Shari Creates

Unleash Your Story – Final 24 Hours

Posted on: September 30, 2009

More reviews!

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

I think this may be my all time favorite Stephen King novel.  Certainly, it is one that I come back to over and over again.  The tagline on the back cover reads “A haunted love story” – and it is.  Both haunted and haunting, at least for me.

Like many King protagonists, main character Mike Noonan is a writer living in Maine.  He has split his time between Derry (from It, Insomnia, and Dreamcatcher) and his lake house on TR-90, Sara Laughs.  Mike’s wife dies at the beginning of the novel, and it begins a period of writer’s block for him.  After several years of mourning, he realizes he has not been to his lake house since his wife Joanna died.  He decides to head back, and try to get back to his real life – and start writing again.  He has been having recurring dreams about the lake house, and they are all tangled up with several classic books (notably The Moon and the Sixpense by William Somerset Maugham and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier).  But Mike’s still deep grief and writer’s block become the least of his worries after he assists a little girl and her young mother, and stumbles in the middle of a truly nasty custody fight – influenced by ghosts and eerie spirits.  The little girl’s grandfather is fighting for physical custody of her, and he is rich enough to fight until he wins.  However, something darker is also fighting – to take the girl’s life in retribution for a crime generations past.

This story is both a haunted house novel and a love story, and at time a ghostly love story.  In his grief, Mike Noonan becomes lost; he finds himself trying to help someone else out of trouble, even though it alienates his neighbors, risks his life, and nearly destroys him as a person.  I sympathised with the ghost of the wife, and the ghost seeking vengance for crimes against her and her family.

Just After Sunset by Stephen King

This is a collection of short stories, some of which were published before, some not.  Halfway through this book I started to wonder if the reason my current novel is not going so well is because I’ve always wanted to write horror and suspense.  Mind you, I also love fairy tales and like to write romance…  but to the review:

Willa –  the first story, and a good one.  Against a backdrop of the supernatural, Steven King always makes characters that feel human, and this is a solid example of exactly that.  A man leaves a train station full of people waiting for a replacement train to find his wife, against the advise of the other passengers.

The Gingerbread Girl – Emily has lost her daughter, and the only thing she ever wants to do now is run, run far and as fast as possible.  Eventually, she leaves her everyday life to live a life where she spends every day running – and one day, finds out that running may save her life.

Harvey’s Dream – Harvey’s wife is bored with their life, until Harvey tells her about a nightmare he’s had. She encourages him to continue, believing that by saying it out loud, they will prevent it from happening.

Rest Stop – What would you do if you stopped along the highway, and heard a man physically abusing a woman?  This is a satisfying tale of what might happen…

Stationary Bike – After being cautioned by his doctor to start watching his cholesterol and to exercise, Richard Sifkitz buys a stationary bike. He paints a scene in front of the bike to make the ride more interesting – and finds that he’s created more than a distraction from mindless exercise.

The Things They Left Behind – Scott Staley called in sick on 9/11 – and lived when all of his co-workers died.  At first, he afraid the objects which show up in his apartment are a delusion caused by survivor’s guilt – but the truth is much more complex.

Graduation Afternoon – I thought this story was just okay.  It seems to be more the starting scrap of a story than a whole one.  During the formal graduation party, a girl discovers her future will be entirely different than she imagined.

N –  A psychiatrist has a new patient, who believes his obsessive compulsive routines are keeping a dark horror out of the world.  A great story about the thinness of reality and the influence of perception.

The Cat From Hell – I had read this before, published in Magicats.  Still grossed me out on rereading.  And I’m still a cat lover 🙂  A hitman is hired to eradicate a cat, but things do not go as planned.

The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates – A phone call from her deceased husband makes the widow doubt her sanity – until his warnings start coming true.

Mute – A man picks up a hitchhiker, whose sign proclaims him a deaf mute.  The man takes the opportunity to vent about his wife, her affair, and her embezzlement – and how it will hurt their daughter.  He goes to see a priest after his wife and her lover turn up murdered and his missing St. Christopher’s medal shows up back at his house.

