Review: Needful Things by Stephen King

Needful Things by Stephen King

Genre: Horror/Thriller

img_0379 I’m going to start this review by mentioning the fact that I am WAY behind on writing up my book reviews. It appears that I am about 4 books behind and, for that, I apologize. I guess it’s a good thing that, lately, I’ve been more in the mood to read than I have to write. But I’m going to force myself to sit and try and catch up…I have finished some great books in the past few weeks that I’m excited to share.

Anyway….on to the review:

As I have mentioned before, I am a HUGE Stephen King fan…I’ve been reading and loving his books since I first read The Shining  when I was about 12 years old. I’m slowly working to reread some of his books that I first read decades ago as well as reading some of his others for the first time. Needful Things falls into the later category. It’s a book that I’ve heard a lot of positive things about, but for some reason or another, never picked up until now.

Our story starts in the small Maine town of Castle Rock (the very same town from King’s short story, The Body, and film, Stand by Me as well as Cujo)… where we meet Polly Chalmers, the proprietor of You Sew and Sew as well as Sheriff Alan Pangborn, who is in charge of keeping the peace of the sleepy town. Fans of Stephen King will relish in some familiar names and stories about this town….Cujo, the murderous dog…Ace Merrill, the local criminal delinquent….but there is also a new citizen to Castle Rock, Leland Gaunt. Mr. Gaunt is a stranger to everyone in the town, but he immediately peaks everyone’s interest when he opens a strange and mysterious store called Needful Things. This interesting place seems to be a unique thrift-type store that carries a little bit of everything and the most interesting thing about it is that it seems to carry just the perfect thing for each and every citizen of Castle Rock. The price of each item is also a point of interest….Leland Gaunt doesn’t post the prices on his items….each item has a very specific cost depending on just how much someone is willing to pay for their most desperate wants and desires. The costs are high….very high….but it doesn’t seem to stop any of the customers from purchasing these needs. What Leland Gaunt knows that nobody else seems to is: EVERYTHING is for sale and everything has a price.

This was a phenomenal story and I absolutely loved every minute of it! I actually listened to the audiobook version of this solely because King narrates it himself and it was simply amazing! As with typical King novels, you get a wonderful insight into each of the characters that all becomes interwoven with a genius plot and storyline. King’s immense imagination and ability to describe the most perfect scenarios and details will never cease to amaze me and Needful Things is no exception. While this story has a definite creepy and ominous feel, it’s not overly gory or too far into the horror genre…so if you shy away from King because of that, this is a pretty “safe” choice in that aspect. The idea that people might give up their morals just for the opportunity to have their most desperate wants and desires is the central theme of this story. As with most King books, the central antagonist, Leland Gaunt, is terrifically creepy, evil and manipulative. I also really enjoyed the small tie-ins with other familiar King characters and story lines …it’s like a nice little surprise for regular fans.

Needful Things has definitely earned it’s place in my Top 5 favorite King books….so if you haven’t yet read this one and you are a fan of his work, I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Needful Things – Amazon

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Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Genre: Thriller/Horror

img_5081  Deep in a large secluded estate, lies a mansion…and within that mansion is a beautiful butterfly garden. Within that garden, lives a collection of beautiful “butterflies” – young women who were drugged, kidnapped and are being held hostage within the garden’s walls. Overseeing all of this is the Gardener…a sick and twisted psychopath of a man who is obsessed and methodical with his collection.

The story begins with a survivor of the garden being questioned  by the FBI about her knowledge and part in the Butterfly Garden. Known only by the name the gardener has given her, Maya….she isn’t very trusting or even very helpful with giving the agents information. Because Maya has been a prisoner for the past two years she proves to be a bit of a puzzle for the detectives. Slowly as her story begins to unravel, light is shed on life inside the Butterfly Garden. A horrific story about a man who would go to any length to preserve beauty as he sees it and maintain his “collection” of young girls begins to open up. But….the detectives are sure that Maya is still hiding something back and they won’t stop until they find out what that is.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised by this book! It wasn’t really on my radar and I still haven’t heard a lot of chatter about it…and I’m not sure why that is. The Butterfly Garden  is a crazy, intense and wild ride. It’s not very long…only 288 pages, so it’s a nice quick, fast paced read. If I had a solid chunk of time to sit and read it, this is one I could have easily finished in one sitting. I’m a huge sucker for a good serial killer/thriller story and The Butterfly Garden definitely delivers in that aspect and does it well. One of the parts that I loved about this book was the relationships between all the female characters of this story…it added a nice soft place to land between all the craziness. I also absolutely loved the main character, Maya….she’s gritty, intense, honest and genuine.

