Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Synopsis: A collection of short stories. Review: Just After Sunset offers a lackluster selection of short stories, hardly any of which really grabbed me by the collar. Many of them had a fancy twist ending that could be spotted a mile away (“The Mute”), while others were just deadly dull (“The Things They Left Behind”). I did enjoy “N,” which evoked the same creepy unease that I so loved in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. However, once it reached the final section it had…

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Going Under by Kathe Koja

Synopsis: A psychologically entwined brother and sister are manipulated by a therapist claiming to want to help them. Review: At least, I think that’s what Going Under is about. It’s a slim little volume with very short chapters, more of a poetic novella than anything else, and I was completely unsatisfied by the read. I wanted so much more of these intriguing characters than just a taste. Share on Facebook

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The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton

Synopsis: An in-depth explanation of the Christian gospel, intended to teach believers what they believe and why the believe it. Review: The Gospel-Driven Life is a companion piece to Michael Horton’s paradigm-shifting Christless Christianity. Where the latter offers a critique of the sorry state of nominally Christian churches, The Gospel-Driven Life gives believers the meat and potatoes of real, saving faith in Christ. I deeply heart Michael Horton. I am an obsessive listener of his podcast, The White Horse Inn, and just subscribed to his…

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The Red Velvet Turnshoe by Cassandra Clark

Synopsis: 14th century nun Hildegard makes a hazardous journey from England to Italy in search of a holy relic, and finds herself embroiled a both a murder mystery and a political intrigue involving King Richard. Review: I’m afraid I don’t remember enough of Mrs. Philips’s eight grade British History class in order to appreciate Cassandra Clark’s The Red Velvet Turnshoe. I really liked Hildegard’s spunk and levelheadedness, but got lost in the details whenever the plot turned towards politics. I was also surprised by how…

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Under the Dome by Stephen King

Synopsis: An impenetrable dome smashes down over a small Maine town, completely isolating them from the world. Review: I devoured Under the Dome, thoroughly enjoying King’s blend of deft characterizations, manic plotting, and outrageously broad social satire. Imagine the world coming to an end–but only over a few square miles, while the rest of America watches helpless to intervene. In true King fashion, he takes an external horror device and uses it to expose the evil within. I’d call him a Calvinist, except it seems…

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The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: The events leading up to the “waterless flood,” a global catechism wiping out almost all of mankind, as told from the point of view of two survivors, a sex worker and a healer, both of whom were members of a radical vegetarian cult. Review: The Year of the Flood is Margaret Atwood’s companion to Oryx and Crake, presenting the events that led to Jimmy the Snowman’s reign over the gentle, sinless Crakers in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Atwood resolutely refuses to call either book “science…

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The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine

Synopsis: While researching a biography on the life of his ancestor, a hereditary peer in the House of Lords on the verge of losing his privileges thanks to a new bill faces his own family demons and uncovers the dark secrets of his heritage. Review: The Blood Doctor was not quite as dark or titillating as some of Barbara Vine’s other books. It doesn’t use crime as the engine for the mystery; rather, the story is fueled by the current Lord Martin Nanther’s obsession with…

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Synopsis: His true love thwarted by unfeeling family and Cathy’s callow thoughtlessness, foundling Heathcliff wreaks havoc on all who fall under his sway. Review: Wow, I had no idea what I was in for when I started Wuthering Heights! I knew it was a classic of Gothic romanticism, but I was expecting a florid love story of the kind I don’t usually enjoy. Instead I got a pile-on of selfish people behaving very, very badly and I loved every minute of it. What i liked…

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The Comedians by Graham Greene

Synopsis: A hotelier, a nominal candidate for the US presidency, and a conman’s lives converge in Haiti during the height of the reign of Papa Doc Duvalier and his Tontons Macoute. Review: While I was captivated by Graham Greene’s remarkable prose prowess in The Comedians, I wasn’t as enthralled by the story as I wanted to be. My interest never dipped below the purely intellectual into the realm of emotion. There was something much too male about the story’s tone and construction for my tastes,…

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