Book Review of Stephen King’s “Billy Summers” — Derek Barton – 2022

Billy Summers

by Stephen King — a Contemporary Fiction Novel

Released on August 3, 2021 — 528 pages

It’s been some time since I’ve done a book review, for that matter it’s been quite some time since I’ve read or listened to one on Audible! Anyway, I picked this up a few weeks ago, intrigued by the synopsis. See what you think…

The Synopsis:

From legendary storyteller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained” (The New York Times Book Review), comes a thrilling new novel about a good guy in a bad job.

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything.

This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.

You won’t put this story down, and you won’t forget Billy.

The Review:

Now for anyone who has read a few of my other book reviews, you know I hold Stephen King as one of the top echelon of modern day writers. He has been an inspiration to me ever since my teen years. Even up through today, he wows me with original stories like The Outsider and Mr. Mercedes (which inspired my own Elude Novel Series. That being said, I have to say I was underwhelmed with this novel.

I love the characters in it, the main ones Billy and Alice are a great pair and instantly feel like old friends to the reader. However, the story is all over the map, literally, and King seems to struggle with what to do with the main character. The first 240 pages could have been easily reduced or structured better to accomplish what he set out to do which was build up the main anti-hero Billy Summers and show you his vulnerability and his strengths. The book seems to really meander especially when Billy himself decides to fill up his days writing an autobiography of his own past while waiting for his target to come to town.

Don’t get me wrong — the autobiography is well done and even heartbreaking in places — but it doesn’t move the story along. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is a nice little tie-in to his The Shining novel storyline that is a special treat for diehard fans (us “nerds” in other words, LOL!).

The Rating:

I found this more like a great example of a character study (at least until Alice comes into the story exactly on page 240!). The pairing of Billy and Alice is the highlight of the novel and the true heart of this tale. I give it an overall B or 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it, but I would not say it’s a priority read for your reading list. If you have other “must reads”, put them first.

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), EVADE Series (Parts I, II & III)  & IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella (available on Audible.com!).  Also the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

Audible Book Review of Jessica Brody’s “Save The Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” — Derek Barton – 2020

STC

Save The Cat!

by Jessica Brody — a Writer’s Resource & Reference Guide

Released on October 9, 2018 — 311 pages

Narrated by Jessica Brody

So, one of my bi-monthly goals in June (as per the post, Looking Back & Looking Forward – Bi-Monthly Goals) was to read a writing craft reference book. This awesome book,Save The Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need is it. A fantastic guide on how to evolve your stories organically, captivate the reader with the pacing and structure, and how to win lifetime readers over with incredible themes and character arcs.

Originally Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need  written by Blake Snyder was developed as a way to help screenwriters. He found an almost universal pattern in every award-winning film. In his book, he shares his discovery and shows you the master template he crafted based on his findings.

Side note: The title Save the Cat! is a phrase pinpointing a decisive moment when the protagonist demonstrates that they are worth rooting for. Especially needed in cases of an anti-hero like Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones or Frank Castle of the Marvel Series, The Punisher. “It’s the scene where we [first] meet the hero”, in order to gain audience favor and support for the main character right from the start.

The Synopsis:

The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing.

Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story–from the opening image to the finale–this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate–and a novel that will sell.

The Review:

I found this book very well planned out and down-to-earth. She lays out this master template for you in simple and defined terms, but also how you can still follow the template without “the dreaded F word”… that F word being Formulaic!

Not only does she give multiple examples taken from great novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle to modern classics like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Misery by Stephen King, and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, she provides in depth analysis to show where theme and story are laced together seamlessly.

There are ten complete novel templates broken down defining each of the original Ten Story Genres (including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill)

Brody takes you through the Opening Image, making it hook your reader and keep them on the edge of their seats, to incorporating meaningful themes, then shaking things up with Debate and Catalyst moments in your stories.

Jbrody

The Narration:

Jessica Brody narrates her novel and brings a ton of energy and excitement, she WANTS you to hit the ground running!

Jessica Brody is the author of more than 20 books for teens, tweens, and adults including Sky Without Stars, Between Burning Worlds, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You Than Me, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the Unremembered trilogy.

She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants.

Her books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and several have been optioned for film and television.

The Rating:

In summary, I took a lot from this audio book even though I had heard some similar story structure techniques before. This book was different and impacting in an all new way — it showed how theme can be woven in and character growth is essential to the outline.

I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to any author, rookie or veteran! The master story template has been there right before our eyes all this time, but now it has been brought out in a clear and organized manner for all of us to craft our own unique worlds!

 

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), IN FOUR DAYS, EVADE series (Parts I & II).  Also Grim Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

Reviews of Audible Book AND 80s & 2019’s Movie Versions of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary — Derek Barton – 2019

PS VS PS

Pet Sematary

by Stephen King — Horror Novel

Released on November 14, 1983 — 561 pages

Narrated by Michael C. Hall (of the Dexter television series)

 

MOVIE ADAPTIONS:

1989 Pet Sematary — Screenplay written by Stephen King — Starring Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne & Denise Crosby

2019 Pet Sematary —  Screenplay written by Jeff Buhler — Starring Jason Clarke, John Lithgow & Amy Seimetz

 

This review post I wanted to do a little different as this book is one of my favorites from Stephen King and to some fans, the 1989 movie was one of the best movie renditions of his books.

Recently, King released a new audio version narrated by the talented Michael C. Hall who played the vigilante/serial killer on the HBO television hit, Dexter.  And this last April, the film reboot was made of Pet Sematary.  I felt it was fitting to give you a review of all three.

 

The Synopsis:

When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. As Louis is about to discover for himself sometimes, dead is better

 

PET SEMATARY (1989)

The Review:

I will admit right now that I am very biased about this film for three reasons:  One – the late Fred Gwynne did an absolute stellar performance as Jud Crandall, the well-meaning neighbor, two – Dale Midkiff who starred as Louis Creed, the patriarch of the family as he gives a very emotional performance through the film and three – Brad Greenquist who plays the ill-fated jogger, Victor Pascow, who tries time and time again to warn Louis of the supernatural dangers.

These memorable characters and the roles they played in this tragic tale just stick with you long after you’ve read and/or seen the movie.  Jud Crandall a lifetime resident of Maine, comes to life on the screen with his thick Northeastern accent (“Ayup”) and quirky sayings like “The heart of a man is stonier, Louis.” And of course, “Sometimes…dead is better!”.

Overall, I have found this movie aged very well with the retelling, most of the acting and the physical special effects.

 

PET SEMATARY (2019)

 

The Review:

I applaud the effort this reboot made to give some new insight to the reasons why the Micmac Indians burial ground “soured” and became tainted with ghastly evil.  The writers delved a tad deeper into “the Wendigo” creature that traveled between our realm and the realm of the dead.  They also played up the enchantment the land held over the local children — how they had funeral marches and maintained the Pet Sematary grounds.

The other highlight they accomplished was a better version of Churchill, the Creeds’ cat (as seen above). Its evil stare would for sure lock you in your tracks should you ever come across it on your path.

However, those are the only two highlights for this version.  Very poor writing (I even wondered at times if Jeff Buhler even read the original book) as the plot veers erratically and key conversations and events in the book are just haphazardly placed in the film at times.

Another knock against the film is the underuse of John Lithgow’s incredible acting talent. Also, they took away the Jud Crandall accent as well as most of his character building interactions with Louis.  Instead of trying to scare the audience with Zelda, Rachel Creed’s dead sister, they should have focused on what made the 89 film a classic: its character stories.

This version tried too hard to introduce its own vague ideas (I won’t go into any detailed spoilers) but the unnecessary jump scares and changes to plot points were beyond annoying and the ending was over-the-top and frankly dumb.

 

PS Narr

 

The Narration:

Michael C. Hall was born February 1, 1971, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Michael is a graduate of NYU’s Master of Fine Arts program in acting. He is known for the titular character “Dexter” in Dexter (2006) and as mortician “David Fisher” in Six Feet Under (2001). His most recent performance on Broadway was as “Hedwig” in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”.

Battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma during his run on Dexter, but the disease has been in remission since January, 2010.

 

Michael does a fantastic job of the voices and the pacing of the story, even channeling Fred Gwynne to perform the classic version of Jud Crandall.  Choosing this actor who has a way of delivering great sarcasm with subtly was a great choice for this story.

The Rating:

In summary, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the original book and the audio version.  As well I would recommend seeing the 1989 film as it brings King’s suspense and dark undertones to the screen, but don’t waste your time and money on the new 2019 Pet Sematary.  Hollywood’s attempt to reboot or “resurrect” this story was a dismal failure… Or as Jud Crandall would say, “Dead is better.”

 

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella and co-author of The Hidden (all available on Amazon & Kindle).  Also author of the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (also available on Audible.com!).

 

 

Audible Book Review of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” — Derek Barton – 2019

Am Gods #2

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman — a Contemporary Fantasy Novel

Released on June 19, 2001 — 674 pages

Narrated by Ron McLarty and a full ensemble cast

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

 

American Gods is now a STARZ Original Series produced by FremantleMedia North America starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, and Pablo Schreiber.

 

Am Gods #1

From watching the first episode of the television series, I was hooked on this story.  American Gods has become a classic tale and this novel highlights just how much Neil Gaiman is an innovative author and a dynamic storyteller.

One of his biggest strengths is his use of visual depictions.  He paints the scene so vividly in your mind, you can’t help but feel like you are standing in his story world.  This appeals a lot to me as this is the type of writer I aspire to be and have worked hard at refining my skills at imagery and visual writing.

 

The Synopsis:

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing — an epic war for the very soul of America — and that he is standing squarely in its path.

 

The Review:

As I stated above, I loved the writing style and his way with words to produce a play within your mind’s eye.

The story itself…well, I liked it, sort of… It is very unusual and at times wanders way left, then zigzags suddenly back to the right.  It keeps you engaged, but sometimes frustratingly confused for long periods.

While I was disappointed somewhat in the meandering plot, I did find that I loved the characters so much I had to continue forward to the end.  They were obviously very well thought through, fleshed out with tons of back story, and rich with flaws, strengths, and desires. He could challenge even Stephen King’s skills in making such memorable and deeply-moving characters.

I would definitely encourage every avid reader to give this story a welcome chance and experience the rollercoaster ride that American Gods is for themselves.  He didn’t leave a huge amount of loose ends at its conclusion and thus, has never written a sequel in the eighteen years since its original publication.  However, the television series could possibly prompt him to with the resurgence of interest in this storyline.

 

McLarty

The Narration:

Narrated by Ron McLarty and several other cast members.

A native of East Providence, RI–Ron McLarty is a veteran actor, accomplished playwright, prolific audiobook narrator, and acclaimed novelist.

McLarty is also noted for his body of work as one of the country’s leading audiobook narrators having done over 100 titles including the narration of books authored by Stephen King, David Baldacci, Anne Rice, Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, and Scott Turow, among many others. He is the recipient of numerous Audie Awards.

This is the first audiobook I have heard using more than two voice actors.  It was very well produced and the voices were not melodramatic or over-the-top as one might expect with such a fantasy tale about the gods that roam America.

 

The Rating:

In summary, I was not totally thrilled with the development of the story but definitely blown away by his characters and the writing of this novel.  I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND (but I did warn you of the “exotic” plot!).  I will definitely be checking out more of his work in the future!

 

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller),  & IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella (available on Audible.com!).  Also the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

 

 

Audible Book Review of James Patterson’s “Never Never” — Derek Barton – 2019

Extract-Never-Never-by-James-Patterson

Never Never

by James Patterson & Candice Fox — a Thriller-Suspense Mystery

Released on January 16, 2017 — 370 pages

Narrated by Fereday Holmes

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

I have a small confession: this is actually the first book I have read from James Patterson. I know that he is an extremely prolific writer, but until recently I just did not have the opportunity to read much. I still don’t, but that is the beauty and power of buying audiobooks.  It gives you the time to do other things like drive around for errands, vacuum the carpets, mop the floors, etc.  Anyway, I am really glad I got a chance to read this one.

 

The Synopsis:

Never…

assume you know someone. Harry Blue is the top sex crimes investigator in her department. She’s a seasoned pro who’s seen it all. But even she didn’t see this coming: her own brother arrested for the grisly murders of three beautiful young women.

Never…

accept a reassignment to the middle of nowhere “for your own good”. Harry’s been sent to a makeshift town in a desolate landscape – a world full of easy money, plenty of illegal ways to spend it, and a ragtag collection of transient characters who thrive on the fringes of society. A place where little grows but evil flourishes.

Never…

trust anyone. Looking into a seemingly simple missing persons case, Harry’s been assigned to a new “partner”. But is he actually meant to be a watchdog? Still reeling from the accusations against her brother, Harry can’t trust even her own instincts, which she’s never doubted…until now.

Never…

go anywhere without leaving a trace. Far from the world she knows and desperate to clear her brother’s name, Harry has to mine the dark secrets of her strange new home for answers to a deepening mystery – before she vanishes in a place where no one would ever think to look for her.

Never Never is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride with enough intrigue and suspense to keep you guessing until the final minute. You’ll never be able to turn it off.

The Review:

While I thought the hook of a sex crime detective not knowing her own brother was a serial killer was intriguing, the main story arch for the novel turned out pretty engaging as well.  The uranium mine setting was unique, but from other articles that I have read, the details of its size and population were farfetched and very inaccurate.

The story revolves mainly around the hard-as-nails female detective, Harriet Blue and how she perseveres with the stress of her brother being arrested then portrayed as a sexual serial killer all over the media.

While this should have been the main storyline, instead it is the story of her investigating missing miners in this uranium mine in the middle of nowhere.  I liked the storyline, but it did feel a little “bait-and-switch”.  Another complaint would be that it was never clear in my mind — the locale was not fully painted in my mind.

The characters are complex and varied.  Harry’s personality, though, was too mixed for me. One moment strong and feisty, next confused and weak.  I would like her depiction one way or the other. On top of it, she was a horrible judge of character ESPECIALLY FOR A DETECTIVE! HA!

Intense action sequences, good dialogue as well as some unpredictable plot twists certainly makes this a fun read.  I will be getting the next novel in the Harriet Blue Book Series.

 

The Narration:

Federay Holmes — Here I usually include a picture of the voice actor, however, there were none to be found anywhere on Amazon, Kindle, IMDB or Audible.com.  Not sure why no images exist.

Born in March 1968 in Australia as Sarah Federay Holmes.

She’s listed on IMDB.com as a bit role actress known for television shows New Tricks (2014), The Widower (2013), and Oranges and Sunshine (2010).

She did a great job on this project and her British accent definitely added to the Australian atmosphere of the novel.  I would say her performance is one of the main reasons I liked the novel. Ms. Holmes has over a dozen different novels to her credit including Me Without You, Like A House On Fire, and The Devil’s Staircase.

 

The Rating:

Some flaws which I am willing to overlook as I liked the story and characters and want to know just what is the story around brother… I would RECOMMEND this series starter novel.

 

By Derek Barton — Author of ELUDE:  PART ONE, ELUDE: PART TWO  (horror/crime thriller),  & In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella.   Also the Dark Fantasy novel series Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.

 

 

Audible Book Review of Stephen King’s “The Eyes of the Dragon” — Derek Barton – 2018

Eyes of the Dragon 2018

The Eyes of the Dragon

by Stephen King — a Fantasy Novel

Released on December 8, 1987 — 384 pages

Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

 

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

 

As I have stated in the past, Stephen King was and still is a big influence on my writing.  When he published a fantasy novel in the 80s, I had to read it as fantasy was also one of my favorite genres. I liked it, of course, back then, but I was only 17 at the time.  So, when I ran across the title a couple weeks ago, I found surprising that I could not remember anything about it.  I anxiously bought the audiobook as I had to see if the story still had the “same ol’ magic”.  Yeah, I know, pun and bad joke intended!

 

The Synopsis:

“Once, in a kingdom called Delain, there was a king with two sons….”

Thus begins one of the most unique tales that master storyteller Stephen King has ever written—a sprawling fantasy of dark magic and the struggle for absolute power that utterly transforms the destinies of two brothers born into royalty. Through this enthralling masterpiece of mythical adventure, intrigue, and terror, you will thrill to this unforgettable narrative filled with relentless, wicked enchantment, and the most terrible of secrets….

 

The Review:

One of the best things that King does in any of his novels is to draw you in by creating fascinating and yet relatable characters.  All of the story’s characters are very well developed and dynamic.  Many in the plot have their own agendas as well as their own drives.  The way he weaves the arch of the story at the same time illuminating the lives of the two princes keeps you glued to the intrigue that they find themselves caught up within.

There is a theory that all of Stephen King’s novels are connected in some fashion.  One of the more notable lynchpins is his infamous villain, Flagg.  Here he appears as the Court Wizard and King Roland’s closest counsel.  In the novel, The Stand, readers should recall in the post-apocalypse world, the evil entity known as Randall Flagg.  There is even a popular theory that the malicious, shape-changing clown in IT is really Flagg.  Just as Flagg did in these other stories, he creates blood-filled chaos and death wherever he treads.

The “hero’s journey” and the road to vindication that Prince Peter has to take is a great read and thrilling adventure.  And yes, there are horror elements in the tale and some dark parts that are classic Stephen King, but I did very much enjoy this fantasy tale once again and would highly recommend it.

 

The Narration:

Eyes of the Dragon Blog

Bronson Pinchot, a seasoned television and movie actor gives a fantastic rendition and his range of voices is very impressive.  The whispery voice of Flagg that he uses actually made goosebumps on my skin the first time I heard it, capturing the “seething evil under the surface” aspect of Flagg perfectly.

While widely known as the quirky actor from 80’s sitcom, Perfect Strangers, he has also gone on to do films (including a breakout performance as the psychotic Craig Toomy in the Stephen King film, The Langoliers) and several Broadway plays in New York City.

Other narrated books to his Pinchot’s credit are One Year After: A John Matherson Novel and The Extinction Cycle.

 

The Rating:

Five Stars as this story has intricate plotting, detailed characters, and exciting scenes (one of the best scenes especially is when Prince Thomas spies on his father when he is drunk and very enraged.  King Roland screams at the mounted trophy heads on his wall, screaming “WHY DO YOU STARE AT ME SO? WHY? I HAVE DONE THE BEST I CAN.”)  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

By Derek Barton — Author of Dark Fantasy novels: Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.  Also the author or In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella and the series Elude: Part One & Part Two (horror/crime thrillers)!!

 

 

 

Audible Book Review of Joe Hill’s “The Fireman” — Derek Barton – 2018

The_Fireman_US_cover

 

The Fireman by Joe Hill — a Post-Apocalyptic Novel

Released in May, 2016 — 768 pages — Narrated by Kate Mulgrew

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

The novel is a very unique take on the post-apocalyptic genre.  It is not the standard fare of zombies or survivors of a nuclear war — this is the tale of a band of people that live after a global pandemic virus has literally razed a good portion of society.

The Synopsis:

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else, it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

The Review:

I really enjoyed the book…at first…

The whole idea of this virus that is at once beautiful but terrifying is very intriguing.  The victims know that they are doomed yet there is an allure to the markings that resemble tattoos of black and gold.

