Friday, 22 November 2013

Don't always get what you want!

It will be no surprise to some of my readers that I review for Amazon ..... I am an Amazon Vine member, which means that every month Amazon sends me a list of things from which I can choose up to two for review.  As I am a great reader, my reviews are almost always for books.  And every month, on a list apparently aimed just at me, I will probably find a book that I want to read and don't mind reviewing.

This month though, I believe that Amazon's computer sent me someone else's list to choose from.  Otherwise, why on earth would my list be so short, and have Durex on it?!!!  Anyway, "my" list this month gave me a choice of:

A coffee table book about hunting lodges (no thank you)

Durex (don't have to worry about contraceptives since a large surgical procedure a few years ago)

D*ttol cleaning products assorted (ah, how did Amazon know I am not the best housewife in the world?)

So - the best of a bad job saw me asking for D*ettol spray, for cleaning table tops and kitchen work-tops.  Hopefully the computer will be on top form next month and I can find a book on my list!!

Monday, 18 November 2013

More Than This - Patrick Ness

  Imagine waking up in a world you sort of remember, but is not yours. Seth is drowning. He dies. He wakes. And he lies, on the pavement, outside a house he lived in until he was eight. Everything around him is covered in a thick layer of dust; he is naked apart from a few bandage type things wrapped around his trunk and legs, the house looks sort of familiar, but he knows his family emigrated to the US some years previously, so why are things that should be in America in this house? There is no electricity, nothing is working, the tap does not run and he is oh so thirsty - and outside all is silent.

This is the start of Seth's adventure, and the start of a book that hooked me in from the very beginning, for I was as desperate as Seth to find out who? where? why? I felt much empathy towards this 16 year old, alone in a very strange place, with no human contact. It must be what people who are shipwrecked feel like, but with a difference, for here there are clothes shops to pilfer, and some food is still available if you can use a tin opener (for it is obvious that whenever this is happening, its been happening for several years).

To say more about the story itself would give away too much, but imagine what is wrong with the world, imagine things you do every day being the cause of his loneliness, imagine ... well, just imagine what you might think, what you might do.

I first came across Patrick Ness when I read A Monster Calls, a book he finished from the notes of the late Siobhan O'Dowd; a different style to my usual reads, and a clever way of dealing with a tricky subject. What an imagination Ness has. I know, in another book of his (The Knife of Never Letting Go) that there is a talking dog - got to read that one very very soon!

But back to More Than This. First, the cover. My copy is hardback, but I do hope they keep the doorway when this is published in paperback. Yes, there is a doorway cut into the actual cover of this book, which is opening onto the title page. And this should give a new reader a clue, as it is all about opening doorways that might lead you to the answers. The style has good, shocking, stops and starts which make you gasp, make you fearful of turning a page, but definitely make you want to read on. And reading on, you find yourself thinking aloud "oh! yes!.... that is already happening"; and "oh! my goodness that could happen now and if it did....." It's a clever concept, and dystopia is one of those subjects that can conjure up a new world so easily but will not necessarily make a good read. More Than This is more than a good read, it's a scary read but with no zombies or vampire or werwolves; it's a thoughtful read, with the future not the one we expect, and above all it's an exciting read because really, you do want Seth to come out of this OK and above all alive! The ending is open and in this case that's not a bad thing at all. I think that this was aimed at Young Adults - say from 12 onwards, but if you like dystopian tales, your age will not matter a bit.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Come Home Charlie and Face Them - R F Delderfield

Product DetailsSet in the 1920s, written in the late 1960s, this is the kind of book that is rather hard to pidgeonhole now, in a world taken over by blood and gore, killers, vampires, etc. But the story here is likely to stay with you longer than many of that genre. 

Charlie is a bank clerk, at the bottom of the ladder and with only 40 plus years of boredom and ledger entry work to look forward to.  He's lodging with the bank manager, Evan Rhys-Jones, who has a mouthy wife and a lumpy daughter.  But it's the lumpy daughter, Ida, who gives Charlie his first sexual encounter, and this opens the way for other happenings; not least of all his infatuation with the gorgeous Delphine, who runs the local cafe with her brother Beppo.  Somehow, Charlie and Delphine come up with a seemingly foolproof idea for robbing the very bank Charlie works in and therefore gives him to chance to have Delphine all for himself, always.

The book starts with the end..... rather like that old movie trick where the screen disolves and the story proper then starts.  I liked that.  I wanted to smack Charlie, silly young man that he was, taken in by a pretty face or the chance of a lay, but I was absorbed most of all by a beautiful writing style - one that is not fashionable today, but one that makes for comfortable reading, all the while wanting Charlie not to go on with this crazy idea.  Whilst aware that he is being led on by Delphine, I defy anyone to realise the well-crafted end of the tale before the author!  Enjoyed very much, and if another Delderfield crosses my path, will definitely read it.

A new way to display Christmas cards!

This is from a lovely blog called Morning Creativity - the blogger is Erland from Norway, and he has some brilliant ideas over morning coffee, hence the name of the blog.

When I saw this I thought how lovely it would be to display Christmas and/or birthday cards, and you could make as many as you like, make them as long as you like, and roll 'em up and use them year after year.  Brilliant!  What d'you think?  What I think is "Thank you, Erland - you are a genius!"

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Paperbark Shoe - Goldie Goldbloom

Product DetailsDo you ever wonder about what is happening in another place whilst you know what is happening in yours? The Toads are a farming family in Australia, two parents, two kids and another on the way, fighting to make enough money to live on and feed themselves. Into their lives come two Italian prisoners of war, two of the 18,000 POWs sent to Australia between 1941 and 1947. Toad never joined up - he's too short. Gin, his wife is an albino, a trained concert pianist who never got to play for money, incarcerated in an asylum (where Toad first came across her) by her stepfather because, well...... read on and find out why. When the POWs become part of their lives, love and lust rears it's head, and for around a year, the air quivers with the longing, the wanting, the doing - and all the while Gin has to get on with life, Toad has to keep farming, and the two POWs have to keep working. Toad has a strange fantasy; he keeps ladies' corsets in the barn. Gin dreams of being truly loved, rather than taken from behind like an animal (and Toad see's no wrong in this - he's a farmer, this is what animals do). Whilst they are living their strange little life on the other side of the world, Italy is changing sides, the partisans are trying to fight off the Nazis, and there in the outback they hear so little of the the actuality. Sadly, neither does anyone else, for in the nearest township, gossip spreads like wildfire about Toad and the nasty little setup he allows out on his farm.

Reading this novel is rather like shutting your fingers in a drawer. You can see what's coming but you can't get your hand away in time. It's a beautifully imagined book, about a dreadful time in the World's history, written with a skill which makes you continue to turn a page for "just a little more".

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...