mercredi 31 décembre 2014

A Year in the Library - Stats

I'm going to post two A Year in the Library posts, one with stats, one with more of a reflection how the year has gone for me. Here then are the stats for the year (with the 2013 stats to compare). These are all taken from the excel spreadsheet I use to track my reading during the year (and yes I have an excel spreadsheet I use to track my reading! :)) :
Month by Month

Month N° of Books 2014 N° of Books 2013
January 32 21
February 28 22
March 29 33
April 25 30
May 20 21
June 24 18
July 21 21
August 26 27
September 24 28
October 29 20
November 34 21
December 23 22
Total 315 284

Most months I read more than in 2013 and overall I had a jump of about 30 books between 2013 and 2014.

By Genre

Book Shelf N° of Books 2014 N° of Books 2013
Fantasy 50 79
Sci-fi 94 75
Graphic Novel 33 49
Non-Fic 52 34
Horror 11 3
Crime & Thriller 36 33
Other 39 11
  315 284

A huge jump in sci-fi book read this year, mainly because I started another reread of Star Wars and Star Trek books. I may separate them out next year to get a better feel for exactly how much non-media related SF I read. Otherwise, I am really happy to have read so much non-fic and other (historical, literary, etc.) over 2014.

Number of 5 star books read: 40
Number of 4 star books read: 147
Number of 3 star books read: 118
Number of 2 star books read: 9


Number of books reviewed: 54
Number of Top Ten Tuesday posts: 22
Number of "in the Library" monthly review posts: 3
Number of New on the Library Shelves posts: 13

So a big improvement on last year in term of number of posts, but still not as good as I had hoped! :)

mardi 30 décembre 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015

This week's theme: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015. According to the girls over at the Broke and Bookish these could be either book related or blog related - I've gone mainly with blog related goals since this will be only my second year of doing this seriously. Look forward to reading every body else's!
Goals I control

1. Only request Netgalley or Edelweiss books I know I'm going to read
I have an absolutely horrendous ratio (especially on Netgalley) so this year I'm only going to request books I know I am going to read, ie books I have already got on my absolutely to be read list (ATBR :) )

2. Write a review for every book I read
My ratio of books read to reviews written this year is pretty bad, so even if I only write a small one paragraph review I want to be able to look back and read some thoughts on every single book I read.

3. Post more reviews to Goodreads and Amazon
I haven't posted nearly enough of my reviews to both sites this year so I want to improve on that next year!

4. Read all of the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees I have on my list
I have about 100 so I would like to get through all of these along with some older books and obviously the new releases

5. Do a Shannara Reread
I would love to do something along the lines of the rereads (Wheel of Time and Malazan to name but a few) and have a weekly post discussing the chapters I have read. Whether I'll manage that or just do a book by book reread I'm not sure but either way I want to read the books!

6. Add fewer books to my TBR list
Every month I ended up with fifty or so releases on my TBR list, impossible to keep up with. I'd prefer to stay around 15 per month but will try and stick to no more than one book per day of the month at the least!

7. Comment more frequently on my favourite blogs
I have done better at this this year but I need to improve still!

8. Post more regularly on my own blog
If possible once a day but I want to at least make sure I don't leave more than two or three days go by without posting something

Goals outside of my control

9. Get a higher read count and more comments
I've been so happy and amazed at the regular visitors here throughout the year but I would obviously like that to continue and to get a few more regular comments

10. Get a few more followers
Same as above, I have gained one this year, which is fantastic, but I would love to get a few more in 2015!

Look forward to reading your goals and resolutions in the comments (see goal 9! :) ) Thanks to all the visitors here for making this a great year and here's to a greater 2015!

lundi 29 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten of the Year

And so we come to my top ten books in all genres from 2014. What a year it has been! I have read great books in all genres, though I feel like I didn't even scratch the surface of all the books I would have liked to read. Narrowing the lists down to ten has not been easy and arranging them in order even less so.

Still, here are, in descending order, my top ten books of the year!

10. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A worthy successor to Gone Girl in the surprise twist ending league, but also a fine YA novel with an intriguing narrator.

9. The Second Amendment by Michael Waldman

Fascinating and extremely well-written, The Second Amendment is the biography of a legal text rife with contradictions.

8. No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald

A comprehensive and terrifying look at the revelations made by Edward Snowden about the NSA.

7. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Reminiscent of Stephen King's The Green Mile but told with a fresh, heart-breaking voice.

6. Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

Just missing out on on a top 5 spot by a nose, Hobb's triumphant return to Fitz and the Fool. I want the next book NOW!

5. Life, Animated by Ron Süskind

I don't think I've ever read a book better able to break my heart at the same time as filling it with hope. Deals with autism and a possible way out through the magic of animation.

4. Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

A perfect book in its genre, spooky, epic and so wonderfully well-written. Seanan McGuire is at the top of my TBR list now!

3. The Martian by Andy Weir

Worthy of all the accolades it has received, a taut, exciting, edge-of-the-seat thriller set on Mars, aided and abbetted by some fantastic characters.

And so we come to the final two, the silver and gold. Both of these books have switched places numerous times while I put this list together so you could almost call it a tie.

2. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

From the opening scenes at a murder scene in a hotel in Manhattan to the tense finale, I Am Pilgrim kept me glued to the pages (or screen in this case) until I finished. A great book, a great thriller, and a fantastic narrative voice.

1. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

My book of the year 2014! A mystery, a thriller, an exploration of the art of writing and the price you pay for love, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair made me fall in love with books all over again. Cannot say how much I loved this book. If you haven't already, go out and buy it. Read it. Great stuff!

So there you have it. 2014 in ten books. Can't wait to see how 2015 will match up. See you tomorrow for my top ten resolutions for the year and then on Wednesday for my list of books I'm most looking forward to.

And please share your own top ten in the comments below! Happy reading!

vendredi 26 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Fantasy Books

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

An excellent continuation of Sanderson's extremely ambitious series, putting the spotlight on the main female character Shallan. The other characters also get a lot of screen time and the book - while huge in term of number of pages - sped by thanks to the impressive pace Sanderson manages to maintain.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

A touching, haunting and heart-breaking historical fantasy, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is part family history, part coming-of-age tale, part historical thriller. Dealing with faith, family and death, and told with the beauty and complexity of a fairy tale, Walton's novel is deserving of lots of praise.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The novel that proved stand alone fantasy can work and work extremely well, The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful change from the grimdark trend that a lot of modern fantasy has embraced. A classic fantasy novel of an underdog character finding the strength to overcome major obstacles, the wonderful story is accompanied by fantastic prose.
Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson

From my review:

"Every so often, I read a fantasy novel that reminds me why I love this genre. Unwrapped Sky is one of those! Full of imaginative concepts, flawed and multidimensional characters and some fantastic prose, Rjurik Davidson’s debut is a fantastic opening to a new series, reminiscent of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, while not quite reaching the heights of that masterpiece."

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

From my review:

"A slow-moving, glorious exploration of a truly amazing character, Fool's Assassin is a triumphant return to the world of Fitz and the Fool, to the world of Buckkeep and the Mountain Kingdom, to the world of assassins, Skillmasters and dragons."

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

From my review:

"Once every so often, a book comes along so awesome, so perfectly tailored for your reading tastes of the time that it can leave a reader giddy. Sparrow Hill Road was that for me. A tale of ghost stories, hitch hikers, crossroads and Americana, Sparrow Hill Road is epic in the best sense of the word: a story that crosses time and space, descending down through multiple levels of reality and oozing with haunts and ghouls."
The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

The debut of the year for me, The Emperor's Blades combines great characters with fantastic world building, all of it tied up with crisp, fast-paced writing that keeps the pages turning.
The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks

A stand-alone adventure set in Brooks' Shannara universe, The High Druid's Blade follows a new character, descended from the Leah family, as he tries to save his sister from a dark magician. A breath of fresh air in the Shannara series, epic and intimate at the same time, all with Brooks' characteristic elaborate prose.
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

A fantastic collection of short stories here from Atwood, ranging from a murder mystery to the exploration of the effect three people had on one another's lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three, connected stories, but all of them had something to bring to the table.
From my review:

"A fantasy murder mystery to start with, The Buried Life could be termed science fantasy - while not made obvious, there are clear indications that the underground world of the book is our future. While the murder mystery is tied up nicely, providing a pleasant sense of closure to that part of the book, there are larger events that take over towards the end and set up the stage nicely for the follow-up (due out in February)."

jeudi 25 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Mystery / Thriller / Horror Books

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

From my review:

"The Winter People is one of a number of books I have read since the beginning of the year split over two time periods and with either a crime/thriller bent or a supernatural one. It is also one of the best. Suspenseful, marvelously well-written, with a keen eye for detail in the historical sections and a great trio of female characters at its core, the novel stayed with me in the days after finishing it."
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

From my review:

"A "coup-de-coeur" as we say in France, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair will be one of those books I will remember for a long time. A great mystery, an exploration of writing and life, the book touches all the buttons I need to make me fall head over heels in love with a novel. I cannot wait to see what Joel Dicker writes next and I doubt I will wait for a translation of whatever it is."
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

From my review:

"Though few of the people we meet are necessarily likeable, nor the truths pleasant, it is impossible not to become enthralled and caught up in the town of Henbane and the secrets hidden there. Though the resolution of both mysteries do not hold many surprises, the revelations are handled deftly. More of a sweeping portrait than a true thriller, it was a great read that kept me hooked through to the end."
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R Carey

A cleverly written zombie novel, The Girl With All the Gifts had a fascinating cast of characters, a neat twist on the undead and a really kick-ass ending.
Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman

From my review:

"Edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting tension from the first page to the last, it is not the kind of book that I found myself laying aside without a tug of reluctance, wanting to read a little bit more to find out what would happen next or how a situation would resolve... At its heart, Ruin Falls is about motherhood and the lengths any of us (mothers or fathers) go to protect our children."
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

A fine example of historical mystery done well, Murder as a Fine Art serves up a Sherlock-ian anti-hero with a very personal stake in solving the rash of murders that are sweeping Victorian London. Using a real historical person as the main character is a risk, but one that pays off here.
Eden in Winter by Richard North Patterson

From my review:

"A family saga full to the brim with deceit and lies, Eden in Winter delves deep into the characters of the Blaine family and manages to create a page-turning yarn that is hard to put down. With hints of the political and legal thrillers that Patterson is well known for dribbled throughout, the book is a nice resolution to a departure trilogy for the writer. As usual, a great read that cements Patterson for me as a must-buy whenever he brings out a new book."
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Another historical, this one more of a thriller, using the real-life Dreyfus Affair as a canvas to tell a story of racism, conspiracy and espionage. Harris is a dab hand at this kind of novel, which shows both in the strong - though plain - prose and the nail-biting pace.
The Fixer Series by T.E. Woods

From my review of Book Two, The Red Hot Fix:

"The Red Hot Fix was a good continuation of the Fixer series, bringing back a lot of what worked in the first novel and progressing both characters storylines in interesting ways. One plotline was more interesting and worked better than the other, but overall they both complimented each other nicely and set up an interesting finale. I will certainly pick up the next book in the series - I'm looking forward to see how Lydia puts her new skills to use in different situations."

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

From my review:

"A whirlwind tour of espionage, terrorism and murder, a globe-trotting thrill ride that also manages to delve into such themes as growing old, family, love and the cost of freedom. I loved the fact that while the entire story is told in first person, Terry Hayes manages to use that to segue into an omniscient third person at times, giving us a glimpse into the lives of various other characters along the way. I was hooked from the first page and it did not let up until the end. If you haven’t already, pick it up, read it and enjoy!"

mercredi 24 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Historical / Literary / Other Books

I have included here any book that was either historical, literary or between genres. There were some great books in this category this year, ranging from love stories to mind-bending YA thrillers. 

Again, no particular order:

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull

A hugely heartwarming novel about overcoming insurmountable difficulties, The Visitors follows the life of Adeliza, a young girl who loses her sight, her hearing and her speech. Adrift in a world of darkness, Adeliza is saved by Lottie, a young woman who teaches her to communicate using her fingers and her hand. As Adeliza blossoms, her connection to the ghosts who have always spoken to her in her mind leads her across the world. Full of hope, peopled by female characters with great strength, The Visitors is an adventure, a ghost story and a romance all wrapped into one. 
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Although I enjoyed the previous Jojo Moyes books I had read, I loved One Plus One. A funny, touching, heart-wrenching romance, about all kinds of love and the ways it can hurt, this was a fantastic story well told. All of the characters were real and rounded and it was one of those rare books to make me laugh out loud this year. I can't wait to see what Moyes writes next.

