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Scan 40What’s it all about?

Doctor Sleep is the long-awaited sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining that I didn’t expect and didn’t know I needed until it was published when I of course decided that I absolutely had to have it. Danny Torrance is now an adult with a troubled past including the problems with alcohol which bedevilled his father. He also has a taken for helping people to pass over (for want of a better way of putting it). He finds out that a young girl with a similar but more powerful ability to shine is the target of a gang of (again for want if a better word) soul-stealing vampires and determines to save her no matter the cost to himself.

Why did I want to read it?

I’m not a total King completist but I have been a fan for over 35 years (I first read Carrie when I was 15 or so) and I always look out for his novels though I don’t always read them right away (Under the Dome, I’m looking at you). And a follow-up  to one of his most famous stories was irresistible.

What did I think of it?

I liked it a lot. It has a lot to live up and I don’t think it was ever going to reach those heights for a lot of people. But I liked Danny as an adult, warts and all, and although the story was in many ways more gentle than his earlier work (‘Salem’s Lot still gives me the creeps, which is probably why it’s my all time favourite) and there were a couple of curveballs towards the end in relation to Danny’s personal history, it worked as a narrative. The bad guys were sufficiently bad and the outcome wasn’t (for me at least) a foregone conclusion and the subsidiary characters were well-rounded and believable.

Conclusion

Has all the elements I look for in a Stephen King novel so OK by me.

This was my final read for RIP VIII.

Scan 39What’s it all about?

Nocturnes is a set of short stories book-ended by two chunky novellas, one featuring Connolly’s PI Charlie Parker. The blurb talks about “chilling tales of the supernatural” and “our darkest fears” and references MR James and Stephen King so I’m there.

Why did I want to read it?

As well as the stuff mentioned above I read The Book of Lost Things (reviewed here) and wanted to investigate more of his work.

What did I think of it?

I really enjoyed this collection and the comparisons to James were deserved. I particularly enjoyed Miss Froom Vampire and The Wakeford Abyss, but the standout for me was The Reflecting Eye, the Charlie Parker story which I found compelling and unsettling and moving all at once.

Conclusion

Glad that my gut feeling I would enjoy Connolly’s books proved sound and I’m looking forward to reading more of the Parker stories in particular.

This was a read for RIP VIII

Scan 38What’s it all about?

Mayhem is set in the height of the Jack the Ripper murders, but body parts found at New Scotland Yard are definitely the work of a different killer, no matter how much the authorities wish it wasn’t. Thomas Bond is the police surgeon working on both cases, and as he delves into the murders he begins to suspect that something more supernatural than a rampaging serial killer is at work in London.

Why did I want to read it?

Serial killers, Jack the Ripper, Victorian London, what’s not to like? Plus although I had a couple of her e-books I hadn’t read any of Sarah Pinborough’s books and wanted to give her a try, partly due to the subject matter and partly because she is great fun to follow on Twitter (there’s that word again).

What did I think of it?

I liked it a great deal. It was a very interesting experience reading it so soon after Drood (reviewed earlier) as there are some similarities in the use of the supernatural, the main character’s tendency to dabble in drugs, the mix of real and fictional characters and events. I thought this was much more successful; I liked Thomas Bond very much and found his struggle with opium and the effect it had on him much more sympathetic, as were the domestic elements in the story contrasting with the grimness of the crimes being investigated. But I don’t want to dwell too much on comparisons with someone else’s work, this is a really good novel.

Conclusion

Recommended. I’m going to be searching out more of Sarah Pinborough’s work, although disappointed that the next volume in this series won’t be published until 2015.

This was a read for RIP VIII

ScanWhat’s it all about?

In The Memory of Blood the Peculiar Crimes Unit get called in to deal with the death of a child thrown from his bedroom window while elsewhere in the apartment his parents hold a party for the cast and crew of a play being performed in the theatre owned by the child’s father. It’s a PCU case because the door was locked, there seems to be no forensic evidence, and, well, there’s a life-size puppet of Mr Punch on the floor. Supernatural activity or human agency? Oooh.

Why did I want to read it?

My love for the Bryant & May series is well-documented on this blog. I’ve read the lot in order and wasn’t going to miss this one.

What did I think?

Loved it. I am a sucker for stories about the theatrical world and this one is chock full of  corruption, venality and oddness amongst the suspects, plus a nice political back story for the assistant stage manager and the spectre of Home Office disapproval hanging over the case. As always I learned loads – about London, the theatre, Punch and Judy and much more. Didn’t work out who the murderer was which was nicely satisfying in a strange way. The series just gets better and better.

Conclusion

If you haven’t read any of the Bryant & May books, why ever not? Get on with it. You won’t be disappointed.

This was a read for RIP VIII

Scan 37What’s it all about?

