Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Snippet

By the time this is published, it should be Sunday. However as I have problems with scheduling my posts, this could be published next Wednesday. If that happens, then I apologise.

I'm having to grab this quiet moment to blog while I can, as I have been busy with visitors who are here for Easter. I have managed to get a little reading done and I must say, that I'm disappointed with Christopher Priest's 'The Prestige'. I am determined however, to see the book through until the end.

Here's this week's snippet:

Page 262- "Tomorrow sir," Tesla said to me, "tomorrow, and with the consent of my noble assistant here, we shall endeavour to safely transport the cat from one place to another. If that can be achieved, I take it you will be satisfied?"

'The Prestige'- Christopher Priest

Whatever you are doing, enjoy the rest of the weekend and Easter break. On Sunday afternoon, I will be out to lunch with my relatives, although not enjoying the sunshine. It seems that England have stolen all of the good weather for the time being....*grumbles* it's not fair!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Snippet

Do you remember on last week's 'Sunday Snippet', I mentioned that I had hayfever? Well, it turned out to be a little than that.

For the past week, I've been under the weather with a cold and sore throat. Not to look at the negative, being ill has meant that I have had plenty of time to read and I'm making good progress through Christopher Priest's novel 'The Prestige'. I'm still not sure if I am enjoying the novel as much as its film adaptation. There are a lot of unecessary details within the novel, which do not appear in the film. However, 'The Prestige' is still an interesting read.

Here's this week's snippet:

Page 126 - 'But now I return to that afternoon and evening of Clive Borden's visit to Caldlow House, and try to reconstruct what took place while we children played upstairs.'

'The Prestige'- Christopher Priest

Whatever you are doing, enjoy what's left of the weekend. The London Marathon is taking place as I type. I enjoy watching the fun runners negotiating the course wearing all sorts of crazy costumes in the name of charity, but it makes me tired just watching them.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Snippet

My last read, 'The Maltese Falcon' by Dashiell Hammett, was a crime novel. Now for something completely different!

My next read, 'The Prestige' by Christopher Priest, is a novel which was adapted into a film in 2006, starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine. For those who haven't seen the film, it is about two magicians in a battle to outdo each other with their illusions, but develops into something much more sinister. Here's the trailer:

I wasn't aware that this was originally a novel, but after I read a review of the novel on another book blog, I really wanted to read this. So far, the book is nothing like the film but I will have to read on to see what happens.

Here's this week's snippet:

Page 17- 'I decided to refer back to the office, since it was clear the story I had been sent to cover was no longer live.'

'The Prestige' by Christopher Priest

Whatever you're doing today, enjoy what's left of the weekend. The weather here is gloriously sunny, but unfortuately that means that I have hayfever. So I'll have to stock up on tissues!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

'The Maltese Falcon' by Dashiell Hammett

Publisher: Orion Books

ISBN: 978-0-7528-4764-1

Length: 213 pages

What the blurb says:

'Voted #1 mystery of all time by the Mystery Writers of America, 'The Maltese Falcon' set the standard by which the genre is judged. Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister. When his partner, Miles Archer, is shot while on the trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted: can he track down the jewel-encrusted bird before the Fat Man finds him?'

What's right about this novel?

Before reading this novel, I had watched the film version of 'The Maltese Falcon' and wondered whether the novel could convey the cool, slightly grimy atmosphere, which 'Film Noir' films are known for. I'm pleased to say that the atmosphere was just the same, if not better in the book. It perfectly encapsulates the seedy, under-belly of the criminal world within the 30's.

I love the fact that even though some may see this as sexist in today's society, men are seen as having masculinity and women were more vulnerable in the novel. What I liked about that, is that in novels like 'The Maltese Falcon', this stereotype can be played with. Particulary within this novel, roles within the sexes change quite frequently. The main character Spade, is the perfect example of a 'man's man'. Whilst in most cases I wouldn't have liked this in a male character, with Samuel Spade I really liked it. I found his abrupt, almost arrogant attitude attractive and he had many believable layers to him. I also liked both Miss Wonderley and Spade's secretary Effie Perine because they both were head strong, they used their feminine charms when needed.

