Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Having a Hardcover Holiday to start summer off right

For the Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to do something that was both fun and fulfilling(not to mention a reason to stay in the shade), so I gave myself a Hardcover Holiday.

The set-up was simple; choose a number of hardcover books from my TBR-since this was a four day weekend, I went with four-and see how many I could finish by the end of the official holiday. Well, I finished two books and got a good start on the other two,so a pretty even result there.

The one I finished first was End of Watch, ironically enough. The final chapter in Stephen King's trilogy about retired detective Bill Hodges came full circle as Bill's menace from the first book Brady Hartsfield, aka Mr. Mercedes, found a way to wreak more havoc on the world.

 Due to the brain injury that prevented him from committing yet another mass attack, Brady was trapped within his own body but thanks to being given an unauthorized experimental drug by his doctor, he has acquired new abilities such as telekinesis and mind melding(with the aid of a discontinued video game console called Zappit) which make him more dangerous than before.

As Brady develops his deadly array of psychic weapons, Bill learns some bad news regarding his health that makes the goal of stopping his former foe an even greater challenge. He tries to delay any medical treatment but his determined partner Holly Gibney won't allow that for long.

The time line is pushed up further as Brady's ultimate plans involve more than just revenge on Bill and company. Brady is eager to increase the number of his victim pool,using the unintentional hypnotic lure in the demo for one of the Zappit's games as the deadly bait. The story has a rapid pace that rarely lags and while the switch from the crime novel tone to the semi-supernatural was to be expected, End of Watch offers up a good number of surprises along the way.

In an odd way, I was reminded of the 1996 horror comedy The Frighteners with the battle between good guys bound by the real world and the other worldly threat that Brady was presenting. Both stories share the theme of how to deal with death and it's true consequences with positive yet not candy coated finales. King has wrapped up this trilogy very nicely but I won't be surprised if he finds a way to follow up on some of the supporting players left in this fictional field:

The other book that I completed was Not Working by Lisa Owens, which is set in London where Claire Flannery has quit her boring office job in hopes of finding her dream one. Problem is, she doesn't quite know what that dream is.

While Claire is hunting for her new line of work, she's also distracted by the amount of time now available to her and that lack of focus leads her into trouble that includes awkward visits with her grandmother and an ill timed joke that causes a rift between Claire and her mother, plus relationship anxiety with her live-in boyfriend,Luke.

This debut novel does have some of the lively energy that drew female friendly readers to Bridget Jones' Diary years ago and while the story telling is a bit scattershot at times, Lisa Owens does engage you in the narrative as the pages turn towards the end. It was a bit of a slow start yet Not Working does work well as a satisfying beach read:

By the time that Independence Day arrived on the calendar, I made a small yet good start in The Fireman by Joe Hill, which is over seven hundred pages long and perhaps not the ideal pick for a short term reading challenge.

However, the best I was hoping for was to get going with the story and I will continue to keep on with it. The plot introduces right from the get-go a deadly virus called Dragonscale that is threatening the world and with no cure in sight. The disease begins by leaving black and gold markings on the infected and leads to serious spontaneous combustion.

 As the powers that be go from containing those with Dragonscale to outright executing them before they can burst into flames, nurse Harper Grayson finds herself caught squarely in the middle of the fiery fray.

After the last hospital she volunteered in goes up in smoke, Harper and her moody husband Jakob make plans to weather out this storm together. Things get more complicated however as they both become infected and Harper learns that she's pregnant.

Determined to stay alive long enough to deliver her baby, Harper is not getting any emotional support from Jakob(who I really hate,by the way) and must find the strength to go alone without being captured by what remaining authorities are left in charge. Along the way, she seeks help from the mysterious Fireman, who may know of a way to deal safely with Dragonscale. However, there are folks who consider anyone with the virus a risk and determined to wipe them all out, regardless of who they are.

This is the second Joe Hill novel that I've read(and yes, he is Stephen King's son) and the tone is spot on compelling here. Harper is a truly relatable heroine who uses Mary Poppins as her spirit guide and touchstone to deal with the hazards in her way. You really like her from the start and I hope to see her triumph as I get closer to the end:

I also began my reread of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which was sort of inspired by reading Terry McMillan's latest novel I Almost Forgot About You. Might even see the movie version again, we shall see. For now, it's a good relaxing book to head into summer with.

All in all, my first Hardcover Holiday was pretty successful. Maybe I'll do this again for Labor Day weekend(complete with a hashtag at my Twitter account, who knows?). In the meanwhile, it's back to a mix of hardcover and paperback in my daily reading.

Some people find hardcover to be vastly superior to paperbacks while others cite the ease of a soft cover vs the bulky nature of it's hardbound predecessor. Personally, I think that any good home library has both, tailored to your reading needs, of course:

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