Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June Monthly Wrap-Up & Year-to-Date

Here's to June and the jumpstart to a summer of reading!

Books Read This Month:  (4)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling (A) (for fun)
A Short History of Nearly Everything- Bill Bryson (A) (for What's in a Name 4 Challenge)
Film Flam- Larry McMurtry (C) (for fun)
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee (A+) (for Back to the Classics Challenge)--review coming soon

Other Books Reviewed This Month: (2)
Night Shift- Stephen King (for Stephen King Challenge) (A)--finished in May

Currently Reading: (2)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling (for fun)
My Life- Bill Clinton (for fun)

Books Read So Far in 2011: (29)
*DNFs don't count in this total

How was your reading in the month of June?

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Summer is here at last!  I'm starting a month-long course, and while I'll try to keep up with reviews & memes, my workload may start to interfere.  It doesn't look too demanding (*I hope*) but consider this a heads-up and my excuse for any subsequent slacking off :D

Read This Week:  (2)
Film Flam- Larry McMurtry (C) (click title for review)
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee--review coming soon--it's definitely an A+!

Currently Reading:  (2)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling--finished the Qudditch World Cup chapter last night--exciting!
My Life- Bill Clinton--no progress on this one in months :(  *sigh*  I hope to finish this before I'm old & gray

Next to Read:
The Giver- Lois Lowry--I've heard it's incredible.  I might try to dip into this one as I read HP: GofF as it's rather long & I have this & other challenge books to catch up on, especially for Back to the Classics.

Have a great reading week :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Four Things jumpstart my brain this morning.  I spotted this over @ Dizzy C's blog.  These random little exercises are too fun to resist :)

Four jobs I have had in my life:

1)  Little league softball umpire (one summer)--over-involved, argumentative parents drove me nuts :P

2)  Campus library processing assistant (three years)--this involved creating & applying labels to all new library materials (which means I got to preview everything that came in first!), finagling security strips in the spines (arrgh...), packing & shelving new materials, and other odds & ends in cataloguing.  This job kept me sane and on a routine for 3/4 years of my university schooling.

3)  K-8 substitute teacher (three years)--my current job until I can get my own classroom *crossing fingers*

Four places I have lived:
Only one & that's Ontario, Canada for about a 1/4 century :D  In fact, I've been in the same house, too.

Four books I would recommend:
Hoo boy...if I can only name 4:

1)  To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee--I just finished re-reading it & it's a definite must-read
2)  Harry Potter series- J.K. Rowling--adventurous and nostalgic
3)  Different Seasons- Stephen King--breathtaking and not as gory as most of his books
4)  Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury--for everyone who loves books

Four Places I have been:
I'm afraid I'm pretty dull when it comes to travelling and have only been within Ontario.  I'm definitely gearing up for future escapades & would love to visit all of Europe, Hawaii, Australia, China...

Four of my favourite foods:
Gino's chicken wings, my mom's homemade lasagna, scalloped potatoes, quesadillas

Four of my favourite drinks:
Tim Hortons double-double, Diet Pepsi, freshly-made ice cold orange juice, martini :D

Four places I would rather be right now:
My pool, my deck, a beach, basically anywhere where the weather isn't muggy like it is today.

Four things that are special in my life:
My family, things that make me happy like reading, my job that I love, and of course, blogging!

Four bloggers I hope will do this meme:
Anyone who wants to take part!  Leave your link in the comments section below.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Film Flam- Larry McMurtry

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published: 1987
Pages: 224
ISBN: 0743216245
Genre: Nonfiction, Film

Start Date: June 17, 2011
Finished Date: June 20, 2011 (4 days)

Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: On my TBR list

Summary: A series of essays about the vacuous yet insatiable draw of Hollywood.


Larry McMurtry has an ironic presence in Hollywood. Like Nicolas Cage's Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation., McMurtry is on the outskirts of the chaotic, egomaniacal machinery of the fimmaking mecca of America, second biggest in the world to Bollywood. Many of McMurtry's essays in the cheeky Film Flam are as dry as a good martini and often bitter as a citrus fruit. It's no guess that McMurtry thinks himself too good a writer to work for the movies (and except for his partnership with directors like Peter Bogdanovich and James L. Brooks, he's correct) writing in a sad sack genre like screenwriting where description is sparse and unwarranted.

