My Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

16130549The day this book came out I heard a BBC Radio review of it. The reviewer ended her review stating that they believed that this book would hurt Stephen King’s reputation….well talk about a ruined day! I am always scared to read a new book from an author I love. What if it’s a complete dud and I hate it? It’s harder to remember a great passionate love for a book when you read a few that are total rubbish from the same author. Should it matter? No. Maybe not. But it does. Think about it…how many times have you said, “well, I used to love xxxxxx but I hate their later works, so I don’t even bother any more….Do you ever spend sleepless nights pondering all the great reads you might have missed just because of one bad book? Aw, co’mon….I’m the ONLY one??????? Psssffftttttttt……

So, anyway, I was hesitant now to start a book that I had *really* been looking forward to….all because I happened to hear a random stranger on the radio piss and moan about how boring this book was at parts….SERIOUSLY?????? I’ve been a Stephen King fan for over 25 years!!!! Yet, this random stranger made me doubt that love! This is why I avoid reviews (well, except for Muse Reviews….we offer only the BEST and most honest reviews EVER…no! REALLY we do!!!!)

Well, let me tell you, Doctor Sleep grabbed me from the very first paragraph and I tell you now….it had me by my throat and it did not let go until the very last….and I tell you now….I am still a bit breathless from the whole experience…..

However, that crazy woman from BBC Radio stayed close to my mind. As I read this book, I had to stop and think about Stephen King as well. Sure, there are one or two authors I follow because I have learned that I love just about everything they write….blog posts, reviews, epic novels, whatever…..but it’s not often that I am wondering what the hell is going on in their mind as they are writing the book I am reading…..I don’t mean, wondering how they ever came up with the story, or the wonderful characters….I was wondering what actual thoughts of failure or success SK was pondering. How was he able to put his own thoughts of what this book would mean to his readers and his career to the side and actually write this novel. What sort of discipline that must have taken!

With all the hoopla over this book, I know that SK has been a bit anxious about how it would be received. Any one of the dozens of interviews with him leading up to this novel will tell you he’s been nervous. Especially since “The Shining” is so well known……Why wouldn’t he be? Think about it……take a moment out of your busy day….go on then…..close your eyes……turn off that telly…..and think of one single word…just one…


What do you see? What do you feel? What do you know?

Stephen King did that! With a single word! How f**king brilliant is that? Seriously…..How many people in this life time get one word that instantly brings such a strong memory to you? ONE. SINGLE. WORD!!!!

So how do you top that? How many of King’s works have been pure and magical brilliance? How many have been…errrrr….rubbish? How does he handle that? Is he able to shut that off? At the end of this novel he puts the date of May 1, 2011 – July 17, 2012 as the dates this one was written….of course there is probably no way to measure just how many minutes, hours, days, even years that little Danny Torrance played in and out of King’s mind.

If you think “The Shining” scared you, well how do you reckon it has scared SK all these years? Who haunts him the most? Jack with his alcoholism that AA was not readily available to help him though. Especially knowing SK’s own battle with the disease…..Was it little Danny, aka “Doc”, whom was a victim by no fault of his own. Or is the complete success of “The Shining” itself that haunts him the most?

The fact that this book was so wonderful, well it’s just amazing. It wasn’t overdone. It wasn’t a rehash of the first book. Most importantly, it was so NOT a disappointment. It’s been a few days since I finished it and I am still thinking about it! I am still savoring bits and pieces in my mind. I wish I was STILL reading it!!!

SK did little Doc proud in this novel. He also makes amends to any wrong he might have inadvertently caused Jack Torrance in “The Shining”. Most importantly, for me, SK also manages to do what I love the very most from any author….he ends it in such a way that the reader can walk away with a smile on their face…or the story can be revisited years later….he leaves you, the reader, completely happy with a closure yet leaves a huge, elaborately carved thick wooden door there….it’s closed at the moment….there’s no way we can see beyond it….we don’t have the key to enter….and really…. it’s lovely to just look at….but….if by some chance…..SK decides to open it at a future date, we, the readers, will be thrilled to once again let him hold our hand and guide us through that magic that is contained within his mind that he sometimes shares with us…..just please….Someone! Anyone! Don’t forget the bloody torch! It can get scary sometimes where he leads us….and no way am I riding in a RV to get there either….just saying….

My Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

11084145Are you a fan of APPLE? Do you hate APPLE? Did you admire Steve Jobs? Did you hate Steve Jobs? No matter your answers, you *really* should read this book. There have been things about APPLE I always disliked. This book made me turn many of these things into things I no longer dislike, but also into things I now understand and yes, even admire. There was many many things I learned in here that I had no clue about. There is no way I think you can read this book and not just totally be in awe of Jobs. Yes, he was a total asshole. It’s also clear that he never made apologizes for this. He has some very obvious personal issues. Professional issues as well. What I never understood is what drove him. After reading this, I feel very sure that money was never a driving force in his life. Instead it was always his passions. His passions for PIXAR. His passion for APPLE. His passion to always be the best.

Read this book. I am not sure that I’ve ever read a book that showed a man with such passions. No, this book is not always a nice pretty picture of Jobs. In fact, at times you will think he is complete shit. You will hate him for how he treats his employees. You will marvel at how he justifies his backhanded business ethics. You will stare open-mouthed at his tantrums….but through it all, you can’t help but to marvel at the man. At all he accomplished. At how he never gave up, no matter who told him it couldn’t be done. You will marvel at how he pushes others into greatness. You will wish you could have experienced his “reality distortion field”. I also learned so much about APPLE…..I learned and now understand their “closed system” I used to really hate this about APPLE…now I am excited about it….You will understand why they really DID change the world that you and I now know. How many things that Jobs pushed that you don’t even realize…but things you would be hard pressed to do without.

I wish I had read this book years ago. I wish I had been an APPLE fanatic years ago. I wish I had bothered to learn more about Jobs before his passing. I wish everyone knew just what he did for APPLE. The story about APPLE that I really never knew when he came back to its helm.

Again, no matter what your feelings about the man or the company, this is a book worth reading. If you walk away not learning anything new….well, I would surprised. If you walk away without being a little bit awestruck with the man…well, I would be surprised.

Brilliant man…..there is no question….there will never be another like him….

and just one more thing…..

you shall be missed……you left your mark on us all, Steve…..job well done…..RIP…..

My Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

20170404I won’t lie. It took me a while to get into this novel but at the end of the day I have to say I really did enjoy it! I’ve heard a few friends mention that they didn’t care for it because they kept waiting for something to happen….maybe that’s why I did end up enjoying it so much…I finally stopped trying to figure out any surprises or to look for something to happen….let’s face it…the story itself is what is happening….from start to finish life and the end of life is happening….this is one of those rare books that you don’t have to look for the unexpected. You don’t have to follow a storyline of ups and downs…you just need to sit back and follow along in the life of the day of survivors of an epidemic that has wiped out the majority of Earth’s population.

However, if you think this is a novel about a post-apocalyptic world you would think wrong. This is a novel about what it means to be human. About what it means to remain human in the face of adversity…

I believe that with the success of this book that there will be a second novel….it would be wonderful if we are lucky enough for Mandel to grace us with another…I would love to hear more about Station Eleven. I would love for all the characters to meet up at some point…having said that, don’t go into this feeling you might be disappointed with a storyline that didn’t end….remember! This isn’t that type of book….

It’s well worth the investment of your time….

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

What is This Thing Called Life…

10659088_10152250479220064_2609910462906457939_o-2Another friend passed away today…That’s three in the last month…It’s really hitting me hard…

I’m not even that old…or at least I don’t think I am (only 46). One passing has really shook me up (they all have, don’t misunderstand me). I’ve sometimes found it difficult to sleep and when I do, the dreams aren’t always pleasant. It leaves me waking up feeling a bit hopeless.

