Posts Tagged ‘Joe Hill’

I survived the Shorter Way Bridge!

June 4, 2021

Has anyone else developed a fear fascination with covered bridges since reading Joe Hill’s masterpiece N0S4A2? No? Just me? Huh.

While we were in Vermont, we got to explore the area around a covered bridge, one which perhaps wasn’t the Shorter Way Bridge that inspired the novel, but certainly created some vibes. We stopped to hike around the area, exploring streams, dammed up pools of water (where kids were happily splashing and playing as their parents kept watch), paths, shiny rocks, streaks of granite, pine trees, and (sadly) a lack of moose and bears.

But scary bridges? They had those in abundance! And by abundance, I perhaps mean just the one. Ahem.

It’s pretty, isn’t it? for all of its malevolent vibes. Everyone else thought it was quite lovely. That’s okay: I’m quite used to everyone thinking I’m bonkers. And to be honest, I’m quite grateful that it’s for “normal” things now. Nataly and I ran around having a blast looking for things that made our hearts happy – dandelion wishers to make the perfect slo-mo video, shiny rocks with bits of mica in them, pictures of the magic bridge that might help us discover lost things…

It was a fun trip! A tiny little excursion in the middle of the most relaxing, jam-packed three-day vacation ever.

And just to prove that the bridge isn’t even what I feared it might be, the superpowers to help Vic find “lost” things wasn’t working on Wednesday; I didn’t find my sanity or my girls.

So then that‘s alright now, isn’t it?

10 for Tuesday: In case you didn’t want to get any sleep…

June 7, 2016

I spent an awful lot of time not moving this weekend because of my best friend Kidney Stone, who has been around so long that lil guy is gonna get a name. The upside of all that not-moving is that I finished a deliciously creepy book that was so well written, I stared at it a good long while Saturday night, trying to decide if I wanted to know what happened next more than I wanted to sleep. Because The Boy Who Drew Monsters is about a fecking creepy-as-heck kid who draws monsters (spoiler) and then those things all come to life. They come to life and CHASE YOU DOWN, so reading before bed – uh-uh, no way. It’s Keep In The Freezer kind of scary, you guys.

So that got me thinking – I’ve read two books back-to-back that have scared the bajeebus outta me and weren’t by Stephen King. Could I name 8 more?

Book13210. Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson. It’s like The Stand meets Escape from New York with a little mid-Hurricane Katrina Superdome thrown in. This is only going to work if you’re okay with a little cheesiness, but I had a lot of fun!

Book1169. Snowblind, by Christopher Golden. Monsters that exist only during epic blizzards in this sleepy little New England town? Yes, please! Guaranteed to make you long for a fire and some soup, even in the middle of summer. Still a little cheesy, and I was able to read this one before bed, but probably only because it wasn’t snowing.

Book1338. There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby and Other Stories, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. Holy jeebus – these stories scared my socks off. I still can’t sleep if I can see the cover of the book, never mind trying to read the story if it’s dark out. I’m not a short story person, but horror stories have always been my exception to the rule…leaving out the rest of the story makes my mind fill in the blanks. Far too many blanks.

Book1347. The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey. Okay, technically this one didn’t scare the socks right on me (to hide my toes), or make me dart my eyes about the room checking for monsters sneaking up in the shadows. But it was a page-turner that completely sucked me in and made me go from complaining about it to my sister to insisting she read it. That is pretty strong character development.

Book1356. The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes. I spent half the book scared out of my wits that the bad guy would get the good guys, or that the bad guy would get away. I adored all of the traveling (through doors! no less) and shout-outs to King’s literary canon, but this story and tension steadily built from the first page was Beukes’ own creation. I was less thrilled with her follow-up book, but can’t wait to read more like this, that make me literally squee out loud while reading!

Book1375. Bird Box, by Josh Malerman. Everyone in my bookish communities was raving about this book before it even came out! Impossible to read in the dark, they said. You won’t be able to put it down, they said. They were right. And they should have added that you’d buy a copy and send it to your other reader friends in hopes of creating protective juju. Haunt them, not me. And whatever you do, DO NOT PEEK. You’ll go mad. [Also: this isn’t the cover art on my book, but how much would you LOVE having that on a three-foot canvas in your living room?!]