The quality of essays in Film Flam is stark, unsentimental but not quite transparent enough to bring out the veins of writing. Sometimes it comes to fruition in enjoyable works such as "The Telephone Booth Screenwriter," which accounts for his predilection to communicating with a film director over the phone after mailing the script to him. He offers interesting commentary on the sharpness of TV writing (an obvious nod to Brooks) over most screenwriting work and is downright charming with his final essay on taking a walk in California with Diane Keaton and her grandmother that speaks directly to Keaton's quirky personality that makes Annie Hall come across like a documentary.

Where McMurtry lost me is in the oddball essay that awkwardly compares All the President's Men (Woodward & Bernstein's uncovering of Watergate) to Seven Beauties (a Holocaust survival story). Maybe I was just sore that he skewered APM (one of my favourite movies) but a lack of connection between the films made his argument for Seven Beauties being the superior film slippery at best. Another odd entry in this anthology was about the "graceless" comedy of Woody Allen (definitely true) and his distaste for the appeal of Keith Carradine and Lily Tomlin in Robert Altman's Nashville. Again, the connection was dead.

Unless you are a fan of McMurtry's or a movie afficienado, I wouldn't bother with this book as only a small handful of the essays are worth reading and none are particularly memorable.  Maybe you can pursue the best ones online and read them separately.  Still, I wouldn't write off McMurtry as a writer altogether. Nonfiction can come across much differently from a writer than fiction. I haven't yet read any of his novels but I fully intend to. His style seems more fitting to a narrative. Can anyone recommend any good McMurtry books? I have Terms of Endearment and The Evening Star on my shelf, and I've heard that Lonesome Dove is remarkable.

Rank:  (C)- Okay, Maybe Read It

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Blog Hop!

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.

This week's question is:

When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?

This is a fascinating, terrific question!  I definitely knew from the time I could read at about 3 that it was something special that I connected to instantly.  As a teacher, I reminisce even more about how easy it was for me to read while many children struggle to string words and their meaning together.  I can't remember learning how to read but that I always could.  It was never a question of cannot but always of can (to paraphrase Yoda).

As for when my passion for reading was understood, it was probably when I was earning my degree in English.  Reading sometimes up to 12 books per year per course was challenging and invigorating.  I remember bumping into a neighbour while in line for coffee who was earning his business degree and he was flabbergasted at the number of novels I was reading for my courses.  He basically said he wouldn't be able to handle that at all.  I shrugged and replied that it wasn't ever like work for me (the reading part; the writing of essays sure was!) but was a joy.  The day I graduated with that degree was the day I fully realized my passion for reading.  And now I have the privilege of spreading that passion to children in an age where reading is not the forefront of one's hobbies or even vaguely general interest.

On another note, I'm very much enjoying my re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird and will probably finish it tonight.  It's amazing how much I missed from my first read of it in high school and how much my perspectives have changed, as well as about 10 years of added life experience.  I can't wait to review this!

Have a great weekend everyone :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Read This Week:  (1)--click title for review
A Short History of Nearly Everything- Bill Bryson

Currently Reading:  (2)
Film Flam- Larry McMurtry--almost finished!
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee--quite a breathtaking book & I'm just getting warmed up

Next to Read
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling--just try to stop me :D
I'm hoping to zip through some of the smaller reads for challenges as well, like Night by Elie Wiesel.

Have a great reading week!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Short History of Nearly Everything- Bill Bryson

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  2003
Pages:  544
ISBN:  0385660049
Genre:  Nonfiction, Science

Start Date:  May 31, 2011
Finished Date:  June 17, 2011 (18 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  On my TBR list; also, I was curious about Bill Bryson's brand of nonfiction

Read For:  What's in a Name 4 Challenge (5/6)

Summary:  The origins of the Earth through the lenses of various fields of science are explained in layman's terms, laced with ironic humour and an enthusiasm for discovery.


Now this is a science book like no other.  Textbooks from science class were never this interesting.  Bryson's thesis is simple:  to explore and explain the origins of the Earth through various scientific fields of research and translate them for those of us who didn't go beyond mandatory high school science class.  These fields include astronomy, meteorology, geology, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, volcanology, seismology, cellular biology, paleontology, and anthropology, not to mention sprinklings of natural history and psychology.

The result is like exploring an unfamiliar cave with a flashlight whose bulb gets brighter as you go through it.  At first, the jargon was a bit...jarring (he he), even with Bryson's often hilarious use of analogies that could give this book the subtitle Science For Dummies (guilty as charged, says moi).  Once past the initial chapter on astronomy, which is interesting but sometimes difficult to manoeuvre, you become used to Bryson's style and even start to like his eccentric intellectual humour.

