Author: Stephen King

Book Review – Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King

August 15, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 11 Comments

Book Review – Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen KingMr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #1
Published by Scribner on June 3rd 2014
Pages: 436
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-half-stars

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

‘Life is a crap carnival with shit prizes.’

Bill Hodges is a retired detective that spends his days now sitting in front of his TV, stroking his gun and contemplating suicide. He remains haunted by the unsolved cases he left behind, most especially one where someone ran down a group of innocents waiting for a job fair to open. When Hodges receives a letter from the individual that supposedly committed the crime, it manages to revive his sense of purpose and gives him a new reason to live. This time he’s determined to prevent him from acting out his next heinous crime.

Mr. Mercedes isn’t exactly horror, but it’s certainly horrific. It’s best identified as a crime thriller and lacks the anticipated supernatural aspect that is usually key to King’s stories. It feels more akin to something James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett would have written but Mr. Mercedes still manages to possess that certain something that is most definitely ‘King’.

What’s most impressive about this well-written bad guy is we’re given his identity from the very start and yet the story still manages to be full of surprises. The story occasionally has a scene from the point of view of Mr. Mercedes himself, Brady Hartfield, that will leave you unsettled, to say the least. This guy is one seriously twisted bastard that is not only murderous but is incredibly smart which is one distressing combination.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

Even for those of you who have not read It (myself included, because, fuck you clowns) will still likely be able to recognize the references to the cult classic. Add to that is the ice cream truck on the back cover of the book that is parked in a puddle of blood while more blood rains down so you figure the ice cream truck is NOT a good thing even though everybody loves the ice cream man. Well, not anymore my friend. I actually heard the ice cream truck drive by my house while reading this, no joke, and I almost had a small aneurysm. So thanks, Stephen King, for ruining ice cream for me.

Mr. Mercedes may not be what most have come to expect from King, but who honestly knows what to expect from that man anyways? It’s no less thrilling and no less of an enthralling page turner. Highly recommended for fans of crime thrillers and for those that don’t love ice cream.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl {PurchaseMy Review}
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith {PurchaseMy Review}
The Coffin Dancer (Lincoln Rhyme #2) by Jeffery Deaver {Purchase}

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Book Review – Pet Sematary by Stephen King

May 10, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 5 Comments

Book Review – Pet Sematary by Stephen KingPet Sematary by Stephen King
Published by Pocket Books on November 14, 1983
Pages: 562
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Mr. Mercedes

five-stars

Don't miss the classic tale from King of Horror and #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, described by Publishers Weekly as "the most frightening novel Stephen King has ever written."

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son—and now an idyllic home. As a family, they've got it all...right down to the friendly car.

But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth—more terrifying than death itself—and hideously more powerful.

The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”

After Louis Creed gets hired on at The University of Maine, he moves his family from Chicago, Illinois to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. Their house is built on the edge of a distressing wilderness that their local neighbor, Jud, advises they never traverse which only manages to stir their curiosity. The months steadily fly by living in Ludlow until one day his daughters cat Church is killed and Jud decides to ‘help him’ by showing him the Pet Sematary. The one on the far side of the deadfall.

“You do it because it gets hold of you. You do it because that burial place is a secret place, and you want to share the secret… you make up reasons… they seem like good reasons… mostly you do it because you want to. Or because you have to.”

According to Stephen King, Pet Sematary is the most frightening book he’s ever written. And while it was frightening, it wasn’t exactly the type of horror I was expecting. The intended fright was also full of a paralyzing despair because it was regarding the loss of a loved one and the horrors that accompany it. Throw in a supernatural flair and an ancient Indian burial ground that brings the dead back to (a form of) living and that’s Pet Sematary in a nutshell. The burial grounds and the unseen horrors that possessed an individual was what unsettled me the most though. Louis Creed was a perfectly rational individual yet the combination of loss and the influence of the burial grounds caused him to do irrational and horrible things. He became infected by an ancient evil.

“His plan kept unreeling in his mind. he looked at it from all angles, poked it, prodded it, looked for holes or soft places. And he felt that in truth he was walking along a narrow beam over a gulf of insanity. Madness was all around him, softly fluttering as the wings of night-hunting owls with great golden eyes: he was heading into madness.”

King’s stories of average people always end up transforming into something truly malevolent. Is that because of King’s devious imagination or is it a showcase of truth in how closely horror lurks waiting for its opportune moment to pounce and mutate even the most ordinary of lives? One thing I’ve learned is that there are most definitely worse things than dying.

“What you buy is what you own, and sooner or later what you own will come back to you.”

