Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Hurrah, it's a Sacrifice fan club!

Glad you liked it Morag. I agree about the film - I thought as I was reading it that it was a bit like a 1970s sinister thriller with Susan George, Donald Sutherland, Christopher Lee. Not sure who I'd cast nowadays. Oh yes, how about Rutger Hauer for one of the ugly blond men? I might like that woman called Lynette from Desperate Housewives as the lead.

I regaled the last book group session with my opinions on how it was great to see a big larger-than-life story in a Shetland setting, and how I'd love to see a vampire or aliens novel set here. The group then suggested I write the ultimate Shetland Vampire Sheep novel!? Perhaps we could do this as a serial on the blog?


I too have now finished Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton. This was a really good read,despite the magpies,wild strawberries and the puffin on the windowsill - yes,apart from those minor annoyances which seem to have irritated quite a few folk,the book is well written with strong characters and a plot which keeps you hooked right up to the final page. A lot of research has obviously gone into the people,places and folklore of Shetland and the author has captured the general feel of the place. When I finished the book last night I couldn't help thinking what a great film it would make,as it has all the ingredients - murder,secret cults,romance,action,mystery....
Suggestions for lead roles please!! (I have already chosen mine).

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

White and Red...

Hmm, yes. My "lucky dip" for the Eastern European reading choice didn't really inspire me to continue with this genre,but maybe it was the theme that put me off. White and Red by Dorota Maslowska is a somewhat demanding piece of writing,but the drugs and the politics finally did for me and I'm afraid to say that I did not make it to the end of the book. Interestly,this is the first book I have failed to finish since my initial attempt at the Da Vinci Code,although I did succeed with that when they brought out an illustrated version. Perhaps a graphic novel of White and Red would work! I have,however,borrowed a book of Polish short stories,but it's too early on for me to comment on them. Meanwhile,I have finished the superb Madness of a Seduced Woman and am about to re-read Schaeffer's Anya. Also reading Stephen King's Duma Key,so well done Karen for getting some free Stephen Kings for the group!

And light relief with a stonking good yarn

But, off on another tack entirely, I finished Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton and still think it's a well-written thriller. Really entertaining, slightly over-the-top sinister tale set in a larger-than-life Shetland. There have been quite a few curly-lipped comments cos she's got details about Shetland birds etc wrong, but I think if folk get hung up stuff like that, they're rather missing the point of a good thriller. Anyone can bore us with the correct minutiae of puffin behaviour, but not everyone can write a decent yarn. I also liked the way she gave us extra coffee shops, boating clubs etc - made Shetland seem a much cosier place (despite the murder and conspiracy), and I was hoping she'd invent a decent pub for us as well. In fact I'd really like to read more books that put extraordinary tales in a Shetland setting. I remember seeing Muriel Gray speak at last year's Orange Prize seminar, and she made a plea for women to drop that old chestnut of 'write what you know', because, she said, the details of your little life are not! fascinating, no she said, women should Make Things Up More. Hear hear!
And on the subject of good yarn-spinners, I've just taken delivery of some free Steven King books for the group, so it could be that next month we're reading something completely different.

Mired in crime and Nazism

Looking back, I feel I was probably a little harsh on Stanislaw Lem - no, I haven't gone back to read his book, but I think "It's me, not him" as the saying goes. It's just the kind of book that makes my eyes glaze over. I was maybe a bit harsh on Pavel Kohout as well, because thinking back it was a pretty interesting book but maybe just needed better editing in the second half. I'm reading another - Death in Breslau by Marek Krajewski - which is a bit of a classic Polish crime book, and I'm kind of liking it as it's got quite an individual style and unusual hero. Also it's set in 1933 so lots going on there as the Nazis consolidate power - kind of the opposite end of the regime from Pavel Kohout's book. I maybe should have tried to find a book which was based in more recent history, and I should also have picked something that wasn't crime, but will get to them in due course. Meanwhile, after the book group's discussed this Central European literature tonight, I am going to launch the promo on the Shetland public. Possible with recommendations from the group, if opinions are kind...

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Phillip K. Dick

Yes, if we were going to be forced to read sci-fi I could probably just about cope with Phillip K. Dick.
I made an attempt at something that was both sci-fi and Polish - one of Stanislaw Lem's books - and found it one of the most tedious and over-wordy things I'd had the misfortune to encounter in a long time. Now reading Sophie Hannah, who was at the Glasgow book festival and writes wonderfully absorbing psychological crime. And still finishing off Sacrifice!

A Scanner Darkly

By the way, I happened to pick up a copy of Philip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly (ok I know it's not East European), it's an amazing book and a bit controversial, maybe we should read it for the book group at some point. Don't think we have tackled any science fiction apart from Ian M Banks.


Hey, how weird, me and Aileen were just trying out the very same thing at the same time and we're in different cities!
Hi Aileen! We can now do email feeds for our blog!

Just trying out some stuff with the blog as I'm on a training course just now, I apologise if the blog goes a bit wierd.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Handling the Pace

I got fed up with The Widow Killer - the first half was OK but it became apparent during the second half that the author just wasn't handling the pace well. There was so much going on - last days of German occupation of Prague, Russians approaching, Nazis retreating, massacres, sadistic murderer on the loose pursued by police - and it was actually boring! Because he just seemed to plod on and on - this happens, that happens, but I lost interest and though I struggled on to the end I had stopped caring all that much.
In sharp contrast to the latest 'local' book which I'm now reading - Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton. Only local in that Shetland is a backdrop, and she wrote it before she'd even visited the island, but this is a writer who handles pace splendidly. It's a great old yarn that I'm devouring avidly, and it's quite witty in parts too. Off to the Glasgow book festival this weekend by the way. In my bag for reading on the train will be Sacrifice (unless I finish it tonight) and my lastest attempt at Central European fiction, one of Stanslaw Lem's books.