You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘RIP’ tag.

goth-girl-2-978023075982401What’s it all about?

With Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death we are back at Ghastly-Gorm Hall with Ada and her father the cycling poet Lord Goth and the wonderful cast of characters that surround them. This time everyone is getting ready for the annual Full-Moon Fete and:

the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off. Celebrity Cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event, and as usual Maltravers is acting suspiciously. On top of all this, Ada’s elusive lady’s maid Marylebone has a surprising secret and everyone seems to have forgotten Ada’s birthday.

Into all of this comes her father’s dashing friend Lord Whimsy who is more than he at first appears.

Why did I want to read it?

I absolutely adored the previous book in the series (you can read my review of it here) and this is just as good. Again, it’s a beautiful physical object full of wonderful illustrations and tucked into the back another little miniature book, Marylebone’s biography. Just lovely to read.

What did I think of it?

It has all of the strengths of Ghost of a Mouse and builds on that earlier story with the same cast of characters bolstered by some strong new additions. Maltravers is still up to no good, Ada and her father’s relationship has developed and she is learning a great deal from her vampire nanny Lucy Borgia. The delight is as always seeing the real-life models for the chefs in particular (Nigellina Sugarspoon and Heston Harboil, anyone?) and the influences on the plot (Paddington obviously but also a mix of Scarlet Pimpernel and a Regency James Bond). But of course it’s all about he illustrations and the wonderful silliness.

The footnotes this time are webbed and written by a well-travelled Muscovy duck. My favourite relates to Abba the Swedish minotaur, who is naturally depressed and who:

likes pickled herring, knitted jumpers and long walks in the rain. He composes annoyingly catchy songs on his Scandinavian lyre.

Wonderful, and a very fun and unplanned end to my RIP IX reading experience.

IMG_0170What’s it all about?

Murder is the sequel to Mayhem and picks up a few years after the events of that book, focussing very much on the Dr Thomas Bond (trying to avoid spoilers here) who is trying to deal with the aftermath of those events, hoping to finally win the love of Juliana, now widowed and the mother of a young son, and the arrival of a handsome American, Edward Kane, a friend of Juliana’s late husband who in trying to put his mind at rest on the past events may stir up some of Bond’s demons. In more ways than one.

Why did I want to read it?

I really enjoy Sarah Pinborough’s work and thought this was going to be the second in a series rather than a direct sequel. Ordered it as soon as it was announced.

What did I think of it?

As I said above I was not expecting this to be a sequel; in my head I had convinced myself that this was going to be a series of nasty (in a good way) serial killer novels with Bond as the hero hunting down the bad guys. All of this based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, all based on assumptions rather than any hard evidence. even starting to read the book I thought that we were running through the events of Mayhem as the background to something entirely different. However, it quickly became clear that I was in for something entirely different as the events of Mayhem come back to haunt Bond in rather horrible ways with a kind of horrible inevitability in the events that were unfolding. Or so it seemed.

This was an interesting reading experience for me, one in a line of dark books with very human dilemmas underscored by creepy supernatural elements and a fair dose of nastiness. But because it was so dark I actually had to set it aside on a couple of occasions because it was almost overwhelming. This is a credit to Sarah’s writing; the triggers for me were not the obvious nastiness but the realistic portrayal of the impact of unrequited love (I have some experience in this area – don’t ask, best left alone – and just found it painful to read) and the descent of a man into madness.

But I’m glad I persevered because there are a couple of events in particular which push the story into really dark territory and I was desperate to know how this was all going to work out. I had a tiny wee suspicion of what might happen at the end which was mostly right though not delivered in quite the way I expected.

This was my eighth read for RIP IX and I’m definitely going to continue exploring this author’s work.

lavinia-portraitRIP92751So way back at the end of August I posted my proposed reading list for Carl’s annual RIP challenge. I’m a wee bit hesitant about challenges these days as I’ve committed so many times in the past and then, because of reading slumps or pressures of work or domestic stuff, singularly failed to meet my own goals. But I’ve been on a real reading high this year and so was more optimistic than usual and that optimism was well-founded because I managed to read nine books and watch two scary movies!

The final tally is (in order read):

I’m very pleased with that as I had only committed to four. This success is mostly because I was on holiday with lots of reading time, clearly the best way to approach this sort of thing 🙂

For Peril on the Screen I managed to watch Triangle and Event Horizon.

Links to reviews are provided where they’ve been published; not all are on the blog(s) yet, but they will be added over the next couple of days and I’ll update.

