Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Horologicon - Mark Forsyth

Book Details

Book Title: The Horologicon

Author: Mark Forsyth

Publisher
: Icon Books Ltd 2013

Source: Library

Page Count: 258

Format: Paperback

Field Of Interest: Etymology 


Audience: Those who love the meaning and origins of words.

Summed up in one word: There isn't just one word for this book...there are lots...

Author Bio: Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist, proofreader, ghost writer and pendant. After starting his Inky Fool blog, he continued that work into The Horologicon. MF loves etymology and he is a gifted wordsmith!
  
First Impression: I am so happy when I come across books like this. Books that talk about words, books, bookshops or any other interesting subject surrounding the written word are very special to me and this does not disappoint. Mark Forsyth has written 4 books, of which 3 sit on my shelf as I can't get enough of his way with words. This is sort of a serious read, but with all the wit, humour and great words, this book is a blast.

Summary:
The Tagline for this book is:

'A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language'

Mark Forsyth maps out our day from waking up at 6am to going to bed at 12am (possibly drunk). With this time-frame MF unveils lots of lost words and phrases of the items/activities/actions we experience everyday. From Aztec to Medieval. From Victorian to the Second World War. These words have lost their places in our modern society, but that does not make them incredibly interesting and worth knowing. Even if it is just to spice up everyday conversation or to confuse/annoy colleagues and loved ones with ancient insults that have amazing and rich history in past cultures.

This book begins when we open our eyes in the morning, woken up by one of the various 'expergefactors' that occur in the start of the day. We get ready for work, 'Jenticulate', usually with 'cackling farts'. Once we get to work and avoid all the 'ultracrepidarians', we can ignore the 'Mugwump' and get on with avoiding doing any work. After the visit to the 'fumatorium' and doing as much 'quomodocunquizing' as possible, you the faint sound of 'borborygmi' and off to lunch you go. These are the sort of scenarios and words that you will experience inside 'The Horologicon'. Grab yourself a copy, learn some great old words and have a lot of fun doing so!

Review

Content: As far as content goes, this book has it all. Relevant, important and interesting information, set out in a recognisable and easy going format. Most importantly, this is content that everyone can relate to. As the reader I was amazed, amused and astounded by these words and phrases, their origins and context were just as satisfying and entertaining. (Some origins were sad, horrific or just plain uncool, but they are very scarce.)

Author Style: Mark Forsyth lives and breathes the world of etymology. It shows in The Horologicon. The whole time the reader spends with this book, they can sense that MF not only knows his stuff but he has a great time talking about it. The fact that the author is a having a good time while he writes makes this book special. MF's choice to use the outline of a typical day was a great choice and he uses it to good effect. I found that the humour he adds to his writing is the best part of the book, he is funny, witty and  he writes great jokes.

Accomplishments: This book accomplishes plenty. It teaches fun, old and amusing words to those who want to learn more about them. MF uses context, origins and jokes to make words interesting to people. MF also highlights plenty of actions we perform or items we interact with throughout our day and shines a light on them, explaining the terminology and history of each of the things we usually perform or experience without thinking much about them. For example Pandiculation - The stretching of the arms and body in the morning.

Pros: Smart, funny writing. Plenty to learn. Quality writing and decent format.

Cons: Not enough....? I had to keep stopping to write these words down :). There is not much wrong with this piece. I have not got the knowledge or the time to go through and fact check this book, so there is the possibility of misinformation. 

Extras: MF's other books look just as interesting and I will add the reviews when I have finished them. I will just jot down some words from The Horologicon here to give you an idea of the content you can enjoy inside:

Plutomania - Frenzied pursuit of money.
Nephelolater - One who enjoys passing clouds
Borborygmi - The rumbling noises produced by an empty stomach
Eructation - Belching
Latibulaters - People who hide in corners
Oniomania - Compulsion to buy things
Perendinate - Put off until the day after tomorrow
Interjaculate - Throw in between
Deipnophobia - Dread of dinner parties
Apodysophilia - A feverish desire to undress

Rating: As a book and word loving fellow, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I do really enjoy any books on words, books, libraries, book festivals, book history and reading, so maybe I am slightly biased. Never the less, read this, enjoy it and use its words in everyday conversation just for the fun of it.

