Let me start by saying, I didn't read as many books as I would have liked this year. My Goodreads goal was 24 and I came in at 20. Pretty close, though. But of those 20, I do have a few favorites that stood out to me so I thought I would share them with you today. So, let's get into it, in no particular order and spoiler free, of course.
5. Origins by Dan Brown
I guess we'll start with the mainstream title. Ever since The DaVinci Code, the Robert Langdon books have been hit or miss with me. I didn't care too much for The Lost Symbol. Inferno was pretty entertaining but I felt as if these books were missing something the first two had. Angels & Demons and The DaVinci code made bold statements about religion and science. I felt that statement was lost on the others. Then enters Origin. I won't spoil anything about the ending but I will say Dan Brown explains religion and science in such a beautiful way which happens to mirror my own thoughts. Nothing might ever be as good as the first two but Origin sure as hell came close!
4. Brimstone Hustle by Robert McKinney
I discovered this book while browsing a self-publishing Sub-Reddit page. I'm glad I did. This book was a lot of fun to read. I won't sit here and tell you it was my favorite book of the year but it was a lot of fun. The plot centers around a woman who is able to "teleport" anywhere in the world she wants by taking shortcuts through Hell. The idea was original enough to catch my attention. Of course, she uses this power to get payback on an individual and I won't say much more than that. It's the first part in a series and I really should get down to reading the rest. My only complaint, which could be squashed with the sequels, is the power could be used for so much more than your regular thriller story. But still a fun read.
3. Glass Girl by Jessyca Thibault
Poetry is not something I normally read, however, I discovered Jessyca on Instagram a while back while she was doing a free promotion for her first book Doll Eyes. I found myself unable to stop reading and finished it in one sitting. Same with her follow up book Glass Girl. If you like poetry, you must give her series a try. I enjoyed them so much because it wasn't just a collection of poems but a window into the soul of another human being. It allowed me to take stock of things in my own life and try a new perspective. And with so many horrible things in this world and all the hate, opening your eyes to another person's experiences is something we need more of. And Jessyca does this well. She's a talented author with a bright future ahead of her!
2. The Ruins by Scott Smith
Although I didn't find this book as scary as many others have, I still enjoyed every second of it. A group of backpackers on a vacation in Mexico find themselves trapped on top of an ancient ruins site where the vines literally come to life and the locals won't let them leave. The book is dirty and visceral at times but for all the right reasons. I never looked at any character as heroic nor villainous. You could feel the desperation in every choice they made and you could almost feel the utter exhaustion they felt as well. A well crafted tale of horror.
1. The Resort by Bryce Gibson
It was a tough choice between this and Gibson's other thriller, The Reading Buddy. Both were excellent reads full of suspense and death. In the end, I had to give it to The Resort. There's not much I can say about this book without giving anything away. But I can tell you the main character Mackenzie Walker works on an island with his parents running a resort. When college students come for spring break and one of them winds up dead, Mackenzie gets pulled into a whirlwind of happenings and learns there's something terrible inhabiting the island. You'll have to read it for yourself to find out what it is. I promise, it's worth it.
Well, there you have it. My top 5 picks of the year. I definitely will be attempting to read more books next year than I did this time around. What were some of your favorite books? Have you read any on my list? Or do you plan to read any of these? Let me know in the comments below.
Recently, I finished reading the book The Ruins by Scott Smith. There was a movie made about ten years ago based on the novel but I had never watched it. So, I thought this would be one of those rare moments when I would get to read the book first and watch the movie second. I'm always finding out movies are based on books after I've already watched it. I figured I could drop my opinion on the book, the movie, and how they compare. Cause the internet doesn't have enough opinions about things already. And don't forget, there may be spoilers here. You've been warned.
First, let's start with the book. I actually loved it. It wasn't as scary as some have made it out to be. Don't get me wrong, if I was on a hill in Mexico with a sentient killer vine that could imitate noises, voices, and eat human flesh, I would pee my pants and let the Mayans guarding the place kill me. But reading about it wasn't as scary an experience as I thought it would be. I loved how dark and gritty the book was. No one came off as the hero. No one came off as better than anyone. They were all scared, they were all unsure of their actions. And yes, the book is graphic but not for the sake of shock. Instead, it's primal. You get the real sense that these people are trapped on the hill and you feel dirty yourself. It puts you in their shoes. You can feel the dirt and grime sticking to your skin. You can almost choke on the fumes from human waste. It's graphic but necessary to the story. And the ending was great. No one gets out alive. I couldn't imagine a better ending.
