One of my pet hates in sci fi or fantasy is things that are self-consciously quirky, so when I read the description of the lobster-bloke with the MarmOne of my pet hates in sci fi or fantasy is things that are self-consciously quirky, so when I read the description of the lobster-bloke with the Marmite-smelling goo I would have flicked onto the next one on the list if this had been written by any other author than MTMaguire. However, having rather dubiously picked up the first book in her previous series Few Are Chosen, a couple of years back and been hooked right till the end of the series, I was aware that this author has shown herself to be GOOD at 'quirky'.
In fact, this time I wouldn't say she was good at it; this time she's even better.
You've read the plot summary so I won't repeat it, but suffice it to say that I absolutely loved this book. Andi, the heroine, is feisty, pragmatic, and a really engaging, rounded character. Eric / Persalub, the previously-mentioned lobster-bloke and the rest of his people are good solid characters who are really convincing. Doge Sneeb - tremendously charismatic and occasionally as shiny and sinister as Darth Vader.
What you sometimes find in dodgy sci-fi is that the non-humanoid characters come across as if it was a part originally written for a human and the author has just gone through and referenced non-human body parts. This is not the case here, I am glad to say. The way they move and gesture is appropriate to the way they are built. The places described are a mixture of splendid sci-fi settings, and the bits that shouldn't be human-oriented are't (ie the space suits, the "life matter" on the floor, etc). It is, in fact, approachably and appreciably alien.
Would I recommend it? Unquestionably. I like MTMaguire's writing style anyhow but this book is a level up from the last series - rollicking good fun, and I would go so far as to say that bits of it reminded me of the writing of Douglas Adams...
What next? Well, if you haven't read the K'Barthan stuff, that should keep you busy for a bit. Me, I'm waiting for the next in the series. I reckon Andi Turbot has more to say before she gets to live happily ever after. Good heroines don't go quiet that easily. Oh, and one other thing. Watch this author - I have a feeling she is going to go far... JAC....more
I was recommended this book by a friend, and having read the sample I was hooked immediately by the oddly discordant atmosphere evoked by a very partiI was recommended this book by a friend, and having read the sample I was hooked immediately by the oddly discordant atmosphere evoked by a very particular use of language.
The intricate and clever way that Florence uses her words is always understandable but throws a nicely off-key tone into the narrative. We see everything through the lens of her language and it distorts people's actions and events just enough to make them seem strangely unnatural and stilted though the prose itself flows smoothly, having been put together with a beautifully Victorian eye for detail.
I won't go into the plot as there are plenty of reviews here that will tell you a bit about it; but this is a superbly uncanny piece with dark Gothic overtones and a finely-judged twist in the end. You might know that something is awry but the nature of the twist still comes as a surprise....
I really enjoyed this very unusual jaunt into Victorianesque unease Fans of "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman should love this - and if you haven't read either, I recommend you do so! JAC ...more
Stephanie Plums fans will love this entertainingly mad thriller-romance-comedy!
Written very much in the style of Janet Evanovitch, but with a strong dStephanie Plums fans will love this entertainingly mad thriller-romance-comedy!
Written very much in the style of Janet Evanovitch, but with a strong dash of the surreal, The Secret Diary is an entertaining jaunt through a mad world of Miami real estate, pill-popping neuroses, TC's "Phantom fish-flingers" and would-be English Lotharios. Alice, the heroine, is a very engaging character; a tough, sassy woman whose efforts to sort her life out go strangely wrong and yet who manages to sort herself out with none of the eyelash-fluttering, hanky-dropping ineptitude that is my main reason for avoiding romance.
She tries very hard to persuade herself that Nigel Channing is her Mr Right - and although it is very funny to read, she is written with enough humanity and truth that you might be laughing but it is with her rather than at her, and you don't think "Stupid woman!" so much as recognise the times you've done the same...
Of the other characters, Maris is entertainingly nuts; Leslie chews the furniture with great elan; Ron is pitched just nicely, supportive and low-key; and actually I rather liked the over-the-top rantings of Elizabeth, which might have been a bit too much in a different book but in the context of the whole "Alice-in-Wonderland" theme were fairly apt. The Lewis Carroll quotes were nicely placed and flavoured the text without giving too much away at the beginning of each chapter!
If I had to criticise, I would say that the ending is a little on the abrupt side and I would have liked it to go just a little slower so I could savour the downfall of - the person who ends badly (no spoilers here!), but other than that, a couple of places where the (UK) English doesn't quite flow and the odd set of stray speechmarks in places, not much I didn't like about it.
I don't really do 5 stars because it seems over the top, but in this case I did dither over it for some minutes before caving; my only criticisms areI don't really do 5 stars because it seems over the top, but in this case I did dither over it for some minutes before caving; my only criticisms are very minor really.
This is the story of Caz Tallis, who makes a meagre living restoring rocking horses. She finds a man and dog asleep on her sofa and, reacting with more courtesy than you'd expect in such a situation, finds herself befriended by a legendary rock star back from the dead - and that's before the action really kicks off!
The characters are well-drawn, believeable and the type of people you do actually want to hang around with. Ric is - well, as you imagine he would be, Caz is feisty and compassionate but never tiresome, Jeff is obnoxious-but-sympathetic, and of the other characters, the eventual baddie is splendidly, unredeemably manipulative and ruthless, and at least one of the good guys has potential to develop in interesting directions in the sequels (will be buying them to find out!)
How to classify the story? Difficult until they make a tag that says "Cinderella-detective-humour with added rocking horse action" but actually, and as an aside, I was quite fascinated by the rocking horses as well....
If I had to find something to criticise in this story,it would be purely a matter of format, and a detail at that.***(see Update at bottom)*** Every new chapter follows on the same page as the old one, and in places the page-breaks are awkward. I'd prefer the new chapter to start on a new page just to avoid the formatting calling me back out of the imaginary London. Otherwise a stonking read though.
....I should probably warn you, I started reading quite late at night just to get a taste for it and finished the damn thing around 2am entirely by accident... I can recommend reading it. JAC
UPDATE: Having seen the comment re chapter-page-breaks, Lexi has now fixed this so 5* and no quibbles! JAC ...more
I downloaded the sample of this book after seeing Ali on the forums, where several of the others had praised it greatly. I dithered a bit because it rI downloaded the sample of this book after seeing Ali on the forums, where several of the others had praised it greatly. I dithered a bit because it really didn't sound like my sort of thing, but downloaded the sample out of curiosity and by two paragraphs in had bought the book.
The first thing I noticed about "Girl on a Swing" is the intricate, almost poetic use of words (this was what sold me on it). If you want a taste of the writing style, definitely have a look at the sample but bear in mind that while the sample covers the beginning which is quite still and slow, the action gets more intense and exciting later in the book.
The story is told in the first person, mostly in the present; the heroine, Julia, lives a very isolated life, emotionally speaking, and this is communicated with the barest minimum of implications but permeates everything else. In some ways her life seems much less real than her remembered lives - at the beginning of the book I had a good idea of what was going to happen, and then it baffled my expectations at every turn, which is always gratifying!
It is very atmospheric; very gripping; and very unusual. The only reason for which I gave it four stars rather than five is that when the action comes to its climax, I would have liked to have heard a little more from Frank about what / how much he remembered, just to give the ending a little more symmetry and definition. (That said, you don't notice at the time because you're so into it; only when savouring the aftertaste of the book, so to speak.)
It's such an unusual book, with such a fresh use of words; it's very powerful. Julia isn't cheerful, and yet she's leavened with enough cheerfulness from other characters that you're certainly not left in a cloud of depression. The development of Julia from her grief and isolation in the beginning of the book to the better, happier, more fulfilled self as she finds relief from various sadnesses at the end works quite naturally and is ultimately rather uplifting.
Should you try it yourself? Absolutely yes. And bear in mind, if it's not your sort of thing - it's not my sort of thing either! But excellent things are, and this is excellent. JAC. ...more
Threads is a work that can be read on many levels; it is a complex and very unusual book. If you're looking for a rumbustious bodice-ripper, this mayThreads is a work that can be read on many levels; it is a complex and very unusual book. If you're looking for a rumbustious bodice-ripper, this may not be the book for you;the story as it deals with Anne and Henry's relationship is more an assimilation of the information from several different autobiographies, put together thoughtfully and with a real attempt to sieve through the gossip and slander and make sense of both characters in a very human and sympathetic manner.
On a separate level, Threads is about love, hate, forgiveness and betrayal, specifically between Anne and Henry in their various incarnations, but also as concepts; the effects they have and the repercussions they cause.
And lastly, this book is an intelligent, deeply-thought-through discussion of what the afterlife might be like, what it could be for, and how an entity could learn and develop through subsequent lives in different situations, times, and social positions.
I found it a very sad read, but I loved the intellectual side of it, and Nell Gavin does a wonderful job of making the relationship between Anne and Henry make sense - and then imbues it with more significance by laying it alongside their (and other characters') interactions in previous and subsequent lives.
If I have a criticism, it is simply that there is no real sense of closure. Even at the end, you're not at all sure that the eventual ending (no spoilers here!) is a good thing or not. It does leave you with a sense of things unfinished and continuing - but then as that's the point, really, I suspect that's more the author's choice than any omission.
It's a very interesting book to read, and most unusual. Don't start it when you're feeling depressed, certainly, but if you have a taste for a leisurely exploration of what love is and what it is for; what it can do to the lover and the beloved; and what might come after death, then this is the book for you. JAC ...more