Facts are given a back story, which in turn often has a back story, with a focus on biographical information of its discoverer and his or her eccentric lifestyle, struggles for public understanding & acceptance of findings, and oftentimes, an impoverished means.  Theories are not completely diluted just to appease the reader and make us feel smart enough to understand them, but are compared to recognizable things and often analogized by scientists for pleasure, much like the hilarious meanderings of characters on TV's The Big Bang Theory.

By Part III, I was hooked and all the factoids became less random (i.e. fodder for Uncle John's Bathroom Reader) and served more of a purpose for passionate learning about the formation, gestation, and constant fluctuation of planet Earth.  Home sweet home.  It would be terrific if this book was required reading in a course for humanities undergrads needing a science credit.  Otherwise, it certainly fills many gaps in the average person's science education.  I highly recommend reading it.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday Hop

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.

This week's question is:

How many books are currently in your To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile?

You might be surprised to know that I don't have as many books on my TBR shelf as most book bloggers do, mainly due to lack of funds and lack of space. 

First, on my nightstand are TBRs I'm about to start or will start soon and my current reads are housed there as well.  I have 2 there now: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which I'm dying to start, and To Kill a Mockingbird, my re-read for the Back to the Classics challenge that I'm stalling on starting for some reason.  I have two shelves, one with 22 TBRs and another with 26, then I have a box of 43 TBRs in my closet.

Doing the math, that comes to 93 TBR books in my possession.  I also have a TBR list (these are not yet acquired) of about 870 books.

I've been hearing some bloggers quote 1000+ books in their house!  Egads :D

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Sorry, no change from last week :(   I should finish off A Short History of Nearly Everything by next Monday, then I'll be starting my re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Have a great reading week!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Blog Hop!

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.
For this week only, the hop is being hosted by Lori @ Lori's Reading Corner.

This week's question is:

Who is the one author that you are dying to meet?

Just one?!? :(   This ought to be a Top 10 Tuesday topic (or maybe it already has been one?).  If I had to choose just one, I would love to meet Stephen King, probably because I've read so many of his books and he seems very down-to-earth from the forwards he writes in some editions of his books.  It would be great to talk shop with him :)

This is too fun a topic to just stop here's a top 10 list:

1)  Stephen King
2)  Audrey Niffenegger
3)  J.K. Rowling
4)  Margaret Atwood
5)  John Irving
6)  Anna Quindlen
7)  Jane Hamilton
8)  Barbara Kingsolver
9)  Khaled Hosseini
10)  Mark Haddon

Have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1999
Pages:  317
ISBN:  1551924781
Genre:  Series (Harry Potter, book #3)

Start Date:  May 30, 2011
Finished Date:  June 6, 2011 (7 days)

Where Found:  Birthday gift (the first 4 books)
Why Read:  Re-reading for fun & to finish off the series

Summary:  In his 3rd year at Hogwarts, Harry is threatened by the escaped convict Sirius Black, a former follower of Voldemort, while discovering more secrets about his parents' past.


I had forgotten how much darker this book is than the first two in the Harry Potter series.  Murder, capital punishment...but then there's a flying griffin, a secret passage to a candy store, mysterious happenings with Hermione, and a nail-biting Quidditch championship to lighten the load.

From the beginning, I could remember why this book was not my favourite of the three.  It does take some time to get the plot rolling, then at about the time where *spoiler* (highlight here:  the Fat Lady portrait gets slashed), the story breezes on to a fantastic finish, more than making up for what seemed to me to be a bit of a sluggish start.  Then again, everything prior to the spoiler incident above was intentional and comes into play later on.  So maybe it was just me & my impatience :)

What I loved most about book #3, and forgive the cliche, is the thickening of the plot.  There is much more risk and even greater reward.  The chapter covering the Quidditch match was written with great excitement and was exhilarating to read.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione are getting a little more mature with age, a little less trusting (at least immediately) of new faces at Hogwarts given their past encounters, and even more secrets of the school & Harry's parents come to light.

So far, 3 down, 4 to go with the series.  I haven't read The Goblet of Fire before, so I can't wait to dive into it as many bloggers count it among their favourites of the series.  I would count Prisoner of Azkaban as my 2nd favourite so far.  It was better than The Chamber of Secrets but still doesn't have the same effect for me as The Philosopher's Stone.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

This would have been a post identical to last week; however I finished Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban this morning.  Yay!  Now I can focus on my Bill Bryson challenge book.

