The Lost Horizon (James Hilton)

In the early 1930s four people, two British political officials, a British missionary woman and an American financier, escape the political unrest in Baskul, China by boarding a plane, bound for Peshawar. The plane, however, has been hijacked and eventually crash lands deep in the far reaches of the Tibetan Himalayas. Seeking shelter, the group soon finds themselves in the valley of the blue moon, guests at a lamasery, a place named…Shangri-La! This classic novel clips along in eleven short chapters making it pleasingly easy to read and absorb.
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The House On The Borderland (William Hope Hodgson)

Writing as he did at the beginning of the 20th century, Hodgson’s creativity in the realm of supernatural horror is impressive given what few authors preceded him in the genre. He actually broke new ground in horror fiction. Moving beyond the ghost stories which had, for the most part, made up the genre before him, he created landscapes and creatures that are gigantic in their physical and temporal dimensions. His universe is far older and larger than human and earth-centered histories allow, and subject to forces and intelligence completely removed from human concerns or anthropomorphized deity. H P Lovecraft was an admirer and its probable that his infamous Cthulu mythos creations were based on Hodgson’s ideas.
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Maze Of Death (Philip K Dick)

14 people end up in a settlement called Delmak-O. They don’t know why they are there, but the first arrivals are told to wait for the rest to appear before starting a tape that will contain the answers they so desperately desire. However, once everyone (save one member) has arrived, they find that the tape has been programmed to erase itself as it is played. So begins a tale of death, murder, and insanity. Slowly, surely, each member is murdered somehow… [Read more…]

Ride The River (Louis L’Amour)

A quick yet enjoyable read. Somewhere in the Tennessee hills in 1840, there is a young gal named Echo Sackett and she never wastes a bullet. Whatever this feisty girl aims at – she hits – and can ride and hunt as well as any man. One day a traveling peddler comes across her family name in a newspaper. Upon reading it, Echo decides to travel to Philadelphia because the newspaper reveals there is an inheritance waiting for the youngest living Sackett. Arriving in Philadelphia, however, Echo discovers that a greedy lawyer never intended the article to reach Tennessee, let alone hand the rightful heir the money. A kindly, old lawyer becomes involved and after attaining about three grand and a ruby in a box, Echo undertakes a perilous journey home with thieves and murderers constantly shooting at her or stealing her bag. But these legal shysters and evil doers do not know who they are dealing with…

Amid all the horse riding, stagecoach hopping, stream rolling, canoeing, and in between shooting off bad guys’ ears, Echo develops a crush on the kindly lawyer’s nephew, who has come along attempting to help her reach home safely. Echo shows us all that she is certainly capable of making it on her own, and with her sense of humour intact too. The only thing I didn’t like was the prose. Whereas I understand the use of uneducated prose when people are actually speaking, I found it unnecessary when Echo was simply narrating. This is a refreshing adventure that pits a small Sackett female against a bunch of big men a couple of decades before the Civil War. Neither city slickers nor run-of-the-mill woodsmen are going to steal from this mountain girl! Old fashioned fun but the two page ending is pretty abrupt. 🙂

Domain (James Herbert)

This novel is better in every way than its predecessors and could be read as a stand alone. However, reading all three gives you the ongoing story of the evolution of the Rats and the twists this takes are genuinely shocking. Herbert’s style may be a bit pulpy for some and some of his characters nothing more than stereotypes but like many enjoyable Hollywood films, what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in high impact thrills. The author has added a little more depth and intrigue to the characters, missing in the first two, this time round.
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The Great Pursuit (Tom Sharpe)

The story of a publisher, Frensic, who convinces an unimaginative would-be author, Peter Piper, to pretend authorship of a wildly successful, pornographic novel. It’s a funny book, though not riotously so. Its plot is devious and twisted, but though there’s sex and a riot and some explosions, it seems restrained compared to other Sharpe books. The story twists and turns its way to a delicious conclusion. The book’s closing sections are hilarious. Heartily recommended to anyone who likes a laugh and enjoys seeing pomposity punctured.
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The Wonderful World Of Henry Sugar (Roald Dahl)

Roald Dahl had that galvanic ability to emotionally penetrate the reader, giving his tales a unique intimacy. We feel as if we’ve gone through the experience inside his characters bodies. Even when he’s writing about dark subject matter there is always a sense of wonder. His stories are grounded in a real compassion, whether his target audience are children or adults. This collection of six are for teens and adults, not children. And they are not all fiction! So, without further ado, here is a basic list of what you get for your library card: [Read more…]

The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

This is for any reader who goes weak at the knees for a group of tragic boys with tragic pasts who are outwardly dangerous and feared, but are actually soft marshmallows underneath and love each other more than life–and would die for each other. Yes, its another book about sensitive teenage boys who alternately get into gang fights, hug one another and burst into tears. Then there’s the tight T shirts and lots of muscle admiring. Even though they’re always complimenting each other’s pretty hair and doing gymnastics, it’s not gay at all because it takes place in 1965, shortly after James Dean had made crying and homoerotic tension cool. [Read more…]

The Christmas Train (David Baldacci)

There is something enchanting about a train ride experience. And this is a pleasing Christmas read that takes place on a cross-country train trip from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It has fun settings, train facts and interesting characters. I am really impressed by this story. Reading like an old b& w film, our middle-aged hero wants to gain some peace and encounters romance, mystery, humour and adventure during his soul-searching journey. [Read more…]

Midsummer Century (James Blish)

The average quality of this work perhaps can be excused by the fact that during the early 70s Blish was chronically ill (he died in 1975 from lung cancer). But unless you are a dedicated fan of Mr Blish, ‘Midsummer’ is best passed over by those looking for memorable works from this era. This book actually contains one novella-length story, “Midsummer Century,” and two short stories: “Skysign” and “A Style in Treason.” In “Midsummer Century,” a scientist troubleshooting a radio telescope, falls (what a surprise!) into the antenna and, due to a construction error, has his consciousness projected 23,000 years into the future. [Read more…]

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