Ayana – A mysterious child shows up to Doc Gentry’s deathbed, and he makes a miraculous recovery.  But it is just the beginning of the miracles Doc’s son witnesses.

A Very Tight Place – The fued over property between two neighbors escalates grusomely in this last story.  There were moments I was not sure I could keep reading – but I did anyway.

Overall, a very solid collection of short stories, some of which explore overlapping themes and ideas Stephen King has played with before.  Still, none displace my favorite two SK short stories – The End of the Whole Mess and The Last Rung on the Ladder (links go to the short story collections each is from).

Murder of a Real Bad Boy by Denise Swanson

This is the eighth Scumble River Mystery featuring school psychologist Skye Denison.  The house Skye inherited in the previous book needs a lot of work – so Skye hires contractor Beau Hamilton to help out – and is about to fire him when she finds him dying behind her house.  The sheriff who hates her is only too eager to try to pin the murder on Skye, so she has to clear her name – as well as defend herself from her mother’s attempts to force a reconcilition with her ex-boyfriend, and decide if she wants to get involved with her teenage crush, Police Chief Wally Boyd.  These are fun mysteries, and Skye and the citizens of Scumble River are very engaging.

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Finally, I reread the first novel in the Jack Reacher series

Jack Reacher has left the Military Police and is now drifting across America.  He’s on a bus in Georgia when he remembers a story his brother told him about a musician named Blind Blake being killed in Margrave Georgia, so he asks the driver to let him off nearby although it’s not a standard stop.  He walks into town, and is eating breakfast when he is arrested for murder.  He is sent to prison for the weekend, since the Chief of Police claims to have seen him at the murder scene – but he is accompanied by another man, Hubble, who claims to have committed the murder.  The problem is that a party full of witnesses know where Hubble was for hours before and after the murder.  After an attempt on his life in the prison, Reacher begins to investigate who the killer was – an investigation that becomes deeply personal for Reacher when it the victim’s identity is revealed.

I found this book interesting enough to buy more in the series the first time I read it, but it is not my favorite in the series.  The information on counterfeiting is fascinating, and the character of Jack Reacher is developed more in later novels.

The Majicka by MaryJanice Davidson (included in No Rest for the Witches anthology)

Ireland Shae attracts strays- stray paranormal creatures, anyway.  With a solid history of mental illness in her family and a strong urge to take care of others, Ireland does not think she’s unusual, unlike her housemates, the rogue werewolf, fae prince, finicky vampire and a spirit cursed to inhabit machinery.  While trying to rescue a lost zombie, Ireland is found by a man who insists that she has immense personal magic and that he’s her tutor.  I really enjoy the wacky blend of characters in this short story, as well as MaryJanice Davidson’s habit of playing with the paranormal stereotypes and creating fiesty heroines.

Unleash Your Story Read-a-thon page count so far: 9498 / 10000 (and yes, it is entirely possible I may still may my 10,000 page goal, yay!)

Although I have not reached my Write-a-thon word count goal (by a WHOLE LOT of words!) I did manage to write several times this month, and have added several scenes to my novel in progress – which I would not have done without this challenge.  I also started a new blog, reviewed several books (which gave me a whole new appreciation for the Smart Bitches and their awesome reviews!) and did some journaling.

Unleash Your Story Write-a-thon word count so far: 19307 / 60000

The only thing that I’m really sad about is failing to make my $150 fund raising goal for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Still, I did manage to raise $70, and I am glad that I helped!

On another subject entirely (but related-ish), it is Banned Books Week.  The American Library Association (and other organizations) hold this annual event to celebrate our First Amendment rights “while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.”  The slogan this year is “Speak. Read. Know.” and there are some gorgeous t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, and buttons at their store.  I want the t-shirt with the quote “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.” from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Hopefully later today I will be able to dedicate an entire post to Banned Books Week.  Many of my favorite books and authors have appeared on the lists of challenged books.


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