I found the plot itself to be well executed and gripping. Due to its complex nature, I never forsaw any of the events that took place during the novel and I constantly wanted to read on. At times I did find the plot confusing, but in some ways, this added to my enjoyment of the novel. This is because like Spade, I was trying to make sense of the events within the novel. I would suggest that if you are going to read this novel to not be in a rush, because this needs to be read with a slower pace to get the most out of it.

What's wrong within this novel?

There isn't too much wrong with this novel in my opinion. I do find that the object that Spade and co are after, a rare statue of a falcon, to be a little silly. Although what I think is more important in this novel, is the wonderful complex web that is weaved during the search, rather than the object itself. Although I feel that the book had a reasonably satisfactory ending, I felt that it could have been a little stronger. Throughout the novel, there is plenty of action and tension. So for me, the ending was a little bit of an anticlimax.

Is this worth a read?

Yes. 'The Maltese Falcon' is a fun escapist novel, which will take you on a journey of many twists and turns. I would really like to read more novels like this one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Complex vs Complicated

As a reader, I love reading novels which have complex storylines. The twists and turns of multiple storylines within a novel, keep me on the edge of my seat and wondering how the strands of plot are going to fit together.

Kate Atkinson is an expert when it comes to weaving several strands of story. Her novels, particularly in the 'Jackson Brodie' series, demonstrate how to sucessfully use this technique of story telling. She is able to build the suspense of her readers, without confusing them a long the way.

This technique can also have its pitfalls. I have found that those who have attempted to use multi-layered plots and not used it effectively, an example I have come across is 'The Bones of Avalon' by Phil Rickman, have shown that this form of writing if used incorrectly, can leave a reader feeling confused and mentally drained.

Even since taking my writing seriously, I have realised just how fine the line is, between a complex storyline and an overcomplicated one. In previous years, I have written shorter pieces of writing and started a children's novel which at the moment, is sitting in a file waiting to be finished. With my latest project, a short story which manifested itself into a full length novel, I am having to juggle several storylines within one novel. I think that the initial problem with this, was that I wasn't organized from the beginning. You see I'm one of those writers, that prefers an organic approach to writing. The idea for my novel 'The Unheard' came about, after having a dream which refused to leave after waking.

Since its conception, the story has mutated itself into something much more complicated than I had initially anticipated. So I have had to organized and write down a plot guide, to help me remember where I am in the story. That's not to say that my writing always sticks with my plan, I still like to add ideas organically as I go a long. When I have finished 'The Unheard' however, I hope that the final product will be both complex enough to be interesting, but doesn't get out of control and confuse my readers.

What the process of writing has taught me, is that writers not only have to select the right phrasing and vocabulary to interest their audiences, but also act as a juggler to keep the story moving, without it crashing to the ground in a heap. Therefore I have gained respect for those writers who attempt to use this technique in their writing, even when they fail.

What about you? Do you like reading novels with complex plots? Or do you prefer to keep it simple? Also if you are a writer, do you find it difficult to have a balance between complex and complicated within your work?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

'Sunday Snippet'

I haven't done much reading this week. With the arrival of summer (finally!), I was hoping to be able to sit on my balcony and read in the sun, but my dog has had other ideas. She loves the sun as much as I do and has claimed the only seat that is outside for herself. That means that when I sit on it, she either stares me out until I move or jumps up on my lap, which does leave much room to read.

Anyway, from the few pages of 'The Maltese Falcon' that I have managed to read, here's this week's snippet:

Page 180 'Gutman flung a fat hand out at the boy's wrist, caught the wrist, and bore it and the gun down while Gutman's fat body was rising in haste from the rocking chair.'

'The Maltese Falcon' by Dashiell Hammett

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. So far, I've bought my mum a card and made her a cup of tea and later, I'm taking her out for Sunday Lunch. It's a shame that the weather has clouded over for her special day.

Happy (Mothering) Sunday!