Book1394. The Boy Who Drew Monsters, by Keith Donohue. I maybe bought this book for myself as a gift from the Easter Bunny, and I maybe did it because after I read the first page in the book store (to make sure I’d enjoy it), I sat down in the aisle and kept reading until Jeff was ready to leave. The writing is that compulsively readable. And then I promptly forgot about the book because the Easter Bunny hid it really well, and then I found it, but had to wait for daytime because IT’S ABOUT SCARY THINGS COMING TRUE. And I maybe believe in magic way more than I should. Monsters are vindictive, you guys, and if you don’t believe in them, I’m afraid they would do their very best to prove they were real. Yep, nope – no more drawing in my house. Pencils and paper and crayons – all hidden. But now I’m thinking maybe I should burn them all, just to be safe.

Book1383. Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier. I read this a few years ago while tearing through a list of classics I’d never read and was mad no one made me read it earlier. I also realized something that should have been more than obvious: I’m a sucker for gothic romances. Rebecca, The Turn of the Screw, The Thirteenth Tale, Her Fearful Symmetry… I love them all. Being scared is so much better than being in love!

Book1192. You, by Caroline Kepnes. The ending shocked me because…well, you go read it and then I’ll talk with you for hours about what I thought was going to happen, or what could have happened, and what might have changed. I sucked down the words to this book so fast, and it’s a good thing because it was one of those books I would have ignored my children for. It wasn’t the kind of book that made me afraid of shadows (thank god), but it did make me paranoid about every single thing every person said. It ate at me and really could have driven me mad if I hadn’t found another good read to sink into immediately afterwards. The plot, the structure, the characters were all so perfect that I’m refusing to read the sequel. I want the perfection to stand in my mind without being watered down or blemished in any way by what cannot be an equally satisfying second installment.

Book1361. N0S4A2, by Joe Hill. I finished The Fireman right before The Boy Who Drew Monsters and those two books together were what got me thinking about this list. In fact, all of Joe’s books belong on here. N0s4A2 was his creepiest, though, with the most delicious bad guy, the getaway car that has shown up in my nightmares, and the fact that I will forever be peeking over my shoulder when I hear Christmas music. CHRISTMAS MUSIC. Thanks a lot, Mr. Hill.

There were many books I wanted to add – Turn of the Screw by Henry James, A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry, Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, and even Beloved by my beloved ToMo, because Beloved’s ghost? That scene where she chokes the crap out of Sethe and makes tables fly around? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t turning pages with a bit of trepidation after that. Although plenty of other things in that novel qualify for “horror story”for entirely different reasons.

So there you go, Constant Readers. Do tell me what I’ve missed! Some summers it’s trashy no-thinking-required books, and some summers it’s a YA readathon, but apparently this summer wants to be filled with scary stories. Give me your favorites!

The Mini-Review with all the distractions.

June 2, 2016

I took a bit of a reading break this week. Not really on purpose – I just found a book that I was really enjoying, one that accomplishes what no book ever does: it made me want to read slower. I wanted to stop and savor things as I went along. Yeah, SheWhoReadsMoreThan150PagesAnHourWhenReadingDownhill – she wanted to stop and taste the words and so she only finished one book this week. And she was more than okay with that!

(Pssst – Light spoilers ahead for The Fireman, Kim. Look away! Look away!)

Book131The Fireman, by Joe Hill (2016, William Morrow, 768 pages, hardcover). I had a copy of the book pre-ordered since Barnes&Noble announced such things were possible. N0S4A2 had hit all my buttons so hard they were mashed into the console, fully cementing Joe Hill as one of my must-have authors. I had enjoyed Horns, but had loved the stuffing out of his latest. So much so that I was a little worried whether The Fireman could ever stand up to the hype I was building.

I started Fireman the day it came out, almost two weeks to the day from when I finished. For someone who has been known to read an entire shelf during readathons, this was a bit unusual. And at first, it wasn’t even for the right reasons. Fireman does start out a bit bogged down in first and second gears. The backstory take a little while to knit together, and even more so than that, it was the cast of characters that sounded a bit muddy. Characterization has always been one of Hill’s strong points, and so…I worried. I dallied. I realized I had made it past the first 50 pages of the book (my fears that the jacket copy gave away too much officially retired if it had already all been covered), but still wasn’t feeling the hook? I was nearing panic folks.

And then Harper’s crazy (Ex)(ish)Husband mistakenly slips and uses the word “gun” for “chain” and, welp, we were off to the races. With that one sentence, Joe Hill finally set the hook down around his trap and quit trying to manage the story. Once he stopped fussing so much on what we knew, it all seemed to sound so much more natural. He quit saying instead of showing and I felt like he was finally being himself once he let Harper flee headlong into the plot.

