If It Bleeds
If it Bleeds is a collection of four new novellas —Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds— each pulling readers into intriguing and frightening places.A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider.News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realizes there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins 'If It Bleeds' , a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case.Dancing alongside are three more long stories - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat' .The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

If It Bleeds Details

TitleIf It Bleeds
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherScribner
Rating
GenreHorror, Fiction, Short Stories, Thriller, Mystery, Audiobook, Fantasy, Anthologies, Novella, Suspense

If It Bleeds Review

  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    I missed to read Stephen King’s stories a lot! You may know that most of his short stories including Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Body from “Different Season”, Mist from “Skeleton Crew”, Lawnmower Man, Children of the Corn from “Graveyard Shift”, 1408 from ”Everything’s Eventual” adapted into successful movie scripts. ( Even though only good thing about Lawnmower Man seeing his cameo as a priest!) This time: We luckily have four fantastic stories in our hands and best part is one I missed to read Stephen King’s stories a lot! You may know that most of his short stories including Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Body from “Different Season”, Mist from “Skeleton Crew”, Lawnmower Man, Children of the Corn from “Graveyard Shift”, 1408 from ”Everything’s Eventual” adapted into successful movie scripts. ( Even though only good thing about Lawnmower Man seeing his cameo as a priest!) This time: We luckily have four fantastic stories in our hands and best part is one of them belongs to Holly Gibney! After Mercedes Man trilogy and Outsiders, I already missed the character and welcomed her with open arms. But don’t worry, all those stories are also unique, mysterious, entertaining and it actually helped me get rid of my frustration after I read “Institution” ( I know what you’re thinking! I already gave four stars to that book but frustration part comes from different writing style. When you resume reading same author’s books nearly 3 decade, you may sense something is not right and the words in the book won’t get clicked with your expectations and your literature taste) This book brings back the joy of reading old school King stories and stop thinking about you’re just a prisoner in your house and living in a mad mad world. It gave me so much fun and reminded me of my emotions when I was a small kid and watched “Back to the future” for the first time: mesmerized, enchanted and purely joyous and happy. Every time, when I read a new King’s book written by his regular sarcastic, witty, dark, awkwardly absurd tone with detailed and differentiated characterization, I turned into that small girl playing hooky, hiding under blankets, drinking Mexican Coke and devouring each page, barely breathing- right now I’m the same, only difference is I’m consuming alcohol and drinking from bottle!Let’s take a close look to the stories: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: ****starsThe story is narrated by little Craig, living with his dad, got attention of rich and old billionaire Mr. Harrigan who mysteriously moved to the town and listened to his bible reading at the church offers him a job at his house including watering plants, reading him books, dusting his silver antiques. He pays him hourly and sends him postcards, scratch lottery tickets at holidays which defined as cheapster by his father (because Mr. Harrigan plays with billions and only pays $5 for hour.) Till one day, he won nearly half million dollars from scratch lottery ticket! (Yes! The universe rewarded young guy in a different way!) And Craig shows his appreciation by purchasing Mr. Harrigan an Iphone 4 which made him reluctant to accept at first but Craig advertised the product wisely and made the businessman addicted by showing how to read business news daily and track Dow Jones index to decide his next investment steps. Iphones helped them form a special and interestingly immortal relationship because after Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig hides the phone in his coffin and get buried with him. He kept calling Mr. Harrigan, listening his voicemail message (Surprisingly for years the phone never got out of charge and when Craig tells a problem to Mr. Harrigan like a school bully kicked the shit out of him and he leaves a message about the incident, next day he finds out his bully is dead! A creepy, emotional, Amazing Stories meets Twilight Zone story! “Life of Chuck”- ***** stars The story begins with the end of the world and told backwards with three acts including three important parts of Chuck Krantz. At the apocalyptic world shattered with earthquakes, collapse of networks and communication sources, billboards emblazoned with an eerie message: “39 great years! Thanks Chuck!” Before everything gets weirder at each page when you reach to the other act and learn more about Chuck’s back story, you get more surprised his connection with the universe’s collapsing. Especially his childhood life and living with grandparents, prying around the house to know more about ghosts ends with twisty revelation connecting with the beginning of the story. It was brilliant. If It Bleeds- ***** stars The story starts Outsiders’ detective Ralph Anderson’s returning to his house after family holiday and finding the envelope sent by Holly Gibney. When he opens the envelope he finds a drive named “If it bleeds” including audio spectrograms and a folder containing photographs. Holly wrote a note tells him: “If I do die, you choose to continue what I’ve started please be careful. You have a wife and son!” I’m not gonna give much details but I can only say that large explosion at a middle school in Pineborough, Pennsylvania resulted numerous casualties, many of children and teachers. Holly realizes another outsider, a grief vampire feeding itself by consuming people’s pain and sadness may be involved with the incident and she will do whatever it takes to hunt him alone even though it means this will be her last task! This is the best story of the book and I wish we had more Holly but don’t worry, I think she will have her own novel sooner. I can feel it. Rat- **** stars A passionate writer Drew Larson got attention of literature world with his short story but after that, his writing attempts end with psychical and mental breakdowns. He keeps his job as academician for the sake of his marriage. But now he wants to give another try and convinces his wife to work on his new project at her father’s isolated cabin in the woods. (From the beginning you may sense something really spooky will come out, right?) As he starts his assignment to writer a western thriller (I wish he shared the plot with someone instead of keeping himself so somebody may have stopped him!) The story gets eerier as Drew makes a haunted bargain with a rat for accomplishing his plan to create a fantastic novel. But… Yes… It is time for me to shut up and stop giving more details!Overall: I enjoyed the stories. I had quality time with the author’s brilliant story telling skills. Those are the stories I’ve missed so long! I’m rounding up 4.5 stars to 5! I highly recommend it to not only my one and only KING lovers but also to the well written thriller and fiction lovers as well.bloginstagramfacebooktwitter
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  • Justin Tate
    January 1, 1970
    1. Mr. Harrigan’s PhoneThis opening novella rocked my world. With signature Stephen King finesse, he introduces characters so vivid they could be standing next to you. I’m particularly impressed by his ability to deliver the millennial youth experience as effectively as he writes about being a boomer in his many other books. Then, when you least expect it, he scares the shit out of you. It’s better not knowing anything going in, so I won’t give away details. I shouldn’t even tell you it’s scary, 1. Mr. Harrigan’s PhoneThis opening novella rocked my world. With signature Stephen King finesse, he introduces characters so vivid they could be standing next to you. I’m particularly impressed by his ability to deliver the millennial youth experience as effectively as he writes about being a boomer in his many other books. Then, when you least expect it, he scares the shit out of you. It’s better not knowing anything going in, so I won’t give away details. I shouldn’t even tell you it’s scary, but I guess it’s Stephen King so that’s not a surprise. Even though technically the plot has been done before (at least a couple times by Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone) it feels fresh here because of the rich characters and updated tech. A perfect 5/5 for me.2. The Life of ChuckAlas this novella is also signature Stephen King, but more exemplary of his occasional weakness—an outstanding setup let down by a disappointing conclusion. The opening pages are soaked in intrigue and promises what could be a thrill ride as dramatic as “The Mist.” But I think King stumped himself with the mystery and couldn’t figure out how to have it make sense. He puts up a decent effort, but the explanation is too uneven compared to the blockbuster opening. 3/5.3. If It BleedsThe further adventures of Holly Gibney and a direct sequel to The Outsider. There's enough references to key events that I wouldn't recommend reading it as a stand alone. It also refers to the entire Mr. Mercedes trilogy, so ideally you're reading it at Book #5--or perhaps #4.5 if the series continues.King's flavor of cat-and-mouse crime mystery with supernatural elements has been a winning formula for me from the beginning. I don't quite get his obsession with Holly, but I like what she does and the dangerous situations she gets herself into. This new mystery is fully engaging with an edge-of-your-seat climax.Most people would consider If It Bleeds alone a full-length novel, but I suppose it is novella-length by Stephen King standards. The plot doesn't involve particularly fresh experiences for Holly either, so that's probably why they felt it didn't deserve a celebrated release all unto itself. Still, though, it's a suspenseful ride that shouldn't be missed if you're all caught up on the series. 4/5.4. RatAt first it seems like a mashup of The Shining and The Stand, which would've been super awesome because that's basically how I feel right now, but then it takes a sharp turn toward Richard Matheson territory and his "Button, Button." A solid creeper overall despite being two halves and not quite a whole. Reminds me of King's younger days and the stories that appeared in Night Shift or Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Subtle references cleverly tie-in the three previous novellas. Not enduring by any means, but top notch entertainment. 4/5.
