Journey of the Constant Reader

Journey of the Constant Reader


After much procrastination, I have finally decided to earn my place in the Stephen King fandom.

I went on a hunt through my digital archives and made a note of all the Stephen King ebooks I have. Then I made a visit to Mr. King’s wikipedia page and wrote down a list of all the novels, short story collections and non-fiction books he’s written. A grand total of 71. (I haven’t included the individual writings published in collaboration with others or co-written pieces, though I will get to them eventually)

Novels

  1.  Carrie [1974]
  2. ‘Salem’s Lot [1975]
  3. The Shining [1977]
  4. Rage [1977]
  5. The Stand [1978]
  6. The Long Walk [1979]
  7. The Dead Zone [1979]
  8. Firestarter [1980]
  9. Roadwork [1981]
  10. Cujo [1981]
  11. The Running Man [1982]
  12. The Dark Tower : The Gunslinger [1982]
  13. Christine [1983]
  14. Pet Semetary [1983]
  15. Cycle of the Wereworlf [1983]
  16. The Talisman [1984]
  17. Thinner [1984]
  18. IT [1986]
  19. The Eyes of the Dragon [1987]
  20. The Dark Tower II : The Drawing of the Three [1987]
  21. Misery [1987]
  22. The Tommyknockers [1987]
  23. The Dark Half [1989]
  24. The Dark Tower III : The Wastelands [1991]
  25. Needful Things [1991]
  26. Gerald’s Game [1992]
  27. Dolores Claireborne [1992]
  28. Insomnia [1994]
  29. Rose Madder [1995]
  30. The Green Mile [1996]
  31. Desperation [1996]
  32. The Regulators [1996]
  33. The Dark Tower IV : Wizard & Glass [1997]
  34. Bag of Bones [1998]
  35. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon [1999]
  36. The Plant [2000]
  37. The Dreamcatcher [2001]
  38. Black House [2001]
  39. From a Buick 8 [2002]
  40. The Dark Tower V : Wolves of the Calla [2003]
  41. The Dark Tower VI : Song of Susannah [2004]
  42. The Dark Tower VII : The Dark Tower [2004]
  43. The Colorado Kid [2005]
  44. Cell [2006]
  45. Lisey’s Story [2006]
  46. Blaze [2007]
  47. Duma Key [2008]
  48. Under the Dome [2009]
  49. 11/22/63 [2011]
  50. The Dark Tower : The Wind Through the Keyhole [2012]
  51. Joyland [2013]
  52. Doctor Sleep [2013]
  53. Mr. Meredes [2014]
  54. Revival [2014]
  55. Finders Keepers [2015]
  56. End of Watch [2016]

 

Collections

  1. Night Shift [1978]
  2. Different Seasons [1982]
  3. Skeleton Crew [1985]
  4. Four Past Midnight [1990]
  5. Nightmares & Dreamscapes [1993]
  6. Hearts in Atlantis [1999]
  7. Everything’s Eventual [2002]
  8. Just After Sunset [2008]
  9. Full Dark, No Stars [2010]
  10. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams [2015]

Non Fiction

  1. Danse Macabre [1981]
  2. Nightmares in the Sky [1988]
  3. On Writing : A Memoir on the Craft [2000]
  4. Secret Windows : Essays & Fiction [2000]
  5. Faithful [2005]

This is going to be my reading list for the next who knows how long. (Let me know if I missed anything) This has a lot to do with the “All Hail The King” Nocturnal Reader’s Box I recieved a few weeks ago which included a lot of amazing King items including the absolutely GORGEOUS Constant Reader pin with a signature of Sai King. 


Now in my opinion that is something so precious that it has to be earned after a long and mentally exhausting journey through the King Universe. SO I’m taking the plunge. Wish me luck.  Long days and pleasant nights.

 

Review: Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

Review: Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

Figure It Out for Yourself
Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Rating: 3.75
Opening Sentence: One hot June afternoon I was witting in my office at peace with the world, and conscious that the world was, for a change, at peace with me, when Paula put her dark, lovely head around the door to shatter my pipe dream.

What it’s about: Vic Malloy had his life saved on a job and promises the man his services for free anytime he needs it. A few days later the man gets framed for murder and Vic finds himself in the middle of a strange and multi-layered plot with shady players at every turn.

