Monday, July 20, 2015

Finders Keepers by Stephen King


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BOOK REVIEW
Rating:                    ✪✪✪½ out of 5 Stars
Release Date:                      June 2015
Publisher’s Website:        Hachette Australia
My review of #1 in the Bill Hodges' Trilogy Mr Mercedes: CLICK HERE

My thoughts

   Stephen King doesn’t often write a series. Yes, I know he’s written The Tower Series, which I did try and read recently, but it’s not my cup of tea. However, he's better known for his stand-alone novels and they're the ones I love most. In the past few years, his storytelling has moved into a whole other realm of brilliance. Finders Keepers is again one of his best.
   This story follows on from 2014 Mr Mercedes. King opens with a new set of characters: well-rounded, intense, and with fascinating backstories. King loves to plumb the eccentricities of authors and their fanatic fans, having ventured into this territory previously many times, most famously with Misery and he's at it again.
   It’s 1978 and petty thief Morris Bellamy murders beloved author John Rothstein in a botched robbery. After Rothstein ends his famous Runner trilogy unsatisfactorily in Bellamy’s opinion, he is after any unpublished work still in Rothstein’s house. What he finds is plenty of cash and a treasure trove of moleskin notebooks containing further Runner novels and notes. Worried about police pursuit, he buries his booty in a trunk near the river behind his childhood home.
   In present day, Peter Staubers, whose father was badly injured in the events that opened Mr. Mercedes, where a car was driven into a crowd of job seekers by a lunatic, now lives in Bellamy’s old home. Peter finds the mysterious trunk and becomes obsessed with the notebooks, too. He secretly sends instalments of the money to his struggling family.
   
The story flashes back and forward between the two eras and characters and we discover why Bellamy abandoned his treasure. It isn’t until a fair way into the story that private detective Bill Hodges (the lead character from Mr. Mercedes) enters the story. Hodges is brought in to investigate who is the Stabbers family's mysterious benefactor. Eventually all characters come together in a satisfying and thrilling ending.
   King seamlessly interweaves the characters and storylines from Mr Mercedes, including Mr Mercedes himself. Both Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers are brilliant, enjoyable reads. King is still the master of the thriller, stand alone, series or trilogy.

P.S. I just love the FINDERS KEEPERS and MR MERCEDES covers. In paperback they have a real dimension.

I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia for an honest review. Thank you to the wonderful book-loving people there.

More about this book at: Finders Keepers
My review of Mr Mercedes: Mr Mercedes
Video of Stephen King talking about his inspiration for Mr Mercedes: CLICK HERE

BOOK BLURB
    'Wake up, genius.' So begins King's instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn't published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.
   Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Sauberg finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he's released from prison after thirty-five years.

About the author:
Stephen King is the bestselling author of more than fifty books. His novels include Carrie, The Shining and Revival. His novel Under the Dome is now a major TV series. His novel 11.22.63 won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association.
Many of his books have been turned into celebrated films including Misery, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Over the years, King has had various cameo roles in film adaptations of his books as well as playing rhythm guitar in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band made up of some of America's bestselling and best-loved writers. He was the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives with his wife, novelist Tabitha King, in Maine, USA.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

BOOK REVIEW

This review was first published on my blog An Adventure in Reading in 2014. The blog is still there, but I don't post to it anymore. With the release of #2 in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Finders Keepers, I thought I would repost the review here at my website. I've just reviewed Finders Keepers and it's a brilliant read, too. So if you love a great crime thriller with bold characters and exciting, page-turning storyline, then grab Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers and prepare for sleepless nights.

Rating: ✪✪✪✪ ½ out of 5 Stars

Release Date:                  June 2014
Author’s Website:           http://stephenking.com/ 
Publisher’s Website:       Hachette

My thoughts:

Stephen King has been talking about this book for ages. He came up with the idea after hearing about the true story of a woman who accidentally crashed her car into a crowd of people waiting outside a store.

In his story, of course, it’s a psychopath that crashes the car, and he’s not a bit sorry. In fact, he planned it. He’s so proud of it, and so surprised that he gets away with it, that he writes a letter to retired cop, Bill Hodges, outlining what a thrill it was to kill all those people.  Retirement hasn’t treated Hodges so well, and he’s playing should I-shouldn’t I with his revolver.

This case, which he calls Mr. Mercedes, after the stolen car used in the crime, is one of his unsolved cases and still weighs heavily on him. Receiving the letter, reignites his will to live and thus begins a cat and mouse game between the detective and Mr. Mercedes, who despite his protestations, isn’t done yet with his killing spree.

If you enjoy Stephen King’s style, then you will enjoy this book. There are no supernatural nasty creatures in this one. It’s just a plain old homicidal maniac. Stephen King calls it “his first hard-boiled detective book,” but he certainly brings his flourish for creating the insane, evil mind to the party. Mr. Mercedes is filled with King’s neat way with words and a story that will keep you travelling along way past the speed limit until the very end.

