The King of Horror

The Shining by Stephen King.

The Shining

At the most recent WI meeting I attended we did a blind book swap. I got this. Stephen King, I know, is often referred to as ‘The King of Horror’ but it may surprise some of you that I have never actually read any of his work. I’ve read work by his son Joe Hill (Horns and Heart Shaped Box) and I’ve seen plenty film adaptations of his work over the years (Misery, The Shawshank Redemption and Secret Window) but not actually picked up any of his books. So I was really pleased to find this in the package I unwrapped.

Although I have seen the film version of the book, the first thing that struck me was how much of the book offers up more of an insight into Jack Torrance and what leads him to become the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. I really liked this because it makes what happens later on in the novel much easier to understand. Likewise it was also great to hear more about his little boy Danny, and his mysterious invisible friend who appears to him and shows him thing.

I really loved the style of writing, it was so perfectly descriptive that it enabled me to envisage everything clearly in my mind. At first it seems the Torrance’s are going to be fine in the hotel but as the days get colder and snow gets more persistent the tone of the book begins to take a more sinister turn. Wendy Torrance begins to notice her husband is behaving like he did when he’d come home drunk, although she can’t smell any alcohol on his breath. Danny tries to heed the advice of Mr Hallorann who told him he had the ‘shine’ so should avoid certain rooms in the house, and Jack seems to be obsessing over old papers in the basement that tell the chilling tale of the hotel’s dark history.

It’s at this point that Stephen King displays his ability to send shudders down your spine with his imagery. Granted I didn’t find the foliage animals coming to life particularly creepy but the description of the dead woman in room 217 made me feel cold. The way King played with the characters minds and imaginations, hearing the elevator going up and down in the middle of the night, these are the things that made me scared. I tore through the 497 page book in 3 days and will definitely read some more of his work in the future.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

‘They stood on the porch in the fading light, Jack in the middle, his left arm around Danny’s shoulders and his right arm around Wendy’s waist. Together they watched as the decision was taken out of their hands.’

If you have read any Stephen King novels and would like to give me some suggestions of what to read next, please feel free to comment below.

Happy Reading!

Georgina.

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2015 – My Year in Books

Now back to books. 2015 was a very varied year for me, I was reading and reviewing books for ‘Belle About Town’ but also reading a book a month with my book club. I have to say having not one, not two but three outlets to discuss the books I read is really rewarding and I know I have said it in a previous post but thank you so much to all the people who have read, commented and liked my blog. It really means a lot, and this year I want to try and make sure I’m writing a least a blog post a week. I thought it would be fun for me to share some stats with you about my reading habits in 2015, and I’d love to know yours too, so please do comment below.

The first book I read in 2015 was ‘Foxcatcher: A True Story of Murder, Madness and The Quest for Olympic Gold’ by Mark Schultz and the last book I read in 2015 was ‘Forever’ by Judy Blume.

The book that made me cry the most in 2015 was ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. I’m talking full on crying with snot and everything, I’m just glad I was at home when I finished reading it as I think my fellow commuters would have been fearful had it been on the train.

The book that made me laugh the most was ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey. I genuinely laughed out loud and even snorted like a pig at one point, unfortunately this did happen on a rather crowded train during peak time and the person who was sat next to me moved seats at the next stop…How subtle.

The most powerful book I read was ‘Asking for It’ by Louise O’Neill. I read and reviewed this for ‘Belle About Town’ it was without doubt one of the most raw and infuriating books I have read. An incredibly important YA novel that all teenagers and adults alike should read.

Favourite literary magazine had to be ‘The Happy Reader’ by Penguin Classics. A seasonal magazine that interviews a well-known celebrity about their reading habits and then dissects a chosen book. Perfect for book recommendations/inspiration.

My favourite book of the year has to be ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. It had me hooked from the opening sentence and kept me that way until the very end. Weir seemed to perfectly balance, science, tension and humour and it was the top of my list of book recommendations whenever people asked me what they should be reading. Also the film adaptation was pretty accurate and perfectly executed which is a rarity.

I only re-read TWO books this year and they were ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl and ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. This is a miracle for me as I tend to re-read books out of some form of need for comfort and nostalgia so this is like a breakthrough for me.

I have plenty of books on my ‘TBR’ pile and there’s plenty of new titles coming out this year that I am looking forward to reading, so I have a feeling 2016 is going to be just as good as last year. Please comment below with your favourite read of 2015 and anything else you want to share.

Happy reading my lovelies.

Georgina.

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Little Women – A Review.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Little Women

This was the latest book selected by my Bookish Broads Book Club, and I have to say I was pretty excited about reading it. It’s probably one of the few classic books that seemed to slip me by as a young girl and my cousin absolutely loves it. I’ve heard so much about the March sisters, especially Jo, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

But actually I wasn’t very impressed. There’s no disputing that Alcott could write but I just found a lot of it quite preachy and twee. I know that during its original publishing year this probably would have been considered the norm, but I just felt that the author was trying to teach too many virtues to its authors instead of trusting them to make their own decisions.

