[BLOG TOUR: EXTRACT] Wanderers by Chuck Wendig @ChuckWendig @RebellionPub @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheWanderers

I’m so excited to share an excerpt from Wanderers by Chuck Wendig with you all! Ahh! I am so in love with it so far and I cannot wait to share my review with you soon as well! Thank you so much to Tracy Fenton at CompulsiveReaders for organising the blog tour!

BOOK EXTRACT

1

The First Sleepwalker

Last night’s amateur astronomers got a treat in the form of clear skies, a new moon, and Comet Sakamoto. The last three Great Comets were Lovejoy in 2011, McNaught in 2007, and the famous—­or infamous?—­Hale-­Bopp in 1997, which of course spawned the Heaven’s Gate cult, whose members committed mass suicide in the belief it would allow them to hitch a ride with an extraterrestrial spaceship following that comet. You’re listening to Tom Stonekettle of Stonekettle Radio, 970 BRG.

—­Stonekettle Radio Show, 970AM WBRG, Pittsburgh

June 3

Maker’s Bell, Pennsylvania

Shana stood there looking at her little sister’s empty bed, and her first thought was: Nessie ran away again.

She called to her a few times. Honestly, after Nessie had stayed up late last night to watch the comet through Dad’s shitty telescope, Shana figured the younger girl would still be in bed, snoring up little earthquakes. She wasn’t sure where the hell else Nessie could be—­Shana had been up for an hour already, making their lunches, finishing the laundry, putting the trash and recycling together so she could haul it up the long driveway for tomorrow’s pickup. So she knew Nessie wasn’t in the kitchen. Maybe she was in the upstairs bathroom.

“Nessie?” She paused. Listened. “Nessie, c’mon.”

But nothing.

Again the thought: Nessie ran away again.

It didn’t make much sense. First time Nessie ran away, that made sense. They’d just lost their mother—­lost her in a very literal way. The four of them went to the grocery store, and only three of them came back. They feared Mom had been taken and hurt, but eventually security cameras from the Giant Eagle showed that nobody kidnapped her; she strolled out the automatic doors like nothing was wrong and then walked out of their lives
for good. Mom became a big question mark stuck in their cheeks like a fishhook.

But it was clear that their mother didn’t want to be a part of their lives anymore. That, Shana knew even then, had been a long time coming, but the realization did not hit Nessie—­and still had not reached her, even now. Nessie believed then that it was Dad’s fault. And maybe Shana’s, too. So two years ago almost to the day, after school was done for the year, Nessie packed a backpack full of canned goods and bottled water (plus a couple of candy bars), and ran away.

They found Nessie four hours later at the wooden bus shelter on Granger, hiding from a sudden rain squall. Shivering like a stray puppy. When Dad picked her up she kicked and thrashed, and it was like watching a wrestler try to pin a tornado. But then he gave up, said to her, “You want to run away, you run away, but if you’re thinking of going after your mother, I don’t think she wants to be found.”

It was like watching a glass of water tip in slow motion. Nessie collapsed in his arms and wept so hard she could only catch her breath in these keening, air-­sucking hitches. Her shoulders shook and she pressed both hands under her armpits as if hugging herself. They got her home. She slept for two days and then, slowly but surely, came back to life.

That was two years ago.

Today, though, Shana could not figure out why Nessie would want to run away again. Girl was fifteen now and hadn’t hit the wall like Shana had at that age—­as Dad put it, Shana “went full teenager.” Mopey and mad and hormones like a kicking horse. Shana was almost eighteen, now. She was better these days. Mostly.

Nessie was still all right, hadn’t turned into a werewolf. Still happy. Still optimistic. Eyes bright like new nickels. She had a little notebook, in which she wrote all the things she wanted to do (scuba dive with sharks, study bats, knit her own slippers like Mom-­Mom used to do), all the places she wanted to go (Edinburgh, Tibet, San Diego), all the people she wanted to meet (the president, an astronaut, her future husband). She said to Shana one day, “I heard that if you complain it reprograms your brain like a computer virus and it just makes you more and more unhappy, so I’m going to stay positive because I bet the opposite is true, too.”

That notebook sat there on her empty bed. Next to the bed was an open box—­Nessie had gotten some package in the mail, some science thing she must’ve ordered. (Shana borrowed a part of it, a little test tube, to hold weed.) Her daffodil-­yellow sheets looked rumpled and slept-­in. Her pink pillow still showed her head-­dent.

Shana peeked at the notebook. Nessie had started a new list: jobs i might like?? Included: zookeeper, beekeeper, alpaca farmer, photographer. Photographer? Shana thought. That’s my bag. A weird flare of anger lanced through her. Nessie was good at everything. If she decided to do the thing that Shana wanted to do, she’d do it better and that would suck and they’d hate each other forever. (Well, no. Shana would hate Nessie. Nessie would love her unconditionally because that was Nessie.)

Shana called out for her again. “Ness? Nessie?” Her voice echoed and nothing but the echo answered. Shit.

Dad was probably already in the so-­called milking parlor (he said if they’re going to be part of the artisanal cheese movement here in Pennsylvania they needed to start talking like it, damnit), and he would be expecting Ness and Shana to staff the little shop up by the road. Then eventually he’d come get one of them to head into the cheese barn to check the curds on that Gouda or get the blues draining—­then mix the silage and feed the cows and ah, hell, the vet was coming today to look at poor Belinda’s red, crusty udders and—­

Maybe that’s why Nessie ran away. School was out already and summer vacation wasn’t much of one: Everything was work, work, work. (Shana wondered if Nessie had the right idea. She could run away, too. Even for the day. Call up her buddy Zig in his Honda, smoke some weed, read comic books, talk shit about the seniors who just graduated . . .)

(God, she had to get out of here.)

(If she didn’t get out of here soon, she’d stay here forever. This place felt like quicksand.)

Of course, Nessie was too good a girl to have run away again, so maybe she got the jump on Shana and was already out in the shop. Little worker bee, that one. What was the song on Dad’s old REM album? “Shiny Happy People”? That was Nessie.

Shana’d already eaten, so she went in search of the little clip-­on macro lens she used over her phone’s camera to let her take photos of things real close-­up, magnified. Little worlds revealed, the micro made macro. She didn’t have a proper camera, but she was saving up to get a DSLR one day. In the meantime, that meant using the phone. Maybe she’d find something in the stable or in the cheesemaking room that would look cool up close: flaking rust, the red needle in the thermometer, the bubbles or crystals in the cheese itself.

It hit her where she’d left the lens last time—­she was taking pictures of a house spider hanging in her window, and she left the lens on the sill. So she went there to grab it—­

Something outside caught her eye. Movement up the driveway. One of the cows loose was her first thought.

Shana headed to the window.

Someone was out there, walking.

No. Not someone.

Little dum-­dum was halfway up the driveway in her PJ pants and pink T-­shirt. Barefoot, too, by the look of it. Oh, what the hell, Nessie?

Shana ran to the kitchen, forgetting her lens. She hurriedly popped on her sneakers and ran out the door to the back porch, nearly tripping on the one sneaker that wasn’t all the way on yet, but she quick smashed her heel down into the shoe and kept on running.

She thought to yell to her little sister, but decided against it. No need to draw Dad’s attention. He’d see they weren’t out in the shop yet and give them a ration of hot shit about it, and Shana didn’t want to hear it. This was not a morning for nonsense, and already the nonsense was mounting.

Instead she ran up along the driveway, the red gravel crunching underneath her sneaks. The Holsteins on the left bleated and mooed. A young calf—­she thought it was Moo Radley—­stood there on knock-­knees watching her hurry to catch up to her tweedledum sister. “Nessie,” she hissed. “Nessie, hey!”

But Nessie didn’t turn around. She just kept on walking.

What a little asshole.

Shana jogged up ahead of her and planted her feet like roots.

“God, Nessie, what the hell are you—­”

It was then she saw the girl’s eyes. They were open. Her sister’s gaze stood fixed at nothing, like she was looking through Shana or staring around her.

Dead eyes, dead like the flat tops of fat nails. Gone was the luster of wonder, that spark.

Barefoot, Nessie continued on. Shana didn’t know what to do—­move out of her way? Stand planted like a telephone pole? Her indecision forced her to do a little of both—­she shifted left just a little, but still in her sister’s inevitable path.

The girl’s shoulder clipped her hard. Shana staggered left, taking the hit. The laugh that came up out of her was one of surprise. It was a pissed-­off laugh, a bark of incredulity.

“That hurt, dummy,” she said, and then grabbed for the girl’s shoulder and shook her.

Nothing. Nessie just pulled away and kept going.

“Nessie. Nessie.”

