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Book Review: Oz The Complete Collection Volume 5 by L. Frank Baum

oz

Oz The Complete Collection Volume 5

Simon & Schuster (Paperback), 2013

576 Pages 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_of_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glinda_of_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Royal_Book_of_Oz 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

The three concluding titles of the iconic Oz series, now in one collection!

In The Magic of Oz, the mischievous Kiki Aru has discovered a magical word that can transform him and anyone else into whatever he wants. Worse yet, Kiki has been recruited by the villainous Nome King in his latest attempt to get revenge on Princess Ozma and all her friends. Can Dorothy and the Wizard stop the evildoers before they conquer Oz? Or will Kiki’s incredible powers finally give the Nome King the revenge he has craved for so long?

In Glinda of Oz, Dorothy and Ozma journey to a remote part of Oz to stop a war between the Flatheads and the Skeezers. But the Flatheads and Skeezers have a different idea. Soon Ozma and Dorothy are trapped in an amazing crystal-domed city on an enchanted island. The watertight city submerges itself, and only the Wizard and Glinda can save them—but will they make it in time?

In The Royal Book of Oz, the Scarecrow goes to search for his family roots. He returns to the cornfield where Dorothy first found him and discovers that he is the Long Lost Emperor of the Silver Island. Will he decide to stay there? Or will he return to Oz? 

EXTRACT 

On the east edge of the land of Oz, the Munchkin Country, is a big, tall hill called Mount Munch. On one side, the bottom of this hill just touches the Deadly Sandy Desert that separates the Fairyland of Oz from all the rest of the world, but on the other side, the hill touches the beautiful, fertile country of the Munchkins.

THE MAGIC OF OZ 

REVIEW 

This was my first read through of each novel in this volume. 

THE MAGIC OF OZ

I really enjoyed The Magic of Oz. I liked the new character especially Kiki. His power was really interesting. When I was a kid I used to imagine I could transform myself into anything or anyone I wanted to be. I liked the way Baum handles this in The Magic of Oz. The Nome King makes another appearance. He’s turned up so many times by now I see him more as a comical distraction than any villain.

GLINDA OF OZ

I thought Glinda of Oz was a good read. At least the increasingly annoying Nome King isn’t in this one. I liked reading about some more remote regions of Oz. I liked reading about Dorothy and Ozma being in peril. Does that make me a bad person? Glinda of Oz is a decent end to the series.

THE ROYAL BOOK OF OZ BY RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON

I was impressed by the way a different author handled the Oz series. Thompson does an impressive job of making The Royal Book of Oz into a continuation of Baum’s series. I enjoyed this a lot more than some of Baum’s book. The Scarecrow is one of my favourite characters so I liked reading about him again.

I have to be honest – I’m glad to be done with the Oz books. After reading so many Oz novels in succession I started to get heartily sick of reading about Oz and fairies and the Nome King and people being so happy all the fricking time. I’m glad I read the books but I wouldn’t read them all in succession again. I’ve been bored since volume 3.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 

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Book Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

BONE CLOCKS

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Sceptre (hardback) 2014

595 pages 

www.davidmitchellbooks.com

BLURB FROM THE COVER

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking…

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its spellbinding and memorable best. 

EXTRACT 

I FLING OPEN MY BEDROOM CURTAINS, and there’s the thirsty sky and the wide river full of ships and boats and stuff, but I’m already thinking of Vinny’s chocolaty eyes, shampoo down Vinny’s back, beads of sweat on Vinny’s shoulders, and Vinny’s sly laugh, and by now my heart’s going mental and, God, I wish I was waking up at Vinny’s place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom. Last night, the words just said themselves, ‘Christ, I really love you, Vin’ and Vinny puffed of a cloud of smoke and did this Prince Charles voice, ‘One must say, one’s frightfully partial to spending time with you too, Holly Sykes’ and I nearly weed myself laughing, though I was a bit narked he didn’t say, ‘I love you’ back if I’m honest. Still, boyfriends act goofy to hide stuff, any magazine will tell you. Wish I could phone him right now. Wish they’d invent phones you can speak to anyone anywhere anytime on. He’ll be riding his Norton to work in Rochester right now, in his leather jacket with LED ZEP spelled out in silver studs. Come September, when I turn sixteen, he’ll take me out in his Norton.

