Tag: books

Review: Bad City – Matt Mayr

When I came across this debut novel by Matt Mayr I was excited to give it a try. Some of you may have gathered that I really enjoy books of a dystopian theme, so picking up this book was a no-brainer for me.

Bad City
GoodReads – Bad City

In the violent world of post-apocalyptic South Town, Eli Baxter is king, ruling from the thirteenth floor of his building while henchman do his bidding. Simon Gray, a talented young thief, now disillusioned with South Town, is desperate to escape with the woman he loves. As he plots their journey north, glimpses of his childhood in South India and Northern Ontario reveal the world as it once was, fueling his desire to break away. But when he’s handed a new job, one that will make Eli untouchable, Simon realizes that escape – and transcendence to love and a peaceful way of life – might be harder than he thought.

Dark, atmospheric, and gritty, Bad City is the debut novel by Matt Mayr and was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

“Degrees of blood and violence like a shockwave of radiation, an eternal extension of the darkness that came hard and fast when the river poured into the city.”

 

The book follows Simon, a highly skilled thief, recruited by Eli Baxter to steal an object from his rival Fisher. The object in question will make his rule of South Town undeniable. Simon has an unusual childhood background in that his parents left the City to become independent. As a child, Simon hated this, but surrounded by the violence and corruption of the city following the Flood, it becomes his dream to escape and live in the cabin owned by his parents.

My initial thoughts when I read this book was that if  South Town was truly that awful, there should be more atrocities going on. It almost seemed to me that whilst there was a certain degree of violence and depravity going on in the background, the focus was only on those caused by the main characters of the book. Given that these cities and the population are ruled using fear of what lies beyond these “safe” havens, I think this could have been played up more… almost made to be a little bit casual in a way, so it seems like a regular occurrence. The casual attitude should not play it down – the reader will be shocked regardless because this behaviour is not what they are used to.

Simon as our main character is well developed. Not only does the narration of the current events tell us about Simon’s personality… we also get flashbacks to his life as a child, how he came to be a thief and his influences in growing up. I think his aims are common in that he wishes to escape but for the most part, he doesn’t have the means to live a self sustainable life. When he meets and falls in love with Eva, who has access to seeds for crops, they stand a real chance of getting away.

In my opinion, Eva is the most underdeveloped character of the book. Admittedly, she doesn’t feature too much or do anything really important in terms of moving the plot along, but I would like to know her a little better. What makes her unafraid to wander the streets alone when every other woman has a male chaperone? Would she have not had trouble at the market in being charged extra by an uncooperative seller before Simon comes along? I wish there was a bit more background to her.

I actually quite like Anton. Whilst he is a man hell bent on revenge, I can relate to him a lot. He strikes me as the type that takes a lot to make him angry, but once he snaps, that’s it. I can kind of relate to that as I am much the same way; I might bite someone’s head off, don’t murder people, I promise!!

Every character’s motives and ideas are justified by their history and current position. I imagine that it must be difficult to establish characters and make them believable when putting them in a situation unlike a more familiar setting we know today, but Mayr achieves this reasonably well.

Without giving anything away, I think the plot flowed very well and the transitions between present day and the “flashbacks” were not difficult to follow. As well as it flowed, it didn’t necessarily pan out the way I first expected, but it was all the better for it. If anybody else out there loves this genre of book, I absolutely recommend it to read. There’s death, there’s violence and there’s corruption, but let us not forget, in the darkest of times there is always hope of something better.
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Sunday Summary: 24 September 2017

Hi guys!! Hope you are having a lovely weekend!!
I don’t know about you, but this has been a pretty mental week for me. Some of you may know that I was away on a short break earlier on this week, so I actually didn’t pick up a book for two days! TWO!! I had to on the third, since I had a several hour boat trip home to kill some time on. The lack of internet may also have swayed my decision…
 

Books Read


On account of being away for those few days my reading game has been pretty weak. I started The Maze Runner by James Dashner last Saturday night; I finished this yesterday and I have read about 25% of Dunstan by Conn Iggulden. I told you it was bad.
I’ll console myself with my pile of shopping instead.
 

Books Discovered

I get to this stage every week and feel like I should be going to Confession in church. I lack two things to be able to do this though. Firstly, I’m not remotely religious. Secondly, I have absolutely no intention of promising to stop buying books.


So, I bought two. Two isn’t so bad, right? That’s what I tell myself. I bought The Sun God’s Heir, by Elliot Baker and Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. Whilst the former is a completely new discovery to me, I actually added Red Sister to my TBR back in April this year. The opportunity came up to buy this book at a discount, so I took it!
As well as purchasing books, I have added a number to the TBR this week. I set myself up on Twitter last week and it has proven to be very useful for connecting with other bloggers and writers too! So much so, over the next two months I have four ARC’s to read! Exciting times! I’ll tell you a little more about them when I publish my reading list for the month they are being read and reviewed in!

As well as the books I have purchased, I have added quite a few books to the pile that I am yet to buy, including Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear, Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks and 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter.
Finally, my last addition to the TBR is The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, as I completed reading The Maze Runner yesterday.
 

Coming Up…

So this next week I am blessed with some additional time off work and no other major commitments, so I’ll be able to fit lots of reading in!
On Tuesday, as usual, I will be publishing a review of one of my latest reads. This week, it is Bad City by Matt Mayr. This is his first novel so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on any further releases from this new author!
As I have time on my hands I am also bringing you an extra little cheeky blog post this week!! On Thursday I am going to be reviewing my TBR pile again and having a sort out using the meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.
As the first of the month begins on Sunday, and I am too fond of my Sunday summaries for organising myself, I am instead publishing my October Reading List on Friday and my Sunday Summary will be published as usual.
I hope you all have a fantastic week ahead! What books are you reading?
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Special Post – My favourite books!

Hi everyone!!
At the time you are reading this I am probably running into as many shops as physically possible, dragging my mum in tow, before our shopping trip has to come to an inevitable end. *sigh* Admittedly, I’ll probably be just as knackered too!
In my absence I didn’t want to see you disappointed, so I have prepared a post featuring two of my favourite books/series – the first being my favourite book out of the selection I have read this year so far and secondly, my favourite series of all-time. Let’s get started!!
 

Favourite Book of the Year

When I decided this was the kind of post I was going to be writing I knew exactly which book I was going to be featuring in this section.
I love books that tackle major issues in society and challenge our views, be that past or present. Whilst today I would LIKE to think there is far less discrimination going on than in the 1930’s, truthfully that’s not the case. Instead of hatred being aimed at individuals based on race, today religious discrimination is huge. I don’t condone it at all. I can understand why people might come to the conclusion that all individuals of a minority group behave in the same way as a select few that do end up on the news, having committed awful acts or crimes, but if you do this, you are wrong.
We should not tar 99% of the population of the minority group with the same brush as the 1% of individuals who take the views of their religion to the extreme. That isn’t fair. If you stop to take a look you will find that that remaining 99% are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Seriously.
Let’s think of it another way and use another common misconception to bring this a little closer to home. British holiday makers are often accused of being drunken troublemakers. I have absolutely no doubt that in holiday resorts a large percentage of the drunk and disorderly individuals arrested are British. Yep. That’s not to say ALL British are drunks. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had a drink this year, and if I had to have a finger cut off for the number of hangovers I have had, I would still have all of them.
Now I’ve gotten that little rant over with, I can tell you which book it is that has really made me feel so passionately about this.
Green Mile
Yes folks, it’s The Green Mile by Stephen King. If anyone is interested in reading my review of this book, it can be found here.
 

Favourite Book(s) – All-time

So, having thought about this I truthfully cannot pin this down to one book, but rather a series. It’s probably a predictable answer as well, but it’s the truth!!
My favourite series of all time has to be the A Song of Ice and Fire series, better known as A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin!

Whilst I have other books that I have rated five stars over the years, this is the only series I have gone back to read again in it’s entirety (as much as possible anyway). I found it amazing that upon reading the first book again, it’s actually quite easy to understand. Thankfully, the plot building and diverging happens gradually so as not to throw you into the deep end of a pit of sharks… not immediately at least!
I don’t know what else I can add other than that series is amazing (and I’m obviously not the only one to think so!) and that I can’t wait for the next book.
No really, I can’t. Not only that, we are potentially having to wait until 2019 for the final season to air on TV?! I’m going to have to find another TV or book series as a crutch to keep me going until then!!
What is your favourite book or series? Do you agree with me, or do you have another?
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Review: American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Good morning fellow blog readers and writers!

Today I am giving you a spoiler-free review of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, in case anybody out there is still yet to jump on the bandwagon. I bought a copy of this book back in May with the book vouchers my sister gave (traded with) me and I have been looking forward to reading this book since!

