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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Originally posted by RonClinton View Post

    Based on my recollection of the two similar books, I'm inclined to agree...Ketchum's work felt slightly more literary, the sharpest edges polished and burnished a bit to keep it from cutting bone deep. Johnson's work had edges that were comparatively rougher and cut a bit harder, its vibe more documentarian than Ketchum's somewhat cinematic approach. I suspect that difference can simply be chalked up to the fact that Ketchum was the better, more accomplished writer..but there's something to be said about a new but capable author deliving into a subject of that type and delivering something that has a certain rawness and honesty to it that a more experienced writer might not quite achieve in his quest to deliver a finer product.
    I totally agree with this assessment. Plot-wise, I also found it interesting that Ketchum's book had an adult among the group of kids whereas Mendal's story did not. I know Ketchum was hewing closer to the true crime source material; however, I personally found Mendal's choice of having no adults among the kids more chilling since the children's thoughts, choices, and actions were wholly their own.

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  • RonClinton
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post
    Just finished reading the Centipede LE of Mendal W. Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'", a first-time author and read for me. I was aware of this books' reputation going in and was generally aware of what to expect, nevertheless, this book completely destroyed me. There were multiple times where I had to set it aside because it was just too intense or horrible, and yet, I found myself eventually picking it right back-up, if only so I could get to the end of poor Barbara's plight. Man, what a twisted tale, and what a messed-up ending! I'm a huge Ketchum fan and remember reading Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" and being pretty horrified, but for me, I think Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'" may have exceeded it.
    Based on my recollection of the two similar books, I'm inclined to agree...Ketchum's work felt slightly more literary, the sharpest edges polished and burnished a bit to keep it from cutting bone deep. Johnson's work had edges that were comparatively rougher and cut a bit harder, its vibe more documentarian than Ketchum's somewhat cinematic approach. I suspect that difference can simply be chalked up to the fact that Ketchum was the better, more accomplished writer..but there's something to be said about a new but capable author deliving into a subject of that type and delivering something that has a certain rawness and honesty to it that a more experienced writer might not quite achieve in his quest to deliver a finer product.

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Just finished reading the Centipede LE of Mendal W. Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'", a first-time author and read for me. I was aware of this books' reputation going in and was generally aware of what to expect, nevertheless, this book completely destroyed me. There were multiple times where I had to set it aside because it was just too intense or horrible, and yet, I found myself eventually picking it right back-up, if only so I could get to the end of poor Barbara's plight. Man, what a twisted tale, and what a messed-up ending! I'm a huge Ketchum fan and remember reading Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" and being pretty horrified, but for me, I think Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'" may have exceeded it. Overall, I'm glad to have finally gotten around to this infamous book and am happy to have added the Centipede version to my collection.

    Am now reading the Thunderstorm Black Voltage Private Reserve of Matt Serafini's "Rites of Extinction", a first time read & author for me. No idea what to expect and hope to find a gem here!

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post

    I don't think your rule about not reading books by the same author back-to-back is weird at all. I made that mistake a while back with a giant stack of Bentley Little books that I had accumulated, and it completely ruined him as an author for me. The books were fine, some of them were even exceptional, but reading them back-to-back made me notice how formulaic a lot of them were. I probably wouldn't have noticed or felt that way if I hadn't read them in that fashion.

    Glad you ended-up loving Annihilation! I'm a huge fan of the Area X books!
    Yeah, I think something similar happened to me with an author at one point, which caused me to put this rule in place.  I remember thinking that the book I was reading was good, I was just burnt out on the writer's style or something.  Ever since, I always alternate authors.  The problem, though, is that I wind up losing momentum with series of books and they drift from memory, causing me to start all over again.  I'm about to start Cronin's PASSAGE trilogy soon...for the third time.  One day I'll finish the darn thing.  Luckily, I remember really liking the first book!  

    As for Bentley Little, his books can be very formulaic.  I still enjoy him, but I have to take significant breaks between titles.