REVIEW 

I loved The Bone Clocks, absolutely loved it. Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas blew me away when I read it a few months ago. The Bone Clocks blows Cloud Atlas out of the water. A little bit anyway. I loved every page of The Bone Clocks. I loved the characters and the blend of reality and myth. The Bone Clocks uses a similar structure to Cloud Atlas, six interconnected stories. The connections were a lot clearer than Cloud Atlas. I thought The Bone Clocks was brilliant, just brilliant. I enjoyed everything about it. I liked how The Bone Clocks was part coming of age story part fantasy part god knows what. The Bone Clocks is one of my reads of the year.

The Bone Clocks is the second David Mitchell novel I’ve read. I may need to read his other books as well. If they’re even half as good I’m in for a treat. 

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in David Mitchell, Fiction, Novel

 

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Review: What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz

knows

What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz

HarperTorch (paperback) 2011

495 pages 

www.deankoontz.com

BLURB FROM THE COVER

The stunning new thriller from the bestselling author of Velocity and Breathless.

Billy Lucas confesses to a shocking crime. He’s only fourteen years old but he’s a sadistic killer and proud of it. He’s in the secure wing of the state hospital but … he seems too wise for his age, not crazy, too knowing. About the nature of evil, and whether it lives on beyond death. Too knowing about other crimes that took place before he was born …

Other murders from twenty years ago surface in the mind of Detective John Calvino as he interviews young Billy Lucas. Calvino carries away a signed confession … and a sense of great danger. That night he feels that somehow Billy has come home with him, to his family.

Over the next weeks, this haunted feeling does not go away. It only gets worse. Then another killing spree happens, just as and when John Calvino dreaded it would. Billy is safely locked away, but not the ghost, if the ghost exists, that links these murders with past crimes, and with John Calvino.

Anything could happen, and surely will … again. 

EXTRACT 

WHAT YEAR THESE EVENTS TRANSPIRED IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. Where they occurred is not important. The time is always, and the place is everywhere.

REVIEW 

I’ve wanted to read What The Night Knows since I read Koontz’s spin off novella, Darkness Under The Sun a few months ago. I thought What The Night Knows was great. The novel is well written and fast paced. I really enjoyed the supernatural elements with the evil spirit of a serial killer and the demon Ruin using people with nasty streaks to commit brutal murders. I thought the supernatural aspects of the novel were interesting and original. Alton Turner Blackwood is one nasty person. I liked how Koontz doesn’t just make him a one dimensional monster. I felt almost sorry for him at times, born hideously disfigured and locked in a tower by his family. He could be a figure of pity if not for the fact he’s a sadistic murder who sacrifices victims to the demon Ruin. I thought John Calvino was a great, flawed character. I liked his linked to Blackwood. I found the first few chapters chilling when Calvino speaks to 14-year-old Billy Lucas, who slaughtered his family while being possessed by Blackwood. I found this section really chilling. Overall, I thought What The Night Knows was great. I’ve forgiven Koontz for the awful mess that the last three Frankenstein novels were and welcomed him back into the fold of my top writers. 

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Dean Koontz, Fiction, Library, Novel

 

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Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

SISTER KEEPER

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Hodder & Stoughton (paperback) 2004

422 pages 

www.jodipicoult.com

BLURB FROM THE COVER

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukaemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate — a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister — and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity. 

EXTRACT 

When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn’t how babies were made, but why. The mechanics I understood – my older brother Jesse had filled me in — although at the time I was sure he’d heard half of it wrong. Other kids my age were busy looking up the words penis and vagina in the classroom dictionary when the teacher had her back turned, but I paid attention to different details. Like why some mothers only had one child, while others seemed to multiply before your eyes. Or how the new girl in school, Sedona, told anyone who’d listen that she was named for the place where her parents were vacationing when they made her (“Good thing they weren’t staying in Jersey City,” my father used to say).

