This is a novel aimed at the young adult market, but shouldn't be disregarded by adults. Why? It's good fun.
Eric is a half-vampire. His mum's normal,...moreThis is a novel aimed at the young adult market, but shouldn't be disregarded by adults. Why? It's good fun.
Eric is a half-vampire. His mum's normal, his dad's a vampire who skipped off when he'd impregnated Eric's mother. Since then, they've had to move several times after he'd bitten various kids and spends part of his life every week taking a syringe to sheep and cows to get some blood.
Being a half-vampire means he has 'gifts', such as being able to calm people and animals by talking in a calm voice, sending them to sleep occasionally, and telekinesis. The last of them comes a great surprise to him. He has a wheelchair-bound friend called Joseph and has the hots for a girl called Kacey. Well not quite the hots, but they do get on well.
Yes, it's full of teen-angst and drama (it's aimed at them remember), such as how do you kiss a girl without sucking her blood at the same time (something he manages) and 'am I gay'. What lifts this out of the ordinary is Eric's attitude. Think Harry Dresden as a youngster, lose the bad language and the killing and you're there.
Eric's mum travels a lot for her job and leaves him alone for several days at a time, but as he's a half-vampire, sensible and strong for his age she doesn't worry too much. One trip, she takes him to Edinburgh where he meets his dad...and wishes he hadn't. His dad turns out to be a drug-addict and the blood Eric sucks leaves him feeling sick for a day or two. On the plus side, he gets to meet another vampire, that his mum fancies, and some acolytes who are happy to let him drink some of their blood.
When he returns home, all hell breaks loose: well alright, I've exaggerated a little, but he does end up in a serious fight with someone who's trying to kill him.
The one thing that kept me reading this book was Eric. He doesn't need much blood, nor does any vampire for that matter, and he explains his need to be indoors as a case of Porphyria. Garlic? Loves it. Crosses? Only when playing football, not that he does play football, but...well you get the idea. In short he's a normal kid that most adults and children would recognise.
I enjoyed the book and found it an entertaining read. For the young reader that it's aimed at, it would make a good Christmas present. Why? One, it's about vampires, two it's available as a digital download from Amazon, three they won't need a Kindle to read it as the Kindle software is available for PC, Mac, iPhone and others for free on Amazon, four it's only 86p.
I'll leave the final few words to my 11 year old son.
"Dad, can you keep reading that to me. It's so funny." (less)
By this stage in the discworld series, Pratchett has settled into the styel and humour. That said, it's a damn funny read with some 'near the knuckle'...moreBy this stage in the discworld series, Pratchett has settled into the styel and humour. That said, it's a damn funny read with some 'near the knuckle' jokes.
Rincewind is back as is his friend Twoflower from The Colour of Magic. Alongside them, the luggage makes an appearance but doesn't save the day. Instead it becomes a father.
Genghiz Coehn and six other heroes make their confident appearance taking on 250,000 soldiers and the usual assortment of villains get their comeuppance.
The jokes, puns and sight gags come thick and fast and sometimes left me chortling for several hours afterwards.(less)
This is an atypical 19th century book in that it's short and a very easy read. There are few long descriptive passages and the plot moves along quickl...moreThis is an atypical 19th century book in that it's short and a very easy read. There are few long descriptive passages and the plot moves along quickly. In some ways you can see the future of the novel here.
It's easy to see why this has become a favourite over the decades as it is a well written, interesting story told from the point of view of Jim.
While Jim is the stand out character here, the other two that make an impact are the one legged pirate Long John Silver and the doctor.
The story starts with an old pirate coming to stay at the hotel run by Jim and his mother. There soon follow other pirates looking for a treasure map who hand him the black spot and a fight later ensues.
The upshot is that Jim finds the map and he, the doctor and several other gentlemen set sail from Bristol to find the treasure. What none of them realise is that the bulk of the crew is mad up of Flint's men, the same Captain Flint that drew the map.
There are a few more twists and turns, with Silver changing sides several times, and the ending leaves all threads neatly tied, even the fate of Long John Silver.(less)
This is a well researched book, but has one large drawback: it spends most of the time telling the reader the history of Islamic expansion rather than...moreThis is a well researched book, but has one large drawback: it spends most of the time telling the reader the history of Islamic expansion rather than what happened to the slaves.
It's still an interesting book, but doesn't do what it says on the cover. There is very little information about the lives of the slaves and how they came to be slaves.
Koranic attitudes to slavery are highlighted on several occasions, as is the difference between European slavery and the Middle Eastern slavery (Europeans mainly used them in industry, Arabs mainly used them as servants and soldiers). But while there is a lot of history of Islam, there is very little about the slaves themselves.
A better book about Islamic slavery is White Gold by Giles Milton. Although that book is about Europeans taken slaves by Barabry Coast pirates, there are parts of the book that talk about the lives of black slaves used as soldiers.
One thing I did take from this book that I wasn't aware of before is in 1511, 50 black slaves were taken from Andalucia in Spain to the West Indies. Those slaves hadn't been captured by Europeans, but were left behind by the Arabs when they lost their last foothold in Iberia. It begs a question: would Europe have thought of slavery as an option if there were no slaves in Spain?(less)