Wednesday, June 18, 2014

back to books

hello there

well, that be another three books read as i travel by means of the bus. as this has seem to become the standard number for reviews - except that one time when i did two, and probably some other times when i did a different number - here you go.

for those who want the jist of it, the three books on the whole pleased me, except for one that partially, perhaps mostly, displeased me. i would have thought, though, that you may want to know which books, so please do read on if you have got this far.

to entice, perhaps excite, you, here is a quick look at one of them saucy bookmarks (see some previous post of mine, don't recall which) in action.

quite class it is, both in appearance and functionality. although the "flexible metallic" ways of it are somewhat flimsy feeling. i suspect it may tear after a bit of use, which is probably excuse and reason enough for me to go right ahead and pick up a few more of the cheeky things.

anyhow, books, rather than book mark, reviews are what i have promised you, so let's go right ahead with the first of three i have read in recent times, Sepulchre by James Herbert.

short version - i really, really enjoyed this one, and would say it's certainly a book anyone who likes the stranger kind of strange thriller should have a go at, never mind just horror fans.

i have come, i appreciate, quite late to the James Herbert party. it is only within the last year or so that i have started to read his stuff, with my (considerably) better half pushing me the way of The Magic Cottage. on the basis of the three or so i have now read (The Survivor was the other), i shall be reading them all.

his style is (was, sadly) amazing, and i deeply regret not having enjoyed these books of his a good deal sooner. but hey ho, now is the time i am in, and i am doing stuffs about missing out. his style is just so enjoyable that even when you can see "plot twists" coming from some considerable distance, as was the case in Sepulchre more than the other two i read, you really do not mind as it is most splendid fun to get to them.

oh yes, before you scratch your head and wonder a bit, or a lot, you are right, i have not mentioned anything at all of the story, plot or that sort of thing. well, if you look at the picture of the back of the paperback here, you will note that i did not know anything of the plot or story prior to reading it. a strange approach to paperback marketing, this, but no bad thing - sometimes the write-up on the back of a novel can give in excess of 50% of the book away.

fear not, for i appreciate this is not a paperback. although some of you might be reading this on one of them e-book things.

the story centres around a specialist firm, Achillies or something, that provide "K&R" services, with that being Kidnap and Ransom or Kidnap and Rescue, i forget which. anyhow, they are employed to protect a secrective, non-employee but all the same rather important chap at the behest of some sort of minerals and resource company, a company bearing the imaginative name of Magma. then all sorts of things of interest happen, which is how i think it best to describe it and not give spoilers as such.

a classy, no-nonsense, balls out thiller full of boy's own stuff, Sepulchre is at heart, with all that mystical, supernatural horror stuff you would expect thrown in. and thrown in very well indeed.

a break from books for you, then, and an update on how all that quitting / cutting down considerably thing in respect of smoking is going.

in the absence of cheap Marlboro, and the fact that apparently there are only so many times that Spiros can go to Senegal, or wherever, to get them cheap ones, i have turned to Winston. they are cheap, and taste fine. i am on the Winston Red, which should be straightforward enough, except things have got confusing. there is now such a thing as Winston Red-Red, and Winston Red-White. observe.

the nicotine, tar, asbestos and rocket fuel contents are identical, yet they are different. i have been happy with Red-Red thus far, but when i got served Red-White it turned out i was to be delighted. the Red-White are 20p cheaper for a start, and you get 20 in a pack, instead of 19. they also taste rather nice, as in slightly coarser (not to salty sea dog levels) than the Red-Red. the down side is they are those cheap sensation ones which appear to burn up a lot, lot quicker.

why the difference, and why some stock one and not the other, i know not. i will just go ahead and carry on with whatever style they have, dreaming of Spiros making happy happy in Senegal.

on to another book, then, and indeed it is the one that displeased me. behold, if you will, How It Ended by Jay McInerney.

i spotted it for sale for all of £1 in a shop i happen to like. i could not resist, even though i knew that, on the basis of my previous experiences with the McInerney of Jay, there was every chance that it was going to displease me. as with cigarettes, however, i seem for some reason unable to resist his ways, even though i know that this will not end well for me. 

it looked like a rather flimsy, slender volume when i picked it up, at the least, and so i thought or perhaps even indeed assumed this would be quick and easy reading, less painful than it could be. it was.

oh, fancy, surprise surprise, it turns out that it is 200 pages, in largeesque, big print, of short stories. all seemingly, sort of linked by a theme. what theme? that it is called How It Ended should give you, perhaps a chance. the impressive thing here is that Jay McInerney managed to produce this a mere 5 or 6 years after Bret Easton Ellis did The Informers, which was a series of seemingly sort of linked by a theme short stories.

