Saturday, 5 January 2013

The good fairies of New York - Martin Millar

A friend gave me this book a while ago, but I'd not got round to it, in fact I'd forgotten that I had it.  But having a clear out the other day I picked it up and started reading.

The style is easy and enjoyable, and although the narrative jumps about a bit between characters, it was easy to keep up.

The basic story centres around two feuding Scottish fairies, Morag and Heather who find themselves in New York, fighting over violins, flowers and various other items, and each befriending a slightly lost human, Dinnie and Kerry.

The seem to cause havoc everywhere they go, and in particular with the peaceful fairies of New York.

Not long into the book it seemed perfectly normal that 18 inch fairies were stealing rides on ambulances across Manhattan, or fighting in the street over a full sized violin.  That New York bag ladies drink cocktails made from boot polish, meths and fruit juice, and think they are Athenian gods, or that moon bows can be used to travel between Cornwall and Manhattan - all perfectly normal.

The story is part romance, part fantasy and part myth - it's hard to describe and has to be read to be believed (or not).

3rd - 5th January 2013
Given to me by Bob.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Throne of Glass - Sarah J Maas

I knew nothing about this book when I started reading, just that my ex's daughter thought I'd enjoy it and had brought it over for me - I decided to give it a try.  From the cover it was pretty obvious that it was a teen fantasy novel, aimed at teenage girls.

The story tells of the Celaena, a trained assassin, the best in the world (but who has managed to get caught and sent to a death camp) who is brought to her enemy's castle to fight with others for the prize of becoming the King's Champion and thereby earning her freedom. 

Despite being a rather generic story (Cinderella springs to mind), and being very clichéd, I enjoyed the characters, and the storyline.  My only criticism would be the contradictions in Calaena's character - she's supposed to be the best assassin in the world with a heart of stone - but gets mushy over a prince, loves wearing gowns, and appears to show her weaknesses easily.

But, I've now found out that this the author's first novel, and that she gained fame as a self publisher on the internet - seems this story and a clutch of novellas are big news on various websites.

Anyway, if there are more in the series (and it seems there will be), then i'll probably read them - not high fiction, but good of a bit of magical sword play.

Lent to me by Caitlin.
November 2012

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Jim the Giraffe - Daren King

On hearing that I like giraffes a friend at work lent me this book, on the proviso that I understood that she didn't recommend it, and whilst it wasn't a bad book, she felt the need to distance herself from it!

Jim is a giraffe, but not a normal one, he's a ghost giraffe. Not only that, he appears in Scott's wardrobe one night, and is obsessed with beer, pizza and sex.

Scott does not really care for beer, pizza, or sex - despite the fact that he considers himself to be happily married. Jim is about to change Scott's life.

I can understand Jo's reluctance to 'recommend' this book, it is totally surreal, very rude, and lacking any narrative particularly. It's has if the author's mind has thought of an animal and then wandered off into a dream.

It's unlikely I'll be looking out for any of the author's other books - and this isn't a book I'll be recommending - even to someone who likes giraffes.

Lent to me by Jo at work
26th September - 4th October 2012

Friday, 28 September 2012

Hunger Games trilogy

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

I saw the film of the first book a while ago, and whilst I would describe it as being aimed at teenagers, I did really enjoy it. So when a friend offered to lend me the books I thought 'why not', and anyway I've been ill and needed a distraction when I wasn't sleeping.

Also, I happen to very much enjoy dystopian novels - I know, I'm strange like that.

The first book was exactly the same as the film - in a future world (that was once America), annual Hunger Games are held, where from each district male and female teenagers are placed as 'tribunes' in a giant outdoor arena to fight until the last one standing - the victor (who is showered with wealth, fame and a way out of the poor and brutal lives they lead).

There can be only one winner - and so things can get very nasty, as all citizens are almost forced to watch the action live on TV.

The story in all three books centres round Katniss and Peeta from district 12, one of the poorest districts, their struggles to survive and their time in the games, and afterwards.......

I'm not gong to give any of the plot away, but suffice to say that these books are actually very well written, the plot lines are engaging and fast paced. The characters are engaging and I really did come to care what happened.

The worlds with the arena are fascinating and well conceived, I look forward to seeing the film adaptations of the next two books.

Although I was ill and therefore had extra time, I still think I would have found it hard to put these books down (I read the first in 36 hours, the second in about 8 hrs and the third in 24 hours), I hope there will be more - but if there isn't that's fine as all the loose ends were tidied and plots completed well - I certainly didn't feel I wanted for anymore, or either that the author had run out of things to say.

So, these books aren't high literature, or aiming to be anything spectacular, but they are highly enjoyable and well worth reading.

(on thinking about it my only criticism would be the 'America' centric view point - whilst everything is going on you get the impression that there is no world beyond Panem (once America), but then to many Americans that's the case I guess!)

Borrowed from Jamie
Read during September 2012

Monday, 20 August 2012

Malinche's Conquest - Anna Lanyon

I think when I got this book (and I can't remember where it came from), that I thought it was a novel - it isn't. It's hard to describe but I guess it's part travel log, and part biography.

Lanyon is an Australia scholar who teaches and studies women's issues and in particular Spanish and historical issues. This book explores the life of Malinche, a native of 16th century Mexico who translated for the Hernan Cortés during his conquests of her lands (and surrounding lands).

Through the telling of her visits to libraries, museums and various historic sites connected to the little understood life of Malinche, Lanyon gives as good an outline of her part in the Spanish conquest is as possible from the scant traces which remain. Also looking at how her name has become synonymous with 'traitor' in modern Mexico.

It hadn't been what I was expecting, but I did enjoy the story and learning a little bit of the history of Mexico and the conquest. I struggled with most of the names, and even now I'm unsure how to pronounce 'Malinche'.

July - August 2012

The woman who died a lot - Jasper Fforde

I was so excited that this was published that I couldn't wait for the paperback this time - and rushed out to get the hardback, getting a signed copy (at no extra cost).

However, I'm sorry to say that I think Fforde should actually retire Thursday Next. In this book she's sort of in retirement anyway, and an interesting plot device is used to give her the energy and speed she needs to fight Goliath (and Jack Schitt) again.

Although partly set in a library, and with some really clever (as usual) in jokes and little sub plots, I really miss the book world and wish that she'd get back there (in this book she's lost the ability to read herself into books).

So, as I say, I'd like to see Thursday and Landon pensioned off, and if Fforde insists in writing some more 'Next' books perhaps he should think about focusing on Friday (their son) as a Chronoguard, or Tuesday (their daughter) as a mad scientist.....or even Jenny?

Bought at Waterstones
August 2012

Friday, 22 June 2012

The High Deeds if Finn Mac Cool - Rosemary Sutcliff

I'm not sure how this Puffin book got onto my bookshelves but suspect that it came from Dads at some point (it's a 1967 edition). John picked it for me to read, and I'm glad he did.

It's really a collection of short stories of the Irish mythical king Finn Mac Cool, telling of his life and adventures, and those of his friends and enemies.

Having visited Ireland (a long time ago now), and some of the places mention it was great to read the stories.

Although connected by the characters, each story is separate, and since this book was, I think, written for children, each is quick and easy to read.  It's made me think that I should look out some folk stories about
England - King Arthur? Robin Hood?

Inherited from Dad
Read June 2012