Ending Forever, Soon Arriving

In case you missed it last year – as I know I did – Nicholas Conley‘s latest book Ending Forever first came out on Kindle Vella, which allows authors to write the book in installments, harking back toCharles Dickens, et al. 

The book will be coming out for e-readers on 10th May, with a paperback edition at a later unspecified date. With such a goegeous cover I shall definitely be availing myself of the physical copy but will no doubt be reviewing the ARC as and when it arrives in my inbox.

Check out the below synopsis to whet your appetite and also cast your eye over my other reviews for Nick’s books and author interrogations, which can hadily be found here.

Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats—orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.
Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.
Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

Philosophy and Literature with Iris Murdoch and Bryan Magee

I love doing the washing up, it gives me a chance to catch up with a whole host of interesting YouTube channels.  As you might expect these are a pretty eclectic mix; Agadmator’s chess match analyses, Bob Ross‘ happy little paintings, David Lynch’s weather report, a few channels dealing with apologetics, film reviews, Football Manager (as I have no time to go indepth with such a game), other assorted retro games, and science videos.

This time I wanted something a bit different so typed ‘literature’ into the search bar.  Having previously done this and ended up scrolling through a bunch of identikit YA booktubers I, understandably, left it a few years before trying again.

The below video turned up, and having heard of Iris Murdoch, but not having read any of her works I decided to give the interview a whirl. It’s an interesting chat that takes places in that nostalgically British way of having a dull studio filled with browns and beiges. I already have Murdoch’s Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature, on my list but any recommendations for her fiction would be most welcome.

Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) – Victoria Leigh Bennett

“Paris was glorious in the summer mornings! The air was as fresh as a grackle’s wing…”

In Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris), Victoria Leigh Bennett takes us back to her teenage years, as a first trip abroad opens her eyes to the possibilities of the French metropolis, and of the first buds of romance. This playful, tender memoir shows us the wonder of the city of love seen through fresh eyes. It is ripe with youthful adventure, and as bitter-sweet as a coffee and croissant.”

Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) is a playful riff off of Honoré de Balzac‘s work Scènes de la Vie Parisienne, and sets the mood for a thoughtful memoir of youthful experiences abroad in the French capital.  A city that has inspired so much literature, now has another view, which is a pleasantly nostalgic one.

It is difficult to talk too much about the book without giving away spoilers, so please forgive me if I am somewhat vague on the content and don’t expand on the blurb too much hereafter.

The reader is treated to three vignettes which give a wonderful sense of not only place and time, but also of self. Vicki’s introspective reminiscences make for a wonderful read and not only brings out the misty-eyed ememberance of travels in past days but also a yearning for more of her words. Continue reading “Scènes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris) – Victoria Leigh Bennett”

Dune – Frank Herbert

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.

In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.

And his journey will change the universe.

Fondly, yet hazily, recalling David Lynch’s attempt at bring Dune to the silver screen, and wanting to avoid spoilers from the new version, my hand was ‘forced’ into reading this.  Dune is an impressive, epic space – or should that be spice? – opera and sci-fi classic which stands the test of time.

From the off the world building feels fully established, and as the reader follows 15 year-old Paul Atriedes, we learn the complexities of life and the relationships of powerful factions as he does.  It really helps push the story along so there isn’t a lot of stopping to go into minutiae. There is also some of the usual jargon that comes with alien languages but it’s not too elaborate, thankfully so doesn’t get tiresome and distracting.

Speaking of worlds, Arrakis is a looming brooding presence, It is open, vast and unforgiving. The atmosphere is one of ancient mysteries with plenty of secrets left, even after the book is finished.  That all known universe interests centre upon this unique planet makes all events much more significant. Continue reading “Dune – Frank Herbert”

The Swing Set in the Backyard (Or . . . So, You Want to Write a Novel?)

As ever Mike’s word are a great source of inspiration for the writer in you.

Eye-Dancers

When I was eight years old, my parents bought a swing set for the backyard.  It was red and yellow, with two swings.  My father installed it at the extreme northern end of the yard, a few feet to the left of the brick fireplace he had built upon moving into the house, years before I was born.  I cannot say I remember whether or not I had asked for a swing set or if my parents decided it would be a good idea to get one.  Either way, that summer–the summer I was eight–I spent a lot of time on those swings.

Well, I mainly used the swing closer to the fireplace.  If anyone wanted to join me, they needed to use the other swing.  Sometimes, I’d swing for hours.  I used to love swinging on July evenings, the air warm, the yard fragrant with flowers and freshly cut…

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Where I’ve Been

With a mad end to the year and the customary beginning to the next, you may or, most likely,  may not have wondered where I have been.  Well the answer is precisely nowhere.  A lack of reading hasn’t helped but I have now returned to readerly and writerly ways.

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I have been keeping myself creatively busy doing some writing for World Football Index, so if you fancy a gander at the articles that I have thus far written, you can my specific author page here.  I also missed my 13th anniversary with WordPress notification which really shows my age.

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The photos in this post were done by Cris as I am shambolic when it comes to anything visually creative. These are most of the books picked up in the back half of last year that I didn’t get a chance to show you.  Reviews of four will be forthcoming soon and my previous blog post covered the excelleny Poems from the Northeast. Continue reading “Where I’ve Been”

Poems from the Northeast – Victoria Leigh Bennett

A poet’s spiritual homeland is oftentimes not exactly the same as his or her homeland by birth. This book is a book of poems composed over a lifetime lived entirely in the northeastern United States and Toronto, Canada. It features a wide range of literary and personal topics with which the author hopes to enliven, instruct without condescension, move, and above all entertain her audience. It is hoped that there is something in this book for nearly everyone, from the full-fledged poetic connoisseur to the most casual of poetry readers.

This review has been a long while in the writing because there is so much to experience in the pages of these three collected books from Vicki.  You can find more of her, always thought-provoking writings here, whilst you are waiting for this book to arrive, as you will probably want to order it.

I found this collection somewhat perplexing, every time that I read through the book I found new favourite poems, so either I am easily delighted, or the wealth of moods catered for is ‘muchos’.  I am inclined to the latter. From simple observations to the big questions of life the variety is there in abundance.

Poems from the Northeast is a delight for the reader, with many references and allusions to authors, poets, artists, and philosophers littered throughout, I had a great time hunting for them, or looking through the internet to explore names I knew but haven’t yet read.  Continue reading “Poems from the Northeast – Victoria Leigh Bennett”

The Children Who Loved Books – Peter Carnavas

Angus and Lucy love books. They have hundreds of them. But when the books are taken away, Angus and Lucy’s family soon discovers they cannot live without them. A warm and moving celebration of books and the way in which they bring us all together.

In order to get Amelia hooked on books we picked this up and it was an excellent choice! And one which I regularly congratulate us on for being great parents, purely on the strength of this.

It is easy to fall in love with The Children Who Loved Books, at its heart it’s a story that brings through the love of books and shared family bonding time. It gives the reader a warm feeling and also provides a brief experience to savour.

There is an emphasis on the theme of not needing many material possessions and decluttering which is something that is good to instil in the little ‘uns.  Speaking of which the words are very sparing and the illustrations offer enough detail without being overly done.  The cat and chicken that pop up on each page are big hit with Amelia.

Books about books are great and books about bonding over books are even better, however no review is complete without finding something to fault.  Although it’s a minor gripe I was nonetheless a bit put out by one troubling thing. Continue reading “The Children Who Loved Books – Peter Carnavas”

Stalingrad – Vasily Grossman

In April 1942, Hitler and Mussolini plan the huge offensive on the Eastern Front that will culminate in the greatest battle in human history.

Hundreds of miles away, Pyotr Vavilov receives his call-up papers and spends a final night with his wife and children in the hut that is his home. As war approaches, the Shaposhnikov family gathers for a meal: despite her age, Alexandra will soon become a refugee; Tolya will enlist in the reserves; Vera, a nurse, will fall in love with a wounded pilot; and Viktor Shtrum will receive a letter from his doomed mother which will haunt him forever.

The war will consume the lives of a huge cast of characters – lives which express Grossman’s grand themes of the nation and the individual, nature’s beauty and war’s cruelty, love and separation.

Having recently gotten back into the habit of frequenting my local library, the first book I picked up was Vasily Grossman’s – Criminally – lesser known prelude to Life and Fate, both books together were intended to be the 20th century War and Peace and I have to say they lives up to that book’s impact and legacy.

This is a version of Grossman’s book isn’t quite the same as the Russian version entitled For a Just Cause, the translator Robert Chandler has readded in parts that were originally deleted in accordance with the Stalin government’s everchanging policies.  Whether this affects the pace of the book or not I loved every page of this story.

Weighing in at almost nine hundred pages this novel is a vast panorama of voices and stories and does a wonderful job of conveying the sense of dislocation, pain and horror of World War II but also sensitively paints pictures of the lives and loves of those people caught up in those monumental events. Continue reading “Stalingrad – Vasily Grossman”

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