Let’s use the words of the narrator, one Wilkie Collins, to describe what we’re talking about here:

This story shall be about my friend (or at least about the man who was once my friend) Charles Dickens and about the accident that took away his piece of mind, his health, and some might whisper, his sanity

The story kicks off with the Staplehurst railway accident that Dickens was involved in while travelling home from Paris with his mistress Ellen Ternan. While trying to assist those injured in the accident Dickens comes across a mysterious and rather ghoulish figure who becomes known to him as Drood. Dickens then drags Collins into his obsession, which leads them to investigate the underworld of London, with all the crime, squalor and danger that involved. And not a little madness. And quite a lot of death.

Why did I want to read it?

I’ve had mixed fortunes with the works of Dan Simmons. I read The Song of Kali in 2009 and really struggled with it, finding it a little too grim for my tastes. But I had also read The Terror the year before and absolutely loved it. The combination of real literary figures and a Gothic sensibility promised by Drood was very attractive.

What did I think of it?

Well. I finished reading this in the middle of September and I’m still not sure what I think. I was drawn in by the early part of the book and cracked on with the story which promised a great deal, but somewhere around the middle, when the focus shifts almost entirely to Collins and his problems I began to get a bit bogged down and actually stopped reading it for a bit. But I was determined to finish it and it did pick up again in the last third. It is completely mad. Although I have to say that it seems pretty authentic in its representation of both the central characters and all levels of society at that time.

Conclusion

There is a quote towards the end of the book where Collins says:

You never cared about my part of this memoir. It was always Dickens and Drood, or Drood and Dickens, which kept you reading

And maybe that is the problem for me, insufficient Drood. So fair to say that my response to the novel is ambivalent; glad I read it but not a favourite and *whispers* too long.

It has made me want to finally read Armadale though.

For a more positive review you should visit Roxploration who discusses the book here.

This was a read for RIP VIII.

IMG_0122What’s it all about?

So Horowitz Horror is exactly what it says on the tin; a collection of horror stories for young adults by Anthony Horowitz, he of the Alex Rider books (amongst others).

Why did I want to read it?

I love a good horror story. As a teenager I religiously collected the Pan Book of Horror series (as edited by Herbert van Thal) with their gruesome stories and lurid pulpy covers (this one  a particular joy). My parents were probably appalled but very much of the view that reading was reading was reading and let me get on with it as there was no evidence that I was turning into an axe-murderer. These stories are much less nasty, to be fair, but suitably creepy.

What did I think of it?

I’m not the target audience for this collection by a good 35 years but I enjoyed them all; particular favourites were The Hitchhiker and Bath Night. I liked the ordinariness of the situations the protagonists found themselves in, how unsettling everyday objects can become. Light touch in the story telling.

Conclusion

Really great fun.

This was a read for RIP VIII.

IMG_0121So, the first of a flurry of mini-reviews to clear my backlog and leave me with a relatively clean slate for 2014. Apologies in advance for swamping timelines and feeds and whatnot but it has to be done!

What’s it all about?

So London Falling is basically a police procedural which takes an unexpected turn.  DI James Quill is managing an undercover op as part of an investigation into London’s organised crime when it all goes horribly wrong and his main target is killed in a gruesome and unusual manner, and it becomes clear that there is something evil lurking around London. Cue the creation of a team of misfits shunned by their colleagues and using unorthodox methods to get to the bottom of something very old. There’s a witch. There’s a talking cat. There’s a football connection. And there’s a lovely set up for what is clearly going to be a series.

Why did I want to read it?

I like Paul Cornell; I follow him on Twitter, I’ve got his Wolverine comics on my iPad and he’s written some cool stuff for Doctor Who. I liked the premise for the novel, especially as I’m a sucker for anything in which the history and mythology of London is as big a part of the story as the human characters.

What did I think of it?

Loved it. Read it over a couple of days, felt the story pulling me along, really wanted to know how it was all going to work out. It would be lazy to say that it’s similar to the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch and Christopher Fowler‘s Bryant & May books, both of which I love deeply. London Falling is grittier than the former and not quite as peculiar (peculiar is a positive word in this context) as the latter but they do all complement each other very nicely.

Conclusion

Enjoyed it a great deal and am looking forward to the next one (The Severed Streets, due out here in May)

This was a read for RIP VIII.

IMG_0349So I stuck this photo up on Facebook earlier this evening as a reminder to myself of the size of the task before me, and I know I said it the last time I posted here but I really really mean it this time. I am going to finish all of my outstanding reviews by the end of the year and either publish or have them scheduled so that I can start 2014 with as clear a state as possible. I don’t mind things leaching over from one year to the next but I read some of these books (and watched some of these films) way way back in September and a grip must be got.

In terms of what I’m reading now, just finishing off Sixty-One Nails (recommended by both the Book God and Silvery Dude and extremely enjoyable). Talking of Silvery Dude, he and I have just had a Twitter exchange about Stoner, the book everyone seems to be talking about which is why I’m not reading it (yet). My tendency not to read in the crowd is probably the reason why I am only just picking up The Thirteenth Tale (though that may have much to do with the TV adaptation which will be on over Christmas with Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave). It looks like being one of the highlights alongside Doctor Who, Sherlock and The Tractate Middoth (the one I am most looking forward too *gasp*!)

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

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.

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