Currently I'm reading: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

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Peggy Farooqi
Mum of 3 (1994, 1995, 1998)- born in East Germany --lived in UK/ Kent since 1993 -- studied criminology -- love reading / writing / travelling / knitting / cats. 
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5 October 2015


After You
James Farmer
Publication Date
August 2013

Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Description (from Amazon)

‘The day we met. Our first kiss. Our first dance. The night we first made love. The first time your text didn’t end with an X. The day you said it was over.’

It was supposed to last forever...

Is it ever possible to pick up the pieces and start again after losing The One?

An honest and evocative tale detailing the aftermath of the break-up that was never meant to happen.

My thoughts

At only just over 200 pages, this little book can be read almost in one/two sittings, and only 99p at the moment (I've picked it up as a Freebie from Amazon a while ago).

The story of a break-up, as simple as that. No hidden agenda and no big twists and turns in the middle nor a huge revelation at the end. I could almost physically feel the pain of the protagonist. And even though the author says at the end that it is not based on personal experience, it certainly feels that way. The way the raw emotions are described, it feels like you can only write about it in that way if you 'have been there'. It starts out depressing - and that's the point of it I think, as the author wants to show how incredibly hard it was. And that's it's not a one-way street but have throw-backs. How your friends think they are helping you but actually just seem to make at worst. At least at the beginning.

But there is a positive message at the end. I don't think it is too raw to read if you are just going through a difficult break-up, as it shows that others have been there, and there is hope. (I know it's fiction but even fiction taken from real life here for sure.)

4 October 2015

Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Stephen King
Publication Date
Horror, short stories, paranormal

Description from Amazon

The Stephen King Amusement Park – an unnerving experience, with rides every which way to hell…and a few to glory.

A solitary finger pokes out of a drain. Novelty teeth turn predatory. The Nevada desert swallows a Cadillac. Meanwhile, the legend of Castle Rock returns… and grows on you. What does it all mean? What else could it mean? Stephen King is here with a powerful collection of stories – a vast, many-chambered cave of a volume.

The long reach of Stephen King’s imagination will take you on a rollercoaster to places you’ve never been before. You will lose sleep. But Stephen King, writing to beat the devil, will do your dreaming for you.

My thoughts / contents 

Yes, this is King. Pure and fine, it will grab you and you won't forget them ever. Every King fan recognises the stories:

1. Dolan's Cadillac
A husband revenges the killing of his wife. Only, it isn't that easy when the mob is involved. So you take a job at the Highway Department, learn all about digging out the road and wait for your chance.

2. The End of the Whole Mess
Howard gets a visit from his brother Bobby whom he hasn't seen for a while. Bobby has always been very bright and gifted and dreams of making the world a better place. He discovers that people in a certain place are more mellow than in others and links it to the water. Now if he could extract whatever it is in the water that makes people mellow and non-fighting and could distribute it around the world, that would be the solution to eternal peace. 

3. Suffer the Little Children
A mean teacher, Miss Sidley, and how her pupils became infected with something rather strange. That brought her down a bit!

4. The Night Flier
Journalist Dees thinks he is on to a story. A serial killer who uses a small plane to turn up, and leaving mutilated bodies behind. Strangle, with a hold of the plane full of soil, and he wears a long coat and seems to operate only once daylight is gone. Dees catches up with him.

5. Popsy
Sheridan is about to abduct a kid at the local shopping mall. But he picked the wrong kid, because his popsy is coming. Both the kid and popsy are thirty, and it's not water they want. 

6. It grows on you
Dedicated King fans:we are back in Castle Rock and a house that keeps growing. Locals remember. 

7. Chattery Teeth
Hogan, a travelling salesman, buys a set of novelty teeth on legs in a roadside shop for his son. And he picks up a hitchhiker even though he usually does not do this kind of thing. And it was a bad choice, as it turns out. Will the chattery teeth save his life?

8. Dedication
Martha Rosswell tells her friend the story of the somewhat unusual conception of her son. That son will in later life be come a successful novelist. A bit 'yucky' but this story also has serious undertones of racism experienced by Martha. 

9. The Moving Finger
Maybe the most creepy story of this collection, and, in typical King style, shows how two common objects - a finger and a wash basin - can become someones absolute horror.

10. Sneakers
John can see a pair of sneakers (worn by a person I shall add) under the toilet cubicle next to his. Nothing strange. Expect they are still there next time he goes, weeks later. 

11. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
A road trip. Mary and Clark get lost, the roads gets smaller and smaller and then opens into a clearing with a lovely little town. But something is odd. All the residents they meet seem to resemble deceased rock stars. Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Elvis. And they would like Mary and Clark to stay for a concert that evening.

12. Home Delivery
Maddie Pace is a simple country girl who marries young to a man who takes charge of her, and that's how she likes it. Now she is expecting her baby. But she seems to be the only one left now on this planet. 

13. Rainy Season
Another road trip (I love those!) John and Elise Graham arrive in their holiday home in Willow, Maine (where else!). The local shopkeeper warn him that it is rainy season that night (It doesn't look very cloudy at all!) and that it rains frogs. He warns them to close all doors and windows to their holiday home tightly. John and Elise dismiss him, but of course should have listened to him.

14. My Pretty Pony
Grandpa explained Clivey a bit about the passing of time. 
I struggled a bit with this story - didn't get into it as much as other stories, but t did contain a quote which I highlighted and took out from this book:
'Times when you're hurt go on forever, seems like'

15. Sorry, Right Number
Loved this, as the realisation of what's happened hit me on the last page. A story of time travel / different dimensions. 
Katie receives a phone call: someone is sobbing and clearly in extreme distress, trying to tell her something. The voice sounds familiar, and she thinks one of her family members is in trouble. Katie and her husband Bill frantically check out their daughter and Katie's sister, but they are fine. So who called, and in a voice which was oddly familiar?

16. The Ten O'Clock People
The Ten O'Clock People are the ones who gather outside office buildings at 10, for their first cigarette break of the working day. Pearson sees the same people every day at 10, with their unspoken unity of their vice. But today Pearson notices something very strange indeed - his co-worker suddenly seem to transfer into some kind of alien species. Does no one else notice? And what is the link to the Ten O'clock People?

17. Crouch End
I lived in London for a while, and now still work here, so this took me almost to familiar territory. King's kind of horror does not only happen in Maine, but right in the suburbs of London. 
An American couple on holiday in London, and they seem to end up in a very strange place indeed. Now I know that some areas in every big city are dodgy, but here we are talking a different dimension where the taxi cab which dropped them is suddenly gone and while they still stand in the same road, it has changed and the town's noise is muffled. 

18. The House on Maple Street
The Bradbury children live with their mum and step-dad in said house. Lew, their step-dad, is not a very pleasant man, and it seems their mum as given up on life. Then the children discover some kind of strange metallic structure behind the walls in their house, and it grows. 

19. The Doctor's Case
A Sherlock Holmes story here! I loved how King manages to exactly hit the writing style and tone of the Sherlock Holmes books. All our favourite characters are here: Holmes, Watson, Lestrade and of course, they solve a crime in typical Holmes/Watson manner. Lord Hull gets stabbed to death in his study, with no-one having access to the room. His wife and children were all in the house at the time, and they all had reasons to wanting to dispose of him. 

20. Umney's Last Case
Umney is a detective in the 1940's - or is he? Maybe he belongs to a different time period? I don't want to give too much away, but here, the characters of a story interact with the writer of the story in unexpected ways.

21. Head Down
A departure here from all the other stories - this is a non-fiction account where King tells us about his son's local baseball team league. Nothing supernatural here. I did struggle a bit, as I don't know anything about baseball apart from the fact that it is a sport played in stadiums. But it was still worth reading for King's wonderful prose.

