Outsider – Stephen King

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I feel like Stephen King just gets better and better. Which is a huge complement, because I already thought his books were amazing.

Outsider is Stephen King the latest novel in a long line of novels by the “Master of Horror”. I believe one of the reasons that Stephen King remains a master is because he writes about real fear. Yes, monsters are scary, but the scariest monsters are the ones that live next door to us. Our deepest fears are what he writes about it. I believe I have said this before, and it holds true for Outsider.

In this story we open with Detective Ralph Anderson arresting a popular teacher and coach, Terry Maitland at a little league game for the murder of a little boy. In the subsequent chapters, we get a look to why the cops arrested Terry and their compelling evidence of his guilt, and we see Terry’s counter evidence to his innocence. The cops, district attorney, lawyers and detectives are then forced to leave what is black and white and go into a shady gray area that none of them are ready to deal with.

This story is a gripping, page turning ride that leaves the reader, as always, wanting more.

I really enjoyed this book and encourage any Stephen King fan to read it.

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The Stand – Stephen King

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Full disclosure – this is one of my favorite books of all time. I remember the first time I read it, I was working at a telemarketing company and nights were slow. I know, the whole point was to make money and in order to do that you had to take phone calls but, lets just say I was a pretty poor sales person. I started reading this and it took me months to read it the first time. I felt that if I had to read “rundown boot heals” one more time I would scream. However, after getting use to Stephen King’s style, I can’t imagine (nor would I want to) a book of this epic magnitude to not include a few hundred descriptions of the same boot heals walking down those lonely summer roads.

The unabridged version of this book is really the only way to read it. I say this having never read the abridged version. I just can’t see how that version of this book (or any other abridged version of any book for that matter) can be worth your while. Stephen King has a forward in the unabridged edition that is quite comical in of itself. He implores the reader to read it before making the purchase. He wants you to know that this book isn’t a new book and the characters aren’t going to be doing anything different, but instead we would just get, more of the characters. More backstory on Trashcan Man and the rest. Again, my opinion here, the background to some of these characters is absolutely vital to the story. Yes, you can read the whole thing without learning more about Larry or Trashcan Man…but why would  you want to? Why wouldn’t you want to know the complexity of these characters? For at the end of the story you truly see how far each of them has come.

I have written papers about this book. No really I have. I won’t bore you, instead I will just give you my brief description and beg that anyone who loves Stephen King, mystery, fiction, intrigue, Post-Apocalyptic fiction, good/evil, or horror pick this one up and read it. The full version. No cutting corners.

The Stand takes place in 1990 when a government made super flu has been released and kills over 99% of the population in a matter of weeks. Havoc is unleashed, mass hysteria, looting, rioting, and your basic society breakdown ensue. The survivors are scattered all over the country, confused, scared, in shock and in great despair. With no idea or answer to the “what is next” ? question, they all starting having dreams that lead them to two opposing forces. One – a 108 year old black woman by the name of Mother Abigail, the other, a mysterious dark man that goes by the name Randal Flagg. The survivors band together and realize that the death, the hurt, and the blood shed, has only just begun.

It is an epic tale of good and evil, of survivors, of love and loss and of change (good and bad). It is a story that spans the entire country of America from Maine to Los Vegas. It has Stephen King’s optimism that people, for the most part are good, with his twisted little knife reminding us that some people are very bad.

I again – can’t even begin to say enough for this story except that you should read it. Read it and get lost in the stories within this story. Read and wonder if things would or could happen the way he describes. Or what you would do or wouldn’t do. Read it and wonder… and afterward say goodbye to the friends you made on page  3 as you close the book on page 1,153.

