Full Dark, No Stars

I picked Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King for my Peril of the Short Story section of RIP 7. I've had a ton of fun reading and participating in RIP 7 and am happy that I joined in. I was certainly exposed to books I wouldn't normally pick up, like this short story collection. They just aren't my cup of tea. BUT, this is Stephen King. That makes it a whole new ball game. I finished up Full Dark, No Stars last week and I must say- it was amazing. I love Stephen King. His writing is beautiful yet terrifying. I'm always a bit suspicious of short story collections, but this was definitely phenomenal. It was just as creepy as any of King's full length novels.

Reading Full Dark, No Stars at one of Maddie's soccer practices
Full Dark, No Stars contains four grisly tales from master of the eerie, Stephen King. The version that I picked up was the May 2011 paperback reprint edition by Gallery Books, which also included a fifth tale titled "Under the Weather". I was thrilled to purchase this book at Ollie's for a mere $2.99 -- woohoo bargain books!

Let me first say that I love the version I purchased. I think this cover is much more eye-catching than the hardcover version. KING plastered across the top does, as always, scream "buy me!" (well, at least for me!). King's writing is plain spectacular, without a doubt.
Full Dark, No Stars features the short stories "1922", "Big Driver", "Fair Extension", "A Good Marriage", and included in this paperback version, "Under the Weather". I certainly enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, but do have thoughts on each in their own respect. I will just breifly touch on them, as I do not want to provide any spoilers.

  • The first story, "1922" starts this book out with a bang. It is intense and thrilling, leaving you guessing until the end. I think this is one of the best in the book, and am pleased that this is what leads the book. It definitely plunges you into the creep-tastic land that is Stephen King's mind.
  • The second tale, "Big Driver" was gruesome. There were some moments when I had to put the book down for a break- some scenes were so disturbing that I needed to take time away to clear my mind of the images. I did like the story, even if it was quite upsetting at times.
  • "Fair Extension" is well-placed in the book. I thought this was the weakest of the stories. It is the shortest of the four main tales and in my opinion, is better off for that. The story didn't feel fully developed to me, and the ending kind of left me hanging. Strange, but not really scary or creepy, which is what I like from King.
  • The conclusion of Full Dark, No Stars comes full circle with "A Good Marriage". This one was by far my favorite of the stories. Not only was this story grisly and terrifying, it was also thought-provoking. It really put into mind intense situations viewed from the inside. I think it gave readers a reason to question when they are being told, in a non-judgmental way.
  • Lastly, my version contained the story "Under the Weather". A short addition to the book, I thought it was okay. It didn't blow me away but it didn't disappoint me either. I did find it predictable, but I know that MANY people reviewed it as being shocking too. Maybe I just watch to many horror flicks.

In all, this book is a great collection of disturbing stories that is sure to set your hair on edge and prickle your skin. Stephen King once again delivers exactly what his readers want: gruesome, interesting, scary, thought-provoking tales. I would highly recommend this to any King fan and to those looking for a few good scary stories. This is a great book for cuddling in a blanket on a dark and stormy night!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Graveyard Book

I recently read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for RIP 7 and the October Read-Along, and I am completely impressed with Neil Gaiman's writing and this story. I have not experienced any Neil Gaiman books, although I have seen the movie Coraline which is based on Gaiman's work. Without RIP 7 I probably never would have read this book and for that, I am grateful. Thanks to RIP 7 I enjoyed this magical tale and will certainly be reading more of Gaiman's work.

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

From the very beginning of this tale, Gaiman puts the reader on the edge of his seat and wondering. Who is the man named Jack and why did he kill Nobody Owen's family- and why on earth is a man out looking for a baby to murder?! We enter the graveyard with Bod and the man named Jack in pursuit. There we meet who is to become Bod's family and where he will subsequently live. Imagine, a baby being raised by ghosts and growing up in a graveyard. Sounds both mystifying and heartbreaking; which is exactly what this story evokes.
Bod grows up  in the graveyard among ghosts as he tries to navigate through his adolescence. What will happen to a little boy raised in such a dark place?
Gaiman wrote this story in such a beautiful and haunting way. Some parts are terrifying and others are lovely. Filled with beautiful language and a setting that is strangely stunning in my imagination. I could see the graveyard where Bod was living and learning. The characters are also wonderfully developed- with enough mystery to keep the reader guessing but enough connection to feel like you know these members of the graveyard.
I discussed the middle chapters of this book in a previous post, which can be found here. If you click along to RIP 7 and the Graveyard Book discussion pages, you will uncover many views and pieces to the puzzle by other readers who joined the October read-along. I cannot say more except that Gaiman composed an extraordinary tale.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



As most of you are aware, I subscribe to the eReader News Today newsletter, where I get daily updates of new Kindle books that are currently free. I often grab a fair amount for free and peruse them later... sometimes I question the purchase, sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and sometimes I get freebies that I've been waiting for. 

