Showing posts with label Science Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Science Fiction. Show all posts

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  480,421 Ratings  ·  14,149 Reviews
The Stand by Stephen King
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

“Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.

Or you don't.”

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.”

“People who try hard to do the right thing always seem mad.”



You know what’s really scary? Getting sick while you’re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of NyQuil while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost every one on Earth from a superflu. On top of feeling like crap, you'll be terrified. Bonus!

After a bio-engineered virus that acts like a revved up cold escapes from a U.S. government lab, it takes only weeks for almost all of humanity to succumb to the disease. A handful of survivors are mysteriously immune and begin having strange dreams, some of which are about a very old woman called Mother Abigail asking them to come see her. More disturbing are nightmares about a mysterious figure named Randall Flagg also known as the Dark Man or the Walkin’ Dude.

As they make their way through an America almost entirely devoid of people, the survivors begin to unite and realize that the flu was just the beginning of their problems. While some are drawn to the saintly Mother Abigail in Boulder Colorado who tells them that they have been chosen by God, others have flocked to Flagg in Las Vegas who is determined to annihilate all those who refuse to pledge their allegiance to him.

If King would have just written a book about a world destroyed by plague and a small number of people struggling in the aftermath, it probably would have been a compelling story. What sets this one apart is the supernatural element. Flagg is the embodiment of evil and chaos. He's a mysterious figure who has been giving the wrong people the push needed for them to make things worse for everyone, and he sees the plague as his chance to fulfill his own destiny as a wrecker of humanity.

And on the other side, we have God. Yep, that God. The Big Cheese himself. But this isn’t some kindly figure in a white robe with a white beard or George Burns or Morgan Freeman. This is the Old Testament God who demands obedience and worship while usually rewarding his most faithful servants with gruesome deaths.

King calls this a tale of dark Christianity in his forward, and one of the things I love about this book is that it does feel like a Biblical story, complete with contradictions and a moves-in-mysterious-ways factor. Stories don’t get much more epic than this, and King does a great job of depicting the meltdown of the world through the stories of a variety of relateable characters. (Larry Underwood remains among my favorite King creations.)

One of my few complaints is that this features a lot of King’s anti-technology themes that he’d use in several books like Cell or The Dark Tower series. We’re told repeatedly that the ‘old ways’ like trying to get the power back on in Boulder are a ‘death trip’. The good guys gather in the Rocky Mountains, but if they try to get the juice going so they won’t freeze to death in the winter, they’re somehow acting in defiance of God’s will and returning to the bad habits? Not all tech is bad tech, Mr. King. Nature is a bitch and will kill your ass quicker than the superflu.

Here’s another thing I’m not wild about. When this was published in the late ‘70s, the bean counters at King’s publishers had decided that the book as written would be too pricey in hardback and no one would pay a whopping $13 for a Stephen King hardback. So King cut about three hundred pages.

Around 1990 after it had become apparent that King could publish his shopping list as a best seller, he put those pages back in and released the uncut version. Which I’m fine with. The original stuff was cut for a financial reason, not an editorial one, and there’s some very nice bits of story added in. If King would have stopped there, we would have had a great definitive final version as originally created by the author.

Unfortunately, he seemed to catch a case of Lucasitis and decided to update the story a bit and change its original time frame from 1980 to 1990. I’m not sure why that seemed necessary to him. Yes, the book was a bit dated by then, but it was of its time. He didn’t rewrite the text (Which I’m grateful for.), but just stuck in some references to Madonna and Ronald Reagan and Spuds McKenzie.

This led to a whole bunch of anachronisms. Would students in 1990 call soldiers ’war pigs’? Someone in New York picks up a phone book to look up the number to call an ambulance instead of dialing 911? A song called Baby, Can You Dig Your Man is a huge hit? None of it quite fits together. There's also a layer of male chauvinism and lack of diversity that you can overlook in a book written in the late '70s, but seems out of place for a book set and updated for 1990.

The things that irritate me are still far outweighed by one of my favorite stories of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

I’m also glad to get a long overdue audio edition of this book. Great narration and 40+ hours of end of the world horror make for a damn fine listening experience.
M-O-O-N spells spectacular!

I first read THE STAND in the early 80's. It was during the Christmas break- I lived out in the boonies with my family, and after the holiday hoopla was over -I planted myself in my favorite chair and sat there for 4 days devouring every page-(only leaving for bathroom breaks, meals and sleep).

30+ years later my reading experience was a little different. I read it with my Goodreads friend Lisa- who had the uncut version, while I had the original- I stopped and started as she caught up- there were huge amounts of messages back and forth- on the characters, the differences in editions, who we loved- who we hated, and everything and anything we could think of to discuss. It was a month long read...

...but the one thing both experiences did have in common was- I LOVED IT each time!!
At a remote U.S. Army base, a strain of influenza is accidentally released. Despite a lock down- soldier Charles Campion is able to escape with his wife and child. By the time the military is able to track his whereabouts- Campion has spread the disease around parts of Texas- triggering a pandemic which kills off 99 percent of the population.

The one percent are left in survival mode- spread out over the entire country and plagued by strange dreams about two individuals which eventually draw some to Nebraska and some to Las Vegas.
Hemingford Home, Nebraska- Is the home of Abagail Freemantle— "Mother Abagail" a 108 year- old woman who receives visions from God. She is the embodiment of good.
Las Vegas, Nevada- is where Randall Flagg has set up shop- Randall is also called The Dark Man and The Walking Dude. He lives to cause death and destruction and has supernatural powers which allow him to be human, animal or demon. He is the embodiment of evil.
King said that he "wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting"- and that is just what he did. THE STAND is a wonderful epic fantasy adventure about good vs evil- One that I would recommend to anybody who hasn't read it yet, and even to those who have!
I never get tired of reading this book. It's my absolute all time favorite reads. Every once in a while I have to go back and read it again and again....and it's just as good as the first time I read it those many years ago.

1st Review

The end of the world where humanity takes a stand between good and evil.
I am a Stephen King fan and whilst I have read most of his books, The Stand has remained my all-time favorite. I read it when it was first published in 1978 and I was really happy when a longer and uncut version came out in 1990 and have since read it many times. It remains an incredible, riveting and unforgettable story. The ultimate post-apocalyptic/horror/fantasy and thought provoking novel.

The following content was provided by the publisher, giving a brief synopsis of the story and information on the 1991 uncut version.

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published "The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, "The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. "The Stand: "The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending.

What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.
For hundreds of thousands of fans who read "The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading "The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
This is one book that’s left a lasting impression on me and I love picking it up and reading it all over again and again. How quickly and easily greed, corruption and playing the Hand of God can bring humanity to its knees and even with the possibility of their total extinction. That thought is not that far fetched with all the stuff that’s being done today, all in the name science. Hah!!!!!!!!The plot line which is divided into three parts/books follows the experiences of the plague survivors before, during and after the catastrophe and the roles they play in the story. It’s dark, intense, terrifying and uplifting…there’s hope, faith, religion, love, hate, fear, fate and redemption. A suspenseful and emotional build-up to the final face-off of good versus evil. There’s a meaning to everything that happens in the story – the betrayals, the dreams, death and births. There is nothing random in anything.

