3am

3am

19292922 “3am (Henry Bins #1) by Nick Pirog

Synopsis: The average person is awake for sixteen hours a day.
Henry Bins is awake for one.
He wakes up each day at 3 a.m. then falls asleep at 4 a.m.
Life is simple.
Until he hears the woman scream.
And sees the man leave the house across the street.
But not just any man.
The President of the United States.

*******

5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read the Henry Bins series yet?

WHY NOT???

I have spent the last few days reading all seven books in this series and they are fantastic. Each book is about 100 pages long and packs a whole lot of story into a little bitty book.

Let me back up a little to tell you about the story. Henry Bins has a condition so rare that it’s named after him – Henry Bins has Henry Bins. He is awake for only one hour a day; waking at 3am and falling asleep again at 4am. He measures his life out by each precious minute.

One day as it’s nearing 4am, he hears a woman scream and looks out the window to see a man walking out the door of the house across the street. That man is the President, the last thing Henry thinks as he falls asleep. To solve this crime he only has one hour out of each day.

Along the way, Henry encounters a cat. He and the cat have long conversations and he soon becomes Henry’s sidekick. Henry names him Lassie and he’s instrumental in solving the case. The dialog between Henry and Lassie is so comical and quite realistic. I talk to my cats this way and only wish I understand their responses.

The writing is excellent. At times I’ve found that it’s hard for writers to build a complete world in such a short book but Pirog does an amazing job. It moves along at lighting speed and Henry Bins is a completely relatable character. It’s funny and smart and I don’t know when I have enjoyed a book so much. To be honest, I am not really a mystery fan but this was just so much fun to read!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book along with the rest of the series.

The cover …  what is that supposed to be? Anyone know?

The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

23363928 “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins

Synopsis: Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

*******

5 out of 5 stars

Well, crap. I haven’t the faintest idea of how to begin to review this book.

I don’t suppose I can leave it at, “It’s amazing, go read it immediately.”

I’m going to start with what I liked most about this book.

The world building is fantastic. To create an entire new world, new mythos, new philosophy in one book is hard and it’s exceptionally well done here. This falls into the fantasy genre quite simply because there is no where else to put it. Fantasy, sci-fi, historical, dystopian, horror, speculative – I think it fits all those genres.

Carolyn is our main character in this book but many of the other characters get equal play. Parts of the book are disturbing, parts are laugh out loud hilarious (remind me that in real life I can’t bitch-slap a lion). She goes through quite the metamorphosis through the story and it’s wonderful to read her development.

The character development is well thought out. There doesn’t seem to be much thought given to them at first, and then you find that you are incredibly invested in everyone in the book.

There is a lot of gore in this book. Descriptions of killing and of torture and of abuse. Somehow it makes sense that it’s here and necessary to the story. It’s violent but not gratuitous.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it took me a good 50 pages to really get hooked by this book. Normally I give up very quickly, but I am so glad I stuck with this one. I know I keep saying amazing but I don’t have any other words for this.

Again, I have no idea how to review “Library”. I don’t know where it fits, who should read it, and how to think about it. I just know I loved it and will definitely reread in the future.

The cover is …

… wait for it …

… amazing.

 

 

The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle

6403116 “The Gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson

Synopsis: The mesmerizing story of one man’s descent into personal hell and his quest for salvation.
On a dark road in the middle of the night, a car plunges into a ravine. The driver survives the crash, but his injuries confine him to a hospital burn unit. There the mysterious Marianne Engel, a sculptress of grotesques, enters his life. She insists they were lovers in medieval Germany, when he was a mercenary and she was a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal. As she spins the story of their past lives together, the man’s disbelief falters; soon, even the impossible can no longer be dismissed.

*******

5 out of 5 stars.

Every once in a while a book comes along that is everything you hope for when you start reading. It’s beautiful and tragic and funny and sad. It touches you in unexpected ways, and each time you read it, and you do read it over and over, you get something new. This is one of those books for me.

