Category Archives: Audiobook

Audiobook Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

 

  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 24 minutes
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio (September 16, 2014)
  • Source: Library

Detroit Detective Gabriella Versado is used to unusual cases. Her latest, however, goes beyond anything she’s ever seen. The body of a teen boy is somehow fused to the body of a deer. Unfortunately, this is just the first of a string of unusual deaths.

Layla, Detective Versado’s teen daughter, struggles with her new life. Her parents are divorced and her father now has a new family, with young children, in Atlanta. Before the divorce, Layla always had a parent at home. Now, with her mom working long hours, Layla spends most of her free time with her best friend Cas. Together, the two have created a game of teasing boys they catch on sex sites. When their game leads them to a pedophile, the two wind up in a dangerous game with terrifying consequences.

Thomas Keen, known as TK, is a homeless man who survives by scavenging homes of the evicted. His best friend, Ramón, is the one who gains the most from TK’s scavenging. Both recovering alcoholics, they do their best to get by, day after day, with the hope of a better life.

Jonno Haim recently moved to Detroit from New York, hoping for a new lease on life after a failed writing career. He’s fallen for Jenn Q, a renowned Detroit deejay, and the two launch a Youtube channel surrounding the recent rash of unusual murders.

Clayton Broom is a quiet recluse. An artist, he has worked in a variety of media over the years to create his visions. Something has taken control of him, using his body to create a completely different caliber of artwork.

The Detroit killings bring all five of these characters together into a dark and harrowing hunt for a serial killer. The fact that the reader knows the identity of the killer from the beginning doesn’t detract at all from this quickly-moving, intense storyline.  The dark and bleak setting adds to the tone, creating a truly chilling atmosphere.

Additionally, while it may seem that multiple perspectives would generate a confusing and scattered reading experience, it actually does the opposite. Perhaps, because I listened to the audiobook with five distinct narrators,  the experience awarded me with varying and unique viewpoints of one storyline.  The narrators (Christine Lakin, Terra Deva, Sunil Mohatra, Robert Morgan Fisher, & J. D. Jackson) each had completely unique voices, making the switch in narration smooth and effortless, easily to distinguish one character from another.

What made this novel stand out to me was its uniqueness.  Honestly, I’m not certain what genre it would fall under, for it contains characteristics of multiple genres, from thriller to horror and science fiction.  It’s certainly a novel that a wide range of readers would enjoy.

While I didn’t find the read to be as chilling and terrifying as others had led me to believe, it was still a truly captivating listen. I intentionally avoided reading Beukes work until the praise and buzz had dwindled, but soon realized her popularity might never die down if she continues to churn out novels like this! Highly, highly recommended.

 

Audiobook Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Listening Time:14 hrs and 22 mins
  • Narrator: Will Patton
  • ISBN: 9781442371347
  • Source: Personal copy

Hundreds of unemployed, desperate for job placement, line-up in the predawn hours for a job fair.  A driver in a Mercedes plows through the unknowing crowd, killing eight and wounding fifteen. The killer is never apprehended.

Months later, that horrid day still haunts now-retired Detective Bill Hodges. His retirement has been less than thrilling; he spends his days contemplating his own suicide. Then he receives a letter by a main claiming to be the “Mercedes Killer,” eluding at another mass tragedy. Determined to prevent another attack, Hodges awakens from his retirement and once again immerses himself in the mind of the brutal killer.

Brady Hartsfield is the Mercedes killer. He still fantasizes about the rush the killing gave him. Living with his alcoholic mother in his childhood home (the same home where his younger brother met his demise) and working two unrewarding jobs, Brady doesn’t have much else to look forward to than experiencing that rush again.

In this classic tale of good versus evil, it is quite apparent early on that Hodges is the only person who can bring Hartsfield to justice. The attention of the police is elsewhere; they recently apprehended a brutal serial killer. So, using his keen detective skills and his continued law enforcement connections, Hodges risks life and limb to bring Mr. Mercedes to justice.

Using alternating points of view, readers get a glimpse inside the mind of both Hartsfield and Hodges. While this isn’t technically one of King’s horror novels, the demented mind of Brady Hartsfield, to me, is more terrifying than an horror character King has created (yes, even more terrifying than Pennywise).  Filled to the brim with plot twists that will having you yelling expletives, I personally found myself pausing the audiobook and taking a deep breath to absorb it all.  While this isn’t the standard size King novel of 800 pages, it has the tremendously developed characters and details of a much longer novel. Fans of King know that he doesn’t cut corners in his writing; every single word is intentional and has meaning.

