Mountaineering Checkpoint!

Well, six months into the Mount TBR Challenge hosted by Bev over at My Reader's Block. Since we are at the half-way point, she is hosting a checkpoint update with some prompts.

First up: personal progress

I have finished 10 out of 12 books. I choose to climb Pike's Peak and am already 83% through my climb! Woohoo!! The ten books that I have finished from my TBR are:

1. The Host by Stephenie Meyer {review}
2. Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler {review}
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen {review}
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn {review}
5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer {review}
6. Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu {review}
7. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron {review}
8. A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron {review}
9. Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

10. Under the Dome by Stephen King {review}

Out of these ten, I have reviewed nine... I am pretty pleased with myself on that account!

Next up: longest on the pile

The book that was on my TBR the longest (of these ten) has to be Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I remember yearssss ago (when it first came out!) my mom read it with her book club. She told me I would love it, but I just never got around to it. It was definitely one of those books that I never should have let sit on my TBR for so long. It was a fabulous read and I was so happy when I finally did get around to reading it. It is likely that I wouldn't have ever gotten to it if it wasn't for this challenge either!

So, how are my fellow mountain climbers doing?? Anyone else feeling especially accomplished? Jump in on the conversation over at Bev's blog on this link-up post.

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

Under the Dome

I have been absent for the blog for a few weeks because I was working my way through the 1072 pages that make up Stephen King's Under the Dome. I was determined to focus solely on this bulky and get it finished before the CBS mini series started on Monday the 24th of June. Well, I met my goal and I finished Under the Dome on Sunday, the night before the mini series premiered. I carried it around with the intention of starting it for about 2 weeks before I actually dove in. I started reading on June 1st and finished it on June 23rd. Hence the lack of blogging during the month of June! Also, end of the school year is always crazy busy.
Synopsis from Amazon.com:
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away. 
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out. 

Sounds intriguing, right? This is one of those novels that I was lucky enough to find at a bargain outlet store for ridiculously cheap. I got the brand new hardcover for $10 - including the character cards! The character cards were a neat addition to the novel. I read through all of the cards before starting the book, which helped me form connections and follow the plot line as I read.
For such a large novel, I thought that King really kept the pace up. It just kept moving along and before I knew it I was 300 pages in... 500.. 800.. 900.. 1000.. and then it was over. I was extremely impressed with the pacing and the tone throughout the book - it wasn't so fast that it was overwhelming, but it was really easy to get swept away in the book.
King did a phenomenal job with the storytelling in this one too. It wasn't one long drawn out story, but a bunch of people experiencing the same event to form one big novel. Under the Dome follows some main characters (like Big Jim, Barbie, Julia, Junior, and Rusty), but it also follows all the minor players in Chester's Mill as well. It seemed as though everyone had a story and it was either woven into those of the main characters or given their own short life in the novel. Either way, every character almost had a main character appeal to them. Even the minor rolls were developed and enhanced throughout the novel.
The concept behind the story itself was also thought out very well. The idea of a dome encompassing a township and cutting them off from the rest of the world is creepy. Slightly end of the world apocalypse-ish, it brings the idea of being prepared for any emergency to the forefront. Not to mention the reactions of the people. When shit hits the fan, how crazy will it get?? The added element to The Dome is the idea of manipulation - there is something fishy going on and it has nothing to do with The Dome... or does it? These questions arise pretty quick and little pieces of the puzzle are revealed as the novel moves forward... just enough to keep us interested and craving answers. Deceit, manipulation, politics, religion, relationships, stereotypes, and power are all at play in this King novel. 
Many people have mentioned how "creepy" or "scary" this book was. Personally, I didn't feel that way at all. Maybe it is because I am desensitized to scary things, but in my opinion Under the Dome wasn't scary or creepy at all. It had a 'thriller' vibe, but that is because it is such an intense novel. For me, this hit more into the idea of weird science fiction. Interesting and really mysterious, but not scary. There is some typical King gore and blood, but aside from that I wasn't scared. That disappointed me, but really doesn't weigh in on my overall thoughts on the book.
Now, I've read a lot of Stephen King. Love him, in fact. He is a great author. He does have a "thing" though (in my opinion)... and that thing is endings. Sometimes his books just fizzle out and don't end strong. For me, I felt that way with Under the Dome. I have no better ideas for an ending, but I definitely wasn't blown away. For such an intense and strong book for all of its 1000 pages, the last 72 kind of just went out with a whimper for me.
Overall, regardless of the fizzled out ending, I loved this book. It was easy to read and follow -- which I wasn't so sure would happened with a 1000+ page book that needed character cards. The plot was interesting and held its power throughout the entire novel. Characters were awesome and like I said earlier, it seemed like everyone in Chester's Mill was important. The conspiracy theory aspects (as well as the small-town politics and deceit) were very interesting and quite realistic. This novel may be a bulky, but it is well worth the read. Stephen King did a great job with this one, and I would certainly recommend it to his fans and to fans of science fiction.
Oh, and I watched the first episode (more on that later into the mini series) and might I suggest strongly that you read the book first. Seriously. Read the book.

