A King Hater Reads King: The Shining

This might be a surprise to a lot of people but I hadn’t read The Shining before this month. I loved the film with Jack Nicholson but when it came to the book my view on King’s work has been seriously tainted so I just didn’t bother reading it even though I owned a copy. I have so say now that I regret not picking it up sooner. Was it a masterpiece? No. Was it one of the best King books I have read? Yes. I don’t think it is as good as Carrie or IT but I can say that is probably comes third on my very short list of enjoyable Stephen King books. So far that list consists of three books.

If you have been living under a rock and don’t know what The Shining is about already I will explain it to you. It is about a couple and their young son who spend the winter in the haunted and isolated Overlook Hotel. Madness and creepiness ensues. The kid is psychic and the husband is an ex alcoholic, because this is a Stephen King book and addicts and random psychic powers have to appear somewhere. At least they are done well in this one, probably because it is one of his earlier novels and he hasn’t started beating those dead horses to a pulp yet.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was the atmosphere and the pacing. It was slower than most horror novels that I enjoy, and usually when King does slow he adds mountains of pointless waffle, but this time it was different. The slow pacing of The Shining was perfect and every trivial scene in it added something to the story, especially when it comes to the father, Jack, slowly loosing his mind.

That brings me to my second favourite part of this novel: Jack. Dear god, he is probably my all time favourite Stephen King character. He was beautifully written. You really feel his torment at times and when he starts going mad it is slow and gradual so at the start you are not sure if he is loosing it or he is just in a normal bad mood. I will admit though, I probably found him more comical than threatening most of the time. There were a few scenes were he was internally monologuing and I realised that this guy was just standing there starting at a snowmobile and ranting about how much he hates it for no reason. At one point he was monologuing about how much he hates disinfectant. This man was standing in a bathroom glaring at a sink while hating on disinfectant. It was hilarious.

I have one big negative point about this novel and that is the mother, Wendy. By the time I was half way through the novel I wanted to beat her with a hammer. Little things annoyed me about her thoughout the novel but the big turn off came around half way through. Answer me this, if you had a child who appeared to have been strangled by an unknown person and your husband openly admits to breaking the only radio that would let you call for help, what would you do? You would get mad, right? Not Wendy. She makes out with her husband instead and quickly gives up complaining about it. By the time Jack went mad I was rooting for him to kill her.

Overall The Shining was a good book and I would recommend it if you haven’t already read it. I will warn you that it is very different from the film so don’t go into it expecting bleeding elevators and creepy twins. It is more Psychological horror than ghost horror.

I am starting to think this King challenge is a bit too easy. I have read too many enjoyable novels while doing this challenge. To remedy that I am going to reread the novel that destroyed my love of Stephen King in the first place. I am going to reread Cujo.

The Mid Year Freak Out – Book Tag!

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2017

It will be hard for any book I read this year to knock Battle Royale off the top spot. I ADORED this book. It is probably one of my new all time favourite novels. Gory, gritty and an emotional rollercoaster. If you haven’t read it you really need to…as long as you have a high tolerance for violence that is. You can read my full review of it here.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

I havent read many sequels this year, but I will always buy the new Rick Riordan books when they come out and they will always be labelled my favourite sequels because his books are always gold.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

This is a non-fiction book that came out at the start of this year. Sadly due to being in the process of house buying I wasn’t able to buy it earlier in the year and I haven’t seen it for sale anywhere since. Typical.

Victorian’s Undone is a non-fiction book containing various odd facts about different famous Victorian bodies. I have a passion for anatomy, medical history and all things Victorian so this book sounds right up my street. I need it!

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

This was one of my Waiting for Wednesday choices a few weeks ago and I am still infatuated with the idea of it. Meddling Kids is out in July and I plan to snatch it up the moment it hits the shelves.