A note on the narration: I don’t need to tell you how outstanding a narrator Will Patton is. His voice has the edge required to narrate the voice of a deranged killer and also that of a heartfelt, well-intending retired police officer. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else narrating this book.

So, if you are looking for a Stephen King fix until Revival is released next month, Mr. Mercedes is a must read/listen for you! Highly, highly recommended.

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Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Audiobook)

  • Series: A Cormoran Strike Novel
  • Listening Length: 17 hours and 22 minutes
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio (June 19, 2014)
  • Source: Publisher

Known for frequently disappearing for days on end, this isn’t the first time author Owen Quine has gone missing. Knowing the police will do nothing to help her, Mrs. Quine calls on private detective Cormoran Strike to find her husband. As the days pass and still no clue as to Quine’s whereabouts, Strike is concerned there is more to his disappearance than Quine’s wife believes. Quine has recently submitted a manuscript for a novel that portrays many of his acquaintances in a less than desirable light.  If this novel was to be published it would ruin lives and cause a public uproar.  With this information, Strike believes there are more than a few people who would be interested in silencing Quine.

Stakes are immediately raised once Quine is found, brutally murdered. When the details of his murder replicate those of a murder within his manuscript, anyone who had access to the manuscript is at the top of Strike’s suspect list. Unfortunately, the local police are convinced his killer is closer to home and rejects any additional information Strike provides them.  Strike methodically evaluates all the evidence he has obtained, slowly eliminating the suspect list until he’s left with one brutal killer.

I can’t rave enough about this series. By now, we all realize that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. You know what? It doesn’t matter at all to me, for in no way does it influence my decision to devour this series or not.  Frankly, there are hints or suggestions that the two individuals are one in the same so I actually pretend that they are, in fact, two separate people.

There are so many things to appreciate and enjoy about this series and this novel in particular. Cormoran Strike has quite a bit of history. Injured in battle, he now wears a prosthesis on one of his legs. He’s a rough, brusque kind of guy but his sensitivity does shine through on occasion.  He is a renowned private investigator, thanks to his parentage and the case he solved in the first book in this series, A Cuckoo’s Calling.

His assistant, Robin, is another character I genuinely adore. Hired to do secretarial work, she now wants to assume more responsibilities and work alongside Strike on their investigations.  She’s toughed up, ready to show Strike she can handle the additional stress (and danger) involved in working a case.

Typically, I tend to figure out a culprit early on in. In this case, however, I was genuinely surprised when the killer’s death was revealed. This is a sign of a well developed thriller!

I listened to the audio production of this title. The narrator, Robert Glenister, is truly talented, able to carry out the brusque and rough tone of Strike just as well as the secondary female characters. This time around, the voice effects required were a bit more challenging yet Glenister tackled it with the ease of an expert!

While it isn’t necessary to read A Cuckoo’s Calling in order to appreciate The Silkworm, I do highly recommend starting from the beginning. A Cuckoo’s Calling provided quite a bit of history and development of Strike’s character.  While there is a bit of back story provided in the early pages of The Silkworm, I don’t feel readers get a full, detailed representation of his character.

Ultimately, it’s quite easy for me to recommend this title to readers of all types, not just thrillers alone. I do highly recommend the audio if that is your kind of thing. It was honestly a delightful listen, an experience I genuinely savored. Highly, highly recommended.

Summer Shorts ’14 Blog Hop: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

To continue with my celebration (although unfortunately limited!) of Audiobook Month, I’m extremely excited to be participating in Summer Shorts ’14: 

The audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download.You can purchase the collection HERE. Special pricing of $9.99 through June 30th, in celebration of JIAM. $14.99 from July 1st forward.

How can I resist participation in such an outstanding program?! And, given my appreciation of the horror genre, I couldn’t resist when given the opportunity to feature a short story by the great Edgar Allan Poe,  The Cask of Amontillado.  In this short story, a man is seeking revenge against an acquaintance, whom he believes,  has insulted him.  Like many of Poe’s other works, it involves the concept of being buried alive!

