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sunday-salon-2Another stressful week interrupted by a ¬†bout of illness which left me unable to read much ūüė¶

Challenges:

No increase in my¬†tally for¬†the¬†TBR Double Dog¬†so still at twelve¬†books (although I have actually read fourteen in total). I didn’t finish anything this week and didn’t really make huge progress on those books I did start.

I¬†read a couple of short stories on Kindle for the¬†King’s March¬†challenge.

In progress

As planned last week, I have made a very very slow start to¬†Vanessa & Her Sister¬†which I would really like to finish this coming week in preparation for the Bloomsbury event on 24 March, and I’m also about a quarter of the way through¬†Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge.

The Jane Eyre Update

Haven’t started it yet because of illness but I have re-worked my reading plan and still think I can finish it in the six weeks before the book club discussions.

New Books

No new books this week, the embargo is holding with only two¬†and a bit weeks to go ūüėÄ

This should be the last of the really horrible work weeks coming up and I feel much more inclined to read so hoping to make lots of progress.

IMG_0223What’s it all about?

Irregularity is an anthology of short stories which, as the blurb says

is a collaboration between the National Maritime Museum and award-winning publisher Jurassic London: a collection of original stories inspired by the Age of Reason.¬†Using the Longitude Act as the jumping off point, IRREGULARITY is inspired by the great thinkers of the Age of Reason – those courageous men and women who set out to map, chart, name and classify the world around them. The great minds who brought order and discipline to the universe. Except where they didn’t.

I couldn’t have put it better myself and as you can see I didn’t even consider trying¬†ūüôā

Why did I want to read it?

I think I first came across this because I follow one of the authors on Twitter (I actually follow a few of them now) and she (pretty sure it was @kimecurran) mentioned that she had a story included in this volume, and then I looked at the other authors listed many of whom already were or were on the way to becoming favourites, and so downloaded it was.

What did I think of it?

I’ve said this ad nauseam but I’m going to repeat it, just because – anthologies are tricky to review because there are very few collections in which every story hits the spot.¬†And I have to say that at first – and I will admit that I may possibly *ahem* have forgotten what the theme of the collection was when I started reading it – I wasn’t entirely sure where this was all going, but I can safely say that only a couple of the stories¬†didn’t do it for me, and that’s not a bad hit rate out of 14.

It’s worth mentioning the following, which stood out:

  • The Spiders of Stockholm by EJ Swift – a writer new to me whom I was lucky enough to meet at a reading at the end of January, this is a story about spiders and dreams and categorisation and what happens when you¬†put a name to something (and this story is up for the Sunday Times short story¬†award)
  • The Assassination of Isaac Newton by the Coward Robert Boyle by Adam Roberts – (1) extraordinarily cool title (2) draws attention to Newton’s resemblance to (yes, that) Brian May (3) totally bonkers
  • The Voyage of the Basset by Claire North – Darwin + butterflies + coronation = wonderful story
  • A Woman out of Time by Kim Curran – things must happen as intended, ut who makes sure that it does?

As well as these the collection covers mapping the winds, understanding clocks, the hunt for impossible animals, dissection & art, animated dinosaurs and whether science can quantify love. Amongst lots of other stuff. Recommended.

sunday-salon-2A stressful week at work where I really thought I wasn’t going to get anything read (not for relaxation anyway) but which improved immeasurably at the end.

Challenges:

My tally for the TBR Double Dog stands at twelve books (although I have actually read fourteen in total).

I finished Revival by Stephen King (reviewed here) and an excellent book of short stories, Irregularity (review to follow in a few days) and read the newest Goth Girl short novel for World Book Day on Thursday (but doesn’t count towards the dare because I bought it recently).

I’ve also joined a new challenge, King’s March, which only lasts for a month but gave me an excuse to read the King novel and permission (as if I really needed it) to re-read Carrie.

In progress

I have weeded out my reading list and set a few of the non-fiction book aside, clearing out my currently reading widget on the sidebar just to show fiction; that’s because my non-fiction reading tends to be erratic at the best of times and when I’m very tired (as I ave been recently) I just can’t cope with real things. So just about to start Vanessa & Her Sister (as I’m intending to go to a Bloomsbury event with the author later in March)¬†in hard copy¬†and Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (which is up for the James Herbert award) on Kindle. I’m doing a lot of commuting this week so hopefully will get some proper reading done.

The Jane Eyre Update

Haven’t started it yet, because tired, overworked and stressed, so my¬†Reading Plan is already out of sync, but I have until late April to read this so still hopeful of participation.

New Books

No new books this week, the embargo is more or less holding with only three and a bit weeks to go ūüėÄ

The upcoming week is going to be my heaviest for a wee while so hopefully reading will help. Or I may just curl up in a ball and whimper….

19196719What’s it all about?

Well, according to King’s own official website, Revival is

a dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism and what might exist on the other side

Jamie Morton is a small boy in New England when he meets the Rev Charles Jacobs who, with his wife Patsy and little boy Morrie, becomes an influence for good in the town. Well, at least until the dreadful accident that robs him of his family and possibly his faith. After the day of the Terrible Sermon he is driven out of town and when he and Jamie meet again the former is using his deep interest on electricity¬†to earn a living on the carny circuit and the latter is a musician and heroin addict. Jacobs uses his knowledge to cure Jamie and from that point on the two are intertwined, right to the very end when Jacobs’ obsession takes it’s final form.

Why did I want to read it?

I’ve been reading and enjoying King’s works for *gulp* nearly 40 years. I haven’t read everything he’s written (not yet at least) but I always look forward to anything he publishes and he has never really let me down (not even with The Tommyknockers or Dreamcatcher, both flawed but still interesting). And the hints before publication and in early reviews that there was a Lovecraftian element to this book was just an added bonus. Two of my earliest horror influences coming together sounded just the ticket.

What did I think of it?

This was exactly what I needed to read during a stressful week where I was working flat-out, running an almost constant headache and not sleeping terribly well. For a couple of days as soon as work was over I was able to lose myself in the life of Jamie Morton, a flawed but basically decent person who has gone through some tough times and his interest in the man whom he has admired since he was a small boy and who was instrumental in helping him both kick his addiction and find a career. But Jamie always knew things weren’t quite right (‘Something Happened’) and over time he realises that he will have to confront Jacobs. And of course that’s when the nature of the older man’s obsession becomes clear and things get very weird indeed.

I thought this was great. I really liked Jamie which is essential if you are going to enjoy this book as it is told entirely¬†in the first person. And it really doesn’t read like a horror¬†novel until the last section, though there is a growing sense of foreboding and not-rightness (which isn’t a word but the best way to describe it I think). The Lovecraftian elements are pretty subtle until the end, and of course there are Repercussions; one of the things I’ve always liked about King is that there are always consequences and sometimes (most times) the good guys don’t get away unscathed.

King himself mentions that¬†The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen¬†(which I haven’t read¬†for years) was a major influence on Revival.

It’s not King’s¬†scariest novel by any means but it’s a strong story with disturbing elements. I really liked it¬†and definitely recommend it.

Goth Girl 3What’s it all about?

Ada Goth has been invited to Brighton by one of her father’s friends to attend World Frock Day. She has twenty guineas to spend on a suitable dress. Will she go for a creation by Jean-Paul Goatee or Lady Vivienne Dashwood? But before she can decide, disaster strikes, her money is missing and she needs to think of something else….

Why did I want to read it?

It’s a special World Book day book. It’s written and illustrated by one of my favourites, Chris Riddell. I have a huge soft spot for Ada having read Ghost of ¬†Mouse and A Fete Worse than Death at the end of last year. They make me giggle with their silly jokes and puns.

What did I think of it?

My only complaint is that Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen¬†is Far Too Short, but still lovely addition to the Goth canon. As well as poking lots of fun at fashion – not just the designers but the esteemed personage of Empress Anna Winter, editor of Brogue (the journal of sensible footwear) – it’s a sweet little story where everything comes right in the end, including the Pirate Queen herself (Tall Nell) having great success with her new piece of confectionery, Brighton Rock. It’s all just great¬†fun and I look forward to the next volume (Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright) with anticipation.

IMG_0366Image credit Chris Riddell

So one of the great things about a love of all things bookish is getting to talk about them with like-minded people, most of which I do on this blog but IRL not so much. But when I do actually talk to actual people in¬†real time then if it isn’t the Book God (and let’s face it, how else would he¬†have achieved said title?) it will be my great friend Silvery Dude.

Thanks to his recommendations (and the occasional birthday gift) I discovered authors like Ben Aaronovitch and Lloyd Shepherd (to name only two), and in return I got him to read Christopher Fowler and Jon Ajvide Lindqvist.

Which seems a fair exchange.

And as I was trawling through my TBR Mountain recently looking for future reads I found quite a number he had suggested, so it seemed to me that it was time for a Silvery Dude Recommends Reading List

I’m positive there are loads more, and there are certainly books that I already owned that have climbed their way to the top of the pile because the Dudester had read them before me (I am looking at you The Night Circus).

Long may this continue ūüėÄ

823763Sigh. I have had two attempts at reading this book, once last year in hardback as part of the Long Awaited Reads Challenge and then again last year (running into this one) when my friend MargaRita give me a copy of the paperback as a gift. But for some reason I just cannot get into it at all, and as reported in last week’s Sunday Salon post I have finally thrown in the towel (and as a fan of H2G2, I am a hoopy frood who always knows where my towel is, even if only for the purpose of throwing it in) and just stopped.

I don’t normally have a problem setting aside books I’m not enjoying; life is too short and there are far too many books in the world to persevere with those¬†that you aren’t enjoying, but for some reason I feel quite bad about this one. On the surface I really should enjoy it – historical fiction with integrated logical magic – but although I was quite happy while I was actually¬†reading it, when I put it down I had no desire to pick it up again. So sadly,¬†having got to page 148 with no appearance from Jonathan Strange, I have retired from the field.

I am still quite keen to see the TV series when the BBC broadcasts it in the spring, and who knows I may make another attempt at some point, but for now enough is enough *sad face*

20706317What’s it all about?

So Harry August is one of a relatively small group of people who live their lives, die, and are born again in exactly the same place and time, to live more or less the same life all over again. Unlike other forms of reincarnation individuals like Harry remember the details of all of their previous incarnations. While waiting to die at the end of his eleventh life he is visited by a young girl who tells him that the end of the world is coming, faster than expected, and that he is the only person who can do something about it. Cue lives twelve to fifteen.

Why did I want to read it?

I think I must have seen a review or two about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August because I remember downloading it, but unfortunately can’t remember where I heard about it. I know it was a Richard and Judy book thingy choice but I’m pretty sure I found that out afterwards. I decided to read it now because I was due to attend a book event for the launch of Claire¬†North’s new novel, Touch.

What did I think of it?

Quite simply I couldn’t put this down and have been recommending it all over the place since I finished it in the middle of the night last weekend. Harry is a complex character and not entirely likeable I think, though of course you become very attached to him as you live his various lives with him. Seeing how he makes use of his knowledge of the future (only partly to make money on which to live), how he connects with others like himself, the friendships he makes and how he deals with the problem with which he has been presented is just fascinating.

It’s beautifully written, more complex than the structure might suggest, and has a very satisfying conclusion. I don’t want to say too much more about the story than I already have because seeing how it all works out in his various lives¬†is one of the great joys. I will say that to me it shares similar themes with Life After Life, All You Need is Kill¬†and parts of The Bone Clocks, but only tangentially, and is very much it’s own book.

Claire North is really delightful in person, and I had the chance to ask her about the writing of the book and how she kept track of Harry’s lives and in particular what age he was at any particular time; I¬†was thinking wall chart but delighted to find a spreadsheet was deployed. But all of that sits in the background and Harry’s journey is very immediate no matter which of his lives we happen to be visiting at any one time.

I loved this and would urge you to give it a try if you haven’t done so already.

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79eSo as if there wasn’t enough going on at the moment, I’ve decided to take part in the challenge/event, hosted by Wensend and Fourth Street Review, with the aim of reading as much Stephen King related stuff as possible during the month of March.

As the hosts say:

All you have to do to participate in this event is to post about at least one thing King-related. You are free to read as many King books or watch as many King movies as you want, but you can also stick with just one book (some of the books are real chunksters).

I am a huge King fan, and have been since I read Carrie when I was 15 (just as it came in paperback over here in the mid 1970s). So, given everything else on my horizon I’m going to commit to reading as many of the following as I can before the end of the month:

  • a Carrie re-read – this is long overdue
  • one of his most recent novels, Revival, which I gather has more than a little Lovecraft about it
  • Mile 81 – an original eBook
  • In the Tall Grass, another eBook, written with his son Joe Hill

That should be doable, I think ūüôā

sunday-salon-2So here we are; March and (hopefully) the first signs of Spring. Time for a round-up of February.

Challenges:

My tally for¬†the¬†TBR Double Dog¬†continues to stand at eleven¬†books;¬†I haven’t finished anything since my last Salon post because of Life and most particularly Work.

In progress

This week was dominated by staying up all night to watch the Oscars and subsequently slumping for most of the following day (which I had taken off.) I have been dipping in and out of the books shown on the blog sidebar; I’m hoping to finish a couple soon and have a small pile¬†pulled from Mount TBR to select from next.

Events

I attended another bookish event at my local Waterstones, a reading from her new novel Touch by Claire North (who wrote The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which is the last book I finished and which I shall review shortly. It was a really fun evening, Claire is very bright and engaging (and young; she published her first book at 14 and writes under three different names); her new book sounds very intriguing (and I got a signed copy!)

The Jane Eyre Update

Now ¬†that Jonathan Strange had been set aside for now (if not for good) I am going to be reading Jane Eyre as mentioned in my last salon post. Haven’t started it yet, but I have A Reading Plan. I’ve promised myself that I will not persevere if I’m not enjoying it. I have a long-standing problem with reading Charlotte (as I do with Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy) but perhaps this will break my duck.

New Books

So the book buying embargo is continuing to hold. More or less. I had pre-ordered The Death House which I reviewed here having read the bound uncorrected proof but I know I will want to read this one again and so downloaded it on publication day. I also bought Touch (as mentioned above) because you really do have to buy the book if you want the author to sign it ūüėÄ

BUT – I did break the rules and buy a copy of Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen on Kindle because World Book Day plus I love Chris Riddell and….. just because. But I do intend to persevere into March with the ban¬†for as long as¬†I can….

That of course depends on how awful work is going to get over the next two weeks; the potential for horror is definitely there and book retail therapy may be required!

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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