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 »

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.