REVIEW 

I can’t really decide if I liked My Sister’s Keeper or not. I loved Picoult’s premise and the idea behind the book. I really didn’t like Brian and Sara Fitzgerald and their decision to have Anna, a child who is basically a cell and organ farm for Kate, their other daughter who has battled leukaemia for 14 years. I found them deplorable. They should not have been allowed to have a child for this purpose. I was angry with these characters a lot of the time. I liked the structure of My Sister’s Keeper and how each chapter is narrated by a different character. I liked the flashbacks narrated by Sara that told the history of Kate’s illness. My Sister’s Keeper has some big flaws though. Picoult rambles a bit too much. Kate’s illness backstory was necessary to the plot. Campbell and Julia’s backstory of their doomed teenage romance was not relevant and bored the hell out of me. The ending was a complete cop-out and infuriated me. My Sister’s Keeper creates a really original moral dilemma where the choices are murky and grey. There is no right or wrong answer. My Sister’s Keeper went downhill when Anna reveals she started the lawsuit because Kate is ready to die and asked her to. Everything sucks after this point and Picoult chooses the ultimate cop-out by having Anna conveniently killed off in a car crash which allows Kate to have her kidney and live. What a crock of shit. 

RATING

2 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Fiction, Jodi Picoult, Novel

 

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Review: The Complete Oz Collecton Volume 4 by L. Frank Baum

16102234

Oz The Complete Collection Volume 4

Simon & Schuster (Paperback), 2013

637 Pages 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinkitink_in_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Princess_of_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tin_Woodman_of_Oz 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth titles of the iconic Oz series, now in one collection!

In Rinkitink in Oz, Prince Inga of Pingaree, King Rinkitink and Bilbil the goat set off on a series of adventures that lead them to the underground kingdom of the Nome King. But will Inga’s bravery and courage be enough to save his kidnapped parents and all their subjects?

In The Lost Princess of Oz, Ozma, the Ruler of Oz, has disappeared, so Dorothy, the Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, and other friends must search the vast Land of Oz to find her. But can they?

In The Tin Woodman of Oz, the Tin Woodman sets off on a quest to find the lovely Munchkin, Nimmie Amee. Once upon a time, she and the Woodman were going to marry, but then the Wicked Witch of the West turned him into tin. Can he find Nimmie? And will she remember him?

Together in one book, three more classic titles in L. Frank Baum’s fairy-tale series about the world of Oz. 

EXTRACT 

If you have a map of the Land of Oz handy, you will find that the great Nonestic Ocean washes the shores of the Kingdom of Rinkitink, between which the Land of Oz lies a strip of the country of the Nome King and a Sandy Dessert. The Kingdom of Rinkitink isn’t very big and lies close to the ocean, all the houses and the King’s palace being built near the shore. The people live much upon the water, boating and fishing, and the wealth of Rinkitink is gained from trading along the coat and with the island near it.

RINKITINK IN OZ

REVIEW 

RINKITINK IN OZ

This was my first read-through. I enjoyed Rinkitink in Oz. I must admit I mis-read the name about a hundred times. Too many in’s. I found Rinkitink a very amusing character. The Nome King made another appearance and was as amusing as ever though I’m a little tired of him. I liked the mix of new and old characters.

THE LOST PRINCESS OF OZ

This was my first read-through. I enjoyed The Lost Princess of Oz. It was nice to read about all the characters coming together to find Ozma. Toto speaks for the first time and I thought this was funny. I like how different groups came together to find Ozma because other things had gone missing.

THE TIN WOODMAN OF OZ

This was my first read-through. I enjoyed The Tin Woodman of Oz the most out of the three books collected in volume 4. I liked the mix of new and old characters. I liked the giantess Mrs Yoop who transformed everyone in the hope they would remain her prisoner forever. I found the tin woodman and the tin soldier amusing especially when Nimmie Amee turns out to be the wife of a man made of different body parts including tin. The Tin Woodman of Oz is amusing.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Fiction, L. Frank Baum, Novel

 

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REVIEW: CURSED BY STEPHEN LEATHER

cursed

Cursed by Stephen Leather

Smashwords (ebook) 2011

125 pages

http://www.stephenleather.com

I downloaded this for free from www.kobo.com. 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

An exciting short story, part of the Jack Nightingale series by bestselling author Stephen Leather – thrillers with an occult twist.

Jack Nightingale – lives in the shadows, fights in the dark.

