Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Man Booker Long List

Whew, a bit late this year - wrote this up a while ago, but it's taken a while to post. They've already announced the Short List now, of course, and the winner's next week, but I thought I'd post our book club's thoughts on the whole list. Very brief, mostly in note form, just to give you an idea. I can't even understand some of my own notes: people spoke very quickly!

This year the Booker Long List has: four American American authors, 1 from South Africa, six from the UK, and 2 Canada. So our worry that it was going to be taken over by Americans doesn't seem to be coming real...

The Sell Out (JT) - hard work, eventually worth it. Witty if able to be understood. Too American to get most references. Got going 3/4 way through. Best read fast. At the end got the point that being black in America it's impossible to not be aware of it. Black humour. childhood studies. reinstating slavery and segregates school. Radical, wacky. Maybe short list.

The Schooldays of Jesus JM Coetze (CN) - fascinated by Coetze. Strange challenging. Jesus doesn't appear in text. David recently been to Spanish country with mum and step father. Is David Jesus? Some parallels, might have been. David special, steadfast questions, strange school, disturbing events, previous/life next life perhaps. Easy to read. Simplicity misleading as confusing. Many interpretations. Maybe short list.

Serious Sweet (CG) - looong. Established author, side up comic, writes guardian articles. One day, 2 protagonists, middle aged man and woman start arranging a date, stuff keeps getting in the way. Stream of consciousness. Not nice people. Spin doctor for government, good with words. Up to date, Boris Johnson. Cynical. Funniest bits political. Not so bothered about date. Did divorce matter, seems a sideline while married people writing nice letters to women. Female, recovering alcohlic. Bankrupt accountant. Pays for letters. Thinking about date. Political diatribes all over the place, but soft idea of romance. 500 pages too tedious. Not short list.

Hot Milk (AJ) - better uses for trees, tedious. Mother daughter. To Greece for search for cure for ridiculous ailment, stereotypical characters, linear structure. Attempt to break from literary to poetic. Failed. Not short list.

His Bloody Project (CN) - suited title. Unendingly bleak&depressing but well written. Tiny hamlet Scotland 19th century. Violent killing of 3 people, 17 year old admitted and awaiting trial. Lengthy self written account of killings by boy encouraged by legal advisor. No self pity. Modern readers would sympathise with his awful upbringing, was he responsible or not? Suspense between whose fault it is. Extremely we'll done, but not nice. Maybe short list.

The Many (ET) - Nice to see debut novelist. Vague premise from the blurb. Man moves to isolated place to set up new home for wife and baby-to-be. Intriguing. Unwelcoming community. Moved into house of someone who died, shakes up village. Fishermen go out every day, usually catching nothing. Chilling premonition of what over-fishing and poisoning can do to our oceans. 'Who will buy this half-dead catch the sea has thrown up. Not restaurants, he’s sure of that. Perhaps the pharmas, hoping to extract god knows what from them.' Some bumper captures, but the fish are diseased, almost dead before they reach the surface. Governmental waits to take them away - possibly for testing? Frustratingly, we never know any more. Sparse writing, which makes sense as Menmuir also worked as an editor. Like a horror film when you're sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for something to happen... but nothing ever quite does. Effective writing unsatisfying. Probably not short list.

Hystopia (DF) - violence. Novel in a novel, by Vietnam war still going in 70s where Kennedy set up peace corps to brainwash people of bad experiences. Sometimes doesn't work, social breakdown - sent to Michigan. Lots of drugs, tracking Rake who wanders and kills at random. Would it have better about Iraq instead of alternate universe? V American, skulls, acid trips. Breakdown of American society, very American written, not personally enjoyable. Not particularly well written or vivid. Not short list.

My Name is Lucy Bartonuninspiring cover. Short. Well respected author. Linear narrative, but most are memories so not as such. Strange: main cha is in hospital for long time for unknown reason, away from family. Mother comes and remembers childhood. Cold, not enough to eat. Hints of things, piece together her life. Relationship with family took away from mother. Met published author and husband sent her on workshop, had some interaction. Piece together what defines you as a person. Nothing v dramatic, like spool of blur thread. Sparse writing, not as good. Individual's place in the family, quite an American thing. Delicate, strangely crafted. Hints, illusions, glimpses. Enjoyed. Good for short list.