Alright, let's move on to the movie. It starts out with a woman all alone in a dark place. She's crying out for help when something drags her into the darkness. Then, cut to our main characters enjoying life in a Mexican beach resort. Everything moves pretty quickly. They decide to take a trip out to some Mayan ruins with a man they met about an hour ago. The quick pace is actually a good thing, though. We don't need a lot of build up. The movie is supposed to be about the ruins and the killer vines. Not college kids in a beach resort. Naturally, they get warned not to go there but they go anyway. The moment they see the ruins, everything happens fast. The Mayans guarding the place come out of the trees and yell at them. Once they touch the vines, they realize they aren't allowed to leave, thanks to the Mayans killing one of the group. The pacing of the movie is pretty fast without a lot of down time. Again, not complaining here. My one complaint is of the characters. They don't feel fleshed out or realistic. Just expendable kids on a summer vacation. In the end, one of them escapes. Not a fan of that ending for this particular story.
Last, let's examine how I feel about the movie when compared to the book. At first, it starts out almost exactly like the book. The Mexican resort, the meeting of Mathias, the Greeks and everything. Though, the movie version doesn't introduce the Greeks at all. They are nameless figures in the background. I understand books have more time to introduce characters but the movie doesn't even make an attempt at this. You would hardly even know they were Greek if not for a quick one line by another character as they walk up on the group at the beach. The group arriving at the ruins is relatively the same just much quicker. Again, this makes sense as the pacing of the movie was much faster than the book. Considering the book had over three hundred pages to tell the story and the movie only has about an hour and a half, it makes sense. So I understand the pacing. What's weird, though, is all the changes made to character's fates. For example, Dimitri (called Pablo for most of the book because they don't know his real name until later) gets killed by the Mayans in the movie and Mathias falls down the well and breaks his back. In the book, it's Dimitri(Pablo) who breaks his back and they care for him for most of the book before he dies. Of course, this change may have had to do with pacing so I understand. In the book, Eric gets infected with the vine and goes crazy, cutting himself to ribbons before stabbing Mathias in the heart by mistake. In the movie, they give that part to Stacy and let her kill her boyfriend Eric. Jeff dies in relatively the same way in the movie and the book. The Mayans take him our for trying to escape in the book whereas in the movie he's merely a distraction to allow Amy to make a run for it. And this is the change I hated the most. Amy gets away. She runs to the Jeep and drives off safely. In the book, Amy is choked to death by the vine in front of Jeff but it's too dark for him to see. He simply thinks she's puking. I prefer the books ending where no one makes it out alive. Of course, in both the book and the movie, the Greeks show up to the ruins in the end. This ending makes sense in the books because we just witnessed our entire group die with no hope of escape. Now, we know what's going to happen to the Greeks. They have no chance. But following the movie's ending, we see there is a chance. The Mayans can be outsmarted. In the book, stepping into the vines meant certain death one way or another. The movie misses that mark and gives us a hopeful ending. Personally, I like the darker ending but that's just me.
Have you read the book or seen the movie? How about both? Which did your prefer and why? Let me know in the comments below. And if you haven't seen the movie or read the book, you really should. I quite enjoyed them both.
If you've been keeping up with my blog (first of all thank you so much!) then you know I'm currently reading through The Dark Tower series by Stephen King for the first time. I took a bit of a break between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, parts IV and V respectively. Now, I'm back into them.
Currently, I'm a little ways into Wolves of the Calla Part V of the series. And wouldn't you know it? There's a cameo by good old Mr. Stephen King. I've made posts in the past like this before. Back in 2016 I mentioned how the first book The Gunslinger referenced the movie The Shining. I talked about what that meant for the universe. Read it here. In 2017, I talked about how part of Wizard and Glass made mention of The Stand. Check that out here.
Now, in Wolves of the Calla there's mention of a bookstore with an advertisement on a chalk board. Which author is featured on this chalkboard? None of than Stephen King. So, I'm confused. The universe where Jake and Eddie come from is the same universe as Stephen King and his books. Presumably, it's our universe as well. Stephen King exists in the universe where he invented things like The Shining, The Dark Tower, and The Stand. Do those books exists in this universe or is it some sort of weird parallel universe to ours where King is an author but some of his major books were never written, such as The Dark Tower series? Or, perhaps in this universe Stephen King has the ability to shine as well. Ugh!
