I am reviewing the thriller novel The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks which is a very good novel that I bought from kindle. This was Iain’s first novel published in 1979 and quite controversial especially with the lead character torturing and killing animals. The title comes from the fact he seals wasps up in wax after terrorizing and tormenting them. He also befriends dogs and then stabs, roasts and eats them. He does say in the introduction he wanted to be a science fiction author and the lead character could almost be an alien and the island he lives on could almost be another planet. He is certainly disfunctional. It depicts the underside of city life somewhere like Edinburgh or Glasgow really well. The key character is a runaway who cooks and eats people’s pets. He finds a power kite and lets a young girl fly it only for her to get tangled and swept up in the air intentionally of course. His father’s house gets burnt down and his father and brother are in peril. It isn’t a very pleasant novel but is certainly different. He also burns a load of sheep and lives in a kind of disused factory with lots of various chemicals at his disposal. His brother tries to get him to return home. I can’t imagine what market this book is aimed at and who would want to read something on this topic. It was a successful novel in it’s day. Iain is from Fife in Scotland and uses Iain M Banks for science fiction and this name for thrillers. He is quite a popular author certainly in Britain. This book kept my interest throughout and is a reasonable length.

The book I read to research this post is The Berlitz Pocket Guide To Tenerife which is a very good book that I bought on kindle. The tourist part of Tenerife is predominently in the South with a subtropical climate and where the international airport is. In the North there is a lot of rain and it is quite mountainous although probably still interesting for touring. This island is home to Spain’s highest mountain El Teide at over 12,000 ft from which you can see all the Canary Islands on a clear day. The old capital San Christobal is now a UNESCO world heritage site. There is a natural history museum the biggest museum on the island. There are also ancient pyramids thought to be connected to sun worship and a bit less impressive than the ones in Egypt. Some of the more popular beaches are lined with imported Sahara sand as many of the beaches have black sand due to it being a volcanic island although it is as soft as ordinary sand. One third of the species of whales are to be found off shore as much of the sea around here is very deep. There is a zoo with what is said to be the largest collection of parrots in the world. Tenerife means Isle of Dogs and there is a species of wild dog native to the island that weighs from 90-110 lbs. Canaries are to be found here which are a popular pet and in times past were blinded to make them sing more loudly. Many beaches have riff currents and undertows and will have a red flag if that is the case. Obviously you don’t bathe at them beaches. Most regional UK airports have flights to Tenerife and there are flights to Madrid so you can fly from many places and get a connection. I enjoyed reading this book which is also very interesting.

I am reviewing A Game Of Thrones Season 2 which is an excellent tv series. This series was commisioned 2 days after Series 1 premiered. It needed a 15% budget increase due to an extensive battle scene in episode 9. There are only 10 episodes and Peter Dinklage is in all of them and Lena Headey is in 9 of them. It is based on A Clash Of Kings the second book in the series A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R R Martin and he wrote the script for one episode as well as being executive producer. The series was filmed in Iceland, Croatia & Northern Ireland. It was nominated for 11 Emmy’s. There is a big battle between the Baratheon’s & the Lannister’s. The Lannisters win but their navy is almost wiped as the sea is drenched with a flammable liquid and set alight. The Baratheon’s are trying to scale the wall and the Lannister’s which also gets reinforcements goes through a underground passage which leads to base of the wall and they counter-attack them. The series ends with a great army in the north of over 100,000 on there way to invade all of Westeros. John Snow has sacrificed one of his men in a duel to gain there trust and has been taken in to there ranks. We also see one city has been invaded and the crippled lad who was their leader has gained the ability of second sight and can see the future. This is a good series I would highly recommend.

