Later by Stephen King


source: purchased
title: Later
author: Stephen King
published: March 2, 2021
pages: 264
genre: crime fiction/paranormal horror 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.
rated:
5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:

SOMETIMES GROWING UP MEANS FACING YOUR DEMONS

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine—as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel It, LATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.


My thoughts:

Out of the hundred or so books on my TBR I randomly grabbed my copy of Later by Stephen King and wound up nearly finishing it in one sitting this past Sunday.

Although this is advertised as one of his hard case crime books like Joyland and The Colorado Kid I’d say Later is more a mix of coming of age story, horror and a paranormal ghost story. Inside this book were some of the creepiest scenes I’ve read and I’ve read a decent amount of horror over the years.

The story centers around young Jamie Conklin who lives in NYC with his single mother who is a literary agent. Adult Jamie narrates his story. He has an ability that sets him apart. Without giving too much away, the book revolves around Jamie and his mom while his unique gift is at times an odd blessing in disguise but also a curse. King has a way of writing child characters who are endearing to the reader and I was rooting for Jamie as I read. The story is really mainly about him.

Reminiscent of the film The Sixth Sense Later was an engaging and thrilling story that I found hard to put down. There’s nods to It in the storyline and the creepy plot twisted and turned and shocked me more than once. I also enjoyed the NYC setting. While I read some mixed reviews on this one, I really enjoyed it. I was entertained throughout and nearly finished it in one sitting which is what I expect from a good book. This was a solid scary read and I recommend it to fans of paranormal horror. It was not too long at just a little over 250 pages so it was a nice quick dose of horror during a busy week.

“I thought of asking her if it freaked her out to look up at night and see the stars and know they go on forver and ever, but didn’t bother. I just said no. You get used to marvelous things. You take them for granted. You can try not to but you do. there’s too much wonder, that’s all. It’s everywhere.-p 90, Later by Stephen King

About the author:
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King’s books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald’s Game and It.

King was the recipient of America’s prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine. -quoted from Amazon.com

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Later by Stephen King. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The first book photo here is my own.

Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan





source: free ARC via Meryl Moss Media
title: Her Three Lives
author: Cate Holahan
genre: thriller/suspense
pages: 338
published: April 20, 2021
first line: She would make them late.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars


blurb:
Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

My thoughts:
Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan was a thrilling read that had me hooked from page one. Having read and enjoyed One Little Secret a few years ago by this same author I was curious about this one.

As the book starts off Jade Thompson and her fiancé Greg are getting ready to go out one evening. Greg opens his front door thinking there is a package delivery and he ends up the victim of a brutal attack that leaves him nearly dead with a brain injury. Two attackers enter the house and also steal Jade’s expensive engagement ring but nothing else. Jade is also injured in the attack.

As Greg begins the healing process with the support of his ex-wife, his two children and Jade, the question of who tried to kill him is at the forefront. Greg installs security cameras in his home but they only make him increasingly obsessed and paranoid. He is also suffering from PTSD after the attack.

The detectives assigned to the case are leaving no stone unturned. They start looking into Jade’s line of work as a social influencer and a blogger hoping to find any clues in some of the comments on her blog posts.

I sat down one Saturday afternoon with Her Three Lives and finished it up the next morning. After being in a book slump for months it was refreshing being able to find myself so immersed in a thrilling read like this one.

I had no idea who attacked Greg and Jade. As the story unfolded I started to dislike Greg more and more. A successful architect in his late fifties he is in the process of getting a divorce when he meets Jade. He is smitten with her and I think by six months into the relationship they are engaged. Jade is thirty something and close to her mother but estranged from her father.
I found this quote in regards to how Jade feels about her father particularly insightful:
“She hadn’t known her father long enough to truly love him as an individual. If anything, she loved him as an idea”.-p141, Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan

Jade is the opposite of Greg, her family is from Jamaica, she is a social media influencer/blogger and it seems that she’s his mid-life crisis relationship in some regards. Jade can take of herself financially but Greg is wealthy and makes millions on commission on certain accounts so Jade definitely has motive to have him murdered. These two are both hiding some secrets.

Greg’s family dynamics seemed realistic and he is still amicable with his ex-wife Leah. His daughter Violet openly dislikes and suspects Jade and she hopes her parents will get back together. Their son seems to be more accepting of the relationship. Speaking of the ex-wife Leah, that lady is ride or die when it comes to her kids.

Author Cate Holahan continues to pen thrilling reads with twists and turns that have you guessing until the very end. As the book went on I had no idea who attacked Greg until the author revealed it. It made sense and the story was wrapped up nicely and even culminated in a bittersweet ending.
I recommend Her Three Lives if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers centered around families.

“Sadness had replaced her anger. Sadness and shame.-p.303, Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan”

Special thanks to Meryl Moss Media for my review copy.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
About the Author:
Cate Holahan is the USA Today bestselling author of domestic suspense novels The Widower’s Wife, One Little Secret, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns. In a former life, she was an award-winning journalist, writing for The Record, The Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek, among others. She was also the lead singer of Leaving Kinzley, an original rock band in NYC.
She lives in NJ with her husband, two daughters, and food-obsessed dog, and spends a disturbing amount of time highly-caffeinated, mining her own anxieties for material.-quoted from Amazon

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I received a copy of Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan from Meryl Moss Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you click on the link and purchase the book I will receive a small affiliate commission.
The book photo is my own and is not to be removed from this post.

