Becky’s One Hundred and Second Book Review: “Audrey’s Door” by Sarah Langan

If you ever start to feel like you are losing your mind, you should read “Audrey’s Door”. It will put things in perspective. I think pretty much everyone has a touch of the crazy, but in “Audrey’s Door” the main character is two steps away from a straight-jacket. This book was a total impulse buy. It was being advertised as a book that I could get new for one credit and two bucks shipping on paperbackswap (awesome site by the way). So I saw the cover, judged the book by it and thought that might be good and decided to order it and several others. Cause one is never enough. After going through all that, the book sat on my shelf for months. Finally I picked it up and I was very pleasantly surprised at what I found there.

The main character in this novel is Audrey. She is a young architect with O.C.D. – and by no means a mild case of it. At the beginning of the book, Audrey has just broken up with her fiancé and is looking for somewhere new to live that she could possibly afford. The story is set in New York City, so Audrey knows she’s asking for the impossible really. Eventually, she stumbles across an advertisement for an apartment that is by all means a steal. She finds out that the reason the place is priced that way is because the previous tenant had drown her four children and slit her own wrists. So no one really wanted to live there – but Audrey doesn’t see the harm in moving in because she certainly isn’t going to be murdering anyone. Things quickly get strange.

I really liked the character Audrey. She was massively screwed up and in a way it was comforting. Like, there are times when my life is really overwhelming — but I’m not that bad. I liked her flaws and I liked the way that she thinks. For example, “She’d never met a happy family, and wasn’t quite sure she believed in them. They sounded as Kosher as Scientology Aliens or leprechauns.” (Audrey’s Door, pg 35) or “It’s such hubris to think your problems are bigger than the person’s sitting next to you, just because they have the fortitude not to complain.” (Audrey’s Door, pg 159). Audrey has kind of a ‘fuck you’ attitude, but not because she necessarily thinks she is better than everyone else — she is more-so of the mindset that everyone else is better than her. I liked the change in pace. There are so many protagonists who spend all their time thinking they’re better than everyone else when they are just as much of a screw-up as the rest.

In addition to Audrey being O.C.D., her mother is bipolar and living in an assisted living kind of place. The flashbacks throughout the book to her time growing up with her mother were very revealing. It was really strange to think of what that situation must have been like, “She thought of Betty in a bed, all by herself. One moment an angel, the next, a villain. And the thing is, do you blame the sickness, or its host?” (Audrey’s Door, pg 176).

I don’t want to give too much away because that would spoil it. But I found the book to be sufficiently creepy with a nice air of mystery to it. Plus, as I stated earlier, I really liked the main character. Overall, I think that the author did an excellent job and (surprise, surprise) I went out and got the rest of her books. Her writing is poetic in a way. I especially liked this paragraph towards the end: “No thinking creature can tolerate captivity. In the presence of just four white walls, the mind invents. Stagnant air and locked doors skew perception. Eighty-degree angles turn obtuse. Holes form between joists where bricks no longer neatly meet. Smiles become sneers; love skinned leaves the skeleton of lust; and too much sleep unmoors its dreamer. Without the possibility of freedom, the rituals of living are abandoned. Bathing, eating, cleaning, and even language are lost. Things fall apart, and in the vacuum of their absence, madness nears.” (Audrey’s Door, pg 371).

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely!! I was pleasantly surprised by it and I think “Audrey’s Door” would appeal to a wide audience. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to someone who doesn’t enjoy mystery/horror/thriller novels. But it was a great read and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books.  

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Becky’s Ninety-Eighth Book Review: “To Die For” by Christopher Pike

“To Die For” by Christopher Pike is another combination of two books that were published together. The books are “Sleepover” and “Weekend”. Neither story had I read before but I enjoyed them both very much.

“Sleepover” is the first book in “To Die For” and it is about a group of girls who goes on a ski trip with plans to meet up with a friend they haven’t seen in a long time. The main character’s name is Lara. She drives up to the mountains with her friend Dana and her new friend Celeste. They are meeting with another group that drove up, Rachel and Mindy and the place they are meeting is their old friend Nell’s home. We quickly find out that Nell is disfigured from being burned and there are hints that the accident occurred while the group was together. Bits and pieces of the story soon come together so that we find out that the group hasn’t been all together pretty much since the accident. We also learn that Nell wasn’t the only one affected by the fire – she was just the one who survived. There is a lot of bickering between the friends and it is made clear quite quickly that they aren’t all close. Rachel and Lara seem to be constantly competing. Almost immediately at the resort, things aren’t as they seem. There were the usual twists and turns that I come to expect from a Christopher Pike novel, but I found the book to be a little predictable, although still worth the read.

