Book Review: Duma Key (Part Two)

duma key

As I said before, I consider the second half of the book to be after Edgar’s art show. The action starts pretty quickly after that fateful night and, like many of King’s books, once the endgame starts it moves fast.

Once the paintings and sketches are sold, the people who bought them are in danger and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of those people die. One of them, however, pushes Edgar past his breaking point and he takes Wireman and Jack to the original Heron’s Roost to find and defeat the evil that has woken up again.

The ruin of Elizabeth Eastlake’s childhood home is creepy in and of itself, but the creatures that live in the overgrown jungle around it make it all the creepier. Birds lying upside down, moving lawn jockeys, and the local non-supernatural fauna make for a terrifying trip down memory lane for the three men, and that’s all before it gets dark and the real horrors show up.

When Edgar reveals what happened at Heron’s Roost and the real hero of the 1920’s horror invasion, it gets very sad. Thanks to them, though, he has the power to finally defeat Perse and put the evil back to sleep.

I unapologetically love this book. There are a lot of people that I talk to that roll their eyes when I tell them I like it but I love it. It’s good and creepy, I had to leave the lights on after I read about the big boy, and the setting-up chapters moved quickly. I got really attached to the characters in a way I usually don’t with Stephen King books and enjoyed the ending. If you’re a fan of Stephen King and haven’t read this one, give it a go. At the very least it’s an entertaining 600 pages, unlike Bag of Bones. Don’t get me started on that one.

As far as Stephen King goes, I’m considering giving the Dark Tower series a shot again. My husband gently shoves them at me every time I finish a King book and this time I might let him. Provided he buys me a bagel sandwich first.

Advertisements

Book Review: Duma Key (Part One)

duma keySix months after a crane crushes his pickup truck and his body self-made millionaire Edgar Freemantle launches into a new life. . He leaves Minnesota for Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily remote stretch of the Florida coast where he has rented a house. All of the land on Duma Key, and the few houses, are owned by Elizabeth Eastlake, an octogenarian whose tragic and mysterious past unfolds perilously. When Edgar begins to paint, his formidable talent seems to come from someplace outside him, and the paintings, many of them, have a power that cannot be controlled.

Because I felt like reading something older, I picked Duma Key up again because it’s become one of my favorite Stephen King books. I first read it a few years back when illness kept me from working for a period, and I wanted another dose of the creepiness that entranced me the first time I read it.

I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since I was in middle school and sneaking around with The Dark Half and Misery, and I’ve been disappointed in some of his more recent work. An old friend recommended Duma Key to me and I loved it.

Like a lot of Stephen King books it takes a while to get to the good stuff. Most of the first part of the book is dedicated to Edgar Freemantle’s unfortunate construction site accident that takes his arm, his marriage, and a large chunk of his ability to remember words and phrases. He goes through rehab, moves out to their lake house, visits his daughters. Pretty mundane stuff, right up until his daughter comes to visit him on Duma Key.

The island itself is good and creepy right from the start. The shells under the house “talk” to Edgar and half of the island is covered in jungle-like flora that has no business being there. He meets Wireman and Elizabeth soon after, and slowly his paintings become more surreal and he feels them take on a life of their own.

I love Edgar’s progression from suicidal to comfortable to genius artist. I feel it’s very genuine, and when the old Stephen King supernatural element comes into play it happens gradually, ramping up until you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

Personally, I consider the first half of the book to be up until Edgar’s art show. You suspect a bit of the supernatural presence that has been hinted at, but it’s not until the show that the cover is thrown back by a terrified Elizabeth. After that, things pretty much get full-blown frightening.

Next week: Part Two

Book Review: Run Away Charlotte

Run Away Charlotte

Trusting and depending on others has never suited nineteen-year-old Charlotte Cooper, who believes she’s unworthy of a happily ever after. She’s fiercely loyal to one – her BFF Joe. Afterall, Joe’s the only one who knows everything about Charlotte and he’s sworn to protect her heart, and her deep dark secrets.

Until Andrew Wagner walks into her life.

