Refreshingly and fabulously unique Bonkers. Weird. Surreal. Satirical. Politically incorrect. Clever. Absurd. Witty. Disgusting. I didn’t know which toRefreshingly and fabulously unique Bonkers. Weird. Surreal. Satirical. Politically incorrect. Clever. Absurd. Witty. Disgusting. I didn’t know which to start with, so there they all are. If you are at all offended by drugs, gratuitous sex and swearing, I’d give this book a miss. Happily, I am made of sterner stuff and continued reading past the first page (on which you will find the first of many instances of gratuitous sex and swearing; the drugs come later).
The writing is very good. The editing and proofreading are very good. The story is … mad. It is set in an exaggeratedly broken near-future Dublin (although it could be any city in Europe, so if you don’t know Dublin, don’t be put off). It is narrated in first-person simple past by an American CIA employee who has been moved to Ireland to keep him out of trouble, where he is finding the life suits him very well, thank you very much, and goes to rather extreme lengths to make sure he is kept there and not recalled to the USA. He spends much of the book appearing to be not very bright and totally missing the obvious. How he was ever a spy is a bit of a mystery.
The references to the title and cover (which is well designed) are quite fleeting (disgusting, but fleeting), and highlight the problem of the over-spent and out-of-control Ireland of the story. I’ll say no more, but you might want to give those rashers and bangers a miss from now on.
Not one of the characters is likeable – some are downright abhorrent, others merely loathsome. But that’s OK. All chapters start with a recipe for increasingly unpalatable cocktails, and all end with “extracts” from papers and magazines from the story’s present, which highlight and exaggerate the wacky and bizarre world the book is set in.
There are a couple of places where I felt the humour was a little forced and a couple of places where actions don’t quite fit the story. But these are minor quibbles against such intricate plotting. (I only hope Jay isn’t a write-what-you-know author.)
This book is refreshingly and fabulously unique. I happily recommend it....more
This is a snapshot of one woman’s life. We don’t know how old Vivian is, exactly how she got to the point where we meet her, or where it is she is heaThis is a snapshot of one woman’s life. We don’t know how old Vivian is, exactly how she got to the point where we meet her, or where it is she is heading. It is written in first person present and is essentially a stream of consciousness. There is no plot as such. From her thoughts and her interactions with others we get a glimpse of her past but are never given the actual facts. And the book ends very abruptly, so much so that I thought I had some missing. But we had to leave her sometime and there was never going to be a resolution to the story. Does any of this matter? Not one jot. Normally I don’t do well with loose endings and get frustrated at not understanding the whys and wherefores of a story. With Eggshells, though, it adds to the intrigue and fits perfectly with the narrative.
We do know that Vivian has a sister, also called Vivian, and that her parents and her aunt are dead, and we get tiny hints as to how her relationships with her family were/are conducted. We know that our Vivian believes she is a changeling and she spends much of her time looking for the way back to the “other world”. The story is set in Dublin, and if you know the city that will undoubtedly be an added dimension for your reading, but it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t know it.
And what happens in this story? Well, very little and yet so much. Vivian is a wonderful character. This is a fabulous book. The writing is superb – it remains in character throughout. From the first sentence I had a “voice” for Vivian that didn’t falter once. I could see through her eyes and suffer her indecisiveness and awkwardness with people. I dodged her neighbours with her and, although I don’t know Dublin very well, I walked the streets with her. My heart broke for her.
Vivian is clearly intelligent but she is definitely wired up differently from most people. She is vulnerable and lonely. She does some “odd” things, yet usually with a view to making others’ lives a little brighter. She writes endless lists, and draws patterns of the routes she walks. She advertises and finds a friend – Penelope – yet doesn’t know how to act with one, so maybe she’s not had a friend before. She plans what she will talk about with people because conversation doesn’t flow naturally with her. She treats it as an achievement when she manages to answer someone’s comment about the weather.
I loved this book – its humour and quirkiness and pathos and the way it carried me along. It is right at the top of the pile in my favourite books this year....more
Bloody marvellous, is what I think. The Bloodless Boy takes real characters from the seventeenth century – such as Robert Hooke, Henry (“Harry”) Hunt,Bloody marvellous, is what I think. The Bloodless Boy takes real characters from the seventeenth century – such as Robert Hooke, Henry (“Harry”) Hunt, Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, Earl of Shaftesbury, John Locke, Titus Oates, Tom Gyles, Grace Hooke, Henry Oldenburg, Jonas Moore, Hortense Mancini – adds some fictional characters, puts them in a real setting of post-Great-Fire and post-plague London and has them involved in a fictional murder mystery set amongst real events. Confused? There is no need to be. My knowledge of the seventeenth century is pretty limited, but this novel tells you, in a very accessible and fluid way, what you need to know to follow the story.
I enjoy reading fact and I enjoy reading fiction, but I am not normally drawn to novels that meld the two, and generally consciously avoid those that do. I get too hung up on what is real and what is made up. This novel, though, is informative and enthralling. It’s a story set in a time that is brilliantly researched and if you want to pick up facts along the way you can, and if you want to enjoy just a murder tale, you can do that too. My main fascination was with the Royal Society and Gresham College and the “natural philosophers”, and I was inspired to go and find out more. The descriptions of London were captivating, too, although I would have liked them to be slightly more vivid to get a real feeling of atmosphere as well as architecture.
I loved the way Charles II was depicted. And the character of Harry is really well portrayed. He is not a brave man, but his natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge spur him on and lead him to places to which he would not normally venture.
The author says this is a “Marmite book” – and the very mixed reviews show this to be true. But the overwhelming majority are good, and I am quite firmly in the “love it” camp.
So there you have it: I think it’s great, I’m really glad I read it, and I look forward to more books from Robert J. Lloyd. ...more
The book is a contemporary romance and some of your preconceived notions of the genre will be fulfilled and some won’t. In some respects this is classThe book is a contemporary romance and some of your preconceived notions of the genre will be fulfilled and some won’t. In some respects this is classic check-list romance, but in others it is not, thank God. The first part of the story is written in first-person from the point of view of Rachel; the middle part is in the first-person point of view of Jackson; and the third part alternates between the two. This works really well, particularly as Rachel’s point of view is in the setting of her home in Dorset, UK, and Jackson’s point of view is in the setting of his home in Nashville, Tennessee; where it alternates is when they are both living in the same place. I’m not sure the individuals’ thoughts were quite distinct enough, and it was slightly harder to “read” Jackson as a unique voice. The point of views remained true, though, with neither character getting in the way of the other's narrative – very well written. The classic romance elements are there – beautiful, talented woman; gorgeous, talented, rich man – and there is conflict in their lives (as there has to be in any story about relationships); there is an element of will-they-won’t-they, a best friend, an “other woman” and an “other man”. So far, so the same. What there isn’t – for which I thank you, Julie – is a myriad of misunderstandings and crossed wires. The conflict comes from other areas, and they are entirely believable. I love that Rachel is torn between two lives, two men and two continents. Should she stay with the familiar-but-not-quite-enough, or should she take a risk and follow her dream, even though it may not work out? That sort of question is usually rhetorical in contemporary romances – we know what the heroine is going to do and we know that it is going to work out for her. In this book, we aren’t quite so sure, and that is a Good Thing. I love that the other man is a good guy and not a slimy git. I love that Rachel considers a career with the same importance as she considers a lover. I love that (almost) nothing is too over the top. Jackson is a good man and he has his weaknesses. Not so much so that the reader falls out of lust for him, but enough to make him a real person rather than a cardboard cut-out. Mind you, he does rather overuse the endearments “sweetheart” and “baby”. The backdrop of the music industry is interesting – it’s not new, but it is from a fresh angle. Julie Stock clearly knows her music, and this gives the impression of having been written from knowledge and love and not from Wikipedia. It would have been interesting to hear more about other artists represented by the company – there must have been some big ones, else how could the owner have accumulated such wealth at such a young age. (I found his wealth to be a little too much, though, and I didn’t really understand why he had a driver.) This book gives what we want from a contemporary romance – escapism with a predictable plot – but it also gives a story that is interesting and which maybe isn’t quite as predictable as you might expect....more
There is a lot to like about this first novel. Adam says it is a “young adult novel with layers for the more mature reader”. I would say it is a greatThere is a lot to like about this first novel. Adam says it is a “young adult novel with layers for the more mature reader”. I would say it is a great book to be read by an adult to an older child (the protagonists are about 12, but I think children from as young as eight would enjoy the story). A child will love the young heroes – the three “Yellow Hoods” (because they wear yellow cloaks with hoods), Tee, Elly and Richy, and will want to live in their world and do the exciting things they do (I want to live in their world and do the exciting things they do); an adult will pick up on the well-known fairy-tales that are woven into the text and the slightly more grown-up humour that will be over a young person’s head. There are quite a lot of moral strands to the story: the bonds of family; being kind to strangers; letting a child develop their own nature but steer them in the right direction; be wild but be safe; provide the building blocks and raw materials but let a child learn by working with them in their own way. All of these come out in the story in a natural and in-passing manner, without sermonising or in a way that will make a young person roll their eyes. I think parents will identify with a lot of what’s said. The character development is nice, and it will be interesting to see how Tee grows over the series. The story is fast-paced – a little too fast in one or two places. But it is easy to get swept up with the story and pulled along. The chapter titles are important and worth taking note of, so don’t overlook them. The adults are written well – Tee’s parents, her wonderful grandfather Nikolas Klaus, the villain LeLoup, and the three Cochon brothers (although I was a bit confused by them to start with and why Tee didn’t know them). The little bit of romance at the end is a nice touch, too. This first book is wrapped up nicely, but there are a few open ends to entice you to read the second in the series – that worked for me: I have already downloaded it (The Breadcrumb Trail). Oh, and I can definitely see this being made into a film. ...more
I received this as an advanced review copy, as did nearly everyone reviewing before 1 February 2015.
I am surprised by the number of 5-star reviews andI received this as an advanced review copy, as did nearly everyone reviewing before 1 February 2015.
I am surprised by the number of 5-star reviews and also by the glowing accolades in the front of the book. I’m afraid I can’t agree with them. Here’s why:
The title: There is nothing ultimate about this; and it is a directory, not a resource guide.
Listings: I couldn’t see anywhere an explanation on how these people and businesses were chosen to be included in the listings. They are mainly, as you would expect from US authors, from the US. But there are a handful of Australian entries and a smattering of UK ones. (There are none from Ireland.) If all the entries were from the US, I could understand it, but these few from other countries popping up every now and again is bizarre. You can send submissions for inclusion in the next edition; I see this as a way for hundreds of editors/designers/marketers etc. to get on the listings (do those included have to pay?), in which case they will become as difficult to use as a search engine result (I’d say they are already, actually). How will the authors make the listing manageable in the future?
Curation: This is supposed to be curated content. The authors say this “means that we have checked each link at the time the book was created to make sure that the person or company listed is in business, open to working with self-published authors, and is not a scammer looking to rip you off.” What does this mean – the authors admit they don’t know everyone in the lists, so how do they know they are not scammers? How have they checked they are open to working with indie authors? They are not providing endorsement. So what exactly are they curating? They are verifying only that the links work. However, …
Of the 850 entries, I clicked web links to about a hundred. Of these hundred, five links were broken, one page was not found, a number of links went to a portal or organisation homepage rather than to the individual named in the listing (it was possible to go to the individual listings, I created my own link and tried it), one of the pages for an editor had spelling errors, several web addresses given in the book jumped to a site of a different name, and my browser blocked one site because of “potentially dangerous content”.
The authors also say that a condition of being included in the book is “A current, informative, interactive website” – there are several entries (four out of the hundred I looked at in detail) with only an email address and no website. Worse still, several of the authors’ own links do not take you to their details – the Twitter one tries to get me to share a link rather than takes me to the author’s Twitter account; the Pinterest one tries to get me to pin something (which I can’t because there is no picture) rather than takes me to the author’s Pinterest pages; the Goodreads link takes me to the page for this book, not the author’s page.
Incomplete listings: Of course, something of this potential enormous size cannot include everybody and everything, but there is no mention of the SFEP in the UK, AFEPI in Ireland, or EPANI in Northern Ireland (and I think no professional organisation for Australia). Again, I’d understand it if this was a resource specifically for the US, but there are those UK entries throwing me off course again. Also, there are people from the UK who have written glowing testimonials (under the heading of “Advance praise”) on the usefulness of the book, so you would expect them to be thinking of its usefulness to their compatriots. There are no UK/Ireland entries for writers’ conferences, grants and funding for writers, or professional and trade associations. There are no contact details for UK ISBNs.
Many of the entries under book review services are for paid reviews. A warning needs to be given here.
Introductory paragraphs to each section: These are badly written and have spelling mistakes. The introductions would be much more helpful if they said why you might need an expert in this field and what specifically to look out for to avoid being ripped off. In fact, a short section on the publishing process and where each category fits in would be useful.
Money: It is so easy for unsuspecting indie authors to be ripped off. I think it would be helpful for the authors to give warnings and signs as to how this could happen and what to look out for.
I have a lot of respect for Joel Friedlander (I'm not familiar with Betty Kelly Sargent), and I'm sorry that I haven't been able to be more positive about this book....more