Shana waved her hand in front of Nessie’s eyes. Wave, wave, wave. She had the thought then, a stray thought she pretended could be true even though she knew deep down it couldn’t be, She’s just playing a joke on me. Even though Shana was the prankster and Nessie’s only real joke was a cabinet of knock-­knock jokes so bad it made their bad-­joke-­loving father wince. Still, just in case, she took her finger and poked Nessie’s nose as if it were a button.

“Boop,” she said. “Power down, little robot.”

Nessie registered nothing. Didn’t even blink.

Had she blinked the whole time? Shana didn’t think so.

Then she saw, ahead, a big rain puddle. She warned her sister: “Nessie, watch out, there’s a—­”

Too late. Nessie plodded right through it. Splish. Splash. Feet in the water almost up to the ankles. Still going and going. Like a windup toy set to beeline in one direction.

Still staring ahead.

Still moving forward.

Arms stiff by her sides. Her gait sure and steady.

Something’s wrong.

The thought hit Shana in the heart like a fist. Her guts went cold, her blood to slush. She couldn’t hold back the chills. But she tried anyway and said to herself, Maybe she’s just sleepwalking. That’s probably what this is. Okay, no, Nessie had never done that before, but maybe this was how her brain chose to handle those hormones running through her like a pack of racehorses right now.

The question was: Go get Dad?

Ahead, the end of their driveway stretched out. There, the cheese and dairy shop made to look like a little red barn. There, the mailbox made to also look like a little barn, this one blue (and with a cow silhouette cut out of tin and stuck on top). And there, too, the road.

The road.

God, if Nessie walked to the road and a car came by . . .

She yelled for her dad. Screamed for him. “Dad! Dad!” But nothing. No response. He might’ve been out in the pasture or in the barn. Going to get him meant leaving Nessie alone . . .

In her head she could hear the make-­believe sound of a truck grille hitting her sister, knocking her forward. The crunch of bones under tires. The thought made her queasy.

I can’t get Dad. I’ll stay with her.

This can’t go on for long.

Sleepwalkers eventually wake up.

Don’t they?

Thoughts?

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Add ‘Wanderers‘ to your TBR: 

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Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey.
He has contributed over two million words to the roleplaying game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP).
He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is a fellow of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, will show at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producer Ted Hope.
Chuck’s novel Double Dead will be out in November, 2011.
He’s written too much. He should probably stop. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with a wonderful wife and two very stupid dogs. He is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

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[REVIEW] Enigma Variations by André Aciman @FaberBooks @aaciman

Aciman’s short story collection Enigma Variations title comes from Edward Elgar’s piece called Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (1898), better known as Enigma Variations. I wasn’t aware of this connection until I finished the book and googled the title. I’ve spent about 40 minutes listening to Elgar’s piece and I just love it! It’s so beautiful!

I honestly don’t wish to butcher the synopsis of this short story collection so I’ll post the synopsis I found on Goodreads: “From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, to a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man’s path through the great loves of his life. Paul’s intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that ‘heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down’.” I feel like this synopsis sums up the book wonderfully and if I tried to do it I’d ruin its magic.

Enigma Variations consists of five short stories dealing with love, loss, infatuation and more. Aciman has the ability to masterfully showcase human emotion through words. In reading Call Me by Your Name  I’ve noticed that Aciman’s so skilled in entering the human psyche and making the reader infatuated with words they’re reading. Although his stories are often sad Aciman writes with such precision that it feels as if he’s softening the ‘blow’. I have to say that the first two stories were my favourite because I loved Aciman’s writing in them the most and the way he described the village as well as the tennis court were perfection to me! By reading this review you’ve probably guessed that I adore Aciman’s writing style and the way he has with words so I’ll bore you no more with that. If I dive deeper into the analysis of each story I feel like I’ll ruin it for future readers so I won’t be sharing anything further but I have to say that Enigma Variations was a phenomenal read where although each story has about 50 (or more) pages it contains everything that satisfies the reader – from wonderful writing to a brilliantly crafted main character.

Fans of Aciman will definitely enjoy reading this short story collection and even if you’re not familiar with Aciman, you’ll fall in love with his writing in Enigma Variations.

Many thanks to the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got the book from the publisher.

My rating: 

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André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.

