• The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
• ebook: 386 pages
• Publisher: Dorchester, 2011 (first published in 1993)
• ISBN: 1428516212
• Genre: Horror/True Crime/Torture Porn
• Recommended For: Fans of movies like Hostel, Saw, and other icky movies.
Quick Review: Earns a 32 %, or 1.6 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. The Girl Next Door Rubric
I didn’t like it AT ALL, but if you don’t mind the torture of a kid by kids and parents, have at it!
How I Got Here: I’m on a quest for a legitimate book scare. I’ve been looking for a truly scary book for some time and this one is regularly recommended. So, I bought the ebook on Amazon (wish I hadn’t).
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
A teenage girl is held captive and brutally tortured by neighborhood children. Based on a true story, this shocking novel reveals the depravity of which we are all capable.
My Analysis and Critique:
Ugh. Why didn’t I read the synopsis and think about my reading/viewing tastes BEFORE I read this one? It’s my fault really.
I like horror of the supernatural variety, or the dystopian variety, not the “let’s watch the 12-year-old narrator get a hard-on as he watches the 14-year-old girl get stripped naked and tortured in his best friend’s basement by his best friends and best friends’ mom.”
This was awful.
It’s time for some concessions though. It wasn’t written awfully. Ketchum seems to be a good writer. And when he describes childhood, it’s pretty dead-on. At times, I felt like I was reading my all-time favorite childhood story It. But…
I don’t watch movies like Hostel or Saw. In my opinion, they’re just a step away from watching Faces of Death (remember those flicks? yuck.). So, I really didn’t dig watching a young girl getting tortured by her foster family, with all of the neighborhood kids, her disabled little sister, and OUR NARRATOR watching eagerly.
And, I really don’t like stories with unlikeable narrators. I didn’t even like everyone’s favorite The Graduate because I thought Dustin Hoffman’s character was lame. But, then again, at least Hoffman’s character wasn’t getting off to the torture of a young girl.
Plus, the narrator’s actions didn’t always make sense to me. He first introduced the two boys next door disparagingly as an “asshole” and a “retard”, but then he goes on to call them his closest friends. And he continues to refer to them as such, but stands by them as they touch, mutilate, and rape a girl whom he made friends with at the beginning of the book. This doesn’t make sense to me as a critical reader. Never mind the fact that it’s atrocious.
Ketchum knew that what he was writing was awful, and tried to make excuses in his “Author’s Note” . Basically, he says “it could’ve been much worse. I left out a lot of the bad stuff.” Don’t make excuses. It is what it is, and you recreated it in your fiction pretty well. It doesn’t mean that I have to like it though.
If you don’t mind this kind of stuff, go for it. It is written pretty well, despite the problems I had with the narrator’s characterization. I don’t want to read anything like it again. I don’t want my friends and family to read it either. Maybe it’s me, but this book seems good for nothing but a short (or long, if you’re especially sensitive) depression. I don’t want to know. I don’t need to see it. I know that I’m surrounded by sickos in this world, and I’ll pass on the details until I have to deal with it in real life. Ideally, never. Obviously.
As I did last year, I’m signing up for a few seasonal reading events…which I highly recommend you join in!
First, let me announce that I am, once again, taking part in Stainless Steel Droppings’ Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) event.
For those of you who don’t know (and I’m guessing you all do, so this disclaimer is redundant), I’m a mood reader. And a seasonal reader. I seem to enjoy classics in the Winter, so if you were reading my blog in the months of January to April, you’d think I only read classics. But, if you read me in the Fall, you’ll find Adventures in Borkdom to be a straight-up horror blog. That’s because of the R.I.P. event.
The R.I.P. event is all about reading and viewing horror in the months of September and October. Last year, I took part and loved it. Just like last year, I’m going to commit to the highest of participation levels: Peril the First (read four or more books of the horror genre), Peril of the Short Story (read short stories of the horror genre), and Peril on the Screen (watch horror movies and television). I do all of these things in October anyways, so my participation shouldn’t be difficult at all. Here are my reading and viewing plans:
• World War Z by Max Brooks (Zombie Apocalypse Lit.)
• Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind (Serial Killer Lit.)
• The Passage by Justin Cronin (Vampire Apocalypse Lit.)
• Hell House by Richard Matheson (Haunted House Lit.)
• Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite (Vampire Lit.)
• 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (Paranormal Lit./Short Stories)
• The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (True Crime Horror Lit.)
• Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates (Serial Killer Lit.)
• The Living Dead (Zombie Apocalypse Lit./Short Stories)
For Peril on the Screen, here is a list of movies and television I’ll probably view in October:
• American Horror Story on FX
• Supernatural on CW
• The Walking Dead on AMC
• Cult classic horror movies on TCM
• Another viewing of The Blair Witch Project (I know it’s not scary for some, but it gets me every time!)
• Maybe another viewing of Kubric’s The Shining or my all-time favorite The Omen
• Maybe a new horror movie in the theater, if any upcoming ones are supposed to be good (cross my fingers!)
Hopefully, I’ll be able to read and watch all of that horror! To help me meet my goals, I need to announce another sign-up that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone! It’s an easy guess. Just think of the one event I was all hyped up about twice last year, and pushed my friends to take part.
You should have guessed the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon! Of course I’ve signed up again! It’s simply what I do.
So, I’m thinking that I’ll be reading a huge chunk of these books on Saturday, October 13. It doesn’t matter if I already had plans for that Saturday (I don’t think I did, but who knows!). Consider them cancelled. Because readathons are what I do! Don’t worry SJ and other friends, I’m not going to peer pressure you into this one. If you tried it, liked it, and would like to do it again, I know you’ll sign up. If not, at least you tried it. But, for those of you who haven’t participated in Dewey’s Readathon, I HIGHLY recommend it! So, it’s October 13. Mark it on your calendar!
I’m excited for all the horror (the horror! the horror!) coming up! Won’t you join me in the chills?
• The Waste Lands by Stephen King
• Paperback: 588 pages
• Publisher: Signet, 2003 (originally published in 1991)
• ISBN: 0451210867
• Genre: Fantasy/Horror
• Recommended For: Any serious Stephen King fan who wants to truly understand the Stephen King universe via reading the Dark Tower series; fans of fantasy.
Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.9 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. The Waste Lands Rubric
Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read The Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going!
How I Got Here: It was next. It should be noted that this, and all of the Dark Tower series, is a re-read for me. I first read the series in 2004-2005. This book satisfies tasks for The Dark Tower Challenge and The Stephen King Project.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
Roland, the last gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares as he travels through city and country in Mid-World – a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie and courageous, wheelchair-bound Susannah.
Ahead of him are mind-bending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes-both more and less than human…
My Analysis and Critique:
When you love a book as much as I loved this one, the review is either very easy to write, or very hard. I’ll do my best to write well. Sometimes the best writing is simple, so I’ll keep it simple.
Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read the Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going! Although I loved The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, neither are as good as The Waste Lands. Yet, they are definitely essential for building the back story leading to this action-packed thriller/horror/fantasy novel.
So much happens in this book, and I don’t know how to discuss it without giving spoilers (ugh, I hate the limitations caused by spoilers!). The plot is quick, yet full, loaded with world-building, mystery, and suspense. The characters are fully-functioning and developed–I have completely fallen in love with the Ka-tet of Eddie, Roland, Jake, and, of course, the billy-bumbler Oy (Susannah still needs room to grow, but I remember loving her in book 5, so I’ll give it time). The themes have grown huge in this novel–I have questions about other dimensions, nuclear holocaust, time travel, cross-textual themes, and so much more that I can’t even explain. This book makes one think and question.
The Waste Lands is the point where my Dark Tower addiction begins. I can’t get enough of the connectivity between the Dark Tower series and King’s other novels, and this is where it really begins (fans of The Stand–if you want more Randall Flagg, you’ve gotta read this series!). I love the mystery of The Beams, the legends behind the Guardians of The Beams, the horrors of a world devastated by some sort of nuclear disaster (you know when King writes it, it results in some seriously frightening mutants), and the thrills I get when Jake is in danger (twice in this book). And then there’s Blaine. Blaine the pain.
Hopefully, I’ve sold you. Read the Dark Tower series. Read it so that you can read The Waste Lands. You won’t be sorry.
Review Bonus Features:
Soundtrack to the Book (the drums heard throughout the novel):
It’s another cold, wet, blustery day here in San Diego! One of the perks of being in San Diego is that there really isn’t any reason to have a high energy bill. The weather typically is moderate, so no need for AC in the summer and no need for heat in the winter. However, on days and nights like this, with a house full of wide door jambs and such, it’s not too different from camping. You can feel the wind blowing in right through the cracks of the walls! That makes for a chilly house (but great on a hot, windy summer day)! So, I’m all bundled up in the house in my robe, scarf, long johns, wool socks and sweater. We San Diegans can be wusses about temperature changes, I know! But, it would be ridiculous to try to heat up this old, drafty house with no insulation whatsoever. So, we bundle up!