But it’s the realistic and deep characterization that’s astonishing. Complex and well developed characters that leap off the pages. It gives us a deeper understanding using the viewpoints of many of the characters – their back stories show the differences in the morality of humankind.
The vivid descriptions make the plot and characters so real and believable.

There are so many great characters in this story that some have left a lasting impression on me.
Stu Redman, a quiet, moral and unassuming character that inspires people to continue their fight against evil.

    “Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respecters of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.”
M-O-O-N. That spells “Damn, what a great book!”

I knew King had it in him, I am a fan of his brilliant 1977 haunted house thriller The Shining, but I did not expect this.

The best post apocalyptic novel ever?

Maybe, that is a broad category teaming with great work from talented writers, but King’s The Stand is an epic, genre defining work.

My friend Michael has a profile statement, something to the effect of finding our next 5 star rating. I like that sentiment, and am excited by the opportunity that our next favorite book is out there waiting to be read; a new best friend of an author to whom we’ve yet to be introduced. Here’s mine. I’m late to the party, just reading this for the first time in 2015. I think I was always a little intimidated by the length. It’s a beast, and I was a glutton for punishment reading the 1990 extended version, weighing in at a heavyweight 1153 pages. But it’s a runaway train, grabbing the reader up and taking him or her where Stephen King wants to take you.

Yes, it’s a book about a devastating plague, but also so, so much more. King weaves in an allegory about the viruses amongst us. There is also the spiritual quality of the book, King shows how we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and that dreamers will survive – and survivors can still dream.

I could not help making a comparison with the Left Behind series, and associating Flagg to Nicholai Carpathia – though King’s characterization is far more complex and well rounded, and like Milton’s Satan, the most interesting character here is the villain. This makes me appreciate his The Gunslinger series and I want to search out Flagg and read more about him.

This is also an American epic and in its context an American eulogy. King shows us the good the bad and the ugly of what we are and what we can be. An observant reader will see references to Ursula K. LeGuin (word for world is woods), to Jim Morison, Edgar Allan Poe, Woody Guthrie, and hell even Rod McKuen.

I know Mr. King and have enjoyed many of his works and I have now been amazed by his finest.
     The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.

So I finally finished this gigantic brick. This freakin' gigantic heavy brick, and all I can say is, this is probably the best freakin' brick ever made. With a heaping 1439 pages, this book managed to hurt both my wrists, and probably injured some of my fingers. That's the price I had to pay to read this amazing novel. I never thought that I wouldn't finish this, fuck it I never even thought of putting this book down and read something else for the meantime. All I can say is, Stephen King managed to impress me again. Not that I doubted him though.

Its a typical thing for King to serve us with multiple characters with different stories, and plunge them together at some point. And as usual, some were amazing, and some were dreadfully boring unforgettable. This was also my experience while reading Needful Things, but his characters here are way better. I got an in depth description of each one, and I either loved or hated each one. That technique of King is truly remarkable. What goes best with an amazing plot? Well, freakin' amazing characters that's what. Ask me who my favorite is, and I'll probably end up describing most of them instead because I loved almost all of them.

I remember complaining how long the novel is. I've read quite a few epics, but all of them were way shorter than this. When I finished though, and pondered upon what could've been excluded, none came to mind. I believe everything happened for a reason, or let me rephrase that, everything was written for a reason. You can't really take out something from the story, because then the plot holes would reappear. The length of the novel is proportional to the enjoyment I experienced while reading this.

Once again, the characters were amazing and fully developed. I actually cared for them, and I didn't want them to die. This novel focused on the battle between good and evil, in a lengthy epic like feeling. We have Mother Abagail on the good side, and Flagg as the devil. It's King's second time to introduce a devil-like character, and the character turned out just as amazing. Flagg truly depicted a strong devil. He's really a strong character that I would love to read more about in his other novels (really hoping for a guest appearance).

Harold is the one I hated the most while reading. That pig really annoyed me. Everything he did was really annoying, and I wanted him to die at one point in the novel. Although I do have to point out that I hate him for a good reason. My hatred of him led to a better enjoyment of the novel. We all hate a character, and we want to see awful things done to them. I'm more than satisfied with the characters King created.

Lloyd and Nick were really amazing too. One is part of the dark team, and the other of the good team. I'm not gonna spoil who belongs where. All you need to know is that Nick's a kickass deaf-mute, and Lloyd's an annoying yet funny character. Tom's really cool too, despite being a retard. I didn't care for him that much in the beginning, but things started to change as I read along.

Stu and Fran's story would have to be my favorite of all the ones in the novel. Ever since the early parts of the novel, Fran's story already caught my interest, and it continued till the end. Larry Underwood's also really interesting. His pride overcoming him then more awful things happening really kept me interested in what would happen to him. I'm only going to mention those characters though, because who would want to read a spoiler and ruin their reading experience right? Those 3 are my favorites, but that doesn't mean that the others were boring. I will repeat, almost all the characters are amazing. There will obviously be a few that would stand out, and those 3 are my choice. Wait, I forgot to mention another favorite, the freakin' dog Kojak!! I always love dogs in novels. Kojak didn't disappoint!
Okay, enough feet kissing and let me get on with some negative aspects of this novel.

The back of the book states that "The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge - Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg the nefarious "Dark Man", who delights in chaos and violence. Yes, both of them possess those amazing qualities, but I don't think it's right to say that both of them are the leaders of the novel. I get that people in the novel looked up to the both of then [in fear and in doubt] but neither of the two became my genuine favorite. I really liked them both, yes, but that's that. Randall's really outstanding with all the violence don't get me wrong, but Mother Abagail was presented as somewhat disgusting . Obviously opinionated, but hey, aren't all reviews opinionated?

Maybe I should've said that I had one problem, because that's all I can think of as of right now. I had problems along the novel though, but all [except the one stated above] were resolved. Major problems like plot holes and all were resolved at the end of the novel, and that's awesome. Mostly when I read a novel, the problems that I had while reading didn't get fixed. The Stand proved itself otherwise. The main problem would be that we tend to complain even if we're not yet done with the novel.

The ending's really great. I'm not going to complain anymore because I really liked it. It gave me closure, and honestly, the ending's really witty. You'll have to read it yourself, but I really liked it. I'm not gonna put it in a spoiler tag anymore, because there's no reason to do so. Just read this amazing novel and see for yourself. Once again, real witty of you King. This is why you're my favorite author.
So to wrap things up, this is now my favorite King novel. It is clearly superior to The Long Walk and Needful Things, both in length and substance. I'm not saying don't read the other two, because they are both amazing in their own ways, and I'm also recommending them. The Stand is just King's novel that had the biggest impact on me, as of now. Such a shame to say that he's my favorite author yet I believe I've read less than ten books of his, and I've only read this now. I'm planning to change that soon though, I can't wait to read more amazing novels written by King. 5/5 stars, and a worthy addition to my favorites list. A clear recommendation, and I can say that this is one of my best reads of 2014.

