Saturday, April 30, 2016

Book you'd love to read again right away

A week ago I posed a question on this blog—which is the one book that you’d love to read again this minute—and why?

Just one book sitting in your memory and standing on your bookshelf.

I am not surprised at the terrific choices everyone made. The books cover different genres, which tells you a lot about the kind of books people like to read—and reread. Of course, all this is subjective as I, myself, read in nearly every genre. History today, mystery tomorrow.

Some of these books have been reviewed by those who selected them and wherever possible I have given the links to the reviews. In case I have missed yours then please let me know in comments.

Without any more fuss I hand over this space to my friends, fellow-bloggers, and booklovers  many of whose recommendations have made it on to my TBR list.

Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books

I’m not going to agonize over this. I’ll make a quick decision, even if I might choose a different one if you asked me tomorrow.

Agatha Christie has given me such an enormous amount of pleasure over the years, that I am going to pick one that I first read when I was about 12, and have read several times since, always with great enjoyment—The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie. On my blog here.

My chosen book is a very good story, an excellent mystery, and very entertaining and funny. It has a twist at the end which foreshadowed a more famous book. I loved the adventurous character of Anne Bedingfield—she was a great heroine, and Sir Eustace Pedler is hilarious.

I think if I was having a hard time I would be able to ease into this book and it would take my mind off any difficulties.

Charles Gramlich at Razored Zen

One book that I reach for every couple of years is To Tame a Land by Louis L'Amour. It's the story of Ryan Tyler, who begins as a young boy with his father. They are in a wagon train through Indian country when their wagon breaks down and the train rolls on. Tyler goes through many adventures as he grows up to become a gunfighter. It just resonates with me. Adventure, family, pathos, action. All here.
John Norris at Pretty Sinister Books

I doubt you will read this, but I'd read it cover to cover without a break if I had the luxury and "had to" do so. It's not a mystery novel, BTW. The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer. I have a blog post about it though it just barely fits into my category of crime, adventure and supernatural fiction. It's a western and a borderline adventure novel. Not at all the kind of western most readers of that fiction would choose.

Oscar Case at Bloggingcurly

I would choose O. Henry short stories to renew my acquaintance with him.

Yvette Banek at in so many words...

 I’ve been rereading a few books from my own library lately, but I gather you mean what ‘special’ book I’d reread at the drop of a hat?

Huntingtower by John Buchan springs to mind. Full of adventure and derring-do, I LOVE the ‘feel’ of this book. It is the perfect read far as I’m concerned.

Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse. If pressed I would say this is my favorite PGW. It’s the cow creamer story.

David Cranmer at The Education of a Pulp Writer

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora

I would pick The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald because it is a beautifully composed short novel that I read when I was a pre-teen and it has haunted me ever sense for its sense of longing and loss, about how the past can so condition a person for the rest of their lives and for the desperate things people can do just to ‘fit in’.

Tracy Kaltenbrun at Bitter Tea and Mystery

My choice for the book I’d love to read again is Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout, the 6th book in the Nero Wolfe series.

Keishon Tutt at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

The one book I would reread again right this minute isn’t even a mystery novel, it’s a sweeping historical fiction/romance novel set during WW2 and 912 pages long. What’s really great about it is how immersed you are as a reader in the lives of the characters and the events that shape their lives. It’s at turns suspenseful and enlightening. Highly recommend Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. 

Richard Robinson at Tip the Wink

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Which book would you read again this minute?

A student retrieves a book at San Diego City College.
Photo: Joe Crawford, California, USA,
via Wikimedia Commons

The 3Cs has been around for nearly seven years and during all that time it has rarely asked questions about books or films, let alone set up a poll or quiz, like some of my ardent (blog) friends do. Margot and Sergio run some mean quizzes and polls. The 3Cs is ill-informed to host any. Instead, it has a question, just one for now.

If you were forced, at knifepoint, to pick a book you’d already read before and asked to read it again, at gunpoint, which one would it be—and why?

No, that won’t do. You can’t read under the grip of fear. That’s no page-turner. Let me rephrase the question.

Which is the one book that you’d love to read again this minute—and why?

Your feedback will be like a recommendation of books for me, and I look forward to your eclectic choices.

My only request to you is not to “write down” your answers in comments below. Instead, send me an email at I will collate the answers and put them up in a separate post, with your names and blog names.

The deadline is Saturday, April 30. In case you need more time, let me know, and we can extend the date. This is no homework.

Thank you for your time. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Coin for the Hangman by Ralph Spurrier, 2016

"Hello Ralph. You still mucking about with books?"

This is only an introduction to A Coin for the Hangman, the debut novel of Ralph Spurrier. I read about it online.

The 68-year-old new crime fiction writer is elated. He told Wiltshire Times, "It is an incredible feeling but also slightly frightening, to have a book published. It will be a surreal moment seeing something you have spent seven years on, from writing the first word of it to it being published, make it onto a bookshelf. It is a great feeling."

The book, published by Hookline Books and released on April 5, is set in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, England, during World War II. The narrative is in first person.

"I was looking for a typical West Country town and I thought Bradford on Avon was a perfect fit, particularly the lock-up on the bridge. I should have done this 40 years ago but it is never too late," Spurrier said of his 268-page novel.

The novel has an intriguing premise. The protagonist is a secondhand book dealer whose name is also Ralph. According to one synopsis, "When he finds the tools of England's last hangman, along with the diary of a condemned man he executed, he knows he has a mystery to solve. Was there a miscarriage of justice? Did the wrong man die at the noose?"

A more detailed plot outline reveals, "A secondhand book dealer...buys a job lot of books and artefacts found in a non-descript Sussex bungalow. He realises that he has in his hands a series of diaries and documents owned by Reginald Manning, who became the official hangman in the brief period after the UK’s last Chief Executioner Albert Pierrpoint retired but just before the abolition of capital punishment. What he finds is both chilling and fascinating. Is he reading about a miscarriage of justice on an epic scale? Is there anyone still alive who can verify the events described in the diaries?"

The Kindle editions are available on Amazon for $5.02 and Amazon UK for £3.79. You may read an extract on the publisher's website, here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Drabble #4: A story in 100 words

His mouth is like a graveyard
Teeth like uneven tombstones
And when he opens his mouth
His breath spews out wisps of mist
Shaped like ghostly spirits
Smelling foul and rotten
Jealous of human prosperity
Dark and sinister night
Night without humour
Night without the moon 

He walks, with a stoop and cane
In the middle of the wet road
Not a soul, not a shadow
Something slams into him
The head disintegrates
Wheels drag the rest
A bloodcurdling scream
The scream of a thousand corpses
Coffin lid creaks open
Maggot hand, parasitic face
Bats shriek, cadavers cringe
“Mom!” “Dad!”

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mage, Maze, Demon by Charles Allen Gramlich, 2016

A barbarian sent on a mission of no return.

The cover of Mage, Maze, Demon, the latest fantasy story by American writer Charles Allen Gramlich, is so striking that it instantly reminded me of the covers of Conan the Barbarian comics I read as a teenager, and still do sometimes.

I could visualise Bryle the barbarian built like Conan, and like the Cimmerian warrior, filled with raw courage and a grip that never loosens its hold on his mighty blade.

The story begins with the barbarian fleeing a raging forest fire, the howling flames licking his skin and flesh, wolves and deer outrunning him to the safety of dry land and greener pastures.

But Gramlich’s narrative is more poetic than that — “The flames shriek with joy like a fiend.”

He continues in his distinctive style, to recount Bryle’s narrow escape into a dark cavern, where he meets an evil sorcerer who baited the brave protagonist into coming to him.

Bryle is trapped inside the enormous cave. The sorcerer, whose two unseeing eyes are like black holes, offers freedom in exchange for a dangerous task — the barbarian must enter a treacherous maze to retrieve a mysterious talisman and bring it back. To get there, however, Bryle will have to get past a beast guarding the amulet, confront a powerful demon central to the story, and surmount orphic challenges.

Can he trust the necromancer? Will he let him go if he succeeds? Bryle is not sure. But like Conan, he is curious and therefore adventurous even if it means putting his life at risk. Paying no heed to his own safety, Bryle ventures into the depths of the labyrinth, unaware of help from a quiet and unlikely friend.

I think the beautiful part of fantasy and its sub-genre, sword and sorcery, is the uncertainty — neither the protagonist nor the reader are prepared for what is coming next. It’s a literary form where fear and pity have no place. Gramlich, an expert on the phantasmagoric works of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, piles on the suspense and surprise with every narrative line.

Mage, Maze, Demon is the first sword-and-sorcery yarn I read, and liked. However, it was my second fantasy story by Gramlich, the first being his Harvest of War. Both stories are about brave warriors turned survivors.

This story is based on “a concept developed by David Cranmer (publisher of Beat to a Pulp) for the Veridical Dreams Series 3, inspired by the dreams journals of Kyle J. Knapp."

Mage, Maze, Demon is a very readable fast-paced action-adventure that will appeal to readers of fantasy fiction, and particularly sword and sorcery.