Tag Archives: Thriller

Misery by Stephen King

Overview
Misery by Stephen King | 9781444720716 | Booktopia

Title: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Thriller
Dates read: 16th – 17th August 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 1987
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Better?’

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Synopsis

Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That’s when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn’t the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all.

Thoughts

I have seriously got to stop reading Stephen King novels when I know I’m going to be home alone for the night… I keep thinking that I’m tough and I want get all wiggy… and then I get all wiggy. This time I was a little smarter, I put aside a whole day and started reading Misery in the morning. Just so that even though I did get wiggy… it wasn’t during the night. Rather, it was when there was still a lot of sunlight…

I both admire and fear Stephen King. I absolutely love his writing. It is just completely impossible to put down and forget. I also fear that he has a mind that is capable of this kind of story. It’s pretty damn intense and hard to forget. This story is definitely one of those that is a thriller – and spine tingling. Plus, every time I had hope… it was completely dashed away. Each time more brutal than the last.

Aside from the heart pumping, pulse tingling, craziness of this story I also really loved that it was a story that featured the act of writing. There was the weird hatred that the writer feels for his own work, the process of creating a story and the ways in which fans become just a little too connected to the storyline. It was a really great insight into an aspect of writing that I’ve vaguely experienced, but not truly (since you know, I’m not actually an author). I love how this fascinating look into a writers’ psyche was partnered with just total and utter, brutal insanity.

As someone who works in mental health, anything that investigates the different ways in which people can break kind of fascinates me. Partnering that with the amazing way in which King is able to show the damage of psychological torture… this is most definitely not a novel that I’m going to forget anytime soon!

<- Lisey’s StoryMr. Mercedes ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories edited by Maxim Jakubowski

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of jack the ripper stories book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories
Author: Maxim Jakubowski, Barbara Nadel, Rhys Hughes, Columbkill Noonan, John Moralee, Martin Edwards, Paul A. Freeman, Vanessa de Sade, Josh Reynolds, M. Christian, Terry Davis, Patrick Jones, Michael Gregorio, Alex Howard, Stephen Dedman, Sarah Morrison, Martin Gately, Andrew Lane, Nic Martin, K.G. Anderson, Violet Addison, David N. Smith, Keith Moray, William Meikle, Cara Cooper, Brett McBean, Andrew Darlington, Betsy van Die, David Bishop, Nick Sweet, Steve Rasnic Tem, Erin N. Kennemer, Adrian Ludens, Catherine Lundoff, Martin Feekins, C.L. Raven, Nicky Peacock, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Sally Spedding & Adrian Cole
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fictionShort story collections, Thriller
Dates read: 29th January – 30th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: She does not possess the sharpest mind, and it was not until long after the death of her friend Mary Jane that she began to make sense of what had happened.

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Synopsis

Jack the Ripper as he has never been seen before…

Countless theories have been put forward by Ripperologists as to the identity of the notorious Victorian serial killer, but in the absence of proof how can we hope ever to unearth his real identity? How many more plausible new theories based on known facts can the experts hope to come up with?

In this wonderful collection of newly commissioned stories, Jakubowski has compiled an extraordinary array of fresh explorations into the identity and activities of Jack the Ripper – this time unabashedly fictional, unrestrained by the facts of the case. Contributors include Vaanessa de Sade, Sarah Morrison, Betsy van Die, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Sally Spedding.

Cummulatively, they propose numerous possible identities, some already suggested by historians, others more speculative, including some famous names from history and fiction – even Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are on the case!

Thoughts

You know from the very beginning that this collection is going to be quite twisted. I mean, it’s a collection of 40 stories about Jack the Ripper. That is never going to be a nice collection. But it was an incredibly interesting one. One that I’m incredibly glad I read and found very difficult to put down.

I’m glad that I read The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper before reading this. It made a few things make a little more sense as I read these short stories. Plus, there were SO many different takes on the events of 1888. Or adaptations to modern day society. It filled my head with a lot of wonderful information.

After reading this, I know even more about Jack the Ripper. I’m not actually sure that this is such a good thing. Because wow. There’s a reason why he’s (or maybe she’s) such a notorious killer. There are just so many things that are known and not known…

 <- The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper ReviewBertie Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Reel Life by Steven Savile

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Reel Life
Author: Steven Savile
Series: Glass Town #1.5
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Science fiction, Thriller
Dates read: 17th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Taking him out of this place was the easiest way he knew how to hurt Eleanor.

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Synopsis

His jealousy caused him to steal the girl of his brother’s dreams and keep her trapped in limbo with him. Now he wants out in the real world. But his reality might just stop him from finally getting everything he wants. After all, this is reel life.

