Thursday, August 25, 2016

Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Not long ago, I reviewed 'A Head Full of Ghosts', written by Paul Tremblay, and I really wasn't impressed.  Sorry, but the supernatural aspect of the story really didn't hit me. Stephen King loved it, though.  Gotta give him some credit for promoting a fellow horror writer.

But now, with Tremblay's new one, 'Disappearance at Devil's Rock', I grew very involved in the story, to the point that I had tears running down my face.  Any story about the loss of a child really really punches me in the gut.  

There are supernatural occurrences in this novel, too, but a bit more subtle.  One, however, was chilling, and the sense of fear permeating through the story made me turn the pages, but slowly because I dreaded learning the fate of Tommy, the missing boy.

Tremblay's characters are well-formed and you actually care about them. Elizabeth, the desperate mother, was someone to whom I could relate, and Kate, her pre-teen daughter, had a lot of angst brewing under the surface.  

Author Paul Tremblay
But it was Tommy who had a diary, Tommy who loved to draw, Tommy the lover of the video game, Minecraft, who grabbed me and didn't let me up for air.  Tommy who disappeared in the woods of the local state park, and his friends, Josh and Luis, who aren't telling the entire truth about what happened that night.  

When you learn the truth, you'll be stunned.  And perhaps you'll cry, as I did.  

But you'll pay extra attention to the shadow in the corner, and the pages on the floor.

'Disappearance at Devil's Rock' is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-06-236326-8

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Monster Calls

Having finished 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child', I was in the mood to read another book for independent readers (btw, I thought the HP book was....okay. I'm not big on reading plays; I much rather see them performed).

So, when I received the notice that a library book came in for me, I wasn't surprised to learn that it was a story for independent readers.  What was even more coincidental was that I had just watched the trailer of the film adaptation.

In October, I will head to the theater to watch 'A Monster Calls', especially now that I've read the story.  Hearing Liam Neeson's voice as the monster is a nice little nudge, too.

Author Patrick Ness has written a story (and the screenplay) based on an idea from the late children's writer Siobhan Dowd (her premature death from cancer kept her from writing the book). Funny, dark, and very, very moving, the story brought me to tears several times, and made me consider my own mortality.

Conor has been expecting the monster from his nightmare, the one he's had every night since his mother started chemo.  The nightmare with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

But this monster is different, and not the one from his nightmare.  It is ancient and wild. And it wants something that is difficult for Conor to give:  The truth.

This is a story of a young boy dealing with his mother's terminal illness, and the school bullies, and his dreaded grandmother.  It is also the story of a young boy who needs his father, but gets just a small part of a parent who lives far away.

His grandmother turned out to be a total surprise.  Her devotion to her daughter was truly heartfelt and made me cry (very familiar ground for me). But it was Conor who earned my sympathy; a young boy full of anger and sadness.  A very scared child.  

Unlike Conor's teachers, the monster does not coddle him.  It encourages Conor to release his anger so he can get to the truth he is reluctant to reveal.
Author Patrick Ness

The illustrations by Jim Kay are perfect; black and white, and phenomenal.  They lend a dark air to the story, up until the very end.

Patrick Ness, author of the 'Chaos Walking' series (and other fantastic novels), has done an incredible job with Dowd's last idea.  

He has certainly done it justice.

'A Monster Calls', by Patrick Ness, and published by Candlewick Press, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore. Book Hog suggests you purchase a big box of tissues, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Man Called Ove

Even though I took some time off from reviewing, it doesn't mean I took time off from reading.  My 'Hold' list at the library just got longer and longer, thanks to those of you who sent me recommendations via social media and Goodreads.  Some of those books came in at once, so I did a great juggling act.

One of those books was mentioned everywhere, and after much anticipation, I finally got to read it. It was worth it, and I couldn't put it down.

'A Man Called Ove', by Fredrik Backman, was a delight from the first page to the last. Backman's deceptively simple story is packed with humor and sadness, and his great character, Ove, is the most curmudgeonly man I've ever met.  He might be a stereotypical 'grumpy old man', but he's surprisingly tender when you learn his backstory.  Ove lives simply, has staunch principles, certain routines, and a short fuse. He feels that the world is full of idiots, especially those who buy the wrong car.

A stray cat and new neighbors burst into his well-ordered life, bringing with them mayhem and hilarity.  They all have lessons to teach one another, and some of those lessons are heartbreaking.  One by one, other people enter Ove's world, giving his life more meaning.  Sometimes, experiences are forced upon him, and although he fights them, Ove finds a way to fix most anything.
Author Fredrik Backman

But the two people he has known the longest are the ones he soon sees in a different light: Rune, Ove's former friend, is the catalyst who helps bring the greatest 'disorder' to Ove's life. And Sonja, Ove's wife, provides the greatest inspiration.  

It's a good thing when one can find the perfect 'vacation book'. I think it's time I looked into his other stories.  

But if his other novels are as good as 'A Man Called Ove', I just might extend my time off.

'A Man Called Ove', written by Fredrik Backman, and published by Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.