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  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed stories #1 and #3, snoozed through stories #2 and #4. Middle ground 3 star rating from me! Highly recommend the audio, as the cast of narrators are a few of my favorites.
  • Mario the lone bookwolf
    January 1, 1970
    Again, King is reflecting about life, work, and death in 2 of the stories, something he is already dealing with in The Bazaar of bad dreams, a topic sadly coming irreversibly coming closer to everyone with each breath and second, each book read a flip closer to death, each heartbeat a metronome leading to and causing its self-destruction, eating away oneself to live. Damned telomeres. It made me wonder why so few authors don´t start dealing with the inevitable at a certain age, why they don´t in Again, King is reflecting about life, work, and death in 2 of the stories, something he is already dealing with in The Bazaar of bad dreams, a topic sadly coming irreversibly coming closer to everyone with each breath and second, each book read a flip closer to death, each heartbeat a metronome leading to and causing its self-destruction, eating away oneself to live. Damned telomeres. It made me wonder why so few authors don´t start dealing with the inevitable at a certain age, why they don´t integrate their wisdom and talent in descriptions of how to deal with the big leveler. Harrigan's PhoneSmartphones had already been a theme in King´s novel Cell and using everyday objects as Chekhovs and symbols is one of his favorite tropes, often surrounding it with character development influenced or inspired by possessed, obsessed, mundane, necromancing, magic,… objects, artifacts, or furniture. What happens after death is added to the recipe and voila, another unique combination of well known story elements is creeping out of the vault, assisted by intergenerational friendship and the good old question of what stays if one is gone, what ways metaphysical psi ectoplasmic manifestations might follow. The life of ChuckWho ordered the Merlin Sickness, hard to wreck such a plot device, but backwards storytelling is a beast all of its own. What lies closer than reminiscing and philosophizing about the fictional option of reverse living, replay dying, or simply getting younger until hopefully not dying as a wet spot, but changing direction again at, let´s say, early childhood, best avoiding the trauma button one already knows is coming closer in the future, past, whatever.It could have had much more potential, but just like Cujo, Cell, and some other examples, it shows that King tends to not seek help from script doctors and plot nurses and prefers to ruin the one or other himself by not thinking the whole thing through long enough. Another trademark, starting very strong, using perfect characterization, and losing control over logic and suspension of disbelief because of a lack of fine plotting and editing, is big here too. Not bad, but the only 4 star in this brilliant collection. If it bleedsA Mr. Mercedes inspired interlude, starring Holly Gibney and explosions. I don´t get the dispute surrounding Mr Mercedes and this character and don´t remember (or don´t know about) a similar debate about another of King´s protagonists. It may have to do with the fact that the whole Mr Mercedes series was a kind of new land for King too, who obviously had some problems writing in the crime, murder, suspense, psychothriller genre with some more plot than character driven episodes, but what about this is poor Holly´s fault? I also felt that there is something strange going around with the German limousine but better weird evolution than writer´s stagnation or even degeneration. Although creative incestual backlash has a magic all of its own and auto self cannibalizing is an often seen hobby, but that´s depending on highly individual preferences, both for readers and writers or however this and nastier metaphors should be arranged. Subjectively, as I am no friend of thriller plots just focused on playing hide and seek without much extra worldbuilding and horror or fantasy elements, I prefer his novels without this extra red line and investigation, but many may find their favorite psychothriller genre spiced with delicious characterization. It´s already long, could have been made a standalone novel instead, strong female lead characters unite! RatReflecting on the art of writing, the power of fantasy, himself, and the creative process itself is an often seen element in The Dark Tower, Love, Shining, … After reading, I imagined myself getting a bit even weirder than usual while working, writing, or editing very early in the morning or late at night, depending on the conception of the caffeine overdose, and this truly scared the heck out of me so that I needed even more guarana to calm me down. The picture of the danger of becoming insane in the membrane is one of the most realistic and therefore terrifying imaginations. For any reason, there seems to be predisposition, some may say self made and caused predestination for introverted, creative, already eccentric,.... wait a moment... heck, damn! Not to forget and the collateral damages for the family members of the wacky lunatic. Shut up, damn cactus, I won´t dance naked in the rain. Again. The keyboard told me about your evil plans when carbon nanotubes penetrated my fingertips to transmit the warning directly into my brain. Although I don´t completely trust the keyboard anymore since the raven crowed me that he saw ants infiltrating the laptop. I should open it and see if there are quantum entangled hell dimension portals, leaking soul eating mind parasites, inside like in my last laptop I got exchanged because of this. Crappy customer service, by the way, felt discriminated, behaved as if my comprehensive and reasonable complaint wasn´t serious. Had no balls too, seemed to be scared without any reason. The fact that King is 72 and his legendary novella collection Different seasons has the ingenious German title Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Tod remembered me of the fact that King is immortal for me, that he will live forever, that he is enriching my life for over 2 decades, quarter century soon, now and will always stay the author who allowed escapes from reality incomparable to anyone else. A friend and helper to dozens of millions of people, King is a living legend, a prodigy made immortal by the sheer depth, appeal, and fascination of the, somewhere we still can´t go (technical, simulated, or physical) possibly real, fictional universe he created. Thank you, Mr King, you are an emperor, a god King.Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    Stephen King did it again and came up with a brilliant set of four stories! In "Mr Harrigan's Phone" you'll learn never to bury a mobile phone with a dead person. Why? Sometimes communication can go beyond the realms of death. "The Life of Chuck" started a bit strange, with Act III to be precise. At first I thought it might be something futuristic. But then you'll learn who Chuck Krantz really was. The whole story is a kind of chronology of death foretold. Then we come to the longest story here, Stephen King did it again and came up with a brilliant set of four stories! In "Mr Harrigan's Phone" you'll learn never to bury a mobile phone with a dead person. Why? Sometimes communication can go beyond the realms of death. "The Life of Chuck" started a bit strange, with Act III to be precise. At first I thought it might be something futuristic. But then you'll learn who Chuck Krantz really was. The whole story is a kind of chronology of death foretold. Then we come to the longest story here, "If it Bleeds". Holly Gibney (we know her from the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider) is into a new adventure. A fake mailman delivers a parcel to a school. It was explosive, many die. But who is the mysterious bomber and why is Holly following a sinister newsman named Chet Ondowsky? What is the role of Dan Bell? If you liked The Outsider you will love this novella. Please read The Outsider first to get the full gist. Phenomenal follow up to The Outsider. I do hope it isn't the last time we hear from Holly and her friends. So, now we come to the last story here, "Rats". A teacher takes a sabbatical to write his first novel. He goes to a remote cabin in the woods. Will he be able to finish his book and what about the rat? Great tale at the end. Good advise how to deal with rats. Now at the end of my review I can absolutely recommend this set of stories! They are magic and make you cry out for more Stephen King. This is Stephen King at his peak!
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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    1. Mr. Harrigan's Phone -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐2. The Life of Chuck -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐3. If It Bleeds -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐4. Rat -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐That's how you do, Sai King!One of the most well-rounded collections I have ever read. I'm contemplating whether this is going to knock my current fave, Full Dark, No Stars, out of my number one spot for short story collections. This was well worth the wait!Original:IT IS TIME!!!!COVER REVEAL HAS ME LIKE...Earlier:...receives book recommendation...Is this for real?This seems too good to be true?Do 1. Mr. Harrigan's Phone -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐2. The Life of Chuck -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐3. If It Bleeds -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐4. Rat -- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐That's how you do, Sai King!One of the most well-rounded collections I have ever read. I'm contemplating whether this is going to knock my current fave, Full Dark, No Stars, out of my number one spot for short story collections. This was well worth the wait!Original:IT IS TIME!!!!COVER REVEAL HAS ME LIKE...Earlier:...receives book recommendation...Is this for real?This seems too good to be true?Does the universe love me this much?
