The Outsider

36124936

The Outsider

By:  Stephen King
Published:  2018
# of pages:  561
Challenges:  Full House (>500 pages), Monthly Motif (horror), R.I.P.
Quote:  “Anything is possible,” she said to the empty room. “Anything at all. The world is full of strange nooks and crannies.”

4stargreen

Goodreads description:

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face?

Review:  I finished the Bill Hodges series that starts with Mr. Mercedes.  There’s several references to the series and a recurring character in The Outsider.  I enjoyed the entire Bill Hodges series and this novel had a similar setup and the characters were similar.  However, The Outsider has more of a creepy/horror atmosphere.

The description of the book sums it up better than I can without spoiling the plot.  Overall, the book reminded me of an episode of the TV show “Supernatural.”  At the beginning I was trying to guess what was going on and even as I began to learn the truth, I was still curious about how the characters were going to deal with the situation.

King is great at writing creepy and disturbing characters.  But he’s also great at writing good characters who have compassion and a desire to find out the truth.  This book is no exception and I really liked the character Ralph Anderson who reminded me of Bill Hodges and Danny from Doctor Sleep.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Interesting story, good characters, intriguing horror atmosphere.

Firstlife

25785357

Firstlife

By:  Gena Showalter
Published:  2016
# of pages:  467
Series:  Everlife (#1)
Quote:  “That’s not our way,” Archer says. “Death isn’t the answer. Where there’s breath, there’s hope.”

4stargreen

Goodreads description:

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

My review:  My husband listened to this on an audio book and went on to listen to the rest of the series.  He really enjoyed the story so I decided to check it out as well!  This is a fun beginning to what will probably be a fun series.  While the concept of the book is thought provoking, this isn’t an overly emotionally deep story.

At the beginning of the book I found myself frustrated over how silly the whole concept of choosing a realm during life seemed.  At least, to the extent of sending your kids to be tortured to ensure they choose the “right” side.  But as the book progressed I began to understand it more and I realized that for some people, this isn’t neccessarily a fantasy.  There’s plenty of religious people in the real world who manipulate, persecute, discriminate, and even kill all because of a belief that their belief is more important than other people’s beliefs.

The down sides were that at points it became hard to track who was Ten’s current “favorite” and who was rescuing her from the numerous bad situations in which she found herself.  Back and forth, back and forth, it all kind of ran together.  But overall this was an entertaining story that I recommend to fans of YA fantasy.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Interesting story idea, fast paced, entertaining.

R.I.P. XIII

twitter-avatar-2It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Autumn will officially start in a couple of weeks, but my favorite challenge of all time started September 1!  It’s year 13 of the R.I.P. Challenge!

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

The goals are simple. 

1. Have fun reading.

2. Share that fun with others.

Peril the First

  1.  Heart-Shaped Box  by: Joe Hill
    153025
  2. The Outsider  by: Stephen King
    36124936
  3.  In a Dark, Dark Wood  by: Ruth Ware
    27834600
  4.  The Visitors  by: Catherine Burns
    33255542

 

Peril of the Short Story

Spooky South
1029465

 

Peril on the Screen

A Quiet Place
MV5BMjI0MDMzNTQ0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM5NzM3NDM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

10 binge worthy TV shows

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week’s theme is 10 binge worthy TV shows or amazing movies.  These are my favorite shows, whether they are complete series or still airing.  However, if they are still airing, they are shows that I’ve watched several seasons of (with the exception of “Outlander”…I’ve only seen the first season!)

MV5BNGEzYjIzZGUtNWI5YS00Y2IzLWIzMTQtMGJhNDljZDkzYzM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTA4NzY1MzY@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
Firefly

Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.

 

MV5BZDNhNzhkNDctOTlmOS00NWNmLWEyODQtNWMxM2UzYmJiNGMyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTMxMjgxMzA@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_
Breaking Bad

A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.

 

MV5BMTQ3NDA1ZWYtYjBmMC00NmJjLWI1NjgtYjg2NDhmMTY2YWQ4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzA5NjUyNjM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
Gilmore Girls

A dramedy centering around the relationship between a thirtysomething single mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut.

 

 

MV5BMTc1NTg1MDk3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDYyMjI3._V1_UY268_CR13,0,182,268_AL_
Battlestar Galactica

When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurface and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protect a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.

 

MV5BNDVkYjU0MzctMWRmZi00NTkxLTgwZWEtOWVhYjZlYjllYmU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTA4NzY1MzY@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
Friends

Follows the personal and professional lives of six 20 to 30-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan.

 

 

MV5BMTUyODg0NzM4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDkyOTg1MzI@._V1_UY268_CR16,0,182,268_AL_
Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters”, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

 

MV5BMjA0MDc1NTk0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTk2ODA5NDM@._V1_UY268_CR16,0,182,268_AL_
New Girl

After a bad break-up, Jess, an offbeat young woman, moves into an apartment loft with three single men. Although they find her behavior very unusual, the men support her – most of the time.

 

MV5BMTU1NDc3NzYxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTgyMjQyNjM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
Outlander

An English combat nurse from 1945 is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743.

