A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain: Review

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A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is a fascinating story about a small mountain town, local folklore, the supernatural, and the strong ties of friendship.

The story follows the lives of a few local teens living in a rural mountain town. With the introduction of an otherworldly girl into their friendship group, one with glowing white skin who doesn’t quite act right, things begin to change. Leo, whose storytelling favorite Uncle “Lud” is gravely ill, wonders if the stories his uncle shared with him are coming true in town. Although they’re only folklore (right?), with the way events are falling, it seems the only possible explanation. But what is really happening in this remote town, and will the friends hold onto their friendship (and lives) as events unfold?

The plot in this book seemed slow moving when I read it, but looking back after finishing the story I realize that it wasn’t actually very slow. There is a steady progression of events as the story moves forward, events building off of one another and spiraling seemingly uncontrollably at times. While there isn’t a ton of action in the plot, as it’s more of a dialogue and character based story, there is enough action to keep the reader glued to the pages waiting for more.

Each of the characters faces one hardship or another in their life, whether it’s pressure to succeed in school while dealing with a much loved (but ill) uncle, or not having enough food to eat- every one of the kids deals with their own difficulty with the aid of their trusted friends. It’s easy to imagine the plights of all the friends and the feeling of desperation practically oozes through the pages. The author definitely did a fantastic job of making the hardships easy for the reader to relate to and understand.

The characters in this book are all remarkable realistic, except for when the point is for a character to not seem realistic. The relationships between the characters and the feelings that they had for each other all resonated as true and realistic throughout the story. Even the dialogue between the characters was realistic. Any awkwardness between characters was obviously written as such specifically, rather than the product of an author who is unsure of how to write effective dialogue. Harun definitely understands how to make conversations between characters flow smoothly and realistically.

The writing in this book is really unique. At first I was unsure of whether or not I would be able to get into it, but after the first chapter I started to understand the flow and it wasn’t as much of a challenge to read. Occasionally the author refers to characters generically as “he” or “she”. At first this drove me crazy, I wanted to know who specifically by name the author was referring to; but as the story progressed I began to get used to this stylistic choice. Referring to characters as “he” or “she” initially added to the mysterious and ominous tone of the story, subtly adding to the mood.

The one thing that really detracted from my reading experience was the format of this book. In the Kindle version (at least I hope it’s just the kindle version), headings are all blocked together with absolutely no spaces in between the words, making it difficult at times to decipher what the heading is supposed to say. Also, at various points during the book there were sections that were double spaced, with only a sentence per line, and other sections where there were whole paragraphs with no spacing in between. The formatting was definitely not consistent throughout the story which really distracted me and detracted from my reading experience.

In the end I found myself liking this book. While it wasn’t the best book I’ve read in awhile (and the formatting really drove me crazy) this book did have some elements of a good story. If you’re interested in traditional mountain folklore, or books about the lives of those living in rural towns, you will truly enjoy this book. You will also enjoy this book if you enjoy unique characters and subtle supernatural elements. 

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur: Review

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“If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur” is a delightful children’s book, explaining all the potential uses of a dinosaur pet.

I’m not a young boy, so I have no longstanding fascination with dinosaurs like it seems so many young boys do. Yet, even as an adult woman, I was able to greatly enjoy this story. The uses for the dinosaurs were incredibly unique, ranging from a babysitter, to an umbrella, to a lawn mower. I definitely enjoyed the creative ideas that are in this book, they truly make “If you Happen to Have a Dinosaur” an enjoyable read.

The illustrations in this book are absolutely darling. The people themselves are all awkward looking, while still managing to look loveable. And all of the dinosaurs look different, adding great variety to each page of the book. The illustrations are crisp and bright and do a fantastic job of illustrating what is written on the page. Some of the more hilarious uses for a dinosaur (such as a babysitter) have appropriately hilarious illustrations, and the same goes for the more serious uses and their appropriate illustrations.

The one problem that I found with this book is that the sentences don’t flow perfectly together. A little bit of rhyme, or similar sentence flow, would have gone a long way in making this book even more enjoyable. That being said, this book would be a perfect book to read over and over (and over and over again) as rhyming books have a tendency to get on ones nerves faster than a book without rhyme.

The final thing I wish to mention in regards to this book is the ending. The ending of “If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur” is absolutely hilarious and the perfect way to close the story. The second to last page acknowledges the fact that not every young child just happens to have a dinosaur lying around and suggests other animals that they might have instead. The very last page of the story ends with, “What can you do with a kangaroo?”, leaving open the option for the author to write subsequent stories along the same lines as this one.