it is because of Mr Ellis that i give Mr McInerney a chance. i read an article, i think in Esquire, back in the late 80s that featured both Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerny. this was all pre-American Psycho, if that matters. i have felt the need, as and when i see his works, to read McInerny, then, on some bizarre assumption that he is a peer or of the nature of Ellis. this overlooks the fact, of course, that Ellis has not been Ellis for a while. he did three ace novels, The Informers, and then has produced drivel. sparse, Kurbick-like-with-release-distance drivel, made no better at all for it. the sensible thing to do would be to give up on both Ellis and McInerny, but alas i know that this will not happen as and when i see something by either. it does not even have to look interesting.

if for some reason that you did not work this one out, How It Ended is 10 short stories that deal with "the end" of something, be it a relationship or whatever. the whatever is a carefully chosen description. frankly, for the most part, McInerny does not care at all for what he has written here, so neither should you.

for the most part, alas, the characters exist in the same space that characters from all his other books do, and indeed where the characters in the world of Mr Ellis live. yes, that's right, unrealistic, somewhat elitist, LA (Man) or NY (muthfukka) over-wealthy, doing nothing, meaningless, empty, shallow, hollow types that are of no consequence of relevance to the overwhelming majority of the world at its largest. whereas Ellis - at least early on in his works - still made these characters interesting and engaging, even if only in some sort of pious, mocking from a dubious position of superior morality way. McInerny seems unable to do this. or, as i am now thinking, just flat refuses. a couple of the characters in these stories actually seem relevant and interesting. i am suspecting he wrote these stories quite by accident, or for a joke or a bet or something. of the ten, Con Doctor and Smoke made the book worth the value i paid for them. the remainder are average to dull, in truth.

for fanatical fans of Jay who for some reason have not read this, then get your hands on it. there's one story, The Queen & I, in which he is basically saying "hey! i read Last Exit To Brooklyn! look, i can do that!". which is true, except that he cannot. whoops.

earlier today, to once more depart from books, i found a wide range of DVDs being sold uber cheap, as in at a rate of 49p per disc, simply as they were sold without boxes. fine by me, the sleeves do the job just as well.

yep, that's the post modernist classic Dude, Where's My Car there, along with a series of South Park. which series of South Park? i had no idea when i bought it, but it turns out that it is series ten, which of course features Al Gore Chasing ManBearPig. so that's a win. nice result, now just for the time and the opportunity to be able to watch them, i suppose.

the third and final book for this round of updates for you now, then, and it would be this one, The Alchemist's Secret, by a chap called Scott Mariani. it sounded jolly good off the back cover, so gave it a try. and really hoped it was good as, due to some insane offers on the go down at WH Smith, i purchased a further two novels by the same writer, featuring the same character or, if you like, protagonist.

as it turns out, it was very good indeed. although also familiar. i may well have read this one some years ago, under a different name. they do like swapping and changing the names of novels, they do, if they think they can - as was the case here - lure people in with the idea that a book is "a bit like The Da Vinci Code, only better".

plot, story sort of thing? Ben Hope is a former military dude who now spends his days helping rescue kidnapped children. in this novel, he takes on a job which he believes relates to helping a child, but not one that has been kidnapped. it involves him, and you would be forgiven for not working this out from the title, working out the secret of a famous alchemist.

yes, yes, oh, indeed, yes. this follows that tried and tested Da Vinci Code theme of a preposterous mystery that has existed "for thousands of years" being solved in a couple of days, mostly and quite by accident, by someone not really prepared nor interested in doing it. this does not, as it happens, stop The Alchemist's Secret from being enjoyable or entertaining. far from it, really - smart fun it was, and i thus look forward, very much so, to the other two i have bought by the same, featuring the same.

go on then, here's the saucy bookmark in a more direct and obvious form of action for you to enjoy.

so, that's that for books. three read, two very good, one did the job to a minimal level. a fair result, that is, as far as i am concerned. i have a fair few to choose from over the next few weeks, but more on that in a moment or two, or so.

as i mentioned and showed cigarettes earlier, i suppose it is only fair that, to give a balanced view of everything, i show you the graphic warning images both feature. these are intended to ensure that you do not smoke, or that you quit. please pay attention.

the Red-White ones i had are now finished, alas, so now i am on the softer tasting Red-Red ones. well, when i say they are softer tasting, they are not quite all poofy poofy nancy boy gaylord things as such, really. they just seem and feel a bit lighter, even when according to the chemical review on the packet technically they are not.

if i find some of them Red-White ones again soon, well then so much the better, really. also, though, i should probably find the means to just simply quit all together. maybe.

a preview, then, to finish. this is what i shall be reading next - a very kind Father's Day present, this novel is. one of three that i was fortunate to get, with all three looking like superb reads.

i am somewhat nervous about reading this. i loved all of the novels the late Michael Crichton published and was left rather sad when he passed on. i understand the sense in allowing someone else to come in and finish off the novel (or maybe novels, i don't know) he was working on at his time of leaving, but part of me also thinks maybe they should have just let it be, leave it unseen and remain as an unpublished work. one could, after all, simply just go and read any one of his other novels again, if they were all that bothered.

right then, that's all i can think of presently. as usual, if any of these comments or reviews have been of any use to anyone, well then so much the better!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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