August 24, 2022 · 10:40 am
Paul Tremblay popped up on my radar when Stephen King promoted A Head Full of Ghosts on Twitter. After being totally unnerved by Ghosts, I put Tremblay on the list of authors I’d follow for a couple of books and see where things went.
The good news is that, so far, that’s paid off.
Tremblay’s latest offering, The Pallbearers Club just may finally put him on the list of automatic “I will read anything this author publishes.”
While it’s not quite as spine-tingling as Ghosts, is just as page-turning and entertaining. Art Barbara is a high-school outcast, looking to enhance his college applications by starting a club. In this case, it’s the pallbearers club, a group devoted to attending funerals of the forgotten in the community and helping with various parts of the ritual. Flyers around town bring Paul into the orbit of Mercy, a mysterious girl who expands Paul’s musical horizons and may be more than she’s letting on.
The Pallbearers Club is a vampire story without necessarily falling victim to all the tropes of a vampire story. Art narrates most of the story, though there are edits made by Mercy and reactions to what he’s written. As a narrator, Art is self-deprecating and hyper-aware. As a critic, Mercy is spot-on at multiple points. The on-page banter between these two is delightful and part of what makes this novel so much fun.
The other is that Tremblay is clearly having a lot of fun with the horror genre here. The blend of horror with rock music history is one of the book’s biggest selling points. But it may be the point that divides fans a great deal — and from what I see in the online review world, this book feels fairly polarizing.
Put me down as loving it.
August 19, 2022 · 12:49 pm
After finishing Garrison Keillor’s last Lake Wobegon novel, I felt like Keillor had reached a good stopping point for his fictional small town.
Alas, Keillor didn’t feel the same way and presents us with another novel set in his fictional hometown. But while The Wobegon Virus left me feeling satisfied, Boom Town felt a bit like a last-second renewal for a once great show that while it doesn’t necessarily tarnish the reputation of the show, doesn’t exactly do it any great favors.
Boom Town finds Keillor returning to his fictional hometown for the funeral of a friend and finding out that his hometown is finally getting with the times and changing in unexpected ways. In the wake of Covid-19 and people realizing you can work from anywhere (so long as you have WiFi), Lake Wobegon is surging again and the people moving into town are a very different sort (for example, they get the town to pass an ordinance banning the Norwegian bachelor farmers from sitting on a bench all day).
Keillor also reflects on his time, growing up in the town, and his first adult relationship in a pivotal summer. Years later, the object of his desire is dying slowly and Keillor has to come to grips with that, as well as offer observations of the status of marriage.
And herein lies my biggest issue with Boom Town. Keillor seems to fall victim to the same pitfall that plagued other male writers as they aged (Asimov, Heinlein). And that is, the novel feels like it has far too much of an interest and focuses on sex. I didn’t necessarily mind Keillor detailing his first sexual encounter (this isn’t a romance novel so it’s not graphic) so much as I felt like we kept coming back to it over and over again during the course of the story. Nor do I mind Keillor reflecting on being a sexual being. But at some point, it crossed the thin line from reflection to feeling like I’m reading the thoughts of a (for lack of a better term) “dirty old man.”
And I suppose that, as Keillor points out, an artist has to be more than just his or her most famous work. But I just never found the humor and observations to ring quite as true as some of my favorite Keillor stories from yesteryear.
Which is fine, I suppose. I can always re-read or listen to those again and remember why he’s one of my favorite writers.
July 11, 2022 · 11:04 am
Featuring one of the best covers in the Target range, The Face of Evil is a solid adaptation of a classic serial from an era when Doctor Who could seemingly do no wrong.
Originally titled “The Day God Went Mad” (at least according to fan legend), The Face of Evil is a tight, taut, confident four-part story from Tom Baker’s third season in the role of the Doctor. Fresh off his adventures on Gallifrey, the Doctor arrives on a jungle planet that he’s visited before and had a huge impact upon. However, the Doctor has no memory of his previous adventure there nor the damage he’s inflicted on the societies there.
Terrance Dicks fills in the gap of the Doctor’s previous adventure with a deft, concise backstory that places the original visit during a slight gap in the fourth Doctor’s first story, Robot. It’s hard not to wish that Dicks had a bit more time adapting this one and an expanded page count because a chapter detailing the Doctor’s first visit might have been welcome.
Instead, we get an adaptation of the solid script, complete with a bit of character work for some of the supporting cast. In many ways, this is Doctor Who‘s take on the original Star Trek trope of a mad computer holding a society hostage. However, there’s no Captain Kirk around to “Gracie Allen” logic said computer into submission. Instead, the Doctor has to find a way to undo an error he made in a post-regenerative haze.
In a season full of classic serials, The Face of Evil is another outstanding outing. The audiobook is full of the usual highlights from the Target audio range from sound effects to dramatic music. Louise Jameson turns in a solid performance for this one, though I will still argue her interpretation of Tom Baker’s Doctor doesn’t always necessarily ring true.
