Monday, 25 August 2014

Review - The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Wasp FactoryThe Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Abacus

Pages - 244

Blurb from Goodreads

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date.


I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.

Enter - if you can bear it - the extraordinary private world of frank, just sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.

My Review

I am so very glad to be finished this book, if you have problems reading about animal torture and cruelty then avoid this book at all costs. Frank Cauldhame is sixteen and our main character, his brother has been sectioned after terrorizing the children of the island and torturing local dogs. His relationship with his father is dysfunctional, he has killed three people and makes regular animal sacrifices and game of torturing them.

The book goes back and forth between events in recall, Frank talks about something that happened to him as a child so he is different, later in the story this comes up and we get an explanation. The same with his brother, he is very matter of fact about his brother being crazy and later this is brought up and explained.

The story is about a dysfunctional young man, his day to day life and some glimpses into how he is the way he is and his family life. For me, I couldn't get into the story as the animal torture which starts on page one. Any kind of animal torture I find affects a story for me however it is so strong and prevalent throughout this one that it affected the entire tale. To be honest it does emphasize how unhinged Frank is and for people who can read this kind of content and be untouched by it I am sure they will enjoy the story. There are some shocks in it, aside from the animal torture and the end I didn't see coming which is why it has the second star. It isn't that it is a terribly written book, it isn't, I just couldn't get on board or past the cruelty. 2 out of 5 for me this time, I would try Mr Banks at another time however I will research it before picking it up.

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review - Warhol's Prophecy by Shaun Hutson

Warhol's ProphecyWarhol's Prophecy by Shaun Hutson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Pan Books

Pages - 447

Blurb from Goodreads

"Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes," said Andy Warhol. And fame is something certain people will go to any lengths to achieve: whether to be revered or reviled, the lure of notoriety is strong for those lacking it.When five-year-old Becky goes missing in a crowded shopping centre, her mother's worst nightmare has come true. But Hailey Gibson's nightmares are just beginning. After Becky is safely returned by Adam Walker, Hailey finds her initial gratitude turning to something else. With her marriage close to ruins, she is tempted to begin an affair with this likeable newcomer. Besides, Hailey wants revenge against her husband and his mistress. And Walker seems willing -- only too happy to please. But maybe he has his own agenda? As she wisely ends their budding relationship, Hailey begins to wonder if Walker could be behind the acts of vandalism committed against her home and family. Or is someone else seeking revenge, who she has not yet encountered? When petty harassment turns to open violence, Hailey finds herself caught in a spiralling vortex of suffering and death . until the shattering truth forces her to make the the most horrendous decision of her life.

My Review

Shaun Hutson has always been horror for me, this is more of a psychological thriller with some gore and suspense thrown in. The book opens with the line "There was blood everywhere". It is from the scene where Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's "family" - every so many chapters there is an opening like this from a true life murder. The first line of our actual tale is "HER CHILD WAS dead". Hailey Gibson's little girl Becky, five years old, is missing from a busy store. However Adam Walker comes to the rescue, a helpful stranger who finds Becky and reunites her with her mother. Hailey is going through hell, trying to cope with her husbands infidelity, attracted to Adam, trying to be a good mum. Things start to spiral and soon Hailey finds someone has been in her house, violence is at her doorstep and she doesn't know who she can trust!

This is a book that draws you in quickly, you know something seems a bit off but you can't quite put your finger on it. The chapters are quite thin so you can fire right through them as you want to know, will she won't she. Who is responsible for the skulduggery afoot and how will it all end. This is a difference theme for me for what I have come to expect from Mr Hutson however I did like it although like seems a bit inappropriate considering the content and how dark some of the book is.

It is not for the faint hearted as it does have scenes of graphic violence, there is also some explicit sex scenes which some may find uncomfortable. Fast paced, it keeps you guessing and if you like thriller or dark scenes with some gore, this is a hit for you. 4/5 for me, I have read quite a few Shaun Hutson and I would read his work again.

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Liebster Award & Questions

I was nominated for the Liebster Award from Felicia over at A Silly Girls Thoughts so thanks for that.

I know most of my fellow bloggers don't like these type of nominations where you need to nominate so many others. I am not a huge fan either but I do like the book questions, therefore I will post the ones put and if you wish you can carry them to your blog and answer, or answer on the comments here. I don't mind either way.

Hope your all having a lovely weekend and a nice Sunday planned, we are heading to Waterstones after this YAAAAY, be ready for new books post ;p

These are the questions Felicia asked me and the other nominated people:

1. If you had to pick max three favorite books, what would it be?Oh this is too hard, only three! I would have to say the Lord of The Rings books (I have all three in one book so it counts), The Green Mile by Stephen King and Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

2. If you had to pick max three of your least favorite books, what would it be? Moby Dick by Herman Melville it took me a full week to read and I honestly really hated it. In The Woods by Tana French, I was enraged by the ending and felt totally cheated although loads of people loved it so it really shows how everyone is different. My last one would be Shadows Behind the Rainbow by Otis Randolf, I tried to read it over 6 days and couldn't finish it. It is a dark book that covers abuse and had a jump in the language used by different characters. That said the author appreciated the honest review I gave and was really nice which you can say about all authors when they have a negative review.

