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Posts Tagged ‘stephen king’

watch_cvr
As promised I’ve decided to put out a second review for October featuring my good man Stephen King, since after all this IS October. You know horror marathons on the telly, horror movies in the theatres, Halloween and (for this year) the inevitable ending of the 18-month circus known as the Election 2016. Aye, that last one has its own horrors of horrors. But enough with the bollocks and on to the review. Shall we?
In Mr. Mercedes, retired Detective Hodges had managed to put Brady Hartsfield into a mental instition on the account that he was somewhat brain-damaged. When we last encountered Brady, it was in the Finders Keepers which was mostly about some murderous tosser wanting to retrieve some old manuscripts. Here in Finders we were beginning to see that even though Mr. Hartsfield was seemingly brain-damaged, there was strange things happening in his room such as pipes turning on and photo frames falling over. Did I mention he was pretty much stuck in a wheelchair? And some point after having read Finders Keepers, many of us must probably suffered from a case of the “goosebumps”. Needless to say, it was foretelling what was to come in King’s next installation.End of Watch, the last in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, opens with a retelling of the Mercedes Massacre from the perspectives of two EMT workers and evolves (for a moment) around the life of one of the survivors: Martine Stover. Then somewhere early in the book Ms. Stover dies. But then so has some of the staff that worked at the hospital that housed Brady Harsfield who noticed strange occurances like photo frames being moved or pipes turning on and off with no one around except a crippled Brady. Yes, it seems that our bay may have developed some preternatural abilities. So how pray tell, did this happen? Enter Dr. Felix Babineau, douchebag and tosser supreme, who took it on himself to test out unapproved and experimental drugs on the supposed sad case of that is Brady. Of course, there was some side effects. Yes, we all seen this movie before. Ambitious doctor decides to test crap out on disabled psychopath … um … yes, it is not going to end great, especially for the doctor. Using some old Gameboy type game consoles called Zappits that features some game involving fish (aye, seriously), Brady extends himself beyond the confines of the hospital in the most spinetingling manner that could evolve from the mind of King. Could’ve been worse it could have been a modified version of the Pokemon Go app. As the bodies begin to pile up, Bill Hodges along with the brilliant, wisecracking, Afro-American sidekick Jerome Robinson race to stop Brady and his dark plans of vengeance. The suspense grips you by the throat at each turn of the page, and hurtles you at a blinding, fiery speed towards the end. And yes, there will be blood.
A delightful end to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, it is , as usual, premium King. As usual. And to expect less … um … seriously, mate?

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11.22.63_cvr

One would think that a self-professed Stephen King fan, such as yours truly, would have devoured this book ages ago. Sadly, it took me a while to come to my bloody senses and (finally!!!) read this book. Well, in actuality, it was the prodding of several patrons (who are also King fans … and apparently better at it) and the fact that Hulu decided to make it into a mini-series. And since I don’t have a Hulu subscription … well, you know.

The best part was the moment I picked it up, I realized that it was going to be very hard to put down.