When it comes to matters of the heart and mind, which direction do you follow? Love or Logic?

Run Away Charlotte is the precursor to Ask Me Again, which I received from the author in exchange for a review, and I loved it so much that I bought this one.

It was interesting to see how Charlotte and Andrew came to meet and be together, and how much they meant to each other. You could definitely tell they were in love from the start in Ask Me Again but I got to see every little detail that was alluded to in it. Having read the previous book I couldn’t help shouting “No, no, stay away from Jack!” the first time they met.

While this book was really good, I feel like the author hit her stride with the second book. I could tell that she learned a lot more about pacing by that time, and there were parts in Run Away Charlotte where the pace lagged. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, just that I felt that Ask Me Again had worked out some of the kinks.

That being said, when there was excitement or something big happening to Charlotte (so much happened to poor Charlotte!), the pages seemed to turn themselves and I had a hard time putting it down.

I highly recommend both of H.M. Shander’s books. While you don’t have to have read this one to understand and follow the second, I do recommend you read them in order so you can fully appreciate Andrew and Charlotte’s love.

Book Review: Ask Me Again

Ask Me Again

It’s been more than 13 years since Andrew and Charlotte broke up, but that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten.

Through death, lies and betrayals, Charlotte leans on Andrew, finding solace in the fact that she never needs to hide herself from him. When a huge loss pushes her to the edge and makes her question everything, she has to decide if she should stay in the life she’s created and make the best of it, or risk it all for a second chance at true happiness.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of HM Shander’s Ask Me Again, a follow up to her previous novel Run Away Charlotte. She told me that I didn’t need to have read the first book to follow along, but now that I’ve finished Ask Me Again I definitely want to pick up Run Away Charlotte to see how it all began.

From the very beginning we got hints of how bad Charlotte’s life was with her husband, but it seemed like it could all be put down to a couple who was falling out of love with one another. Once we got a glimpse of who Jack really was, I was hoping that she’d leave him and every time she talked herself into staying I was frustrated.

Shander really portrays the character of a woman who is a victim of domestic violence, both verbal and physical, honestly. While it made the story hard to read at times it felt very real and I was frightened for Charlotte on a lot of occasions. Everything seemed to happen to the poor woman, from a flood in her kitchen to the death of someone very dear to her, and I didn’t blame her one bit for trying to escape into the past with Andrew.
Andrew, the man she never really fell out of love with, was everything Jack wasn’t and he was a breath of fresh air. I loved how relaxed Charlotte was able to be when she was with him, and it made her going back to her husband all the sadder. When things came to a head later, I honestly wasn’t sure who she would choose and for that I give Shander a huge thumbs-up.

All in all, I really enjoyed Ask Me Again. The characters were flawed but likeable (except Jack, who was just the worst), the story was paced really well, and when I was able to let out the breath I’d been holding for two chapters the ending was satisfying. Charlotte really grew as a person and I was proud of her. Definitely recommend this book to fans of women’s fiction and romance.

You can pick it up at Amazon to read for yourself!

Book Review: Blackbird Summer

Blackbird Summer

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Blackbird Summer and it may be the best book I’ve read in a long time. I said on Twitter that I wish Goodreads let me give a book 6 stars and it’s not a joke.

The Gifted members of the family are all so wonderful that I found myself wishing I was related to them. Their Gifts were awesome but it was the love they shared and the close-knit quality of their family that drew me to them, and it was the same love that tore me apart when tragedy struck them. I was so invested in their family, in fact, that when the unthinkable happened I cried.

The forbidden love story between Tully and Logan moved at a natural pace for a couple of twentysomethings, with just enough romance story trappings to make me swoon. I was rooting for them the whole time, and hoping things would work out between them in the face of the Caibre family traditions.

The Caibre family had such strong traditions and folk-like tendencies that when Tully mentioned things like dial up internet and cell phones it almost seemed foreign. She and her sister Delia were complete opposites but Delia seemed to serve as the story’s link to the “future” while Tully represented the traditional “past” even though she was only a few years older than Delia. The disparity between the two sisters made their characters all the more real and when they faced some very real-world problems I felt like they were my own sisters in need of support and love.

