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Salem’s Lot

Upon its initial publication in 1975, ‘Salem’s Lot’ was recognized as a landmark work. The novel has sold millions of copies in various editions, but it wasn’t until Centipede Press published a special limited edition in 2004 that King’s masterpiece was brought to brilliant and eerie life.

With the addition of fifty pages of material deleted from the 1975 manuscript as well as material that has since been modified by King, an introduction by him, and two short stories related to the events of the novel, this edition represents the text as the author envisioned it.

Centipede’s deluxe edition, of which only 900 copies were printed, features lavishly creepy photographs by acclaimed photographer Jerry Uelsmann, printed interior endpapers, and a stunning page design.

Doubleday is proud to make this volume, printed from the original design of the Centipede Press edition, available to the general reader. No King aficionado’s library will be complete without owning this definitive illustrated edition of the great ‘Salem’s Lot’. goodreads.com

 

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The Mist

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? goodreads.com

 

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Skeleton Crew

In the introduction to Skeleton Crew (1985), his second collection of stories, King pokes fun at his penchant for “literary elephantiasis,” makes scatological jokes about his muse, confesses how much money he makes (gross and net), and tells a story about getting arrested one time when he was “suffused with the sort of towering, righteous rage that only drunk undergraduates can feel.” He winds up with an invitation to a scary voyage: “Grab onto my arm now. Hold tight. We are going into a number of dark places, but I think I know the way.”

And he sure does. Skeleton Crew contains a superb short novel (“The Mist”) that alone is worth the price of admission, plus two forgettable poems and 20 short stories on such themes as an evil toy monkey, a human-eating water slick, a machine that avenges murder, and unnatural creatures that inhabit the thick woods near Castle Rock, Maine. The short tales range from simply enjoyable to surprisingly good.

In addition to “The Mist,” the real standout is “The Reach,” a beautifully subtle story about a great-grandmother who was born on a small island off the coast of Maine and has lived there her whole life. She has never been across “the Reach,” the body of water between island and mainland. This is the story that King fans give to their friends who don’t read horror in order to show them how literate, how charming a storyteller he can be. Don’t miss it. –Fiona Webster goodreads.com

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Ghost World

Ghost World has become a cultural and generational touchstone, and continues to enthrall and inspire readers over a decade after its original release as a graphic novel. Originally serialized in the pages of the seminal comic book Eightball throughout the mid-1990s, this quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonists is famously an anagram of the author’s name) follows the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, two best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart. Daniel Clowes is one of the most respected cartoonists of his generation, and Ghost World is his magnum opus. Adapted into a major motion picture directed by Terry Zwigoff (director of the acclaimed documentary Crumb), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. This graphic novel is a must for any self-respecting comics fan’s library.  goodreads.com

 

 

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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or -gone down- are the only ones who understand -up.- Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as -falling upward.- In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness.

Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens?loss is gain Richard. Rohr is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right. goodreads.com

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In Praise of Profanity

When President Obama signed the affordable health care act in 2009, the Vice President was overheard to utter an enthusiastic “This is a big f****** deal!” A town in Massachusetts levies $20 fines on swearing in public. Nothing is as paradoxical as our attitude toward swearing and “bad language”: how can we judge profanity so harshly in principle, yet use it so frequently in practice? Though profanity is more acceptable today than ever, it is still labeled as rude, or at best tolerable only under specific circumstances. Cursing, many argue, signals an absence of character, or poor parenting, and is something to avoid at all costs. Yet plenty of us are unconcerned about the dangers of profanity; bad words are commonly used in mainstream music, Academy Award-winning films, books, and newspapers. And of course, regular people use them in conversation every day.
In In Praise of Profanity, Michael Adams offers a provocative, unapologetic defense of profanity, arguing that we’ve oversimplified profanity by labeling it as taboo. Profanity is valuable, even essential, both as a vehicle of communication and an element of style. As much as we may deplore it in some contexts, we should celebrate it in others. Adams skillfully weaves together linguistic and psychological analyses of why we swear-for emotional release, as a way to promote group solidarity, or to create intimate relationships — with colorful examples of profanity in literature, TV, film, and music, such as The Sopranos, James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, or the songs of Nellie McKay. This breezy, jargon-free book will challenge readers to reconsider the way they think about swearing..  Goodreads.com

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Chasing a Croatian Girl

At fewer than 200 pages, the book isn’t very long but length isn’t everything. Cody has written a book about culture and how he survived it. The book has a humerous element to it without trying too hard to be funny. The stories are short and sweet. I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it.