The Gargoyle, on the surface, is a beautifully unconventional love story between a former porn star and a sculptress. It has so many layers and stories within the story that it’s hard to categorize it.

The story begins with our unnamed narrator crashing his car, drunk and high. At the bottom of the ravine his car bursts into flames, and he wakes in the burn unit of the hospital.

Davidson does an amazing job of describing the fire and the narrator’s burning and recovery. It’s graphic without being gory and we are taken though the process of what happens when someone is burned over 80% of their body. While in the hospital actively planning his suicide, he meets Marianne Engel. Marianne claims to have known and loved him for over 700 years.

He is warned by the hospital staff that she is a psychiatric patient and thought to be both schizophrenic and bipolar. While he in recovery, she is with him and begins to tell him the story of their previous lives together. After he is well enough to leave, she takes him home to her estate where she lives and carves her gargoyles and grotesques. In her, he finds a reason to live.

What I liked: I loved the intertwining of the stories – the past and the present. The narrator’s rehabilitation and the stories Marianne tells him of the times he has been burned before and where the scar on his chest came from – the scar he was born with. As the narrator begins his ascent from his personal hell of pain, Marianne begins her descent into her own hell as she begins carving at a manic pace that she can’t possibly sustain.

So much research has gone into this book to make sure that the back story is correct. The burn recovery, to the Japanese language translations, to medieval manuscript creations – each has been so thoroughly researched that the book is seamless.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I love everything about this book.

The Gargoyle is the story about a beautiful man with an ugly soul finding redemption and love after he is burned beyond recognition. While we are never sure if Marianne is really 700 years old or just thinks she is, we are willing to believe because her story is so real. If I could give more than five stars, I would.

Finished

Finished

I’ve finished “I Want to Show You More.”

Wonderful.

All of the stories deal with some sort of struggle whether that be within a married relationship, a loss, death, grief, or a coming to terms with one’s own self.

I have two favorite stories in this book – “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement”, and “1.7 to Tennessee.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement” was so strange and lovely. (Spoilers) The story of marathon runners who inexplicably receive statues before running the race. It’s a crime to run without and there is a bit of competition amongst the runners as to what their statue is. Most of the statues received are humiliating and awkward to carry and everyone must run with their statue.  A story of metaphors with a twist at the end. Weird and thought provoking.

“1.7 to Tennessee” broke my heart a little. All of the stories in this book are set in Lookout Mountain, a town that straddles the Georgia/Tennessee border. It seems that some of the homes are on the border as well; the residency is determined by which state the master bedroom falls. “1.7 to Tennessee” is the story of 89 year old Eva, taking the long 1.7 mile walk from her home in Georgia to mail an important letter at the post office in Tennessee. Beautiful, tender, and sad.

I’ve shelved this collection with my favorites on Goodreads – the books that I can come back to and reread with the same enjoyment I read the first time. Strange and different, I really recommend this if you like short stories.

Next in Queue

Next in Queue

“The Namesake” turned out to be a beautifully written narrative that I enjoyed. I wish I was able to learn more about Gogol’s parents but that was not what the book was about – it was a narrative of his life. He fought against his unique name and naming circumstances, his family and cultural heritage only to come full circle at the end of the book. Well written but a bit predictable.

Next up:

21686 “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane
Publisher’s Synposis:
The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new -partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades–with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems

I skipped over the next book in my queue to read this and am so glad I did! I rarely give five stars on Goodreads but felt that this book warranted it. Five stars means, for me, that I can and will reread this book with the same enjoyment I had the first time. I finished the book in an afternoon as I got sucked in right away. The character development is well done, the scenery is perfect and the twists in the book keep coming!

The plot keeps you right there with Teddy up to the very end when all is revealed .. or is it?

I found out this was apparently a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio – and that it did the book justice. I don’t know that I will ever see the movie but am a little curious now.