Tuesday, 27 January 2015

For The Lovers Of Horror

I am glad to say Pamellia is back with a great book review.


This is the third novel I have read by the late Michael McDowell. I must say this man had a real talent for writing. I cannot help but make some comparisons between Blackwater: The Complete Saga of the Caskey Family and The Elementals. I enjoyed both books very much and enjoyed Blackwater a bit more. However, my love for Blackwater did not take away any enjoyment I received from Elementals.

I kept wondering what Elementals are. Kings and Queens of a different dimension? Well, no not exactly. After reading it, it might be fun to do a little research on these things if you have the time. You might be surprised by what you find.

The story starts at the funeral of Marion Savage. Even though she was from a well established family in Alabama and had more money than God, only a few people came to her funeral. This is because the Savages had always had private funerals. During the last part of the funeral an odd ritual was performed. Now, I want you to know I have sang, played organ or piano or simply attended 100s, literally, of funerals in my life. And I must say I have never seen any thing like the ritual performed at Mrs. Savage's funeral mass.  
This story was not as much character driven as it was situation driven. We do get to know the characters, but not like in Blackwater and that is one of the biggest differences between these two novels. We learn about the ritual and why it is performed. Does this ritual have any thing to do with the 3rd house on Beldame or the odd being India saw eye-to-eye in that same house. Where is the tie-in and is there a tie in. Is it just that the Savages have always had bad luck, except for their ability to make money?

I finished this book earlier today and have thought several times, “I wonder if Mr. McDowell will write a sequel?” and then I remember that Michael McDowell was lost to us in the last century at the age of 42. I wonder if he had more in mind. I suppose we shall never know.

The characters are well developed and you see strength in not only young India but in some ways all of them. I enjoyed how India came to truly love and appreciate her grandmother. I loved all the southern charm of this story. McDowell's description of the heat and humidity was so realistic that I was getting warm in 40 degree weather...so realistic. All the ice tea, it's the house wine of the south!

This book told me just what I needed to know and nothing more. Some of the six main characters you don't find all that much about, but I think that is part of the charm and horror of this story. Michael McDowell was brilliant and this is just another example of that creativity.

There were a few things thrown in this book and I'm not sure why those things were there. I am discussing the book with a couple of horror reading friends and I will ask them. But not every thing made sense to me.

I assign this book 4.5 stars
I recommend this only to lovers of scary horror. Don't forget to check under your bed before you go to sleep.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Real Love & Hate Read

Never has a book given me such joy & pain as The Religion. Tim Willocks delivers a real mixed bag that sits on the precipice of an epic with the wasteland of mediocrity spreading out below.

So let’s have a look at what I liked about this book. I loved the characters as they were well fleshed out, each with their own back story that could easily become a book in their own right. The historical context was spot on with enough information given to let you get a good sense of the times. The action was fast and brutal without getting bogged down with a blow by blow report. At times the story flew right off the page and had me reading in a state of great excitement.

Now it is time for what I did not like about The Religion. This book is so, so, so long. Which is not by itself a bad thing, but boy can this author prattle on. I found myself at times during this book not caring about what was going on. Several times I nearly chucked up my hands in surrender to walk away never to return. This book in my humble opinion could have shed 200 odd pages without detracting from the story.

The Religion for me was far from an enlightening read. A real life Jekyll and Hide, combining what I love and detest about reading all in one book. Make sure you prepare before committing to this read. Because once you set off there is no turning back you are in for the long haul.
3 Stars

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Worthy Winner

Time for the next Audiobook review.

I was in two minds when I started reading this book. On one hand I was feeling sceptical as it has just recently bumped out my favourite author John Scalzi’s, to win the Goodreads best Sci-fi book. On the other hand I was excited because it was the winner of the best Sci-fi book.

It did not take me long to see why it had got over the line. The books from the get go grabs you and takes you along for the ride. The author has obviously done a lot of research to add a layer of realism to this book and it works so well. The real stand out for me though is the main character. Mark Watney is one of the most realistic characters I have encountered in a book. It does not take long to take shine to this unfortunate botanist.

The book is written in a couple of different styles that work well together. I really enjoyed how the author patiently adds the layers to the story. This layering is very effective in building up the suspense and often had me reading way past my bedtime. But it is the humour of this book that makes truly a great read. I often found myself laughing out loud at the sarcastic comments coming out Watney's mouth. This humour for me is what made the character so realistic.

So well done Mr Weir on a great book. I will definitely be looking out for your next piece of work. This Martian is a well deserved winner of Goodreads best Sci-fi read for 2014.

As an audiobook I can not fault this production. The narrator is the Earphones Award winning R.C Bray and he is perfectly suited as the voice of Mark Watney.
5 Headphones



Sunday, 18 January 2015

Fade To Black (once again not a Metallica song)

This book drops you right in the deep end feet first and leaves you to sink or swim. It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book as there is a lot going on, but once I did I was hooked.

The main character in this book has picked up a bad habitat of lately, he keeps having seizures. These seizures enter him into a dream world in which he inevitably ends up strangled to death. No matter what he does differently in the dream the end is always the same. If this was not bad enough these dreams have connected him to some sort of strange underworld and someone in it wants him dead for real.

This story has a great mix of characters that are at times uncomfortably familiar. Once I got into the grove of the story I found it very engaging. I have on complaint though I am not a big fan of a book that ends with more questions than answers. Yes I know it is a part of series but the book by itself does not feel complete. But putting that aside Fade to Black is a jolly good read.
3.5 Stars

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Glitch Revisited(Audible Version)

A couple of months ago I reviewed Hugh Howey's short story Glitch. Today I am going to revisit this book but this time in it's Audible format.

I am a sucker for unabridged audiobooks some would even say I am a tad obsessed with them. I have over 200 audiobooks in my collection and listen to them whilst cooking, driving, mowing, doing the dishes and walking the dogs. So it was great excitement I received a free copy of one of my favourite authors short story. 
This was the first time I have attempted a short story in this format and I found it very enjoyable. Running at 30 minutes it is just the right length to listen to it one go. Having already read the story I already had a pre-conceived idea on the voices of the main characters. This is always the danger of listening to a book after reading it as it can be hard to get into the book as the characters do not sound right. I am happy to report that Gabra Zackman of Law & Order fame does a great job in her reading of this story.

Overall I found that this audiobook experience only enhanced my enjoyment of Glitch. If you have yet to try out this format Glitch is a great place to start you will get more than your money’s worth from the experience.
5 Headphones

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Crash Course In Brain Surgery (no not the Metallica song)

I went into this book like a expect a lot of readers do knowing not much about Neurosurgery. Dr Marsh delivers a crash course for the layman in a way that engages the reader well. He is brutally honest about the high & lows of his career and I found his self-reflections very engaging. This book managed to bring a tear to my eye and had me laughing at loud, mind you not at the same time.

I was left with a much better understanding of the mysteries of the human brain and those who we rely to care for it. The author gets the mix spot on between the technical and personal sides of his profession.
I do think though the book could have been better structured with it jumping around his long career a bit too much for my liking. I also found that some of the facts were repeated over and over again. Overall an engaging and good read that just could have done with some tweaking.
3 Stars

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

All Hail the King of Zombies!!!!

Delving into the pages of a Mark Tufo story is like catching up with your old friends. They are all  pretty much as you remembered them and your reunion is like no time has passed at all.

Zombie Fallout 4 sees Mike Talbot and Co. romp through more of Zombie infested USA. All the great one liners are there that give volume to that little voice in your head. You know, the one that gives you your internal dialogue, that more often that not is far form Politically Correct.

This story follows on from the previous narrative pretty much seamlessly with twists, action and sarcasm galore. Mark Tufo in my opinion is the master of  the crowded Zombie fiction market and all should bow before him. Come on AMC it's time to drop The Walking Dead and get aboard the Zombie Fallout train.

4 Stars