If you are a fan of serial killer thriller stories…this is a fantastic one! And…as an added bonus, you can read the e-book for free via Amazon if you have a Prime account with their new Prime Reads program!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Butterfly GardenAmazon

Review: It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King

Genre: Horror

img_4753 In many ways Derry, Maine was a typical small town. Derry was quiet, familiar, and predictable for all the adults who lived there. But..for the children of Derry, the town was horribly different. If the children didn’t actually see terrible things, they definitely felt something was wrong. That something was IT and IT lurked and hid in the storm sewers, in the drains, in the abandoned houses, under bridges….biding it’s time and waiting. Waiting until the time was right to take form in the shape of the children’s worst nightmares, their darkest fears….hunting, taunting, seizing and killing them.

Seven unlikely childhood friends, affectionately self titled “The Losers Club”, see IT savaging their town, their community, and their family members. Mike, Bill, Ben, Eddie, Richie, Stan, and Beverly understand that the adults in their town can’t do much to stop IT. They understand that children hold both a certain temptation as well as a certain power over IT. But now, 27 years have passed and the children have grown up, moved away and moved on from the town of Derry. But IT hasn’t moved on. When history starts repeating itself and children start disappearing again, the members of The Losers Club find themselves compelled to return home. They must once again confront IT…and the horrors and nightmares that were a very real part of their childhood past have suddenly become a very real part of their present.

“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

This was a reread for me. I first read IT many many years ago…I think I was around 15 or 16 years old the first time I read this book. At that age, my obsession first began with Stephen King and I read quite a few of his books. I’m slowly working my way through rereading most of them, as well as others that I haven’t previously read. When I was a teenager reading this book for the first time, I really loved it…I loved the way it terrified me and hooked me in immediately. But I honestly feel like I got so much more out of it now as an adult. I remember thinking that IT was about a killer clown named Pennywise who terrorized a group of kids one summer. And it is…..but IT is about so much more than just the clown. If you’ve seen the movie adaptation of this book, Pennywise has a much larger part of the story in the movie than he does in the book. Don’t get me wrong….the clown and the creepy balloons that pop up out of nowhere are definitely a strong part of the story. But, like most book/movie comparisons, the book is so much better because you just get so much more. IT is loooong….it’s 1180 pages, and in those pages, you get so much more than just a scary clown. IT is a story about evil, nightmares, our deepest fears, childhood innocence, friendship, believability and reality. The characters in this book are so incredibly well written and beautiful in their own way. The storyline of this masterpiece is one which has inspired so many other scary horror stories since it’s initial publication 30 years ago.

There were plenty of times in the almost 4 weeks that it took me to read this where I was genuinely creeped out and turning on all the lights as I walked through my quiet and dark house. And I absolutely LOVE that feeling! That feeling is what made me fall in love with King so many years ago. I love the feeling of being genuinely scared but knowing, in my head, that I am perfectly safe and sound in my own house. That being said….if you do not like being scared and you don’t like blood, gore, and guts…this is likely not the choice for you. Stephen King has plenty of great books that aren’t overly scary…he even has great scary /creepy books that aren’t overly bloody and gory. This just happens to be a book of his that is both scary and gory. In fact….I would say that this is likely the scariest book of his that I’ve read…I loved every minute of reading this one. IT is for sure in my top 3 Stephen King reads, only behind The Shinning and The Stand.

If you are a fan of reading the Horror genre and you haven’t yet read this one….it’s a definitely recommend from me. Don’t let the long length intimidate you, it’s a well paced long book and held my interest the entire time.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

IT – AMAZON

My First Audio Book + Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

My First Audio Book + Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Genre: Horror, Science-fiction

img_4731 Yesterday, I experienced my very first audiobook….and I was pleasantly surprised. I have heard from quite a few people who love listening to audiobooks and I’ve been curious about whether or not I would enjoy them or find them lacking in some way. Having mixed feelings about audiobooks would be the best way I can describe why I haven’t picked one up until now….the idea seems interesting but why not just actually read the real book?

