osemary Cooke is at college in California. She has no real friends to speak of. Her house mate Ted, maybe, but she isn’t sure. Then she encounters Harosemary Cooke is at college in California. She has no real friends to speak of. Her house mate Ted, maybe, but she isn’t sure. Then she encounters Harlow, a drama student who excels at drama. As in, over the top drama of day to day living. When they first meet both end up getting arrested.
But this isn’t the story of their friendship, or maybe that is to strong a word for their relationship. What this is story is all about is Rosemary herself, her family, her memories and her experiences as a child. It is about what it is to be human. And whether or not humanity is all there is.
Plotwise there is an important revelation less than 100 pages in, concerning Rosemary’s twin sister Fern. Which obviously I’m going to just blab here (spoilers are hidden on my blog review : http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2... )
It is a terribly sad book. But it isn’t a depressing one. It’s quite funny in places, Rosemary is a great narrator. An unreliable one, but she’ll tell you that herself. Because this book is also all about memory and how we rewrite our pasts even without knowing. A scene you remember with utter clarity might never have happened. And what does that mean? After all, our past defines us in many ways. The experiences we lived through, the lessons we learned, and if they didn’t happen the way we remember are we really who we think we are?
This was my first book by Fowler, I really enjoyed it and think I’ll read more by her. I would have like to learn more about Fern, but as Rosemary says, she can’t tell Fern’s side of the story because she wasn’t there for a lot of it, just like she can’t tell what happened to Lowell when he was absent. She can only tell you her story. It s a great read....more
Kate is running away from her life. The stress of her life in Dublin has prompted some sort of a breakdown, or a burnout, she wants a complete break fKate is running away from her life. The stress of her life in Dublin has prompted some sort of a breakdown, or a burnout, she wants a complete break from that. So here she is, in Somerset, in an eventing yard, trying to pretend that she knows something, anything about horses. Luckily for her Becca does know about horses and takes Kate under her wing as she tries to keep her job for the demanding Mark Waverley.
In London Annie has been trying to escape her past for years. She has serious trust issues and anxiety problems. She hangs out with her small group of friends and tries to get through life as best she can. Occasionally it all gets too much for her and she has to get away, usually to head off backpacking through Asia.
I can’t say too much more because the events are key to this book. I’m not going to risk spoiling anything, in my opinion even the tagline Show Spoiler ▼ (to read spoiler bits you'll have to visit my blog : http://www.susanhatedliterature.net/2... )
goes too far, I mean why make that the centre of the story and have people start to speculate before they’ve even read the book. Although maybe other people like the whole speculation side of a book, I much prefer to uncover what the author reveals as they reveal it, not some marketing person.
And I loved this book. Loved it. I had only read that blog post about it, so didn’t know much about it, had never read the author before, but I loved it. Both Kate and Annie were so wonderfully written, as were all the supporting characters. Sure, you know, almost as soon as you meet him Show Spoiler ▼
is not going to turn out to be a good guy, it wouldn’t be much of a story if that was the case. Chekhov’s gun and all that.
And it is the characters that make this story work so well. Character over plot for me every time, although, in fairness, this book has both things going for it. At the heart of the book is a story all about dealing with loss and grief, and learning how to move forward in your life. It isn’t always easy, and it takes some people longer than others, but moving forward, once you can, is what life is about.
It is funny, and sad, and bits made me cry. It also has horses. What more could you possibly want in a book?...more
Rob Quillan is quasi-famous. He made the finals of a reality tv show, the producers flew his girlfriend out to the filming of the final performances,Rob Quillan is quasi-famous. He made the finals of a reality tv show, the producers flew his girlfriend out to the filming of the final performances, but the plane crashed on its way and she died. Still, he was contractually obligated to sing. Rob, as you might imagine, is finding …
Emilia and Teo live as though they were brother and sister. Teo’s mother Delia died when a bird hits the plane is flying, but Emilia’s mother, Rhoda,Emilia and Teo live as though they were brother and sister. Teo’s mother Delia died when a bird hits the plane is flying, but Emilia’s mother, Rhoda, the wing-walker survived. Devastated by the death of her best friend Rhoda returns to her parents farm and retreats to her bed while she mourns. Eventually, though, she begins to live again and decides that the family should go to Ethiopia. That is where Teo’s father was from. He died in WWI but Delia always wanted to go there, a place where Teo’s skin wouldn’t make him stand out. A country that was never colonised by Europeans.
And so Em, Teo, and their Momma head for the continent of Africa. But this is the 1930s, and war is coming. Mussolini is moving his forces in Africa and he has his eye on Ethiopia.
The story is told through a series of essays and flight logs that Em and Teo keep as they grow up. It details their life with Delia and Rhoda, and after, in America and in Ethiopia. But it begins almost at the end, with an introduction by Em, address to the Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, so you have some idea of where the story is going.
And as it is told by both our narrators it has alternating first person narration. If this is something you don’t like then you are missing out a great book.
I first read Wein when I read her Code Name Verity which is a book that you should read.((actually I should reread it because it was just plain great)) . This book isn’t as emotionally hard hitting, it is a much more complex book in some ways. It covers racism and prejudice as well as war and love and death and tragedy. And, as expected from Wein, characters that are just so real and alive you wonder how she managed to create them at all.
This is very different in some ways from Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire but it really does highlight the fact that I would read just about anything that Wein writes. I do still have to get back to her Arthurian/Ethiopian series, but I enjoyed the two books in that series that I’ve read so far. And I love that she has set so many of her stories there. It is a place that I am only familiar with in terms of marathon runners and famines, so it is great to see it depicted in such a positive manner. Not always positive of course, every where has its problems and flaws, but in a realistic manner, it is great to see books set in African countries, with actual African characters. I know, both Rhoda and Em are white Americans, and Em, in my mind, is the more dominant of the two narrators, but Teo certainly has a voice all of his own, and his own perspective on things....more
Lizzie Borden is infamous. Accused of murdering her father and her step-mother with an axe, she was put on trial but acquitted. Nevertheless, when the people of Fall River think of her they think of an axe murderer. Now she has moved across town and lives with her sister. An isolated life, almost hermit like. Their few visitors include Dr. Seabury, as Emma, Lizzie’s sister suffer from consumption. From time to time they also welcome Nance, an actress who is Lizzie’s lover, although Emma doesn’t really like her.
And then there are the unwanted visitors. The strange monstrous creatures that seem to come from the sea and must be destroyed. Chopped with Lizzie’s axe and their bodies deposed of in the “cooker” the Borden’s have installed in their secret laboratory in the cellar.
I’ve never read any H.P. Lovecraft, but this books feels like everything I think of when I hear “Lovcraftian”, monsters from the deep, unexplained horror, and an overwhelming sense of dread. It is just a wonderful book.
It is told as a series of journal entries from various characters, as well as the occasional letter and report. So everything is told in first person narration, well, almost everything, I think there is a newspaper article or two in there as well, and there are a variety of POV characters. Elizabeth Borden herself, her sister, their friend the doctor, being the main ones. Through them we learn just why Lizzie took that axe to her parents, and why she continues to carry it around. But nobody really knows what is going on. They are doing their best to fight whatever these creatures are, whatever this infection is that seems to be taking over more and more people, wreaking more havoc, not just on Fall River but spreading much further than that, but they don’t know where it comes from or how to stop it. Everything is trial and error.
Some things work, like the old folk tale of iron keeping the fae away, although these invaders are nothing like fairies, but others seem to have little effect.
But as well as the battle against the ocean and its monsters Lizzie, Emma, and all the others also have all the usual interpersonal relationship issues that any group of people might face. Emma is almost bed-ridden, she is dependent on Lizzie, and resents Lizzie for that fact. Lizzie is madly in love with Nance, but won’t trust her enough to tell the truth, and Dr. Seabury is an outsider but with his own personal issues to battle.
The interplay between all the characters is just wonderful, you can empathise with each and every one of them, wanting them all to get along while understanding that sometimes issues don’t just get sorted out.
Maplecroft is an awesome book and I’d highly recommend it. It is the first book by Priest I’ve read although I have heard her spoken of highly of before. The second in this series, Chaplewood, is expected out later this year. It is one that is certainly being added to Mount TBR. You should probably read it too!...more
When a young boy’s body is found on the train tracks in Moscow Leo Demidov’s job is to make sure everyone knows that it wasn’t murder. After all, in SWhen a young boy’s body is found on the train tracks in Moscow Leo Demidov’s job is to make sure everyone knows that it wasn’t murder. After all, in Soviet Russia crimes like that do not happen. If they did it would mean that the system wasn’t working. And that thought can never even be entertained.
Demidov is a believer. As an officer in the MGB he is the one who hunts down dissidents, he understands that if someone is accused of a wrong doing then they are guilty. Sometimes it is cruel, but it is all for the greater good.
But now that core belief of his is about to be threatened. Everything he thinks he know about his life is in danger. His life, that of his wife, his parents. Everyone is both a threat and at risk. How can he hope to investigate any case under such circumstances.
I picked up this book because the film adaptation starring Tom Hardy is due out soon. It got a mention in some article I read last year and it sounded like an interesting story. It is loosely inspired by the true story of Andrei Chikatilo, a serial murderer in Soviet Russia who killed at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990. There was also a film starring Stephen Rea based on his murders called Citizen X, I caught it on telly years ago and thought it was excellent, although I don’t remember much now.
Child 44 is a well written, fast paced book. I don’t read a whole of of thriller/detective stories, especially ones written recently. They tend to focus more on the horrible crimes the murderers commit rather than the catching. And often with pretty gruesome descriptions. This book has a few horrible moments, but there is no torture porn here, it is more the story of Demidov as he realises all the wrong he has done in his life.
I also liked the way Raisa, Leo’s wife, gets to let him know exactly how uneven their relationship has been due to the power imbalance in it.
The one criticism I would have of the book is that there is a lot of point-of-view switches, often from one paragraph to the next the pov character switches. It is rarely confusing, but it isn’t a style that I am overly found of. Still, I think I’ll put up with it if the library has the next in the Leo Demidov series....more
A week or two before Terry Pratchett died A slip of the keyboard and A blink of the screen arrived for me from amazon. I added them to the bookshelvesA week or two before Terry Pratchett died A slip of the keyboard and A blink of the screen arrived for me from amazon. I added them to the bookshelves, thinking I’ll get to them in a bit. And then came the news that Pterry had died. It was strange how surprising that news was. RIP Terry Pratchett.
So I picked up this, a collection of Pratchett’s non-fiction. It is a collection of various essays and articles and bits’n’bobs that Pratchett has written over the years. Some of his talks at events and cons, a wide variety of subject matter. There is some repetition of ideas, but that is only to be expected, especially with the speeches, but that didn’t lesson my enjoyment of this book.
The first section mainly covers writing and fans and the world of fantasy fiction. Pratchett’s thoughts on a wide range of fantasy-related subjects.
The last section, Days of Rage, cover his thoughts on Alzheimer’s and assisted dying and all that anger.
The introduction by Neil Gaiman is well worth a read if you haven’t already.
If you are a Pratchett fan then this is well worth reading, I think it is a book that you dip in and out of, read an essay here, an essay there. Some are quite short, you’d read them in a few minutes.
I think that it is time to begin a Discworld reread at some point very soon....more
Rose often finds life hard. She has autism, or asperger’s, what they call “high functioning autism. She is slightly obsessed with homonyms and with pr
Rose often finds life hard. She has autism, or asperger’s, what they call “high functioning autism. She is slightly obsessed with homonyms and with prime numbers. She keeps a list of all the homonyms she herself has discovered. Sure, she could look them up, but where is the fun in that. Her own name is a homonym, Rose and rows. She named her dog Rain because her father found the dog in the rain, and also it is a homonym, Rain (Reign).
Rose gets a lot of comfort from her dog. Her dad isn’t the most patient of men. He drinks and isn’t around a lot. Her mother isn’t around any more. Rose often wishes she knew more about her but her father doesn’t like to talk about her.
She does get on well with her uncle, but there are tensions between the two brothers, her father is determined to raise Rose, not like his own father.
One day, in the middle of the worst storm her father lets Rain out to pee. And Rain gets lost.
I really liked this story. It is simply told, from Rose’s pov, so if you get frustrated with her constantly naming the homonyms she comes across this is not the book for you. You get a real sense of how hard the world can be for her, she can’t understand people breaking the rules, so much so that she is no longer allowed to get the school bus after giving out about the driver, among others, not using their indicators1 . Rules and routine are what make life easier for Rose.
I liked how the relationship between Rose and her father was described. Yes, he is a jerk who drinks too much and loses his temper far too often, but at the same time, he is trying. Or some times he tries. Which isn’t to excuse him for his actions. He is in the wrong far too many times.
I don’t think this is a book that will particularly stick with me, but I’m glad I read it....more
Verity Price comes from a family of cryptozoologists, or monster hunters. Generations back they used to be part of The Covenant of St. George but theyVerity Price comes from a family of cryptozoologists, or monster hunters. Generations back they used to be part of The Covenant of St. George but they broke with that secret organisation when they realised that not all crptids are monsters and killing isn’t the only answer.
But Verity also love to dance, so she peruses that under a pseudonym while not checking in on local cryptids, or, working as a waitress in a strip-joint in order to make ends meet. You could say she doesn’t have much free time. So really doesn’t need to meet a member of the Covenant in New York, hunting and killing *her* cryptids without even giving them a chance to change their ways. But when more and more cryptids keep disappearing Verity realises that the hunter isn’t to blame and the question becomes, what is?
Given that I’m a big fan of McGuire’s October Daye novels it was only a matter of time before I got around to starting this series. It has a similar sort of feel to Toby’s story, only not as dark and full of blood magic. Instead Verity has knives and guns to deal with the creatures in her world. She also has the back up a family, even if none of them live close enough to help out with the action in this story.
The romance plot line may be a little on the predictable, but I didn’t mind that at all. It worked well in the book, important but never threatening to become the point of the book.
I also liked that Verity had a family, she has support network, even if it is at a distance in this book. Too often heroes are isolated from everything, relying totally on themselves, with no wider social circle. Verity has a social life as well as her “mission”, sure, it may be difficult trying to balance the two but at least she is trying.
The back story of the conflict with the Covenent should make for interesting story lines later on in the series. It also gives a nice grounding to the story, things just haven’t started, they have a long past and history.
All in all this is well worth a read if you’ve enjoyed McGuire’s other books, or just want to give an urban fantasy a go....more
Sometime in the fifteenth century, an unnamed Albanian citadel is under siege by the Ottoman army. Among the besiegers is Mevla Celebi, the chroniclerSometime in the fifteenth century, an unnamed Albanian citadel is under siege by the Ottoman army. Among the besiegers is Mevla Celebi, the chronicler or historian. He will record the events for posterity. His job is to compose the story of the Ottoman’s campaign. He is the reader’s main viewpoint, among others, including two or three pages in between in each chapter from the point of view of the Albanians besieged in their castle.
And I have to say, that from the start I was not all that taken with the invading captain. His treatment of his wives did not endear him to me. Nor did any subsequent action, thought, or deed, that we see from him.
In fact none of the characters were all that relatable.
But in reading this book you need to be aware of the situation in which is was written. Albania in the 1970s, under the threat of the USSR, and under paranoia and tyrannical rule from within. It had a siege mentality all of its own.
And writing at the time Kadare was probably sensible to write of the brave Albanians in defence of their homeland, even if the actions of the Ottoman general with his secret police and scapegoat-trials are more like what was actually going on.
It is an interesting read but I don’t think this is a book I particularly enjoyed. The political power struggle within the besieging army is really what is at the heart of the book, and there is a sort of depressing inevitable to it all that I found a little wearing. And yet I still read it all and had a lot of interest in it. I think that it would probably work better if I knew more about the history of Albania. Both the mythological withstanding-the-Muslim-invaders history and the 1960/70s secret police type history....more
Ray Lilly is just out of prison and back on the job. His boss, Annalise, is just looking for an excuse to kill him. He betrayed
Twenty Palaces : book 1
Ray Lilly is just out of prison and back on the job. His boss, Annalise, is just looking for an excuse to kill him. He betrayed her once and she is very not happy with him. She's got a job and so that means that Ray does too. She isn't all that interested in telling him any details though, all she wants is for him to do as he is told.
When they run into a family leaving down and one of the children bursts into flames, Ray begins to get the feeling that something serious is happening. And when the parents and siblings don't remember anything about the dead child... well, it is certainly something powerful and something unfriendly.
I bought this book ages ago after I saw some post by the author. It also may have been on special offer, I can't quite recall. But I promptly forgot all about it, until I saw him pop up on my twitter feed. I recognised the name, but couldn't quite place it at first, then I remembered this book, so when I finished my last read (the awesomely awesome Traitors' Gate by Kate Elliott) I figured I'd give this a go.
It is an enjoyable urban fantasy/action modern magic story. Ray is an engaging narrator, and the action is all go. I did think that there was too much backstory for this to be a book one in a series, so I did a quick search and there is a short story that is listed as the 0.5 (or prequel to you and me) of the series. And that one gives more of the background to Ray and his history with magic. I'd be interested in reading that at some point, because I'd like to learn exactly how Ray reacted when the whole magic deal came to light.
The only other main character is Annalise, and I thought that she was fascinating, although unfortunately we, as readers, don't really get to know her that well. She isn't happy with Ray for whatever it was he did, and so she isn't really talking to him, so we're left at a bit of a distance from her. But I would be interested in knowing more.
It is an enjoyable read, entertaining and I certainly had no problems in wanting to pick it up again. It does exactly what I think it set out to do, it tells a good story, and I think that I will be reading more by Connolly in the future.
So, this is book three, so to give a quick recap would be to give spoilers for the previous books, so I won’t. However, I will say that this is less oSo, this is book three, so to give a quick recap would be to give spoilers for the previous books, so I won’t. However, I will say that this is less of a review and more of “oh my god” feels sort of wandering thought process. I don’t know why anyone would read it if they haven’t read the books, but I’ll still try to hide spoilers and not get to specific in my burblings.
First off, I loved this book. Loved it.
I mean, I really liked book 1, and enjoyed book 2 even more, but this one… yeah it just did he job. All of the job. Which isn’t to say that it is perfect, because nothing in life is, but I can’t come up with anything wrong with it at the moment.
Second of all the characters. There are so many of them, and they all have their own journeys and character arcs, and they are all so real. Even when I didn’t particularly like a character1 I still found myself utterly caught up in their story, and didn’t want to leave it, even when I really wanted to find out what was going on in another characters story.
And then there were the stories and characters that I loved and adored but that went in a way I so didn’t see coming and were so sad and heartbreaking… but I’m venturing into spoiler territory there, so I’ll leave it at that.
But yeah, lots of unexpected events and developments here. The title of the book, Traitors’ Gate, that’s all I’m saying, okay?
And then there is the world building. The main setting for the story is The Hundred, where there are no kings or queens and every town rules itself, with help, in theory, from the Reeves and the Guardians. But at the start of Spirit Gate the reader learns that the Guardians haven’t been seen in at least a generation and the power of the reeves has been slipping. The peace of The Hundred is not to last. In other, bordering, lands things are done differently. Most are ruled by one person, and that centralisation of authority can be useful in times of war. But not only are they organised in different manners, they also have different religions and customs. Even within The Hundred there are those who do not follow all the usual Hundred customs.
These different cultures allow Elliott to explore themes such as sexism, racism, slavery, power and privilege, and so much more. And boy does she! There is loads and loads to discuss in this book.
One issue I did have with the book was that at the start of some of the chapters names of characters and places weren’t capitalised, it is strange how much that interferes with the flow of reading, but I can’t lay the blame for that with the author :) now can I.
I think this book means that I will have to read everything by Elliott that I can, I was already working my way towards that idea, but this has cemented it. Good thing I have her Jaran series already on the kindle, and that her new short story collection The very best of Kate Elliott arrived last week....more
At a market in Lahore our narrator, Changez, meets an unidentified American and offer to assist him in finding the best tea there is. He guides him toAt a market in Lahore our narrator, Changez, meets an unidentified American and offer to assist him in finding the best tea there is. He guides him to a cafe and begins to tell him his life story. The entire book is Changez revealing his past to this man.
Changez is from Lahore, but he attended Princeton, and got a job at a very prestigious American firm, his job was to travel the world and evaluate companies, to figure out the monetary value to those businesses. At Princeton he also met Erica, she comes from the wealthy elite and Changez fell in love with her. But she has a tragic past that haunts her, her childhood sweetheart, her one true love died and she still mourns him. She is unable to move on, although Changez would really like it if she did.
This title was chosen for my book club, that’s the main reason I read it, although I had meant to read it ages ago and never got around to it. The opening lines put me off when I picked it up a while back. I really dislike that telling a story to the reader device. And while it does allow for ambiguities and uncertainty I didn’t like it in this book either. To me it makes you too aware that you are reading a story, it takes me out of the tale.
Also would you really sit down and reveal intimate details to a complete stranger in a cafe?
But the story itself is in an interesting one. So I put up with the annoyance at the way it was told. I didn’t particularly like Changez, his relationship with Erica seemed a little too forced on his side. He seemed, in many ways, to be that “nice-guy” who believed that because he was nice to someone and friendly and close that he deserved some sort of sexual relationship. Erica, from my reading, was in no position to be entering into that sort of a relationship with anyone and if Changez had really had her best interests at heart surely he would have seen that rather than forced the issue, or, on occasion, hidden his true motivation behind a mask of friendship.
Still, it is an interesting tale, Changez’s gradual disillusionment with America in all its guises. His rejection of US culture and his resentment of Americans, they wander about the world thinking they know better than everyone else, thinking that they are better than anyone else.
Is that just the attitude of the wealthy though? No matter their nationality?
It is a book that is well worth a read, it makes you think, or at least it made me think. Still I wish it could have been told in a different manner, and maybe without the symbolism quite so obvious....more