Becky’s One Hundred and Eleventh Book Review: “Tick Tock” by James Patterson

The book review that I wrote earlier was focused on how deprived my classical education has been. I probably will never get to a point where I don’t believe that I need to read more books. Either way, I did very recently have another new reading experience. I read my very first James Patterson book. Quite a shock, I know. The book that I chose to read in order to break into the world of James Patterson was “Tick Tock”.

I will say that I went into the book very judgmental, although more often than not I trust my parents’ judgement on books, I am always cautious about reading something considered a ‘bestseller’. This is for a few reasons, but mainly because there have been several best sellers in the recent past that I have read and found myself sorely disappointed in. Luckily for me, “Tick Tock” did not fall into that category.

The premise for “Tick Tock” is a NYC detective, Michael Bennett, tries to take a vacation with his family at the beach (all ten of his adopted children and his live-in nanny). In the midst of all this, he is called back to work when it seems like some of the worse criminals in history are once again making an appearance in New York City. There is a copy cat out there…one who is leaving notes addressed to Michael Bennett, and copying some of the sickest minds that history has known. This includes the Son of Sam and Albert Fish. Two of the more infamous serial killers. I have gotten in the habit of not reading the back cover of a book (which is probably how I missed that this was a book in a series) and so I had no idea this was the premise of the book. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have let it sit on my shelf for months.

The first chapter I thought was a little slow. Then I kept reading…very quickly I found myself devouring the book. I really liked the way that Patterson was able to find humor in serious situations. One example of this would be, “I hate seemingly violent nuts, I thought as I got on the Belt Parkway. Especially ones who really seem to know what they’re doing.” (Tick Tock, pg 34). Then there was this statement which I just really liked, “Our culprit really did seem like a monster out of some primordial ooze, the personification of antihuman evil. Hank’s knee-jerk reaction about it was spot-on as well. What do you do when you find a nasty bug crawling up your arm? You slap it off and crush it under your foot and keep squashing it until it isn’t there anymore. You do your darnedest to erase it out of existence.” (Tick Tock, pg 159). This was just such a great statement, I felt the need to make a note of it. I think that it also accents the way that Patterson writes. Yes, he has humor in his novels, but he also is able to twist language into statements like that which just leave you wanting more.

There were a lot of different moments in “Tick Tock” that I found to be both amusing and just true. I think he has a knack for bringing characters to life and I’m sure that is a big factor of why he is a bestselling author. The main character, Michael Bennett is very entertaining for one. At one point he is hanging out outdoors at the beach and says, “I’d just finished my beer and was having a staring contest with a shady-looking seagull perched on my rusty rain gutter when my phone rang.” (Tick Tock, pg 302). This sentence actually made me laugh out loud.

Unfortunately, the book is part of a series and I happened to pick up NOT the first one. But it seems more like a series with just the main character leading the story and not one where there are cliffhangers. I am looking to get my hands on the rest of Patterson’s books now. I am glad that I finally broke through that barrier. The real question is would I recommend this to someone else? Yes — most definitely. I think that Patterson does have a strong gift when it comes to writing and I cannot wait to devour the rest of his works.

Becky’s One Hundred and Thirteenth Book Review: “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King

The long anticipated review of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” is here. I have to say, although I usually expect great things from Stephen King, I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing “Doctor Sleep” turned out to be. “The Shining” really is a classic, so there was all that extra pressure on King to produce something as amazing if not better in the sequel. In my humble opinion, he exceeded expectations.

If you haven’t read “The Shining”, there will be some spoilers so beware!

“Doctor Sleep” picks up shortly after “The Shining” left off. Danny is still a boy and he has found that despite the fact that the Overlook Hotel has been destroyed, some of its inhabitants have followed Danny down to Florida. He discovers this early one morning when he walks into his bathroom, “She was smiling the way you do when you see an old friend. Or, perhaps, something good to eat.” (Doctor Sleep, pg 5). Dick is contacted and he teaches Danny just how to ward off these unwanted visitors. The story then flashes forward.

Danny is now an adult and has followed in his father’s footsteps when it comes to drinking. It was a little upsetting seeing Danny – a sweet little boy who everyone cheered for in “The Shining” to be reduced to an alcoholic drinking away the pain. He goes by Dan now and his alcoholic mind is an interesting one to say the least. “Dan eyed it with morbid fascination, reflecting (not for the first time) that the hungover eye had a weird ability to find the ugliest things in any given landscape.” (Doctor Sleep, pg 41). I liked this quote because it was so true, and I really liked the way that Stephen King wrote this sentence. As an adult, Dan finds himself reflecting on his father and what was the reason that he drank. Dan drank because it made the shining a lot duller. “It was strange to feel sympathy for a man who had almost killed you, but the sympathy was there.” (Doctor Sleep, pg 68).

