What a fascinating glimpse into the life and mind of Jim Jones..the infamous cult leader behind the Jonestown settlement in Guyana. Jones is probably most remembered for forcing the suicide (so...murder?) of his cult in 1978. He can also be credited with adding the phrase "drink the Kool Aid" to the pop culture lexicon thanks to killing his Peoples Temple members with the addition of cyanide poison into vats of Flavor Aid (a Kool Aid knock off).
Jeff Guinn starts at the beginning -- with Jones's birth. It was so interesting to see the evolution of Jim Jones. We go from his childhood and eventual marriage to Marceline...to Jones's hopping around church denominations...to the establishment of the Peoples Temple...and then, ultimately, to Jonestown. One can easily find the horrific images of the aftermath at Jonestown...but HOW does it get to that point? Guinn sympathetically presents the information to where one feels sorrow at its culmination...as well as anger that it even happened.
I will note that the book, while continually moving forward, does seem to stall out about halfway through. One can only state so many times how Jones was a bona fide con man during Temple services. Guinn presented Jim Jones's cancer "healing" trick on several occasions...each time presenting it like he hadn't already addressed it before. It just became a bit repetitive to continually visit service after service in town after town of Jones conning the service attendees. Once I was through that bit, however, the book picked back up as we sped toward Jonestown.
Ultimately, this book documents a tragedy that is almost incomprehensible. How does one man control the minds of over 900 people to where they would kill themselves (some willingly, some not) just because he says so? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Or, was Jim Jones evil from the very beginning?
What an unusual read....I'm not even sure how to describe it. Unexpected? Atmospheric? Bizarre? Enthralling? Confusing? Jarring? Weird? Vague? Excellent?
I have not read anything else by John Darnielle and I'd be curious to know if this fits the same "theme" as his other writing(s). Universal Harvester is very well-written. The characters are fascinating and Darnielle allows us just small glimpses of them before he moves to another aspect of the story. I was kept guessing as to what was happening in the immediate portion of the story...and for the story at large.
I was expecting a thriller and a mystery, but I'm not sure that this is what that was. I do not want to give any spoilers as that would ruin the experience of the story...but this defied my expectations in many ways.
Because of the vagueness of the story I think this book may frustrate some readers. Go into the story for an atmospheric read and let it take you where it will...expectations about genre or typical plot progression may cause the reader to be irritated at the pacing and story. I wasn't sure what I was going to read when I opened up the book...and I think that's the perfect start to a wonderfully weird story.
This was a fantastic read! This reads more like a piece of scandalous historical fiction/mystery rather than history. The characters (who actually existed) are colorful...their actions (which they actually did) are unbelievable...the outcome (which actually happened) is crazy. I was enthralled with the saga of Rudolf and Mary Vetsera from start to finish. It seemed like there were more twists and turns in this story than your average soap opera.
I'm not that "up" on Hapsburg history so the Mayerling incident was completely new to me. I knew that the Hapsburgs had a sordid family tree full of intermarrying (and all the health ramifications that come with that), but Twilight provides a glimpse into just how twisted their family tree truly was.
This is a "must read" for armchair historians, historical fiction or mystery fans, and anyone in between. The adage "you can't make this stuff up" comes to mind -- a fascinating and unbelievable chapter in the history of the Hapsburg empire.
An enjoyable glimpse into the life of the Prince of Wales that was equally entertaining, informative and boring...much like I imagine Charles to be in real life. Obviously sympathetic to Charles (especially during his Diana years), Smith was still fair enough to point out some flaws an irritations in Charles' manner and approach. The author spent more time on Diana, Camilla, William/Kate, and Harry than I thought the book warranted -- I signed up for a biography of Charles, not his family. It was interesting to hear about the Diana years through a view that was decidedly sympathetic to Charles. I've read plenty of Diana-themed material over the years and it was refreshing to get the "other side of the story" that presented the "People's Princess" in a more realistic light. If you read some biographies of Diana and then read Smith's account of Diana, I would imagine the reality falls somewhere in the middle.
Passions and Paradoxes was an interesting glimpse behind the royal curtain into the life of the perpetual King-In-Waiting. It filled some holes about the Royal Family that I didn't know were empty. An enjoyable read for fans of the RF and/or aristocratic modern life.
I'll confess...I'm "over" the fairy tale retellings. BUT -- a retelling of Labyrinth?! Sign me up for that one. Before ever hearing him sing, I remember watching David Bowie as the Goblin King and Jennifer Connelly winding her way through the maze.
Wintersong does not disappoint. I was hooked from start to finish. As far as fairy tale retellings go I think it was fairly standard. You knew you were reading about Labyrinth despite the changes throughout the story. The movie is so vivid in my mind, however, that it was hard to allow Wintersong's characters to have their own uniqueness and appearance. You say Goblin King and I instantly think of Jareth:
...not the Goblin King in Wintersong who's name plays a minor role in the plot line of the story.
Jae-Jones also focuses a lot on music and music theory...which is delightfully different from many young adult novels. As a hobby musician who works in a music school, I really enjoyed seeing this light glimpse into music theory and composition.
Wintersong was such a delight - both in its retelling of Labyrinth and in its freshness as a fairy tale retelling. I am looking forward to the sequel which should be released in 2018!