Book 3 – Wizard And Glass by Stephen King – Finished 22/01/14 – SPOILER HEAVY REVIEW

Wizard And Glass continues the story of Roland and his ka-tet who, at the end of The Wastelands were trapped aboard murderous monorail Blaine, hurtling towards death if they cannot outwit Blaine in a game of riddles. The story continues as the ka-tet escape Blaine and Roland finally opens up about his past before, in some other-world version of Kansas, the group reaches the Green Palace and come face to face with Marten, now going by the name Flagg. In order that they may continue their journey, Roland shares another secret of his past and the ka-tet continue ever onwards towards the Dark Tower. That’s a very very basic version of the plot of this sprawling epic of a book. Now for the bits that really stood out.

So many things were great about this book:

The realisation that upon escaping Blaine the ka-tet have arrived in the world decimated by The Stand’s Captain Tripps flu virus. I read The Stand a while back because I’d read somewhere else that Randall Flagg also featured in The Dark Tower, so I wanted to know more about the character before I started the series. It was strange and good to think of Roland travelling through that same land as all the survivors of the flu, drawn to either Flagg or Mother Abagail.

Roland’s backstory. I’ve been intrigued for a long time about the Gunslinger’s history. Up until now there have been mere glimpses, and Roland seems so changed (damaged?) by what happened that I always wanted to know what had happened, and in this book King provides this narrative in great depth. Cuthbert and Alain are brilliant characters, and I found myself dreading the latter stages of the story, as I was convinced they would end up dead, knowing that in the main narrative Roland is with a different ka-tet, in which these two characters do not feature. By this books conclusion though we still don’t know what became of either of them, so there’s still some mystery to be resolved.
I loved the scene where they intervened on behalf of Sheemie against the Big Coffin Hunters. Talking of them – great villains, and in this category Susan’s aunt deserves an honorary mention too – what an awful woman. Equally as vile – Rhea of the Coos, the old witch who becomes enslaved by the Wizard’s Glass and eventually orchestrates Susan’s murder. King does know how to write a good (or bad) villain.

The battle of Eyebolt Canyon. I was so engrossed in the story by this time that I almost felt I was there with Roland, Cuthbert and Alain as they led Latigo’s men in a chase into the box canyon, from which there would be no escape. The conclusion of that scene, Roland looking down on the men trapped between the fire at the mouth of the canyon and the thinny, which devours all that goes near it, was really good.

The awful way Roland realised he had been tricked by the Wizard’s Glass into leaving Susan vulnerable, and the torment of watching her burned alive by her crazed aunt and evil witch Rhea, unable to intervene to save his love, and feeling all the while that it’s his fault it is happening.

The whole Wizard Of Oz interlude and the confrontation with the Tick Tock Man and Roland’s oldest enemy Marten. Also, the way we realise that Marten is now going by the name Flagg. Sound familiar? (I was glad I’d already read The Stand). The combining of worlds again. King has a knack for this, including settings/characters from his other works, which I always feel draws you in and makes you want to read that book too, if you haven’t already.

The final reveal that Roland unwittingly murdered his own mother. I found it incredibly sad, the way he was tricked into believing she was Rhea, and only at the last minute realising that actually she had made him a belt as a peace-offering, and that she died smiling, killed by her own husbands guns in the hands of her son. So sad!

I can’t wait to see what else lies in store for the ka-tet as they venture on towards the Tower.  Rating – 5/5

My Noisy Week

1. Why is it that the moment you decide to start a diet, you feel absolutely ravenous?!? ALL THE TIME! I decided this week I would try and cut down for a week or two. You know, you have that point at which you feel that you really shouldn’t put on any more weight because your clothes feel just that little bit too tight? I’m almost at that point, so want to make an effort for a couple of weeks. It’s so hard, with the temptation of so much chocolate still around from Christmas, but I will try.

2. I just finished reading The Wizard And Glass, book 4 of The Dark Tower by Stephen King. There’s definitely going to be a full, long entry about this book, but I’ll just say for now that I absolutely loved it. The Dark Tower is turning out to be a brilliant series.