It poses the question of what would you do?  Knowing that you are destined to die in a terrible flash of fiery death, putting everyone around you at risk as well:  would you kill yourself before combusting, would you run and hide in isolation, or would you go “out in a blaze of glory”?!

My complaint with this novel is that the plot is not focused.  The writer starts with the husband being the antagonist, then before the story sinks its teeth into it, the writer goes with another villain, the Cremation Squads.  These are men that have decided to cleanse the streets of infected in a vigilante-style of justice.

Harper finds safety, teamed up with The Fireman, an infected man who has some control of the virus.  He brings her to The Farm where he and other infected refugees find sanctuary in a cult-like compound.  Here again, Hill changes his mind and decides that the fanatical leaders of the cult are his true villains.

Finally, the story weaves itself back to the still psychotic husband.  Hill doesn’t seem to know who he wants to go after Harper or he doesn’t know which direction he wants to take the story.  In a post-apocalyptic world, you probably would have all sorts of villains and very few people to trust, but I felt that this story was too misguided.

It’s a true shame as he has some fantastic and intriguing characters.  The main character portrayed by the fantastic actress, Kate Mulgrew, is a heroic and yet humble woman who just wants to live long enough to give her baby a chance.

Like his father, STEPHEN KING, he has the great talent for creating memorable and remarkable characters, but until he finds a true focus for his stories, he is going to run into issues like The Fireman.

The Narration:

Kate M

Kate Mulgrew (born April 29, 1955) is an American actress. She is known for the roles of Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and Galina “Red” Reznikov on Orange Is the New Black. She first came to attention in the role of Mary Ryan on the daytime soap opera Ryan’s Hope. Mulgrew has won an Obie Award, and has received a Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award nomination. She is an active member of the Alzheimer’s Association National Advisory Council and the voice of Cleveland’s MetroHealth System.   –From Wikipedia

Mulgrew does a fantastic job of bringing the main character to life and keeps you immersed in this cruel new world.  And nothing is more funny than hearing Captain Janeway drop a few F-bombs!

 

The Rating:

Four Stars for the incredible characters and the creative new version of an apocalyptic world.  A good tale that needs better story control and focus.   RECOMMENDED (but with some warning!)

 

By Derek Barton — Author of ELUDE:   PART ONE (horror/crime), In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella.   Also the Dark Fantasy novel series Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.

 

Audible Book Review of Robert Jordan’s “The Eye of the World” — Derek Barton – 2018

Eye #1

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan — an Epic Medieval Fantasy Novel

Released in January 1990 — 702 pages — Michael Kramer & Kate Reading

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

This is the introduction novel into a vast and complex story told over fourteen novels (Yes, Fourteen!).  The central theme of the books revolves around three young boys who are destined to battle the devil-like, Shai’tan, in the oncoming Tarmon Gai’don, the “end of the world”.

The Synopsis:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

 

The Review:

Jordan’s world is extremely well-defined and this book is considered “High Fantasy” — defined as fantasy set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than “the real”, or “primary” world.  Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is considered one of the op High Fantasy works in literature.

The story starts out simple as it revolves around three farm boys:  Rand al’Thor,  Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara.  In a single night, their lives are torn apart and turned upside down by an attack on their village.  The boys are forced to leave with an Aes Sedai, a female mage known as Moiraine and her warrior-protector, Lan.

I found the tale very intriguing and exciting.   It kept me completely immersed in its world of dangers and unknowns.  The characters are extremely well-defined with complex motives and background.  At the end of the first book, The Eyes of the World, I bought the second novel because I was hooked and couldn’t wait to read more.  I am on Book Six now and, unfortunately, my interests have waned.

My complaint would be that there are too many characters, too much information and too often the names that are unpronounceable which makes them even harder to remember.  I don’t think I have the patience in me to get to Book Fourteen!

Now, I have fallen into the same trap in my own writing and have learned that readers simply do not want to work that hard to remember that much detail.  I found that I had the same issue with George R.R. Martin’s Songs of Ice series which I had to make an Excel Spreadsheet just to remember who was where and doing what!