Then I turn on the news…okay, I don’t actually turn on the telly and watch the news…so I lied…but I see the news on my Facebook feed…I see the alerts come across my phone…and I would have to live in a cave to not see all the wrong that is in the world…

I suddenly feel mortal. I am having a hard time of it. I am not in a good place. I love my husband. I love where I live. I love the people in my life. I know I am very lucky and fortunate. I’m okay with not having loads of money. And stuff (who am I kidding, I have tonnes of tarantulas and books…and jackets…I have more stuff than I will ever need). Really what I am saying is that I love my life. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not doing enough. Or that I shouldn’t feel secure. That it can all be gone in an instant…I would be lost without my husband…and I can’t stop thinking about mortality…if I am gone tomorrow who will remember me? What will it matter?

Then there is the whole public awareness thing…

Is it enough that I try to be a good and accepting person? That I try to not spread negativity.

It’s frustrating that no matter what opinion one voices this day that someone always takes it personally. That you can’t support one issue without someone else thinking you are anti the other side. Why can’t there be good and bad on all sides? Why can’t we pick and choose the good and try to rid the world of the bad? Why must one pick a side and in by doing so accept both the bad and the good? I want to reject the bad. I want to change things. I don’t want to fight. Except for good…Sigh…

I think I could get angry with myself for letting things beyond my control upset me…but then I feel at the exact same moment that if I don’t let these things bother and upset me that I am part of the problem…

So feeling like this (really, does it even matter what the issues are? Be it politics, equality, religion, racism, or whatever, it all boils down to the same problems) what’s the fucking point?

I warned you…I’m not in a good place right now…

Don’t worry, I shall carry on carrying on…I’m not depressed…I’m just despondent…which might even be worse in some ways…

I don’t even know what the point of this rambling is…I just am saddened that my mates are gone…and saddened that no one seems to get along these days…that we let issues that should pull us together to work as a whole to fix things we see wrong in the world, instead seems to just put more distance between us and tear us down…that we are so determined to defend our stance that we no longer seek a middle ground…humanity is losing…I know this can’t be true…there is so much good in the world…but lately…I just feel that humanity is losing…

What is the point I ask again? I know I am not the first person to feel this way…I know many more will feel this way long after I am gone…but it helps me naught…

I just keep climbing this mountain and I am waiting for the sun to show itself…afraid that I shall arrive at the other side and find it even more desolate…

Okay, enough for now…chin up…

as Scarlett O’Hara would say…

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

If you’re still reading this…thank you…much love to you xx

Carnival – The Best Time of the Year

14322646_10153725876690064_3529434382230669721_nWhat is it about carnival? Someone said it’s like a grown up’s Christmas….I can see how that can be said…However, I think it’s a bit more than that…Christmas often boils down to time spent with family…Carnival is time spent with community that is family!

I can’t tell you how many people I heard say, “Carnival is my favourite time of year!”. But why? It’s hard to put into words, but once you experience Pewsey Carnival there is no doubt that you’ll feel the same. The chill of upcoming autumn is in the air. The streets are decorated in lights. You can smell all the food…burgers, curries, chips and more…You can hear the Fair in the distance. Pewsey still has people who travel from all over the country to see carnival just because they grew up here. You’ll always hear at least one person afterwards in the pub that is still a wee bit shocked, confessing that it was their first carnival and they can’t believe it! How they now wish to move to Pewsey…ha!

It’s a time that you can put on a costume and be anyone you want to be. It’s also a time where you can take off your every day mask and be the person you are…

It’s amazing to me as an outsider to watch normally quiet people talking to everyone they see. To walk up time after time and hug and kiss each other. To see the Police Officers walking the street, not looking to intimidate, but just to be there to share a laugh and to offer assistance if need be. I love to watch the children’s faces as they look at all the flashing lights…and to have them come up shyly and ask a question….and then to become bold and ask a thousand more…It magical to watch everyone line the streets…from infants in prams all the way to their great great nans….