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post

    I'm definitely looking forward to the collections. They seem to be more positively reviewed than GOTHIC, though I try to take book reviews with a grain of salt. I'll probably put a couple books between them and GOTHIC, though. I have this weird rule about not reading books by the same author back to back.

    Expectations are a killer. I've posted about this before on the forum, but the first time I read ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer, I absolutely hated it. It was such a slog and I couldn't understand the rave reviews. About two-thirds of the way through, I realized that I was actively fighting against the book because it wasn't what I had thought it would be. A vowed to give it another shot and a year later I read it again and absolutely loved it. (Still haven't finished the trilogy, though. But that's another story for another time.) Sometimes it's the book and sometimes it's who we are or what we expect when we approach the book.
    I don't think your rule about not reading books by the same author back-to-back is weird at all. I made that mistake a while back with a giant stack of Bentley Little books that I had accumulated, and it completely ruined him as an author for me. The books were fine, some of them were even exceptional, but reading them back-to-back made me notice how formulaic a lot of them were. I probably wouldn't have noticed or felt that way if I hadn't read them in that fashion.

    Glad you ended-up loving Annihilation! I'm a huge fan of the Area X books!

    Leave a comment:


  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post

    While it seems that I liked it a bit more than you, this is honestly a pretty fair review. I haven't read Boys in the Valley yet; so, I can't speak to the hype train with that one, but if you haven't read his short story collections, they will knock your socks off. A part of me wondered the whole time I was reading Gothic if I was being harsher toward it just because it wasn't living up to the bar that the collections set.
    I'm definitely looking forward to the collections. They seem to be more positively reviewed than GOTHIC, though I try to take book reviews with a grain of salt. I'll probably put a couple books between them and GOTHIC, though. I have this weird rule about not reading books by the same author back to back.

    Expectations are a killer. I've posted about this before on the forum, but the first time I read ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer, I absolutely hated it. It was such a slog and I couldn't understand the rave reviews. About two-thirds of the way through, I realized that I was actively fighting against the book because it wasn't what I had thought it would be. A vowed to give it another shot and a year later I read it again and absolutely loved it. (Still haven't finished the trilogy, though. But that's another story for another time.) Sometimes it's the book and sometimes it's who we are or what we expect when we approach the book.

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post

    I just finished reading Gothic last night, but it took me a lot longer to get through it than it took you. I started the book at the beginning of January and stalled after the first fifty pages. I struggled to connect with Tyson Parks as a character and lost all momentum with the story. I hardly ever DNF a book, so I refused to move on to something else and just left the book abandoned on the nightstand. I finally decided to give it another chance this past week and wound up finishing it. Tyson still never grew on me, which I doubt was the author's intentions, but I did find myself rooting for Sarah and Violet. I really found the last fifth of the book compelling and kinda wish the book had lived in that world a little longer. Overall, I'd say that I enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away. Not a homerun, but maybe a solid double. And this may be due to just the sheer hype heading into reading it. I have heard nothing but rave reviews for Boys in the Valley and his two collections of short stories, so I think there was a part of me expecting to be blown away and instead I was presented with a pretty solid horror book reminiscent of the 80s and 90s paperbacks. And it is completely possible that I would have been more impressed if it was a $8.99 paperback and I hadn't already spent $710 on limited and lettered editions from the author. I try not to let either hype or the cost of the book to come into play when engaging with the story, but it's possible that these two factors got the best of me. I will say that after reading Gothic, I'm still looking forward to reading his other work.
    While it seems that I liked it a bit more than you, this is honestly a pretty fair review. I haven't read Boys in the Valley yet; so, I can't speak to the hype train with that one, but if you haven't read his short story collections, they will knock your socks off. A part of me wondered the whole time I was reading Gothic if I was being harsher toward it just because it wasn't living up to the bar that the collections set.
    Last edited by sholloman81; 02-12-2024, 10:33 PM.

