26 Nov 2020

A TRIO OF NOVELS: 'THE CHILDREN'S BOOK', 'PARANORMALCY', & 'THE SIGHT'.

Given that today I shall be sharing my thoughts on not one but three novels I shall not be sharing the Back Cover Blurbs (for the synopsis please click on the book title) nor the First Sentence or my Memorable Moment. 

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK by A.S.BYATT.

MY THOUGHTS ... On the one hand a story about Olive (author and mother) and her relationship with her creativity and her own and her children's childhood. On the other, a study of the history and politics of the time (1895 to 1919). Both aspects that could have combined quite happily and yet ...

70/75 or so pages in and still there was next to no plot development, just a lot of the author setting the scene, oh, and Victorian history. Something that I never thought I'd hear myself say (and it pains me greatly to do so), but, enough is enough, the wealth of description, of detail, it really is this book's down fall. Not its only one but certainly, in my eyes at least, the major one.

A novel with too many characters, many of them similar; lacking a distinct voice. That I had little interest in many of them - the dying of the chauffeur (unnamed and only mentioned this once) a case in point.

That at first the book follows the story of a young boy who as it turns out is a talented artist, only for this aspect of the story to be dropped and picked up again (seemingly on a whim) on other other occasions later in the book (something the author does numerous times). Agghh! Frustrating just doesn't come into it. 

Essentially a read with way too many threads; I can't help but think that within this one novel there were the makings of two, possibly three, shorter novels. 

PARANORMALCY by KIERSTEN WHITE

MY THOUGHTS ... There are those books targeted at the Young Adult market that I'd defy any reader no matter what their age to read and not enjoy and then ...

And then there are the likes of Paranormalcy which I do think is very much written with the teenage/young adult in mind and therefore not guaranteed (as much as anyone can guarantee these things) to be enjoyed by all older readers though that said, far from a teenager/young adult myself, me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

With all manner of super naturals (including your gorgeous but dangerous faerie), a love story (albeit a tame one), some adventure. I think it fair to say Paranormalcy has most of the attributes you'd expect to find in a book of this sort and yet, thanks largely to its heroine, a departure from most of the other books of this genre that I've read.

Not exactly your kick-ass (though to be fair she has been known to overcome some big and bad super naturals with nothing more than a stun gun, a pink one at that) leather clad, stiletto wearing heroine. Beautiful in a what, a wholesome, a girl next door kind of way? (she's certainly not what I thought of as sexy). Funny (I loved her bad jokes), girly (but not in an annoying way), that one aspect of her life (that as a 'bagger and tagger' working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency) begins to conflict with her increasing desire to be your 'normal' sixteen year old, the aspect of the story I found most compelling, something most of us will relate to in one way or another, altogether I found Evie refreshing.

Ending in such a way that leaves little doubt that there will be a sequel, I look forward to reading more of her journey.

THE SIGHT by DAVID CLEMENT-DAVIES.

MY THOUGHTS ... Not usually tempted by animal stories but having enjoyed Akea: The Power Of Destiny and, its sequel, Akea: His mother's Son  both by talented young author Elizabeth Jade I thought I'd give this one a go.

Take some wolves, feature in some Christian theology, some Norse, Greek, Roman and Arthurian mythology, add in some fairy tales and combine with some 'Wolf Lore' and to my mind you have all the ingredients of a great book.

By far my favourite aspect of the book, I loved the myth that was Wolfbane who we learn 'in Wolf Lore was a demon spirit, in human terms almost the equivalent of Satan himself' (Pg 22) and I thought the parallels drawn between the life and ultimate sacrifice of (wolf) Sita and Jesus interesting but otherwise ...

Longer than it needed to be to tell the story it did and, oh my goodness, talk about melodramatic. 

The dialogue, stilted and somehow unnatural (yes, even for what I thought of as 'magical' wolves for lets face it Clement-Davies wolves are about as far from actual wolves as its possible to be) and, oh my goodness, talk about melodramatic. 