Okay, so long story short: 
I purchased (for free) 54 Ways to Save Money on Gas! by Dan Eitreim the other day & browsed through it last night.
I don't even know what to say about this. First of all, it starts off with a disclaimer... basically to make sure I don't sue the author or publisher for any information that may be misleading or incorrect. Okay fine, I get it- things change after publication and they want to cover their asses.

So I started reading and must say that I pretty much just glossed over. I read the 54 tips and for all but a few, I just skimmed the paragraphs breaking down the tip. This book was filled with "duh" moments. Almost all of the tips were common sense... like take the bus or take fewer trips to the store... gee, thanks for pointing out the obvious. Some of the tips were ones that I knew because I took the time to learn about basic (and I mean VERY basic) car information... like tire pressure and changing the oil and filters. Again, thanks for recapping what my Dad taught me when I was 16. I know I'm being a bit snarky, but I totally felt led on by this book. I was thinking I'd learn some tricks, when in reality most of it was stuff I knew or stuff that its just plain common sense. BUT, I did find a few useful tips that I had been unaware of or just forgotten. One was buy gas on Wednesday- it is typically the cheapest day of the week (oh, and along with that thought process, buy 3 days before any holiday- that I did know already). Another is to buy in the morning-- I knew this, but didn't know why.. the book did explain the science behind this which was cool. Lastly, I learned that you shouldn't ever let your tank get to E and when you fill up, always fill up all the way but don't "top off" to get that last teeny gas squeeze (it'll just end up evaporating anyways). The whole "don't get to E" was interesting too- apparently sludge & gas nastiness is at the bottom of your tank and it can make your engine wear faster of you're always running on that last gunky bit of gas in the tank.

Basically, don't pay for this book. It is not worth it. The $3 is better spent on (less than) a gallon of gas. I'm glad it was free, because if I paid for this I would feel completely duped. Even still, I was annoyed that I wasted my time with the book- sure it was a quick read, but I can't ever get that time back! Haha. Even for the few tips I did take away, I'm pretty sure that none of it is going to make me save any considerable amount of money.
Oh well. At least I know that my "always fill up in the morning" mantra is actually scientifically backed.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Graveyard Book Discussion II

I'm currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman as part of RIP VII and our October Read-Along. RIP VII mastermind, Carl, is the our fearless host for this read-along. We're reading the book in 3 sections from Oct 1st - Oct 21st, with discussion posts throughout. Of course, being the non-organized and busy blogger that I am, I didn't write up a discussion post of the first chapters. Oops. So, before I delve into discussing chapters 4 - 6, I will give you a few thoughts on the first chapters.

Overall, The Graveyard Book quickly sucked me in, especially in the first few chapters. Right from the get-go I was interested in the man Jack and his motives. Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Owens was a pleasure, and the entire concept of ghosts raising a live baby is fascinating. As the story unfolded before me, I was searching for snippets of information pertaining to Bod and his rearing in a graveyard. The language and formalities in The Graveyard Book are both magical as they span centuries.
The illustrations are also a beautiful edition to the story. I have the Kindle edition, but think I will likely end up purchasing the hardcover so the gorgeous illustrations.

Basically, I was swooning over the first few chapters of The Graveyard Book. I was quickly falling in love. As I plugged along as a fierce pace, I was falling even more in love with Neil Gaiman and his writing. It is simply spectacular. Being the first Gaiman book I have ever read, I wasn't sure what to expect. Plain and simple- blown away.

Bod is such a sweet sweet boy. In chapter 4 (The Witch's Headstone) we get to see his curiosity continue to flourish as he tries to uncover (and help!) the resident witch. Bod begins to show signs of independence as he  once again disobeys his parents and guardian. I was certainly on the edge of my seat when he went in to town and tried to pawn the brooch- and what exactly IS up with the brooch?? It sounds stunning and I totally want to know more.

The Danse Macabre was a bit confusing to me, it seemed somewhat out of place in the story. I did enjoy the songs that were sung throughout that chapter. Quite poetic, actually.

The Interlude awoke my questions about the man Jack... what exactly is going on?? I am thrown off and once again thinking back to the very first chapter where we first meet the man Jack. 

The 6th chapter, Nobody's Owens' School Days, has a great message about bullying and standing up for others but also a bit about ego and growing up. I think Bod got a little bit high and mighty in this chapter, especially in the way he handles the bullies. I loved Silas' role in this chapter as well, especially how he saves the day. Overall, I enjoyed this chapter and had a difficult time stopping myself from reading on!