 

The Hunger – Alma Katsu

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This book was a suggestion from Stephen King who said:

I take most of Stephen King recommendations as if he personally handed me the book and said, “Go read this”.  Most of the time, I am not let down, as I feel that we have similar taste in fiction. This book was no exception.
I admit that I was a little leery when I picked it up from the library, since I requested it without having clue one what it would about. I opened book and peaked at the jacket to get some idea about the story I would soon be reading, and I was surprised to see that it would be about the Donner Party. A subject I knew about, but never had really read into much. The book jacket states: “A tense and gripping reimagining of one of America’s most haunting human disasters: the Donner Party with a supernatural twist”. Intrigued – I dove right in.
From the very first page right down to the last you are immersed in the lives and fates of the wagon train that headed out to seek a new life and fresh starts in the Summer of 1846. The author keeps true to a great deal of history while yes, spinning a supernatural reason as to why they resorted to cannibalism. Most people, after all, cannot imagine being so hungry that human flesh looks like a viable option. Having some other explanation for it makes the whole idea, easier to swallow. (see what I did there?!)
I think what I liked most about this book though is how well Alma tells it. Anyone could have taken a tragic story like the Donner’s and done anything with it, but she really brought these people back to life. I think that is the best way I can describe it. She brought these people back to life. I imagine that it was difficult to write because, aside from some journals and letters, we don’t know what they were thinking, why they were leaving, what they were hoping to find. So, to have these characters come to life on the page, having real thoughts and emotions and knowing that these people actually existed and died, is quite extraordinary. She really told a tale that was both informative in its history and entertaining in its fiction. A real gifted writer and one that I look forward to reading more of.
I think anyone who likes historical fiction, fiction, horror, mystery, supernatural or even honestly, anyone who enjoyed playing the Oregon Trail as kid might like this book.
Now it is your turn: What should I read? Mr. King hasn’t mentioned anything in awhile, and I am looking for ideas. If you have read my blog you know what kid of books I like!
Leave suggestions in the comments! Happy reading everyone!

Year One – Nora Roberts

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Warning – this is a series. I have no idea when the next book is coming out.

I like Nora Roberts because her books are easy to read, they don’t require a lot of thought on your part and you are able to just sit back and enjoy a story. After IT, I had to read some “Fluff”. My next novel is Origin by Dan Brown. 😮

Year One takes place after a plague – Doom – has wiped out nearly 70% of the planet. (reminded me a lot of the Stand by Stephen King). The plague spreads quickly and killed without mercy as these things tend to do. The survivors are made of up of humans and Uncanny’s. The humans are good or bad as are the Uncanny’s. The Uncanny’s are anyone who has special powers, Witches, Elves, Fairies…but there were dark Uncanny’s too, who use their power for evil instead of good. So now there is a hodgepodge of people and people with special abilities all trying to find some kind of life after all this horrible stuff happens.

The story circulates around Lana, Max and their unborn child as they try to find a settlement, find peace, find security. Of course, they soon learn, that security and peace, come at price and sometimes family is the scarier than all they have endured to date.

I liked this book, I think it was a good representation of a post-apocalyptic world. It wasn’t as detailed as some others, but for what it was it was well done. I look forward to the next books, but I am not losing my mind in anticipation.

IT – Stephen King

 

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This book took me over three months to complete. Okay two and half months. Frankly, I am almost gave up a few times. Once I got to the 500 page mark though I was determined to finish it, even if it took the rest of the year.

It isn’t that I don’t like big books, if it has less than 400 pages I usually won’t even pick it up. I love The Stand and that has 1,152 pages (unabridged version). IT has 1,138. So you see, it wasn’t the length of the book that made this hard to read. Of course, it wasn’t the writing either. I love Stephen King’s writing style and do not find him to be wordy. He mentions in a little note to the Constant Reader in the beginning of the Stand that he has been accused of being wordy: “for a writer who has been accused over and over again of having diarrhea of the word processor”  I, personally, do not believe he has that at all. His stories are rich, engaging and I can’t imagine the unabridged version of The Stand nor have I read it. So, neither the page count nor the writing put me off from this story. It was just difficult to read.  I found it might have been because I watched the movie when I younger so I have this image of John Ritter playing one of the characters and one scene where little Eddie says “This is battery acid you slime”. I recently saw the re-make, not bad as far I could tell, and so had a little of that in my head as well. I think what it really came down to was I just didn’t care. I didn’t care if Pennywise won, or the kids did, or if the whole town went up in flames. Again, by absolutely no fault of Stephen King. I did finish it though, and certain scenes will stick with me, little Georgie and his boat, seven scared kids wandering in the sewer system fighting something they can not comprehend, the idea that there are somethings in this world that go beyond all reason.

This book was published in 1986. The book goes back and forth between 1958 and 1984. The children are 11 in 1958 when Bill Denbrough’s little brother, Georgie, is murdered by a thing in the sewer. The adults chalk up the strange murders that happen to the kids as the work of a serial killer perhaps, or childhood accidents, perhaps they run away. Bill and his six friends, know otherwise. Once they start to learn about the thing that lives in the sewers and comes out every 20 or so years to feed before going to sleep again, the thing starts trying to scare them away. It becomes a mummy for Ben, a leaper for for Eddie, Georgie’s ghost for Bill, a werewolf for Richie, two drowned boys for Stan, a bathroom of blood for Beverly. They decide it is time to kill it, for their peace of mind and for all the dead children. Even though they think they have accomplished it, they make a blood oath to come back if it the events start happening again.

As adults, they have all forgotten Derry Maine. When they receive a phone call from a long lost friend reminding of the oath, they come back. This time to finish what they started.

I will say the movies don’t do the book justice at all. There is no way Hollywood could capture some of the images in the book, the concepts or the internal monologues.

IT has the themes that have become a part of what we expect from Stephen King, horror of course, forces of good and evil and what people do when faced with the choices. Friendship, love, human condition, childhood trauma. Above all it is the playing of fears, it is the unknown and the unthinkable. It makes you shudder and wonder when you wake up at three am and look in the mirror. You think to yourself…is it true? Do we all float?

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Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King and Owen King

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Imagine a world without women in it. At first, it may just sound weird. It may not seem like that big of a deal. After some thought though, the realization that woman are the only ones that can reproduce, are usually the primary care givers of small children and generally, whether it is unspoken or not, organizers of the households. For any length of time, the lack of women in the world would make a very chaotic world. Now imagine, that instead of disappearing, the woman are all asleep, wrapped up in cocoons. When they are disturbed they turn violent and harm the person who disturbed them before going back into their cocooned sleep. This is the world that Stephen King and his son Owen King have created in Sleeping Beauties. 

The story takes place in a small town where, there is one woman who seems to be able to fall asleep and wake up without turning into a cocoon. Stephen and Owen weave a tale that sounds very believable while still being a fantastic fantasy. They create characters that are both lovable and despicable. They create unlikely connections within these characters and show how quickly things can go from weird to Armageddon. As usual, with Stephen King’s work, you are often left wondering, what would you do in this situation? How would your react? Who do you feel is right? Who is wrong? Or is anyone right or wrong?  And what would happen if it had been the other way around? What would happen if all the men disappeared?

This is a wonderful, deeply intricate tale of a world that could be if all woman somehow just ceased to exist and what that would may look like if all hope was balanced on one person. Or even, if all hope was lost. I suggest this book to anyone who loves Stephen or Owen King, mystery, fiction, horror, or fantasy novels. A very good book to end my 2017 book challenge.

One perfect lie – Lisa Scottoline

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I love these kind of books – obviously. The mystery and intrigue keep me turning page after page until my eyes can’t see anymore. I usually finish them in a few days, neglecting  import things, like dishes.

In this book Chris Brennan is working as a high school teacher and coach. On paper, he looks like the perfect guy. However, Chris isn’t who he says he is. The story focuses around three kids, a loner, a rich kid, and a troubled teen all with their own secrets. There is a plot in place to cause some sort of destruction on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and Chris is at the center of it. Is he trying to help one of the kids do it? Is he trying to enlist one of them to help him? Or is he trying to prevent it? The reader is left wondering while lies and secrets come pouring in from all the families.

This novel, as I said, leaves you turning pages and wanting more. It is a fast paced, heart thumping novel and is a fine example of how wonderfully Lisa Scottoline weaves a story.

I would recommend to lovers of: Lisa Scottoline, Stephen King, Lisa Jackson…, mystery and fiction lovers as well thriller and suspense lovers.