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Reminiscent of Stephen King's The Green Mile, The Enchanted was a fresh take on the prison story, told through the eyes of three unforgettable characters. I very very rarely cry at books - though I'm a veritable crybaby when it comes to TV and film - but this one made me cry. Fantastic stuff.
The Storied Life of A.J Fiky by Gabrielle Zevin

Another one that brought a tear to my eyes, Zevin's novel about a bookstore owner is a book lover's dream, dealing with the very thing that makes most of us who write book blogs sit down behind a keyboard to write reviews. The love for books and reading soaks through every word in this book. Loved it!
Lovers at the Chameleon Club by Francine Prose

An epic historical novel set in Paris between the two wars, Lovers at the Chameleon Club is a lushly written, mind warping novel. It contained some of the most striking characters I had read about all year and played around with the idea of untrustworthy narrators in a clever way.
All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon

Combining a love story and a coming-of-age novel against the backdrop of the fall of the Soviet Union and the devastation of Chernobyl, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air drags the reader behind the Iron Curtain, delving unflinchingly into the communist world at its nadir. This book manages to evoke a different place and time not so distant from our own, through McKeon’s wonderful prose
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Mentioned on a lot of blogs (and in a lot of message boards posts on Goodreads) as the new Gone Girl, We Were Liars is the tale of a family and the way that events tear them apart. It is also a finely written and extremely tense thriller right through to the twist ending.
The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin

Promising a ghost story, The Ghost of the Mary Celeste proved to be a complex puzzle box of mystery, love, tragedy, spiritualism and inspiration. A great read, extremely well written.
The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

A great combination of historical fiction and modern thriller, The Lost Sisterhood reinvents an age-old story (that of the Trojan War) for a new audience. Let down a little by some trite love stories, the female characters are nevertheless true Amazons, well worthy of the subject matter.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A Goodreads Choice Awards winner, All The Light We Cannot See is set during the Second World War, following two characters through tragedy and triumph in turn, bringing them together at a key moment in the Allied victory. With great secondary characters, the novel manages to be both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time.

mardi 23 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Science Fiction Books

This has been a good year for new sci-fi for me: of the books below only one is from a writer who I had previously read. Each of them were excellent and unique in their own way, spanning space opera to near future to young adult. 

Again, in no particular order, my SF top ten 2014:

An edge-of-the-seat thriller, told through the eyes of an astronaut struck on Mars, The Martian has already been optioned for the movies, directed by Ridley Scott no less! A real page turner that also manages to embody the very best of humanity in the stars, this was one of my favourite books of the year. It also won the Goodreads Choice Awards for SF, so there's also that!

A near-future thriller dealing with immortality, The Happier Dead was a nail-biting thriller, a great mystery and fantastic sci-fi. Ivo Stourton is also a class act, one of the only writers to have reached out to me (a complete unknown) on Goodreads and thank me for my review! Hats off Mr Stourton! (and sorry for not getting back to you about that interview!) :)

Far from an easy book, The Girl in the Road is well worth the effort put in. A story told across two tracks that entwine in unsuspected ways, this is Earth based SF where current problems are taken to extremes. Whether it be the search for new energy sources, the effects of climate change or the rise of so-called Third World countries, this puts an intriguing spin on very real issues, just as all good SF should do. A book that has been very much underrated in my opinion.

A well-written debut that juggles some of the most common SF tropes - spaceships, aliens, dystopian worlds - with aplomb and flair. Combining a murder mystery with an ark-ship milieu, Ramirez manages to bring together a dark, interesting and frightening novel that will leave you thinking.

Sci-fi horror is not an easy thing to pull off, but Adam Christopher does it extremely well in The Burning Dark. Replacing the haunted house with a haunted space station, Christopher weaves together threads of alien possession, radio signals in hyperspace and a nearby star giving off toxic emissions to form a terrifying exploration of the final frontier...

A YA epic, Red Rising follows Darrow, a Red working and living on Mars who takes on the mantle of one of the leading Golds in order to get revenge. Part Hunger Game, part Count of Monte Cristo, Red Rising was a fantastic read, full of exciting action scenes and prose that makes the pages spin by. Cannot wait for the sequel early 2015!

What if the world we know today is actually half a century behind where it should be? This is the question asked (and answered) by Influx, where a scientist who invents reflective gravity discovers that fusion power, A.I. and genetic manipulation were all invented decades ago, but are being controlled and kept from the general population. A sly thriller that ends in a huge set piece, Influx was a blockbuster, popcorn book.

