-bump-in-the-night kind of way. It made me wished I had read it just slightly slower, because I still have two days to wait for Doctor Sleep.