Na manje od 200 stranica, knjiga nije jako duga, ali duljina nije sve. Cody je napisao knjigu o kulturi i kako je preživio. Knjiga ima neizbježan element bez pokušaja da bude smiješan. Priče su kratke i slatke. Naučio sam dosta iz ove knjige i vrlo ga preporučujem.

Caraval

Caraval

Scarlett has been writing to Legend for years. She dreams of seeing Caraval after hearing stories about it from her grandmother. Scarlett doesn’t have a lot to dream about since she lives with her abusive father and is always protecting her impulsive sister Tella. Her father has arranged a marriage for Scarlett to a count on another island and Scarlett dreams of getting away and taking Tella with her. Then days before her wedding, to a man she has never met and doesn’t even know his name, Scarlett receives invitations to Caraval. Conveniently, Tella has just met a sailor named Julian who is willing to take the sisters to Legend’s island.

Caraval is nothing like Scarlett imagined. She is immediately separated from her sister and stuck with pretending Julian is her fiance. Then she learns that not only is she a special guest of Legend, her sister is part of this year’s game. In order to win the magical wish, the players must locate Tella before the end of the five night game. Scarlett pairs up with Julian and follows the clues given to her by Legend in the hopes that they will lead her to Tella. Of course, along the way she develops feelings for Julian and maybe a backbone of her own.

So world-building is one of the things I find essential when reading fantasy. If you are going to set your story on another world, you better develop that world. Garber barely creates a world and has no consistent rules for that world. Half of what she says is true in the world turns out to be lies and the other half is misty and undefined. She would have been better served setting this story in the real world and focused her attention on creating Caraval. Here is what I know about the world: there are islands, some are conquered, Scarlett lives on a conquered island and her dad is the governor. Legend has an island. There is magic on Legend’s island. Yep, that is about it. Really poor world-building.

Another thing I hate is bad character development. The characters are far from interesting or developed in this book. Scarlett claims to love her sister more than anything, yet spends most of the books swooning over Julian who she has known for literally 5 days! Tella seems to be the most flighty, self-centered creature imaginable but then at the end it turns out she did it all for her sister? Seriously! Then you have Legend who is one of the main characters of the story, but never seen and whose motivations seem to change with the wind. Scarlett’s dad is a villain with no clear motivations except being cruel to his daughters. Then we meet Scarlett’s fiance, who claims to want to protect her but is more than willing to rape her on her father’s orders. Gross!

I knew I wasn’t really into this book when it took me 5 days to read it and when I found myself skimming most of the chapters. It didn’t feel very original or interesting. I couldn’t sink into the story or the characters. Things kept popping up that made me question whether I wanted to really read this book or not. I also left it sit on a shelf for months before even picking it up! I can see why readers may enjoy this book. If they can look beyond the world that doesn’t make sense and the insta-love and the boring characters, they will find a nice, little romance with a bit of magic. For me the inconsistencies and the fact that by the end of the novel everything you thought was true turned out to be lies really turned me off.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publishers.

The Missing Pieces of Me

The Missing Pieces of Me

Weezie’s momma says she is a bad kid. Nothing she does ever seems to come out right whether it is making her momma tea or cooking dinner or picking flowers. Momma dotes on Ruth Ann and Jackson, but has nothing good to say to Weezie. Momma also doesn’t talk about Weezie’s daddy. She won’t even say his name or tell Weezie anything about him other than that he was a bad guy. Weezie wonders if finding her daddy would make any difference in her life. She has very little to go on: just a photo with a first name. She enlists the help of her friends Calvin and Louella to help her figure it out.

Weezie’s story seems to be one of heartbreak and loss, but on closer inspection it is one of hope and determination. Weezie is beaten down at every turn, by her momma and by some of her classmates. She doesn’t let that drag her down though. She is positive in spite of everything. She is an artist with true talent and is recognized by her teacher if not by her momma. She is a good friend to Luella and Calvin even when her momma tries to stop her from being their friend. She is a good big sister to Ruth Ann and Jackson even though her momma never recognizes her efforts. And she is a good daughter despite her momma’s indifference.

