This is one of King's books you love or hate because it's not typical King, per say. There's no Pennywise-type demon, no haunted mansion, no devil-in-This is one of King's books you love or hate because it's not typical King, per say. There's no Pennywise-type demon, no haunted mansion, no devil-in-an-antique-shop. Nevertheless, a lot of critics tend to agree some of King's best work is the stuff least influenced by the supernatural. I agree. One of my favorite novellas he's written is The Body--nothing but four kids going on a journey of self-discovery.
Anyway, Hearts is an engaging tale about the baby boomer generation, propagating the view that 60's generation failed to live up to its promise and ideals. This is made pretty clear by the opening epigraph from the end of Easy Rider: "We blew it."
It's made up of five linked stories. The main one is called Low Men in Yellow coats and is a coming of age story of Bobby, a twelve year old who gets to know a mysterious older man over the course of the summer (some knowledge of the Dark Tower helps here) while dealing with local bullies, first true love, and his difficult, widowed mother. The following three stories deal with the impact of Vietnam on characters from Low Men.
So--if you want something less supernatural or graphic than most of King's work, give this a try!...more
One thing I find fascinating is how many critics write off Stephen King as a hack because he writes horror novels. Unlike literary authors, who writeOne thing I find fascinating is how many critics write off Stephen King as a hack because he writes horror novels. Unlike literary authors, who write about extraordinary people in regular situations, King writes about regular people in extraordinary situations, and that’s just fine with me.
Desperation is reminiscent of King’s magnum opus The Stand, and King revisits many familiar themes such as good versus evil, salvation, redemption, faith, so forth. There’s also a lot of blood and gore, which might turn you off if you’re not into that. However, I’d say the best thing about the novel is the spooky, desolate atmosphere of the ghost town in no-where Nevada where the action takes place.
King’s a master at telling human, character-driven tales despite the presence of non-human, often demonic entities. Desperation is no exception and a great read. Go check it out!
PS: If you happen to be driving through the desert and a creepy cop pulls you over, wait until he gets out of his cruiser, then hit the gas and get the hell out of there!...more
I don’t know what my fascination is with Stephen King. The fact all of his fifty-plus books have been worldwide bestsellers. The fact he wrote The LonI don’t know what my fascination is with Stephen King. The fact all of his fifty-plus books have been worldwide bestsellers. The fact he wrote The Long Walk, a great short story, at the age of eighteen. The fact the paperback rights to his debut novel Carrie (though actually the fourth he’d written) was picked up in 1974 by New American Library for $400,000. The fact he has a seemingly limitless imagination. The fact every novel feels unique, the characters ridiculously vivid, the plots engrossing. The fact he writes like a demon on speed. Apparently he wrote Carrie in two weeks. After finishing his second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, he popped out The Body (Stand By Me) just to cool down. After finishing his third novel, The Shining, he popped out Apt Pupil in another marathon two-week period. After his fourth novel, The Dead Zone, he had enough juice left in the tank to deliver Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption…and so on and so on.
The guy’s either a genius or possessed by aliens, like his lead character in The Tommyknockers, Bobbi Anderson, who writes a full-length manuscript overnight, apparently in her sleep.
Anyway! Enough a**-kissing. We all know King can write. So how was Apt Pupil? Pretty brilliant. It was about the unlikely union of a golden schoolboy and a nasty old man caught in a parasitic relationship. King writes confidently about Nazis, World War Two, and everything in between. He has an amazing voice for his characters. At the time he wrote this story he must have been thirty or so, but the old man Arthur Denker (Dussander) comes off sounding as authentic as if written by a seventy year old. ...more
Barry and Maureen have just been approved as tenants by the Association. Pity they never read the fine print on the lease. It could be the death of thBarry and Maureen have just been approved as tenants by the Association. Pity they never read the fine print on the lease. It could be the death of them...
That's the blurb of The Association, and if you live in a gated community and hate your local homeowners association, this is the book for you!
I read the novel about ten years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I found it at my parent's place while visiting for Christmas and decided to give it another go--and I still found it an engrossing, fun read. Bentley Little is very good at the slow build: he begins his story slowly, with innocuous events, and gradually ups the suspense and gets under your skin. He's also well-known for taking the mundane--such as a nosy homeowner's association or whathaveyou--and turning it into something dark and terrifying.
Both Stephen King and Dead Koontz have praised Little, so if you like horror, you should check this book out. Be warned: the plots often lead to the bizarre and can be rather graphic at times. ...more
I've been meaning to get to this book for a while, but I haven't had much time to read lately. I zipped through it in a couple sittings! I don't oftenI've been meaning to get to this book for a while, but I haven't had much time to read lately. I zipped through it in a couple sittings! I don't often read science fiction, but a lot of people I know have been recommending this book, and I'm glad I gave it a go.
It's actually the second in a series, the first being CassaStar. This one picks up twenty years later. There's a lot of suspense, action, and some romance. Also of note, there is well-paced humor here and there which I always enjoy in a novel (and it's a lot more difficult than it sounds balancing humor and suspense!). If you enjoy Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, or other character-driven stories set in space, you'll definitely get your money's worth with CassaFire.
I'm looking forward to the next in the series when it comes out (just as long as it's not titled CassaNova lol). Finally, I strongly recommend checking out the trailer, as it's one of the best I've seen for any book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...
Memories of Midnight (1990) is a sequel to The Other Side of Midnight (1973), what many people consider to be one of his best novels. Memories, howeveMemories of Midnight (1990) is a sequel to The Other Side of Midnight (1973), what many people consider to be one of his best novels. Memories, however, holds its own mixing revenge, greed, justice, and romance.
I think it's a sign of a good book if, after some ten odd years, you can read it again and remember nearly all of the characters. That's what this one was like for me.
Demiris, the vengeful Greek billionaire; Chotas, the brilliant lawyer; and Catherine, the amnesic who just wants to fall in love (the weakest character of the bunch, imo).
Nevertheless, Sheldon is a master of plot. In fact I don't know anyone who writes as breezy as he does (a good thing), while throwing in as many twists and turns.
I think part of James Patterson's success is due to his incredibly short chapters. Like them or not, it just makes you feel like you're flipping the pages faster (and you are because of all the white space!) Similarly, part of Sheldon's success I think is due not to short chapters but his short paragraphs. Anywhere he can fit in a break (#) he does. It's a good technique to keep things moving, and it allows him to jump all over the place and get inside everyone's head seemingly without effort.
More than any of Sydney Sheldon’s novels, Memories of Midnight shows that the author comes from the movie and television script writing with its short scenes and generic descriptions of people and settings.
The late Sydney Sheldon was the author of eighteen bestselling novels. He wrote more than 200 television scripts and twenty-five movie scripts and six Broadway scripts. He started writing novels at the age of fifty.
I'm sometimes asked who are some author's who have influenced my writing. I always had a stock answer: Stephen King, simply because he's the King andI'm sometimes asked who are some author's who have influenced my writing. I always had a stock answer: Stephen King, simply because he's the King and is one of the best writers of the last thirty years. And Scott Smith, because his A Simple Plan was one of the inspirations for White Lies (a regular person in a simple situation that snowballs out of control).
Now I will likely add Kellerman to that list, and largely because of his writing style. There might be better writers out there, but I haven't read them. The best way to describe Kellerman's style is: confident. The way he can twist a sentence from mundane to special, and the frequency with which he does it, is pretty damn impressive.
Something as simple as this (describing a waitress):
"...chopped red hair and a sliver of torso, glasses riding her nose..."
And there's the humor too, which comes so naturally, and isn't forced like, say, Koontz's newer stuff:
"We traded Y-chromosome chuckles" or, in regard to his buddy's massive sandwich, "It was so big it required a building permit"
All in all, A Cold Heart is typical Jonathan Kellerman, a well-plotted, well-written and well-enjoyed journey into the world of investigative psychology. I enjoyed this one, but from some of the reviews I've read, some people didn't. If you've never read a Kellerman, I suggested browsing a few titles and choosing one that sounds interesting to you. ...more
Stephen King said it best: “If you’ve missed Laymon, you’ve missed a treat.”
I came across The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon by fluke. But aStephen King said it best: “If you’ve missed Laymon, you’ve missed a treat.”
I came across The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon by fluke. But as soon as I finished it, I read another four or five Laymon books in a row. He is somewhat hit or miss, but The Traveling Vampire Show was a bullseye. Moreover, it is the last book he wrote before he died, and it won him the Bram Stoker award (posthumously) in 2001.
Like many of Laymon’s work, this is a great coming of age story involving a bunch of teenagers messing around in the 1960s. Dwight is the protagonist, a good guy with a crush on his friend’s much older sister. Then there’s Rusty, the requisite fat sidekick, and Slim, the young tomboy. The three of them find an ad pinned to a telephone pole for–you guessed it–a traveling vampire show in nearby Janks Field. The catch: It’s at midnight and for adults only.
According to the blurb: The Traveling Vampire Show is the tale, told in Dwight’s own words, of what happened to him, Rusty and Slim on that hot summer day they hiked to Janks Field. It’s the story of their friendship and love, their temptations, their betrayals, and their courage as they went where they shouldn’t go, did what they shouldn’t do…and ran into big trouble.
If you liked The Body (aka Stand By Me), you should enjoy this one also....more
The Unwanted is not my favorite John Saul novel, but I wanted to get him on this list. His books are classified as horror, though I would say they couThe Unwanted is not my favorite John Saul novel, but I wanted to get him on this list. His books are classified as horror, though I would say they could also be filed under psychological suspense. His plots involve the supernatural or sometimes bizarre, but at the same time they are also character-driven, and deal just as much with family dynamics, small town life, etc. His protagonists are almost always children, and he is one of the best at getting inside the heads of kids/teenagers.
Here’s the blurb: Cassie Winslow is sixteen. She has just lost her mother in a terrible accident. Now, lonely and frightened, she has come to live with the father she barely knows and his new family in tiny False Harbor on Cape Cod. For Cassie, the strange, unsettling dreams that come to her suddenly in the dead of night are merely the beginning. Very soon, Cassie Winslow will come to know the terrifying powers that are her gift. And in the village of False Harbor, nothing will ever be the same.
One of Saul’s strongest skills as a writer is his pacing. He is excellent at building suspense slowly, adding subtle layer upon subtle layer, making his novels extremely tough to put down. Some of the plot developments are fairly predictable, but that just keeps you off guard for when he does throw you for a loop.
In an age when a lot of writers use gimmicks (clichéd cliffhangers or one line paragraphs or short chapters), or try to wow you with techno-babble or over-the-top scenes (a la Hollywood blockbusters which are just as often colossal failures), John Saul keeps the suspense old school. Reading one of his books is almost like watching an old Cohen Brothers movie like Blood Simple: quiet and unpretentious but probably one of the best darn movies you’ve seen in a while....more
For centuries, treasure hunters have sought the lost horde of the notorious English pirate, Edward Ockham. Clues led to the mysterious water pit on RaFor centuries, treasure hunters have sought the lost horde of the notorious English pirate, Edward Ockham. Clues led to the mysterious water pit on Ragged Island, Maine--but a curse left behind by the long-dead pirate still seems to be working. Every expedition has failed--with the treasure seekers dying in gruesome fashion. Now, however, a new expedition has been mounted with state-of-the-art computer technology and backed by millions of dollars. It will all be worth it if the treasure is found. But modern technology may not be enough to overcome the deadly secrets of the water pit.
Sound good? That's the blurb. A little back story: the English pirate Edward “Red Ned” Ockham apparently hid a vast treasure on an island off of the coast of Maine in a deep, man-made shaft, which was booby trapped to kill anyone foolish enough to try to steal the loot. That shaft, or water pit, is a real creation. It was found by an old man in the 18th century underneath a block and tackle. He started digging and at ten feet found a wooden platform. He kept digging all the way down to one hundred feet--when the shaft began filling with water. Nobody since has ever excavated the entire thing, though many have died trying.
Well, nobody has succeeded in real life. In the novel, however, a group of treasure hunters do just that, seeking the two billion dollar payout. If you're into treasure hunting, murder and betrayal, some history and science thrown in, and pretty good writing, give this one a try! ...more
London Boulevard by Ken Bruen is a great noir novel. It's set in London and tells the story of Mitchell, a decent guy who's just been released after tLondon Boulevard by Ken Bruen is a great noir novel. It's set in London and tells the story of Mitchell, a decent guy who's just been released after three years for aggravated assault. Mitchell finds some honest work taking care of an aging actress and her property at her Holland Park mansion. He moves in to an apartment over the carriage house that he shares with the butler, Jordon. Soon Mitchell fins out there is a lot more to the butler than meets the eye, and when Mitchell's shady past comes back to haunt him (namely some crooks wanting him to help out with several shake downs and heists), he and the butler team up take out the bad guys.
If you haven't read Bruen you should give him a try. I like how he writes about dark and flawed protagonists. Mitchell is a study in contrasts. He's an intelligent guy, well read, and loyal to his bi-polar sister and to his old friends. But on the other hand he can be one mean sonofabitch. You don't really like Mitchell but you don't dislike him either, which makes you keep reading to see what trouble he's going to get himself into. Also, Bruen's writing is reminiscent of Hemingway: short and crisp and at the same time almost conversational. Overall the book will get under your skin, but in a good way. Recommended.
PS: It was recently made into a film featuring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley....more
I have a soft spot for adventure stories–and an even softer spot for archaeologists and/or others running around tropical jungles. I know these typesI have a soft spot for adventure stories–and an even softer spot for archaeologists and/or others running around tropical jungles. I know these types of stories have become cliché, but there’s something mysterious and romantic about the prospect of Central/South American jungles and lost treasures that keeps authors writing them and fans reading them.
Having said that, the blurb of The Jaguar Mask: An archaeologist named Leo is on a dig deep in the heart of the Mexican jungle uncovering another centuries-old Mayan city. Meanwhile in France another man named Declan Carberry is trying to solve a string of ritual serial murders. Without giving too much away, the storylines explore the history of the Conquistadors and the Mayans of South America, old rituals and modern codes, blood-letting and immortality. I never heard of this author before I read this one, and I can’t even remember where I picked up this book, but it had a cool cover, so I gave it a shot (yeah, I do sometimes judge a book by its cover!). In sum, the author is not up there with James Rollins or Clive Cussler (but who is?); however, if you’re an adventure fan, and haven’t heard of Easterman, give him a go....more
John Wayne Cleaver is not a serial killer. He knows he's a sociopath. He does all that stuff young sociopaths do: plays wit fire, butchers small animaJohn Wayne Cleaver is not a serial killer. He knows he's a sociopath. He does all that stuff young sociopaths do: plays wit fire, butchers small animals, noses around the dead bodies that come to his mother's mortuary. Oh--and he wets his bed. Hannibal Lecter did that, didn't he?
Anyway, fearing his dark inner demons, he decides to learn as much about serial killers as he can so as to avoid becoming one. Makes sense, I guess. But when a real serial killer comes to his town, he realizes he must become "the monster," as he refers to himself, to best the monster.
The reason this is a great read is because, although John is a nutcase, and probably someone you shouldn't root for, you end up doing just that. In a sense, he's the perfect protagonist: someone who's struggling with himself the entire novel.
This is the first in a trilogy. I say give it a shot. You may never look at a sketchy teenage kid again!...more