24 May 2017

HEART OF DARKNESS.

HEART OF DARKNESS by JOSEPH CONRAD.

BACK COVER BLURB: A novel of hallucinatory violence and strangeness, Heart of Darkness tells the story of the sailor Marlow and his entanglement in the horrors of colonialism in Africa. He travels up the Congo on a steamer in search of the great ivory trader, Kurtz, the 'universal genius' who rules his lands through terror, and has made himself into a god.

Joseph Conrad's masterpiece is a harrowing, gripping portrait of man's potential for evil.

FIRST SENTENCE {CHAPTER ONE}: The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 44}: Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. 

SOURCE: A Reading Group read.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: My first thought?

Why the cover? Surely its not just me who found it rather, well, bizarre?

But not to judge a book by its cover ...

Whilst I enjoyed the authors hauntingly enigmatic descriptions, his protagonist's powerful interior monologues, at the same time, just how many metaphors can one short novella of barely 100 pages contain?

Whilst I appreciated his play with light and darkness, his insight into the darker recesses of the human mind, alas I found Heart Of Darkness incredibly bleak at best, totally depressing at worst.

A book that, despite my understanding of the concepts behind the story, somehow constantly left me feeling that I was missing something, that there was something I simply wasn't getting.

22 May 2017

TO CATCH THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING.

TO CATCH THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING by MARTIN WHITE.

BACK COVER BLURB: 1327:

King Edward II has fallen from power. He is imprisoned, and must be referred to now merely 'Sir Edward of Caernarvon'.

Brother Stephen de Birstin, lately down from Oxford, finds himself thrust from the obscurity at his Gloucester priory into the prominent, but delicate role of confessor to the ex-king at Berkeley Castle.

The lives of the two men intertwine against a narrative based on the latest theories concerning Edward's ultimate fate. The tale is painted in the vivid colours of a medieval bestiary, and recalls the work of Borges.

FIRST SENTENCE {PART ONE: HEREFORD. CHAPTER 1}: See My Thoughts.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {88}: Many times he would long for the peacefulness of mealtimes at Blackfriars, where - in accordance with the Order's rule - the only sounds to be heard had been those of knives on trenchers, and of holy texts being read aloud to divert attention from the sensual pleasure of food and drink.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: 'Under Hereford's old Wye Bridge, at the southern end where the town privies discharged to the fast flowing current, ordure had spattered on the wooden stanchions, decade by decade, so that now they were festooned with a thick excrement, bearded about with lank weeds and thriving colonies of furry mould' ....

And so begins this gem of a historical novel.

Wonderfully descriptive. At times graphically so - I admit to being fascinated by the blow by blow account of a 'hanging, drawing and quartering', my stomach turning the whole time.

From Hereford to Gloucester to Berkeley to Corfe ... and beyond ... we learn of the fate of a king fallen from grace and the Dominican friar whose role it is to hear his confession whilst at the same time making sure he is safe in the hands of those who imprison him.

It is this, the relationship, the narrative between (Ex) King Edward II (now known as Sir Edward of Caernarvon) and Brother Stephen, that made the book for me.

With large portions given over to the two men, Brother Stephen in his role as confessor. Or is he? In no doubt that he is to see Edward as the enemy, it is never the less he who seems to pour out his heart as the author skillfully takes us into the mind of each of the men.

Deeply impressed with To Catch The Conscience Of The King, Martin White is certainly a name I shall be keeping a look out for.


19 May 2017

TALES FROM WITCHWAY WOOD: CRASH 'N' BANG.

TALES FROM WITCHWAY WOOD: CRASH 'N' BANG by KAYE UMANSKY.

BACK COVER BLURB: CRASH! BANG!

Filth the Fiend, Arthur the Dragon and O'Brien the Leprechaun love their music.

Crash!

Will they be able to defeat some sinister skeletons, terrifying Trolls and grumpy Gnomes in the Battle of the Bands?

FIRST SENTENCE  {CHAPTER ONE: FILTH}: 'And where d'you think you're going?' enquired Witch Sludgegooey.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 156}: They* were whispering and casting haughty looks over their shoulders at four tough-looking female Zombies with frightening hairstyles and heavy boots who were glaring back in a confrontational way. (*Three female Gnomes. TT)

SOURCE: Ex library stock.

READ FOR: The tenth book read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

MY THOUGHTS: Suggested by several websites as being particularly suitable for those aged nine to eleven. 

Apparently the first in a series though it somehow felt as if there were previous books ... perhaps because it featured some characters from an earlier series written by the author.

Essentially a book that may well be appreciated more by the younger X Factor (and other reality TV music competition) aficionados. For myself ..

The characters of much more appeal than the plot itself. Wonderfully imaginative pen and ink illustrations (of which I wish there were more full paged) that without doubt influenced my rating. Overall, Crash 'N' Bang was well worth the 'I Liked It' rating that I awarded it, but ...

Though doubtlessly a book that will be enjoyed by readers of a certain age. I do however think that, unlike some books that all ages tend to find funny, the humour of this is such that I don't necessarily think it will translate particularly well to an adult market ... or at least it didn't to this particular adult market.



17 May 2017

HEY DOORMAN VIII: TRUE TALES OF AN UNCOMMON BOUNCER IN LOS ANGELES.

HEY DOORMAN VIII: TRUE TALES OF AN UNCOMMON BOUNCER IN LOS ANGELES by JOHN P. KILDEMM.

AMAZON.CO.UK BLURB: SEX -- VIOLENCE -- TRUMP

Eight true tales from your wittiest bouncer's, wittiest bouncer Mister Kildemm chronicles the night life in the City of Angels as only he can, in the fourth installment of, Hey Doorman. But this time with a biting political edge working in cahoots with his always hilarious edge. That's two edges people. TWO.

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "I'm sure he's having a good laugh over this with his doorman buddies."

FIRST SENTENCE {Introduction to The Doorman}: A bouncer, door-host, doorman, or whatever you want to call him, is in a unique position in the realm of late night entertainment.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Because of the conversational nature of the book I won't be including my Memorable Moment.

SOURCE: Received from the author.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: Hmm! Certainly different from my usual kind of read. Totally intrigued by the whole concept I gladly accepted a copy from the author, otherwise .....

Published in what I thought an unpromising A4 Format and at less than forty pages costing over £10, my first thought was 'this had better be better than good.

Unquestionably I liked the conversational, unhurried nature of the writing and, the author obviously being something of a film buff, I enjoyed the referencing of various films (some of which I knew, others I didn't). Then there was that rather than the kiss-and-tell of the rich and (in)famous there were the oddly refreshing anecdotes about the obviously neither rich nor famous.

Yes, here was a man I could enjoy a drink with (a cup of tea of course) ... if only he promised to cut down on the swearing.

I guess when it comes down to it it wasn't so much the 'Sex', 'Violence' nor even the talk of Trump - after all thanks to the synopsis I was expecting these (the author's email ensuring I was aware of, and I quote, 'some profanity') - that led to my rating the book as I did.*

Yeah, I guess it says as much about myself as the author but I'm afraid it largely comes down to that old chestnut .... the differing in a sense of humour. And I'm afraid it would seem mine and the Doorman's sense of humour is essentially just about as far apart as it gets.


* As most of you will be aware I don't use a star rating system on Pen and Paper. However because I have made reference to it here I think it only right to let you know I awarded Hey Doorman VIII an 'It was OK' rating. TT