Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Book Reviews: Edgewise

by Graham Masterton

I picked up this novel from the stacks of unread books in my library. Like Richard Laymon, Masterton can be perverse but there was little of this here. Edgewise is a thriller novel based on the North American Indigenous legend of the Wendigo. 

The Wendigo is a forest spirit that possesses people and causes them to commit acts of violence and cannibalism, is created or summoned when people do evil all on their own, or that simply roams the forest eating people because it's cursed with never ending hunger. 
Stories and details differ. 

Although this is an older novel, having been released in 2007, it captures some of the fraught relations between men and women today, especially regarding divorce and resulting child custody battles. Lily Blake is a Minnesota realtor who has completed a divorce from her less successful husband Jeff, who saw his once promising IT career crater while Lily earned more than three times his salary. 

According to Lily, wimpy Jeff couldn't handle her awesomeness which is why he's her ex. But apparently Jeff has gone over the deep end. Some seriously twisted hateful men who say they're from FLAME (Father's League Against Mothers' Evil) invade Lily's home, kidnap her young children Tasha and Sammy, and attempt to kill her.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Book Reviews: Gangland

by Chuck Hogan
Historically New York City had five separate Italian-American criminal organizations, or "Families" that were arguably the nation's most powerful Mafia collective. The only Mafia organization that could match or rival the NYC Families was the Capone descended Chicago Outfit. 

Anthony Accardo, a Capone protege, driver, bodyguard, and business associate, was the Outfit's longest serving overlord. Capone called Accardo "Joe Batters" because of his prowess with a baseball bat. Accardo rose quickly to leadership, combining brainy business acumen with violence. 

Accardo and his older but equally homicidal buddy Paul Ricca shared power as the Outfit's effective CEO and Chairman. No one called Accardo "Joe Batters" to his face. Close friends could call him "Joe". Everyone else called him "Mr. Accardo" or "The Man".

Later in life, Ricca and Accardo ceded authority over daily operations to other gangsters. Despite their "semi-retired" status, no hoodlum who liked living ever challenged or defied Accardo or Ricca. Outfit Boss Sam Giancana, himself a brutal killer, learned this the hard way in 1975, when he was murdered in his home. The slaying was unsolved.

Gangland starts with the Giancana murder. A low level Outfit hoodlum, Nicholas "Nicky Pins" Passero, (so-called because of his bowling alley ownership) killed Giancana on Accardo's orders. Accardo likes and seemingly trusts Nicky. Accardo gives Nicky special off the record jobs.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Book Reviews: 24/7 Demon Mart: The Graveyard Shift

24/7 Demon Mart: The Graveyard Shift
by D.M. Guay
This book is the first in a series. It's similar to books like Monster or Monster Hunter International

Imagine yourself thrown into a world where things go bump in the night, the supernatural is real, and what's surreal for anyone else is just a normal day at the office for those in the know. 

The story includes absurdist and gross out humor for which YMMV. The book reminded me of 80s era straight to video B horror movies that are best watched late night or on Saturday afternoons. 

This is an acquired taste. I liked it but I won't claim that this was deep reading. It's not. I never thought that the author was aiming for that. The story is written in first person from the viewpoint of a young male slacker/loser. 

The author is a female (Denise Marie Guay) non-loser who also writes young adult paranormal romance books. It was interesting to see how well the author wrote men. With some notable exceptions the male characters' motivations and emotions were believable.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Book Reviews: 2034-A Novel Of The Next World War

2034-A Novel Of The Next World War
by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis
Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi, recently led a delegation of US politicians to Taiwan. China, which views Taiwan as a rebel province in need of forcible reunification, lost its collective s***. 

China issued many poorly worded ridiculous sounding threats (that I must assume sounded more menacing in Mandarin instead of the bad Bond movie villain speak that the English translations invoked) against Representative Pelosi in particular and the US in general. 

One official government Chinese paper (not that the Chinese have independent media) suggested that China should shoot down Pelosi's flight. 

When Pelosi completed her trip the Chinese threw a more dangerous temper tantrum, putting in a near blockade of Taiwan and holding multiple days of live fire exercises that involved lobbing missiles over Taiwan and into Japanese territorial waters.

China also reduced communications with the US, sanctioned Pelosi and her associates, and issued ominous statements about how upset they were and that real soon people (read the US) would regret messing with them. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Book Reviews: Bad People

Bad People
written by Jeremy Bates
Because paid work has become more demanding, I haven't been able to do much reading. I want to change that. I hope to read at least three or four new books a month. Lacking the time 
to sit down and enjoy say, something the size of War and Peace , I chose a collection of short stories, or as the author describes them, short novels. 

Collections of shorter works don't take much time to finish. If you read a bad story,  you can find a good story in a few pages. The author has less time to go on and on; he must quickly grab your attention and keep it. The author must put up or shut up.

Jeremy Bates is talented. There aren't many authors who can rework 2500 year old stories into modern thriller tales so skillfully that you're halfway done with the story before realizing what happened.

These are thriller tales with some explicit sex and violence. There are no ghosts, ghouls, vampires, or other supernatural entities. Bad People is about well, bad people--though who the bad guy is may not always be obvious. There are four short novels.

"The Mailman":
In 1985 Mick Freeman is a Los Angeles record executive who is searching for the next big rock band. Mick thinks he's found them in The Tempests, a drug addled group that reeks of danger. Unknown to Mick, his wife Jade has become bored. Mick doesn't make her motor run any more. Jade is a housewife. When the new twenty year younger handsome mailman Ronnie makes a move, Jade reciprocates. Complications arise.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Book Reviews: Everything Has Teeth

Everything Has Teeth
by Jeff Strand

Do you like horror stories? What kind? What is the point of a horror story? 
Is it to give you chills? Should it make you think about society's various "isms". Is it to make you laugh? 

Or should a good horror tale disgust you? 
Should it make you run to the porcelain throne and lose your lunch? Should it make you wonder about the probity or mental stability of the author? 

Is a good horror story something that you hide from friends or family members lest they think that you are morally bent?

Is a good horror story something that makes you feel guilty for having read it? 
Is a good horror story something that makes you want to see the author and his/her publisher hauled before Congressional Committees for televised denouncement? 

Or is a good horror story something that makes you keep the lights on a little later than normal or jump at some unexplained nighttime creak on the stairs or scratch at the window? Jeff Strand is a writer who is able to evoke all of the above responses in the reader. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Book Reviews: The Figure In The Shadows

The Figure In The Shadows
by John Bellairs
This is a sequel to Bellairs YA novel The House With A Clock In Its Walls, reviewed earlier here. As with the earlier book this is written for children's benefit while still having hints of issues and challenges that will resonate more with adults. 
Because this was a short book at about 150 pages I thought it would be fun to do a quick reread over the winter break and see if it still held up to my childhood impression of it. It did. 
Bellairs anticipated some of the current controversies over gender roles and how nature and nurture shape people.
And just for good measure there's something of a subtle shoutout to Tolkien and even Lovecraft. 
The story's protagonist is once again Lewis Barnavelt, who as in the first story, is an overweight shy boy with a very strong sense of cowardice (polite people would call it self-preservation). An orphan, Lewis lives with his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt. Jonathan's next door neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman, with whom Jonathan may or may not have a thang going on, also looks after Lewis. Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman are each powerful magicians, though Mrs. Zimmerman is more skilled.
Lewis has a new friend, Rose Rita Pottinger. 
Rose Rita and Lewis share interests. Rose Rita is in the same grade as Lewis despite being a year older. Rose Rita is a tomboy who never willingly wears skirts and blouses. Rose Rita enjoys rough and tumble sports and doing other activities that are socially unacceptable for girls. Rose Rita even considers getting a crew cut so she can fight without anyone pulling her hair.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Book Reviews: The Hungry Earth

The Hungry Earth
by Nicholas Kaufmann
The Hungry Earth
is a new thriller/body horror novel written by Nicholas Kaufmann whose work was previously reviewed here and here. As I get older I wonder if some of the fascination I or other readers feel with body horror novels isn't at least in some part driven by fear of aging and the inevitable body changes that occur. 
The driving force in most body horror stories is that the human has been infected by or taken over by something that sees humans as merely a vessel for propagation.  
And there's not a damn thing the human can do about it. Humans have a number of other living creatures in us or on us using us for food or to obtain food. Some of these parasites are beneficial to us. These include our mitochondria. Others are neutral like the mites that live in our pores, eat our dead skin and oil secretions, and have massive orgies on our faces while we sleep. 
Other organisms are negative or downright malignant, like tapeworms, roundworms, candidiasis, guinea worms, bedbugs, plasmodium, and several other entities. 
What is scary about these creatures is that they seek to rewire and rework our bodies for their benefit, not ours. They can also substitute their desire and "intellect" for our own. 
This last is most often seen in species besides humans but there's no real reason a human couldn't react just like an infected mouse or ant and seek to spread the parasitical infection at the cost of his own wellbeing or life.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Book Reviews: Ride or Die

