Review: Later by Stephen King

LaterLater by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stephen King’s writing is like coming home for me. I absolutely adored Jamie Conklin’s story.

Later is a coming of age tale with a supernatural twist, following a boy, Jamie, and his struggling single mother, Tia.

Jamie first discovered his ability when he was really young. He can see things others can’t and sometimes it can be really scary.

But it is an unchangeable part of himself and he learns the rules of it, as well as how best to live with it.

His mother knows what he can do, but she doesn’t like to talk about it. It scares her too and she urges Jamie to keep it a secret from everybody.

However, when she is backed against a wall, Tia asks Jamie to use his ability to help her. This event exposes Jamie’s gift to Tia’s police officer girlfriend, Liz.

After their relationship sours and the women call it quits, Liz continues to circle Jamie like a shark. She knows what he can do and eventually plans to use him for her own gain; legalities be damned!

Since this is Stephen King, it does go a lot darker than I am making out here, but it’s a short story; one best discovered for yourself.

I loved Jamie so much. The narrative is like you are sitting down with him, having a cup of coffee, or a whiskey, and he is telling you his story. It’s natural, heart-warming, occasionally frightening, funny and whip-smart.

I also really appreciated the depth of Jamie’s relationship with his mother. It was beautifully explored in my opinion. King excels at complicated familial relationships and this is no exception.

He also is a master at writing from the perspective of children and young adults. Great character work overall, but I always love his kid characters.

I absolutely recommend this to anyone who loves a Horror-based coming of age story.

Chef’s kiss for days!!!

View all my reviews

Thoughts on The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

3/20/21: 5-stars yet again!!! Who is surprised?

Now the question is, do I continue to read the entire series and actually read the final book this time? If ka says it is so, it will be done.

3/15/21: It’s been almost a year. I guess I should pick up The Gunslinger again. Why not!?

I only have 1,100 other books I want to read.

Picking up for the 4th time! 🖤

6/3/2020: ALL HAIL THE KING!!!

Five mind-blowing stars, again.

In contrast to the rest of the books in this series, The Gunslinger, is like the black and white portion of The Wizard of Oz.

By the time you enter The Drawing of Three, you’re in Technicolor, baby!!

Earlier

Reread number three.

Also, buddy reading with my dear friend, Shannon. It’s her first trip to the Tower and I am so excited to join her at the start of her adventure!

Original Review:

Every once in a while, a reread will come along that completely changes your outlook and opinion on a story.

This was absolutely the case for me and my reread of The Gunslinger.

Originally, I read it in my early 20’s, just out of undergraduate school and to be honest:

I didn’t get it.
I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like the atmosphere.
I didn’t like the strange dialogue.
I didn’t like the ending for one of my favorite characters.

I had read a lot of King books and this was so different for me. Rereading it now, on the cusp of 40:

I loved it.
I love the atmosphere.
I love Roland.

I understand where this is going.

The palaver between Roland and Walter at the end left me in absolute chills. Where once I gave this 3-stars, I now give it a very solid 5.

I put it down and immediately went to my bookshelf and grabbed The Drawing of Three: The Dark Tower II and started reading it, staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so.

Now this thought consumes me:

I need to get to this damn tower!

View all my reviews

Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams turned out to be a really superb collection. I absolutely loved my time spent reading this.

Honestly though, am I surprised?

Included are 20-short stories, most never published before, that span a wide gamut of topics and provide plenty of food for thought.

I really enjoyed how varied the stories in this collection were. Going from one to the next, I was always surprised with where I ended up.

I found it to be unpredictable in the best way. One moment you are reading about savage cars, the next, names written in the sand, dueling fireworks shows, all the way to the literal end.

My favorite aspect of this book, however, was the short introductions, where King would give insight into his inspirations or personal connections to each story.

Those sections really helped to set the tone going into each story and for me, I think I took a lot more from each one because of that.

I highly recommend this collection, particularly if you are already a King fan and are familiar with his style and humor.

Even if you are new to King, however, I think you will really enjoy this one. It’s just a darn good time!

View all my reviews

Review: Insomnia by Stephen King

InsomniaInsomnia by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so in LOVE with this story!!!

It’s hard for me to fathom now that I was ever intimidated by Insomnia. Legit for years, I was too scared to pick it up.

Honestly, I don’t even think I ever read the synopsis, so it had nothing to do with that.

