What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come
Richard Matheson

 

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Wikipedia
WhatDreamsMayCome

I read Matheson’s What Dreams May Come originally in the early 1990s and the book had such an impact on me that it changed my entire perspective on Life and Death.  There have not been too many books that have had such life altering experiences for me.  What Dreams May Come is on a very short list of such books.  This book should be on EVERYONE’S shortlist of books to read in their lifetime.

 

A movie of the same name based on the book is available on DVD and though I don’t usually recommend both book and movie, this is that rare exception where both can be viewed separately and neither one takes away anything from the other.

 

The book is based on years of research by the author.  In fact so much went into this book that there is an extensive bibliography in the back of What Dreams May Come.  Matheson says in his foreword that he doesn’t expect us as readers to read every book that he used, however he DOES say that if we chose to we’d come away with a new perspective just as I did.

 

The book begins with a knock on the door of someone.  Chris Neilson has passed and he has been communicating with a medium.  It is said medium who knocks on Chris’s brother’s door and insists on giving him the notes from said conversations.

 

This is where the book begins.  Through this manuscript, Chris attempts to reach out to his brother, doing his best to explain that there is indeed a survival after death, that the soul does carry on, that at some point, we can choose to return to earthly bodies. Yes!  I’m referring to reincarnation.

 

Ostensibly, in What Dreams May Come is where I first saw this topic and really delved deeply into it.  I’m half way through a second reading of this book and it still carries a huge weight, it still resonates powerfully with me.  There aren’t many books that I re-read that still weigh as heavily on me a second time.

 

What Dreams May Come is a MUST read!

Until next time…
Turn the Page.

Jonathan Carroll

A new Jonathan Carroll book always warms my literary heart.  Mr Carroll is one of the few authors whose books I will buy sight unseen.  A few weeks ago, on October 21st when I returned from dinner I received an email from Jonathan Carroll’s website telling me his new book Bathing the Lion was out in stores.  On my way back to work at the Scranton Library in Madison I made a detour across the street to RJ Julia Booksellers so I could hope beyond hope that a copy of the book was in.  There were two.

Image from:
Wikimedia
JonathanCarroll

I grabbed one and was so happy I floated out of the store.

Mr Carroll is one of my favorite writers and each of his books is better than his last book.  He writes esoteric magic realism and as I’ve always said here at Scranton Page Turner, my reason for writing this blog is to do my best to introduce my readers to new writers, writers you may not be aware of because for whatever reason you haven’t been exposed to them.  My intention is not to steer you wrong.  The books I suggest may not always fit in everyone’s perspective, however that shouldn’t scare you away from trying a new author.  How do you know you don’t like something if you’ve never attempted to read it?

 

My biggest concern, the thing I get most anxious about and it is only because I read EVERYTHING is when someone tells me they don’t read that, whatever THAT may be.  How can you expect to be a well rounded person if you don’t at least try to read something you don’t normally read?  You may discover you ACTUALLY like a new genre.

 

Jonathan Carroll has a plethora of books to choose from and I’ve read many of them.  With his latest book, Bathing the Lion Chaos returns a pseudo character that first graced the pages of his books with White Apples and its sequel Glass Soup.

 

I started with White Apples when I worked at RJ Julia Booksellers.  I was given an advanced reader copy of White Apples and I read the book in a week.  As with all of Mr Carroll’s books by 45 pages in I understood that I was in the hands of a master storyteller and I wanted to keep reading the book but I became afraid that I was reading too fast.  In other words I didn’t want the book to end.  And when I FINALLY did finish.  I wanted to read it again for the first time.  As it has been with all of his books.

 

White Apples and Glass Soup tells the story of Vincent Ettrich and his significant other Isabelle.  Vincent has died, but Isabelle brings him back from death because he needs to teach their unborn child what he’s learned in death because it will help their child defeat Chaos.

 

There are so many amazing passages in White Apples and Glass Soup.  One in particular in Glass Soup is discussed at one of my other blogs here:
Life is Controlled Chaos  Start reading from:
“This is how it began.

 

I think another reason I connect so well with Mr Carroll is that he seems to be on the same page with me when it comes to our worldview.  In his latest, Bathing the Lion he writes:

Burnt sienna:
The colors of the greatest love humans can feel for each other. It comes only when all others have burned off or faded away and what remains is a hundred percent pure. Like the color of the earth in direct sun  on a late fall afternoon. It’s the color of the truest human passion.

