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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Clouded Vision








                                                            By Linwood Barclay




Ellie awoke to find herself mortally injured and strapped into the passenger seat of her car. All around her was white. At first she thinks she's in Heaven and then she sees the trees in the distance and the cold ice staring back at her. Then she hears the CRACK and then the next CRACK and the car starts to fall.




This is another Quick Read that I managed to get my hands on and another new Author for me. I'm not really a big thriller fan but this small book was fun with a capital F. It was just the right size to keep me interested and entertained and was a real page turner. It is full of twists and turns and neatly, it is always one step ahead of you, just when you think you have it all worked out.

If you fancy a quick read but don't want to get stuck into anything time consuming, you can't go wrong with this. Even if, like me, thrillers don't normally tickle your fancy.



4/5




Tuesday, 15 April 2014

B is for Begonias




 Ideal in hanging baskets, these giant yellow pendula begonia tubers are an ideal summer flower. Much larger than a standard begonia flower - these bulbs will certainly get the neighbours talking.

Begonias like a rich, moist garden soil with good drainage. Preferably in a semi-shaded place, although they will bloom in full sun.

Suitable for flower beds, borders, containers on the patio and balcony. Also suitable as a houseplant.



Begonia is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the family Begoniaceae. The genus contains about 1,400 different plant species. The Begonias are native to moist subtropical and tropical climates. Some species are commonly grown indoors as ornamental houseplants in cooler climates. In cooler climates some species are cultivated outside in summertime for their bright colourful flowers, which have sepals but no petals.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Book Boy








                                                       By Joanna Trollope




The Quick Reads books are a great way of getting to know other Authors and new genres without having to sift through too much of a book. Joanna Trollope is one of those such Authors and one that I have heard about but never had the inclination to read.


This is a harmless enough tale about a mother who has managed to let her husband and life in general get the better of her. It' s an uplifting little story about how we can all find a way forward even when life seems hopeless and bleak.



This isn't what I would normally read. There's not an awful lot to get your teeth into. It's what I would call Woman's Weekly Fiction. It's the kind of story you'd read in a woman's magazine while you're waiting at the dentist. I really don't know how else to describe it. If anybody else has a better way of putting it then please get in touch!

It's harmless, it's a nice quick read. Nothing to rave about, yet nothing to moan about either.


It is what it is. A quick read.



3/5



Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Birds and other Stories







                                                     By Daphne Du Maurier





I have read lots of short story collections over the years, ranging from Horror to Sci-Fi to Crime Fiction and with mixed results. Some have been very good, whilst others have been average and some downright forgettable. I guess my favourite collections have always been of the Stephen King variety, even though there are always one or two standout stories amongst a few weaker ones.

This collection gets off to an explosive and gripping start with The Birds, I was surprised how different it was from the film and much more scary! For me this is probably the perfect and possibly best ever short story written. Then we have the other stories; Monte Verita, The Apple Tree, The Little Photographer, Kiss Me Again, Stranger and The Old Man.


Every one is a gem. Every one is a unique, standalone story with twists and turns, shocks and essentially, very good story telling. I can't find a fault with any of them and they kept me guessing and turning the pages like all great books do. And what a way to finish the collection! With probably the best ever short story twist ever written.




I need to read everything that De Maurier has ever written. It may take me a long time but I'm sure I won't be disappointed. Read Rebecca, before you read anything else. Then read this and tell me there's a better short story collection.


5/5

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A is for Auriculas








With greenish-yellow blooms ‘Forest Sunlight’ is a Double Auricula, and one of a series in a wide range of colours, developed by grower Richard Austin. Double auriculas were popular in the 1600s, but fell from fashion, to be revived in the last 50 or so years. They are among the more easily grown auriculas and can be planted in a sheltered spot outside or grown the traditional way in clay pots.








 Another Show Auricula, beautiful ‘Sharon Louise’ is a ‘Self’, bred by grower Ken Bowser in 1991. It is said to be a particularly fine, late flowering selection that can be slow to bulk up. Selfs have a white paste centre to their flowers, and plain body (petal) colour. The paste centres are farina-covered and so easily damaged by rain and must be kept under cover while in flower.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Seas by Samantha Hunt










She is convinced that she is a Mermaid and that can only mean one thing.


She has to marry the man she loves or kill him. One of the two. Her father lives in the sea

as well and one day he will come home. She waits and she waits.




This breathtaking debut novel by Samantha Hunt is unbelievably good.

I came across it whilst meandering around my local library (as I do sometimes) and this jumped out at me for some reason. Call it the law of attraction, divine intervention or just damn good luck, it did and how glad am I?

Rarely have I read a story so beautifully and masterfully woven. I kid you not, every sentence is something you can savor. Like sucking on the most delicious gobstopper, each word rolls on the edge of your tongue. There are no car chases, no explosions

no murderers on the loose


just quite simply a lovely, amazing quirky little story.



This is one of those books you don't ever want to end. It stays with you and you are left

with a few pieces of driftwood that ebb and flow at the back of your mind. This story makes you wonder and wonder some more and just as you think you have grasped hold of a word or

a piece of that driftwood, the sea comes in.



You have to read this and I need to buy this now!




5/5







Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov







Never has the world of literature been more steeped in controversy than with the introduction of Lolita in 1955. It is now 2014 but no doubt it remains very much a hot potato in book clubs and educational establishments all around the world. If you want to cause a stir, introduce a main character who is obsessed with girls as young as nine and kidnaps and seduces a 12 year old!



I have a vague memory of watching the film many years ago, I wasn't very old myself at the time and I can't really remember much about it. So when it came to reading the book, it was all new.


This book is as powerful and thought provoking as it is skin crawlingly disturbing. If you want a peachy ride, this isn't for you. Vladimir crafts the story well and the backdrop and the main character's obsession with little Lo creates tension that makes the pages turn by themselves. Reading Lolita is like being strapped into a fairground ride that gatecrashes the fairground and disappears into unknown, terrifying territory.




Personally however I feel that the plot jumped the shark a little bit too much as for me the best, most tension building and compelling parts where when Humbert/Arthur lived at Lolita's house as a lodger, before they embarked on their first trip around the US. It many ways it felt as if the rest of the plot didn't live up to the early promise and I think the whole book could have been 100 pages or so shorter. I also struggled with the fact that in parts the book often seemed to disappear into a strange no man's land where you are left wondering what is going on and the divide between drunken dream sequences and actual events at times became frustratingly blurred. Also I found the quoting of miscellaneous philosophers and writers a little aggravating.



On the whole, although I have a few misgivings I actually really enjoyed the whole, if not disturbing, experience and I'm sure this will stay with me for a long time.


4/5