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post
    Just finished reading the Earthling LE of Philip Fracassi's "Gothic", a first time read. I really enjoyed this one. It was very well written with lots of genuinely creepy scenes, and ended up being a much meaner book than I was expecting. It also left enough room for a sequel or story set in-universe, should the author want to revisit this world, which as a reader I wouldn't mind. I also enjoyed the author's sense of humor in this one. There were a couple digs and barbs that had me laughing out loud. Overall, while I don't feel that it rose to the level of excellence that his short story collections have IMO, I really enjoyed this novel length work by Fracassi and look forward to reading another from him soon!

    Am now reading the Centipede LE of Mendal W. Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'", a first-time author and read for me. Have had this one on the TBR pile for a while and am interested to see if it lives up to its rep, especially having already read Ketchum's Girl Next Door.
    I just finished reading Gothic last night, but it took me a lot longer to get through it than it took you. I started the book at the beginning of January and stalled after the first fifty pages. I struggled to connect with Tyson Parks as a character and lost all momentum with the story. I hardly ever DNF a book, so I refused to move on to something else and just left the book abandoned on the nightstand. I finally decided to give it another chance this past week and wound up finishing it. Tyson still never grew on me, which I doubt was the author's intentions, but I did find myself rooting for Sarah and Violet. I really found the last fifth of the book compelling and kinda wish the book had lived in that world a little longer. Overall, I'd say that I enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away. Not a homerun, but maybe a solid double. And this may be due to just the sheer hype heading into reading it. I have heard nothing but rave reviews for Boys in the Valley and his two collections of short stories, so I think there was a part of me expecting to be blown away and instead I was presented with a pretty solid horror book reminiscent of the 80s and 90s paperbacks. And it is completely possible that I would have been more impressed if it was a $8.99 paperback and I hadn't already spent $710 on limited and lettered editions from the author. I try not to let either hype or the cost of the book to come into play when engaging with the story, but it's possible that these two factors got the best of me. I will say that after reading Gothic, I'm still looking forward to reading his other work.

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Just finished reading the Earthling LE of Philip Fracassi's "Gothic", a first time read. I really enjoyed this one. It was very well written with lots of genuinely creepy scenes, and ended up being a much meaner book than I was expecting. It also left enough room for a sequel or story set in-universe, should the author want to revisit this world, which as a reader I wouldn't mind. I also enjoyed the author's sense of humor in this one. There were a couple digs and barbs that had me laughing out loud. Overall, while I don't feel that it rose to the level of excellence that his short story collections have IMO, I really enjoyed this novel length work by Fracassi and look forward to reading another from him soon!

    Am now reading the Centipede LE of Mendal W. Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'", a first-time author and read for me. Have had this one on the TBR pile for a while and am interested to see if it lives up to its rep, especially having already read Ketchum's Girl Next Door.

    Leave a comment:


  • brlesh
    replied
    Finally finished up Dune the other day, and have to say it was another sci-fi classic I found to be overall disappointing.

    I thought the first part (250 pages) was great. If you saw the recent movie, it pretty much followed the first part of the book. The story was well paced, there were multiple character POV’s, political intrigue, blackmail and betrayal.

    Part 2 (the next 200 pages) was were the story went off the rails for me. This was were Paul and Jessica escape from the attack into the desert and are taken in by the Fremen. The pacing slowed to a crawl as most of this part was told from Paul’s POV and adjusting to life in the desert and coming to realize you maybe the most powerful person in the universe. This part was definitely a novel from the 60’s - a lot of mysticism, mind altering substances & group consciousness. It felt like this part could have been written by Timothy Leary or Carlos Castenados.

    Part 3 (the last 150 pages) was better, as the pacing picked back up (though not to the level of Part 1) as some of the characters from Part 1 are revisited and some new characters are introduced. However, I just found the last 50 pages to be rushed and rather anticlimactic. Plus, the most interesting new character just seemed to disappear at the end.

    Overall, I found Paul’s story arc to be interesting (from a scared kid meeting the Reverend Mother in the beginning to essentially usurping the emperor at the end). But the slow pacing and very anticlimactic ending certainly dragged the story down for me.

    I am still looking forward to see what they do with the second movie, as I did like the first.

    B

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  • jeffingoff
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post

    Only about a quarter of the way in Gothic, but so far, so good! I do have a trade hardcover of Boys in the Valley in my TBR pile, but I keep grabbing other books from the pile instead. I think the petty collector in me is still mad at myself for passing on the Earthling edition before it sold out and became a smash book for collectors. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point soon...
    I've done that with so many books. They just sort of bob near the top of the pile forever. More often than no I regret waiting on those. But there are just sooooo many books!

    And yeah the Earthling Fracassi's are expensive on the secondary. I'd stay tuned in case there's another one . . .

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Originally posted by jeffingoff View Post

    Gothic was a lot of fun. If you like it, then read Boys in the Valley for something that hits the heartstrings. There's really no bad Fracassi. I've loved everything.
    Only about a quarter of the way in Gothic, but so far, so good! I do have a trade hardcover of Boys in the Valley in my TBR pile, but I keep grabbing other books from the pile instead. I think the petty collector in me is still mad at myself for passing on the Earthling edition before it sold out and became a smash book for collectors. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point soon...

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  • jeffingoff
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post
    Just finished reading the Centipede LE of Shelley Katz's "Alligator", a first-time author & read for me. Wasn't sure what to expect going into this one and ended up enjoying it way more than I had hoped. The characterization was top-notch. Also loved the atmosphere and setting, felt like you were right there in the swamps with them. If I had one (small) complaint, it would be that I was hoping for more Alligator action, but that being said, when the gator does show up, it's loads of fun. Really, this book isn't about the gator at all but about the main characters journey to understanding his need to catch it. The reviews compare this one to Jaws, and I can see why, but I was reminded much more of Moby Dick. Also loved the production by Centipede. Pretty much everything works. The cover art is very cool, as are the interior illustrations. The forward by the author is also very illuminating. Overall, I'm very happy to finally have read this book, and even more happy to have it in such a sweet edition.

    Am now reading the Earthling LE of Philip Fracassi's "Gothic", a first time read. I have high hopes for this one as I adore Fracassi's collections, but this will be his first novel length work for me.
    Gothic was a lot of fun. If you like it, then read Boys in the Valley for something that hits the heartstrings. There's really no bad Fracassi. I've loved everything.

    Leave a comment:


  • sholloman81
    replied
    Just finished reading the Centipede LE of Shelley Katz's "Alligator", a first-time author & read for me. Wasn't sure what to expect going into this one and ended up enjoying it way more than I had hoped. The characterization was top-notch. Also loved the atmosphere and setting, felt like you were right there in the swamps with them. If I had one (small) complaint, it would be that I was hoping for more Alligator action, but that being said, when the gator does show up, it's loads of fun. Really, this book isn't about the gator at all but about the main characters journey to understanding his need to catch it. The reviews compare this one to Jaws, and I can see why, but I was reminded much more of Moby Dick. Also loved the production by Centipede. Pretty much everything works. The cover art is very cool, as are the interior illustrations. The forward by the author is also very illuminating. Overall, I'm very happy to finally have read this book, and even more happy to have it in such a sweet edition.

    Am now reading the Earthling LE of Philip Fracassi's "Gothic", a first time read. I have high hopes for this one as I adore Fracassi's collections, but this will be his first novel length work for me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ben Staad
    replied
    No problem. I can already tell it's not going to be one of my favorites but it's not looking like a DNF.

    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post

    Hope you post a review at the end. That book has been on my radar for a while as it has gotten tons of praise from authors and reviewers that I respect. That being said, it also seems like I keep finding reasons to pass on it for something else. Not sure why. The only other book that I've read by Kraus was the Romero collab "The Living Dead" which I did enjoy.
     

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