Sunday, January 31, 2016

yes i still read books

greetings people

well, look you see, wow. some further book reviews for you, the reader, written at a time when January is grasping at the last moments of its lifespan before February comes along and makes it a barely remembered thing. i think the last time i did any sort of book related review thing was November; such has been the fall off in my reading since they fiddled with the bus timetables so as to make buses, and reading on them, untenable to the point of impossible.

how many books have i read in that time? just the two, as would be standard for me to throw up here for comment. in slight defence, if required, of the time it has taken to read, it's been "busy" with both birthdays and Christmas being things, and one of the novels which i read was massive.

a quick look at the two books i managed to get through despite my shallow procrastinations, excuses and deliberations, followed by a somewhat spoiler-free overview? certainly.

i, although it does not always feel like the correct word, enjoyed both. The Zero Game by Brad Meltzer is yet further evidence that Brad Meltzer should be more well known, and The Secret Of Crickley Hall is further superb work from James Herbert, although in this instance genuinely unsettling and quite disturbing.

forward not backwards, then, and be warned for *** SPOILER WARNING *** is a thing which exists and is in place for the more specific reviews, although i shall try not to give up too many details. as ever, links to the books are not an affiliation or an endorsement of purchase by myself; they're just there for ease of use by anyone who for some reason feels obliged to make buying decisions on the basis of anything i write.

 i think the first, or if you like previous, novel i read off of Brad Meltzer was The Tenth Justice or something like that. from what i recall, my review was "didn't like, except i did like, actually it was quite good". it was like, this could be something truly exceptional, it just had an inexplicable sense of some kind of unquantifiable magic touch missing. much of this is true of The Zero Game, alas. it was really good, but there's just that lack of a sense of "wow".

plot? we are introduced to the idea that it gets very childish amongst staffers, interns and assistants working at Congress. apparently to pass the time and make government less boring, a game is devised where people sneak certain words and references into legislation and, or if you like or, bills for giggles. what if it were the case that someone used this game to make a change which seemed trivial, innocuous and irrelevant, yet could have severe, serious and quite bad repercussions by happening to exits?

if you've read the above and ask just how plausible could such a game be, let me assure you that the answer is "very". for no reason beyond my own amusement whilst in the corporate world, i used to sneak in things like Bowie and Manics quotes, plus the odd line from the silence of the lambs, in client correspondence and reports intended to be read at the business end of executive level. so the plot kind of hit a note with me straight away.

this highly probable premise, alas, leads to a few improbable twists in the plot, but at no point does this book claim to be either realistic or a likely set of events. it is, or if you like was, highly entertaining. a particular highlight, and i am going to need to be spoiler mindful here, were some narrative tricks which caught my attention and kept me reading.

the way in which Brad Meltzer tends to get promoted is "if you like John Grisham (presumably his books, not his often bizarre views on the world)" then you will like this sort of thing. whilst i don't think there's much of a direct comparison between the two, oddly that seems spot on. The Zero Game is one to try.

what am i listening to as i write this? CD 2, or if you like the second disc, of the simply frankie goes to hollywood tin that got released last year, or maybe the year before. decidedly good it is, and i am getting all nostalgic as i do so.

onwards, then, to the massive, north of 600 pages novel which took me so long to read in the form of The Secret Of Crickley Hall by James Herbert. from a costing perspective, whereas The Zero Game cost a relative amount as part of a "two for £5" deal at Boyes, that place where the haberdashery section is a hotbed of sexual tension, i picked up this particular novel, in a clearly never read condition, for £1.50 from a charity shop.

plot? a family which has recently suffered the loss of a child moves into a spooky, eerie looking house whilst the husband and father of the family does some work to make some sort of offshore venture work. none of the family feel particularly comfortable in the house, least of all their pet dog, who runs way whenever possible. it transpires that, during the Second World War, a horrible, heart-wrenching tragedy happened in the building, leading some to the view that the the house - called Crickley Hall, hence the title - is cursed to the extent of possibly being haunted. to varying degrees, each member of the family goes through different senses of whether or not they believe the house is haunted or cursed, and in doing so uncover the dark secret of what really happened in the house.

up front and yes, once again, credit goes to my (considerably) better half for introducing me to the works of James Herbert. on the one side when i picked this up i went "oh, another novel by him that features a haunted house". it is a lot, lot more than that, though, and over its many pages it touches on all sorts of things, in particular the occasional need for secrecy and cover ups in times of war. granted, actual war, not catchy, made up phrases such as "the war on terror".

do i recommend this novel? not with any great ease. i found, as i would imagine anyone decent would, the depictions of harm brought to children deeply distressing, harrowing and difficult to read. i mean, i appreciate one cannot shy away from the reality that such things happen in this world we have made, but that does not mean all wish to subject themselves to accounts of it. if you, like me, from time to time are a big, soft, fanny of emotional affectation, proceed with caution. if it helps, from what i can work out the BBC version of the novel greatly and seriously sanitises these depictions.

phew. well, as ever, i can only hope or trust that these comments give someone an idea or two about novels they may have considered thinking about reading. i appreciate that neither are either new or at the cutting edge of what people are discussing in a literary sense right now, but there you go.

next read? something that is not north of 600 pages in length. i would appear to have stockpiled a number of novels here; let me select a relatively shorter one to read and hopefully enjoy.

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