Archive for four past midnight

FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT By Stephen King – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The last collection of King’s I read was Different Seasons, it’s also one of my favourite collections, and definitely one of my favourite books by Stephen King. Although this is another collection of four novellas, that’s where the similarities end. Different Seasons was filled with stories that weren’t particularly genre tales, Midnight is most definitely and easily defined as horror. Also, the stories seem longer, each of them being almost novel length.

The best of the stories are the book-ends, “The Langoliers”, and “The Sun Dog”. The last of which is very reminiscent of Needful Things. “The Langoliers” harks back to the Twilight Zone. The other two stories, Secret Window, Secret Garden (a classic writer in trouble story from the master), and The Library Policeman (a strange and overlong ghostly tale of childhood hauntings and alcoholism, is well told, but just too long), really do sit in the middle.

None of the stories contained in this huge book really stand out on their own, which is probably why they’ve been collected. Stephen King writes best about characters, and to allow them to really grow he needs a long novel, that’s why Needful Things and some of his other books work so well. That’s also why “The Langoliers” works, it’s about a small group of characters in a desperate situation. As I think about it, these stories will feel very familiar to a King fan, the group of people in trouble, the writer attacked, the stranger who doesn’t fit in, and the shopkeeper whose greed will drive him to his death.

This book is huge, and because of its size it’s quite hard work. Like most of King’s novels, it’s easy reading, and he manages to evoke fear, even if you know what’s going to happen. Not particularly inventive, King still manages to entertain, but this is a McDonalds of a book, satisfying but ultimately of no lasting substance.

Free Books

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The main reason I got into reviewing in the first place was to get free books. It worked a treat! In the mid- to late-nineties I was getting about three books a week. Most I managed to read, but some are still on my bookshelves now.

I love books. And I love getting free books. I love getting books in the post, it’s like a mini-christmas every time one arrives. What could possibly be better? Ok, may be Lego!

In the past two weeks four books have arrived for me to review. Which is a shame because I’ve been having a rest from the power-reading I’ve been doing lately and I took a time-out to read Four Past Midnight By Stephen King (short review coming soon!).

I did enjoy my brief period of restful reading, I watched more TV than I have done in a while and I’ve even had time to get a little bored (which is the sign of an active mind according to some expert).

When I used to get free books in the old days it was mostly the big publishers who sent them. Always through a magazine of one form or another, I never approached the publishers directly. I wrote reviews for Black Tears Magazine, the British Science Fiction Association Newsletter, Comics International, and a load more I can’t even remember.

Now I’m the Reviews Editor for Morpheus Tales Magazine, and from the next issue we’ll be producing a Reviews Supplement, so plenty of space for me to share my opinions!

But now it seems to be the small-press publishers who send the books, Elastic Press, Swimming Kangaroo Books, Comet Press… If you get the chance check them out, they all offer stuff that puts the big guys to shame, inventive, well-written and imaginative. The small-press is the cutting edge of genre fiction.

So, the marathon that was the King collection is over and the power reading is back in action! Bring on the books!

First up, the Blood Red Sphere By Lawrence Barker.

Power Reading

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Since almost the beginning of this year, I’ve been, what I like to think of as, power reading. Taking the advice of Stephen King, not personally I’m afraid, but from his book On Writing, I’ve been reading as much as possible. Power reading, basically ever spare minute has been involved in reading, a spare moment at work, during the adverts of tv programmes (which I’ve cut back on), I’ve also started listening to audiobooks, so that H G Wells and Andre Norton tell me tales as I walk to work and wait for the opening credits at the cinema.

I haven’t played with my xbox since January.

I haven’t played with my girlfriend since May. She’s a damn sight harder not to play with than my xbox!

Every spare moment has been absorbed with reading.

It’s got to the point where my life is no longer split up into minutes, hours, days and weeks, but pages. While I run my bath I think I have time for twelve pages, between adverts is a two page stretch. Time is now counted in pages. Which of course becomes a little difficult when changing books, so it may well be time to demand that publishers don’t try to cram too many words onto a page and try to work between them to come up with the perfect number, with the perfect font size and just stick to that for every book. Harmonisation of words to a page is my new cause!

Anyways, this power reading over the last few months has become something of an obsession as I try to work through my quite considerable collection of books. I’ve managed to buy very few books this year, only about twenty, which isn’t too bad for me. But it still means I have about a thousand to go. Yikes!

Now, since the power reading marathon started I think I’ve managed to do a book in an average of three days. I can’t remember taking longer than four days to read a book this year. I have tried to stick to books of between three and four hundred pages. When power reading I find it’s more of a sprint to the end, so longer novels can get a bit sticky.

But this weekend I’m going to Copenhagen, to suffer the delights of Trivoli and another Scandinavian Capital City (last weekend away in July was to Stockholm). I know, poor me. My girlf loves all that is Scandinavian, and I can’t refuse a holiday opportunity, so on Friday off we go. But last Wednesday this left me with a dilemma. Do I start a nice short book and rush through it before we leave, or pick a huge book that will take me over the weekend. I pack light, and when I say light I mean minimal. We’ll be there for three nights, so I need three t-shirts, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, a camera and charger, ipod and charger, phone and charger, toiletries (consisting of mini mouthwash, mini toothpaste, toothbrush, mini shower gel), and what I wear on the flight: jeans, t-shirt, waterproof jacket, sunglasses, trainers, socks and pants. I will take a small rucksack and it will be half filled, at most. So there is only room for one solitary book. Hence the dilemma.

I could probably have read a book in between, but I thought I’d use this opportunity to have a bit of a slow down, to take a break from the breakneck reading. So I chose an epic, a collection of novels, by the aforementioned King. Four Past Midnight, the paperback version obviously, to minimise weight in my rucksack. So I’m taking a break and having a rest, and will be intent on enjoying Copenhagen over the weekend, and once I get back and I’ve finished the epic collection of Mr King, I’ll be back on course for some more power reading, at least until I go to Berlin in October. Such a hard life!