Owen and Stephen King Sleeping Beauties Tour

“He’s so fucking weird.”

That’s what Owen King said about his father, Stephen King, when asked a question during their September 30th appearance at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. The two writers made a stop in my hometown promoting their new novel Sleeping Beauties and I was able to grab a few tickets to the show.

As a lifelong S.K. fan I was beyond thrilled at finally having a chance to see King in the flesh. Their new book is about what happens if all the women in the world fell asleep and kept on sleeping. They didn’t talk too much about the book, focusing more on the interaction between themselves. It was more like listening to two friends hang out and talk to each other. Father and son clearly have a good, close relationship and they played well off of each other.

The elder King had recently turned 70 and the younger King joked about the olders memory and then pulled out the Stephen King trivia book. Stephen is a prolific writer with well over 50 books, many of which have dozens and dozens of characters in each book. Impressively Stephen got three of four questions about Misery correct. It was fun to watch S.K. answer one right away, pause for a beat with two, and fail on one.

The last part of the show was for audience questions. And of course the lines at the mics were insane. Given Stephen’s popularity, almost all questions were for him. I felt a bit bad for Owen on this but S.K. did a wonderful job at answering questions while also bringing Owen into the response or finding a way to have Owen respond. There were a few cringe worthy questions but those were handled with respectful deflection by both authors.

The night went fast and was everything I hoped it would be. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to see S.K. in person and to finally have the dream come to fruition was incredible. The night ended on a really high note for me. All attendees got a book with their tickets and 400 books were signed by both writers. These signed books were randomly given out as the audience was leaving and I was fortunate enough to receive a signed copy (A friend who attended the show with me received one as well!). Fullfilling another lifelong dream – to have a signed book by Stephen King. Needless to say my night was made. An appearance I will always fondly remember and a book I will treasure. This constant reader could not have been more happy.

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Finders Keepers by Stephen King

wpid-20150621_152459.jpgA fan so obsessed with an author that he’s willing to kill that author in order to seek vengeance.  Vengeance solely for the fact he the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015didn’t like the direction of the last book and that the author hasn’t published anything new in years.  That’s the basic premise in Stephen King’s most recent novel Finders Keepers.  Morris Bellamy, the obsessed fan, does the unthinkable and breaks into author John Rothstein’s home, in order to find notebooks of unpublished material Rothstein is rumored to keep in his home.  And oh, there’s some money too, but that’s only an extra bonus for Bellamy.  It’s the unpublished material Bellamy is most concerned with.  The material that could contain more about his favorite character: Jimmy Gold.  After the break-in, murder of Rothstein, and subsequent theft of said notebooks and cash, Bellamy stashes his bounty with plans to read the notebooks at a later date.  Bellamy, being a criminal, ends up getting locked up for another crime, causing him to be separated for years from the one thing he believes will give him satisfaction.

Flash forward a few decades to come across Pete Saubers.  Pete’s dad was a victim of the Mr. Mercedes attack and his dad has been out of work since then due to the injuries he sustained.  Pete’s mom and dad are pushed to the brink financially and emotionally. The stress of living off of one paltry income is getting to them and they argue quite often.  During one of these arguments Pete runs out and retreats to the path behind his house.  He stumbles upon something buried and finds Bellamy’s buried treasure. The money can help his family out but the notebooks are what eventually capture Pete’s attention. This puts him on a collision course with Bellamy. Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson (the detective trio from Mr. Mercedes) must find a way to help Pete avoid a deadly encounter due to his find.

Finders Keepers is the second book in the Mr Mercedes trilogy.  However this second book didn’t read or feel like it was part of a trilogy. Yes there are connecting factors but this book does a good job of standing on its own.  The first third of the book didn’t even reference Mr. Mercedes, instead telling Bellamy’s story.  I found this refreshing since it allowed this book to not fall into any standard trilogy trope (this is what happened before, and these people are, etc.).  Even the appearance of the detective trio didn’t take center stage.  This was more about Bellamy and Saubers and how obsession can ruin a life if you let it.  This is the second time King writes about fan obsession and it was good to see he took a different approach this time. Every fan is different and a separate plot from a previous work is key to making the book interesting.