To be part of that crowd and to watch the participants all dancing, laughing and smiling is wonderful….we’re usually sat outside the pub and making way for the dozens of small children eager to get their pennies into the buckets of their favourite entry.

As part of the procession it is a totally different experience. The gathering at the Carnival field where the party truly starts….the last minute rushes to finish it off….You can see all of the smiling faces…you can hear the shouts of people calling out, “Well done” and “Over here”. You take a walk around and wonder at the imagination and hard work that everyone has put into their entries for the procession. All for the love of Carnival and community!

Once the procession starts, you can see the wide eyes of the children…the groups of teenagers running about, forgetting to act cool and indifferent…the adults acting as happy and carefree as children…you see the garden parties with dozens sat on garden chairs and having a laugh…you see the lines at the food trucks…you are surrounded by music…and you, yourself, are too happy to worry about tired feet or the stops and gos….you’ll try hard to figure out where that voice from crowd that is calling your name is coming from…you giggle at the children that are so excited that they don’t understand to save their pennies and hand them out one by one so they don’t run out too soon….you’ll make sure you bend down and get on their level so they can easily donate their pence…and then solemnly thank you for being so generous…and you’ll make sure to match their shy smiles as well…you gain a new respect for the older hands that are so eager to give to a great cause as well…

You realise just how wonderful Pewsey Carnival is for the community….you see the hard-working volunteers before and after….and you’re a bit amazed at how happy they are to be working so bloody hard for free….and then you realise that it’s not for free afterall….you see their payment is confidence in knowing they are such an important part…that Carnival wouldn’t exist without them…you see the laughs and the shared pride….it’s a payment that can’t be measured in coin…

You too feel the community pride and you think there is no better place to be in all the world….

Finally, on a more personal level, I often watch me husband and marvel at the man I am married to….we won’t go into all the hours he spend making our entry (if you really want to know about it, just ask him and you’re sure to get plenty of time wasted listening to him moan, but he actually loves it…both the moaning and the making)…what I’m talking about is all the fun he so obviously has being part of the community….the happiness upon his face when he sees old mates that he hadn’t seen in years…after, when the float is tucked safely away, and we make our way to village to the local, then on to the Cooper’s Field for the band…seeing all the people cut loose knowing that their job is well done. That this is the final time to cut loose until next year’s Carnival…I love to see the expressions on everyone’s face as they see someone who they “haven’t seen in ages”. First confusion, then disbelief, then finally, laughter and joy.

I love to hear the stories I’ve never heard before. To meet new people who have played such important parts in the lives of people I love. To hear the stories of Carnivals past and how it’s really much more than just a big party. Carnival means so much to so many simply because it’s where the happier times with family and friends took place. I doubt if there is anyone in all of Pewsey that doesn’t have some wonderful Carnival memory of someone no longer here. I hear me husband, his family and friends reminisce. The stories I hear of people I will sadly never meet…and to to meet the new people who I never knew existed that played such a big part in everyone’s lives…I can only marvel at what it was like to grow up with Carnival. To progress from that shy toddler trying to get someone’s attention to donate their pence…to that awkward teen trying to sneak in some extra fun thinking they are the first to do so…to finally becoming that adult that they are today, understanding that Carnival isn’t just about the party, it’s about the people….the community…

Carnival….Best time of the year….

My Review: Missing You by Harlan Coben

18114060OKAY!!!!!!!! LISTEN UP!!!!! YOU!!!!! YEA!!!! YOU!!!!! What are your plans for today? Well…whatever they are, forget them…ditch them….change them….You need to be first in line to buy this newest thriller from Harlan Coben…, seriously…I’m not kidding! This was a fantastic read!!!! I think it might be my favourite Coben yet, and I’ve been a mad fan for years!

