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techeditor has commented on (133) products.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars

techeditor, November 21, 2014

Thanks to my sister, I finally read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. She had been encouraging me to read it for, what, a couple years? But I kept resisting. I knew the book was about teenagers, so it didn't interest me. But I gave in.

If you haven't read this book yet because it's about teenagers, do. The teenagers are exceptionally bright, well spoken, and mature. The story (which I won't tell you about because it's a short book, and anything I say is potentially a spoiler) grabbed me from page 1. Don't read reviews of it.

Something irritated me, though: Hazel really does seem stupid when it comes to her favorite book, which is a work of fiction. The end left her with questions about what became of three of the characters. (Yes, I consider a hamster a character.) And, boy, she really needs to know! It takes a drunk to tell her that nothing became of them because they aren't real.

But you probably already read this.
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Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Winter's Bone

techeditor, November 19, 2014

If a novel makes its reader forget that it is fiction, maybe even go there right now to knock some sense into these people, it's a good one. That's what WINTER'S BONE does.

Yet, this book doesn't get a five-star rating because its full meaning may escape you unless you are familiar with all of the terminology used by these people in the backwoods of the Ozark mountains. They have a culture and language of their own. This book could have used a glossary.

Also, although Woodrell avoids the biggest fault of many authors, that is, writing too much without adding to the story, wasting words, he occasionally takes it too far. In some places, Woodrell's writing is too sparse. He assumes the reader knows what he means without explanation. Sometimes that shouldn't have been assumed.

I usually warn readers of my reviews to go straight to the book and avoid reading reviews, first. Reviews often say too much when a novel is best enjoyed by discovering it on its own. Perhaps WINTER'S BONE is an exception.

This book was purchased with a gift certificate I won at www.bookloverbookreviews.com.
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Descent by Tim Johnston
Descent

techeditor, November 16, 2014

It has been a couple years since I have been as riveted to a book as I was to DESCENT.

Caitlin was a high school track star and will now attend college on a track scholarship. But she is abducted, first. After that are descriptions of how her mother, father, and brother each go on living with this for nearly three years. Chapters are short. No problem. But the chapters also seem scattered, not chronological.

Also, throughout this book Caitlin's brother, Sean, is referred to as "the boy" almost always. This is annoying. "The boy" this and "the boy" that, such constant impersonal usage in seemingly personal chapters is confusing, and the repetitiousness of that phrase makes it ridiculous.

About halfway through the book, though, the suspense becomes so great, DESCENT is unputdownable.

For this excellent suspense, DESCENT would rate five stars. But the several uninteresting chapters in its first half and its ridiculous constant use of "the boy" downgrades it to four. Why not three? Because its second half is truly stupendous.

I won this book from the publisher through librarything.com.
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Koko by Peter Straub
Koko

techeditor, November 12, 2014

Both character and plot driven, with emphasis on "character," KOKO is a riveting literary thriller, with emphasis on "literary." It is good enough for my favorites shelf.

This is a long book for a couple of reasons. First, of course, is that a lot happens. Second, Peter Straub tends to ramble sometimes. Although it may be tempting to skip these paragraphs, don't. Within most of them are either clues to what happens later or mysteries that will be explained later. The rambling often demonstrates confused and crazy thought processes.

I'm glad I read KOKO before I read reviews of it. It is so easy to give away what shouldn't be given away; the reader will enjoy the book so much more if she discovers events and does not anticipate them. But it's safe to say that three, then four veterans of the Vietnam War, all in the same platoon, travel the world together, looking for the person who has been killing people, mutilating them by chopping off their ears and gouging out their eyes, and, in most cases, putting a playing card in their mouths with the work "Koko" written on it. The veterans have reason to believe that Koko is another former member of their platoon.

Telling you more plot than that would be telling you too much.

One of the veterans, Harry Beevers, was the lieutenant of this former platoon. Beevers is described as "the world's worst lieutenant" and has a few nicknames, including "lost boss" because he was so terrible at reading maps that he led his platoon into "killing boxes," where they were ambushed by the enemy. Some of those ramblings that I mentioned earlier are Beevers' thoughts.

My understanding is that Straub was (past tense because KOKO was written in 1988, almost 30 years before I read it) showing how everyone who did combat in Vietnam (or anywhere?) has been adversely affected for the rest of their lives. Not all are murderers, but maybe they are now crazy just the same.

Although, as I said, KOKO is a very good book, one of my favorites, I have two questions that Straub, as far as I remember, did not answer. That is, 1) how could the veterans who were searching for KOKO afford it when, even in 1988, airfares for tickets purchased shortly before travel were so high; and 2) why did they most often act at Beevers' beck and call even though they knew he was a bad leader?

Perhaps KOKO should be read twice.
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Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Full Dark, No Stars

techeditor, November 1, 2014

Because this book is not just one story but several novellas, I review and rate each novella. In the end, I average the ratings for a single rating of FULL DARK, NO STARS.

This is review of the "Big Driver" portion of the book.

This is Stephen King at his best. By that I mean no horror, no supernatural. I've outgrown the horror stories/books. That's why I stopped reading him for so many years until my boss read and raved about King's 11/22/63. So I read it and agreed with him and have started reading King's books again, avoiding the horror stories.

This novella is about a writer of cozy mysteries who becomes a crime victim (an understatement, I know) who becomes a vigilante. In her mind, she discusses every decision she makes with and takes advice from the voice in her GPS, her cat, and recurring characters in her cozy mystery series. King makes clear that this is only in her mind or spoken aloud but in her voice.

So far, FULL DARK, NO STARS rates four stars.

This is review of the "A Good Marriage" portion of the book.

Again, no horror or supernatural. Good.

A wife and mother is happily married 25-plus years to a man who, she learns because she stubs her toe, is not the man she thought he was. I believe, although many people don't, that this is possible. So I could buy what follows the toe stubbing.

This is another very good story, again worth four stars. So FULL DARK, NO STARS still rates four.

This is review of the "1922" portion of the book.

Although this novella is the first presented in the book, I read it out of order, third, and it's a good thing I did. Although this is another good story, its first half is so gross you could call it horror, which makes it sometimes difficult to read. So I wouldn't have been as anxious to read the rest of the book if I had read this first.

It is no spoiler to tell you that this begins in 1930 with a man's confession that he murdered his wife in 1922. He goes on to show how everything that happened thereafter was a result of that murder. He also hallucinated about mice a lot and still believes those hallucinations were real, so you might call the mice supernatural if you forget he was hallucinating.

"1922" is a three-star story. So FULL DARK, NO STARS still rates four.

This is review of the "Fair Extension" portion of the book.

This is the type of Stephen King story I got sick of years ago. A guy makes a deal with the devil. He seems content with the horrible things that result.

I'd give this story only two stars.

FULL DARK, NO STARS is one of the books I purchased from BetterWorld Books with the $50 gift certificate I won at www.bookloverbookreviews.com.
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