This narration is unique one.  Presented by William Dufris/AudioComics Company,  listeners will be delighted with this full-cast “audio movie” performance!

There is a full slate of other blogs participating in this blog hop! Following is just a sampling!


Paul Michael Garcia
Yard Waste, by Steven LaFond – w/author Steven LaFond @ My Bookish Ways

Mike ChamberlainThe Statement of Randolph Carter, by H.P. Lovecraft @ MV Freeman’s blog

John McLainThe Black Cat, by Edgar Allan Poe @ Going Public

Dawn HarveySomething as Big as a Mountain, by Jane Cawthorne, w/author Jane Cawthorne at My Books, My Life

 

To learn more about this projects and visit more blog stops on the tour, visit the Going Public Project website!

 

 

June is Audiobook Month Giveaway!

Happy Audiobook Month!  As an avid audiobook fan, I’m excited to be taking part in a blog tour of sorts that is celebrating the winners of the 2014 Audies, awards that recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Since mystery is one of my favorite genres, I’m pleased to be offering a copy of the audiobook that won the 2014 Audies Award in the mystery category, Unleashed by David Rosenfelt, read by Gover Gardner.

Following is a synopsis of the book:

Andy Carpenter’s accountant, Sam Willis, is stunned to receive a phone call out of the blue from Barry Price, a high school friend he hasn’t spoken to in years, pleading for help with something too frightening to discuss on the phone. Barry needs Sam’s financial acumen and lawyer Andy Carpenter’s legal expertise—and he needs them immediately. But when Sam almost runs over an injured dog lying in the road on the way to Barry’s house, he can’t drive off without waiting for help to arrive. By the time Sam makes it, Barry’s already taken off on a private airplane headed who-knows-where.

Assuming their help is no longer needed, Sam and Andy turn their full attention to helping the dog Sam found recover from his injuries. Then they learn that Barry’s plane has crashed, and they come to the terrifying realization that Sam was also supposed to have been killed on that plane. Barry was in far more serious trouble than either of them knew, and for Sam and Andy, the trouble is only beginning.

Unleashed, David Rosenfelt’s next Andy Carpenter mystery, is a thrilling read, full of Rosenfelt’s trademark clever plotting, humor, and engaging prose.

To enter, fill out the form below. Limit one entry daily. Come back to enter as many times as you like up until June 30! The winner will be contacted via email on June 30.  Open to US residents only. Good luck to all who enter!

Be sure to visit Book Goonie tomorrow and enter to win a copy of Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King, read by Peter Francis James!

Frightful Friday: Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry:

  • Listening Length: 16 hours and 3 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (March 25, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: This is a review of the sixth book in a series. Please proceed with caution if you have not read/listened to the previous books in this series*

 

Joe Ledger and the other members of the Echo Unit of the Department of Military Science (DMS) have had their share of interesting experiences. From battling the zombie plague to designer viruses, they’ve seen it all. Any remnants of these weapons have been stored in a remote and isolated location known as the Locker. Until now…

After other units of the DMS are decimated in attacks, the DMS is spread thin. Weapons they thought destroyed or locked up are appearing in public locations. Their new nemesis, Mother Night, has managed to break into the DMS’ impenetrable super computer system, Mindreader, gaining access to knowledge that shouldn’t be made available to the public. Even worse, she broadcasts a video of a rescue mission in which a team went in to put an end to a plague of zombies. The same plague the DMS thought they conquered and destroyed. Before doing so,  she dubbed over the sound to make it appear as though the individuals being shot upon are citizens begging for their lives.

This isn’t the first time the DMS has been under fire. The timing, however, couldn’t be worse. The must put an end to Mother Night and her league of rogue “soldiers” before she can unleash something more dark and devastating than before. In doing so, they realize that the individual responsible for their actions isn’t a stranger to the DMS. Her identity shatters the tough exterior of the DMS. Rather than weakening them, however, it makes them stronger, more dedicated and determined to put a stop to Mother Night.

Told in a series of flashbacks to the time Joe Ledger originally joined DMS, Maberry takes readers (or in my case, listeners) on a path through the history of the DMS and Ledger’s existing unit.

