Under the Dome by Stephen King


Under the Dome by Stephen King
Publisher/Year:Β Scribner, 2009
Format:Β Hardcover
Pages:Β 1074
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟



Synopsis (from Goodreads)

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens — town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing — even murder — to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

What I thought

Man, oh, man–nothing feels as good as reading a new (to me) book by your favorite author. I am honestly at a loss for words, I just loved this THAT much, so here goes nothing. I’m a slow reader & I’ve just recently started back to work, so it did take me a month to get through this mammoth. But it was SO difficult to put down & when I did find myself with a chunk of reading time, I flew through the pages.

For me, where King KILLS it is his characters (both literally & figuratively, I guess). And that was really his purpose with this one. I don’t think the where’s & why’s of the Dome are as important as the people involved. This really was like one giant experiment–what would happen if a small town of people was left completely to its own devices? Would “good” prevail? Or “evil”?

And speaking of evil–King just has this knack for writing excellent villains. I mean, certain characters, like Big Jim Rennie & Carter Thibodeau, actually made my blood pressure rise. I physically felt the urge to strangle them. If that’s not good writing, I don’t know what is. Obviously, the same can be said of the “good guys”–I rooted for them so much it hurt at times. What it comes down to is that this is precisely why I love King so much–I was so invested in these characters’ outcomes, it made a nearly 1100-page read seem effortless.

There are other things I loved about what King did with this story, but I don’t want to go into too much detail or give anything away. I will say things got pretty gory & gruesome at times, but personally, I LOVE the way King does it. Every time I think I’ve seen him at his gnarliest, he never fails to make me cringe & say, “oh…my…GOD!” or “…EW.”

I will also just say this–I really loved the “ants under a magnifying glass” concept & found that it gave the story a good amount of depth. I thought it was a totally thought-provoking idea & I know it will stay on my mind for some time to come.

Overall, I thought this was another fantastic read from King, and I’m kicking myself for the fact that it took me so long to get to it. Under the Dome has certainly landed itself among my favorites!

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in T22125258rouble by Kelly Link
Publisher/Year:Β Random House, 2015
Format:Β Hardcover
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟






She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction” and by Neil Gaiman as “a national treasure.” Now Kelly Link’s eagerly awaited new collection–her first for adult readers in a decade–proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.

Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You, a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas,Β The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids…These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty–and the hidden strengths–of human beings. InΒ Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

What I thought

Ahh, this is going to be a tough one to review. I’m just going to address the elephant int he room–this was just okay for me. I can appreciate what Link did with this collection. Her writing is actually superb & insanely creative. I think the best word to describe it is “surreal.” I really loved three of the nine stories: “Secret Identity,” “Origin Story,” and “The New Boyfriend.” The only one I actively disliked was “Valley of the Girls.” However, that being said, the other five stories left no impression on me. That isn’t to say they were “bad”–just that I didn’t connect with them, which is more my own fault than that of the author’s. Personally, (and this is just my opinion) they were just too “out there” for my taste.

Again, I can’t stress this enough–Kelly Link is a brilliant storyteller. I can see how this was a Pulitzer finalist. I would recommend this collection to fans of surrealism/magic realism, but it was just okay for me.

Finding Emma by Steena Holmes


17074570Finding Emma by Steena Holmes
Amazon Publishing, 2012
Format:Β Paperback
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟






“Emma!” Megan ran outside calling her daughter’s name. She stopped in the middle of the driveway and scanned the area. Nothing. She wasn’t chasing butterflies, pulling flowers out of the garden, or playing with dandelions. She wasn’t anywhere. Megan screamed as loud as she could as tears streamed down her face. Emma was gone.

The last time Megan saw her youngest daughter, Emma, was on the little girl’s third birthday. Now, two years later, she sees her daughter’s face in every blonde girl she passes–at the grocery store, in car windows, at the doctor’s office. She is determined to find her daughter, but her commitment borders on obsession as she finds herself following these little girls who resemble her missing daughter.

Her inability to move on after Emma’s kidnapping has distanced Megan from her friends and family. Her two older daughters resent her relentless and fruitless search for their sister, and her husband, Peter, pleads with her to come to terms with Emma’s absence before her obsession causes the destruction of the rest of their family.

Meanwhile, in the same small town, Jack dotes on his granddaughter, Emmie, but has begun to question his wife, Dottie’s, secrecy about Emmie and her mother, Mary. As Dottie slips into dementia, Jack can’t help wonder if there is a dark secret Dottie is keeping from him.

Jack and Megan’s lives collide at the town fair when Megan snaps a photograph of a little girl with her grandparents–an act that could lead to catastrophe for both families.

What I thought

I have to admit, I’m actually surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book. Although I did have a few issues (which I’ll get into), I thought Finding Emma was a great read.

It is on the “lighter” side of “missing child” stories, but it was still a heartwrenching read. It was definitely predictable, but I still enjoyed reading this. I knew the “whodunit,” but found I had a very difficult time putting the book down because I had to know how it was all going to come together. Like I said, even though it was heartwrenching, raw, and honest, there was still a certain quaint and hopeful feeling. This read like something you’d watch on Hallmark, and I mean that in the best way. I was actually really pleased with that because I was hesitant to read this story anyway because I was afraid it would be too heavy of a read for me right now.

Another thing that pleasantly surprised me was how much I enjoyed Holmes’ writing. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, there is a stigma surrounding self-published works. But for a self-published author, I found this story to be compulsively readable & emotionally moving.

My only complaint (which really isn’t a big deal, just a personal preference) was that I didn’t really <i>like</i> Megan or Dottie most of the time. I sympathized with them, for the most part, but I thought Megan seemed kind of self-absorbed & I thought Dottie seemed, frankly, kinda mean. But again, putting it in perspective, both characters were dealing with pretty serious issued & they acted like any human would. Maybe not happy-go-lucky, exactly, but then again who really would be? Personally, my favorite characters were Jack & Emma. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing them in the next book.

If you are looking for a book revolving around family dynamics, the things that make or break us, despair, hope, and most importantly, love–this is your book. This is not a mystery or a thriller, but rather an emotionally moving story of two families in the aftermath of a child gone missing. Now, I need book #2!