Outdated. Its kind of hard to put my finger on it; maybes it was that whilst the 'Chosen One' was a female wolf (as were the 'baddies') they were the exceptions, everything else about the other wolves was dictated by what I felt were outdated ideas on the roles males and females play, maybe that's why the writing felt a bit, well, antiquated. 

Most of all though ...

There's a high body count, this being the main reason I tend to steer clear of animal stories and something that normally has me reaching for a box of tissues and yet, no, not so much as a sniffle, I'm afraid these just weren't characters I invested in.

Rated ** (It was OK). Really? 

Hmm! I think this was me being overly generous.

23 Nov 2020

A QUARTET OF CRIME NOVELS.

Given that I shall be sharing my thoughts on not one but four novels today I shall not be sharing the Back Cover Blurbs, the First Sentence nor my Memorable Moment. For the synopsis please click on the book title.


TENNISON by LYNDA LA PLANTE.

The first book in the Tennison series. Tennison tells the back story of DCI Jane Tennison who featured in the TV programme Prime Suspect

With murdered teenagers in the first part and a bank robbery in the second (both tenuously connected), though fairly average as far as police procedurals go, Tennison proved an enjoyable enough read. For me however, perhaps the most interesting (if slightly predictable) thing about the book was the insight it gave into how difficult it was for women to rise through the male dominated ranks of the police force at that time (1973) and the amount of, juvenile pranks sexism that went on; that the author reiterated this time and time again however did become a bit tiresome. That it also gave a glimpse into the fashions, music and price of everything from a bacon buttie to a packet of cigarettes (both of which the young Jane Tennison was of course expected to fetch for her male colleagues) provided an amusing historical aspect. 


NOW YOU SEE ME by SHARON BOLTON.

The first book in the Lacey Flint series. With a Jack the Ripper aspect to the book I fully expected to enjoy Now You See Me, however ...

I found Lacey unrealistic as a police officer; like the archetypical school boy who pulls the hair of the girl he actually likes, so Lacey is rude to/shows distaste of a fellow officer until, yeah, it turns out she actually loves him. As for the crimes and motives? Daft is the first word that comes to mind. And as for the Gay, beautiful Tulloch ... talk about stereotypical; that he is 'not entirely white' ... (shaking head incredulously) What!!!


THE CUTTING CREW by STEVE MOSBY.

If ever there was a book in which there were two principle characters The Cutting Crew is it. Nothing original about that you might be thinking but what if I were to tell you that, the narrative dominated by these two factors, the two principle characters were main protagonist, Martin, and the city (a city split into districts, each named after an animal no less), its geography and history? 

A slow starter, without a doubt. Confusing, yes. A poor internal dialogue to action ratio with way too much of the former and not enough of the latter for my liking, most definitely. Weird/offbeat, certainly. And yet, quirky and intriguing with more of what I thought a futuristic vibe than a Sci-fi one, oddly enough, I did kind of enjoy it.

THE LAST PRECINCT by PATRICIA CORNWELL.

What turned out to be the 11th book in the Kay Scarpetta series. It could be said that these are books best read in order and, yes, there is something in that as though able to be read as a standalone novel, there is obviously some back story lost in joining a well established story so far in though in all honesty I did feel there was sufficient that this wasn't a huge problem.

OK so strong in forensic and pathological detail, I'll give the author that, BUT ...

With the first half of the book given over to a therapy session, whilst I'm up for character's baring their deepest, darkest thoughts and fears, dear me, this was something else. That everyone seems to fall into one of two groups; those that adore Kaye, thinking her, well, the best thing since sliced bread, OR those who hate her mainly because they are jealous of her knowledge or good looks or both. Then there were all those descriptions (Oh! Those never ending descriptions) that seemed to serve no other purpose other than to fill up pages/make up the word count. And that just wasn't the descriptions either for much the same could be said of the endless pages of conversation between only two characters.

Whilst I can't say I'll never pick up another book in the series/another of the author's books if this is a prime example of her writing I can't say I'm impressed.