Following the release of the television series there has been a lot of buzz on the blogosphere for both the series and the book… so I had to see what all the hype was about. I tried not to read too much in the way of spoilers or equally have my perception of the book altered by the opinions of others. Upon starting the book I was advised by a fellow blogger that it was a book that has to be read at least twice to fully grasp.

As much as I took this on board, I did my best to go into the book with an open mind. American Gods isn’t the first book I have read by Neil Gaiman. I perfectly understood and enjoyed Stardust, which I read earlier this year.

American Gods
GoodReads – American Gods

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Having reached “the other side” I can completely understand why I was advised not to just read this book once. It is a complex book and it discusses many important themes. Unlike some other books, I wouldn’t say that the discussion of these things is subtle; in fact the understanding of immigration of Gods from other continents and the waning power of the religion/belief in these Gods is a pivotal point of the story. That being said, I think the book can still be enjoyed whether you only think of these topics on a superficial level, or equally if you want to delve a little deeper into it.

I am going to be perfectly honest here and say that if I have one criticism of the book, is that I found the pace to be a bit slow for the first half. That being said, I also found I had to take frequent breaks to digest what was going on because the story in many places goes from being reasonably normal to rapidly stretching the imagination very quickly.  Were I to read it again I think I could appreciate the build up to the climax more; I was eager to see how events would unfold. Maybe I was a bit slow on the uptake, but I thought the plot finally began to unravel quite late on. The second half was much more readable. I think it took me about four days to get through the first half of the book and then two to complete the second. To me, the prose seemed to flow naturally (plus as well at this point we fully expect the whackiness).

Admittedly when I immediately finished reading the book, I wasn’t sure I was fully satisfied with it. On reflection though, I did enjoy the book and its many themes. It is (for me) a book that it is better to stand back and appreciate as a whole picture rather than individual scenes and characters. I didn’t bond with any of the characters purely because they all had traits I dislike. To my mind that only goes to show that not even Gods, as humans create them, are perfect… and that’s a good thing! I didn’t overly bond with our main character Shadow either but I’m not disappointed about that – a character who has had to persevere serving three years in prison, the death of his wife and then being thrown into the crazy world of Gods is going to be the kind of person who keeps an arms length relationship with people, purely just to cope.

I would highly recommend that anyone out there who hasn’t read this book to do so. I wouldn’t say it is an easy read, but it is an enjoyable one all the same. I will definitely be reading it again. Who knows, maybe I have missed something and will pick it up in a second read. I do think this is one of the books in life that has the power to keep on giving.
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Sunday Summary – 17th September 2017

Good afternoon everybody! I hope you are all having a pleasant day!!
Today has been a reasonably busy one for me and that’s why this post is coming to you a little later than usual today. Sorry about that!!
 

Books Read


This week has been pretty good, which surprises me in a way. A few nights this week I came home and after doing all the necessary stuff, I just couldn’t get into reading all that much. I did manage to read a little every day, but not as much as I could have done! Thankfully I made up for it yesterday. Monday night was a good one as I was determined to finish American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I did. The next book on my TBR list was Bad City by Matt Mayr. It was this book I spent most of the week reading (or not reading very much as the case was), but thankfully I managed to read the second half of this book yesterday and finished it with enough time to start reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I haven’t read much of this – I’m in chapter 3 at the moment, but it is a solid start.
 

Books Discovered

I always dread logging on to my Amazon account to find out how many books I’ve bought. It’s one of those situations where you want to both look and shut the laptop screen down in a panic simultaneously. I think the trouble is that it is so easy to spend money nowadays – that however is another topic and I’ll go wildly off tangent if I carry on that thought.
In the Blood
Thankfully I was able to sigh in relief when I checked Amazon this week. Admittedly, this week I bought three. I don’t feel guilty though. Two were books on my TBR for this month that I hadn’t bought in advance, being the Maze Runner (my current read) and Making History by Stephen Fry, which is the last book on the list for this month. The other book I bought is In the Blood by Steve Robinson. I actually saw an advert for book three in this series and I thought it sounded really interesting. It said you could read that as a standalone story, but I know what I’m like. I went back and bought this one, which is the first of the series.
 