In her paradox trilogy, Rachel Bach, aka. Rachel Aaron, did for space opera what she had already done for epic fantasy - shake it up, give it a fresh coat of paint and remind us all why it is such great fun. Of the trilogy, I found this, the second, to be the most powerful, a real shake up of the status quo with some amazing set pieces and a great twist ending.

A true mind-bending near future thriller, Afterparty plays with hallucinations, drug printing and religion to create a chase story that never really lets up as it travels across North America. Wonderful, quirky characters and a biting commentary of the world we are fast approaching makes this a great read for fans of Stephenson and Gibson.

A Darkling Sea by James Cambias

Remarkable for its opening which spins the first contact story on its head, A Darkling Sea deals with weird aliens, strange worlds and a number of interesting characters. Cambias is an excellent writer whose prose carries the story along through to a satisfying ending. 

lundi 22 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Non-Fiction Books

I have always loved non-fiction books and wish I had time to read more. This year was a good year, I increased the number of books from 34 to 51 compared to 2013, and in there were some great additions. I have not included the President Read in my top ten, preferring to concentrate on the others. 

Here then is my Top Ten for the year in no particular order...

The Second Amendment by Michael Waldman

A fascinating exploration of the most controversial and dangerous amendment in the constitution, proving a clear-eyed view of the original intent behind it and how it has come to mean what it does today. My review is here. 

When the NSA leaks became the story of 2013, the person most people focused on was Edward Snowden. Glenn Greenwald, one of two journalists who broke the story, here explains how the leaks came about, as well as showing exactly how important they were. Superbly written and chilling in its implications.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time, Life, Animated is the tale of a family who use the magic of animation to communicate with their autistic son. Anyone who reads this blog knows that my family and I have a disabled son, so this one hit particularly hard. Suskind does a fantastic job of exploring what this means and manages to tell the story with a keen eye and a huge heart.

If you think the 2008 financial meltdown was the most terrifying thing to happen on Wall Street, read Flash Boys. Incisive, told with the pace of a thriller novel, Flash Boys is a great exploration of the next step in the financial world. 

Delancey is the name of a restaurant that Molly Wizenberg and her husband opened together. In the book that bears its name, Wizenberg tells how what started out as another of her husband's crackpot ideas turned into part-dream, part-nightmare. I dare anyone to read this and not want to go out that night and eat a pizza! 

If, like me, you think you know about Iran from the news media, read this book. Showing that this is a country just as complex and contradictory as any other, City of Lies delves into a side of Tehran few people know but that more people should. Written with an unflinching eye, but also with warmth for a country that most of us do not understand. 

A compelling look at a shadow warrior who spent just as many years getting close to his enemies in order to better understand them, Kai Bird's biography of Robert Ames shows a man who was able to bridge the gap between East and West, whose presence might have helped the rift between Western and Arab countries.

One of the most original non-fiction works I have read in a long time due to its use of second-person, Sous Chef is as fast paced and stressful as the greatest thriller, taking you into the life of a sous chef on the front lines.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

A touching look at a seminal movie, As You Wish traces the making of The Princess Bride from casting through to release and beyond to the film's second life on VHS and cult following. Elwes is a fine narrator, self deprecating and unflinching, helped along by regular additions from other members of the cast and crew.
Eight World Cups by George Vecsey

Football through the eyes of a man who calls it Soccer, Eight World Cups is the exploration of the FIFA World Cups from 1982 to 2010. Dealing as much with the way each country was affected by hosting the "greatest game" as with the action on the pitch itself, Eight World Cups is made memorable thanks to the small personal touches Vecsey adds along the way. 

dimanche 21 décembre 2014

My Year in Books from Goodreads

Thanks to the great people over at Goodreads, any one who uses the site can get a nice view of what they have read this year. Below is a screen-cap of my year in books 2014!!!

The Wrat-Up 2014

Announcing the Library Rat's first W"rat"-Up, a series of posts wrapping up the year just gone. Think of it as Smugglivius with way less guests and interesting posts... :)

Over the next week, I'll be posting my top ten for the year in different genres, winding up to the ultimate top ten of the year on the 29th. Then on the last two days of the year I'll be looking ahead to all the wonderful books I'm anticipating in 2015 (and boy there are a lot of them!)

Kicking it off tomorrow, the Top Ten Non-Fiction Books of 2014!

