Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An orphaned German boy and a blind French girl, whose lives are on a collision course during World War 2. “All The Light We Cannot See” is a lengthy (over 500 pages) but fast read. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The writing is exceptional and the story is beautiful. A couple small fragments of the story were predictable but, it did not matter because the path of the story more than made up for the one or two things I had figured out before I got to it. There is so much about this book to love. I especially loved where the title came from and what it means (straight up and metaphorically) and I also loved how the ending of the book she was reading (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) related to the end of “All The Light We Cannot See”. Well done from the beginning to the end.

There is some darkness to the story (violence, cruelty, and death) but it is a story that took place during World War 2. I would still recommend this book to everyone YA and older.

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The Monk by Mathew Gregory Lewis

The MonkThe Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Monk” was written over 200 years ago. Mathew Gregory Lewis later revised it to avoid charges of blasphemy. The edition I read is based on the original, before it was revised, and is the one I recommend.

There was a tipping point for me in “The Monk” somewhere between page 30 and 50 where the story went from feeling a little disappointing to totally engrossing. The Characters became alive and the story rich and full. The story twisted and turned to unexpected places. “The Monk” known for it’s violence and eroticism is a complex story about about abuse of power. Filled with violence, rape, murder, witchcraft, demons, and ghosts. The heart of evil is laid open for the reader to explore. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that the heart of evil belongs to man.

The eroticism and the violence in “The Monk” would be considered tame compared to books published today.

Being over 200 years old, the language is archaic, but it is beautiful, using words like unclose in place of open or peruse in place of read. I recommend that you gain possession of “The Monk”, unclose the book and peruse it’s pages, seated on your sopha or laid upon your couch.

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Mr. Trill in Hades & other stories by Iain crichton smith

MR Trill in Hades & Other StoriesMR Trill in Hades & Other Stories by Iain Crichton Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title alone was enough to get me to pull this off the shelf and give it a read. A short short stories collection that turned out to be a nice surprise. All of the stories had a teacher and/or a school in them yet the variety of the stories were wide. The stories ranged everywhere from a relationship between a boy and his step-father (a teacher) to a horror story that really sets a mood of terror for some kids in a school after dark. As with most books of short stories, there were some hits and some misses. Many of the stories I found to be just so-so,even though the writing was still great, but a couple of the stories really made this book worth a read and the stories really stuck with me, especially the horror story.

As for recommending it I would suggest that if you run across it pick it up and enjoy, but I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that you run out and buy it right away.

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You Killed My Brother by Keith Rommel

You Killed My BrotherYou Killed My Brother by Keith Rommel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Keith Rommel is a master at taking a story in unexpected directions, keeping his readers on their toes. He also has the ability to introduce a character and and within a paragraph or two you feel as if you know and understand them.

I have previously read “The Cursed Man” and “The Lurking Man” by Keith Rommel and found both to be excellent reads. I was thrilled when I sat down to read his newest book “You Killed My Brother”. I avoided reading any descriptions or reviews of the book, the less I know the more I tend to enjoy (or dislike) a book. I naively thought that knowing the title I had a good idea what the heart of the story would be (silly me).

The story felt a little repetitive. As a reader and reading what happened then having (to read as) a character tell another character what happened, you end up rereading a few things. I felt that the thing that really hurt the story for me was the fact that a key piece of evidence felt out of place to me. However, the thing that should have bothered me most, but didn’t bother me at all, was the fact that the story revolves around what I want to call “fate” or “chance” but what should probably be called coincidence of astronomical proportions.

You Killed My Brother is a fun and fast read with enough unexpected twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. Those unexpected directions and the “perfect” ending (I really liked the ending) almost earned this a fourth star but there were enough things that missed the mark for me to keep it at three stars.

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The Shining by Stephen King

The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, I found myself wanting to read one of his novels. The list of books he has written is impressive and picking which one to read first was going to be a tough decision. I have seen many movies based on his books and found most of the movies enjoyable and entertaining. Though, thinking back there was one movie that was head and shoulders above the rest, The Shining. I saw The Shining in the early eighties with a couple of friends and we all were captivated and through the years parts of that movie has stuck with all of us. Using the logic that the book is always better than the movie, my choice was made.

The Shining is about a remote hotel (The Overlook) and a man who was hired to be the caretaker for the winter, and his family. The family consists of the father, Jack, the mother Wendy, and their son Danny. Danny is only five but he shines, meaning he has an ESP ability. The Overlook Hotel wants the power that Danny has and will stop at nothing to get it.

The Overlook Hotel is as much of a character in the story as anyone else. The three main human characters all have an internal conflict raging inside them. The father, Jack, is a recovering alcoholic and really needs this job, the mother Wendy has issues with her own mother and Danny knows that the Overlook is a bad place but thinks it will help his daddy. The Overlook knows that once the snow falls they will trapped and there will be no escaping.

There are more than a few places in this book that will have you turning on the lights, sitting on the edge of your seat, and holding your breathe. I am not much of a horror fan, in books or movies, except during the holidays season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s). However, Stephen Kings use of language and his ability to create both emotional and physical intensity has made me a fan. Though, I think it will be necessary to read more of his books before claiming to be a true “hardcore” King fan.

Highly recommend, one of the scariest, most intense books I have read.

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Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat's CradleCat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cat’s Cradle is another example of Vonnegut’s mastery of using satire and dark humor to get the reader to take a closer look at themselves and the world around them. The characters and the protagonist in many of Vonnegut’s books are not your typical run of the mill characters, yet you can always relate to them and Cat’s Cradle is no exception.

The heart of the story takes place on the island of San Lorenzo. The main character John, a writer, finds himself on the island along with the rest of the characters – a dictator, an ambassador, the three (adult) children of a scientist that invented a doomsday device, an old religious leader/outlaw and a few other characters. But the real star of the book, for me anyways, was the religion that Vonnegut invented call Bokononism. The first page of the Bokononist book warns reader to not read the book because it is full of lies. The motto of the Bokononist’s religion is “Live by the foma (harmless untruths) that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

Cat’s Cradle takes a look at science, religion, technology and human nature in classic Vonnegut form. In my opinion, reading Vonnegut can lead one to a higher level of enlightenment quicker than any so called spiritual or religious book ever could. I have read several books by Vonnegut and even though I didn’t love them all, all of them has given me something to think about.

I highly recommend Cat’s Cradle to everyone. The truth be told I recommend reading all of Vonnegut’s books to everyone.

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