Coming Up…

So this next week coming up I am actually having a short break away, so I might be a little less active on reading other people’s blog etc. I have a special blog post I am preparing for you to fill the void I am away.
On Tuesday I will be reviewing my recent read of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I like to try and give everyone a vibe as to what my review is going to be like at this point, but I genuinely couldn’t say. Admittedly I need to sit and have a think on it – I don’t think I’ve entirely made my mind up yet.
Now my special post on Friday is going to cover two books:-

  • My favourite book so far this year
  • My favourite book of all time

Now for this post I am going to tease you by keeping my cards close to my chest. You’ll have to check out my post on Friday.
Last but certainly not least I’ll be giving you a round up of the week, and I might even tell you a little bit about the spoils I bring back from my shopping trip!
The last little thing I want to tell you all about refers to my post on Friday, The Diary. If anyone looked closely enough, you’ll see I had an entry in on Friday to have a draft ready for a fairytale short story I am submitting for a competition. The good news is that I was actually ahead of schedule and I have now made my submission into the competition!! It’s the first real competition I have entered, so it’s exciting for me. For that reason I am also not expecting much from it, but I plan on writing more and entering more competitions in the future so if nothing else, it is all good practice.
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The Diary

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of getting myself into a routine of sitting down and to write. It didn’t overly matter what – it was the setting aside time that was the goal.
We all lead very busy, fast paced lives. I work thirty five hours a week, or doing the nine to five, as it is called. I also live by myself, so inevitably all those wonderful household jobs we love fall on me to do. Not only that, there’s people to see and things to do, so how do we find the time to manage everything?
On top of everything else, I initially set myself the task of twenty books this year. This is a goal I had never reached before. Circumstances meant I wasn’t spending much time at home in January; between going to work and visiting a close relative in hospital, my life was hectic. It was the reading habit I developed during this period that helped me knock my reading target out of the park. I had very little free time but I made the most of it. I needed something to relax and help me wind down at night to get to sleep. Reading served both purposes.
It was in April when I decided to start a blog. I wanted to take the plunge to write and I wanted to challenge myself further in terms of reading, so naturally my thoughts wandered to the idea of a book blog. There are many books blogs out there and I love to browse them myself in any free minutes I get. It was hardly an original idea, but the best way to inspire myself to write is by doing it about something I know and love.
I am pleased with how well I have taken to blogging as well as managing my extra reading; over the past few weeks I have really gotten to grips with it. I regularly post three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No longer am I depending on having read books so I can write a review post. I have been inspired by the many other book blogs out there to write book related content as well as reviews and that makes it easier to post consistently.
I am the type of person that needs organisation in order to see something come together, and that is how I have managed to pick my blog up and get it into shape. Yes folks… I got myself a diary. I was fortunate enough to decide to get one a few weeks before the start of school term, so I have an ACADEMIC for a full year instead of a few months! My projects are running January to December in my head so I’ll have to make the switch at some point though.
So this is what my diary looks like this week, for anybody interested.
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As well as the practicality of a structured diary, I love the use of colour, so I use different colours depending on the task:-

  • Yellow – books I have started
  • Green – books I have completed
  • Pink – Blog related taks
  • Orange – Other writing related taks

In the back of the diary I also have a full list of the books I have read this year, and it looks like this:-

When I said I loved colour, I really wasn’t kidding.
I have fallen in love with the idea of bullet journals, but at the moment I don’t think I could juggle creating this as well as the reading and writing. Perhaps this is something to consider further down the line.
What I do know is this – the blog has helped my reading. Looking at that list above I can tell when I started the blog as the books I choose to read become for diverse. Yes, I still read a lot of Pratchett and other series that I have started, but they are more spread out and I try a few different books in-between.
The diary, since I started it has in turn been a great help to my blog. On the 22nd August, four months on from starting the blog (or thereabouts) I hit the milestone of fifty followers – I know that because I popped that little achievement in the diary!! I know I’m hardly a high flyer on the follower count, but I’m still pleased all the same. At that point I began posting regularly as opposed to sporadically and in just over three weeks, I now have just shy of seventy. Again, not huge, but a definite improvement in such a short time.
It’s safe to say that keeping myself organised is paying off for me. I’ll be keeping up the diary and the regular blogging.
I’m interested to know how you keep up your blogs. How do you plan ahead? Do you plan ahead, or post in the spur of the moment. It will be interesting to compare how different bloggers manage the workload.

