Reviews

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M Harris

It isn’t often these days that not only do I feel compelled to immediately review the book I’ve just read, but the need to spew words out right now is so powerful that I can’t ignore it. Joanne Harris’s latest novella A Pocketful of Crows is the first book I’ve read in a single sitting for a long while. Often I’ve read them in two, or perhaps three sittings - but one is very rare. (The last one I read in one sitting was Brian and Wendy Froud’s Trolls, but that’s more a story book than a novel, and it’s short - but it socked me in the gut for similar reasons.

'The Death House' by Sarah Pinborough

“They say it makes your eyes bleed. Almost pop out of your head and then bleed.”

This is the first line of The Death House. Cleverly, Sarah Pinborough has forced you to wonder what “it” is and why it makes your eyes bleed, and who is saying it. It’s every writer’s dream and every writer’s curse: get the first page, paragraph, hell, get the first sentence just right, so readers will want to know more.

'Birdy' by Jess Vallance

"Do you know, I met a family in Brazil who called every one of their children Frances. Two girls, and then Francis with an i for the three boys. 'It's our favourite name,' the parents said when we asked about it. That was all there was to it as far as they were concerned. How brilliant is that?"

'Throw Away Your Loincloth' by Michelle Jones

I haven’t really known how to start reviewing this book. I read it because I met the writer at an event at the bookshop where she’s the manager, Waterstone’s in Chichester (I refuse to delete the very necessary apostrophe), and we got talking (as you do - well, as I do, anyway). So she gave me a copy of the book and I promised to read and review it.

'Labyrinth' by Kate Mosse

Perhaps I’ve been spoilt, reading so many books throughout my life that anything less than wow is just, well… meh. Or perhaps it isn’t that at all. Maybe the fact of being a writer myself means I pick novels apart, finding even minor faults in certain passages that make me think, ‘That sentence would be better if…’ or, ‘But that doesn’t make any sense!’ I don’t always do that, though it’s happening more and more all the time. Mostly, I read like a reader, not like a writer. Unless a novel is especially bad or especially good, I read and enjoy and then move on to the next one.

'Into the End' by Jeremy Vaeni

Jeremy Vaeni does not have a Wikipedia page, so I can’t do my usual introductory thing of pointing at it and summarising the more interesting bits. He’s an obscure figure, clearly, who does not merit a page on Wikipedia; he’s just not important enough. Who the fuck is this guy, and what am I doing reading his book?

'Broken Monsters' by Lauren Beukes

I followed the publishing progress of Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters on Twitter, and when it was finally released in the UK on the 31st of July, I didn’t buy it straightaway. I actually waited until the 12th of August because that was the day Lauren was to be in London, signing copies in Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue. We’ve tweeted, Lauren and I, and have been in touch mainly via this website, for which she kindly answered all our silly questions for our Q&A, which you can read by clicking here.

'The Gospel of Loki' by Joanne M. Harris

Joanne’s Loki, as you would expect from a writer of her calibre, is an interesting and easy read. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve started and abandoned recently, but I read Loki straight through.

So it’s a good read. If you’ve never heard of Loki, or even if you have, but don’t know the myths about him, then this is highly recommended.

'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss

“The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

The Name of the Wind, first in the Kingkiller Chronicles, was one of those books I'd seen around, figured I'd probably enjoy and so fully intended to put it on my 'to read' list at some point, but had no particular plans to read any time soon. However, then my Taller Half got hold of it and would not stop badgering me until I agreed to bump it to the top of the list. This in itself is a fairly good endorsement of the book since Taller Half isn't anywhere near the same sort of reader as me. He likes books well enough but he is considerably more picky than me about what he enjoys in a story and he has never, in the six plus years we've been together, spoken about a book the way he did about The Name of the Wind.

‘The Female Man’ by Joanna Russ

I had never heard of Joanna Russ until I picked up this book in the library. Here’s some info extracted from her Wikipedia entry (I have edited a bit):

'Hawthorn and Child' by Keith Ridgway

This is a weird one for me to write. Partly, it’s weird writing this because I gave up reading it halfway through, which almost never happens. Because of its rarity, it’s also noteworthy, and this is why I feel I ought to write this review.

'The Gospel of Loki' by Joanne M. Harris

[This review was first published on my blog, here, on 04.05.14. This is an edited version, but remains largely the same.]

'The Worst Witch' by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch, by Jill Murphy”, a review by me (Chromomancer).

Currently available next to the sandwiches in Asda for only £3.50 (your supermarket may vary). Also available on Amazon at prices ranging from 54p used, via £1.37 new to £4.49 new (if you want to spend an extra £3.12).

As usual with reviews I write for Plotbunnies, this is intended as a review for writers rather than a review for readers. (Yes, good writers are also avid readers, but YKWIM.)

Published by Puffin Books, it says 7+ on the book, so I reckoned I was old enough to read it.

Foreigner

Not a review exactly, but I've just finished Foreigner by C.J Cherryh and would like to discuss/ramble about it, and this seemed the most appropriate place to avoid cluttering the 'what are you reading' thread.

'Idiopathy' by Sam Byers

I’m really glad someone gave me a copy of this book. I might not have come across it otherwise, and then I would have missed out on a very quirky, very strange but ultimately great story.

'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell' by Susanna Clarke

Everyone will happily quote the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, but there’s no equivalent saying about size. “Good things come in small packages” just doesn’t apply to books, and I know many people - myself included - who will happily immerse themselves in Lord of the Rings, or something equally monolithic, rather than pick up a slimmer volume. I don’t know what led me to avoid Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for so long, but I’d eyeballed it on shop shelves before and had left it alone.

'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss

“It’s not their fault that the world is full of hard choices and hunger and loneliness. What can you expect of people when demons are their neighbours?”
-Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss’s debut fantasy novel takes a little while to warm up, but it soon grows into a real page turner. When it comes right down to it, it’s a story about stories. It’s about how legends are told around deeds; how we turn into what we pretend to be; and the importance of storytelling and folklore.

'Angelmaker' by Nick Harkaway

The title alone made me want to read this. That, and the promise of clockwork bees. At 566 pages (ignore the thing below, it's wrong), it was set to keep me quiet for a while, and indeed it did. But still less than a week, because I couldn’t put it down.

Nick Harkaway is the son of one John le Carré, but I didn’t know this when I began reading. Not that it would have made any difference if I had - I’ve never read anything by le Carré as it doesn’t seem to be my thing.

Songs of the Dying Earth

Songs of the Dying Earth is a collection of short stories commissioned and collected by George R R Martin (currently best known, perhaps, for The Game of Thrones - now a TV series) and Gardner Dozois, another well known name to the cognoscenti.

'Daodejing' by Laozi

Perhaps less recognisable using the Pinyin spelling (you may know it as the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu), this may be a strange choice of book for a review. Nonetheless, I read it again recently with a better understanding of its meaning than the first time I read it, because of certain lectures and other events at my kung fu club.

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