Ride or Die
by James Newman
Do you remember where you were or how old you were when you first realized that your parents weren't perfect? Or maybe one day you discovered that your parents' marriage wasn't everything you thought that it was. 
Maybe you saw or heard one or both of your parents do or say something that was just as wrong as two left shoes. Well by the time you're an adult these sorts of revelations are probably old news. 
Once you've been spinning around the planet for more than a few decades you have probably accepted, ruefully or otherwise, that most humans are mixtures of good and evil, most days somewhere between saints and sinners. After all as an experienced adult you've likely made your own share of mistakes or morally dubious decisions. 
And if you're a Christian are you not commanded to judge not lest you be judged and worry first about the beam in your own eye before criticizing the speck of dust in someone else's? Indeed so.
But children don't have the life time of experience or larger perspective needed to be sanguine about the moral failings of others, especially not those of their parents. Amelia Fletcher is a high school sophomore. Amelia's father is an insurance executive; her mother is a nurse.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Book Reviews: Dave vs. The Monsters: Resistance

Dave vs. The Monsters: Resistance
by John Birmingham
Often second books in a trilogy are a let down. Resistance is not a bad book, but the middle of stories are rarely are exciting as introductions or as satisfying as endings. To briefly recap the first book, parts of the United States and other places have been invaded by monstrous insectoid/ogrish looking creatures who have either lived in the planet's interior or are denizens of an alternate dimension that has intruded upon our own.
The aliens always reach our world by tunneling upwards. The aliens remember humanity as frightened scared cattle. We don't remember them at all, although they could be the inspiration for some old legends. 

Although most of these creatures are more than a match for a full grown man, their technology is at Dark Age levels. After the hero, Dave Hooper, defeats their champion, the aliens are massacred by human air weapons and ground artillery. The aliens have no words to express what is happening to them. 

The aliens are shocked at what they saw as treachery by Dave; the deal was that that particular alien army could return to the underworld without further bloodshed. The US military was not party to the deal that Dave made and wouldn't have lived up to it if it had been. Dave was initially upset about that.
In Resistance, Dave has gone Hollywood. Dave spends his time partying with Hollywood starlets, eating, drinking, and copulating with said starlets and other female members of the jet set.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Book Reviews: My Work Is Not Yet Done

My Work Is Not Yet Done
by Thomas Ligotti
I hadn't read anything by this Detroit born author though I heard good things about him. So I decided to read the 2002 titular short story/novella. It also comes packaged with two other short stories. This is probably a horror story but that's just an easy surface description. This is weird fiction. This work owes some debts to people like Poe, Dunsany, and Lovecraft but is not a pastiche or homage. 

Ligotti is a singular voice. I will read the story again to fully understand events and their meaning. The writing is very atmospheric. There is a very dream like aspect to the descriptions. Even before the obvious supernatural elements intrude upon the reader, the reader might wonder about what is real and what is in the protagonist's head.

The protagonist, one Frank Dominio, opens the story by saying he has always been afraid. This turns out to be integral to the story because Frank is a very unreliable narrator, whether from fear or other failings. Frank is not entirely a schmuck but he's close. I think that many people may recognize themselves and/or their co-workers in Ligotti's description of Frank and his work associates.

