Jonathan Dymond is a young gentleman with no cares, who makes a living by taking his unique portable cider-press round the countryside, and pressing c...moreJonathan Dymond is a young gentleman with no cares, who makes a living by taking his unique portable cider-press round the countryside, and pressing cider apples. When a note comes to his father from his dying uncle, things change. His father arrives to late to hear his Uncle's last wishes, and is willing to let it be forgotten. But Jonathan finds a scrap of the note that hints of dark secrets, and is plagued by nightmares of his Uncle. So our protagonist finds himself driven to investigate the mystery. Taking the cider press to help his Aunt Harriet with her apples is a convenient way to get into the household for a while, and there he meets Tamar, an unusual beggar-girl who has been hired as a maid by her aunt, and seems to know somewhat about the mystery of Uncle Robin's dying wishes.
The novel is set in 16th centry england shortly after cromwell's civil war (a period which McCann has obviously well researched for her first novel 'As Meat Loves Salt'). The setting works really well for the novel, with hints of the recent violent past still resting below the surface. And the practice of cider making seems to tinge the story with the scents of sweetness and underlying rot.
It has to be said that I did not rate this novel quite as highly as McCann's first novel, but then again I gave 'As Meat Loves Salt' a 5 star rating and cried continuously over it. It has to be hard first novel to live up to. Nevertheless McCann's writing is still brilliant, and the mystery was completely riveting. Highly recommended.
Lady Alexia Maccon is reduced to moving back in with her family. And it's all Lord Maccon's fault. It...more**warning: contains spoilers for books 1 and 2**
Lady Alexia Maccon is reduced to moving back in with her family. And it's all Lord Maccon's fault. It being common knowledge that Supernaturals cannot sire children. Her being increasingly *ahem* delicate (view spoiler)[- pregnant - (hide spoiler)]. And him of course being an emotionally turbulent werewolf, prone to jumping to conclusions in anger.
Poor Alexia, alienated from her husband, being the scandalous talk of the town, ousted from the shadow council by Queen Victoria, and suffering from morning sickness. Has no one to turn to, and no one to explain how she possibly got into this impossible situation, seeing as her friend Lord Akeldama has upped and left town. So of course the only choice, is to take a trip to Italy and get answers from the Templars. Taking the lovely, genius, inventor Madame Lefoux and the faithful Floote the butler with her.
I hope you paid attention to the spoiler warnings if you haven't yet read the first two books, as its completely impossible to write a summary without mentioning the improbable possibility of Alexia's supernatural pregnancy. (I'd like you to try saying that 10 times really fast).
Firstly I have to admit, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the last two. Mostly owing to the fact that Alexia and Lord Maccon are separated for the entire novel, and its their interactions that put the tasty topping on the book in my opinion.
Even though, Lord Maccon on his own is still entertaining, it's a dilemma not knowing whether to cry for him or laugh when he drown his sorrows in Professor Lyall's formaldehyde, poor guy, but he is to blame of course. And if he happens to lose Alexia to Madame Lefoux, it will be entirely his fault and I wouldn't blame Alexia in the least.
But Lord Maccon is nothing without Alexia, and once he gets that into his big hairy head, he may have a chance at being forgiven. I might forgive him I mean. Not telling if Alexia will. After all, she's got Pesto to keep her happy now. Pesto AND Madame Lefoux. Sometimes I really wish I were in Alexia's shoes.
I still think Miss Carriger is being a bit skimpy with the answers in this series. Even when the plot of the book resolves itself, too many things are still left mysterious. Yes I'm sure thats part of the pulling power of the series, but how long can one writer hold off for? I look forward to book 4 as soon as I can get hold of a copy!
See my other reviews of the Parasol Protectorate series: ← #2 Changeless | #4 (To-Read!)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Alexia Tarabotti, is awoken by her irate werewolf husband, who promptly dissappears, and leaves her with an encampment of soldiers and werewolves on t...moreAlexia Tarabotti, is awoken by her irate werewolf husband, who promptly dissappears, and leaves her with an encampment of soldiers and werewolves on the front lawn, and instructions to visit a certain hat-shop. At the hat shop she makes the aquantence of Madame LeFoux, a fascinating suit-wearing mechanical genius, and gains a new parasol. Then when Alexia finds out about the problem of whole areas where vampires and werewolves are entirely losing their supernatural abilities.. and that this area has moved north to scotland, precisely where her husband has gone.. Alexia takes matters into her own hands, and takes a dirigible north, accompanied by Ivy Hisselpenny, her sister, Tunstall, and Madame LeFoux.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than the first one. Most entirely due to the introduction of the new character - Madame LeFoux. With her top-hats and suits, her mechanical prowess, and her subtle interests in Alexia; it wasn't so much openly noted that she was a lesbian, (but then it's never entirely openly said that Lord Akeldama is gay), but it doesn't need to be. Maybe I should be suprised about how much I can enjoy a book because of a single possibly lesbian character. But you just don't expect this in a popular paranormal book! And she was a well-written character, and certainly not one written for straight males, I applaud miss Carriger for this!
The plot was actually fairly good, and I was fairly suprised by the nice twist of the ending. I still wish the cause and the mechanics of this 'soulless' thing would be gone into in more detail, rather than just being a term for something she is, without any other repurcussions. I mean, the way things stand there is no evidence to say that she doesn't have a soul, and her powers could be explained just by any other meaningless arbitrary term. But I'm sure I said that in the first book review.. maybe book 3 will have more answers?
I'm still not entirely convinced on the style of writing, but thats just me. And I still have niggles about little things, (like calling a meal breakfast because they ate it in the morning, when really it can't be breakfast unless it's the first meal after fasting during sleeping - hence break fast). But, I am picky sometimes, thats just me.
Overall, I really thought it was a decent book, and you shouldn't let my niggles put you off, it's worth ignoring any possible failings and getting into!
Close Range is Annie Proulx's anthology of 11 ranch/cowboy themed short stories, including Brokeback Mountain.
I have to say, that there were a lot of...moreClose Range is Annie Proulx's anthology of 11 ranch/cowboy themed short stories, including Brokeback Mountain.
I have to say, that there were a lot of good stories in here, not just the last one. I was suprised by the book in a few ways, not least being that I enjoyed every one of them, more than I thought I would. But I was mostly suprised by the dirty gritty realness of the scenes and the writing. I suppose I was expecting a sort of idyllic happy set of cowboy stories (I'm not sure why), but this is totally not it. Don't think even one of them has a happy ending.
The last thing that suprised me was that, all of the of the stories seem to be written in a slightly different way, a different perspective, a twist of stories within stories, or read by a different internal voice; each has something different and special that made me keep checking the front cover to make sure they really were all the same author.
So I'm still not truly a short-story fanatic, and these were not the kind of thing that I would usually choose to read, and I'm still not really excited about cowboys.. and yet I really thought the book was good, really good. So that must say something for Annie Proulx's writing skill.
And what did I think of Brokeback Mountain in particular? Well I thought it was hands down the best of the bunch, without a doubt. It's like the others, gritty dirty realism, and it's not like I'd usually call a romance, There isn't a lot of space for romance, but there's something there between the lines, that isn't always explicity written, some kind of writer's magic trick. And it did make me cry. I'm certainly going to watch the movie now to see how well they did with it.
So, to sum it up. Not what I'd usually read at all. But the writing was brilliant, and I would reccommend it.(less)
High Fidelity is one of my Top 5 All-time favourite movies.
(And not only because it's a Cusack movie).
Strange then, that I didn't realise for a few y...moreHigh Fidelity is one of my Top 5 All-time favourite movies.
(And not only because it's a Cusack movie).
Strange then, that I didn't realise for a few years that it was based on a book, and embarassing that I didn't realise, 'til I picked it up, this year, that it was a British book. Shame on me.
Rob Flemming is a 30something Record store owner, whose life has hit a bit of a rut. He spends his working day (in a store which has very few customers), hanging out with his social misfit employees, making up Top 5 lists about records. Then he gets ditched by his girlfriend Laura. At first he's feeling pretty freed by it, back to his batchelor ways, doing whatever he likes; playing his records up loud. But soon he's depressed again. He makes his 'Top 5 breakup' list, and goes back to revisit each ex-gf to find out what it all means, why is he doomed to fall in love and be dumped repeatedly. Through it all he's constantly trying to win back Laura from the hated hippy Ray.
I know at first glance, a book like this can seem somewhat shallow in premise, but it's hidden gem like that.
And it's hard to think that a book about a 30something depressed bloke born 15/20? years before me.. could be relevent to me, but I constantly find it totally relevent, maybe that says something about me, or maybe it's just an awesome book.
I love the first person narritive in this book. Rob's point of view interspersed with 'Top 5' lists, flash backs, reminiscing, little anecdotes and ponderings. And his internal voice is just so perfect, he's clearly a flawed character, but that's what makes the realism. These little bits like; describing the way Laura got stuck in the door on the way out, and he had to faff around - no dramatic cliches, it's just real and honest. I also love the unsure, questioning way he likes to make semi-profound statements about the way things are, but then turn back on it at the end of the statement.
See, Laura? You won't change everything around like Jackie could. It's happened too many times, to both of us; we'll just go back to the friends and the pubs and the life we had before, and leave it at that, and nobody will notice the diffecence, probably.
I think the best thing for me, about this book. Is that it's a great break from reading (as I so often do) hundreds of fantasy romances, where the 36 year old single woman finally meets the handsome rich vampire of her dreams and everything is magical and perfect.. well this book is for everyone who is depressed, and hates their life, wishes they worked somewhere else, wishes they were with someone else, but knows there is nothing magic about to happen to save them from it. It's about reflecting on your life and realising that if you're always wishing for a fantasy, if you're always wishing for the all-time number 1 life of your dreams, you might miss that you're ACTUALLY perfectly happy where you are with plain old (but really just as nice) number 5 on your top 5 list.
So.. how well did this book translate from book to screen? Well the movie removed some of the more uninteresting scenes, changed Rob's last name, and moved the setting from London to Chicago. In order to change it to an American setting, very little was messed with. Simply switch every intstance of the word 'Bollocks' for the word 'Bullshit', make Marie deSalle black (because being american in america doesn't make her unusual anymore), and change a few of the place names and a couple of the song references. But as far as I'm concerned the translation from book to movie was still near perfect. Am I biased because I watched the movie first? Possibly. But if you watched the movie and never read the book, I will still respect you in the morning.
When I review one of my rare 5 star books, I know I can never do them justice. I can't write a perfect synopsis, I can't pick a perfect quote, I can't even spell perfectly. But maybe since this is a novel about not being being perfect, maybe that's okay. All I can say is, I loved this book. (less)