You can read more about Meddling Kids here.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

I had a few choices for this question but in the end I went for Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I have read worse books than this one this year but this book was so hyped up by other bloggers that it made the disappointment of reading it even greater. I had been looking forward to reading this book for over a year and when I finally did it was just boring and not scary at all. It had a few creative gory scenes but that is it. Nothing was explained, the characters were a bit flat and nothing was really solved in the end. An open ending works for some books but it didn’t work in this case.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

To be honest I only read this book on a whim. I needed something short to read and I found The Birds in the library, so I gave it a chance. Long story short I was blown away. I had seen the film previously and wasn’t the biggest fan so I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. It reminded me of War of the Worlds as the characters were all normal and doomed. War of the Worlds is one of my favourite novels so if a book has a similar tone I will enjoy it if it is done well.

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Jack Ketchum! I have read two books by him this year: The Girl Next Door and Red. I have added most of his bibliography to my to-read list on GoodReads and I plan on working my way through them this year. I love his style of realistic human based horror. His books are a bit upsetting but that just means they are written well enough to hurt you, A Lot.

You can read my review of Red here and my review of The Girl Next Door here.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

I don’t have one. I don’t get crushes on real life people let alone fictional ones. I am strange.

Question 9 – New favourite character

Apollo from the Trials of Apollo series. I know this series is on its second book and Apollo was also in the first one but I enjoyed him more this year with the second book. I think he got a lot more development in the second novel. Also to add to it, my boyfriend said Apollo reminds him of me personality wise and I am a bit of an egotist so….NEW FAVOURITE CHARACTER FOR ME because of course any character that reminds other people of me must be cool.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

I dont cry over books or films. I am made of stone. But if you want the most upsetting book I have read this year The Girl Next Door takes that award. I have read a lot of books about people being tortured but this is probably the worst one so far.

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

This question is tricky because I read so many comics. I think my favourite series right now would be the current run of Spiderman and Deadpool. It is coming to an end for now and I will miss it because it has brought me so much joy. It is just fun and even though it is a silly series when it hits you with emotional moments it really hits you. I have also been reading this series with my boyfriend because I am a hardcore follower of the Spiderman comics and he is a hardcore follower of Deadpool comics, so this team up was the perfect series to read together. We enjoyed it so much that we are cosplaying the characters at a convention next week.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

This is a tv show but it still counts. I have been loving the television adaption of the American Gods novel. I am HUGE Gaiman fan and have read almost all of his books. I remember reading American Gods and thinking that it would make a great film but it was too long, it would be impossible to make a film adaption and keep everything in, so they would have to make a tv show. And then they did! I am also the only person I know in real life who has read the book so I have been enjoying watching my friends reactions to things and hearing their theories on what is going on.

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

For this one I pick So, I bought a library I mentioned it previously but my biggest achievement this year is that I bought my own house. Not only am I now a home owner now but it is a very large house with gardens and A LIBRARY. The post I made earlier in the year celebrating that fact should be in my top spot.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

I received this book as a Christmas present but it still counts as a book I received this year because it was delayed in the post so my mother couldn’t give it to me until January. It is a beautiful leather bound copy of Oscar Wilde’s works. I have mentioned it many times on this blog but Wilde is one of my favourite writers. I already own several collections of his works but my mother likes to buy be pretty copies of classics I love even if I already own 5 copies of the book already.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

REVIEW: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Synopsis:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:
“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.”

Review:

This book had so much potential. I was excited for it, I enjoyed the writer’s previous work and it had no shortage of good ideas. In the end I was left disappointed. I was so disappointed that I got three quarters of the way through it and decided to just skip ahead to read the big “who done it?” reveal you get at the end of every mystery novel, because I can’t leave a mystery unsolved even if the book is disappointing.

The main downfall I found was the characters. It was hard to care about any of them. That makes it hard to get into a book if everyone is your cardboard cut out, mystery novel trope character. Girl on the Train had those elements but it did them well and you ended up caring about the characters and what happened to them. This wasn’t the case with this book.

Another issue I had was the narration. This book was written in the same format as Girl on the Train: a mystery novel told from different perspectives. This can work well. It adds layers to the story and you can see the same mystery from different perspectives. It might have been done well in that novel but in Into the Water that style fell short for one big reason: There were too many point of view characters! We heard EVERYONE’S perspective. I am surprised there wasn’t a chapter dedicated to what a random cat’s thoughts on the whole thing. That and the fact that few of the characters were memorable made for a confusing read. I am normally perfectly fine with books that change character perspective but the fact that some of the characters were boring and non memorable made it hard to remember who was who in the story.

I doubt I will rush to read a Hawkins book again after this one. It might not have been the worst book in the world but it was such a default, dull mystery novel that it just left me disappointed and bored. I had to force myself to read it every day.

Warnings:

Strong language at times. Sexual references.


Rating:

2 our of 5

There was nothing overtly offensive about this book but overall it was just a snooze fest.

Dark Reads of the Month: May


This is a series that I started on Goth Amino in December and decided to add to my proper blog. It isn’t really a wrap up, I just read a pile of books (9 this month) and then pick out 3 of the darkest and most interesting. It gives me the chance to discuss and recommend classics or older books which might not get full reviews.

This month I had an accidental reading theme. I read a lot of books about people being kept locked up against their will or in situations they can’t escape. I don’t know what caused that theme, my to read pile just lined up that way. It was an intense month of reading.

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

This is a fiction novel based on the real life torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. A young girl and her sister are left in the care of a woman who locks her in the basement, beats her and tells neighbourhood children to abuse her.

This book was so upsetting that I had to take a break from reading for two days, and that is impressive because I’m not normally bothered by things I read. It was just so intense. It is hard to say you enjoyed a book about someone being tortured to death but this is a great book. Well written and atmospheric. I will warn you though, this book has ALL of the trigger warnings. Rape, torture, abuse, general very adult content, it is all there. So if you are easily upset maybe this isn’t the book for you. Maybe read the wiki page on the real crime so you know what you are in for.

Read my full review here

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

If you don’t know what this book is about I am going to do you a favour and not tell you. Rosemary’s Baby is pretty famous so I already knew everything about it when I started reading and  I feel like it ruined the ending for me, so that is why I am not telling you anything. Don’t even read the blurb because that contains spoilers too. If you know what this book is about please don’t be a twat and write spoilers in the comments.
I have read a few of Levin’s books now and  I think this one is my favourite. Since I refuse to give out spoilers I can’t say why. Levin just does a brilliant job with writing horror that takes place in a normal every day situation. It makes you wonder if things are real or not. This is the worst review because I refuse to spoil things. Just read Rosemary’s Baby and enjoy it. A bit of a warning, this book is very much a product of its time so some of the attitudes to things like marital rape are a bit worrying by today’s standards.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews


This is an American gothic horror novel about 4 children who are told to stay in the attic of a grand mansion for a few days so their mother can claim an inheritance, but 3 years later they are still there.

I discovered this book through Tea with Mermaids blog. She has great taste, go check her out. We disagree on this book though because I enjoyed it and she didn’t. I read a lot of upsetting literature so I was a bit more immune to this novel and its upsetting plot twists.

This is a book that has been banned in several places due to its content, and banned books are always fun to read. I have read a few books about people in this situation but this book stands out because I have never seen one set in a large mansion where the captives get nice clothes and gifts when they are not being horribly abused. It also packs plenty of plot twists and mystery which is just the cherry on top of an already great novel. This book contains incest, abuse and sexual themes. The incest is the reason why it has been banned.

My Top 5 Gothic Novels

I wrote my last “Top Classic Novels” post 2 years ago so I thought I was due to write a new one. I have read a grand total of 32 classic novels since the beginning of last year so I am going to separate my favourites by genre so this will probably end up being a series.

I am going to kick it all off with my favourite literary genre: Gothic Literature.

I love gothic literature. It is dark, atmospheric, morbid and sometimes just a tad over the top. Most of my favourite novels fall into this genre so it a bit difficult to pick out my favourites. These are in no practically order because doing that would be like placing your children in order of favouritism.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

If you dont know what Dracula is about you have been living under a rock for your entire life. Vampires, that is all you need to know.