Jake Epping is an English teacher that lives in Maine. During the day he teaches regular school and on some evenings teaches GED classes. One of Jake’s little pleasure is stopping by Al’s Diner for a burger and shakes that are sold at ridiculously low prices and the meat is rumoured to be derived from stray cats. Hold your horses, even King would not be that sick (um … I think). Then one day, out of the blue, Jake Epping is approached by Al Templeton and is told the most bizarre tale: there is a portal that leads into 1960s and it is located in the diner’s pantry. I know. Considering the tales and rumours surrounding Al’s “cheap” burgers, it would be enough to start a red flag parade in one’s mind. Except for one thing: Al had aged, progressively, within a very short period of time and was dying from cancer. Giving into curiosity, Jake takes the plunge (literally) down the rabbit hole and finds the portal that leads back into the 1960s … where burger meat was less than a quid per pound. But as intriguing as it is to go back in time, the portal comes with its own set of rules. For one, you can spend many years in the 60s which may only turn out to be a few hours in the present. Secondly, any alterations you make in history can be reset if you re-enter the portal (e.g. let’s say you go into the past to and shoot Jim Jones, you’ll emerge to find that Jonestown never happened and my birthplace doesn’t have a historic black eye that is related to Kool Aid – but then you forgot to buy those Apple penny stocks by the truckloads and so you go back in – and voila, my country of birth gets to contribute to the saying “drinking the Kool Aid” … sure, you’re filthy rich while the only way I can stop people from confusing my birthplace with an African country is to mention “Jonestown” … I have seriously detoured … parenthetically speaking). Well you get the point. So as Al faces his last days on earth, he wonders what life would have been like, in America, if JFK wasn’t assassinated. Jake, at the same time, is haunted by a GED essay that was written by Harry Dunning (a janitor) that spoke of the time his father murdered his family with a sledgehammer and almost killed him (Harry). So Al convinces Jake to go back in to the portal to try and twart the death of JFK. It is apparent that Al has spent a lot of years in the portal as he gives Jake “notes on Oswald and sporting events and their outcomes (that he can bet on to make some serious money). Soon Jake is on a strange odyssey that takes him from Maine to Florida and eventually to Texas, as he encounters murderous bookies, vicious rednecks, doctor-endorsed Lucky Strikes cigarette commercials, artery clogging diner food, a wife-beating loser named Oswald, and a gorgeous Sadie Dunhill who becomes his love interest and indulges in copious amounts of the good old in-out in-out.
Over 1,000 plus pages, King spins a really intriguing yarn that sinks it claws into you and reels you in and it is time travel like you’ve never read it before. No fancy gizmos, or some old dude chomping on cigars screaming at some computer named Izzy (yeah, I just threw in a Quantum Leap reference), or girls in latex outfits speaking in British accents. Just a strange portal lurking in some bloke’s diner pantry. There is intrigue and suspense as Jake starts getting to close to Oswald and into other situations that should have really stayed clear off. And then there is Sadie, with her own secrets, sort of like Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy, except this husband isn’t beguiling (or possibly handsome) as Patrick Bergin and he’s got some serious issues (something about sleeping in bed with a broom … yeahhh). Now you’re probably wondering if he succeeded in saving JFK’s life and what was the world like. Yeah. I try not to be a bloody tosser and ruin stuff for folks, so I’m afraid that much you’ll have to read that much on your own … but, oh the trip you WILL have on the way there. Once again, premium King that doesn’t disappoint and being the sicko that he is, he has actually enclosed a ton of 1960s-type diner recipes at the end of the book in all of their artery-clogging glory. Demon. I will try a few. Maybe a couple times.

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bazaar_cvr

As we plow headlong into 2016, I couldn’t help noticing the latest King book (finally!!!) sitting in my stacks and eventually … in my hands. Unlike many of his novels, this was an actual collection of stories: some scary, some downright disturbing, and a few that were pretty much WTF. Throughout the book, King would offer a “behind the scene” moment at the beginning of each story which was rather interesting. For some it was an eye opener, whilst others were basically fill in the blanks. The one common ground with all those behind the scene moments was that it gave the reader some insight to his genius/madness and I suspect it was but a mere peek through the curtains.
Best of all, Bazaar seemed geared toward engaging more than a few emotions, rather than the usual ones solicited by fear and suspense. The stories are a strange myriad: a stalled car, on a highway, that is a Venus fly trap for unwary humans; a sand dune on a small island that, mysteriously spells out the names of those that will soon die; an indecent proposal to a struggling couple of the twisted variety (and no, it is not quite like that Robert Redford/Demi Moore slap and tickle bit); a pink Kindle that predicts the future; a rich burn victim who realizes that pain is something that might be literally (lurking) in his head and elsewhere in his body; a news writer whose fake obituaries create real deaths and even more dire tragedies; the strange world of two families who have the strangest July Fourth fireworks competition. And there are more. Confused? Befuddled? Scared shitless? Tickled pink (are you kidding … uh, no)? Yes, all these emotions and thought processes will be addressed in reading Bazaar. In some parts, it might bollocks up your view of the world, scare you senseless, appreciate baseball (aye, you’re reading correctly), or even question how much acid did King drop back in the days. Premium King, as usual, with a story for (dare I say) everyone to curl up to on a warm El Niño winter night.