3. Do you ever read a book, not so much because you think you will like it, but because it's one of those books you feel like you have to read? I did with Moby Dick, I felt I should try and read a classic however it was such a struggle and task I haven't yet ventured back to try another, I will one day though.

4. What's your thought on audio books? I think they are a wonderful idea, especially for people who are visually impaired. I recently found out they are a lot more expensive than print books which I think is a shame and something should be done about it. They are not for me, I have never listened to an audio book, I prefer to have my book in front on me and sitting absorbed into it.

5. Do you re-read books? Yes, I have read Lord of the Rings three times, Harry Potter (all of them) twice, others by accident and today I am going to buy another copy of Still Alice and re read it before it comes out in the cinema.

6. What's the best school-assigned book you've read? The Pigman I think it was called, I don't even remember the author or much about the actual story however that book prompted me to search out more in the class cupboard where I found JAWS so definitely that one.

7. Are you the type to usually root for the hero or the villain? It depends on the story to be honest, I hate mean characters and usually root for the underdog however if they save or are nice to an animal I am usually rooting for that one.

8. What's the one thing you wish everyone knew? Thats a really hard question, in general I have no idea however if related to literature I wish everyone could read and write. In this day and age it is so sad that not everyone can and people feel so much stigma and embarrassment when they can't.

9. If you had the power to fix one thing you think is wrong with the world, what would it be? (And if you can, what would you do?) People hurting each other, I would make it so whatever they were going to do, they experienced the pain and devastation they were going to cause before they did it. Hopefully that would stop them in their tracks and get them to go in a different path.

10. If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, fiction or real, who would it be? First choice would obviously be family who have gone as why wouldn't you. Famous, I think I would go for Stephen King so I could discuss all my favourite of his books with him and get an insight. It was Mr King that sparked my interest in reading as a child and I have never looked back.

11. What got you into blogging? I was reading so many books that I would find myself reading a book and thinking it sounded familiar only to find I had read it before. I decided to do a blog and keep track of my reads (Goodreads is also great for this and the two link in together). It has since led me to meet some great people who also love books, put me in touch with publishers and introduced me to authors I may never have discovered otherwise.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Review - Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Handling the UndeadHandling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Quercus Fiction

Pages - 364

Blurb from Goodreads - Something very peculiar is happening in Stockholm. There's a heatwave on and people cannot turn their lights out or switch their appliances off. Then the terrible news breaks. In the city morgue, the dead are waking up...What do they want? What everybody wants: to come home.

My Review

Who can pass up a zombie book, well certainly not me and this one has been eyed up for a while. Based in Stockholm, there is a heatwave, even when trying to pull out appliances you can't turn them off and if things could get any worse or louder, the dead are coming back to life.

This is a zombie book with a difference, not all of the dead come back to life. There are weird little caterpillars involved, plus the whole heat and electric thing. There is a bout of telepathy involved, with the living and some of the dead and one of the dead can communicate, sort of. The dead want to come home, their families are traumatized and the corpses are in various states of decay.

At the start of this book I quite liked the story, it has a different take on it. The "zombies" aren't crazed flesh eating monsters, they are shells of their former selves and the relatives are trying to cope with have their wish granted, their loved ones returned, just not in the way they had quite imagined. The story focuses around three lots of characters and their experience of the undead, their families and some heart wrenching decisions, trying to cope and adapt to the situation.

However, that said the story had a few inconsistences, not all of the undead where as harmless as the others, they seem to act and react differently. The humanity part and the reactions were interesting however, for me, some of it was just flat and didn't work. You either have it written one way or the other, you can't have so many acting in one way and it all about the people trying to cope. Then switching how they, the undead, are behaving and having a ghoulish violent gorey one. That doesn't work for me, it was worth reading though and apparently it is a movie so I may check that out. I do like this author however I preferred the other tale to this one. 2/5 for me this time, I would read this author again.

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Review - The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Picador

Pages - 307

Blurb from the back cover

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavanged food - and each other.

My Review

So many people loved this book and I really wanted to be one of them, but I just didn't like it. Most of the population are dead, those who aren't are either good guys or bad guys. Our main characters, the father and the boy are good guys, the bad guys are really bad and horrific. There has been a huge fire, or maybe fires and everything is pretty much ruined. Civilization is gone, food sources are scarce, it is freezing and every day is a battle to survive.

