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Monthly Archives: August 2015
I don’t know where August has gone. It seems as if it almost never was and here we are on the last day of the month, which means it’s time for the guest post. This month’s guest is Lynn, who blogs at Lynnsbooks. She is one of the most prolific bloggers I know and how she manages to read and review so many books in such a short time is a mystery. Many thanks to Lynn for agreeing to answer the questions.
1. Who are you?
Lynn! I have a blog called Lynnsbooks.
2. Why do you blog and what is your blog about?
I started blogging after the electronic book diary I had been keeping was accidentally deleted. Blogging was an easy way for me to write up what I felt about a book and for it to be more permanent for me as a record. At the time, I never expected anybody to read any reviews to be honest. It was purely for personal reasons. My blogging is mainly book related. I review the books I receive or buy. I also take part in various events and challenges throughout the year which are all book related and a good way of keeping focus on the books I like. Occasionally I write about films or travel.
3. Favorite books/authors/genres.
This is too difficult – too many to choose from. I’ll go for something slightly different – Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – these were all teenage novels that I read and loved and had an impact on my reading. Tolkien – for my love of fantasy, Du Maurier for a love of great writing and Mitchell for epicness – let’s not forget the romance with this one (although I’m definitely not a big romance reader).
Three authors – Neil Gaiman, Mark Lawrence and Patrick Rothfuss – basically I love their books and their writing style.
Genre – mainly fantasy, occasionally sci-fi and sometimes horror. Basically, I love a bit of escapism, sometimes I enjoy something a bit different and on the odd occasions I like to be scared and given the goosebumps.
4. Kindle or paper book?
I would normally say paper book for this – because I love the feel of the book and the smell of it, the cover, the pages, just everything. Paper will always be my first love but electronic is more and more becoming my first choice – it’s great for reading epic fantasy because it doesn’t have the same weight; it’s great on your bookshelves; you can take a whole bunch of books on your travels rather than choosing just a few; you buy a book and it’s with you immediately; it’s easy to bookmark things, make comments or look up words. Yeah. I do tend to choose electronic books more often than not these days.
5. Three things you learned from a book.
Obviously reading helps your grammar and vocabulary but for the moment I don’t think I could pinpoint anything in particular for this one.
6. Best book to take with you on a desert island.
That would have to be a collection of stories by one of my favourite authors – that way I can cheat and take more than one!
7. Best book to use as a doorstop.
Well, reading fantasy usually means reading rather huge books. Not sure I’d use the books I love as a doorstop though – I’ll perhaps go instead for War and Peace. I haven’t read it but it does seem to be a huge book.
8. Favorite quotes.
A lot of my quotes come from The Lord of the Rings – ‘Fool of a Took’, for example. I’ll go for:
‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door…’
(Lord of the Rings)
‘There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife’
(The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’
(Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
9. Three tips for bloggers.
Enjoy what you do. Don’t overtask yourself. Take the time to chat with other bloggers.
10. Best/worst blogging experience.
The best experience for me with blogging is the overall one of meeting other bloggers and being introduced to new books that I would probably have never picked up. The blogging community is a great place. I feel like I connect with people all the time about the books I enjoy and want to discuss and it’s great having a means to vent all your book discussions with like minded people.
Mr Mercedes is a departure from the usual shiver-inducing stories of Stephen King that I am used to. There are no spirits or other supernatural elements. For once, this novel doesn’t feel like a piece of fiction written for the delight of horror fans, although King has written some novels that are not horror. Nevertheless, when I say Stephen King my mind goes straight to Needful Things, Salem’s Lot, Misery and of course The Shining, one of the scariest stories I have read.
In spite of that, Mr Mercedes, King’s first hard-boiled detective novel (the first in a trilogy), still manages to infuse the reader with a sense of uneasiness. It’s a very real uneasiness, because it feels so anchored in reality it’s scary. Perhaps King has decided that some monsters are real. This is the fictional story of one of them.
Bill Hodges is a retired detective who spends his days watching TV and playing with his father’s gun. The idea of suicide is never far from his mind, if only he had the courage. But one day he receives a letter that shakes him from the torpor he had been steadily sinking in. It’s a taunting letter involving an unsolved case. Suddenly Hodges has something to wake up for in the morning.
Brady Hartsfield is an apparently ordinary guy working two jobs which provide him with ample opportunity to study the people living in the neighborhood and their habits. His relationship with his alcoholic mother verges between that of a dutiful son and something else. Something not quite right. But then, there are plenty of things not right with Brady, and King is masterfully showing the readers just how messed up this character is. One of the things I like about King’s villains is how he manages to make them sympathetic to the reader to some degree. It’s a murky zone – I want to hate the guy for what he had done and also what he plans to do, but in a tiny corner of my mind I can’t, not completely. Brady is a meticulous planner – what he has in mind is destruction, and he doesn’t care what happens after. Unfortunately for him, his careful planning backfires a few times. Luckily for him, this also creates problems for his enemies, so all is not lost.