This was fun. It felt like the perfect example of a classic Chase book where the plot keeps you on edge and guessing and you still don’t get all the facts right. The one thing this book can’t be accused of is having weak female characters. Every character felt grounded and forceful. Each had a stronghold and played their part well. The fact that Vic Malloy didn’t sleep with any of them pushes my admiration for both the women and Malloy himself further.
According to Goodreads this is the 2nd Vic Malloy book which is good because this is a character I would like to see again. I don’t know exactly what he really does, for the sake of this story we can say he was an amateur detective, I have the feeling he does whatever you ask of him. Also I really liked his train of thought. He thinks funny, for example:

The bell sounded shrill and urgent and startled me, probably because, up to now, the cabin had been as still and as silent as a poor relation at a wedding.

Kerman and I spent hours at Police Headquarters being questioned and cross-questioned by a furious, purple-faced fist-pounding Brandon and later by two quiet Federal agents who took us apart, laid us on the desk, poked us about with long inquisitive fingers, and weren’t over-fussy how they put us together again.

My yells for help would be as futile as a short-tempered man trying to slam a revolving door.

That last one really had me laughing when I imagined it. Vic had a way of stating things that made me glad to be in his head. Apart from which his assistants, Paula and Kerman, were also good for giving out a few laughs.
One random thing I am beginning to notice from my month of reading James Hadley Chase novels is that everyone smokes in his stories. It’s not even questioned. Any time two characters sit down together, male or female, they share a cigarette with each other without hesitation. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. People aren’t that cool anymore. Wish they were.

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Review: Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

Review: Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

Lady--Here's Your Wreath
Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: The boys, who had come to see Vessi die, were lined up before the bar.

Reporter Nick Mason gets offered ten thousand dollars by a mysterious voice on the phone to break open the case of the death of Richmond for whom the wrong guy has been framed. Reluctantly, but with ever increasing curiosity Mason finds himself being sucked into a multi-layered plot with dangerously colorful characters and dangers bigger than he was counting on.

Now this was fun. This was more like the James Hadley Chase I knew who knows how to spin a yarn that can have you confused and curious. Thank the Lord that the female characters in this book have more of a spine than the last couple of Chase novels I read. And no cringe-worthy cliches and dialogues from a demented villain in a wingback chair stroking a cat. Because that has happened in a Chase book before. Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t see the twist coming, and yet still enjoyed it when it came. There were times when I thought the main character seemed to be getting out of situations a lot easier than he should have. There were literally scenarios where he could have died that he casually walked away from. Not even ran away, walked away. Then again maybe because in the context of the story, he was never really a big player, just a nosy one.

What I liked:
Stronger female characters than I’m used to in Chase books
Lack of cliche dialogues
Lack of heroics from the main character, which makes him seem more human
An ending I actually agreed with.

What I didn’t like:
Dangerous scenarios that the protagonist literally walks out of unharmed.
The protagonist, who is supposed to be a writer by profession, seems to lack articulation when talking or thinking. Everything good is “swell” and all women are “dames” and nothing about him seems to indicate he makes his living with words
There seems to be a willingness to be blind to certain odd things happening right in front of the main character’s eyes.

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Review: The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase 

Review: The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase 

The Whiff of Money
The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: On this brilliantly sunny May morning, Paris was looking at it’s best.

Mark Girland is an ex CIA agent living is Paris who is hired to find the daughter of the future president of the United States and the 3 blue films she made, and to get the situation under control before they fall into the wrong hands and destroy the reputation of the candidate. ( This was back when scandalous and shameful information could actually stop someone from becoming the president of the United States.) Trouble was there were other people who were after the films (and the girl). People like the Russian Secret Service and a gang of very ruthless, very brutal, very determined international operators.

You can’t win em all. This was one of James Hadley Chase’s weaker works. There was too much male posturing and hubris for there to be any realistic substance to the story. First off, we’re talking about the CIA and the Russian Secret Service, and these people are portrayed as mostly stupid individuals with a lot of pride and ego. The protagonist was also barely believable. He felt more like the manifestation of a male fantasy to have a well-paying secretive job where you make all the right moves and make everyone else look dumb, and sleep with a lot of women. Speaking of which, the women characters in the book were annoying at best, and extremely dumb at worst. Their only role seemed to be that off air-headed dolls who jump into bed with everyone. There’s also the case of physical abuse. There seems to be a lot of that going on. It’s not even an issue, that’s how casually its mentioned. It’s normal for them to get smacked around for as little as not answering a question. That really didn’t sit well with me and had me disgusted with the whole story. Despite the fact that there were times I wanted to smack Gillian Sherman, the girl who the whole commotion is about, myself. As stupid as they come.
There were a lot of references to other Chase books throughout the story. The character of Herman Radnitz, who I have just been familiarized with in my previous Chase read,”You’re Dead Without Money”, is increasingly interesting and I am looking forward to seeing him again.
The other references made were to ‘Have This One On Me”, “This Is For Real” and “Believed Violent”.