“Weekend” is the second book in “To Die For” and is about a group of friends who go on a weekend getaway. The main character in this book is named Shani. There is a pretty big group at the getaway. There are Kerry and Angie, Robin and Lena, Park, Sol, Bert, and Flynn. We learn very rapidly that there are love triangles aplenty in this story and another secret. Christopher Pike does love to have his big secrets. In this book, Robin and Lena are sisters, although both were adopted, and they are the ones hosting this weekend getaway. Robin is suffering from kidney failure and it is unclear exactly how this came about. All the reader knows is that there was a party, an accident, and suddenly Robin is dying a slow death while she waits to see if a kidney becomes available. The group gets together and suddenly a lot of weird stuff starts to happen. The weekend getaway starts to turn into a nightmare and until the truth comes out, no one will be safe. I enjoyed this book better than “Sleepover” and I would definitely recommend it.

I do like the way that these books are put together. They are a fun read and personally, when I pick up Christopher Pike’s books I’m thrown through time — once again I am an elementary school student who thinks it is just the coolest thing that I have my own library card. I think that Christopher Pike’s novels – pretty much any of them – would appeal to a wide range of readers. They are geared towards young adults for the most part, but that just means you eat through them all that much faster.   

Becky’s Eighty-Third Book Review: “Bound to You” by Christopher Pike

There has been much debate on whether or not I should write two book reviews for this book. At least I have been debating it a lot. I finished reading “Bound to You” by Christopher Pike which is actually two of his books published together. This review will be of each of those books, “Spellbound” and “See You Later”. Christopher Pike most often focuses his works on horror/thriller with a touch of science fiction thrown in. These books leaned a little more towards science fiction than some of the others that I have read.

“Spellbound” was the first book in the “Bound to You” collection. The story revolves around Cindy. Weeks ago, a girl’s body was found in a stream on a mountain—the victim of a bear attack, or so claims Jason, the dead girl’s boyfriend. The story starts off with Cindy becoming instantly defensive for Jason who is now her boyfriend. Then the secrets start to come out and Cindy begins to question everything and everyone. What I really liked about this story was how it went in a different direction from what I had expected. I always try to guess what will happen next and while I had some of the right ideas, I was still taken away by the twists at the end. The book is a quick read and was very entertaining.

The second book in the “Bound to You” collection was “See You Later”. This story followed Mark, a computer game designer who has a bad heart. The story really begins when he meets a girl, as so many stories do. But then he meets a few more people and his life becomes very interesting in a very short period of time. “It began with a smile, or at least that’s what I thought. But then, I didn’t think much when I was eighteen. I just longed for things I didn’t have, and reacted when they came to me and I no longer wanted them.” (See You Later/Bound to You, pg 257). I like how Christopher Pike starts out this story, it is very accessible. I also like the voice that he uses for Mark, it is very sarcastic and he said a lot of things in a similar fashion of how I tend to speak which I found entertaining. “I had no trouble identifying Ray. My psychic powers were operating at peak performance. He had a name tag on.” (See You Later/Bound to You, pg 304). There were so many statements like this throughout the novel that I just loved. The book took an interesting twist that I did not see coming too which is so often the case with Christopher Pike. I think that is part of what appeals to me; he keeps his audience guessing all the way to the end.

This collection was a fun read. I’ve been reading Christopher Pike since I was old enough to have my own library card and it is always fun when I come across books that I haven’t read before. I hadn’t read either of these books even though I own them in their separate formats. Would I recommend this collection? Yes, I think it would be an enjoyable read for anyone who gravitates towards thrillers. His work is always an easy read as well which is great for when you want a relaxing read, even though he does throw in enough action and thrills to keep your heart pounding in almost everything he writes. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books I recently acquired by him.

Becky’s Eighty-Second Book Review: “Firestarter” by Stephen King

Over the weekend I finished reading “Firestarter” by Stephen King and I have to say, I think this may possibly be the most frightening book of his that I have read. Let me explain.

“Firestarter” is about a little girl named Charlie who can start fires with her mind. It is an ability that she was born with because both of her parents participated in a science experiment in college. Each parent unlocked their own psychic abilities after the experiment. This science experiment was all done under the supervision of a division of the government called ‘the shop’. When they realized what they had with Charlie and her parents they wanted to pick it apart and study it. This is what I really found frightening, the lengths that these government characters go to in order to obtain this family. Because you just know that the way that Stephen King portrays the government is not only his opinion, but a fairly accurate representation of just how out of control things can get. There are too many government officials who wave their badges and believe that gives them absolute authority.

