Pippin Pals

With the UK most likely going into lock down again sometime soon, there will no doubt be quite a few children who will continue to be confused by all the goings on so a book about Covid, its implications and the precautions needed, plus a hearty thanks and some appreciation for health workers, etc. will come in handy for parents.

:Donna Marie, blogger and author says; I made available on my site for families with kids, educators, staff and their families and students hoping they stay safer by helping them comply, especially if they have to do in-person learning. They’re in 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17 sizes to print for home or classroom; they show, in pictures, how to wear and handle masks properly, and thoroughly wash hands. This entire project is my contribution to helping children during this pandemic.

Approaching the new measures from a child’s point of view with all the emotional aspects, as well as explaining all about Covid and protecting oneself, the book also encourages family time and creativity, which helps to balance out and bring something positive into discussion. Continue reading “Pippin Pals”

She

As she read, she became fully human again. A line of poetry was a perfect moment, a spray of words daring and loud enough to take her somewhere unexpected.

Photo by Luriko Yamaguchi from Pexels

Just one line, the right line, could immerse her in something larger, crucial. – The Camel Bookmobile

Knight in Paper Armor – Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Regular readers of this humble blog will no doubt have read a review – or four – of Nick’s previous books or most likely have viewed his blog. Knight in Paper Armor is his latest novel and, in my opinion, is not only the most ambitious but also the maturest of his work to date.

Night in Paper Armor is a multi-layered work, its sinister overtones are pitched perfectly for a dystopia, which has plenty of the real world feel – both past and present – and chillingly explores a logical conclusion to which the world could find itself moving towards if it stays on its current trajectory. Adding in a bit of the psychic spices up an already interesting science fiction premise and adds more speculations for the reader to muse upon.

From an early glimpse of a child’s creepy drawings to the ethics of science and the horrors it can inflict in its quest to help people – and be profitable – the real and those things unseen come together perfectly to ooze a strong sense of unease.  It is a great start, and maintains that subtle intensity throughout, whilst slowly building on those ideas and themes and adding in a strong dose of the human, the personal and potential. Continue reading “Knight in Paper Armor – Nicholas Conley”

The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis

NARNIA…where the woods are thick and cold, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins.

Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else.

I wrote a brief overview of the Narnia chronicles years ago, and have been wandering in that world again of late.  This time I plan to review each book, and it seems that my overall view of the series have changed over the years.

Although written as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew can be read first as it explains the beginnings of and explores the key aspects of the series.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a stronger starting place for the series, The Magician’s Nephew however, is a mixed bag and doesn’t feel as natural, it also assumes you have read the former work which can be a bit annoying at times, if you haven’t yet done so.

The rings with which the adventures starts feel a bit out of place in this universe, as a device they veer more to the sci-fi but this is however juxtaposed with the dangers of technology so that does work in its way.  For this reader though, it does feel somewhat forced. Continue reading “The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis”

Bookending (the right one)

The other week I ended up in Scarthin bookshop, again in Derbyshire but this time in Cromford.  It’s been a long time since my last visit and a lot of new books seem to be creeping onto the shelves, taking over from the second hand variety, so that is something of a concern but there were bargains to be had, of course

Another Émile Zola book was first grabbed because it matched the two from last post, and L’Assommoir according to the introduction of La Bête Humaine,  is supposed to be the best novel of the twenty Rougon-Macquart novels.

A Fine Balance was one that hadn’t really come into my sphere of reading much but as Jilanne was enthusiastic about it, and for a couple of quid its certainly worth it.

Irene Nemirovsky is my favourite female author and finally finding The Misunderstanding after such a long time seeking it, meant I had to splurge on it, after years of hunting for it in various shops and countries. Continue reading “Bookending (the right one)”

Bookending (the left one)

As I am always slightly behind with my posting schedule – and I was out the other week in a bookshop for the first time – it makes sense to mention the last haul from October before I mention that one.

There is a wonderful OXFAM shop devoted to books in Belper, if ever you are that way on in Derbyshire it’s worth checking out.  I haven’t come away disappointed yet, except for how this photo turned out but I have no time to take a new one.

The quality of the authors speaks for itself, any quibbles with that statement, please let me know.  Having finished La Bête Humaine already, with a review in the process, my quest continues with this and Nana to read all twenty books in the Rougon-Macquart series.

I picked up Márquez because it’s Márquez and I’ve gone into numerous reviews of his quality works, with a few more to come.  I’ve read most of his output so anything outstanding is really a must. Continue reading “Bookending (the left one)”

Backdraft

The last post I did about Nick’s forthcoming book, Knight in Paper Armor, was as pleasant to write as it was an unexpected opportunity.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, just when I was about to announce that the posting of this blog will be a bit less frequent owing to baby Amelia taking up more time, and my ability to write amidst the chaos of an energetic or grumpy baby is lacking.

I am hoping to post once a week for a little while, as I try to complete some of the backlog and then use that to take pressure off writing in the future, as posts become more regular.  At the moment I seem unable to complete any of the three hundred and fifty drafts that are giving me a guilt complex for not finishing.

Other than posting as and when – anything beyond one a week will be a bonus – I will also endeavour to get around to visiting your blogs at least once a week too.  It’s been difficult to balance time of late, with so much to complete and the constant learning about baby related stuff.

No more rambling need be done, hopefully my presence will be properly back here sooner rather than later, and in the meantime, stay awesome and keep creating.

Knight in Paper Armor

Well, well, what do we have here?!  A new and shiny book to be released on the 15th September, from perennial blog favourite Nicholas Conley.  Long term readers may remember I reviewed his previous four books: The Cage Legacy, Clay Tongue, Intraterrestrial, and Pale Highway, so a new book is always welcome and highly anticipated in these parts.

All the details are below, to whet your appetites, and check out his blog here too.  Being a new dad like myself hearty congratulations are in order for managing to complete anything with a new baby added to the usual daily mix of life and coffee.

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush

Recently I decided that I needed to know more about the Channel Islands, why?  Why not, is my default answer and there are probably few better reasons than that.  Having since hunted down a couple of books – as well as finding some obscure titles about other subjects in the process, more of which in the future – this is the first of two books I have to share with you.

Rather than concentrating on the stories and histories thereof first, this offering is a simply a series of watercolour scenes from the islands.  These are mainly from Jersey and Guernsey, as well as a token one each from both Alderney and Sark.

Strangely the cover doesn’t really give the inquisitive viewer any clue to the quality or style of the work, so throwing myself into the subjective world of art, I couldn’t help but be taken by this collection. Not only does it inspire travel with its attention to nature, but it also adds in a touch of the human encroachment and how this can be pleasant but also less palatable.

There is much to appreciate with these watercolours, whether it be a ferocious sea, a peaceful scene of boats around a harbour, or the impressive towering cliffs that adorn a few of the pieces.  The sea features in all of the photos, which makes sense for the subject of islands but the scope for the interiors now interests me and leaves me seeking art that is more inward looking. Continue reading “Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush”

Irmina – Barbara Yelin

In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, is working towards an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to Irmina that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals.

When it comes to World War II and graphic novels, the book that seems to be most referenced is Maus, which is a good read although is not without its flaws.  Irmina on the other hand is much more mature and rewarding, it should be a required read for everybody.

Based around the diaries and letters of Barbara Yelin’s grandmother, this story is a well-researched and deeply layered examination of ordinary lives torn apart by the war.  |it’s a worth inquest and goes much further than most books do in getting to the route of the psychological impacts of the Nazi regime.

Irmina and Howard are both looked down on socially and distained, the outcasts shared loneliness becomes a strong bond, the tenuousness of which is soon shown as the war approaches.  As the book shifts towards life in Germany for Irmina, the reader witnesses her slow change through adversity – and choice – in her decisions and attitude towards all that she stands for holds dear.

Our protagonist is written in a believable and balanced way, she makes mistakes and the changes in her are gradual sometimes imperceptible, allowing the reader is left to decide whether Irmina is aware of all of her choices or not. Continue reading “Irmina – Barbara Yelin”