Ex-cop turned private eye Jack Nightingale is used to dealing with tricky situations. He’s faced down the powers of hell a couple of times, too. In this new short story, he’s called in to help a policeman who’s lying at death’s door. The doctors can’t work out what’s wrong. But the dying man’s colleagues swear blind that he was cursed by a gypsy during the Dale Farm clearance. And Nightingale could be his only hope.

Jack Nightingale is the hero of Stephen Leather’s supernatural detective novels. There are five books in the critically acclaimed series: NIGHTFALL, MIDNIGHT, NIGHTMARE, NIGHTSHADE and LASTNIGHT. 

EXTRACT 

Jack Nightingale figured that he had earned a day off. He’d worked pretty much non-stop over the weekend following a husband who’d told his wife he was attending a sales conference in Somerset when he was in fact giving his secretary a good seeing-to in a five-star spa just outside London. He had plenty of video of the pair together, and a copy of the bill, courtesy of a fifty-pound note he’d slipped to a Slovakian receptionist. It was the perfect surveillance job and since he didn’t have much in the diary he decided to spend Monday getting his MGB serviced and collecting his dry-cleaning, with, hopefully, a few hours in the pub watching SkySports.

REVIEW 

This was my first time reading Stephen Leather.

I thought Cursed was just okay. I’ve read much, much better stories but I’ve read a lot worse. The main issue I had was I felt like Leather had based Cursed a little too much on the premise of Stephen King’s novel Thinner published under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Thinner also deals with gypsy curses and a character whose skin hardens into scales. Cursed was well written and easy to read but not really special. I do like the bled of crime and the supernatural although John Connolly is far superior. I may read a full length novel about Jack Nightingale though because Cursed got me interested in the character. I didn’t hate Cursed or love it. I just felt so-so. 

RATING

2 STAR RATING

 
 

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REVIEW: LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTER’S KILLER BY CATH STAINCLIFEE

9781780335704

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer by Cath Staincliffe

Constable & Robinson Ltd (hardback) 2014

232 pages

 www.cathstaincliffe.co.uk 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Grandmother Ruth Sutton writes to the man she hates more than anyone else on the planet: the man who she believes killed her daughter Lizzie in a brutal attack four years earlier. Ruth’s burden of grief and hatred, has only grown heavier with the passing of time, her avid desire for vengeance ever stronger. In writing to him Ruth hopes to exorcise the corrosive emotions that are destroying her life, to find the truth and with it release and a way forward. Whether she can ever truly forgive him is another matter – but the letters are her last, best hope.

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer exposes the aftermath of violent crime for an ordinary family and explores fundamental questions of crime and punishment. How do we deal with the very human desire for revenge? If we get justice does reconciliation follow? Can we really forgive those who do us the gravest wrong? Could you?  

EXTRACT 

I hate you. My first letter, and that is all I want to say. I hate you. But those three words can barely convey the depth, the breadth, the soaring height of this hatred. Nearly four years, and what has taken me by surprise is that these feelings, of rage and the desire for vengeance, have not diminished but have grown. Time has not healed but stoked the fires. The hatred has been forged into something steely, into a rock so dense and heavy inside that I fear it is killing me too. Crushing me. Taking what is left of my life and leaching the goodness, the joy, the optimism from it. So I am writing to you, in the vain hope, for I think it is vain, that some communication can help me move beyond or around this pit of hate.

REVIEW 

I loved Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. I cried several times while reading Staincliffe’s novel. Staincliffe offers us a crime novel with a difference. I loved the structure of Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. As the title suggests, the novel is written in the form of letters from Ruth to the man who murdered her daughter, Lizzie. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer is a different sort of crime novel. Crime novels generally focus on police procedures and deal with the detectives or group of detectives homing in on the killer. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer is a rare type of crime fiction that tells the story of the victim and the victim’s family. Staincliffe reveals fairly early who was charged with Lizzie’s murder. I usually hate it when a write lays all the cards on the table too soon before I can figure out the clues myself. Unusually so, this doesn’t lessen the impact of Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer packs an emotional punch. The closing chapters provide shocking revelations. I’ll be thinking about Letters To My Daughter’s Killer for a while. 

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Cath Staincliffe, Fiction, Novel

 

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