11.22.63 by Stephen King

11.22.63 by Stephen King

4.29  ·   Rating details ·  306,162 Ratings  ·  30,843 Reviews
11.22.63 by Stephen King download or read it online for free
11.22.63 by Stephen King

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.


Go ahead, book snobs. Proclaim haughtily that Stephen King is not Literature. I shall retort with a Pratchett quote, "Susan hated Literature. She'd much prefer to read a good book." And nobody argues with Sir Terry.

(Since 'a picture is worth a thousand words', the above is a three-thousand-words summary of this book. Impressive, no? And also - dancing is life.)

As you probably guessed from the not-too-spoiler-sensitive title, 11/22/63 is a book about time travel. My love for it is an exception rather than a rule - you see, I am not usually a fan of the Grandfather paradox. Speaking of which:
“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?"
He stared at me, baffled. "Why the fuck would you do that?”
As the title proceeds to shamelessly tells us, the book deals with the assassination of John F. Kennedy (and if the title fails to convey the message, then hopefully you - like yours truly - have Google-pedia'd it. Hey, don't judge, I was born in Eastern Europe). Anyway, it's another of Stephen King's 'what if?' situations. What if you could go through a 'rabbit-hole' to the past? Would you try to change history for the better, would you try to right the wrongs? Well, who wouldn't??? And so Jake Epping, an English teacher, sets out to spend half a decade in the past to prevent the assassination of JFK (and to figure out whether Lee Harvey Oswald was indeed the lone gunman that day, despite all the conspiracy theories).
"As I flipped to the back, I kept seeing that double take. And the grin. A sense of humor; a sense of the absurd. The man in the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository had neither. Oswald had proved it time and again, and such a man had no business changing history."

** What if their lives had never intersected?**
“Even people capable of living in the past don't really know what the future holds.”
The question is - what would have happened had JFK survived the assassination that day in Dallas? Would we still have Vietnam War, race riots, and Martin Luther King's death? Could the lives of many innocent people be spared? Could JFK lead the country into a better future? Jake believes so. But what if the past resists the change? What is the price of changing the past?
"The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle’s shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless."
This book again dispels the long-believed but mistaken axiom that Stephen King is a "horror writer" - of a spook and startle variety. No, in the traditional sense he is not. He knows that the true monsters are those that live inside every one of us (and, ahem, occasionally in Derry, Maine). He has created his own brand of psychological suspense - with the brilliant and scary insight into the minds of average everyday people (who all have some darkness inside them and a skeleton or two in the closet - sometimes quite literally) superimposed onto the masterful description of small towns themselves (eerily resembling sentient living creatures, determined to hold on to their dark secrets). (*) And we get plenty of these in this book, as Jake's quest to prevent that fateful shot in November in Dallas takes him along the way to the small towns of Derry, Maine and Jodie, Texas.
* I have an irrational fear of living in a small town, thanks to Stephen King. What if it turns out to be another Derry or Castle Rock?! *shudder*

(By the way, this trip to the past gives plenty of deeeeee-licious 'Easter Eggs' to King's Constant Readers. We see little echoes from Pennywise the Clown era in Derry, meet our favorite 1958 Plymouth Fury ( Hellllloooo there, Christine! ), and even get a nod to A Wizard and Glass with Takuro Spirit).
“On that gray street, with the smell of industrial smokes in the air and the afternoon bleeding away to evening, downtown Derry looked only marginally more charming than a dead hooker in a church pew.”
Derry of 1958 (right after the terrifying events of IT) is particularly repulsive and sinister. It's a small wonder Jake is able to continue his quest after starting in such an ominous place. But even there King manages to include some unexpected beauty - just remember Richie and Bevvy dancing.

And the reverse applies to the idyllic town of Jodie in which Jake is finally able to feel that he actually LIVES in the past. Deep down under the beauty and quaintness lies the ugly little reality. And the same remains true for the Land of Ago, the glorious past of absent airport security, no cholesterol warnings, and everyone happily puffing their way to lung cancers. The 1950s-60s are described with sweetness and nostalgia, but King never hesitates to bluntly remind the reader that the past has teeth and it's not afraid to bite.

King is an excellent writer and an amazing storyteller. His writing is effortless and natural, the characterization is apt and memorable, and the dialogue superb and real-sounding. I truly felt for Jake during each step of his journey. I loved how Oswald was described as not a villain or a nutcase but a flawed broken little man who stumbled into the middle of events that changed history. The other characters - Sadie, Deke, Ellie, Frank Dunning - were so well-written that I could feel them come to life (which actually can be a scary statement when the world of sai King is concerned). The story, despite its sizable length, was flowing along and never lost my attention. And his slow build-up of the sense of suspense and doom - think The Yellow Card Man (*) and jimla and the 'harmonizing past' - was just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the book.

Pardon me for using this moth-eaten cliche, but Stephen King is like good wine - his writing gets better and better as he ages. Some may consider The Stand his masterpiece (to his dismay - who wants to think he's already reached the peak of his writing career three decades ago???), but I think this book may be it.
"Is there any phrase more ominous than you need to see exactly what you’ve done? I couldn’t think of one offhand."
5 stars without hesitation for this excellent impossible-to-put-down book. Sai King, I will continue to be your Constant Reader for hopefully many more years to come, Capital-L Literature or not.
"If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples."

Thank you, Steve. You were wrong all those years ago when you said you weren't very good at writing about love and intimacy. The love story here is full of honesty and tenderness. When I got to the last couple of pages, I was crying so hard I couldn't read.

11/22/63 is a supernatural, quasi-historical, philosophical, science-fiction love story.
If you're avoiding it because you think Stephen King only writes horror, please reconsider. There's no horror here, aside from a couple of mild gross-out scenes.

I know my experience would have been cheapened by knowing too much beforehand, so I'm not going to tell you what it's about in the style of a traditional book review. Be it on someone else's head to spoil your fun.

So why should you read it?

*There is DANCING!

*There is time travel -- Stephen King-style, with some original twists on the old device.

*There is a special treat for fans of It, King's novel about Pennywise the Clown.

*There is a charming (yet brutally honest) portrayal of American life in the late 50s and early 60s.

*There is DANCING!

*There is pie-throwing!

*There is sweet romance without sappiness.

*There is poundcake!

*There is derring-do! (With poundcake for afters.)

*There is insight into Lee Harvey Oswald and his associates, and their activities prior to 11/22/63.

*There is DANCING!

*There is a subtle but amazing use of "the past" as a character with an agenda of its own.

*There is snappy dialogue laced with humor.

*There is high school theater.

*And there is DANCING! Because dancing is life.

Thanks again, Steve. There's always room for you on my dance card.