My mind hurts thinking about this. But I must say, it's fun to think about. What do you think? Have you read The Dark Tower series? What do you think is going on? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading. As always, keep wandering. Just not alone.
No doubt, you have seen the movie Jaws. I mean, who hasn't? It's a classic movie with a concept that scared thousands of people out of the water. But, did you know it was based on a book? You did? Alright, well aren't you just so smart. Peter Benchley wrote the book Jaws and it was published in 1974. Clearly, I don't have to tell you how popular it became. But was the book any good? Well, yes and no. At least, in my opinion.
I read Jaws several years ago and have to say it completely captivated me. I finished it in one day. The characters were amazing and realistic. I actually found myself hating Hooper and Sheriff Brody's wife, Ellen. The thought of them in the book disgusted me. Which is an amazing testament to Mr. Benchley's writing style as he was able to evoke real emotion from me.
*Note, from here on out there will be spoilers for both the book and the movie. Swim at your own risk!*
I would highly recommend this book but suggest you read all the way up to the very end. Right up to when the shark attacks the Orca. Stop right there. Put the book down. And watch the end of the movie. That's where the book, at least for me, falls apart.
In the movie, there's the epic struggle with the shark as it destroys the boat and eats Quint, much like the book. However, Hooper was eaten by the shark the day before in the book. It's for the best. He was a dick. Of course, we all know Brody's famous line as he shoots the oxygen tank stuck in Jaw's jaws. (Was the shark named Jaws? I think someone should have named it Jaws. Makes sense to me) "Smile you son of..." KABOOM! Shark dead. Blood, guts, and blubbery debris rain down from the heavens. Cool, right? Well the book....well....it sucks. I just don't like it.
Quint's dead, Brody is floating on debris from the Orca. He peers into the water and sees the shark swimming towards him, mouth agape. He readies himself for death but suddenly....the shark dies. Yup. It. Just. Dies. You see, they had thrown several harpoons into the creature before hand and it only now succumbs to its wounds, just in time to not eat the main character.
Is it a more realistic ending? Yes. Is it an exciting one? No! To me, it felt like the author originally wrote an ending where Brody was eaten by the shark and continued on its way until it later died in the ocean, like many sharks before it. But then he had a change of heart and let Brody live. Which meant, having the shark die in the most anticlimactic way possible. Of course, the explosion wouldn't have been as impressive in the book but maybe we could have had something in between. You know, Brody jabs it in the eye for a final time with a spear and it dies. Would have been a lot better. For a book with so much built up conflict, it felt like the end puttered out. Ultimately, it was a great book but the ending was better in the movie.
What did you think? Did you read Jaws? Did you like the ending? Did you hate it? Let me know your feelings in the comments below! Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
As I've mentioned before, I'm currently reading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King for the first time. It's a fantastic series and I'm really finding myself drawn into the world of the Gunslinger and company. At the moment, I am reading The Dark Tower IV, Wizard and Glass. There are minor spoilers ahead so read at your own risk.
After our heroes get off their ride through Mid-World with Blaine the Mono (who is a pain and that's the truth) they find themselves in Kansas, our world. Except, it's not really our world. Instead, they have found themselves in our world ravaged by a plague that has wiped out much of humanity. A plague nick named Captain Trips. This is exciting! It means our ka-tet has entered the world of The Stand!
Of course, I haven't finished reading the book yet so I can't be sure of anything but as of right now I'm excited! This means Stu, Randall Flagg, the Trashcan Man, and others are all in the same world right now. Will we get a cross-over with Roland and company with the others? Unlikely. But it's still cool to think the characters in this series are in the same world as one of my all time favorite books. It makes me wonder, what other easter eggs are there in these books? How many other references are there to his other works? I'm going to read on to find out.
If you haven't read Stephen King's Dark Tower series, you really should. I'm loving it so far. Trust me, you will too! As always, thanks for reading!
Alright, I literally just finished this book and had to hop on here and review it right away. I absolutely loved The Waste Land by Stephen King, the third book in The Dark Tower series. Admittedly, it took me longer to read than it should, but that's OK. I was able to relish in the story and the amazing characters that King brought to the pages.
