Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Nov-dec reads 2019




Over the past few weeks, I’ve been catching up again with my reading and these are the most recent titles I have read. 
Book 41 for this year is Gypsy Jem Mace, a book about one of the early pioneers of boxing who was born in the village of Beeston where I work.
The Beeston Ploughshare is a community run pub that was recently saved by the locals and now has become a thriving hub of the community. The pub actually has a whole wall devoted to the life of Jem Mace, so naturally when I saw this book on our shelves I decided to pick it up and find about the man given such pride of place in the pub in which I work.
Unfortunately however, this book pretty much only skims over his life and only really gives you the bare bones of what is a fascinating story. 
Over the course of his life, Mace meets such famous people as Charles Dickens and a young Wyatt Earp, but this book glosses over those moments and instead, is as much if not more about the author’s journey researching his family’s ancestor as it is about the man himself, which really is a bit of a shame.
The book is good as an overview, but it left me wanting more and overall was something of a disappointment.
2 stars

Likewise Stephen King’s Outsider promises much, but delivers something slightly less. 
When a prominent local baseball coach who trains young teens is arrested in connection with the grisly murder of one of his players, it seems like an open and shut case.
Except the coach has a watertight alibi, and allegedly was on the other side of the country when the murder happened.
As one Detective investigates further, he finds himself drawn into a curious mystery where all is not as it seems...
This was okay, but really not much more than that.
One of the weakest moments comes when a character from King’s own Bill Hodges trilogy turns up in a surprising cameo and overall I wasn’t really impressed.
I didn’t hate the book, but neither did I love it. 
3 stars.

Finally for books 43, 44, and 45, we come to Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars:Aftermath trilogy.
Set after Return of the Jedi, these books bridge the gap between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens and deal with the creation of The First Order in the wake of The Empire’s defeat.
Using established characters such as Han Solo, Leia, and Wedge Antilles as side characters, the books introduce a new cast hunting down ex Imperials as the remnants of The Empire try to deal with and fill the void following the twin deaths of The Emperor and Darth Vader.
Though these books have got a lot of stick from Star Wars fans, who it seems are almost near impossible to please - worse than Doctor Who fans if that’s possible - I really enjoyed these books.
They really do help address how The First Order came to be and do a good job of filling in the gaps between films.
One of the first sets of books to be included as part of Disney’s new canon, replacing all those books written before that now have been resigned to no more than fan fiction much to the chagrin of fans, these three interlinked stories do exactly what they say on the tin with lots of subtle and not so subtle nods to all three trilogies - the original, the prequels, and now J.J. Abrams conclusion to the Skywalker story.
A very strong 4/5 stars  



Tuesday, 19 November 2019

You are what they eat...




 As unpleasant a book as you are ever likely to read, this book covers a wide variety of themes that includes, in no particular order, cannibalism, amputeeism, necrophilia, pedophillia and body dysmorphia.

A young photographer falls in with a very mixed bag of freaks, following the death of his wife, who are all headed out to South America to commune with a cannibal tribe and hopefully allow them to eat some of the party.

What follows is some of the sickest stuff you are ever likely to read.

This is a nasty, nasty book and definitely not one for the faint hearted, but I was very surprised it didn’t repulse me more. This is probably largely due to the fact that the author has a very basic style that is easy to read without going heavy (thankfully) into too much detail. The way he describes each increasingly more horrible scene is so matter-of-fact that at times, he might as well be describing the weather, but this is no bad thing for if this was better written and DID go into more detail, I’m not sure I would have been able to finish it.

Comparing this to Shaun Hupp’s Maniacs with knives, that book DID make me cringe and flinch because of the expert way he described each scene and brought it to life in your mind. 

This book doesn’t do that and often feels like substance over style.

That said, it’s not a bad book, and I DID enjoy reading it (if enjoy is really the right word) in the same kind of way that I enjoy an occasional McDonald’s, but there is no real style or skill in this author’s writing other than that he succeeded in making me want to carry on reading right up until the bitter end, despite the all too often distasteful subject matter. 

3\5 stars.

Monday, 18 November 2019

A.D.Redden’s Penny Dreadful

Book 40 on my list is this collection of 13 pieces of flash fiction.


Redden’s selection of flash fiction, very short stories to those who don’t know, is a bit of a mixed bag of tales - each with a little twist at the end.
But though the stories in themselves are often entertaining, they lack a little in substance - as flash fiction tends to do - and so, often, the reader feels like they are only getting the bare bones of the story.
This may be okay for some, but for me the only advantage here is that these are all very quick reads.

2/5

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Reflecting on the past...










Aberration, also known as Evoke, by Danielle Simmons is my 39th read this year.

Laney emerges from a two month coma with very little memory only to find she is the only survivor of a car crash that killed three of her friends. The only real friend she has left is Evan, with whom she has a romantic entanglement, but when Evan starts drawing away and keeping his distance, Laney finds herself examining the past in a bid to try and discover exactly what happened that fateful night that three of her friends lost their lives. 

This is one of those books I’m not sure quite why I downloaded - probably because it was free at the time I suppose - and really wasn’t my type of thing. It’s kind of a romantic, teen drama and to be honest, I found myself skimming over most of it as the constant flashbacks started to do my head in.

To be fair, I don’t think I’m really the target market this book is aimed at and so, for that reason, I’m giving this nil point.

Only about 774 books left on my kindle to go...

Sick, but not as sick as I expected...











Octopus by Matt Shaw is my 38th book this year.
Described as his most extreme novel yet, and slated by a few of his readers who found this too disgusting to describe, I had high hopes for this book but, unfortunately, actually found this tamer than many of the previous novels I have read by Shaw.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was very well written, highly imaginative, and great fun to read, but I did think it wasn’t as bad as all the hype made it out to be.
It takes a fair while before we get to the truly horrible bit, which I’m not going to spoil, but even then I wasn’t really all that shocked.
Maybe I’ve just been a little desensitised by reading Matt Shaw’s other work, but for me this only rated as an average example of his work and though fun, was not as good as some of his others.
Shame, as I was kind of expecting a little bit more ‘extreme horror’ but I guess what he was going for here was quality over quantity as when the nastiness does come, I suppose it probably is a bit shocking for some.
Just not me.
But then maybe I’m just a sick bastard. (Did you see what I did there?)
All this makes it sound like I didn’t like it.
I did.
I just didn’t think it as extreme as some other readers have made out.

4 stars out of 5

Monday, 11 November 2019

When the past and the present combine...

In the late 1800’s, the whole population of the small town of Abandon up and disappear without leaving a single trace of where they might possibly have gone.
Over 100 years later, a small group of tourists, including a couple of paranormal investigators, head to Abandon to try and decipher where the townspeople might have gone, but as the past and the present combine, the small party soon find themselves fighting for their lives as old secrets that have lain buried for decades are finally revealed.
This was a gripping novel and a highly accomplished thriller that quite literally I simply could not put down.
The first book I have read by this author, one thing is for certain it won’t be the last.
I loved how events in the past echoed events in the present and the way the two storylines ran alongside each other until coming together in the end.

A very well deserved 5/5!!!


Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Time travel Xmas tale

Book 36 for this year is actually a short story -  Christmas Past by Owen Adams.
One Christmas time, late in the 1800’s, a group of mysterious travellers arrive in a small village.
By the time they leave, life in the village will never be the same again.

This is a quirky little tale that feels like it is part of a much bigger story. To this end, the reader is left a little in the dark as to exactly what is going on and that’s why I’m only giving this 2 stars out of 5.