I tend not to for King’s books, as I know I am going to pick them up regardless of what it says.

After reading this, I would recommend it to any Constant Reader. If you have been putting this one off, maybe intimidated by its size like I was, please don’t be.

Insomnia is charming, captivating, heart-warming and spine-chilling, with Kingverse connections galore.

As always, King’s character work is just phenomenal; definitely my favorite aspect.

Our protagonist is Ralph Roberts, who after losing his wife gradually develops severe insomnia. Not the low-key aggravating-kind, the continuous, question what you’re seeing while awake-kind.

We follow Ralph, a resident of Derry, as he grapples with his new reality and tries to navigate the world with unrested eyes.

It was so great to be in Derry. There’s a lot happening in that special little town town and Ralph ends up in the middle of it all. Along with his closest companion, Lois, they battle terrifying forces wrecking havoc amongst their friends and neighbors.

There are numerous Dark Tower references, as well as tidbits connecting to the greater King-created world in general. I eat that up. Easter Eggs all day, baby. I can’t get enough of them.

While I recommend this book whole-heartedly to the Constant Readers out there…

I’m not sure it would be as impactful, or feel as extraordinary, to a reader without the background to make the connections.

I could be wrong though, as there is a lot going on in this story outside of all that. There’s social commentary, frightening villains and some intense action scenes; obviously a fantastic setting and believable, well-thought out characters.

I cannot say much more about it. I really can’t say anything about the plot without spoiling things, so we’ll leave it at this:

I loved it, I will read it again and I recommend it to any Stephen King fan!

View all my reviews

Review: Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

Hearts in AtlantisHearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

My first time reading Hearts in Atlantis, if Goodreads existed, I would have given it 3.5-stars and rounded up to 4.

Alas, it was the Stone Age and it didn’t. Dark times, my friends. Dark times.

Many years have passed and I think the fact that I now have age and experience on my side, allows me to view this work from a completely different perspective.

While this most likely explains the significant jump in my rating, I think the fact that I have now read the first six books in the Dark Tower series, also contributes.

There are a lot of interesting references and connections between this book and those.

While the Hearts collection is more understated, it is very powerful. There’s a lot of food for thought in here and I think every reader will take a little something different away.

I really enjoyed how each story follows a different child of the 60s at different stages of their lives. So, while it follows different people, it still keeps that classic coming of age vibe.

I think the collection as a whole fits very well together.

I won’t claim to understand every nuance of these stories, but I do feel like I got a significant amount of meaning out of it this time around.

I would love to read this again someday; maybe in another decade or so. I’m sure it would affect me differently at that time.

This feels more introspective for King. One for his generation. It’s impressive, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful and it’s definitely worth picking up!

View all my reviews

Review: Thinner by Richard Bachman

ThinnerThinner by Richard Bachman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another successful buddy read with my friend, Shannon!!!

I love this story so much. Is it perfect?

Probably not for everyone, but it’s a hell of a fun reading experience for me. This is my third time through this one and honestly, not the last.

Thinner follows the story of Billy Halleck, a successful attorney living the good life in a wealthy Connecticut suburb.

Billy has a lovely wife, Heidi, a sweet daughter, Linda, and friends and associates he pals around with at the local country club.

He also has an extra 50-pounds or so around the middle, evidence of the many rich meals and treats he can afford.

All is good in Billy’s life until the night Heidi decides to spice things up on a drive home from an event.

With Billy desperately distracted, tragedy strikes. The other party is no one in this town however. They don’t have rich friends and connections like Billy. Connections to the judge and the police.

Billy doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist for the role he played in that tragic night.

Others want justice for what happened and if they can’t get it through the traditional ways, it’s no bother; they have their own ways. Old ways.

A soft caress with a gnarled hand and one word whispered with intention, thinner.

Thus, changing the course of Billy’s life forever.

Y’all this story is gruesome, wild and unrelenting.

The body horror is just that, horrible and horrifying and sure to make you cringe. If you aren’t into graphic descriptions of terrifying things happening to a human body, you may want to steer clear.

I find writing as Bachman, King is much more blunt in his delivery and build-up. This reads very quickly and advances through the plot at a rapid fire pace.

I love going along with Billy as he comes to grips with what is happening to him and tries to fix it.

