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Book Reviews

A Simple Plan by Scott B. Smith Book Review

Looking back on it now, after all that’s happened, it seems insane with what little fear I picked this path.

Once one accepts the bizarre premise of Smith’s astonishingly adept, ingeniously plotted debut thriller, the book fulfills every expectation of a novel of suspense, leading the reader on a wild exploration of the banality of evil. It’s very similar to The Basis Of Morality by Stephen King in a way that it explores a “what-if” scenario which puts the concept of good and evil into perspective.

When Hank Mitchell, his obese, feckless brother Jacob and Jacob’s smarmy friend Lou accidentally find a wrecked small plane and its dead pilot in the woods near their small Ohio town, they decide not to tell the authorities about the $4.4 million stuffed into a duffel bag.

Instead, they agree to hide the money and later divide it among themselves.

And it was like magic, too, like a gift from the gods, the ease with which a solution came to me, a simple plan, a way to keep the money without fear of getting caught.

The ‘simple plan’ sets in motion a spiral of blackmail, betrayal and multiple murder which Smith manipulates with consummate skill, increasing the tension exponentially with plot twists that are inevitable and unpredictable at the same time. In choosing to make his protagonist an ordinary middle-class man – Hank is an accountant in a feed and grain store – Smith demonstrates the eerie ease with which the mundane can descend to the unthinkable.

Hank commits the first murder to protect his brother and their secret; he eerily rationalizes the ensuing coldblooded deeds while remaining outwardly normal, hardly an obvious psychopath. Smith’s imagination never palls; the writing peaks in a gory liquor store scene that’s worthy of comparison to Stephen King at his best.

I was doomed now, trapped, that the rest of my life would pivot somehow off this single act, that in trying to save Jacob, I’d damned us both.

This book has been adapted into a movie.

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Book Reviews

Liar, Liar by M.J. Arlidge

This is the fourth novel featuring Detective Helen Grace (and the first one I’ve read) written by M.J. Arlidge.

Quick paced with 433 pages and 143 chapters.

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Book Reviews

Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis Book Review

I haven’t read any other books by Bret Ellis after his American Psycho (1991) and I thought I’d give Lunar Park a go. Written in 2006 it follows the life of the author post his literary success into a life of debauchery and then domestic bliss.

“I had dreamed of something so different from what reality was now offering up, but that dream had been a blind man’s vision. That dream was a miracle. The morning was fading. And I remembered yet again that I was a tourist here.”

At first, I thought it was an auto-biography (no, I did not read any reviews before I got started) and I was surprised to see elements of the supernatural sneak in from the middle of the book. There’s a haunted doll, a lot of uneasiness in the house where he lives with his wife and two children and weird emails that keep coming through at 2:40 AM from the bank of his father.
There’s a lot of the plot revolving around the father-son relationship, the first one between Bret and his dad and then between Bret and his son Robert.

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Book Reviews

Divergent * Veronica Roth (Book 1)

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

I have to say, I had an absolute blast reading this wild ride of an adventure, and I enjoyed every minute of it. EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE! I haven’t had this sort of rush since Katniss entered the Hunger Games and turned my world right side out! The characters, setting, plot, pace and narrative where perfectly blended to produce a highly action packed novel that I’m sure will captivate dystopia fans. I bought all four books at a sale downtown and read them all in close to 72h. I could not stop.

 

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Book Reviews

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Have you ever found a shortcut that others couldn’t find? Solved a problem that confounded your family? Seen a way to make something work that wasn’t working before? Made a personal connection with someone who was out of reach to everyone else?

Few authors have had the kind of lasting impact and global reach that Seth Godin has had. In a series of now-classic books that have been translated into 36 languages and reached millions of readers around the world, he has taught generations of readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. In Linchpin, he turns his attention to the individual, and explains how anyone can make a significant impact within their organization.

This book is about love and art and change and fear. It’s about overcoming a multi-generational conspiracy designed to sap your creativity and restlessness. It’s about leading and making a difference and it’s about succeeding.

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Book Reviews

Kim Stanley Robinson * Red Mars (Red Mars Trilogy Book 1)

After reading Red Rising By Pierce Brown (Book 1), I wanted to read more about Mars and I found there was a book written about 25 years ago about the first colonisation of Mars. With the SpaceX mission in mind and the talks from the previous years about water on Mars and other algae found, I wanted to see what the great mind of Kim Stanley Robinson came up with.

I know now why it won the Nebula award. This book is filled with snippets of knowledge from mathematical formulas required to break through a planet’s gravitational pull to the effects of space isolation through a long journey.http_%2F%2Fcdn.collider.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F12%2Fred-mars-cover-kim-stanley-robinson.jpg

It’s sometimes tedious but if you’re a hard sci-fi fan, you will enjoy every nano-second.

