Book News: Gaiman Speaks! King Honored! Sacks Remembered! Mieville Adapted! Book Club Reinvigorated! & More!



Obama Honors Stephen King 
In addition to Sally Field and Alice Waters, Stephen King was awarded the 2014 National Medal of Arts.

Worldreader & Opera 
Worldreader, a global nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy in the developing world through digital books, has partnered with Opera Software to extend reading to even more people.

Neil Gaiman Interview 
In a recent interview, bestselling author Neil Gaiman talks about writing and his books, and more importantly also about censorship.

[read more . . .]

“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2015)

Finders Keepers

It may just be coincidence that both Stephen King and J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith feature writers getting horribly murdered in the sequels to their successive thriller series, in Finders Keepers and The Silkworm respectively. But then they are both extremely popular authors who are now writing outside of their usual genre and having a great time doing it.

In the second novel featuring the now private detective Bill Hodges, most of the book focuses on the story of renowned author John Rothstein, who is brutally killed by Morris Bellamy for money and a significant number of notebooks featuring unpublished works the world has never seen. Because the items are too hot to sell, Bellamy buries them and soon gets caught for rape, beginning a very long life sentence.

Years later Pete Saubers finds a buried trunk with some special notebooks. There is also a large amount of money. The question is should Pete turn in what he has found to the authorities, or perhaps use the money to help his family who are in deep financial troubles and at risk of divorce?

King is clearly having a lot of fun writing in this genre, as Finders Keepers is a well-developed and well-crafted mystery that builds on a strong and interesting foundation. This is one of those Stephen King books where you really enjoy the two hundreds pages of setup. Then the last third of the book is thrilling action, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering how it’s all going to work out.

Originally written on July 7, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Finders Keepers from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Revival  Doctor Sleep  Joyland

“Dark Screams: Volume One” edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (Hydra, 2014)

Dark Screams Volume 1

Ebooks have and are continuing to change the way we read books, with shorter chapters and a growing popularity in short stories, ideal for reading on your particular ereader on the go just about anywhere. When it comes to horror, you want to make sure you find a good story to enjoy, and the first volume of Dark Screams features some big names in the genre and at a very reasonable price.

The opening story and high-point of the collection, “Weeds” by one Stephen King, is about a meteor that crashes to the earth and the weedy alien life upon it begins to grow in this world as well as on one of its inhabitants. The next story keeps the thrill and chill going with “The Price You Pay” by Kelley Armstrong about the price of debts, and how some can never be repaid.

Sadly, the collection goes downhill from there with the remaining three stories from Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark and Ramsey Campbell doing little to stimulate the mind and are just dark and don’t really go anywhere whether it’s about a strange member of an asylum or a doomed person trapped in a chamber of torture. Nevertheless, Dark Screams: Volume One is worth the read for a reader looking to experiment in the genre.

Originally written on December 8, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Dark Screams: Volume One from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Revival” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2014)

starstarstarHalf star

Revival is the sort of book Stephen King would inevitably write, and I mean this in a good way. It’s classic King of the 2000s: not an outright horror story, but definitely with some terrifying elements that give you shivers, some memorable “Kingly” characters, and a story that just makes you wonder.

Revival is a coming of age story for Jamie Morton, unsurprisingly, in a small, quaint New England town where everybody knows each other, and expects to see each other at church on Sunday. And at the Methodist church there’s a new preacher in town, one Reverend Charles Jacobs. Jamie met him the other day and instantly took a liking to him, and soon pretty much everyone is a fan of the new preacher, making Sunday School now a well-attended event, while Mrs. Jacobs soon becomes the apple of a many a boy’s eye.

Revival also features magic, of a sort. The Reverend Jacobs has some interesting hobbies that Jamie gets to see in his special shed where he invents unique devices that seem to use a new form of energy and would likely be very popular if they were sold worldwide. Jacobs jokes about doing this one day, when his experiment is complete. It is then that Jamie starts to realize that his might be more than a hobby, perhaps more of an obsession. But then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family and when the reverend recants his faith and decries the inexistence of God to his congregation, he leaves town.

Revival then follows Jamie’s life becoming a guitarist as a teenager and playing in various bands through his twenties, living the life of a nomadic musician traveling from town to town. He also adopts the rock star life and becomes addicted to drugs, because he is a Stephen King character after all. He is at an all time low with his heroin addiction when he meets the Reverend Jacobs again.