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Book Review – Cujo by Stephen King

March 28, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 11 Comments

Book Review – Cujo by Stephen KingCujo by Stephen King
Published by Signet on January 1981
Pages: 324
Genres: Horror
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Pet Sematary, Mr. Mercedes

four-stars

Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the beloved family pet of the Joe Cambers of Castle Rock, Maine, and the best friend ten-year-old Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo pursues a rabbit into a bolt-hole--a cave inhabited by some very sick bats. What happens to Cujo, and to those unlucky enough to be near him, makes for the most heart-squeezing novel Stephen King has yet written.

Vic Trenton, New York adman obsessed by the struggle to hand on to his one big account, his restive and not entirely faithful wife, Donna, and their four-year-old son, Tad, moved to Castle Rock seeking the peace of rural Maine. But life in this small town--evoked as vividly as a Winesburg or a Spoon River--is not what it seems. As Tad tries bravely to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage suddenly on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight, and that the fateful currents of their lives will eddy closer and faster to the horrifying vortex that is Cujo.

Stephen King has never written a book in which readers will turn the pages with such a combination of anticipation and dire apprehension. Doing so, they will experience an absolute master at work.

‘It would perhaps not be amiss to point out that he had always tried to be a good dog. He had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He had never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor.’

Cujo is a seemingly simple story minus all the supernatural thrills that are usually present in King’s stories. It’s about a gentle dog named Cujo that one day chases a rabbit into a hole, encounters an infected bat, and that gentle dog slowly transforms into a horrid nightmare that the town of Castle Rock will never forget.

The story was a surprisingly heartbreaking one as we’re given brief glimpses of the transformation of Cujo and his inevitable loss of self control. Before he was infected, Cujo was a good dog who played with children and despite his size never gave anyone any reason to fear him. Unfortunately, his owners just never took the time to get Cujo his necessary shots. As the story progresses Cujo becomes more and more helpless  to stop the virus from taking control, but this sense of helplessness isn’t limited to Cujo. There are three separate storylines that all have that same sense of helplessness.

While the focus of this story is obviously Cujo, you quickly find yourself wrapped up in the lives of these people just as much. The main storyline is of course the unfortunate circumstances that caused Donna Trenton and her four-year-old son Tad to become stuck in a driveway in the middle of nowhere during a terrible heatwave with a rabid Saint Bernard keeping them from going anywhere. Donna attempts to make the drive to their local mechanic, Joe Camber, in order to get her needle valve fixed on the  carburetor. She makes it the whole way only to have her car die in the driveway yet her sigh of relief is short-lived as Cujo makes his presence known. The second storyline deals with Vic, Donna’s husband and Tad’s father, who is at risk to losing his ad agency after his biggest client seeks to drop them. Finding out the night before he leaves for New York that Donna has been having an affair only adds to his worries yet he still leaves as their livelihoods all hinge on him keeping his company. The third storyline is regarding Joe Camber’s wife, Charity, and her fear that their boy Brett is going to turn out exactly like his father. In a final attempt to help prevent this she plans a vacation for the two of them to see her estranged sister and her family after Charity wins $5,000 in the lottery. Shortly after arriving, a few things occur that leave her convinced that she’s already too late.

While these storylines all seem to be of little consequence there is one scene in particular that sets in motion everything that is to occur. As Brett and his mother Charity are preparing to leave, Brett notices Cujo acting strangely. He tells his mother but she demands he stay silent. She knows if he were to tell his father he would demand the boy stay home to care for his dog. They leave not telling anyone, being completely unaware of the devastation they could have possibly prevented that day. This only goes to show that seemingly small decisions can truly have vast consequences.

One of my favorite things about stories is learning about the inspiration behind them. King had read a news article about a boy in Maine that had been killed by a Saint Bernard. King’s motorcycle had stalled out and he just barely got it to the mechanic before it died. That same mechanic had a Saint Bernard that looked as if he would attack King until his owner got him under control. King and his wife drove a Pinto that also had a sticky needle valve on the carburetor. All of these real life issues came together in a terrifying way to become ‘Cujo’.

This story is an incredibly realistic horror that is easily imagined. While not supernatural, there is a comparison made to Cujo being of the same evil to Frank Dodd, a local serial killer. That comparison generates the theory of evil being a deep-rooted thing that is always there and is all the same. Whether Cujo is truly evil or not, his story still succeeds in leaving you with an exceptionally uneasy feeling when you consider just how easy this all occurred. And it makes you consider with a sudden horror whether your lovable pet is up to date on their shots.

