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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 😀

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Reading WomanSo I may have mentioned that I’ve been on holiday for a few weeks and have done quite  bit of reading, mostly for Carl’s RIP IX challenge (my proposed book list for that is here and so far I’ve read six and have started on a seventh of the books mentioned with a week to go). One of the things that often happen after my annual break is I start thinking about what I might want to read over the next few months. I also usually buy some new books as I can’t resist popping into every bookshop I can see, and this year has been no exception on either count.

New books

A modest pile for me:

but there have also been various Kindle downloads too numerous to mention which would crank the number up if I could make the effort to list them all.

Reading lists

My reading has been very genre heavy this year, which isn’t a bad thing but I feel the need to stretch my wings a little bit.

There are five or six novels which my friend Silvery Dude has been pushing me to read, so that’s a list in itself (including Game of Thrones which I mentioned here, as well as Tigerman, Little Star and Norwegian Wood, which might lead me to a Japanese focussed list as I also have some unread Mishima which has been gathering dust in the stacks for donkey’s years).

I would also like to finish working my way through The Big Re-Read, a personal challenge which I talk about here and which has been chuntering on for ages.

I am also very keen to focus on a couple of my favourite authors, including a re-read of Virginia Woolf and attacking my backlog of Joyce Carol Oates’ books (she is so prolific, I can’t keep up).

But first I would like to do some reading in November around World War I. I probably won’t re-read A Testament of Youth which had a huge impact on me when I was in my late teens, but though the Royle book mentioned above plus a couple of novels (Helen Zenna Smith is somewhere on my shelves) but I haven’t thought it through as yet.

I always find it difficult to strike a balance between planning my reading and keeping some spontaneity so we’ll see how it works this time round!

gone-away-worldWhat’s it all about?

So The Gone-Away World is set at an unidentified point in the future when there has been a catastrophic war which has left the world seriously damaged. The trigger for the story is a fire and explosion at an important facility which our protagonist (who doesn’t have a name as this is all first person) and his friends and colleagues are summoned to sort out. We then flashback to the early life of our guy and his best friend Gonzo to explain the background to how we got to this point, before the story moves forward. It’s post-apocalyptic science fiction of the very best kind.

Why did I want to read it?

I was vaguely aware of this novel when it came out in 2008 and it’s been hovering around my to-buy list since then but I only got a hold of it after reading and loving Angelmaker (you can read my review at that link) and wanting to read more of Harkaway’s work. The impetus for reading it now was a request from my lovely friend Silvery Dude who wanted to discuss it with me and asked if I would bring it to the top of the TBR pile (he also wants me to read the latest Harkaway, Tigerman, which I hope to get to soon). And you know, it’s my sort of thing.

What did I think of it?

Well, this is a bit special. I read the bulk of it in one sitting as I was ill and housebound and needed to keep my mind away from feeling sorry for myself, and when I say the bulk of it I mean something like 400 pages in a day; when I told Silvery Dude by e-mail that I had finished it his response was (and I quote) “Finished already?  Holy shit !!” which was gratifying and amusing in equal parts 🙂

The story is totally absorbing and the whole background to narrator’s current predicament, his childhood and martial arts training, his university life and his military career, the war and his true love and the rebuilding of a world that had been significantly damaged completely captured my imagination. And then you have the main event of the story, the attempt to repair the pipeline and the thing that goes wrong followed by a complete and utter and unexpected WTF moment that makes you revisit everything you’ve read. And I got very very anxious on his behalf, hoping that it was all going to work out and would he find out what had really happened to him and who was/were the bad guy(s) and who was on his side and would there be a happy ending? Or at least a satisfactory resolution?

Totally swept along by it. Thought it was fabulous. Lots to think about and discuss. Loved it.

And bees. Again.

IMG_0061What’s it all about?

The world has been overrun by zombies (again) but at least one of them, known to us only as R because he has no memory of his name  or age or anything including how he came to be a zombie, is not quite what he seems. And one day when hunting he sees Julie, a live human, and instead of eating her he decides to save her, triggering a whole set of events that could change the world.

Why did I want to read this?

Warm Bodies received a strong recommendation from Silvery Dude who apparently read it in one sitting and is hardly ever wrong when it comes to suggesting things that I might enjoy. Plus I’m coming around to the whole zombie thing (though so far nothing touches World War Z which I loved).

What did I think?

A different take on the whole zombie thing. Yes, in some ways its the same old same old (Zombie plague overrunning the world? Breakdown of civilisation as we know it? Rise of the military?) but it’s interesting to see it from the non-human side for a change, what it might feel like to be a zombie, all that jazz.

I liked R and his friend M and of course the lovely Julie very much, the love story was sweet and convincing but at one point I became so anxious about their situation and how it was going to work out for them that I had to stop reading for a bit. I don’t think I have ever wanted a happy ending quite so much. Very enjoyable indeed.

Now for the movie.

Scan 11By Blood We Live is the third volume in Glen Duncan’s very successful Last Werewolf trilogy; so new readers really should not start here  – read this and this first otherwise the current volume will make very little sense.

On that note – what’s it all about?

*Spoilers* for the earlier books, maybe, though can they be spoilers if they’re on the back cover for all to see?

Remshi is the oldest vampire in existence. He is searching for the werewolf named Talulla, whom he believes is the reincarnation of his long lost – and only – love. But he is not the only one seeking Talulla. Hunted by the Militi Christi, a religious order hell-bent on wiping out werewolves and vampires alike, Remshi and Talulla must join forces to protect their families, fulfil an ancient prophesy and save both their lives.

Nicely put, though I won’t comment on how accurate and /or misleading the blurb actually is.

Why did I want to read it?

I really enjoyed the first two books in the series and wanted to see how the story played out. It’s also a series that I was reading in parallel with my good friend Silvery Dude and when he got his copy (which may just have been a belated birthday present from me) we started an uncoordinated readalong which rapidly turned into a competition to see who could get to the end first. We even had our own hashtag on Twitter, though actually that was mostly me as the Dudester rarely tweets (#iwillprevail if you’re interested, probably only a couple of tweets but).

I of course won, but only because I have no children and therefore unlimited time to slump on the sofa and read my way solidly through 400 pages of sex and violence and horror and equal opportunity religious fanatics.

What did I think?

I absolutely loved it, couldn’t put it down. I thought Remshi was going to be incredibly annoying after the first few pages but hey, he’s 20,000 years old or thereabouts, he’s earned the right to be a bit pretentious having, you know, basically seen it all. But I came to really like him, possibly even more than Talulla who is quite an astonishing character.

The story is fast-moving without sacrificing any of the character development stuff. There were a couple of “oh no not captured again” moments which served largely to move the plot forward but they were offset by the sheer inventive violence involved in rescuing/freeing those who were caught.

There is a lot of sex and a lot of gore and a lot of philosophical musing and world-weariness and an awful lot of violence but if you’ve read the first two you will be expecting that. Not to everyone’s taste I guess, but not something that has ever really bothered me. Vampires and werewolves are monsters after all, and do what they have to do to survive, often involving monstrous behaviour; what can you do?.

I liked the ending a great deal; finishes off the trilogy nicely but not so that future books couldn’t be produced although I hope there aren’t any more as this reached a satisfying conclusion (to my mind anyway).

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, but Silvery Dude really enjoyed it too, so a double endorsement there.

Another read for the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge horrorbutton2014

Scan 45What’s it all about?

So, you’re on your way to work in the morning and you have what appears to be a heart-attack on the Tube but your life is saved by an oldish lady who turns out not to be an oldish lady but actually is part of the Feyre and you find out that you are too and nasties are after you and you have to work out an ancient ritual to save like everything.

Why did I want to read it?

Duh! All that stuff up there. Plus the Book God recommended it. Then Silvery Dude read it and said I had to. And it says on the rear of the paperback that this should be filed under Urban Fantasy [hidden war / secret history / deadly duel / ancient rites] division. So duh! once again.

What did I think of it?

Loved it. I liked Niall and Blackbird and the whole world of the Feyre and how it interacted with ours. It has a strong internal logic which helps to make it entirely believable. It has been compared to Neverwhere and I can understand why having read both (and currently listening to the repeated Gaiman dramatisation on Radio 4) but it is very much its own thing. Part of something that’s becoming a genre in itself, the London Fantastical Novel, and I can’t get enough of them.

Conclusion

Sixty-One Nails is the first book in a set of four and I have them all *cue maniacal laughter*

Recommended if you like urban fantasy. And who doesn’t, right?

Scan 4John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things is another one of those books that I’ve had for a while but only really paid attention to when Silvery Dude told me that I would enjoy it. I made a start sometime last summer and for some reason couldn’t get on with it; the Silvery One dared to suggest that I might find it difficult to put myself in the mind of the lead character given that I have “never been a 12-year-old boy”, I countered with the fact that I had lost my mother so thought I might have an inkling of what was going on in our hero’s head. Though of course I was much older, but still.

For the lead character is indeed a young boy called David whose mother has died and who has had to watch his father remarry and have a child with his second wife. World War Two is in full flow and David is struggling with what looks like OCD, anger over his loss and feeling left out in his father’s new family (though not because of his stepmother who I rather liked).  Like any sensible child he has a love of books but they begin to speak to him at night and start to affect the way he look sat the world.

And then the Crooked Man comes and David crosses over into a dark and dangerous world populated by the myths, folk and fairy tales with which he has become absorbed. Enticed by what appears to be his mother’s voice, he has to make his way through many perils to reach the King of this land and find his way home.

I thought this was a really dark story, which makes sense when you think about what the fairy tales we all know and love were like before they were sanitised for the safe consumption of youngsters. The Huntress in particular is truly dreadful, but it is the Crooked Man himself, who preys on the fears and jealousies of children to get what he wants; truly evil. And I’m not ashamed to say that I cried at the end, sad and lovely all at once.

My edition of the book has a fabulous section at the end which gives background on the tales referenced in the story for those who find that sort of thing interesting – that would be me – and led to a little follow-up reading list:

David’s story stayed with me for days after I read it. Another potential re-read, and a further read for Once Upon a Time VII.

Scan 3The Night Circus is one of those books that you just know you are going to adore from page one. I bought this when it first came out in hardback and it hung around on my TBR mountain for no real reason other than I just didn’t get to it. That was, of course, until Silvery Dude got the paperback and started harrying me to read it as he had totally fallen in love with it. So of course I had to pick it up because I (mostly) trust his judgement, not because we read competitively, not at all, whatever gave any of you that idea.

So, the Night Circus (or Cirque des Reves to give it its proper title but not its appropriate punctuation) is a  touring sensation in the 1880s, with all the attractions of a normal circus but entirely in black and white and with some very particular elements – tents filled with clouds, an unusual clock and a dedicated group of followers identified by the wearing of red items amongst their black and white clothing. The story is not so much about the circus itself, although it is of course one of the main characters if I can put it that way, but is really about a duel (?) bet (?) wager (?), let’s say contest between two practitioners of magic which is played out through their protégés, Celia (the daughter of one) and Marco (the apprentice of the other). A contest that the participants have no real control over and only slowly come to understand who their opponent is.  Opponents are. You know what I mean.

This is just glorious, I devoured it in a couple of sittings over a Bank Holiday and was totally immersed in the world that Erin Morgenstern creates. A remarkable set of characters, a narrative dipping backwards and forwards in time, with a really wonderful and believable love story slap bang in the middle and a very satisfying ending. One of those books that you just wish would keep going and that you miss as soon as you’ve finished it.

I know that I’m probably one of the last people in the universe to have read this, but on the off-chance that you haven’t and that you are someone who enjoys being beguiled, then please do read this. You won’t be sorry.

Another read for Once Upon a Time VII.

AngelmakerI could actually review Angelmaker in one word – awesome. I totally, totally adored this book which was recommended  by my dear friend Silvery Dude who then bought it for me as a belated birthday present in Waterstones Piccadilly the day after the Oscar ceremony when I went to assist him in the spending of his Christmas book vouchers.

I also *fangirl squee* had a Twitter exchange with Nick Harkaway, the author, after which I swooned and then finished the book in a massive reading session on Good Friday.

This is the story of Joe Spork, who repairs clocks and automatons and other lovely mechanical devices in London, and is asked to fix something really peculiar which kicks off a whole series of events which brings him to the attention of secret bits of the government, a magnificent super villain, a notorious serial killer and a strange sect of monkish types. In this situation he finds himself in the company of the greatest lawyer in the world (sorry Silvery Dude) Mercer Cradle (on whom I now have a huge girly crush), the lovely Polly and the nonagenarian spy Edie Banister.

And then there are the mechanical bees.

This is just rollicking good fun, an exciting and pacy story with lovely, sympathetic, complex and realistic characters that I became very attached too. Without giving too much away (and deciding not to go on and on about Mercer but, you know, best thing in a lot of very very good things) I loved it when Joe decided to tap into the influence of his late Dad-with-a-criminal-past. I loved the fact that everything that happens in this has consequences both good and bad for the characters and so has a real heart of truth in amongst all the fantastical elements.

And there’s quite a bit of enjoyable naughtiness as well. For those who like that sort of thing (count me in).

Almost impossible to articulate exactly how wonderful this is. One of my absolute favourite reads of the year, can’t see it being shifted at all.

cloud-atlasI know I say this a lot, but I really mean it this time: I feel as if I am the last person in the Universe (or the blogosphere at least) to get around to reading Cloud Atlas. I have seen it so many times stacked on tables in bookshops with its lovely coloured cover and I’ve wondered what it was all about but never thought to pick it up, even on a 3 for 2 deal when I’ve been scouring the bookshop looking for something to add. I’m still not entirely sure why I bought it for my Kindle app; I suspect it’s been to do with reading about the film adaptation and thinking that looked interesting and my tendency to want to read a book before I see the movie version.

I should also give a shout out to Silvery Dude who, when I mentioned it to him as a possible read, thought that I would enjoy the experience.

I have to say I’m really intrigued about the film, because I cannot for the life of me see how they are going to do it (or have done it as I think it may already be out in the US?). I can’t even adequately explain the novel to myself having read it, let alone visualise how the structure will translate to the big screen.

For the structure of the book is really important; there are six or seven stories all nested within each other, radiating forward into the future and then back into the past. It’s really disconcerting if you don’t know that, because when I got to the break in the first story I thought there was something wrong with the download (I know, what an eejit) but I persevered and realised what was happening. I’m not even going to try to explain the various stories told but they range over time and there are connections between them all, especially in relation to a comet shaped birthmark (as I remember – the curse of (a) waiting this long to write the post and (b) having it as an e-book is it isn’t always easy to refer back (haven’t yet got the hang of bookmarks and highlighting yet))

And apologies for the excessive use of parentheses here but it sort of fits the book somehow.

I thought it was a compelling read with some interesting things to say about identity and human relationships and all that sort of thing and I would recommend it to anyone else out there who has perhaps not read it yet.

Still haven’t got a clue how they’re going to do it justice on the screen but I’ll look forward to finding out.

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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