I first read this book when I was 10 and after a reread of this novel last year I reminded myself how amazing it is. The best part of rereading it was that I forgot some of the best scenes and how action packed it was, so it was like reading it from fresh all over again. One of the perks of waiting 18 years to reread a novel. Dracula himself doesn’t appear very often but instead acts as a constant lingering source of horror and mystery for the rest of the characters. If you are new to Victorian literature I would say that this book is the perfect gateway novel. It is very modern in storytelling and language, and certainly isn’t dull and stuffy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Again, if you don’t know what this book is about you have lead a very sheltered existence, but this is more forgivable than not knowing what Dracula is about. Dorian Gray is a young man who sells his soul to remain young and pretty forever so his picture ages instead.

This is another reread I have had in the past year. I first read this novel when I was 11 and I remember the day I bought it because my father wasnt happy when I came home with it. He thought I would “catch the gay” by reading an Oscar Wilde novel. Don’t worry, that was a very long time ago and my father is very pro-LGBT rights now-a-days. I ended up not being entirely straight so maybe I did “catch the gay” from Oscar Wilde after all. Even if it is bad in the novel I rather like Lord Henry’s philosophy to keep seeking new experiences. I find it works if you keep your morality intact. Maybe this book is a bit corrupting. So…read Oscar Wilde and become an absinthe drinking pansexual who once orchestrated a hickey orgy in a gay bar. (True story)

Seriously though, this book is brilliant. Dorian will always be one of my favourite literary characters. Beautifully written and full of that famous Wilde wit.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

One of the orginal haunted house stories, The Haunting of Hill House is about a group of people who are brought together to investigate a haunting in a large manor house. You have probably seen a thousand horror films with the same premise, but this is where it all started.

This book almost didn’t make it to the list but then I remembered the brilliance that is the ending. I am not going to spoil it because you need to go read it yourself.

I think my favourite thing about this novel is that you are not entirely sure if the house is actually haunted or if it is all in the main character’s head. Is the haunting caused by ghosts or is she just loosing her mind? You can never be entirely sure. I hadn’t heard of this novel until a friend handed me a copy of it and demanded that I read it. Introducing you to amazing books is what friends are for.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

I am not going to tell you what this book is about. This is a very famous novel and film so you might already know what it is about, but if you don’t, just go into the book blind. Don’t read the blurb, dont ask anyone about it, just read it. Every blurb written for this novel it determined to spoil the big reveal at the end. I knew what this book was about when I started it and personally I feel like it ruined it, so I am doing you a favour by warning you not to learn anything about it before you read it.

Even though this is a great horror novel it does have its negative aspects. It is very much a product of its time. Attitudes to marital rape and motherhood have changed since this book was written so there are a few questionable character decisions and view points at times. There is also a rape scene that is not very graphic. If you are sensitive to that sort of thing maybe give this one a miss.

The Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I am going to end this list the way I started it, with vampires. If you dont know what it is about already, The Interview with the Vampire is a novel documenting the life of an American vampire. It is the first in a series but you can just read the first one as a standalone if you feel like it.

Two male vampires who share a coffin, refer to each other as “lover” and adopt a vampire child together. What more could you want?

This was the vampire novel of my teenage years, and like most of the other books in this list I have reread it recently. This novel was the vampire trend before Twilight existed. The main character Louis talks of the struggles of becoming a vampire and drinking blood, and dealing with the constant vampire drama that is thrown his way. I think Lestat is up there with Dorian Gay on my “Favourite fictional characters of all time” list. I like egotistical brats, I wonder what that says about me. It probably doesn’t help that Lestat was my nickname in school…

There is talk of a tv show or film in the works for this series so if you haven’t read it yet pick it up and get on the bandwagon before it starts up again.

So what did you think of my list? Have you read any of these novels? What is your favourite gothic novel? Tell me!

A King Hater Reads King: ‘Salem’s Lot

If you are unfamiliar with ‘Salem’s Lot, this book is about a writer who returns to his home town to write a book and the locals start turning into vampires.