It seems as if the main time and place most people seems to enjoy audiobooks is in their car for a long commute to/from work. The majority of my driving time includes me shuffling my kids around, so that doesn’t really work for me. Plus…I do really enjoy listening to music while I drive…and so do my kids. Another common time it seems people enjoy audiobooks is while doing household chores. Now…THAT is something I have plenty of 😉 I usually reserve the majority of my TV watching time for when I am folding the mounds and mounds of laundry that seems to come out of the wood work around my house. However, having the TV on while I am trying to complete other tedious household tasks like cleaning bathrooms or floors, often just becomes a distraction and the chore ends up taking me longer than it does if I just have music on in the background. Yesterday, I figured I would give an audiobook a try…I really needed to get bathrooms cleaned and it’s likely my least favorite task ever. I decided on World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War for two reasons; because it seemed fitting for an October spooky read and because it was listed on multiple sites as a selection that can be a better experience listening to the audio version rather than actually reading.

The experiment ended up being a huge success for me! First, I can definitely understand why this book works so well as an audio book (I’ll expand on that in my review below)…and second, I was so engrossed in listening to the story that I forgot I was  actually scrubbing toilets! Seriously though….this audiobook is a total length of 6 hours and 3 minutes and I finished it in one day. In that time, I was a cleaning fool….I cleaned the entirety of my upstairs including; bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, baseboards, pulling back furniture, washing bedding….everything! Granted, I did have to stop here and there to take breaks when my kids came home from school and needed me, but for the most part…I spent the majority of the day cleaning and it really didn’t feel like it at all. So…I get it…I get why audiobooks are so loved by people and I’ll definitely continue listening to them. That being said….I’m likely going to be very choosy about which titles I listen to over actually reading. I still 100% think the majority of books should be experienced by reading the actual words….but I think certain books might be better experienced in audio form. For example….my next audiobook choice will be Tina Fey’s Bossypants because I have a feeling a comedian’s book might fit into the category of one that’s better heard than read, especially since it’s narrated by Tina Fey, herself. Audiobooks can be a great option to crack away at your “to be read” list while keeping your hands busy with certain mindless tasks. I’ll still have to experiment with just what kinds of tasks I can listen along to… because I did notice that I could easily become distracted and miss a part of the story (not a huge problem because you can jump back in 10 second intervals when needed). Listening would work for me for most household chores and likely routine food prep & cooking…although, I’m not sure I could follow a new or involved recipe at the same time as actively listening to a story. For tasks like; Yardwork, cleaning, sorting, organizing, folding, etc…..audiobooks are perfect! And I’m sure, if I had a long driving commute each day, audiobooks would work for me in that instance too.

img_4735

On to my review of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks:

This book was originally published is 2006 and it initially had mixed reviews solely due to who the author is. Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, was a previous writer for SNL so people seemed to assume that this book would be comedy based and were disappointed to find out that it is not.

I would consider this story to be along the lines of a good mix between the TV show, The Walking Dead and the movie, Outbreak. World War Z is the first person account of the days, weeks and months that led up to The Great Panic or World War Z….the ultimate zombie apocalypse. Even though it’s technically about zombies…I assure you, this isn’t a silly or tongue in cheek story full of blood and guts with the sole purpose of a gross-out factor. There is a larger story behind the zombies that focuses on society’s collapse, people’s response to disaster and mass casualties as well as the depths of human survival. The format in this book works very well for this story line: it’s written as a selection of face to face interviews of different people from all around the world and their experience with World War Z.  That is the main reason why I think this particular book is on lists for books that are better listened to rather than actually read. There is a full cast of narrators for this audiobook….more than 30 total…some of them including; Paul Sorvino, Martin Scorsese, Henry Rollins, Rob Reiner, and Max Brooks as the actual interviewer. There are complete first person accounts of the end of life as we know it from people all around the world. Because of the wide range of voices and accents in this audiobook selection…you really feel the full scope of just how devastating and encompassing this world wide pandemic is.

While this selection definitely works well in audiobook form, I can imagine it would be plenty good to actually read if that is your preference. It was a fantastic story that had me interested the entire time and definitely makes you think, look around, and consider just what would happen if a pandemic like this one did actually occur. It’s a great creepy choice if you are looking for something hair raising to pick up for the month of October….or for someone who generally likes this type of genre. If you are a fan of horror novels, zombie stories or even just post-apocalyptic tales….this one will be right up your alley!

My rating: 4.5/5 Stars

World War Z – Amazon

Review: The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King

img_4040  *PHEW* That was one beast of a book! I know I’ve said it before…but I am a HUGE Stephen King fan. I haven’t read anywhere near all of his work, but I’ve read quite a bit (somethings more than once). The Stand is one of his novels that I’ve been putting off for years…. at least 20, I assume. I can remember being about 15 years old and reading The Shining  for the very first time and falling instantly and madly in love with it (I still am) and then my mother told me that I definitely need to read The Stand. For whatever reason, I never did. And then last year, I completed the PopSugar Reading Challenge and one of the prompts was “A Book Your Mother Loves”…low and behold if The Stand wasn’t one of the three titles that she gave me. Again….I skipped over it, I think largely due to it’s length (I was nearing the end of the challenge and just wanted to be done with it and quickly). Now, finally….20 years after it was first suggested to me, I can say that I have read (and loved) Stephen King’s The Stand.

In the middle of a June night in 1990 …a man named Charlie Campion, a now deserter of the US Army, grabs his wife and young child and flees the Army base minutes before a crucial lockdown occurs. They don’t know where they are going and they don’t really have a plan…all they know is they need to get AWAY. The panicked family makes it to a small Midwest town where Campion crashes the vehicle into a set of gas station pumps. When the station attendant, along with a few customers, run to the aid of the people in the vehicle…all they find are three bloated and infected bodies in the front seat of the car. An ambulance is called and soon after the CDC is brought in… but it’s too late. The infection, quickly referred to as Captain Trips, is so contagious and easily spread…that before anyone can even understand what is happening, 99% of the world population is dead.

And this is where the modern world ends and the new world begins: A world in which the 1% of the population who survived and are immune to Captain Trips have to choose sides – or are chosen for a side. The good of the remaining world are following a frail 108 year old woman named Mother Abigail…all with the hopes of saving what is left of the human race. The others have pledged allegiance to the epitome of evil and destruction…a lethal man with a terrifying smile and unspeakable powers, Randall Flagg. When the end of the world comes down to an epic battle of Good vs Evil, who will stand victorious in the end. Does human nature change without the presence of modern day society?

“Show me a man or a woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call ‘society’. Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

Wow….powerful, right?!? When I read the above passage, I was immediately blown away. I sat and reread it at least two more times and actually dog-eared the page (something I almost never do) so I could find it again easily. This books touches on so many topics ranging from; good vs evil, to religious mania, to human nature, to the constraints of modern day society, to responsibility, to love and hate….it’s just an incredibly epic story woven with some of the BEST characters I’ve ever read about. Nick Andros, Stu Redmand and Tom Cullen were just three of my many favorites from this book. There are so many fantastic  personalities and story lines in The Stand…even some of the more minor characters get such an in-depth look into their lives and personalities that you cannot help but be drawn right in.

Saying that Stephen King is one masterful storyteller with one hell of an imagination isn’t anything new or unique….but it’s still the truth. This is not a short, quick read….at over 1100 pages, it won’t be something you pick up on a whim, but if you do decide to dive in, I can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed. I am a very quick reader and often stay up way too late getting just a few more pages in and this still took me just shy of 13 days to read. But it was one enjoyable and wild ride each step of the way. If you are a Stephen King fan and, like me, just haven’t picked this one up yet….get on it! If you are someone who would normally shy away from King’s normal Horror genre, I think you’ll like this one.

My Review: 5/5 Stars

***If you do decide to read this masterpiece, I definitely suggest you pick up the newer 1990 Complete & Uncut version. The Stand was originally published in 1978 at a fraction of what the original manuscript entailed. King had originally written over 1200 pages and the publisher, Doubleday, literally could not print a novel that long. As King explained to Time in 2009, “Doubleday had a physically limiting factor in those days because they used a glue binding instead of a cloth binding, and the way it was explained to me was that they had so much thickness they could do before the glue just fell apart”. Not to mention, Doubleday was also concerned with the ability to sell a book of that size for the going cost of hardcovers at the time and still turn a profit. So, the original 1200 page manuscript was slashed to an 823 page revision and was an immediate Hardcover Best Seller. Those cut pages didn’t say lost and in 1990, King was convinced to restore the story to a much closer version of it’s original intended length as well as update some more modern cultural references. The story and characters are the same as the original 1978 version, just with the added depth that Kind had always intended.

Review: Thinner by Stephen King

Thinner by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

img_3749 Bill Halleck is a successful husband, father and lawyer living the American Dream….but he is also 50 pounds overweight. He has been warned by his doctor that he is edging into heart attack country yet he still can’t seem to get his diet and his weight under control.

But one day, Bill realizes that he’s slowly losing weight without even really trying. His wife is impressed, his doctor is thrilled, and his friends and associates are starting to notice his new svelte figure. Bill assumes that he must be making some small diet changes without even trying….until one day, in the middle of a court case, he realizes his pants won’t even stay up because they are too loose. He starts to pay more attention to the scale and notices his weight is starting to drop off at an alarmingly fast rate despite his efforts to halt it with increased eating.

Bill’s wife is convinced there’s a logical medical explanation for the rapid and seemingly uncontrolled weight loss….but Bill isn’t so sure. He starts to realize that something more sinister and dark may be at play here…especially once he learns that other people who he’s associated with are also afflicted with rare and unexplained “medical” conditions.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was originally published in 1984 under Stephen King’s  pseudonym, Richard Bachman. It’s one of the few by him that I have not yet read and I picked it up because it was recommended to me for a reading title swap in a GoodReads group I am part of.

In typical King fashion, it has a little bit of a slow build with quite the creepy and suspenseful ending. It’s not overly gory or gross but has that perfect psychological creep factor that makes me love Stephen King and his writing. It’s also on the shorter side for his typical novels…at only 320 pages, it’s a quick and engaging read. If you are a fan of Stephen King and haven’t yet read this one OR if you are looking to try something of his and are intimidated by the typical 600+ page novels he tends to write….check this one out!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King

img_3037 Reading The Shining was technically a re-read for me. I first read this book when I was around the age of 16 or 17 and since it’s been likely close to 20 years since I’ve read this awesome book…I figured it was due to be read again. This is, by far, the creepiest, best written horror story of all time! The iconic scene/conversation from the TV show Friends perfectly sums up how I feel:

Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y’know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y’know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours.”

The Shining epitomizes everything that I love about Stephen King and his masterful storytelling. It’s the type of book, that even though I knew what was coming and how the story ended…it still made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It gave me all of the same fantastically terrified, anxious and excited feels I remember from years ago.

I think, at this point, most people know what The Shining is about…but if not, here you go: Jack and Wendy Torrence are having a rough go at their marriage and life in general lately. Jack is a recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer who is still struggling with some anger and temper issues. When he is fired from his teaching position for physically assaulting a student…the family, including their 5 year old son, Danny, are put in a pretty tight financial situation. Out of desperation, Jack accepts a job, through an old drinking buddy, as the winter caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Almost immediately, young Danny is apprehensive about the ominous hotel due to visions he’s been having from his “imaginary” friend, Tony. You see….Danny is a special boy with very special powers. According to Dick Hallorann, the head cook at The Overlook Hotel, Danny shines. His shining ability is what makes him able to know other peoples’ thoughts & feelings, have visions of the future, and see things that others cannot. As winter takes hold up in the Rocky Mountains,  the Torrence family are completely snowed in and trapped for the season inside the vast hotel. And that’s when Danny’s visions grow out of control and The Overlook itself seems to develop a life all it’s own.

“It gave Jack a curious shrinking feeling, as if his life force had dwindled to a mere spark while the hotel and grounds had suddenly doubled in size and become sinister, dwarfing them with sullen, inanimate power.”

img_3060I think most people who haven’t read The Shining have seen the movie.  Stephen King has been very vocal about his disdain for Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of his story … in a Rolling Stone article King says:

“The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, ‘Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.’ And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.”

