Archive for short book

SANDMAN SLIM By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I saw Devil Said Bang in Forbidden Planet before Christmas and knew I had to read it. OCD sufferer that I am, I can’t start a series with book number four, so this one (Sandman Slim) went on my Christmas list. Fortunately Santa listened and I unwrapped this along with another twenty-odd books (Santa’s good!). I thought I’d start with this one because it’s fairly short, and I wanted to start working my way towards that fourth book in the series, the one I really wanted to read.

Fortunately the first in the series is a rock-hard, ultra-violent, action-fest!

Jimmy Stark was sent down to hell eleven years ago by his magic circle. Since then he’s been trying to survive as the play-toy of demons, and has managed to become a monster fighter and assassin. But when his ex-girlfriend is brutally murdered by the very same man who put him in hell, Stark escapes, killing one of Lucifer’s generals in the process. Now he’s in LA, looking for revenge on the magic circle that sentenced him to hell and their leader who killed the only woman he ever loved.

What follows is a cross between David Gunn’s Death’s Head (the attitude, the action, the raw brutality, and the protagonist from hell [this time literally]), and Tim Waggoner’s Nekopolis (a city [this time LA] riven with hellish creatures and magic), although it’s all under the surface here.

Stark is the perfect host (first person narrator), a revenge-driven psychopath, willing to kill himself and whoever gets in his way. The first person he encounters he cuts of their head. He doesn’t get any friendlier as the novel goes on, and it’s great! Hard-bitten, filled with venom and pithy comments, Stark is a true urban anti-hero with a bad attitude.

Kadrey has produced a real character in Stark, a unique individual you can’t help but remember, and may be not for all the right reasons. He’s fantastically caustic, and all the better for it in the urban sprawl of LA. An LA filled with angels, demons and Kissee, along with magicians, G-men from Homeland Security, murderers, skinheads and all manner of human-pus.

Sandman Slim is a unique and terribly entertaining mix, an urban fantasy that is vile and brutal and brilliant because of that. Stark is a hero that demands your attention, he has mine, and I’ll be back for the second in the series, and the third and fourth. I can’t wait!

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ODD AND THE FRONT GIANTS By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by stanleyriiks

This short book was made available for World Book Day in 2008, and sold for a £1.00. Worth every penny.

It’s now being re-released.

Odd is a young Viking boy who runs away from home after another argument with his step-father, and sets off into the forest, only to find himself helping out a bear trapped when trying to get some honey. After Odd helps the bear he finds out that not only can the bear, and his companions the fox and the eagle, talk, but they are also Norse gods trapped in animal bodies by a Frost Giant. They ask Odd to help them out, and with nothing better to do the young boy sets off with them to enter Asgard to help them take their rightful place.

This is part myth part fairy-tale, it’s exactly the type of story that Gaiman seems to revel in. Familiar enough, but new and fresh enough to make us keep reading. You have to find out what happens to Odd and his friends, and you can’t help but enjoy the simple tale. Gaiman is a great story-telling, his created world is brilliantly portrayed, and his characters are pretty much as real as you can get.

Gaiman tells stories like no other, and his unique ability is perfectly showcased in this brief story.

THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON By Stephen King – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON By Stephen King

King seems to write two different types of books, one is the great sprawling stories, normally set in a small town with a small group of characters and the horrors that are unleashed upon them: The Stand, Needful Things, IT, and the other type of story is a much more personal adventure into the darkness, a personal journey through the horrors: The Body, Rita Hayworth and the The Shawshank Redemption, Misery and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Trisha Macfarlane is out on a trip with her mother and brother in the forest, and they’re going for a hike to get away from things. But when Trisha heads off into the woods for a pee she gets lost. And then she gets more lost.

This short book is the story of Trisha’s journey through the forest, the suffering, the hardship, the fear…

This is the kind of book that only King can write. He doesn’t just produce amazingly realistic characters that everyone can identify with, he doesn’t just imbue the very page with personality, what he does is capture a person, a real life, living, breathing person, and he translates them into words. What he does is magic.

This simple tale is easily up there with some of King’s best stories, the best of which for me will forever be The Body. Even the film version Stand By Me, is one of my favourite films, forever capturing that age when you’re no longer a boy but not yet a man. Well, he’s repeating a similar feat here. The book is an exercise is characterisation, sure it’s a simple story, but King keeps you reading, keeps you on the edge of your seat as you discover more and more about Trish and her family, as you travel and struggle with her.

For a writer who wants to create great characters this is a book to savour and study, it’s a lesson in how to develop a character, an intelligent, in-depth and deeply entertaining lesson.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is simple but outstanding, a book that draws you further and further in. King manages to capture your heart as you travel through the woods with Trisha and suffer alongside her.