Maberry’s Joe Ledger series is one I rush to listen to as soon as it is released. Not only are they truly outstanding novels filled to the brim with action and less than natural enemies, but they contain truly outstanding characters that have grown tremendously since the culmination of the series. Joe Ledger, on the surface, is a mean, brusque, no-nonsense kind of guy.  Yet in the past several novels, Maberry has slowly unveiled a softer, more vulnerable side of Joe.  To me, this has created a more dynamic, more genuine character in Joe Ledger.

Fans of Maberry’s writing will appreciate the return of characters from the past (as well as one from another series). I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning and have to say, without a doubt, this is the best one yet.

As with the other titles in this series, I listened to the audiobook production of this title. I don’t see myself ever “reading” them.  That’s not to say that the writing doesn’t stand on its own, it genuinely does. Yet Ray Porter’s narration has captivated me. To me, he is the voice of Joe Ledger and the other cast of characters. He completes the package for me, his narration capturing the essence of Joe and the rest of the cast of characters.  I won’t say I wouldn’t enjoy reading the titles, it would just feel different, not complete. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend going with the audio.  Some of the best out there!

I know this goes without saying, but this, and other Ledger novels, come highly, highly recommended.

Other titles in the Joe Ledger series (in order):

Patient Zero
The Dragon Factory
The King of Plagues
Assassin’s Code
Extinction Machine

 

Audiobook Review: The Bear by Claire Cameron

  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 22 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio (February 11, 2014)

Five year old Anna is camping with her parents and three year old brother Alex (affectionately referred to as Stick) on a remote island. She is awakened to hear her mother yelling (“Momma never yells, except maybe twice”) and finds that the campsite is in shambles. Their father, in an effort to protect them, throws Anna and Alex into a cooler, ordering them to remain inside.  Anna, too young to contemplate what is happening, sees a big brown shape and believes it to be a big dog. The big dog is actually a bear and their campsite is under attack.

So begins this story of survival. Anna, a young child herself, is now not only responsible for her own survival but that of her  young brother as well.  Told from Anna’s point of view, the reader (or listener) gets a glimpse from the perspective of a five year old. Her innocence, her naivety, are at the same time endearing and heartbreaking.  She’s thrust into situations no five year old should ever have to experience, much less alone. Her attempts to care for her brother are admirable, finding berries to feed him, “chocolate milk” water from a puddle to quench his thirst, and leaves to clean him when he soils himself. Her knowledge for a child that age is quite admirable.

The problem with many books written to be told from the perspective of a child instead read like what an adult think that child’s perspective would be. That’s not the case with this novel. I honestly completely forgot that I was listening to a novel, written by an adult. Instead, I was instantly consumed by young Anna’s world. It felt as though I was sitting beside her, listening as she retold the tragedy that had befallen her family.

This leads me to the audio production of this book. One word: Outstanding. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else could have narrated it better than Cassandra Morris.  Her voice sounds young, perfect to voice the narration of a story told from the point of a young girl. She so beautifully captured Anna’s essence, her naivety and innocence.  I think it is her talented narration, combined with Cameron’s story, that made this audiobook stand out so much for me. I don’t know that I would have the same experience reading the print version of the book.  I don’t know that I would be able to create Anna’s voice in my  head the way it was intended. It would have been what I feared: An adult reading a story from the viewpoint of a young child.  It is for this reason that I encourage you…no implore you…to listen to the audio version of the novel if it strikes your fancy.

I originally planned for this review to be part of my Frightful Friday feature. Here’s a snippet of the publisher’s summary:

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family’s campsite — and pouncing on her parents as prey.

Sounds terrifying, right? Except it wasn’t. At least not to me, in the format of an audiobook. Yes, the scene in which she looses her parents is quite terrifying. Save for that particular scene, the rest of the novel is actually quite devoid of terror, actually sometimes rather comical exploration of survival, love, and family.  So…not necessarily the criteria for Frightful Friday.

This novel is based on an actual bear attack in the 1990s. The author, at the time, was a camp counselor nearby.  This novel is based on her memories and subsequent research on the attacks. She obviously fictionalized the account, adding the two children survivors when the actual bear attack had none. It’s obvious that the original bear attack hit close to home for Cameron, for her fictionalized version is full of passion and what I believe would be an honest understanding of how young children would respond to such an attack.

