Friday, 22 April 2011

Book 20 Rage- Richard Bachman

King is Bachman but Bachman is King. I have decided to go on a Bachman fest. I am a life long fan of Stephen King and he wrote a few novels as Richard Bachman in the late seventies and early eighties. The only other book that I've read from Richard Bachman was "Thinner" and that was absolutely years ago when I still had a good head of hair and could fit in size 29 jeans.

This was written when King was still young himself and was written even before Carrie.

It is obviously King and it has all the hallmarks of a King novel but you can tell that he had yet to master the complete art of story telling and Rage does have flaws, although it is a good read.

It revolves around a highschool kid named Charlie Decker who goes crazy and kills two teachers and holds a whole class hostage. This is probably the most creepy and unsettling book I have ever read. As a short novel it did keep my interest even though it creeped the hell out of me !

Its biggest flaw is probably the same thing that I found most unsettling. It isn't just the fact that some crazy kid has gone beserk in a high school ,it's the fact that all the kids ( apart from one) in the class end up being the most horrible and unrealistic kids ever known to fiction ! And that's putting it mildly! Maybe I'm the only one in the world that couldn't feel any sympathy for Charlie Decker but I'm probably not.I hope not. I also found the ending pretty unrealistic and even thought of a better ending myself !

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Bachman books but this book is just unsettling !


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Book 19 The Time Machine ( H G Wells)

This book has been sitting on my bookcase for a good while, barely noticed until I saw it while looking for inspiration for my next read. I think part of the reason why I hadn't read it is because I have already seen the film ( the old version) lots of times. In fact it is one of my favourite films ever and never fails to fascinate me.

I started to read this, not knowing if or how much it would differ from the film. Of course the book was written by H G Wells a long time before the motion picture. What first surprised me was how small this book is ! It is tiny at 102 pages and the next thing that surprised me was how different it is from the film ! It is pretty different but in a good way. I know that movies based on books are normally a bit of a let down but this book is almost like a totally different story. ALMOST.

All I can say is that now one of my favourite films is one of my favourite books. Compared to the original film, the original book is scarier, darker and better.
A must read for anyone who likes the film or anyone that loves great sci-fi or fantasy.

I haven't seen the newer version of the movie and don't know if it is any closer to the book.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Book 18 The Owl Tree - Jenny Nimmo

It was my original intention to read all kinds of books in this 52 books in 52 weeks challenge and so I thought it was about time I read another childrens book. I wouldn't mind actually focusing on childrens books for my own writing and reading this was a gentle reminder that maybe I should go down that route.

The Owl Tree is aimed at primary school ( elementary ?) school children and is a pretty good for that age group. The story is simple but it works. The thing I liked about this book is that there weren't any flying dragons or goblins or wizards but all the fantasy was in the imagination of the main character. Apparently it has won a Smartie Prize and its easy to see why.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book 17 The Spire - Richard North Patterson

Richard North Patterson is another new Author for me and I wasn't disappointed.

Set in Ohio it is the story of a brilliant young Lawyer who goes back to his old college to help them through a tricky situation involving embezzlement but finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation that goes back to his own college days. His old friend was convicted of the murder of a young college student but Mark Darrow is convinced that he is an innocent man. While being given the task of saving his old college from financial troubles he takes it upon himself to help prove his old friends innocence. Along the way he finds himself facing demons from his past and a new love interest with her own demons.

Everything works for me in 'The Spire', from the beautiful front cover to the brilliant suspense and mystery that follows. To me at times it felt like a modern day Agatha Christie Novel with a whole list of suspects that could easily have committed the murder. It is a good book and one that keeps you eager to turn over each page.

If I had to find a niggle or two, I think it could have done with a little bit more action for my own personal taste. There was a lot of sitting around restaraunt tables drinking wine and sitting behind desks talking and making telephone calls.
Also the ending was ok but it kind of resolved a little too quickly and conveniently after such a brillantly crafted ' suspenseful' build up. But that was probably my fault because I worked out 'whodunnit' about 3/4 way through the book and the ending was no surprise!

But I would definitley recommend 'The Spire' and will be looking to read more from Richard North Patterson.


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman ( Short Story)

This morning while doing a random book search on line I stumbled upon this short story, the title seemed familiar, I had seen it somewhere or heard of it from somewhere. First published January 1892 in the New England Magazine
it is a remarkable short story.

I must admit that it was the intriguing title that first grabbed my attention and I now think it is one of the best shorts that I have ever read. It tells the story, in diary form, of a woman who has been "rested" by her husband following the birth of her child. Trapped in a creepy old house and monitored and controlled by her husband she slowly loses grip on reality and develops a bizarre obsession with her bedroom wallpaper !

There are many ways to read this story depending on your viewpoint. Many see it as a striking analogy about feminism and that's a viewpoint which I can't deny but there are so many different layers to this story, just like the wallpaper itself.

Did Charlotte write this book as an attack against feminism or against her own ex husband or as an attack on her own medical diagnosis ?
I am not really sure, but I think that's why this short is so captivating.

Amazing really. Short stories don't come better than this in my opinion.

If you haven't already read it, you can here,

The Yellow Wallpaper

Monday, 4 April 2011

Book 16 Doors Open - Ian Rankin

Finished 4th April 2011

This is the first time that I have read anything by Ian Rankin and I have mixed feelings about it. In the UK we had a TV show called Taggart which ran for many years. It was a detective series set in and around Glasgow in Scotland. It wasn't something that I watched religiously, in fact I have only watched one or two episodes. The reason why I mention this programme is because "Open Doors" is just like reading Taggart the book. ( Or probably any other popular detective TV Series that you might know).
There is nothing original here and the characters are quite one dimensional and cliched ( bad guys with muscles and shaven hair, art critic with extravagant tastes etc) and the story took a good while to get going. It started off slow and then I kept telling myself that it would get better.
To be honest it did improve and it did have an OK ending, an ending that was just like an episode of Taggart ! Overall it wasn't the best thing I've read but it wasn't terrible, just like curling up on the couch ( with a cup of coffee) and watching your equivalent version of Taggart, whatever that may be.
Set in Edinburgh it revolves around a heist to steal some rather expensive paintings without anyone noticing that they are missing, add in a local gangster, a local detective inspector and one or two gullible souls and that's about it in a nutshell.