Stephen King – Four Past Midnight

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Once the world of short stories embraced me there was no escaping and each book consisting series of shorter pieces was always a welcomed addition. It was no different with “Four Past Midnight” by Stephen King. I mean the title sounded quite intriguing from the go and the rest was just a turbulent journey through some scary valleys of King’s mind.
‘Langoliers’ set the benchmark high from the go. It is a story that follows a flight 29 from Los Angeles to Boston. On the plane during the flight all passengers fall asleep. When some of them wake up, they realise many people had mysteriously disappeared and terrifyingly they realised it also included the flight crew with pilots.
Luckily (not really a great word to use here) there is a pilot amongst them and they land the plane just to discover the airport they landed remains empty, the air appears strange and everything is stale and tasteless…
And soon our characters realise that the world must have fallen victim of strange creatures they named, Langoliers. The creatures are eating everything they come across. In this story one not only moves in time, as it turns out that plane had flew through some kind of rift, but also in space as the story also revolves around vision of a sick brain one of the characters.
There’s a serious need for a solid break before you jump into the unknown of ‘Secret Window, Secret Garden’ where the main protagonist, Morty, is visited by a mysterious man who accuses him of stealing his story.
This simple accusation changes life of Morty’s into a living nightmare as there are no limits in how far a mentally unstable mind can go. Or are there…?
‘Library Policeman’ is a whacky read as initially you think it is a story you’d tell your offspring to keep them in check in regards of returning books in time to their library. As the storey evolves, you realise that there is much more to it than that policeman and it involves now dead, director of said library, Mrs. Lortz. See for yourself how far you think you can face against the pair of scary and crazy creations of author’s mind.
And to finish off our another discovery of Stephen King’s mind we have ‘The Sun Dog’ a crazy little story that involves us into a history of a camera that takes pictures that the photograph doesn’t see in real life as these pictures depict a dog that wants to attack the photographer. How will our protagonist manage to deal with the camera and will he have to face that dog too?
I was very pleased after reading “Four Past Midnight”, especially Langoliers and Library Policeman gave me enough material for nights of nightmares and months of worrying. There was always a wish that King extended some of the novellas into proper full length books but I think it is just my little fixation on the joy of escaping from the real world into worlds created by others and staying there as long as possible.

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Different Seasons – Stephen King

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“Different Seasons” by Stephen King is a book consisting of four stories, three of which ended up being inspiration for movies, including the quite famous “Shawshank Redemption” film that won many Oscars.
The four novels are tied together by use of subtitles that relate to each of the four seasons. And hence we get Hope Springs Eternal bringing us ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ where we are entangled into a long story narrated by Ellis Boyd Redding who is telling us a story of a man, who then became his friend, Andy.
The story told by Ellis shows us what life in the prison Shawshank is like and how the cruelty and hard reality can change a man and make him do quite astonishing things. The story is so much better than the movie, that was probably seen by majority of people.
In Summer of Corruption we are welcomed with story titled ‘Apt Pupil’ which welcomes us into the world of a very bright young boy. The boy who discovered the true identity of his old neighbour gets absolutely fascinated by the old gentleman.
It sounds a bit boring but as soon as one realises that this charming old gent was in charge of concentration camp during the World War II and he did things that are even too scary for horror books, the whole story takes a different direction. Especially when we find out that the boy isn’t really interested in history but he really wants to know all the details of the brutal acts that happened in the camp. The action really gets going and from quite an innocent intro one ends up with a terrifying and shocking piece.
Fall from Innocence welcomes us with ‘The Body’ where we follow four teenage boys that like to hang around together being boys. One of the boys hears a story about a body of boy which had been searched for a long time by many people and realises it could provide a basis for a great adventure.
He shares his finding with the others who agree about the idea being a brilliant one. The twist is here in the person of narrator of the story who tells us how mistaken the boys were, thinking they’d have great time together…
And the book finishes off with A Winter’s Tale that gives us the only story that was not adapted for the screen ‘The Breathing Method’ in which we meet Mr Adley, an old man who gets invited to a certain club by his boss. Every now and again the gents there, tell themselves different stories, leaving a story of Emlyn McCarron for the Christmas Eve. The story takes us back to working years of Emlyn who was a doctor. One day he was visited by a woman who came to him for an advice. The woman stood firmly on the ground, she knew what she wanted and we get to know what she felt, as well as we find out a bit more about Emlyn.
One night the young woman dies and she’ll never be able to see her child who she bore. She dies instantly in an accident just outside of hospital but what happened to the baby? Survived? Died?
Stephen King rarely disappoints and “Different Seasons” are not the title that would disappoint as the stories grab your attention quickly and transfer you into their separate worlds that are a bit out of the world…