This isn’t King’s best work, it was a fun read but not quite on par with some of King’s better books.  Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed this book and I think most King fans and non-fans will as well.  There was a good pace and the story-line never felt bogged down.  The ending seems to allude to a potential thread into the third book so it will be interesting to see how all three fit together when the final book comes out.

As is usually the case with King books, this Constant Reader was very happy to have read this book and is looking forward to what comes next.

Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes

Stephen King is by far my favorite author.  Every time I hear he has a new book coming out I just can’t wait to pick it up and read.  His latest novel is Mr. Mercedes and it did not disappoint.Mr. Mercedes

If you’re looking for a King horror book, this isn’t the one to get – Mr. Mercedes is more along the lines of  a suspense/thriller book.  There are no scary monsters, cars that come to life on their own, or a telepathic type power that can kill at will.  The scary monsters are all too human and the car, while the weapon that harms, maims, and kills is a car, it’s not one that acts of its own accord.

The book starts out with the action that spurs the story line.  A classic Mercedes plows into a large group of unemployed people lining up and waiting for a job fair to start.  Somehow the driver escapes without a trace, even though he leaves the car behind.  The killer is dubbed “Mr. Mercedes”

Next we meet recently retired Detective Bill Hodges.  His retirement is one of boredom, monotony, and borderline depression.  One day Bill receives a letter from Mr. Mercedes which snaps Bill out of his rut.  He’s invigorated and feels as though he once again has a purpose.  The retired detective is compelled to investigate the case he wasn’t able to close before retiring.  He pulls in a trusted neighbor/handyman to help with the investigation, while at the same time using his police contacts to help, albeit, dipping in the realm of hiding evidence from those same contacts.  Hodges also makes a connection with the sister of the women who owned the Mercedes used in the killing.  This connection brings him into contact with an unexpected and valuable resource.  This leads to a fun trio of “investigators” who work well together and compliment each other in any areas the other is lacking.the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-button

I really enjoyed this book – it had a quick pace and kept me interested.  I had laughed at myself when I picked up the book and thought “this feels light and seems kind of short”.  The book is over 400 pages.  If you’re a regular King reader you know a lot of his books are long.  So, a 400 page book seems like nothing compared to the usual.  I think Stephen King has evolved as a writer over the years.  He’s always been good, but as time has progressed, you can see how he’s become more of a nuanced writer.   He can still give his constant readers the horror stories they love and have come to know him for, while at the same time give those same readers something a little different and new.

This constant reader highly suggests this book if you’re a fan of Stephen King.  Even if you’re not, this may be one to pick up.  It’s not the horror King is known for.  It’s well written, light on the number of characters and interesting.  King has made it known Mr. Mercedes is the first in a trilogy so fair warning for those who don’t like to read a book just to wait for the next one to come out. The ending of this book didn’t feel like an open ending, so I’d say it’s safe to read it right now!

Author Acknowledgements – To Read or Not To Read…

That is my question for you.  You’ve just finished reading a book that you love and you’re wishing you had just a little more from the author.   You turn the page and there it is – those extra words you’ve been looking for.  No, they aren’t more of the story but it’s more words from the writer.  That connection with the writer, sometimes the only real connection you can get, is waiting for you.  All you have to is read the heartfelt words in front of you.

How many of you read the author acknowledgement after you’ve read the book?  I make sure to do so every time.  I look at this part of the book as a bit of an eye into the writer’s mind.  Sometimes it’s a simple list of names that were helpful/integral to writing the book; sometimes it’s a glimpse into the idea that sparked the story.  Whatever it is, I’m happy to read those words.

Some of my favorite author acknowledgments are Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Neil Gaiman.  Each author has their own way of writing this page which makes it that much more enjoyable for me.  S.K. thanks his “constant reader” as well as provides a brief background of the story; Joe Hill aligns his to fit with the story just read; and Neil Gaiman can give a great reason how the story came to be.  All of this allows me the reader to get to know the writer just a tiny bit more.  As a reader who will more than likely never meet these writer, something I’m grateful for and can never get enough of.  Thanks to the writers out there and keep the acknowledgment pages coming!

