New Title Incoming – Bastion Academy: Malware

For those of you looking for something a bit different to add to your reading pile, this could be your bag, a steampunk sci-fi, cultivation novel.

Cultivation was a new term to me but it basically means levelling up magic, or progressing a character in some other form, and it has its roots in Taoism .

I myself will be picking up book one of the Bastion Academy series when I can, and it would be good to have your company on the journey.  In the meantime check out J. D. Astra’s shiny new WordPress blog here.

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”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

Four adventurous siblings―Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie― step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

After the Genesis heavy themes of The magician’s nephew we come to the other most recognisable bit of Christianity in this book, but it is far less heavy in its symbols this time around, and a much better introduction to  the Narnia series – as well as being a decent standalone read too.  Oozing, as it does, a lot of charm.

It was surprising to find that a lot of the things I remembered from the book didn’t happen in half as much detail as I recalled, which is probably a case of having seen the numerous adaptations of TV series and films, which inevitably form unconscious associations and attribute details as time goes on.

What keeps readers returning to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe time and again is the joy of discovery, Narnia is a world that I do love venturing into, and the book oozes a lot of magic still to this day.  The idea of going onto another world is always appealing, on the other hand the characters are very simplistically drawn, and I can’t help but feel that it is the dim memory of childhood nostalgia which keeps them beloved these days.

The climactic chapters feel all to brief, the action passes within a few scant paragraphs and this is something of a theme of the series sadly.  The reader can bulk it out within imagination – or the adaptations – but with such scant text this all comes after the initial reading and as a result doesn’t really help the book in the moment. Continue reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis”

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”

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Whisked away from his comfortable, uncomfortable life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.  Although quite reluctant to take part in this quest, Bilbo surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and his skill as a burglar!

By now, I am assuming that The Hobbit is well known to pretty much everyone, so I won’t go too in-depth into the book. After the terrible film adaptations, it was always going to be a bit of time before coming back to this story. Now, with the memory of the stretched-out trilogy dulled enough to appreciate the prose again, the road well-travelled, was once again traversed.

The tale is rich in detail and full of adventure. Middle Earth is full of song – interestingly most are Dwarfish – and feels ancient, it’s impressive for a world to be established so quickly in the reader’s mind.  As the journey continues on through the seasons, and months are counted off, it feels appreciatively real, and the characters’ weariness becomes a lot more believable.  For a short book, it really does a stand-up job of an exhausting, if pleasurable trek.

The best part for this reader were the tantalising hints at things happening in distant locations, those were stories I wanted to hear, as well.  The world felt vast and lived in, and this is enhanced with the addition of maps.   I’ve always hankered for those stories Tolkien never wrote about, the ones suggested by places mentioned on his maps.  This sense of mystery always keeps the world pleasingly incomplete and open to my imagination’s wondering. Continue reading “The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien”

Cover Love Letter

When scanning the shelves for prospective books, neither the spine colour and font interest me, it’s all about about if I recognise the title/author, or if the title is quirky enough to arrest my relentless and speedy march to the end of the shelf.

It would be remiss of me not to take the time to repost this absolutely gorgeous specimen, which is one book to certainly judge its cover by.  This beauty was cunningly placed in my eyeline, demanding my attention and money, both of which were duly and happily paid.

It is a shame that there aren’t more well thought out and intricate covers adorning shops everywhere, after all the appeal is not just for the bibliophile but also a way to entice those normally not interested in reading into picking up a book.  For those interested in more of Christopher Gibbs’ work, check out his visually arresting portfolio here.

Also worth a mention is Stephen King’s, The Wind Through the Keyhole, which used mosaic design technologies to incorporate thousands of rader’s faces into the artwork used on the back cover illustration of the first edition, which I think is a wonderful give back to the fans, especially those with magnifying glasses who wish to find themeselves.

The Wind Through the Keyhole – Stephen King

Although I reviewed this book back in the day (April 2012, to be exact, achieving a grand total of three likes), having read it again I have decided to update the review to bring it in line with the series written by older, present me.  It may come off as a bit of a weird mix now, but this reblog of a majority newly review just about sums up how I live life.

Book to the Future

” A person’s never to old for stories, Bill. Man and boy, girl and woman, never to old. We live for them.”

Although I reviewed this book back in the day, having read it again I have decided to update the review to bring it in line with the series written by older, present me.  It may come off as a bit of a weird mix now, but this reblog of a majority newly review just about sums up how I like life.

Never has a dust jacket made me feel so popular when reading in a public place.  People were taking an interest in my reading material for once, when I removed this out of the cheap plastic bag, within the better plastic bag, from out of my backpack, that kept the rain off its brand-new pages.  Interestingly the bags mirrored the structure of the book but that was mere coincidence.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is Dark Tower book…

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Modern Art and Old Titles

Modern art is really not my thing, however I will turn my hand to anything, and the result is about as on par with the other nonsense that graces popular galleries, so I will be accepting bids for this one starting at £20,000.

The one armed doll is a metaphor, please add appropriate £ value.

In other news, I have been gathering up the books of late and am now looking forward to reading some more eclectic and obscurer works to go with the madern titles that are more familiar.

In the future expect to see reviews for such travel books as Lord Dufferin‘s Letters from High Latitudes, more Indian works including, A History if Indian Literature, and A History of Indian Railways, thanks to our respective countries’ ties. And I’ll throw in The History of Chess for good measure.

Another geographic area that fascinates is Polynesia, so I’m pleased to have my grubby hands on Legends of Ma-ui: A Demi God of Polynesia.  And finally, to round off the southern hemisphere jaunts, and perhaps unsurprisingly I have also procured, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, and Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino.

My quest to vary my reading matter, and to push myself ever onward to new, fascinating, and perhaps undeservedly forgotten books will continue constantly, and I hope you will join me in these ventures, and perhaps suggest any fascinating titles you come across on your own reading journey.  The stranger, the better.

SK’s Browning DTs

Apologies in advance for the attention that this blog is paying to the Dark Tower series but it has been taking up all my reading time of late as I don’t wish to leave it unfinished when I leave the hemisphere behind again.  And there are far too many other books that I want to take back with me instead of  a half finished series.

Today’s post is not just reading for those who have journeyed – or are so doing – through these books,  Robert Browning’s, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, is a fantastic read on its own, but as it inspired, together with spaghetti westerns and The Lord of the Rings, King’s monumental series its worth highlighting here.

I’ve posted the first six stanzas of the thirty-five that make up this epic poem, and it seems appropriate to leave a link to the complete poem from StephenKing.com.  Pleasurable reading and pleasant nights as always dear reader.

I.
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the workings of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby. Continue reading “SK’s Browning DTs”

Gloaming Thoughts

The family snooze away in bed, and I write late into the night.  A beer on the go, and a nocturnal cool settles subtly on my bare arms.

Books are, of course, my chosen subject to write about, a topic that has so many facets, often hidden in plain sight, and so much scope.

Yet as I catch up with the notes on my recent reads, the memories of books long given away take over.

In this late and gently expiring hour, the recollections come thick and fast.  The night always makes one introspective, especially for the past.

On this particular night my eye – and hand – run down the imaginary bookshelf of recall, mixed with different eras of my collecting, the covers vivid and smooth.

An old Famous Five cover from a nearly complete set purchased years ago, the variously tactile cover of the hardback edition of Endymion Spring…

An exploration of architecture in Egyptian temples, and the stark bleakness of outer space, adventuring astronauts lost to everything but themselves.

It’s these times I value.  The unique wanderings in a labyrinthine world of words, reminding me of literary corridors I will, perhaps, walk down again…

Whether in contemplation or purposely.

Reminders of books moved on, in necessity or wrongly thought of as outgrown, treasures lost to me in haste.

Always these ghosts come at night, I like it that way, I am forever grounded in their literary shadow.  Elusive yet bound to my heart.

 

*Image found at Pixabay