Review: The Regulators by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman

The RegulatorsThe Regulators by Richard Bachman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

To the residents of Poplar Street, in suburban Wentworth, Ohio, July 15, 1996 seems like any other summer day. The paperboy is dutifully tending to his route, the Reed twins are entertaining young ladies, and the corner convenience store is functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Little do they know, the proverbial shit is about to hit the fan.

The Regulators are coming to Poplar Street and you are damn lucky if you come out of this alive!

It’s hard to imagine a 475-page novel, taking place in one afternoon on one suburban street, making you cringe in anticipation but this one sure does.

We follow this set cast of characters from the minute The Regulators first come onto their street until the bitter end. Some we love, some we hate but in the end, no one escapes their fate.

You may wonder, yeah, but what’s it all about?

Trust me when I say, it’s best to go into this knowing as little as possible, but for those of you who are just going to insist on knowing more, I will give you this one small clue: (view spoiler)

This novel is hella violent and dark so if that isn’t your cup of tea, you may as well just mosey on by. This book is only for those with the intestinal fortitude to handle intense scenes of violence.

This is actually my second read of this and I would definitely recommend reading Desperation and this novel back-to-back. I think the overall experience is enhanced if handled that way. I love them both and for different reasons. A must read combo for King’s Constant Readers!

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Review: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

The Girl in RedThe Girl in Red by Christina Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Red needs to get to Grandma’s house but this is no fairytale land she is traveling through.

This is a postapocalyptic war zone where a disease, known as ‘the cough’, runs rampant and has decimated the population. The world is a dangerous place with enemies around every corner, or so it seems. Most people have been rounded up into quarantine camps but Red would rather take her chances on the road.

Alternating between now and before, we get a pretty good idea of Red’s home life and family dynamic prior to the sickness. Red, who has a prosthetic limb, after being hit by a car at the age of 8, is used to people underestimating her. She becomes frustrated with this and constantly feels compelled to be tough and prove people wrong.

Highly risk averse, Red feels well prepared for this. Certainly more prepared than your average Joe. She knows the rules. She has been studying them via horror movies and other like media for years. I loved this aspect of Red’s personality. Hello, relatable.

Traveling with her whiny brother, Adam, Red feels like she needs to not only carry her weight but his too. Put simply, Adam was a huge pain in the ass. Red has the patience of a Saint, frankly, putting up with him as she did.

I loved how quickly the action in this kicks off and I thought that the postapocalyptic world was well imagine. The two timelines worked well playing off each other to reveal the entirety of the story. Watching Red’s character gain strength over time was so satisfying.

This being said, I did want a bit more. I know that not every book can be 500-pages but this was just so interesting and the ending, to me, felt rushed.

Overall, I think this is a very solid story. I enjoyed Henry’s imagination quite a bit. This is my first book from her but it definitely won’t be the last one I pick up.

A hearty thank you to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I would definitely recommend this to readers who enjoy darker content and women who kick butt!

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FAVORITES: Dracula Appreciation Post!!!

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A true masterpiece.

Believe it or not, I am still considering how to best write a ‘review’ for this, one of my favorite novels of all time.

I annotated this most recent time reading, in the hopes that it would help when it came to composing my final thoughts.

What I am really struggling with is the idea of little ole’ me ‘reviewing’ a masterpiece.

I guess my goal is more to compel people to read this amazing piece of world literature as opposed to providing a critique of Stoker’s work. Let me think on this a while longer. In the meantime, have a gander at this The Lost Boys gif — a movie greatly inspired by Dracula:

Review or not, I am so happy to have reread this for the 3rd time. Dracula is a book I will continue to reread periodically for the rest of my life.

If you haven’t read this yet, please give it a go, it may surprise you. You may think you know this story…

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KING REREAD: Desperation Review

DesperationDesperation by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A bizarrely assembled cast of characters, all with distinct strengths and weaknesses, come together to fight an evil, older and more powerful than they could have ever imagined.

That would be my single-sentence synopsis if someone were to ask me what Desperation is about. If you have ever read a Stephen King novel however, you know there is a lot more to it than that.

I read Desperation for the first time around 2001. I was just done with undergraduate school and was so excited to have time to read for fun. I read quite a few King books that year. At the time, I remember liking it but I wasn’t blown away and ultimately decided on a 3-star rating.

Now, close to 20-years later, this is pretty damn close to a perfect read for me.

What can explain the difference?

I’m not really sure. I was so invested in this. The characters were a huge part of the enjoyment factor for me. In my very humble opinion, no one does characters quite like King. He is a master of developing every aspect of character’s personality and the reasons behind it. You never wonder what’s the motivation, you know.

This also has one of my all-time favorite tropes. The mix-matched group of characters, placed into extraordinary circumstances, who band together, no matter their ultimate disagreements about the world, and fight against evil.

Good v. Evil.
I love it.
I’m here for it pretty much every time.

