Insensitivity Readers

Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Holding this book in your hand, sinking back into your armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me.  And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy.  But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.   – Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot

Camino Winds – John Grisham

When Hurricane Leo threatens Florida’s Camino Island, the Governor is quick to issue an evacuation order. Most residents flee but a small group of diehards decide to ride it out. Amongst them is Bruce Cable, proprietor of Bay Books in downtown Santa Rosa.

The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are levelled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people are killed. One of the victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s who wrote timely political thrillers. But evidence suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of Nelson’s death – he had received several mysterious blows to the head.

Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed with the aftermath of the storm and in no condition to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels were more fact than fiction. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel – could the key to the case be right there, in black and white? Bruce starts to look into it and what he finds between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists – and far more dangerous.

Seeing the sequel to Camino Island out in paperback, I decided to grab it despite my friend Maxine’s brutally honest assessment about her reading of it – “it’s shit” –  when it first came out in hardback.  This almost stopped me but curiosity is a powerful thing and I had just been paid.

It’s hard not to agree with Maxine’s assessment of the novel, and I won’t even bother trying.   It was a big letdown, aside from the beginning which retained the feel of the first book with familiar characters and their bookish banter.

Camino Winds quickly gets rid of most of the established characters, and with them goes a lot of what made the first book so enjoyable;  the talk of books, publishing, buying, and the opinions of other writers, that was bliss. There is a lot less of all of the above in Camino Winds, and the only noteworthy character addition was student Nick, who wasn’t particularly interesting or likeable. Continue reading “Camino Winds – John Grisham”

Holiday Collab

It’s Christmas! And here’s a gift you never asked for.  Namely my good self popping up to ruin Asha’s latest book vlog.

If you fancy some Christmas book recommendations, and also wish to see me trying to do my bit to camera with a harassed look as Amelia faintly cries just out of shot, not to mention completely forgetting all the points I was going to make before hand, then watch on.

An Audio Christmas Present

In the spirit of the season, I am attempting to give, whilst being as cheap as I can possibly be as well, and who doesn’t love something free, literary, and quintessentially Christmassy?

If you’re not already, follow Liz, it won’t bother the bank balance but will tick the seasonal giving and receiving box nicely.

LEAPING LIFE

My gorgeous husband and I share many things in common but we have totally opposite views on books. While I sit surrounded by piles of books I am sure I will one day read, Stephen on the other hand has a handful of beloved titles that he has read many times and so knows with great depth and understanding.

One of his favourite annual traditions is to read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Sometimes it is just to himself. Sometimes it is a special treat for me to hear him read out loud while I sit knitting.

This year he has taken things to a new level. Stephen is an expert YouTuber and so has a range of high-quality recording and editing equipment. This has enabled him to produce a podcast version of A Christmas Carol which I am delighted to be able to share with you. This is…

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Love Machine – Neveah Hor

In the year, 2050, among the humans on the streets, there were these very few others. Others who were made in the biggest technology company, AITA (artificial intelligence and technological advancements), what humans call, the guardians. They were crossbreeds of humans and animals which had the highest Intelligent Quotient (IQ). They were created to protect all citizens with their special abilities. However, they had one enemy. The citizens called them the poachers. They are from another company, The Royal AI. This company was the second most advanced company and they wanted all the glory of AITA. To win them over, The Royal AI had to prove themselves worthy and they resolved to hunt down the guardians to kill them all off by creating their own crossbreeds. Life for the guardians was not that easy. Humans just did not understand one thing. These guardians they so often talk about did not want fame. They wanted something else…

When ambitious thirteen-year-old Neveah Hor emailed to ask if I would review her debut novel, I did take time to debate whether it would be a good idea.  In the end after Crissy encouraged it, reasoning that it was something different to read and an interesting exercise for me, I caved in and decided to give it a go.  And as the saying goes, an honest review in exchange a free book.

The story is one centred around love, heavy on the relationships from the off, it’s very much a coming of age story, with life lessons about friendship and loyalty.  There is lots of action and romance, but Love Machine didn’t grab me, which may perhaps not be surprising to anyone who has read this blog. Continue reading “Love Machine – Neveah Hor”

Heading for Halloween

This time of year – like pretty much any other time – is a good excuse to buy a book, and this Halloween I can confidently say that  My Headless Son Fred and His Head Baby Brother Headley, is the perfect book for this mini season. 

The reason I can so confidently assert my opinions is because I did some editing work on the book a while back, and enjoyed the story and the offbeat comedy that kept me entertained through multiple readings of the text.

The cover looks gorgeous, and with a chaotic family that is both grounded in the realistic, as well as the undead, its all too easy to cheer them on in their adventures, when, morally, the reader probably shouldn’t…

Filmon Trout sits in his home, shut off from the outside world. One Halloween night, he finds love in a nearby cemetery. But what Filmon doesn’t know is that his newly found love interest isn’t human.

Months later, they become parents of two unconventional but lovable boys, soon emerging as an adventure-loving family seeking to survive amid a serial killer, a corrupt CIA agent, and an evil Hollywood executive.

But the Trout family isn’t a typical little family…

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”

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.