Image credit: Library Rat by Hope72

vendredi 12 décembre 2014

Revival by Stephen King
A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs -- including Jamie's mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family's horrific loss. In his mid-thirties -- addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate -- Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It's a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Stephen King is an immediate buy for me, one of those authors who embody the phrase "would read their shopping lists". I understand that this far from the case for everybody, though I don't think anyone could claim that a writer whose career spans such classics as The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption or Misery is a hack. His "retirement" has ended up being one of his most prolific periods and it is clear from his recent novels that King is now just having fun - he is writing what he wants how he wants it, knowing full well that no matter what he writes it will sell, and sell well. 

Revival is far from being his best work, but it is a great read nevertheless. Though less gripping than Mr. Mercedes, Revival is King's take on the Frankenstein story, in the same way that Salem's Lot was his take on Dracula. Dealing with such a classic of the horror genre would be risky for a less accomplished writer, but King is good enough to pull it off. Though the homage to Frankenstein (the mad scientist, the link between electricity and life) are clear, they are twisted and changed enough for it not to matter. Throughout, King takes the story on unexplored paths, turning Revival into a relatively epic tale for such a short book (compared to The Stand or It - Revival is by no means a short book!)

As usual, King shines in the conclusion of the book - everything comes together into an extremely thrilling end, with characters forced into collision. This final section contains some of the most horrific imagery King has used in his more recent work, providing a chilling ideal of the afterlife that I would imagine will stay with readers for a long time. Throughout, King never loses sight of the key - the characters. We see Jamie and Charles go through some terrible experiences and it is interesting to see how both men take those experiences and use them in very different ways. 

Though not a classic King, Revival is a great horror novel, combining King's interest in Americana and rock and roll with a Frankensteinesque plot. 

I gave Revival 4 stars. 

jeudi 11 décembre 2014

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz's nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of Detective Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty--dubbed "the Napoleon of crime"--in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall's churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York's infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty's death has left a convenient vacancy in London's criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place--including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes's methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London--from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks--in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

Riveting and deeply atmospheric, Moriarty is the first Sherlock Holmes novel sanctioned by the author's estate since Horowitz's House of Silk. This tale of murder and menace breathes life into Holmes's fascinating world, again proving that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however im- probable, must be the truth.

A summer read two years ago, Anthony Horowitz' The House of Silk was an interesting, if not particularly ground breaking, addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon, an authorised continuation of the adventures of the great detective and his 'assistant' Watson. Set somewhere within the latter part of Holmes' adventures, The House of Silk was well written, exciting and faithful homage to Conan Doyle, which boded well for any more novels Horowitz might write in this world. 

Which brings us to Moriarty, Horowitz' new novel set in the Victorian London of Doyle's hero. Where in The House of Silk Horowitz played things safe, giving us an adventure clearly meant to slot neatly into canon, in Moriarty he has broken the mold, giving us instead an enthralling look at the world that existed between Holmes and Moriarty fateful fall at the Reichenbach and the reappearance of Holmes a few years later. With Holmes and Watson off the stage, Horowitz turns his attention to two new characters. One, Athelney Jones, is actually a character from Doyle's work, a Scotland Yard detective who appeared in The Sign of Four. Here, Horowitz is able to develop the character much further, using what Doyle wrote about him to give the man a clever backstory that explains his devotion to Holmes' methods. Jones becomes our Sherlock Holmes surrogate, but instead of just creating a cliché, Horowitz breathes life into the detective by giving him a family, something that Holmes obviously lacks. 

The second character is Frederick Chase, an investigator for Pinkertons, the legendary American detective force, sent to Europe to pursue an American crimelord determined to step into the gulf left behind by Moriarty's death. This investigation brings the two men together and from  there the story escalates, from Reichenbach to London, through the darkest corners of the criminal underworld. Brutality and terror stalk the streets of the capital and it seems that only Chase and Jones will be able to bring the true culprit to justice. 

What was already an enthralling, exciting, gripping mystery tale takes on a much greater dimension, though, in the last third of the novel. Horowitz pulls off a fantastic coup, setting up and delivering on an absolutely terrific twist that caught me totally by surprise but made perfect sense once it was revealed. I won't give anything about this twist away, but suffice it to say, I personally found it totally unexpected. Horowitz really delivers with Moriarty, showing that there are still interesting and surprising tales to be told in the Holmes universe. I hope he gets the opportunity to do so in the future. 

I gave Moriarty 4 stars.