Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Reading this Month: August

After immersing myself in the Harry Potter series for the last couple of months (including The Cursed Child, on which I will remain politely silent), it was nice to dip into some other worlds this month.

Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown
I started off with this book, as it was mentioned by Jasmin of The Knitmore Girls as being in a similar vein to Outlander, which I have enjoyed. Living in the 22nd Century, Jen is an ancient Norse linguist, working to recreate languages for the tank, which people use for entertainment. Somehow, she is thrown back to 10th century Iceland, where she meets the dread chief Heirick.

I loved this story. Jen - or Ginn, as she becomes known in Iceland - is a great narrator and the story itself is intricate and detailed. As a knitter, I loved all the talk of homespun crafts around the fire, the way the household expanded out onto the land in the summer months and contracted in around the fire for the winter. I've started following Larissa Brown on Instagram - she's a knitter and, from her intriguing #amwriting posts, appears to be working on a sequel to Beautiful Wreck, which makes me very happy indeed.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman
I have been meaning to read this for years as I saw it on a book review show one night on the BBC and was intrigued by the premise. Mary actually gives birth to twins - Jesus and Christ and the story grows up around those two. Great idea, right? And by Philip Pullman, who is amazing (the ending of The Amber Spyglass still gets me when I think about it).

But. Oh, but but but. I don't think I've ever been so heartily disappointed in a book. Pullman's style is utterly missing; chunks are lifted directly from the Bible, leading to a story told in such plain and blunt terms it becomes, frankly, dull. The story is told so simply, with just dialogue and matter-of-fact narration. If you love that kind of thing, then grab this book. But I love stories like Possession and Bleak House - baggy and detailed, full of psychological depth. I never got into any of the characters heads here, it was just... boring.

Firelight by Kristen Callihan
I downloaded this after Katie of Inside Number 23 recommended it so highly and it is very good. Set in Victorian London, the story is all about Miranda, who can conjure fire and Benjamin Archer - the dread Lord Archer who wafts about all in black, with a mask covering half of his face, which makes ladies swoon. When forced to marry due to her family's reduced circumstances, Miranda is drawn into a whole host of adventure - murder and mayhem and whatever is lurking behind Archer's mask.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was desperate to know what was behind the mask and it was a nice change to read a fantasy that wasn't all about vampires and werewolves. It was also hot. There is a lot of chemistry between Miranda and Archer and Callihan ramps it right the way up.

I think I'll check out the rest of the series at some point.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
You probably don't need me to tell you this is a good book - after all it was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2014. I'd heard about it, but hadn't actually remembered what it was about, so the revelation in the first third of the book really hit me. Because I loved that reveal, I won't go into what the story is about, save that it's about two sisters and will give you a lot to think about. Would highly recommend.

What's up next? Well, I've ordered Jurassic Park and, because it recommended, The Great Zoo of China, which sounds basically the same, but fun. I've also downloaded A Court of Thorns and Roses and am currently trying out The Founding, recommended by Rich. But as I don't do well with Warhammer 40,000 stories, we shall see how far I get...

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