9/10

The Trees - Ali Shaw

Book Details

Book Title: The Trees

Author: Ali Shaw

Publisher
: Bloomsbury 2016

Source: Library

Page Count: 488

Format: Hardback

Genre: Fantasy


Audience: Those who like a novel to sink into and stay for a while.

Buy? Read? Avoid?: If you going to buy this then the Hardback is gorgeous.

Summed up in one word: Natural

Author Bio: An award winning author with three books. The Trees, The Man Who Rained and The Girl With Glass Feet. Ali Shaw has studied English Literature and Creative Writing, he uses them both to full affect!!

First Impression: This is an experience. Like I said in the Audience section of this review, this is a book that you settle into and go along for the journey...open ended, mystical and infuriating at times. I did indeed enjoy my time within these pages, Ali Shaw to me, is a bigger picture author. Managing to pull of this 'end of the world as we know it' piece of fiction really well is an applause worthy feat. But there are a few niggles... 

Summary:
Before the trees came, Adrien Thomas was nothing much. Hiding in his creature comforts and ignoring all his problems, hoping they will deal with themselves. After the trees came Adrien Thomas was in deep trouble. 

Erupting from under the concrete of civilisation, the trees took everything from humanity. Covering the whole of Adrien's town and beyond, the forest took away machines, internet, transport, easily obtainable food and many more of the things that we take for granted everyday. This apocalyptic event was a curse for many. but a blessing for a happy few. Hannah believes the trees have come to save humanity and wipe away all the unnecessary items and habits that get in the way of our true nature. 

Adrien crosses paths with Hannah and her teenage son Seb when they set out travelling west to find their families. Adrien needs to find his wife who is in Ireland on a work trip, Adrien believes that she will have all the answers he needs. Hannah needs to see her brother, growing up they both dreamed of the day when nature took over and ruled the world. Believing that Hannah's brother will be able to teach him to master the forest, Adrien follows her west. As it turns out, nature has its own plans for us and the remaining survivors will have to face the tests that the trees have prepared for them.

Review

Story: This is a big and bold story that takes readers for a wild ride (excuse the pun). A perfect balance of beauty and violence, The Trees is a deep, rich and frustrating tale of the end of the world. There are no explosions or machines to end the world in this book, the world crumbles in the hands of the dense, vibrant and unending forest that erupts from underneath civilisation. The story revolves around Adrien who is travelling to his wife in Ireland and Hannah & Seb who are travelling to see Hannah's brother. Adrien tags along with Hannah as she understands the forest and how to survive much better than he ever could. This forest is a blessing and a curse to society and I enjoyed how that emotion was threaded through this story. As events continue, mysterious and mystical creatures called 'whisperers' start to bother Adrien and make him believe he is losing his mind. (He is the only one who can see them...). This mystical element to the story definitely has its place and does not taint the effect of the story, it enhances it instead. The group pick people and animals up on their travels and everyone in this tale loses plenty. The pacing of this story is slower than I usually prefer but the quality of the world that Ali Shaw has created stopped me from getting to hung up on how fast the events occur.

Characters: Some readers may disagree with me here but I truly believe that these characters are complex and at times frustrating. Adrien is the star of this tale, his transformation throughout this story is one of the most notably qualities. The other highly notable part of this tale is the forest, which is as much of a character in this story as any human. The forest shows fear, anger, pity, pain and love. Adrien's character works well when he is interacting with Hannah. Hannah is a child of the forest, though her son is a child of technology and this pisses her off no end. This is a strong band of characters, everyone goes through their various stories alone and as a family. My favourite character has to be Hiroko, a Japanese teenager who is in England on a school trip. She is badass, naive, angry and very lonely, but she has the most to reveal and gain from joining this family.

Themes: There are some great themes in this piece. Religion pops up here and there. Madness too. Family is one of the main themes, alongside nature/human nature. The contrast of themes pulls the reader about a bit, going from murder, to beauty and back to insanity. I don't think there are any themes here that I disagree with or find unnecessary. Even the mystical forest parts sat well with me and brought a tear to my eye. 

Likes: I enjoy the fact that this was a story about overcoming personal and societal issues. It was also a very comfortable read, writing style was not overpowering. The ever-changing strengths and weaknesses of the group was also a high point in my opinion as it stopped the reader from making endless prediction of the outcome of this story.