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findrs_kprs_cvr

It has been a very interesting summer, in terms of reading… that is, and I couldn’t help but notice the new Stephen King book sitting in the stacks, beckoning to me like a curvaceous Siren to a marrooned, randy sailor (wow, I seriously need to go out more). What can I say, perfect timing, yeah?
The new King book practically begins with a bang. A reclusive, iconic writer, John Rothstein, is the victim of a home invasion. But this is no ordinary home invasion. Led by Morris Bellamy, an obsessive fan, the object is, seemingly, the large amounts of money kept in the writer’s home safe, though to the Morris the real treasure is the pile of Moleskin notebooks filled with drafts of unpublished Jimmy Gold novels. After cold-bloodedly murdering Rothstein … and his accomplices, Morris hides his literary “booty” along with some piles of cash, only to be sent to jail (for life) on a totally unrelated crime. Something about a rape that he was to drunk to even remember. What a way for life to suck.
Several decades later, this “well-hidden” bounty is discovered by a young Pete Sanders who was simply wandering off the beaten path (literally) and his curiousity got the best of him. Pete Sanders family is enduring some tough times, since Pete’s father (apparently the bread winner) was injured in the Mr. Mercedes rampage (bloody hell, you say, a tie back to another King novel). Yes. And it gets better. So what does a young man do when he finds a significant amount of money? Instead of spending it on bling and other such bollocks, Pete does the “unthinkable” he anonymously mails portions of it on monthly (or was it weekly?) basis to (gasp!!!) his family in order to help them out of their financial crisis. Blimey, you say, a teenager that chooses to the most selfless thing with a large pile of money … King has sunk to a new terrifying low. Of course, good intentions aside, pillaged treasures soon finish and … some prisoners, despite the odds, get released back into society. And a certain convict is going to need his “hidden treasure” to fall back on. As the body count begins, a troubled Pete Sanders find himself embroiled with shady rare book dealers and eventually crosses path with Bill Hodges (yes, the retired detective from Mr. Mercedes). Also joining Hodges, is the boy wonder Jerome Robinson, an intelligent (now in college) black teenager who is a wisecracking, techie genius (also from Mr. Mercedes). Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the suspense to rachet up at speeds that would redline your adrenaline guage, as the book races with break-neck speed towards a heart-pounding conclusion. Notable mention: Brady Hartsfield (aka Mr. Mercedes) also makes an appearance and even though he is physically incapacitated, there is something supernaturally brewing up in the mix. Alas, the saga of Mr. Mercedes is not quite over. And it is pure, premium King. Bloody fantastic.

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mistermercedes_cvr

Sorry for the late post. It has been a wee bit crazy this month at my library. I now hate teachers … you get summer off and we get the privilege of running around the stacks hunting the TONS of books that you so casually compiled for your pupils. For some reason I can hear Q Lazarus’ Goodbye Horses playing in my ear the more I think of this. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing the Buffalo Bill dance routine to it. But enough about the bollocks and no let’s head off the matter at hand (if I haven’t creeped you out at this point).
It is clear to me that there is NOTHING out there that Stephen King can’t take and into suspenseful, horrifying prose. Absolutely nothing. So taking a cue from the current state of employment in this country, the book starts out with a bunch of people lining up in the pre-dawn hours at a site for job interviews. Yes, apparently there are things more important that iPhones and other such bollocks worth waiting for in line. It is a scene that reads like a near-dismal modern day version of Grapes of Wrath minus the billowing tumbleweeds and complete dark looming clouds of despair. A young woman, with a baby, befriends a gentleman on the line. He in turn gives her a sleeping bag for her to rest in with her infant. It is touching, and just as the warm cockles of your heart start warming up along comes some wanker in a Mercedes-Benz car and plows through the entire crowd … intentionally. And this is all within the first chapter.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective who lives a very simple – retired – life. His usual daily regimen involves watching some self-righteous, indignant female judge verbally pummel unsuspecting litigants and a certain show involving people, screaming audience and DNA tests. He’s had quite an accomplished career closing many great cases … all except one. I guessing you can guess which one. Then one day, Hodges receives a letter from a certain Mr. Mercedes. Though seemingly apologetic, the letter is a thinly veiled taunt at Hodges’ inability to close the case.
Meet Brady Hartsfield, by day he works at a discount electronics store and is part of Cyber Squad (or something like that), a team that drives around in lime green Volkswagons fixing people’s computers. On the side, Mr. Hartsfield also drives an ice cream truck which allows him to dispense ice cream to sugar-starved kids whilst keeping an eye on Bill Hodges. After a grueling day of fixing computers and selling ice cream, Mr. Hartsfield goes home to his mother. This is where it gets cringeworthy for Brady has very unusual fascination with mum (as in incestual with a capital I), though not as sexy as anything you might see on Game of Thrones. And for the record, I’m not implying that incest is – sexy. Allow me a moment to deal with the slight vomit burped into my throat and is slow being re-digested. Oh the things I must endure for my blog and readers. So aside from planning psychotic bollocks and taunting retired detectives, Mr. Hartsfield is an avowed racist as is seen in his hatred that is directed towards Jerome Robinson; a young black man that is befriended by Hodges and is brilliant beyond his age. He is also quite the adoring wiseass.
So there is Brady Hartsfield in a nutshell: racist, a bit psychotic and lives with his mum that he’s sexually fascinated with. Hmmm … sounds like a good percentage of the trolls that hang out on Yahoo and other news site messageboards. Now I know what some might be thinking that I’ve tossered up and decided to reveal the killer to you. Sorry mates, hate to break it to you, but King beat me to that within the first three chapters.

