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Blockade Billy

King book club, book #3 – normal warning

SPOILERS AHEAD

Blockade Billy

Published in 2010, this is King’s inevitable answer to the pleas, “write a baseball story”.  And so he did.

It is gritty, hard, fast-paced, and well-versed in the vernacular of the time it is set in.

In 1957, William Blakely joins a team floundering and, through his stellar play and stoic demeanor, stirs the team to rise above and make a run at a pennant.  “Billy” is the teams new catcher, and he is so adept at blocking the plate, he earns the ever cool knickname “Blockade Billy”.  He hits as good as he fields and never has much to say.

There are head-scratchers along the way, mysterious injuries popping up on opposing players when they challenge Billy at the plate.  Granny, the coach, suspects there are things afoot, but does nothing because ball players are a superstitious lot and they don’t mess with the grain when the chickens are laying good, so to speak.

“That’s a good play, there, Billy”

Eventually, Billy is found to be Eugene, a former farm hand of the Blakely’s, who are discovered rotting at the family farm, presumably murdered by Billy.

The police come to collect young master Eugene, but he evades capture long enough to slice the throat of the umpire of his last game, obeying the crowds shouted orders to “kill the ump”.

Finally, “Billy”/Eugene is taken into custody and the teams games are forfeited.

 

This was an awesome little tale, and I wish there were more, but maybe it’s better there isn’t.  Maybe it would be ruined by more story.  Some things are just meant to be short and sweet.

King has done well with his baseball story, and I give it a solid 7.5 out of 10.  Well done, master author sir, well done.

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The Dark Half

This is the second entry in my Stephen King Book club, see the Needful Things post if you are curious about the details of the club.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD, YE BE WARNED

 

Book #2 was The Dark Half.  I first read this book in the late 90s and was very very unimpressed.  When I finally re-read it for this club, the opinion did not improve.  This is one of my least favorite books by King.  I did enjoy the shock value in some of the things Alexis Machine did to his victims and then summarily George Stark later on, but overall just a flat spot in the long list of titles by the master of horror.

Thad is a writer who is not well received, so he creates a fake author to write scarier and more gruesome stories.  This other author, Stark, is very popular and so Thad sticks with it until he is outed and someone figures it out.  This is a mirror of King’s real life, as he wrote several stories under the name Richard Bachman until someone figured it out.

This story is slightly biographical, but takes a turn for the worse when Thad and his wife stage a burial and Stark emerges from the grave fully realized and ready to cause some havoc.  Turns out Stark was a twin that Thad had resorbed in the womb and the forces surrounding the death had given him new life.  He was mad as hell about being put down and set out on a path of destruction to make all those he felt were involved feel his pain and then some.

“The sparrows”

Along the way, we meet a very capable sheriff in Alan Pangborn, who we met in Needful Things.  Pangborn is very skeptical of Thad’s alibis since the dna and fingerprints all match and at that point there is no evidence of a twin.  Eventually, the twin, Stark, is revealed to be on the warpath and Thad works with Alan to try to stop him.  The sparrows save them all somehow in a snot-wiping of a finale and Thad is left to face his marriage potentially falling apart.

The best jolt for me in this one was when Machine, Stark’s main written villain, tortures a man by sticking a bent paperclip through his eyelid.  Still gives me chills to think about it.

My friend suggested I include a rating of some sort, so here goes.  I give this book a 3 out of 10.  One of my least favorites from King, only a few are worse in my opinion.  I did not watch the movie because the book disappointed me so much.

If you liked this post, comment or give me like click.  Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see or anyway I can improve my posts.  Thanks!

 

Needful Things

This is the first of many book reviews of my favorite author, Stephen King.  I’m in a self started book club with 3 other people, my wife, mom and best friend.  We all read the same book at roughly the same pace then talk about what we’ve read, so to speak.

Big time spoiler alert in all posts as I’m going to be speaking of specifics and my thoughts and opinions of such.  The opinions will become more detailed as I move down the list since we started this club a few years ago and the then fell off big time only to pick it back up recently with a vengeance.

Book 1 in this endeavor is Needful Things, the last castle rock story.  I read this book for the very first time somewhere around 1995, and have re-read it maybe 4 times since.  For this club, I read it in 2012, so my recollections may be a bit hazy and so I may keep this one a little more brief than others.

“Make ya squeak!”

Basic summary: Mysterious new shop opens in a small town, setting the entire population all abuzz.  New owner gives out great deals on exactly what your heart desires, only asking for a small favor in the future.  Turns out, he’s kind of like the devil, and his favors create chaos and carnage in the town.  The only man who somewhat stays sane is sheriff Alan Pangborn, the good to combat the shop owner’s evil.  Big confrontation and temptations fought back, the devil flees and turns up in a different town to start all over again after practically destroying Castle Rock.

I liked this read, tons of characters developed, all interwoven in each others storylines and creating tons of interesting suspense.  There was a movie adaption that is more than solid considering how bad some King movies turn out to be.  It does the normal hollywood thing and changes important and minor things, but all in all, a nice companion entertainment to the book.

Sorry I’m not more detailed on this first book, but I promise, stick with me and I will become more and more deep and diving into the stories.

Thanks for checking it out, hope you comment and come back.  Let me know if you like or don’t like my format, or have any ideas to make it better or anything.

turning two

Among the blades and between the lines of chalk

There are many things to be angry about

Muffed balls that are called errors

Missed grounders that have eyes seeing their way through the infielders to become singles

Curves that don’t break and scream over the wall

Too many things to be happy of as well

A scooped ball tossed with precision to the waiting gloves an instant before a foot hits the bag

Camping under a lazy fly ball to end the hopes and dreams of a boy turned man at the plate

Happiness comes from the other side as well

Long fly balls that elude gloves and thundering feet

Lacing white blurs over the heads and outstretched arms of leaping bodies

But of all these things

One happenstance rises above the rest to bring down shame on the one side

And glory to the other

The bases loaded double play

Nothing will alternately enrage and delight a manager, depending on perspective

Casey may have struck out

And all was sad in Mudville

But, when Tinker, Evers and Chance turn that bases loaded double play and walk off the field

Dusting their uniforms, tossing the ball back over their shoulders for Tram and Sweet Lou to grab it for some pickle in between frames

That is when, between the lines of chalk and among the blades

That heroes are made, goats are born, and the legends live on forever

That is ‘our’ game, ‘our pastime

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, book of the week #3

Title says all the description needed, 🙂

This book was one I’d read when I was a little squirt and I figured my own little one would love it too, and she did!

We laughed at Fudge’s antics, cried a little at the demise of Dribble, and now cannot wait for the future exploits of these characters.

Too bad there’s no movie, I think this would resonate well on screen, especially with obnoxious kids to play Fudge and Sheila.

I suppose the tv show Malcolm in the the Middle was close to this, just with more siblings.

Emily did well on her recall for going over the events and she asked me some good questions as well that showed she was reading and not skimming.

Next week, my wife, Audrey, will be reading the book with Emily.  Their book will be Alice’s Adventures in wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

See you soon, if anyone is even reading this anymore!!

Book of the week, Week #2 – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Our second book was Matilda.  I’d never read this book, nor have I seen the movie.  Emily has seen the movie but not read the book, so this was a new experience for both of us.

I liked the story, it was fast paced, and had its deep moments.  We will be watching the movie for a family film night soon.

Spoilers below:

 

Matilda is a very intelligent, sparkly little girl who is hated by her parents and eventually the head teacher at her school, The Trunchbull.  She gets even at her tormentors by playing pranks and even discovers a telekinetic power in her eyes that she uses to get at Trunchbull and even to do a huge solid for her favorite person in the world, Miss Honey.

A happy ending, and lots of fun times on the way, I enjoyed Matilda and can’t wait to see the movie for the first time.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

My 9 year old daughter and I have started a book of the week project.  She picks a book from a 4th grade list I compiled, and we both read the book that week.  Then we talk about it and she has to take a test (she is homeschooled and this is her reading class, I’m doing it too to encourage her)

First book on the docket is Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan, published in 1942

Warning, spoilers are ahead

 

The story is set in Norway in 1940 in a small town called Riswyk.  The town is fearful that the German s will invade their town and try to collect the $9 million in us dollars that sits in the bank.  The main character is Peter, a grade school age boy with dreams of helping his country.  Peter’s uncle Victor comes up with a plan to save the gold.  The children of the town will sled it down the mountain to a fjord and it will then be loaded on a boat to sail for America for safekeeping away from the Nazi troops.

Along the way, the children face perils of overzealous Nazi Commandants, curious Nazi troops, and the possibility the snow might melt and ruin all the plans.  There is even a monster blizzard that snows everyone in for a few days.

It’s kind of funny that the children are able to sled the gold downhill right under the Nazi noses and eyes, and the story would be kind of far-reaching if it weren’t based on a true story.  There are a few spots where the story jumps and misses plot points, such as when Peter’s father is totally against using the children, but on the next page, with no further convincing or talking, he is resigned to the plan.  But it is, after all, a story aimed at kids, so it can be forgiven.

I liked it overall, and my daughter loved it.  There is a movie based on the book, but the vhs alone is $79, and I said never mind.

Stay tuned for next weeks book of the week by Art and Emily!

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