Book Reviews





E-Readers for Xmas

It's that time of year again. And what do you get the unsocial being who sits in the corner reading A Christmas Carol instead of playing the 5th round of Charades?... An e-reader! (Or so I'm lead to believe, having spent last Xmas clutching my own like a long lost teddy bear.)

Self depreciation aside though, if you are looking to buy a thoughtful, book-themed gift for someone you love/want to keep quiet for a month or so, you could do worse than Digital Book Heaven in their hands. Despite this, you could be met with some resistance to your great gift suggestion. For example:

"I like PAGES"
"I'll miss the SMELL of books"
"I cant read it in the bath"
"It just FEELS different"

To help you out, I would like to offer you the answer to all of the above and more. Here it is:

"Books are NOT vanishing."

E-reader-phobes seem to have this amazing concept of never being able to pick up a physical book again once they own an e-reader. I don't know, maybe a Kindle replaces an arm or something (in which case, they've been reading too much Sci-Fi/Steampunk and could probably do with some good ol' classics obtained FOR FREE via the interweb anyway.)

An e-reader does feel different, I'll give the 'phobes that. But I'll be honest, reading two tonnes of "World Without End" not so long ago had me rueing the fact I had borrowed it from a friend and not downloaded it. Hear this, World - "e-readers save your hand a lot of cramp for the epics!"

As for the smell thing... seriously, just get over it. If you want to sniff a centuries old sneeze off a book, go down to your local library and help stop them from all but disappearing.

An e-reader, whether it be Kindle, Kobo, Sony... whatever, simply offers you options!

It can make your reading experience better than a book when the paper-version is either a) heavy as a brick b) only out in hardback c) published in mini-font .1000 or d) printed on tissue paper and you want to make notes.
It offers the option to download samples which I LOVE. No suspicious looks any more from shelf-faffers as I read the first chapter in the middle of Waterstones = "thank you e-reader, you flippin' genius".
And last but not least - when you finish Part 1 of an amazing series in the middle of your snow-soaked White Christmas, and it ends on an unbearable cliff hanger and the shops are shut, you no longer need to make everyone else's Christmas a Humbug. You can just hit download on Part 2.

Happy Christmas? Yes, I thought so too!

Happy e-reading everyone!

Books to make time for - Part 6

Wow, I haven't written one of these in a while! Let's catch up with a book that I think everyone in the world should read whether they feel like they want to or not ;)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini doesn't get as much celebration as The Kite Runner, but of the two, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the one which made me weep. It's a brilliant (though heartbreaking) story of women, friendship and struggle in Afghanistan. Keep the tissues close.

What is it about?

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them. [from]

Why should you make time for it?

The book is moving, immersive and shocking in many ways. It's written extremely well and completely pulls you into the lives of the characters, almost to a point where you can't bear to be aligned with them any more. I won't lie, this book is not a happy tale, it's tragic on many levels but there are beautiful moments. It's the kind of book you should read in the way everyone should read Schindler's List...

You might like this if you like...

Feminism, current issues, emotional drama, culture

This book is similar to:

Again, I'm struggling to find similarities... It's not a genre I typically read so not much to compare to from my own experience.

Where can you get it?

Find it at Amazon or on Kindle. .

Florence and Giles - The review

Let me just get this out the way right now: Florence and Giles by John Harding, is the single best book you will ever download for 99p (from Kindle Store.) Do yourself a favour and download it now, before they realise some intern made a pricing mistake or something and sell it for more...

Ok, so to openly recommend a book in the first paragraph is something slightly unheard of for me, but some books simply warrant a bit of a song and dance when they're such great value for money ;)
The fact is, Florence and Giles promises to be something it doesn't fail to deliver on, and that is something I have been struggling to find in a book lately (...see Starcrossed, for example...)

Take Turn of the Screw and mix it up with a bit of Poe (As backed up by the Times reviewer on the front cover, I've just noticed, go me!), and you may see why I loved this book. There's a governess, there's creepiness, there's ghosts, house keepers, institutionalised kids and chronic illnesses. It's every little bit the modern gothic horror with every decent throwback and reference to the classics.

So, what is the the book actually about? Florence and Giles are the lonely orphans of Blithe House, looked after by the housemaids. After the sudden death of their first governess, Florence is haunted by dreams of a woman plotting to steal her brother Giles, and begins a solitary investigation into their new governess, Miss Taylor, who she believes may be the woman her dreams warn her of.

I'm not exaggerating on the creepiness. Partly through fault of my own (as I read this book at nights before I went to sleep) I found myself with an unwillingness to look into a mirror, a fear of where I may wake up in the mornings and an unsettling image of a governess hovering upon a lake. The book packs atmosphere into every inch of it's pages and really sucks you in. I could probably have read it in one sitting if I hadn't had an unavoidable need to sleep...

However, there is one small little niggle I had with the book. It is narrated by Florence who, for various reasons the book explains, has a language of her own. As a result I found some phrases to be forced and unnatural to the flow of reading. At the beginning, Harding really pushes the language of Florence on every page and it got a little bit tiring, but he soon relaxes and the writing finds it's stride, pulling you into is dark belly of mystery and mental unhingement.

All in all, I would definately recommend this book and will certainly seek out other titles by the author for the future.


Just goes to show you...

I am now 4 days into my NaNoWriMo challenge. And you know what? It's not as awful as I expected!
Yes, it's hard. Yes, I do panic every time I write 100 words and nothing more for 3 hours. Yes, I see this sucking a lot of my sanity over the coming month.
BUT! But but but... What I never expected was how my random ideas are just lining themselves up. They're actually making a narrative!
I did half expect 50000 words of unchained events. But I was wrong. There, I said it. This NaNoWriMo madness has actually taught me more about myself and my writing than I've ever known before.

For instance:

I am totally, and seemingly unavoidably, succeptable to the "tense trap". Countless times I've read a sentence back and gone "err, hang on a moment!" and had to make a quick edit.

Also, I'm an absolute control freak. I'm pretty sure the point of 50000 words in a month is solely aimed at people like me. You have to forget good form, good lyricality (is that a word?) and good flow. You just have to get your ideas down and leave it at that. And damn, do I hate it! But look at what I have for it: 4118 words of A BOOK! (currently.) And that's pretty awesome.

Did you know I liked the name Victoria? Nor did I til I started writing for NaNoWriMo... I can no longer faff with things like naming a character. This is a good thing.

Finally, I have learnt I can write. That years of office work has not dulled my ability to do it. Whether I'm a good writer, well, that's not up to me ;) but I do have the ability to put cohesive words on paper/MS Word and enjoy it. That's the most important thing of all.

Now, onto the next 45000!

My progress in pics:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4: