Holiday Time: Reading Edition

So myself and Ellen just got back from a 10 day break on the south coast of Spain.

There are many types of holiday: sightseeing, hiking, camping, adventure… but the one we went on, was the lazing around doing very little except eating and sleeping holiday.

We go on this holiday almost every year. We are very fortunate in that our grandmother owns a villa in Nerja. Our grandparents have owned it for longer than I’ve been alive, so with the exception of a few years, my sister and I have visited that villa every summer of our lives. Until now. Our grandfather died a few years ago and our grandmother has been trying to sell it since. She has now succeeded. So the last ten days were our last ten days in the villa we’ve known and loved our entire lives.

So how did we spend this holiday? We read. It’s what we do. Our entire family pulls up a seat, poolside, grabs their book, and just dive on in. So I thought I’d do a round-up of what I read (Ellen thinks I’m a speed reader) and review each book.

1. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris

So the first book I read, having finished Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris days before departure, was Red Dragon. I know the film of Silence of the Lambs very well, and could never imagine anyone other than Anthony Hopkins as the infamous Hannibal Lecter, but the book read just like the film. Red Dragon, I’m not so familiar with. So it was a bit more of a mystery.

It started slow. I was bored quite a lot in the opening chapters. I wanted more Hannibal. After reading Silence of the Lambs, I wanted more Hannibal. The character interested me, intrigued me. I wasn’t interested in Francis Dolarhyde. Harris soon changed my mind. Dolarhyde is such an interesting character, and although I don’t know the film all that well, he was still Ralph Fiennes in my head.

I realise I read Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon in the wrong order, but a friend lent me Silence of the Lambs and I couldn’t get my hands on Red Dragon in a single bookshop in Cardiff, so I had to wait for delivery, so I just went straight ahead and read Silence of the Lambs. If I’d read them in the correct order, I think I would have been much more satisfied with the progression of Hannibal as a character, and the introduction of Clarice Starling after Will Graham would have been wonderful, whereas I sandwiched Graham between Starling.

I give this book 4/5. It’s very, very, good, but it’s no Silence of the Lambs… and it’s certainly no Hannibal.

2. Hannibal – Thomas Harris

Wow. Just wow. This book blew me away. I wanted more Hannibal, and Harris delivered. My craving was sated. I wanted to know just how Hannibal worked, and we finally witness him on the other side of the bars. He’s been locked up throughout Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs and now we see that although Francis Dolarhyde and Jame Gumb were horrifying, they are nothing compared to Dr Hannibal Lecter aka Hannibal the Cannibal.

I also loved reading Starling more. Her strange relationship with Lecter fascinating me. Their mutual likeness… is sort of indescribable, but totally satisfying. The characters are written so well, that they never infuriate you, they do and say exactly what they must, unlike other books. Harris has crafted these characters so wonderfully, you forget that what you are reading is fiction. You can believe that what is happening is real and you genuinely fear for them in the situations they are in.

Again, the book and film are very close… a rarity in film adaptations. Until the ending. If you haven’t read this book and don’t want the end spoilt, jump to the next section now. Ok, so the ending, although I loved the characters of Starling and Lecter separately, the fact that they end up together as couple freaked me out when I finished the book. Throughout the book, Krendler (Ray Liotta in the film) has referred to Hannibal being gay because he loves art and music and the finer things in life. I never thought of Hannibal as gay. I didn’t think of him as straight either. He wasn’t a sexual being. He was just… Hannibal. After a while to let it settle, I accepted that it was a great ending, and so was the film, albeit very different.

I give this book 5/5. I was glued to it. I want to read it again. I was ready to flip back to the beginning and read it again as soon as I reached the last page. It blew me away. Thomas Harris is truly a master of his genre. I’m a big fan of the crime/thriller genre, but this was by far the best. Second would be Silence of the Lambs. Harris has done good. I urge everyone to read it!

3. Déjà Dead – Kathy Reichs

I am a big fan of Bones, the television series. I love Temperance Brennan and her logic. I also love Spock, so I guess there’s a theme. I adore and have a huge crush on Seeley Booth and I love the whole team. I figured I should have a go at the books that inspired the series.

The books were written by Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist. A little known fact, she writes about Temperance Brennan, where Brennan who is a forensic anthropologist and a writer in the show, writes about a forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs… cool huh?

Anyway, I was blown away by how completely different the books are to the show. Or at least the first one in the series is. Literally, the only similarity is the lead character is called Temperance Brennan and she’s a forensic anthropologist. She doesn’t work at the Jeffersonian, she doesn’t work with the FBI, her best friend isn’t Angela Montenegro, hell, she doesn’t even live in the USA.