3. It’s been like a building site outside the house all week. I think they’re doing work to replace some cables or other, so the road is being dug up and it’s all SO noisy. The workmen don’t arrive every day, and that’s the only time there’s any peace. It’s usually a really quiet area, so that makes the noise seem even worse. I’ll be glad when it’s done and they’re gone.

4. Just started watching American Horror Story Asylum. As with the first series during the first episode I sat there thinking “what the hell is this? What’s going on?” and wondered whether to carry on with it, but by the end I was drawn in yet again, even though it’s probably by far the weirdest thing I watch. Jessica Lange is very good as Sister Jude, and a couple of other actors from the first series are in this one too.

5. I watched a Youtube video on hair braiding and have learned how to do a new style of braid in my own hair. I think it would be easier to have someone else to practice on, but, failing that, I’m making do with trying it out on myself. I don’t often do anything at all in the way of hair styles, but I’ve seen people with their hair braided that way and thought it looked nice, but very difficult. As it turns out, once you know what you’re doing, it’s quite easy.

Is It Friday Again Already?

1. I’ve started borrowing downloadable audio books from the library. I can listen to them whilst doing my cross stitching, which is really relaxing. The first one I borrowed was a bit of a letdown, because it just wasn’t a story that captured me at all, so I returned it and tried something else, which I’m now really enjoying, so I can see this becoming a regular thing.

2. I gave up watching Elementary. I watched the first few episodes, but it got quite samey, so when I found out there were 6 dvds in the series I decided to quit before I’d invested too much time and felt obliged to watch the whole lot. I started season 2 of Revenge instead; have only watched the first ep, but I think I’ll stick with it. Also saw a trailer for Once Upon A Time. I have no idea how I’ve never seen this series because it looks like something I would really be into, so I may get that next.

3. I’m still reading Wizard And Glass. It’s a great story. I love Cuthbert and Alain, and am so involved with their story that every so often it suddenly hits me that it mustn’t end well for them, as Roland is telling his new ka-tet the story of his past, and Cuthbert and Alain are no longer around. Not good.

4. I need some work doing on my car. I’ve shopped around for prices, and have gone from almost £700 to £260!! How can that even be?!?! It’s mad – the same car, the same work, and yet such a massive difference in price. I must admit, when that first price estimate came through my heart sank a little, so I was very pleased to get the lower estimate.

5. Despite the freezing cold and pouring rain I ventured down to the greenhouse to see how the plants in there are getting on. I have a potted hydrangea and was really pleased to see it’s got fresh green shoots already. Everything else looks healthy too. Urgh, I really hate not being able to mess around in the garden. I will be so glad when the winter weather is done with and the nights start drawing out again.

Books 1 & 2 – Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo and Carrie by Stephen King

1. Cockroaches – Jo Nesbo – Finished 02/01/14

Another early case for detective Harry Hole sees him venture to Bangkok when the Norwegian ambassador is found murdered.
I did enjoy this book, but the first books I read in the series were the later ones, starting with The Snowman, and I was totally engrossed in everything from the writing to the story. I didn’t find this book quite as gripping as the later novels but I was glad to read it as part of the series.  Rating:  3/5

2. Carrie – Stephen King – Finished 06/01/14

Carrie White has a special power; she is telekinetic and can move things with her mind. Caught between a fanatically religious mother at home, and relentless bullies who humiliate her at every opportunity, Carrie is miserable, and so hones her secret power.

All Carrie wants to be accepted, and to live her life the way she wants, without her mother’s strict religious beliefs influencing her every decision. When she is asked to the school prom by the handsome and popular Tommy, Carrie can’t believe her luck, but hardly dares believe that this is the first step towards social acceptance.
She is right to be suspicious, and as the bullies plan one final humiliation for Carrie she finally unleashes her power upon them, with devastating consequences.

