If It Bleeds by Stephen King



Back to five stars…..  *****


Sadly, I have given one star reviews to the last few books by Stephen King. Thankfully, in this new book he is back to being the master story-teller we have come to love. King has an extraordinary ability to create characters that you care about and can relate to along with stories that draw you in and hold you. He accomplishes both in this collection of short stories, which are really novellas.

I would recommend reading The Outsider prior to this book, to fully grasp the character of Holly Gibney, and if you have only seen the television version you may have trouble seeing her, as in all of her appearances in King novels, as white. Even knowing this I could not help but imagine Cynthia Erivo as Holly as I read the story If It Bleeds.

As a writer, I really enjoyed the story, The Rat, and the struggles that the main character, Drew Larson, has with writing a novel. The story is as much about good writing as it is about Drew’s encounter with the rat.

Thank you Mr. King for getting back on track and writing a book worthy of your talent.

This one gets five stars and to Mr. King I say, rat on.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King



A book to go to sleep by………  *

In a time when some tend to label all members of a group by the acts of extremists, such as those who think all Muslims are terrorists, or all Mexicans are rapists, SK and son choose to write a story that adds fuel to that fire.

This novel is an insult to men, a subtle dig at women, and worst of all an in your face to good writing. This was seven hundred pages of constantly asking myself, “Where is the Stephen King I loved to read?” While there were hints of that SK, it was obvious the majority of the book was written by Owen King or at least SK was missing in action..

With a broad brush this diatribe paints most men as useless or as men who mistreat women. The #meToo effort has shown that there are men who fit these descriptions but even so there are plenty who do not, and I would argue most do not. Using stereotypes to describe male characters was pure laziness in my opinion.

While trying to show how women do not need men it was ironic that men were the “heroes” in the story.  Here again stereotypes were an easy way to write about the female characters.

As for the writing, the plot is weak. There are lot of characters, none of whom I cared about. The story felt like it was patched together and at the end my reaction was, “Okay, that was a waste of time.”

This and Gwendy’s Button Box, were written by SK and another author, let’s hope he decides to go solo again and write like the author he used to be. A ray of hope is that  in 2018 he is releasing The Outsider which he did write alone. Hopefully, it will not disappoint as this one has.

I give this one star, only because as a man I am one of the good ones.


Revival by Stephen King




A revival needing revision…  ***


Stephen King is a master storyteller.  He has the ability to grip you and keep you anxious to turn the page to see where a story is headed.  Unfortunately, Revival is not one of them..

The story starts out well enough, setting the expectation that this will be one of King’s gems.  Using first person narration, the main character, Jamie Morton, takes us back to his childhood and reveals how he was introduced to the Reverend Charles Jacobs. King has a way of describing childhood experiences that invoke one’s own memory of  days gone by.

Sadly, once we leave Jamie’s early years, the story begins to drift with long narrations of events that at times can only be described as boring.  There is very little conflict to keep us interested and what does exist only makes the reader want to get to the end.

The end is where I had the biggest problem.  Having several options of how to bring the story to an end, King opts for one that left me shaking my head, asking what was his point.  He attempts to make it scary but fails, philosophical but fails. I heard Stephen King  in an interview say that he writes about the things that scare him.  Based on the ending, he must be terrified of death.

As I closed the book, my first thought was, is King just getting lazy.  This had the potential of being a good story, and with another revision or two, Revival could have been another gem from the master storyteller.

This one gets three stars.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King



From cliche to a good read…..    ****


A retired cop, an old case never solved, a deranged killer still on the loose: all of which spells cliche, except in the hands of a master story teller like King. He creates characters that you can feel for and some you hate, but with both he weaves a plot that keeps you reading. King takes you on a ride of emotions, from laughter, sadness, to feeling just a little uncomfortable with his choices. A book like this makes you reflect on your own beliefs and prejudices.

In reading some of the negative reviews about this novel, King has obviously struck a nerve in many readers. His stretching of what is considered PC and his viewpoints on life have been met with quite a range of responses. My thought is if a book makes you think or makes you just a tad bit uncomfortable all the better. Reading is designed to expand our minds and expose ourselves to a variety of ideas.

If you are looking for a King story about the supernatural or horror this is not it. What we have here is a master using his skills to keep us entertained, to give us an insight on just how deranged some people can be, and to give us a mirror to reflect on the world we live in.

No, it is not as good as “The Stand” (his best), but far above “Under the Dome”. Thank you Mr. King for an enjoyable read!   Four stars on this one.

The Dark Tower Series


The Whole Series    ****

Having read the entire series, I am going to review it in total. First, this is a great read even if you are not a Stephen King fan, just a fan of good storytelling. There is so much that takes place over the eight books that it feels like a long and fun roller coaster ride. King has a plethora of references that not all readers may get depending on their age, but enough up to date ones that all readers will enjoy.

Second, if there is weakness to this series it is the negative side of the references I just mentioned. I found myself saying, “are you kidding me?”, especially when he brings in the Wizard of Oz storyline. There is a reference to objects used in the Harry Potter series that made me wonder why King could not have been more creative rather than “borrowing” from another author.

Third, the fact that he does use other writers’ work becomes part of the fun as one reads. King wrote this series over a long span of time but seemed to let himself enjoy every minute of writing. The series shows what happens when a writer lets loose.

If all of this sounds a little contradictory then you understand how I felt in reading the eight books. There were times when I laughed, cried, thought I was wasting my time reading, or went “O, My God”.

Read the series, enjoy the ride, and may you have long days and pleasant nights.

Under The Dome: A Novel


The Dome Doesn’t Stand Up   ***

Having read all of Stephen King’s novels I was anxious to read “Under The Dome” and be transported into the imagination of a master writer.

It is long, it does have a plethora of characters, and it is well written (I want to go back and mark all the cliche’s King throws in). It is however not his best. For that “The Stand” will reign supreme with ” Cujo” in second place.

The “Dome” is a good read but too predictable, and too close to an old episode of “The Twilght Zone”-The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (1960).

11/22/63 : A Novel


Will “Stand” The Test of Time    *****

Having read all of Stephen King’s books, my favorite and his best is “The Stand”. Up until now I would have said his second best is “Cujo”. Sorry puppy but “11/22/63” is now his second best.
I haven’t sat engrossed for a couple of days reading a book since I read “The Lord of the Rings”. King’s latest is a page turner and a book I couldn’t wait to get back to when I had to break from it.
This isn’t horror or by any means scary, but is simply a good read, a roller coaster of emotion. Thanks Mr. King for taking me from this time for at least a while.