Find him on:  Twitter and Goodreads

[BOOK REVIEW] The Rapture by Claire McGlasson #TheRapture @FaberBooks

Having read both Clare and Amanda’s amazing reviews of The Rapture by Claire McGlasson I knew that this book would be for me! Luckily, I got my copy from the wonderful publisher Faber&Faber and I have to say that I loved reading it!

The Rapture is a book revolving around The Panacea Society, an English cult which existed back in the 1920s, and one particular person called Dilys who’s a member of the cult. The cult was founded by Mabel Barltrop, better known as Octavia, who was self-proclaimed as the Daughter of God. The cult consists of mostly single ladies and Dilys is the youngest member in her mid twenties. One day she meets a woman named Grace and invites her to visit The Panacea Society and find out more about it. Grace soon becomes a new recruit and begins living in the Society as help. The friendship between Dilys and Grace becomes stronger and closer as time passes and while that is going on the Society begins to change. Each person has something to hide. Dilys, once a full-blown believer, now becomes suspicious as to how the Society actually works.

I read The Rapture in two sittings – it was captivating, interesting and compelling. The story being based on truth is quite interesting as well! I loved the atmosphere in the novel, the whole unease surrounding the cult. Dilys as a character was very interesting and I found her to be well-written because her psyche matched her actions. I also liked how the author included some queer aspects into the novel making it much more interesting to me! I really loved the descriptions of Dilys’ feelings for Grace. The Rapture being a book that surrounds around a cult felt very eeire and I was at times scared for Dilys and was anticipating her next actions. The story in itself included many revelations that I liked and gasped at some of them because I was not expecting that. The author addressing Octavia as Her in the book sent shivers down my spine because you could sense that Octavia is someone who’s in charge. The ending of the book left me feeling satisfied which I appreciated although I wouldn’t have predicted it’d end like that because in my mind I had something darker as the ending. There is no particular reason why I’m giving this book four out of five stars but it didn’t feel like a five star read although it was a great and compelling one.

The Rapture is a spine-chilling and fascinating book about a woman living a cult who slowly begins to find out that not everything is what it seems.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘The Rapture‘ to your TBR: 

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Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News Anglia and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. Her role gives her access to high-profile interviewees, and takes her behind-the-scenes at places that she’d never ordinarily get to go. But the biggest privilege of her job is spending time with people at the very best, and very worst, times of their lives and helping them to tell their stories. She lives in Cambridgeshire with her favourite people – her husband, daughter and son.

Her first novel, THE RAPTURE, which is based on true events in an Edwardian women’s cult, was published by Faber in Spring 2019. McGlasson’s debut novel about a real-life cult, set in 1920s England, is being turned into a television series after Hillbilly Television optioned the rights.

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter.

[BOOK REVIEW] Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time but what pushed me to finally do it is My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell coming out to the book scene as well as Putney by Sofka Zinovieff because they are a response to Lolita. I wanted to know what was so controversial about Lolita and then I found out.

I think we all know what Lolita is about but if not here’s the skinny – an older man called Humbert Humbert becomes infatued by a twelve/thirteen year old girl called Dolores Haze or Lolita. From the moment he sets eyes on her on his tenants garden he becomes obsessed with her beauty. What happens later is that Humbert Humbert in his pursuit to win Lolita over does many many things which set a chain of events. I feel like that’s quite a good non-spoilery, if-you-wish-to-know-little-about-the-book description.

I won’t go into length with this review because there’s a lot to go through so I’ll just feature some key points that I found interesting. Before going in I honestly had no idea what to expect because I had in mind that since it was written in 1955 it wouldn’t be that controversial but I was wrong. Having read the book I now get why the public reacted to it the way they did – it is a very controversial subject to write about [especially at that time]. I didn’t expect certain scenes to be described with such precision and depth e.g. sexual parts. I found this book to be very well written and I love how Nabokov made the character of Humbert Humbert somewhat real in a sense that you can see that Humbert is a well-educated man whose actions are so wrong. I feel like if this book were written now it would cause a different sort of reaction because nowadays people don’t shy away from writing the goriest, darkest things. I found the first part of the book to be most compelling but the second part was something I found to be very dry and uninteresting in a way. This will sound weird but I expected more from the story in a way. The ending was something I found to be quite meh. What can one say in the end – it’s an interesting read but definitely not for everyone.

My rating:

Add ‘Lolita‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Lolita‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery, and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.

Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory (1951), was listed eighth on the publisher’s list of the 20th century’s greatest nonfiction. He was also a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times.