While the shop is pursuing Charlie and her family they realize that they have something more powerful than they can handle. Part of the problem is that different characters react to this differently. An example of this is, “…an old man who had once opened Pandora’s box and now wanted to shoot all of the things that had flown out instead of putting them to work.” (Firestarter, pg 81). Some characters recognized the danger while others chose to see things differently. Another good quote that represents this is, “It is your great failing. You look, you see a monster. Only in the girl’s case, you see a useful monster. Perhaps that is because you are a white man. White men see monsters everywhere.” (Firestarter, pg 196). Very true.

While Charlie was the main goal of the shop, her father also seemed promising to them. He is the one telling the story for most of the beginning. He is a very solidly built character and I like what Stephen King does with him. He makes this guy very easy to relate to and often he says (or thinks) very insightful things. “It was all in the past; none of it could be changed; it was time to stop thinking about it. A neat trick if you could do it.” (Firestarter, pg 171). This particular statement jumped out at me because it is something I have been struggling with personally—letting go of the past. Much more easily said than done.

One thing that Stephen King often does in his novels is that he has several people tell the story. This is a great technique in my opinion because it gives the reader a chance to know the minds of all the characters, not just the protagonist. This also allows for King to slip in some foreshadowing in the book. “A third part was remembering a Chinese curse, a curse that sounded deceptively pleasant until you sat down and really though about it. May you live in interesting times. For the last year and a half he had lived in extremely interesting times. He felt that just one more interesting thing would drive him totally insane.” (Firestarter, pg 195). I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the character was not far off base.

Would I recommend this book? Yes—to a certain crowd. I don’t think those who dislike horror books would find anything that King has written to be very appealing. But for those die hard Stephen King fans, this is a must-read. It would even be a good introduction to Stephen King book for someone who hasn’t picked up his work before. 

Becky’s Seventy-Sixth Book Review: “Carrie” by Stephen King

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE CARRIE MOVIE AND/OR READ CARRIE AND ARE PLANNING ON IT (and don’t want everything spoiled…)

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to make a new post! Already twelve days into the month and I’ve only finished one book! As I finished spooning my New England Clam Chowder into my mouth I also finished reading “Carrie” by Stephen King.

This is actually not the first time that I’ve read this book, but since I didn’t write a review last time I thought, why not? Plus with the new movie coming out soonish I thought it might be of interest to other people too.

There is a reason that Carrie is a classic. That so many of the lines from the novel and/or movie are well known to those who haven’t even read or watched Carrie. At the very basic level, Carrie is about a girl who is picked on her whole life until she finally snaps. The difference being that she has the useful and deadly ability to move things with her mind. If you want to go deeper into the novel, I think on some level people can connect with Carrie as a character. She is this friendless outcast that is always the butt of jokes. I believe that at one time or another, everyone has felt like an outcast. I guess I don’t really know what it is like for those in the popular crowd since I never fell into that category…but I was by no means friendless as a child and still felt that way sometimes.

In a strange way, I found myself cheering for Carrie. I knew how everything would turn out, having seen the movie multiple times and having read the book once before. Nevertheless I saw Carrie grow stronger the further I progressed into the book and looking forward to the inevitable carnage. Maybe it was partly because I connected so much with her and the pain that she was surrounded with. Maybe it was because I can just be morbid. Either way, I devoured Stephen King’s “Carrie” quickly.

Part of the delay in writing a review before this is because I have been reading several books this month. One I’m struggling with, so I think I may take a break and pick it up in a little while. The other two are my two favorite books “Jane Eyre” and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” which I’ve never read at the same time before. I didn’t even do so intentionally now, but I am finding many parallels between the two main characters which is making me realize more and more why these are my favorite books. More reviews to come.

Would I recommend “Carrie” by Stephen King? Yes, the book is excellent. It is also on the shorter side, so it is a great book for those of you that cannot commit to extremely long novels, such as “The Stand” which was around 1500 pages. “Carrie” is only 290 pages, which to me is short.

I want to make a quick mention about the movie as well. The original movie that is the most well known came out in 1976 and did a pretty good job for the time. I did not like the fact that the total destruction of the town was altered to only include the fire at the high school, the car accident that killed Chris and Billy (the couple responsible for the buckets of blood), and the death of Carrie’s mother. She died differently in the book, but I think the movie did well with what they included.

When checking the dates of the movies I found out that there was a TV movie that came out in 2002. In 1999 a sequel of sorts came out, The Rage: Carrie 2. In it the main character has the same father as the original Carrie did but instead of destroying a high school, it’s a house where there is a party in full swing. I thought it was entertaining and have seen it a few times personally.

I am very excited to see the new movie which is scheduled to come out in October 2013. So I have to be patient for a few months, but from the small preview that I’ve been able to find on youtube, it looks like they may have adapted the movie to follow the book almost to a t. I think that is great and can’t wait to see how it turns out.