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    MR. HARRIGAN’S PHONE”When an old man dies, a library burns.”The billionaire, Mr. Harrigan, builds an architecturally beautiful house in the country as a place to spend his twilight years away from the bustle of the business world that made him rich. He asks a young lad by the name of Craig to come up to the house to read novels to him. Entertainment for Mr. Harrigan and an education for Craig. Of course, they talk about things as well, and it makes me think about cobbled relationships like this MR. HARRIGAN’S PHONE”When an old man dies, a library burns.”The billionaire, Mr. Harrigan, builds an architecturally beautiful house in the country as a place to spend his twilight years away from the bustle of the business world that made him rich. He asks a young lad by the name of Craig to come up to the house to read novels to him. Entertainment for Mr. Harrigan and an education for Craig. Of course, they talk about things as well, and it makes me think about cobbled relationships like this that will maybe ensure that, when old people die, their whole libraries of thoughts don’t die with them. On certain holidays, Harrigan buys Craig scratch tickets, and one year Craig wins several thousand dollars. As a thank you, he buys Mr. Harrigan a cell phone. ”Craig, I rarely give advice, it’s almost always a waste of breath, but today I’ll give some to you. Henry Thoreau said that we don’t own things; things own us. Every new object--whether it’s a home, a car, a television, or fancy phone like that one--is something more we must carry on our backs.”I don’t know if Martin Cooper knew just how large an encumbrance inventing the first handheld mobile device would prove to be for humanity, but certainly, Steve Jobs understood the inherent desire people would have for mobile technology and marketed that “need” brilliantly. Craig shows Mr. Harrigan several uses on the phone that he may find interesting, and just like the rest of us, he becomes Pavlov’s dog, punching buttons, searching for the next information/entertainment fix. The phone becomes a central part of the story, even from beyond the grave. This certainly isn’t one of Stephen King’s scarier stories or anywhere near his best, but when I went to bed after finishing it, I found myself smiling. King has a special knack for writing about kids, and this story sort of represents to me all the great tales I’ve experienced from the pen of Mr. King. THE LIFE OF CHUCK”The human brain is finite--no more than a sponge of tissue inside a cage of bone--but the mind within the brain is infinite. Its storage capacity is colossal, its imaginative reach beyond our ability to comprehend. I think when a man or woman dies, a whole world falls to ruin--the world that person knew and believed in. Think of that, kiddo--billions of people on earth, and each one of those billions with a world inside. The earth their minds have conceived.”The first sign of the world going down the drain will be when the internet goes dark. Billboard signs, plane writing in the sky, and ads everywhere proclaim CHARLES KRANTZ 39 GREAT YEARS! THANKS CHUCK! With the end of the world coming in fits and starts, it is still a curious thing to see such a proclamation about someone no one seems to know. The death of a mind. The death of a world. The story starts with the end of Chuck and travels backwards, like a train in reverse, to show us the life of Chuck and the world that will be lost forever when the final neuron winks out in his brain.This is a strange story, but profound. As I was going through my brief notes, I thought to myself, I probably need to read this one again to catch the whole of the concept that King is trying to convey to me. The story at first feels muddled, but as the pieces start to click into place, the mud settles to the bottom, and the water becomes clear enough to see.IF IT BLEEDS”In a movie it could be dismissed as no more than a cool special effect, but this is real life. A ripple runs up the round middle-aged face. It starts as the chin and rises not past the mouth but through it. The nose wavers, the cheeks stretch, the eyes shimmer, the forehead contracts. Then suddenly the whole head turns to semi-transparent jelly.”If it bleeds, it leads, and when a middle school is blown up by an act of terrorism, Holly Gibney is as devastated as everyone else. As she watches the coverage, she notices that there is something not quite right about the TV correspondent on the scene. Her suspicions feel like paranoia, but as she investigates further, she starts to understand the horror she left behind in a cave in Texas is not the only one. Holly came to life as a character in the Bill Hodges trilogy. For me, something was really off with King’s style for that series, and I quickly abandoned it. I do intend to read The Outsider, where Holly is given a starring role. King says in the author’s note at the end of the book that he has developed a minor obsession with Holly, so I think we can expect to see her show up in future works as well. Her love of the movies and her vast DVD collection certainly endear her to me as well. Even though I haven’t read the background books, King gives me enough of a background sketch to read this story without experiencing confusion. If anything, this story sharpened my desire to read The Outsider sooner than later. RAT”There had never been a novel. He had tried, but no. He had pretty much given that ambition up. The first two efforts at long-form fiction had given him problems. The last try had caused serious problems. He had burned the manuscript, and had come close to burning the house, as well.Now, this idea, arriving complete. Arriving like a long overdue engine pulling a train of many splendid cars.”We all love that eureka! moment when an idea crystalizes in our mind. It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be how to fix the garden arbor so the next big wind doesn’t blow it completely down or the pattern for a new quilt or the best way to fix a problem with a coworker. The idea, as it lies like a shining, beautiful beacon of hope in our mind, is a wondrous, glorious gemstone of perfection. Jonathan Franzen best expresses what happens next: ”Even the clearest part of what was in your mind gets lost in translation.”Most wives would be at least mildly excited if their husband comes to them and says, honey...I’ve got an idea for a novel and it is all laid out in my mind like a yellow brick road. Drew’s wife has been down this road before, and every time the yellow brick road has led to OZ. Things have gone drastically wrong every time. When a short story derails, Drew will mope for a few days, but when a novel goes wrong, the train is falling from the top of a high gorge, and Drew is screaming his way all the way to the bottom. So instead of being excited about this news, she is terrified. She is made even more uneasy when Drew decides he wants to go up to his dad’s cabin to work on the novel. The peace and quiet will help him focus on his writing. Of course, there won’t be anyone to notice when things start to go wrong, and we all know, even with the best laid plans of rats and men, things are going to go wrong. ”When he looked at the screen, every word seemed wrong. Every word seemed to have a better one hiding behind it, just out of sight.”In the course of all of this building anxiety...oh no, not again...Drew rescues a dying rat during a storm. The rat starts talking to him. Needless to say, when words start playing hide and seek, a writer needs to go for a long walk, but when the writer starts talking to a rat, it's probably time for him to boogie on home before the rat makes a suggestion he can’t refuse. I was really pleasantly surprised by all four stories. They are all very different, but certainly hit on themes that are of continuing interest to me. What is important? Why do we do the things we do? How do we focus on the right things? Is justice ever really justice? I don’t know what it is about the quarantine, but somehow Stephen King’s books seem oddly tailor-made to survive a pandemic. I will definitely be cuing up more of his books over the coming months. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
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  • Johann (jobis89)
    January 1, 1970
    “I will live my life until my life runs out.”If It Bleeds is some of King’s best work in recent years, showcasing his talent once again when it comes to the novella. In each of these novellas, King reflects upon death in some way, and he handles it so perfectly. For me, it sits firmly up there snuggled close to Different Seasons and Full Dark, No Stars.Mr Harrigan’s Phone was simply a lot of fun! A little creepy at times and the writing just felt like old King, but with more modern topics, like “I will live my life until my life runs out.”If It Bleeds is some of King’s best work in recent years, showcasing his talent once again when it comes to the novella. In each of these novellas, King reflects upon death in some way, and he handles it so perfectly. For me, it sits firmly up there snuggled close to Different Seasons and Full Dark, No Stars.Mr Harrigan’s Phone was simply a lot of fun! A little creepy at times and the writing just felt like old King, but with more modern topics, like technology. Maybe a little unsatisfying for me personally, but still very solid.The Life of Chuck is the story of a man’s life told in reverse and it works so beautifully. This is the type of King story I love most of all. When he just sucker punches you with a story full of heart and emotion. I may have even shed a tear...In If It Bleeds we get to meet up with Holly Gibney once again in a sequel to The Outsider. In some ways it feels like a rehashing of that story, but it held my attention and I really liked the idea and theory behind how the “villain” fed. However, her use of the word “poopy” did start to grate on me a little.For some reason, I had low expectations for Rat, but it ended up being one of my favourites. King loves writing about writers - these stories can be hit or miss for me, but this one was a winner! A struggling writer in isolation is an interesting narrative to follow... see also The Shining.I had an absolute blast with this collection. It felt like the King I know and love. He’s still got it! 4.5 stars.