How did you guys all do?

IMG_0166Let the Old Dreams Die is a book of horror short stories by the Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, first published in 2006 but only relatively recently available in an English language translation. I was very keen to read some of his shorter work having been very impressed by the three of his four novels that I’ve read so far:

I really enjoyed this collection which I read over several days while on holiday, staying in a former stately home in Cumbria. I like Lindqvist’s take on horror, which doesn’t ignore gory unpleasantness (as anyone who knows what happens at the end of Let the Right One In will confirm) but is overwhelmingly, to my mind at any rate, one of creepiness tinged with melancholy, which means they aren’t the sort of stories you can binge on. As an aside, I once heard an author being interviewed on the radio (I think it was Anne Enright but I’m not sure) who said something along the lines that people tend to approach anthologies the way they do a box of chocolates – they either eat them singly over time and savour each one, or they devour the lot in one go – I have done both in my time. This is definitely a one sweetie at a time thing.

I’m not going to pick out any individual stories to mention (except perhaps Village on the Hill which led me to consider drains more carefully than I had before) but will say that for many readers the two titles of most interest  will be the title story which is sort of but not quite a sequel to Let the Right One In (Lindqvist himself says in his afterword that it deals with a problem of interpretation that he hadn’t identified until he saw the movie version) and The Final Processing, the longest story in the collection, which is basically a sequel to Handling the Undead. There is also Eternal/Love where I think you can see Lindqvist exploring some of the themes that pop up in Harbour.

I really enjoyed this selection; it was a perfect autumn holiday read and it has made me want to pick up the most recent novel, Little Star. Recommended.

This was my second read for RIP IX.

imageWhat’s it all about?

Edward Prendick survives a shipwreck and is picked up by another ship transporting a strange cargo under the direction of the disreputable Montgomery to a mysterious island in the tropics, home to Dr Moreau and his laboratory. Prendick finds out that Moreau is experimenting on animals, continuing work he started back in England but which appalled those in the know so much that he was forced to leave if he wished to continue his research. The callous disregard he has for the subjects of his experiments and the torture he puts them through does not end well, but what will it mean for Prendick?

Why did I want to read it?

The Island of Dr Moreau is one of those classics that you know so much about you think that you’ve actually read it and then of course you realise that you haven’t, and I thought it was about high time that I did. As you can see from the cover image from the edition I read I’ve had a copy of this since the release of the ill-fated and not terribly well-received 1996 movie version.

That’s how long things can moulder on Mount TBR round these parts.

What did I think of it?

I’m not sure it’s what I expected really, based on my only other Wells reading experience which is War of the Worlds, an exciting and pacy read. I thought this would be similar but it’s clearly trying to make more of a point in terms of its message on the price of scientific enquiry and the role of vivisection which has always been a contentious issue. Moreau himself has no redeeming features whatsoever and even Prendick is at times an ambivalent figure; he doesn’t seem to have a problem with the principles being applied, it’s Moreau’s methodology he takes issue with. The beasts themselves are for the most part not well developed and the social satire elements were lost on me.

I’m glad I read it as it is a classic which has influenced other works across a number of media; the song No Spill Blood by Oingo Boingo has just popped into my head and even my late lamented dentist used to refer to his surgery as the House of Pain.  So many of the references are embedded in popular culture but I must admit that as a novel it left me entirely cold.

This was my first read for RIP IX.

lavinia-portraitRIP92751How did it get to be September already?

So, I love the autumn, always have done, but the onset of mellow fruitfulness and longer nights and all that stuff is made even more pleasurable by the advent of Carl’s annual RIP challenge now in its ninth year where we all come together to read dark stuff with ghosts and horror and mystery and danger. It starts on 1 September and runs to 31 October.

I have a list that’s far too long even for someone who’s playing a blinder in her reading plans (already only four volumes away from my target for the year) out of which I will attempt to read four so I can take part in Peril the First.

Before I go on I must say that I love the Abigail Larson art that Carl has chosen, partly because she has designed the cover for the first book on my list but mostly because I am lucky enough to have a framed print of her Masque of the Red Death.

ripnineperilfirst

But enough of that; to the list:

That looks like a pretty fine haul.

ripnineperilscreen

I will also try to take part in Peril on the Screen by finding stuff that is suitably creepy. At the very least I hope to watch Triangle which I’ve had for ages and still not seen. And maybe some revisits to old favourites, Theatre of Blood springing to mind.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s lists!

 

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

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.

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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