Thoughts

There’s something about tales of obsessive love that really pull me in. I never like the people / characters who have this tendency. I always find it annoying and want to smack the moron who is being so intense… but I also always love them. Not sure why. Don’t want to know what that says about me. And this was one such story. I hated the lead character (he’s a villain, I think that you should hate him). I felt sorry for his victims. I couldn’t put this story down.

I think that jealousy is one of the worst emotions. It seems to be the driver for some of the worst acts committed. Which, of course meant that every bad act that the villain in this committed had it’s roots in this disgusting emotion. I know that the colour green on me is often when I do and say the worst things… apparently that is also the case in this story. But getting your revenge for this and what you wished for? Luckily, as Seth found out… that revenge often isn’t the best thing in the world. 😊

I think that one of the things I loved most about this short story is the playing around with time. It’s often been discussed in my anthropology classes and studies that time is a human construct. It’s our understanding of it that shapes time. Of course there is still a passage of time… but yeah, it’s super philosophical and I freaking love that discussion. Threads of it make their way through this story. Which might be why I just couldn’t make myself put it down and / or stop thinking about it.

 <- Unexpected Choices ReviewThe Difference Between Deceit and Delusion Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Overview
Image result for book cover pet sematary

Title: Pet Sematary
Author: Stephen King
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: FamilyHorror, Thriller
Dates read: 4th – 15th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Caa,’ the young man said, and now Louis fancied he could smell death on his breath, internal injuries, lost rhythm, failure, ruin.

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Synopsis

‘Sometimes… dead is better.’

The house looks right, feels right to Dr Louis Creed. Rambling, old and comfortable. A place where the family can settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seem a world away from the fume-choked dangers of the city.

It’s only those big trucks on the road outside which growl out unnerving threats.

Behind the house there’s a carefully cleared path up into the woods to a place where generations of local children have walked in procession with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding…

Thoughts

Let me start this by saying that I basically read the whole book in one day. While I was home alone. It is not something that I recommend. To make my decision making all that much more questionable… I’d actually gone to start it late one night before bed (when my partner was next to me) and, after reading that King thinks this is the scariest story he’s ever written. So I put it down and decided it was a day time read. Which, to be fair, I did start it in the morning. Thought I’d stop when it got scary. I didn’t. I finished it at about 6 pm, realised I had a long, lonely night ahead of me… not what I would recommend at all.

Actually, after reading this, I realised that a) Stephen King was right, this shit is terrifying; b) I needed a super hot shower to wash off the insanity of what I had just read; and c) I really needed to call someone, anyone to distract me. To make matters worse, I have a beagle that likes to find dark corners from which to just… watch me. A little like Church, the creepy not-so-dead cat.

To be fair, Part One of this book isn’t too bad. Don’t get me wrong, bringing a pet cat back from the dead isn’t great… but it was a just enough tingling level of creepy. Then you started Part Two. It started to get worse there. Because you just knew that the decision making was not going to be great. By the time I got to Part Three… I actually really didn’t want to continue. I felt physically ill. But I had to know what happened. Especially, since most horror stories have an ending that will let you sleep at night. This one doesn’t. When I told my partner the storyline a few days later… I kind of just paused, stared at him and realised that I wasn’t going to be getting to sleep anytime soon.

One of the things about King that I love is that although the horror comes from supernatural beings, it’s truly the actions of the people that have caused it. The death of innocents (such as children and pets) is always horrendous, but the ways that people act afterwards? The decisions that they make? There is something FAR more unsettling about that than anything else…

 <- The Outsider ReviewRevival Review ->

Image source: Kobo

We’re Never Inviting Amber Again by S. P. Miskowski

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: We’re Never Inviting Amber Again
Author: S. P. Miskowski
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: FamilyThriller, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 8th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Meredith forced a polite grin.

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Synopsis

We’ve all got awkward family members. But, Amber is even more different. And mixing her special brand of crazy with Halloween might not have been the brightest idea…

Thoughts

The narrator of this story is kind of Captain DoucheNugget. Like seriously. If my partner treated my sister like that… I would punch him in the face. Repeatedly. There is something seriously not okay about this storyline. Something that made me incredibly ragey – just because he was a serious DoucheNugget.

Having said that there is a DoucheNugget of epic proportions in this story… it was actually the most scary so far in this collection. And there have been some seriously creepy tales. But this one just hit on a whole new level. There was just something about it that made me not want to walk past the windows late at night…

This story was incredibly awkward. Not awkward because of the writing. The writing was brilliant. The storytelling was brilliant. The story itself was brilliant. But the actual occurrences in this story – the treatment of the aforementioned sister in law. It felt entirely cringe-worthy.

