Reading Stephen King – September 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I thought the best way to start my Fall reading is with some Stephen King books. I have only ever read his novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which was fantastic. I was looking forward to joining the millions of readers that love Stephen King.

0671024256.01.LZZZZZZZTitle: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Memoir, Writing
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook & Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app & Library book sale
Date finished reading:  September 6, 2019

Goodreads Description: “Long live the King,” hailed “Entertainment Weekly” upon the publication of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

christineTitle: Christine
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 29, 1983
Pages: 503
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: September 14, 2019

Goodreads Description: Just Another Lovers’ Triangle, Right?

It was love at first sight. From the moment seventeen-year-old Arnie Cunningham saw Christine, he knew he would do anything to possess her.

Arnie’s best friend, Dennis, distrusts her—immediately.

Arnie’s teen-queen girlfriend, Leigh, fears her the moment she senses her power.

Arnie’s parents, teachers, and enemies soon learn what happens when you cross her.

Because Christine is no lady. She is Stephen King’s ultimate, blackly evil vehicle of terror…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

apt pupilTitle: Apt Pupil 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 179
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 15, 2019

Goodreads Description: Todd Bowden is an apt pupil. Good grades, good family, a paper route. But he is about to meet a different kind of teacher: Mr. Dussander. Todd knows all about Dussander’s dark past. The torture. The death. The decades-old manhunt Dussander has escaped to this day. Yet Todd doesn’t want to turn him in. Todd wants to know more. Much more. He is about to learn the real meaning of power—and the seductive lure of evil.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

38926465._SY475_Title: The Body
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 80
Format Read: Ebook/Audiobook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: It’s 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, has disappeared, and twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio come to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up in a small factory town that doesn’t offer much in the way of a future.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

shiningTitle: The Shining 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 28, 1977
Pages: 659
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Series Book #1
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 30, 2019

Goodreads Description: Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: As an introduction to Stephen King, I think this month went really well. I do not read many horror novels, so I was nervous on how I would handle reading Stephen King, hence why I started with his nonfiction memoir On Writing. However, much to my surprise I really enjoyed reading Stephen King from his memoir to his short stories to his full length novels.

First, let me say that his memoir is fantastic and should be read even if you are not a Stephen King fan. I am not just saying that because he mentions DePere, Wisconsin, a town I lived in for 3 1/2 years. Half of this book is a memoir about Stephen King’s life and the other half provides his writing tips and conversations he has had about writing. On Writing gives you a glimpse into King’s childhood. He also discusses his addiction to alcohol and his recovery after being struck by a car. That event in his life occurred during the writing of this book and almost killed him. For the most part, I absolutely loved this book. I guess the only thing that started to make me a bit uncomfortable was how many times King mentions the full name of the individual who was driving the car that struck him. Frankly, that individual was not sufficiently punished by the judicial system, and so maybe King mentions him repeatedly in his book out of the bitterness of this situation, which is justified, but still made me feel uncomfortable.

After reading, On Writing, I was ready to dive into his works of fiction. I listened to Christine on audiobook. When I was on my lunch break, I would read his short story from the Different Seasons collection called Apt Pupil. I actually thought this was a good pairing, because it helped me establish why I loved Christine but did not like Apt Pupil very much. Christine was an absolute thrill ride (pun maybe intended). Apt Pupil really dragged for me. While they both had very violent scenes, I found those scenes much more tolerable in Christine than I did in Apt Pupil. The characters in Apt Pupil were just so sick and twisted. I can also say to myself that those were humans doing those acts of violence in Apt Pupil, where as in Christine much of the violence is done by a car (an object). I also really enjoyed the telling of Christine through a narrator (Dennis).

The Body was also told through a narrator, Gordy, and was a good next short story to read, as it was far less disturbing than Apt Pupil. I feel horrible writing this, but this style of literature made a much better movie. If you haven’t seen Stand By Me, you should. It is a great adaptation of this story. I found it a little confusion in the reading of The Body to understand if the narrator was in the past or the present. That could also be because I listened to it on audio instead of reading my physical copy. However, the experiences and conversations between the four friends, Gordy, Chris, Teddy, and Vern, as they go in search of a dead body, were wonderfully told – entertaining and at times funny.

To end my month of reading Stephen King, I finally read The Shining and no it is not like the Jack Nicholson movie (though I admit I love the movie too). This was a great conclusion, as I absolutely loved this book. It was my favorite for sure. It had characters I cared about, fantastical elements (a possessed murder house & people who have a special ability called the shine), and intense, scary moments that made it hard to read but at the same time made it hard to stop reading. Also, Dick Halloran, you rock my world! I can’t help but be tempted to read King’s follow-up novel called Doctor Sleep, but I am nervous that he changes the characters enough (especially Danny) that I won’t enjoy it.

I have heard from other readers, that Stephen King’s writing it too simplistic. It may be simplistic, but I think he creates magic with his words – simple or not. He makes you scared of things you never thought you would be scared of and uses important topics as themes in his stories, like bullying, alcoholism and friendship. “Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant, did you ever notice that?” (from The Body) I avoided Stephen King for so long, because I just did not think I would enjoy his type of horror (or the horror genre in general). I was wrong though and am glad I finally read his works. I will definitely be reading more.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Have you ever read Stephen King? If so, what are your favorites?

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient

kissTitle: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 30, 2018
Pages: 333
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Hoopla app
Date finished reading: September 25, 2019

Goodreads Description: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

My Review: As far as romance novels go, this was not high on my TBR list, but I needed to find an audiobook to listen to that would offset the scary horror books I have been reading, and this one popped up on the screen, so I thought I would give it a try. As it turned out, I ended up loving it. It is a steamy romance with quirky characters and an actual realistic plot. It was very much like a modern day Pretty Woman or Wedding Date. Stella, the main character, has Asperger’s and so sees the world and relationships differently. When she hires Michael to teach her about dating and sex, she realizes that those two things can be enjoyable and wonderful with the right person, which may in fact be Michael. Stella’s honesty and openness were refreshing. I am a little jealous of that character’s realistic look at things and the ability to say what she thinks and feels. This is more than a story of two people who find each other and fall in love. It is a story of human relationships and connection with a side of nerdiness.

Math is the single most elegent thing in the universe and economics is what drives the human world.” said by Janie (Michael’s sister)

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

 

Book Review: The Trouble With Christmas

christmasTitle: The Trouble With Christmas
Author: Amy Andrews
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Pages: 400
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 2 of Credence, Colorado series
Where I got the book: BookishFirst
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: All Suzanne St. Michelle wants is an over-the-top, eggnog-induced holiday with her best friend in Credence, Colorado. But when her hoity-toity parents insist she come home for Christmas in New York, she blurts out that her sexy landlord is actually her boyfriend and she can’t leave him—Joshy loves Christmas. The more twinkle lights the better.

Rancher Joshua Grady does not love Christmas. Or company, or chatty women. Unfortunately for him, the chattiest woman ever has rented the cottage on his ranch, invited her rich, art-scene parents, and now insists he play “fake rancher boyfriend” in a production of the Hokiest Christmas Ever. And somehow…she gets him to agree.

Apparently, he’ll do anything to get his quiet life back. At least there’s mistletoe every two feet—and kissing Suzy is surprisingly easy. But in the midst of acres of tinsel, far too many tacky Christmas sweaters, and a tree that can be seen from space, he’s starting to want what he lost when he was a kid—a family. Too bad it’s with a woman heading back to New York before the ball drops…

My Review: This book becomes available to the public today! Even though this book is the second book in a series, it works pretty well as a standalone. I think the first book might just give you a bit more background into the town and some of the supporting characters in The Trouble With Christmas. I think my favorite part of this book was the town and its interesting characters, so I feel the author has got the setting right for sure.

Suzanne St. Michelle escapes New York City for a holiday in Credence to inspire her to create her own artwork (legal art forgery is a thing and is Suzanne’s main job in NYC). She ends up renting the cottage at the ranch that Joshua Grady runs. The attraction between the two main characters, Suzanne St. Michelle and Joshua Grady, is definitely there, but it takes so long to get there. The first 100 pages were slow and somewhat boring. Much of the character development actually happens when the story picks up, so I don’t really see the need for such a long plot setup. The one big plot point from the first 100 pages that plays a recurring role throughout the story is that Joshua Grady appears to be Suzanne’s muse, so she paints him A LOT. She paints him as Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man and even on a cherub. Once he discovers these paintings, he is horrified and wants those paintings (I assumed to dispose of). She ends up using the paintings as a bribe to get him to play her fake boyfriend for her parents over the holidays. I can get behind the fake boyfriend concept, but the paintings were a bit much. If I found out that someone painted me without my permission, I would definitely do what I could to legally take them and destroy them. It’s creepy and a bit stalker-like. It was a plot point I found a hard time moving passed, but I can admit that it is unique for sure.

When Suzanne’s parents arrive, the story really picks up and becomes a lot of fun. The side story is that Suzanne’s parents’ marriage is on the rocks, and so they are in Credence for their relationship as well as for their daughter, and you can’t help but support their reunification. At this point in the story, the two main characters really start to display their attraction for each other, and the line between this being a fake relationship and a real relationship gets blurred. At the end, Suzanne uses her paintings again to manipulate Joshua, and it works one more time to give the reader a nice happy ending.

I think I would have loved the story a bit more if it was just a bit shorter by cutting much of the first 100-150 pages. However, it is a romantic story with a holiday setting filled with snow and Christmas decorations. It is a nice way to start getting in the holiday spirit!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

WWW Wednesdays – June 13, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I semi-regularly join in on WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Pachinko by Min Lee

Pachinko

I am finally reading Pachinko! It was the first book I received from BOTM last year. It was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Reading Women Award for Fiction (which is a great book related podcast I listen to regularly). It is a generational story of a Korean family living in Japan. I am very much looking forward to reading this one.

Recently Finished

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Murakami

This was my third Murakami read, and I think it might finally be time to admit that no matter how much I want to like Murakami novels (or in this case short stories), I just don’t. His work is just not for me. I do like books that incorporate symbolism and open readers to different views of interpretation, but his stories end with the readers having more questions than answers, and I just can’t stand that.

Reading Next

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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This is one of my favorite book covers. I hope the book itself is as lovely. This is another book club read that will tie in nicely with Reading Women Month.

Feel free to let me know what you are reading.

HAPPY READING!!!

Completed Another 24-hour Readathon!

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Another Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon has come and gone. As always, it was so much fun! I was even so fortunate as to get to take my reading outside for a bit this time (see above photo). As I mentioned in my previous post, I had already decided not to attempt the full 24 hours. It just takes too much out of me, and with a new job, I just don’t have the same recovery time. However, I still read for almost 20 hours and that was more than expected.

So…how did i do on my readathon goals? Let’s find out:

  • I want to read for at least 15 hours today. I actually read for 19 1/2 hours.
  • I want to complete 3 books. I did in fact complete 3 books (2 physical books and 1 audiobook).
  • I want to read at least 600 pages. I read 650 pages.
  • I want to complete at least 8 mini-challenges. I did complete 8 mini-challenges.

HOORAY! I accomplished all my readathon goals! Now let’s get to the fun part…this is what I read:

COMPLETED

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I had a bit of a true crime theme going. After finishing The Road to Jonestown and then I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I became a bit paranoid in the dark, so reading something light like the classic Charlotte’s Web was necessary. SPOILER: However, was it really necessary for E. B. White to actually mention that Charlotte died all alone?!!! It was already implied. Why state it?! Made it not just sad but depressing.

Anyway, while I enjoyed the audiobook of The Road to Jonestown, it was very long…17 1/2 hours long. I listened to at least 7 hours of that yesterday. I admit I knew very little about Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple, but I feel this book had way too much detail. There were so many characters mentioned that I could not keep them all straight, but I guess in the end that didn’t matter, because (Spoiler again but I feel like we know this one) most of them died in the end.

My most anticipated read and my favorite was Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I put this down a month ago to finish some book club reads, however, with the recent news about the Golden State Killer (GSK), I felt it was necessary to go back to it. So glad I did, but boy was it horrifying. A bit of wisdom to those who haven’t read it yet – don’t read it right before bed or in the dark by yourself. I so wish that guy was caught 40 years ago, but I am happy that he will at least rot in prison for the rest of his days. I’m really glad that McNamara and many California detectives did not give up their search for the GSK. People say their decades-long search was an obsession, but I think it was necessary. I just really wish McNamara would have lived to see the GSK caught.

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I did also start an ARC of Paula McLain’s Love and Ruin (see picture above). I’m only a little bit into it right now but am loving it so far. It comes out for the public on Tuesday (May 1st).

I did have a difficult time with this readathon. There were too many 20180428_092722distractions (see picture on the right that shows my two awesome garage sale purchases from the community garage sale). I hope to avoid these distractions next time. I also didn’t do a great job of preparing my cozy reading nook with everything accessible. My organization left much to be desired. However, I think the leaders of this readathon did a fantastic job. The option to do mini-challenges at any point during the 24 hours was a much nicer solution. Mini-challenges use to disrupt my reading zone now I can do them as a break between books. I will admit though that I didn’t even look at the readathon scavenger hunt. Maybe next time.

Hopefully I’ll be doing the 24-hour readathon again October 20, 2018! Until then….

HAPPY READING!

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My Top 20 Favorite Reads of 2017

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Out of the 75 books I read this year, I decided to share my favorites.

Books I reread because I love them:

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

**I listened to Dan Stevens narrating the audio versions of the Agatha Christie books. He is brilliant.**

Favorite first time reads published prior to 2017:

  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (2008)
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (1975)
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (2015)
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl (1983)

Favorite reads published in 2017:

  • Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab (2017)
  • Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen (2017)
  • Reading People by Anne Bogel (2017)
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017)

Favorite read of the year:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

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My Must Read Book List for 2017

What books do you want to read in 2017? Here is the list of books I would like to read in 2017:

  1. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  2. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  4. The Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth
  5. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  7. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  8. Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
  11. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  12. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  13. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  14. Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison
  15. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

However, these listed are not the only books I will read this year (and to be honest I have a hard time keeping to a list), so feel free to send me recommendations of books you have loved – both old and new.

2017 Reading Challenge

24 books completed
8 books ahead of schedule

24/50 (48%)

View Challenge