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So this is one of the books that Silvery Dude was trying to persuade me to read because he had read and enjoyed it, and it certainly sounded interesting and became a must read (a) when the Book God mentioned he had a book of short stories by the same author which he regarded highly and (b) it became necessary to quieten Silvery Dude down.

And it really did turn out to be a smashing little story, and I don’t use those adjectives as a means of putting this book down, because it is just lovely with charming characters and a simple but effective plot structure, and the story moves forward at a solid pace and it was a really positive experience to read.

And I really should learn to breathe grammatically. But never mind, I’m sure you catch my drift.

The Kings of Eternity takes place across two time periods – 1935 when Jonathan Langham and Edward Vaughan go to the country to help their friend deal with what turns out to be an incursion from another world (really not giving anything away here, its in the blurb and the front cover artwork kind of gives it away), and 1999 when we find Daniel Langham, a famous author living a life of seclusion on a Greek island , where the secrets of the past threaten to catch him up.

So on the one hand we have a marvelous HG Wells type story and on other we have what turns out to be rather a sweet love story, and of course the two will merge and we will understand what’s been going on all along.

Actually, anyone who has read a lot of sci-fi will work out quite early on what’s going on and I certainly found it quite easy to work out how this was all going to end. But that doesn’t matter. Because the HG Wells bits are fabulous, the love story is really sweet and all the characters that you are supposed to be rooting for are really nice.

I don’t think it is a “novel of vast scope and depth” as it says in the blurb on my edition, but it is “imbued with humanity and characters you’ll come to love”

I certainly did so, and can recommend it.

Bury Her Deep is the third of Catriona McPherson’s detective novels set in 1920s Scotland and featuring her amateur sleuth Dandy Gilver.

I actually started this during the last few hours of the Readathon in April but didn’t finish it for quite a while afterwards, which is strange as I normally gallop through this sort of book and had enjoyed the previous two volumes. I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy this one at all, but something jarred with me.

I don’t think its Dandy herself although I was becoming a bit weary of her pulling the wool over her husband’s eyes about her sideline in detecting with her chum Alec, and was glad (not a major spoiler here) that this has now been resolved sensibly.

I don’t even think it was the mystery itself, which was quite interesting – who is attacking the ladies of Fife village on their way home from the Rural Women’s Institute meetings.

I think it was the supporting cast of characters – the women in the village, the vicars daughter and particularly the incomer toffs that I found grated with me, and I will confess that I skimmed my way through the climax of the story, wanting to see the solution but not wanting to linger in the company of some of the protagonists. I know it was set in 1920s Fife but I really wanted to shake most of the women, including Dandy herself on a couple of occasions.

So mildly disappointing but not a total disaster which is just as well as I have two more in the series to read.

About ‘Salem’s Lot:

‘Salem’s Lot is a small New England town. Like so many others it contains the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course, there are tales of strange happenings – but not more than in any other town its size.

Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen…

When did I first read this? 1976 or thereabouts (Genesis had just released Wind and Wuthering which was being advertised on the radio almost constantly as I was reading this so I think the date is about right)

What age was I? An impressionable 14

How may times since then? I can’t believe this is only the fourth time I’ve read this but the stats don’t lie (at least not in this case)

Thoughts about the book:

This wasn’t the first Stephen King book I had read; I had devoured Carrie earlier the same year, enjoying the thrill of unhappy teenager getting her own back and loving the style of the book with its mix of traditional narrative alongside eyewitness reports and newspaper clippings and so on. But ‘Salem’s Lot was the big one for me, setting two things in stone for the future (1) vampires are my monster of choice (even sparkly ones a la Twilight) and (2) I would read anything by Stephen King – and I’ve pretty much stuck to that in the (gulp) 36 years since then  though I sometimes come to his stuff a while after publication.

I wish I had been able to keep the paperback version of this that I read as a teenager; if memory serves it was completely black with an embossed (?) head, and the only colour was a drop of blood – who could resist that? Sadly I lent it to someone and never got it back, but I indulged a few years ago in the rather lovely illustrated edition pictured above, with wonderful photographs, a glorious design and loads of additional material (like deleted scenes etc); a real pleasure to read.

I just love this story – a wonderful cast of characters dealing with the supernatural in a realistic setting, a cliché now perhaps but to someone my age at the time a real revelation. Love, horror, bravery, evil – all there in spades. And I can confirm that the feeling of dread about characters you have come to care about is still there even after several re-reads.