Read This Week:  (1)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling (HP series, book #3)--review coming soon

Currently Reading:  (2)
A Short History of Nearly Everything- Bill Bryson
My Life- Bill Clinton

Next to Read:
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

Other Reviews:
Night Shift- Stephen King

Have a great reading week :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Hop!

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.

This week's topic is:

Share your favorite post from the last month and tell us why it’s close to your heart!

I haven't participated in the hop for quite some time but I must be in a hoppin' good mood :D  It's hard to choose a favourite post, but I will choose my review of Night Shift by Stephen King, because I loved the opportunity to write small reviews of the short stories.  It was actually harder to write than a review of a single novel but I enjoyed it equally.

Have a wonderful weekend!  The weather here has been awesome & let's hope it stays this way for a while...or all summer will do :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

TBR Alphabet

I spotted this exercise over @ Sarcastic Female Literary Circle.  I won't be turning this into a challenge (I mean, other than what it already is!), but I'll try to come up with an author for each letter (the first letter of their last name) and at least 1 title for each.  Here goes...

Atwood, Margaret- Oryx & Crake, Year of the Flood, Blind Assassin...
Blume, Judy- Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Summer Sisters
Capote, Truman- Breakfast at Tiffany's, In Cold Blood
Dickens, Charles- A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Pickwick Papers
Eliot, George- Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner
Faulkner, William- The Sound and the Fury
Gould, Stephen Jay- The Stones of Marrakech
Hemingway, Ernest- The Old Man & the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises
Ishiguro, Kazuo- Never Let Me Go
James, Henry- The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, Wings of the Dove
King, Stephen- It, Cujo, Bag of Bones, Christine, 'Salem's Lot...
Lawrence, D.H.- Lady Chatterley's Lover, Sons & Lovers, Women in Love
McMurtry, Larry- Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show
Nin, Anais- Henry & June
Ondaatje, Michael- Anil's Ghost, The English Patient
Pynchon, Thomas- Gravity's Rainbow
Qunidlen, Anna- Blessings, Black & Blue, Every Last One...
Rushdie, Salman- Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses
Steinbeck, John- East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice & Men
Tolkien, J.R.R.- The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings series
Updike, John- The Witches of Eastwick
Verne, Jules- 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Wells, H.G.- The Invisible Man, Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds
Y??--the closest one I have is Yann Martel- Life of Pi
Zusak, Markus- The Book Thief

Lil' Book Survey

I found this over @ Sarah Says.  I like these quick book surveys.  Here goes...

Book next to your bed right now: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, My Life by Bill Clinton, a poetry anthology by John Lithgow, and a book published by AFI about movies (can't remember the title).

Favorite series: Harry Potter...I know, I'm a cop-out :D

Favorite book: ONE?!?  Under pressure, I'd probably say Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  Or The Green Mile by Stephen King.  Or...

The one book you would have with you if stranded on a desert island: Probably the Harry Potter series for entertainment value (hopefully they come all in one book!), or The Firm by John Grisham, because I could re-read that book for infinity, it's so interesting.

Book/series you would take with you on a long flight: An epic-length book I've never read, maybe Gone With the Wind.

Worst book you were made to read in school: I really didn't care for Animal Farm or Macbeth, both read in 11th grade and both taught by a student teacher I couldn't stand.  I probably didn't like the books because of the teacher, so maybe I should give them another chance.

Book that everyone should be made to read in school: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (borrowing from Sarah here--brilliant choice), The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein...

Book that everyone should read, period: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, K-PAX by Gene Brewer, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Favorite character: Not to be too repetitive, but Anne Shirley is hands-down my favourite literary character. 

Best villian: Nobody quite lives up to Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.  Some come very close: Voldemort in Harry Potter, Annie Wilkes in Misery by Stephen King, Pinky in Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, August in Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey...

Favorite invented world: Technically, all fictional settings are invented worlds, but I think the idea is to name a fantasy world.  I would say Hogwarts in Harry Potter is a definite stand-out, but also Susie's version of heaven in The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold comes to mind.

Most beautifully written book:  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Atonement by Ian McEwan...

Funniest book:  Oh boy...Earth by Jon Stewart & the staff at The Daily Show was hilarious.  Also very funny: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda, This Time Together by Carol Burnett, Last Words by George Carlin, Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, Marley & Me by John Grogan (also sad in parts but mostly chockful of hilarious antics).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Night Shift- Stephen King

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published: 1979
Pages: 326
ISBN: 9780451170118
Genre: Short Stories, Horror/Fantasy

Start Date: May 22, 2011
Finished Date: May 29, 2011

Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: It's no secret that I love Stephen King's books!

Read For: Stephen King Challenge (3/6)

I've split up my reviews into short segments, one for each of the 20 stories in the collection, then give an overall impression at the very bottom.

Jerusalem's Lot
Summary: A series of letters and diary entries from 1850 tells the story of a rich heir moving into a house with a sordid past and how he & his servant investigate the house's mysteries and noises.
Review: King gets the ball rolling (and starts a rat motif that occurs in a few stories) with this spooky period horror/mystery. The epistolary structure adds to the eerie atmosphere. A solid beginning.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

Graveyard Shift
Summary: A group of mill workers are assigned the task of cleaning up the basement when an enormous army of rats begins attacking.
Review: A chilling story with a potential hero and a nasty boss who cuts corners one too many times. When the rats attack, things get ugly. If you have a phobia, you might feel like skipping this one. It's nasty but King enthusiasts won't be able to resist.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

Night Surf
Summary: A group of teenagers come to terms with their dwindling existence on a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Review: I was a bit disappointed in this one. I found the characters too shallow and they showed some pretty disturbing behaviour. The plot falls flat and the only envitable thing that comes out of the story is the obvious fact that these people are doomed.
Rank:  (C)- Average

I Am the Doorway
Summary: A wheelchair-bound astronaut reflects to a friend on his failed mission to Venus and some ill-gotten effects from this trip.
Review: First of all, it's an awesome, intriguing title. The story builds up from the instigating incident to an amazing end. It wasn't as terrifying as the first two stories were but it really hit home at the end.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

The Mangler
Summary: A cop investigates a series of brutal attacks at a laundromat by a maniacal, possessed ironing machine.
Review: If the summary doesn't sound cheesy to you, think again. It really is. It was farfetched, even for a fantasy/horror story. And despite pushing all that aside, it still didn't sit well with me. And the ending seemed like a cheap cop-out. Oh well.
Rank:  (C)- Average

The Boogeyman
Summary: A man receiving therapy after the deaths of his three children confides in his psychiatrist that they died from a Boogeyman hiding in their bedroom closets.
Review: This story had a great turn of events on the classic "Boogeyman" figure of childhood terrors. The circumstances of the children's deaths are frightening and leave you guessing right up to the twist ending.
Rank:  (B)- Very Good

Gray Matter
Summary: The young son of an alcoholic who becomes housebound and vegetative seeks help at the local tavern when he finds his father has transformed into a spider.
Review: A slimey creepfest. The description of the spider's ooze alone is enough to make your skin crawl. Fans will enjoy it. Any arachnophobics may want to stay clear ;)
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

Summary: A mild-mannered hitman fights for his life from a Vietnam-era footlocker full of toy soldiers with live ammo.
Review: Awesome! This was my favourite story of the anthology. It was quick-paced, fun, exciting, and has all the qualities of a great, smart action movie. Turns out it was adapted into an episode of a fascinating TV mini-series based on Stephen King short stories, Nightmares & Dreamscapes.
Rank:  (A+)- Fantastic

Summary: A group of strangers at a deserted truck stop diner fend off attacking trucks that demand refuelling or every vehicle on Earth will take over.
Review: This reminded me of Legion, an awful horror/action movie I saw a while back that took place at a diner in the middle of nowhere when things attack. This story was much better. The idea that technology is taking over humans in the chain of existence on Earth is tested in an action setting. It blends a little fun with a lot of scares.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

Sometimes They Come Back
Summary: A high school teacher is haunted by three new students replacing three dead ones who remind him of childhood bullies who killed his brother.
Review: A strong plot with a sympathetic protagonist (not really a hero but close) and what appears to be paranoia and hallucination becomes something much more terrifying. A solid story.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

Strawberry Spring
Summary: A serial killer at a college campus during a foggy "Strawberry Spring" season is recurring in the present.
Review:  Predictable ending and not a lot of detail to this story. Somewhat of a bummer.
Rank:  (C)- Average