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Just announced! Another Holly Gibney mystery!Note: to avoid confusion, I wrote the above on May 14, 2019. It is now released and I am reading it. Also, at the time I was not aware it was another four novella book.
  • David Putnam
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a solid four stars. I’m not big on short stories or novellas, never have been. Mostly because if I drop into the fictive dream and I’m enjoying the story it ends too soon and I feel shorted. I make the exception with King. I’m still working my way through his short work. I started reading his short work with Full Dark No Stars, what a great bevy of short stories.If It Bleeds is comprised of four novellas, the first of which is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. This one is standard fare from Kin This book is a solid four stars. I’m not big on short stories or novellas, never have been. Mostly because if I drop into the fictive dream and I’m enjoying the story it ends too soon and I feel shorted. I make the exception with King. I’m still working my way through his short work. I started reading his short work with Full Dark No Stars, what a great bevy of short stories.If It Bleeds is comprised of four novellas, the first of which is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. This one is standard fare from King, I enjoyed it. For me it was a tad predictable and not as creative as I’d come to expect from him. The next one, all on its own, was worth the price of admission. That’s the way it goes sometimes. The Life of Chuck is excellent. It is creative not only in concept but in structure as well, a true mind bender with the comparison of the multitude of thoughts to the number of stars in the universe. For me it was stunning.The third one, the title of the compilation, If It Bleeds, hit a sour note for me, a dud. This is the one that kept the book from five-star status. It almost felt like King was writing a new novel, lost interest, waved his magic wand and call it a novella. Part of the problem I think is that the conflict wasn’t set well enough-early enough. He didn’t catch my attention until the mole showed up which was too far into the story.The fourth and final story, Rat is back to the standard King fare. I enjoyed it and stayed up late into the night to finish it. This is a well-used trope that King breathed new life into.These stories are not gory and are more a haunting than horror. I recommend this one.David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson Series.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Any reader familiar with Stephen King will understand how versatile he can be. King’s ideas seem endless and he is able to spin them into pieces of varying lengths. In this collection of four short stories (I’d almost call them novellas), King shows not only how he can chill the reader to the core, but that his ideas are vast and yet usually tied to current social trends.Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (four stars)Craig has been working for his elderly neighbour for a few years, reading to Mr. Harrigan and Any reader familiar with Stephen King will understand how versatile he can be. King’s ideas seem endless and he is able to spin them into pieces of varying lengths. In this collection of four short stories (I’d almost call them novellas), King shows not only how he can chill the reader to the core, but that his ideas are vast and yet usually tied to current social trends.Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (four stars)Craig has been working for his elderly neighbour for a few years, reading to Mr. Harrigan and learning a little more about life. When Craig comes into some money, he decides to take a leap and purchases Mr. Harrigan an iPhone, as they are the new ‘thing’ on the market. While Mr. Harrigan is not sure he’d use it, Craig converts the Luddite and soon the elderly man is hooked. After the old man’s passing, Craig honours his friend with a final act. What follows leaves Craig wondering just how strong the tie was that connected him to Mr. Harrigan, as well as what role smart phones have in our ever-changing and impacted world!The Life of Chuck (three ‘weak’ stars)The piece is told in three parts, though this is perhaps the most straightforward aspect of the entire reading experience. Each part is in reverse chronological order, beginning with an apocalyptic event where many of the people lose everything, but billboards and online advertisements hail Charles ‘Chuck’ Krantz as having served well over the last 39 years. As the story progresses (regresses?), the reader learns a little more about the earlier Chuck and the life he lived, but adds an ending that will likely leave the reader scratching their heads. Not the stellar King of which I am used to praising!If It Bleeds (four and a half ‘strong’ stars) The story that holds the collection’s name is also, in my mind, the best of them all. Tied into King’s recent full-length novel, the reader revisits Holly Gibney and the Finders Keepers Investigation Agency, both of which are doing quite well. When Holly sees a news report about a bombing at a middle school, she becomes fixated, not only with the story, but those who are recounting it. Might there be another Outsider who is responsible for the carnage? Holly goes to look into things, soon pulled into a long-developing theory by an elderly gentleman who has much to share. Where this story will go might baffle the reader!Rat (four stars)In King’s final tale, the reader meets Drew Larson, a college English teacher who is hoping to write his ‘great novel’ during a sabbatical. Unable to do so at home, Larson decides to travel up to the family cabin, much to his wife’s chagrin. When Larson arrives, hoping to get the writing bug, he discovers that he’s just beaten a major storm. While the winds gust, Larson tries to put something onto paper. Still struggling and finding himself falling ill, Larson finds himself visited by a rat who seems to be trying to escape the weather. They come to an agreement about how to ensure this new book will prove to be successful, though the sacrifice might be more than Drew Larson can handle to find fame.Anytime a reader chooses something by Stephen King, they can expect something exciting and unique. King did not disappoint in that regard, though some of his ideas could leave the reader less than impressed. The fact that King leaves that unsettled feeling proves his abilities, as his ideas appear all over the spectrum. These four stories could not be more different from one another, which gives more readers a chance to find something they will enjoy. While King always makes some social commentary, it is up the the reader to decide what they wish to take from the pieces. With his usual random references to past novels and locales, King keeps his fans on their toes as they push through these pieces, forcing those who are keen on details to see how the pieces all fit together. Not to be missed for those who love a little chill alongside their reading experience. I cannot wait to see what else the King of Horror has in store in the years to come!Kudos, Mr. King, for another wonderful collection. I’ll not soon tire of your variety of writing ideas and the means by which you deliver them.Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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  • Joey R.
    January 1, 1970
    4.0 stars — When I heard that “If it Bleeds” contained a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite books from last year, “The Outsider” I knew I would have to read it. However, the book also had three other short stories that were a part of this book. The first story, “Mr. Harriman’s Phone” was a lot like “Apt Pupil” but King did an excellent job as always in writing from a teenage perspective in a creepy story about a phone with the ability to contact a dead friend. The next novella “The Life of Ch 4.0 stars — When I heard that “If it Bleeds” contained a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite books from last year, “The Outsider” I knew I would have to read it. However, the book also had three other short stories that were a part of this book. The first story, “Mr. Harriman’s Phone” was a lot like “Apt Pupil” but King did an excellent job as always in writing from a teenage perspective in a creepy story about a phone with the ability to contact a dead friend. The next novella “The Life of Chuck” can be described in 1 word —“Skip” or maybe “Stupid” either way don’t waste your time. “ If it Bleeds” the aforementioned sequel to “The Outsider” was next and it was almost as good as the original— although this one focuses only on Holly Gibney and her solo dealings with a new version of the Outsider - very entertaining and worth purchasing the book by itself. Finally, “The Rat” brings up the rear as the final story and I truly enjoyed it — even if it was a little strange. A new spin on a writer who makes a deal with the devil (rat) was entertaining and had a lot of twists and turns. If it wasn’t for Chuck this would have been a definite 5 star book but that book being so bad caused me to lower it down to 4 stars — still don’t miss this one because 3 out of 4 great stories is worth the read.