 <- Nos Galan Gaeaf ReviewSisters Review ->

Image source: Amazon

The Monster’s Leather Apron by Adrian Ludens

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of jack the ripper stories book cover

Title: The Monster’s Leather Apron
Author: Adrian Ludens
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Thriller
Dates read: 5th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He concentrated on the drifting sensation that now buoyed him, curled in his murky womb.

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Synopsis

Edward is just trying to teach these women how they should be… or at least, that’s what he thinks. Then he has to flee the country with his leather apron. When a tribesman begs for his help, he finds the perfect partner in crime.

Thoughts

This short story definitely didn’t end the way that I anticipated. Actually, I sat there in my living room in a feeling of kind of suspended horror… there was just something scary about the Ripper hooking up with a cannibal. “Teaching” the women of their sins… like I said, suspended horror at the conclusion of this.

The beginning of this story highlights brilliantly Edward’s madness. There is no motive to his actions throughout. Or at least, not an obvious enough one for me to feel settled… but, it does go a long way to explaining the obsessive needs and tendencies of this incredibly creepy man.

There is a point in this story at which you think Edward, the villain, is going to die. And it makes you happy. Even though this story is told from his POV, there is nothing redeemable about this character. You’ll be disappointed. He doesn’t die… he lives… and tortures and dances around the streets in his creepy leather apron…

 <- Knowledge of Medicine ReviewBluebeard’s Wife Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Cold Feet by Brenda Novak

Overview
Image result for book cover cold feet brenda novak

Title: Cold Feet
Author: Brenda Novak
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Romance, Romantic suspense, Thriller
Dates read: 2nd November – 2nd December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harlequin
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: Where’s my girl?

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Synopsis

When the past won’t go away…

The Seattle police suspect Madison Lieberman’s father was the serial killer they call the “Sandpoint Strangler.” Madison refuses to believe it. Her father is now dead, and all she wants is the chance to create a new life for herself and her six-year-old child.

Then she discovers something in the crawl space beneath her parent’s house. Something that makes her question her father’s innocence. Or the innocence of someone else who’s equally close to her…

When another woman turns up dead, crime writer Caleb Trovato wonders whether they’re dealing with a copycat killer. Or is the real Sandpoint Strangler still alive? Caleb’s sure Madison knows more than she’s telling, and he’s determined to find out what. But he doesn’t expect to fall in love – or to lead Madison and her child into danger…

Thoughts

I have never read a Brenda Novak story, nor have I heard of them. This was just the only book I could find with the word “feet” in the title… and I needed that for a reading challenge. It turns out that it was a brilliant choice. I absolutely adored this book. And I was completely blown away by who the villain in this tale was. Actually, the mix of romance and suspense in this novel was not at all expected, and seriously enjoyable.

Normally I tend to guess who or what is going to be the killer fairly early on. Or at least, I get pretty damn close with my guess. I DID NOT see the identity of the bad guy coming at all! I started to have an inkling of the fact that: a) my initial hunch was wrong. And b) who the actual bad person was. I’m not normally this damn surprised, and every time I thought, hmmmm… maybe… there was something that quickly disproved my theory. It was brilliant!

I like that this romance featured a divorcee and her young daughter. That it was all about perceptions, loyalty and trying to find your way in the world. Rather than a twenty-something woman who had never experienced love, was a virgin, ya da, ya da, yay da… she had already had some really difficult experiences. And so had he. The older I get, the more I appreciate older characters in romances… after all, their experiences seem to start being a little more in line with mine.

The only reason I didn’t gobble this book up in just a day was that it was an eBook. There is something about eBooks that tend to take me a little more time to read… yet, the physical copy of this (which I now want to find a second hand version of) would have been completely inhaled in a matter of hours… late at night… when I was supposed to be sleeping.

 <- Before We Were Strangers ReviewDear Maggie Review ->

Image source: Goodreads

Altar Boy by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Altar Boy
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Joe Ledger Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Thriller, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 6th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “She was brilliant.”

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Synopsis

He’s a “recovering bad guy”, but when he gets involved with a woman, he might just have to question his priorities.

Thoughts

I love that this short story features a “recovering bad guy”. Unlike the other short stories in the Urban Enemies collection, this villain isn’t really trying to be a villain anymore. Rather, he is trying to atone for some of the horrifying acts that he has committed in the past. It’s a nice change from the more typical villain stories throughout the collection.

Altar Boy is kind of tragic – a man is atoning for his past and his sins, but he can’t be left in peace. He’s attempting to find a way in which to just exist is hopeful at the beginning. But, when he is once again forced to face up to his past, things take a more sinister turn. And it’s actually kind of heartbreaking in their eventuality. It doesn’t matter what he does, he has to find a way to justify his actions that are, after all, for the greater good.