As Hodges pulls himself back into the case he encounters Lauren Trelawney, whose sister was driven to suicide by Mr. Mercedes since it was her stolen Mercedes that was used in the crime. He is hired by her, as a private eye, to investigate her suicide. Of course, Lauren is a hot 40-something and yes their relationship becomes more than professional. Awww, older folks having hot sex. It is only a matter of time before things go awry (I’m not going to say what -) and before you know it Hodges is joined with a strange motley crew (Olivia Trelawney and Jerome) as they pursue Bray in what turns out to be a terrifying race against the clock where there is a lot at stake … to lose

King’s Mr. Mercedes, though not your typical preternatural horrifying tale, is more of psychological crime thriller that nevertheless scares you breathless. Especially when you realize, based on current events, that there are tons of Brady Hartsfields out there – minus the incest factor. Maybe. I hope. Please.
All in all, it is premium King that, as always, never skimps on the excitement and throat-grabbing suspense, and leaves you waiting for the next book.

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joyland

It is your typical college boy story. Boy goes to college to study journalism. Boy meets girl and falls in love. Girl, however, is not so in love with boy. Summer comes boy and girl has to go separate ways. Girl finds a job (and a new “love”) in some other state. Boy finds job at carnival with colourful characters … which also involves a haunted mirror house with a ghost. Girl breaks up with boy (at least he didn’t get played with that “I have to concentrate on my studies” bollocks only to find out that she’s dating your swim team mate who is stupid enough to blurt it out to you … oh, I’m sorry, just a flashback detour). Boy decides to hang around with carnival beyond the summer. Sounds pretty much cut and dry, except it is not. After all, this IS Stephen King, mates.

And yes , I know … doesn’t sound like your typical chill-up-your-kilt scary King stuff that I’m always reviewing but when you like a writer … well … you can’t help it. Believe it or not, this is actually a crime novel (sprinkled with bits of supernatural shenanigans … of course). A bit like Stand by Me and Green Mile minus the jail stuff. In Joyland, the readers are guided through the story through the eyes of Devin Jones (the down and out on love lad), as it is written in the first person narrative. Starts a bit slow, but Devin’s life with the carnival is filled with colourful characters (each with their own intriguing mini-stories) that keeps the reader sucked in. Somewhere in the 70s, King’s tale captures a bit of nostalgia of a time when nothing said fun like the annual summer carnival and water park. And the best part was that there was not Twitter, Instagram and other such bollocks that kid us into believing that we’re capturing the “fun” moments of our lives. Really? I thought we already had a built in app for that and it does not come with contracts or limited memory and it was called … memories. And believe me, some things are best left in your memory than preserved on Instagram for the rest of the world to see. Think 80s, hair mousse and lots of neon-coloured clothing … on a black bloke. Hope you folks out there have a really good imagination because you will NEVER see that on web. Ah yes, great times. I detoured again, didn’t I? Just a wee bit.

One of the most delightful characters introduced comes in the form of Mike Ross, a young kid, with a terminal disease, filled with supernova wisdom packed into his short and tragic. Needless to say, he is one of these characters that will linger with you long after you’ve read this book. But just as the book is beginning to get all touchy-feely, and most readers are resigned to a nice calm roller coaster ride to the end, the roller coaster suddenly dips and plummets at a terrifying pace as the reader practically wets their undies holding for dear life. Yes, there is a ghost of murdered girl(Linda Gray), strange mutterings from a fortune-teller (Madame Fortuna), and a serial killer twist that would cause most readers to drop their jaws in the puddles of their own discharged body fluids. A bit too graphic on that one? Sorry. I need to control that.

