Showing posts with label Stephen King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen King. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Best Books As Reviewed By Me in 2017

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Best Books & Reviews 2017
What follows is a list of the books that I highly recommended in my book reviews in 2017. I did not write a book review for absolutely every book that I read though I did cover quite a few of them and I think that I probably included the best of them. How could I resist writing about a book that I loved? I figure that the few that are missing are likely the books that I did not enjoy reading or perhaps a couple that were missed during a busy time. Anyway, here is my list of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED books that I reviewed here on Review This.

I wrote eleven book reviews and five of them ranked well enough to receive the coveted HIGHLY RECOMMENDED distinction, LOL. These are the books that I thoroughly enjoyed and that stood out above the others:

Kristin Hannah The Nightingale

The Nightingale


Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale is a World War II story set in German-occupied France. I recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys World War II fiction and a good story. Find my complete review here.

The One Man Andrew Gross

The One Man


Andrew Gross’ The One Man is another well-crafted World War II story this time set in Poland. Once again, I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys World War II fiction and a gripping story. Find my complete review here.

John Sanford Extreme Prey

Extreme Prey


John Sanford’s Extreme Prey is also on this list because it is highly recommended but it earned that distinction from a guest writer for whom I have the utmost respect, my husband. Chris has read and enjoyed almost all of Sandford’s works so obviously, I must check out John Sanford in 2018. Meanwhile, you can find Chris' complete review here.

Stephen King Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes


Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is an unexpected book addition to both my reading list and to this list of highly recommended books. In 1987, with the release of the book Misery and the subsequent movie, I decided that King's works were too horror filled for me. Until that year, I had read every book he had written but since that day, I have read none. That is, until Mr. Mercedes.

Anyway, Mr. Mercedes was a book club pick from a member whose preferred books are by Stephen King. She wanted to introduce the members of our group who had never read one of his books to his writing.  In my mind, this was an excellent choice and many were enthralled by this police detective novel though of course it opens in a very horrible manner. Crime/detective stories often do. Find my complete review of Mr. Mercedes here and be sure not to miss the rest of the trilogy.

Ken Follett Century Trilogy

The Century Trilogy


Finally, Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy, which includes three volumes: Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity. These three lengthy novels kept me thoroughly entertained for many, many hours. Find my review here.

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Other books that I wrote about but that did not receive the top designation of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED were Losing Graceland by Micah Nathan, Remains of the Day by Kazuo Isiguro, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Hallmark’s A Century of Caring, Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham and The Art of Racing by Garth Stein. They are still worth options for your book list.

How does my list stack up? Did you enjoy any of these books? What were your favorite reads in 2017?

Here’s to another
great year in books!
Brenda

Quick Links:

See all of the book reviews on Review This.
Amazon’s Bestsellers 2017 Book List.  
(Yes, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through this link.)





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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book Review

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book ReviewIt’s been literally decades since I read a Stephen King novel. I believe that the last one that I read was Misery in 1987, before my grown up children were born. That book was simply too horrible for me. Later, for whatever reason, I watched or tried to watch the movie version of that story and that cinched the deal for me. I have not read a Stephen King book since then and not seen many of his movies either.

That is, until the 2014 book Mr. Mercedes was chosen this year as one of the reads for our book club. Now I am wondering what I have missed in all of the books since 1987 as I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Mercedes. It was not too horror-ible at all though horrible things do happen in the book. However, it is a fast paced crime or detective story rather than a horror story. It is riveting; another book that I could not put down. A race-against-time thriller.

It is very well written with well-developed characters that include a retired police detective and a psychopath.

The police detective is not enjoying his retirement and is pulled back into one of his last, unsolved cases, that of the Mercedes killer.

The psychopath is, as The Globe and Mail says, “one of King’s great creations, twisted and deranged, but cringingly human.” On the outside, he is ordinary and could be one of your neighbours. However, on the inside he has many issues.

What results when the detective and the psychopath collide is a riveting story with two men ‘fighting’ to the end.

Mr. Mercedes is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by the Globe and Mail, too, LOL.

It is exciting that I just discovered that Mr. Mercedes is a trilogy so I (we) have two more books to read in the series, including Finders Keepers and End of Watch. I only hope that they live up to Mr. Mercedes.

There is also an AT&T Original mini series that has just started as I write this in August, 2017. I watched the trailer just now on Youtube and cannot decide if I will be watching the program or not. I have prematurely made up my mind that it cannot live up to the excellent book but I will be waiting to see what people think of the mini-series. As always, I recommend reading the book first.

You can learn more about Mr. Mercedes or order your copy of the book from Amazon by clicking here.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Mercedes is King’s 62nd novel, though only 44 feature his name. He says that this book is based on a real incident in which a woman drove her car into a McDonald’s restaurant.

Will you be reading Mr. Mercedes?

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes from Amazon.







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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reviewing the Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

A Detective Tale

If you have read any of my earlier posts here on Review This, you know that I am both an avid reader and a fan of  the author Stephen King. He has published 2 out of 3 books in a series known as the Bill Hodges trilogy and that is what I want to review for you today. This series of three books is King's first hard-boiled detective story but I hope it is not his last because I am truly captivated with his ability to take us through a mysterious plot of an evil villain. 

The first book in the series or trilogy is Mr. Mercedes where we meet some of the characters that will be in all three books along with a pretty evil and twisted villain. Bill Hodges is our main protagonist. We first meet him after he has retired as a detective of a midwestern city's police force. He had worked on a case a few years ago where an unknown person drove a car into a crowd of people who were in line waiting for a job fair to open. The police began calling the perpetrator Mr. Mercedes because he was driving a Mercedes when he plowed into the crowd, killing 8 and injuring another 15 more people. Not solving the case, haunts Bill.

Jerome Robinson is another main character in the books. He starts out in the story as Bill Hodges' hired help for mowing the lawn. We see the two become friends as Jerome helps Hodges with some computer knowledge and later with the investigation. Jerome is in the first two books and I would assume will be in the unpublished third book.

The other part of the detective team is Holly Gibney. She is the niece to Olivia Trelawney (Mr. Mercedes stole her car to run the people down). I love Holly's character! She suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and seems lacking in social skills but not at all in deducing what is going on around her. Holly is also in the first two books and I would assume she will be in the third.

In this first book, we learn about the real Mr. Mercedes. In fact, we as readers know his identity before Bill, Jerome and Holly do. We learn all sorts of twisted things about this psycho. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, just suffice it to say Mr. King sure knows how to twist things around so that you can't seem to make yourself put the book down.

Finders Keepers

I just finished reading the second book of the trilogy a few days ago and I thought it was even better than the first one. We have a new villain and a new crime for Bill, Jerome and Holly to become involved with. Our psychotic perpetrator in this story is an obsessed fan of a famous author who doesn't like how he developed a character in one of his books. What this sick man does is almost inconceivable but believable in the way Mr. King tells the tale. What happens over the course of the next thirty years is yet another tale I couldn't put down until the end! Oh, and just so you know the story does keep the original crime of Mr. Mercedes very much in play throughout the second story. 

Right now the working title of the last book in the trilogy is End of Watch. It is scheduled to be released in June of 2016 and I can hardly wait to find out how Stephen King ends this story line. I am assuming that Bill, Jerome and Holly will be involved and maybe even Peter from the second book but I can't be sure. I can see where Mr. Mercedes story will probably continue, also. 

Pretty much at this stage, I am sitting here thinking, "Well done, Stephen King, well done!" Yet again he has taken me into an adventure that I can't stop thinking about. 

You can read both of the first books in hardcover, paperback or digitally by going to Amazon.com with link above or you can choose to shop at Barnes & Noble for the books. If you love a good detective story along with a thriller of a tale, you will really like this new set of books by Stephen King. 



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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reviewing The Dark Towers Series by Stephen King

A Review Of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series


Having just spent the last 4 1/2 months (or so) reading the most incredible series of books by the author Stephen King, I can't seem to stop thinking about the story that spans over 8 books. So, I thought that avid readers like myself might enjoy a review of the books as a recommendation for a reading adventure that will most assuredly be worth the investment of time.

Back in April, I told about my first encounter with Stephen King in my Review of 11/22/63. During our Christmas dinner last year, I was talking to my daughter's boyfriend about him reading that book and made the comment that I wished that Mr. King wrote more books that were not in the horror genre because I really enjoyed his writing style. Daved asked me if I had ever read The Dark Tower series by King and I admitted that I had not. He said that he thought that I would really enjoy it. That is where my reading journey began...with that conversation at the dinner table.

First A Little History Of The Series:


The Gunslinger 1st edition cover
I think that I should explain that this is not a new series. In fact, it really didn't start out to be a series at all. King had started working on this story when he was 19 years old long before his first book was ever published. It sat tucked away for several years (8 years, I think) before he submitted parts of it to the magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Five short stories were published in the magazine from 1978 through 1981. In 1982, it was published by Donald M. Grant Publishers Inc as a limited edition book and the first novel of the series was born: The Gunslinger.

King had already made a name for himself in the horror genre by this time with 8 books to his credit. It began with Carrie in 1974 and by the time The Gunslinger was published the first time, he had finished Cujo. I have to wonder if the publishers were leery of putting a fantasy book out there even though King was already pretty popular with the horror books. In my opinion, someone from the Donald M Grant team knew a great book when he read it and was willing to take the chance. Along with millions of others in the world, I'm so glad they did!
That first edition is no longer in print, although I'm sure that if someone really wanted a copy they could find a seller of old books to try to obtain a copy.

My review of the series:

The books that I read over the course of almost 5 months are the revised ones along with the newer ones that were written after the revisions of the first 3 books. Technically, there are 7 books in the Dark Tower series, however, King wrote an 8th book that he recommends reading between book 4 and book 5. One does not have to read that 8th book but I can tell you that you will enjoy it and be a little more enlightened to the overall story.


So, I naturally started with The Gunslinger: (The Dark Tower #1). I do recommend that you start with book one because the story builds from the previous books.

The series follows the main protagonist, Roland Deschain and his long journey to the Dark Tower. Roland hails from the Barony of Gilead that is no longer. In his where and when he was a gunslinger and when our story begins, he is the last of his kind. Before the world had moved on, Roland was taught the ways of the gunslingers as many boys were. These men might have been called knights in the lore and stories of others but in Roland's world they didn't wear armor or fight with swords. They seemed to look more like the men of the American old west and did their good deeds with guns. Roland of Gilead came from a long line of gunslingers and can trace his lineage all the way back to the first gunslinger Arthur of Eld (King Arthur?).

Just as knights were known to protect people from the evils of the world, the gunslingers of Roland's time did the same. They were revered by the common folk. As we journey through the books we come to realize that no matter what time or world Roland enters into, that reverence remains. All recognize him as a gunslinger and ask for his assistance. You see, as he follows his quest to the Dark Tower there are doors that enter different times and different worlds.

Roland encounters both good and evil in his journey with strange creatures, machines of the ancient ones and humans from different eras of history. He does form a group to join him in his journey: Jake, Eddie, and Susannah all of which come from different modern times and have their own special insights and talents. There is also a mutant type animal that becomes a member of the group (ka-tet) after a while and you can't help but love that little creature!

I don't want to give out any spoilers to the books. I hate when people do that! I just want to share with you that this series is one of, if not the best, series of books that I have ever read. Stephen King has a way with words that make you feel like you are right there in the story as it unfolds. I've read some pretty good authors over the decades that I have been reading and then I have read some remarkable ones. The remarkable number but just a few, Stephen King is one of those for me.

I can tell you that if you enjoy fantasy fiction, time travel, imaginary worlds and adventure; this series of books will delight you! There are some parts of the books that get a little gorey from the battles and the habits of some of the creatures but nothing that will give you nightmares. You just kind of think..."Ewwww!" and then move on in the story.

Books In The Series:

  • The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger
  • The Dark Tower 2: The Drawing of the Three
  • The Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands
  • The Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass
  • The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through The Keyhole (can be omitted but I recommend that you don't)
  • The Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla
  • The Dark Tower 6: Song of Susannah
  • The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower
Each book in the series can be downloaded to your digital reader or purchased in paperback versions. 

If you enjoy reading a series of books, like I do then I am confident that you will love this series. The only drawback is that I became so enamored with the characters and their journey that I hated for the books to end. There are surprises in the last few books that make it even more enjoyable and the ending was not what I expected but actually better than I could have imagined. I'm going to let a year or two pass and then I will probably go back and re-read this series again. Yep, it was that good! I can't say that over the 5 1/2 decades that I have been reading there have been many books that I wanted to read again...the Dark Tower series is a set that I could read a second time.



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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review Of 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Reviewing An Historical Fantasy Book

You might think that it is a little on the odd side to do a book review of a book that was published almost 4 years ago, but hang in there with me because it might make some sense as to why I chose this book by Stephen King to tell you about today. It was the very first book by Stephen King that I have ever read and even though it was almost four years ago, the story has stayed with me.

Not All Books By Stephen King Are In The Horror Genre

I know how very popular the author Stephen King is with people all over the world, I now know why after having read one of his books that would fall into the historical fantasy genre instead of the horror genre that he is so well known for. Honestly, I had avoided reading any of his work because I am not a big fan of scary books. So, when I saw that he was releasing this novel in November of 2011, I decided that I would really be interested in it. After all, I remember quite vividly that day in history when our beloved President was shot in Dallas, Texas.

King Had Me On The First Page

As soon as the book was available to the public, I downloaded it to my Nook. Before I was finished with the first page, I was captivated by the very way Stephen King puts words together to tell a story. I remarked to my husband that just in the first page, I was impressed with King as a storyteller. If you have not read anything by him, you should! He is that freaking awesome! I'll probably never be brave enough to read on of his actual horror stories because he will scare the bee-geezus out of me!

What is the book about?

One might think that it would be an account of the assassination of JFK and you would be partially correct. It is so much more than that! Stephen King does chronicle the weeks of the events leading up to that fateful day in our history but not in a way that you might presume. He begins the story with a High School English teacher who supplements his income teaching GED classes for adults. King then takes us on a journey of time travel like you wouldn't fathom in your wildest dreams. All the while, adding pieces of historical facts and assumptions that pull everything together. I'm not going to go much further than that because you can read a synopsis of the book just about anywhere. 

Instead, I'm going to tell you just how much I enjoyed reading it, all 880 pages of it! Stephen King has a penchant for writing tomes (lots of pages) but he is so good at his craft that you don't mind that the books are so long because of the way he tells his story with such detail. I found that I couldn't put the book down and then was sad when I read the last page.

Granted, I love to read fantasy books and I've always enjoyed historical fiction but 11/22/63 is one of the very best books that I have ever read in my almost 60 years of reading books.

The wonderful thing about waiting until a few years after a book has been published is that it is now available in so many different formats. It can be downloaded on your e-reader of choice, it can be purchased as a hardcover or paperback and more times than not, it is much cheaper now than when it was hot off of the press.

If you have never read Mr. King for the same reasons that I had avoided him, I do believe that you will really enjoy 11/22/63. Just like the old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by it's cover" well, sometimes we shouldn't judge an author by his most famous genre. If I had not taken a chance on this book, I would have never known what a tremendous storyteller Stephen King is. I, also, am thrilled to find out that there are other books of his that I can read that are not tales of horror. I plan to tell you about those in the future. 



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Friday, April 17, 2015

Movie Review: A Good Marriage by Stephen King

I am not truly a Stephen King fan, although I do recognize his writing talent.  In fact, the reason why I am not a huge fan of his books is simply because his stories often scare me half to death.  That fact alone best demonstrates that he is an excellent writer of horror and suspense.

Since I joined Sling TV a few months ago, I am back to watching movies, TV series, and news again.  After a day of work, I find a good movie at home quite relaxing.  My husband and I enjoy watching movies together and we alternate who selects the movie for the evening.

Because I am a romantic at heart, I was drawn to the movie "A Good Marriage".   Because it was written by Stephen King, my husband enthusiastically sat down to watch it with me.  It was an excellent movie that we both enjoyed viewing, but I have to warn you, it still haunts me a bit.


Synopsis of "A Good Marriage"


This movie gets right to the heart of the story almost immediately and we were drawn into a world of suspense very quickly when the wife discovers that her husband is a serial killer.

I had never really considered how the wives of serial killers react or feel, especially when they are so totally clueless to the dark side of their spouse.  When she accidentally uncovered indisputable evidence that her husband was in fact the notorious killer "Beadie", she was forced to face the obvious and decide how she was going to react and respond.

Most of us sitting here would be thinking just call the police, but the story was so well written that I could easily understand the hesitance and denial, questioning how it could possibly be true that a loving and devoted husband and father could be the torturing, killing creature that was terrorizing women.

I was rather surprised by how the wife, after her initial shock wore off, logically made a plan and methodically carried it out.  She certainly proved to be her husbands equal when it came to being able to "act" normally while simultaneously setting the stage for "capturing" her own mark.

Since I never believe in spoiling the show for others when I review a movie, I will stop there and reveal no more than the basic plot.  Besides, this is a movie that you absolutely must see for yourself and follow the moment by moment details.  I would be cheating you of the magnificence of the author by writing more myself.


 

 The Actors in "A Good Marriage"


Joan Allen is the wife, Darcy.  Anthony LaPaglia plays the role of the husband, Bob.  Anthony LaPaglia is the perfect choice because he really does have that normal, nice guy appearance who anyone would trust, yet he is easily believable as a methodical serial killer.

Like LaPaglia, Joan Allen looks the part and she did an exceptional job of playing a calculating wife who is capable of her own deceptions.

Together, they make me believe we can never really know our friends well and we certainly have no idea what they might be capable of given the right set of circumstances.


My Rating of the Movie, "A Good Marriage"


I have seen what the critics say about the movie and I also see the star rating on Amazon.  However, I am not going to fall in line with others.  I would give this movie 5 stars.

I base my rating on the fact that this was a suspense thriller that I could watch without being grossed out.  Graphic images were certainly not necessary to scare me, or to make me sit on the edge of my seat.  I believe that is the mark of a truly outstanding writer, as well as believable actors.

In addition to that, I appreciated the thoughtful perspective of someone who is also a victim of a serial killer, but is more often considered complicit in the crimes.  I think we all want to believe the "Bundys" and "Dahmers" of the world have some "telling" personality traits that anyone close to them would easily recognize.  Because we think there is no way they could not have known, we often make the family members pariahs in the community.  Any movie that can cause me to evaluate my own thoughts deserves a higher rating.


I highly recommend this movie for any adult.  




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