Here we have a story about Kat….a NYPD detective. After a close friend signs up the single Kat for an online dating service, she stumbles across an old flame. This one simple act, combined with the imminent death of her father’s convicted killer sets Kat off to question events in her past that have always remained a mystery…to ask questions that might be best left unasked….to seek answers she might not be able to live with…..along this road of discovery she also stumbles upon a questionable missing persons case….and from there all hell breaks loose….

And that is all I am going to spill…..

This novel has lots of puzzle pieces for you to figure out. Although you are able to fit the pieces together, piece by piece, you’re still unsure of what the overall picture is….you’re also missing that one very important puzzle piece…..even when it’s all solved, you still won’t see everything until the last possible minute….that’s right….you need to read this one to the end…..and just listen up….it’s worth your time and your trouble…..this is a heart racing read…the further you read, the more your heart is going to race….near the end, you’re certain to be fighting yourself to slow down and actually read the pages and not just race ahead to see what happens….

This is a solid 5 star read for me….It might not be the best book I’ve read but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being the most suspenseful and exciting read of the year!

Have you cleared your calendar yet? Hurry up and read this one!

ARC provided by NetGallery for an honest review

My Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

17212231I made it all the way to 37% I deserve a medal…..

okay….I just can’t finish it….it started with this paragraph at about 12%

“She knew it was probably just the adrenaline, but she found herself strangely attracted to the American professor. In addition to his being handsome, he seemed to possess a sincerely good heart. In some distant, alternate life, Robert Langdon might even be someone she could be with.”

From then on all I could think of was what a complete sell out Dan Brown was. I mean, this isn’t even an original love twist…it’s so overused….so overdone. I made it all the way to 37% before I just am done…I’m over it…kaput…no more….

So far Langdon has escaped several assassination attempts. He has managed to escape several times from places that were inescapable. So we’re suppose to believe he is insanely clever, right? WRONG!!!!! When he meets up with a lady he met the night before (he has short-term amnesia …ufffta…. how very original) he has to ask her half a dozen times, “You did, I must have overlooked that” when she points out that they discussed it the night before. Hello! If you’re trying to act like you don’t have amnesia, don’t question every thing she tells you from the night before, moron!

I just can’t take it anymore….

I honestly feel that Brown has just totally sold himself out here….He has not only recycled generic writing themes, he has used boring, unimaginative ones to boot! At this point, I can’t help having visions of Harrison Ford (Indian Jones) and Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) running through my head. Where the hell is Robert Langdon? I just can’t picture him. There is no clear picture of him or his personality. How dare Dan Brown assume that everyone has read the previous books. As an author I would think that you can never assume that your reading audience has read your other books. This might be the very first time they have picked up one of your novels. Yet, Brown gives us no insight to who Langdon is. What makes him tick? There simply is no inner workings to his mind or his personality here. So very disappointed….I seriously wanted to finish this book, but I’ve been debating with myself the entire time from that stupid paragraph until now….I mean, seriously, I’m in the middle of a paragraph and ask myself, “Connie, how much longer are you going to go on with this rubbish?”….guess I finally answered myself….zipt…psssfffttt…done…. adios…..

**after thoughts**

After publishing this review, I was amazed at how many angry people on Goodreads decided to inform me that I had no right to review this book as I didn’t finish it. I disagree. I paid the same amount of money for this book as anyone who loved the novel. I’ve been accused of being a “Dan Brown Hater”, as if I have nothing better to be in life…all I can say is, like I stated before I have loved some of his books. I wouldn’t have spent $15 on a book I didn’t expect to love…and really, I don’t have to finish a rotten chicken dinner to know that it’s rancid and will leave me feeling queazy and unsatisfied…I didn’t need to finish this book just to prove a point…I knew I hated it soon after starting it, but I kept trying to work my through it to be fair…but once I find myself asking myself why over and over again, there really is no point to continue on….