I would definitely recommend, “If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur” to those with younglings loving dinosaurs, or those looking for a humorous picture book with adorable illustrations.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Least Favorite Books

After reading so many books, it’s surprising how few I seriously dislike… My “Not Worth It” shelf features a measly 8 books. That being said, to make it onto my “Not Worth It” shelf, I need to seriously hate a book.

Number 1:

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Title: The Kindly Ones

Author: Jonathan Littell

Why I Hate It: I had heard this book was controversial and I honestly assumed it was just because of the graphic descriptions of the atrocities of WWII. I went into this book figuring it would be gross, figuring there would be a lot of graphic deaths, and figuring that it would be upsetting. I never anticipated just what would be so graphic and upsetting about it. The author seems to have a fixation on poop… and not just any poop, specifically pooping out bugs. I couldn’t even get into the story because I couldn’t get passed the descriptions of the dreams that the main character was having, about pooping out bugs. I would say that I’d like to give this book another shot (I still own it, so it shouldn’t be too hard to pick up and read) but the book is soured for me, I really don’t want to revisit any bug poop, thank you very much.

Number 2:

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Title: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Author: David Sedaris

Why I Hate it: While amusing (at times) I felt that this book was entirely pointless. Sedaris presents stories of his life in an unconnected manner without much flow. At the end of this book I thought to myself, “Now what have I gained by reading this book?” the only answer I could think of was only that I had just wasted an hour of my time reading this book that seemingly had no point.

Number Three:

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Title: Jitterbug Perfume

Author: Tom Robbins

Why I Hate It: I have tried to read this book countless times and have never been able to finish it. I always get stuck somewhere around 3/4 of the way through. I just find myself unable to continue and expose myself to more uncomfortable mentions of sex and horny goats. The philosophy in this book is really quite fantastic and if there weren’t so many references to sexual deeds then this would probably have become one of my favorite books.

Please note that this list is subject to change.

Favorite Books

I have read so many good books throughout my lifetime. Here are my top three:

Number 1:

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Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Why I Love It: This book is my all-time favorite book and I have a hard time believing that another book will ever come close to rivaling this book for my top spot. Rothfuss has truly created a masterpiece with this story. He paints a picture of a land so magical, yet so believable, that I want to spend the rest of my life there. Rothfuss also manages to weave incredibly complex and relatable characters, characters who show tremendous growth throughout the story. While normally not a fan of fantasy, this book plays on subtle fantasy elements that managed to draw me right in. There isn’t really anything not to love about The Name of the Wind.

Number 2:

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Title: Collapse

Author: Jared Diamond

Why I Love It: This is the perfect introductory non-fiction book. Jared Diamond manages to give an in-depth overview (is that even possible?!) of how/why societies fail or succeed. Diamond manages to write a quality non-fiction book that is easy to pick up and finish, even for those who don’t normally read non-fiction. It manages to capture the attention and bring light to an interesting subject.

Number 3:

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Title: The Thirteenth Tale

Author: Diane Setterfield

Why I Love It: I’m a total sucker for books  about books as well as protagonists who prefer books to people, and this book definitely brings all that to the table. The writing is beautiful, painting a stunning picture of a life without being overbearing. If you’re looking for a book similar to The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, without the intimidating page count, this is the perfect book!

 

Please note that this list is subject to change.

S Street Rising: Review

 

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This book provided interesting insight into the crack trade of Washington D.C., and the young news reporter who was caught up in it all.

Ruben, a young reporter for the Post, is not only investigating the violence in relation to crack but is also a crack addict himself. He provides fascinating views from both sides of the spectrum, giving the reader a clear and balanced picture of what was really going on in D.C. in the 80′s and 90′s. S Street Rising not only deals with crack, but also deals with sketchy politicians, fantastic police work, and a church in a war zone.

The story itself was fascinating. Hearing about the crack issues in D.C. from both the side of a reporter and the side of a crack addict was fascinating; truly adding a new perspective on a traditional story. S Street Rising is also a fascinating story because it doesn’t focus entirely on crack. While crack is a major component of this book, there is more to the story than that. This book also focuses on the political issues in D.C. around this time period and a church that took root directly in the middle of a notorious crack area. There is definitely more to be found in this book than just a story about crack and why crack is bad for society.

The writing in this book is really pleasant to read. It’s obvious that the author is a professional journalist and really understands what it takes to write a good story. Though the author is a journalist, this book doesn’t read like a newspaper article or simple journalism, it reads like a proper nonfiction book. There are a few jumps in setting/topic throughout a chapter, yet each section managed to flow smoothly into the next.

There isn’t much else to say about this book; it’s a fascinating story with polished writing. I would definitely recommend this one to those interested in stories about drugs and drug histories or for anyone out looking for a fascinating, and informative, glimpse into someones life and a nationwide drug problem.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

In The Dark: Review

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In The Dark by James Key is a modern whodunit mystery with intriguing characters, shocking plot twist, and engaging writing.

