Heart-Shaped Box

H.  It’s the eighth letter of the alphabet and the one I’m currently on in my ongoing alphabetical feature of 2007 novels.  Today’s book is Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (which is actually the pen name of Stephen King’s son, Joseph King).  Lev Grossman sums up the plot this way in his Time Magazine review:

“Heart-Shaped Box is about a very rich and very washed-up rock star named Judas Coyne. At 54 Coyne is jaded and cruel and bored and emotionally shut-down, living in rural splendor in a converted farmhouse with his various disposable goth girlfriends, his recording days long behind him. He likes to collect gruesome artifacts like snuff films. ‘When Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think.'”

He then goes on to state:

“…every artist has to work in the shadow of his or her father-in-art, and symbolically, Oedipally overcome him, and in Hill’s case his father-in-art is also his literal, biological father. Heart-Shaped Box isn’t about appeasing fathers, and learning to love them, and seeing that they, too, are human beings and not monsters. It’s not about that at all. It’s about knowing your father, and finding him, and then killing him. That’s what the best artists do.”

Daydreamingmom has this to say about the book in her blog:

“Run out and buy this book now. Seriously…it is that good. I have heard several people say it was great for a debut novel. But this book would be great even if it wasn’t a debut. It had just the right amount of creep factor to make me a bit skittish when I was reading in bed after midnight. It’s been awhile since that has happened.”

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the century, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Jude’s collection, this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased. He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten the end of Jude’s marriage. Still he held onto it.

Many of the objectsin his private collection of the grotesque and the bizarre were gifts sent to him by his fans. It was rare for him to actually buy something for the collection himself. But when Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think. It was like going out to eat, hearing the special, and deciding you wanted it without even looking at the menu. Some impulses required no consideration.”

Click on the links above to read the full reviews, or visit Joe Hill’s blog here.

Bestseller Kelley Armstrong Rescheduled

Okay, Kelley Armstrong, bestselling author of the Women of the Otherworld novels, will be guestblogging on November 12 through 14 (Monday through Wednesday) here at A Bunch of Wordz.  We have worked out the email snafu that prevented her from guestblogging in October, so she is all set to go now.

It’s pretty cool that she has taken time out of her schedule to write for my tiny, little blog, so I feel fortunate to have her here.  Don’t forget to check back in on those dates.

Marked and Betrayed

I was thrilled to get home and find the books Marked and Betrayed in my mailbox yesterday.  I had won Betrayed in a contest over at Dionne Galace’s blog, It’s Not Chick Porn (see my previous post), but was not expecting to receive a copy of Marked as well, so I was doubly stoked.  Adding to my excitement, the books were signed by the authors, although one was signed “You’ve been marked,” which freaked me out a little bit — lol.

For some reason, I’m just not into the book I’m reading now, so I think I’ll put it aside for awhile and jump right into this series (called the “House of Night” series) of YA vampire fiction.

Daughter of Hounds

As I make my way through an alphabetical list of 2007 novels, the book I’ve chosen for letter “D” is sci-fi/fantasy novelDaughter of Hounds, by Caitlin R. Kiernan.  Robert at Fantasy Book Critic had this to say about it:

“…the story itself is a beautiful amalgam of gothic horror, urban fantasy and mythological fiction that transcends genre restraints, and is, at its core, a powerful tale of self-discovery and living with the choices that we make… 

Undoubtedly, I have become an avid fan of Ms. Kiernan and highly recommend her novels to anyone who likes their books full of ambitious ideas, poetic wording, compelling characters, and open-ended conclusions that challenge the readers’ own imagination.”

Kelly Sedinger at Green Man Review says:

“Erudite discussions and entrancing descriptions (such as describing worn gravestones as marking the resting places of people so long forgotten that not even their tombstones know who they are anymore) intertwine with snappy, punchy dialog that is as often as not laced with Tarantino-esque rhythmic profanity. All of this adds up to a pretty explosive and captivating read.”

From here, you can visit Kiernan’s Low Red Moon Journal, which appears to be an older blog last updated in December of 2006, visit her up-to-date livejournal blog, or subscribe to Sirenia for $10 an issue, a monthly magazine in PDF format which features “wierdly fantastical dark erotica” by the author.

I Won!

Yesterday, I was surprised to get an email telling me I’d won a free book in a contest.  I was especially suprised because I didn’t know I had entered a contest.  It turns out, they were giving out a free copy of Betrayed to commenters on one of the posts over at the blog, It’s Not Chick Porn — I guess I missed the line about the contest when I was reading it over.  (This blog regularly features contests and free stuff, so be sure to check it out.)

The post is a very cute and entertaining interview between the mother-daughter writing team of PC Cast and Kristin Cast.  Here is one of the questions the daughter asked the mother:

“Now that you are having a mid-life crisis, quickly approaching menopause, and quite possibly on your way into diapers, what do you plan on doing with the rest of your years as you float toward the oh, so great white light?”

Betrayed is the second in the young adult vampyre series, The House of Night.  The first book is titled Marked.

Sara Hantz had this to say about it in her blog at sarahantz.com:

When I was asked to review Marked, I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be. I don’t read paranormal books, especially not books with vampires in them. Well, all I can say is WOW!!! It hooked me from the start. It’s one of those rare books that, if you have to put it down, you spend the intervening time wondering what’s going to happen next to the characters.”

The authors have upcoming guest appearances in Tulsa and Shawnee, Oklahoma, as well as Reno, Nevada, in October/November 2007.