For me, I need a how and a why, there wasn't any. What caused the fire, what happened to all the people, where are the animals? Where are the two going to? Why don't they have names, why is there no punctuation. There was also no chapters although a lot of page breaks which I don't mind and I think the missing parts that I need actually added to the sense of desolation and hopelessness of the people and situation. I don't like that, I need the details, the familiarity, the content although it has been suggested my issue is an apocalypse and no zombies (I loved The Stand so this isn't the issue).

I felt bored for a lot of it, then something horrific would happen, then just back to the hopelessness of trying to survive. I would like to watch the movie and see if I can get a better grasp of what it was all about. Yes a father and son, trying to survive against the odds and elements is the majority of the story, however for me and this type of story I need more. I am definitely in the minority here as so many people seemed to love it so I would suggest trying it yourself and I would love to hear your thoughts. For me though, this time, 2 out of 5. Not too sure I would pursue this author but I would read their work if I came across it again, just to see how they do the next one.

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Review - The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good GirlThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Mira UK

Pages - 384

Blurb from Goodreads

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”
Mia Dennett can’t resist a one-night stand with the enigmatic stranger she meets in a bar. But going home with him will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Mia comes from a prominent society family and her mother will stop at nothing to find her, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter…

My Review

Mia is our main character, well the whole story is based around what happens to her. The story is told by three people, Eve, her mother, Gabe the police officer and Colin, the chap who kidnaps Mia. The story is broke down between these three and the before and after, before Mia is kidnapped and then during and the after which brings you to present day. It is a bit confusing at the start but you soon get into it. Mia's father is a high powered Judge, she comes from money and anyone could be responsible for the kidnapping. The book follows the lead up to the event, during the kidnapping and the aftermath and trying to pick up the pieces.

For a debut novel I think this was really well done, again it takes a wee bit to get into it as there are a few voices and the time period jumps, only by a few months but still. I found myself getting pulled into the book quickly although I wanted to stay with the lead up to the kidnap rather than reading the aftermath. The chapters are short so you jump back and forth a bit, however, once I got into the present I didn't want to jump back. You want to follow the story as it goes but your lead between the different people and timescales. I am not doing this book justice as it sounds like I didn't like, I just mean it took me a bit to get into the jumps, however once I did I couldn't wait to find out where it goes next.

There is a mix of family dysfunctions, relationships, Stockholm's, lies, betrayal and even love. I think it is quite a mix, the pace is good, the writing is well executed and I couldn't wait to get to the end to find out how it all played out. I was shocked by how the whole thing wrapped up but I really enjoyed it. I would definitely read this author again, 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review - Arms Wide Open by Tom Winter

Arms Wide OpenArms Wide Open by Tom Winter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Corsair

Pages - 353

Blurb from Goodreads

Jack and Meredith are non-identical twins. Their father died before they were born and now they both have to watch as their mother sinks further in to the grip of early-onset dementia.

Jack s career has crashed and burned, all that remains is a Maserati and a nervous disposition. Meredith s world is also crumbling the decomposing yogurt in her fridge a symbol of her newly-expired marriage. Her children, Jemima and Luke, offer little support, too consumed with the world of online dating and amateur taxidermy.

One day, a throwaway comment starts Jack wondering if their father really died. As they begin to untangle the revelations, the twins are forced to ponder both the past and the future: their memories of their mother, their hopes for finding their father, and the fear of what s in their bloodline.

My Review

Our main characters are Jack and Meredith, twins and as different in personality as they are in looks. Meredith simply cannot get over her husband leaving her, for another woman, she still has the yogurt congealing in the fridge from his departure. Her brother is successful, vibrant, loving life and a bit of a car crash waiting to happen. Their mother is in a home with dementia, one comment makes Jack reconsider if his father has actually died as they were always led to believe and trys to find out more.

Meredith has two children, Luke and Jemima, both affected by their fathers departure and trying to cope in their own way. Meredith is becoming more withdrawn, Jack has a secret he is keeping and each is falling apart.

This story flips back and forth, from past to present to try and show how the past has shaped the people and their futures. Lies and secrets will be revealed and have different impacts upon the people involved.

I have to say I wasn't enamored with this book, some people really loved it. I found the characters hard to take to, I did love Reggie, the poor wee blind dog from next door. Once you learn more about Jack, I did warm a little to him however, Meredith, her mother and her daughter were not likable characters. Yes they had reasons for why they behaved as they did but still, I couldn't take to them. Wee Luke, God love him, he was ok but there wasn't a real explanation for his peculiar behaviors really, I felt.

I would have gone with three stars as to be honest it isn't a badly written book, I just didn't like how it jumped around so much or the characters. However the big clincher for me was the ending, I don't do spoilers as a rule and I won't here however, I was left thinking um where is the rest of the story? I hate when books end as this one did, although, reading the reviews out there a lot of people loved or really liked it. Give it a go, you may be in the lovers camp, sadly it just didn't do it for me. 2/5 this time, I would read this author again if I came across their work but I won't be actively seeking it out.

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