What’s Ashley Reading?: 1922

1922 by Stephen King

First line: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession.

Summary: In a short story by Stephen King we get a dark tale of murder on the Nebraska plains. Wilfred James lives on a farm in Nebraska with this wife and son. When his wife suggests that they sell the 100 acres she owns but it angers Wilfred. He does not want the land to be used as a pig farm. As his anger with her grows he starts to conceive of a plan to make his wife disappear.

My Thoughts: 1922 was the perfect start to my October TBR and Dia de los Muertos read-a-thon list. It was spooky and quick. I have driven many times through the farmland of Nebraska. The old farmhouses with acres of land as far as the eye can see. I could easily imagine Wilfred living on his farm, killing his wife and burying her in the well. And no one else around to even notice. Especially in 1922.

But then his wife begins to haunt him with her decaying body and the rats that are slowly eating away at her. Rats are terrifying on their own but imagining them eating a human body is a nightmare come to life. King does a great job bringing the eeriness to the story without out making it outlandish. The visions, smells and memories just add to the suspense.

Then mixed in with the terror that Wilfred is experiencing is the guilt and changes happening to his son. I was surprised with the way his story changed from the beginning till the end. It was heartbreaking to see but it definitely added another level to this short story.

FYI: This is originally part of Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of King’s short stories. It has also been made into a Netflix movie which I plan to watch real soon!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Later

Later by Stephen King

First line: I don’t like to start with an apology – there’s probably even a rule against it, like never ending a sentence with a preposition – but after reading over the thirty pages I’ve written so far, I feel like I have to.

Summary: Jamie Conklin was born with a gift. But not a gift he wants. He can see and talk to dead people. Only his mom and he know of this gift until she tells her friend, an NYPD detective, who then uses this information to help find a killer. Through his involvement in the case, he gets more than he expected.

My Thoughts: I loved this book! Think The Sixth Sense meets crime drama with a Stephen King twist. It is King at his best. He can fit such a great story into 250 pages. I was a little nervous starting this since I loved so many of this older books that it’s scary to start a new one, hoping that it lives up to its predecessors. Starting out I wasn’t sure where the story was going to take us. And that was perfect. I did not find it predictable or cliché. I enjoyed all the characters especially the professor who is like a father figure to Jamie.

I liked how King laid out his story. It starts with Jamie as a young boy, then as he grows up but he flashes farther forward and back to help explain events in Jaime’s life. Plus the layout also gives the reader the meaning behind the title. I knew that there was going to be a big showdown at the end which was just as great as the rest of the book. But King threw in one final twist that I did predict even though it seemed a little farfetched when I guessed it. But as I read it, I yelled out, “I knew it!” All around a fun, quick and spooky little book to read over the weekend.

FYI: Language, death, ghosts, murder and drug use.

What’s Ashley Reading?: ‘Salem’s Lot

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

First line: Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

Summary: Ben Mears decides to move back to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot in order to work on a book he has been writing. Upon returning to the Lot he sees that not much has changed in the small town. He sees that the Marsten House is still standing but when he tries to rent the old house he finds that it has recently been sold to a couple of antique dealers.

‘Salem’s Lot is a small town that notices when new residents move to town. And then when suspicious events start to affect the town’s people they are the first ones people look at. What is going on in this small Maine town? And who is behind it all?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book but it was not my favorite King novel. I liked the premise and the ending was really fast paced and fun but the beginning was a little slow as we got to know the town and the characters. And maybe part of it was that I had an idea of what may be coming from watching Castle Rock on Hulu.

I really liked the character, Mark. He is a young boy with lots of knowledge about what is happening in the town. He seems to be able to handle anything that is thrown at him. A tough boy for sure! I was definitely rooting for him the whole time.

I liked the ending. It was much better than the 2004 movie adaptation. I watched it but didn’t have high hopes because King’s novels never seem to be translated on to the screen well with the exception of Carrie and Doctor Sleep.

This would be a good novel to read around Halloween. It has lots of spooks and scares. And maybe leave the lights on!

FYI: I would highly recommend Pet Semetary for another Halloween read!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Shining

The Shining by Stephen King

First line: Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.