Bag of Bones – Stephen King

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The cover of the edition of “Bag of Bones” by Stephen King caught my eye straight away and there was something about it that was promising a good reading session. How mistaken I was… The reading was spectacular and to this point in my life, when I think of the book, I can not decide whether it made me more scared or more sad. I know I felt both, scared and incredibly sad but there were times that I felt really scared and there were times when the sadness was taking over every heart beat in my body…
Michael Noonan is a well known and very popular book writer. One day he is faced with a huge and surprising tragedy. His wife suddenly dies leaving Michael devastated and absolutely shattered emotionally that eventually leads him to struggle with his writing skills and facing nights full of nightmares.
As Michael becomes tired of hiding his true feelings and ensuring everyone around he is fine he decides to visit his and his wife, Jo, summer house named “Sarah’s Laugh”, given the fact some of the nightmares are about the lake house he feels it is the best way to try to shake of the nightmares of his recent tragedy.
After arrival he quickly meets Mattie and Mattie’s daughter Kyra. They both are troubled by Kyra’s grandad, Max, a multimillionaire who tries take the full custody of Kyra since Mattie became a widow. Michael tries to help them but it doesn’t appear easy as the whole neighbourhood seems to be bothered by some supernatural occurrences that are looking like these are linked to Michael, Mattie, Max and rest of the inhabitants of the little town.
Michael is driven to start investigating this whole strange happenings and soon he finds out that relatives of people of the town from a century ago, were involved in some brutal murder that caused the paranormal activity and as it appears it could also have an influence on his wife’s death.
Michael will be faced with a huge task of trying to help the living and the dead inhabitants of that small town to avoid a horrible and scary face off with some powerful and terrifying forces that slowly are poisoning the minds of the people.
In “Bag of Bones” Stephen King really takes his time to build up an element of dread and fear and it takes nearly a whole story for it to peak, but once all the cards are on the table one is glad they stuck with the slow developing story and quite surprised at the outcome of the action.
As I mentioned earlier I can’t decided whether there is more sadness factor in the story or a horror one but the book definitely doesn’t leave fans of horrors disappointed.

Night Shift – Stephen King

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When I saw “Night Shift” by Stephen King on a shelf of one of my usual libraries I used to go I just grabbed it and was immediately excited as the title and the cover was just basically shouting at me to get it. I felt disappointed when I realised it is a book with loads of short stories included, as then I didn’t really appreciate the shorter form of reading but that book opened doors to a completely new world to me.
And here we get “Graveyard Shift”, a story about a group of people who work night shift in a factory’s basement, cleaning it. The dark corners of the factory might have some furry creatures in there with long tail and bright eyes… Would you like to be around these dark corners?
If you don’t mind, then perhaps reading “The Boogeyman” will cause you a case of goosebumps as you meet Leslie who tells his doctor that he murdered his three children. Very dark and a terrifying story.
In “Trucks” you get to experience the world where the machines rebel against the humans. Once committed to serving the people now they are hunting for their blood and lives. Who is going to win that battle?
“Quitters” is not a story for the smokers. It really isn’t. Our protagonist tries to quit smoking but the habit is stronger than him despite trying a variety of methods. He finally gets a company card from his friend that advertise ‘Quitters, Inc’ as the people who will help him fight the horrid habit. He’ll soon find out how they will go about it. He we will wish he never started smoking in first place.
Everyone loves children, don’t they…? “Children of the Corn”  might creep you out and change forever the way you see groups of young children as Vicky and Burt find out what children are capable of in the story which starts from our couple running over a child when they drive. It turns out the child had it throat cut so the duo takes the body to the nearest town. The town is called Gatlin and surprisingly there are no adults around. Just kids… and something else perhaps…?
If you enjoyed “The Stand” you will definitely like “Night Surf” where the world is faced with the coming end as the deadly virus spreads through the humanity. A small group of people survives and starts to wander aimlessly. How are they going to face the catastrophe? How are they face the loneliness? Will they be able to rescue the remains of humanity outside and within themselves?
There is no pretty long intros into each story in the “Night Stand” and some stories are gore and brutal but they still have that specific character we all like in Stephen King’s writing. As I said easier this title opened the world of short stories for me and even though that I wished some of the stories included in this book were longer I really enjoyed going through one set of circumstances to another one, bravely jumping into what was in front of me.

Insomnia – Stephen King

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Since I was a young lad sleep eluded me for many reasons, so when I saw “Insomnia” by Stephen King I was really interested in seeing what this book was going to be about and how much about the sleepless hours the author going to write.
For those who never had sleep problems the story might appear a tad boring and lifeless as it starts off really slowly with us meeting Ralph, an old man who lost his wife over a month ago and since then started experiencing sleep problems. Well… Ralph’s main problem is the waking up as each day he wakes up a bit earlier than the day before.
The lack of sleep begins to affect Ralph both physically and mentally. He is loosing weight, looking really pale and tired and he is also becoming forgetful about little things and then the matters he had dealt with for a long time on continuous basis. Old age some may say…
When it all starts to be too much for realms of an old age issue is when Ralph starts to notice other people’s auras. Some are brighter, some darker. As the time goes by Ralph starts to notice more and more around these auras and he realises he starts to notice more about the people themselves as well as he notices a strange entities that accompany the deaths of his friends…
As we endure Ralph’s issues that become more and more bothersome there is also an background story developing where it involves the people of the town of Derry when a brand new clinic opened recently causing a bit of stir in the community.
People became restless as the clinic is very modern in thinking and one of the procedures it offers is an abortion. Pro-life supporters get very involved in the matter causing all the recent disturbances and the leader of the organisation, who is a committed criminal and who abused his own family in the past becomes a central part of the story.
The leader appears very aggressive and mentally unstable and he plans to destroy the clinic and all people in there. The only way to stop him from doing that, lies in hands of a small boy who stays at the clinic. In his hands rest the peace of the town and perhaps the whole world.
Only tired and old Ralph realises, thanks to his recently acquired talents, that the boy is special and he can stop the maniac but will Ralph be able to act…?
“Insomnia” reads slowly and for me it was a great read for several lazy afternoons and evenings. I must admit I didn’t feel very attached to Ralph despite his sleeping problems but nevertheless his character was created well and the story itself was intriguing, enjoyable and well worth the time spent with, so another thumbs up towards Mr. King.

Gerald’s Game – Stephen King

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I am not sure how “Gerald’s Game” by Stephen King ended up in my hands but I remember that I needed only to read the first page and the atmosphere of King’s worlds was already spilling all over me and I knew I was lost to the world without a shadow of a doubt until I’d turn the last page.
So was Jessie. At least to a certain point but let’s start from a different point of the story before Jessie appears to be lost.  Jessie is married to Gerald and their monotonous life style slowly starts to affect their quality of life until Gerald decides to spice things up in their bedroom by coming up with more and more exotic gadgets and games aimed at improving their sex life.
Jessie enjoys the change initially but slowly something starts to change within her and she becomes more resentful. One day, as the couple decides to visit their lake house out of the season for a bit of privacy, Gerald plans something extraordinary while Jessie comes to conclusion she had enough and she’ll do what she can to avoid having sex with her husband.
Matters don’t work out quite well for Jessie as Gerald’s idea of fun that day was to handcuff his wife to bed. As she lies there naked and determined not to have sex with Gerald, he suddenly drops dead on the floor. Heart attack.
Jessie’s relief last only a moment until she realises that the keys to handcuff are way out of her reach and there is no one around that could rescue her as the holiday’s season had finished. She is unable to reach for any cloths, food or water and she’s just there. Naked, handcuffed to the bed.
As the fear grows inside of her and as the daylight slowly fades away Jessie, still stuck in bed starts to realise all she has to wait for is the slow death as she has nothing to eat, nothing to drink… She has a head full of memories from her life, including a series of events from thirty years ago that occurred during the Sun’s eclipse, that possibly led her to this very place. A head full of “what ifs” as her imagination starts playing games with her and the fact she is all alone and naked in the middle of nowhere…
Is she alone though?? And if she’s not, would she prefer to be alone if she was to be faced with whomever there might be…?
As boring as the concept of “Gerald’s Game” might be, the story of a woman that is stuck to bed for long hours turns into a very interesting and nail biting idea with the story from 30 years ago making it for a decent background of what had led Jessie to the place where she is now…
The novel reads well, despite some lengthy and a bit unnecessary descriptions that King sometimes can lose himself within. The end is as always surprising and leaves the reader feeling glad that they “are back to reality”.

Needful Things – Stephen King

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It was a hot, sunny afternoon and I was rushing to finish off my biology essay, I was sat at a corner in library, my thoughts were already circling around “Needful Things” by Stephen King. I had grabbed the title as soon as I noticed it on a shelf of my usual library and the only thing standing between me and the novel was that awful biology stuff for school so i kept on rushing the work just to be able to start another journey. It is funny how our memory clings to some little stuff while forgetting stuff that logic would dictate to say it was more important.
Castle Rock (oh my favourite place in the world at one time) is a peaceful, sleepy little town, where people follow their rules, where they have friends and enemies. A town which is easily found all over the States.
One day, an European traveller moves in to the town and opens a little antique shop in which you can buy everything you dream about. Its owner is Leonard Grant and he is about to turn the place upside down and inside out.
At first most of the people of Castle Rock are apprehensive but eventually one after one they start acquiring things there. One boy gets a signed baseball card of his favourite player, another person gets a pretty figurine and so on. The best thing about that little shop and its owner is that one does not need money to buy the stuff. No, all that is needed is a little favour one does for Leonard and it normally is a little harmless prank towards another citizen of Castle Rock. Harmless? Isn’t it?
What starts happening though is the people who “purchased” anything from the shop and its owner become his prisoners so to speak. You see, Grant captures their souls and by feeding fear into them telling them they might loose their needed item or someone else also wants it, Grant creates a chaos in the little town where eventually the police starts to struggle with enquires as the pranks get more and more refined and brutal.
Sheriff Pangborn decides to do everything he can  to save his town from the mysterious seller but will he manage before the whole town turns into uncontrollable chaos???
While reading “Needful Things” one must ask themselves a question of how far they could go to get their items from dreams and if the price was really worth it. Once you realise that things don’t seem to be what they look like in first place you start to question why you wanted things in first place…
But in order to find out how far you might go, grab the book and find out yourself. I was left speechless after putting the book down as I didn’t expect certain things; and the character of Leonard Grant is described with such detail that I had moments in my life when I thought I came across someone that evil in my life and all I wanted to do was to run…

The Dark Half – Stephen King

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“The Dark Half” was recommended to me by someone who didn’t remember the name of the author and didn’t know I liked Stephen King’s work so it was a double surprise to me when the book finally landed, in my hungry of touch of paper fingers and it was a great and exciting relation I formed with the story and the main protagonist.
We meet Tad Beaumont who is a writer who wrote a great novel which earned him recognition of critics and readers across the world along with plenty of awards. Tad has a problem though, as no one seems to be interested in his second book as it appears the genius he showed in his first title burnt out or never really was there.
To check his writing skills and to continue to write Tad becomes George Stark, a writer of thriller books that with time become somewhat popular. The problem is that not many people know that Beaumont and Stark are the same person and our protagonist wants to keep the matters that way.
One day Tad/George’s peace is broken by a mysterious man who starts blackmailing our troubled writer and since Tad appears powerless in the situation he decides to orchestrate murder of his alter ego with a help of those who know about his secret. So George Starks dies and matters settle. For a while…
As the story continues it appears that everyone who knows the secret of the writer is found dead one by one and the only clues available lead towards… the grave of the thriller writer. And it is best to leave it here like this.
For those interested in reading “The Dark Half” by Stephen King I can’t recommend this book enough. It isn’t one of King’s biggest, most known titles but the story is really intriguing, the people created in the book are well constructed and the whole atmosphere makes for a brilliant read, especially during long windy nights when one might wonder if they know one or two things too many.

Swimmer – Rook – Graham Masterton

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Well. I might as well finish off the Rook series with “Swimmer” which is the fifth book in this great journey we embarked on by following Jim Rook, an English teacher from Los Angeles. I know there have been more titles written with Jim as the main protagonist but I haven’t gotten the chance yet to find out what these journeys are about and what monsters we come to face.
The novel starts as off with a terrifying accident at a swimming pool. A small boy, son of Jim’s past student gets drowned by a vengeful demon and only Jim is able to notice its presence.
Desperate mother of that poor boy ask Jim for help in getting rid of the wraith lurking in the pool. There isn’t a lot of time available as the demon continues with its killings which become more and more frequent and all Jim’s friends are finding themselves in a great danger.
It seems as the story follows the same script and it might feel old and worn out but following some unexplained events in the story as it progresses, it unveils one of the biggest surprises of the whole Rook series so it’s not the type of reading that one might think one had seen it all read it all.
Graham Mastertons allows us to get to know Jim Rook even better in this title and it gives us another platform to explore how deep his feelings and motives are.
In “Swimmer” we get the fight between the horrid being and Jim, we find out about that mysterious secret and we realise that Jim is trying to get seriously involved in the romantic relationship with his fellow teacher. It all gets really complicated and messed up due to the never ending threat of immediate death from the “hands” of this vicious entity that is probably the worst creature that Jim has so far come across.
I think the main points selling this book is the continuity we get in development of Jim’s character and the beast he faces. I have really enjoyed the series as I found it as a refreshing change of usual Masterton’s brutal climate that still offers plenitude of Masterson’s character and great dose of humour. It wasn’t till recently that I realised there is actually more of Jim’s world and perpetuations to go through and I must get on right track of chasing it all up. There’s just too many books and too little time.

Snowman – Rook – Graham Masterton

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One might think that the fourth book in series “Rook” titled “Snowman” would mean that Graham Masterton run of new ideas or concepts but that is far from truth. The series had definitely grew on me as I was going through different journeys with Jim and his troubled students.
This time around, in the middle of the summer, Jack Hubbard arrives and enriches Jim student’s group. And there is something else that comes to the school and its surroundings with Jack.
It appears that winter has come with Jack as there is no other explanation as to why would water in school toilet freeze, or swimming pool with people in it would also display signs of frost and winter. There’s loads of signs of upcoming winter but the problem is, it’s middle of the summer and the weather as such hasn’t changed at all.
Jim is the only person able to challenge the anomalies but in order to do that, he’ll need to embark on a dangerous journey to a land of never ending ice and the thing is, not every one will make it back alive from there.
Jim Rook experiences a huge moral metamorphosis in “Snowman”. He’s faced with quite few moral dilemmas and also discovery of the true meaning of what it means to be responsible for another human being. The ending leaves plenty of room for one’s imagination to work on but I personally felt like this title could had been longer as I felt some need for more from our protagonist’s life. There was always a hope for another part of the series but this book really left me a bit hungrier than usual.