Stephen King’s Song of Susanna

During my own little 24 Reading Marathon (See earlier posts), I resumed reading King’s Song of Susanna, Book Six of The Dark Tower series (one  more to go!) This is a journey that has literally taken years, but one that has been totally worth the time and effort.

From the Calla and the wolves of book five to New York City in 1999 is a big leap, and the tet  of gunslingers get there by various “doors”, but eventually the ka tet are  all in the same time and place, although they have not encountered each other yet by the end of the book. What they find in 1999 proves to be both interesting and action-filled.  Characters from other books make cameo appearances, and old stories affect and merge with current developments. Horror and gore abound.  Strangest of all, I have never had the experience of an author writing himself into the plot as a character in the novel before!  Leave it to King’s imagination and creativity.

Great storytelling.  Great humor. Great suspense. Great adventure. And, Great dialogue.

 

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JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

The Thirteen Days of Halloween published by Scholastic is a counting book closely patterned on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and is the perfect grandchild-gift for a little one.  The illustrations parody Tim Burton, and, as in “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” repetition is built in.  By the time parent or grandparent and child have read the book a few times, the child will be able to count to 13! The little witchy-demon (good demon) girl has large, innocent eyes as she leads her various ghouls like werewolves and vampires and witches through their madcap, fun march through the gloriously colored pages and reaches the final countdown to Halloween night when all the goblins and beasties come out to play. It can be ordered through Scholastic or through the title at Barnes and Noble or from Amazon.

A second offering for any season is classic children’s author Eva Ibbetson’s Which Witch, a chapter book, guaranteed to make children and adults alike laugh out loud (or at least chuckle). It is a worthy book, although not as well known as Ibbotson’s The Secret of Platform 13.

In this story, Arriman Podcaster, an unusual baby who grew up to become a famous Wizard, is waiting for his replacement so that he can retire. Harrington Hall, his magnificent, totally creepy manor house is guarded by the Wizard Watcher ( a four legged creature who talks, has a tail, and vaguely resembles a sea lion–a big one).  The Watcher is watching for the New Wizard predicted by the gypsy  fortuneteller to “come down the road.”

When this fails to happen, Arriman decides to marry and produce an heir to take his place.  He instigates a Miss America style pageant of witches, offering himself and his great Hall to the winner.  An abundance of witches is found in the area, complete with warts and weird animal familiars as well as Belladonna who is (horrors!) a white witch.  She speaks with animals, heals wounds by magic (or white witchcraft) and produces bunny rabbits and begonias instead of frogs, lizards, and other slimy things with her spells.

The book is wickedly humorous (pun intended)!

It is predictable enough to feel comfortable, but has enough twists and turns to keep the reader reading right up until the very end.

 

 

Perspective

A friend recently e-mailed me and mentioned that she had re-read Earth Abides, an apocalyptic novel, which she had recommended to me a couple of years ago, and I loved. She said it was strange, but on the second reading, she wasn’t as impressed with it as she was upon her first reading in her younger years.  We agreed that perhaps having read many more apocalyptic novels, just living life longer, having more life experiences, discussing books with others, and seeing movies changed our perspective toward “things”

I told her the perhaps, as Thomas Woolf said, you really can’t go home again: childhood homes seem smaller, first elementary schools look old, are entirely updated, rebuilt, or torn down. Maybe the same holds true for books.

I remember reading Catcher in the Rye in high school when it first came out, and no! it was not assigned.  I borrowed a friend’s paperback and kept it hidden from the teacher. I thought, “You go, Holden! Tell your parents ‘what for’!” At the age of forty in an Adolescent Literature class in graduate school, I wanted to turn Holden over my knee and paddle him.

All that said, it’s funny isn’t it how perspective can slant perception.

REVIEW: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis (2016)

A friend from book club told me her daughter had written her first novel, and as a “collector”of debut novels, I was immediately interested.  I had to wait a couple of months for the book to come out for sale, but the novel was well worth waiting for!

It is the story of the Barbizon , a “proper” and safe hotel, a “suitable” residence for young women searching for fame, careers, and husbands in New York City.  The Dollhouse is set in (and chapters alternate between) the 1950’s and 2016.  It is the  story of Darby (and Sam and Esme, her new friends) in 1950.  Darby is a student at The Gibbs Secretarial School, a “plain girl” hosteled on then same floor of the Glamorous Ford Agency models.