Here's a link to Stephen King talking about the book. CLICK HERE

About the author:

Seriously if you don’t know who Stephen King is, where have you been living for forty years. On the remotest chance that you have never heard of him… Stephen King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and many of them have been adapted into feature films, television movies and comic books.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE KILLING LESSONS by Saul Black

Rating:                                 ✪✪✪  out of 5 Stars
Release Date:                      May 2015
Publisher’s Website:         Hachette Australia

My thoughts:
   I love a good serial killer novel. In fact, I’m smack bang in the middle of writing my own. Getting inside the mind of a twisted character is fun in a weird way. I’m always comparing serial killers to the killer in Red Dragon (adapted for screen as Silence of the Lambs) and most just don’t compare. Not so with The Killing Lessons.
   The opening scene of the book throws you straight into the middle of one of the worst murders you can imagine — a mother in an isolated house trapped by two killers, her daughter, outside playing, and her son, upstairs in his bedroom. The ten-year-old daughter escapes. Injured and freezing, she survives, but where she ends up may not be her salvation. The consequences of the opening chapters come back at the end in a page-turning finale.
  San Franciscan homicide detective Valerie Hart is haunted by the serial killings. She and her team are attempting to decipher clues that make no sense. They don’t even know if they're tracking the same killer or killers.
   Just when you think the story can’t get any tenser, the killers kidnap another victim. This victim is not giving up without a fight as all the plot threads combine to a thrilling climax. It’s awful, gripping, terrifying and masterfully written.
   What I loved about this book was the multiple characters’ point-of-views and the various plot strands, that are so compelling in their own right. You know eventually they will all converge, but it’s how the author manoeuvres his characters and storyline which makes for such a good read.
   If you love your killers twisted and crazy, then The Killing Lessons is for you. Just prepare yourself for sleepless nights.

   I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia for an honest review. Thank you to the wonderful book-loving people there.  More about this book at: The Killing Lessons

BOOK BLURB
    When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.
   For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of corpses - women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them - has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.
   But the slaughter at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more terrifying than what she's running from.

About the author:

Saul Black is a pseudonym used by Glen Duncan. Glen Duncan is a British author born in 1965 in Bolton, Lancashire, England to an Anglo-Indian family. He studied philosophy and literature at the universities of Lancaster and Exeter. In 1990 Duncan moved to London, where he worked as a bookseller for four years, writing in his spare time. In 1994 he visited India with his father (part roots odyssey, part research for a later work, The Bloodstone Papers) before continuing on to the United States, where he spent several months travelling the country by Amtrak train, writing much of what would become his first novel, Hope, published to critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic in 1997. Duncan lives in London. Recently, his 2002 novel I, Lucifer has had the film rights purchased, with actors such as Ewan Mcgregor, Jason Brescia, Jude Law, Vin Diesel, and Daniel Craig all being considered for roles in the forthcoming movie.



Usually if you enjoy my reviews or I've saved you some money by warning you off a bad film, I ask that you consider buying one of my very inexpensive books. However, today I am asking you to simply visit the Kindle Scout website and vote for my new book Deadly Messengers. Note, though, they are only allowing U.S. citizens to vote currently.

Kindle Scout is Amazon's way of discovering new authors and signing them to a really fair book deal and help them be discovered by other readers. It's simpleYou browse never before published books that have 30 days to make an impact on readers.
  1. You browse never before published books that have 30 days to make an impact on readers.
  2. Nominate your favorite book by hitting the 'Nominate Me' button. Very easy.
  3. At the end of thirty days, your nomination is included in the tally.
  4. If the book is published you receive a free copy and my eternal gratitude.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

FILM STUFF 15th July 2015

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FILM REVIEWS
Ant-Man ✪✪✪✪ ½ (Opens 16th July most cinemas)
My Thoughts
   It’s been a bad month or so of very average blockbuster releases, and up steps the next contender to the crown of summer blockbuster winner. Ant-Man, the next franchise to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived just in time to restore my faith in big films.
   Perfectly-cast Paul Rudd plays the diminutive super hero to a T. The same charisma and comedic timing that saw his star rise in comedies and romances comes very well to play in his take on his down-and-out character Scott Lang, who accidentally becomes Ant-Man. Michael Douglas plays Dr. Hank Pym as only he can. He’s seventy, by the way, and makes seventy look the new fifty. He’s the civic-minded scientist who invents the shrinking suit, but decides it’s power is too dangerous for the world. He’s at odds with his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who works at the company Pym founded but from which he's been sent packing years before.  Hope appears aligned with protégé turned enemy, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
   If you wanted to look for plot holes and clichés, yes, we’ve seen the evil corporation guy abscond with the hi-tech product so he can sell it to the bad guys for millions. The good guys must become the bad guys to save the day—yep, been done repeatedly. The daughter who feels her parent doesn’t respect or value her even though she’s very capable—I’d say that’s pretty much a stock standard plot device.
  However, the characters and story are written in such an innovative, self-deprecating way, you don’t even notice. The animation of the small world and Ant-Man changing from big to tiny and back to big as he fights all comers is brilliant and exciting.
   There are also enough nods to the previous Marvel Universe to make fans feel as though this is a worthy detour. I wasn’t eagerly awaiting Ant-Man, because Avengers: Age of Ultron was such a disappointment. I see Ant-Man is in next year’s Captain America: Civil War, and now I’m really looking forward to that one a lot more.
   Do stay until the very end of the credits. As per usual, there are extra scenes. There are two in this one. He might be small, but Ant-Man has added a huge dose of extra fun to the Avengers franchise. See it on the big screen.
Film Blurb
   The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios' "Ant-Man." Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. -- (C) Marvel
NEWS
Films being remade (You may ask why? I am.)

