New current book – The Hunted by Tarn Richardson

proxyReally quick update due to sudden availability of The Hunted by Tarn Richardson. I know Tarn, and have been itching to get hold of some of his writing. I haven’t been able to crowbar a copy of The Damned from him yet, but the teaser trailer is The Hunted; a prequel that was released today! AND, it’s free on Amazon!!

I want to read this so much I’m promoting it to my actually current book! Stand aside Primo Levi; I’m enjoying you very much, but this prequel must be read now!

So what are you waiting for?? Go get a copy from Amazon. I have been watching the progress of reviews coming in for The Damned on Goodreads and they are all really good so far.


Book Review – The Woman in Black by Sandra Hill

2015-02-02 18.28.46The short version of my review of The Woman in Black: Well, it didn’t shit me up as much as the film did!

In one way, that encapsulates most of what I want to say about the book. Because I had watched the film when it came out in the cinema, I was expecting something more directly scary than the book turned out to be. Watching the film influenced my expectation of the book. I suppose I could have guessed that the two would be different because books and film are different. Where The Woman in Black is concerned, each work to the strengths of their respective mediums.

The film was scary, but it affected you more because it made you jump than anything else. Tension built to a crescendo, then something very sudden happened. It is hard for a book to accomplish the same things. A book can surprise you if you don’t know something is about to happen, but in horror, and in The Woman in Black as an example, if something is going to pop out of a door, you know what it will be, therefore the impact of the shock is reduced. A book needs to play to its strengths, or more it’s USP! I recently heard a great description of a book as; A jumble of markings on a page that can induce visions and emotions across any distance of time between writing them down and them being read. So, a book can speak of depth of emotion and understanding that could never be understood from a film. This is The Woman in Black‘s redemption. The book uses emotion instead of shock. The main events that truly affect our protagonist while in Eel Marsh House are very intensely emotional to him. No jumping, but caution, tension, sorrow and hatred. With these tools Susan Hill deftly illustrates a tragedy stuck in time, repeated over again to the detriment of all who see it.

The book did a wonderful job of describing two main themes. Firstly the landscapes and scenes and secondly, almost everything about our main character. In both cases the positive, healthy and up beat was emphasised to provide a foil for those times when things went bad. I do have to admit that despite the quality of Susan Hill’s prose, I was not completely satisfied with the story by the end of the book. I loved the way that the final twist hung on until the actual physical last page of the book, but I think more could have happened, there was unfinished business in Eel Marsh House. That said, I think that a feeling of un-ease may be a fitting end to a book of subtle emotions like The Woman in Black.

The Woman in Black on GoodReads

Rating 8/10

Next Book – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

2015-02-02 18.28.46This “Next Book” update finds me motoring through Out of Chingford at a great rate on knots. In doing so, I have noticed something about the way that I read a book, I guess it is similar to most people? I potter around the start wondering how I am ever going to finish this book in anything short of 6 months. By the time I have got 1/2 way through, I am either picking up pace quite quickly (good book), or I really notice that I am 1/2 way through and wonder when I am going to start picking up pace (bad book or one that saves all its fire for the end.) If I get a decent way into the second half before I notice, then I am obviously on a roll, the story is really great and I am in danger of finishing it pretty soon. That is where I am with Out of Chingford!

So, next book… On the activity page I had previously written:-

Thinking it might be a horror? maybe The Magic Cottage by James Herbert?? But then again I read a James Herbert and I have other horror. Hmm??

I had a think and have now made a choice. Firstly, I thought I would go for a horror as I haven’t really read a proper horror since I started. As you know, I did read The Fog by James Herbert, and if you read the review, I didn’t find it all that, well, horrific! The Magic Cottage came to mind as I tried to read it many years ago and it freaked me out quite a bit. From memory, it starts with an idyllic cottage in the woods. On returning to this cottage, the protagonist of the story finds an altogether more sinister building. It freaked me out as I wasn’t expecting it. I am therefore pretty sure that The Magic Cottage will be a good read when I get to it, but The Fog was poor enough that I have been left doubting my memory and wondering whether The Magic Cottage is going to be as scary as I want it to be. So, I have grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and chosen The Woman in Black by Susan Hill as my next book. I saw the film when it was in the cinema and although scary, it was more tense and jumpy than anything else. Great film, but I get the feeling that the book is going to be much more “interesting”!!