Bathing the Lion
Page 217

 

And again:

Dogs know what comes after death. It was not bad. THIS is the primary reason why most dogs are so merry and resilient:

Death is no more frightening than traveling to a distant land where the landscape is lushly tropical or glacially polar or simply unlike anyplace you’ve ever been.  Just the smells alone…

Bathing the Lion
Page
222

 

Death and Dying is a topic I feel strongly about and the above passage is my entire belief.  There’s more.  The Burnt Sienna passage above is also another strong belief.  As is the column Life is Controlled Chaos.

 

Carroll has written other books as well and each one holds something special.  You simply MUST read him to see what type of writer he is.  Don’t miss this guy.  Don’t let him pass you by because you’re afraid to try something new.  I implore you to pick up one of his books.  I’m guessing some of you will come back to me and say the same thing I say:
I want to read him so badly but I don’t want the book to end and when I’ve finally reached the last page I wish I could read his books again for the first time.

The Ghost in Love, Carroll’s previous book turned out better than Glass Soup as Glass Soup turned out better than White Apples.  The Ghost in Love, about a man who goes out in the middle of winter to walk his dog, he falls and cracks his head.  The man was scheduled to die with that fall but doesn’t.  Why?  You’ll have to read the book to discover the answer.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris

 

Lee Child/Personal

Lee Child
Personal

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Wikipedia

LeeChild

Jack Reacher is maturing as Lee Child’s books increase in number.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however if you are looking for Reacher to continue being Reacher, breaking bones, throwing people out of airplanes as he did in Bad Luck and Trouble and fighting anything that moves you’re in for a bit of a disappointment.  I’ve been kind of prepared for his mellowing as I’ve read each of his books in succession.  I still long to see his violent side come out more again, but I think as with everyone we slow down with age.  Personal was NOT a bad book in the least.  The story starts with Reacher in Washington State in a Bus station.  He leafs through an Army newspaper left behind then finds himself embroiled in an international affair:

Attempted assassination of the French leader.
Then attempted assassination of several world leaders in London.

 

In London is where most of the action takes place, there are a few scuffles that Child puts Reacher through and of course, Reacher’s usual ubiquitous toothbrush and the fact that he has nothing but the clothes on his back.  These are traits that Reacher will carry with him to his grave.  Personal is the story of an army sniper who Reacher put away several years in the past.  The sniper is now out of prison and appears to be on a mission to take out several world leaders starting with France.  Reacher is called in because he has history with this sniper.  Hence the title.

 

Another new twist to the Reacher collection is Lee Child’s voice seems to have changed a bit with this novel especially but I noticed it a bit in his last book too:
Never Go Back.

 

He is becoming more descriptive.  Going into a bit more detail, not necessarily flowery, far from it as a matter of fact; but he is spending more time describing place and events then he has in the past.  I wonder if he is even aware of this?

 

I will continue reading his books as they publish because I’ve invested so much time in the character, but I do miss the old Jack Reacher.  The Jack Reacher from:
Bad Luck and Trouble and Persuader.

 

Those are the two quintessential Reacher books that should be on everyone’s reading list if you want to know the old Reacher.

 

Of the last four Reacher books:
The Affair
A Wanted Man
Never Go Back
Personal

 

I’d have to say that Never Go Back is probably my favorite Reacher of ALL time.  If you haven’t yet read this book, you’re missing out.  From a storytelling point of view you can’t get much better than this book.  If you are looking for typical Reacher then:
Bad Luck and Trouble and Persuader are the books to read.  Personal falls in the middle of the pack.  Not a bad read.  The book certainly held my interest.  As I said above, however, I STILL miss the Old Jack Reacher.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris

Dean Koontz

September was a wash.  Didn’t get around to writing my columns for September.  It’s the first time I missed the schedule and I apologize for that.  I’m going to a bi-weekly schedule.  These columns will be publishing now the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month to the best of my ability.

 

Today let’s talk about an old favorite of mine.

 

Dean Koontz
is an author I’ve read consistently in the past.  Haven’t read much of his recent fiction but I devoured is old fiction.

The Bad Place
Image from
Wikipedia

BadPlace

 

Each time Frank Pollard awakes from a night’s sleep something odd has happened that he can’t remember. What is happening to Frank?  Where does he go during the night that he can’t recall?

 

 

 

Watchers
Image from:
Wikipedia
Watchers

 

Two genetically modified animals play a huge role in this thriller, one a collie named Einstein and one a dangerous hybrid must eventually cross paths but until that time arises, you’ll be in for one long day or night of page flipping.  I read this in two days.  Simply couldn’t put it down.  First Koontz book I read.