Eileen (RA) - America 50-60s, woman, simply well written. Page turner, pedestrian parts. Linear. Thriller. Amazed it made the long list. Not literary but a good quick read. American author, New England. Short stories before won prizes. Young. Not literary enough for short list.

The North Water (AB) the limits of flesh and blood, grotesque but well written. Violent account 1850s Hull whaling industry, less lucrative. Casualties accepted. Desperation - owners and sailors. Violent opening, central prot. rapes, kills and wound in first 8 pages. Gory, wild, vivid description. Redeemed by weather description. About water character itself, huge elemental force, huge animals. Compelling, how they survive etc, good characterisation. Linear structure, back stories emerge. Good length. Liked cover. Everyone would be compelled, but disgusted, disgusting language, will make short list because of superb writing. Wouldn't want to read it again, or recommend. Maybe shortlist for language.

Work like any other  (JC) - readable. Historical Alabama 1920s, man works for power company, wife inherits the farm and he hates it,implications for marriage. Wife cold. Son Gerard, close relationship - violent response from dad, competing attention. Sets farm free up as charade for electricity, but is found out and manages to electrocute himself - is it his fault? Black man and cha get arrested for death - he 20 years to prison, black guy to nine. Nice description, detailed of countryside, prison and electricity. Reputation for being educated, spotted by a guard so covers up for guard who can't read. Confusion? Like Shawshank redemption, he gets out, sort of failure, writes to wife, never responds. Hurt with dogs, hallucinating - did wife come? Comes out and finds that black guy runs the farm, swapped situations, he's in the shack. No happy ending. Not outstanding, but readable, is it realistic? Black family accepted? Flits different perspectives, times but easy to follow. Not short list.

The Short List Authors.
All That Man Is (CF) - established author, awards. Anomaly as set of short stories, dispirit characters, nine men. 17-73 year olds, what being a man is. Linear. Is this a novel? Opposite of chic lit - bloke lit! A lot of sex, making money, being successful. Why is this a Booker book? Economy of description, written well, but not interested in plot. Not into reading it. Through ages resonate more? Curious to keep going. Compared to William Boyd, Us. Odd. Readable, some compelling, but left pretty cold. Each story in different country, reflects cover, too light weight for short list.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing (CG) - third novel, established. Discovery of who father is when committed suicide at 19. Long. Basic history, linguistic characters, cultures corrupted continuity, generations, mon linear, China civil war. Could have been more of bits, only touched on things. Composers became examples to denounce. Thread running through of historic records, copying texts by hand, hidden, caught, persevering history. Narrator, daughter, finding out through fragments about father but doesn't read Chinese. Lyrical but sometimes dense language, bored and frustrated bogged down. Very long. Inconsistent. May make short list, draw diagrams yo make sense of. Story is gripping when you can find it!

OUR SHORT LIST - The Schooldays of Jesus, My Name is Lucy Bartlett, The North Water, The Sell Out, Do Not Say We Gave Nothing, His Bloody Project (Work like any other as a back up)

THE REAL SHORT LIST - Do Not Say We Have Nothing, His Bloody Project, Hot Milk, Eileen, All That Man Is, The Sell Out. 

As usual, our opinions's differ from the judges! We'll come back with a few reviews of the short list before the big reveal next week! Well done if you read this far! 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Summing Up Sunday - 16th October 2016

Almost wrote September - shows how fast the week is passing!

A pretty non-eventful week as far as stuff we can write on the blog: just lots of meetings etc.

We had our Dutch neighbours over to make pizzas, and the little four year old burnt the roof of his mouth quite badly :( That was on the Friday, which was followed by an excitable game of 'Bird Bingo.'
It's very addictive for small children!

We had a three hour session booked the for the 'Lottie Project' - working on the polytunnel for Arch Care's allotment that we raised money for last year. Unfortunately, we scheduled 2-5pm which was when the rain started. We were all kitted out for the rain and didn't mind, but the wood became to wet to drill properly, and we wouldn't have been able to put the tape on as it wouldn't adhere. A rather frustrating afternoon - we were hoping to have completed it, minus the skin. Ah well, another rearrangement.

