The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead Zone by Stephen King (published 1979)

I must first disclose that I first read this book in its entirety in 1990.  At that point, it really was not that long since the events (real and fictional) in the book (the entire 1970s) had taken place.  I was born in the decade in which this book took place.   This was the third or fourth Stephen King title I read (I read as many as possible between 1989 and 1991.)   I think I re-read it a few times over the 1990s, but have not read it at all in at least 15 years (or possibly more.)  I just read the e-book version, and I realized how long it has been.  As an adult who is now significantly older, I think I now appreciate this book in other ways. 

I liked this book when I first read it  because it was less gory than many of Mr. King’s other books. I must admit that I still like it because of this (really, in the last 17 years or so, I have had a lot less taste for gore.)  Probably everyone already knows this story already . . . Johnny Smith was in an accident, and is in a coma for almost five years. He now sometimes gets knowledge from  people and things he touches.  

As an adult now, I feel like there was not enough back info about Johnny, more flashbacks about his childhood, etc. 

 As an adult, I understand even better the absolute sadness of  this story.  As a young teen, I cried, but now having had more of my own personal experiences, the absolute sadness of the whole situation Johnny is in just hit me in the gut. 

Back in 1990, after reading the book, I checked out the movie with Christopher Walken from the local library.  I really liked the movie version, although of course there were differences.   Back in 2002/2003ish, I watched the TV show version, which had even more differences . . . it was okay. 

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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Christ Crutcher

Let me just preface this by admitting the following:  I graduated from high school twenty years ago today.  In celebration, I post about a book I first read that year.  In fact, I will post a book by a well-known author who I had a chance to meet a full ten years later!  

Title:  Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Authors: Christ Crutcher
Original Publication Date: 1993
Date I First Read: Summer 1993
Basic Category: Fiction / YA/Teen Fiction
Basic Summary:   Eric and Sarah Byrnes were childhood friends because they were both different – Eric was fat and Sarah had burn scars from early childhood.   Sarah is now catatonic, and Eric is trying to help her.  And then there are the school scenes – a Contemporary American Thought class, where different classmates have different views, and Eric ends up being injured.  
What I Remember About the Book: The hypocritical views on abortion among the classmates. The classmate who was always spouting conservative Christian rhetoric in class. . .  and then his girlfriend became pregnant, and he encourage an abortion.  I was stunned by that at the time. I always thought that if you really believed in something, you should stand by those beliefs. This made me start question – more than I had already – what I personally believed.   
What I Took Away From the Book:  I loved this book the first time I read it.  I walked around thinking about it for days.  I have been afraid, honestly, to re-read this book.  What if I feel differently twenty years later?  I have an autographed copy of this book in the paperback edition from 2003.  

Meeting Mr. Crutcher and hearing him talk either in late 2003 or early 2004 was great.  He does put much of his experience as a counselor, etc,  into the books 

Rating (1-5 stars):  5 (At the time.  I am thinking about re-reading it.) 

Weather-Related Quotes From Books

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, I kept a notebook with quotes from books and movies related to weather.  I was a meteorology major for a year, but loved reading about weather. 

These are some selections that I noted.

“Almost overhead now, the tumbling, swirling clouds changed from black to a terrifying greenish-purple.  They seemed to draw themselves together, then a groping finger slowly came out of them and stretched down trying to reach the earth” (254).   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years

“As they dashed into the kitchen the light seemed to vanish, as if blown out by some mighty breath; the awful cloud rolled over the sun and a darkness as of late twilight fell across the world.  At the same moment, with a crash of thunder and a blinding glare of lightning, the hail swooped down and blotted the landscape out in one white fury” (211).   L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


“The sun had now been set sometime; heavy cloud whose lower skirts were tinged with sulphurous crimson, lingered in the west, and threw a reddish tint upon the pine forests, which sent forth a solemn sound, as the breeze rolled over them” (406).  – Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho

“Derry wind speeds were being clocked at an average of fifty-five miles an hour, with gusts up to seventy.  The anemometer in the courthouse registered one gust of eighty-one, and then the needle dropped all the way back to zero.  The wind had ripped the whirling cuplike device on the courthouse roof off its moorings and it flew away into the rainswept dimness of the day” (1042).  – Stephen King, IT

“In the lightning that tore across the sky every few minutes, I could see the clouds were still low and boiling.  I didn’t know if we’d be safe anywhere, even when we got out” (66).  – Ivy Ruckman, Night of the Twisters 

“The next day the rain poured down in torrents again, and when Mary looked out of her window the moor was almost hidden by gray mist and cloud.  There could be no going out today” (51).  – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden  

“Suddenly there was no sunshine.  It went out, as if someone had blown out the sun like a lamp. The outdoors was gray, the windowpanes were gray, and at the same moment a wind crashed against the schoolhouse, rattling windows and doors and shaking the walls” (84).   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter 

“I wondered at the beauty of its intricate design / I breathed, the snowflake vanished / but for moments, it was mine” (41). – Jack Prelutsky, It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing!

“The only thing really that was different about Chewandswallow was its weather.  It came three times a day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Everything that everyone at came from the sky . . . it never rained rain.  It never snowed snow.   And it never blew just wind.  It rained things like soup and juice.  It snowed mashed potatoes and green peas.  And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers” (7-8).   – Judi Barrett, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 

“It’s true there were dark storm clouds – heavy, black, and pendulous, toward which they were driving.”  – ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’  [Not a book . . .  but this has always been my favorite line from this movie.]



S is for The Stand

Title:  The Stand       
Author: Stephen King
Original Publication Date: 1978 / 1991
Date I First Read: 1991 / 1991
Basic Category: Fiction / Apocalypse
Basic Summary:  A virus gets out of a government facility (because in this particular version of the world, a creature known as Randall Flagg makes this happen) and spreads through the world in a matter of days. 99% of the world’s population dies.  The survivors pick a side and gather together to fight the forces of evil. 
Note there is the first version, which was heavily edited and published in 1978.  I read this book early in 1991.  Then the expanded “uncut” edition came out the following summer.   I had to wait in line to get that one from the library! I savored it when I finally got my hands on it.  Fortunately it was during the summer so that I had time to read it before school started again. 
What I Remember About the Book: Stu and Fran.   The baby.  Mother Abigail.   The flu spreading.   Nick Andros. (No, I didn’t name my son after him.  I didn’t even think about that until now.)  Harold. 
What I Took Away From the Book:  Worry about what I would do if I would survive (be immune) such a disaster.  My asthma was not very much under control at the time.  I realized that I would have to break into a few pharmacies and take all of the albuterol inhalers I could get my hands on to keep myself alive.
And learn how to ride a motorcycle, even though I dislike motorcyles. 
Rating (1-5 stars):  4.5 (The lack of good well-written women, even twenty years ago as a teen bothered me. However, I still liked the whole story very much!)  

Q is for Queen of the Damned

Title:  Queen of the Damned
Author: Anne Rice
Original Publication Date: 1988   
Date I First Read: 1994
Basic Category: Fiction
(Of course, I just hadto pick this one!)
Basic Summary: The third Vampire Chronicle . . . it picks up where The Vampire Lestat leaves off.  Lestat is going to perform his rock concert, and every vampire is going to be there for good and for bad.  His goal is to wake up Akasha, the queen of vampires.  Meanwhile, there are the dreams of the twins.  What do they mean?   Maharet tells the surviving vampires the story, while Akasha sets out to bring peace to the world by killing off men.     
What I Remember About the Book:  I still re-read parts of this book regularly, but what I loved most about this book is all of the vampires that we’ve gotten to know in the previous two books, plus some that are new to readers, get together in a grand meeting.  I loved reading the descriptions of each vampire, particularly as Marius comes into the room and looks at them all in turn. 
What I Took Away From the Book:  If I am a vampire, it pays to know Lestat personally (you know, since Akasha generally spared those that Lestat loved.)  If I am not a vampire . . . well, don’t go to Lestat’s concert!
Rating (1-5 stars):  5