It’s a race against time that plays nearly to the end of the novel, as Hodges tries to avert a disaster that is going to destroy many lives. Two people are helping him, Jerome and Holly, unexpected allies in this battle against evil. Ultimately, this is what this novel is, good versus bad, those who try to destroy lives and the ones who try to save them. It’s a good action packed thriller, and my only complaint is that this is a little too close to real life. People are shooting each other these days, planes crash, bombs go off, and terrorist attacks are not just a thing of imagination. This is real, this is the world we live in. For my part, I’d rather read about a haunted hotel or a loved one come back from the dead. Or even a crazy fan willing to kill for the books they love. Which brings me to the second book in this trilogy:
John Rothstein is living his old age on a farm in New Hampshire, when one night three masked guys break into his house and steal his precious treasure, his notebooks that contain a lot of unpublished material written since he went into seclusion, years ago. Now it’s 1978 and just like Annie Wilkes in the famous novel Misery, Rothstein is about to meet his greatest fan.
This time however, there will be no prisoners, and this time Rothstein’s greatest fan is a guy, Morris Bellamy. Morris has a plan – to steal the writer’s notebooks and perhaps discover another novel about the famous Jimmy Gold, the character who made Rothstein famous. Morris isn’t happy with the way things ended for Jimmy Gold. He is, in fact, quite upset and disappointed, but then maybe the notebooks will reveal what he had been hoping for – a comeback of his favorite character as the former badass that he was.
Things veer off course for Morris, and the carefully constructed ambitious plan falls by the wayside. The irony, Morris thinks as he spends the best years of his life locked up, is that he isn’t even jailed for what he did that night but for something he doesn’t even remember doing.
Years later, when he gets out of prison, all he can think about are those notebooks and how he’s going to read them, unpublished material read by only one pair of eyes: his. But what he doesn’t know is that once again, plans don’t work out the way you want to just because you want them to. And Morris is still the same guy, stopping at nothing to get what he wants, not caring if people might get hurt in the process. Morris Bellamy’s obsession had become his life goal.
Like in Mr Mercedes, there is a part of me that doesn’t like the bad guy but also a part that pities him. I love books totally and completely, I love being lost in a story, and I could see (to some extent) why Morris did the things he did just to hold in his hands the work of a beloved author. I feel that this is the very idea that sits at the foundation of this story. Like in the first book, King doesn’t shy away from unpleasant scenes – if you’re squeamish about graphic scenes you’ll be uncomfortable at some point in reading this book.
There is no strong connection between these two stories – the only thing they have in common is three of the characters who now work together to solve a new case. These characters have an emotional connection but knowing their background is not necessary to enjoy this story. In fact, I’d say that I liked Mr Mercedes more because I felt the suspense King created was dispersed in good doses throughout the story and the finale was worth waiting for. King also left room for more creepiness to come, so it didn’t feel like a finished story. Finders Keepers however, feels complete.
I’m really looking forward to reading the third installment in this trilogy, End of Watch. One of the characters from Mr Mercedes is going to make a comeback and I can’t wait to see how it will all end.
*Read in July-August 2015
*My rating: Mr Mercedes 4/5 stars Finders Keepers 3/5 stars
I had an interesting weekend. We were supposed to go to the beach but due to car problems we had to put that on hold. Saturday evening, when I came home from the city, I saw something that filled me with joy and horror in equal parts. A book, lying just inside the yard, soaking wet because it’s the rainy season and it’s now pouring daily, even twice a day; near the book, scattered white bits of paper – the remains of a torn envelope – with a bookmark and a note from Book Depository.
The book was a gift from my blogger friend Priya, one that I’d won in a giveaway (second book I’ve won this year, that’s something) and one I had been wondering about for days. Well, I wondered no more. I picked up the book which was now so wet I was able to squeeze water out of it, then proceeded to think about how to restore it to a readable shape. This is something I hoped I never had to learn – how to dry a wet book.
About 80% of it was as wet as it could be, while the remaining pages were by some miracle only partially wet. It’s a good thing it’s a thick book, otherwise I may have had to peel it from the tiles. I stood it up in front of a fan, trying to see if I could separate the pages. I was afraid they would be stuck together dry and I would never be able to pull them apart without ripping. Needless to say, I gave up on that pretty soon. After a few hours, when it wasn’t that soggy anymore, I used my hairdryer. The book spent the night in front of the fan.
The next day I checked on it from time to time, rifling through the pages, which to my joy and eternal gratitude did not stick together, then put it on the balcony to get some sun, while keeping an eye on it. I wasn’t going to let a second downpour ruin my efforts and I was able to take it away before the next sudden storm made a mess of it. The book spent a second night in front of the fan.
By now it’s pretty much dry. It’s been raining on and off these days and the humidity is giving me curly hair, not to mention giving the book curly pages. I am relieved and happy that I was able to save the book. I’m going to need to use some glue on the back cover but I’m waiting a couple more days before I do that.
How did the book get to be on the ground instead of in my mailbox? And why was the envelope shredded so thoroughly only a few pieces remained? That mystery was solved upon closer inspection of the book. I found teeth marks, courtesy of my dogs who love chewing on paper. Fortunately the marks are in the upper area of the book and not on the text. I guess they got bored pretty easily once they saw it wasn’t edible. My guess is that the postman stuck the book in the iron-wrought gate, then the storm came and the book fell. My dogs took over from there and disposed of the envelope in a very efficient way.
I am not mad at the dogs but I am mad at the postman. How do you leave a paper package stuck in a gate during the rainy season? Why didn’t you leave me a note in the mailbox so I could go pick up the book at the post office like I’ve done before?
Well, no point in dwelling on the why’s now. I have a new book to read. And this one’s been through a lot, which makes me love it even more.
Many thanks to Priya for her lovely gift. This will be my first Salman Rushdie book and I’m really looking forward to reading it.