In my own experiences, I didn't immediately realize that in work environments, rivals and enemies don't often reveal their hand and attack you openly and honestly. Some do, but that is rare. More often it's the "accidental" exclusion from business lunches or after hours conclaves, supposed jokes that are always at your expense, the damming with faint praise, a grudging meets expectations review, or an assignment to a task or path that gets little respect and no upper management visibility that limit someone's rise on the corporate totem pole.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Book Reviews: Cold Storage

Cold Storage
by David Koepp

This story is just under 400 pages. It's by the screenwriter and director David Koepp, among other things the screenwriter for Jurassic Park, whose work was previously reviewed here and here. Cold Storage is your typical end of the world terror thriller. It imagines that after the Skylab crash in 1979 something else came back from outer space, something that views other living beings in the same way that we would view cattle. I like these sorts of stories in general so I was positively disposed toward the story. It uses just enough science to be believable to those of us who are not biologists, physicists, medical doctors, or other well trained in scientific discipline. I guess if you are interested in this sort of prose the book might be right up your alley:

"We sent up a hyperaggressive extremophile that is resistant to extreme heat and the vacuum of space, but sensitive to cold. The environment sent the organism into a dormant state, but it remained hyper-receptive. At that point, it must have picked up a hitchhiker. Maybe it was exposed to solar radiation. Maybe a spore penetrated the microfissures in the tank on re-entry. Either way, when the fungus returned to Earth, it was reawakened and found itself in a hot, safe, protein-rich, pro-growth environment. And something caused its higher level genetic structure to change."

In 1987 Roberto Diaz, a Pentagon bioterror expert, is called upon to investigate some unsettling issues in Western Australia. One co-worker dies and Diaz himself barely escapes with his life. A fungus that normally just attacks insects and grows slowly now has a taste for warm blooded creatures, can grow exponentially, and most ominously seems to have the ability to learn and evolve at record, maybe even exponential speeds. One co-worker dies and Diaz barely escapes with his life.  

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Book Reviews: A Dark History: The Kings and Queens of England

A Dark History: The Kings and Queens of England
by Brenda Ralph Lewis
This coffee table styled hardcover book details the histories of the English Royal Family, or rather the English Royal Families, from the 1066 Norman invasion to the present day. Human nature hasn't changed. It will be obvious upon reading this, not that he's ever denied it, just how much this history influenced the writer George R.R. Martin, as well as many other speculative fiction or historical fiction authors. 

Although we consider kinslaying as morally disgusting, when people are vying for power they often reject any standards. If your second cousin once removed gathers an army to support her claim that she's the rightful ruler, a recurring issue in England, you might find yourself doing shifty things. 

Some Kings and Queens refused to carry out the ultimate sanction against wayward relatives, often forgiving them, fining them, exiling them, or even imprisoning them instead. Other rulers, though, had no qualms about chopping heads at the first sign of problems, blood relative or not.

King Henry I, who was present at the "accidental" death of his older brother Rufus, cultivated a reputation as a hard unforgiving man. However, he liked his treasurer Herbert. So when the king discovered that Herbert had been involved in a plot against him, the King cancelled the normal punishment for treason: hanging, drawing, and quartering. In what the King considered to be an act of mercy, he instead ordered that Herbert be blinded and castrated. 

Nice guy, King Henry. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Book Reviews: Runaway

by Harlan Coben
Coben is a skilled creator of thrillers in which one event or piece of information changes the protagonist's life forever. This book took longer for me to finish than usual but that was no reflection on the author. It was because for the past few months I was working 80 hour weeks and didn't have the usual time for pleasure reading. 

This will be a shorter review than usual. It's difficult to write much about this book without giving away key plot elements and twists. 

Because I had to read this book in a somewhat disjointed fashion I didn't enjoy the book as much as I would have otherwise. Again, not the writer's fault. 

As mentioned, Coben's style is identifiable and familiar. I wouldn't call it formulaic per se as much as comfortable.  The reader knows what he or she is going to get in terms of the big picture if not all the details.

Have you ever been in a position where you try to help a family member or other loved one who doesn't want to be helped?  This can be frustrating. It can be especially irritating if your normal position in your family hierarchy has always included guiding, protecting, and assisting wayward or needy younger relatives.

Simon Greene is a financial advisor. His wife Ingrid is a pediatrician and former model. They're not quite  in the 1% but the couple does well for themselves. Simon and Ingrid have three children. Simon and Ingrid are estranged from their oldest daughter, the college aged Paige. Paige has dropped out of college. 

