Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Books 15 & 16 of 2015: Cursed by Stephen Leather & The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

As I said last week, I'm doubling up on my book review posts to get caught up with my reading material from last year.

The first review of today is Cursed by Stephen Leather. This is an ebook short story which is set between the second and third books in his Jack Nightingale series. It can really be read anywhere in the series, though it makes more sense to read it where it is set, then again, you don't lose anything by not reading it. This one sees Detective Chalmers coming to Nightingale for help with a strange case.

I didn't think that this story was as good as the first two books from the Jack Nightingale series. Part of it was just because I couldn't imagine Chalmers actually going to Nightingale for help, it just seemed somewhat out of character for him. In some respects I think that it might have been a little bit more believable if some random police officer had come to Jack instead; someone who had heard what Jack had been involved in and that he might be able to help.

It was a nice quick read, I managed to read it during a single episode of Starsky and Hutch. It's worth noting that just under half of it was an extract from the first book. I skipped it because I'd read it two weeks before. I'm not really sure why someone would be picking up this book if they weren't already familiar with the story, and if they were then it would make more sense to have an extract from the third book, instead of the first.

It all wrapped up very quickly and easily. That was necessary for the short story but I would've liked it to be a little longer and perhaps to have linked to the story either before or after more. I'd recommend this one for anyone who is familiar with the Jack Nightingale series, but I wouldn't go for this one until you've at least read the first one; it might be free but it's not the best introduction to the character.

My second review for the day is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. This was another ebook for Week 8 of my Reading Challenge: A funny book. It's the story of two friends who are both pretending to be 'Ernest' to impress two different girls, cue a great deal of confusion when both and neither of them are Ernest, and then some surprising revelations are made about their parentage.

I found this really funny. I copy quotes I like from books into my book journal and there were so many that I couldn't fit them all into my quote list. It was actually funnier than I was expecting. I know I say this every time I read a book which is a classic, or a little older than my other reading material, but it was surprising how well it had aged.

It was a really quick read as well. This was even shorter than the Stephen Leather book above, clocking in at 58 pages. I started it in the morning at breakfast and I finished it a little over an hour later before I left the house for work. I think it benefits from being read all in one sitting as it is in play format and I can find those books a little difficult to pick up and put down; it's easy to lose your place.

I had seen an adaptation of it some years ago. I have a funny feeling it had Colin Firth in it. This meant that I had a fairly good idea of what was going to happen, but all the same, even having an idea of what the ending was going to be, I still really enjoyed it.

I would love to see this on the stage some time. As I was reading it, I was imagining how I might stage it if I was in a production of it, the sorts of people I might cast, what the set would look like and how different bits might be played. It'd be fun to see it done live to see if they would do it the way I imagined.

This is definitely a book you should read, pick it up for free as an ebook and devour it on a journey.

Next week's books will be Stephen Leather's Nightmare and Nightshade, my seventeenth and eighteenth books from last year.

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