Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Book Review - The Dark Tower

What better way to start an occasional series of Book Reviews than with Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series.

I have to admit I put off, or was put off, reading this despite being a huge King fan for many years. I thought it was all Dungeons and Dragons, Swords and Sorcery and that. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it ain't my cup of tea reading wise these days.

What the Dark Tower actually is, is an epic set across many, many volumes featuring our hero, the Gunslinger Roland, in a world that has 'moved on.' A mix of dystopian future/past and Wild West, it really is unlike anything I've read before. What 'The world has moved on' actually means, you're probably best reading to find out. Suffice to say, the world building is structured in such a clever way you hardly realise it's going on. The characters are to the usual Stephen King quality of depth and I have to say, if ever you were going to read over a million words in one volume of books, I'd probably opt for Stephen King over any other author.

I'm currently near the end of book 4 and  have to say it's taken over my life. I don't know if any other author could get away with a more than 500 page flashback the way book four is. Still the fourth book's over 800 pages so I guess it's allowed. I only wish I'd read the series a few years ago, when I had more time. Don't be put off about half way through the first book, as I nearly was. Most of the earlier parts were written so long ago that Mr King was still finding his feet then (even the subsequent edits don't take away some of the rawness.) Of course, some of the purists like that, but to me his writing peaked late nineties and has stayed at the peak ever since. Anyway by the second book, you'll realise just what a ride you're in for. By the fourth, you won't want it to stop.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Seven Daze Cover

So here it is, the cover of Seven Daze, which is being released by Caffeine Nights Publishing in late May.

If you don't know, Seven Daze is the story of an habitual small time criminal who gets a break when his cell mate introduces him to the world of contract killing. When his first job fails, he has to somehow find ten grand in seven days to repay his boss.

I have to admit, it's all getting a bit exciting now as the release date draws near. There's still much to do, read through final edits, finalise the back cover blurb and all that.

More coming up in the next few weeks.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Horses for courses

A horse walks into a pub

Barman : Sorry, we don't serve food in here.

Yeah, you've no doubt heard them all by now. If anything was more guaranteed to turn a nation to vegetarianism, parcelling up horsemeat with mechanically recovered traces of beef protein and calling it a burger was always going to get near the top.

We shouldn't be surprised, just what did we think those 99p pack of 8 burgers contained? Hardly prime beef. The only real thing that's surprised me over the past few weeks is that kebabs were supposed to contain beef. Surprised me anyway, I always thought they were lamb like meat. I have to admit I do eat the odd kebab, while I was under no impression they were either good for you or top quality meat, I thought at least it was lamb. Turns out they can also contain beef, chicken and veal. Oh yeah and pork.

So what do we do? The mad rush for cheap food, and let's face it we're all guilty of seeing special offers and filling the trolley, supermarket's rush for bigger profits and animal feed going through the roof because of poor harvests and EU laws on Biofuel production, this was always going to mean either a rise in price or lowering of quality. We shouldn't really be surprised. At least it was just horses and not rats or badgers or whatever.

As to actually eating horses, we do seem to be nearly alone in Europe in being horrified at eating them but also considering it fine to feed them to cats and dogs and for use in glue. We like our meat un-petlike and farmed specifically for the purpose. And even then, we don't eat it all. How many baulk at eating liver, kidneys and other offal. I've always taken the view that less cows have to die if I eat steak and kidney pies one night, cottage pie the next, liver and onions the next, Haggis, etc etc etc. So we won't eat liver but will eat lasagne or sausages with minced up by-products and god knows what else. After all this, it turns out, I could have just eaten burgers every night and consumed every part of a cow, except maybe actual minced steak. And, if I'd done that, I'd have helped reduce the bouyant East European stray horse problem.

The future? I suppose until we forget all about it, we'll either spend more on better quality meat or the supermarkets will keep the price the same and force more farmers out of business.

Start with a joke, end with a joke, so...

I went into a cafe the other day and ordered a burger. They asked me what I wanted on it. I said a fiver each way.

I'm here all week...