She's also become a junkie. Ingrid has refused to ever let Paige back in the family home. Paige is also a thief. Although everyone else in the family has given up on Paige, who may be homeless at this point, Simon refuses to do that. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Book Reviews: Lord High Executioner

Lord High Executioner
by Frank DiMatteo and Michael Benson
I've read other books by the author, a former gangster and friend and relative to other gangsters. This book is about the late Albert Anastasia aka The Volcano aka The Mad Hatter aka Lord High Executioner. Albert Anastasia was fellow gangster Lucky Luciano's favorite hit man, which when you consider the crews Lucky ran with is saying something. Anastasia was the prototypical scary man who makes other scary men tremble.

Anastasia liked killing. He was convicted of murder and sent to Death Row before his 21st birthday. 

As with the fictional Luca Brasi, older and more powerful hoodlums intervened to rescue Anastasia from his fate. For Anastasia it was apparently Lucky Luciano who "convinced" the District Attorney to set a new trial and eventually drop charges when witnesses changed their story or disappeared. So the volatile Anastasia demonstrated tremendous loyalty and respect for Luciano, even though the two men were technically in different organizations.

Anastasia rose through the Mob ranks, making a reputation for himself as a violent mob representative on the Brooklyn waterfront. He would later be the partial inspiration for the hoodlum portrayed in the Academy Award winning film On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando, Lee Cobb, Rod Steiger and Karl Malden.

When Luciano decided to eliminate his own boss, Joe Masseria, Anastasia was one of the men Luciano picked for that job. Everyone in the 1930s and 1940s underworld milieu knew of Anastasia's aptitude at such work, which is why together with similar homicidal maniac Lepke Buchalter, Anastasia oversaw the Mob enforcement group later known as Murder Inc. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Book Reviews: 'Vaders

by R. Patrick Gates
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic I was in the mood for reading some disaster stories. I decided to read this older book that for some reason I had never gotten around to perusing. Well. That was a big mistake. There are some long books where you can't wait to figure out what happens next. 

And when you finish you are impressed with the storytelling skill or the author's technical skills or how deep the characterization was or how well the author knew his or her subject matter. You want to read the next book by the author.

This wasn't that kind of book. Reading this 500 page book didn't evince any emotions in me other than increasing regret at wasting my time reading this tripe and a final snort of contempt when the author abruptly ended his story. 

He didn't even end it on a cliffhanger. It was as if he had reached the word count required by his editor or publisher and stopped writing right there. It's frustrating because I've read better work by this author.

Although obviously many sci-fi/horror movies require some suspension of disbelief, this story stretched my tolerance for that to its breaking point.

In many alien invasion/end of world apocalypse stories I prefer I see how multiple people across the world, or at least across the US face the horror. Some of them do better than others. Often, they all end up having a small piece of the solution, even if they don't know it. Maybe there's a scientist who has an idea but she can't find a functioning laboratory. 

Maybe that old doddering fellow in the corner just happens to be the deadliest gunman in the world. Maybe the racist will have to ask for help from one of THEM. Maybe the team badly needs a driver and the kid in the Tupac shirt can drive anything anywhere.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Reviews: Dave vs. The Monsters: Emergence

Dave vs The Monsters: Emergence
by John Birmingham
The most important thing in the first book of a series is that the reader is intrigued enough to read the second book in the series. I suppose that's another way of saying that the book must be good. Those aren't always the same thing though. 

There are some series where although the first book is good, the reader may not like where the book ends or may have decided that as far as s/he is concerned, the story is complete. So the reader sees no need to read further installments in the story.

I think that this story by John Birmingham hit the spot. It was quality on its own, but also left me interested in reading the next story. This is not a book that has a lot of deep plotting or fascinating characterization. 

Both of those things are actually pretty scarce, at least in this book. What makes this book move is the action. This book is ALL about the action. The book is just under 500 pages but I think I completed it in less than a week or so.

Dave Hooper is an engineering supervisor/safety manager on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He's smarter than he looks but is at heart a bit of an irresponsible jerk. He tries to be better but Dave usually does most of his thinking with his genitals.

A roughneck in every way, Dave is a man who, once he has a bonus of six months pay, will spend it all on high price prostitutes flown in from Nevada instead of his back child support. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Book Reviews: Dark Crusade, Darkness Weaves

Dark Crusade and Darkness Weaves
by Karl Edward Wagner
The late Karl Edward Wagner was an author, editor, publisher, poet and graphic novelist who originally trained as a psychiatrist. Wagner wrote fantasy, sci-fi, and horror stories. Wagner may have been best known for his Kane stories. These tales weren't always consistent in which world they were set. Generally it's a world that's not our own but occasionally Kane is shown in modern Earth. 