So, the fanfare may commence…I finished The Wise Man’s Fear relatively early (9:00 p.m.) last night! It was so good! If you missed them, I wrote readathon posts on Friday and Saturday, each with reading updates and reflection (and silly videos). Today, I will write my review (to post tomorrow) and begin reading The Waste Lands in continuance of The Dark Tower Reading Challenge (and The Stephen King project). I also need to read a classic for March still, and while I was planning on reading The Forsyte Saga for this month, it’s a hefty book and March is almost over! So, I’m going to push that off until I have a lot of free reading time (Spring Break in April or summer vacation in August). Instead, I think my classic will be A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. My sister has urged me to read it, and the little bits I’ve skimmed while flipping through have shown it to be a very interesting book. So, I’m excited to start that up this week! I hope it counts for some of my challenges…
What else has been going on? Well, I’ve been having an internal debate on whether or not I should accept books for review. I’ve been getting approaches by authors about reading and reviewing their books, and I am skeptical to say the least. I don’t like being given something to read. It’s like someone throwing themself at you. I’m all about the chase. I want to find the perfect book for right now, and read it on my own time. Plus, I’m a horrible snob when it comes to what I read. It sounds pretentious, but I don’t read bad books. I just don’t. Or, if I do, I’m doing it on purpose. I can be in the mood for fluffy crap, but, even then, I seek it out. I seek my crap carefully. Plus, there’s the whole problem with my dislike of contemporary fiction. It’s a struggle for me to even read the Pulitzer winners for the Insatiable Booksluts’ Award-Winning Challenge, and those are award-winners!
So, after careful consideration, and the seeking out of advice from two book bloggers I greatly admire, and finally, after reading this article from the Los Angeles Review of Books, I have decided that I am not accepting books for review at this time. I will place this in my Contact page to avoid further consideration. I’ve just got too many good books of my own choosing to read, and I read enough sucky writing from my students–I don’t need to read potentially sucky books in my free time! So, if you’re looking for reviews of the newest upcoming novels, Adventures in Borkdom isn’t the place! Sorry!
Some really good news…Dewey’s Readathon is returning in April! I participated in my first Dewey back in October, and I had a blast! I read for the full 24 hours, ripped through 4.5 books, and participated in the challenges! If you’re looking for a good time, I urge you to sign up when the official linky becomes available (I’ll let you know when it does)! It could be a like a big fun sleepover, where we are all reading together and blogging and tweeting and rooting each other on! It could be so fun!!! It’ll take place April 21st, the third Saturday in April. Please, friends, set aside the date and sign up! IT COULD BE SO MUCH FUN!!!
Finally, I’ll be tuning in to tonight’s season finale of The Walking Dead! I was very happy when Shane died in the last episode (though, I wish it had been Carl who shot him. He could’ve done that when he was creeping around and saw Shane pointing a gun at his Dad. That would’ve been a huge turning point for Carl’s character! Of course, I’m assuming Carl was there to see the scene between Shane and Rick.), and I’m hoping to see some of Hershel’s red-shirt kids bite the big one tonight. And, if they’re not going to give T-Dog any sort of purpose, he could die too. If we played a drinking game where we drank everytime T-Dog appeared in an episode, we would be negative-drunk. He needs a purpose if he’s going to take up a valuable space on our survivor squad–there are too many stronger characters who could take his place! I’m crossing my fingers that one of those awesome characters will appear in tonight’s finale and set up an awesome new season in the Fall!
So, that’s what I’m up to. How ’bout you?
If you get a book cover tattooed on your body, you must really love the book. Or, at least, have some sort of connection to the book. Perhaps the art is just that awesome.
After reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, my husband loved the book and the book cover so much that he got it tattooed on his arm. It looks like this:
While I have absolutely zero plans to get a tattoo, if I were, I wouldn’t doubt that it would be bookish. Here are some book covers that I would consider tattooing on my body. Each has some sort of reasoning behind it.
1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
This would be such a “tuff” tattoo. I would feel super punk rock with a Clockwork Orange tatt.
2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami
I haven’t read this book, but I love the cover. It would make a lovely “girly” tattoo.
Maybe on my lower back instead of a fairy or dolphin.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love this cover, but hate the book. Have read it twice. This tattoo could be a reminder to not
ever try it again!
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
I have a good friend with an Alice tattoo. I love it. I have always loved this book,
and if I weren’t such a chicken, this would probably be my first choice for a tattoo.
5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I have always been attracted to the art of this classic. I think it would make a wonderful tattoo!
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This would be such an awesome tattoo. It represents so much to me,
as a fan of the book, a fan of the genre, and a fan of the themes. I could see this on my arm!
7. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Perfecto! I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake in this book, and Matilda is so wonderfully
bookish that I feel that this would be a very good, meaningful tattoo.
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I loved the book, and as a tattoo, Huckleberry Finn could also represent
my young life spent traveling across the states. He was a traveler, I was a traveler. Another great tattoo idea!
9. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
I would be proud to represent Dorothy Parker on my arm. She is (was) a
most awesome woman, and my tattoo could remind me of everything I wish to be as a woman.
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Such a wonderfully creepy book cover for one of my favorite horror classics.
This is a sister story, so this tattoo could also remind me of my close connection to my own sister.
What I Am Currently Reading:
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The Collected Stories and Poems of Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
The History of English Literature by Perry Keenlyside
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
What I Recently Read:
What I Am Reading Next:
The Waste Lands by Stephen King
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
• Locke & Key, volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
• Hardcover: 158 pages
• Publisher: IDW 2008
• ISBN: 1600102379
• Locke & Key, volume 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
• Paperback: 160 pages
• Publisher: IDW 2009
• ISBN: 1600104835
• Paperback: 152 pages
• Publisher: IDW 2010
• ISBN: 1600106951
• Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror/Fantasy
• Recommended For: lovers of horror and fantasy; anyone who enjoys graphic novels.
Quick Review: Earns an 92 %, or 4.6 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Locke & Key 1-3 Rubric
This series is addicting and showcases what Hill is best at–characterization, and the mystery and magic within the plot forces the reader to imagine all the possibilities of Keyhouse. Highly recommended for readers of fantasy and horror as this series is highly imaginative and promises to be an awesome ongoing plot.
How I Got Here: I have read Hill’s two novels–Heart-Shaped Box and Horns— and would consider myself a fan of his work, eager to observe and support him as he develops as an author. So, it was only natural that I would check out his graphic novel series. Also, Locke & Key is huge at Comic-Con every year, so I have been wondering what I have been missing. Now, I can confidently attend the annual panel showcasing the series and hopefully MEET Joe Hill this summer and not be a total dingus. Finally, my girl Amy, from Lucy’s Football, is another Hill fan and highly recommended this series back in October when I was reading Horns. That was the kicker.
The Series: Synopsis from the Publisher, IDW
EISNER-NOMINATED BEST LIMITED SERIES!
EISNER-NOMINATED BEST AUTHOR!
Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez (Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, Beowulf), Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them…. and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…
The series kicks off with a violent attack on a family and their subsequent move from northern California to Lovecraft, Maine (love the Lovecraft allusion, of course). The mourning Locke family consists of the eldest son Tyler, middle daughter Kinsey, and the youngest son Bode, along with their very damaged and alcoholic mother. The Lockes move into Keyhouse, which has been in the deceased father’s family for centuries. Keyhouse has many mysteries, including keys which always seem to appear to the precocious youngster Bode. Lurking in Keyhouse’s wellhouse is a malevolent spirit who goes by various names, but I’ll associate him with his pseudonym Dodge. As the series unfolds, the Locke children will have to uncover the mysteries of the keys and go head-to-head with the scheming Dodge.
My Analysis and Critique:
I really enjoyed the first three books in this graphic novel series! Each book ignited my imagination as the Locke children discovered new keys which unlocked new powers and abilities for whomever turned them. This series is like the horror version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking-Glass. It has everything my imagination craved as a young reader, but also the horror and adult themes for my adult self.
The pacing of the series is very tight, with back stories slowly unraveling, characters developing evenly, while action, horror, and mystery are sprinkled throughout. Basically, this series has everything that keeps readers turning pages ravenously and coming back for more.
Now my rundown on each book:
Welcome to Lovecraft:
This book served as the exposition to the series, providing the basic setup of initial conflict with Rendell’s (the Locke patriarch) murder and the family’s subsequent struggle in dealing with the attack and the loss of Rendell.
Welcome to Lovecraft also introduces us to all of the primary characters of the series. Readers meet the Locke kids–we see Tyler in his beloved Oakland A’s hat fishing, Kinsey with her dreadlocks and eyebrow piercing looking after her little brother Bode, who is using his imagination with a self-created treasure-finder. Throughout the rest of the book, the kids change due to the violence dealt to their family, yet stay true to their core personalities. I really enjoyed the character details throughout, and these characters felt very real–Tyler’s anger, Kinsey’s insecurities, and Bode’s aloofness as a young boy. The mother copes with her rape and her husband’s murder through drink, essentially abandoning her children to look out for themselves in their new environment in Lovecraft as she drinks her pain away. Again, this seems true.
Readers also meet the rest of the major cast of Locke & Key in this book: Duncan, the kind uncle who delivers the Locke family to Lovecraft and Keyhouse; Sam, the psychotic student killer of Rendell, who isn’t finished with the Locke family yet; and Echo, the strange spirit girl living at the bottom of a well at Keyhouse.
Hill’s greatest strength in this book is his characterization, but a close second would be what may be considered a character in its own right–Keyhouse. Keyhouse is an amazing old house full of colonial history and magical keys! Bode seems to be the “keymaster”, always uncovering the keys and discovering their uses. Being a child, he is, of course, more open to the idea of magic, so this makes sense. The keys are magic–and they are so cool! In this book, there is the introduction to five keys–the Ghost key (when turned in a certain door, the user becomes a ghost), the Gender key (changes one’s gender), the Echo key (I still don’t get this one, but it has something to do with echos, and it imprisoned the girl at the bottom of the well), the Anywhere key (it takes you anywhere!) and the mysterious omega key (it’s a mystery, I don’t know what it does).
Overall, I enjoyed this book as an introduction to the rest of the series, but, as usual, I don’t like book beginnings, so this book is my least favorite. Yet, it is a very good setup for the rest of the series.
Bonus Feature at the End: an awesome piece of artwork that features the inside of Bode’s head!
Here the series really picks up with a lot of back story on various characters. We learn more about the malevolent Dodge (who is Echo in book one and now goes by the name Zach in his newest incarnation). We also learn more about who Duncan is and are introduced to another key character, Ellie, who is very much tied up with Dodge. Via Ellie’s story, we meet her son Rufus, who promises to be a very interesting character throughout the series.
The book also centers around a new key that Bode has found–one that literally opens one’s head! The head key provides the opportunity for its users to add in and take out whatever they want from their own heads! Via this plot development, we get to see some really cool artwork of what the insides of our characters’ heads look like (for example, Bode’s is full of dinosaurs and robots and playing with his family). Obviously, this works really well for further character development. The head key also provides opportunities for mischief when Dodge gets a hold of it, as he moves throughout the book, tampering with people’s heads.
I really enjoyed this book as it stirred up my imagination and filled me with wonder. Also, there are so many good mysteries started, via the back stories, that I am curious to know more about what has happened before at Keyhouse, and with Dodge. Who is Dodge? What is his purpose? How did he get to Keyhouse?
Bonus Feature at the End: an awesome extra that focuses upon the history of the keys. Readers get to check out excerpts from the diary of Benjamin Pierce Locke, who created the keys during the Revolution. I loved this extra, especially since it only stirred up more curiosity and questions for me!
Crown of Shadows:
This book was darker as Dodge has discovered the Shadow key, which unlocks shadows to act at your bidding. Of course, Dodge uses it for his malicious purposes, unleashing creepy shadows on the Locke kids at Keyhouse as they are home alone. These were the best scenes of the book.
Second-best part of the book was Kinsey’s development. In this book, she earned the title of my favorite character in the series. She gets into some hijinks at the beginning of the book with some new characters, Scot and Jamal, and by the end of the book, these two quirky characters become her closest friends. I love these two boys, and I hope they become a major part of the storyline as their quirkyness will add to the plot. I’d love to see them joining forces with the Locke kids as they battle Dodge.
Finally, this book introduced some more keys that have exciting implications. As mentioned before, there is the Shadow Key, but the Locke mother (who is my least favorite character with her alcoholic self-pity) discovers a new key that fixes things. I’m not sure how this will be used, but I’m sure it will bring about some interesting plot development. In addition, Tyler found the Giant key, which was very helpful in the battle against the shadows.
Bonus Feature at the End: more keys added to Benjamin Locke’s diary! The excerpts from the history of the keys now includes the Shadow key, the Giant key, and the Mending key!
Miscellaneous Praises and Gripes:
– I still don’t get the Echo key. I don’t understand its purpose and how it works.
– I love scanning the books in the background of each of the comic’s panels. Among the books in Keyhouse, you’ll find (of course) Lovecraft, Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.
– While Tyler and Kinsey are supposed to be in high school, it doesn’t seem like a high school. It comes off as more of a college. I guess it’s a private school. However, it keeps throwing me off!
– Along the same lines, it doesn’t seem like a high school because Scot has tattoos! What’s up with that? I don’t know of any high-school-age teens with a bunch of tats! That bugged me too. Is that an art issue? Or a characterization issue?
– Final gripe: why does the mom always have to be wearing tops with her boobs all out? Her boobs are her most defining feature (next to the ever-present wine glass/bottle). Confusing for a mother character to be treated so sexually. I guess it’s a comic book thing.