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Book Reviews

The Annihilation Score * Charles Stross

I love starting a book which confuses me from the onset! I started reading and I was thinking that maybe I fell into an alternate universe where this would make sense.

Read this and tell me what you think:

Bob and I are operatives working for an obscure department of the British civil service, known to its inmates—of whom you are now one—as the Laundry. We’re based in London. To family and friends, we’re civil servants; Bob works in IT, while I have a part-time consultancy post and also teach theory and philosophy of music at Birkbeck College.

In actual fact, Bob is a computational demonologist turned necromancer, and I am a combat epistemologist. (It’s my job to study hostile philosophies, and disrupt them. Don’t ask; it’ll all become clear later.) I also play the violin.

A brief recap: magic is the name given to the practice of manipulating the ultrastructure of reality by carrying out mathematical operations. We live in a multiverse, and certain operators trigger echoes in the Platonic realm of mathematical truth, echoes which can be amplified and fed back into our (and other) realities. Computers, being machines for executing mathematical operations at very high speed, are useful to us as occult engines. Likewise, some of us have the ability to carry out magical operations in our own heads , albeit at terrible cost.

Yep, I was confused. I did a quick search to see what I was getting myself into and it appears I picked a book that’s book 6 in a series about the Laundry – the British secret agency that fights supernatural threats. 

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Book Reviews

Jeffrey Archer * The Fourth Estate Book review

This is quite an old book – imagine they still had desk phones and no mobiles! And people were buying newspapers to find out the latest news!
This is the story of two separate characters, Lubji Hoch (who renames himself Richard Armstrong) and Keith Townsend who battle to the death on the scene of big-media paper business in an attempt for world domination.
It’s the story of a self-made man who with his wits alone raises from rags to riches and opposed, his arch-nemesis, the millionaire who inherits his father’s papers and money. It shows what a good start in life can do to your future prospects and also what lack of scruples and ambition can help you achieve.
You end up hating both men in the end – based on the way they treat their friends and family, but you end up hating Armstrong more. It’s a cut-throat industrial achievement book – very similar to one of Archer’s other rise-to-fame narratives: As the crow flies.
Again, the story spans several decades and follows both men from their teenage years, all through the second World War and into the boom that followed. If you like a book that discusses mergers and board meetings and takeover bids, this is the book for you. If you find this stuff boring, then you might give it a miss. It’s a tale of tragedy and wealth and ambition – of biting more than you can chew and of letting personal preferences and adoration cost you millions.

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Book Reviews

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss Book Review

I have waited a bit before writing my review for The Name of The Wind because it’s almost like writing about your best friend who went abroad for a whole year. The book is the first in the Kingkiller chronicle, followed by The Wise Man’s Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2 and the short story about Auri (which is like 1.5). There is one more book coming in 2018-2019 to probably end this amazing series but I’m dreading it as much as I’m looking forward it as it means it all ends. The magic, the stories, the tales of enchantment and princesses and wizards.

Why did I like this book so much? It takes guts and talent to create another world, another universe – much like Tolkien or the Territories from the Dark Tower or Harry Potter.

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Stephen King

The Dark Half * Stephen King Book Review

“…he was after all, a novelist…and a novelist was simply a fellow who got paid to tell lies. The bigger the lies, the better the pay.”

This book makes you wonder whether the main character was insane or truly plagued by a writer’s worst nightmare.
King wrote couple of novels under pseudonym Richard Bachman in 70s and 80s. But in 1985, a bookstore clerk figured Bachman is King and wrote an article about it with King’s blessing.
Four years after, in 1989, King wrote The Dark Half: A dark tale where a novelist with pseudonym reveals his secret identity to the public and vows not to write another novel under that particular pen name. But the pen name AKA his Dark Half doesn’t like that…. NOT ONE BIT. So that high toned son of a bitch takes a human form and starts killing everyone who was involved in exposing his identity and more!

“He didn’t know if that was really true or not, but he discovered something which was tremendously liberating: he didn’t care. He was very tired of thinking and thinking and still not knowing. He was also tired of being frightened, like a man who has entered a cave on a lark and now begins to suspect he is lost. Stop thinking about it, then. That’s the solution.”

It’s 400 plus pages, but never feels like it and there’s no sense of King straining for effect detectable in other works in this era. The book is a little bit “pulpy” thanks to the whack-a-doodle premise driving its plot, but kudos to King tackling it with unabashed, unapologetic enthusiasm.

Thad Beaumont is a novelist who writes novels in his own name as well as a pseudonym. The works of his Pseudonym, George Stark is grittier, ruthless and more famous, just like the personality of George Stark envisioned by Thad.