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!

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!

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!

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!

Let’s Talk… Nicholas Sparks

Welp ladies and gents, we made it. It’s been a crazy last few weeks, and while I am going to happily take a break from author series for a while, I am so grateful for the love and support this time around. We have reached every continent this series minus Antarctica (Side note: anyone with friends down there should give them a heads up!), and we have reached 12 countries, so thank you for the support all around the world! But we aren’t here to talk about me, we are here to talk about Nicholas Sparks, so let’s get into it!

Nicholas Sparks falls under the genre “romance”. His stories more often than not talk about two people who randomly meet and quickly fall in love. However, there is something that causes their relationship to disintegrate, and they either find ways to reconcile or there is a tragedy that separates them forever. With all that being said, he has included a “thriller” aspect to many of his books (See Me, Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Lucky One, A Bend in the Road, The Rescue, The Guardian). This is used in conjunction with the love story to add to the disintegration and/or tragedy part of his romance.

Two by Two is the only book that he has written that does not follow his mold. Unlike his other stories, this one is not about falling in love, but about finding love in a difficult time. It also isn’t so much about a romance (though there is one in the book), but about a love between a father and a daughter. I think that is why this book is so much more memorable than his others.

Many of his books have the cult following they do because of movies. Sadly, there were a lot of movies that I felt did a better job at telling the story than Sparks did. He has a tendency to not time the romance with the storyline well, and his connections are often shaky at best.

In the scheme of things, Sparks always seemed like an amazing author to me. That was until I read all of his books in about 1 month. Then all I could see were the same patterns over and over and over. Ultimately, it took away from the magical appeal he seems to have to the female population. So basically what I am saying is read his books in moderation and you are good to go!

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 Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 7/4/19-7/5/19

Firstly, thank you for your patience. I know this post is a few hours late, and while I could give you all an excuse as to why I was unable to do it, the main reason was that I was tired. This author series has been so incredibly rewarding, but extremely draining. Thankfully, this series is coming to a close, and today’s post is on one of my “calm down” movies. As I have mentioned in other posts, I struggle with anxiety. My anxiety often manifests itself at night as I lay down to go to bed, and I watch movies to help go to sleep at night. This one is on the list of movies I have seen so often that I not only can recite lines, but I can easily fall asleep to it. Also, who wouldn’t feel instantly relaxed by Scott Eastwood?

This story follows Luke Collins, a bull rider out of North Carolina. He meets art history major, Sophia Danko, at a bar after his ride, and instantly their connection is palpable. The next day they go horseback riding together, and the rest is history. But Luke has a secret that forces him to keep riding, and Sophia has to decide what her next step in life is going to be. Mixed into their love story is the story of Ira Levinson, a haberdasher that happened to love an extremely increible woman, Ruth.

The book is strange. In a lot of ways, I think Nicholas Sparks added in elements that he knew sold well into a love story that really didn’t need those elements. Specifically, Brian. There was no need for the “bad guy” in this story, and it felt extremely clichéd. Even more so with the addition of Marcia.

The Longest Ride Poster
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2726560/

Wow, the movie is its own entity. While the movie is based on the love stories, the overall arc of the movie is completely different than the book. The movie to me seems much more cohesive and the pathway from A to B makes more sense. It also felt very disingenuous that the book didn’t talk about the things that Sophia and Luke are interested in (considering their differing passions were a series of stress in their relationship), and the movie managed to showcase those passions without taking away from the original love story.

P.S. The woman who played Ruth is a phenomenal actress. She is going places, guys.

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!

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 7/2/19-7/3/19

I feel like every day this week is going to start with “Whew!” While I have been busting my butt to get these reviews out to you, I have saved my favorites (and least favorites) for this week. This one happened to fall in the latter category.

When I read this for the first time, I was disappointed. I didn’t think that it was worth the insane amounts of hype that it has been getting. HOWEVER, now that I have done this series (and read the really bad ones), I don’t mind this book. It will never be my favorite, but it also isn’t on the complete dislike list, either. So, progress?