22. The Beggar and the Diamond
A Hindu Parabel, re-told by King

12 September 2015

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
J K Rowling
Bloomsbury Children's
Publication Date
July 2005
fantasy, children's

Description (from Amazon)

When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort's darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny.

My thoughts

The 6th instalment in the Harry Potter series, and it just gets better and better. I have to say it again - I was not a great fan of HP when they first came out, because I just simply was not into children's book. But what a wonderful story teller JK Rowling is. The plot now thickens, and everything comes together, or gets unravelled even further. The Dark Lord is back - that much is confirmed, and all hell seems to break loose, though some still deny it initially. And yes, a major character dies in this book which I shall not reveal here, for all those who have not yet read the book nor watched the movie. I had seen the movie, but honestly, reading the book is just a completely different experience.

JK Rowling is simply a master in weaving her plot (and this over several books), and all the characters are unique. We are talking about a fantasy world, but they still face the same problems like us (or like us Muggles shall I say) and thus are completely believable. It is a skill to create characters which appeal both to a child/teenage audience and also to adults. Also, all the magical creates are so well drawn out - even if you have not seen the movies, it is easy to form a picture in your imagination, and this is what reading is all about. 

By the way, Stephen King has the Harry Potter Books in his recommended list of books to read if you want to be a writer. 

15 August 2015

The Great Gatsby
F Scott Ftzgerald
Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication Date


Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the "roaring twenties", and a devastating expose of the "Jazz Age". Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick's cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.

My thoughts

The book takes to America of the roaring 20's, being set in 1922 and having been published in 1925. It is narrated by Nick Carraway who moves to the fictional town of West Egg, on Long Island to become a bond trader. His neighbour is the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. Gatsby holds outlandish parties in his big mansion almost every day. Gatsby then makes contact with Nick, and Nick learns that Gatsby has known his cousin, Daisy, for a long time and has been harbouring a deep love for her. All the partying and large house are to impress Daisy. But Daisy is married. And whilst having an affair himself, Daisy husband certainly don't take kindly to anyone looking at his wife. Gatsby's secrets are revealed throughout the book. Without giving too much away, the book does not have a 'happy ever after' ending. 

There is open racism in the book which would, of course, not be acceptable today but is a good representation of the normal perception then. 

I always struggle a bit with classic literature. This one came as a freebee, so I gave it a go. After all, it is a very small book. I don't always find it easy to get to grips with the language in classic literature, not sure if this is because English is not my mother tongue. So I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, and maybe I have to give it another chance. 

According to Wikipedia, on publication the book sold poorly and Fitzgerald died without having seen it go to success, but it is now regarded as classic literature and representation of 1920's jazz and flapper age. 

The book has been made into a movie in 2013 starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. Perfect cast in my opinion and beautiful to watch. 

9 August 2015

Night Shift
Stephen King
Publication Date

Description (from Amazon)

A collection of tales to invade and paralyse the mind as the safe light of day is infiltrated by the shadows of the night.
As you read, the clutching fingers of terror brush lightly across the nape of the neck, reach round from behind to clutch and lock themselves, white-knuckled, around the throat.
This is the horror of ordinary people and everyday objects that become strangely altered; a world where nothing is ever quite what it seems, where the familiar and the friendly lure and deceive. A world where madness and blind panic become the only reality.

My thoughts

An early Stephen King,  a short story collection. Many of them were previously published in magazines, when King was still a struggling author. Some of the short stories have been made into movies, and the movie 'Cat's eye' contains 3 stories from this collection which also comes highly recommended. 

The book shows how the King of horror can take everyday objects and people and normal situations and make them into a horror story. This is different from bloods and gore horror.  A lawn mover man who mows butt naked and eats the grass, a couple taking a road trip and discover the evil which can hide in a humble corn field, a man trying to quit smoking and those how help him have somewhat unusual but very convincing methods, a man who has an affair with a rich guy's wife and the  husband wants revenge on the outer ledge of a skyscraper. 

