I’m Doing a Read-A-Thon

So, I’m an Official Participant of the Treesofreverie Read-A-Thon, which starts later this week.  I love to read anyway, so joining in with something like this gives me chance to set some short-term reading goals, and hopefully join in with other people who love reading as much as I do.  In case anyone else is interested, and would like to take part, here are the links where you can find more information about what’s going on…

Treesofreverie Read-A-Thon Information Post

Read-A-Thon FAQs

 

I’m hoping to:

  • Finish The Dark Tower by Stephen King
  • Read Looking For Alaska by John Green
  • Read Joyland by Stephen King

All this will mostly depend on how quickly I plough through The Dark Tower, as it’s a really long book and I’m just over halfway through so far.  Also, having been with these characters for so long, and following their journey, it’s really hard to read of their eventual fates, so I’m probably reading slower than I usually would.

So, that’s about it for now, I think.

Books 4 & 5 – The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore and Step Back In Time by Ali McNamara

4.  The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore – finished 27/01/14

In 1950s Yorkshire, doctor’s wife Isabel finds an old greatcoat in a cupboard and uses it to keep warm at night.  She awakes to find a man looking in through the window, who seems to be saying her name.
This is billed as a ghost story, and in a way it is, but for me it was more ghostly romance than anything genuinely creepy.  The story follows the growing relationship between Isabel and Alec, who seem to exist together in another time, as we also see Isabel with her husband Phillip.
It wasn’t a bad story, but I didn’t find myself particularly drawn in either.

Rating – 3/5

5. Step Back In Time – Ali McNamara – finished 28/01/14

After being hit by a car Jo-Jo wakes up and finds herself in 1963. Not knowing whether it is real or a dream, Jo-Jo encounters several people he knows from her real life, and soon believes there are certain things she must accomplish in order to return to her own time. Just as things seem to be taking shape, she is hit by a car again, at exactly the same site of her initial accident, and this time she wakes up in the 70s. Again, the same familiar people are present, albeit in different guises. Each time it seems Jo-Jo is on the right track she has another accident, and each time she wakes up in a new time period – from the 60s right through to the 90s, and finally back to the present time where, having finally learned through her travels what is important, she embarks on a new path in life.

This was an enjoyable, light read. The Beatles and their hits are heavily referenced throughout, and I must admit a lot of this was probably lost on me, as I’ve never really been a big fan; I’ve never disliked them, but never been into them either. I got some of the more obvious references, but did feel some of it was probably passing me by, not that that took too much away from the enjoyment of the read. Strangely enough, just like Jo-Jo, I did find myself getting a Beatles Greatest Hits album as I read more of this book, so who knows, maybe after this I’ll become a fan?

Rating – 3/5

Books 2014

It’s that time of year again, so here are my reading goals for 2014:

  • To read 35 books
  • To read more books than last year on my Kindle
  • Re-read Harry Potter
  • Re-Read Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell
  • Read 5 Stephen King Books (and only count The Dark Tower once, or this goal will be done just by finishing that series)
  • Find 5 new authors
  • Keep better track of what I read, and maybe write something about at least some of the books

Reads & Reviews

January

  1. Cockroaches – Jo Nesbo
  2. Carrie – Stephen King
  3. Wizard And Glass – Stephen King
  4. The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore
  5. Step Back In Time – Ali McNamara

February

6.  The Wind Through The Keyhole – Stephen King

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

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