This is a short novel, and the narrative includes various reports into the ‘Carrie White affair’. The suspense builds towards the events of prom night, and the section just before this builds really nicely, taking in the viewpoints of Carrie’s mother, Sue Snell (a girl from school) and Carrie herself as she makes her own dress for the prom, all the time wondering if yet again she will be the victim of some awful joke.
There’s something terribly sad about the extremes towards which Carrie is driven, which is felt all the more as she is just a girl who wants acceptance, both from her mother and her peers.

I enjoyed the book and am now going to watch the film.  Rating:  4/5

My 5 For Friday

1. The Christmas decorations are down and packed away for another year. It always amazes me, how much bigger and cleaner the room looks once they’re gone (oops!), then night time comes and the room looks so much duller and for the first night or two I miss them. I’ve moved a floor lamp into the corner where the tree stood though, so there’s still a nice light source there, which is good as I’ve taken to sitting there cross stitching.

2. I finished reading Carrie by Stephen King. I’m probably going to go into more detail about this in another post, so won’t do it here too. Also Stephen King related; I finished season 3 of Haven. Can’t quite work out why, but I love Haven, and the location it’s filmed at is beautiful. I would love to go there some day.

3. Wearing my new boots to walk around a shopping centre for hours probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world. I was in agony by the end of the day, and my poor toes now have blisters. Urgh! And the boots were so comfortable the first time I wore them. Not good. Like I said, probably not the best idea to walk around in them for hours on only their second wearing.

4. Absolute Beginners by David Bowie.  I do absolutely love this song –

5. I bought a q-snap frame for my cross stitching. WHY didn’t I do this sooner?! It’s so much easier, getting the fabric onto the frame. With hoops I find myself pulling and tugging to get the tension correct, which over time stretches the fabric, and the hoop leaves terrible marks behind as well. None of that is an issue with the frame; it’s easy to place it and get the tension right, and no marks when it comes off. Really wish I’d done this before!

Daily Prompt: Simply The Best

When and where do you do your best thinking? In the bathroom? While running? Just before bed, or first thing in the morning? On the bus? Why do you think that is?

I’m a morning person, so my best thinking is usually first thing in the morning.  That said, recently I find myself just drifting off to sleep and something will come into my mind, something which i know is important and mustn’t be forgotten, to the point where it wakes me up again.  I’ve started keeping a notebook and pen beside the bed, because it’s easier to jot down whatever is in my mind so that I can get to sleep and focus on it properly in the morning.

I’ve occasionally dabbled in writing, and it tends to be story ideas which keep me awake.  If I didn’t write them down I wouldn’t have any chance of recalling them in the morning.

Posted as part of the Daily Prompt Challenge

1st 5 of 2014

1. My cat came in the other night with a long bleeding scratch and a massive chunk of fur missing from behind his ear. It probably happened as a result of a fight (again!). Looks like he’s started the new year as he means to go on, and yet normally he’s such a calm cat!

2. Further cat-shaped developments – he ended up at the vets because there was a lump behind his ear as well as the missing fur; turns out he had an abscess, which had to be lanced and resulted in an overnight stay at the vets so they could deal with the wound. Not nice! I was SO glad to get him back home.

3. I’ve been listening to Tonight by David Bowie. I first listened to it on New Year’s Eve, and it’s been the album I’ve been playing into the New Year as well. It’s really good. I don’t know why I haven’t listened to it before. I was reading about Bowie’s No. 1 albums, and Tonight was mentioned, and that was what made me play it for the first time. I love I Keep Forgettin’, Tonight and God Only Knows, but if you asked me tomorrow I’d probably name some of the other tracks, because there isn’t a dud song on there.

4. I couldn’t resist starting work on my Aurora cross stitch. It’s such a lovely design that I HAD to start it, although blending filament is horrible stuff to work with! Luckily, there isn’t too much of it. I’m thinking of getting a q-snap frame to hold my fabric taut, as the hoops I’m using at the moment leave really deep indentations in the fabric, which is difficult to work over when you reach that point in the stitching.

5. And Finally… today is my DAY OFF!! I wanted to get my time in so I don’t lose it, so I’ve had today and after finishing writing here I’m off out to the garden and craft centre, to see what I can find in the sales…