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  • J.D. Barker
    January 1, 1970
    Like most of you, I devour everything Stephen King puts down on paper. He plays a great long game but it’s with short stories and novellas where he shines brightest and this latest collection of four may be his best yet. Over recent years his love for authors such as Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, and Meg Gardiner have crept into his own work, adding a realistic police procedural element to some of his tales. Combining with his uncanny ability to make the unbelievable believable, he tends to str Like most of you, I devour everything Stephen King puts down on paper. He plays a great long game but it’s with short stories and novellas where he shines brightest and this latest collection of four may be his best yet. Over recent years his love for authors such as Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, and Meg Gardiner have crept into his own work, adding a realistic police procedural element to some of his tales. Combining with his uncanny ability to make the unbelievable believable, he tends to strike gold—the title story in this book being a great example.IF IT BLEEDS gives us a welcome glimpse into the life of Holly Gibney, his detective of choice for the twenty-first century. Alan Pangborn 2.0 for those of us who have been reading his work for a while. The story picks up after the events of THE OUTSIDER and answers a question not only for Holly but us readers—was the monster in that book alone in the world? I imagine the executive in charge of THE OUTSIDER Season Two over at HBO perked up when this one crossed his or her desk.RAT and MR. HARRIGAN’S PHONE will satisfy those Constant Readers who regularly say things like, “I’ll read the new stuff but it’s the books from the ‘80s that really hooked me.” Either would fit perfectly in earlier collections like NIGHT SHIFT or SKELETON CREW. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, RAT in particular will claw under your skin. There’s a certain anxiety only writers know, one that comes from staring at a blank page for a little too long or just as bad—reading something you just wrote and wondering about your word choice. A simile is not the same as a metaphor and neither are quite an analogy and you can drive yourself mad spilling red ink as you swap one for the other.My personal favorite (and we all have one after reading a book like this, right?) was THE LIFE OF CHUCK. In his author’s note, King mentions how this story came together. I won’t reveal that here, I’ll only say that it works. It works wonderfully. It worked well enough for me to put on my student cap and map out the structure on a piece of paper. Some stories have a rhythm, a beat to them, and this is one you can dance to.This collection has a little something for everyone—the hardcore fans, newbies, and even those people who harp, “Oh, that King guy is too scary for me.” The latter may need to leave a few extra lights on but they’ll find themselves flipping the pages as fast as the rest of us.
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    Mr Harrigan's PhoneI absolutely loved this one, King writers such interesting characters that the reader instantly gets attached too.All the staples of are here as we follow young Craig coming of age whilst working for the wealthy Mr. Harrigan.During the course of their time together Craig introduces the elderly gentleman to an iPhone, resisting at first Mr. Harrigan soon realises the benefits of a cell phone and becomes hooked by the device.King's scepticism to the technology is clear and well Mr Harrigan's PhoneI absolutely loved this one, King writers such interesting characters that the reader instantly gets attached too.All the staples of are here as we follow young Craig coming of age whilst working for the wealthy Mr. Harrigan.During the course of their time together Craig introduces the elderly gentleman to an iPhone, resisting at first Mr. Harrigan soon realises the benefits of a cell phone and becomes hooked by the device.King's scepticism to the technology is clear and well portrayed, I'm just as guilty of using my phone for everything now - I've even written this review on a notes app!The Life of ChuckEasily the weakest in the collection, it does have an interesting narrative as the story is played out over three acts but in reverse order.If It BleedsThe longest story in the collection and the one that most people will be desperate to read, this is a direct sequel to The Outsider as we are reacquaint with Holly Gibeny.One of the most enjoyable aspects of King's recent novels is seeing her progress from a side character in the Mr. Mercades trilogy to the main protagonist in this adventure.I don't want to spoil any of the previous novels, but this in keeping with them as Holly notices that there's something not quite right with a tv correspondent who is reporting on a school bombing.RatKing has written a plethora of stories featuring struggling writers, this time we are introduced to Drew Larson who has had some moderate success with some short stories - but an epic novel has always aluded him.He takes it upon himself to head to a secluded cabin to complete his story.There's a lot of familiarity with this tale, I always find Kings take on the writing process especially as he is well known for some epic length novels which occasionally doesn't quite have that satisfying ending.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars. Oh Yeah! EXPLOSIVE new collection with Apparitions, HUNGRY evil....and one NASTY rat! I so enjoy the anticipation of reading every new KING offering and his latest four story anthology, IF IT BLEEDS was no exception. When I first saw the cover and watched the interactive movement of the cat's nose on the cover, I paid my money on-line, of course, and used curbside pickup at Barnes & Noble the morning it was released to the public.Anyway, I zoomed through the novel in less than two d 4.5 Stars. Oh Yeah! EXPLOSIVE new collection with Apparitions, HUNGRY evil....and one NASTY rat! I so enjoy the anticipation of reading every new KING offering and his latest four story anthology, IF IT BLEEDS was no exception. When I first saw the cover and watched the interactive movement of the cat's nose on the cover, I paid my money on-line, of course, and used curbside pickup at Barnes & Noble the morning it was released to the public.Anyway, I zoomed through the novel in less than two days trying to savor every word yet unable to slow my reading speed, and at the end my first thought was YES! Another Winner! Not 5 stars (for me) this time around, but will definitely look forward to a re-read.A brief recap....MR. HARRIGAN'S PHONE - Nothing really scary here, but there is a bit of creep factor combined with an enjoyable story.I liked Craig and his developing relationship with the new~68 year old billionaire neighbor who likes to give away dollar scratch-off tickets. The young precocious nine year old teaches an old dog new tricks in this story and makes a few surprising discoveries himself when he calls up the dead. (no spoiler here)THE LIFE OF CHUCK - CHARLES KRAMTZ. 39 GREAT YEARS! THANKS CHUCK! Who is Chuck? What is going on? Nobody seems to know, but I'll just say, after you get a glimpse of his life, I think you'll like him and his philosophy on life.IF IT BLEEDS - SK didn't save the best for last, he positioned it third. A delivery man...an explosion...death. And oh boy, Holly Gibney is back with her keen eye for detecting evil, her astonishing bravery and quick action when she suspects that evil threat lurking...Again! (Stephen King says he loves his Holly....me too....so please bring her back!) ***A heads-up warning here: Flashbacks to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider give away some spoilers. RAT - Don't ever trust a RAT, travel down Shithouse Road, shake hands with a coughing, sneezing runny-nose man (especially in 2020) or make a deal with a RAT faced devil in disguise.
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  • Edward Lorn
    January 1, 1970
    His best novella collection since DIFFERENT SEASONS. Full review coming soon.
  • Sandeep
    January 1, 1970
    Another year another Stephen King book. I was delighted to find out that this was a collection of short stories with one novella. I have enjoyed every single one of his shorter works so far and I was excited for this. Here are my reviews for each one of the stories in the book: Mr. Harrigan's Phone - 4 stars. A bittersweet tale of a boy and a wealthy old man. They boy reads to the old man during the evening and he pays for it. The relationship somehow continues after the man's demise. Some sup Another year another Stephen King book. I was delighted to find out that this was a collection of short stories with one novella. I have enjoyed every single one of his shorter works so far and I was excited for this. Here are my reviews for each one of the stories in the book: Mr. Harrigan's Phone - 4 stars. A bittersweet tale of a boy and a wealthy old man. They boy reads to the old man during the evening and he pays for it. The relationship somehow continues after the man's demise. Some supernatural elements are there but it is more of a story that hits you in the feels. Really haunting but beautifully written. Life Of Chuck - 5 stars The story takes a look at the life of Chuck but in reverse chronology. We are introduced to a world that is moving towards it's end. The opening pages are soaked in intrigue and promises what could be a thrill ride. The rest of it is beautiful and touching. It did leave me a little puzzled and with few unanswered questions though. If It Bleeds - 4 stars Holly Gibney's new adventure in a sequel to the King novel "The Outsider" which is a satisfying read. The story picks up after the events of the novel and answers a question not only for Holly but us readers—was the monster in that book alone in the world? Hey HBO, here's your script for Season 2. Rat - 3 stars This is a tale about a writer who has troubles writing a novel and moves to a cabin to write in solidarity, and then.... Stuff happens. The Shinning vibes. Started of great but lost interest towards the end. Nice enough, readable but forgettable.Despite few flaws, this collection is fun, even comforting to read. Like a campfire ghost story, If It Bleeds has just enough supernatural creepiness without being scary at all. King's writing is familiar and amazing as usual. What's next? Whatever it is, I'll devour everything Stephen King puts down on paper.