This story is a bit hard to read. Momma is maybe not physically abusive, but definitely mentally abusive to Weezie. She also has some really strange reactions that I just didn’t get. There is a scene where after spending the night with Louella, Weezie goes to church with her. Her momma is angry that she went to church, which seemed over the top, but there is not an explanation as to momma’s attitude.  I wish there would have been more to momma than just a bunch of failed relationships that ended in babies, but I guess there are a lot of families like that out there and kids can relate.  I did appreciate the fact that while the ending is hopeful it is not necessarily a happy ending. It is realistic in that momma has not made a big change in her attitude and Weezie’s homelife is still very much the same as it was. Sure she knows who her daddy is, but that has not really changed her circumstances. The real change is in Weezie herself and how she handles her momma and life in general. She is a stronger, braver girl after this journey. The Missing Pieces of Me is a wonderful story that I highly recommend.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacobs grandfather Abe used to tell him stories about defeating monsters.  At some point Jacob realized the monsters were just stories.  Except it turns out they weren’t.  Abe is killed by one of these monsters, though Jacobs parents and the police chalk it up to wild dogs.  Jacob sees a therapist to help cure him of his trauma, and the therapist recommends Jacob visit the island where Abe located many of his stories.  Will Jacob find proof of the paranormal creatures on the Welsh island?

I liked the aha/gotcha feelings when you found out that all these secondary/tertiary characters, unpleasant individuals, in Jacob’s life were actually  wights (bad guys).

Behind her Eyes

Behind her Eyes

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

–from Goodreads.com.

Brain Rules for Baby

Brain Rules for Baby

What’s the single most important thing you can do during pregnancy? What does watching TV do to a child’s brain? What’s the best way to handle temper tantrums? Scientists know.

In his New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina showed us how our brains really work—and why we ought to redesign our workplaces and schools. Now, in Brain Rules for Baby, he shares what the latest science says about how to raise smart and happy children from zero to 5. This book is destined to revolutionize parenting. Just one of the surprises: The best way to get your children into the college of their choice? Teach them impulse control.

Brain Rules for Baby bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice. Through fascinating and funny stories, Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, unravels how a child’s brain develops–and what you can do to optimize it.

You will view your children—and how to raise them—in a whole new light. You’ll learn:

Where nature ends and nurture begins
Why men should do more household chores
What you do when emotions run hot affects how your child turns out
TV is harmful for children under 2
Your child’s ability to relate to others predicts her future math performance
Smart and happy are inseparable. Pursuing your child’s intellectual success at the expense of his happiness achieves neither
Praising effort is better than praising intelligence
The best predictor of academic performance is not IQ. It’s self control

What you do right now—before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and through the first five years—will affect your children for the rest of their lives. Brain Rules for Baby is an indispensable guide.

–from Goodreads.com.

The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

–from Goodreads.com.

Cinder

Cinder

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

–from Goodreads.com.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

A wealthy, albeit not-too-bright, man makes a wager with his friend that his wife is so loyal that she cannot be seduced by his friend, even with 100 day to try and do so. The wife, Cherry, and her maid, Hero, are not worried about the attempt at seduction at all; they only love each other. What they do worry about is what this greedy suitor might do if Cherry refuses his advances. After all, what’s to stop the man from taking her by force and then telling her husband that she succumbed to his advances. Luckily, the women have a plan. Cherry will insist that she’s prepared to anything this man wants, but only if she can hear Hero tell her a story first. The story Hero tells is so captivating that the night ends before the story is finished. By this point, readers likely know where this tale is headed. Night after night, Hero spins her tales, keeping Cherry safe. The stories she tells are fantastical, mythical tales that fit together like puzzle pieces. Soon, the entire estate, guards and all, are completely entranced. Will it be enough to keep the suitor at bay? And what happens when her husband returns?

This graphic novel has it all: great characters, true love, sinister villains, compelling tales, whimsy, humor, tragedy. Not only is the framing story of Hero and Cherry an interesting take on the Arabian Nights trope, the stories told by Hero incorporate a rich, interconnected mythology of their world, Early Earth. The drawing style is reminiscent of Kate Beacon’s work and the color scheme is limited mainly to blacks, greys, yellows and oranges. There’s a certain elegance to its simplicity, even if it may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a more refined style might be. The One Hundred Nights of Hero is an example of everything a graphic novel can be – enthralling, intriguing and completely original.

Stone Mirrors

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis

Stone Mirrors gives readers a glimpse into artist Edmonia Lewis’s formative years. The daughter of an Ojibwe woman and a freed slave, Edmonia encountered numerous hardships, including the loss of both parents at a young age. She eventually became a student at Oberlin College in 1859, where she studied art until two of her white classmates falsely accused her of poisoning them. The accusations, though unfounded, caused a backlash from a group of local vigilantes who assaulted her. Her case was eventually dismissed due to a lack of evidence, but the damage was already done and Edmonia fled Ohio for the relatively safer environs of Boston. While in Boston, Edmonia began taking sculpture classes and found that she had a marketable talent. She was able to sell some of her work which enabled a move to Rome where her art career really took off.

Not much is known about Edmonia’s life and only a portion of her body of work remains today. Jeannine Atkins imagines what it might have been like for Edmonia during these important years. The choice of the verse format for Edmonia’s story makes sense; history did not provide us with a detailed biography, so Atkins focuses on a few key episodes in Edmonia’s life. Like a Edmonia with a block of marble, Atkins has pared away all but the most essential details in this vision of Edmonia’s coming-of-age. The result is a quiet little novel-in-verse that might inspire readers to look up the life and art of Edmonia Lewis to fill in the gaps. It’s not the most exciting book; it even moves pretty slow for a novel-in-verse, but it does a decent job of introducing a lesser-known artist to a new generation of art aficionados.

The Woods, Vol. 5 The Horde

The Woods, Vol. 5: The Horde

Time flies when you’re fighting for your life.

Over a year has passed since Bay Point Preparatory High School found themselves countless light years away in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Against all odds, they’ve built their own civilization and made contact with other humans who have inhabited the planet for many years prior. But the crew finds themselves divided, choosing sides in a war that has been raging for hundreds of years. Created and written by James Tynion IV (Cognetic, Batman Eternal), illustrated by Michael Dialynas (Amala’s Blade), and colored by Josan Gonzalez, The Woods: Movie Night collects the critically acclaimed fifth arc of the bestselling series, issues #17-20.

–from Goodreads.com.

The Woods, Vol. 4 Movie Night

The Woods, Vol. 4: Movie Night

On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace, finding themselves countless light years away in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. In the wake of the election, the results have turned the students against their new-found allies. And as Karen learns more about the Aboriginal people and their control over the power of the Woods, she must chose between her friends and her destiny.

–from Goodreads.com.

The Woods, Vol. 3 New London

The Woods, Vol. 3: New London

The first year of the GLAAD nominated series concludes. The more the crew finds out about the woods, the deeper the mystery gets. With Clay and the Duke teaming up to try and force the school into servitude for the New London army, the kids need to think up a plan to save their peers, and fast. And with Adrian uncontrollable and on the loose, no one knows what his next move will be.

–from Goodreads.com.

The Honest Truth

The Honest Truth

Mark and his dog Beau are on the trip of a lifetime. Unfortunately, no one knows of Mark’s plans to scale Mount Rainier by himself. No one would even expect Mark to undertake such a journey. See, Mark is sick. Very sick. He was diagnosed with cancer when he was a mere seven years old. After periods of remission over the years, the cancer has returned and Mark has decided he wants to achieve his dream of climbing the mountain before he dies. Knowing that his family wouldn’t let him even attempt the climb, Mark makes a plan, starting with escape from his hometown and ending on the side of a mountain. With his trusty dog Beau traveling alongside, Mark makes his way across the state of Washington while his parents and best friend Jessie panic back at home.

Jessie thinks she might know where Mark has gone and a quick check of their secret hiding spot reveals a message from Mark confirming Jessie’s suspicions. While Mark struggles to make it to the mountain, Jessie struggles with a decision: betray Mark and save him or respect a dying friend’s wishes and lose him prematurely.

This earnest tale of a young boy staring death in the face poses some challenging questions to young readers. Adults, on the other hand, may have some trouble getting over the terrible, terrible decisions Mark feels compelled to make. Mark leaves no note and takes off while his parents are out of the house. He puts his best friend in an impossible position and constantly puts his beloved pet at risk, not to mention himself. Young readers, however, will likely admire Mark’s persistence in the face of seemingly-insurmountable odds. I personally found Mark’s behavior to be selfish, albeit at least partially justified. I also found Mark’s dog Beau to be unrealistically well-behaved (it’s willing to hang out in a zipped duffle bag for hours on end, it attempts to rescue Mark from a raging river — and survives, it senses a dangerous crevasse and knows to warn Mark before he falls into it, etc., etc.), though if anyone knows of a trainer that can make dogs be as well-behaved and loyal as Beau, then sign me and my unruly mutts up. Long story short, I had mixed feelings about this book and while the overall message is one of hope and strength, I have a hard time getting over some of the realities implied by the course of the narrative. Luckily, The Honest Truth isn’t overly sentimental or precious. Young readers will cheer Mark and Beau on while wondering what they would do in Jessie’s shoes and that, I suppose, its the whole point.