Review: Men At Arms – Terry Pratchett

If you’re a lover of all things Fantasy, Terry Pratchett is a fantastic author to fall back on if you’re looking for a fabulous read. The Discworld series of books are all based on the same fictional world, roaming through time and space on the back of four elephants, which are in turn carried on the back of A’tuin, the Great World Turtle. One of my favourite things about the series is that the books don’t really depend on you having read any of the others, so anyone can pick one up and not be lost. One slight drawback to this is that for devoted readers, you get to read the explanation as to why light travels slowly over the Discworld again and again. And again, just for good measure.

Men at Arms
GoodReads – Men At Arms

A Young Dwarf’s Dream

Corporal Carrot has been promoted! He’s now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork, Discworld’s greatest city, from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It’s a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf.

But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork, ruled for decades by Disorganized crime, has a secret sovereign! And his name is Carrott…

And so begins the most awesome epic encounter of all time, or at least all afternoon, in which the fate of a city—indeed of the universe itself!—depends on a young man’s courage, an ancient sword’s magic, and a three-legged poodle’s bladder.

 

My Thoughts…

Men At Arms is the second book following the adventures of the City Guard of Ankh-Morpork. Our main character Carrot, born human was adopted as a dwarf and joined the Watch to make a man of himself. As mentioned above, whilst it may be helpful to have read the first book for backstories of the guards, it is not essential at all. Carrot has now been promoted to Corporal and the City Guard is recruiting. Captain Vimes is getting married to the richest, most dragon-loving woman in the city and is due to retire. Vimes is a man very set in his ways; whilst he tries to adapt to his new life as a hobnobbing gentleman, he struggles to lose his attachment to the Watch. He also doesn’t like the new recruits, a troll, a dwarf and a woman. Vetinari, the City’s leader has decided to champion equal opportunities for all.

When a mysterious weapon goes missing and murders start sprouting up in Ankh-Morpork, despite their differences, can the guards rally themselves to hunt the killer down?

I admire how Pratchett manages to drop in  important themes within the utterly whimsical, comical and outrageous world that is the Discworld. Race is a topic that comes up throughout the book. Dwarves and trolls hate each other. Why? At some battle a long long time ago each side accused the other of foul play. Well, that’s how it started. In today’s society, dwarves and trolls hate each other because their ancestors have successfully hated each other for centuries. Why break tradition?

Not only is race challenged as a topical issue, governmental corruption also features massively. Ankh-Morpork is a corrupt city through and through. Home to the Assassin’s Guild, the  Thieves Guild and even the Alchemist’s Guild, to mention but a few names, the city thrives on money. For a fee, you can arrange for a certain somebody to disappear. For a fee, you can walk the streets safely in the assurance you won’t get robbed. Nobody  can guarantee your safety from flying debris if you walk past the Alchemist’s Guild, however. If you happen to chance your arm robbing somebody and you don’t have a license to do so, you had best pray it’s the Guards that get you before the Thieves Guild.

Here are some of my favourite quotes of the book:-

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Colon thought Carrot was simple. Carrot often struck people as simple. And he was. Where people went wrong was thinking that simple meant the same thing as stupid.

The Librarian was, of course, very much in favour of reading in general, but readers in particular got on his nerves. There was something, well, sacrilegious about the way they kept taking books off the shelves and wearing out the words by reading them. He liked people who loved and respected books, and the best way to do that, in the Librarian’s opinion, was to leave them on the shelves where Nature intended them to be.

People ought to think for themselves, Captain Vimes says. The problem is, people only think for themselves if you tell them to.

I’m sure like many other readers out there, I read to escape from reality for a little while. I read to forget about those bills I have to pay and to forget I have to get up and go to work in the morning… and that’s okay. I get that escapism from books. For me, it makes a goddamn fantastic author if they can achieve this and still highlight issues within our society without smacking you in the face with it. It’s there, and you know it’s there and you can choose to pay attention to it. If you want to at least.

Terry Pratchett

You may have been able to find the words to say exactly what you thought of the world Terry, but nothing I could say about you will ever live up to the legacy you left behind. Not all super heroes wear capes, after all. Rest in Peace – you’ve earned it.
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Down the TBR Hole #4

Once again, as any regular readers of my blog will know I am clearing out my reading list of unwanted books. I have a reading list as long as my arm for this blog but I still have old items on Goodreads that I need to sort through and gradually amalgamate into one list. Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are the five books that I have focused on for this post:

1  The Sheep Look Up – John Brunner

The Sheep Look Up
GoodReads – The Sheep Look Up
Verdict: Keep
When this book was originally published in the 1960’s it was considered a work of science fiction. Today, with the concerns of global warming and climate change rapidly reaching new heights it is less of an abstract work of fiction and more a haunting potential reality. In the debate of the effect of our carbon dioxide emissions I’m largely undecided as to which side of the fence I sit. I cannot say I am sufficiently educated in order to make a decision; perhaps this topical read will help me come to one conclusion or another.
 