To add to the fun, I have a second hand copy of the book and it is filled with additional writing a bit like the half blood princes potions book! I think in this case it was a study book for GCSE or A-levels. As you can see from the photo it even has stick in tags to mark certain pages (oooh.) The additional info will either add to the experience or detract from it, I will let you know in the review. It is not a huge book and the font is pretty big so I don’t think it will take long to get through. Especially if I rush it so I don’t have to read it at night 🙂 I should be back with another “Next Book” pretty soon.

On re-reading what I have written I realise that I have just decided to read a REALLY SCARY BOOK that also happens to be a GCSE course text. DOH. Lets see shall we. If it’s not as scary as I expected I solemnly promise to read The Magic Cottage next.

Book Review – Raven – Charles L. Grant

I finished Raven by Charles Grant last night and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started the book, but given the genre and the cover picture, I think I more or less got it! My only criticism is that I think the story deserved a stronger ending. The question in the back of your mind  throughout the read is “who or what is the raven?” I won’t spoil the book by suggesting any options, but suffice to say that I would have like to see an “oh my God, really!?” ending opposed to the bitter sweet “which do you think it was?” ending that you actually get. If you read this review then the book, hopefully this information will prompt you to pay that bit more attention to the hints and cues. Maybe there is only one dedicate outcome and I just missed it.

Raven was one long build up of tensions not least aided by the absence of chapters! I have to admit that I didn’t actually notice there was no chapters until I read a review after I had finished it, but that’s not the point. Maybe under the circumstances, it is better and even more powerful to say that this book is so tense that you don’t even notice whether there are chapters or not! But I digress… The story built from a relatively relaxed start to an end where the atmosphere that could be cut with a knife (and a couple of people had a go too!) Here lies the strength of the book. It manages to slowly build, in the longest section for about 1/4 of the book, without feeling slow. Back stories are quietly wound into the events and conversations that occur in the motel, before long Charles Grant has you wondering when something big is going to happen while at the same time quite enjoying the build up and character reactions.

The main thrust of the book is based around the owner of the motel, Neil. It’s his 40th birthday that is being so severely interfered with! This fact is not really a central theme, but it’s mentioned enough to make sure it is regularly bought back into your mind. I got the feeling that although you never get a conclusive understanding of the reason behind the nights events, Neil’s birthday may have a lot to answer for! Maybe I’m being over sensitive as I am almost 40 myself? It feels weird to identify with that aspect of a book that I was lent it to read when I was 20! Maybe I knew I had to wait to get the best out of it?? That’s a long shot as far as excuses go, but I’m sticking with it!!

Raven was not a long book. I could say that this stopped the book losing pace, but I think Mr. Grant (Charles is to familiar and I hate it when articles go with surname only… Full Name or Mr.G, although I can live with dropping the L.) Has manages to condense what could have been a longer book, and for this fact I am extremely jealous…

A long time ago I came up with a concept that I never managed to write (no surprise there then.) I wanted to write what I think of as half way between a script and a book, using the readers own visual queues to paint a vivid picture for a story by only hinting at settings and feelings with minimal short sentences. For example:

Tropical island, beach, parasols, hotel bar, crystal clear water.

I wanted to invoke images with the minimal amount of intervention therefore keeping each readers pure memories or imagination instead of influencing them too much. I never managed to find a way to satisfy that goal and keep writing in a way that retained the required flow. I kind of assumed that’s why English has all those extra words in!! For me, Raven has come closer to that ideal than I have seen in any other book, and annoyingly Charles Grant has still managed to produce an evocative, readable text. My previous front runner was Neuromancer by William Gibson. That book is so visual and evocative of the environments that it portrays, but I always describe it as hard to read. My experience was one where I struggled for the first paragraph or so until I got into the book and “watched the film”. Each time I picked it up; clunk, clunk, clunk, then I was in. I experienced none of that with Raven. On the other hand, Raven was painting it’s story on a much smaller scale than Neuromancer. William Gibson’s book will always have a special place in my heart where Raven was just really good.

Review reviews

There are reviews on the back of Raven, so I thought it would be fun to comment on them for accuracy now that I have read it:-

“Grant’s style of horrors takes hold of your spinal cord and plays it like a violin. His prose leaks with moody atmosphere… And the pace never lags”
Mystery scene

I can’t agree with the first sentence of this comment, but the second is bang on.

