Book Talk: January 2017 (Part Two)

Welcome to part two of Book Talk: January 2017. Below you will find what I thought about the short stories I read this past month. As always, I will only be brief in my thoughts as short stories are obviously short and I don’t wish to spoil their plots, or talk about weird theories around them.

Short Stories

Jerusalem’s Lot by Stephen King

This story is the first one (in my edition) from Stephen King’s Night Shift, a short story collection. This was by far my favourite short story for the month for a number of reasons. First, the story’s New England setting is true to King’s style, which is something I treasure deep when reading his works. The way it has been written, as well as its mid-19th century setting reminds me heavily of the works of Poe and Lovecraft. It is told entirely through letters and journal entries, which only evoked more terror in me whilst reading and gave it a classic horror feel.

If you want to experience classic horror, but with a much more modern style then I highly recommend you read this story. If you love other works by King, then you’ll enjoy this one too.

4/5

The Brown Hand by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: the man who brought us Sherlock Holmes, tried his hand in many different genres in his lifetime: horror one of them. I adore him as an author and have enjoyed reading the adventures of Holmes and Doctor Watson in the past, but this story, The Brown Hand, is not one of them.

I had a lot of trouble understanding its plot, what characters were saying, and what I should be scared of exactly. Despite these, I found it quite intriguing into exploring the ideas around colonialism at the time, particularly around India. This doesn’t save it though from being a quite uninteresting read, in my own eyes.

2/5

An Episode in Cathedral History by M.R. James

And we go from one bad story to, unfortunately, yet another one. This one came from M.R. James, a popular classic literature writer of horror fiction. I came across this one in a collection of vampire short stories. I was quite interested in reading something from one of the legends of classic horror fiction, but this was a disappointment. I couldn’t quite understand what was happening in the plot, even after turning back pages. Turning back the pages only confused me even more, which in turn soured my experience.

M.R. James is a legend in horror fiction, and I will read more of his works in the future. As for you, dear reader, if you want a great story which you understand clearly, just ignore this one.

1.5/5

Mick’s Suit by T.A. Robinson

This story is the first one in issue 55 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Although it was only a few pages long, I found it to be really enjoyable. It has a sort of quirkiness to it that I haven’t seen in many of the recent contemporary short stories I’ve read. I won’t spoil the plot, but I will say that you’ll be unsure if you want to laugh or be mortified.

If you’re into a fun, quirky story that you can read quick and find yourself enjoying then I recommend this one. If you just want something different, then I recommend this too.

3.5/5

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Book Talk: January 2017 (Part One)

So much has happened in 2017 already, and the year is only a month old. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four became a best seller, we found out more about the Nintendo Switch, we lost a legendary actor (RIP John Hurt), and witnessed some weird shit going down in the United States.

For those who are concerned about our scary, uncertain future – fear not – books will always be there for you. Books are magical things; they have the power to allow us to escape to strange new worlds, make us laugh and cry, and forget about the horrors of the real world.

Fiction based around escaping the real world is how I can sum up my reading for this month. A couple of the novels had me literally jumping through portals from the real world into the fantasy one.

Novels

Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly

Carrying over from December, I finally finished reading Matthew Reilly’s latest book. You can find more of my thoughts here.

Overall this novel was a real blast, quite literally. In true Matthew Reilly style, there was a lot of over the top fast paced action, explosions, and gruesome deaths. The climax to this book was awesome and I found myself unable to put it down. Topping it off, seeing those characters (those who’ve read it will know) together and interacting with Jack, only make this story even more awesome.

If you enjoy fast-paced action, interested in a quick and thrilling read, or want to read something new, then I highly recommend this book. It’s great as a standalone, but I also recommend you check out the others in the series (Seven Ancient Wonders, Six Sacred Stones, Five Greatest Warriors). I recommend his Scarecrow series as well, since that’s just as thrilling, fun, and fast-paced.

4/5

Through the Fig Tree by KE Fraser

Through the Fig Tree is the first book in The Realm of the Lilies series by indie author, KE Fraser. The story follows two characters: a woman named Violet who travels through a fig tree to the fantasy kingdom of The Realm of the Lilies, and Daniel, a prince soon to be king of the kingdom. The plot focuses around the two of them trying to meet up with each other once again.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I first picked up this book. Most of the fantasy books I have read in the past have tended to be either quite grim or extremely violent. It’s this reading history of fantasy is why I found this book to be quite a relief. Yeah, there was a little bit of violence, and some hinting towards a possible future war, but it was nowhere near as over the top as some of the other series I’ve read (A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m looking at you!).

The story has a real Alice in Wonderland feel to it, especially when Violet steps through from the real world into The Realm of the Lilies. Like Violet, I was taken away by the vast beauty of the world and of the strange, unique culture of the people.

There is only really one complaint that I have with this story. The beginning of it is slow, bullock cart slow in my opinion, with not much action happening till quite a fair way in. This didn’t really bother me, but it may for those who are looking for something with a lot of action. Apart from that, I really don’t have much to complain about this story.

Just a little thing, not a complaint, but my edition did have some errors within the story, which was slightly distracting while I was reading it. I believe they have been fixed since I bought my copy.

Through the Fig Tree is one of those books which takes escaping to the fantasy world seriously. It may not be as action heavy as many other fantasy series, but it’s great if you just want to get lost in a world, rather than see it be soaked in blood.

4/5

11.22.63 by Stephen King

What do you get when you mix the conspiracies around President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Stephen King together? I can answer that for you; one hell of a bloody good story.

As from writing this I’m still only just over a third into 11.22.63, so I won’t go into too much detail this month, but I will go through what I think about it so far. This has been one of my most engaging reads in quite a while. Like Through the Fig Tree, I found myself stepping through a portal into the fantasy world. Only this world is mid-20th century America, rather than one of a high fantasy setting. It feels like a fair dinkum step back in time after Jake Epping, the main protagonist, went through the portal. So far, the story has given me that fantastical feel of post-World War Two America (great food, friendly folk), and its dark side (racism, smoking, etc.).

I’ll get through 11.22.63 at my own pace, which judging on its size (740 pages for my edition), this may come to occupy most of my reading time next month as well. I will post my final thoughts about it upon completion.

*Stay tuned for Book Talk: January 2017 (Part Two) coming tomorrow where I will discuss short stories.