I'll be honest here. It's really rare that I get through a book over 500 pages, let alone 700 (Nook pages). It's also true that I have never read a single thing from Mr. King until now. Why? 
I'm not sure. Maybe his books intimidated me, because when I was younger everyone was always talking to me about how his books were so long, and blah blah. Anyway, I am proud to say that 11/22/63 was my first book read by Stephen King. I hear it's so much different than his other work, but I also haven't met a single person that didn't love it. I read this book because everybody and their brother was recommending it to me as a "must read". I'm also not a big historical fiction fan, and didn't know how much I would enjoy reading about 20 years before my birth. I had nothing to worry about.

Here is a book that you never want to end, yet you do want it to end, because you need to know what is going to happen. King introduces us to a man named Jake who insists that he is not emotionless despite the fact that he doesn't cry often. I can relate to him right off the bat. Not a big crier, but I definitely feel emotions on a huge level. Jake is sent back to 1963 with a plan made up by a guy named Al who owns a local diner, and has the "rabbit hole" which is how they travel back in time. At first his mission is just to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating JFK, but then little things pop up here and there making him consider a few new things that need to be changed. I'm not going into any more detail than that, because I don't want to give away one single thing in this brilliant novel. Fans of his story "It" may be excited to know he revisits the town of Derry, Maine, where "It" was located.

The excitement and suspense in this book were astonishing. I held my breath in anticipation of certain things Jake had to do, and then some twist would come out of left field, and I would continue reading in awe. There were also several sighs of relief and a couple of cute moments involving Jake's romance that just made me say "aww".

I do feel like there were a rough 100ish pages that dragged on somewhere in the middle, and the book may have benefited by taking out a few things, but obviously I'm no expert. That's just my opinion. Again, this may have also been just something I was feeling, because I was very impatient and really wanting to know how this book would end. Some people didn't like the ending, but I loved it!

In the afterword King discusses his research a bit. You can most definitely tell that a lot of research and thought went into this novel. The descriptions are vivid and when I say you are really transported back to the 60's I mean it. You will feel it.

11/22/63 is a truly memorable, wonderfully written book that I have already recommended to several family members and friends, and I will continue to recommend for years to come. This is another of King's books that I could see as a film, too. If you are wanting to try a Stephen King book, but don't know if you will like all the horror, read this! It is not like that at all.

*sigh*... I'm so upset that it's over... You got me at the ending there, Stephen. You really, truly got me. What can I possibly say about this wonderful, beautiful book? That it's wonderful and beautiful? No. That's no where near enough praise.
 This book made it up to my top 3 favorites list by King (placing at #3) and is probably my favorite book of 2011 (if not tied with Shutter Island). Reading this book, I was so worried about what the ending would be (because, let's be honest here, we know King isn't the best at handling endings... Exhibit A: Under the Dome), and I had a really strong feeling I knew what the ending would be, but that ending was just absolutely amazing... It left everything wrapped up nicely, and was one of his better endings, if not his best (or at least my favorite, even though it's not wrapped up with a pretty bow). The last chapter made me grin ear to ear, but then it left me feeling sad beyond words can describe. To be honest, after I turned the last page (or better yet, clicked, since I own a Kindle), I just sat there and bawled my eyes out, to the point where my husband got worried about me. Yeah... It was that sad. The characters in this book couldn't be better, and I really, truly mean that. I loved every single character (with the exception of Lee Harvey Oswald... Poor Marina...). I loved George/Jake's students, I loved George/Jake, I loved Sadie, I loved Miz Mimi, and much more. I also really liked the purpose of the character the Card Man, even for the very short time he was in the book (I would have liked King to expand a bit more on that, but hey, the book's almost 1000 pages), but the real star in this book was the relationship between George/Jake and Sadie. Their love for each other was undeniable and irrevocable, and just so darn beautiful. Who would have thought that the Stephen King we all know and love (at least I know and love him) could write a beautiful and touching romance alongside a thriller. That was a great shock, and I hope he incorporates this skill of weaving a good relationship into a lot more of his books to come. Being a huge King fan, I couldn't wait for this book to come out. But, in all fairness, I didn't expect to love it. I thought it would be average, maybe even "just okay", but let me tell you... I really, really loved this book.

And if you aren't a King fan, please (pretty please) don't let that stop you from reading this book. This book has absolutely no scary parts, for those of you who abstain from reading Stephen King's books because they are classified as horror, and, like I mentioned earlier on in this review, I actually cried at the end of the book (the first time that I've ever cried while reading a King novel). You can tell that Stephen King put a lot of effort into writing 11/22/63, and his details of life in the late 50's and early 60's really made me wish I was alive then. So, please, even if you don't like Stephen King, read this! It's an absolutely beautiful book, and one I wish I can read for the first time all over again.

And if you're still not convinced to read this, would it help if I told you that there's.... Poundcake? ;)

PS: You will probably want a box of tissues handy towards the end. And if you're listening to the audiobook, maybe two boxes.

For those wondering, these are my top 3 favorite King books:

#1: It
#2: The Shining
#3: (this may shock some people...) previously The Stand. Now it's 11/22/63

“If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples. I'll love your face no matter what is looks like. Because it's yours”

"The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle's shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless"

"Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life."

“For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”


Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  11,672 Ratings  ·  2,617 Reviews
Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Citra and Rowen are two teenagers who get the pleasantry of meeting the honorable Scythe Faraday. 
Scythe by Neal Shusterman download for free or read it online
by Neal Shusterman

No one wants to run into a scythe, much less talk to one or spend any kind of time with one. They have the ability to kill you if they see fit. That is their duty. But Citra and Rowan had the chance to meet this particular scythe and they were both not very pleasant to him. In some cases this could mean they would be gleaned depending on the unpleasantness, but Scythe Faraday was taken with these two individuals and brought them both under his wing as apprentices. Of course neither of them wanted to be apprentices and possibly become scythes themselves. Although there could only be one and it's not the norm for a scythe to take on two apprentices, but such is life. 
To be a scythe you have to give up many things, but they are necessary in this new world where there are no illnesses and you do not die. So there has to be an executioner if you will. There are some evil scythes in the book that enjoy the killing and this goes against their creed but everything works out at some point.

I love these characters. I loved them so much. Citra and Rowen are just awesome and Honorable Scythe Faraday is awesome too. Even though he is a killer and has lived hundreds of years, he's a nice man and JUST READ THE BOOK!

Some things happen and Citra and Rowen get separated and are training under different scythes. Citra is under Honorable Scythe Curie and Rowen gets the evil Scythe Goddard <--- I'm not even calling him honorable. He's a twat!

There is a lot more going on in the book and reasons for this that and the other but you can read all of that for yourself.  


  • Pretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human population. Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes, and discover that of all the things that Scythes can kill, corruption is not one of them.

1. Over the years, I've heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind, as it offers teens a complementary reading experience to that series rather than a duplicate one. Like Hunger Games, SCYTHE invites readers to both turn pages quickly but also furrow their brows over the ethical questions it asks. Tone-wise, I would place it solidly between M. T. Anderson's FEED and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

2. Over the years, YA has come to encompass a wide age range — one that I feel tends to skew ever older and sometimes forget the folks who are growing out of middle grade, but slowly. SCYTHE strikes me as a true teen novel, one that I will happily thrust into the hands of even reluctant 12-14 year old readers to show them what awaits them in genre fiction. It asks enough difficult questions to stick in the mind, but it never asks them at the expense of pacing or story. Although it's a series-starter and the end is tantalizing, it does feel like it satisfyingly stands alone (as is evidenced by its new Printz Honor sticker — the Printz is very rarely awarded to series books as the novel's merit must be contained entirely within the volume awarded). Moreover, it is very light on the romance, something that younger readers often prefer (and somewhat difficult to find in YA).

