Thursday, 30 May 2013

The 100 Year old man who jumped out of the window and disappeared

                                                                By Jonas Jonasson

      Allan Karlsson is 100 years old tommorrow and the old people's home have organised a party for him complete with balloons, lot's of food and even the town mayor! But instead he gets up, jumps out of his window and disappears.

      There's an entire plethora of reviews out there that range from 'Hilarious' to 'Agonising' and maybe that's because humour is a highly personal and selective thing. This is more 'Yes Prime Minister' than 'Black Adder' although it is extremely silly. The story interchanges between the 100 year old Allan and his early and rather extraordinary life, where he meets an assortment of political leaders and managers to influence world history on a grand scale.

      Although I found the book to be amusing in places and probably did learn a bit about world history along the way, it was pretty agonising to read! The convoluted story of how he meets a succession of historical figure just got on my nerves after a while and most of the characters are very much of the wafer thin variety. I certainly didn't find it a page turner and during the course of the week what I really wanted to do was rip the pages out and throw them into something very hot. Maybe the entrance to hell itself.

      But as I said, humour is a very personally and subjective thing and perhaps this would appeal to a more high brow, political satire kind of palate. Maybe a radio four listening, telegraph reading, Downton Abbey watching, Jane Austen reading type of guy. As for me I found myself wanting to throw myself out of my own window, although I don't mind a bit of radio four occasionally, but I'm more of a Black Adder kind of guy.

      Fans of 'Fly Fishing in the Yemen' would probably like this one.



Sunday, 19 May 2013

War Horse

                                                             By Michael Morpurgo

      I seem to have avoided all the hype surrounding War Horse and the subsequent movie and stage play and only bought this for my wife after I was unable to get hold of her latest installment of the Vampire Diaries at our local town centre. She read it first and told me how incredibly sad and good it was and I read it a few weeks later.

      It is sad and it's a lovely little book. As with most childrens fiction it isn't really aimed at me but I still enjoyed it. It is told from the viewpoint of a horse sent to the front line during WW1 and it is a heart warming tale and a brilliant insight into a major event in world history. I think if I had read this as a 10 or 11 year old I would have absolutely loved it and it would have probably stayed with me into adulthood. I'm not 11, I'm 42 but it was a terrific read. Michael Morpugo's wife told him that she thought War Horse was his best book and he replied that he hoped not because he has written 80 more since!

     I think I will certainly make it my mission to find out, even if it takes me a long time. Good book.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Young Men Shall See by Scott Thompson

     This is a coming to age story told through the eyes of Gus Ambrose, a teenager in River Falls, a small community in Georgia. A tale of love and heartache, excitement and horror, a group of teenagers struggle to make sense of a world where old fashioned attitudes and myths collide with  teenage boredom and a desire to have fun.

      I liked everything about this book. I don't think there's anything I didn't like. I really loved the main characters and the world in which the story is told, I loved the short chapters and I loved the way the story was told slowly and effortlessly without feeling forced in any way. But most of all ( and this is difficult to explain) I liked the whole atmosphere of the book, because some books do have an atmosphere. Some books get to you in all the right places, sometimes you really connect with the characters and it's almost as if you are there in the pages of the book yourself. I suppose that is what I am trying to say. I certainly had that connection with 'Young Men Shall See'.

      As far as debut novels are concerned this is incredibly well written and Scott Thompson certainly knows how to write. And the great thing is that given the opportunity his writing will hopefully continue to grow and blossom and even greater things will come in the future. A part of me thinks that maybe the story could have ended with Chapter 30 without the addition of the final chapter but maybe I'm just nick picking because I really liked this book. You know when you've really enjoyed a book because you just want to read it again and you don't want the story to end.

      A Superb Debut 5/5

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Book 20 Night Of the Humans

                                                         By David Llewellyn

        Night of the Humans is part of BBC Book's collection of novels based around the TV Series and features the 11th Doctor and Amy. Landing on a junkyard in space they find themselves caught in between a battle between two alien societies, the Sittuum and a futuristic but savage version of Humans. A devastating comet is on it's way to cause imminent destruction and they face a race against time to save themselves and everybody else.

      This is a fun and quick read and I found it much more readable than my previous encounter with BBC Doctor Who books. I really liked the alien world of the Gyre and without being overly convoluted or boring the plot kept my interest and felt like a throwback to the classic series that I gew up with. There are lots of cool aliens and a good balance of action and humour that will probably satisfy many a Whovian. Lots of good characters abound and I particularly liked Dirk Slipstream who (in my mind at least) was definitely Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf!

      I grew up with the old Target books and although as an old git I don't get as excited (as I used to) with reading this kind of thing, it was an average entertaining read. A good beginning, a good middle and a decent ending. What more could you want?