Friday, July 27, 2012

Angel Reviews: By Sunset by: Ty Langston

By SunsetBy Sunset by Ty Langston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kind of a short book by my standards, but then again I haven't really delved into the world of novellas all that much. If this were a stand alone book I'd call it a bit incomplete BUT It's part of a series so I think it sets the scene very well. Details were well thought out and the plot twists weren't too over the top which made it believable. Good strong characters that drew you in and while I don't care for books with a lot of sex in them, the erotic scenes in "By Sunset" while typical, were still steamy and unique enough to not put me off, so props to the author for that!

This was a really good read. A fantasy world that is enchanting yet daunting at the same time, A plot that actually worked (a lot of books just seem to go no where, especially in the erotic genre) and writing that just basically leaves you wanting more! 4 very strong stars.

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Angel Reviews: The Mafia Princess Diaries by: Dionne Lee Nelson

The Mafia Princess DiariesThe Mafia Princess Diaries by Dionne Lee Nelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book cause in my opinion it is very hard to tell a story though a diary without losing the story line and the excitement falling flat. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't stop reading til I was finished! I read this in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was detailed but not overly so, there was plenty of action so it never fell flat and the main character really had a way of making you root for her. If I had to say something bad about it, it would be that it was too short! I wanted more. Thank goodness there is a sequel!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kobra Kid Reviews: The Shining

The Shining
The Shining by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's books like The Shining that make me long for the early days of Stephen King's career. Although, can you really long for something that you weren't even alive for? This book was published eight years before I was even born. But whatever. I still pine for the fjords glory days, back when King actually had something to say, and he used horror mainly as a vehicle for the underlying social commentary. Or human commentary, perhaps, since King has a way of using horror to strip away all of the social conditioning, all the ego, the posturing, of laying a person bare as an animal of base instinct and little else, and showing us the very worst about ourselves--but also, sometimes, the very best--and thus highlighting certain truths about the human condition.

Or I should say, he had a way of doing that. These days, it seems like King has gotten to point where he's writing just to write, and writing horror because it's what's expected of him. His recent works--in my admittedly limited experience, that is, I've by no means read them all--are mostly stories that go nowhere and say nothing, offering the reader cheap chills and thrills, but nothing to feel or to think too deeply about. And after having read such abortions as Duma Key (a steaming pile of shit) and Under the Dome (socially astute, perhaps, but seriously lacking in resolution and, well, a fucking point), getting back to roots and reading one of King's early novels is an almost painful reminder of the writer he can be.

Part of what makes The Shining so good is that, unlike most novels of this type, which offer a slow build meant to maximize suspense, this is instead a novel of constant terror. Even when the characters are going about their daily lives, more or less, there is an undercurrent of dread running just beneath the surface that really gets under your skin and is punctuated only by scenes of balls-out fear and panic.

And another thing that makes this book so good, what makes it truly scary, I think, is that you can never be entirely sure what's really going on. Is Danny actually having visions, or is he just a lonely little boy with an overactive imagination? Is the hotel haunted--or possessed, or whatever--or are these imaginings simply the result of fear and stress and isolation? Is the hotel really bad, an evil entity twisting Jack's mind, or is he simply going mad? The story is a constantly and subtly evolving thing you can't quite pin down until the very last chapters.

But even in the end, you have to wonder: is this really a story about an evil hotel, or is it a story about a man's descent into insanity? On the surface, it's both, of course, but personally I feel that, deeper than that, it's an analogy for a man being destroyed by his own inner-demons. After all, there is a reason the Overlook chooses Jack as its instrument. He's an asshole. Jack Torrance is a self-righteous, self-assured, over-educated, pompous, entitled prick, who holds to the belief that everything has been done to him, rather than accepting that he is in any way responsible for his own failures and misfortunes. He is a self-destructive alcoholic with a bad temper who nevertheless refuses to entirely shoulder the blame for the situation his family now faces. And when the hotel begins to prey on his alcoholism and irrational anger, and his behavior becomes erratic and even dangerous, he refuses to leave, or to at least send Wendy and Danny away, because ultimately he cares more about his goddamn self-image than about his wife and son.

In the end, Jack Torrance is the architect of his own destruction. And that is one of the best things about this book. From a literary standpoint, anyway. It's exactly what I mean when I say that Stephen King used to have something to say. Because in the real world, there are no haunted hotels--or evil hotels, whatever--despite what the History Channel might try to sell you when they're not busy covering Bigfoot or this fucking guy .There are no malevolent supernatural forces hell-bent on bringing you to ruin for whatever mysterious reason. In the real world, the only evil forces that exist are all too human, and we don't need to encounter any possessed real estate for our inner-demons to get the better of us. And that is exactly what King shows us with this book. By making Jack ultimately responsible for his own downfall, even in the face of an evil supernatural force, King is highlighting an essential human truth: there is darkness and evil all around us all the time, and inside of us all the time, but we are the only ones who can allow it to destroy us, and we are the only ones who can save ourselves from it.

Kobra Kid, signing off.
[You can't stop the signal.]

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