What stood out for me, beyond all that I have already summarized thus far (Anna’s ingenuity, her passion and determination to survive) was the Afterward. The reader/listener gets to see Anna and Stick as adults, just recently understanding what transpired on that island. Knowing that they are okay, that they survived not only the bear attack but growing up without parents, was so rewarding and fulfilling.

I could honestly go on and on about this novel. It is one that still lingers in my heart and soul. A story I will not soon forget. Highly, highly recommended.

Review: Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher Mysteries) by Kerry Greenwood

  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 50 minutes
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd (August 29, 2010)

Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee) Fisher lives a life of wealth and luxury in 1920s England. Bored of this high-society life, she goes to Melbourne, Australia to help a family friend, Lydia Andrews. Lydia’s aristocratic parents are certain someone is trying to murder their daughter for her money and Phryne is determined to get to the bottom of it.  It doesn’t take her long to make herself at home in Melbourne, making arrangements to stay at the best of hotels, obtaining a luxurious wardrobe, hiring a woman’s maid…and becoming involved in tracking down illegal abortionist and putting an end to a cocaine ring.

In her investigations, Phryne is introduced to a whole host of lively and memorable characters including Dot, her assistant (whom she barely managed to stop from killing a wealthy young man out of revenge) and Bert and Cec, two partners in a cab driving company.  What makes this novel stand out to me is Phryne’s character. She’s smart, fearless, funny, and sexy, making for a truly compelling character given the time period.

This is my first sampling of this series, a book series that apparently the basis of a television series, the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. Television series or not,
this is a highly addictive series that I plan on devouring as quickly as possible. I listened to the audio book production, narrated by Stephanie Daniel.  This is my first experience with Daniel’s narration and I believe she did an outstanding job, differentiating between characters from vastly different cultures with varying accents. I’m pleased to see that Daniel is the narrator for the remaining books in the series. I do plan on continuing this series in audio, versus print, as I enjoyed her narration so strongly.

If you are looking for a new mystery series, set in the 1920s with a strong, dynamic female lead, this is the series for you. Highly, highly recommended.

 

 

Audiobook Review: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Unabridged edition (April 10, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0061341045
  • Source: Personal copy

Twelve-year-old Stephanie is confused when, after her eccentric uncle passes away, she is on the list to attend the reading of the will. There, a stranger appears, a man bundled up in a scarf, coat, and hat.  He’s introduced as Skulduggery Pleasant, a close friend of her uncle. When it comes time for the reading of the will, Stephanie is shocked to learn she’s inherited her uncle’s home.

Stephanie is attacked her first night staying alone in her uncle’s home. It is Skulduggery Pleasant who comes to her rescue, but Stephanie sees him for what he truly is: a walking, talking skeleton detective. She quickly becomes immersed in a world of magic in which an evil creature by the name of Nefarian Serpine is attempting to get his hands on the Scepter of the Ancients, a weapon that will wield him limitlessness power.  Together, with Skulduggery, the unlikely duo must confront this ancient evil and prevent him from taking control over the world!

A few weeks ago, I put out a request on Twitter for audiobook recommendations. This series was one of the first recommendations I received.  I don’t listen to a lot of middle grade/young adult audio books so I was really looking forward to this adventure. And boy, was it an adventure! Skulduggery Pleasant encompasses so much that I feel is missing in middle grade books! A young, female protagonist who, despite her age, is quite strong and fearless. The addition of Skulduggery himself adds a sense of humor and wit that lightens a potentially dark plot line. A sci-fi/fantasy meets detective story! But what really stands out for me is the audio book production.  Not only is there an outstanding narrating performance by Rupert Degas, but each chapter leads with catchy (ok, and a little bit cheesy) music. It’s almost as if you are listening to a television series or a radio show.

Finally, while the cover looks a bit creepy, the tone of the book is actually not. I have both an eight and a fourteen year old and I think this would be appropriate for both!  I guarantee any fan of mystery or magic of any age will fall in love with this unlikely duo of evil fighting heroes!  I cannot wait to listen to the next book in this eight book series! Highly, highly recommended.