“Smooth, sophisticated and frightening”
Publishers weekly

I’m not sure whether this comment was a a quick response when some likely words were asked for, or a very considered response by an impressed reader who took Charles Grant’s lead and removed as many superfluous words as possible. Either was, all of them fit a description of the book.

Rating: 8/10
Raven on Goodreads

Book Review – The Fog – James Herbert

I’ve just finished The Fog and I wanted to get into the habit of writing the review before I start the next book. I managed to get almost 1/2 way through The Fog before I had written the review for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and that is frankly not acceptable!

The review for The Fog will be a bit easier to produce than my previous books. Firstly, I didn’t create any notes for this book. I still think that side notes are a great way to expand your enjoyment of what you are reading, but this book didn’t incite me to discover much. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, just a fact 🙂

The Fog is an interesting book and I am really glad that I read it. It was not a literary masterpiece, but I guess that it was never meant to be! The story wasn’t hugely convoluted, there weren’t complex threads winding through each other. Some of the detail was dubious, clunky and contradictory, so I found that I was quite regularly jerked out of the story thinking; “… But why?” Or “what about the xxx you just mentioned?” Or “Grrrr.” So you would think that I didn’t like the book? I must say, that straight after Captain Corelli’s Mandolin this was definitely a change, but that is one reason why I chose it. None the less, the story has some very endearing qualities, and is at the very least a horror story from the tried and tested recipe that James Herbert was a driving force in creating. 

In The Fog He took a relatively good action story and added a generous handful of overly described gore, a gritty lead character who would not stop until the work was done and a soupcon of slightly out of place sex scenes… Horror perfection. 

As I said, I think that the book was a bit disjointed. I still found myself happily thinking “why the hell not?” quite regularly and that dispelled the effect of the odd clunky section. This book pleasantly reminded me of horror books that I read many years ago. It is of its time, it was gory not scary, it was meant to be fun and it was!

Ratings wise, I have to follow my basic metric for these things, and it may be a revelation to you, but that is based on IMDB. Almost always, the hive mind that rates films on the IMDB site get it right for me. If a film is over 6/10 I will like it. 7 or 8 and it’s worth crossing the road for, and 8 or over and you usually have cinema gold. I’ve given The Fog 6.5/10. I have to acknowledge the dodgy plot holes and the like, but 6.5/10 is well worth a read if you get the chance.

Rating 6.5/10
The Fog on Good Reads

Next book: James Herbert – The Fog

Evening all. I am within spitting distance of finishing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and have been planning a bit of a new idea for future books. I should have realised this right at the start, but this blog is called a book club! As far as I can, I will post a blog entry before I finish my current book with details of my next book. If any of you lovely readers out there want to join in, you can. Kind of like a club and stuff 🙂
Now, I did realise that if I am going to be serious about this, I cant actually ask you to go out and buy the book that I am reading as that would negate my aim to stop consuming stuff. If I go about asking you all to buy stuff then I’m making myself part of the problem. Therefore I have to ask you to follow these rules
  1. If you have loads of unread books, read those first and tweet or blog about it. If you do, tell me on the blog or on twitter 🙂
  2. If you can find it second hand that is great
  3. If you can get the book from the library then great too
If you really want to buy it and you have loads of unread books, then at least you will be reading what I hope to be a good cross section of books including all kinds of random title along the way 🙂
So what’s my next book? Stupid question considering the title I gave this post. I had a long look through my bookcase, and came up with a choice of two. Given my last two books, I really wanted to go for something that didn’t include war or socialism! I came up with a choice of two, and I’m not sure that you could get two more different books.

 I was really divided between the two for so many reasons. I chose The Fog mainly because I know that Danny Wallace is pretty much the same as he was before he wrote his book, and it claims that it will change your life on the cover. I will obviously still ready this book, and it gets a good rating on goodreads. Next its The Fog, so if you wanna, grab your copy and I will post a blog entry to give the signal to start reading.

Last thing. Here is a pic of my copy of the book. I “inherited” it from my dad a very long time ago. My copy was published in 1977, so I was a year old then… Back to the last bit of CCM. It is really good, not sure how many books I can rate 8/10 before I have to make a change.