27 Aug 2016

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE.

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by BARBARA KINGSOLVER.

BACK COVER BLURB: Told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959, this is the story of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa.

FIRST SENTENCE {Book One: Genesis ~ Orleanna Price: Sanderling Island, Georgia}: Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 160}: Tata Ndu did not bow his head but raises it, not happily but proudly. Then I understood that he had won, and my father had lost. Tata Ndu came here personally to tell us that the gods of his village did not take kindly to the minister of corruption. As a small sign of Their displeasure, They ate his daughter alive.

SOURCE: A Reading Group Read.

MY THOUGHTS: Hmm! Just where to begin.

Narrated by several characters, all of them female (all of them two dimensional at best) - the wife and daughters of protagonist, Baptist missionary Nathan Price. Whilst we heard of him, we never actually heard directly from him. Though one of the more hideously arrogant literary creations I've come across - goodness, the author must have done something right to warrant such a reaction - at least a vaguely interesting characters, I wonder why this was.

Though ranging over several decades, altogether overlong, the first half in particular meandered on and on and on and ...

What was that? 

A lion? A daughter about to become its dinner? Ah, false alarm (it seems the lion changed its mind) ... onto the second half that lets face doesn't really get much better.

And that wasn't my main gripe ...

Left feeling manipulated. Harsh of me perhaps BUT I can't help but feel that rather than exploring events, the historical and political turmoil, through the eyes of the characters, the author had her own agenda and wasn't afraid to preach it.

Originally rated 'It was OK' on GoodReads. Having completed my I've decided to amend this to 'I didn't like it'.


25 Aug 2016

DOC MARTIN: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

DOC MARTIN: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT by SAM NORTH.

BACK COVER BLURB: Relive the magic of ITV's best loved drama series starring Martin Clunes.

Doc Martin arrives in the picture postcard fishing village of Portwenn, Cornwall. Once a high-flying London surgeon, his suddenly developed blood phobia means he has to take a job in a local practice.

But while the Doc’s medical skills are second to none, his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. He immediately starts infuriating the locals, none more so than school teacher Louisa Glasson...

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Dr Martin Ellingham squeezed into his seat: facing the direction of travel, with a table.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 191}: 'Really?' Martin felt a wobble of strangeness at this ordinary dinner party conversation he was having, trapped in a madman's shack. And, presumably he was about to have dinner with an imaginary squirrel.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

MY THOUGHTS: Raise your hands all of you who have read a book adapted for tv/the big screen.

1...2...3.... I thought so, pretty much all of you.

Now raise your hand if you have watched a tv series only for that series to be adapted, sorry 'relived' as the synopsis tells us, as a book.

Hmm, as I thought. Not nearly as many.

As far as I can remember the first time I've come across a book that came after the adaptation. Whilst I'm open to the fact that it could work, in my opinion it didn't here.

Perhaps too big a fan of the series. Try as I might
I simply couldn't get Martin Clunes as ITV's Doc Martin out of my head and I'm afraid the Doc Martin on the page though quintessentially Doc Martin was, at the same time, quite different. Not something that can easily be explained but not nearly as, well, as gruff, as socially awkward, as lovable as the Doc Martin on the screen, I suppose I'd sum Sam North's version up as being a slightly tampered version.


Not the only thing to have suffered. Having reconciled myself to the fact that not only weren't the characters exactly like they were on the screen but, rather oddly, on paper the author somehow failed to bring them fully to life (perhaps due to their tv personas being so good?). A cold, miserable day in what is my corner of England (despite it being summer) I was at least hoping to capture some sense of Cornwall but alas this sense of place was to be denied me as well.

I guess an OK read. Probably a better one if you haven't seen the tv production. However if like me you have, be prepared to see the characters in a slightly different light whilst essentially reliving the incidents that occurred in the first series.

23 Aug 2016

PROBABLY ABOUT TO LOSE ANY STREET CRED I MIGHT HAVE HAD ...

How do you get Pikachu on a crowded train?
You Pokomon.

I know, what can I say? Sorry?

As I said I'm probably about to lose any street cred I ever had and believe me ever since I offered to look after the then primary school age Niece #1's Tamagotchi (I know, how cool of me was that?) only to 'kill it' (not quite so cool, eh?) that doesn't say much BUT I simply had to join in the latest Pokemon craze ...



Though created here, I first came across the Pokemon Go Book Tag meme here at Carol's NoteBook.

Not fully up to speed with the exact etiquette of the meme but it seems that as well as the book that started my love of reading I should also name my favourite Pokemon(????)

Not as easy as it sounds. Rumoured to have been born with a paperback in my hand, I guess my love of reading began with the very first story book ever read to me. As for my favourite Pokemon? Let's go with the one residing on the steps outside the church where Mr T worships. Don't know which one it is but, yes, that's my favourite.
Ooh! Possibly one of the first 'classics' I ever had read to me and certainly one of the classics I'll always love, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I still have the beautifully illustrated copy that belonged to my mam as a little girl. There is no date of publication but an inscription shows it was awarded to my mam, aged 6, in March 1955.

That's easier. A series I lost interest in reading because it was literally everywhere but have promised to read ... one day - The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.
Not normally at a loss as to an answer for these things but this one has me stumped. Mmm! Err! You know you can have too much of a good thing and after a while reading one modern 'vampire' book (lets say any of the True Blood books by Charlaine Harris) can became pretty much like reading any other modern 'vampire' story (let say the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer) and yet love them we still do.

