Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Three for the Price of One...ish

I have an eensy weensy confession to make.

I am a book addict.

I have heaps of them, literal stacks of books, books in boxes that I still haven't unpacked since we moved into our current house four and a half years ago because we just haven't the room for them. I keep asking my husband to put up shelves but somehow there's always something else that needs to be done first. Still, I live in hope. I have even read most of them {the books that is}.

My addiction is mostly under control but every now and again I have a binge. This week has been one of those times.

I've had Blackbirds for a while now, I got it when it was available free from the publisher, but for one reason or another I hadn't got round to reading it. I finally got round to it this week and, well, WOW! Miriam Black how do I love thee, let me count the ways!

Having devoured Blackbirds in double quick time I then bought both Mockingbird and The Cormorant and devoured them just as fast.

 I know I'm going to have to go back and have a slow thorough read of all of these books, and I'm looking forward to that, but this initial reading of the books was like the first wild swim of the year - a mad exhilarating dash that left my skin pink and tingling and my blood racing.

I love the way Chuck Wendig writes female characters, like he gets right inside their skin and totally inhabits them [except not in a creepy Silence of the Lambs type way, obviously], and Miriam Black is a great example of this. Oh and what a supporting cast. Poor put upon Louis, scummy shit-bag Ashley, Harriet and Frankie to name but a few; truly memorable characters everyone of them.

If you like your stories dark, your characters complex and multifaceted and your plot pacey and full of thrills then you might want to try these books.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Nutritional Grail by C.J. Clark

As a result of various health issues I have developed in the past year I have been trying to change my diet to see if that might improve my health.

I recently found this book. Nutritional Grail - Ancestral Wisdom, Breakthrough Science and the Dawning of a Nutritional Renaissance by Christopher James Clark.

Before I go any further with the review I just want to state for the record that I received a free review copy from Story Cartel.

So, on with the review...

I found this book to be a very interesting, thoroughly researched, and user friendly book. There are extensive foot notes to every chapter detailing the studies, research papers, letters, journals, etc that the information in this book, together with the expertise and experimentation of the author, is taken from.

The author himself began as a business analyst before moving into the field of food and nutrition and the research skills and attention to detail that he gained from his former occupation have made for a very well detailed and researched book.

There are chapters on protein, carbs, fats, etc detailing how they affect us positively and negatively, and how to get the most out of your diet. What this book does not do is tell you what to eat or how to eat it but it does tell you how to get the most out of your food and what you definitely should not be eating.

The book finishes with loads of really delicious sounding recipes that I am looking forward to trying out.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Bait Dog: An Atlanta Burns Novel by Chuck Wendig

Atlanta Burns rocks!

So, not only does she stand up for the disenfranchised, misrepresented and misunderstood, now she's doing the same for dogs! I wept buckets.

The book starts in tragedy and almost ends in tragedy. Atlanta learns some shit along the way and ultimately comes out on top - sort of.

I don't want to give too much away so this review is, by necessity, really brief but Chuck Wendig is fast becoming one of my favourite writers - I might even go so far as to say that he's up there with Neil Gaiman.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Moving the Mountain - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Moving the Mountain, the first book in the Herland Trilogy, is...well it's hard to sum up my feelings about this story. I think ambivalent probably expresses it best.

I found myself constantly having to remind myself that it is from a different era, that the ideas presented in the story were-at one time-acceptable. On the other hand there were things in the book that are wholly admirable by today's standards and that we should be striving for-that every society should be striving for.

I found this story very challenging. It actually made me shiver on a number of occasions, and yet, I can see how at the time it would have been a ground breaking novel expressing some interesting new ideas about society and societal structure.

I have previously read The Yellow Wallpaper and loved it. This story? Well, I loved elements of it. If you know the story of the Curate's Egg that sums up perfectly my opinion of this story - "Good in parts."

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

This story is by Neil Gaiman - what else need I say?

Well a bit actually. It is a great fairy story. There's a love-lorn hero, a damsel in distress, a beautiful princess imprisoned by an evil witch, evil witch queens, cold-hearted lords on a quest for power, a unicorn and much, much more.

The book alone is well worth reading but not only is this book available as a novel it is also a graphic novel and a film and each is well worth checking out.

I've found myself thinking that maybe this review is a bit short but seriously - it's Neil Gaiman! - that alone should say it all.

Then again I do have a MASSIVE crush on the man - I met him once at an event, total embarrassment, I couldn't speak, mumbled some random shit at him and then had to stand there blushing madly while he eyed me as if I was some slightly dangerous exhibit at the zoo that he couldn't tear himself away from. Still, I have books that he has touched with his own hands - I even have the signatures to prove it!

I suppose you'll just have to go and read the book to find out that it really is good and not just a figment of my obsessed imagination.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Shot in the Dark

A wee vignette for your pleasure today.

Shot in the Dark

I was shot today. By whom or why I have no idea. It was dark, I was half asleep, waiting for a train at an isolated station.

It wasn't an accident, I wasn't caught in cross-fire or mistaken for someone else, there was no one else at the station. Just me, oh and my killer of course.

I'm not really sure what to do now. I feel strangely reluctant to leave my still warm, but rapidly cooling, body. There has been no door, no light, no figure robed in black to meet me, none of the clich├ęs I kind of half hoped would actually be true. I really don't want to leave my body alone on the platform. I realise that it is an empty shell but it is still my empty shell and I liked it, was comfortable in it.

I sit, or rather hover, on the station wall, waiting for someone to discover my body. The last train is due any minute but I was in the shelter and my body has fallen behind the low stone wall that forms the front of it, I may not be discovered until the morning commute.

At last the train arrives. People hurry out of the doors and along the platform, rushing to get home to their loved ones. I float about trying to get someone to slow down, but I have no body, no substance, I am nothing more than thoughts drifting in the cold night air, a few people shiver as they pass through what remains of me but nothing more.

Eventually they are gone and I am alone with my body once more.


Comments, criticisms, etc welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Turn of the Screw - Part 2

Wayhay, I have finished! Now, on with the review.

I found The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, to be a quaint, compelling, and eerie read. I will admit that I found the sentence structure challenging, some sentences went on for what felt like pages and pages, but complicated and archaic sentence structure notwithstanding, it was a great book.

The basic story is that of a young woman, engaged to work as a governess for two orphaned children by their uncle-and guardian-who wants not to be bothered by them, or her. When she arrives at the house in the country where the children stay it is to discover that the young boy has been expelled from school, the previous governess left in mysterious circumstances-and subsequently died soon after-and that the whole house had been in thrall at some point to the absent uncle's manservant Quint-who has also died in mysterious circumstances.

During the course of the story our heroine "sees", whilst walking at twilight, a mysterious figure high up in a tower on the grounds of the house, she goes on to see this figure again, becomes convinced that it is Quint, and realises that there is a plot to possess the children. About halfway through Miss Jessel, the previous governess, also appears-seen at a distance-to join in the attempts at possession.

Or do they?

Just as I settled into thinking that this was a charming little ghost story the whole thing turned on me and I found myself wondering if I was in fact watching an unstable woman's descent into madness.

A deliciously creepy and unsettling story.

Monday, 20 January 2014

I'm a bit behind on posting reviews of books...Oops!

I have read quite a few books since the start of the year, I just haven't reviewed any.

Last night I finished the final book in the Wheel of Time Cycle - A Memory of Light.

I started the Wheel of Time books a few years ago on the recommendation of an acquaintance and I was hooked instantly. I devoured those books and read every one as soon as I could get my hands on it. When Robert Jordan died I was saddened both for his passing and for the loss of the end of the story, I desperately wanted to know what would happen to them all - Nynaeve, Egwene, Rand, Mat, etc, etc - would they succeed, would they beat Shai'tan or would it all ultimately end in disaster?

When Brandon Sanderson was chosen to use Robert Jordan's extensive notes to finish the story I rejoiced, more so when it transpired that there was just too much to fit into just one book and there would now be three more to enjoy.

Brandon Sanderson is a good writer and he did a great job of finishing the series, but it was different, the voices of the characters were different, the feel of the books was different and the whole thing sort of lost it's appeal for me.

That said I still read them, I still enjoyed them - until A Memory of Light that is.

It was good but it dragged somehow, there were just too many threads all having to be followed, loose ends having to be tidied up. It felt messy and out of control and I kept having to bring myself back to it.

Ultimately I did enjoy the story, it was good to say goodbye to that world and the people in it, I'm glad I know how it ended and how they all got there in the end. I don't think I will be going back to revisit it any time soon though - if ever!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Turn of the Screw

I was supposed to post a review of The Turn of the Screw by MR James on Monday. Clearly I failed to do so as I'm posting this on Friday.

I have to admit I have failed to even finish the story. This is an Epic Fail on my part. The story is great, atmospheric, well written, all of that and I am going to keep reading it {slowly!}, but I cannot read it in a week or even two, possibly not even three. It is written in the most convoluted way with great long rambling sentences that go on for what sometimes feels like pages and, as much as I am enjoying the story, I keep getting distracted by shinier, easier to read stories like Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig.

I am disappointed in myself, but I will persevere. I will read and review other books. I will continue the challenge and I will not let this first disaster colour the rest of the challenge!

If you get a chance, and have lots of patience, or possibly just more brain power than me, then do read this book as it well worth a look even if you do feel, as I do frequently, like grabbing the woman and telling her to stop being so silly sometimes.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

52 Books in 52 Weeks

So, if you read my last post, you'll have noticed that I planned to start reviewing books. I thought it might be good to tie this resolution into the 52 books challenge.

The first book on my list is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I'm hoping to post the review on Monday.

The next few books are :

  1. The Herland Trilogy - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  2. Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
  3. The Invisible Man - HG Wells
  4. Battle Tales From Burma - John Randle
  5. Ratcatcher - Tim Stevens
  6. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K Jerome
  7. Greyfriars Bobby - Eleanor Atkinson
So, that's me for the next two months or so. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them, otherwise I'll be aiming to post a review every Monday.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Resolutions? Oh well if I must!

So, I don't really hold with resolutions. As I see it they tend to be a  lot of empty promises that are forgotten by the end of the month-if they last that long-they sound nice but mean little.

That said, there are a few things I would like to do this year and what better time to start than at the start of a shiny new year?

So, for what is's worth here are my New Year promises to myself.

  1. Write every day.
  2. Review some of the books I read - at least one a week posted here.
  3. Finish my book and try to get it published.
  4. Start cycling again.
  5. Attempt to get on top of the housework {this one probably won't happen but I'd like to at least try!}.
  6. Keep my cool/not lose my temper.
  7. Write every day.
So there you have it; by the end of the year I will be a lean mean, good tempered, writing machine with a {maybe}clean house and {hopefully} a published {or at least on the way to being published} book.