This over-assuming book has been looming on my book case for longer than I remember. I wouldn’t even know where it came from if it weren’t for the charity shop sticker pasted to the front – ah yes, one of my jaunts through the many that grace our town, spending money I haven’t got on books that I rarely get around to reading. I say ‘over-assuming’ because of the dark, foreboding cover and the creepy looking doll, with it’s piercing black eyes and spooky under-layer. The cover, if I’m honest, has always frustrated me a little and perhaps that is why it has always lain untouched. It jumps out and smacks you on the face and says ‘read me’ in such an ugly, obvious way that I was repelled and put off. I built a wall that screamed back ‘no I won’t, I’ll read what I bloody well like and you can’t stop me’, shouting (silently of course, I’m not as crazy as I would perhaps like to be) in an obstinate manner much as I imagine Harriet herself would do.
So it was book club again this week. I love book club. Even when everyone enjoyed the book, the discussion always reduces to a bitch-fest of which characters we didn’t like and who did something stupid. It’s fun. Even without the bitch-fest, it’s always satisfying to talk to people who agree with us and interesting to talk to those who don’t. The best book club meetings are those when there is a range of opinions on a book – lovers and haters. That can really get a debate going.
See How They Run by Tom Bale didn’t quite manage that level of debate, but it did get the conversation flowing. There were some who absolutely loved the book while others thought it was okay, but there were no out-and-out haters this month. Certainly, as it proclaims on its cover, it’s a fast-paced novel. Right from the outset, the action gets your heart pumping and your curiosity jumping. It gets your eyes running across the words and stumbling as you try to take the story in too soon. You need to know what’s going to happen next.
The Last Weekend tells the story of Ian and Em, a seemingly everyday couple, with everyday values and everday lives. It tells the story of a stiflingly hot August bank holiday weekend away in the English countryside with old friends, Ollie and Daisy. Despite having not seen each other for a number of years, the two couples aim to revive old friendships, offer up new revelations, and spend a relaxing weekend together, taking a break from the woes of real life. And it turns out just like that. Sort of.
You know, one of the things that I love most about books is just how versatile they are. Yes, they can make you laugh or make you cry, but it’s more than that. Books can be pure entertainment and escapism or they can be there to guide you through life. They can be a reflection of your soul or help you through a spiritual matter. They teach you things, from facts and figures to methods and hows to do things. Format It Yourself by Jo Roderick falls exactly into this category – and it does it very, very well.
Destiny entwines the lives of Abigail, Beatrice, and Cecelia (the eponymous A, B, and C). Although we meet them only briefly – both at the beginning of this book and again at the end – their stories are embroiled in the rest of the tale – that of Frank and Delphine, with whom we travel on a journey of love, of disaster, of heartache, and of recovery. This book is about loveable characters and how their lives are pulled together by destiny.
I’ve had this book on my Kindle for a number of weeks now, after downloading it as part of Aiding Indie Authors (if you like reading, it’s well worth checking out that group, by the way). To be honest, I was reluctant to start it. I’m not sure why. I have read many of Gogerty‘s stories on the blog Bookshop Bistro, so I already knew I enjoy her style. Perhaps my reluctance stemmed from my lack of energy for a collection of short stories, but perhaps it was something else – I really don’t know. Whatever the reason was, it was stupid reason! It was stupid, because once I started, I quickly realised that I was going to fall in love with many of these stories!
I do quite a variety of editing and proof-reading, from academic papers to fiction and everything in between. Sometimes, the work is painfully dull but for the most part, it’s mildly interesting and besides, I’m not doing it to be entertained. Sometimes though, on the rare occasion, I get to work on a piece that is not mildly entertaining but is addictive and thrilling and The Valadin by Wayne Farrugia was just that.
Just before Christmas, I took part in an author event run by a friend of mine. Whilst the games that we played were enjoyable, and the two authors involved (Rose English and Maria Gibbs) were fantastic fun, I didn’t really expect to win anything. Imagine my surprise then, when Rose English herself messaged me to declare me the winner! I was overjoyed, and it wasn’t long before the postie was knocking on my door with a little pile of goodies. This unassuming little book, The Magic of Grandfather Time, was in amongst it.
Imagine if reincarnation were a certainty. Imagine everyone could remember their past lives. Imagine all those past lives and past personalities fighting for dominance. That’s the world that Nadia lives in. A broken, fearsome, dangerous, mad world, in which everyone has lived many, many lives and in which everyone has to fight every day just to survive. Except Nadia’s different. She wasn’t born with a soul imprint and she has no memories of any previous lives. Soulless tells us her story. Read more
You know, I’m finding it absolutely impossible to sum up this book without throwing in spoilers for book one. So instead, here’s the blurb from Amazon:
Mortals never see me in their final moments. Isabel saw me. From the very beginning. She saw me, knew me for the monster I am, and still she loved me. That beautiful young woman with fire in her blood. I wanted her the moment I laid eyes on her. She was perfect, made just for me by a cruel and merciless twist of Fate. Isabel was my mate and my match, in every way, but loving me destroyed her.Fate stole my love from me, simply to watch me suffer. Oh, it cost her, but not nearly enough. A few dead Reapers were nothing compared to what I would do when I found her. The River of the Dead could run red with the blood of the guilty, and it would never be enough. My revenge would be a bitter-sweet thing, for it would never bring my Isabel back to me. Once she faced Judgment, she would be lost to me, forever.I could not accept that. I would not.
I enjoyed the first book, it was a good book full of philosophical questions, fast-paced action, and great characters (check out my review). But where the first book was a touch clichéd and perhaps overly commercial, clinging to a trend that’s trailing to its end, this second book is far from it! In fact, this book moves so far away from the cliché that I had to read over bits of the first book to make sure I hadn’t got it entirely wrong!
When we think of Death as a character, we think of a dark being who steals lives, snatching souls from bodies and cutting away the strings of life. In Wings of Darkness, Asher (The Angel of Death) isn’t like that being though, and we discover that in the very first scene, when he saves Isabel, a feisty teenage girl, from a fate worse than death: becoming an immortal sorrow as her lost spirit wonders the Earth. Of course, nothing is ever that simple, though is it? As Asher binds her soul to her body, so he binds himself to her and when Death is bound to a mortal, things are bound to get exciting, right?
This book takes off exactly where Wish For Me ended, and follows Glory, Irving, Madeleine, and Elena on their quest to find Rasputin and save their realms from certain death. I really enjoyed the first book in this series (check out my review for more information), and whilst that makes the second in a series exciting, it also makes me a little nervous. Is it going to be as good? Is it going to be terrible and taint my opinion of the first? Is it going to be so awesome that I can’t handle it? Am I going to be disappointed to find that the third in the series is not out yet? In this instance, the truth is honestly a bit of a mixture.
When Glory St. Pierre finds an odd looking vase in her recently deceased grandmother’s basement, little did she know she was about to discover the existence of djinn, as well as a whole new world. This is where Irving comes into it, and grants Glory three wishes. There isn’t really much more I can say without giving too much of the story away. There is the djinn element, of course, plus a romance element (isn’t there always?), and plenty of action.
I love Margaret Atwood and her deliciously negative outlook on life. There is something quite exciting about her evident disappointment in the human race and the bleakness that she bleeds into her books. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s a fight against the enforced sickly sweetness of the world. The ‘let’s all be happy because everything is going to be alright’. Perhaps it’s that, or perhaps it’s just a delight to see something different for a change, to taste the sweet drops of the prohibited, the views you shouldn’t hold because where will negativity get you? Nowhere? Maybe though, just maybe, these brooding tales of woe are just what the doctor ordered when it comes to examining the ways we live and to stark warnings of what our future may behold – if we’re not careful, of course. Atwood is the queen of this, the queen of modern dystopia and this novel, The Heart Goes Last, is certainly no exception.
The Master and Margarita, at its base, is a love story between the two title characters – a love that goes beyond any normal means to survive. It’s about as intriguing as a love story can get without becoming too ridiculous (okay, I admit that the devil’s involvement could be classed as some-what far-fetched but somehow Bulgakov has made that seem perfectly normal and so I’ve decided to just go with it). Weaved around this, we read of Woland (Satan) and his wonderful retinue (Behemoth the fat cat with a liking for vodka and chess, Korovyov in his cracked pince-nez, and Azazello with his mystical cream and amazing shot). Their escapades, more mischievous than evil, are comical and hugely entertaining, bringing in a wonderful slapstick humour that gives light relief at all the appropriate moments (as well as a few inappropriate ones too). The final thread to pull it all together is the story of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Nostri (‘Jesus of Nazareth’), the novel-within-a-novel, so devotedly written by The Master and so adored by Margarita – the manuscript that so famously cannot burn.
Picking up my rather unattractive copy of the novel with yellowing pages and an ugly font didn’t exactly fill me with joyous anticipation. The beginning of chapter one certainly didn’t help. As one book club member pointed out, a great first line is necessary to capture attention right from the beginning and this book is far from achieving that. In fact, as another member added, the first line of the novel is an extended version of the first chapter heading – “Who will be the new bishop?”, which inspired little interest in the first instance, let alone the second. Thus, the first few chapters fail to pull you into the story and I found myself zoning out. This certainly didn’t bode well for the next 520-odd pages.
I’ve seen the name ‘China Miéville’ bandied around for a while now and have often wondered. It’s difficult not to wonder when you see a name like that. I have to admit though; I always assumed it was a woman. “Will her writing stand up to her name, though?” I found myself asking, like the blatant and presumptuous fool that I am. Turns out, of course, that Miéville is part of the ‘dangly bits’ half of society – not even lightly either, he is firmly there in a way that I could never quite experience. Not that I’d want to mind you, I imagine ‘it’ would get in the way and drive me slightly bonkers. Aaaanyway…he is definitely not a woman and therefore, her writing couldn’t possibly stand up to her name – but did it stand up to his?
The 12 Days of Christmas is a collection of short stories loosely based on the Christmas carol of the same name. I say loosely because the titles of each story are about the only thing Christmassy about them. From ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’, about Emma Partridge and her desire to protect a pear tree all the way to ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming’, the story of 12 small tin soldiers, these stories swap genre, setting, and characters but never once lands on Christmas. I can’t lie, I was intrigued by this premise of non-Christmassy Christmas stories and drawn by the fantastic cover but often it’s the case that the contents of the book doesn’t stand up to my excitement. Did that happen with this book? Well that’s an easy answer: no, it absolutely did not happen with this book.
Ties That Bind is erotica. No, that’s not right. It’s a love story. No, that’s not quite right either. It’s an exciting drama complete with family feuds and a ‘will they-won’t they’ romance. Nope, not that either. Actually, it is that – it’s all of that, rolled up into a tightly wound and seamless ball of excitement and fun, with just the right amount of tension. It’s the story of Alex and the family she is trying to escape. It’s also the story of Alex and her new boyfriend, Gabriel. It’s also the story of Gabriel, his career, and his past. These threads are weaved as seamlessly in the book as they would be in life – all the individual aspects of these character’s lives bumping up against each other and merging into a single tree with many branches.
This book was a Christmas gift from an old friend who clearly knows me well. Despite having studied philosophy reasonably intensively in the past, this little book of thought experiments was both entertaining and engaging. One of the things that I love about philosophy is that it can be read and understood at many different levels and this book is no exception. Baggini has taken 100 famous philosophical conundrums, re-written them in his own words and then added a brief discussion of the topic at hand. These can be used at face value, as short sharp ideas that you may not have thought about before or as a starting block for more serious thought and contemplation. In this way, the book will suit all levels of philosophical ability, from beginners to the more advanced.