He calls in a favor from his friend, Richard Ginelli, when he feels like the problem is too much for him to tackle himself.

Unfortunately, once on the case, Ginelli is like a guard dog slipped his leash. He can’t be called back and things escalate quickly.

As gritty and physically horrifying as this story is, there’s also some great food for thought mixed in. Blame, guilt, disregard for others, privilege, power and blood feuds; you can find it all in here.

If you are looking for a quick, quirky, messy, horrific tale, you should definitely give Thinner a shot.

View all my reviews

Review: Revival by Stephen King

RevivalRevival by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1962, while playing in his yard, 6-year old, Jamie Morton, suddenly has a shadow fall upon him. He looks up to find a statuesque man in church garb standing over him.

The man introduces himself as Charles Jacobs, he’s the new reverend, just arrived in town.

Jacobs, the Rev, is young, vibrant and successful at filling pews; breathing life back into the somewhat stale local church.

He also develops strong relationships with a lot of the young people, Jamie included, who actually is a favorite of sorts for Jacobs.

After an unexpected tragedy strikes, Jacobs is prompted to move on. That’s not the last time Jamie will come across him however; not by a long shot.

From there the narrative progresses with a classic coming-of-age feel and ultimately, ends up spanning five decades.

We follow Jamie as he discovers his gift for music, finds first love, moves from home, struggles with addiction and encounters Jacobs again and again.

Jacobs is the shadow that falls over his entire life.

I didn’t come up with that. That’s from the book, but definitely captures Jacobs presence in this story.

I loved the way King built this one up and progressed the narrative. As Jamie begins to realize the depths to which Jacobs has gone with his electrical obsession, and subsequent pursuit of its potential healing powers, the intensity continues to grow and grow and grow.

The interactions between Jamie and Jacobs begin to feel more dangerous every time they meet.

Jacobs electrical work and experiments were so interesting, but most interesting of all to me, were his healings. The revival-tent displays of power. It had a real mad scientist energy that had me more charged than Frankenstein’s monster.

Revival is a stunning example of King’s status as master storyteller.

From beginning to end, I was entranced. There is so much substance to be found within these pages; so many lines I wish I could recall at will. It’s exceptional. I feel like I will carry this story with me for a long time to come.

The ending is horrifying. Emotionally, philosophically, theologically; there’s a lot to unpack.

We’re talking full blown existential crisis upon reading the last 40-or so pages. I would love to read this again and annotate it. I definitely think it is worthy of that care.

Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who finally pushed me to pick this one up. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

The TommyknockersThe Tommyknockers by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Okay, I know, I know. This isn’t a perfect book.

Luckily, I am not a critical reader. Therefore a book doesn’t need to be entirely perfect in order for me to love it.

I rate books based upon my reading experience and I absolutely loved my time rereading The Tommyknockers.

This SciFi-Horror novel, first published in 1987, is set in the small town of Haven, Maine.

One day while walking in the woods of her rather large property, local woman, Bobbi Anderson, quite literally stumbles upon a mysterious metal object protruding from the ground.

Unable to understand what she is seeing, Bobbi quickly becomes obsessed with freeing the object.

The longer she’s around it however, the more she begins to notice certain disturbing side effects suffered by both herself and her old dog, Peter.

Regardless of any strange happenings, Bobbi continues to feel the pull of the object in the woods.

Around the time Bobbi has developed this new obsession, her old friend, Jim Gardener, known as Gard, finds himself in the depths of a true alcoholic bender.

On a morning where he is moments from ending it all, Gard experiences an overwhelming feeling that Bobbi is in real danger; he needs to call her.

Unable to get through, he does what anyone would do. He hitchhikes to her house.

He finds Bobbi in a state of, shall we say, disrepair.

Bobbi gives Gard, her trusted friend, a run-down of all she has been up to; including showing him the object.

She enlists his help in her mission to free it. Although he has reservations, Gard loves Bobbi in his own way, and ultimately does decide to stick around and help her out.

From there, we meet the town of Haven. The other locals who have begun to feel the effects of the object’s greater exposure.

The fallout seems to be having an effect on the health and wellness of the entire town. Incidentally, it also has a significant effect on anyone passing through.

Written towards the end of the Cold War, at a time when discussions of nuclear weapons, power and nonproliferation evoked a lot of passion amongst people, that influence can be felt here.

