Sunday, 14 December 2014

Carrie by Stephen King

A small town is brought to it's knees. A statue of the crucifixion hangs on a wall. A bucket of pigs blood falls from the ceiling and covers the Prom Queen. It could only be Stephen King.

Here is where I stand on this one. I'm a life long fan of the Master of Horror but I've never quite got round to reading this one until now. It's such an iconic book and it probably comes to the mind of anybody when they hear Stephen King's name mentioned. I remember watching the film when I was about 14 and being mesmerised and infatuated by Sissy Spacek. King fans like myself have a lot to thank this book for. It was his first published book and maybe if it wasn't for Carrie we would never have had such a collection of fantastic books.

However putting aside my fan loyalty I have to say that this is one of his weaker books. It was written at a time when Stephen King was still developing his style and voice and it is pretty average. There are flashes of genius in there but the writing isn't up there with his best works. It's scary and twisty and warped but he has written far superior books. Iconic but not my favourite.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Untitled (Part One)

Sometimes when I'm not ticking I go hungry.

I sit in my capsule and nothing will happen. The Zolk doesn't appear no matter how hard I try to concentrate. On a good day I will get enough to keep me going until noonfest but on a bad day I will be lucky to get enough to feed a tinkle.


It was Sourday and that meant double helmet. It was the thing I hated the most. Sitting there in my boothical with that thing on my head. It always gave me a headache even though I could always manifest myself a Yoogle afterwards. I don't know what we'd be without our Yoogles. They can cure anything, although I've never worked out what happens to a Yoogle that isn't feeling very well. Does it manifest it's own Yoogle?

I dread the journey to the Helmet Zone and have nightmares about walking the colourdoors that lead to it. The combination is etched into my mind. Yellow Yellow Red Red Red Yellow Blue Orange Pirkle Red Red. It is impossible to get lost. We know our way around the inside of our home like we know the colours of our garments because there is nothing else to do. We walk. We eliminate. We eat and we walk some more.


Ink was sat in the boothical next to me as she always was. We listen in pairs and there are fifty pairs in each section of the Helmet Zone. Ink and me both wear white because we are connected by a birther.

To get the helmets working we have to tick. She is always faster at it than me but maybe that's because she doesn't hate Double Helmet as much as I do. She doesn't get headaches. She doesn't need a Yoogle.

When we are born we spend many years learning how to listen. Even at my age I still struggle to interpret everything and sometimes it still sounds like an incoherent collection of metallic screeches. I think that's why I get my headaches. Everybody is so much better at this than me. While they listen and learn all about the old times, I struggle to hear anything of any use to anybody.


The Art of Blinking

 I STARTED OFF with smaller things. Books, cups, napkins, those kinds of things. Things that were relatively easy to sweep under the carpet when nobody was looking.

With practice I developed my own technique where I could blink inside my head so that nobody would notice me doing it. I blinked out many things. The books, cups and napkins were only the beginning. Because of my blinks I was never a bored kid. But my family never noticed things going missing so I couldn't rely on them for entertainment purposes. Even when the dog disappeared they didn't even notice. It was a mistake that one. An oversight on my part. He never came back and I've been trying to bring him back ever since.

 But I don't know where they go. Maybe there is a spare room inside my head where they all end up. A junk room as it probably is by now. I imagine my dog lying lifeless on top of the pile. Or does somebody feed him?

When I got older I found that I could blink out things collectively.

It was a difficult skill to master but eventually blinking out one lamp post took away all of them and in one foul swoop I managed to wipe out the humble goldfish. I checked my encyclopedia and as I expected there was no sign of the aforementioned Carassius Auratus Auratus. That's when I learned that I had to use my gift sparingly but unfortunately things like Goldfish, elephants, vinyl records and motorbike helmets didn't make the cut.

Sometimes when life gets me down I feel like erasing everything but I think most teenagers feel like that a lot of the time, but they just lock themselves in their room, they don't have an option to make everything else disappear as well. You see I have to be very careful when I get angry. I've already lost one teacher and two classmates. It's as easy to make a slip of a blink as it is to make a slip of the tongue but obviously the repercussions are much worse. I nearly made mum disappear once. But she's still there. She gets on my nerves all the time and she's always moaning about how I shouldn't be out in the dark seeing as there are no lamp posts and all.

                                                                                   (C) Ally Atherton 2014

391 Words

                                           Written for this weeks Light & Shade Challenge

A Meal in Winter - Hubert Mingarelli

'One morning in the dead of the winter three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside to find one of them - a Jew.'

This is a perfect example of the phrase 'sometimes less is more.' To write a really good book you don't always need a plot the size of The Spanish Armada. Sometimes a book can contain too many fanfares and whistles. Translated from the original French by Sam Taylor, this packs a strong punch. It invites the reader into a world not long gone. A world where 'cruelty' is sadly much more than a word made up of seven letters.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Virus by Mary Chapman

'Every aspect of Penna's life is controlled for her: a computer programme tells her when to get up, eat, sleep. But one day the programme goes wrong.'

This is fabulous! It's quirky, dark, creepy and right up my alley!

It can't be easy writing a quick read like this but as far as I'm concerned Mary Chapman got it all perfect. This has ticked all the boxes for me. It is original and imaginative and full of fun and excitement. But I think the best compliment I can give 'Virus' is that it's just the kind of book I want to write!

Go read it!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Thw Smoking Room by Julie Parsons

'Jack didn't mean to fall in love with Grace Lynch that morning- or any other morning for that matter. He didn't mean to fall in love with anyone.'

This is a neat little book. My favourite so far of my 'quick reads' sprint. As a middle aged bald bloke I don't read many romance books at all. But this is great. It's like Mills & Boon with a dark twist! It's the perfect way to pass an hour. Enjoyed.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Atonement by Ian Rankin

This is one of Ian Rankin's short stories in book form for Shortlist.

It's a pretty decent story and a good way of passing half an hour to 40 minutes. It's the first Inspector Rebus story that I've read and maybe I should read more from Ian Rankin.

A decent short story or short book, whatever you want to call it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Andy McNab - Today Everything Changes

This is another example of a book that isn't really aimed at me.

If you are interested in the military then this might be right up your street. It's a personal account of Andy McNab and how he went from being a juvenile delinquent to playing a major role in the Gulf War and the SAS. His account is both fascinating and a real eye opener. Although I'm not interested in anything military in any shape of form, this book is quite educational and I can appreciate it from that perspective.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Do you switch off the life support or do you wait for a miracle?

A brother and sister lock horns in the saddest of battles.

It feels like Jodi Picoult books are everywhere I look these days, whether it's in W.H Smiths, ASDA or my local charity shop. But she's one of those Authors I've either avoided or just never got round to reading. I don't know which.

And if ever there was a book that was just OK, this would be it. It manages to be very readable without out being anything special. OK is the best word I can use to describe it. The story is OK, the plot is OK, the writing is OK. It's a steady 4 stars.

I liked the main plot and Jodi Picoult weaves a decent tale and it's got all the ingredients needed for a good book. There are a few plot holes and a few unrealistic and convenient moments along the way but overall they didn't interfere with my enjoyment too much. I am a nature lover so all the wolfy bits were my favourite bits and maybe that's a bloke thing. Because at the end of the day this isn't really a blokey book. The cover almost screams out women's fiction and although I usually prefer books written by women, it did feel very much like this was step too far for me!

It's a decent read with maybe a little bit too much padding for my taste. What starts off as an interesting and thoughtful plot turns into a bit of a legal drama towards the end. And I'm not a huge fan of legal dramas.