There are plenty of drawbacks to being a kid; check it out. Zits, the agony of choosing the right clothes to wear to school so you don’t get laughed at, and the mystery of girls are only three of them.
While it may be part of the Hard Case Crime series, Stephen King’s narrator Jamie keeps reminding us that it’s really a horror story.
Take Jamie at his word.
Jamie sees dead people — not like the kid in The Sixth Sense mind you. In Jamie’s case most of the people he sees know they’re dead and gradually begin to fade away. Jamie’s has this gift since he was a young boy, using it to help a woman tell her husband where to find her misplaced jewelry and talking to the spirit of a dead author her mother works with to get the details on the final book in a best-selling series that the author died before finishing.
Those things may seem a bit tame in the world of ghost stories. But, again, Jamie keeps reminding us that bad things happen Later. Continue reading
Throwback Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Tenacious Reader to highlight books from the past. It can honestly be anything as long as its not a book that is a current release. Maybe its a book that I read and reviewed and just want to highlight, maybe its a book I read before I started reviewing or maybe its a book that has a sequel coming out soon or maybe its a backlist book from my TBR that I just want to revisit and decide if I will make the time to read. Pretty much, anything goes.
I “discovered” Stephen King in my teens, starting with Firestarter. While that one didn’t do much for me, I quickly moved onto Cujo and that one scared the fool out of me. From that point onward, I was hooked and I’ve been an avid fan of King ever since.
Somewhere along the way, I read Pet Sematary. Like Cujo, it unnerved me while reading it and parts of it have stuck with me to this day. I think King has never tapped into fear more than in the scene when Louis tries to keep his toddler son, Gage, from running into the road. It unnerved me then and it unnerves me today.
I’m re-reading the book via audiobook and finding that it’s still as intense and riveting as when I first read it. I just got to the sequence in question when Gage dies and it’s still unnerving as all get out. And I’ll admit that part of me finds irony in the fact that a lot of my listening is during runs, pushing Shortcake in her stroller. We run on the sidewalk on a busy road and I’m a bit worried at times when I can see the large percentage of people paying more attention to their cellular devices than watching the road.
In his new introduction to the book, King admits that this novel is one that scares even him and that he wasn’t planning to publish it. But he had to fulfill a contract and so he took it out of his desk drawer and published it.
I’ve seen the original movie version and, quite frankly, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the novel did. I’m intrigued to see the new movie, even though they made some changes, and see if it can capture the blood-chilling nature of the book. I’ve seen articles that call the book unfilmable and I have to admit part of me thinks this may be true.
Scott Carey is mysteriously dropping weight. Despite no changes to his diet or lifestyle, the number on the scale is slowly decreasing. And what at first seemed like a good thing, despite the fact that his outward appearance isn’t changing to coincide with his weight loss, Scott is slowly becoming worried about what might happen if he continues to waste away.
But before he does, Scott has decided he’s going to accomplish a few things in the small town of Castle Rock. One of those is befriending and helping the lesbian couple that moved in a few doors down from his house and who recently opened a Mexican restaurant.
Stephen King’s novella Elevation doesn’t have King pulling any punches or hiding his feelings on the current day political climate in our country. Several digs at the current administration are present, making this reader wonder if and how well this story will age. Odds are it not age as well, which is a shame because when King isn’t scoring a few political points, Elevation is a taunt story that unfolds nicely over its 200 or so pages. It’s not vintage King and it’s not the best thing he’s published this year (that goes to The Outsider), but it’s still a story that explores one of King’s favorite themes — how do ordinary people act and react when extraordinary things happen to them.
Cultivated by Stephen King and Bev Vincent, this collection of seventeen stories about the horrors of flying is hit or miss.
The main selling point for the collection are new offerings from King and his son, Joe Hill. Reading the stories, the Hill story about a plane in the air when nuclear war erupts is chilling and utterly effective. It also sent shivers down my spine at how well it tied into my reading of Robert McCammon’s “Swan Song” around the same time. King’s offering is enjoyable enough but wasn’t one of my favorite stories from this collection. It’s a forgettable piece about the people on planes who are there to deal with turbulence. It’s an interesting little idea and a hook for the story, but it still doesn’t quite sent shivers up the spine like Hill’s does.
As for the rest of the collection, it’s also hit or miss. Of course, it’s really kind of unfair to the collection that it includes what many (including King) consider one of the definitive scary flying stories in Richard Matheson’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” Once you’ve read that one, it’s all downhill from there, but that could be my Matheson bias showing through. (He’s one of the best short story writers in this reviewer’s estimation).
But as with all good short story collections, the good news is if the story you’re reading or just read isn’t quite your style, there’s another one or two coming to try. And King’s introductions to each story are nicely done. I did find a couple of new authors that I may want to read more of in the near future. So, that can’t really be all that bad a thing, right?
Earlier this week, news broke that Amazon will be adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels as a multi-season television series. Hearing this news, I couldn’t help but wish that Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series could get that epic treatment instead.
Lord of the Rings has a well-done, much-loved pop culture adaptation of the original source material*. The Dark Tower novels don’t. Even with this year’s long-awaited big-screen adaptation.
*And yes, I know they left out some of the most beloved characters and combined some character arcs. But honestly, I think the movies are better off for it! Continue reading
Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they’ve encountered during the week, etc.).
- Finished a short story in Hugh Howley’s new collection, Machine Learning, in which a Roomba helps bring about the end of civilization as we know it. The story itself is pure and total genius and makes me wish I’d thought of it!
- In honor of Halloween, I’m listened to the new audio version of The Dead Zone. And reminded again of just how much I love Stephen King when he’s at the top of his game.
- Also reading Sleeping Beauties, King’s collaboration with his son Owen. I’m far enough into the book now that I am just enjoying the story and not looking for signs of who wrote which section.
- Free comic books on Saturday! Our library participates, so we plan to drop by with Shortcake Saturday morning.
- Was sad to hear of the death of Robert Guillaume earlier this week. I have fond memories of my dad letting me stay up with him to watch Benson on Tuesday nights when my mom went to choir practice. I watched all the way to the end and am still kind of sad we never found out how the final cliffhanger turned out. Benson was running against Governor Gatling to be the governor and just as the results came in, it said “To Be Continued.” Part of me always hoped we might get a reunion and find out someday. Guess that won’t be happening now.
- What does it say about me as a person that I judge all politicians by whether or not they measure up to Governor Gatling? He had a story for EVERY occasion.
- So, Tennessee’s best player on offense got busted for possession and is suspended for this weekend’s game against Kentucky. I foresee mocking texts from my cousins who pull for UK headed my way late Saturday evening.
- It’s getting to that point in the television season when I have to decide what stays in my watching rotation and what goes. I’ve got a couple of things stacking up on the DVR and trying to get to them isn’t always easy. That said, I’m catching up on The Good Place, which has been even better in season two (if you didn’t watch season one, go and watch it now while avoiding SPOILER) and I’m caught up on Star Trek: Discovery and Impractical Jokers.
- Can we talk about The Big Bang Theory for a minute? I still watch because my wife enjoys it, but I’ve got to say my enjoyment is rapidly dropping. I’ve noticed a pattern in long-running Chuck Lorre shows. The first few seasons have the characters digging at each other, but there’s still a heart to it and I feel like these people care about each other. Now, I just feel like it’s people yelling and being so hateful to each other that I question why they’d hang out at all any more. Anyone else feel like this or is it just me?
As we get over the mid-week hump, it’s time for Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine). This meme asks us which book on the horizon we’re looking forward to reading.
This week, it’s a collaboration between one of my favorite authors and his son. Continue reading
Gwendy’s Button Box feels like an homage to Richard Matheson’s superlative short-story “The Box” (which if you haven’t read yet, please add it to your summer reading list!).
Young Gwendy Patterson is running the town’s Suicide Stairs in the summer of 1974 in an attempt to leave her derogatory nickname behind when she enters middle school that fall. She meets a mysterious man in black who offers her a box with buttons. One button will give her a chocolate treat that will help curb her appetite. Another dispenses silver dollars and the others come with warnings that they shouldn’t be pushed except under extreme circumstances. Continue reading
Time again for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish). This week’s theme is a “summer freebie” so I’m going to make a list of the books I hope to read this summer. (We just signed up for our library’s summer reading program yesterday and I’m ready to go!)
- Lockdown by Laurie R. King
- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
- Bad Girl Gone by Temple Matthews
- Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente
- Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss
- Vicious by V.E. Schwaub
- Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles
- It by Stephen King (re-read)
- The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
That should keep me busy this summer! And, of course, there will be reading to Shortcake so she can get prizes too!
When Stephen King tweets out that a book scared him, it immediately rockets to the top of my to-be-read pile. I love a good scare — and Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts is just that.
The Barrett family seem like the typical, all-American family. That is until their fourteen year-old-daughter begins exhibiting signs of a potential possession. As questions of whether or not this is a mental-illness or a possession by a demon begin to mount, the family resorts to desperate measures — not only conducting an exorcism but also allowing cameras into the house to record the events leading up to it and the exorcism itself.
The only survivor of these events is Merry, who years later reflects on the events and her role in them with a series of interviews.
From the beginning, we know there is some horrible secret hanging over the Barrett family. And Tremblay builds a palpable sense of dread as the story continues to unfold, all the while making us question the nature of reality — from reality television shows that are edited to tell the best story to just what exactly is going on with the Barrett family. There were times that the sense of dread at what was going to happen on the next page reminded me of my first reading of Stephen King’s Cujo in my teenage years.
And yet for all the building dread and horror, A Head Full of Ghosts is keenly aware of its place within the horror pantheon. Referencing multiple horror movies and tropes, the novel breaks them down and builds them up again to give the reader a bit of gallows humor all while ratcheting the feeling of dread up a few points higher.
It all leads to a final act that is among the more memorable and unsettling I’ve read in quite a while. I can see why this novel scared Stephen King because it certainly left me feeling scared and unsettled.
And yet it’s a book that I wholeheartedly recommend — as long as you’re not faint of heart. It’s compelling, horrifying and utterly readable. Simply put — one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.