 

Lightning
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Wikipedia
Lightning

 

Time travel and a young woman who come perilously close to jeopardy time and again if not for her own “guardian angel” who appears during lightning storms.  

 

 

 

 

Strangers
Image from:
Wikipedia
StrangersNovel

Six strangers are drawn to each by similar terrors they experience that may be linked to a time they all spent together in a Nevada hotel.  What is causing these memories and terrors to surface now?

 

I’ve read other books by Koontz as well.  These four continue to resonate however, even after over ten years.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris

 

 

Into the Abyss

I finished Into the Abyss two weeks ago and I can recommend reading the book wholeheartedly.  What I found really fascinating about the book is the story AFTER the crash and rescue of the four survivors.  The crash was only part of the story.  What happened to each of the survivors after is what gave the book its meat.
Abyss

I recognized JUST a bit of Into Thin Air, the book about the 1996 Mount Everest Tragedy  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is another nonfiction tragic adventure that anyone interested in reading this kind of book should definitely track down.

 

Into the Abyss is more than a plane crash story.  It’s a story of the friendship that develops with the survivors.  Each of the survivors carry scars from the crash, both physical and psychological and it’s the psychological scars that hurt one survivor more than any of the others.  I’m not going to tell you which one however.  You’ll have to read the book to discover that secret.

 

And trust me.  Once you pick this book up, you’ll be hard pressed to put it down until you’ve finished it.

 

I’m now reading the political book called Double Down Game Change 2012.  I’m about 100 pages in which is my point of no return.  I won’t be putting this book down either.  Will fill you in once I finish reading.

 

Until next time…
…Turn the page.

Chris

Reading Blockage

For about three months now I’ve experienced a blockage of epic proportions.  I’ve picked up approximately 15 books in that three month period and I haven’t felt much compunction to read much passed 60 pages in any of the books.  I felt as if my reading life may be over.  I can say that that is not the case.  I think I’ve discovered what the challenge is:
Fiction.

 

It’s fiction that is causing my blockage.  I’ve read two non fiction books in the past month now and am in the middle of my third book at the moment and I can FINALLY breath a sigh of relief.  I’d hate to think that I lost all love of reading as it has been such a part of my life for as long as I could pick up a book and understand the words I read.

 

I’m sure I will eventually find my way back to fiction but until I do, I am so happy to know that I haven’t lost my love of reading entirely.  The book I’m reading now is
Into the Abyss
by Carol Shaben

Image from
Good Reads

Abyss

Erik Vogel, A Canadian bush pilot is charged with carrying several passengers home on a cold October night.  The plane goes down and and only 4 of ten passengers survive.  I’ve read 80 pages so far and the book is quite well done.  I highly recommend picking it up.  I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.

 

 

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris

Upcoming Reads

Something a bit different today:
Here are two books that I haven’t yet read but are on my radar.  I’ve stopped reading fiction for awhile because I got a bit burned out on it which is why you’ve been seeing more non fiction reviews appearing at Scranton Page Turner.  I think I’m ready to try reading fiction again with this book.  The plot is one I’m comfortable with as I believe we all come back, as in reincarnation.

Life after Life
Kate Atkinson
Life

This book delves into this topic a bit from what I read on the jacket and inner sleeve.  I have the book checked out and will fill you in as I start reading it, whether it holds my interest enough to keep reading.

 

 

 

 

Into the Abyss
Carol Shaben
Abyss

This book came through our delivery service last week and I was immediately drawn to it.  I leafed through the pages and found I’d read about twenty pages

Four men, including the author’s politician father, the pilot, a cop, and a handcuffed criminal, fight to stay alive in the northern Alberta wilderness after surviving a commuter plane crash that killed six others.

 

As I’ve said previously here at Scranton Page Turner
I read everything.  Whatever catches my eye.

 

And this book caught my eye.  I placed a hold on it and am looking forward to doing more than simply leafing through the first twenty pages.  As with Life after Life, I will update you as I read the book.

Until next time…

Turn the page.

Chris

Clive Barker

Clive Barker has been a favorite writer of mine since I discovered Weaveworld in 1987.
Clive

Weaveworld is one of my favorite books of ALL time.  And it is one of the few books I’ve re-read.  In fact it became an annual ritual that at the end of EVERY school year while I attended Southern Connecticut State University that as a release I would pick that book up and read it.

 

I treasure Weaveworld to such a degree that I own multiple copies of the book.

–A signed UK first edition
–A hand corrected (Mr Barker’s own hand) proof
–Three paperbacks
–One held together by rubber bands, the book has been read do often.
–One trade Paperback
–One mass market paperback.