The beauty of Joyland is that even though it is a first-person narrative, most of the characters we encounter have their own stories, that are intriguing, shocking, frightening and yes, tugs on the heartstrings. Did I weep like a nancy, you ask? Like bloody hell, I am going to admit that. (Ok … sort of … but I didn’t need a tissue). Splendid King as usual, and perfect for summer reading at the beach. Ah yes, you remember that … SUMMER. The other S word. Warm, sunny days. Girls in … oh, never mind me.

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doctorsleep

Back in the 80s, I remember sitting under this house with a bunch of people in a makeshift cinema that was comprised of several benches, a large telly and a Betamax video player (the size of the Hoover dam), watching The Shining. Aye, in Guyana they tend to build houses on pillars, that way you get to use the full yard and still have a very large house with two stairs. I was in my early teens then, and along with a few of my mates, I had paid my two quid to get the bollocks scared out of me … and let’s just say that The Shining didn’t disappoint. What I got from that movie was about a week of sleepless nights and me pledging to never accept any carnal proposals from any strange naked women, I encounter, emerging from bathtubs, in strange hotels. Then again … about the last part … oh come on, just kidding. Maybe.

The last time we heard of (or saw) Dan (Danny) Torrance, he was escaping, along with his mum and chef Dick Hollaran, from the Overlook Hotel … and the psychotic wrath of a possessed father. Up until then no knew what happened to Danny Torrance beyond Overlook. Apparently, for many fans, inquiring minds wanted to know and this specter may have raised its head at several of King’s signings (or so I had gleaned from his Author’s notes … aye, I tend to be a bit thorough with King’s prose sometimes). And so, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining was born: Doctor Sleep. Here we find a middle-aged Danny Torrance, drifting around America, a full-blown alcoholic and occasional drug user (if there is ever such a thing), from job to job. His mother had passed on (now please folks, this is not much of a spoiler, for you will learn this early o’clock in the book … and no, I would never be such a wank). We are also introduced to a group called the True Knot that travel by RVs and Winnebagos across the country and they seemingly have an appetite (literally!!!) for young children that have the shining ability. Immortal and viciously terrifying, they are lead by the charismatic Rose the Hat; a woman whose viciousness and charm are so bloody terrifying that it makes Hannibal Lechter looks like a dolled-up children librarian that wears lots of pink (the colour … and not the Victoria Secret brand … it is troubling that I know this). If you look closely on the cover you’ll see a depiction of the sultry Rose (yes, it took me awhile to figure that out … and to notice the outline of her tophat) which more or less dampens the pure malevolence that hides beneath the surface of this bird. The paths , between Rose the Hat and Danny intersect, when both (sort of) encounter Abra Stone: a young girl that is born with the shining, very powerful and is perceived by the True Knot as some sort of Holy Grail. Aye, sick, twisted and bloody creepy. And so a battle royale begins, as the Rose and her True Knot cult try to capture Abra. For Danny, it is déjà vu all over again where Abra is the same shoes as Danny was at Overlook and Danny, now, has to become a mentor of sorts, as chef Hollaran was to him, to her in face of an emerging and terrifying battle.
King does not hold back nor spares any punches as this terrifying sequel explodes, on your senses, with the force of high yield megaton atomic bomb as it often not only makes your hair stand on end but bloody glow with tension and anxiety. There is a mixture of everything for every emotion in this book … and most of it …very twisted. We learn about Dick Hollaran’s disturbing pass as a young child. We get to cheer (a bit) when Danny finds his way to recovery whilst working in a New Hampshire hospice and because of his shining “ability” he has this unique way of helping people to pass from this life into the other (hence the title “Doctor Sleep”). And of course, there is one of the most touching endings I’ve read in Stephen King book that almost got me sobbing like a little nancy. Okay, my eye got a wee bit glazed over … but THAT’S IT. (Forgive me, Jason Statham, Patron Saint of Manliness).

Needless to say, it is premium King at its most thrilling, frightening … and yet, oh so touching. An adrenaline-induced, horrifying, roller coaster ride that you never want to end. The much anticipated sequel was well worth the wait. Though now I am a bit ever more cautious about RVs and Winnebagos that I may encounter on travels on the highways of America, for you never know who …or WHAT is in them (also echoed in the Author’s notes). Mr. King you are one scary bastard … a loveable scary bastard.

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