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The Girl Next Door by Jack KetchumThe 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…

Faces of DeathI 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.

Links:

Goodreads Reviews

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As I did last year, I’m signing up for a few seasonal reading events…which I highly recommend you join in!

RIP Readers in Peril

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:

Perfume by Patrick SuskindTo Read in September and October:

World War Z by Max Brooks (Zombie Apocalypse Lit.)Hell House by Richard Matheson

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 Living Dead Zombie Anthology Neil Gaiman George R.R. Martin Joe Hill 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

• Any and all new horror television premiering this FallTwo Thousand Maniacs Cult Horror movie

• 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 man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

This opening line is as resonating to me, as imprinted on my brain, as “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.”–the opening line of Pride and Prejudice.

Dark Tower 4.5And so it begins, again. I am terribly excited to announce that I am once again reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I am reading it in anticipation of The Wind through the Keyhole, or book 4.5 (new!) of the Dark Tower series.

I am eager to return to Midworld, to see Roland and the rest of the ka-tet back together. As quoted in one of my posts (the one connecting 11/22/63 to the Dark Tower series), “in the Stephen King universe, the Dark Tower series is the axle around which his myriad fictional realities rotate,” (Vincent, The Road to the Dark Tower , 195-196). Thus, I am not just returning to Midworld, but am returning to the core of the Stephen King universe, the base of all existences in Stephen King’s writings. The Dark Tower series is the bible for Stephen King readers and is terribly important if one wants to truly understand Stephen King’s writings on a deeper level.

I am listening to the audiobook of this so that I can continue in my hyped-up reading of Bleak House(I just have 200 pages more to read by Monday to catch up!), so I’m enjoying Roland’s story on the way to work, when I wash dishes, shower, etc. It’s a new experience, and I am soaking up George Guidall’s narration.

I am also reading this as the beginning of my participation in Leighanne’s Lit’s The Dark Tower Reading Challenge. For those of you who haven’t signed up for this, you should! There is a prize involved for participants who successfully complete the series–I am offering the first three books in the graphic novel series of The Dark Tower, all brand new and wrapped in plastic! These are really awesome graphic novels that tell of Roland’s earlier years as a young gunslinger, the story that is referenced but never shown in the novels. So, sign up people, it’s an amazing series!

This is also a good time to announce that I will be taking part in The Stephen King Project, the Stephen King Projecthosted by Coffee and a Book Chick and Boarding In My Forties. I will commit to the big one, the fire, the aaaaaaaa-bomb (reference to Trashcan Man from The Stand, if you don’t know), A King for All Seasons, which is 12 books. With all of the books in the Dark Tower series, plus the new one, plus the graphic novels, plus all the books I’ll read for the R.I.P. challenge in the Fall, this should be no problem!

So, until next time, long days and pleasant nights!

Links:

The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King’s Magnum Opus by Bev Vincent


My Wedding Day

The blushing bride after getting hitched!

It’s December 31st, the last day of 2011, and looking back, I realize this has been a really big year for me! I have had a lot more ups than downs in my life this year, and I think it might be hard to top in 2012. Here are some 2011 highlights for me…should I start with the bad or the good? Or should I just create a timeline? I’ll create a timeline like one finds at the beginning of classics books. Then, I’ll follow with all of my 2012 reading stats!

A CHRONOLOGY OF MANDY IN 2011

Life

Historical and Cultural Background

Jan.

  • Attend the ALA Midwinter Conference in San Diego; learn that books can sometimes be free with the introduction to ARCs. I thought I was stealing at first!
  • Beginning of 8 month silence with sister Erika.
  • Gabrielle Giffords shot on Jan. 8.
  • Charlie Sheen is “winning”.

Feb.

  • Arab Spring protests begin.

Mar.

  • Japan Earthquake on Mar. 11.

Apr.

  • Spring Break begins.
  • Read constantly to complete Spring Seasonal Reading Challenge; end up reading 28 books in April.
  • Get married to long-time boyfriend Jesse during a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Reno. Both the groom and bride were lovely in their T-shirts, jeans, and hiking boots.
  • Get pink-slipped for the third time in four years of teaching.
  • Deadly tornadoes sweep the US, 207 touch down on Apr. 27, killing 346.
  • Royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton (I didn’t watch, in case you’re wondering).

May

  • Death of Osama bin Laden.

June

  • Go to Wisconsin for a fishing weekend with Jesse’s family. Fire my first (and only) gun once, and find out that I have a propensity for fishing (caught a trout, a bass, and a blue-gill).
  • Dad visits, temporarily reunite with sister, begin 6 month silence with Dad.

July

  • School year ends on 1st day of Comic-Con; although I arrive at Comic-Con from work in record-breaking time, I FAIL to get into the Game of Thrones panel. Boo.
  • Comic-Con is not as epic as years past: it’s far too crowded and hard to get into panels. But, I do buy a bunch of Twilight Zone toys.

Aug.

  • Buy a desk and create an office in spare room devoted to writing.
  • Begin pursuing writing fiction seriously via exercises in Bell’s Plot & Structure and The Artist’s Way program.
  • Start writing three pages daily in journal.
  • Break the silence with my sister.
  • Read Hussey’s Create Your Own Blog, study and analyze popular book blogs, and set up my own blog Adventures in Borkdom.
  • Published my first post on Aug. 24.
  • When regaining my teaching job appears unlikely, Jesse and I consider moving out of state. North Carolina, Virginia, and Illinois are our top choices.

Sept.

  • Rehired at school, one day before the first day of school.
  • Learn how to balance blogging with a full-time job.
  • Occupy Wall Street protests begin in NYC.

Oct.

  • Participate in RIP challenge.
  • Complete my first 24 hour read-a-thon.
  • Death of Steve Jobs.
  • Death of Moammar Gadhafi.

Nov.

  • Death of Andy Rooney.

Dec.

  • Break silence with Dad at Christmas.
  • Hit my 100th post.
  • Biggest month for blog hits; doubled last month’s number.
  • Read my 100th book in 2011, the most books that I’ve ever read in a year!
  • Death of Kim Jong Il
  • Last US troops withdraw from Iraq.

Reading Stats

Note: Of books read in 2011, 7 % were Young Adult books.

2011 in Numbers

– I successfully met my reading goal of 100 books read in 2011!

– Total Number of Pages Read in 2011: 35, 359

– Number of Books over 1000 pages: 4

– Number of Books over 750 pages: 7

– Number of Books over 500 pages: 15

2011 Reading Challenges

– Spring Seasonal Reading Challenge–Almost completed

Summer Seasonal Reading ChallengeNot even close

RIP Reading Challenge: Complete!

2011 Reading Events

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon: Read for the full 24 hours!

So, that was my 2011 year! Currently, I am reading my 101st book for 2011, and then I’ll be all amped up tomorrow (if I’m not hungover) to declare my 2012 goals!


When I signed up for the Readers in Peril (R.I.P.) challenge in September, I was bold. I signed up for all three tasks: Peril the First (At least 4 novels of the horror genre), Peril of the Short Story, and Peril on the Screen….and like Ellen Ripley, Ig Perrish, Dale Barbie, and Dean Winchester, I succeeded in the end!

  1. Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  4. Horns by Joe Hill
  5. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch
  6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (not yet reviewed)

TOTAL PAGES READ:

  1.  “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

  1. Troll 2
  2. Best Worst Movie (Documentary on Troll 2)
  3. Alien
  4. American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural
  5. A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King (not reviewed)

I did pretty good, considering almost all of the challenge was completed in October. Unfortunately, I now have a horror hangover and will have to wait a while before picking up another scary read. But, when I do, I will be sure to check out the R.I.P. review site for recommendations, as should you!

Awesome challenge–I will do it again next year!


 The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch
• Paperback: 184 p
• Publisher: Pocket, 1990
• ISBN: 067173590X
• Genre: Horror; Mystery; TV/Movie Tie-In
• Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys horror AND has already watched and enjoyed Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
 
 
 
 
Quick Review: For any fan of Twin Peaks, this is a must read! This book serves as a window into poor, tortured Laura Palmer’s soul and truly delivers in all of the quirks and horrors that made Twin Peaks such an amazing series.
 
 

How I Got HereI am a huge fan of the Twin Peaks series and a few years back I found this book on the internet (not sure where) after my 3rd viewing of the series. I loved it, and decided to re-read it again this year. Also, this book satisfies a task for the  Fall Reading Challenge, as well as the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) challenge. I read this book during the very wee hours of my participation in Dewey’s 24 hour Read-a-Thon.

The Book: Goodreads’ synopsis:

Based on the explosive TV Series TWIN PEAKS, this shocking diary reveals the sordid double life of Laura Palmer – from adolescence up until the time of her murder.

Short and sweet…but at least there’s no spoilers!

My Analysis and CritiqueFor any fan of Twin Peaks, this is a must read! This book serves as a window into poor, tortured Laura Palmer’s soul and truly delivers in all of the quirks and horrors that made Twin Peaks such an amazing series.