Tru Walls is a game guide from Zimbabwe. When he receives a letter from his father, he goes to Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Hope Anderson is at Sunset Beach to clean out her family’s beach house after her father’s diagnosis of ALS. In the short time they were neighbors, they quickly fall in love. But life forces them apart, and they must take the steps they need to find each other again.

Unlike any of his other books, this one is a true story (with names changed). Despite that, it still follows the story arc that we are all used to. The characters are completely unlike the ones I would expect him to write, which is more a situation of circumstance. One of the things that most bothered me originally about this story was that I didn’t feel the connection between not only myself, but the characters themselves. This time around, I felt it, and I can’t tell if it is because I am more attuned to the connection after these past weeks or if I just didn’t give it a chance before, but it was there. This was not the type of story that left me crying, and I didn’t even feel close.

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 Choice by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/1/19-7/2/19

Man I love this book! This has been one of my favorites (mainly because I love the movie) for a few years, and I am glad to be doing a review!

This book follows Travis, the veterinarian and all-around-player-of-women, and his neighbor, Gaby, a physician’s assistant. When Gaby’s dog becomes pregnant, she suspects Travis’ dog as the culprit. But as they begin to get to know each other, she is forced to choose between Travis and her boyfriend. Overarching all of this is a tragedy, where Travis has to make the ultimate choice.

The ending (in my opinion) was WAY too long. There was no need for half of the last 100 pages. With that being said, I absolutely loved Part One of this book and I could have used more of that! It is one of those situations where you have to pick your poison.

The Choice Poster
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3797868/

Shout out to my Internet for crapping out 10 minutes before the movie ended. It ended up working out because I had to clean up the puddle of tears at my feet, so whatever.

Oof, man. Oof. So some backstory about me. I have told you that my mom died when I was 18. While my mom was in the hospital, my dad stood beside her, took the 2 hour drive every weekend to be with her, and managed to still stay ever so present in my brother’s and my lives. Seeing what Travis is going through in the movie just hit me right in those feels, and I am trying to recover from that.

I think the movie did a better job of spacing the romance with the ending. My only fault is that characters were changed around almost haphazardly, and there were random storylines that were just thrown in there for good measure. But clearly I love the movie, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

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!

Let’s Talk… Romance

Pull out the candles and the Marvin Gaye, because we are talking romance tonight! Well…. it’s the morning, and I’m talking about the genre, not the concept, but you get the idea. Romance can mean a million different things, and even the Audible romance package has to separate romance into “levels of steaminess”. And yes, that is 100% real. From Fifty Shades of Grey and the After series to All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Fault in Our Stars and to everything in between, let’s talk about some tips and tricks I have picked up on reading in the romance genre:

  1. Find a book that can pace the love story correctly. There are a lot that have a really slow build up to then rush the actual romance part of the book. And of course, there are books that do the exact opposite. If you are going to write a romance novel, keep the book moving while still telling the story you are trying to tell.
  2. Smut is smut. It bothers me to no end when people judge other people on their smut (things I never thought I would write when my grandmother will probably read this). We all have different things that interest us, and it is not my business to judge another person for their sexual reading habits. If you don’t want to read smut, then don’t read smut. But if you don’t want to read smut, then don’t judge someone else for reading it. (Hmmmm… that argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it)
  3. Take a chance on a new book. There are a lot of authors who specialize specifically in the romance category (*cough, cough* Nicholas Sparks), but there are a lot of authors within the category that have similar styles. Be willing to explore, there’s a lot in the genre.
  4. Love isn’t always black and white. Sometimes the romance is about loving yourself, finding yourself, or finding a home. We all love The Notebook type romances, but romance is also about falling in love with the person you are.
  5. Keep in mind what is important to you. I have always said on this blog that health is incredibly important to me, but for other people it is about how quickly the romance develops, the types of people (or monsters thanks to Twilight), or even about writing style. while I always say you should keep an open mind when picking a book, don’t sacrifice what’s important to you in order to read a book.

If you keep all these ideas in your head, you will find what you want in the genre. 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!