Kane, the allusion to the Biblical character is deliberate, is one of the first humans to exist. Kane claims that Adam was his father and Eve was his stepmother. Kane rebelled against the insane God who created humanity. Kane murdered his brother when that brother supported the deity.

The enraged God cursed Kane to wander the world, knowing neither age nor disease, until Kane succumbs to the violence he introduced. Kane has his own marks of evil: red hair, left handedness, and most notably disturbing cold blue eyes. Kane radiates violence and insanity to anyone who meets his gaze. Kane CAN be disabled and killed but it's very hard to do as he quickly heals from all but the most damaging wounds.

Kane is NOT a good guy. Kane doesn't experience the world as other humans do. Time and morality are meaningless to Kane. Kane staves off boredom and depression by using magic, technological knowledge, or violence to achieve temporary dominance. Kane is an anti-hero, a villain protagonist. 

Wagner makes him barely sympathetic by (a) creating worse antagonists and (b) having most of Kane's obviously immoral actions take place in the past. People remember evil sorcerers or pirates named Kane when they meet him before convincing themselves that the muscular man they see couldn't possibly be the man from the legends.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Book Reviews: The Mafia Hitman's Daughter

The Mafia Hitman's Daughter
by Linda Scarpa with Linda Rosencrance
Greg Scarpa was also known as The Grim Reaper, which probably tells you everything you need to know about his primary skill sets and value to the Profaci (later Colombo) Crime Family of which he was a ranking member. Scarpa boasted that he had stopped counting the number of people whom he had murdered after around fifty or so. 

Some accounts indicate that the number of murders he either committed personally (Scarpa was a hands on leader) or ordered could be somewhere between eighty and one hundred. The FBI employed Scarpa to intimidate and/or torture KKK members for information, something he boasted about to his family.

Somewhat surprisingly Scarpa had an unconventional home life. He married one woman and had four children with her. Sometime during that marriage Scarpa fell in love with another woman and had two children with her. However he didn't marry her. That woman, Linda Schiro, didn't want the stigma of having children outside of wedlock so she married (and cuckolded) another man. 

Cuckoldry became something of a recurring theme as Schiro later, with Scarpa's apparent enthusiastic support, took up with a delivery boy who would later become part of Scarpa's criminal network. Another book I read that focused on this family claimed that Scarpa would occasionally interrogate the younger man to ensure that he was properly satisfying Schiro. Hmm. 

Those must have been some rather uncomfortable conversations.

I guess the Mafia was not immune to changing sexual mores. I also guess that people who wanted to keep breathing did not needle Scarpa about his wife's behavior. You don't get a nickname like The Grim Reaper by letting people insult your common-law wife.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Reviews: Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures

Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures
by Walter Moers
There are some programming languages in which before you even begin the program you are required to list and define every variable that the program uses. Every last one. No exceptions. 

If you don't do this the program won't compile and can't be used. This can be slow and monotonous work but it also is a good way to idiot proof at least some programming work. 

In other programming languages the coder doesn't have to do anything as old fashioned as all that tedious listing and defining. He just calls the variable and defines it on the fly. In short he makes it up as he goes along. 

The book Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures would definitely fall into the 2nd category were it a programming language. It is a gloriously chaotic novel. 

It's only near the middle of the novel that the reader starts to realize (well smarter readers than I likely saw this much earlier) that for all of the insane breakneck pacing, interminable asides, farcical and fanciful creatures that pop up for seemingly no reason, and unrelenting silliness, that the author has pretty methodically followed the steps from the classic Hero's Journey, as popularized by Joseph Campbell. So I don't want to discuss the plot too much.
In a world like and unlike our own or perhaps it is our own world long long ago, there is a continent named Zamonia, which contains a bewildering number of non-human creatures, along with a few humans.  

A nameless puppy like creature who is the beloved pet of a kind family of dwarves discovers that he can walk on two legs and talk. Unfortunately, shortly after this discovery he and his entire family are captured by a nomadic group of mentally slow one eyed giants known as Demonocles, whose greatest pleasure involves eating other creatures alive, preferably kicking and screaming.