3. Over the years, I have grown too lazy to make note of when sequels come out. I've made a note on my calendar for this one, though — November 2017. I look forward to another good time.

  • I didn't know what to expect going into this book, and wanted to read it because 1. Neal Shusterman is an incredible writer and 2. Anything with a scythe on the cover has my interest.

This turned out to be a fascinating book that made me think much more deeply about death, but more importantly, about modern life and how the challenges we face in it are what make it worth living. Neal creates a truly original utopian world that looks great on the surface, but has a pretty nasty underbelly (like all realistic utopias.) The politics in the world of Scythes is intricate and realistic and well done. The characters were quite distinct (it's a dual narrative) and their development is portrayed very honestly. Though there were a few plot devices I wasn't quite sure about at first, they all smoothed out in the end to make for a book that's fast-paced, but also deeply thoughtful. Definitely recommend this one.

  • Scythe defies all YA tropes and is incredibly quotable. What more can you ask for?

Exhibit A:

    "I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity."

    "Welcome to life as a god," Scythe Volta said to him. While behind them the building burned to the ground.

The story takes place in a world beyond natural death, where disease and aging is eradicated and accidental death can be reversed in a hospital. It's a pretty great place to live, overall.

    The concept of a B seat, where one had to sit between two other airplane passengers, had been eliminated along with other unpleasant things, like disease and government.

The only way to die permanently is to be murdered ("gleaned" is the euphemism used) by a Scythe, a socially condoned killer whose job is to keep the population in check. All of earth is ruled an AI called the Thunderhead, both an omniscient database and a conscious benevolent entity; the only thing not controlled by the Thunderhead is the Scythedom, which has a self-governing body reminiscent of the current US Congress. The action kicks in when two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, are chosen to become Scythe apprentices.

If, at this point, you're thinking, "Oh of course, I know this story type. They'll fall in love and it'll be star-crossed and I've definitely read this kind of book before." STOP. This book is full of surprises and ass-kicking plot twists that will blow your mind. Obviously since it concerns professional killers there is quite a bit of moral and philosophical talk, but it only adds to the unique value of Scythe.

  • What if cancer and all the worlds diseases were healed and our understanding of how to heal everybody was so great that you could pretty much save anyone from practically anything that would have killed them.

What if you could totally turn back the clock so that even though you are fifty-two or seventy-five you could look like you were in your twenties.

What if there was nothing like war, poverty or hunger because artificial intelligence wasn’t a bad thing and it was better at running the world than the politicians and warmongers.

The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government. Back in the days when the world’s digital network was called “the cloud,” people thought giving too much power to an artificial intelligence would be a very bad idea. Cautionary tales abounded in every form of media. The machines were always the enemy. But then the cloud evolved into the Thunderhead, sparking with consciousness, or at least a remarkable facsimile. In stark contrast to people’s fears, the Thunderhead did not seize power. Instead, it was people who came to realize that it was far better suited to run things than politicians.

What if selected humans were now charged with culling the population and causing the deaths of those chosen. That they themselves had to choose who to kill and perform the execution becoming walking death.

What if you were chosen to be apprenticed to one of these people and learn how to kill.

What if…… well you get the gist.

I used to read a lot of YA but after a while so much of it seemed the same. After the fifteenth time in the book someone released a breath they didn’t know they were holding or dollface’s eyes became darker (cuz that is what happens when you lust after someone) and she threw away everything special about herself for Jerkwad A I was over it. But then I found Neal Shusterman (NS). I think that NS is the king of what if…. He takes something from our society today and tweaks it extremely to the best/worst case scenario and TaH-DaH magic.

Neal Shusterman has been on my autobuy list since I read his Unwind series which is my favorite completely YA and Dystopian series to date. While this is completely different in the world and the characters one thing remains the same. This book is for people who like to ponder the “what ifs” of the world and society. Like….
To date, the oldest living human being is somewhere around three hundred, but only because we are still so close to the Age of Mortality. I wonder what life will be like a millennium from now, when the average age will be nearer to one thousand. Will we all be renaissance children, skilled at every art and science, because we’ve had the time to master them? Or will boredom and slavish routine plague us even more than it does today, giving us less of a reason to live limitless lives? I dream of the former, but suspect the latter.

This story follows Rowan and Cirta as they start their internship of a year with Sythe Faraday learning everything there is to know about what it takes to be a killer of men. Which is less about learning how to kill, although there is some of that, and more about finding a path they can live with. Watching people die isn’t as easy as one would think. There are moral quandaries and it seems that not all the Scythes believe in the same things. Could it be in this society where a fraction of the people die compared to the Age of Mortality that there are things going on in the politics of death that might lead to disaster???

As the story delves into the deeper politics of death and how the world might be changing I liked seeing how a few of the different Scythes treated the responsibility of killing and how each seemed to have a different process and a different way to deal with families and after affects. People are people and it seems that if you give some of them enough power corruption is bound to bleed through.

There is a very small aspect of romance between a few characters but nothing overdone and it is definitely not the focal point of the story. The focal point is the society and how Citra and Rowan are trying to find a way to change it in their own way or else one might have to kill the other at the end of the apprenticeship.

There is a little bit of time needed for the set up to the story but there was also enough going on that I never lost interest. I became emotionally connected to Rowan and Citra in their very different struggles and I really enjoyed all the world details that made be question if you could live forever would you really want to?

This will be a duology or I prefer the term duet and I was extremely shocked (like wtf just happened I didn't see that coming at all shocked) by some of the happenings going into the final quarter of the book. But I adore where the book let off for the next installment and I am really excited to see what Shusterman has planned since there seemed to be some beginnings to a few things and with NS anything can happen and you will probably find your jaw on the floor when it does.

  • This book was a very pleasant surprise! Since the YA library of fiction has become saturated with dystopian tales, it is often hard to find originality. Because of that, the stories quickly become boring because we have "been there, done that". That is not the case here!

Key pros:
- Unique story, well presented
- Great characters
- Action and suspense
- Little (if any) filler
- Left me wanting more

Key con:
- St. Louis is not the capital of Missouri

If you are a fan of YA - especially YA dystopian fiction - you owe it to yourself to check this out. I am 99.9% sure you will love this, too.


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

4.11  ·   Rating details ·  85,883 Ratings  ·  13,337 Reviews
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch read it online or download it for free here
Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch
“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.


  • I suppose we’re both just trying to come to terms with how horrifying infinity really is.

This book made me feel tiny. It was overwhelming and scary, but oh so very gripping too.

Dark Matter is the kind of compelling "I must know WTF is going on" book that makes you forget about everything else you had to do that day. You step into this world - this absolute mind fuck of a world that will tug at both your heart strings and your brain cells - and you don't want to come out until you know how it ends. Real life? Who cares? Shit is going down and I need answers!

I recently read Crouch's Pines and was pretty disappointed. It was a great concept, but I thought the TV show was better and I didn't much like any of the characters. That's not a problem here. Jason Dessen goes through some serious shit and it's hard not to find sympathy for him when his life is ripped apart.

After being abducted one night by a masked man, Jason is knocked unconscious and wakes in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people who all seem to think he's somebody he isn't. What happened to him? Where are his beloved wife and son? These are questions that he will try to answer. But, as he discovers more and more about his situation, he starts to doubt what is real and what is not. Doubt whether he'll ever make it back to his life. Doubt whether it ever even existed at all.
I think, like you, like me, like everyone, she had regrets. I think sometimes she woke up in the night wondering if the path she took was the right one.

And just when you think you got it. When you think you've wrapped your brain around where this book is taking you and what's going on - well, buckle your seat belts, because this ride is about to get a whole lot crazier. In a good way.

It's mind-bending and exciting. I felt connected to the book on a personal level because I shared Jason's horror and the fear that he would never make it back to the family he loves. So it was emotionally engaging. But it was also thought-provoking. I could feel my eyes getting wider as I read further into the story.

  • The sort of "twist" in the plot is the perfect kind. One of those that I really should have seen coming - it was so obvious! - and yet I didn't. At all. So so good.

LOVED IT!!! This book is insanity in a box! 5 stars! Believe the hype! Do not read many reviews! If you like sci fi or want something different and can suspend disbelief read or listen to this book!

This is the audio version review! The audio narrated by actor, Jon Lindstrom, is as good as it gets! He was the perfect narrator for "Dark Matter". This man was born to narrate books! He's that good!

"Dark Matter" starts out pretty simple and then very quickly it turns insane and just keeps getting crazier and crazier. When you think it can't get any crazier it does! Trust me! I will never look at a box the same way again! If there is a trigger warning for boxes this book should have it! Lol!

Jason Desson is a physicist. He has been married to Daniela for years. He has a son, Charlie, who is almost 15 years old. He's generally a happy guy. He works at a college and loves his family. One day he goes to a bar. When he leaves the bar everything changes! That's it. That's all the plot summery I'm giving you because from there I would be going into spoiler territory.

I will share one quote that I think avoids spoilers, but might peak your curiosity: "Is it possible to outthink yourself". Boom! And that's all folks!!!
Read it!!!

  • It's terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, creates a new world.

Dark Matter, to be blunt, is miles and miles away from the line that marks my ‘‘comfort zone.’’ I never, or very, very seldom, read books such as this one.

But the truth is, I never read a book like Dark Matter before.

It’s a love story, it’s a thriller, it’s a science fiction book.

It’s thought-provoking, gripping, action-filled.

It makes you think about life and family and what matters most.

Who you are, who you were, who you could be.

What you want, what you need and what you should have.

When to start, when to stop and when to go back.

The writing is so very simplistic, but it does the job. It just isn’t the reason why this book is so highly praised. The author manages, however, to bring to life an authentic, loveable and heart-warming hero… or shall I say heroes?

There is a lot going on in this story. Don’t you worry, there’s not just action. There’s plenty of inspirational quotes and deep, emotional scenes and surprises.

I can’t give this book a five-star rating, because the writing isn’t great exactly and it’s simply not the type of book I would ever reread, but if I were to rate it on my enjoyment alone, my rating would be a four point five.

When I said that Dark Matter is thought-provoking, I meant every syllable. There is no way to close this book and not ponder tiny, big things in your life. No way to not question some things or not smile at others.

I won’t summarize the story, because I read this having no prior knowledge of what it would contain, and the reading turned out amazing for me. Plus it’s much more poignant this way. You won’t see a thing coming. Even the ending is not what you’ll expect at the beginning. But it’s good. Oh, it’s very good.

  • ”What if all the pieces of belief and memory that comprise who I am--my profession, Daniela, my son--are nothing but a tragic misfiring in that gray matter between my ears? Will I keep fighting to be the man I think I am? Or will I disown him and everything he loves, and step into the skin of the person this world would like for me to be?

And if I have lost my mind, what then?

What if everything I know is wrong?

No. Stop.

I am not losing my mind.”

There is nothing more frustrating to a reviewer than reading a book that can’t be written about. Almost every piece of information I could give you about this book is a ***spoiler***. Now, my definition of a spoiler and other people’s definition of a spoiler are not always the same, but in the case of this book the less said, the better.

I was very fortunate to watch the movie The Sixth Sense without having a clue about the plot, which is a minor miracle since I’m highly exposed to plots of movies and books, but I was... over the moon... to watch that particular movie without knowing the twist of the plot. So with The Sixth Sense (That plot has nothing to do with this plot, just to be clear.) in mind, I am going to resist the urge to write and write and write about how cool this book is.

The first order of business is to convince your friends to read it with you because you are going to want to discuss this book over numerous bottles of wine and a platter of cheese and pretzels. The cheese and pretzels only so you can drink more wine. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to have a designated driver, so my thought is that you should have this book discussion at someone’s house and bring your PJs. Stay over and maybe, if you have the right reasonably attractive friends, you can have….

”...fumbling, groping, backset-of-the-car, unprotected because who-gives-a-fuck, protons-smashing-together sex.”

So keep that in mind, so that you don’t get TOO DRUNK while discussing this book.

Now, anyone familiar with Blake Crouch should know he is a twisty, a twizzler, a zigzagger, a trickster. He bamboozled me in Wayward Pines, and now he has gone even further with Dark Matter. The great thing about this TWIST is that it isn’t just a one off twist...oh no...this is a twist that keeps wrapping itself around other twists until you start to feel little explosions in your head of all those overloaded brain cells.

It’s okay, you have plenty to spare.

By the end of the book and certainly after the protons-smashing-together sex, you will be fully convinced that “...we’re a part of a much larger and stranger reality than we can possibly imagine.” You will also be convinced that you need to read more Blake Crouch books, so you might as well go ahead and factor that into your book budget and *erhhh* food budget right now.

”What might have been and what
has been
Point to one end, which is always
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we do
not take
Towards the door we never

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

 A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain download or read online here
A Murder in Time
by Julie McElwain
Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.
While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

4.3 out of 5 stars (735 Reviews)
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Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.


  • I’d like to start off my mentioning the whole concept of time-travel story. Sometimes it works in stories and sometimes it does not. In this story, it works and the author gives such a brilliant and believable description of Kendra being pulled through time. For me that was pretty intense. I could almost feel the physical pain she was going through.

I really dig the premise of an FBI Agent traveling through time and ending up working a case of a 19th century murder that turns into much more. You also meet some other great characters that race to help her solve the crimes. For starters, Rose, Rebecca, Molly, Alec and Duke Aldridge are about the best written supporting characters I have read in a good while. Most of all I was so fascinated with Kendra’s process in trying to solve these murders and some of the other characters thought process. I believe Kendra really brought that out in them and she really got them to think outside their 19th century minds.