Summary: When Jack Torrance gets the job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel it seems to be a dream. A gorgeous hotel with few distractions where he can finally finish his play. However, when the Torrance family move into the famed lodging they begin to notice that something is wrong with this place, especially their son, Danny.

Danny has always had a knack for knowing things no one else does. But life at the Overlook is more eerie than anything he has encountered in his five years. As the months pass while in isolation in the mountains of Colorado the Torrance family are finding out that the Overlook wants more from them then care taking.

My Thoughts: This is probably King’s most well-known novels. I read it several years ago and enjoyed it but I thought it needed a reread after reading the sequel, Doctor Sleep, this last fall. It was well worth it. I had forgotten many of the events of the book and how scary the story truly is. I really wish that they could make this into a movie or miniseries that would do the story justice. I think my favorite and the scariest scenes were the hedge animals. I do not think I will be able to look at any again without worrying about them coming after me.

And this is maybe a perfection book for quarantine. The Torrance family is isolated like many of us are in these uncertain times. It can be terrifying. King’s novel is one that will suck the reader in and make it easy to let the hours fly by.

FYI: After finishing definitely check out the movie starring Jack Nicholson.

*This is my pick for category #6 (A book that has been (or is being) adapted to the screen) for the ReadICT challenge.*

What’s Ashley Reading?: Gwendy’s Button Box

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

First line: There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.

Summary: Gwendy is a twelve year old girl from the town of Castle Rock. One day while running up the stairs to Castle View she is stopped by a gentleman in a black hat. During their conversation he gives her a box. The box has buttons. Some are harmless but others are not. He tells her that the box is her responsibility and to keep it secret. As the years go by Gwendy notices changes in herself and the world she lives in. Is it the box? And what price does she have to pay for its gifts?

My Thoughts: I had no idea what I was getting in to when I started this book. It seemed to walk the line between a sweet little story and a nightmare. I listened to the audiobook while cross stitching on a Sunday morning. I was completely engrossed in the story. I even gasped and set my stitching down at several points so that I could focus on the story.

When Gwendy first gets the box it appears to be a dream come true. The box spits out silver dollars and chocolates that suppress cravings. Everything in her life starts going better. What’s not to like? But when she starts getting curious about the other buttons I knew something bad was coming. Books like this show how great of a writer Stephen King truly is. He can mix the genres and write an excellent story in less than 200 pages.

FYI: There is a sequel written by the co-author called Gwendy’s Magic Feather.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Elevation

Elevation by Stephen King

First line: Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.

Summary: One day Scott Carey noticed that he was losing weight but that his body was not changing. Each day brought on another weight loss. Even when he was holding something the weight was the same or less each day. There is no explanation for this strange occurrence. He has no interest in being a science experiment.

And this is not the only troubling part of Scott’s life. He has a small feud with his neighbors. They keep letting their dogs use his yard as a bathroom. While Scott tries to mend fences he learns that sometimes it takes more than just a kind word or an apology.

My Thoughts: This is such a sweet little book. The story is creative and uplifting. It is unlike most of King’s other works. It shows that he has a range of talents in writing. I sped through it in just a few hours. At the end I had to sit and reflect on the story for a bit to completely appreciate the story. I was not sure how it was going to end. I was a little shocked, saddened and happy with the ending. It was not what I was expecting at all.

I loved how the relationships changed in the story. How the characters evolved as the tale progressed even changing their prejudices. This is a wonderful read for anyone who likes a good story. If you need a quick book to finish off your reading goal for 2019 this should be it!

FYI: No ghosts, horror or mad dogs.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

First line: On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.

Summary: Danny Torrance was five years old when his life changed. He has spent years trying to hold back the psychic power called “the shining”. Many of those years were spent as a drunk barely surviving as he drifted from place to place until he stops in a small New Hampshire town. He receives a chance by several local men, giving him a new lease on life. As he cleans up his life he finds his purpose in live, working at a hospice, helping the patients pass on earning the nickname Doctor Sleep by the staff.

But when he starts to receive messages from a little girl who also has “the shining” he finds his world once again turned upside down. As he and Abra learn more about this mysterious group of nomads looking for people like them, they have to figure out how to stop them once and for all.