I am reviewing the classic adventure film The African Queen directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, which is an excellent film. This film was filmed in technicolor and was filmed on location in Congo and Tanzania. This was very unusual as color cameras at the time 1951 were very bulky. In shots of the actors in the water were filmed in a tank at Isleworth Studios in London. Everyone apart from Humphrey Bogart who kept drinking whiskey and avoided the water succumbed to various health ailments. Katherine had to have a bucket nearby in case she was sick. It was based on a 1935 novel of the same name by CS Forester. I assume it is set in World War 1. The plot is Katherine and Robert Morley play brother and sister missionaries. Germans invade and take the locals away to become soldiers. Robert gets beaten and dies of a fever. Humphrey lets Katherine come with him on his steam boat. She hatches a plan to sink a german cruiser the Louisa which is hampering British efforts to counter invade. They are going to ram it with a home made pair of torpedoes. They travel down a very dangerous course of river with 3 sets of rapids. Humphrey is quite reluctant about the feasibility of the plan but reluctantly goes along with it. They also go past a German fort and are shot at and a pipe comes off on the motor but Humphrey does a hasty repair. Apparently his character was meant to have a cockney accent but he couldn’t produce it. Humphrey won the Best Actor Oscar and Katherine was nominated for Best Actress. They have to travel through very shallow reed beds where it is difficult to find a way through. They do eventually get to the lake where the German cruiser is and try out there plan but sink because they haven’t sealed the gaps around the home made torpedoes and they are taken prisoner. At first Humphrey believing Katherine dead tells the Germans everything thinking they have nothing to lose. Both he and Katherine are sentenced to be hanged for spying and they ask to get married first. I won’t give away the ending but it is a happy one. It is probably Huston’s finest film.

I am reviewing the romantic novel Sam’s Letters To Jennifer by James Patterson which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is one James wrote solo in 2004 and is around 240 pages so is a reasonable. I think he is better at writing thrillers although this book is a decent effort. I primarily read it because I do enjoy his thrillers. He does appear to do work in as many genres as possible. The plot to this story is a young lady called Jennifer has a grandmother called Samantha who is dying so writes a series of letters for her about an unrequited relationship with her grandfather’s brother. Jennifer’s father’s real dad is the grandfather’s brother. That was the love of her life. In Jennifer’s life she is still recovering from a failed relationship with Danny who just saw her as a friend even though she was very much in love with him and he fell in love with someone else. Along comes Brendan and at first it seems like he is just a good friend but a relationship blossoms. I think it is obvious when you start reading this book that she will find love and incidently she gets left the house by the grandmother. When she met Danny she had just been kicked out by her boyfriend and was impressed he didn’t try to pick her up but instead really cared. It’s a well thought out story and I think is a good example of this genre. It would probably make a good film.

 

 

I am reviewing the SAS thriller Stand By, Stand By by Chris Ryan which is a very good novel that I bought from a car boot sale. This novel has been called the most realistic novel about life in the SAS ever written. Chris of course was a soldier in this regiment during the First Gulf War. The plot is a trooper in this unit has been captured during the First Gulf and years later has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is delayed but because of his experiences. He has little sex drive and doesn’t find attractive any more and she becomes quite irritating. The psychiatrist suggests a trial separation. The story then follows him doing a mission as covert ops in Northern Ireland where they go after a PIRA cell of terrorists. This is probably the key scene in the book and the book title comes from the order they are given as they ram the car and are told to Stand By, Stand By. They ram the car to shock the occupants and give them an extra few seconds to carry out the mission. The people they capture are delivering the guns and ammunition so more of the mission involves the SAS delivering the stuff and finding out where it is going. They are after this mission is complete are sent to Colombia where the drug cartels have links to the PIRA and are rather upset that this previous operation has been carried out. We are told that the drug cartels frequently have ocean going ships and helicopters such is their wealth. They think nothing of blowing up an airliner just to get one person they are after. It is an enjoyable book that is around 300 pages and so is a decent length.

I am reviewing the serial killer thriller The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari which is a very good book that I bought from a local bookstore. This is the first book in the Byrne and Balzano series and the main character in the book is probably Jessica Byrne. The story starts with it being her first day working for homicide. Many of the police regard it as being quite prestigious but she has reservations about it. Someone has pulled strings to get her the job which she discovers later but she fears failure and would rather not be doing it. She is placed with Kevin Balzano a more experienced. They are investigating a serial killer who kills catholic girls and when they discover the bodies they have a bolt put through their two hands and rosary placed between their fingers. It is approaching Easter which they fear the killer will try and in a sick way celebrate with more killing than ever. It is set in a poor part of Philadelphia. The murderer seems to single out catholic girls who are a bit misfits and from a private school. It is quite a gruesome story. Despite Byrne’s reservations about doing the job she does an adequate job of solving it. The murderer is insane and does get sent to a secure psychiatric hospital for life. It is the kind of story that does keep your interest and certainly is one of Richard’s better books. I think certainly in Britain it was quite a successful book which sold loads. I did quite enjoy it and it is around 500 pages so is a decent length.