December 2012 Round-Up

December was a busy month!

Aside from working my butt off and Christmas, I read a lot of books. I thought I would share them with you folks, in case you fancied reading something a little different (plus, it’s my New Year’s resolution to keep a list of all the books I read from Dec ’12-Dec ’13, just to see how many I actually read and whether my tastes change over time…). SO HERE GOES!

1. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King.

Told from the sole perspective of the eponymous lead character, Dolores Claiborne tells the tale of a life hard lived. Accused of murdering her elderly and antagonistic employer, Vera, Dolores sits in the local police station and proceeds to tell the tale of her life, leading up to the moment where she supposedly pushed doddery old Vera down the stairs. Small-town life, child molestation, thankless (and not to mention back-breaking) employment and the mysterious death of her abusive husband Joe, are all topic broached in Dolores’ ‘confession’. But, is she guilty or not? That my friends is pretty much left up to you to decide. Dolores in an unreliable narrator, yet the tales told in her inimitable fashion, incline the reader towards believing her sometimes tall tales. King’s mash-up of yankee dialect, spelling and Dolores’ unrelenting stream of conciousness makes for a fantastic and entralling read.

2. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeline Roux.

After I saw this book on the For Books’ Sake website I thought I’d give it a try, and after I received it for Christmas from my mum I eagerly tucked in. Allison is an employee of a book store trapped in the basement of said store with a motley crew of fellow employees and various reprobate customers. Accessing the military wireless system S-Net, she manages to post blog entries, generating a mass following of fellow survivors in different parts of the US. Ultimately, Allison is looking for her mother, who was undergoing treatment for cancer at the time of the outbreak. The book chronicles Allison’s various mishaps and love trysts, all in pursuit of the mysterious Liberty Village, where her mother may or may not be. I don’t really know why but I found the book to be quite unsatisfying. I couldn’t really connect with Allison or any of the other characters though I felt the basic premise of the book was great and had potential; it just wasn’t for me.

3. Shadows by Joan De La Haye.

See impending full review…coming very soon!

4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Well…what can I say about The Handmaid’s Tale that hasn’t been said already? I absolutely loved it.

Set in the near-future, where a Christian theocracy has overthrown the US government, we are told the tale of Offred (literally Of-Fred, denoting that she is subjugated to a certain high-ranking man), a handmaid, whose primary job is to repopulate the Republic of Gilead.

The story fluctuates between Offred’s current situation, where she seems to be floating through her predicament as if in some kind of dream, and her former life as a autonomous and fully-functioning member of society, with her own family, money and life. She does not know what happened to her husband Luke, she does not know what happened to her own daughter and she does not know what the future holds for her if she cannot become impregnated by The Commander. Will she be banished into the nuclear wastelands and deemed UnWoman? Can totalitarianism ever truly oppress passion and desire?

5. The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates. JCO

I’ve only recently discovered Joyce Carol Oates and after downloading Corn Maiden on my trusty Kindle, I’m hooked.

The Corn Maiden is a collection of sometimes-creepy short stories. From the potential human sacrifice of the title, to a step-daughter wreaking revenge, two very different twin brothers, murderous cats and plastic surgeons with a secret, Corn Maiden is a collection rich in ambiguous endings, delicious language and unsettling themes. Highly recommended.

6. A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home by Jason Arnopp.

The former tenant of a house writes to the new owners in order to warn them about the malicious entity haunting their home and how it has destroyed the lives of the many who lived there before. Initially, the narrator talks through his or her situation with a frightening intensity but I felt that as the narrative continued, and as the solution to the problem entity unveils, it all goes off the rails a little.

Starts off with promise and is quite scary up until the ultimately unsatisfying and unrealistic ending. I thought it was a bit silly. But that’s just my personal opinion.

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