My Thoughts: I love this book! It is completely gripping from the very beginning. We all know the story of the The Shining. It is one of Stephen King’s most famous novels. This is the continuation of that and it does not disappoint. I read this while tightly gripping the pages. With every page things went from bad to worse.

King does an amazing job providing imagery for his readers. I could easily picture the ghostie in the bathroom, Rose the Hat and Teenytown. He can build a story slowly but make it so engrossing that you cannot stop reading.

I enjoyed finding out what happened to Danny after the events in Colorado. I felt for him as he tried to quiet his demons. I loved his interactions with the patients at the hospice. There were several twists that I never saw coming and I literally gasped as I read them. This book will leave you on the edge of your seat and keep you wanting more.

FYI: Now a movie starring Ewan McGregor! I cannot wait to see it.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

First line: Louis Creed, who had lost his father at three and who had never known a grandfather, never expected to find a father as he entered his middle age, but that is exactly what happened…although he called this man a friend, as a grown man must do when he finds the man who should have been his father relatively late in life.

Summary: Dr. Louis Creed takes a job as the resident physician at a college in Maine. He moves his family from their home in Chicago to a farm house in the country. Upon their first day there they are warned about the trucks that drive too fast down the road. As strange things start to happen that may be connected to the Pet Sematary located behind their house, Louis begins to wonder if he made a mistake bringing his family to Ludlow, Maine.

My Thoughts: I have been on a big Stephen King kick lately. It is all I want to read. Before October I had only read two of his novels. Both were good, Joyland and The Shining, but neither gave me the urge to read more. However, for the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon at the library I picked Carrie for my horror novel. I am so glad I did. It was fantastic! I watched the movie after and really enjoyed it as well.

Pet Sematary was even more chilling. The way King describes everything makes them seem so real. I can see why the movies have not been able to do this novel justice. There is no way to convey the eeriness of the Church or the spooky trek through the woods to the burial ground. I did find the beginning slow as he was laying the groundwork for the second half. But as you come to the end you understand why he had to spend so much time on the backstory. I had nightmares while reading this but it did not stop me from buying a copy of Doctor Sleep and Misery the next time I was at a used bookstore. If you want something that will give you chills then King is definitely your guy!

FYI: I tried the new movie but I did not make it very far before I decided I did not want to mess with the version in my head.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Three

Week three of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is behind us and I still have 4 books to finish! Up until this week I was able to finish three books a week but this week had a really long book. It is taking me longer than anticipated. How is everyone else coming along?

Of the two books I finished I really enjoyed both of them. Below I attached my review for the new Elton John autobiography, Me. But I also read Carrie by Stephen King. I have never seen the movie but I had a basic understanding of the story line. I was shocked by how much I liked it. If you want to read my review sign up for our monthly newsletter. It will be in the November 2019 issue.

Me by Elton John

First line: I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.

Summary: In his autobiography, Elton John takes us through his life from his childhood as Reginald Dwight to his life with his husband David. He gives us a look into the world of a rock star. He is very honest about his drug usage and other addictions. He discusses his friendships with other musical legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and even Lady Gaga. After years of pain and loneliness he decides that he has had enough of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and enters rehab and starts his own charities for AIDS relief.

My Thoughts: I loved this book! And look at that cover! Gorgeous. First of all I listened to the audio book version which is read by Taron Egerton, who played Elton in the biopic, Rocketman, released earlier this year .

I found Elton’s life to be unbelievable. He knows everyone. He has done so much. I loved how honest he was about his struggles. He took every drug known to man. He tried to commit suicide several times. I cannot imagine living his life and coming out of it okay. He does though. He survived stuff that would have ruined many others and did. But he is still standing. He has met the love of his life, has two beautiful boys and tries to help others around the world.

I learned a lot about him. And I found him even more interesting than I did before. He is currently doing his final tour and I wish that I could see him in concert. My parents did in 1984 in Tacoma, Washington. I am super jealous. Oh well I will just watch concerts on Youtube and rewatch Rocketman again.

FYI: I highly recommend the audio version but also grab a copy of the book so you can see the pictures!