Book News: Los Angeles’ Best Indie Bookstores, Why You Should Read YA Lit, A Conversation Between Stephen and George & More!


UK Indies Fight Back

How independent bookstores in Britain are finding ways of getting customers in their stores.

More Dark Tower

Everyone’s getting excited with the adaptation of Stephen King’s opus and here are some more groovy photos.

L.A. Indie

The next time you’re in Los Angeles, check out these awesome bookstores.

Why You Should Read YA

A great article with nine reasons why you should be reading young adult books.

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Book News: Queer Sci-Fi, Road Trip Reads, 100 Tales of The Old West & More


Dark Tower News 
Recently some photos leaked of Idris Elba in his getup as Roland of Gilead; warning it will give you shivers.

Queer Comics for Sci-Fi Fans
Just to show that comics are pushing the envelope in every way, here are five queer comics for scifi fans.

Mental Reads 
Five recommended science fiction and fantasy books that tackle the prickly subject of mental illness well.

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Book News: Writing Spaces, Graphic Memoirs, Pat Conroy RIP & More!


Dark Tower Casting 
The movie adaptation of Stephen King’s opus has cast its two leading roles and they’re amazing.

American Gods Casting Update 
The TV series adaptation of the Neil Gaiman bestseller has added a notable lead actor to its cast.

Remembering Pat Conroy 
On the passing of this bestselling author.

[read more . . .]

“The Wind Through the Keyhole” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2012)

The Wind Through the Keyhole

To the delight of many fans across the globe, Stephen King returns to his familiar Mid-World in this new Dark Tower tale with The Wind Through the Keyhole.  King has fun here, with the book set between the fourth volume, Wizard and Glass and the fifth, Wolves of the Calla, as he tells a story within a story within a story.

Roland and his ka-tet are on their way once again, getting ever closer to the Dark Tower.  He has told his story of his first love, Susanna, and how he lost her.  Now they are crossing into new terrain when they see Oy, Jake’s billy bumbler, acting very strange, spinning in circles.  Fortunately, Roland knows what this portents: the coming of a devastating storm known as a starkblast, which will ravage and instantly kill anyone exposed to its wrath.  The group travels quickly to an abandoned town and manages to get safe inside the one stone building just in time, with a big roaring fire as the mighty storm hits.  Knowing they will be stuck inside for a while, Roland begins to tell the first of two tales.

He tells the story of the “Skin-Man,” he who can change into any animal shape he chooses, who has been devastating a town, killing its people in horrific numbers.  Young gunslingers, he and Jamie DeCurry are charged to go to Debaria and stop this evil thing.  The two find themselves in deeper, deadlier waters than they expected, as they put the pieces of the mystery together and narrow down who this skin-man might be.  Roland befriends a young lad named Bill Streeter, who has lost his parents to this monster.  As the two find themselves hanging out in a jail cell for a while, waiting for others to return, Roland begins his second tale, telling it to young Bill, in the story of “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”

It is a story Roland was told by his mother when he was a child, of Tim Stoutheart, and how he lost his wonderful father and despaired as his mother married a man he didn’t trust.  Soon the man takes to drinking and beating on his mother.  Using a piece of magic delivered by the taxman who bears more than a striking resemblance to a well-known black magic wizard, he learns what this supposed best friend of his late father truly is and plans his revenge.  It is a tale to inspire and give courage to those who need it most.

Whether you’re well-versed with the Dark Tower series or not, King openly admits at the beginning that you don’t need to be to enjoy The Wind Through the Keyhole.  He gives a brief page of summary to catch a new reader up and then sets them free on his stories.  And for those who love this series, while you won’t necessarily get the same enjoyment out of it as you might a lengthy Dark Tower volume, this book is certainly entertaining and enchanting in its way, and deserves to be added to the shelf with the other volumes of the epic series.

Originally written on May 18, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Wind Through the Keyhole from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Cell” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2006)


Cell is Stephen King’s first horror novel since he completed his epic Dark Tower series. In the middle of writing the last two books in the series he was asked what he’d be writing about next and his response had been something to the effect of: “I’m never writing another book again!” That’s what happens when you ask a guy about writing when he’s drowning in thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of words. But now some years and much needed rest and recovery later, Cell takes technology and cell phones to a whole new level: zombies!

With the opening line, “The event that came to be known as The Pulse began at 3:03 p.m., eastern standard time, on the afternoon of October 1,” the reader is immediately dragged into the thrall of the book, which is unusual since King usually takes up to fifty pages to get started with his books. “The Pulse” is an electromagnetic signal sent through cell phones, so anyone using their phone at that point is immediately affected, the result being their mind is completely wiped. What’s left? Our primitive, primordial thoughts and reactions, which are little to none; the result: zombies!

Clayton Riddell has just landed his first huge lucrative comic book deal and is ready to return home to Kent Pond in Maine to his wife — who is drifting away from him — and his son to tell them everything is going to be okay, but then the pulse hits and pandemonium erupts: zombies!

Clay has only one goal in mind: to get to his wife, and more importantly his son and make sure he’s alive and well. He consoles himself with the terror of knowing his son has a shiny red cellphone, though the last time Clay saw it, it was under his son’s bed, forgotten; then again with everything that’s happened, his son might have chosen to keep his cell phone handy. With the help of a middle-aged man and a fifteen year old girl, they make their slow journey north through New Hampshire and on to Maine. Somehow the reader is supposed to just take it for granted that the other two have little interest in going anywhere else except to see Clay’s wife and son. They soon discover that the zombies are very human in one way: they sleep at night and for some reason like easy listening music while they are in this “resting state,” which involves packing together like sardines in a big arena or gym and just lying there, eyes open, doing nothing. Strange zombies!

As the novel progresses, through a process of elimination, it is discovered that the zombies are telepathic, working on a “hive mind” system, and also possess some psychic power that allows the “phonies” to talk through “normies” using their mouths. It is also revealed that there is a protected reserve in Maine called Kashwak where there is no cellphone reception (KASHWAK=NO-FO), and therefore a place of refuge for the normies. It is there the group is headed (other members are added), destroying “flocks” of phonies along the way, and are in fact pulled there with the psychic power of the phonies, who’s spokesperson is a zombie they call the Raggedy Man. As Clay discovers that his wife and son are already near Kashwak, they all head there, knowing that the reserve will be the final showdown between the normies and the phonies. The question is whether humanity will triumph, or whether homo sapiens sapiens will be reduced to zombies!

As Cell gets into full swing, I was hoping for something a little more epic, though I kind of figured this wouldn’t happen since the book was only 350 pages, I knew it couldn’t get too “big.” Nevertheless, I would have liked a little more depth to it. My biggest complaint with cataclysm stories is that they tend to focus on such a small scale. I know opening this up nationally or internationally would make the book three times the size, but I at least want to get an inkling of whether this is just happening in New England or whether the entire world has been affected. My other complaint, which is a common one with some of King’s books, is I like explanations for how and why things happen. It is hinted that The Pulse might be a form of attack by terrorists, but that’s as far as King goes to explaining why all this is happening. But this is a King novel and I certainly enjoyed it for his first big post-Dark Tower endeavor, and we mustn’t forget, following in the vein of George Romero, this is ultimately a book about zombies!

P.S. Favorite dead body description of the book: “He looked at a headless woman, a legless man, at something so torn open it had become a flesh canoe filled with blood.” All I can say is: zombies!

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on January 29th, 2006 ©Alex C. Telander.