Temperance Brennan, Tempe to her friends, works and lives in Montreal. She works with the local police. She’s adamant that there is a serial killer on the loose when she examines several different remains with similar patterns in the wounds. No one else believes her… until the killer leaves a skull in her back garden in the middle of the night.

The book literally had me on edge. I made the mistake of reading a certain few chapters just before bed and could not put the book down for fear of both Brennan’s life, and my own. I was utterly hooked. I thought after Hannibal, I would struggle to get into another book, but Reichs had me. I got a little annoyed with some of the decisions Brennan made, but I feel the same way in the TV show. She’s less logical in the books, but it is still there and it’s a little more infuriating on the page. But I was satisfied overall with the read, and I’m eager to download the next book onto my Kindle app and get going.

I’ll give this book 3/5. Doesn’t help that it is in the shadow of Hannibal, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will be reading the next book in the series.

4. Heat Wave – Richard Castle

As a fan of crime drama, it doesn’t stop on the page. As you know from above, I love Bones, but I’m also a big fan of Castle. Well, I’m a big fan of Nathan Fillion and he really drives that show.

In the show, he follows Kate Beckett, a homicide detective for the NYPD as inspiration for his novels. He is a world famous, renowned writer. People recognise him on the street… he’s that famous. So the creators of the show decided to release the book he wrote in the show. So we, the fans, can read what the characters read. Find out why Beckett was teased endlessly for it.

All I can say is, if Richard Castle is a famous author for this… I can’t fathom this alternate reality. The book isn’t even worthy of fan fiction. It’s not even a trashy novel. It’s terrible. It’s a collection of scenes from the television series with some steamy scenes thrown in between Heat and Rook. Even those are cliched and awkward to read.

Avoid this book at all costs. It was a waste of £6.07 for the Kindle edition. It was recommended to me by another fan. I want to nip this in the bud and say fans, if you want to enjoy Castle more? Go back to season 1 and watch it again. Don’t bother with this rubbish.

I’d give this book 0/5. Terrible writing, terrible plot development, terrible 2D characters.

5. Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

So the same friend who leant me Silence of the Lambs lent me Shutter Island. She promised me they were both fantastic. Since I wasn’t disappointed with the former, I thought this would, likewise be a great read.

***SPOILERS***

If I hadn’t seen the film before I sat down and read this novel, I wouldn’t have known the twist, and I would have been on the edge of my seat, much like when I first saw the film… it totally blew me away. Reading the book, I could see how perfectly cast every single role was. There was no way Teddy wasn’t DiCaprio and Chuck was described as Mark Ruffalo’s doppelgänger. It was scary.

The story is paced exactly the same as the film. In fact, I think you could be forgiven for thinking the book was a novel version of the film. The film didn’t deviate one iota from the book. The script was lifted directly from the page. It was incredible. Never have I seen a film adaption so true to the book.

The only let down for me was the ending. It is identical to the film. Like I said, to the word. But there is something in Ruffalo and DiCaprio’s performance that makes you doubt whether Laeddis is crazy or whether he is choosing a lobotomy in the hope that he can forget what he did, which is what his psychosis is. He’s trying to forget what happened, and I felt at the end of the film that perhaps he was opting in to the surgery by still acting out his performance. Somehow that is lost on the page. Maybe it was something Scorsese added, and it made the story a whole lot better for it.

Still this was an entertaining read, and if you don’t know the story, I’m sure it is a thrilling and chilling story too. If you have seen the film, I would suggest giving it a miss. You won’t find anything new here.

I’d give it 3/5. For me, it was a bit boring. But for readers new to the story, it would be a 4 or maybe even a 5.

 

So I’m assuming you’ve clocked the theme here. Every book I read this holiday has a film or TV version of it. I can promise you it was totally subconscious. I started Hannibal Rising at the end of the holiday and I’m still reading it. And my next choice was to start the Game of Thrones series.

I love reading, and in 10 days, I did read 5 books. I also finally finished Eat, Pray, Love which I started on holiday in April when I went to Bucharest and Budapest. You can read about that trip here.

It is the end of an era, that we will never return to that villa, though I hope that we will visit Nerja again. It’s a home from home. But this gives us a great opportunity to visit new places as a family too.

You’ll see a blog soon about new beginnings from me. Hope my reviews are somewhat helpful to someone!

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