Tag Archives: authors

Finders Keepers

finders-keepersAuthor: Stephen King

Bill Hodges Trilogy, vol. 2

My rating: 3.5 of 5

WARNING: MATURE AUDIENCE

In his obsession with the writings of reclusive author John Rothstein (whom he considers a sell out), Morris Bellamy devises a plan to break into the old man’s house and exact his revenge. There’s also the tantalizing rumor that Rothstein has been writing in private and has volumes of unreleased work hidden somewhere in his home. Morris’s plan works, and he gets away clean, burying dozens of Moleskine notebooks full of Rothstein’s writing as well as several thousand dollars in cash that Rothstein also kept in his safe . . . only to find himself imprisoned for life on other charges before he gets to read a single one of those notebooks. Decades later, thirteen-year-old Pete Saubers finds Morris’s buried treasure by accident. And who could fault a kid for secretly passing the money along to his struggling parents, bit by bit–or for obsessively reading the Rothstein notebooks, fueling an already burning passion for literature. But things get messy when Morris is released from prison and comes looking for what he buried (what he killed for) so long ago.

I have found every Stephen King book I’ve read so far to be quite enjoyable, including Finders Keepers. Having said that, I think King does his best work when there’s something paranormal involved. This book is more of a crime thriller, and while it’s still quite excellent, it’s not his best in my personal opinion. I should note that this is the middle volume of a loosely connected trilogy (preceded by Mr. Mercedes and followed by End of Watch), but it’s entirely possible to read it independently (I did) without missing much; all the background you really need is worked into the plot. I thought the characters were solid enough, although I never strongly connected with any of them–Pete and Holly were probably the closest I came, but even they weren’t particularly immediate to me. The plot was fairly interesting though, all of the seemingly disconnected pieces fitting together like a puzzle. As far as the pacing goes, this is a fairly slow-burn thriller, if that makes any sense at all. There’s definitely action, suspense, and intensity, but as far as the story chronology goes, it takes decades to build, and for the reader, it takes place over several hundred pages. I wouldn’t plan to read the whole thing through in one night, that’s all.  It never got boring or stalled out though, at least not for me. Fair warning that, since one of the characters is a murderer and a convict, this book has more than its fair share of violence and language, so don’t come complaining to me if it’s shocking. Just saying. One of the most fascinating aspects of Finders Keepers for me was the obsession the characters had with Rothstein’s story; that’s something I can sort of relate to, and it’s also a good warning. I think most of us can agree that Bellamy is just stark raving mad, completely losing sight of the boundaries between fiction and reality. The greater warning is Pete’s story, that fine wavering of those boundaries that we can explain away logically while still doing nutty things to feed our obsessions, losing sight of what’s really important–like the people we care about. In any case, although it’s not my favorite of King’s books, I still think Finders Keepers is a good read, especially for those who enjoy the crime genre.

 

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The Liebster Award

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Many thanks to Alysyn at reinreads for her gracious nomination.

The rules:

  1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers and link them.
  4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

The questions Alysyn posed for me (these were really challenging but fun!):

  1. What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
    That’s a hard one. I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve seen recently, and I don’t watch movies much. . . . I’d have to confess that some of the movies I’ve liked the least are Disney princess movies (don’t hate me!).  I just can’t get into them, especially after seeing incredible movies like Spirited Away.
  2. What artists or bands do you currently love?
    Do I have to pick? Umm, Valshe is in my CD player currently–I love her music, especially her Kagamine Len covers! I’ve also recently listened to the soundtrack from Wicked, a Babymetal album (super-good J-metal by cute little girls!), Lindsey Stirling, and David Crowder*Band. But picking favorites is no fair!
  3. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
    Cinnamon toast, hot cocoa, and Skip Bo around the kitchen table at my grandparents’ house with all the family together. Fun!
  4. Favorite book? (You can choose more than one)
    Favorites again? Not fair, and I really can’t pick, but some that I come back to frequently would include The Chronicles of Narnia (all of them, but especially The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle), Howl’s Moving Castle, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, A Wrinkle in TimeThe Lord of the Rings . . . and lots of others, of course.
  5. Favorite quotes?
    I probably should actually pick some favorite quotations. The only book quotation I use with any frequency (at least consciously) is “I object to that remark very strongly” from the bulldog in The Magician’s Nephew. Although when I think about it, there are a lot of other Narnia quotations that I really enjoy. I think the Maximum Ride books are oddly quotable as well. 😀
  6. It’s the end of the world! The only people left are you, the main actor/actress from the last movie you watched, your least favorite book character, & your favorite dead artist (writer, musician, what have you). Will you guys be okay?
    So let me get this straight, I’m facing the apocalypse with Amy Acker, Kurotsuchi Mayuri (is it too much of a stretch to pick a manga character?), and C. S. Lewis? I’m scared for the rest of the world . . . although a lot depends on whether Mayuri gets bored and turns on us (instead of trying to help us survive) or not.
  7. Puppy sized elephant or elephant sized puppy?
    Puppy-sized elephant. Totally. How cute can you get? Besides, Clifford’s great in theory, but Emily Elizabeth has clearly shown us the challenges of a dog that size.
  8. Pick one: a boat, a castle, a cottage, or a rocket. Make up a reason why.
    Cottage. Quiet, low maintenance . . . and there’s that fairy-tale flavor as well. Preferably a cottage with roses climbing all over it.
  9. Do you ship any characters? Or hate a ship?
    I tend to avoid non-canon pairings–and especially random non-canon slash pairings. How should I say this . . . I prefer to leave relationships as the author wrote them, as a general rule (although there are always exceptions, right?). I might occasionally go for an implied canon pair . . . Kuro/Fai, for instance, is <3.
  10. If money was of no concern, what would be the next thing you buy?
    I’d build an extension to use as a library–I’m seriously running out of room!
  11. What’s the nicest thing anybody has ever done for you?
    I can’t pick. Sorry. . . . But on a day-to-day basis, I think one of the things I value most is when people actually look me back in the eyes and smile. Truly. 🙂

And now, the questions I would like to ask are:

  1. What inspired you to begin blogging?
  2. Would you rather read books written in your native language, or do you like reading translated books from other countries?
  3. Favorite author? (You can pick more than one.)
  4. What little-known book do you really like? (I love finding obscure but wonderful volumes!)
  5. Conversely, what popular book can you just not bring yourself to enjoy?
  6. If you were in your own fairy tale, what kind of character would you be?
  7. If you could meet any historical figure, who would you most want to meet?
  8. Coffee or tea? Or do you avoid caffeine?
  9. Are there any musicians/musical groups that you particularly enjoy?
  10. What other forms of art (besides books) do you like?
  11. What are you looking for in other book blogs in the community?

And finally, I would like to nominate the following excellent blogs/bloggers for the Liebster Award:

  1. Summer @  Xingsings
  2. Laura @ Lorzy Porzy
  3. Anne @ Anne-thology of Books
  4. ahouseofbooks
  5. Cho @ Cho Novels (seriously, check out her original English light novel; it’s really good!)
  6. lightlit
  7. English Light Novels

I have to confess that most of the other blogs I enjoy have either already participated in this award already or already have way more than 200 followers. So . . . I’m limiting it to these seven that I really enjoy. You should check them out!

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Yesterday, I had the privilege to be nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Anastasia at Read & Survive. I am extremely honored, especially since I admire her blog very much and have found some great literary insights there. I really appreciate her nomination!

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The following are the rules regarding this award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you
  • List the rules and display the award
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

And so, without further ado, here are seven random facts about myself (mostly to do with books):

  1. I have been reading to myself since I was about six–and loving it the entire time!
  2. I adore having someone read aloud to me, although I don’t get to enjoy that as much as when I was little.
  3. I was introduced to the realm of manga and anime in college by some otaku friends there, and I’ve never taken a backward glance from the world of otaku.
  4. I really enjoy reading books aloud to little kids, especially when they get caught up in the story and start telling it with me!
  5. I’m a coffee addict. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll concur. I’m also a crazy cat person.
  6. My real-life job has absolutely nothing to do with books–which makes getting to read and then share about books in this blog even more precious and fun!
  7. I love music, especially J-Pop and Vocaloid, but also Electronica, Classical Crossover, Celtic, Jazz, Metal . . . basically anything except maybe mainstream pop.

As for blogs that I admire and would like to nominate, these are the ones I enjoy reading the most (besides Read & Survive):

  1.  The Picture Book Review–this site features reviews of numerous excellent picture books, including a lot of ones that you don’t normally see.  The variety is really nice! I also love the inclusion of actual responses from the writer’s young child.
  2. MegaMad 4 Books–solid reviews of YA books, particularly fantasy/sci-fi ones. Again, this site presents stories that I don’t pick up on when just browsing the shelves at the bookstore, and I really appreciate that.
  3. Shannon A. Thompson–an excellent contemporary author who writes about both her own books and about the writing process in general. She includes some insightful ideas regarding numerous writing topics which are likely to be helpful to aspiring authors..
  4. Start With Your Pen–original poetry that is beautiful, contemporary, and tinged with raw emotion. This is touching writing.
  5. Bookmark’d in Bangkok–I know, she’s already been nominated, but I heartily second the nomination. This blog features excellent reviews of a nice variety of both Western and Asian literature. I particularly appreciate the Asian books–I love reading them and am always grateful for info on which ones are interesting.

    (Please feel free to participate or not. And thank you for your inspiring writing!)

     

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The Color of My Words

Author: Lynn Joseph

Ana Rosa has spent the entire twelve years of her life in her small village in the Dominican Republic. She loves her Mami who cares for her and knows secrets about her that no one else does. She loves her Papi, even though he confuses and sometimes frightens her with his drinking and dreaming. And she loves her siblings, especially her big brother Guario who works hard for the family but who also guards secret dreams. What most people don’t know is that Ana Rosa also loves words. Every day she climbs up into her favorite gri gri tree and looks out on the world around her–her family, neighbors, her beautiful island, and the sea which speaks peace to her–and as she looks, she is flooded with the poetry of it all, with words longing to escape onto a page. Only, putting words on paper is dangerous in her country, and so she keeps her passion for words a secret as long as she can.

When I picked up The Color of My Words, I really didn’t know what to expect. What drew me initially was the lush colors on the cover; what kept me reading was the equally lush content. The setting is richly described both through the prose and through Ana Rosa’s poems which are scattered between chapters. And the political and cultural flavor of the place pervades the story, but is skillfully expressed so that what is shown is what a twelve-year-old would typically perceive. The character of Ana Rosa is interesting, as are the people around her. Also, the story hits a pivotal point in her life, such that the plot deals with a number of truly significant and universal issues in a way that is touching and insightful. Truly, I think The Color of My Words deserves a great deal more attention than it has received–you should check it out.

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Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Upon entering college, it seems everything in Cath’s life is changing. Her twin sister and built-in best friend, Wren, has decided not to room with her (a first in a lifetime for them) and is busy with friends and partying–so much so that she hardly seems herself. Cath’s own roommate, Reagan, is brusque and difficult to deal with; fortunately she’s not around that much. Worse, Reagan’s smooth and overly-nice boyfriend(?) Levi seems to be around the room more that Reagan is, parking in the hall outside to wait for Reagan and generally making Cath feel super uncomfortable. While being as super-nice as possible. Not to mention the social awkwardness of dining halls, the challenges of new classes, worrying over her manic dad, etc. Fortunately, Cath always has the world of fanfiction to escape to–a world where she is actually a well-respected and much-followed writer. Now if she can only meet the real world with the same ease that she does the written one.

Rainbow Rowell’s books seem to be taking the realm of young adult literature by storm, and having read Fangirl, I can understand why. The story deals with a huge variety of complex issues facing young adults today in an authentic manner that is also very fun to read. The emotions, the thoughts, the characters, and the situations all feel very real. I can relate to Cath easily. And neither the struggles nor the resolutions feel forced; nor is there a clean resolution to everything, which is nice as a reminder that in real life issues aren’t always just wrapped up that easily. There are a lot of relationships dealt with here–good family relationships, broken family relationships, users-who-parade-as-comrades, friendships, romance–and I appreciated Rowell’s treatment of all of them. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of fanfiction–both as an idea and as written clips included in the book. I feel like it fleshed out the characters, showed facets of their relationships that would have otherwise been hidden, and was just generally fun to read. I would read Magicath. Basically, Fangirl is a solid all-around young adult novel with a slightly geeky (okay, probably more than slightly) that I would highly recommend reading.

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My Life as a Human Hockey Puck

Author: Bill Myers

It’s an established fact that (whatever other talents he might lack) Wally McDoogle is the best writer around. So when his best friend Opera wins (read “beats Wally in”) a big writing contest–with an idea Wally gave him, no less–well, it’s understandable that Wally’s a bit upset. Rather than honestly deal with his wounded pride, however, Wally holds on to his jealousy and throws himself into finding another talent to let himself shine. The results are . . . painful to say the least.

Is it just me, or is My Life as a Human Hockey Puck even more painful than most of Wally’s stories? It’s a great illustration of the problems pride and jealousy can get us into–although most of us don’t get into quite such an extreme mess. (Wally does have a certain flair to his disasters.) It’s also a great picture of how precious good friends are, especially the ones who still love you even when you’re being an unreasonable jerk. And of course, the story is a comic hyperbolic tale of mayhem that will likely cause readers pain–those side-splints and aching jaws from laughing too much can be rough! My Life as a Human Hockey Puck is definitely a recommended read, particularly for middle-grade readers.

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Authors and Their Influence

In the course of many years of reading, I have frequently been impressed by the amount of influence writers have on those who follow them–or conversely, the extent to which authors are influenced by the books they have read. Although a writer’s style is completely his own, there will always be a certain spice, if you will, of the authors he has read that seeps in and pervades his works. I find it particularly enjoyable when authors openly acknowledge the writers who have had the greatest influence on them. For one, seeing the principle of influence at work is fascinating; it is often possible to see clearly the colors of the one author in the other’s writing. In addition, I have discovered numerous excellent writers in this way. I find that I frequently will like the books that are liked by the people whose books I like. I would encourage readers to pay attention to this influence as they are reading and to investigate the books that have influenced their favorite authors. It’s an exciting way to expand your library.

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