I’ll be honest, I picked this up because back when I had telly I thought the ads on Sky for the film version looked cool and interesting. And then theI’ll be honest, I picked this up because back when I had telly I thought the ads on Sky for the film version looked cool and interesting. And then the book showed up at work. I love it when that happens :)
It isn’t a big book, but it packs a lot in there. The main character is Michael, a ten year old boy, whose life is on hold. His baby sister is ill, his parents are trying to fit him in while worrying constantly about her, and they’ve just moved into a new house. He has a lot going on before he meets Skellig.
Someone mentions Jack Aubrey and at once you think of sea battles and naval history, you may not think of Stock Exchange frauds and court cases, but tSomeone mentions Jack Aubrey and at once you think of sea battles and naval history, you may not think of Stock Exchange frauds and court cases, but that is exactly what we have here. Of course there is some sea action, this book takes up after Master and Commander, so even if you only saw the film you have a rough idea of what to expect.. Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise have been off protecting whalers and most of this book is set either on their way home, or back in England.
Jack has problems of his own, a young black catholic man who has a remarkable similarity to Jack turns up, but Stephen isn’t carefree either. His wife appears to have left him, and there is trouble in the intelligence agency.
But I don’t really read these books for the plot. I read them because of the way they are written, the characters that shine and the wonderful language. It is also interesting the way Jack notes that the colourful coats he’s used to are no longer fashionable. More and more fashion calls for black coats. Well, maybe you don’t find that interesting, but I did.
Plus, the more I read around this whole general time period the more I enjoy these books. Phrases I read in Heyer’s books turn up here too, things “don’t signify.” ) A saying I now intend to use all the time, so be prepared.
I particularly liked Jack’s unshakable belief in the English justice system, his absolute knowledge that once he tells the jury the truth nothin could possibly go wrong. Not to mention Stephen’s attempts to dissuade him of this notion:
“They are men who tend to resign their own conscience to another’s keeping, or to disregard it entirely. To the question ‘what are you’re sentiments when you are asked to defend a man you know to be quilty?’ many will reply ‘I do not know to be guilty until the judge, who has heard both sides, states that he is guilty.’ … standing up in a court for which ever side has paid upi, affecting warmth and conviction, and doing everything you can to win the case, whatever your private opinion may be, will soon dull any fine sense of honour. The mercenary soldier is not a valued creature, but at least he risks his life, whereas these men merely risk their next fee.”...more
The blue girl of the title is Imogene, one of the narrators of this book. She and her family have just moved to a new neighbourhood in Newford, and ImThe blue girl of the title is Imogene, one of the narrators of this book. She and her family have just moved to a new neighbourhood in Newford, and Imogene is determined not to cause trouble. Not everyone wants her to fit in though. At her new school she is picked on by the “popular crowd” although never to the extent that her best friend Maxine is. And of course talking with ghost is never a very normal thing to do. Still, unless trouble comes looking for her Imogene won’t go looking for it. But there’s the rub, trouble, in the form of the school’s resident fairy population, does come looking for her and it isn’t everyday teenage hassle either. No, the fairies bring with them the probability of death.
Peter Sinclair is 29, and, following his girlfriend’s attempted suicide he runs away from London, to the countryside. There he is supposed to be redecPeter Sinclair is 29, and, following his girlfriend’s attempted suicide he runs away from London, to the countryside. There he is supposed to be redecorating and doing up a family friend’s cottage in return for being allowed to stay there. But he gets distracted and begins to write his autobiography. In the course of writing this he discovers that the real truth can only be found within metaphors and through creating an alternate version of his past. And so he begins to write of his past in Jethra. He renames and recreates his family and friends. He recreates a reality.
Hill House is unoccupied. The owners have tried to rent it, but tenants never stay long. The house has an 80 year history that includes deaths and strHill House is unoccupied. The owners have tried to rent it, but tenants never stay long. The house has an 80 year history that includes deaths and strange goings on. It is just the sort of house Dr John Montague has been looking for. He wants to perform a scientific study of the phenomenon that is a haunted house. He researches the house and its events before hand, but he also researches people. He wants to have a company of people, as is traditional in the investigation of haunted houses, and so he has searched for people with any sort of psychic or supernatural occurrences in their past. But of all the names that he contacts only two actually show up at the house; Eleanor and Theodora. Along with Luke, as the representative of the house’s owners, and the good doctor, that makes for four inhabitants.
What will they witness in Hill House?
Eleanor is main protagonist. We see the events, for the most part, through her perspective. And so coloured by her interpretation and her thoughts. And this is a book that is all about interpretation and feeling. It is all atmosphere and slowly building tension.
Eleanor is a fascinating character. She is 32, but constantly described by the other characters in juvenile terms, she is the child, the baby, the innocent. And yet when the reader is introduced to her the book tells us who she hates. Hatred is not usually what we associate with innocents.
Eleanor is looking for something. A new start. A new home. She spent most of her life caring for her mother, now she lives with her sister and her family. Unwanted again. So when the letter from Dr. Montague arrives she sees it as a way out. But on her first viewing of Hill House her instincts shout at her to leave. She doesn’t. She stays because that’s just silly isn’t it? It is just a house after all.
And again on that first night in Hill House our impressions of Eleanor “the innocent” are thrown into doubt by her lies. Minor lies perhaps, fibbing to herself and making a nicer past, a nicer home fore herself. Nevertheless the fact is that she is deceiving those around her for no real reason, just as a child might make up a story about themselves.
And that whole theme, childhood and motherhood, domineering mothers and children fighting for their own identity is a huge one in the book.
And then there is the whole question over whether the house if haunted or possessed or whatever? Are any of the events really happening? and if they are is the house responsible, is there a spirit in the house or is it one of the guests?
And of course that ambiguity makes the atmosphere all the more creepy. Nothing is shown, everything is left up the imagination, and lets face it, that is always much much worse than anything that can actually be described.
This is my first Shirley Jackson and it certainly won’t be the last....more
This is the second in this ‘verse created by Kelley Armstrong. In it we are introduced to a wider supernatural world. Bitten only had werewolves, now EThis is the second in this ‘verse created by Kelley Armstrong. In it we are introduced to a wider supernatural world. Bitten only had werewolves, now Elena learns that there are witches, demons, vampires and others out there, and of course runs in to trouble. This time with those in the normal human world who want to learn the supernatural world for a variety of reasons. Some see it as a research opportunity, others just want the excitement of a hunt. Full review: http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2......more
I’ve had this book on my shelves for years now. It was on sale for half-price when I bought it; that’s the only reason I own it in hardback. I much prI’ve had this book on my shelves for years now. It was on sale for half-price when I bought it; that’s the only reason I own it in hardback. I much prefer paperbacks, more practical. Since I bought the book it has been made into a film and become even more famous. To be honest the film looked god-awful, so I didn’t bother to watch it. But I always knew I’d eventually read the book, and when better than on a lazy Sunday when I should have been cleaning the apartment?
I’m sure everyone knows the story. A newly married couple decide to get a dog, and so buy a labrador puppy, who grows up into the world’s worst dog. Only of course he isn’t the world’s worst, he simply has some bad habits. Very bad habits that include his destruction of numerous items. But at heart Marley is a sweet good-natured dog whose labrador-ish optimism teachers his owners all about life and, eventually, loss. Full review: http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2......more
The plot is sort of Homeward Bound meets violence, death and the army. Three animals have been modified, equipped with armour, guns and taught how toThe plot is sort of Homeward Bound meets violence, death and the army. Three animals have been modified, equipped with armour, guns and taught how to speak, and are employed by the USAF as assassins. But the time has come for them to be decomissioned. Full review: http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2......more
I first came across a mention of Robert M. Saplosky on Metafilter and I was a little interested, so I did what any librarian might do, and ordered oneI first came across a mention of Robert M. Saplosky on Metafilter and I was a little interested, so I did what any librarian might do, and ordered one of his books. To be honest my expectations weren’t all that high. My personal reading challenge for 2010 might be to read more non-fiction, but at the same time I know that non-fiction often requires more concentration and time than fiction, and then there was the fact that Sapolsky is a neurobiologist, and to be totally honest I really didn’t think it’d be all that interested. But I challenged myself, and was I ever glad that I did because from the opening page this really is a delight to read. Full review: http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2......more
This is the first book in King’s seven book series, The Dark Tower, which I’ve been meaning to get started on for a good while now. It is labelled asThis is the first book in King’s seven book series, The Dark Tower, which I’ve been meaning to get started on for a good while now. It is labelled as a fantasy series, but with King you always get some form of horror. And for that reason I decided to add this to my RIP challenge reading list.[2:] The Gunslinger introduces the reader to Roland of Gilead, the gunslinger of the title, and the world in which he lives. It echoes many things of our world, maybe at some point in the future, after the world has “moved on”
Although in the previous book Nathaniel said, almost promised, he wouldn’t summon Bartimaeus again, events force his hand. He needs a servant demon thAlthough in the previous book Nathaniel said, almost promised, he wouldn’t summon Bartimaeus again, events force his hand. He needs a servant demon that he can trust trust. Well, for a certain value of trust, given the relationship between magicians and their slaves.
The resistance that made a brief appearance in The Amulet of Samarkand make a reappearance, and a much more substantial one as they attempt to rouse the general populace into revolt against the tyranny of the magicians. But the commoners aren’t to be persuaded by random acts of theft and violence. So the resistance have to raise their game.
This is the third of Mieville’;s books to be set in the wonderful world of New Crobuzon, and so far my favourite of this ‘verse. I enjoyed Perdido StrThis is the third of Mieville’;s books to be set in the wonderful world of New Crobuzon, and so far my favourite of this ‘verse. I enjoyed Perdido Street Station, admired more than liked The Scar, but Iron Council surpasses both of them. I was a little doubtful at first, not really getting the character of Cutter. But once the story began it sucked me in.
The ‘verse Mieville has created is simply fantastic, in both sense of the word. A variety of characters, races, and peoples all battle for the reader’s attention, and just when you want to read more about some one in particular another comes along to steal your attention.
There are three main storylines. Cutter and his wanderings as he attempts to track down Judah Lowe. Then there is Ori, back in the city of New Crobuzon and his desire for revolution, for a better world. The third strand is set in the past, and centres on the character of Judah Lowe and the origin of the legendary Iron Council.
Mieville is a socialist, and there is quite a bit of politics in this book. The social reform the people of the Collective yearn for. The strikes that helped bring about the creation of the Iron Council. And while it is impossible to ignore this political aspect, nowhere does Mieville’s political belief turn into a sermon or a rant. The characters live, and die, they act as characters, not as proponents of a particular theory.
There are no real bad guys in this book. Sure, there are the authorities and the railroad managers, but they are more in the background. Few of them are actual characters that appear in the book. Instead it is the realities of life that create the situations that the other characters must react to. For just as there are no bad guys, there are no good guys. There are simply characters, acting according to what goes on about them.
Utterly original, with its Remade, flesh elementals, Cactae people and Khepri women among many many more, Iron Council makes for a great read. You’ll never look at a train in the same way again. And the ending! well. I’ll let you find out for yourself....more