This is going to be a very mixed review. I know a lot of people love this novel and say it is their favourite Stephen King book, but it isn’t mine. I will admit it is a pretty decent vampire novel. I like my vampires evil and behaving like actual monsters, which this book certainly delivers on. I know that King was inspired by Dracula when he wrote this novel and that certainly shows in the plot and the writing. He wanted to show what would happen if Dracula came to small town America, and the book did just that. It even reminded me of zombie survival fiction at points. The problem is, Stephen King wrote it.

Now, I know I am not a fan a King. That is the point of this whole series, and I will admit to enjoying  some of his other books like Carrie or It, but ‘Salem’s Lot is let down by its overall King-ness. This is one of his first novels so his tropes are not as obvious and silly, but it is the birth of them all. Parts of the book are cartoonish, like the dead baby scene. They are scenes that are trying so hard to be scary that they just end up just being silly and overdramatic. No one acts like that in real life.

I also had an issue with the sexual thought tracks in the novel. I am in no way a prude, but again, this was just over the top and ridiculous. A question for parents, when your kid brings home a boyfriend/girlfriend do you think about their genitals every time you see them? Well, that is apparently normal in Stephen King world. There was also several grown men who have sexual thoughts about the same teenage girl. I understand one creep having those thoughts, but most male characters? That is just creepy.

I did enjoy that this book didn’t have the King trope of pointless scenes. Everything tied together very well and scenes that seemed mundane actually added to future plot points. The narration changed character perspective which added to the story because it showed you the vampire outbreak throughout the town. It let you get to know everyone and it allowed for plenty of creepy scenes. It even had more than one likeable character, which is nice for King novel. I wonder when he started making all of his characters awful people, I will let you know when I find out.

Will I be reading this book again? Probably not. Was it terrible? No. I can see why people enjoy it but personally it was the writing style and the scenes that tried too hard that let it down. If you want a vampire novel where your monsters are actual monsters maybe give this book a read.

If you have read ‘Salem’s Lot tell me what you liked or disliked about it. What King book will I read next?

ReReading Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die!

“Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he found. The photos keep turning out . . . different.

When Greg takes a picture of his father’s brand-new car, it’s wrecked in the photo. And then his dad crashes the car.

It’s like the camera can tell the future–or worse. Maybe it makes the future!”

More like Say Cheese and Be Inconvenienced.

This is another Goosebumps book that I remember reading as a child. It didn’t come with the horror filled memories that Welcome to Dead House did, but I still remember enjoying it and having all of the merchandise with that camera, and its creepy photos, plastered all over it. I didn’t find it scary as a child and I certainly didn’t find it scary now. It was more of an interesting idea that morbid little me found fun.

That is what this book is, an interesting idea. Does the camera make the future happen or does it simply predict the future? That is brilliant because it makes the reader think, something that I like to see in children’s literature. It would have been easy to just make it a cursed camera without questioning anything about it but raising the question about what comes first, the camera or the future is very clever. Of course, true to Goosebumps fashion, it is just an evil camera.

The only real flaw I found in this enjoyable book is that it isn’t scary. No one dies because of the camera which makes the title a bit over dramatic. At the most it predicts a broken arm and someone disappearing, and of course they just pop back at the end. I understand that it is a children’s novel but Welcome to Dead House delivered more on the creepy and dangerous side of things. It had ghosts and characters in actual danger. This didn’t have that.

I think this book dates a little easier than other Goosebumps books due to the technology featured in it. Polaroid cameras are not as popular now so it might make some kids, who are used to our modern world of camera phones, a little confused. But then again, polaroids are still around due to hipsters and our current phase of 80s-90s nostalgia. So maybe it hasn’t dated too much. A child would still pick up a creepy looking camera and take photos with it.

This book would be suitable for any kid at the book’s reading level. It isn’t terrifying and only contains the minor threat. It could be a great book for the most cowardly child to dip their toes into the world of Goosebumps, or for an adult who wanted to relive their childhood if they remember loving this book.


Did you read the Goosebumps series when you were a child? Tell me about it. Which book gave you sleepless nights?