The killings are graphic, there is profanity in this story. Quite a bit of it in the beginning actually. I’m not one for profanity but I understand the scenario the author was portraying. Intense situations cause people to react in all kinds of ways. For many, profanity is one of them. Even though the killings are graphic, this gives you a real sense of what the victims are going through, which makes the story all the more intense. I think that was brilliantly done and gives you a real understanding of that type of evil in the world.

I found this story to be atmospheric, packed with lots of action, high-energy situations and such intense and real emotions. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it and I hope there will be a sequel! I’ve rated this book four and a half stars.

  • I really enjoyed this, though, it was a bit rough around the edges. 
Much of the dialogue I found unbelievable, however, the story was so well developed that I can not give this less than 4 stars. I was completely engaged and did not see the end coming. If McElwain can polish up some of the smaller details & continue developing this story there's no reason the rest of this series can't be 5 star reads.

  • A Murder in Time is a bit of a mess, as far as rating it on a stellar representation of Georgian England's time period, the manner of speech and the distinct class and gender divisions. The promise of time travel, too, proved one simple shift, with Kendra the FBI agent finding herself in a duke's castle in 1815 rather than the one she began with today.

However, it's a bit of improbable fun - when there is time travel, anything goes! Kendra blows into the household in a lady's maid costume, gradually being demoted as she proves her uselessness in the household. The old Duke finds her intriguing, this woman who shakes hands and treats everyone the same, and as luck would have it, a corpse is discovered.

The suspense is thick, Kendra's twenty first century verbal blunders are funny - especially those that the author herself misplaced- and all in all, I enjoyed this light, somewhat loopy crime novel.

  • Ok, I really enjoyed this book. I think it's my mood and I needed a good murder mystery - something to keep me guessing which this definitely did.

There were some cheesy parts here and there, but nothing I couldn't get over or that in anyway ruined the story for me.. Overall I found myself wanting to read the story, wanting to know what happened and rooting for the good guys.

I liked the end and personally I hope Kendra decides to stay in the past. She has lots to look forward to if she does. If I were her, that's what I would do. Especially since she's being hunted in the present!

I look forward to the next book...

  • Not going to lie, this book sounded a little weird to me…..FBI agent time travels back to Regency England to solve grizzly murder? It doesn’t quite sound like a novel that really makes sense but oddly enough it worked out really well.

I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did. There were aspects of the novel that I wasn’t a fan of, but on the whole I was actively engaged in the mystery and invested in the characters.

I think the biggest thing that I struggled with was the relationship between Kendra and Alec….while not entirely unlikely, I didn’t feel like there was any sexual tension or anything besides suspicion between them.

I hoped that there would have been more build up between them and I don’t know, just a more believable romance. Sure there was attraction but the focus of the book was the murder investigation and I didn’t feel like Alec and Kendra had enough one on one time throughout the novel to constitute the attraction they both felt.

The other thing that was a little annoying was I felt like I was constantly being told or reminded about aspects of the story. For example, the author frequently reminded the reader about the social standing of the characters, the psychological profile of the killer, and the fact that Kendra didn’t belong in that time period. Sometimes I felt like this slowed the story down but on the whole I got used to the writing style and just accepted it. It wasn’t so bad that I didn’t want to keep reading, I just noted that it wasn’t necessary to the flow of the story.

I loved how the author mixed past and present when it came to the investigation. I loved seeing how Kendra profiled the killer….while it wasn’t necessarily a ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ profile, it was entertaining nevertheless. I loved how the murder mystery unraveled and I loved how there were multiple suspects up until the end.

While this book had a few rough edges, in the end it was still a great read! I love how the ending left the reader wondering what would happen next and I am excited to read the next installment.

It was such better than I expected it to be, the merging of the two time periods was well done and the time travel element wasn’t the only focus of the novel. At it’s heart its a good old fashion murder mystery/whodunnit. I look forward to seeing what happens to Kendra in the next book…..I’m just upset that I need to wait until April 2017 to find out what happens next!

  • This was a little slow going in the beginning but once it picked up it was so easy to get caught up in the story and the murder mystery. 
I really liked the blend of both Kendra's modern world of being a profiler and her "new" world in the nineteenth century where profiler had yet to be a term or idea.
It was neat to see how the author took on the role of women in the nineteenth century with the role of women in our world today. Throw in an English setting and castements and this really was a fun and engaging read with just a touch of romance.

“* A Top 10 Pick for April by LibraryReads * ”
- LibraryReads

“The story is difficult to put down, and Kendra's character is well written. The romance―which both parties try to avoid―is believable. And Kendra's decision at the end is believable, as well. This is a great choice for a book club or for anyone who enjoys a mystery with many suspects and some heart-rending scenes.”
- Examiner

“This first novel is absolutely captivating and will appeal to readers of fiction, mystery, and romance. Expect to stay engaged until the final page. Author, a sequel, please!”
- Library Journal (starred review)

“A vivid setting, interesting characters, sustained suspense, and even a hint of romance make this thriller hard to put down for long...A Murder in Time is a very enjoyable read that paints a vivid picture of how remarkably the world has changed over the past 200 years.”
- Mystery Scene Magazine

“There's nothing old-fashioned about Julie McElwain's daring debut Murder in Time. As FBI agent Kendra Donovan navigates crime scenes from two hundred years in the past, it's hard not to root for her ingenuity and bravado. Who needs DNA to catch a killer? McElwain offers a wickedly entertaining tale of two worlds, combining Jane Austen-worthy intrigue with Alias-style action. This smart book is sure to hook readers from any era.”
- Erica Wright

“The time-travel element is believable enough to keep us going, and the story is solidly constructed. Overall it’s an entertaining genre-bender with a clever gimmick. The ending pretty much cries out for a sequel, too.”
- Booklist

“Julie McElwain writes like an angel, but it is a devil she chases through the halls of time in this edge-of-the-seat thriller. I was instantly engaged. This is a taut thriller written by a pro. Every page holds a new twist. Prepare for a sleepless night when you pick up this beauty.”
- Carolyn Haines, author of Bone to be Wild

“Pitting the skills of a twenty-first century FBI agent against the evil of a nineteenth century English murderer, this novel is a brilliantly imaginative and riveting read.”
- S. D. Sykes, author of Plague Land

“It’s amusing to watch Kendra pit her 21st-century knowledge, without the equipment, against the limited resources of the early 19th century. The parts in the past are interesting, full of tension and, even for this long book, a page-turner.”
- Historical Novels Society


Bloodline (Star Wars) - Claudia Gray

Bloodline (Star Wars) - Claudia Gray

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Star Wars: Lost Stars comes a thrilling novel set in the years before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“Unmissable . . . Bloodline’s tense politics, vivid new characters, and perfectly characterized Leia make it feel as central to the Star Wars universe as one of the films.”


When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.
Bloodline (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray download or read it online for free
Bloodline (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .




Praise for Bloodline

“[Claudia] Gray paints a much more complete galaxy than we often get to see on the big screen. . . . Knowing that Rian Johnson (writer, director of Star Wars: Episode VIII) had some creative input on the novel provides hope that we haven’t seen the last of all of these wonderful characters. . . . Star Wars: Bloodline isn’t just a great Star Wars book, or a great Leia book, or a great book; it’s a great introduction into the larger world of Star Wars in general.”

Bloodline is a nonstop page-turner that grabs at heartstrings that you weren’t aware of and yanks down on every one of them. The story is loaded with context for The Force Awakens that plants the seeds for The First Order in perfectly haunting ways, and leaves the reader grasping for more details on newly discovered favorite characters.”Inverse

George Orwell - Animal Farm

Although Orwell aims his satire at totalitarianism in all of its guises—communist, fascist, and capitalist—Animal Farm owes its structure largely to the events of the Russian Revolution as they unfolded between 1917 and 1944, when Orwell was writing the novella. Much of what happens in the novella symbolically parallels specific developments in the history of Russian communism, and several of the animal characters are based on either real participants in the Russian Revolution or amalgamations thereof. Due to the universal relevance of the novella’s themes, we don’t need to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Marxist Leninism or Russian history in order to appreciate Orwell’s satire of them. An acquaintance with certain facts from Russia’s past, however, can help us recognize the particularly biting quality of Orwell’s criticism (see Historical Background).
George Orwell - Animal Farm download for free or read it here online
George Orwell - Animal Farm
Because of Animal Farm’s parallels with the Russian Revolution, many readers have assumed that the novella’s central importance lies in its exposure and critique of a particular political philosophy and practice, Stalinism. In fact, however, Orwell intended to critique Stalinism as merely one instance of the broader social phenomenon of totalitarianism, which he saw at work throughout the world: in fascist Germany (under Adolf Hitler) and Spain (under Francisco Franco), in capitalist America, and in his native England, as well as in the Soviet Union. The broader applicability of the story manifests itself in details such as the plot’s setting—England. Other details refer to political movements in other countries as well. The animals’ song “Beasts of England,” for example, parodies the “Internationale,” the communist anthem written by the Paris Commune of 1871.

In order to lift his story out of the particularities of its Russian model and give it the universality befitting the importance of its message, Orwell turned to the two ancient and overlapping traditions of political fable and animal fable. Writers including Aesop (Fables), Jonathan Swift (especially in the Houyhnhnm section of Gulliver’s Travels), Bernard Mandeville (The Fable of the Bees), and Jean de La Fontaine (Fables) have long cloaked their analyses of contemporary society in such parables in order to portray the ills of society in more effective ways. Because of their indirect approach, fables have a strong tradition in societies that censor openly critical works: the writers of fables could often claim that their works were mere fantasies and thus attract audiences that they might not have reached otherwise. Moreover, by setting human problems in the animal kingdom, a writer can achieve the distance necessary to see the absurdity in much of human behavior—he or she can abstract a human situation into a clearly interpretable tale. By treating the development of totalitarian communism as a story taking place on a small scale, reducing the vast and complex history of the Russian Revolution to a short work describing talking animals on a single farm, Orwell is able to portray his subject in extremely simple symbolic terms, presenting the moral lessons of the story with maximum clarity, objectivity, concision, and force.

Old Major’s dream presents the animals with a vision of utopia, an ideal world. The “golden future time” that the song “Beasts of England” prophesies is one in which animals will no longer be subject to man’s cruel domination and will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors. The optimism of such lyrics as “Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown” and “Riches more than mind can picture” galvanizes the animals’ agitation, but unwavering belief in this lofty rhetoric, as soon becomes clear, prevents the common animals from realizing the gap between reality and their envisioned utopia.
By the end of the second chapter, the precise parallels between the Russian Revolution and the plot of Animal Farm have emerged more clearly. The Manor Farm represents Russia under the part-feudal, part-capitalist system of the tsars, with Mr. Jones standing in for the moping and negligent Tsar Nicholas II. Old Major serves both as Karl Marx, who first espoused the political philosophy behind communism, and as Vladimir Lenin, who effected this philosophy’s revolutionary expression. His speech to the other animals bears many similarities to Marx’s Communist Manifesto and to Lenin’s later writings in the same vein. The animals of the Manor Farm represent the workers and peasants of Russia, in whose name the Russian Revolution’s leaders first struggled. Boxer and Clover, in particular, embody the aspects of the working class that facilitate the participation of the working class in revolution: their capacity for hard work, loyalty to each other, and lack of clear philosophical direction opens them up to the more educated classes’ manipulation.
The pigs play the role of the intelligentsia, who organized and controlled the Russian Revolution. Squealer creates propaganda similar to that spread by revolutionaries via official organs such as the Communist Party newspaper Pravda. Moses embodies the Russian Orthodox Church, weakening the peasants’ sense of revolutionary outrage by promising a utopia in the afterlife; the beer-soaked bread that Mr. Jones feeds him represents the bribes with which the Romanov dynasty (in which Nicholas II was the last tsar) manipulated the church elders. Mollie represents the self-centered bourgeoisie: she devotes herself to the most likely suppliers of luxuries and comfort.

The animals’ original vision for their society stems from noble ideals. Orwell was a socialist himself and supported the creation of a government in which moral dignity and social equality would take precedence over selfish individual interests. The Russian revolutionaries began with such ideals as well; Marx certainly touted notions like these in his writings. On Animal Farm, however, as was the case in the Russian Revolution, power is quickly consolidated in the hands of those who devise, maintain, and participate in the running of society—the intelligentsia. This class of Russians and their allies quickly turned the Communist Party toward totalitarianism, an event mirrored in Animal Farm by the gradual assumption of power by the pigs. After Lenin’s seizure of power, Communist Party leaders began jockeying for position and power, each hoping to seize control after Lenin’s death. Snowball and Napoleon, whose power struggle develops fully in the next chapters, are based on two real Communist Party leaders: Snowball shares traits with the fiery, intelligent leader Leon Trotsky, while the lurking, subversive Napoleon has much in common with the later dictator Joseph Stalin.
Orwell’s descriptions in this chapter of the pre-Rebellion misery of the farm animals serve his critique of social inequality and the mistreatment of workers. They also make a pointed statement about humans’ abuse of animals. Indeed, the same impulse that led Orwell to sympathize with poor and oppressed human beings made him lament the cruelty that many human beings show toward other species. He got the idea for Animal Farm while watching a young boy whipping a cart-horse. His pity for the exploited horse reminded him of his sympathy for the exploited working class.
Orwell creates a particularly moving scene in portraying the animals’ efforts to obliterate the painful reminders of their maltreatment: this episode stands out from much of the rest of the novella in its richness of detail. In the attention to “the bits, the nose-rings, the dog-chains, the cruel knives,” and a whole host of other instruments of physical discipline, we see Orwell’s profound empathy with the lowest of the low, as well as his intense hatred for physical suffering and its destruction of dignity.