There’s not really a lot that happens in my opinion and what does happen is all terribly cliché and predictable. Boy moves in next door, they befriend him, he begins to fall in love with Jo, the old man turns out to be warm hearted and oh look it’s Christmas and what fun we have!

I just found it all quite droll and I really struggled to read it, I didn’t like Amy at all and found her to be very vain and materialistic which was odd considering that her ‘marmee’ and father had tried to bring her up to value people and not things. I found the first part of the book incredibly convoluted. During the second half the book, where Meg marries Brooke, I found it much more interesting. Because it actually felt like something was happening.

The characters began to change and you could define them from one another whereas in the beginning, although there were a few character traits that made them obviously different, they felt like the same person. Although Beth was always rather sickly I couldn’t help but feel that her death came out of nowhere and actually found her character quite dark and maudlin.

The only redeeming aspect of this book was the character of Jo and I actually felt that Alcott developed the relationship between Jo and the Professor quite nicely, even I found him quite charming. However it wasn’t enough to make exclaim at the end ‘What an incredible novel this is, how have I not read it sooner?!’

Star Rating out of 5: 2

‘But I have nothing to give you. My hands are empty’

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Perhaps if I had read it as a young girl I may have loved it and feel differently. But I just felt it was too twee and too preachy, and I also found it hard to stomach the way women were meant to be perfect little wives when they got married and live for their husbands, which is probably another reason why I feel I connected more to Jo and the Professor’s relationship because it felt more equal. I’m keen to know other opinions on this ‘classic’ so feel free to comment below.

Happy reading.

Georgina

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Book Review – A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

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I’ve never read a Nick Hornby book before, but I have seen some film adaptations of his other books and always found them to have a certain charm. In this case I’m glad I have read the book before seeing the film.

A Long Way Down had me gripped, now I know I’ve said this about plenty of other books, but seriously I started reading this around 9.30pm yesterday evening and despite sleeping, eating and doing other things around the house I have finished this today at 4.30pm. It follows four very different characters, Martin a disgraced ex TV Presenter who served time in prison after sleeping with an underage girl, Maureen who’s daily routine involves sitting in her home with her severely disabled son, Jess an 18 year old girl who is filled with anger and J.J. an American who delivers pizza’s after the break up of his band and breakdown of his relationship.

On New Years Eve the foursome cross paths when they meet on Topper’s House, a well known site for suicide, but due to conversations, stolen pizza and interventions none of them end up jumping, instead they decide that they will give it 6 weeks and see how they feel. The novel flits between each character and Nick Hornby has done an incredible job of really bringing each of the characters unique personalities and dialogue to life. This ragtag bunch of people soon become friends and end up interrupting each others lives, with sometimes hilarious results.

But overall the tone of the book is quite serious, and at times heart breaking. It really studies our perceptions of life and what makes us feel like we’ve hit rock bottom? What makes life worth living? These types of questions are asked plenty of times throughout the book and it will really make you think about life. The ending was a little flat for me and I felt the last 20 pages or so felt like the author was being a little repetitive, and the writing didn’t grip me as much as it had in the first part of the book. Saying that it is a great book, with well-formed characters and which will provide you with plenty of food for thought.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

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‘Sure, I could be pretty anti-social when we were on the road, but if I was playing a Gameboy hour after hour, no one would be on my case. In my social circle, blowing up fucking space monsters is socially acceptable in a way that American Pastoral isn’t.’

 

Until next time fellow bookworms.

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Book Review – Horns by Joe Hill.

Horns by Joe Hill.

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Ig Perrish wakes up having a really bad day. Not only is he incredibly hung-over but he also seems to be growing horns. That’s right, Ig can’t quite remember what he did to make the horns materialise, but he knows he did something bad whilst visiting the location his girlfriend was murdered, a murder Ig is the prime suspect for.

From the very first page Joe Hill pulled me in, his style of writing is so natural that it almost feels like you’re privy to a conversation amongst friends. What I particularly loved was the character of Ig, someone who is perceived by his entire hometown, and family, to be this perverse sex crazed killer who murdered his seemingly perfect girlfriend and got away with it because ‘daddy has money’ When really he’s this lost soul, who is innocent but has no way of proving that and lacks the energy to argue with people anymore.

What follows is a series of events that add elements of dark humour to the book, and make you realise how fortunate we are to have the ability to censor our inner most thoughts in day-to-day life. But as with anything, with great strange power comes great responsibility and it isn’t long before Iggy discovers who the real murderer is and sets out to get vengeance for the death of Merrin.

At certain moments involving Lee Tourneau and his mother, the book made my toes curl, but this was down to the believability of such a horrible character, and only further displayed Joe Hills talents as a writer.

The ending wasn’t what I was expecting, and if I’m being totally honest, I was a little upset with how the book ended. I wanted a nicer ending for Ig after all that he’d been through. To summarise, Horns is an excellent novel with plenty of humour and drama in equal measure. The only reason I didn’t get through it so quickly is because I was busy with work and the build up to Christmas, otherwise I would have had this finished in a matter of days.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

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‘Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what men could think up.’

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

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