In 2016, Rose, also a Barbizon girl, is employed as a journalist and has a tinge of scandal of her own. Her lover, Griffin, who has political aspirations and Jason, a photographer who helps Rose investigate Darby’s scandal and mystery, also appear in the story.

But, most of all it is the story of The Barbizon .

For me, this was a fascinating read, a real page turner which reveals its mystery  like the peeling of the layers of the cliched onion. I would give this fantastic novel a 5 out of 5 rating .

My Own Little Reading Marathon Report Part II

Reading Log for 24 hours of the marathon

Sunday, Sept. 4th

Noon:Marathon begins:

12:00 p.m. Continued reading Song of Susanna, Book 6 of The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. I’ve never heard of a writer writing himself into a book as a character!

12:35 Houston Chronicle Sunday paper

1:08 snack break

1:10 Back to Song of Susanna

2:00 changed pace by reading children’s chapter book, Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson finished  (delightful/adults will love too)

3:00 Housework “break”

3:30  Sunday School quarterly and lesson notes

4:00 Sunday Houston Chronicle

5:00 Song of Susanna

5:30 Supper break

6:00 Song of Susanna (finished) Can’t wait for Book 7/Book 6 leaves you hanging (on purpose)

7:00 Break to read and reply to book blogs

9:00 Started Library Book, Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

10:00 Sleep Break

Labor Day

1:30 a.m. Resumed Dear Committee Members

2:30 a.m. Coffee and snack Break

2:45 Began Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

4:15 Resumed reading Dear Committee Member

5:00 Finished Dear Committee Member and took ten minute break

5:10 Resumed reading The Dollhouse. (GREAT read, wanted to keep turning pages)

7:30 break and Breakfast (prepared by husband/more coffee)

8:00 Monday morning Houston Chronicle (more coffee)

9:00 Sleep break (coffee didn’t work)

11:00 a.m. New Yorker (Sept. 5th issue) short story “A Gentleman’s Game”

11:20 Lunch Break

12:00 noon End of Marathon

Later that afternoon and evening, Monday, I finished The Family (a book bought from Deadalus Bookstore in NY that has been sitting around unfinished for at least six months) and finished The Dollhouse.

I felt the Marathon was a complete success because my primary goal was to whittle down my TBR stack, and I did. Plus, I finished my library book way before it was due and can now take the non-fiction The Family to Half-Price Books next trip.

 

My Own Little Reading Marathon–Report Part I

Well, it was a long twenty-four hours, but it’s done, and I’ve rested. (some)

Here are the results:

Finished books    3

Read whole book    1

Started and almost finished books    2

Total hours sleep during marathon    3

Good meals eaten (with help from husband) 4

Loads of wash done (with help of husband) 2

Snacks (mostly leftovers left in bags of assorted chips, crackers, candy, etc.)     plenty!

Cups of coffee consumed     approximately 5 (not too bad!)

 

Rating: Success

Thanks for taking an interest!

 

 

 

My Own Little Reading Marathon–Join In

Because my TBR (To Be Read) pile is so high,and…

Because about four books arrived in the mail this past week, and…

Because school started and I had no time to read,

I am having my own, personal Reading-Marathon.  It will run from noon Sunday, Sept. 4th through noon Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5th. I will read, read read.  If I understand correctly, one of the most important things in a marathon of this sort is having snacks on hand, which I took care of today, for I do not wish to go to any grocery store on the Labor Day weekend. I have also prepared meals ahead, so I can warm up lunches and dinners in thirty minutes (included eating time!) I will report back Monday afternoon on what books which I’ve already started I finished up and what new books I started or read.  Wish me luck, and join me if you do not have family plans for Labor Day. Write here or to my personal e-mail to let me know if I will have company.

Good luck and do lots of reading!     Rae

 

 

 

DOLL HOSPITAL SERIES OF GIRL’S BOOKS byJoan Holub

This children’s series of books is an old-fashioned read for little girls who like and/or collect  dolls. I found the first book of the series, “Tatiana Comes to America: An Ellis Island Story”, at Half-Price Books, and at $1.99 scooped it up for my Little Free Library. At the time of publication (2002, by Scholastic), book two and three of the series had also been published, and books four, five, and six were “promised.”

The story is simple. Mom and Dad, both humanitarian doctors, are off to Africa to help sick people there. Rose, the elder daughter wonders why they “…can’t just help sick people in America instead.” She and Lila, the younger daughter are about to be “parked” at their Nana’s for a year. What the girls discover at Nana’s is that the turret of Nana’s Victorian house is set up as a doll hospital where broken dolls are mended ,”refreshed” and restored to former glory by Nana’s nimble fingers.  Eerily enough, as Nana mends Tatiana, a doll- “patient”, with the girls  listening and learning to help, Nana channels the doll and speaks for Titania, telling her “life’s story.”

There are many humorous moments (What! no TV!  and Nana, herself who first appears to the girls as an aged hippie complete with love beads and lava lamp along with the resident  four cats named after the Beatles), and they are complimented by the delightful, typical Scholastic illustrations. My $1.99 was well spent and make this little paperback the best book investment for my LFL I’ve made in a while.

 

ARF by NY Times Bestselling Author, Spenser Quinn (pub. 2016)

ARF is the latest in the impossibly “cute” (in the good sense of the word) Bowser and Birdie novels, which I predict will be a vey successful series for Quinn. As one blurb on the back of the book says, “Imagine Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird setting out to solve a mystery with the aid of a charming, slobbery dog. ” The “kicker” is the story is told from Bowser’s point of view, which tends to skew the clues, plot, and general denouement.

Here’s a random example of the dog, Bowser speaking after hearing someone say a minor character doesn’t like dogs,”Not fond of dogs? I tried hard to figure out what that meant, couldn’t quite get there.”  Birdie’s voice interrupts, “So…what we need is for the sheriff to…to find out on his own!” She credits Bowser  with the thought that comes to her mind and calls Bowser a genius. Bowser again: “What was this? I was a genius? Sounded good. I hoped to find out what it meant one day.”  Bowser is never anthropomorphic; he is just plain “dog,” distracted from duty by the smell of bacon and spells of losing focus when he smells a big, bad snake under the garage (which has a BIG role in “getting” the bad guy).

This is a delightful read, a bit predictable in places ,but with twists and turns that stop the reader dead in his tracks.  Plenty of pompous, clueless adults and kids- with- issues make up the cast of characters in this page-turning read.

This book sent me into giggling like someone Birdie’s age ,and at the same time left me with an Aaaaawwwww feeling.

Back to School Giveaway Is Over

At the Little Free Library in my yard, ever since last weekend I have been placing free school supplies (animal-themed folders, notebooks, mechanical pencils, pens, markers, erasers etc.) a few at a time in the LFL to entice kids to open the door and see the books inside.  Usually I have a few bright first- readers-books bought from Half Price Books or provided by the across-the-street- elementary school’s book drives; a few really good chapter books for fourth and fifth graders; some YA novels and at least a Debbie McComber or Nicholas Sparks (or good, page-turning mystery) for Moms to read in the car-riders pick up line. I have as many cars stop (We are on the main drag leading into the subdivision.) as I do curious students walking the sidewalks, probably more, for the kids are always looking down at their phones.

Even with the stormy, humid weather, the attempt was a success.  Today marked the end of the first week of school, and there are about six books of various and sundry descriptions left.  All the “prizes” have disappeared.  Even better, three cozy mysteries and a “young person’s” romance have magically appeared.  Thank you neighbors!

I plan to clean down to the bare bones inside and out (It will take clorox) and make a trip to Half Price Books with books contributed from a friend who is downsizing and just wants to get several boxes of older books “out of here.” Then we should be back in business by Monday or Tuesday.

The next big event is Halloween with Trick or Treating in the side yard where the library is located and Halloween decorations and items like fake spiders from the Dollar Store in the LFL for the taking.  I have about twenty-five Goosebumps books, Halloween mysteries, Werewolf and other Monsters books which will be free for the taking.

Last year we had a storm, including a tornado which passed over us on the way to the next town down the highway. Halloween activities around town were cancelled.  Pray for good weather.