Filed under #20booksofsummer, 20 Books of Summer 2022, audiobook review, book review, Doctor who, summer reading 2022
Tagged as #20booksofsummer, 20 Books of Summer 2022, Doctor Who, review, summer reading, target book, target novel
June 29, 2022 · 8:13 am
A couple of summers ago, I participated in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge and really enjoyed it. So, when I heard the challenge had continued and was renewed again for this summer, I decided to jump in. And since technically it’s only been a few days since meteorological summer began, I’m only slightly behind, right?
So, here’s what I hope to read this summer (and this could totally change, of course)
- Star Wars: Brotherhood by Michael Chen
- Phasers on Stun by Ryan Britt
- Sparring Partners by John Grisham
- Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Sparring Partners by John Grisham
- Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll by Terrance Dicks
- Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Book Worms by Emily Henry (audiobook)
- The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay
- Boom Town by Garrison Keillor
- Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
- This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
- When She Was Good by Michael Robotham
- The Club by Ellery Lloyd
- Doctor Who and the Face of Evil by Terrance Dicks (audiobook)
- Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Birds of California by Katie Cotugno
- The Friends Zone by Abby Jimenez (audiobook)
And I’m going to leave myself some wiggle room with a couple of “wild cards” because you never quite know what will catch my eye on the library shelf or the Galley of Nets.
July 2, 2021 · 6:00 am
Reading/listening to What’s Not to Love, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the early days of the Sam and Diane romance on Cheers. One scene, in particular, kept standing out, when during an argument that ends up with Sam and Diane smacking each other, Sam points out that he didn’t hit Diane as hard as he wanted to. It’s a dark moment for the show, one that indicates just how opposite these two romantic partners really are.
Of course, if you’ve watched Cheers (and if you haven’t, why are you still reading this?!? Get to streaming it immediately!), you know that Sam and Diane were on-again, off-again for several more seasons before she left.
I bring up that moment because it feels like the kind of moment you can’t really come back from — and there’s one like it in the middle of What’s Not to Love. Ethan and Allison have been rivals for all four years of high school, competing against each other with ever-increasing stakes and a blatant disregard for themselves or the people around them. Both of them want to get into Harvard and are on the school paper, which brings things to a huge boil when both parties do something equally unforgivable in an attempt to sabotage the other — again, not thinking about if or how their actions might impact other people in their lives. Continue reading →
July 8, 2020 · 2:11 pm
Audrey Miller is the queen of social media, chronicling her life to millions of followers. Her carefully cultivated on-line person is finally opening doors in the real world, landing her a high-profile job at a Washington museum as the queen-bee of their social media presence.
But Audrey’s huge following and thousands of likes come with a downside — it’s left her vulnerable to an on-line admirer who is willing and ready to cross the line from fan to sinister stalker. Moving to D.C., Audrey finds herself in the orbit of her workaholic friend, Cat, and her ex-boyfriend who she keeps finding her way back into bed with.
Kathleen Barber’s Follow Me is a compulsively readable, grim reminder of just how much of our privacy we can willing give up these days in order to gain followers, likes, or comments. The first half of the book is page-turningly fascinating as we jump from chapters from Audrey, Cat, and the stalker’s perspective. There are times when the story reaches chilling heights and there are multiple suspects as to the real identity of the Audrey’s on-line stalker.
It’s once Follow Me reaches the final third and answers start to be revealed that the book goes a bit off the rails. For one thing, Audrey is so self-absorbed that it becomes harder and harder to feel sympathy for her. It also feels as if the final few pages of the novel try too hard to keep us in the dark as to who the stalker really is — and once we get the reveal, it’s not quite as satisfying as it could or should have been.
By the last third of the novel, the most interesting and honest character of Cat is relegated to the sidelines.
And yet, there is still something sinister in the warnings given here. It may make you re-examine just how much of yourself you’re posting in our new digital world.
As a summer read, this one is breezy and light. It feels a bit like the far better You, without necessarily making us root for the anti-hero stalker at its core.
June 25, 2019 · 4:23 pm
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us what are the top ten books on your summer to-be-read list. Here are a couple of mine.
- Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
- Magic for Liars by Sarah Galley
- Recursion by Blake Crouch
- Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
- Star Trek: Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett
- The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
- Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker (audiobook)
- Doctor Who: Mawdryn Undead by Peter Grimwade (audiobook)
- The Queen Con by Meghan Scott Molin
June 16, 2015 · 1:02 pm
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks which books are tops on our TBR list. I’ve already got to read one of my most anticipated books of the summer, the latest Stephen King novel, but here are some others that I’m looking forward to reading.
1. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
2. When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord
3. Star Trek: New Frontier: The Returned by Peter David
4. A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Updike
5. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
6. Alive by Scott Sigler
7. The Fold by Peter Clines
8. Hero of the Ages by Brandon Sanderson
9. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
10. Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Agenda
Some of these are part of 20 Books of Summer Challenge. It’s going to be a good summer for reading.
So, what did I miss that I should add to TBR pile?