So, if you don’t read the acknowledgments,  maybe give it a try next time. If you do, why do you like to read them and who are your favorite?

 

 

Under the Dome – T.V. Series

On Monday, CBS debuted their version of Stephen King’s 1,072 page opus Under the Dome. I read the book back when it first came out in 2009 and have to admit my memory of what happened is a bit on the fuzzy side.  I recall enjoying the book but the specifics of it have since escaped me.

Given I’m a raging King fan, I was more than willing to give this series a shot and view it.  I have to say I was happy with the first episode.  It wasn’t excellent, but not too many of King’s book to T.V. shows are.  I know the writers changed quite a few things from the book.  Since I don’t recall the details I’m good with the changes.  One thing I do recall is the rather gruesome death of an animal in the book – a woodchuck, changed to a cow for the show.  I thought this was a good change since it was a better representation of the arrival of the dome.  A bigger target to show the effect of being cut off.  Another thing that changed (I’ve read in read in reviews, full disclosure since I don’t recall this fact) is that the sound doesn’t travel through the dome as in does in the book.  Again, I’m good with this change.  I think it’s a good effect of showing how the town is cut off from the outside world and is in its own realm.  Lots of characters in the book as well as in the show.  The book actually has a three page list of the main characters at the beginning.  Always a scary sign when reading a book and being given a list of who’s who before even starting :-).

King’s book to movie/T.V. have been hit or miss for me.  Some I’ve loved and some I’ve hated.  The ones that seem as if they’d be more of a successful to me are the ones where the “evil” character is more on the human side rather than on the imagination side (e.g. Annie Wilkes from Misery vs., say, Pennywise from It).  Given The Dome is an inanimate object I think this series will be a good translation.  CBS did a good job of promoting The Dome – not too in your face and featuring the dome in many of its promos.  Future episodes will tell if this series is successful or not.  This T.V. junkie is hoping its good.

How about you – what are your favorite King book to movies?  Any books you wish would be made into a movie or a T.V. series?

Spring ahead nightmare

Last night (or early this morning) it was time to move the clocks forward one hour, referred to as time to spring ahead.  Of course here in the midwest springtime is an elusive season – much like a far away land that you can only reach after an arduous, perilous journey, and then it only lasts a short time.  This year spring ahead fell on a weekend when I have to get up early and spend nine hours at school (on a Sunday!).  Moving the clock ahead and having to get up early wasn’t the nightmare, it was the scary dream I had during the night that was the nightmare.

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I’ve always had nightmares.  I think reading Stephen King and watching scary movies at far too young of an age is partly the reason for this.  My nightmares have the tendency to be fairly terrifying.  I’ve woken up several times with my heart racing and horrible thoughts going through my head, making falling back to sleep difficult.  I know the typical explanations for things that happen in a dream: being chased means avoiding an issue, death dreams mean the symbolic ending of something or attempts to resolve anxiety, etc.  However, why my dreams are always terrifying nightmares, I do not know.  If the meanings behind these dreams are true, why do they manifest themselves in such a disturbing way.  Before we got our first dog Bubba (the inspiration for this blog), I had been having increasingly terrible nightmares – ones where upon waking I was afraid to fall back asleep because they were so disturbing.  After we got Bubba my nightmares completely stopped for at least six months and then only returned sporadically after that.  Clearly, my subconscious was telling me I felt unsafe without a dog.  Bubba is no longer with us but we’ve got Otis now.  My nightmares have become more frequent lately. This could be a combination school ending this coming December and the abundant number of slightly scary T.V. shows I watch (The Walking Dead, The Following, etc.).  Whatever the reason, I’d like them to diminish in occurrence, especially when time is short and there are things to do.

How many of you are plagued by nightmares and do you think watching scary T.V. shows or reading certain types of books is the reason?  I’m not willing to give up the shows or books I love.  I’ve read too often that scary dreams can make a good book and maybe one day inspiration will hit.  Until then, to quote a Stephen King title “nightmare and dreamscapes” will keep me up at night.