27 Jan 2016

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY


A chilling, compulsive debut about group mentality, superstition and betrayal - and a utopian commune gone badly wrong We were the Family, and Foxlowe was our home. 

There was me - my name is Green - and my little sister, Blue. There was October, who we called Toby, and Ellensia, Dylan, Liberty, Pet and Egg. There was Richard, of course, who was one of the Founders. And there was Freya. We were the Family, but we weren't just an ordinary family. We were a new, better kind of family. 

We didn't need to go to school, because we had a new, better kind of education. We shared everything. We were close to the ancient way of living and the ancient landscape. We knew the moors, and the standing stones. We celebrated the solstice in the correct way, with honey and fruit and garlands of fresh flowers. We knew the Bad and we knew how to keep it away. 

And we had Foxlowe, our home. Where we were free. There really was no reason for anyone to want to leave.

20 Jan 2016

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY


On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia's National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future. 

Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

17 Jan 2016

LAMB - BONNIE NADZAM

SUMMARY
'She was coming toward him in a crooked purple tube top and baggy shorts and brassy sandals studded with rhinestones. She carried a huge pink patent-leather purse and was possibly the worst thing he'd seen all day. 'Hi.' She had a little gap between her teeth, and her eyes were wide set, and she had one of those noses with perfectly round nostrils. She was a pale little freckled pig with eyelashes. 'I'm supposed to ask you for a cigarette.' This ugly kid before Lamb was obviously the brunt of a joke. Stupid. And reckless. Had they any idea who he was? Why he was standing alone in a black suit? What kind of heart, if any, hung inside him? And how was this not a joke on him? He took a pull on his own cigarette and put it out on the bottom of his beautifully polished shoe.' 

Tommie is eleven. Lamb is a middle-aged man. He is convinced that he can help her avoid a destiny of apathy and emptiness. He even comes to believe that his devotion is in her best interest.

REVIEW
Having previously read the like of Lolita, The End of Alice and Tiger Tiger, I thought that Lamb would be another of that genre, and to an extent it is, but it's more than that. It starts out more more innocently.

When David first befriends Tommy is seems that he connects with her on a more simplistic level. He has recently lot his father, his marriage is over and he's reaching a midlife crisis. Tommy is fun. She is the child he has never had. He helps her with her troubled home life by making her imagine something better. He want to help her as a father would, doesn't he?

New Additions - January 2016

  
  

13 Jan 2016

TARGETED AND TROLLED - ROSALYN WARREN

SUMMARY
A feminist campaigner is sent death threats online at a rate of over fifty-per-hour. A woman who shares on social media her experience of rape, so that others might feel brave enough to speak out, is bombarded with abusive messages. More than a hundred female celebrities have their personal nude photographs stolen and published by hackers. The victims of these stories of trolling and internet crimes have just one thing in common: their gender. 

Most of us use the internet every day, but we rarely stop and think about the way we are received there and whether the treatment of women online differs from the treatment of men. As a Buzzfeed journalist, Rossalyn Warren has first-hand experience of the sexism and misogyny targeted at women online – the insults about their appearance, the rape threats, and in some instances even stalking.
In Targeted and Trolled, Warren exposes the true extent of the global problem. Informative, empowering and inspiring, this book is both a shocking revelation of the scale of the problem and a message of hope about how men and women are working together to fight back against the trolls.

REVIEW
As a woman I have been very fortunate. I currently work in an environment (bookselling) that is possibly the most liberal workplace on the high street. At the end of 2015 we were lucky enough to have our giant shop refitted and I was one of the few booksellers on the building site to help stock my Children's floor. 

During the refit we were overrun by builders, as you can imagine, who in the name of being Gentlemen felt they should ask me if I need help even if I was carrying a small cardboard box. hey found this hilariously funny. You might think Bookselling is a a delicate, intellectual job. Most of the time it is the complete opposite. I get grubby, injured and I carry boxes that are full of hardbacks and incredibly heavy. And even though I'm a woman and I'm small, I can do it. I don't need a man to move a paint can because he thinks being a lady I shouldn't have to. I don't see this as being a gentleman, it is being a d*ck.

7 Jan 2016

PROPERTY - VALERIE MARTIN

SUMMARY
Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans, but most of all, she longs to be free of the suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl who may have been given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. 

This private drama is being played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings. And if the attacks reach Manon's house, no one can be sure which way Sarah will turn ...Beautifully written, Property is an intricately told tale of both individual stories and of a country in a time of change, where ownership is at once everything and nothing, and where belonging, by contrast, is all.

REVIEW
I've read quite a few narratives dealing with salvery and its effects over the years, so I was really interested to read Property, a novel from a 19th century creole perspective. The cover promises that it is a "book that dared to tell a different story" so I was really intrigued to see what this was going to add to the wealth of amazing literature already out there.

To be honest I felt that there was almost no depth to it. There was nothing I didn't already know, no shock or abuse or strong feeling of 'wrongness'. It was quiet. I felt that not much happened in terms of a storyline, and it didn't fill in those gaps with a moral sentiment. 

But perhaps that's the point. If the novel is a depiction of the life of a plantation master's wife then it is only about her concerns, and the morality of slavery doesn't seem to be one of them. It is not supposed to be an expose, but more a story of blind ignorance. The society of the time put restrictions on everyone and bred misery in different ways for everyone involved. No one is immune, as Manon finds out. There are secrets and lies that surround everyone in Property, and its real concern is how the individual survives.


29 Dec 2015

DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER - JEFF LINDSAY

SUMMARY
Introducing Dexter Morgan, a serial killer to fall in love with...Dexter Morgan isn't exactly the kind of man you'd bring home to your mum. At heart, he's the perfect gentleman: he has a shy girlfriend, and seems to lead a quiet, normal life bordering on the mundane. Despite the fact that he can't stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police. 

But Dexter also has a secret hobby: he is an accomplished serial killer. So far, he's killed 36 people and has never been caught because he knows exactly how to hide the evidence. And while that may lead some people to assume he's not such a nice guy, he tempers his insatiable hunger for brutality by only killing the bad guys. However, Dexter's well-organised life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Intrigued that the other killer favours a style similar to his own, Dexter soon realises that the mysterious new arrival is not simply invading his turf but offering him a direct invitation to 'come out and play'...

REVIEW
I've been a massive fan of the TV series Dexter, bingeing for a sad amount of hours on Netflix, for quite a while and a fellow bookseller has been harassing me to read the series because I'd love them.

And I did. It's quick witted, darkly hilarious and just.... brilliant. I'm running out of adjectives. It isn't complicated in any way and the supporting cast aren't very well fleshed out but it's the first in a long series so all is forgiven.

I do have one confession to make though: I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if I hadn't already seen the show. Having prior knowledge of the series allowed my imagination to flesh out the characters in a way the book doesn't. 

I don't have a lot to say about this. It's different to you standard serial killer novel, obviously, but it's the type of easy reading that can take a few hours away from your life before you realise, and I'm already hooked. If only the TBR pile wasn't so big....

15 Dec 2015

SMART - KIM SLATER

SUMMARY
"I found Jean's friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live." There's been a murder, but the police don't care. It was only a homeless old man after all. Kieran cares. He's made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you're going to do it, for real. He's going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. 

It's a good job Kieran's a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade. But being a detective is difficult when you're Kieran Woods. When you're amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof.

REVIEW
Smart is the story of a young british boy with unnamed social difficulties who finds a homeless man drowned in a canal and in determined to find his killer.

Kieran's problems aren't apparent in his narrative, it's only from the reactions of these around him, and that he has a classroom helper, that marks him out from other children. He is kind, loyal, empathetic and, as the title suggests, extremely smart.

He is bullied by his mother's boyfriend, step-son, and children at his school. It is horrible and brutal.  found it really difficult to read, not just because of what happens to Kieran, but because her represents real children all over the country. He takes the beatings and the bullying in his stride though and keeps going. He draws incredible pictures, drawing from his complete love of Lowery (the painter). It helps him process what is happening around him that he doesn't immediately understand.

The writing is so beautifully simplistic, and the way Kieran thinks is perfectly portrayed. It makes us think - what can we do when we think completely 'normally', but don't act the way society wanted us to? I'd like to think I'd be his friend regardless of how he looked, just like Karwarna at his school.

It's such a small, understated book but it's beautiful.

10 Mar 2015

OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE - NEIL GAIMAN

SUMMARY
Dive into a magical novel of memory and the adventure of childhood, from one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation. It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. 

The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

REVIEW
The first book of Neil Gaiman's that I've ever read was The Graveyard Book, which I completely adored, and his new book is no exception.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is set in an almost alternate universe (not completely online Coraline) and is perfect for children and adults alike. It focuses on the memories of an unnamed narrator and the strange events that happened on the farm around his childhood home.

It's a really quick and easy read but don't let that fool you; you'll be completely sucked into the dark, perception-twisting, almost Dahl-esque events.

For adults, this is literally a trip down memory lane, back to a feeling of unlimited possibility, and the fear of the unknown that can sometimes come from that.

Gaiman effortlessly shows his ability to showcase the magic of childhood and perceived reality with effortless grace - as always.

25 Feb 2015

REMIX - NON PRATT

SUMMARY
Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life... Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.

Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.


REVIEW

The mark of a good book for me is an inability to put it down. Bear in mind I'm a painfully slow reader when I say that I read Remix in half a day - this for me is unheard of. It was part wanting to know what happens with the characters, and part nostalgia. It captures the feeling of being young and hopeful; being old enough to do adult things but too naive and inexperienced not to jump in headfirst because you think you should.

I remember my first festival like it was yesterday (not, sadly, nearly 10 years ago). The excitement of venturing out with your best friend believing everything would be magical and wonderful. The feeling that music can change the world and that those small moments of connection between you, the music, and the people you care about are perfectly written.

So much of the friendship between Kaz and Ruby rang true for me and my best friend, and I could understand and appreciate all the ways in which the characters had to choose between what they wanted and what was best for their friends, and how horribly wrong you can get it sometimes. That's the best thing about them, though, that nothing really works out perfectly. And that isn't a spoiler, just a reflection of real life relationships.