The Stand by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 9/14/20-9/26/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

When I asked my Facebook for Stephen King recommendations, almost everyone encouraged me to read this book. I put it on the back burner because it was over a thousand pages, and that’s a commitment I wasn’t ready for, but I finally took it on, and man is it good.

It seems like a normal day until a man named Campion, in a car with his wife and daughter, drove through gas pumps in Texas. Campion was working for a secret government project that focused on making a “superflu” that was incredibly contagious and extremely fatal. From the 4 men who found the bodies of the Campions, a terribly quick domino effect infected the entire world. After a few weeks, very few people were left, and those that were had dreams of a farm in Nebraska.

So at this point, we follow a bunch of survivors as they come to terms with their new reality. For the sake of posting a readable review, I’m not going to breakdown the characters unless I truly think that it will affect the rest of the review.

To narrow down this story into a simple sentence, this book is a game of good vs evil, specifically God vs. Satan. Since so much happens in this book, I’m not going to go into more specifics, but like, 1000 pages worth of stuff happens, so it’s a lot. Compared to the other books I have read by King, this book was probably the best, though it is A COMMITMENT.

Reading this book in a pandemic is interesting to say the least. The beginning of the book was rough, mainly because I saw a lot of parallels between how the government handled the superflu in the book with how the US handled the coronavirus in real life. Once the flu has eradicated the majority of the Earth, it gets a little easier to stomach.

Into my personal preferences, I enjoyed this book more than the other ones of King’s I have read. Part of that was that it was based on a theme that we see in A LOT of other books, so I had a point of reference as to where the story was going. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending, but you win some you lose some. Since I listened to the majority of this book as an audiobook, I definitely zoned out many times. There are a lot of characters that we follow, and many of their storylines are red herrings for the actual story. It is easy to get lost in them, but that is one of the things that King excels at in his writing. It’s a Catch-22, because if he didn’t give those characters light, we would already know where the story was heading. It keeps the story interesting by just inundating the reader with details about every character.

Now to a rating. I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t say that this book was the greatest thing I have ever read. I stand by my rating for Doctor Sleep, so I’m going to give this book 4.25 out of 5 stars, but that might be a little generous for my liking.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

These Witches Don’t Burn Series by Isabel Sterling

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/29/20-10/2/20

How I Found It: Instagram

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

As far as I know, this “series” is only two books, and will only be two books. But, if I’m wrong, I will definitely be reading any other additions to these books.

These Witches Don’t Burn

A lot happens, so bear with me on this one. Our main character is Hannah, who is an Elemental Witch in Salem, MA. She just recently ended a relationship with Veronica, who is also an Elemental. They had a really bad experience with a Blood Witch, so when things started acting weird, they immediately think that a Blood Witch is out to get them. So they fight the whole time, but suddenly extremely dangerous and scary things start happening, which puts everyone’s lives in mortal danger. Turns out, a Blood Witch isn’t the problem, but a Witch Hunter is. But who could be the Witch Hunter, and can Hannah stop them before they kill her?

This Coven Won’t Break

Going from book one directly into book two, I don’t remember the cut off point very clearly. So we spend this book dealing with the grief of losing a father, the PTSD of almost being burned to the stake, and the pure hatred Hannah feels for the people who caused all of this pain. With everything that happened, Hannah is struggling to regain control over her powers. Despite this struggle, Hannah works along with the agents of the Council to find and destroy the Witch Hunters’ plans to strip all witches of their magic.

There is a prequel to these books, but I am going to be reading that on my personal time, and not making it part of this post. Firstly, having gone through the process of losing a parent, I totally understood the pain that Hannah was experiencing, and the complete dread of thinking you will lose someone else. Secondly, can we please normalize having YA authors featuring less famous work in their books? Truly feels great to see that. Thirdly, I am so happy when I get to read works that feature non-hetero-cis relationships. There’s no better way to increase acceptability than to continually include a wide range of people into your literature.

I definitely had fun listening to this series, but there were some moments where I just wanted to facepalm. At the end of the day, I think I would rank this series pretty high, so I am going to give this series 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/4/20-9/10/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

I debated with myself a lot about whether or not I should make separate posts for this book and The Shining. While the main character is the same in these two novels, the large majority of this book is its own entity, so I felt like it deserved its own review.

Following the events at the Overlook Hotel, Dan finds himself falling into his father’s footsteps, becoming a raging alcoholic in his adult years. When an event happens that Dan can’t seem to shake, he takes off, ending up in New Hampshire. Thanks to his shine, Dan finds a place to live in the small town called Fraser, where he also finds the help he needs to get off the drink. But soon Dan meets Abra, or at least her mind. See, Abra also has the shine, but hers is so much stronger than his, even when they first meet when she was 2 months old. I feel like I am describing this really badly, but I also don’t know how to describe this better.

Abra ended up having a nightmare where she saw a young boy (called the “baseball boy”) getting tortured and killed by a group of vampire-esque people. Again, hard to explain without reading the book, but these people, called the True Knot, are eternal people who survive off of people’s shine, most often children. Struggling with this information, Abra searched out Dan in her mind to figure out how to rectify this situation. They began to formulate a plan in order to both protect Abra while also finding a way to break down the True Knot so that they can no longer hurt children.

And while I have given probably a terrible synopsis of this story, I am going to leave this one here. As someone who has read both books, I can say that each book could stand on their own, meaning that even if you didn’t read The Shining, you could probably, based on the context clues given about the first book, be able to fully understand everything that is being explained in this book. I also think that The Shining is complete without needing to read Doctor Sleep. I will also say, I think The Shining is more of a horror story, while Doctor Sleep is more thriller-esque (imo), which is part of the main reason I see these books as worth separate reviews.

When it comes to forming an opinion on this book, I keep finding myself comparing to the first book. This book (and to an extent The Shining) are more within my range of books I like. I am quickly realizing that King enjoys writing about telepathy, which is something that I find intriguing, but am quickly feeling is played out. I’m not sure if I just ended up picking the lucky few of his books that feature this element, but of the 5 King books I have read in my life, 4 of them have a telepathic/telekinetic theme (The Institute, Dreamcatcher, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep all have this element, Under the Dome (404: review not found) is the only one at the time of writing this review that does not, as far as I can remember). This book, since written in a different era, also no longer has the many problematic things that I noticed within The Shining. All in all, it was a really good thriller (and book for that matter), but some of its legs to stand on are a little overplayed and outdated. Ultimately, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Shining by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 8/31/20-9/3/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

FINALLY! I was really starting to question whether I should do a Stephen King month, but finally we found one of his books I really enjoyed. At the time of writing this, I’m not sure if Doctor Sleep will be part of this review yet, but I’m hoping that this will be a good precedent for the rest of the King books I have planned.

When Jack Torrence loses his job, he takes his wife, Wendy, and 5-year-old son, Danny, up to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Overlook Hotel. As the hotel is getting shut down for the season, Danny talks to the cook, Dick Halloran, about his ability to see glimpses of the future and to know what people are thinking. Dick informs him that he has that ability too, and his mother called it “The Shining”. Since Danny has a much stronger Shining, they make a plan to call Dick if he is ever needed and he will come. And I know that this all seems like really useless information, especially because I won’t really touch on it later in the review since, ya know, I can’t give you too many spoilers, but I think you could figure this one out.

So this hotel. With a very bloody history. the hotel is fraught with ghosts of its past (see that SAT word there?). Immediately, we feel the dark presence(s) that are in the hotel, which provides this really creepy haze over the story. And then we get these paranormal experiences (which I am not going to explain for maximum creepiness when you read it) that definitely activated my goosebumps while I was at work.

Jack has a history of being an alcoholic, and with the added stress of the hotel, he is constantly going back to his habits from when he would drink. Sadly (or not), the hotel is completely dry, so he is continuing to struggle with his need for a drink with his inability to get one. On top of that, the longer that he is in the hotel, the more his anger comes out, causing him to react at a pindrop. It becomes so much that Wendy and Danny want off the mountain, but the sheer amount of snow prevents them from doing so.

And while I need to stop because I will keep talking and giving away WAY too much, this book is super creepy and fun to read. And while I am giving this book a lot of praise, let’s get into some nitty gritty things. This book was published in 1977, which means that some things that could easily be ignored then can’t be as easily ignored now, so read at your discretion. I will also say that I think a lot of my praise comes from reading his other novels and not being overly impressed. However, this is a solid book, and I am so happy that I finally found one of his books enjoyable.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Palo Duro by Andrew J Brandt

How I Read It: PDF

Dates Read: 9/13/20

How I Found It: Reedsy Discovery

This is a review for Reedsy Discovery. The original review is posted at https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/palo-duro-andrew-brandt. The review on this blog is slightly less formal, and a lot of me working out what I wanted to say in the official review. Please check out the other review as well!

Very rarely do I sit down with my dad because I need to work out how I feel about a book. There are a lot of things that. truly enjoyed, but there were a lot of things that didn’t match up to my expectation. On a personal note, this is the first book that I have reviewed from the Reedsy Discovery collection, so I am a little nervous about this entire thing. So bear with me, here we go!

Set in Palo Duro, Texas, United States of America, Rachel Hernandez disappears after discovering a Native American cave. Her twin, Ricky, and her roommate, Jordan, are left trying to piece together what happened and how they can find a way to move on with their lives. But when Rachel’s phone shows up 4 months later, Ricky and Jordan start to learn that things are not as they seem.

So potential spoiler, as a reader, my immediate connection to something else I have read is The Magic Treehouse series. It’s been a hot minute since I have read the books (and considering I stopped reading them in middle school, I have read A LOT of them), but I was immediately taken back to my childhood. This book, in my opinion, is a grown up version of the books I grew up as a child. But with that said, it is definitely designed for people on the younger end of the young adult (my dad says to call that young teen).

This book has been advertised as being a thriller. I really don’t see it. I think that this could be considered an adventure, a mystery or a mixture of the two, but there weren’t enough elements of a thriller for me to feel like it falls in this category.

So now is the time where I need to give my star review. As someone who has a lot of opinions, I have been tossing and turning in my head of what to give this book. If I was younger, and hadn’t read as many thrillers in the past month, I probably would give this book a higher rating, and is that really fair? There are a lot of people who are giving this a 4 star review, and I just can’t in good conscience agree. So I am personally going to give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 8/12/20-8/15/20

How I Found It: Facebook/ Personal Recommendation

Okay, so normally I wouldn’t give you guys a heads up this is what I think is going to happen, but here’s my heads up this is what I think is going to happen. So, SPOILER ALERT? Maybe?

At the current moment, I am at the end of chapter 11, which translates to about 9 and a half hours of listening. Now, I have only read Under the Dome and The Institute (which the latter is a review on this site), have never seen a Stephen King novel adapted into a movie or TV show (other than Under the Dome, I definitely watched Under the Dome, mainly for Colin Ford), but I have a pretty good idea of what Stephen King endings are like. So, with a finger wag of a eureka moment into the air, my primary assumption of this book is that the main guys’ friend, Duddits, was the home for an alien species, and since Duddits has leukemia, I am assuming that he is the reason why the alien stuff is going on. With all that being said, I also think that the book will end by the alien fungal stuff or whatever being killed (potentially by a big wildfire), and since the fungal stuff is killed, Duddits died. Quote me on it, this is my prediction made on August 13th, 2020 at 8:04 PM EST. So, by the power of the Internet, I will see you guys once I finish the book, which will only be a page break for you guys.

Hi, I’m done now. Okay, so my guess was not completely off, but wasn’t great either. But not the point of this review, let’s get into it. Firstly, this book is about aliens, and describes very aggressive bodily harm in extreme detail. If those are triggering for you, then maybe this ain’t for you, chief.

So there’s these 4 guys, Beaver, Jonesy, Pete, and Henry. They were friends from middle school, connected by a friendship from the early 80s with a boy named Douglas (goes by Duddits). They go hunting in Jackson Hole in Maine, USA when a guy named Rick approaches their hunting cabin. Quickly, things hit the fan as a creepy alien-thing that looks a lot like a weasel drags itself out of Rick’s number two hole. Yea, it’s gross. Oh, and there’s like UFOs and the government starts freaking out. So, I don’t really want to tell you who lives and who dies here, but uh, we are only going to talk about Henry and Jonesy now.

So Jonesy gets possessed (?) by the alien called Mr. Gray. But Jonesy is immune, so he doesn’t completely lose his brain function to the alien, causing a huge conflict. But Mr. Gray is essentially just trying to infect the water supply, thereby eradicating the human race as we know it. Which like, I got some issues here. Firstly, aliens supposedly have had UFOs in this are for decades, and they still decided this is where they are going to stake their claim? They know what the weather is like, and they are acting all surprised when the fungus can’t grow in the weather. HUGE plot hole in my opinion.

Right, Henry. So Henry, realizing that Jonesy is dealing with his own demons, goes to try and find him. But he finds himself in the middle of the military outpost. With the help of a military man, Owen Underhill, Henry gets out of the post, and they are quickly searching for Jonesy. For the sake of having a better connection, they go to find Duddits, using his connections to get inside of Jonesy’s head.

Right, there’s this ESP thing going on. Apparently Duddits had ESP for a really long time, and the fungus also gives you ESP. So when the two are put together, it gets really strong. And we are just supposed to accept that homeboy can hear people’s minds and get into them. IDK man, Stephen King is weird. (Side note: I was looking for a gif from a Smosh video where Shayne Topp yells “Stephen King”, but was unable to find one. Please know, I care about you guys enough to try tweeting out into the universe so I could get it).

As for my thoughts, maybe I’m just not an alien person. Like, aliens are cool and I totally think they exist, even if not the whole blue-humanoid-ET-phone-home, but I believe in life on another planet in another galaxy. But I just don’t enjoy books where we make aliens into horror tropes, I guess. Just not my cup of tea. With that in mind, I thought this book was good, but not something that I consider amazing. Character development is out of this world though. Take a lesson from Stephen King, make your characters as round as possible.

So the moment we are all waiting for: I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 1/13/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

I’ll be honest, I listened to this book because I was on an 8 hour shift and I thought I could listen to all of it. I was only about 40 pages short, so I figured I would just finish this one out. This book does talk A LOT about sex, including conversations about rape, sexual assault, fetishes, etc. If these are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

This story is a collection of conversations over about 2 decades about sex, marriage, and life. And here’s the thing, even the cover synopsis is essentially that description. I don’t know how else I can describe this book.

I didn’t really enjoy this book. I like books that have a clear plotline, and this book was designed to not have one. This book also was way to heavy on sex for me. Everyone has their preferences, this just happens to be mine, so I am going to have to rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Demon Next Door by Bryan Burrough

https://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Next-Door/dp/B07NDJJL1F

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 12/27/19-12/30/19

How I Found It: Audible

TW: this book discusses rape, murder, and victim blaming.

In this retelling of his classmate’s crimes, Ryan Burrough delves into the history of Danny Corwin, a serial killer from Temple, TX. During the year of 1987, Danny Corwin raped and killed 3 women, as well as attempted to murder after raping 2 other women. This read is really dense, and there are A LOT of details packed into those 3 hours. I love learning about serial killers (I know, that is creepy), but this definitely isn’t a read for everyone! I would give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars because it isn’t the easiest thing to listen to.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/8/20-9/13/20

How I Found It: It’s Fredrik Backman

TRIGGER WARNING: There is a lot of talk about suicide in this book. There is also a specific scene where a suicide takes place. That scene is referenced throughout the entire book. Read at your own discretion.

Okay, so I may or may not be a total fangirl for Fredrik Backman. I also may or may not have his future books set as a notification (speaking of, WE ARE GETTING ANOTHER BEARTOWN NOVEL!!!!!! I mean, come on, I deserve to be excited about this!), so I purchased this book long before this quarantine happened. I have reviewed all of his other works (If you would like to see my other reviews for Fredrik Backman, you can click this link) before on the blog, so I am not going to go into a whole lot of detail about why I love his books, but I will try to leave my fangirling at the door and give you my thoughts on Anxious People.

On the night before New Year’s Eve, a bank robbery turns into a hostage situation. Well, not at the bank, at an apartment showing across the street from the bank. And really, it wasn’t a robbery because nothing was taken. And really, the robber doesn’t want anything other than to be able to leave, so is it really a hostage situation?

Throughout the entire story, we get to meet the strange cast of characters as we try to piece together how and why all of this is happening. With new surprises on every page, we take a deep dive into suicide, love, pizza, and friendship.

So here’s the thing about this story, I’m being purposefully vague. Within the first 20 pages, you already have 3 major revelations, and those revelations only become more convoluted as you read. And while I will say that I don’t think this is the best work that Backman has written, I will 100% encourage you to read it.

Which leads to why I say it’s not the best. Backman has always had a way of focusing on one character and having the story revolve around them. The only example of him not doing so would be the Beartown series, where he had different characters form the plot. In this book, he used the characters in a way to skew the plot, which has a purpose in the book, but is difficult to follow. And while he has a wit that I will never be able to fully comprehend, I personally didn’t find this book as entertaining to read as some of his other works.

HOWEVER, this book serves a purpose way above just the story. This book will make you consider what love means. Through 3 (maybe 4, maybe more) relationships, 3 families, and 9 people stuck in an apartment, we learn a lot about what you do for the people that you love, and what happens when we try to fight for the right to love. This book will go into survivor guilt, and how hard it is to recover feeling that you could have done more. This book will go into drug addiction, and how hard it is to love someone with a drug dependency. This book will go into death, and how we struggle dealing with grief. This book has so many real-life connections that give the reader a place to start thinking about what all of this means (P.S. This is characteristically Fredrik Backman. If you think that is cool, read his other works, please. He is my favorite author for a reason).

I personally would give this book a high rating, probably a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would say for those that are debating reading this book, this book is an open door into mental health. If you don’t know how to say how you feel, there is probably a character in this book who you can relate to. If you need someone to root for that is like you, read this book. It’s a little bit of a maze, but it’s worth it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 3/4/20-3/6/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book With a Flower on the Cover” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Trigger Warning: This book does mention anxiety, depression, grief, and sexual offenses. If any of these are triggers for you, read at your own discretion.

When you first look at this book, you might think that this is an average length book. But if you choose the audiobook (and you become a connoisseur of audiobooks to know the average is between 12-14 hours), then you realize that this book is super short. I chose to read this book purely because I only needed a book for 2 days of work and this book was the right length for that predicament. I wasn’t expecting to completely fall into this book, but as soon as I got home (and thankfully it came in the mail that morning), I kept up reading it just to find out what happens to Casey.

Casey is a struggling writer. After working on her book for 6 years, Casey is trying to reach the end. But with a looming debt and a minimum wage job, she is just getting by. At a party, Casey meets Silas, another aspiring writer who has a very similar attitude towards the world. But when he disappears before their first date, Casey meets Oscar, an established writer whom is a widower with 2 sons. Soon, Casey finds herself in the middle of the two men, and as her personal life is growing more complicated, her mental health is continuing to fall apart around her.

I don’t know if I have ever really talked about it, but I really want to be an author one day. My biggest issue is that while I have ideas that I fleshed out, I was taught as a science major to not be flowery. And I don’t know if you know this, but novels are focused on flowery language. So, yea, I’m not getting very far. But it was cool to feel like I was writing a novel by reading this book! I don’t think that the mentions were too far for the book, but there were a lot of literary references that I just don’t know.

I did think that the mentioning of mental health issues were really nice. As someone who has gone through the process of grief, I thought that she described something that was very similar to my experience. I have not experienced anxiety in the same way as described, but I also know how similar those feelings are for other people whom I have talked to about their anxiety, so I do think that this book could be a good discussion starter about mental health.

Despite all the extremely positive ways I have described this book, I don’t know if this is a re-readable book. I also have this reticence to rate this book too high, so I am going to go with a 4.25 out of 5 stars, but I could see that value changing plus or minus .5 stars depending on my mood. What I’m trying to say is I have no idea what I’m doing anymore and I am just trying to keep up appearances, but it is getting harder and harder for me to rate these books.

But anyway, if you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!