Also made a card for someone's 21st birthday, which was quite fun:

How was everyone else's weeks? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

26 Books: A Book with a Colour in the Title

So, keeping up with the 26 books challenge! If only we'd actually posted this during the year is was aimed at... It means no one's interested as they're all doing 26 Books 2016. Sad times :( Anyway, here it is:
A Book with a COLOUR in the Title!

This would have number 9 in Bringing Up Burns Challenge 2015.

'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe' by Fannie Flagg (E): Well, I had written a nice review for 'A Spool of Blue Thread,' but it felt like we needed some variety. So I sought out another 'colour' book (I hadn't happened to read any others), and decided on a real classic.

I'd never really heard anything about this book apart from the name, the fact it was set in the US, and that I thought it had been into a film. So, it was quite exciting to read a book I knew so little about! own mother in an people's home - this is Evelyn's escape from her Mother in law! Mrs Threadgoode's story is much more exhilarating - the tale of tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth who ran a cafe that sold (you guessed it) damn good fried green tomatoes. (I'd never come across them before. Are they a purely American thing?)
It's the story of Mrs Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, the wife of someone visiting his

People seem to be highly interested in the question of 'were Ruth and Idgie lesbians?' I really think it doesn't matter. They were truly good friends, and that's all we know. It's all I assumed really, living back in the 1950s.

It's an easy read, although it took me a long time, because I couldn't really get into it. The intertwining relationships left me a bit cold if I'm honest. I was actually more interested in the 1980s story of Mrs Threadgoode (Ninny) and Evelyn - the way that the telling and listening to of the story changed both their lives. Evelyn has a brief release from her depressed slump, and that made me feel something. That was life affirming.

Overall, it was disappointing, I hate to dislike classic classics and go against popular opinion, but it wasn't for me. I'm not saying it was a bad book, I just wasn't enthralled. Maybe it would appeal more with a British setting, so I felt more of a connection. A lot of the references were American, and made little sense to me. I feel I've let the author down by not enjoying it and, perhaps, by being not open enough to American 50s culture? Not good, E, not good.

'A Spool of Blue Thread' by Anne Tyler (J): I think this was a perfect book. I know that is the general opinion, but never mind. I had some of the same feelings as I did when reading The Goldfinch last year, that is: I am in safe hands here. This author knows what she is doing and I trust her entirely to lead me in a way that will be entirely satisfactory. 

And I find it particularly interesting that these two books by top-of-their-form American women should both conjure up this feeling, as their subject matter is antithetical to each other. Donna Tart writes about people who are leading lives and having experiences that no-one I know is, and often I ask myself as I'm reading, "Has DT herself taken that many drugs or spent that much of her life drunk to be able to write about that experience?". Anne Tyler on the other hand writes about families doing the things that all families do: everyone I know has these lives (normal on the surface, tortured underneath, but it's not really torture, it's just life). And both are compelling. Is it cleverer to make ordinary life compelling?
It doesn't matter. What I like best is the writing, the use of words.
Thank you Anne T.

A also read 'A Spool of Thread' and, likewise, really enjoyed it. 

'til next time! x

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

26 Books: A Book with a Blue Cover

This would have been number 18 for Bringing Up Burns 2015.

'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' by David Mitchell (J):
(read March 2015)

What an excellent book! All the right elements for me:
-compelling story
-characters I wanted to know about
-very good use of language, which only occasionally tipped over into self-indulgence, and when, towards the end, in my opinion it did with a paragraph that was in fact a rhyming list-poem for no reason, I was feeling indulgent. In fact as I write this, I am wondering if David Mitchell's knowledge of Japanese culture gives him a context that makes a rhyming list appropriate.
-information. I like finding out more about the world, and especially the historical world, and now I know more about the Japanese-Dutch relationship during the Shogun period of isolation. I have checked it out on the Netherlands embassy website, and it confirms the happening in the novel in some detail.

So: congratulations David Mitchell, may many more read this wonderful novel! I might even return to Cloud Atlas, which I gave up on some time ago, for reasons I don't recall.


What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

I don't usually go for romance novels, as they all seem a bit too... girly for me? Well, that's certainly bad terminology when reviewing this book.

What We Left Behind is the story of Gretchen and Toni/y, girlfriends, moving into college and discovering their identities to do with sexuality and gender. That's it in a nut-shell. It was really refreshing to see a young adult novel about transgender or gender queer people, rather than just gay people. Not that I'm opposed to LGB books - not at all! Just that this was something a bit more original.

It really made me think a lot more about the nuances of things - I've never thought about the use of pronouns particularly, or the difference between gender queer, gender nonconforming, non binary etc. Toni/y is struggling with all of these things throughout the novel. I liked the way that each chapter alternated the perspective (Toni-Gretchen-Toni-Gretchen), but, unfortunately, Toni was a much more dominant character. Until the end, Gretchen is fairly passive and a sort of vessel for Toni's continued rumination on her problem of labelling. She came into her own a bit by the end, but it was still much more Toni's than Gretchen's story.

Talley captured, I think, the confusion of indecision and identity very well. As a window in to what some people's lives can be like, I think this is a valuable book. But, because of the nature of a lot of the circularity of her ruminations, the book felt like it was also perambulating and repeating itself a lot. Sometimes perfect portrayal of a feeling or experience doesn't actually make for the most scintillating reading. Maybe some more editing wouldn't have gone astray?

Basically, I liked the premise, the story, and sort-of liked the characters, but I felt the writing let it down. It was fantastic and fascinating, though, to have some small insight into this world.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton (A): 
(read May 2015)

This is the story of Nella, set in 1600s Amsterdam and her marriage to a merchant, woven with his odd household involving a black servant and his domineering sister Marie. It's very evocative of place with sounds/smells etc but an odd story with a mystic miniaturist model maker making a kind of 'real dolls' house.' Sad and tragic, but not ultimately depressing. An okay read.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Blog Tour: Two Graves by Zoe Kalo

Title: Two Graves (Retribution Series #1)
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: Dark Psychological Suspense
Audience: New Adult/Adult
Word count: 18,000 words – 70 pages (short novella)
Launch date: October 1st 2016

About the Book
A Dante-ish descent through a sinister world of decadent shadows and woeful souls…
Seven years ago, he shattered her life. The town eventually forgot the headlines and the nightmares. But 23-year old music student Angelica hasn’t forgotten.
For the past seven years, she’s contemplated payback with as much intensity and unwavering faith as she puts into her violin playing. Finally, all the pieces are in place. Over the course of one night, disguised for a masquerade ball, Angelica orchestrates a journey of revenge.
About Author Zoe Kalo
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…
A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir. She is the author of the YA fantasy series CULT OF THE CAT.
Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Review:

I've read one book by Zoe Kalo - Cult of the Cat #1 - which I really enjoyed as an original and intriguing YA, so when I was asked to read 'Two Graves' I was pretty excited. Usually I find that novellas can be pretty dissatisfying, but Kalo's work here is very good.

It follows Angelica whose life was ruined 23 years ago, and takes place over one day after an orchestral performance at a masquerade ball where she exacts her well-planned revenge.

One thing that particularly interested me was that I am a violinist (and I didn't know when I agreed that this was the case) and Angelica is a professional violinist at all - how's that for coincidence? Kalo has a real way with words, this being my favourite example from the novella:

“Ever wondered the hidden meaning behind the word violin? Viol…once.”

As a psychological thriller there are lots of shards of portent throughout the narrative, and, as such, it is something worth reading twice - I certainly plan to. At only approximately 30 pages, it isn't a huge time investment (I read it in under an hour), but to fully appreciate I'd like to read it again.

Just a warning: If you have read 'Cult of the Cat,' this is very different. It's dark. Very dark. In a delicious way, but probably not suitable for the same kind of readers.

Congratulations Zoe Kalo.

(Disclaimer: I was given a free copy for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own).

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Summing up Sunday October 2nd 2016

Much outdoors, despite the official start of Autumn:

New uses for the Storm kettle

Shadows lengthen from the West

A skeleton of a tunnel arises on 1 in 4 allotment in Clevedon

with foundations dug by many hands.

And a visit to the butterfly house before it shuts before the winter:

A hidden treasure of North Somerset!

What have you all been up to?

Friday, 1 July 2016

BLOG HOP: Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo

I was given a free e-copy if 'The Daughter of the Sun' by Zoe Kalo (thank you!). All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Feisty Trinity was born during a solar-eclipse, and left as an orphan at a covenant to be raised by nuns. She's not your typical covenant-raised girl, and is known as being hot-headed and impulsive. But one day she's summoned by Mother Superior, saying that her grandmother had summoned her. Immediately whisked away to The Isle of the Cats, Trinity's whole life is turned upside down as she enters a world of intrigue, magic and, of course, ordinary teenagers!

The main thing that intrigued me about Kalo's book was the basis on Egyptology. (Apart from the cat part, of course!) There don't seem to be many novels YA or otherwise, centred around Egyptology, in spite of the plethora of Norse and Greek based books out there. I think every child excited when Egyptians are the topic at school (they're more interesting than doing Henry VIII for the millionth time!) and that excitement has extended into adulthood. But if you're looking to learn about Egyptology, this isn't really the book to go for. It contains its fair share, but it isn't by any means a way to learn about that period of history. I found this sort of disappointing, although that was a lot to expect.

Like many YA books, 'The Daughter of the Sun' is told from Trinity's perspective in first person. As always, it's a very engaging style of writing to use, and Kalo uses it to great efficacy. Trinity's a likeable character; however, in some ways I just didn't believe in her. The relative ease she moves from life in a convant to life in the 'real world' just didn't strike me as plausible. After three days or so, she's wearing a swimming costume and drinking beer! Although she was always a bit of a rebel, I don't think that sixteen years' worth of spartan and rule-bound upbringing would have had such little effect.

That said, overall, the book is enjoyable. It's pacy and interesting and (thank god!) not too predictable. I feel some of the other characters needed some more fleshing out, but maybe this will continue in the rest of the series. I actually want to read book two – it doesn't finish on a cliffhanger, it just sort of stops. So… what next?

Kalo's writing is nothing special or remarkable but the rapid storyline and fun characters means this doesn't matter.

Basically – a good YA read! Loved the basis on the Egyptians, enjoyed Trinity's 'transformation' (I'll say no more), and sped through on the backbone of a strong plot.

Three and a half stars.  

Title: Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat series, Book 1)
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA mythological fantasy
Word count: 93,000 words
Release date: May 1, 2016

Daughter of the Sun, Book 1 - blurb
Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew. 
But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities. 
Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

About the Author
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery… 
A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.
Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: / Facebook / Twitter

Here's the Amazon Purchase Link: 

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Saturday, 4 June 2016

26 Books: A Book Set in The Summer

This would have number 14 in Bringing Up Burns 2015

Right time of year! Just E this time.

This was a hard one to find - most books change seasons. Actually, that's not true; there seem to be plenty, but they're all set in Winter! It's weird. So, a real challenge:

'Go Set a Watchman' by Harper Lee (E): This was always going to be a disappointment. I think everyone knew this before even reading it. We were all prepared.

I just wasn't prepared in the right way. I thought it might be less well written, less refined, poorly edited, perhaps? But, I didn't expect to hate her.

Perhaps hate is a strong word. But what did she do to my beloved characters? I don't know this Scout. And where's Jem? Just absent. And Dill? No mention at all. And Atticus made me
want to cry.

Is Lee trying to show us, by choosing to publish this now, that things change and admiring good deeds is rubbish, because there'll always be a story behind them, a reason, a catch? Or was TKAM just written for fun, and this was her real novel, her real calling? Or the first hundred thousand words of dross that every writer comes out with? Or she was unhappy, or cynical, or bitter and she wanted her readers to know what the real world is like? Well, call me naive, but I just don't want to hear that. TKAM is a childhood classic, and I don't want that spoilt. What was this book? Atticus... I can't forgive him. I can't forgive Harper Lee. I hate it.

However, I'm glad to have read it, in spite of everything I've said. Admittedly, part of the reason was that I didn't want to feel left out of the hype of this release, but also because I 'owed it' to Harper Lee. I didn't like the story she was telling, but I care about her as an author (in that strange way that we can care about writers we don't have any real knowledge of) and I wanted to hear what she had to say.

I'm just not sure what it was.

Monday, 30 May 2016

26 Books: A Book with Pictures

This would have been number 22 from Bringing Up Burns 2015.

'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' by Arthur Riggs (E):

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was one of those books that was so hyped that I was desperate to read it. So, when at Mr B's, I immediately migrated towards it.

The cover screams 'horror' and 'nightmare' or even 'halloween.' Creepiness basically. I can't even remember if I read the blurb, but I didn't actually realise it was going to be fantasy. My favourite part was the beginning with Jacob and his grandfather and the idea that the monsters were a METAPHOR for the Holocaust. I was kind of hoping for some sort of novel where Jacob learns his grandfather's history, and there's some dark and horrible secret that was never told, and he took to the grave. Except that Jacob finds it out, through photo albums and diaries, and then has the dilemma of whether to tell anyway.

Oops. I'm telling you a different story. That's what I thought this should be. Riggs' book is actually very different.

It turns out that Jacob's grandfather's stories of monsters were all true, which I found sad as I just loved the metaphor he'd created. (which wasn't even a metaphor...) So, Jacob and his parents move to a small island where his grandfather had lived in an orphanage there. But Jacob can't find out anything this elusive building. This is, of course - for everyone who went into this without their eyes closed - a Home for Peculiar Children. They have various strange and, sometimes, life limiting powers and Miss Peregrine is there to look after them. In their strange dimension, they don't age, but they are protected by spells as there are people in the world looking to kill them.

I sort of enjoyed it, but something just niggled: it there was something wrong with it. Maybe it's just because it was so different to my expectations. I enjoyed the children's mad talents, and it was intriguingly peculiar. Riggs' writing style was actually beautiful; I was impressed this was his debut.

Plotwise... I just didn't become engaged. Again, this could be to do with expectations, but I don't think that was all. It was all leading to make a series, and I dislike books that are written like that. A book can also be a fully formed thing in itself, and should be written as such.

So, coming to the 'book with pictures' part, the photos were incredible. They really upped my enjoyment. And I liked the sort of ambiguity: they could be real, as in the children were really magical, but looked at with a skeptic's eye, there are ways they could have been manipulated. I really
enjoyed the extra photo section at the end. Actually, I loved the photos so much, that they've given this book an extra star, from two to three. Apparently Riggs found inspiration from strange photos of children, and that was wonderful. A book emerged from some real photos, watermarked and damaged as they were.

It was an enjoyable and I'm a big kid, because the pictures added so much to eat. As Alice said: “... what is the use of a book... without pictures or conversation?”

E xx

Let me know if you've read it too!

(A also read 'The Promise' by Nicola Davis, which we both agreed was a brilliant book)

Friday, 27 May 2016

26) A Book Based on a True Story

This would have been number 26 (!) in Bringing up Burns 2015

'The Son' by Philip Meyer (J): Gripping, horrifying and very informative. I think the multiple interwoven voices telling the story worked, and I was reasonably convinced by them , except perhaps for the only woman's voice. Then my other criticism would be that there were not enough women's voices (and it is clear that in the rape of Texas men and women were present all the way through) but if Meyer doesn't write women well, perhaps this is a good thing.

'1001 Nights Without Sex, The Curse of the Single Girl' by Suzanne Schlosberg (E): 

Well, I picked this very very quickly as I am terrible at choosing. Quick explanation - had got no books when at the library due to being overwhelmed. The person I was with, basically, bored and told me we were going NOW. So I cry: what shall I get? She suggested I take something from the 'recently returned' shelf, as other people had obviously enjoyed them.

Hahahaha. This was as terrible as it sounds. Absolutely ridiculous. Uninteresting, solipsistic, and I really didn't even like Suzanne Schlosberg. Not really anything going for it. Never mind. You win some, you lose some. Just wish I hadn't wasted the time.