2  The Just City

The Just City
GoodReads – The Just City
Verdict: Keep
I don’t read a whole lot of books that feature mythology… although it’s a subject I think it would be interesting to learn a bit about!! The characters within all seem to originate from different time periods as well, which may be difficult to portray or become confusing. It’s something I’ll be paying particular attention to when I do get around to reading this.
 

3  The Alloy of Law

The Alloy of Law

GoodReads – The Alloy of Law
Verdict: Keep!!!
Have I mentioned how much I love Brandon Sanderson?! Maybe once or twice… And just look at that cover too!! I loved the first trilogy of books in this series and its my understanding that the next three pick up quite some time after the time the first three are based. Will the understanding of metals and their alloys have advanced? What has changed? I’m keen to find out. I also have the next book after this one, Shadows of Self on my GoodReads TBR. This would be due to come up for review in my next Down the TBR Hole post. I’m going to save some time and put it through here as well. I know it’s a keeper.
 

4  Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes
GoodReads – Snow Like Ashes
Verdict: Go
The clichés are back!!! We have yet another orphan on the whirlwind of destiny. Oh, she’s sixteen?! Well there’s a surprise.
When I was sixteen I was too busy dealing with raging hormones and all that jazz. Truthfully I’m a little tired of these nuances of fantasy at the moment. Maybe it’s because this book aims to target a YA audience, but the prospect of a teenage girl undermining me in this fictional world, tasking herself with retrieving a locket that will restore magic  instead of contending with all manner of female issues that crop up at that age, is not one I think I am of the mindset to enjoy right now. Maybe the smudge in my mind will wash away in time, but I am dropping this off my list for now.

5  The Talisman

The Talisman
GoodReads – The Talisman
Verdict: Keep!
I am going to try to read more of Stephen King’s works, given that I have very high expectations following on from reading The Green Mile and Pet Sematary. This is a blend of Fantasy and Horror and I think this will make for an interesting and equally uncommon pairing.
Much like Snow like Ashes, this features a child. Jack Sawyer is going on a quest to save his mother’s life. I’m keeping this on the TBR but I probably won’t be reading it until well into next year. I need to let my gripe with over achieving youths and my comparative lack of extraordinary talent drop.
I can hear my mum telling me now, as she was wont to do “If the wind changes, your face will stay like that”.
Oh the funny little expressions we have.
Have you reviewed your TBR pile lately? What have you discovered that perhaps you had forgotten about? I’d love to hear from you!
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Review: Pet Sematary – Stephen King

I don’t wish to tempt fate and speak too early on the matter – but with this book I think Stephen King has made a fantastic introduction of the horror genre to me.

I realise I was wrong to exclude the genre from my reading preferences. Truth be told – I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I have mentioned on several occasions now how I dislike poorly made horror films made with an awful plot just to get you to jump out of your skin and hide behind the sofa. My dislike of these films is not because they scare me… in fact the problem is just the opposite. They are so predictable it’s not even funny.

If I ever watch anything remotely in the genre of horror, I prefer a psychological thriller with sophisticated plot twists. As it happens I don’t really watch much TV at the moment anyway – much less films.

I should have known I would be getting better than the equivalent of a budget blockbuster with Stephen King. I openly apologise now and admit I was wrong – this book was fantastic!

Pet Sematary

GoodReads – Pet Sematary

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son-and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly car. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth-more terrifying than death itself-and hideously more powerful. The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

 

My Thoughts…

Death is always going to be a difficult topic to discuss – yet inevitably a fact of life is that one day it comes to an end. As to when that day is, I pray I never have to know when my time is up. I have had my fair share of experience with grief. I am only young, yet in my lifetime I have watched five family members make their final journey. Almost all of those were premature. At the age of 22 I have no living grandparents – the first of which died when I was 8. I barely had anytime to get to know her. Equally, my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 99 and didn’t want to make it to her 100th birthday. How different we all are.

When the Creed’s moved to Maine, little did they know what lay in the woods nearby. After welcoming them to the town their neighbour Jud leads them up the tended path to the cemetery. Little did the Creed’s realise the power it had.