The fact that I am using the word fallout, as an apt way to describe what was happening to the citizens of Haven, exemplifies that.

In addition to the social commentary, which I feel King is genuinely good at weaving into his stories, he also incorporates various other elements he seems to enjoy exploring.

There’s author protagonists, both Bobbi and Gard are writers, alcoholism, mental telepathy, revivalist preachers, dolls, rats, bats, creepy kids and a fantastic array of body horror. It really has it all.

Also, as usual, this story is full of witty humor and characters that are so well-developed you feel like you’ve known them your whole life.

As a Maine native, I can tell you this story is full of Mainerism, as well!

Overall, I had such a fun time sinking my teeth into this one again. I had forgotten so much.

Additionally, I picked up so many more connections to the great Kingverse than the first time around; having an additional 20-years to read his stories.

I think this one is underrated. Not just underrated, it gets a solidly bad rap.

However, I humbly disagree. I think if you love King, and love SciFi, you can love this book as well.

View all my reviews

Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duma Key has climbed the ranks and officially entered my ‘Top 5 Kings’ List. This is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

Edgar Freemantle is a successful businessman.

Living with his wife of 20+ years in Minnesota, they have raised two healthy girls and have a good life. A solid life.

This is, until the day Edgar is involved in a horrific accident on one of his construction sites.

Crushed by a piece of heavy equipment, he is lucky to be alive, although losing his right arm, injuring his hip and scrambling his brain doesn’t seem so lucky to him immediately after the fact.

His recovery is extremely difficult, putting a lot of strain on his marriage, with him and Pam ultimately separating.

His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests perhaps a change of scenery would be best for his recovery efforts, as well as a hobby. Edgar figures, why not? He has the money, what is he sticking around Minnesota for?

He rents a beach house on a remote, undeveloped piece of land on the Florida coast, Duma Key. The house, something of an artist’s retreat, is perfect for him, as he is feeling like doing some sketching himself.

Edgar begins to settle in and does indeed begin to create amazing art.

He’s unsure where some of it is coming from. He just seems to be compelled. The drawings and paintings pour out of him at an incredible rate, becoming more intricate and astounding as he progresses.

During this time, he makes a new friend while out for one of his daily beach walks. Jerome Wireman lives at the big house on Duma Key, caring for its aging lady of the house, Elizabeth Eastlake.

It is mainly through these characters that Edgar begins to learn of the dark history and lore of Duma Key and the Eastlake family.

However, Duma has a lot to say itself and that’s when things really start to get dangerous.

There is so much to love about this story. I knew absolutely zero about it going in. I don’t even think I ever read a full synopsis.

I was delighted as the story unfolded. The relationships, as is to be expected with King, were so deep and well done. The friendship between Edgar and Wireman is easily one of the best I have ever read.

In my opinion, King is great with this type of human dynamics. Further, I really appreciate how none of the relationships in this story were romantic.

It’s friendship, it’s family, and none of them are perfect, but they’re all so real and compelling.

Duma Key itself was incredibly well done. He has such a sense of place, always incorporating the idea that places remember; pieces of history live on through the lifeblood of the land and structures themselves.

You see this type of idea a lot throughout King’s works, from this one, to The Shining, Pet Sematary and everything in between.

Overall, I could wax poetic about this novel for hours. There is so much to unpack with this story. It’s extremely intricate, I would love to read it again someday and most likely will.

If you are a Constant Reader and haven’t picked this up yet, delay no more. It’s a stunner!

View all my reviews

Review: The Institute by Stephen King

The InstituteThe Institute by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m going to need lots and lots of time to pull myself together after this.

I have such a difficult time formulating actual ‘reviews’ of King’s work.

A full review may never come. I have made peace with this.

It’s okay. I accept my right to just fangirl and move on.

One thing I will mention is the phenomenal dynamic between the group of children in this story.

In my opinion, King writes kids so well. Their honesty and way of viewing the world, he always hits that spot on.

A group of children banding together to fight the forces of evil?

It doesn’t get better than that!

Original:


Reads synopsis whilst at work:

RIP Me.
An all new 500+ page book from the KING!!!!

My favorite author.
Released just in time for my birthday.
Comparisons made to Firestarter.

I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for this!

Release Day Update:

WHERE IS MY COPY!?!?
WHERE IS MY MAIL PERSON!?!?

Final Update:

IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!

View all my reviews