The diary begins on Laura’s 12th birthday in 1984. She has been given the book as a gift and immediately begins to share her love for her Mom and Dad, as well as her best friend Donna Hayward (a major character on the show). She also begins to reflect on what becomes a running theme in the diary and her life–her sexuality and the power and danger associated with it. According to Laura, she has been dealing with BOB for a long time. BOB is a malevolent spirit who regularly molests her and tortures her both physically and mentally. Laura is scared and yet, being a very strong young woman, is frustrated and tries desperately to gain power over her sexual predator. As the years go on, she finds power in sex, and alternates between joy and fear in who she is becoming- a sexually ravenous teen who likes to dabble in danger. The diary follows her ups and downs, leading ultimately to her last entry on the night that she is murdered.

Obviously, the story of Laura Palmer is a tragic one. She tries so hard in a losing battle. I don’t want to reveal much, as what this book entails may completely spoil the twists of the show. Yet, if you are a fan of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (the follow-up movie), you will be fascinated with this book as it shows unseen sides of the many beloved characters (and sources of nightmares) that you never got to see on the show. This book is also true horror–BOB is one of my greatest feared characters, and just the thought of him fills me with dread. He makes a lot of appearances in the book (at one point even, gulp, he writes in the book) as do some of the more human evil-doers of the Twin Peaks universe.

Please note, I only recommend the reading of this book to people who have ALREADY seen Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me. Also, I would recommend watching the series prior to the film. On a final note, this book was hard to find (I think I found my copy on Ebay), but is definitely worth the search!

Links:

  1. Goodreads reviews

• Horns by Joe Hill
• Paperback: 416 p
• Publisher: HarperCollins, 2011
• ISBN: 0061147966
• Genre: Horror; Fantasy; Thriller
• Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys horror and the best in characterization.
 
 
 
 
Quick Review: Despite the disappointing ending, I definitely recommend this book to fans of horror and characterization in general. It’s really not particularly scary, but readers may be horrified by the revelations of some of the characters. Also, the characterization in the novel is top-notch.
 
 

How I Got HereI had read Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill in the past and enjoyed it. Hill is also my favorite author on Twitter (@joe_hill). So, I am already a fan of the author and what really pushed me to read this novel was a recommendation by Amy at Lucy’s Football. Finally, this book satisfies a task for the  Fall Reading Challenge, as well as the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) challenge. I read this book during my participation in Dewey’s 24 hour Read-a-Thon.

The Book: Goodreads’ synopsis:

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge. . . . It’s time the devil had his due. . .

My Analysis and Critique:

Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke the next morning with a headache, put his hands to his temples, and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby protuberances.

Once I read these opening lines, I was hooked. The protagonist, Ig, wakes up with horns and is horrified to find that every person that he interacts with is compelled to tell their worst, darkest secrets to him, and each desires his permission to commit acts of varying degrees of evil. Very intriguing opening with many questions to be answered: What did Ig do to get his horns? Why do people react in such a way around him? Who killed his girlfriend (whom he immediately mentions as brutally raped and murdered a year prior to the opening)? Is Ig the devil, and if so, will he actually become as evil as everyone thinks he is? What further powers will be gained through the horns themselves? So many possibilities here!

While most of these questions get answered in some way, I don’t think Hill reached his potential with Horns. Such a great premise, but it fell flat for me at the end. I was hoping for some major plot development and twists related to new-found powers gained through the horns, but it didn’t really happen. I was frustrated that, though the horns did give him powers of manipulation with people, they still weren’t much more than a facial characteristic and a device for getting other characters to tell him some very awful truths. Disappointing. About three quarters of the way through the novel, I realized that if this novel had more irony, it would be truly excellent. The ending didn’t satisfy; it felt anti-climactic. Bummer.

However, I would still highly recommend this novel. Hill seems to have mastered the art of characterization, and, for me, that’s the most important element in a story. All of his characters feel very real, which might be due to the flashback technique he utilizes in a similar fashion to his father’s use in IT. The chapters showing the protagonist as a teen were my favorites. In fact, I actually lost myself in them (I truly felt that I was watching the scenes unfold in person), which I haven’t done with a book in a long time. The opening chapters of the novel are also pretty terrific and horrifying as Ig hears the most awful, cringe-worthy confessions from friends, family, and town members (the worst comes from his grandmother).

Overall, despite the disappointing ending (I’m a harsh critic when the set-up is so perfect and fails to deliver at the end), I definitely recommend this book to fans of horror and characterization in general. It’s really not particularly scary, but readers may be horrified by the revelations of some of the characters. The characterization in the novel is top-notch (Hill has now entered my Top 5 of the best character writers, a major feat) and the opening is excellent. I think Hill is probably continuing to hone and improve his craft (this novel was definitely stronger than Heart-Shaped Box), and I will continue to read his novels and stories and look forward to whatever he writes next.

Links:

  1. Goodreads reviews