Dislikes: I did not like that attitudes of the main cast when this story began... I got annoyed at both Adrien and Hannah, they acted like children and it was very frustrating. I also dislikes the fact that they did not really explain why the trees came, they touched on it but even that made little sense...finally there is plenty of unnecessary violence in this book, mainly towards the end, it was infuriating, it did not advance the plot. Of the two halves of the ending in this book, one was glorious and it really made me smile. The other was ugly and made no sense to me, it seemed rushed and tacked on to give a sense of a showdown ending...(the glorious ending totally makes up for this discrepancy)


Rating: Overall I really think this is a quality book. The author has written two others that are now sat on my shelf waiting to read because this book installed a high level of faith in his writing. If you pick this up, be ready go on a long, arduous and emotionally journey of discovery, change and human nature. Ali Shaw has a fascinating mind and channels that well into his work, though maybe he should try his hand at graphic novels! I would pay good money to see that! Give this book a go and tell me what you thought of it.

8/10 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Summer That Melted Everything - Tiffany McDaniel

Book Details

Book Title: The Summer That Melted Everything

Author: Tiffany McDaniel

Publisher
: Scribe UK 2016

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 310

Format: Hardback

Genre: Literary Fiction



Audience: Those who read deep and dark fiction where anything goes.

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy it, read it and then tell people about it!

Summed up in one or two words: Prejudice. Regret.

Author Bio: Tiffany McDaniel is a native of the state of Ohio in America. TM is a poet, play write, screenwriter, artist and author. The Summer That Melted Everything is her debut novel.

First Impression: This is a book that broke me. I felt emotionally drained after reading this! This is a book you will remember reading years down the line. TSTME is intense, insightful and jam packed with so much prejudice and deeply moving content that you it will stay with you for a long time, haunting your thoughts and emotions. There is a little humour and a great sense of adventure to begin with, and slowly turns to a sense of dread as events take a turn and the devil is included in some truly awful events and circumstances. This is a must read.

Summary:
When a local prosecutor prints an invitation to the devil to come to Breathed, Ohio in the local newspaper after a case he was working on went wrong, he never thought Lucifer himself would actually appear. 

Especially in the form of a black 13 year old boy. 

Fielding Bliss, the son of Autopsy Bliss (the local prosecutor) finds the devil or 'Sal' as he prefers to be called, walking through town and he invites him back their house so he can meet the man who invited the devil to town. 

Around the time that Sal enters the community, an incredible heat wave takes over the town. Everything that is not frozen melts and the towns people start to go crazy, the heat turning their minds. Can Sal really be the devil himself? He talks the talk, Sal is well versed in religious text and has a powerful insight into people's soul, talking to their very core. That combined with him being implicated in several incidents in the town, the people very quickly begin to believe that this boy is the devil himself.

This is a story about family, prejudice, fear and community. Can the family save Sal and most importantly, can they save themselves?

Review

Story: This is one hell of a story...excuse the pun. At times it literally took my breath away. Not always in a good way. Its hard to believe that this is Tiffany McDaniel's debut author as she is a force to be reckoned with. This story is one that needs to be experienced. As the reader I was charmed, scared, hopeful, doubtful, fearful and disgusted by and about humanity. TM is so talented, has such a way with words and is able to chill the reader to the very core, even with all this heat. The story starts out fairly charming, funny and somewhat optimistic. After Sal enters the community and people start to realise that he may be the devil, things change dramatically. After about 100 pages I was filled with an sense of dread that I could not shake, but I also could not stop reading. Some will say I am over dramatic, others will completely agree. 

Characters: First off Fielding Bliss is a perfectly crafted character. His past and his present are well written, executed and he shares a wide range of thoughts and emotions. He goes through a lot im afraid and you get to hear it all. Sal is also a great character, it was fun to spend time with him, hear his stories, see him react to things in Breathed and his speeches on heaven and hell are incredibly moving and insightful, Grand for me was the most potent character here...the hero that falls hard, he broke my heart many times. Every character has a place in this book and not a moment is wasted with any of them. Each character seems to have two sides to them and no one is safe in this community, people try to act normal, but in the presence of the devil, people can't the crazy in.

Themes: This novel is packed to the rafters with intense, earth shattering themes that leave readers questioning a lot. Homophobia, Racism, Religion, Child Abuse, Youthful Hope, Hell, Heaven, Death, Hate, Love and Decay. Each theme is expertly placed to either knock you down or pick you up, at the end I was definitely emotionally exhausted.

Likes: I loved the honesty of this book. The writing to me was phenomenal and I found connections with characters, thoughts, feelings and themes every step of the way. The characters were heartwarming, heartfelt and heartless. I enjoyed the fact that not a word was wasted and the author was seriously invested in this piece and she did a wonderful job. 

Dislikes: This book goes to far. A lot. My heart hurt. You may think I am a wuss, but being a father and a husband, I connected with this material frequently. I still would recommend it to everyone I meet because people need to read books like this to make them think a little harder about everything.


Rating: I have made my point about this book and its author. Buy this book! Hardback as the artwork is epic. You will find in this tome, a life, a hard life with lots of depth, emotions, fragility and brutality. You will see beauty, deformity, heart break, anger, regret and faith. Money well spent. Thank you to Scribe UK for the opportunity to read this piece.

10/10

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Humans - Matt Haig

Book Details

Book Title: The Humans

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher
: Canongate Books Ltd 2013

Source: Library

Page Count: 310

Format: Paperback

Genre: All of them :)


Audience: The Human Race

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy

Summed up in one word: Existence

Author Bio: A York based author who writes novels, screenplays, children's novels and journalism. Matt Haig has written best selling novels that have been translated into 29 different languages. He is a genius in my eyes! To see more on Matt Haig and his books click here

First Impression: This is my book of the year. This is the ultimate existential experience. Following the alien on a journey through a tour of our existence, our place in the universe, our thoughts, actions and emotions is a special experience. It is also incredibly hilarious! 

Summary: 
"This book, this actual book, is set right here, on earth. It is about the meaning of life and nothing at all. It is about what it takes to kill someone and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It is about matter and anti matter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It is about a forty one year old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen year old son Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become human." (Quote from The Humans by Matt Haig)

Review

Story: The Humans is a cracking story. A mathematician call Andrew Martin discovers proof of the Riemann Hypothesis and an alien race who have been monitoring our progress as a species does not want earth to have this information. They kidnap Martin and replacing him with an alien replica. This aliens job is to wipe out any traces of this discovery and kill anyone who may know anything about it. The story has copious amounts of charm, humour, sarcasm, emotion and spirit. I found myself deeply engaged with this text, it made me laugh, smile and cry. The outside perspective of the alien really works and makes the reader think about themselves and the world as a whole.

Characters: The reader spends all his time with the alien, viewing everyone through his interactions with them. The alien is a blank slate when it comes to humans, he only discovers and learns things about us as he goes along and it is amazingly funny, charming and bizarre. The alien starts off as an objective goon who wants to get his job done and get away. Over the course of the story he falls in love with what it is to be a good human and ultimately makes the right choice. The other characters in this book work well alongside this alien. Gulliver, the moody teenager, Isobel, the unloved wife who wants to be seen and many others. At no point did I feel any urgh or blahhh when I spent time with any of the characters here.

Themes: Every theme imaginable, this book is about love, about war, about family, race, sex, life and death. Everyone will find a way to connect with this material. The author has been through a lot to bring this story to us, he has put his heart and soul into this piece and it shows.

Likes: All of it (I know this is a bit of a cop out but I want to state that this is one of the best books I have read). The alien is hilarious. His interactions with us are brilliant. I did not stop smiling and this is such a quotable book. For example:

"You see, the Language of words was only one of the human Languages. There are many others, as I have pointed out. The Language of sighs, the Language of silent moments and most significantly, the Language of frowns." (Quote from The Humans by Matt Haig)

Dislikes: That is was not longer....that it is not a trilogy.... a few mathematical equations that I did not understand but really wanted to. In my own opinion, there is not much wrong with this text. It is serious and silly, poetic, philosophical and literal.


Rating: This is a special book and it deserves a place on any book shelf. Matt Haig is a true artist and talented wordsmith. I have already got most of his books on order right now and they too look amazing and will be making their way to these pages very soon. Go and buy this book, it is set in England but it is relevant everywhere, it is relevant to us as human beings. 

10/10

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

Book Details

Book Title: Sleeping Giants

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Publisher
: Del Rey 2016

Source: Library (I do NOT own this covert art, it is from Goodreads)

Page Count: 305

Format: Hardback

Genre: Science Fiction


Buy? Read? Avoid?: Read

Audience: Lovers of pure Science Fiction with a dash of politics.

Summed up in one word: Discovery

Author Bio: Sylvain Neuvel has a PhD in Linguistics from the University Of Chicago. He is a part time robotics enthusiast and a life long science fiction fan.

First Impression: I had no idea what to expect here, I was just mesmerised by the front cover and next thing I know this book is in my to read pile. Sleeping Giants is great science fiction, it has a solid story with decent science to back it all up with. The quality slips when we get to the political side to this tale but the author manages to make this book stand out by pulling off the interview style format really well and creating some awesome story moments. 

Summary:

An eleven year old Rose Franklyn makes a discovery that changes our perspective of alien existence and alien technology forever. This discovery is a hand. A giant hand. Made of rare materials, covered in unknown dialect and found in the middle of nowhere. With little information to go on the military swoop in and quarantine the discovery for research. After thorough research and testing, the government find no clues as to the origin of the hand, how it got to earth or its true purpose....the case goes cold.

Years down the line, the same Rose Franklin who made the discovery, finds herself in charge of the research of the alien hand. With a fresh, young team, Rose makes many discoveries, puts the pieces of this mystery back together again and uncovers the truth behind this alien technology. In a series of interviews with the team, field reports and diary entries, a mysterious interviewer from an unknown agency documents all the events surrounding this discovery and goes to the end of the earth to find out what this technology means for the population of earth.

Review

Story: Sleeping Giants is a solid, 'this could happen' scenario. I found myself engrossed in this story and every discovery added a new layer to this scientific tale of alien or ancient life. The story is told from an interviewers perspective, between this we have diary entries, field reports, experiment logs and other formats as well. The plot has action, science, love, mystery and evil threaded through it and it makes for a explosive read.

Characters: In this book we only spend time with the characters from the perspective of this mysterious interviewer. He is sinister, stoic and cares about little other than the truth of this discovery. The reader is told what is happening through questions and answers, each character has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to discussing their side of events with the unknown man. This makes for a strange read, full of passion, concern, disbelief and violence. Each member brings something to the table and each has their own strong personality.

Themes: Main themes include science, truth, violence, war, love, discovery, pain and recovery.

Writing style: In terms of writing style, this author has gone for a fresh approach that he managed to pull of really well. The interview format could have failed and been unappealing to the readers, but the use of an harsh, faceless, government type makes you wonder, makes you feel for the characters and makes you want to know what he knows. The actually wording of this novel is pretty easy going, the science does not get to heavy and the story flows nicely from start to finish.

Likes: The science. The excitement of discovery. The passion of all the characters. The interview format.

Dislikes: Not knowing more about the interviewer. A little too similar like Pacific Rim in parts. The political parts that are included to add a sense of scale and ownership do drag on and get in the way occasionally.

Rating: Sleeping Giants is a strong piece of science-fiction. It is incredibly enjoyable and its easily to get lost for a few hours within its pages. The interview format works really well in my opinion, with the likeable characters, the discoveries and the action parts as well this is some quality material. I believe this is going to turn into a trilogy, I certainly hope so anyway.

8/10

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Unseeing - Anna Mazzola

Book Details

Book Title: The Unseeing

Author: Anna Mazzola

Publisher
: Tinder Press 2016

Source: Sent to me via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 357

Format: Hardback

Genre: Historical Fiction



Audience: Those who enjoy history and mystery neatly entwined into fiction.

Laugh or Cry: Cry...

Buy? Read? Avoid?: I definitely recommend reading this! If your going to buy it, get the hardback, so nice!

Summed up in one word: Sacrifice


First Impression: I know I say things I shouldn't when writing an unbiased review on an authors material, but the fact that I got a hardback adds bonus points :) On to the book, this was a solid effort written by a determined author. I enjoy the historical britishness of this book, crafted nicely, sending me back to old London, with its harsh lifestyle and unruly legal system. The story is based on true events, well the events surrounding Sarah Gale, and the setting is well researched. Aside from that, the rest of the plot and characters were created by Anna Mazzola herself. I very much look forward to AM's next book but until then...review!! (p.s there is quite a lot to spoil here so I am going to try and be brief and effective...)

Summary Of The Book:

Hannah Brown has been murdered. Murdered at the hands of James Greenacre. Sarah Gale, his long time partner, accused of aiding and abetting. The jury refused to believe that Greenacre did not kill Hannah Brown and that Sarah Gale did not know about every detail. Gale and Greenacre were sentenced to death by hanging...

As the right of every prisoner, they are allowed to plead for mercy from the King and everyone always pleads. Usually these requests are denied but in Sarah Gale's case, they make an exception and give Edmund Fleetwood the opportunity to investigate the ruling of the courts. Edmund is an up and coming lawyer in London, looking to make a name for himself. This does not mean he will cut corners, he will make his name by doing his job by the book, letting fact rule over emotion. Upon meeting Sarah in Newgate Prison and talking over the facts, Edmund finds that nothing adds up in any account of the murder and does not understand why Sarah Gale will not tell the truth and protect herself and her young child.

Can he find out the truth behind it all before the accused make their walk to the gallows...?

My Review:

As always I find it hard to be brief and not spoil any book. I am a book lover and I love spoilers...But here I will do my best not to spoil a thing, as I want people who read this (if your out there thank you! High Five!) to read this book and thank me later :) Thank you to Anna Mazzola for writing this book and giving me the opportunity to go on and on and on about it...review!!

Though only certain aspects of this book are officially documented and happened to Sarah Gale, most of the events in this book happened to people everyday and it is truly heart breaking, we are very lucky to live how we do and I wanted that thought in everyone's mind. London in the 1800's was poverty ridden, starvation was a part of daily life and the slander of the accused was not limited at all, it was fuelled by hysteria and the masses. We are taken to that very point in time and my visit there upset me, enthralled me and made me acknowledge a topic I had not previously considered very much at all. (The only other time I have spent in this era is within Ripper Street, a British TV program set in post Jack The Ripper London).

Characters! Now Sarah Gale is a real life person and some of her struggle is shared here, but other than the setting, Anna Mazzola had a free reign on her creation, she did such a good job with these characters and for that I am grateful. Sarah Gale and Edmund Fleetwood on the surface are scared, naive and struggling to keep their head above the surface of their respective situations. The book is split between Sarah's experience in prison and Edmunds experience with the workings and the people of London. Neither of our main characters are what they seem and they can surprised the reader in many ways. I feel that Edmund was the the better lead character in this book, his plot was full of twists and turns and I think he was well written and made this book shine. The other characters in this book all have minor roles that help establish emotion or direct the flow of the plot but they are not very note worthy.

Plot! The plot in The Unseeing in my opinion is very strong. Not only being based on true events, this story takes the reader all the way back to London. The reader is taken to those filthy streets, made to walk amongst the poverty and follow Edmund around London turning over all the stones he can find to get to the truth. The reader is also locked up in Newgate Prison with Sarah Gale and there is no escaping the darkness, the screaming and the prison guards. This is a book about truth, why is Sarah hiding the truth that may save her? And why is Edmund allowed to seek the truth that may free a convicted woman? There are some strong themes here that I have already mentioned, the few that I haven't mentioned are family, corruption, mental health, gender discrimination and anger.

Overall The Unseeing is a thoroughly researched and intense piece of historical fiction. Anna Mazzola has shown us her potential, this is her debut novel, I am seriously looking forward to her future releases. Hopefully they will also make their way to my blog aswell. If history and fiction are for you, then this book is definitely worth your time.

8/10

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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Fell Hound Of Adversity - Parker T. Geissel

Book Details

Book Title: The Fell Hound Of Adversity

Author: Parker T. Geissel

Publisher
: Parker T. Geissel Publications 2016

Source: Sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review (the picture is NOT mine, it is from Goodreads)

Page Count: 440

Format: E-Book

Genre: Mystery


Audience: Those who enjoy a diverse book with plenty of plot lines.

Laugh or Cry: Laugh :)

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy if you can, definitely read this by any means!

Summed up in one word: Diverse


First Impression: I know it is uncool to gush over authors you are meant to be reviewing.....but this book was awesome. It had the characters, the setting and the game of thrones type multi-plot line madness that made sure everyone came across everyone else and that made for some great story moments. This author has so much potential and I hope that he will go bigger and better from here on out. I read this on E-Book but may have to get my hands on a physical copy when I get the chance.

Summary Of The Book:

Welcome to Charmed City...or Adversity depending on your social and financial status. This city is run by the politicians, the criminal families and the Princess Of Darkness. These people get away with corruption and murder everyday and the Capital have had enough.

Enter. Colonel Dashenka Ivanovna Stravrogin. The Colonel has come to Charmed City to complete an audit on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. Along with her two bodyguards and the resources of the Capital, the Colonel must collect unpaid taxes, find those cheating the system and bring the corrupt citizens to their knees.

Rudimental Quince had it all, alongside his best friend Blazing Buck Cortez, he was a highly regarded sous chief of the city's top restaurant. After a nasty fight with Buck, his life took a turn and he ended up in a sandwich shop with little to his name.... Until Rudi and his brother's name flagged up the I.R.S database as suspicious and the Colonel comes to his door.

What follows can only be described as complete mayhem. Bomb plots, assassinations, riots, out right murder and the stirring of a beast so evil that the citizens refuse to even speak his name. The Fell Hound of Adversity lurks in the mist and shadows, taking its prey and stalking those who enter its territory. No one is safe, but fear not, Rudi and his brother are about the change the whole game.

My Review:

This is a well written and mapped out piece of fiction. Just by getting all the many characters and plot lines to work well together and bind it into an exciting and energetic story deserves high marks. The characters stand well on their own but the overall plot quality is what makes this book shine instead of being half decent. On the face of it this is a mystery piece, though that is just one aspect of a very diverse story with humour, graphic violence, thrills and food added to make it extra special.

Characters! So many characters :) Each one as fleshed out and evil and/or good as the next. Main man Rudimental Egbert Quince is determined, hilarious and unreliable at times. His brother Lenient is the comic relief, a street wise pain in the arse. The Colonel and her body guards are the class, the finesse and the strict characters. The Princess Of Darkness adds the more sinister tones, with her presence being tense and unpredictable. Also we have the politicians....corrupt, backstabbing and relentless. And finally there is The Fell Hound of Adversity...a creature of the shadows, brutal, fear inducing and unseen in the shadows. There are many other characters but they are yours to find and enjoy when you leave this review and go and read this book.

The setting here is Charmed City or Adversity. A city split in half and ruled by crime and politics. It is a gritty place where people just get by as the money is funnelled from the community to the politicians pockets. Once a prosperous city, it is a shell of its former self and the perfect playground for all these players to fight over the scraps. There are many themes layered in this book, from alcoholism, poverty and crime to food, friendship and revolution. A well balanced book that will keep you on your toes and laughing a lot too. The Fell Hound of Adversity over shadows this book, lurking in the shadows...the citizens afraid to speak its name for fear of it hearing them and visiting them at night...is it real or just an urban legend?

There are a few odds and ends that I did not fully enjoy or understand with this book. Some events or characters are not fully explained when needed and I did not get the ending that that I wanted...the ending was fine, but with a book with so much character...I thought it would be a grander finale than it was. I am hoping that we have more adventures in Charmed City or at least a new piece with some of these awesome characters. Parker T. Geissel is a master of tension, building it and elevating it whenever it suits him, along with his strong story framework I am excited to see what he comes up with next.

Overall it was an engaging work of fiction that had me going round in circles both laughing and trying to keep up with the intricate goings on of the large cast of characters. The Fell Hound Of Adversity is a perfect blend of genres and a great addition to your library 

9/10

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Friday, July 15, 2016

The Race - Nina Allan

Book Details

Book Title: The Race

Author: Nina Allan

Publisher
: Titan Books 2016

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 446

Format: Paperback

Genre: Science/Literary Fiction

ISBN: 978-1907069703


Audience: Those who enjoy complex and robust stories with scientific flourishes

Laugh or Cry: Both

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy/Read if you enjoy depth and complexity with your novels

Summed up in one word: Choppy

First Impression: Let me clarify choppy...this book is good, even great in parts. It is also uneven, misleading and eventually slightly over indulgent. That is only my opinion on the writing style and some of the content. This is coming from a science fiction lover more than a literary fiction fan though, so you may want to skip my thoughts and dive right into this complex and mind bending piece of fiction. Here we have four big and bold stories, weaved together with characters and small doses of magic, fantasy, science or whatever you want to call it...

Summary Of The Book:

Jenna Hoolman lives in Sapphire, an offshoot town of London in a dystopian, rough version of England. Jenna's brother Del is involved in the local smart dog racing scene. Technology now allows humans and dogs to communicate empathically and people used this technology to create a more technical and intense version of the sport of racing greyhounds. Unfortunately where there is gambling, there is corruption. When Del's daughter Lumey goes missing at aged four, Jenna goes hunting for the truth.

Christy is lonely, her mother is gone and she barely knows her father. All she has is her brother and she can't take comfort in him as she fears what he is capable of. The only true comfort she has is her books, they protect her and allow her to create worlds where she can escape reality and change the course of events. When Christy is forced to face the truth about her life, is she able to stomach it?

Alex Adeyemi is a war correspondent. He has fought many battles because of the colour of his skin and after it all he still fears for his daughter. An old flame pops up and starts causing trouble in Alex's life and he has to return to the past to get the answers he needs.

Maree is on the biggest journey of her life. Sailing away to tropical lands to use her natural abilities for the good of others. She knows nothing of her family. She only knows the family she has picked up on her travels. Can she turn her back on her calling as a human to find out more about herself?

In The Race, there are many stories all linked by science, blood and love. Take a trip to another universe and get lost in its complexity and its warped lands.

My Review:

Okay, I know I have said it too many times already but just one more time to make my point...this book is complex. Nina Allan writes like it is her oxygen, putting thought and effort into every little detail and aspect of her gloriously formulated and crafted worlds. If I am being 100% honest (which I am as it is my duty) I felt that it dragged on way to far past what I believed should have been the finished point. I will get back to this but first of all. Characters.

There are many characters that exist within these pages. They all have a place and they are all used to their fullest, maybe overused. First of all we have Jenna Hoolman. We spend about a fourth of the book with Jenna and we don't learn a massive amount about her as a person. Jenna's main event is her family, with her job and personal life taking a backseat and popping up occasionally to flesh her out. Del and his family are the real story here in the first act pf this story. Crazy Del with his dog racing, backhanded schemes and what not. The one thing you can't fault him on is his love for his daughter Lumey, though his efforts to get her back are questionable...but this is for you to decide. 

In the next act there is Christy and we learn everything about her, her childhood, her thoughts and feelings, her adult life and her sexual interests. Her story is upsetting, lonely, magical and mysterious. The third act stars Alex, a brave and caring soul who wants to protect everything he loves and do the right thing. Finally there is Maree, she has a lot on her shoulders, but as with all teenagers, she gets on with her life and takes it all as it comes. All these characters are what makes this book. If they were of any less quality then they are, this book would not work. We get love, pain, horror, wonder and may other experiences. Each one is developed and works well alongside the others and the only fault I can highlight is at some point each one can get slightly tedious. I felt that this book could have been much shorter and still have the effect we get from the finished article.

I am not going to dwell on settings of this sotry too much as they fluctuate all over the place and the characters are the priority in The Race with the various settings not playing much part in the story..other than with Maree and her steamboat. The settings did compliment each character well and added flavour to their story, but when you finish this book they are an after thought. I am going to tell the truth and admit that though I read every word in this novel, I am still not overly clear on the background concept of parallel universes...are they real or a figment of imagination...I guess it is the readers interpretation. Themes here are very plentiful, with heartbreaking ones like family betrayal and fun ones like youthful wonder and hope about the world.

This book has got a lot of praise and for the most part I agree with them. I thought the author was a natural artist. I found this story to be gritty and dirty but also beautiful and profound. My main problem would be that I felt it should have ended around 4/5 of the way through at least. I thought everything else was extra story that the author had to say but didn't really add much to the overall effect for me. This was a shame as I finished this book bored and slightly irritated. This is just my opinion as a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed Nina Allen's work and I look forward to more of her work, I may just aim to read the short pieces. 

Overall Nina Allen has a way with words, hypnotic, mesmerising, vivid and also gritty and sometimes uncomfortable. This book is very deep, very human and Nina Allen has many stories to tell and for the most part I am glad she told these ones.

8/10

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