The Ledge
Summary: A man having an affair with a crime boss's wife partakes in a bet that involves him navigating the perimeter of a building's upper floor along a 5-inch wide ledge.
Review: Fascinating idea for a story though it's a bit limited on details. I would have loved to see this extended into a novel with more backstory on the characters and the circumstances they have gotten into in
The Ledge. Nevertheless, as short a story as it is, it's enjoyable and has bite.
Rank:  (B)- Very Good

The Lawnmower Man
Summary:  A man hires a mowing company to cut his grass but is shocked to find out just how the job is done.
Review:  The title character is just revolting but the story works very well in just a few short pages. It was better than The Mangler, which was longer and less effective, though it had more detail. I guess it depends on what you prefer from a short story. It was even funny in parts. The only thing that bothered me was the ending which had no hints about what became of the Lawnmower Man or gave any backstory. But still, it's a good addition to the freakshows of Night Shift.
Rank:  (B)- Very Good

Quitters, Inc.
Summary: After a recommendation from an old friend, a man goes to an agency to quit smoking, only to learn that their methods of curing his addiction are quite disturbing.
Review: A deliciously dark tale with many twists and quite a take on stop-smoking aids. It sure packs a wallop. Next to Battleground, it was the best story in the bunch.
Rank:  (A+)- Terrific

I Know What You Need
Summary: A college girl reluctantly falls for an unusual young man with a highly acute photographic memory.
Review: Great buildup with an end that I didn't see coming. I didn't have much sympathy for the girl as she didn't come across as very likeable to me, but the story wouldn't have worked otherwise. The story's structure was pitch perfect with every detail in place.
Rank:  (B)- Good

Children of the Corn
Summary: A couple who accidentally run over a child in a seemingly deserted corn farming town are soon haunted by a number of evangelical otherwordly children.
Review: Of all the titles in Night Shift, I bet this one is the most familiar to you. It was to me too, though I wouldn't categorize it as the best story. It felt a bit incomplete as I was really hoping to see a more extensive ending. As it is, the story is tres creepy as King tends to be when dealing with crude evangelist characters in a middle-of-nowhere setting. This story alone would keep me out of a cornfield.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

The Last Rung on the Ladder
Summary: A man struggling to communicate with his father reflects on the summer his sister nearly died from falling off a broken ladder on a hayloft.
Review: This was the most heartrending story in Night Shift. It felt so innocent, then startling, then distressing and finally solemn. You definitely come to care about all the characters involved. It reminded me of King's stories that don't feature an obvious villain but have eerie undertones from the actions good characters get involved in, such as Stand By Me.
Rank:  (A)- Excellent

The Man Who Loved Flowers
Summary: A man who buys a bouquet of flowers catches everyone's eye as he wanders the streets alone amid the various goings-on in the neighbourhood.
Review: Short, sharp, and unexpected. I can't say much more than that without spoiling it. It's like a photo or painting with one abstract part to it that you're not too sure fits with the rest.
Rank:  (B)- Good

One For the Road
Summary: A stranger wanders into a tavern during a blizzard, seeking help to save his wife and daughter who are trapped in the area surrounding haunted Jerusalem's Lot.
Review:  After reading "Jerusalem's Lot," you get a better perspective on exactly what haunts the area in this follow-up story (though with completely different characters).  It had a taste of old-fashioned storytelling to it, though it took place in the recognizable present.  It doesn't disappoint but it doesn't stand out either.
Rank:  (B)- Good

The Woman in the Room
Summary:  A man contemplates assisting his mother, who is dying of cancer, to die.
Review:  The story concept was terrific and the characters are interesting, but I found what bogged it down was the description, which tended to drag on and slowed the pace down.  All in all, not very much happens in this story but the one event that occurs is powerful enough to make it memorable.
Rank:  (B)- Good

To wrap it up, Night Shift is worth reading for two amazing stories, Battleground and Quitters, Inc., a few excellent tales, such as Trucks, Sometimes They Come Back, Children of the Corn, Jerusalem's Lot, and The Last Rung on the Ladder, and even some decent stories, such as The Boogeyman and The Ledge.  While far from perfect and, in my opinion, not as powerful or well-crafted as his collection of novellas, Different Seasons, King does as much as he can with as little space as he can, creating terrrifying snippets of fantastical horror in a few short pages at a time.

It's hard to read some stories back-to-back as they are very different from each other.  I found it effective to read a story, then put the book down, even for just 10 minutes, to reflect on the story, then open yourself to a new one.  It was much too difficult to digest them by reading many in quick succession like you would with another of Stephen King's pageturners.

Overall:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend