25 July 2007

Review: A Confederacy of Dunces | John Kennedy Toole

The reason I chose this book initially is that it was written in the 1960s and tragically the author committed suicide in 1969 at age 32 without it ever being published. His mother found the manuscript and pounded the pavement to get a publisher to read and publish it. The novel went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, and has now become a classic.

Given that I generally don't read books written in the 60s (unless it's a classic), and avoid any book claiming to be 'funny' for fear of cringeworthy slap-stick humour that is ha-ha funny, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find myself totally engrossed in this book!

The wit and vocabulary of Ignatius Reilly had me laughing at almost every page, wishing I had his talent for speech and conversation. Ignatius is almost an anti-hero; he is fat, lazy and full of excuses, however somehow I was cheering for him and his eccentric ways.

I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates this kind of humour. (I tried to find a good quote from the book to include here, but I couldn't choose, and you really need the context to appreciate the humour).

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

07 July 2007

Review: Heart Shaped Box | Joe Hill

I've been telling anyone who will listen, that this author is the son of Stephen King. I discovered this obscure fact while reading book reviews on Amazon, and in fact this is what inspired me to buy Heart-Shaped Box. However I was astonished to find out that there is absolutely no mention of this fact in the book or on the cover. I find this amazing given how the yanks will trade on a name wherever possible and even if Joe doesn't want to use his father's fame to sell his books, I'm surprised his publisher didn't go ahead and do it anyway.

So, what was the book like? Well, I really enjoyed this story about a rock star who buys a ghost from the internet. It's a gothic thriller/horror, that is as exciting as King at his best. In fact, their writing style is quite similar, and the novel had a supernatural thread that I love in any King/Koontz, but Joe Hill is a stand-alone and talented author who is fresh and has a lot to offer.

I'm keen to find out what else he has written, and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys King/Koontz. If you are easily spooked though, this is not the book to read before bed time.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

01 July 2007

Review: Crown in Darkness | Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty

I felt like it was time to join Hugh Corbett as he solves another medieval mystery, and so it was that I picked up Paul Doherty's book Crown In Darkness. You might remember that he has about twelve in the series, and I'm slowly making my way through them.

This time Hugh Corbett went to Scotland following the 'accidental' death of Alexander III of Scotland to investigate the circumstances on behalf of the Chancellor. I really enjoyed the medieval nature of the plot and especially the journey to the dark forest in Scotland to visit the Picts, often referred to as pixies, goblins or elves.

"Once they were a proud people and ruled the greater part of Scotland but the Celts, the Angles, the Saxons and the Normans drove them from their lands into the dark vastness of the forests."

I thoroughly recommend this author to anyone who enjoys medieval mystery and intrigue.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!