Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

There is always much excitement when it comes to a new Stephen King; after keeping us in a King-drought for some years after his novel 11.22.63 (you can see my review here); he then hit us hard with the long awaited sequel to The Shining, with Doctor Sleep; and now Mr Mercedes, which side steps King’s usual style of horror/paranormal genre. In Mr Mercedes, King surely shows us that he deserves the title King of Fiction.

Imagine a Mercedes ploughing through a line of job seekers one cold morning. And so begins Mr Mercedes as newly retired, and decorated, Detective Hodges adjusts to his now dull and lack luster life after fighting crime and taking down mafia bosses; the type of life that makes him think shoving a gun in his mouth sounds like a treat, well at least now. As all retired detectives seem to have some unsolved cases, and the Mercedes Killer case bubbles to the surface when Hodges receives a letter from the Mercedes Killer himself – or so he assumes is a ‘he’. 

Brady is living with his semi comatose and alcoholic mother, a disturbing story to say the least. His greatest achievement is driving a stolen Mercedes into a line of unemployed men and women, killing hundreds. It seems he is growing bored, so he decides to rub salt into the wound by taunting Detective Hodges.

Hodges grows hungry and begins to follow the lead, as the case starts to unwind, new clues begins to pop up; especially since the Mercedes killer is getting sloppy. He better work fast because Brady has a plan that will make the Mercedes murder look like child’s play.

It's no secret Stephen King is one of our times greatest novelists; he is no Julian Barnes in terms of style and lyrical prose; what King truly is: is a storyteller - the only author to make clowns feared, and the phrase redrum send shivers down your spine.

The great thing about this cat and mouse thriller novel is that King does it so well. The plot plods, an old woman on a Zimmer frame kind of plod, I felt that it was almost contrite and vastly differing from King’s usual style of writing - was I expecting pacy plot or a paranormal scene with walls coated in blood and animals howling at the moon; Oh, I don't know.Kind did not completely fail his fans with the newest addition to his repertoire. King threads the reader with a double effort of great characterization and you’re bound to be left hungrily gobbling the story up - he dishes up the suspense, if not plot, as if it were soup for the poor and hungry. You'll charge through this novel quickly - it's worth it.

Watch Stephen King talking about his inspiration for Mr Mercedes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

EB Cafe - An Erudite's Wonderland

What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I can't imagine my life, let alone life itself, without a book or the comfort of out-facing spines peeking out from a shelf. This is the life and soul of what we book lovers are, live for, and what keeps us alive as readers, seekers and thinkers.

Books have always crawled into my life. I can, almost always, pin a book to a place, a time, a heartbreak, or even a person. Books are who we are - who I am. I truly never understood my love and passion for books until I was given an opportunity to shelve, pack and serve books to like minded (sometimes not very like minded) book lovers like myself. I all of a sudden had opinions, thoughts and favourites when it came to books. They made me fiercer, hungrier, and sharper with everything.

I find myself heading straight to a bookstore, any bookstore, if it holds tomes of choice, I head there - my personal compass. Books introduced me to my friends, my job and this blog - the Madonna.

The book trade has seen tough times, digital swooping in as the favourite sibling while Amazon plays bully to pestal mortor stores in the playground leaving no book and publisher without a piece of the pie uneaten. In swoops a fairy godmother and saves us all from our almost permanent woebegone expressions, and suffering in the trade. 

Exclusive Books Rosebank launched to a full house of invite only guests with applause, and a gasp-point-oh-look-at-that expression. A store that spent many months under construction, no air con, no shelves, and no semi-decent books poking out from their shelves - they are repaying this struggle with temultuous rapture. A book lovers ecstacy is this store displaying french atrisan stationery, poofy bean-bags (that aren't just for the kids), wooden ladders, and all wafting with exciting chatter of customers dying to buy something. 

This can usually be seen as an average store opening, but this is where Exclusive Books is showing it's rejunviation in the trade, after being taken over by consortium headed by CEO Benjamin Trisk, former MD of Exclusive Books. This store has shaken off the franchise of Seattle or Vida Cafe, but has now formed it's own coffee shop: EB Cafe, elbowed onto the already elegant Rosebank store. EB Cafe, a new chapter in coupling books and coffee. Offering locally based and roasted Legado Coffee in all ways possible (even variations of Chemex pour overs), a Burundi: Buhorwa, El Salvador: La Divina and an 'exclusive' Signature Blend, and surely when you havent had enough the Cafe also hosts a variety of homemade goodies; my personal favourite: the carrot cake with an amarula icing.

It surely sounds like a dream come true, but this store is something to be proud of, what a bookseller would envy, a bookstore chain to mimic and a lover of books (and coffee) something to enjoy. 

Get down to Exclusive Books Rosebank, grab a coffee, settle in a bean bag, and find the book that will capture you more than the shelves pouring before you.

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