Point Break
Fantastic Four
Ben-Hur (Jack Huston)
The Crow
An American Werewolf in London
Barbarella (tv series)
Dirty Dancing
Ghost Busters
The Never Ending Story
The Birds
Highlander
My Fair Lady
Romancing the Stone
Westwordl (tv series)
Gremlins
National Lampoons (now called Vacation)
Expendabelles (female Expendables)
Logans Run
Tomb Raider
Police Academy
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Cliffhanger
Perry Mason
The Invisible Man
Private Benjamin (Rebel Wilson)
Drop Dead Fred

SPECIAL EVENTS
National Theatre Live: The Audience
Date: Saturday 18th to Thursday 30th July 2015
Time:  11:30 AM & 1:00 PM sessions
Location: Luna Leederville & Luna Essex Fremantle

   Helen Mirren reprises her Academy Award®-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II in encore screenings of the original West End production of The Audience, captured live in London in 2013, and featuring an exclusive new Q&A with key members of the cast and creative team.
  For sixty years, Queen Elizabeth II has met with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a private weekly meeting. This meeting is known as The Audience. No one knows what they discuss, not even their spouses.
   From the old warrior Winston Churchill, to the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, Blair right up to today’s meetings with the current incumbent David Cameron, the Queen advises her Prime Ministers on all matters both public and personal. Through these private audiences, we see glimpses of the woman behind the crown and witness the moments that shaped a monarch.
   The Audience is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen) and directed by two-time Tony Award® winner and Academy Award®-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) and was presented in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries
Tony Award Winner 2015:
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play Helen Mirren, The Audience 
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play Richard McCabe, The Audience 

ENO: Pirates of Penzance
Date: Sat 18 Jul - Sun 19 Jul
Time:  1 PM
Location: Windsor Cinema      Details and Booking

All productions are sung in the English language, it’s opera for everyone!
   English National Opera’s (ENO) cinema broadcast of Mike Leigh’s production of The Pirates of Penzance is the UK's most successful opera on screen event, breaking box office records.
Fresh from the major success of his celebrated film Mr Turner, renowned film maker, director and Gilbert & Sullivan aficionado Mike Leigh makes his opera directing debut with this eagerly anticipated new production of sparkling comic masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance. In a hilarious performance where comedy and romance combine with surprising twists and turns, this popular farcical comedy features swashbuckling pirates, flat footed policemen, razor sharp satire and memorable melodies.
   The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of the pirate apprentice Frederic and his love for Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley who has the famous tongue-twisting patter song ‘I am the very model of a modern Major-General’.

THE 2015 SCANDINAVIAN FILM FESTIVAL
Date: Thursday 23rd July 2015 – 29th July
Location: Cinema Paradiso               Details and Booking


   After the stunning success of the debut Scandinavian Film Festival last year, the 2015 program, presented by Palace and Luna Palace Cinemas, will showcase the most exciting dramas, comedies and thrillers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

OPENING NIGHT: HERE IS HAROLD
Date: Thursday 23rd July 2015
Time:  6 PM for 7 PM start
Location: Cinema Paradiso      Details and Booking

   Put down the allen key and be distracted by the Perth premiere of HERE IS HAROLD with a pre-screening Scandi celebration with Brown Brothers Grape Tree, Cake Wines, Nordic flavours by Miss Maud, Castello cheese and live entertainment by Joni in the Moon.
   The second Scandinavian Film Festival will open with the uproarious HERE IS HAROLD (Her er Harold), a Norwegian road movie, about a man who sets out to kidnap the founder of Ikea.For over 40 years, Harold has been running a successful business, "Lunde Furniture,” but this comes to an end when IKEA decides to open a new superstore right next door to his small furniture shop. In mounting anger and desperation, Harold wants revenge. He arms himself with a pistol and sets off for Älmhult, Sweden, in order to kidnap his Nemesis - the founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad. But unfortunately, Kamprad is quite happy to be kidnapped.
   Other highlights include the multi-award-winning Icelandic drama LIFE IN A FISHBOWL (Vonarstræti); critically acclaimed Swedish-Norwegian production UNDERDOG (Svenskjävel); Finnish comedy THE GRUMP (Mielensäpahoittaja); the follow-up to last year’s festival smash-hit (THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES) THE ABSENT ONE (Fasandræberne); the wry and humorous OUT OF NATURE (Mot nature); and Amanda Adolfsson’s longed for dreamy debut YOUNG SOPHIE BELL (Unga Sophie Bell).

DVD Releases
IT FOLLOWS  (not reviewed, but good reviews)
SEVENTH SON ✪✪✪  (Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore) Click here for review