It was like rolling down the windows and cruising along a favorite scenic highway, when all your favorite songs have started after a worrisome bunch of commercials. Things were clicking. I was happy to shut the lights off each night (okay, that might be overstating it a bit) and still have more story left for the next day. I never went so far as to ration off the story, but I did enjoy how endless my stores felt. Not that I didn’t gulp sections – there were plenty of moments when I emailed my sister and told her in bold, all caps that I had just read THIS SECTION!! and to hurry along. (It didn’t matter that I knew she hadn’t started yet; I knew that when she did get to that section, she would remember my enthusiasm and it would be like we had read along.)

And along with the good, there were a few sections were the car would hit a pothole and shimmy a bit before getting back on track. The heavy-handed clues for one thing. Whenever the story slowed down to make it around the bend, it lost a bit of that magic it had when it was cruisin’ along. But most of the bends in the road were brilliant and extremely well-told. There’s the bit about the title – I can’t wait to have a good long discussion without someone about why Fireman? – and Hill’s penchant for strong female protagonists this past few books. But mostly it worked. His supporting characters were a good, hearty bunch. Renee, oh my god, I hope facking Renee gets a medal.

And then there’s this: two weeks ago, I thought I had the beginnings of a goodish bladder infection. I had antibiotics at home, treated it, it got better and then it didn’t. I kept reading. Tried a coupla different solutions. Went into the doctor, got new drugs, and still didn’t get any better. Yesterday I ended up in the emergency room and discovered I’ve had a kidney stone stuck near my bladder this entire time. THAT IS HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS. It will distract you for two whole weeks while your body staves off a small asteroid. A story so good that you keep reading, through the morphine, despite the pretty colors on the wall.

A story that distracting, that good – that’s pretty good magic right there.

5 of 5 stars.

Quote of the Day.

October 7, 2013

This was just a small piece of my epic weekend.

To set the stage… Gracie was nattering on about something. I’m not really sure what, because as all seasoned parents know, you can’t listen to every blessed thing your kids say, or you will quite simply go mad. But then I keyed in pretty quickly:

Gracie: [something something Harry Potter family] I wonder if there is a Silverstein family.
Me: I don’t know if Shel Silverstein was married.
Gracie: Then how did he have a son?
Me: Who was his son?!
Gracie: Joe Hill?!
Me: … You mean Stephen King. Not Shel Silverstein.

I’m doomed.

May 8, 2013

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? Yeah, well, I think one of my apples didn’t even fall out of the tree. I think she’s stuck on a branch or something. She’s inherited my love for practical jokes, teasing, and hijinks and worse yet (for me), she can administer near-lethal doses already at nine-years-old.

It started about a week ago. I was devouring more of my very favorite book I’ve read all year, the devilishly brilliant Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. I was sprawled across my bed, reading furiously, ignoring all other responsibilities while trying to squeeze in as many words as I could before the sun went down and I had to close the book for the night. Hey – you go read it with kids in the house and then try calling me a scairdy cat. Go ahead. I double dog dare you.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. So Gracie walks in and asks me what I’m reading. I answer, distractedly, because I’m not really paying attention to anything but the words in front of my face. Then she asked what it was about. So I told her. It’s about a girl who can fall down rabbit holes (no, not literally) and find things. Only her rabbit hole is a covered bridge. And one time she accidentally trips into a bad guy, Charlie Manx, who kidnaps little kids and sucks their soul to keep his…um…fresh. Ish. This totally messes with the kids heads, turning them into bloody little monsters (and really, that’s being nice), before spiriting them away to his lair, Christmasland, in his Rolls Royce Wraith. Gracie tried reading over my shoulder, and noticed the Christmas music playing wherever this bad dude was, like some creepy kind of magic, and begged to read it when I was done.

Of course¬†she wanted to read a Joe Hill book. Apple doesn’t fall blah blah blah.

“No way, baby girl,” I told her. “You’re nine. And your dad would kill me.” But I was thinking that I wouldn’t be too annoyed if she picked the book up and read it behind my back. Not that it was particularly age appropriate, but what better way to get the kid to love reading than let her read whatever she wanted?

I thought that was the end of it. Or maybe I was just too absorbed in that Willy-Wonka-crazy-elevator of a ride piloted by Joe Hill that I wasn’t paying attention. You know, to the fact that Gracie also¬†likes practical jokes. And teasing. And hijinks.

Maybe I should have.

So this weekend, as we were climbing into the car, I turned the key and what comes blaring out of the stereo? Christmas music. I nearly wet my pants. Gracie, however, was laughing hysterically from the back seat. That little stinker put Christmas music in my CD player!!! To scare me! ON PURPOSE!!!

I am so doomed. That kid is only nine and she thought of this. What am I going to do when she’s a fully-grown prankster?