This year Kelly threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to read at least 6 books of 600+ pages. So far, so good, I've read 3 (or is it 4?) but so far have put off reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which, drat, I've only just realised, is only actually 563 pages.

I don't actually do scary books any more so if a book has kept me awake it hasn't been for that reason sooo the most recent books to keep me awake until silly-o-clock recently simply because I couldn't put them down were The Six Train To Wisconsin and, book 2 in the series, Highway Thirteen To Manhattan by Kourtney Heintz.

OTP? (Is that another piece of my street cred I see disappearing before my eyes?) Aah! One True Pairing. Of my recent reads I guessed that would have to go to Daenerys and Khal Drogo (Game Of Thrones)... what a love story.

Oh dear! A bit of a prude, I don't tend to do fire-hot, lukewarm being more my kind of read so with that in mind can I go with the aforementioned Kourtney Heintz books which were rather smokin'. 

Ooh! No matter how many Winnie The Pooh spin-offs there are I can't see myself ever really tiring of Eeyore.

If not because of its plot (which lets face it was pretty mediocre) so much as the wonderful character that is Cormoran Strike, I thought Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling's) The Cuckoo's Calling surprisingly awesome.

Agggh! The Harry Potter books????


I can't ever remember particularly wanting any collector's edition until I received a copy of Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats 7th Anniversary Edition by T S Eliot. 

Not sure if its a debut novel (Drat! A quick 'google' shows its not) but I'm so excited by the thought of The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu.

I don't even have to think about this one, Philippa Gregory. 

That would have to be the paperback edition of the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. A book I've been waiting for so long that I've forgotten what its called.

Well that was a fun filled few hours and though I do say it myself, a bookish meme, perhaps I'll retain some of the street cred I (never) had ...




22 Aug 2016

THE WICKED MR HALL: THE MEMOIRS OF THE BUTLER WHO LOVED TO KILL.


THE WICKED MR HALL: THE MEMOIRS OF THE BUTLER WHO LOVED TO KILL by ROY ARCHIBALD HALL. (Click here for details on gaining permission to download the book.)

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: "I  have been called many things - 'The Monster Butler', 'The Butler Who Served Death', 'The Ladies Man'. In truth I am none of these things. I am Roy Hall. Before I die I want to tell my story."

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1930s, Roy Archibald Hall was a natural thief. After moving down to London, Hall - who was bisexual - became a familiar figure in the capital's glitzy, underground gay scene. Due to his lucrative criminal career, he led an extravagant lifestyle. Eventually the law caught up with him and he was arrested. He spent the majority of the next two decades of his life in a cell. 

"I had always enjoyed being 'in service'. Beside living in beautiful homes that I could rob, there was also the air of class."

Upon release from prison in 1975, he returned to Scotland and found employment with Lady Margaret Hudson, working as a butler at Kirleton House. David Wright, a former lover from his time in jail, arrived on the scene and was hired as a gamekeeper. The two men fell out over the theft of a diamond ring and a vicious argument ensued. They went on a shooting trip to clear the air...it was a walk from which Wright would never return.

After the killing, Hall moved back to London where he teamed up with small-time criminal Michael Kitto. Working again as a butler, he and Kitto then murdered Hall's new employers, an aged former Labour MP and his wife. But it did not end there - by the time he was finally arrested, he had carried out two more brutal murders, including that of his own half-brother. 

Considering the nature of his crimes it was obvious that Hall would never be released. Before he died, however, he decided to set the record straight and write his memoirs. This honest, harrowing and chilling book is the result.

"No one visits me. My few close friends still look out for me in my old age, but I have no part to play in the 21st century. Only death can release me now, and I wait for it as patiently as I can."

(Spoiler Alert: To view all of the text simply scroll over the darkened portions. TT)

FIRST SENTENCE {Introduction}: My home is a top security prison twelve miles of York.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 138}: I have never lived by society's rules and when I see rules and misguided beliefs, that force a young girl to run from her home and community for the sin of making love, I'm glad that I don't. When she asked me what I did for a living, I told her that I was a businessman.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

MY THOUGHTS: I don't know if it was the cover or the title (or a combination of both) but for some reason I thought this was a work of fiction (I didn't have my reading glasses with me at the time of purchase so couldn't read the synopsis.) Would I have picked it up if I had realised otherwise?

The title somehow hinting that this wasn't going to be a book of any substance. Combined with the 'dripping' blood red font I was expecting a spoof. 

A read the teenage me who had a vast collection of true crime books may have enjoyed it but, then again, a book totally devoid of any psychological insights (the very thing that drew me to read the accounts of various notorious killers), maybe not.

Boastful (and totally lacking remorse) of the crimes, the murders, he had committed. His younger self (pre-murders) totally in denial that his actions had any impact on his victims.

Should I have been counting, I'm sure I would have lost count of his sexual encounters.

Then there is all the name dropping.

But I digress.

Terrible writing. Without being too blasé (after all he did kill several people), quite frankly a crime against literature. It comes to something when you are put off a book not because of the heinous crimes detailed within but rather because of the poor penmanship and egotistical rantings of its author.