 

A warning about this book:
Weaveworld is EXTREMELY graphic and if you are concerned about graphic material this is not the book for you.

 

If you can look beyond the graphic nature of the book you’ll be in a for a thrill ride.  So what is Weaveworld about?

The Weaveworld is a magic carpet, but this carpet is unlike any other magic carpet you’ve ever come across.  There are beings who not quite human who have taken sacred places to them and woven them into this carpet to hide from something that has sought to destroy them for millennia.  A guardian chosen by them has stood watch over their carpet and now the last guardian has become sick and is dying.  What will happen to the carpet now?

 

I’ve mentioned Clive Barker previously in Scranton Page Turner Teen Fiction column.  He has written many other books and readers may be turned off by him as they consider him a “horror” writer.

 

He is NOT!

 

His extensive catalogue includes several favorites:
Teen Books:
The Abarat Series

Four books about a young girl who travels to a mystical archipelago of thirteen islands.  She thinks she’s been there before but cannot recall.

 

The Thief of Always
A young adult fable.

 

Sacrament:
This is his most personal book as it discusses his coming out.  It’s the one book I felt he HAD to write as it was probably very cathartic for him.  Sacrament is more than about coming out, however.  It’s a call to action to come together and save what’s left of this planet.  You’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean.  Weaveworld also has that as a theme as those not quite humans I discussed are saving sacred places to them.  Now that I consider Mr Barker’s work more in depth I realize that his stories return to that theme again and again.

 

As with my own writing when I wrote fiction, dark fantasy is merely a vehicle to get the point across.  It’s why I’m so adamant about readers reading EVERYTHING.  If you can look beyond the genre and see the point of a particular story, you’ll come to enjoy every genre of fiction and non fiction.

 

Mr Barker simply uses his genre to express his feelings.  I’ve read everything has written other than his latest book:
Mr. B. Gone is on my list.  I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.


Chris

Ben Bova

Mars

Ben Bova has been writing Science Fiction for many years.  I discovered him in the early 1990s when I picked one of his books in the Planet series:
Mars
This was the first book I read by Bova and the first in the series.  He has since written Planet books:
Venus
Jupiter
Saturn
Mercury

 

He has written sequels to several of the of these.  In my opinion the best in this series is Mars.  I have yet to read any of the sequels.  I’ve pretty much stopped reading sequels, because I don’t think you can ever go back and recreate an experience.

 

That doesn’t mean anyone else should stop reading them.  It’s just how I feel.

 

I’ve also read books by Ben Bova outside is Planet series and he hasn’t disappointed yet.  See? SF/Fantasy is my favorite genre as anyone who has been following Scranton Page Turner should be aware of.

 

Ben Bova is one of the masters of this field and if you want to dip your toes into the wide array of the genre I couldn’t think of a better place to start.  If you’re intimidated by SF or if it isn’t something you think you’d like then pick up one of his non fiction books.

 

Might I recommend his 2001 book called:
The Story of Light

 

Give me a choice of several authors I could read and Mr. Bova would certainly make that list.  Check him out.  I won’t steer you wrong.  I think you’ll find him an enjoyable read.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris

Suzanne Palmieri

What draws me to a particular book?  That’s a challenging question to answer as I read so many books a year.  Science Fiction and Fantasy are still and I think always will be my favorite genre.  Magic Realism is an extremely close second.  Authors such as as Jonathan Carroll and Alice Hoffman fall into that category.  There is just enough fantastical magic in those books to keep me turning the pages.  Last summer I discovered a third author who has made the list and moved up a notch in my list of favorite authors.

 

I met Suzanne Palmieri on Google+ where she has a profile last year after reading her debut:
The Witch of Little Italy.
WitchItaly

I felt an instant connection to that book and if you want to see how strong that connection is I recommend reading my column at Wisdom and Life about The Witch of Little Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

That book and her second book:
The Witch of Belladonna Bay

WitchBay

has magic, witches, and just a bit of the paranormal in them to keep a reader looking for that type of fiction turning the pages.  I can see the gradual improvement in Suzanne’s style with Belladonna Bay. She’s more confident in writing about the magic that permeates our world, the magic that is all around us every day.

 

You know that Magic and the Divine are around us all the time, don’t you?  And it isn’t just a select few that feel it.  We can all find that magic within us if we only work on cultivating it.

 

 

 

Suzanne has another hit with her Belladonna Bay.  If you haven’t discovered her yet, run!  Don’t walk to find her books.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Until next time…
Turn the page.

Chris