 

 

MV5BMTA5MzAzNTcyNjZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDUyMzE1MTk@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
How I Met Your Mother

A father recounts to his children, through a series of flashbacks, the journey he and his four best friends took leading up to him meeting their mother.

 

MV5BMjA4NjUzNTk4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI1OTY0NTM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
Arrested Development

Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educated

35133922

Educated: A Memoir

By:  Tara Westover
Published:  2018
# of pages:  334
Challenge:  Full House (memoir), A to Z
Quote:  “To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s. I have often wondered if the most powerful words I wrote that night came not from anger or rage, but from doubt: I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

5stargreen

Goodreads description:

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

My review:  This was an incredibly interesting memoir.  My mom had told me a little about it, but I wasn’t prepared for the shock of all the details put together.  I grew up in a conservative religious homeschool community and at the risk of exaggerating my upbringing or trying to “one up” Westover’s story, I could at times see some similiarities (thankfully not the violent aspects).  I’ve said it many times over the years, but I’m glad my parents weren’t as legalistic as many of the parents in our community and now I’m even more glad.  I’ve changed a lot over the years and while I’ve retained some of my upbringing, there’s even more I’ve left behind.  Times are changing and I have hope for the future.  Westover’s memoir gives me even more hope.

The sad aspects, besides what’s stated in the book’s description, is the confusion and heartache Westover experienced as she left her family behind.  I often hear people judging women who live in abusive environments.  Why don’t they leave?  Can’t they see they aren’t safe and their life is literally at stake?  If they obviously have the means to leave, what’s keeping them in the relationship?  This problem isn’t unique to Westover.  We’ve all heard about people who remain in abusive relationships and situations, as confusing as it seems to outsiders.  So Westover’s accounts of her struggle is incredibly honest.

I also appreciated the gradual change she made in her worldview.  Not everything she had been taught was wrong, but she had to analyze everything and come to her own conclusions.  Sometimes she admitted she didn’t have the answers and didn’t understand.  I think that’s a mark of a truly educated person.  I’ve tried to do that in my own life.  Religion, politics, lifestyles…I’ve had to think about all of that and accept that other people think and live differently.  Another quality of an educated person is to continue thinking about these things and being open to change.

I wish Westover happiness and acceptance in her future.  I also recommend this book to everyone because it’s important to realize that as foreign as her previous situation sounds to many of us, it still happens to people in this modern era in which we live.  Take it from me, it’s thought provoking and will make you think about your own upbringing, beliefs, and actions.

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars:  Well written, interesting subject, thought provoking.

10 covers that feature school supplies

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  Today’s theme is back to school and I copied That Artsy Reader Girl and chose books with school supplies on the cover.

I’ll start with the book I’m reading right now:

35133922

 


Educated  
by: Tara Westover  (pencil)

 

 

40188426

 


Mosquitoland  
by: David Arnold  (backpack)

 

 

32571395

 


One of Us is Lying  
by: Karen McManus  (notebook paper)

 

 

13079982

 


Fahrenheit 451  
by: Ray Bradbury  (book)

 

 

28372019

 


The Bookshop on the Corner  
by: Jenny Colgan  (books)

 

 

27213208

 


The
Muse  by: Jessie Burton (paintbrushes, typewriter)

 

 

16119664

 


Life in Outer Space  
by: Melissa Keil  (laptops)

 

 

12383869

 


Sever  
by: Lauren DeStefano  (globe, books)

 

 

7937843

 

Room  by: Emma Donoghue  (fingerpaints)

 

 

 

1029898

 

Loving Lefties: How to Raise Your Left-Handed Child in a Right-Handed World  by: Jane M. Healey  (chalkboard)

 

 

The Astonishing Color of After

35604686

The Astonishing Color of After

By:  Emily X.R. Pan
Published:  2018
# of pages:  462
Quote:  “Nothing is right, she says. The only three words I catch. If someone had asked me, I would’ve said that everything seemed right except for my mother, who seemed totally wrong, and that in turn made everything else feel dark and stained. I would’ve carved out my heart and brain and given them to her just so she could feel right again.”

3stargreen

Goodreads description:

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

My review:  Part of this hit close to home since it’s in part about a mother struggling with depression.  So maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy this book more, it was heartbreaking at times.  It was a beautifully written book, but it was hard for me to immerse myself in the story.

The story is about Leigh, who is an average teenager until her mother dies by suicide one afternoon while she’s hanging out with her best friend and crush, Axel.  One day, while she’s in the midst of grieving, a package is delivered by a bird that Leigh recognizes as her mother.  The package contains photographs and information about her mom’s family in Taiwan.  She travels to visit her grandparents and begins a journey of making new memories with her grandparents and uncovering the memories of her grandparents and parents in the process.

The story was long and felt disjointed at times.  I think it was supposed to feel that way, but it kind of lost me.  But like I said before, I think part of my reluctance to read was the way it made me feel personally as a mom dealing with depression.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Beautiful narrative, but a little too drawn out and disjointed.