Mx3 Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Audiobook)

  • Listening Length: 18 hours and 35 minutes
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio, September 24, 2013
  • Source: Publisher

We’re all familiar with Danny Torrance, the young boy who, with his mother, barely survived a horrific experience at the Overlook Hotel.  Now an adult, Dan Torrance continues to fight the evil that haunts him. Despite promises to avoid becoming an alcoholic like his father, his past haunts him and he succumbs to alcohol. An experience after a drunken stupor causes Dan to hit bottom. He plants his roots in a New Hampshire town with an AA group that supports him and a job in a nursing home that allows him to use his “shining”power to give comfort to those who are passing on. His “talent” has earned him the nickname “Doctor Sleep.”

Dan is contacted by a twelve-year old girl named Abra. She, too, has the shining but it is far more powerful than his own.  She’s witnessed the brutal murder of a young boy who has the shining, his killers torturing him slowly to drain him of his power, his essence, his “steam.”  They are referred to as The True Knot, a tribe of people who travel the highways in a caravan of RVs.  Despite being quasi-immortal, the The True Knot have succumbed to the most horrific of human diseases. Getting enough steam to heal them is of utmost importance. Led by a terrifying woman with a top hat and one, long and horrifying tooth, The True Knot discover Abra and make it their mission to locate her and use her steam to heal their ill.  Together, Dan and Abra begin an epic battle of good versus evil to finally put an end to The True Knot and their deadly reign of terror.

As many of you know, I have been waiting for the release of Doctor Sleep since I was a teen and first read The Shining. When I received and advanced copy of the audiobook of Doctor Sleep for review, I was insane with excitement. Also, however, I was terrified. What if my expectations, my hopes, for this novel were not met.  What if the sequel I had built up in my mind for decades left me disappointed?

Well, reader, my expectations were exceeded. As a child, have you ever woken up on Christmas morning to find a gift that was far beyond anything you could have hoped or dreamed for? That feeling, that overwhelming excitement, is what I experienced in listening to Doctor Sleep.

I don’t dare to compare Doctor Sleep to The Shining. Stephen King was a completely different person when he wrote The Shining. A recovering alcoholic himself, he was battling his own incessant demons. Personally, I believe this is what gave The Shining the intensity and horror we have grown to love.  In writing Doctor Sleep, he has presented himself as a completely changed writer who, over the decades, has undergone a metamorphosis of unparalleled magnitude.  In Doctor Sleep, readers are reunited with characters from Dan’s past and, despite all his attempts to separate himself from what transpired at the Overlook Hotel, Dan is forced to face those demons he once attempted to bury. Dare I say that Doctor Sleep is a more mature version of King? That’s not to say he hasn’t always been a tremendously talented writer, but this most recent novel exemplifies just how much he has evolved over the years.

I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of the novel. I don’t want to give away anything other than the basic premise. For, like all of King’s books, reading them is an experience that is wholly individual, a trek that one must take alone without any preconceived notions or expectations. Just know that it will be an experience that will haunt you, in the best of ways, long after you finish. For me, personally, it was an experience that ranged from terror to delight. At one point (and you will know what this point is!) I nearly had a car accident while listening, a “revelation” nearly forcing me to rear-end the car in front of me. I went in with anticipation but, as the audiobook ended and Stephen King himself read the author’s note, I was left with a smile.

I listened to the audiobook production of this novel. This is only the second King novel I have experienced this way. Leading up to the release of Doctor Sleep I listened to the recording of The Shining.  Let me tell you, there is something about listening to King’s words read aloud that will send a chill down your spine, terrifying you (in the best of ways, of course.)  Doctor Sleep was narrated by Will Patton and, honestly, I can’t think of anyone (ok, maybe King himself) that could have done a better job. Patton’s voice exuded the terror and horror of this novel, but also picked up on the innocence of Abra herself.  He did a truly outstanding job, a production that will certainly top my favorites of all time.

I could continue to go on and on about how brilliant this novel is. To spare you, however, I will leave you with these final words: this is the novel I have been waiting for my entire life. It is a gift of immeasurable value and importance to me. It has forever sealed, in my mind, the proof that Stephen King is one of our country’s greatest authors of all time. Highly, highly (to infinity!) recommended!

Before I close, a bit of warning: If you haven’t read The Shining, your only experience with the Torrance family was by watching Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same title, I implore you, beg you, to read the novel first before diving in to Doctor Sleep. While Kubrick’s production was terrifying, it only captured a small essence of what Stephen King himself presented in the novel. To truly experience the genius that is The Shining, you must experience it through King’s writing itself. Any other experience pales in comparison.

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