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine



source: free copy via AmazonPrime reads
title: Stillhouse Lake
author: Rachel Caine
pages: 292 Kindle version
published: 2017
first line: Gina never asked about the garage.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

blurb:
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My thoughts:
Stillhouse Lake is an Amazon Prime free read book that I downloaded last year and finally now made the time to read it. This is book 1 in a 5 book series so far.
At the heart of the story is Gina Royal. She is a housewife and mother who has been unknowingly married to serial killer Mel for nearly a decade. The garage was his “workshop” and the police discover a corpse hanging from the ceiling. When Mel is arrested, Gina is also initially arrested because they suspect her of aiding and abetting. She’s found innocent and goes into hiding with her two children daughter Lanny and son Connor.

Due to their being connected to a serial killer, Gina and the kids receive death threats and are harassed by internet trolls and stalkers. Gina is now Gwen Proctor and never stays in one place for long. She’s got disposable phones, takes shooting lessons and owns guns. Gina and the kids currently reside in an area called Stillhouse Lake. Just as they are finally getting comfortable and considering maybe staying there long term, a corpse turns up in the lake and Gina/Gwen looks very suspicious. She wonders if her ex-husband is pulling some strings from prison.

“Mel infected me like a virus, and I have an unhealthy surety deep down that I’ll never get completely well again.” p. 20, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Well, you need to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy Stillhouse Lake. I get Gina leaving and starting over with the kids but I wondered about there there being that many online stalkers being that kind of a threat to their lives. These stalkers would have to of had FBI connections the way Gina was acting in order to avoid them from finding her. Their motive is that they think Gina was helping her husband with the murders so they want her dead.
Also, Gina’s serial killer husband’s workshop was the garage and neither Gina nor the children ever went into the garage? Gina was just okay with her husband having a secret workshop in the garage with a padlock on it that she was not allowed to step foot in?



I liked that Gina is a strong woman and mother. She’s different now after finding out her husband is a serial killer. She reflects on how manipulative and controlling Mel was and on all the signs she missed. Gina is extremely over the top with paranoia and at one point she even goes through the motions in her mind of possibly having to shoot a cop who came to question her at home. The paranoia made her a somewhat irritating character. The children are likeable characters and the struggles they were going through with having trauma over their father as well as trying to acclimate to always being on the run etc. were believable. Much of Gina’s thoughts are about wondering if their lives can ever be normal.

As the story flows, there’s a few other characters introduced such as Javi from the gun range and the neighbor Sam and sometimes you don’t know who Gina can actually trust. Gina’s husband is still manipulating her from death row and I wondered how it would all wrap up. Also, why was Gina’s ex-husband so evil to her and the kids once he was caught? He really wanted her to suffer and didn’t care about the children anymore. He was a cardboard cutout of an evil villain.

Overall, Stillhouse Lake was a thrilling, well written story even if it was a little over the top. The ending wrapped it all up while leaving it wide open for the next installment and there’s a twist I did not see coming. This is the first book in the series but I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the others anytime soon.

“The hard part, I realize isn’t letting him know the truth; it’s this ripping fear inside now that he’ll turn his back on me, that this is the last moment we’ll be friends, or even friendly. I never thought that would hurt, but it does. The fragile little roots I’d been putting down, ripping away. Maybe it’s for the best, I try to tell myself, but all I feel is grief.” p.150, Stillhouse Lake

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine via AmazonPrime free reads. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

The Outsider by Stephen King

outsider

source: purchased
title: The Outsider
author: Stephen King
pages: 561
published: May 22, 2018
genre: crime thriller
first line: It was an unmarked car, just some nondescript American sedan a few years old, but the blackwall tires and the three men inside gave it away for what it was.
rated: 4 out of 5
starstarstarstar

blurb:
An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—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 have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s 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? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

my thoughts:
The Outsider is exactly the reason I love reading Stephen King. This was an exciting, scary thrill ride and I gobbled it up and wanted seconds.

As the novel starts off Coach Terry is at a little league baseball game when he is arrested in front of over one thousand people. He is a well known and well liked coach, he is married with two young daughters. Coach T is being arrested for the recent murder and mutilation of a local 8 year old boy. The call to arrest him that way was made by detective Ralph Anderson who is positive the coach committed this crime and is hell bent on making sure he pays the price for it.

Continue reading

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

thenshesource: personal copy
title: Then She Was Gone
author:Lisa Jewell
genre: crime thriller/mystery
published: April 17th 2018
pages: 359
first line: Laurel let herself into her daughter’s flat.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
starstarstarstar

blurb:
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

my thoughts:
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is my first read of 2020. I happily kicked off my new reading year with a great crime thriller. This is my first foray into this author’s work and it won’t be my last.

The book centers around Laurel Mack whose daughter Ellie disappeared ten years ago. Since then Laurel’s marriage has ended, her other two children have moved out and she lives in a small apartment alone and works part time. When a few more clues are found concerning the case, Laurel finally tries to move on with her life. She meets a single dad named Floyd. He lives with his daughter Poppy.

Continue reading