This novel is extremely violent, bloody and graphic. Some of the scenes made my toes curls and my stomach lurch. If that is not your thing, you may want to hard pass on this one. The use of creepy crawlers to instill fear was expertly crafted; again, those with strong fears of snakes, spiders, scorpions, or other beasties of that sort, may want to steer clear.

My one extremely slight critique would be that the final showdown felt a little rushed, hence the 4.5-star rating, as opposed to full 5. This book has a nice, long build-up, and I could definitely have read some more substance at the end. It was great but still I wanted more!

Overall, I am beyond happy that I took the plunge and reread this 706-page beast of modern, horror fiction. I am currently rereading The Regulators and totally digging the many connections I missed the first time around. I would definitely recommend reading these two back-to-back for maximum enjoyment!

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Review: While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

While You SleepWhile You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Zoe Adams needs to get away. Recently separated from her husband, she rents a newly renovated home on a remote Scottish island. It doesn’t take long after arriving at McBride house for her to discover that some places hold long memories.

Soon Zoe begins researching the history of the house and what she uncovers is far from comforting. Ailsa McBride, the original owner, was reportedly a witch who murdered her own child. In fact, just the previous year, another boy had disappeared from the grounds.

Constantly on edge, Zoe sleeps fitfully and begins having visions and visitations from the past. She can scarcely make it through a few hours at the property without something going awry.

Befriending a few men in the village, she begins to discover long-held island secrets and in turn, finds herself the hot topic for the island rumor mill.

The number of different leads and exposed secrets in this left me spinning. The lore of the island and overall atmosphere was excellently portrayed. I enjoyed the melding of past and present and the characters were well fleshed out.

At times, bordering on erotic, this was an unexpected twist of a classic ghost story with the incorporation of an incubus; something I had never read about previously and certainly was not expecting.

Although this was a slow burn, there was definitely enough intrigue to keep me turning the pages. The last 10% dropped my rating down a half star. I wasn’t sold on the way the story ended. It seemed to wrap-up a little too neatly after the strong build-up.

Overall, I was impressed by Merritt’s writing. If you are a reader that enjoys a bit of sexy times with your horror or mystery stories, you will definitely want to check this one out. Also, haunted house fans, this is worth a read. There were moments that I was absolutely freaked out while reading this.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Pegasus Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Second Lives by P.D. Cacek

Second LivesSecond Lives by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

My exact thoughts upon completing this:

Eight people die.
Four come back but not as they were before. Or should I say WHO they were before.

Intriguing premise, right?
It certainly is and I think Cacek did a wonderful job of weaving this highly detailed tale together.

The writing was very solid. You can definitely tell that Cacek is an experienced author.
Each chapter was like a short story unto itself. It was quite impressive. For those of you who enjoy short story collections, I feel like this book could really work for you.

Creative and unique, this story made me really sad. I feel like it is suppose to be a story about hope, love, relationships and sacrifice for others but honesty, it bummed me out. Some of the characters end up in fairly hopeless circumstances and are forced to begin again with no choice.

I thought going into this that it was a horror novel but after reading it, I wouldn’t personally classify it as such. It seemed more speculative fiction to me. There were a few chilling moments, mostly due to the thought of imagining something like this actually happening to you or a loved one.

We get a couple of hints throughout that the events of this story are a phenomenon occurring around the world but this book focuses on patients in one hospital. They are all strangers but through various doctors have their cases ultimately connected. The book seemed to be broken up into three distinct parts: learning about each character, the soul shuffle and the aftermath. I liked the format a lot and thought it was an agreeable way to present the story.

Other than that, I can really not say too much more without giving anything away. I think if you like eccentric stories that explore life’s darker side, you should give this one a shot. I definitely am interested in chatting about this with some other bookworms, so if you ever read it, message me!

A big thank you to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

The Dark GameThe Dark Game by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is the story…
…of 10 writers…
…picked to live in a mansion…
…and compete against each other…
…for one prize.

Find out what happens when people stop being polite…
…and start getting KILLED.

This was a fun little read!
I could definitely picture this as a movie and I actually think it may have worked better for me in that format.

As you may know from reading the synopsis for the book, 10 writers are selected to attend a summer-long writing retreat at a private estate property. Their host, Roderick Wells, is a renowned author himself who is eccentric and creepy AF.

We meet the 10 writers fairly rapidly at the beginning of the book and for me, I had a hard time distinguishing between some of the characters throughout; particularly the male characters.

We learn a bit about each of their pasts with particular focus on the personal demons haunting them. Some of these past reflections were definitely cringe-worthy. Something about the estate brings these pasts back to life to each character in vivid detail and with often horrific consequences.

The gruesome scenes were definitely that and well done in my opinion.
But again, I just had a hard time keeping track of the who and the what; it was a lot to take in.

The general story line was interesting AF. I loved the premise. I wanted a bit more from the atmosphere. I think it was so large in scope, as far as the estate and its grounds went, that it lost a bit in translation.

This is my second Janz novel and I would say I enjoyed my first, The Nightmare Girl more. This being said, I will absolutely continue to read his works.

If the premise of this one sounds interesting to you at all, pick it up! I would be interested to hear what other readers think of this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The AnomalyThe Anomaly by Michael Rutger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was so excited when I first heard about this book. Explained as a mix of The X-Files meets Indiana Jones — how could you not be excited by that?

This story follows rogue archaeologist, Nolan Moore, whose main profession is hosting an obscure web docuseries called, The Anomaly Files. Mostly watched by conspiracy theorists and people just searching for odd videos, Nolan holds fast to his belief that the truth is out there.

When we meet Nolan and his rag-tag crew, they are following in the steps of an intrepid explorer who in 1909 discovered a cave deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon. The descriptions he left lead Nolan to believe that the cave holds great mysteries and he is dying to get to the bottom of it.

Before too long, Nolan and his crew find what they seek and that is when the real fun begins…

Due to super unfortunate, Indiana Jones-esque circumstances the crew finds themselves trapped. The cave seems to come to life around them and become a character in its own right. Is it out to get them? Maybe. It’s a heck of a good time finding out.

This book is quietly creepy in the best way, playing to inherent fears such as claustrophobia and nyctophobia. It got under my skin, I can tell you that.

The second half gets deeper into some interesting sci-fi elements that were fairly well done. The pace did really speed up towards the end as well and I was satisfied with the ending. I would definitely read more from this author. There are a lot of creative ideas woven throughout this story and I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, even the unsavory ones.

I would recommend this to people who like a mix of horror and sci-fi, as well as to anyone who is into archaeology and unexplained history. The fact that this involved a crew for a web show was also unique and pretty fun. Well done!

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Review: The Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz

The Nightmare GirlThe Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was a delightful little gore fest!
My first Janz but certainly not my last.

Originally published in 2015, The Nightmare Girl was recently re-released by Flame Tree Press. Thank you so much to them for sending me a copy to read and review.

As mentioned above, this is my first Jonathan Janz novel and I really wasn’t sure what to expect going in. I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely plan to pick up his other works.

This story follows our protagonist, Joe Crawford, a contractor and family-man who frequently loses out on jobs because he is too honest with his customers. Joe is an every man and I was drawn to him immediately.

When he witnesses a young mother abusing her toddler in a gas station parking lot, he can’t stand by and watch. He steps in and does something about it. Once the police are called, and the child ultimately removed from the mother’s home however, his fate is sealed, and it isn’t good.

Before you know it, Joe and his family are on the receiving end of threats and acts of violence from the young mother, Angie’s, family and friends. A pagan fire cult. Yeah, her family and friends are all members of a local pagan fire cult…

I really enjoyed the pacing and plot development of this one. One of my favorite aspects, Joe’s best bud, Officer Darrel Copeland. He was just such a fantastic addition to this story. I loved their time spent together. There was some great banter, humor and loyalty and while a lot of the plot elements were dark, I felt this relationship added a nice contrast.

There were some great fight scenes, a lot of gore that made me cringe and a satisfying ending. The descriptive text was so solid that I could picture these scenes playing out in my head like a movie. I would highly recommend this to any horror fan. Give it a shot, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

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Super Delayed Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been thinking about this book a lot lately.
Why, you may ask?

The answer is because this was my favorite book of 2018 and I never wrote an actual review for it. Full disclosure, I preordered this, started it on release day and then took my sweet ass time completing it, finishing in August of 2018. The fact that I never reviewed it haunts me.

Am I the only person this happens to?

In an effort to appease some of my guilt, let me get a few thoughts down:

I really enjoyed the topics explored in this book. Particularly, the idea that sometimes the court of public opinion is much more unforgiving and harsh than any court of law.

I also enjoyed how King showed vignettes of various flawed characters in the town where our drama unfolds. He described so well the way that the main event affected various people throughout the town like when a stone gets thrown in a pond. It created ripples spreading out and enveloping many lives. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the way things roll out in Needful Things.

And of course, most of all, I loved my second favorite character from The Bill Hodges trilogy making an appearance!

I knew it was going to happen and I waited and waited and waited and then…

Reunited and it feels so good!!!

The supernatural elements were also fantastic in my opinion. There were classic King scenes that gave me absolute chills and left me wanting to leave the light on when I went to bed.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bill Hodges trilogy first. If you do and you don’t like it, this may not be the book for you. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I think for people who are huge fans of that trilogy, it makes this book extra special.

I suppose you could read this on its own, I just can’t attest to what your experience will be. For me, half the thrill was getting a character I thought I would never see again back in my life.

I know I will end up reading this again someday. I love to reread King books. Most likely if I do read it again, I will read the entire BH trilogy with this one added on the end.

Original: This officially wins my ‘Favorite Book I Read in 2018’ prize. Forever may it reign.

I do still plan to write a review for this someday. I really do. I annotated and everything but how do you review perfection? Just, how?

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