First, we have Eddie and Susannah back as integral characters that aren't just there to question the gunslinger at every turn. By the end of the book, they are becoming heroes in their own right. The chemistry between these two characters is amazing and believable. It's been a fun journey watching their relationship bloom.
Of course, Roland becomes more relatable and human. In the first book, Roland came off as an arrogant jerk and I could have cared less about him. A main character who would easily sacrifice an innocent life to further his seemingly unobtainable mission seemed terrible. But now, Roland has learned, has grown from his experiences and seems to have established friendships with these other characters. It makes me root for Roland and want him to win.
A beloved character comes back and it's amazing having them in this book. I won't mention who it is as to avoid spoilers. But I loved it.
Last we have Blaine and he is a pain. That's the truth. Blaine is probably the most terrifying adversary the ka-tet come across in this book. He can't simply be beaten with a gun or a fist. It's fun to see how these characters react to him. Especially heroes known as gunslingers. They must use their wits instead of just fists.
When it comes to the ending, I expected a cliff hanger as there are more books in the series. What I could not have predicted, however, was how effective of a cliff hanger King would leave. I want to grab the next book and start reading this very minute!
All in all, this book was great. It moved slow at some points, but that's OK. Still an amazing read that has me excited for the next. I want to learn more about this world and the tower. On a side note, I believe the monster's from Stephen King's The Mist to be the same as the creatures briefly seen in this novel.
If you're reading the Dark Tower series and haven't made it to this book yet, hurry up! You will love it!
Like most people, when I find an author that I really enjoy I tend to read their other books. If I really like them, and they are within the genre that I love, I will create a shelf for them on my Nook. There's the "big name" authors like Stephen King and Lee Child that I have created shelves for. Now, I am pleased to say I'm adding Amy Cross as well!
So, I just finished reading Amy Cross' 3am. I am honestly glad I did not read this book near that time. Every little noise would have made me paranoid. I'm still waiting to wake up then and hear a knock at my door!
If you like horror, pick up this book. It follows a woman's desperate search to find her aunt who went missing in an apartment complex in London known as Marshall Heights. Megan shows up at her aunt's flat to find out what may have happened to her. Not finding any trace of her, she stays in her aunt's flat. The property manager, Michael Powers, allows her to stay there but warns her to stay inside and asleep at 3am.
I don't want to give much of the plot away so if you want to know what happens next, pick up the book. It's a quick read and I believe it's only .99 on Kindle and Nook. Totally worth it! I loved this book and can't wait to jump into more of her work! It was creepy and suspenseful and I couldn't put it down.
Now that I've settled nicely into 2017, I thought I would take a look back at 2016 and think on some of the books I read last year, maybe talk about my favorites. I will admit, I didn't read nearly as many books as I should have last year. I set my goal on Goodreads to only 12, which I surpased by 1. I would like to do a lot more reading than that, of course. Any way, here are my favorite books from last year, in no particular order mind you.
1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Remember, these are not in any particular order. Having said that, I would say this was the best non-fiction book I read last year. It was fun an entertaining with just enough factual information to make you feel as if you learned something at the end. If you're not familiar with the book, it's a man's journey across the Appalachain Trail, which is a trail leading from Georgia to Maine and over 2,000 miles long. It's quite the accomplishment to hike its entirety. Bryson is accompanied by his buddy Katz who is overweight and a recovering alcholic. Despite some of the set backs, the two have a great time and enjoy their time on the trail. It's a great book for nature lovers and a great book for anyone interested in non-fiction.
2. Last Call by Sean Costello
I discovered a new favorite author last year. Sean Costello doesn't always follow the convential genres and writes either thriller novels or supernatural stories. It's nice to see an author break the known molds and give us more than one genre in their writing. His book Last Call was fantastic. It was a close race between this and his other book Squall. This ended up winning becuase the memorable characters. The killer was a psychotic and disgusting man whom you hated from the very start. The main character grows on you very quickly and you like her well before she gets caught up in anything. All you can do is sit there and beg the author not to hurt her while he takes you on a thrilling journey with an action packed ending. It was amazing to say the least. A book I will probably read again in the future.
3. The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
One of my all time favorite authors is Stephen King. I've been reading him since I was a young kid. I've always wanted to start his Dark Tower series and decided that last year was as good a time as any. The first didn't spark my interest as much as I had hoped but the second I just couldn't put down. It introduced more characters with plenty of depth and showed real suspense. I posted a blog with a full review if you're interested to read it there.