The true genius behind Shotwell’s writing is her ability to make you lose yourself in the story. I had a hard time putting it down, always telling myself I would read just one more chapter. I was also excited to see that there’s another Blackbird novel in the works and hope it’s about Delia, though I can’t imagine what can still happen in Brooklyn.

I highly, highly recommend Blackbird Summer to everyone. I honestly cannot wait until it comes out so I can point people in the direction of buy links, and you can bet I’m going to be reminding you when it comes out.

Constricted: A Flawed Short Story

Constricted

Logan’s secret has been exposed. When Jade—a beautiful student at the college where he teaches—discovered the truth, he spilled the whole repulsive story. Jade’s empathetic kindness flooded him with emotions he didn’t know he had and isn’t sure he wants to deal with.

It would be the easiest thing in the world to leave and let Jade be a whisper in his past. He can exit now and regain his anonymity, or he can risk everything to stay and face her again.

It’s not an easy choice, and when he’s about to decide, a woman from his past shows up, making his decision even more difficult.

The fabulous Becca J. Campbell gave me a copy of this short to read and I was absolutely thrilled. I love the Flawed universe and all the characters, so I was really looking forward to another bite at the Empath apple.

I’ve read all the other Flawed books and short stories already so it was a little strange to go back to this one knowing everything that happened after Empath. It was interesting to see what happened to Logan and see things from his perspective when he started falling for Jade, especially his desire to run away. It made him seem all the more real, even if his “power” is one of the more unusual ones.

It was also interesting to meet Violet, who we see a lot more of in Protector, and learn a little backstory on her. When she first showed up in Protector, I hadn’t known anything about her and she seemed a little like she fell out of the sky. Now that I know that she was introduced in this story, I wish I would have read it sooner.

Constricted is about the same length as Pulled, so it felt like it was over before I was ready for it to be. It did give me a new perspective on Logan, though, so I really enjoyed it. Sadly, it also reminded me that for the moment I am all out of Flawed books to read, which means I have to go back to pacing the floor waiting for the next one to come out!

Book Review: House of Cabal, Volume One: Eden

House Of Cabal V1

The witness angel Pinsleep is an outcast among his kind. He grieves the loss of Adam and Eve, while his brothers and sisters witness human stories on earth. When a modern-day couple discovers the Garden of Eden, Pinsleep chances upon a hidden epic.

To understand the far reaching consequences of their trespass, Pinsleep must travel through time and space to uncover the cabal that orchestrated the couple’s arrival, a secret organization that threatens to rip the fabric of reality apart.

I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that House of Cabal is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. We start off talking to an angel named Pinsleep who from the very beginning describes himself as looking more like a machine than an organic being, and who has made himself something of a hermit since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. A new couple show up seemingly out of nowhere and he takes them under his wing (no pun intended), determined to figure out how they got there and finally write an opera that will reveal something new to God. The next thing you know, there’s a conspiracy, bizarre research, and a spontaneous combustion all within the surprisingly short first installment of what promises to be an epic series.

A large portion of the book is written from multiple perspectives during a series of “regression” tapes. At first I was a little put off by the head-hopping but it really grew on me in a way that a lot of books that use the same technique haven’t. It really made me have to immerse myself in the story so that I fully understood what was happening, and even then I was left wondering what happened a few times. Of course, just when I thought I had the perspectives figured out things went completely sideways again and even Pinsleep made an appearance.

Once we start digging into the secrets of the House of Cabal, things start to get more sci-fi. When I read “witness angel” in the description I thought it might be influenced a little more by religious iconography, but McCraw blends classical religious elements with supernatural forces and speculation in an awesome mix that is completely outlandish at the same time that it’s completely believable.

The cliffhanger at the end left me stomping my feet wanting more, so I’m thrilled to hear that volume two is scheduled to come out this month. I’ll be picking it up for sure; I’m dying to read more of the regression tapes and find out more about what happened at the House of Cabal.