Dan finds himself wandering from town to town, working wherever he can find the work and moving on as he gets the urge. He really has struck rock bottom and although Dan seems to know that, he just doesn’t care. For the first part of the book, Dan goes from place to place just waiting to die it seems. His go-to place for work? Hospice care. That certainly says something. I’ve never been an alcoholic or an addict of any sort really, but there have been times when I felt I was at my lowest and I felt myself identifying a lot with Dan. There was this one quote that I really liked because it was insightful and true. “Drinking was undoubtedly a part of it, but when you were down, some guys just seemed to feel an urge to walk up your back and plant a foot on your neck instead of helping you to stand. It was lousy, but so much of human nature was. Of course when you were running with the bottom dogs, what you mostly saw were paws, claws, and assholes.” (Doctor Sleep, pg 68-69). I love this kind of raw humor and it can frequently be found in King’s works.

Around this point in the book, Dan gets to a new town and meets some people who are the complete opposites of the awful humans described above. He makes some friends and is dragged to his first AA meeting. This dramatically changes his life. As he is getting sober, Dan makes a friend in the oddest way. A girl, Abra Stone, is born with the shining and they communicate via a blackboard in his bedroom. This unexpected friendship is another thing that will dramatically change Dan’s life.

While all of this is going on, the reader is also learning about the bad guys in the book. There is a group of individuals who are similar in a lot of ways with vampires, they call themselves The True Knot. They are nearly immortal and they survive by sucking the life out of children with the shining. We read about the terrible things that this group does and soon they come to the attention of Abra and Dan. They soon realize that if they don’t stop The True Knot, then Abra will become their next target. The book only gets better from there. One last quote that I just thought amusing and wanted to include, “Perhaps kids really did come into the world trailing clouds of glory, as Wordsworth had so confidently proclaimed, but they also shit in their pants until they learned better.” (Doctor Sleep, pg 123)

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely! I think that any Stephen King fan would enjoy reading “Doctor Sleep”. I also think that even if horror isn’t your favorite genre to read, you might enjoy reading “Doctor Sleep”. It was very well done and I am glad that Stephen King took the risk to write a sequel. It would be amazing if he continued the series following Abra next. I’m already dying to read it again.

Becky’s One Hundred and Tenth Book Review: “Emma” by Jane Austen

I honestly cannot believe it took me this long to read “Emma” by Jane Austen. This is especially true when you consider that Jane Eyre is one of two favorite books and it was written around the same time. If you want to know truly how neglectful I have been of my personal education in reference to the classics, I had not read any Jane Austen until I graduated from college. Back to the point – I finished reading “Emma” this week. I actually started reading it on vacation, but it is a bit thicker than I initially realized and I watched a lot more junk on television while on vacation than spent time with my nose in a book. Unusual all around really.

I did not realize at first, but “Emma” was (loosely) interpreted into a movie that I’ve seen a bunch of times. It in itself is a classic in my book. The movie? Clueless, staring Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, and Paul Rudd. Really, Clueless is more of a parody of Jane Austen’s classic, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, while I was reading the actual classic, I kept picturing people from the movie. Kind of a strange mixture. I think for this review, I will compare the movie to the book.

“Emma” is a lighthearted novel about a silly girl with a strong desire to play matchmaker. The novel begins shortly after her governess is married – a match that Emma believes is all her doing. Now that her governess is happily paired off in marriage, Emma looks about for her next project. She meets a new friend and decides to adopt her. Emma then proceeds to teach Harriet all about high society. What and whom to avoid when necessary, the proper manners, the proper talents that a well brought up young woman should have. All of these things Emma decides to team Harriet. I couldn’t help but picture the scene in Clueless when Cher is teaching Tai about the ‘buns of steel’ exercise. “And my buns, they don’t feel nothing like steel”. Quite entertaining.

There were a lot of different characters featured in Emma, some of whom I very much liked and others who I couldn’t stand. One character who seemed nice but I just wanted to yell at would be Emma’s father. He is so panicky about everything. Oh, we can’t eat dinner in that room because there is a draft and you’ll catch cold and die. Oh, you shouldn’t eat any wedding cake because it might disagree with you and you’ll die. Oh, you shouldn’t walk around outside because you’ll die. Oh, you shouldn’t dine at someone else’s home, you’ll die. Ok, I might be exaggerating a bit on the subject, but he really was a bit much to take sometimes. He was a difficult character although you knew he really did have the best intentions. Mr. Knightly was an amusing character – I especially enjoyed watching him and Emma bicker back and forth.

I think part of what took me so long to read “Emma” by Jane Austen was the fact that Emma is not the kind of character who rises up out of disadvantages, but rather comes from a comfortable home, has a strong desire to never marry, and does not feel the need to have a man in her life in order to define her. So in that sense, you could say that she is strong. But if you compare her with Jane Eyre, she is brought down to a whole different level. Jane has neither parent, is sent off to school, and takes hold of her own destiny. She refuses to settle for being a wife – she doesn’t want to be in a position such as that without really being needed. This is part of what makes Jane Eyre both a favorite of mine, and a great example of early feminism. “Emma” was a great read, but she certainly is not someone you’d aspire to be.

Would I recommend “Emma” by Jane Austen? Yes, but it isn’t for everyone. I very much enjoyed the book, but it is a bit of a heavier read just because of the language difference. It was fun seeing the approach Jane Austen has to writing. Her flexibility with syntax alone was intriguing. That being said, I believe anyone who is a reader of the classics would enjoy “Emma”.