Mini-reviews: Starglass by Phoebe North; Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon; and Night Film by Marisha Pessl

starglassTitle: Starglass
Author: Phoebe North
Genre: YA science fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: My darling daughter, Know that I never would have left the earth if it hadn’t already been doomed.

Goodreads blurb: Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.

Argh – they did it to me again! I was hoodwinked into reading this by all the great reviews, and then completely ticked off by the non-ending. I admit, up until the last chapter or so, I was totally in love with this book. Loved the premise, the writing was gorgeous, the characters were engaging, the world-building was excellent. But then it ended with no real resolution. I have read series before; I don’t need everything tied up – leave enough to continue the story, but give me enough finality to feel like I’ve actually read a whole book, and not just part one.

manhoodTitle: Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son
Author: Michael Chabon
Genre: Non-fiction, essays
Publisher: Harper Collins Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Michael Chabon
Audiobook length: 8 hours and 3 minutes
First line: I typed the inaugural newsletter of the Columbia Comic Book Club on my mother’s 1960 Smith Corona, modeling it on the monthly “Stan’s Soapbox” pages through which Stan Lee created and sustained the idea of Marvel Comics fandom in the sixties and early seventies.

Chabon is one of those “either-or” authors for me. With a certain few authors, I either love their fiction and hate their non-fiction, or it’s the other way around. With Chabon, I have been unable to get into his fiction, but I adore his essays. This is the second collection of his that I’ve read; the first one was Maps and Legends, and was centered around his writing career. This collection, Manhood for Amateurs was mainly concerned with his experiences as a son, husband, and father. While politically and spiritually Chabon and I are pretty much opposites, I still thoroughly enjoyed his observations on these parts of his life.

nightfilmTitle: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: A large chandelier showered golden light on the crowd as I surveyed the party in the bronze mirror over the mantel.

Goodreads blurb: On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

I have been thinking about this ever since I finished Night Film, and I have come to the conclusion that this is the scariest book I’ve ever read. Now, I don’t read horror. I expanded my horizons a bit with Cronin’s The Passage, which I loved, and with King’s 11/22/63 and Under the Dome, but I haven’t read a horror novel since a certain ex-boyfriend in college talked me into reading Mine by Robert R. McCammon. The opening scene of that book is still stuck in my head – and it wasn’t even the worst part. Anyway, none of those books topped the experience of reading Night Film when it comes to the scare-factor, and I’m not entirely sure why. The writing was excellent (although the author does have too much love of italics), and the story a complete page-turner. I loved the format, which involved not only McGrath’s story, but screen shots from web pages, newspaper and magazine articles, message board posts, etc. Maybe that’s why it was so scary: those elements rooted the story in reality, and I almost felt like I was reading a true crime novel. The ending was a big ambiguous for me – I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the ending in the comments section. Just be sure to warn about spoilers!

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6 Responses to Mini-reviews: Starglass by Phoebe North; Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon; and Night Film by Marisha Pessl

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    The buzz for Night Film has been terrific but I’m a little scared to try it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – I know other people weren’t as scared by it as I was; I’m just a wimp. :)

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I have Manhood on my shelves…a print book (big mistake!) that I bought impulsively. I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually! I’m just so damned slow with actual reading. And I’m glad you liked Night Film, although I didn’t find so much scary as just intriguing. That ending was something. While I was at peace with it, I could definitely see the author getting a wild hair to write a sequel.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I liked listening to Chabon read his own words. He’s not the smoothest narrator, but it gave it a personal touch that I appreciated. And a sequel to Night Film? I’m not sure I could take another one! ;)

  3. Julie@my5monkeys
    Twitter: aprilmom00
    says:

    Oh then I really need to read Night film. I have heard all the buzz about it :)