The plot of this book is really interesting. In The Dark follows Jimmy, a young private detective, as he works to solve the case of the Parkhurst family and their mysterious murder/stalker issues. As he works the case, Jimmy discovers many secrets about the Parkhurst company, as well as the Parkhurst family- exposing a wealthy family clad in sinister secrets.

I thought that the film noir references were a fascinating aspect of this book. I wish that the author had referenced specific things about film noir, or specific examples of film noir, rather than just a basic mentioning of film noir itself. But I did think that mentioning film noir set the mood of the story in a way that was easy for the reader to grasp and understand.

The characters in this novel were interesting. Dora Parkhurst had some interesting characteristics about her and was a fascinating character to read about. Although her actions, along with the actions of other characters, seemed fake or forced at times, for Dora, it was understandable why she would be socially awkward and why her actions would seem forced. I did not have as easy of a time excusing the other awkward characters. There were numerous times when the characters were talking or interacting with each other that I thought to myself, “real people don’t behave or speak in that manner”.

Another problem that I encountered in regards to the characters speaking with each other was the format of the conversation. At times I found myself confused as to who was speaking at what time. That might have just been a flaw in the formatting of the book I received, but when reading this book you’ll have to pay close attention as to who is speaking when as the author doesn’t make it extremely clear.

Despite the awkward characters and script of the characters, the writing in this story was surprisingly polished. Key writes in a manner that flows smoothly and consistently. His sentences circulate nicely within each other, no sentence seems too long or too short. The writing avoids becoming choppy, even when characters are speaking short sentences to each other. The author also does a nice job of describing places and events in a manner that is easy for the reader to visualize and follow. It was easy to visualize the places, the cars, or the events that were occurring while reading this novel.

In the end I would have to say, give this novel a shot. In The Darkis a fascinating read, with a disturbing ending. Although this book isn’t the best that I have ever read, due to the lacking characters, it was still a quick and enjoyable read for a Monday night. Definitely a book I would recommend for lovers of whodunit mysteries.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf: Review

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This book took me a few chapters to get engrossed in, and I honestly wasn’t holding out much hope for the story. I’m glad that I decided to stick with the story because by the fourth or fifth chapter I was truly sucked into a fascinating read.

The story follows “The Wolf” or Vincent, a young man/criminal mastermind, who recently lost his wife and two daughters to a terrorist attack. Reeling from the aftermath of the killing, Vincent sets out for revenge, starting a war between all of the professional criminal organizations and all of the terrorist organizations.

This story thrilling, but also causes the reader to think a little bit about professional criminals and terrorists. I never really thought about the difference in criminal forms before reading this book, but while reading this story it really got me thinking. While I was thinking about the difference in criminal forms, though, I was still completely engrossed in the action of this book.

The action in this book is subtle and diabolical. The author takes the reader on a step-by-step journey of the war between the organizations. While the majority of the book, especially the beginning, takes place in “the boardroom” it’s easy to feel the tension as the action escalates to stopping bombs before they go off. The author did a breathtaking job of building up the conflict and leading the reader through the process, instead of just jumping right into the action.

The characters in this book were all unusually interesting. Vincent, as a mob boss yet still a loving father, was a very dynamic and engaging character. His pain over the loss of his wife and daughters was evident, yet he kept his head in the game in order to exact his revenge on the terrorists who destroyed his family. Jimmy, Vincent’s handicapped brother, was also another dynamic character. I did not expect Vincent to have a handicapped brother, especially one he routinely goes to for advice. Jimmy definitely added a new and refreshing dimension to the stereotypical criminal storyline.

The narrative shifts between first and third person do take a little bit of getting used to, but luckily there is a clear pattern. When the story is from Vincent’s perspective, the author uses first person to describe conversations and events that take place within that section. If the point of view is from any other character’s perspective, the author uses third person to describe the action. While normally not a fan of shifting narratives, I found that this style was very effective for this book. It allowed the reader to truly feel as if they were right there with Vincent, or that he was describing the details to them after the fact.

Regardless of the narrative shifts (even though I didn’t find them problematic), I was rather fond of this authors writing style. The author did a fantastic job of making me feel, while reading, that I was right there in the midst of the action. It’s a rare book that can truly make me <i>feel</i> the events, but this author put me right there.

Although this book does take a few chapters to get immersed into, it is definitely worth the read. The unique story, dynamic characters, and refreshing writing style make this book a joy to read. Definitely a book that I would recommend for any reader who is a fan of criminal thrillers. I will definitely be looking for more books written by this author in the future.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.