Great storyline, great characters and a fantastic tale that is soon to be made into a television series —

“Sony will produce along with Red Eagle Entertainment and Radar Pictures. Rafe Judkins is attached to write and executive produce. Judkins previously worked on shows such as ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD,” the Netflix series “Hemlock Grove,” and the NBC series “Chuck.” Red Eagle partners Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon will executive produce along with Radar’s Ted Field and Mike Weber. Darren Lemke will also executive produce, with Jordan’s widow Harriet McDougal serving as consulting producer.” —Variety

 

The Narration:

Eye #2

Michael Kramer and Kate Reading do an incredible job at narrating this tale with all of its intricate dialogs, multiple characters (both human and humanoid) and alternate narrative voices depending on the gender of the Point-of-View of the chapter.  Kramer has received much praise for his narrations.  Even the Library Journal stating that Kramer reads “clearly and intensely”.

Kramer lives in Washington, D.C. area with his wife, Jennifer Mendenhall (aka Kate Reading), and their two children.   Kramer also works as an actor in the local theater.

The Rating:

Four Stars as the story is exceptional and embracing.  You care what happens next to each of the characters.  It has plenty of high-action scenes balanced with in-depth character development.  RECOMMENDED!

 

By Derek Barton — Author of Dark Fantasy novels: Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.  Also the author or In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella and Elude: Part One (horror/crime thriller) will be on sale by the end of 2018!

 

Audible Book Review of Stephen King’s “The Outsider” — Derek Barton – 2018

SK Outsider

The Outsider by Stephen King — a Supernatural/Horror/Murder Thriller

Released on May 22, 2018 — 576 pages — Narrated by William Patton

 

 

This is the first of my audiobook reviews.  I have been for over a year now getting audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

 

As one of my favorite authors of all-time, I have been anxious to get my hands on the latest novel by Stephen King called “The Outsider”.  I was not disappointed in this compelling and intense story of depraved violence committed in a small rural town in Oklahoma.  (Yes!  A story that takes place actually outside the state of Maine!)

 

The Synopsis:

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face?

 

The Review:

Back in 2014, King produced his first grim detective/horror novel, Mr. Mercedes.  Inspired by horrific true events, King crafted a tale revolving around a retired detective is drawn out by a relentless serial killer who plowed through a crowded line of pedestrians, killing eight people and evaded capture.

He continued the story in his follow-up novels, Finders Keepers and End of Watch which became The Hodges Trilogy (named for the main character Detective Bill Hodges).  The entire series was a fascinating tale of a cat-and-mouse hunt crafted as only Stephen King can.

While The Outsider is not directly related to the Hodges Trilogy, it is told in a similar vein.  A tale where supernatural horror is blended with a true crime atmosphere.  It explores the themes of vigilantism, police abuse of power and how the media itself can become judge and jury.

An added bonus to this incredible tale is the return of a fan-favorite character, Holly Gibney (assistant to retired Detective Bill Hodges).  She is drawn into the investigation and as per her usual, adds an unpredictable yet poignant, point of view.

 

The Narration:

Patton

Again using the connections to the original Hodges Trilogy, King taps on Will Patton to read his terrifying passages as he did with Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch.  Will Patton has just the right mix of southern twang and gravel in his voice to really bring this work to the next level.  Patton is a successful actor in movies like Armageddon, The Postman and The Punisher as well as recurring roles in the television series, Falling Skies and 24.

 

The Rating:

Five Stars as the story hits on every aspect of intense plotting, incredibly detailed characters and original, exciting scenes and locations.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

I am an avid fan of horror and a fan of gritty crime dramas so the new mix that King is experimenting with has brought to life a brand new genre in this classic tale along with King’s Hodges Trilogy.

 

 

By Derek Barton — Author of In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella, Dark Fantasy novels Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.  Elude: Part One (horror/crime thriller) will be on sale by the end of 2018!