There was little I liked about this so it seems unfair to list things I didn’t.

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Review: You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase 

Review: You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase 

You're Dead Without Money
You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My Rating: 2.5 Stars
Opening Sentence: With the temperature down to sub-zero and snow piling up on the sidewalks to me New York had become a hole in the head.

The story starts off with 3 small time thieves, sweet little Cindy, her father Joey and her boyfriend Vin, who decide to play it big and kidnap an actor, Don Elliot, for ransom. Ironically the actor they kidnapped was out of work, broke, facing crushing debts and on the verge of committing suicide to avoid his financial obligations. This results in the trio becoming a quartet in crime who plan a heist to steal a bunch of stamps valued at a million dollars. Since there are trust issues within the bunch and unknown outside forces at play for the stamps for reasons other than their financial value, there is so much potential for things to go wrong.
I enjoy a good heist story, especially if I like at least some of the characters. In this case I blew hot and cold towards them but still found them pretty likable in the long run. The story felt like more classic Chase, with a few nice curve-balls. The ending though will not be to everyone’s taste. It certainly wasn’t to my taste. I kind of felt that half way through the story the author changed his mind about the direction he wanted to go in and rewrote a different ending. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be.
Readers familiar with James Hadley Chase will find a few of his little trademarks to smile at, like the mention of Sidney Fremlin from “Have a Change of Scene” and the story being told by Al Barney from ” An Ear to the Ground”. All in all a fun read.

What I liked:
No cheesy dialogue
Believable heist plan
No loose ends

What I didn’t like:
Ending
Joey’s character
Winding up too conveniently
Unnecessary dimensions
Possible change of heart by author halfway through story.

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Review: Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

Review: Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

Mission To Siena
Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My Rating: 2.5 stars
This was like watching a movie. I can’t think of a better way to describe the experience of reading this book. It was exactly like watching an old fashioned Saturday night action-flick. This is the second appearance of the Don Micklem character, which was also mentioned in the book by some reference to the “Tregarth business ” from Mission to Venice. I have grown fond of these references in Chase’s stories of his other books. Especially if I’ve read the other book too.
This story was packed with a lot of happenings. There was murder, a kidnapping, a secret organization and a crackpot villain stroking a cat in his lap. Can you think of anything else that says old fashioned thriller movie quite like a crazy bad-guy that pets his cat while making evil plans. This concept is so cliche now that I almost couldn’t believe I was reading it in a serious setting. Then I reminded myself that the book was published in the 1950’s when things like this were quite the rage I imagine.
As for the story itself, it was exciting. Yes it had the stereotypes common to it’s time but since this is a time-pass novel and something probably read while travelling or looking for a quick-read, you can’t really complain can you?
Despite the fact that the ending felt slightly abrupt and maybe a shade anti-climatic, this book cost me no more than a day’s read and so all in all it was not a bad way to spend time.

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Review: Have a Change of Scene by James Hadley Chase

Have a Change of Scene
Have a Change of Scene by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My rating: 2.5 Stars

Opening Sentence: It didn’t begin to show until a month after the crash.

I really like James Hadley Chase books. I am not familiar with a lot of writers from his time obviously, but I am a fan of the vibe and sense of the time he gives in his writing.
Have a Change of Scene is a story of Larry Carr, a wealthy and successful jewelry salesman in Paradise City who loses his fiance in a car crash one night. After the trauma, the sense of loss and emotional pain disrupts his mental state leaving him bitter and angry. He is advised to have a change of scene and spend some time doing welfare work in a treacherous little town that soon turns his world upside down. He finds himself scared, and angry, and dangerous and testing his courage in ways that were unthinkable to him before.
This book was a little disappointing to me. I am a big Chase fan and I know his knack for spinning thrilling tales and gangster-style action adventures. This however fell a LITTLE short of the mark. Maybe because it lacked the punch I have gotten so used to in Chase novels. It could also have something to do with the fact that I didn’t find myself rooting for the protagonist at any given time. I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone at all in fact, and that kind of had me wishing that everything would just go wrong. Now I don’t want to be the type to give anything away. So I’ll just say I was hoping for a little more thrill than the one this ride offered.
Still I am enough of a James Hadley Chase reader to know that this was a rare miss in a truckload of hits that he’s delivered. This is still a fun read to pass some time with.

No favorite lines or quotes to take away from this one.

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