Revival is a story of many things and the title aptly applies to many of them. It’s about Jamie’s life and life choices, and Jacobs and what he hopes to accomplish with his inventions. While the eventual reveal of Jacobs’s “quest” is somewhat disappointing (as is the case with a number of King’s endings), overall Revival is an exciting and contemplative read that will leave you contemplating numerous things.

Originally written on January 13, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Revival from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Doctor Sleep  Joyland  Wind Through the Keyhole

Guest Post: Top Five Novels That Make Great Holiday Gifts This Year

A book can make a heartfelt present – it is not only a thoughtful extension of your likes and interests, but also an invitation for the gift’s recipient to join in on the adventure of the book you love.

So, for this holiday season, no matter what genre you are looking for or who you are shopping for, one of these five best-selling books will be sure to impress that special someone.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (4 stars)

Genre: Horror and Paranormal

In September, Stephen King finally released his much-anticipated sequel to the 1977 The Shining and boy, is it good. We are brought back to the terror and madness introduced in the original and meet a much older, middle-aged Dan Torrance (the son, and “redrum” Danny in The Shining).

Years after the events that occurred in The Shining, Dan has followed in his dad’s footsteps of alcoholism and cynicism. Eventually, he settles down and takes a job in a nursing home, comforting the elderly and becoming known as “Doctor Sleep”. There is a traveling group of psychic vampires called the “True Knot,” who feed on children with “the shining.” Dan meets a 12-year old girl named Abra Stone, who possesses similar powers, and the demons he once repressed come back to haunt him as he tries to protect Abra from the True Knot.

This book is sure to impress friends and family who are fans of Stephen King’s past work, and other horror-genre lovers who aren’t already King aficionados. For those who want to enjoy the film adaptation of King’s story, The Shining is now streaming on DirecTV, and there are talks of a Shining prequel film in the works called The Overlook Hotel.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving (5 stars)

Genre: Coming-of-age

An oldie but a (classic) goodie, the 1985 novel The Cider House Rules by John Irving is a great gift to give this season. Featuring well-developed characters and covering heavy topics, this novel is perfect for the teenager you just can’t figure out what to get.

It is a classic and beloved coming-of-age novel that follows the life of Homer Wells, an orphan who never was adopted, and Dr. Wilbur Larch, a saint and obstetrician at the orphanage. We watch Homer grow up and learn under Wilbur, as Wilbur learns to love Homer as a son. When Homer finds out a dark secret about Wilbur, he leaves the orphanage and starts a new life on an apple orchard. In the end, we watch Homer fill the shoes of Wilbur and handle the issues of abortion, relationships and love.

This is a case of “read before you watch,” as the 1999 film adaptation starring a young Tobey Maguire does not live up to Irving’s writing.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (4 stars)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

One of my favorite authors, Dave Eggers, also responsible for What is the What, just released this new thriller, which reads like the prequel to George Orwell’s 1984. The Circle is perfect for the Sci-Fi fans, tech buffs, and Dave Egger enthusiasts like myself.

We are introduced to Mae Holland who has just been hired to work for the Circle, a tech company that’s eerily reminiscent of Google which creates one online identity and a new form of transparency for web users. The Circle believes that “Secrets Are Lies and Privacy is Theft”. However, the Circle has its own secrets and Mae is forced to confront the challenging issues of privacy and the ever-increasing power of technology over our society. The novel encapsulates a modern technology and social media centered dystopia and reflects the fears of today’s society over technology.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (3.5 stars)

Genre: Crime, Mystery

Gone Girl is a surprising and fresh tale for the person on your list who loves to solves a good old fashioned mystery. The novel follows a married couple, Amy and Nick, as Amy disappears and Nick becomes the main suspect. Flynn alternates between Nick and Amy’s points of view, and we are strung along by lies and twists by both parties. It is not your conventional thriller; we have untrustworthy protagonists and are led away from the average love stories that are commonly mingled into crime novels.

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst (5 stars)

Genre: Action, Adventure

For Lost enthusiasts, and fans of J.J. Abrams other works, S. is a fantastic addition to any book collection. It is not only a good read, but also quite the adventure. When you take the book out of the slipcase, you will find a book inside titled Ship of Theseus, filled with pages that are highlighted and notes in the margins, postcards, letters and news clipping, similar to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. S. forces the readers to become a part of the mysteries inside and chronicles two readers, one author and lots of numbers and codes.

So, for the bookworms you still have on your holiday shopping list, get them one of these five best-selling novels for the holidays and you can’t lose.

Kate Voss

“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2013)

Doctor Sleep

On December 1st, 2009, Stephen King posted a poll on his website asking his fans what book they’d like him to write next: a Dark Tower stand alone novel, or a sequel to The Shining. Voting ended on December 31st, with The Shining sequel coming out ahead, and yet King ended up writing and publishing the Dark Tower book first, called The Wind Through the Keyhole. And now, four years later, the fans finally get their Shining sequel, ominously called Doctor Sleep.

Our formerly young hero, Danny Torrance, is now fast approaching middle age, and has been spending the decades trying to forget and get away from his nightmare past at the Overlook Hotel through the medium of alcohol. Working at hospitals and nursing homes, he rarely keeps the jobs for long once they find out his daily unstoppable vice.

Danny eventually ends up in a small New Hampshire town where he finds a place to stay through a new friend, and is forced into AA for his own good. He settles down in this small town, working at the nursing home, helping the elderly, and working alongside a prescient cat who somehow knows to enter the room of those who will die that day. Danny then soon follows and aids the old-aged resident into a comfortable death with his shining ability.

Soon the years begin to fly by, but it’s a life for Danny and he’s happy and settled. And then he receives a psychic email from a young girl, Abra Stone, who he has been receiving mental snippets about through her years. She also possesses the shining ability, and it’s much stronger than Danny’s. Danny knows she’s important, just not how important.

When the two finally meet and communicate vocally in person as well as telepathically, Danny learns of the strange creatures that are after Abra and why. These beings are not human and are known as the True Knot; they have been around for a very long time and are semi-immortal. While they possess similar shining abilities, they are psychic vampires who hunt down children with the shining ability and then slowly torture them to death, absorbing their life essence that slowly dissipates from the dying child they call steam, keeping them young and healthy.

Only now the True Knot is very, very hungry. They are weakening and becoming sick and need a strong dose of steam, which will be provided by the slow death of Abra Stone. There will be a great showdown between the True Knot and Danny and ka-tet and it will take place at the only possible location it ever could and it will be a bloody and merciless one.

As with some King novels, Doctor Sleep takes a little while to get going, as the reader trundles through Danny’s alcoholic years, and the first third of the book could’ve used some editing, but once the story gets into its plot, things speed up and the reader becomes locked in until the last sentence. Doctor Sleep doesn’t come near to the original horror and fear of The Shining, but it’s a different story and has its own terrifying darkness and fear all of its own that will leave the reader looking over his or her shoulder for a while.

Originally written on November 13, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Doctor Sleep from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Blockade Billy Joyland Wind Through the Keyhole Full Dark, No Stars

“Joyland” by Stephen King (Titan Books, 2013)


Stephen King, who needs no introduction, returns with a short novel in Joyland, published by Titan books as part of the Hard Case Crime series. But even though the book is under three hundred pages, King easily tells a full and fascinating story that fans and non-King readers will easily enjoy.

Devin Jones is spending the summer at Joyland, an amusement park on the sunny coast of South Carolina. Jones isn’t doing so well; not sure whether he wants to stay in college, plus it’s the early seventies and everything seems uncertain. And the other thing is the love of his live has just broken his heart and he kind of wants his world to end.

But then he starts working at Joyland, where they don’t just sell cotton candy and prizes and rides, but most importantly, they sell fun! He begins to learn the carny life, the carny talk, and the general running of the amusement park, doing a great job as well as being the best guy at “wearing the fur.” Joyland has its mighty Ferris wheel, reaching to the stars, the various carnies who have been working there for years and have their own interesting eccentricities, and the Horror House.

Every amusement park needs its one horror ride, and Horror House is it for Joyland, and this is the ride that has the dark story about it, because some years ago a girl was murdered on the ride, her throat slashed by her supposed boyfriend, her body dumped to the side of the track. She wasn’t found until the early hours of the morning by the cleanup crew; her murderer has never been found. It is said that Horror House is now haunted and sometimes when you’re on the ride, you might see the ghost of her body floating beside you in the car, that red slit throat looking like a wide smile.

Joyland shows how much of a better writer Stephen King has become over the last decade or so, as you have a thrilling horror tale at the heart of the story, but you also have a wonderful character in the teenager, Devin Jones, who has his whole life ahead of him, but feels it is over with his broken heart. Perhaps King was pulling on his own past experience to give this story life and reality that will move the reader, making Joyland stick with them long after they’ve finished the book.

Originally written on June 12, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Joyland from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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11/22/63  Full Dark, No Stars  Under the Dome