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of four novellas, If It Bleeds is, depending on your inclination, either ‘classic King’ or ‘coasting King’ as it revisits themes, characters and ideas from his earlier work. Oddly, this works in the book’s favour, lending it a sort of cosy nostalgia. The settings are ostensibly contemporary, but King writes as if living in a mythical dimension where no matter what the actual year is – with smart phones, Fitbits and Ubers thrown in as markers of modernity – it always feels like it’s A collection of four novellas, If It Bleeds is, depending on your inclination, either ‘classic King’ or ‘coasting King’ as it revisits themes, characters and ideas from his earlier work. Oddly, this works in the book’s favour, lending it a sort of cosy nostalgia. The settings are ostensibly contemporary, but King writes as if living in a mythical dimension where no matter what the actual year is – with smart phones, Fitbits and Ubers thrown in as markers of modernity – it always feels like it’s the sixties. Where the school bully’s preferred method of torment is telling the new kid to shine his shoes (shoe-shine kit helpfully provided by the bully himself). This in itself is otherworldly: an America frozen in time, except for the gadgets. The stories are patchy and a little cliched. The title novella, “If It Bleeds”, follows private investigator Holly Gibney, a character from previous King novels. Holly is (conveniently) tracked down by another character, Dan, who has (conveniently) been monitoring the bad guy for years and (conveniently) explains everything to her. Wouldn’t this all work better from Dan’s POV then? Maybe, but the point is to write a ‘Holly Gibney’ story, even if the plot is weak. A reverse-chronological structure elevates “The Life of Chuck”, the best of the bunch, to something almost poignant. “Mr Harrigan’s Phone” and “Rat” are nice enough, readable but forgettable offerings.Despite its flaws, or maybe because of them, this collection is fun, even comforting, to read. Like a campfire ghost story, or episodes of The Twilight Zone, If It Bleeds has just enough supernatural creepiness without being at all scary. King’s writing is time-worn, a little hokey, and very, very familiar… and that’s exactly its appeal.
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  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    [10/03/19] - Unpopular opinion time! I am not a fan of this cover. It totally branches off from the style of The Outsiders and The Institute and I LOVED that style. Also, is that Church from Pet Sematary?*************[9/12/19] - Holly was one of my favorite characters from The Outsiders. I am beyond excited*************is this real?!| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram [10/03/19] - Unpopular opinion time! I am not a fan of this cover. It totally branches off from the style of The Outsiders and The Institute and I LOVED that style. Also, is that Church from Pet Sematary?*************[9/12/19] - Holly was one of my favorite characters from The Outsiders. I am beyond excited*************is this real?!| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a Stephen King novice. Horror is just not my thing, paranormal is really outside of my wheelhouse, but after listening to his On Writing memoir and insights on the craft I realized his storytelling was just my style. So I’ve been on the hunt for books that won’t induce nightmares and this collection of four novellas was a great way to dip my toe in the master’s macabre waters. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: A wonderful coming-of-age story with some beyond the grave moments that intrigued, more than f I’m a Stephen King novice. Horror is just not my thing, paranormal is really outside of my wheelhouse, but after listening to his On Writing memoir and insights on the craft I realized his storytelling was just my style. So I’ve been on the hunt for books that won’t induce nightmares and this collection of four novellas was a great way to dip my toe in the master’s macabre waters. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: A wonderful coming-of-age story with some beyond the grave moments that intrigued, more than frightened. Loved.The Life of Chuck: My absolute favorite. Told backwards in three installments, it’s brilliant and beautiful and speaks to a ‘we contain multitudes’ view of humanity. LOVED.If It Bleeds: The most underwhelming. Too much of the supernatural for my taste and, for a short story, it kind of dragged. Mr. King seems besotted with the main character, he says so in his notes. I was not as enamored. Meh.Rat: Creepy deal-with-the-devil story (in this case a rat), thoughts on creativity and all-around meta. Liked.Which stories resonate with which readers will be more about what we look for in fiction, but one thing is certain for me, Mr. King is due all of the accolades as a master of the craft.
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  • Amanda NEVER MANDY
    January 1, 1970
    The virus situation has my mind going in a thousand different directions which makes writing reviews and reading (my usual happy place) difficult. Lately, I have found more comfort in watching reruns of my favorite shows or lounging outside in the pool with a drink in hand. Today I decided it was finally time to make some word magic happen and knock this review out.This short story collection contains four stories. When I first realized this I was little bummed because my greedy ass wanted there The virus situation has my mind going in a thousand different directions which makes writing reviews and reading (my usual happy place) difficult. Lately, I have found more comfort in watching reruns of my favorite shows or lounging outside in the pool with a drink in hand. Today I decided it was finally time to make some word magic happen and knock this review out.This short story collection contains four stories. When I first realized this I was little bummed because my greedy ass wanted there to be more. There is also an Author’s Note at the end (thank goodness). I do live for that little extra that gives the constant reader a glimpse into the life of the man behind the curtain. So, between the Author’s Note and the sheer joy of having a new King book in my possession, my ill feelings didn’t stand a chance of lasting. ”Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” – Number two on my list, worthy of five stars. This was the perfect story to open with. An emotionally stout and intriguing read. The story centers around the interactions between an older man and the young boy he hired on to help out around the mansion. The characters (as usual) were the best part for me and I enjoyed seeing them form a bond as they shared their knowledge with each other. I enjoyed it even more when the bond between them took a sinister turn. ”The Life of Chuck” – Last place goes to this one, two stars. Chuck is dealing with a lot and so is the rest of the world around him. What once was shocking, slowly descends into a new normal until it abruptly changes in a moment. It took me a while to catch on with what was going on and once I did, I was not that impressed. It felt like the story was trying to be something more than what it ended up being. ”If It Bleeds” – Number one all the way, a definite five star read. My girl (Holly Gibney) is back with a couple of beloved friends to add to her life story as told by King. I use “as told by” because you feel she could really exist out there in this crazy world. Especially after watching the series, The Outsider (all the thanks go to Negin for recommending it). I kid, I kid, I know she is not real. I felt a little fancy wording it like that and needed to justify it in some way for the handful of Goodreads peeps that happen upon this review. ”Rat” – Middle of the road, third spot deserves three stars. This story did entertain but it did not wow. The determination of the main character to see his novel writing project to the end mixed with everything implying it was going to end badly kept me from completely enjoying it. I know this probably doesn’t make sense and I am struggling with how to explain it better. The best I can do is to say that it just didn’t do it for me. What I did like was the bit about how much of a struggle it can be to find the right words sometimes, and how we can be our own worst enemy while doing so (happening as I type this).
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  • Bridgett
    January 1, 1970
    The master of the supernatural is back and better than ever!I've always loved Stephen King's novellas. To create these crazy little worlds so successfully in so few words....what can I say? The man is, and always will be, a creative genius. Onward...Mr. Harrigan's Phone: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My favorite of the four stories, the entire time I was reading I kept thinking to myself, "How in the world does he come up with this creepy shit?" (He actually discusses it in the 'Author's Notes at the end of the boo The master of the supernatural is back and better than ever!I've always loved Stephen King's novellas. To create these crazy little worlds so successfully in so few words....what can I say? The man is, and always will be, a creative genius. Onward...Mr. Harrigan's Phone: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My favorite of the four stories, the entire time I was reading I kept thinking to myself, "How in the world does he come up with this creepy shit?" (He actually discusses it in the 'Author's Notes at the end of the book, but I didn't know that at the time.) I was legit jealous I hadn't thought of it myself. It's endearingly clever. Unlike some of King's more recent works, which left the character's ages vague and unclear to me, in Mr. Harrigan's Phone, he absolutely nailed the millennial voice.The Life of Chuck: ⭐️⭐️⭐️I adore apocalyptic stories, and the first section of this novella was ah-MAZ-ing...definitely a world I had no interest being a part of, but one which was so engrossing, I couldn't tear my eyes from my Kindle. Unfortunately, as it's told in reverse, the beginning of the story was stronger than the middle and concluding sections. In fact, and perhaps it's just me, it didn't really make sense. The key plot points were there, but due to an unanswered question or two, the three sections didn't tie together in a way that gave me the satisfying conclusion I was hoping for.If It Bleeds: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Holly Gibney, of The Outsider and the The Bill Hodges Trilogy fame, is back in this title story, once again fighting a paranormal entity. Consider this gem the sequel to The Outsider. I truly enjoy Holly, but King really seems to love this character, stating in a recent NPR interview, "I just love Holly, and I wish she were a real person and that she were my friend, because I’m so crazy about her. The first book that she was in was Mr. Mercedes, and she more or less stole the book and she stole my heart." I enjoyed this story, as I enjoy this quirky character immensely, but I do believe it might be confusing to the readers who haven't yet read any of the novels mentioned above. So much subtext and history is lost...so please keep that in mind.Rat: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Of the four stories in this anthology, Rat is 100% quintessential King. This story had remnants of The Shining, The Dark Half, and The Mist. I really, really enjoyed the "behind the scenes of a working writer" vibes. It felt as though King was giving us a first-hand glimpse of his process. Even better, the story is just plain creepy.************As a side note, I'm pretty sure Donald Trump was bashed in at least three of the four stories. Look, I'm not a supporter, but neither am I a hater. Regardless, I really wish authors would keep their politics to themselves. I see enough of that crap on social media...I don't need it in the books I'm reading to escape. Take note, S.K., you sexy genius, you. Oh, and also, I'm totally digging the book cover and title. Perfection.
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  • Edgarr Alien Pooh
    January 1, 1970
    Stephen King delivers yet again with this volume of four short stories. Much of the anticipation around this was the short story that furthers the story of Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers Agency, introduced to us in the Bill Hodges Trilogy and then becoming the main character in The Outsider.The longest of the four stories is the title story, If It Bleeds, which is the one that Holly appears in. Although she is only in this story I would have to say you need to read her previous encounters t Stephen King delivers yet again with this volume of four short stories. Much of the anticipation around this was the short story that furthers the story of Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers Agency, introduced to us in the Bill Hodges Trilogy and then becoming the main character in The Outsider.The longest of the four stories is the title story, If It Bleeds, which is the one that Holly appears in. Although she is only in this story I would have to say you need to read her previous encounters to get any handle on what is happening here. At the very least, and if you can ignore the Brady Hartsfield and Bill Hodges references, you definitely need to read The Outsider first. The story of If It Bleeds is just a perfect flow on from The Outsider.The other three stories are as you would expect from King, a mixture of horror, suspense, and weirdness. The fourth story, The Rat, is something only King can get away with without sounding ridiculous, although he does fall back on a well-used formula, that of a writer. I loved the first of the stories, Mr. Harrigan's phone. I don't think I will ever get tired of King's descriptions of Maine but I am not American and have never been there so for me it is purely the State of Stephen King. This story takes us back in terms of technology to around the time mobile (cell) phones were first being introduced. Having lived this period I can remember the fun and games involved with the world opening up and the conspiracy theories surrounding the new tech and Mr. Harrigan is right in this mix.You will see that although I have stated that I love this book, I have only given it four stars. Unfortunately, the book loses a star for me because of the second story, The Life of Chuck. Had this story kept going it may have been my favourite in the book but I was a little disappointed in the ending. The build-up was awesome, it kept me guessing and reading, eager to see what was happening and then it just wrapped up. There were so many loose ends that I really think this story could have been the length of If It Bleeds and become a much more well-rounded delivery.
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  • Kevin Kuhn
    January 1, 1970
    This is a collection of four short works, novellas in length I believe. If I have a knock on the book, it’s that there isn’t really a good connection across the stories and “If It Bleeds” reads more like a novel that just didn’t quite pass the length test to be standalone. In the end, I don’t care, because I enjoyed all four stories and several were pure ‘King.’ I’ve written a little about each of the four stories below. “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”King might be at his best when he writes from a child This is a collection of four short works, novellas in length I believe. If I have a knock on the book, it’s that there isn’t really a good connection across the stories and “If It Bleeds” reads more like a novel that just didn’t quite pass the length test to be standalone. In the end, I don’t care, because I enjoyed all four stories and several were pure ‘King.’ I’ve written a little about each of the four stories below. “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”King might be at his best when he writes from a child’s perspective. Think of IT, “The Body”, or more recently “The Institute.’ Or consider some of his standout child characters such as Danny Torrance (“The Shining”) or Charlie McGee (“Firestarter”). And somehow, he nails adult relationships from a child’s viewpoint, which is sheer talent, in my book. Anyways, that’s the highlight for me in this excellent tale, the relationship between Craig, the young protagonist, and Mr. Harrigan. Of course, the ‘monkey paw’ horror component works too, but that’s just the icing on the cake.“The Life of Chuck”In my opinion, this is the weakest of the four stories in this collection. It’s a three-part tale told in reverse and a little gimmicky, not that I mind a bit of plot trickery in shorter works. You figure out the overall premise of the work, about halfway through the first tale (which is the ending), and it’s kind of fun to work backwards, but I enjoyed the first part the most.“If It Bleeds”“If it bleeds, it leads,” is an old newspaper/television reporter axiom. In this tale, we get the return of ‘Holly Gibney.’ She is quickly becoming one of King’s favorite and most defined characters. We met her in the Mr. Mercedes series, and she returned in “The Outsider.” She goes solo (mostly), in this story. It’s similar to the second half of “The Outsider”, but well written and carried me along with strong currents both due to Holly, but also a thrilling plot. At nearly 200 pages, I think King could have expanded this into a standalone novel. Maybe add a James Bond type opening (an unrelated mini-adventure), and another scene here or there and he'd be at 300 pages. Oh well, I enjoyed it, I just hate for Holly to have to share the limelight with three other novellas!“Rat”I love when Stephen King writes about writing. Why? Well first, he knows a little about it. He’s not afraid to express his fears about writing poorly or about ‘losing the words.’ To me, when his character is an author, it always feels personal and honest. For maximum impact, I recommend you read this story, while you are fifty percent complete of a full-length novel like I am. Much of the plot concerns our main character, ‘Drew,’ and his experiences attempting to finish a novel. King points out that with every scene written, the author loses a bit of choice until at some point you’re left in a ‘cow chute.’ Or, even worst, the words just might dry up. And when you’ve invested a good bit of your time and a little of your soul in fifty percent of a novel, it’s a little terrifying to think about a premature expiry. Anyway, I loved ‘Rat,’ but for me personally, it’s a true stomach-turning, horror story!Overall, I give the whole collection four stars. “The Life of Chuck” drags it down a little, but in my opinion “If It Bleeds” had the potential to be a full length novel and didn’t deserve to share the pages with the other three. Still, three excellent stories and a fully entertaining reading experience.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this collection of 4 novellas as a whole and especially loved the first one “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”. This was part a sweet coming of age story, in which a young boy introduces an elderly man to the joys of the iPhone, and part horror. King does children very well. It (and the last novella “Rat”) had a Twilight Zone feel about them. It also helped that this part of the audiobook was read by Will Patton who is always wonderful. “The Life of Chuck” combined several short stories about Chuck I liked this collection of 4 novellas as a whole and especially loved the first one “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”. This was part a sweet coming of age story, in which a young boy introduces an elderly man to the joys of the iPhone, and part horror. King does children very well. It (and the last novella “Rat”) had a Twilight Zone feel about them. It also helped that this part of the audiobook was read by Will Patton who is always wonderful. “The Life of Chuck” combined several short stories about Chuck and I found that organization a little hard to follow on the audiobook. “If it Bleeds” continues the premise behind “The Outsider”. While I liked that book a lot, I wasn’t necessarily interested in continuing in that world and this novella dragged on a little too long for me (but it had Will Patton again, so that was a plus). In “Rat”, a writer makes an unfortunate bargain. The flu can make you do strange things.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Library, Overdrive Audiobook...narrated by Will Patton, Danny Burstein, and Steven Weber “Mr. Harrigan”... the first coming-of-age story, with the child protagonist, was worth the entire bundle of the 4 novella’s. It was sweet! Loved it!!! I honestly lost interest in the others. 5 stars - for *Craig* in “Mr. Harrigan”.... the child I came to adore!! Not rating the others!
