I stumbled upon Woman With a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine quite accidentally while going through instagram stories of people I follow. This was sent to @sumaiyya.books on instagram for review and my curiosity was aroused by the synopsis. The book is set during the days following the attack on Pearl Harbour in the 1940’s and is about an aspiring writer who happens to be Japanese in those times. But it is not that simple.
The book is laid out as a story within a story. It comprises of the book that a Japanese writer (writing under an American pen name), letters from his editor who is editing the manuscript for him and also a spin off that the author is writing as a companion or sequel to the book.
This book grew on me. It was a short read but it was one of those stories that stay with you and one that you suddenly think of while going about your day. Like I said this book starts off as a book within a book. The story is more of a pulp detective yarn where a professor is trying to find out who killed his wife. But suddenly he finds himself in a world that has no idea who he is and it is in fact a month or so in the future and everybody that he comes in contact with hates him on sight for being a Japanese.
We as readers are more clued in as we see the correspondence between the author and the editor about changing the story post Pearl Harbor, to make the protagonist non-Japanese and to turn it in to a pulp spy novel.
This book makes you think and feel a lot of things. It makes you feel for the author (the one in the book) as you get to know his story through the editors letters and get to know his life as a Japanese in America in those times. You also get to think about this question. What happens to characters or stories that writers leave unfinished or abandon partway through? Do they live on or perish? Come to thin of it where do writers get their ideas? McAlpine plays with these questions and our feelings quite well. I really really liked this book. I strongly recommend you to read this book if you can get your hands on it.
Rating – 4.5/5
I am not sure if I can recommend a book that is like this one. Maybe I’ll update this post when I think of something.
I have always loved Stephen King’s books. He has written a lot of books. I own a lot of his books. He is one of the authors that shows up a lot in my read shelf. But I had never read one of his most famous books – Salem’s Lot. I had to rectify that soon. I am going to try and read all of his books that are out this year. The operative word being “try”considering the sheer number of books he’s written. I thought I would start with Salem’s Lot, because don’t shoot me, I hadn’t read it yet.
While writing this I realize I haven’t really read very many vampire books other than Twilight. Or maybe none are coming to mind at the moment. Well I’m happy I’ve rectified that.
I really quite liked Salem’s Lot. Stephen King has this knack of writing small towns. I know this is weird but to me it’s reminiscent of Christie’s St. Mary Mead. On the surface his towns seem perfect, but look closely and it has its secrets. The difference is King gives us a lot more detail and his towns are a lot more sinister sometimes.
I could tell that this book was one of his early books. I could see parts of It and Tommyknockers in this book, what with the small town description, and a little of Needful Things, with the antagonists setting up an antique shop. I’m not saying these books were similar to a great degree, but I did get glimpses. This book felt a little more fast paced to me than his other books, where you get to know the characters a lot more, and not just the main ones. I’m not complaining but it’s an observation. I just wanted a few more scenes with Mark and Ben Mears.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was a great place to start my journey of reading all of the books by King. if rate it a 3.5/5 only because I’ve read his later efforts that were so much better and where he refined what he’d written here.
Which King book do you think I should pick up next? I’m not sure I’ll go chronologically.
If you liked Salem’s Lot I’d recommend –
1. It by Stephen King
2. Phantoms by Dean Koontz
This was one of the books I stumbled across while going through one of my favourite Goodreads reviewer, Emily Mays‘s reviews. I like most of the books she has rated 4 or more stars. This was one of them. And I have been craving creepy books lately and this fit the bill.
And the Trees Crept In is about Silla and Nori, two sisters who run away from their abusive father, to go live with their maternal aunt Cath. She lives in a huge manor, named La Baume, in the middle of Python Woods. Though shocked at first to see two children at her doorstep, Cath takes them in and they are happy for a while. But when Nori, the youngest, wanders near the woods while playing Cath loses it. She warns Nori and Cath not to go into the woods because the Creeper Man lives there and that he would hurt little children who wander in to the woods. Silla thinks this is just a story Aunt Cath is telling them to keep them safely away from the woods. But soon she finds out that her aunt is coming unhinged and that she does believe in this Creeper Man. Cath finally loses it and locks herself in the attic.
Everything goes downhill from there. Because of impending war, the nearby town becomes a ghost town and the food supplies are running low and they’ve started to starve.Then Silla starts noticing things too. She notices the woods creeping in and starts seeing a tall man with a horrible grin and no eyes. And the roots are creeping ever closer.She cannot escape as that would mean going through the woods where the Creeper Man is. She can’t tell if she is going crazy or really seeing him.
This book has everything a chilling read needs – a Boogeyman, a Haunted house, a crazy lady and a protagonist who cannot tell if she is going crazy or not. And I was scared after reading around 20% into the book. I couldn’t fall asleep because of the way the creeper man is described in the book. The hysteria builds up throughout the books. There’s creepy poetry at the beginning of every chapter and the book in interspersed with Silla’s journal entries. I liked the journal bits because they had messages hidden in them.
It dragged on in parts though. Especially the middle. But am I glad I stuck with it. The ending explains all of it. This book reminds me of a movie. I can’t really put it down here in the review without it being a major spoiler. So if you want to know, then comment down below and maybe I’ll tell you. All in all this was a good read. I would rate it a 3.75 out of 5.
If you like reading horror or creepy books I would recommend the following –
- The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
- Five Stories High