On his first day at work as a physician at the local university, Louis loses his first patient within minutes…but that’s not the last he sees of Victor, however. The cemetery and Victor haunt his dreams with a foreboding warning – never to go beyond the deadfall.

During the Christmas period whilst Rachel, Ellie and Gage are away visiting family, the family cat has an unfortunate accident. Knowing how devastated Ellie would be, Louis ignores Victor’s warning received months before and follows Jud beyond the “Pet Sematary” tended by the generations of children of Ludlow and Winston Churchill, or Church for short, is buried in the darkness of night.

The next day and much to the surprise of Louis, Church comes back… though not quite the same as before. Cats can be creepy anyway, but imagine having an undead cat stalking around your house like it owns the place…

As it happens, the cat turns out to be the last of the Creed’s worries.

As the plot begins to unfold with the book, you realise what is going to happen. I cannot dispute that as much as this is my pet peeve with some other exhibits within the horror genre, this was written exceedingly well and very delicately. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who has neither read the book or seen the film adaptation made, but what was more important was how events were going to play out. The pace of the book throughout suited the narration. As the plot unravels the suspension builds to the end yet doesn’t drag beyond necessary. It could be very easy to make a reader impatient waiting for the big moment, the make or break; the do or die.

Louis’ perspective was remarkably believable. It was easy to slip into his shoes and see the world from his point of view. Even though he is an unreliable narrator, his perspective is relevant to his circumstances. It is easy to justify his actions, almost to the point of reason. Almost. Equally chilling to me is Ellie’s awareness of what is going on. She dreams of Church’s death the night it happens. Victor also visits Ellie’s nightmares when his warning is ignored and Louis is on the path to destruction. The poor child can do nothing about it. They say that children are more perceptive and some can see ghosts. That thought currently isn’t making me feel any better.

I think Stephen King handled the theme very well. Is death easier to cope with if you knew that things would never be the same? Would it be worth the risk? Having read this I certainly wouldn’t meddle with it – even if coping with such a loss is heartbreaking, it is better to keep your memories sacrosanct and untarnished.

Sunday Summary

This week has been a productive week. Not only did I finish my reading list for August, I also had a few days spare to work on an additional project – a short story I am looking to enter into a competition.
That is currently in the editing stage. I had some trouble drafting it initially – once I had gotten the first 500 words or so on paper I lost the spark a bit. I am a linear thinking person so naturally I was trying to write it all chronologically. I knew how the story would end but I couldn’t get there because I didn’t know what was going to happen in the middle.
Having been given the great advice in these circumstances to drop my way of thinking and to write the end, working backwards, I managed to get the first draft completed. I have until mid October to submit the entry so until then I’ll be working to improve it as best I can.
 

Books I have Read

Pet Sematary
On Tuesday I finished Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Up until now I have never read any horror books because I really dislike horror films. I like thriller and suspense, but I have no respect for films that take cheap shots at scaring people by having something jump at the camera. Anyone can do that. Give me a thriller with an exciting plot and themes that play on your mind and I’m all up for that.
I’ll admit I wrongly tarnished horror books with the same attitude that I have towards the films. My full review of this book will be published on Tuesday, but I can happily say that my expectations were more than surpassed.
 

Discovered Books

I’ve been well behaved this week when it comes to buying books compared to the five I acquired last week.
I only bought one – that’s very restrained for me. I also tend to read a lot of pure fiction as opposed to non-fiction, so this will be an interesting read:

Acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, whose fiction John Updike described as “stunning” (The New Yorker) explores the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.
GoodReads – The Adversary

The Adversary
 
As well as actually buying this book I added a number of other books to my TBR to buy at a later date:-

  • Executed – R R Haywood
  • Soul Identity – Dennis Batchelder
  • The Shining – Stephen King
  • 12 Years a Slave – Solomon Northup
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • Bad Girls from History – Dee Gordon


 

Coming Up…

As mentioned above I will be publishing my review of Pet Sematary on Tuesday next week, so I hope you look forward to that. I know I do!
On Friday I will also be having a look at my TBR list to weed out some of the books I added that I no longer want to read. It’s actually quite interesting to see how my book interests have changed over the past few years. If anything, I am reading a far wider scope of books than I ever have before… which is in part what I wanted to achieve with this challenge.
Last but not least on Sunday I’ll be rounding up the week with a summary.
I hope to see you then!