Wise and searingly kind, funny and hopeful but the opposite of twee - it is pinpoint accurate about life and human behaviour, but doesn't adopt a judg...moreWise and searingly kind, funny and hopeful but the opposite of twee - it is pinpoint accurate about life and human behaviour, but doesn't adopt a judgmental stance. Wonderful.(less)
I absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for th...moreI absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for three harsh winter months completely alone, armed with only his bow and arrows, tomahawk and knife to hunt, find shelter and to protect himself against other, fiercer predators... It is an immediately absorbing and engaging narrative - Little Hawk searching for his manitou, striving to survive in the wilderness, enduring the deep snows and bitter storms of winter - all gripping stuff. Likewise the terrible discovery he makes when he returns to his village - brilliant. It is when the story shifts to the point of view of the young white settler, John Wakeley, that the narrative feels like it loses some of its freshness and verve. It is still well written; the character of John is well realised and, once you can accept the more supernatural/mystical elements to the story, it all goes well. It's just that I've seen too many episodes of Little House on the Prairie and various Westerns, and so it feels like a too-well trodden path. It is interesting though, getting a closer view of the religious tensions that caused deep divisions within the settlers, not to mention the more benevolent view of the native tribes taken by some of them.(less)
Tremendous fun and pretty scary in parts, this is an alternative England where ghosts are now so common they're referred to as 'the Problem' - and chi...moreTremendous fun and pretty scary in parts, this is an alternative England where ghosts are now so common they're referred to as 'the Problem' - and children, with their heightened sensitivity to the supernatural, act as agents to detect and vanquish these hauntings...Lucy, George and Anthony Lockwood of Lockwood & Co. face danger, death and disaster in their day to day job, but things are about to get a whole lot more deadly...action-packed and a ton of fun to read!(less)
This is stonkingly good - I think I woke the neighbours this morning, I was laughing that hard. Jimmy Rabbitte (jnr) is now 47, happily married with k...moreThis is stonkingly good - I think I woke the neighbours this morning, I was laughing that hard. Jimmy Rabbitte (jnr) is now 47, happily married with kids, and has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer - then bumps into the still gorgeous Imelda Quirke from their days in The Committments, fadó fadó...Snort inducingly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and as grittily real as a shopping trolley in the canal, this is brilliant. Jimmy is still involved in the music scene, hence here is one of the best descriptions of an aging Celtic rock band I've seen: 'Five men, four ponytails. Three leather waistcoats.'
This book is suffused with the terror and mystery of childhood nightmare and dreaming, where memory can't be relied upon. It is an atmospheric and dar...moreThis book is suffused with the terror and mystery of childhood nightmare and dreaming, where memory can't be relied upon. It is an atmospheric and dark-edged fantasy set in Sussex countryside, where a young boy yearns to be in Narnia or detect smugglers like the Famous Five; his ordinary life peels back to reveal a much stranger world than he could ever have imagined. Just wonderful, lovely and gripping - I couldn't put it down and can't wait to reread it!(less)
I gave this a fair whack - only abandoned it on page 225, almost half way through. It had a great premise, and is based on a real figure - but then the...moreI gave this a fair whack - only abandoned it on page 225, almost half way through. It had a great premise, and is based on a real figure - but then the over worked prose slows the pace of the story to such an extent that you may, as I did, lose interest, heart and almost the will to live... I think there may be a touch of Dan-Brownitis involved; no noun or verb is knowingly unaccompanied by adjective or adverb, which quickly becomes tiresome. Do I really need to hear that 'chandeliers hang magnificently' or that 'waiters circle deferentially'? I gave up.(less)
Atmospheric, spot on descriptions of Dublin in the 1970s...especially what it was like to be a child on a housing estate. The sights, sounds, smells,...moreAtmospheric, spot on descriptions of Dublin in the 1970s...especially what it was like to be a child on a housing estate. The sights, sounds, smells, attitudes are brilliantly evocative; the freedom children had alongside the dangers they faced; the closed off world children inhabit that adults are seemingly blind to; the way that there is often an 'outsider' family in the area that can channel all the road's anxieties yet be grudgingly accepted. Yes, I did grow up in the 1970s on a Dublin housing estate, so I have a yardstick to measure the experiences of the characters by, but this is much better than a nostalgia inspired tale. By turns eerie, funny, heartbreaking and nailbitingly tense, this is a page turner that is wonderfully written.(less)
Wow. Just wow. Have just finished the final page of Noble Conflict and I'm utterly blown away - I really hope this is the first of a series, because I...moreWow. Just wow. Have just finished the final page of Noble Conflict and I'm utterly blown away - I really hope this is the first of a series, because I can't wait to read more about Mackenzie and Kaspar.
Set in a world where the Alliance is a peaceful, prosperous society, defending themselves against the unprovoked attacks of the Insurgency in the least violent way possible - who wouldn't fight for that noble cause?
Thus Kaspar becomes a Guardian, a keeper of the peace whose only weapon is a stun gun that incapacitates, not kills, the enemy. When captured, the Insurgency members are given medical treatment and then questioned, before being humanely imprisoned.
But when Kaspar is involved in an action that sees his best friend die, he meets one of the enemy who not only refuses to kill him, but also rescues him from certain death. He begins to question everything he's ever been told - and he brings those questions to Mackenzie, a young librarian who's a whizz with data mining...
Exciting, visceral and thought-provoking, this is a book I'll be pressing on every older (14/15+) teen that I know.
Well here we are, back in Hiaasen's Florida, where corruption is a way of life and you can get whatever you want - if you have the green to pay for it...moreWell here we are, back in Hiaasen's Florida, where corruption is a way of life and you can get whatever you want - if you have the green to pay for it...
When a honeymoon couple fish up a severed arm on a boat trip, former police detective - now reluctant restaurant inspector - Andrew Yancy smells a rat.
Neville has lived on Andros Island in the Bahamas his whole life, and all he wants is to keep on living on the stretch of waterfront where he and his family have always lived. Unfortunately, it's been bought up by a wealthy white American, who plans to put a tourist-trap resort in it's place.
How these stories interlink in a tale of greed, assumed identities and murder will keep you guessing - and laughing. Hiaasen lines up his usual suspects of half-smart criminals, corrupt planning officials, developers on the make and pusillanimous police officials, all trying to make it on easy street; to oppose them are an ex-cop, desperate to get his badge back, a now homeless Bahamian, and an assistant medical examiner in the morgue who is fudging the lines of what's strictly legal in pursuit of the truth.
Worked into all this are also, in no particular order: a delinquent monkey who may or may not have worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean films; the Russian mob; a former teacher on the run from seducing one of her student; a witch-doctor; a drug-addled doctor...
Guaranteed hilarity with a conscience - read and enjoy!
An action packed melding of urban fantasy, ancient myth and Japanese gods and demons are wrapped up in this exciting young adult novel. Mio, a stroppy...moreAn action packed melding of urban fantasy, ancient myth and Japanese gods and demons are wrapped up in this exciting young adult novel. Mio, a stroppy 15 year old girl, triggers an epic battle of ancient forces when she takes an ancient sword from its long-buried hiding place... (less)
Simple yet elegant recipes that place vegetables in the starring role, with delicious dishes like ratatouille, onion tart, tomatoes with rice and waln...moreSimple yet elegant recipes that place vegetables in the starring role, with delicious dishes like ratatouille, onion tart, tomatoes with rice and walnut stuffing, pesto, celeriac remoulade, onions braised with wine, courgettes with tomatoes and black olives... from soups to salads, gratins to grills, vegetables as a main dish to desserts and breads, this book covers all the bases. There are tempting recipes for pasta, rice and pulse dishes – the risotto with mushrooms, chickpeas with Turkish dressing and spinach gnocchi all look particularly good - and while this is not a purely vegetarian book, it is a must have for anyone who would like to give non-meat eating a greater role in their diet. Studded throughout the dishes are some of Elizabeth's short essays - acerbic, informed, and often very funny, they are a joy to read and range from topics like why garlic presses are a waste of time to how potatoes were seen as an aphrodisiac (no, really). They are collected from France, Italy, Spain and bring a welcome blast of their sunshine to our rainy shores, and is the first time her vegetable recipes have been collected together. Published to coincide with the centenary of Elizabeth David's birth, this sumptuous volume is liberally supplied with photographs that evoke a suitably rustic feel. (less)
It is an intriguing concept - cleaning out the home of her estranged father, recently deceased Detective Inspector Terry Darnell, Stella stumbles acro...moreIt is an intriguing concept - cleaning out the home of her estranged father, recently deceased Detective Inspector Terry Darnell, Stella stumbles across the notes for the unsolved case that obsessed him, that drove the final wedge between them as it took all his attention and left none for her. Stella is an ambitious woman, with her own cleaning agency; methodical, logical and organised, she becomes engrossed in understanding and solving this case, as a way to prove to her father that she could succeed where he had failed. Separately, a young man searches in an intuitive, seemingly random way for the killer of his mother... There are parts of this book that are very well written; the feel of aloneness and vulnerability in an empty house, the way panic can make you clumsy, the way a child's mind works quite differently to an adults, with different connections between cause and effect...these are all very well done. In other ways, this is a bit of a mess - the things that Stella accepts about Jack seem beyond belief; and then the killer became evident to me halfway through the book - and this is a rare occurence! A bit of a curates egg, then.(less)
A turbulent, vivid dystopia set in a future India, seen through the eyes of two characters - Sarita and Jaz - linked by a desperate search for their l...moreA turbulent, vivid dystopia set in a future India, seen through the eyes of two characters - Sarita and Jaz - linked by a desperate search for their lost loves in the ruins and chaos of Mumbai, as nuclear apocalypse threatens, violent Hindu and Muslim gangs roam the streets, and the rest of the world is cut off by malicious computer viruses that have destroyed global communications.
Atmospheric, sensual and darkly funny, the tale veers both between past and present and the two protaganists to address subjects as varied as ancient Hindu mythology and its surprising repercussions in the present; the power of Bollywood; the religious and ethnic divides that exists beneath the surface of modern India; and the funny, flawed and tragic misunderstandings that persist between Sarita, Jaz and Karun and power the tale along.
Pomegranates, lost and then found again, are a recurring theme, as are disguises and masks and whether they hide or reveal our true identity; and above all, the push-pull of whether to follow your true desires or try to conform to society's mores.
Often, in a story with as wide a canvas as this, it is the central characters that take up all your attention, but here the minor characters are so vividly drawn that they too feel important – Guddi, the village girl turned devotee of the goddess Devi ma, who possesses an unexpectedly handy way with elephants; Rahim, Jaz's cousin, who has useful underground connections and Sequeira, a benevolent club owner who keeps the party going even in the teeth of destruction – all rich, rounded characters who breathe great vitality into this rollercoaster ride of a novel. (less)