While I personally disagree with King’s opinion of Kubrick’s choice of using Jack Nicholson to play Jack Torrence, I totally understand where he’s coming from with the character portrayal. I  think that Jack Nicholson was the perfect actor to play Jack Torrence…but yes….you miss quite a bit of the slow and steady mental decline of Jack Torrence in the movie…he does come off as on the slightly crazy from the get go.  In the book, it’s so much easier to sympathize and even understand Jack Torrence and where he is coming from and how hard he is struggling with his demons and trying to be the husband and father he wants to be. The very slow and steady beginnings of his mental decline that suddenly catapults into a full fledged quick and drastic downward spiral is part of what makes this novel so genius, creepy and terrific. There are quite a few other major differences between Kubrick’s movie version and this novel….some minor but some quite major.

So even if you’ve seen and love the movie….I highly recommend that you absolutely read this book. It’s definitely different so you have to go into it without expecting every iconic scene from the movie to be in the book…because quite a few are just not there in the original story. But this novel is fantastic and re-reading it has completely solidified it as one of my top  5 all time favorite books! And then after you read The Shining, you definitely have to read King’s sequel Doctor Sleep…it’s every bit as amazing and scary. Happy reading!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane By Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

img_2903 If I didn’t already love Neil Gaiman and his beautiful writing after reading American Gods, this book would have solidified his genius for me.

A middle aged man returns to his home town to attend a funeral. While he has an hour to kill, he decides to visit his now demolished childhood home site and while there, he remembers an old farmhouse at the end of the road. For reasons he can’t quite comprehend, he is compelled to go to that old dilapidated farmhouse and sit at bench facing a pond. As he sits, suddenly a flood of previously forgotten memories from 40 years back comes washing over him. He is immediately  brought back to the year he was seven and remembers his old childhood friend,  Lettie Hempstock, her mother, and her grandmother and the amazing, unbelievable and scary experience that sealed their fate together for a lifetime.

Forty years earlier, a stranger committed suicide in a stollen vehicle at the edge of the farm at the end of the road. His actions set forth a series of actions incomprehensible to a seven year old boy….too scary, too unlivable and too magical for him to fully grasp. All the while, this seven year old boy is immersed into a dangerous and scary world he had no idea even existed…with only his friend, Lettie, and her family and their promise to protect him.

This book is amazing. I know I’ve already said it…but Gaiman’s writing is so beautiful and  genius. He writes in a way that perfectly immerses you into the story, actually seeing what he is describing without using overly long and fluffy descriptions. I don’t know how he does what he does, but I’m a huge fan and will definitely be reading the rest of his work.

“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is hard for me to describe or to categorize. It’s definitely a fantasy, adult type fairy tale with an awesome magical realism like nothing I’ve ever read before. On Goodreads, one of the categories it is listed under is “horror” and yeah…I can see that. While the book isn’t overly scary, it’s definitely creepy in parts…especially when I was reading it huddled in my bed in a dark room. But it’s not gory or the kind of creepy that will give you nightmares, so no worries if you usually shy away from books like that.

After finishing this book, I feel like it’s the perfect metaphor for childhood; It’s short, fleeting, enjoyable, magical, scary, confusing and it’s all over before you know it. I found this story utterly enjoyable and completely fascinating. It’s a definite recommend from me. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a quick read (only 178 pages) that deals with dreams, reality, forgotten things and the effect of memory on reality.

Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Genre: Horror

Published: October 17, 1975

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Goodreads Description:

“Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.”

 

My Thoughts:

This book is pretty much everything I love about Stephen King…especially old school Stephen King. Slow, gradual buildup,terrific character development, crazy imaginative detail & storyline…all leading up to a spine tingling, hair raising conclusion!

Nobody seems to weave a story quite like the talented Stephen King can. The details and side stories that, at first, seem unimportant always tie up in the end in such a beautiful way. He manages to describe so well, in words, what inhabits most of our deepest nightmares and fears.

I’m actually surprised that I haven’t read this book until now as I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen King since I was a young teenager. I’ve read quite a few of his books and always enjoy the emotional ride they seem to take me on.  There were points, after reading this book, that I had to make sure I had an extra light on in my quiet wanderings of the house…that’s how I know it’s a good King book. I love the “old school” description of vampires as actual blood sucking, hideous undead as opposed to brooding, misunderstood lovers 😉

If you love Stephen King for his horror writing and haven’t yet read this…I highly recommend it. If you enjoy feeling terrified in the safety of your own home, this book is for you 🙂

Thank you, Mr King, for forever giving me a nice case of safe terror 🙂