Interesting how much of my view of the book was affected by the TV version starring David Soul, for which I have a real soft spot; some of the scenes are still very vivid. Not a bad adaptation though I was still surprised to be reminded in the book that Ben was dark-haired.

This is a real treat for anyone who hasn’t read it before and worth revisiting for those who have, one of my absolute all time favourites.

This is the third book in my Big Re-Read project.

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore is another ghost story but couldn’t be more different from The Small Hand, though equally atmospheric.

This is set in 1952, and Isabel, newly married, moves to Yorkshire with her husband who is a GP. It’s a time of austerity with rationing still in force and their flat isn’t very warm or welcoming. Isabel is left very much to her own devices as her husband is constantly busy. One night Isabel wakes freezing and wraps herself in an old greatcoat she finds at the back of a cupboard wakes.

And then there is a knock at the window and she sees a young RAF pilot wanting to come in….

This is a story of unfinished business, loneliness and passion, the impact of war  and how the recent past can come back to haunt. Very intense and powerful.

This was my seventh and final  Readathon read (or at least the last one I finished).

I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere before how much I love Gladys Mitchell’s books and what a fabulous character Mrs Bradley is. I really enjoyed the TV adaptations though Diana Rigg was far too glamorous for the part given  that a common adjective for Mrs B is grotesque, but setting that to one side they were great fun and you should seek them out if you haven’t seen them already.

Watson’s Choice is up to her usual standard. Mrs Bradley and her secretary Laura are guests at Sir Bohun Chantry’s party to celebrate the anniversary of his great passion, Sherlock Holmes, and everyone is instructed to come dressed as one of the characters from the canon. However, scandal erupts when the very wealthy Sir Bohun announces he’s going to marry the governess (naturally poor as a church mouse) and the shenanigans begin with the unexpected appearance of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

And then of course there is the murder….

This is great fun. Mrs B is wonderful, Laura not quite as annoying as I had at first feared, and there are the usual red herrings, suspicious foreigners, staff who may not quite be as devoted to their employer as they appear, small boys coming across clues, and a harpoon.  All sorted out in the end in a satisfying manner, of course.

My favourite line? “Red-haired people are naturally impulsive”. May have to test that one out on a couple of my friends….

There is a very, very lengthy list of “also by Gladys Mitchell” titles at the beginning of this book and I’m mildly appalled at how few of them I’ve read, though secretly pleased that they seem to be coming back into print and I may have the chance to read them all if I try hard enough!

This was my sixth Readathon read

And this is (if scheduling has worked properly) my 500th post. Woo hoo!

Yes, it’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to autumn and Carl hosts RIP, this year for the seventh time. Not a challenge unless you want it to be, this is a celebration of all things ghostly, horrible, mysterious and thrilling.

I intend to participate again this year but am not setting myself any goals, especially as I’ll be spending 2 weeks in Italy where I’m hoping for warmth and sunshine, not usually conducive to shivers up the spine, but you never know.

We’ll just have to see what turns up…..

It seems only fitting that as Carl announces his RIP VII challenge (more of that in a future post) I finally get around to collecting my thoughts on one of two ghost stories I read during April’s Readathon.

The Small Hand by Susan Hill is the tale of Adam Snow who is a bookseller specialising in hunting down antiquarian volumes for a mostly wealthy clientele. On return from a visit to one of his clients he gets lost on a country road and finds himself confronted with a decaying mansion with which he becomes totally fascinated.  He walks up to the entrance and as he stands there he feels a small hand slipping into his own, just as if a child was holding on to him.

He convinces himself that he has imagined the whole thing (as you do) but as he goes about his daily business he starts to experience panic attacks and nightmares, and on occasion the small hand returns, even when he thought himself to be safe on a trip abroad. Needless to say Adam decides that he needs to get to the bottom of this mystery and heads back to the house….

This was a lovely atmospherically ghostly read and benefitted (as all the Readathon books did) from being devoured in one sitting. For some reason once I’d finished it I kept on getting it confused in my mind with The Winter Ghost, which is absurd really as they share little in common apart from being set (partially in this case) in France and having an air of melancholy and unfinished business (which you always get with a ghost story, let’s face it).

The Small Hand is beautifully written and rather sad and I enjoyed it very much.

This was my fifth Readathon read.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday



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September 2012