4. Compendium: A Horror Novelette by Roxie Prince
I "met" Roxie Prince through social media and decided to pick up her horror novelette. It was a short book, as the name suggests, and the reviews promised it was good. Let me tell you, they were right on! I enjoyed every single page. Even though the stories were short, you felt like you got to know several of the characters in them. You actually felt for them, you actually liked them. It's not easy for an author to make you love their characters in such a short amount of time. Then there were the stories themselves. They were different from anything else I had ever read before. In an age where zombies are everywhere (and I'm not complaining about that, really. I'm a big Walking Dead fan) you would think the monsters in this book would be dull and boring, being zombie like themselves. But that's not the case. These monsters are something more and very interesting and terrifying. You know what, you should just go read it for yourself.
5. The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher
This book had such an interesting concept. Basically, what would it have been like if the Nazis had won WWII? The Darkest Hour follows a police officer named Rossett who now works for the SS in the newly appointed "office of Jewish affairs". His job is to relocate Jews from their homes and board them on the trains. Rossett fought against the Germans in the war but when the Nazis won, he fell back in line and took orders. Since they were in charge, he took orders from them without question. Everything changes when he meets a young Jewish boy who was hidden in one of the houses he raided. Against his better judgement, he decides to rescue the boy and try to get him out of the country. I couldn't put this book down. The setting was amazing and the story was fantastic. Rossett was a character you hated from the beginning, knowing he was doing evil work for the Nazis. But as you learn his story and follow his journey you understand him and grow to love him. It was an exciting story and such a great historical twist!
Those were my top picks from last year. Did you read any of them? Have any thoughts on them? Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.
Recently, as of yesterday, I finished reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three. Thought I would post my thoughts about it. So, here it goes! I will make sure to keep it spoiler free as well.
This book was incredible! I was a little worried about the series after reading the first book, as it did not draw me in like I thought it would. The Drawing of the Three drew me in nicely, pun intended, and was gripping to the last page. I didn't read it as fast as I wanted to, with the holiday's getting in the way, but I never wanted to put the book down. Wanting to see what Roland, Eddie, and Odetta/Detta would do next.
The story was very exciting and the characters were interesting, unique, and believable. I found myself rooting for Eddie in the end, having been unsure if I would like him or not. He really grew as a character. Odetta/Detta walker was interesting, to say the least. I expected to want her to die, but now I feel as if she is going to have a huge role to play in the next books.
The Drawing of the Three has me excited to start reading the next book in the series, The Wastelands. I hope I like it just as much, if not more. Have you read The Dark Tower series? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on the books and as always, thanks for reading!
With The Dark Tower books by Stephen King finally being turned into a major motion picture, I thought it was time I dove into them. For years I wanted to read them and finally I am. In the second book, The Drawing of the Three, I came across an interesting easter egg that got my mind racing!
I'll make sure to keep it spoiler free for those of you who haven't read the series and are planning to. A character from a differen't world than The Gunslingers makes a reference to a very popular movie made by Stanley Kubrick. It was crazy because the particular movie he talks about is The Shining. That is, of course, a Stephen King novel!
What's the big deal with this? After all, King makes references to his other work all the time! 11/22/63 mentions Pennywise, The Dead Zone talks about Carrie's high school, and countless others. Well, this is different. Stephen King makes mention of the movie The Shining. This leads me to believe that Stephen King is alive and writing books in his particular universe!
Now, here's where I get a little confused. If Stephen King exists in the universe in which this particular character, Eddie, is from, does that mean Eddie is from our universe? Does that mean all of the other books King has written exists in their own universe? Is there a door in which Roland could step through and meet characters such as Johnny Smith, Carrie White, or even Christine?
And on a different note, from the first book, does that mean the boy Roland befriends is from our universe or King's? It seemed as if the boy comes from Eddies universe, which would be ours as well. When Roland stepped through that door he actually stepped into the real world, our world. The stories of The Shining are just books and movies. But the boy, Jake, is from the universe King created. That means he shares a world with Dale Barbara from Under the Dome and Danny Torrence from the Shining!
I'm sure this has all been talked about before. I'm a little late reading these books but I still found the concept fascinating. What about you? Have you read The Dark Tower books? What do you think about this shared universe concept? I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.