How are the rest of you enjoying the book so far? I know it is a re-read for many of the RIP VII participants, so I am interested in reading your posts & hearing your opinions on the chapters, especially with the knowledge of the rest of Bod's adventure in the graveyard and beyond. Check out other participants and link up your thoughts over on Carl's blog.
I'll be seeing you all around the blogosphere this week!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


RIP Movie Review: The Tall Man

Last week I was trolling around on Netflix and stumbled across The Tall Man, a thriller starring Jessica Biel that was released to DVD on the 25th of September. It is an "English-language French mystery film". As I was looking for some screen shots and movie posters to add this this review, I stumbled upon some reviews- mostly poor. Now, I cannot say that this movie was in any way scary and I certainly wouldn't even put it into the mystery category. I would call this more of a psychological thriller. The premise of the movie is based around the legend of The Tall Man- a dark and mysterious man who steals the local children, never to be seen again. The main character is Julia, a widowed mother who is also the local nurse. Her world is turned upside down when her son is stolen. When taken, Julia fights to find her son and take him back. As the story unfolds, the twists and turns get quicker and more substantial. I must admit that I was surprised by a lot of the twists, but did figure out the ending mid-way through. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the movie. The setting the dark and dismal, the characters were interesting, and the myth was intriguing. Not overly amazing, but certainly not disappointing. I would recommend this on Netflix for a filler movie when you're in search of something different and of a psychological thriller.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


FEED by Mira Grant

I admit that the cover is what drew me in. The story is what kept me there.

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
Synopsis from Goodreads

FEED (Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 1) by Mira Grant is not your average zombie book. Zombies play a pivotal  role in FEED, but so does blogging, the news, and politics. Part zombie horror and part political thriller, this novel was a lot to digest. The protagonists, Georgia and Shaun Mason are bloggers who have been invited to follow the campaign trail of Senator Peter Ryman, positioning for the Republican bid. It is 2039, and America has been living in a post-apocalyptic world. Kellis-Amberlee has been born, and is now a fact of life, creating zombies and destroying our world. As a result, the news is no longer popular in print, but a booming blogging industry has helped to mold the way people get their information. Georgia and Shaun are at the front of the pack. FEED follows the duo as they uncover some ugly truths about Kellis-Amberlee, the government, and the CDC.

I did enjoy this novel. It wasn't a 'typical' zombie novel. The political thriller aspect really added a new dimension to the sub-genre of zombie thrillers. The characters were well developed and the overall world was created with skill. Grant also did a fabulous job with the back-story of Kellis-Amberlee and the Mason's family. I find myself always searching for those answers in books, and she delivered. I can imagine that explaining the medical back-story of such is difficult, but Mira Grant explained it well enough that I feel like I can totally explain Kellis-Amberlee to anyone as if I was living during the zombie era.  I do feel as though the novel was a bit overworked at times, and a bit of a drag. I hit some spots where I just got a bit tired of it- not quite as fast-paced as I would have enjoyed. However, the overall concept is what pushed me through. I was beyond glad that I did, because as I moved further into the story and the political thriller became more evident,  the novel just propelled itself. The last chapters of FEED were all-consuming, and I just couldn't put it down. Grant has many twists and turns that keep the reader interested, but the ending was mind blowing. I was shocked and can honestly say that I didn't see it coming- which doesn't happen often. Thrilled and surprised, I closed FEED and was immediately anxious to continue the story with the next in the series, Deadline.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


RIP 7 update & scenes from reading

I've been away from the blog for much too long! Things have been busy the past few weeks with work and Autumn planning (we have a Fall Festival at work that I help organize for the kiddos and I've been busy making & baking around the house!). I have been reading and perusing the creepy movie scene. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Sinister next week (Oct 12) and cannot wait to go! I heard on the radio the other morning that it was so scary people are walking out of the theaters... FINALLY- a movie that may be worthy of true fear. I haven't seen a movie that freaked me out in ages, so I am hoping that Sinister is able to fill the void.
Reading has been slow though. My classroom just received our 14 Galaxy tablets and my time was spent diligently unlinking social networking, setting up the WiFi at work, creating student gmail accounts, and downloading and adding educational apps. Which, let me tell you- sounds like no big deal, but goodness gracious! It took for-ev-errrr. 

I've been reading FEED by Mira Grant and although I am enjoying it, it hasn't been holding my attention to plow through... I spent a lot of time at the doctors offices waiting this past few weeks, so I got a fair amount read there. However, I still have about 150 pages left, but I am determined to finish it by the weeks end. 

I've also begun The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for the RIP 7 October Read Along... that is on my Kindle and of course I just started it when my battery died. Ugh. Plopped her on the charger and I will resume reading this evening.

Recent scenes from my reading:
Reading FEED in the car, reading on the window seat in our hotel, FEED in bed, sometimes I hoop & read, reading Goblet of Fire aloud to my class, and reading in the doctors office
Saw this in a bathroom stall & just had to share!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow