The Book List #15

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
year: 2014 | pages: 240 | rating: 3/5

A collection of eight eerily poignant short stories written by Karen Russell, who tells extraordinary tales with just the right amount of fantasy-horror without breaking the boundaries of magical realism. Reeling for the Empire, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis made for fantastic quick reads and each one possessed a mournfulness that is hard to capture. I particularly enjoyed Reeling for the Empire, which tells the tale of a group of young women working in a silk factory in Japan who are slowly turning into silkworms. And while I usually cannot abide stories of vampires, Vampires in the Lemon Grove evoked a sad humour with it's tale of a vampiric couple whose hundred-year marriage is tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. I would absolutely recommend reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove for these two stories alone.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
year: 2013 | pages: 243 | rating: 3/5

This is the story of a wealthy family with beautiful children and a group of friends whose friendship turns destructive but "if anyone asks you how it ends, just lie." Since We Were Liars begs you to keep its ending a secret, you quickly discover that when you are expecting the unexpected, you will probably see it coming. This book becomes an exercise of waiting for rather than discovering the ending and the shock value is greatly diminished because of it. Having said that, We Were Liars is worth reading and a good example of how YA can appeal to more people than just its genre target market.

The Room by Hubert Selby Jr.
year: 1971 | pages: 288 | rating: 5/5

I rate this book highly not because I enjoyed reading it but because Hubert Selby Jr.'s writing is phenomenal and The Room achieves the reaction it was written to achieve - a violent, graphic tale that forces the reader to face the nature of what it is to be a vengeful human. An unnamed convict seethes in his secluded cell, convinced he was unjustly convicted he plots revenge against the arresting officers in intensely graphic detail that only grows as the book progresses. The Room is bleak, sickening, and relentlessly intense; the angry resignation of a man confined to a 6 x 9 cell is frighteningly real and, as a reader, hard to stomach. Not at all a pleasant read and not one I would recommend but nevertheless exceptional in its content.

Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton, and James Jean
year: 2001 | pages: 128 | rating: 3/5

When the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales were conquered by a creature known as the Adversary, all the inhabitants were forced into exile. They disguised themselves among the normal citizens of modern-day New York and a secret society formed inside an apartment building named Fabletown. Within this first volume, Fabletown's reformed sheriff, Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf) must discover who is the killer of Snow White's sister, Rose Red. Fables: Legends in Exile reads as a cheesy "whodunnit" murder mystery story, introducing the reader to a lot of characters, and the basic premise of how Fabletown works as a concept. While I found the story and the character representation predictable, it was an enjoyable easy read, which left me curious about the rest of the series.

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
year: 1962 | pages: 560 | rating: 4/5

"I have found so much friendship on my journey." While this isn't the best children's fantasy story I have ever read (nothing can beat The Chronicles of Prydain) and it is, on the whole, rather predicable, I tore through the pages and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. There is nothing spectacular about this book despite the unraveling mystery of the secret letter, however, the tale bobs along nicely and is a pleasure to read. It starts with Tiuri, a 16-year-old squire sitting vigil, bound not to sleep, speak, or leave the chapel until dawn when he will be knighted. A stranger calls in the dead of night demanding with great urgency, Tiuri's help in delivering a letter to the Black Knight and so the adventure begins.

{ the book list #1-14 }