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  • Zoeytron
    January 1, 1970
    Having recently reread several of Stephen King's earlier novels, these stories seemed pale in comparison.  Although the story after which the collection is named is an easy 4 stars, I am unwilling to give more than three twinkles to any of the remaining tales.  To this Constant Reader, they were okay, just not stellar.       Mr. Harrigan's PhoneA good friend is a friend for life (view spoiler)[and perhaps even longer (hide spoiler)].  The Life of ChuckA great start to this one, loved watching as Having recently reread several of Stephen King's earlier novels, these stories seemed pale in comparison.  Although the story after which the collection is named is an easy 4 stars, I am unwilling to give more than three twinkles to any of the remaining tales.  To this Constant Reader, they were okay, just not stellar.       Mr. Harrigan's PhoneA good friend is a friend for life (view spoiler)[and perhaps even longer (hide spoiler)].  The Life of ChuckA great start to this one, loved watching as the world was going dark, but as we backtracked, it meandered into tepid territory for me.  If It BleedsEasily the strongest story in the collection for me.  If you liked The Outsider and the Holly Gibney character, this one will not disappoint.  RatA short story writer has an idea for a novel that is begging to be written.  As bad metaphors ricochet in his sick, feverish mind, "help" arrives in the form of a rat.
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  • Karla
    January 1, 1970
    “Mr. Harrington’s phone” 4 stars** story 5 stars** audio narrator Will PattonI really enjoyed this one and was intrigued right from the first chapter. I found the relationship between the characters uniquely charming especially because Mr. Harrington was such an ornery person. Of course it’s not a King story if there isn’t any eeriness to it add to that the amazing narration by Will Patton who’s always spot on. Solid read. ❤️“The Life Of Chuck”3.75 stars** story 4 stars** audioNarrator Danny Bur “Mr. Harrington’s phone” 4 stars** story 5 stars** audio narrator Will PattonI really enjoyed this one and was intrigued right from the first chapter. I found the relationship between the characters uniquely charming especially because Mr. Harrington was such an ornery person. Of course it’s not a King story if there isn’t any eeriness to it add to that the amazing narration by Will Patton who’s always spot on. Solid read. ❤️“The Life Of Chuck”3.75 stars** story 4 stars** audioNarrator Danny BursteinOk! I’m not gonna lie this one started out really good but, somehow by the end I was like huh?! The way he structure the story was made the story confusing for me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I read Mr. King’s foreword it wouldn’t have made much sense. The first acts of the story were super creepy I literally thought I was gonna see chucks face in my window with his disturbing smile. Overall still like it plenty. ❤️“If It Bleeds”4 stars** story5 stars** audioNarrator Will PattonWhat can I say about this one it had Holly, who is one of my favorite Stephen king characters. There’s just something so endearing about her. I still find it so hard to see her without Bill, but at the same time so proud of all she has accomplished. This installment wasn’t anything new and as much as enjoyed the cuco plot I was hoping for something different. It was still good though! It had me on the edge of my seat some parts had me shuddering. I do hope Holly’s next book ventures into new things for her, Jerome, and Barbara. ❤️“Rat” 3.5 stars** story & audio Narrator Steven WeberMy least favorite of the bunch. I found this one slow and it had my mind drifting off. I think if it would of been a shorter read maybe it would of been better.❤️
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Another year another Stephen King book this time containing 4 novellas and not another full novel, I have found that Kings shorter stories and novellas are actually quite brilliant and offer some amazing stories. I do love the cover and was in first view also wondering if the cover might depict Church from "Pet Cemetery" but that is not the case the cats nose seems to contain at least one of the books novella titles hidden very nicely. Mr. Harrigans PhoneA bittersweet tale about a boy and an adu Another year another Stephen King book this time containing 4 novellas and not another full novel, I have found that Kings shorter stories and novellas are actually quite brilliant and offer some amazing stories. I do love the cover and was in first view also wondering if the cover might depict Church from "Pet Cemetery" but that is not the case the cats nose seems to contain at least one of the books novella titles hidden very nicely. Mr. Harrigans PhoneA bittersweet tale about a boy and an adult man who befriends him and helps him making some extra money reading books to him. The relationship somehow continues after the mans demise. Some supernatural but modern stuff involved. Really haunting but beautiful written. The Life of ChuckThis reads like a post apocalyptic story at first and is then about life itself, as always King knows how to tell a tale but this one left me puzzled and less impressed. For me one of Kings lesser stories. It is actually according to Stephen King three short stories within one novella If It Bleeds Holly Gibsons new adventure in a sequel to the King novel "The Ousider" which is a satisfying read even if it is situated in the near future (like end of this year / next year). The story builds upon the new kind of baddie as created by King in the previous novel. RatThis is a little Faustian tale about a writer who has troubles writing a novel and makes some interesting choices. A nice writers tale of whom King has written so often this one is very likable.The advantage of a book with Novellas is that you can read them in no particular order and so I kept the title track of the book for last and looking forward to it. This book was already easier to read than the previous Stephen King novel "The institute" which still lies on my stack of books that I have not finished yet. Glad to see King back on form and his best format besides the doorstop-format.
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  • posthuman
    January 1, 1970
    I've been enjoying Stephen King's books since I was a kid and eagerly awaited publication of his latest, If It Bleeds. However, this collection of stories was a mixed bag that left me slightly disappointed. "Rat" is a claustrophobic fable about a neurotic creative writing teacher who isolates himself in a remote cabin near the Canadian border during a winter storm. I relished this snarky reflection on the writing process with a clever touch of magical realism. Struggling author Drew makes a Faus I've been enjoying Stephen King's books since I was a kid and eagerly awaited publication of his latest, If It Bleeds. However, this collection of stories was a mixed bag that left me slightly disappointed. "Rat" is a claustrophobic fable about a neurotic creative writing teacher who isolates himself in a remote cabin near the Canadian border during a winter storm. I relished this snarky reflection on the writing process with a clever touch of magical realism. Struggling author Drew makes a Faustian bargain with a talking rat. Perhaps one of King's best shorts.The eponymous novella "If It Bleeds" continues the story of the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch) and The Outsider. I loved all of these books and quickly devoured this tale of autistic, obsessive-compulsive private investigator Holly Gibney growing into her independence as she tries to thwart a supernatural villain, perhaps a sort of cousin to the Outsider. The story was riveting, but the ending left me rather unsatisfied. This novella felt like it could have been the perfect first half of a novel, reaching a sort of false victory begging to be undermined by a more clever antagonist. Hopefully another book is in the works that will pick up where this story left off. If you haven't already, I recommend reading the Bill Hodges trilogy and The Outsider first."Mr. Harrigan's Phone" is a classic gothic horror tale that largely works if you can accept the somewhat silly conceit of a haunted iPhone. Craig is an enterprising, optimistic boy who befriends Mr. Harrigan, a wealthy hermit at the end of his life. After Craig gifts this Luddite an iPhone, the story takes a turn into gothic territory and builds up toward a crescendo of what might have been truly horrific, but instead ends with a whimper."The Life of Chuck" is certainly the most ambitious story in the collection in terms of narrative structure, but it didn't resonate with me. Three stories are told in reverse chronological order. The first part concerns a series of mysterious billboards thanking someone named "Chuck" during an insane apocalypse that makes covid-19 look like a walk in the park. The second is the story of the same Chuck featured on the billboards connecting with strangers as he dances in the street to the beat of a busker. The third is about Chuck's coming of age living with his grandparents in a haunted house. I'm going to dare to suggest that less would have been more in the case of this book. As much as I'd love to get my grubby hands on a new full-length Holly Gibney novel, even this shorter novella would have made for a more delightful read published entirely by itself. There wasn't any sort of theme tying these shorts together and a couple of them felt like unnecessary padding to extend the page count. I enjoyed "Rat" and "If It Bleeds," but "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" and "The Life of Chuck" were not at the same level of dazzling storytelling.
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