As this week was World Book Day I felt somewhat obliged to visit my local bookstore and purchase a couple of books. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any independent stores near where I work so I had to settle for a visit to Waterstones. I don't have anything against them, but I would have liked to have supported an independent.
Unusually, for me, I didn't have any specific titles I was looking for - well, except one. My shop visit coincided with the release of the short story collection 100 Stories for Haiti and I figured that was a suitable purchase for World Book Day. Unfortunately, not only did the store not have any in stock, they could not even find it on their own system (which was a little odd as I found it on their website when I returned to my office). So, that remains on my "to buy" list - and I urge you to do the same.
The titles I did pick up were not really my usual fare, and I feel slightly guilty that two of the three were so well known that they did not really need my support. Nonetheless, I do feel that I should read WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Steig Larsson, if only to understand why they are rated so highly. I've not started WOLF HALL yet, my wife has snagged that (much more her thing), but I have started DRAGON TATTOO.
I have to admit, had someone given it to me, I probably would not have persevered beyond the first few pages. To me, it starts rather slowly and rather dully. Only when the key character - Lisbeth - is introduced does it seem to pick up. But it's really too early to pass judgement at this stage.
My final selection was one I certainly would not usually have read - TIMERIDERS by Alex Scarrow. It's a YA novel, of which I have been reading too many recently, but its subject matter is worthy of attention as (and I'm not giving anything away here) time travel does feature in my first book - THE LONG SECOND - so I was interested to see how Alex handled what can be a tricky subject, not least dealing with the infamous Time Travel Paradox. (Again, I'm giving nothing away by saying that he deals with it by ignoring it. Nothing wrong with that, frankly).
But the real reason I wanted to pick up the book was in recognition for the way he handled himself recently when the book was criticised on another blog I regularly read - Catherine's "Reading Whilst Writing". Cat, in fairness, simply stated that "it wasn't turning out to be very enjoyable" and had put it to one side for future reading. Hardly scathing criticism, but there have been numerous occasions recently where authors have embarrassed themselves by reacting badly to any criticism. When Alex responded, I was expecting another car-crash moment - but was astonished to see how well he handled Cat's comments, showing real maturity and reason in his response. For that reason alone I, and many others, vowed to buy his book.
And my verdict? I really enjoyed it. I admit, I'm closer the the likely target audience (being male) than Cat, though sadly I'm a long way from being YA myself, and that may have made all the difference. Or, it could have been the whole time-travel connection. Regardless, I have little to criticise, certainly nothing worth mentioning here (except, perhaps, that I would probably have ended it a few pages earlier, but that's just me!). There were, in fact, at least a couple of genuinely unexpected twists - and for those, I salute you, Alex.
I thoroughly recommend TIMERIDERS (and that is something I say very rarely).
In other news, the current WIP is progressing nicely. I've revised the target word-count down a little, to 80,000, which puts it about 50% complete. If it goes longer, that's fine. The only difficulty? The ending. There are currently six or seven possible endings, all of which are very feasible even at this stage. I have a feeling this one is going to surprise me...