Review: Rose Madder by Stephen King

Rose MadderRose Madder by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening with one of the most vivid scenes of violence I have ever read, Rose Madder tells the compelling tale of Rosie Daniels as she makes the decision to, and subsequently, leaves her vicious husband, Norman.

Admittedly, I had tried to read this book on two prior occasions and just couldn’t make it past that first scene. It is so harsh and was mentally exhausting for me. I would put it down and then just avoid it.

This doesn’t mean I thought it was bad. I knew if I kept going, I would enjoy the book, I just needed to be in the right head space to do so.

Even for King, those first pages are brutal and shattering because you know that is real.

This isn’t a book where the villain is an alien, an ancient spirit, or a ghost; he is just a man. A corrupt cop with a penchant for violence against women.

One of my favorite aspects of King’s writing is his ability to fully develop his characters. That is certainly the case here. From Rosie and Norman, all the way to the smallest side characters, I felt like I knew them all.

Rosie married Norman when she was very young, just out of high school. She had lost her family and had no outside support system. He became her whole world, no matter how difficult that world was.

After she decides to leave him, she discovers just how sheltered she has become. Her ability to navigate the outside world is close to nonexistent. I felt bad for her. I wished I was there to help her and guide her.

She hasn’t a clue where she will go or what she’ll do. She has no skills. What will she do for a job? How will she survive without money?

Regardless of her questions however, Rosie knows if she doesn’t leave, Norman will kill her. It’s not an if, it’s a when.

On a flight for her life, she boards a bus and selects the farthest stop she can afford. Once there, she will try to build a new life for herself with no resources. She left everything behind.

Unfortunately, if there is one thing that Norman is good at, it’s tracking people down. He’s humiliated by Rosie walking out on him and vows to find her.

Now his sole mission, he has big plans to make her pay. No matter what it takes, no matter how many laws he has to break, he will not give up.

The intensity that builds over the course of this book is truly something special. The narrative alternates back and forth between Rosie and Norman, so you can track his progress, and that really helped to build the sense of dread.

I became quite attached to Rosie rather quickly, as did many she met in her new life. That definitely escalated my fear for what I knew was coming.

In addition, there was a really interesting fantastical element thrown in that reminded me a bit of a cross between The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Dark Tower series.

That may seem like a really odd combination, and it is, but in King’s skilled hands, it somehow works.

I truly enjoyed this story. Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who pushed me to finally pick it up this year.

I found it to be empowering and moving. I loved Rosie so much and her growth was satisfying. I am so happy I made time for it and can absolutely see myself reading it again some day.

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Stephen King Reread #4 of 2019: The Dark Half, Review

The Dark HalfThe Dark Half by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


George Stark. Not a very nice guy.

Stephen King Reread #4 for the year and it was just as brilliant as I remembered. Equal parts warped, dark and brutal, this story is a must read for any King fan.

I won’t get into the connections between this and King’s own life and experience with Richard Bachman. Let’s hope this twisted tale of a pseudonym gone rogue is 100% a work of fiction.

I mean, a man gets beaten to death with his own prosthetic arm! That’s rough and that doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of this super violent narrative.

The story begins when our protagonist, Thad Beaumont, is just a kid suffering from debilitating headaches and auditory hallucinations. During surgical exploration of his brain, it is discovered that Thad absorbed a twin in utero and parts of that twin suddenly began growing again causing the symptoms he was experiencing!

With that strange occurrence out of the way, Thad goes on to live a normal life. He becomes a college professor and writer, gets married, has twins, creates a pseudonym, George Stark, to write under that he subsequently kills off after being outed…

You know, the usual.

There’s one problem with this life plan, however, George Stark doesn’t want to be dead. He wants to continue his successful pulp fiction writing and he needs Thad on board in order to do so.

When people involved with Thad’s career begin being brutally murdered, Thad is the prime suspect. Even though he has a solid alibi, there is physical evidence linking him to the crimes, like fingerprints!

Thad is innocent and sets out to prove it, as well as stop the person responsible. Along with everyone’s favorite Sheriff, Alan Pangborn, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together with startling results.

The sparrows are flying again…

If you are looking for a viscious, creepy read to pick up this Autumn, look no further. This King Classic has some of the best body horror ever written and will leave you with a sense of dreadful anticipation the entire way through!!!

Highly recommend!

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Rave Review: Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen King

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY WORD!!
CHILLED TO THE BONE!!!

The last few sentences of the CODA! Stop!!!
I cannot believe I am using this many exclamation points but seriously, have you read this?

I am so in love with this series.
I just want to stare at it all day and consider its meaning.
Its true too the guts meaning.
It’s bloody EPIC.

As a continuation of the overall series, this was pure perfection. You know the end draws nigh. The pace of the story is like a quickening heartbeat racing towards the ultimate conclusion.

I am so happy that I picked this up and continued on my journey to the Tower.
The connections in this one…

Sai King truly is a master of our world or any other for that matter. I doff my cap. Exceptionally intricate, compelling and extraordinarily told. Nothing short of genius.

A must read for any Constant Reader.
You know who you are…
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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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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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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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April is here!!

Well, April is finally here!  Ahhhh, Spring…it actually snowed today which was really strange but yes, now the sun is out and it is finally Spring.  I just wanted to write my super exciting plans for reading this month.  I do not have any reviews currently that I am in a mental space to write so we will do a general status update today.

This weekend I finished my reread of The Shining by Stephen King which is one of my all time favorite books.  I have to say, I think it was even better the second time round or maybe it is because I am so much older now I can appreciate it more.  I first read The Shining in high school, so over 20 years ago, and I was so freaked out through the whole thing that I think I may have missed a few details. I did remember my favorite chapter though when I got to it, almost paragraph for paragraph.  Chapter 36, The Elevator.  Wow.  A chapter that could be a total workshop in horror writing – but honestly, this book is a masterpiece.  I think people forget just how groundbreaking it was for psychological horror when it was first released.  The year was 1977, people! This book is a classic.  A timeless classic and I will always love it.

This leads me in to my reason for rereading it now – I am joining a readalong through Instagram called the #traintoteenytown which is a large group readalong of Doctor Sleep. For those of you who may not know, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining which King released in 2013…quick math = 36 years later.  Little did I know when I bought it upon release day that it was the book I had been waiting for my entire life!  Danny Torrance, all grown up. After I finished Doctor Sleep, I thought to myself, ‘man, I would love to read them back-to-back someday’ – as it turns out, today is that day.  So, I finished The Shining on Saturday night and started my reread of Doctor Sleep this morning before work.

Quite literally, The Shining/Doctor Sleep combo is the most brilliant duology ever penned and I will stick to that! I am excited to be reading it this time with a group as well.  We have a certain number of pages to read each week, for four weeks, with discussion questions sent out on the Sunday of each week to discuss via group chat.  Most of the people reading it are reading it for the first time so I am really looking forward to hearing their thoughts on it.  I will be annotating it this time around so am hoping to bring some insight into the discussion as a 2nd time reader.

Also this month, I will be participating in a buddy read of Justin Cronin’s, The Passage, with a group of my book buddies (we are lovingly called the Floatin’ Troopers) – really looking forward to diving into this post-apocalyptic horror trilogy as I have heard nothing but good things about it.  It’s a pretty long book, the paperback edition coming in at 766 pages, so we are reading this one into May.  Our group usually picks one book a month that we all try to read – it is very informal though and discussions are usually steered more towards how the book is making us feel, what our thoughts are on a particular author’s writing style as opposed to plot points; that way we aren’t spoiling things for our buddies who may not have gotten as far in the book.

I have a couple other books I am hoping to get to this month.  Firstly, I hope to finish all of the 9 books I am currently reading! I have some ARCs I really need to get to this month and I definitely want to get to Tomi Adeyemi’s, Children of Blood & Bone.  What are you looking forward to reading this month? Anyone else doing any buddy reads or book club reads? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Happy reading!!!

Review: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Publication Date: November 4, 1997

5 of the most magical stars in the universe!!! Wizard and Glass. Wow, what do I even say about this book? This book is immense, epic and a beautifully told story of love and loss. If you are reading this, you most likely already know that Wizard and Glass is the 4th installment in Stephen King’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. I have been reading this series back-to-back since last Fall and I was most concerned about this one.  At 700 pages it is not a small feat and I had heard that it was very different from the other books in the series.  It certainly was that but in a way that enhanced the storytelling of the series. It is mind-boggling to me that this entire world is the creation of one man’s brain!

In this book we hear an incredible tale of the early life of Roland of Gilead, our main protagonist throughout this series. We learn all about his life shortly after becoming a Gunslinger around age 14 or 15 (I can’t recall exactly what age he is stated to be at this point). He has been sent from home to travel to the Barony of Mejis with two of his closest companions and fellow future Gunslingers, Alain and Cuthbert, in order to keep him safe from the sinister Marten Broadcloak. The boys settle in Hambry under the guise of being ‘counters’ for the Affiliation; there they encounter a ruthless and shady cast of characters such as the Big Coffin Hunters, Mayor Thorin and my favorite witch, Rhea of Coos.

The main storyline involves Roland meeting his true love, Susan Delgado, and their budding and blossoming relationship. The intricacy within this story, within this world, is absolutely stunning. King is the master of character development and this story is no different. While reading this book I truly felt like I could see everything playing out before me like a movie. This book is completely different than the other books in the series, yes, but what a tale. I am absolutely in love with it. Spellbinding from beginning to end, in my opinion, and I feel more attached to Roland now than ever before. Excited to move on with my journey to the Tower!  In fact, I have already begun the 5th book of the series, The Wolves of Calla.

Mr. Mercedes – Where it all begins….

No doubt if you follow me on Instagram you are aware that The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King holds a very special place in my heart.  As I have never reviewed the books here on my blog, I figured I would start at the beginning with a quick review for Mr. Mercedes.

The first book of the Bill Hodges Trilogy, Mr. Mercedes, is a fast-paced crime thriller with the most dangerous villain I have read in a while. Brady Hartsfield is smart, deranged and so easy to hate. Along with his truly vile mother, Deborah, these two will leave your stomach churning. Brady is so creative in his wickedness it isn’t surprising it takes three books to tell his tale.

This book sets up the rest of the trilogy well and does a splendid job introducing us to our humble hero, Retired Detective Kermit William ‘Bill’ Hodges, who along with his neighborhood friend, teenager Jerome Robinson, work diligently to nab the ‘Mr. Mercedes’ killer. Closer to the end, we are introduced to Holly Gibney, the emotionally damaged cousin of Bill’s short-term girlfriend, Janey. Holly, throughout the course of the series, turns into one of my favorite characters – loyal, intelligent and snarky, Holly often provides a bit of humor and insight into the stressful, violence filled storylines. Jerome, as well, is quite humorous and him and Holly’s personalities play off each other quite well. Although different from the vast majority of King’s works, I am so in love with this trilogy that I rave about it often. The books are tied together in such an odd, yet seamless way, that it is nothing short of brilliant. King definitely knocked this one out of the park – the series gets better and better and is one-hell of a thrilling ride!