This post was written for King’s March, an event hosted by Wensend & Fourth Street Review.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Revival by Stephen King

March 19, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Revival by Stephen KingRevival by Stephen King
Published by Scribner on November 11, 2014
Pages: 512
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

From master storyteller Stephen King comes a spectacularly dark and riveting novel about addiction, religion, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town more than half a century ago, a boy is playing with his new toy soldiers in the dirt in front of his house when a shadow falls over him. He looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Jamie learns later, who with his beautiful wife will transform the church and the town. The men and boys are a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls, with the Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie's sisters and mother. Then tragedy strikes, and this charismatic preacher curses God and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from age 13, he plays in bands across the country, running from his own family tragedies, losing one job after another when his addictions get the better of him. Decades later, sober and living a decent life, he and Reverend Charles Jacobs meet again in a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and the many terrifying meanings of Revival are revealed.

King imbues this spectacularly rich and dark novel with everything he knows about music, addiction, and religious fanaticism and every nightmare we ever had about death. This is a masterpiece from King in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

About Stephen King

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

October 18, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen KingDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton
Series: The Shining #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 24th 2013
Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cujo, Pet Sematary, Mr. Mercedes

three-stars

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I’m a total Stephen King newbie, so when I first decided to dive into his book of works I started at the very beginning with Carrie and was an immediate fan. Next up was Salem’s Lot and then finally The Shining which became an instant favorite. His books in print already have that creepy effect that manages to latch on to your insides, but listening to the audiobook really took the terror to the next level for me. Since it was a recent read, I was fairly shocked to hear about a sequel coming out especially when you consider The Shining was originally released in 1977. Albeit, I was on board and full of anticipation.

Doctor Sleep picks up shortly after The Shining’s explosive (literally) ending with Danny and his mother residing in warm and sunny Florida desperately trying to overcome the trauma they endured in Colorado. Danny is still haunted by the rotting corpse-like ghosts of the Overlook and essentially compels him to enlist the help of Dick Hallorann, the chef from the Overlook. He gives him the only knowledge he has of controlling his psychic gifts, but Danny’s has always been strong so it only does so much.

The book flashes forward in time to feature a middle-aged Dan Torrance who has followed the path of his father and is an alcoholic for the sole reason that it dulls the shine. An incident causes him to hit a rock bottom of sorts and we flash forward again by three years to find Dan working at a hospice, using  his gifts to aid patients in the transition between life and death. They call him Doctor Sleep.

Next, we’re introduced to Abra Stone, a young girl who’s psychic abilities make Dan’s look like a parlor trick. We’re also introduced to a group of individuals that go by the name of the True Knot who travel the country in RV’s searching out children with gifts like Abra’s. They torture and kill the children so as to fully harvest the ‘steam’ that escapes their bodies upon their deaths. Abra is the strongest child they’ve yet encountered and she’s next on their list.

Phew. That summary may have been long, but so was the book itself and had far more pages than was actually required. The middle lagged and the build-up to the ‘epic’ showdown between good and evil was fairly unsurprising. As highly anticipated as Doctor Sleep was for me, I can’t help but feel in the end that leaving The Shining as a stand-alone would have been far wiser.

What worked well for The Shining was the true horror aspects. The isolation of The Overlook, the claustrophobic effects of the encompassing storm and the transformation of a loved one into a terrifying monster. (The rotting corpse in the bathtub definitely helped as well.) Doctor Sleep leans more towards the supernatural and fantasy aspects making it less real and giving it a very fabricated feel. I greatly disliked the vast array of pop culture references strewn throughout the novel. They served no obvious purpose and should have been edited out. Game of Thrones, Twilight, Sons of Anarchy and Hunger Games were among the few I caught. I did enjoy the references to characters from his son Joe Hill’s novel NOS4A2 though.

While I was clearly left unimpressed, there were a few facets that I really enjoyed. I absolutely loved the beginning; it not only held promise but felt like a true sequel to The Shining. (The rest of the story veered a bit too far off track for my liking.) I loved the inclusion of Halloran and how we got to see the events following The Overlook without immediately jumping to Danny being middle-aged. It was fantastic to see the effects of The Overlook on Danny and how he grew up to be (and the almost inevitable fact that him and his Father ultimately took the same path). Tony also plays a part in the story as well as the original site of the Overlook is included. It was fantastic and I loved returning to those aspects of its predecessor, at least until the story took a side street into Strangeville.

Despite my issues with the book as a whole, the beginning bits were totally worth it. I listened to this on audio and narrator Will Patton did a fantastic job. Listen to a clip below to see for yourself.

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