One of the most powerful aspects of this story was the key question that it asks you: when has biological weaponry gone too far? It’s an incredibly relevant and scary question in today’s society and one that I kept on playing with like a loose tooth long after turning the final page.

 <- Bellum Romanum ReviewMake it Snappy Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

IT by Stephen King

Overview
Image result for book cover it stephen king

Title: IT
Author: Stephen King
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Thriller
Dates read: 22nd June – 11th October 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 1986
5th sentence, 74th page: The door had opened at quarter past nine and in he had ambled, wearing jeans and a GO ‘BAMA tee-shirt and his old engineer boots, looking like he’d come from no farther away than cross-town.

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Synopsis

It is the children who see – and feel – what makes the small townh of Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurks, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reaches up, seizing, tearing, killing…

Time passes and the children grow up, move away and forget. Until they are called back, once more to confront IT as it stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Thoughts

This is my first ever Stephen King. It’s also my first ever full-length horror novel. I was kind of scared to start it – horror is not a literary genre I’ve really spent much time with… but man am I glad that I did! Totally understand why so many people love Stephen King, and now I want to fill my shelves with his terrifying tales too…

When I started reading this book, I was really wigged out by the fact that King dedicated his book to his children. After finishing it? I’m even more creeped out. This is a book about a gruesome apparition of the night killing children… and he dedicated it to his children. Dude. Not cool. But the story also highlights the importance of children and their imagination as our future… so maybe it makes sense?

IT wasn’t as terrifying as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t read it late at night, or when I was going to spend the night alone… but it just wasn’t quite as horrifyingly terrifying as I expected. I could actually sleep each night after reading it, and I really wasn’t expecting that. Instead of making me jump at too many shadows, I felt uncomfortable about the state of the world and what people are willing to do to one another. Particularly Beverly’s story… after all, she’s the only woman and so much of what she goes through is what I, myself am terrified of. Each of the seven in fact go through horrors that are human induced. It’s not so much the creature of IT that terrifies… but the things he manages to convince other humans to do to one another…

I loved how the timeline for this tale flickers. Jumping between their childhood (the 50s) and adulthood (80s) two different stories that are eerily familiar echo one another. I loved the parallel storylines and the mystery of just what happened underground. Instead of giving anything away, you have to read to the end to find out how both storylines end. It’s almost impossible to put down, even if it is over 1,000 pages! Definitely a great introduction to the writings and insane inner workings of Stephen King.

 <- The Institute ReviewJoyland Review ->

Image source: Amazon

Bloody Valentine by James Patterson

Overview
Image result for bloody valentine book cover

Title: Bloody Valentine
Author: James Patterson
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Thriller
Dates read: 28th August 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Arrow Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I’m her sister-in-law,’ Leila protested.

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Synopsis

Killing isn’t murder, when it’s necessary.

Mega-rich restaurant owner Jack Barnes and his second wife Zee are very much in love. However, their plans for Valentine’s Day are about to be torn apart by the most violent murder.

Who is the strange figure plotting this sick crime? Who hates Jack that much? There are plenty of suspects living in Jack’s fnacy block of flats. Is it one of them, or could it be the work of an outsider with a twisted mind?

One thing’s for sure, the police have got their work cut out solving this bloody mess.

This gory murder mystery will make you feel weak at the knees.

Thoughts

I read this in almost one sitting. Not just because it was spine-tinglingly creepy, but also because the writing was so unbelievably fantastic that I just couldn’t look away. Luckily for me, it was an incredibly short read. One that I look forward to picking up again and again in the future. Although, maybe a little further into the future since I like to get a decent nights sleep as often as possible…

Whether it’s on the TV or in one of my books, I do really love a strong murder whodunnit. There is just something so much more fun and lively when you spend every moment of enjoying a story also wondering just who the murderer is. And, sometimes even more importantly, why they did it. this was one of those few stories that I didn’t really have much of an idea who the culprit was until the eleventh hour. Normally there’s a red herring, or some character that just seems skeevy and… well, wrong. There really wasn’t one in this story. There were plenty of interpersonal issues and relationships, but none that made me go “nope, you’re a baddy”.

Patterson manages to perfectly walk the line between graphic information and leaving everything up to the imagination. You don’t spend the entire time reading this story feeling icked out by what is done to the victims, but you also don’t feel safe whilst reading it. The horror is there, but many of those moments are filled in by your own imagination. It’s a perfect balance, and one that is incredibly difficult to find.

Bloody Valentine isn’t the book that you want to read before bed time. Or, maybe even before Valentine’s Day. But it is a story which you should pick up. It’s a great introduction to a new author and a quick read if you’re not entirely sure what you actually want to read at the time… definitely one that I suggest and will be picking up again myself.

 <- Black Friday ReviewThe Chef Review ->
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