Even though I am a big fan of King's work, I did not always find this short story collection very 'easy reading'. I think part of it is that you have to 'get into the story' and obviously with a short story collection, you constantly have to get into  a new story. Once in, I was hooked on every single one of them and felt that literally all of them have enough plot and characters to make it a full book. What an imagination this guy has. His talent for turning the ordinary and mundane into the crazy is undisputed. 

28 July 2015

The Severest Inks Shorts
Several authors
Severest Inks
Publication Date
May 2015
short stories

Description (from Amazon)

The Severest Inks Shorts collects eight stories from some of the boldest new writers on the scene today. Melding unflinching themes with innovative narratives, these works confront the rawest elements of the human condition through the potent short story form. This anthology comes loaded with bonus material, including commentaries, special monochrome editions of original cover art and transcripts.


Red by Khalid Patel
Dr Craine’s Body by Khalid Patel
Further South by Eryk Pruitt
June in July by Hunter Heath
Mesa Boys by Matt Phillips
Georgia Rouge by Lucy Black
The Exchange by Charmaine Pauls
Grand Finale by Charmaine Pauls

My thoughts

The Severest Inks Shorts compilation of stories offers a great variety: from dark city fables to a pathologist in the mortuary, and this is what I liked so much here – the variety of it.

Each story fitted neatly into my morning commute, and it was easy to get into – something I sometimes find a challenge when reading a compilation of short stories when you have to constantly transport yourself into a different setting. All stories captured me from the beginning, kept my interest and still made sense.

I would also like to draw the attention to the original artwork on the cover of the stories which definitely caught my eye. I also really enjoyed the extra chapters at the end of the book where the authors tell us a bit about themselves and how their particular story came about.

I am sure, like me, the reader will have a favourite story after reading the compilation. We have all different tastes, and this book caters for quite a few without being too wide in range and extremes (i.e. soppy romance and hard-core horror).  I had read 2 of the included stories before as ‘singles’ and enjoyed them, and was glad to read this book. And, at the end, it is also good value for money, as you get 8 stories in book.

26 July 2015

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 
J K Rowling
Bloomsbury Children
Publication Date
June 2003
Fantasy, Children

Description (from Amazon)

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is desperate to find out why his friends, Ron and Hermione, have been secretive all summer. But before he even gets to school, Harry survives a terrifying encounter with two Dementors, attends a court hearing at the Ministry of Magic and is escorted on a night-time broomstick ride to the secret headquarters of a mysterious group called the Order of the Phoenix

My thoughts

The more I read Harry Potter, the more I love it. I have also realised how important and much more fulfilling it is to read the books rather than just watch the movies. Just because there is, obviously, so much more info, a lot more issues ‘clicked into place’ for me – concepts explained, connections which clicked into place.  Therefore I would urge especially a young person who has only watched the movies to definitely read the books. Yes, by book 5 they are big books, but they are so worth it.

It can be a bit tricky in fantasy writing, but Rowling creates a fantasy world which we can easily image. The writing is flawless and easy to understand, with simple sentence structures and frequent returning to previous occasions in the books to aid our memory (with such a big series and a lot of characters, it is nice touch to be reminded every now and again: ‘ah, yes, that’s what it was).  And the basic structure and storyline, of course, remains the same. Harry stays over the summer holidays at the Dursley’s and returns to Hogwarts in September with his friends Ron and Hermione and the adventures start). It can be a bit tricky in fantasy writing, but Rowling creates a fantasy world which we can easily image

At this stage in the series, you would really have to have read the other books though – you cannot start with book 5.  Harry is now a young teenager, and becomes a bit more rebellious, starts to question things.  What I have also enjoyed is that slowly, more gets revealed during this book. We learn, for example, that there is a good reason why Harry has to stay at the dreadful Dursley’s house every summer holiday. I had wondered before why he would not simply go to his friend Ron’s. More starts to click into place with book 5, and I can’t wait for the next book now.