Bravo! 4 stars!

Since this was such a long book to get through, it went many places with me... here are a few of my Under the Dome reading views:
Just getting into it - 1000 pages to go!
It came along me on an afternoon that Bear was bartending
Rainy day reading on the couch
Chocolate, wine, and a bubble bath while reading
More wine.
Reading with a lakeview
...and finally finished.

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

This one was on the TBR for awhile.



Hi guys! It has been awhile ... I was in a bit of a blogging slump, because I was dedicated to finishing one very long amd very large book without interruption. Granted, it took me longer than expected ... but it is finished and now I'm ready to hop back into the blogging world.
Right now I am reading two books that are both very interesting and will be up for review next week. As for that bulky read.... I will review that this week. Anyone know what it is based on that picture?? One hint: I had to finish it before Monday the 24th.


The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters is a mix between pre-apocalypse and crime mystery. If that isn't enough to intrigue you, then I don't know what is! When I first heard that The Last Policeman was a combination of those two sub-genres I was instantly interested in reading this. Not to mention the fact that it is a trilogy, and I am always up for a good series!

About the book:
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?
The Last Policeman offers a story we've never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Book trailer:

My thoughts:
Like I said earlier, I was very pleased to have this book come my way. I thought the synopsis was extremely interesting and that the idea of a pre-apocalyptic tale would be cool. (yes, I just used the word "cool")
When it arrived on my doorstep, I was pleasantly surprised by the cover and the sweet poster that Eric Smith sent along as well. Side note: that poster now proudly hangs above the classroom library and has inspired my middle school students to request the book when I finished it.
I digress. So, I began reading The Last Policeman with seriously high hopes for the series. The idea of a asteroid connecting with Earth and destroying humanity is terrifying and thrilling. I really hoped that with this premise, along with a police mystery, would be an equation for an amazing story.
It was, but it wasn't. I was happy with the book and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away either. Winters is an excellent author and did a great job creating the character of Detective Palace and setting the scene on which this story unfolds. Knowing this is a trilogy, I have to take that into consideration when I think back to the beginning of this novel. While reading, I felt that it just took much too long to get into the meat and potatoes of the story. I understand that in a series it is essential to lay a foundation on which the story can develop, but for me it was just a tad bit too much here. I struggled to get into the book and stay engaged.... that is, until I got about halfway through. THEN things picked up.
As Palace gets deeper into the mystery of his hanger, I couldn't put the book down. Once things really got moving, this novel had some serious heat. The asteroid was there, hanging out in the background, while this gigantic mystery begins to unfold... and then Winters throws in a small little tidbit of information that opens up a whole new can of worms.. and oh do I hope hope hope that this little tidbit of conspiracy theory is a big part of the rest of this series.
Winters may have bored me a bit in the beginning, but looking back with the lens of a series foundation, I get it and appreciate it. Once The Last Policeman got moving, I was caught in Winters grasp and am now waiting with baited breath for the next novel to come out.

About the series:
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters released last July to rave reviews. It has since been translated into 6 languages and was the recipient of the 2013 Edgar Award for best paperback original. The series continues this coming July with the release of the second book in the trilogy: Countdown City: The Last Policeman II. I am very excited for this next installment! If you haven't read The Last Policeman yet, go grab it so you are ready this July!

About the author:
BEN H. WINTERS is a New York Times best-selling author (Quirk’s Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) and an Edgar Award nominee (for the HarperCollins YA novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkelman). His most recent novel, Bedbugs (Quirk, 2011), was hailed by Vanity Fair as a “diabolical tale of paranoia.” He lives in Indianapolis, IN.

{Summary, book & author information, and video provided by Quirk Books}

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

FTC: I received The Last Policeman from Quirk Books in exchange for a fair and honest review
I am an Amazon Affiliate