img_1116And just over a week after my blog birthday it was my real birthday. I’m a very long way from being 10 years old but still enjoy opening my presents. As is traditional, here is the detail of my book haul (which some of you ill already have seen a photo of on Facebook.

  • How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckman – Marie Antoinette, the stolen diamonds and the scandal that shook the French throne; had me at diamonds. Oh, and scandal…
  • Bird in a Cage by Frederic Dard – deadly deceit in 19602s Paris
  • Summer of Night by Dan Simmons – “It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. […] But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested.
  • The Fisherman by John Langan – “It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman
  • Margaret Pole by Susan Higginbotham – “Of the many executions ordered by Henry VIII, surely the most horrifying was that of sixty-seven-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, hacked to pieces on the scaffold by a blundering headsman.”

As is also traditional, I am now on a book-buying freeze, probably until end of March, certainly until end of February, when only pre-orders well cross the threshold chez Bride.

6528531-sweet-birthday-cake-with-bottle-of-champagne-and-glasses-stock-vectorAnd I nearly missed it! Though to be fair I never remember to write the date down and the reminder from the nice people at Wordpress wanders from 20th to 22nd January and back again. But hey, never mind that, this here little blog is 10, can you believe it.

I was 10 in 1972.

The Rock and Idris Elba were born. One of my heroes, Margaret Rutherford died. It was a leap year. Watership Down was published. David Cassidy, T-Rex and (swoon) Donny Osmond all had number one hits in the the UK.

It was a rubbish year for my family as a relative was killed serving in Northern Ireland but you know I was 10 so there was lots of other stuff going on too. I was still in primary school. I was a demon street roller-skater (4 wheels and a key, none of your modern nonsense).

I wonder what my 10 year old blog will be dealing with in 2017? Shudder to think.

Anyway, as is traditional, please help yourself to some of the virtual cake & champagne, and thanks as always, for reading 😀

26060369What’s it all about?

From the blurb:

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life. It’s a place where even the walls whisper. And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess. Will she listen?

Why did I want to read it?

I really enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Girl With All The Gifts (my review is here if you’re interested) and as that had a real impact on my I was intrigued to see what he was going o do next. And in many ways it couldn’t have been more different – a psychological thriller set in a women’s prison.

What did I think of it?

I took a little bit of time to get into this novel, but once it got moving I was totally gripped. Jess is a fascinating character, a woman who has been convicted of causing the death of a young boy and who resolves to punish herself by starving herself to death but is spoken to by the voice of a young boy which gives her a purpose to live.

But what a life – a prison where violence and drugs and corruption are rife and Jess resolves to keep her head down. You can imagine how that might work out, especially when she decides to go ahead with .

There are supernatural elements obviously but this is as much about guilt and redemption; I found the characters believable and the story gripping and moving. Very much worth reading.

smbigship250Even though my reading record this year has been appalling – I’ve only just limped into double figures having experienced the longest and most intense reading slump EVER – I’ve decided to sign up for the Sci-fi Experience as hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

It’s a gentle challenge in that there are no targets to aim for, it’s just about enjoying as much or as little science fiction in any format that you can. As such I think it’s a nice thing to help me start 2017 with some structure to my reading without the pressure of more traditional challenges.

As well as going to see Rogue One as soon as I can after it’s released, I already have the following books in the stacks from which I can pick and choose:

There’s also the finale of Westworld this week so I may have something to say about that also. Should all be fun.

In a similar vein to my recent post over on the Screen God, I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick round-up of the books I read since I last posted here on 30 July, so 4 months ago.

28677687The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda

Japans serial killer police procedural. I almost gave up on this because of the way the female main character was treated by her male colleagues. There was one senior policeman in particular who was SO odious that I almost gave up on the book, but I also really wanted to find out what the hell was going on, so I kept going. I’m glad I did because this was an interesting story.

 

225384Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

Compellingly horrible but excellently written true crime book about the Green River Killer, thought to be America’s (if not the world’s) most prolific serial killer. I read Ann Rule’s book about Ted Bundy years ago and following a recommendation on Twitter I decided to give this one ago. As much as I enjoy fictional versions of this sort of theme, it’s good to be reminded just how awful the reality is for the victims’ families. Scary and compelling.

 

16065519Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

An investigation into the currently still at large (and let’s face it, unidentified) serial killer who has been dumping women’s bodies in Long Island. Incredibly sad as it focusses on the lives of the young women who were killed, and how their varying circumstances led them into prostitution which ultimately brought them into contact with their killer via the Internet. Grim.

 

17316519-_sy180_The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters

As the blurb says, what’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon anyway? This is “a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse”, and it’s also a character study of the “last” policeman himself. Twisty and turny with a proper murder mystery at its heart, it allows us to look at a society waiting for the world to end, and how people cope (or not) with real impending doom. Enjoyed it so much I bought the rest of the trilogy.

25670162Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

I love short stories, and I love sci-fi short stories in particular but I’ll be honest and say that I picked this column up (if you can actually pick up an e-book) because I wanted to read the title story which is the basis for the recent (and IMHO) brilliant film Arrival. Not a duff story in here; all of them are dense and complex even when they appear to be simple on the surface. Although I adored the main story, my favourite is probably the one about angels, with a very simple idea – what if angels were real and whenever they appeared on earth they basically came as a natural disaster. Fascinating. I also loved that the author did a set of notes at the end about  what had triggered each story. Really very very good indeed.

27775591The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts

I really enjoyed this but please don’t ask me to explain it 🙂 Inspired in part by John Carpenter’s The Thing, this is a novel about, well, time travel and Kantian (is that a word?) philosophy and revenge and obsession and Fermi’s Paradox which I had to look up and apparently refers to

the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates, for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.

Thank you Wikipedia. The quickest read this year so far and the oddest since I read Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and its sequels. Loved it. Brain still hurts a bit though.

So that’s it. Thankfully I’m now going to end the year in double figures, and hopefully will be able to finish a few more in December.

25434372So, you might have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. The simple reason for that is that I haven’t been reading. At all. My tally so far this year has been 3 books finished up to early March, one of them almost certainly started before the new year and the third (although i enjoyed it) I don’t ever get around to reviewing here. I have no explanation for this, the longest reading slump in my whole life (and believe me that represents a significant number of years!)

But I decided this could not go on and when I realised I had a day trip to Manchester (slightly over 2 hours each way not including the journey from my home to Euston) and that (for various reasons) I wasn’t taking my work laptop and therefore wouldn’t be working on the train I decided that this was a prime opportunity to pick up a physical book and get reading. And what do you know – it worked!

The Bullet is the story of Caroline Cashion, a professor of French literature who is having some physical problems – maybe RSI, maybe not – and during an MRI it is discovered that she has a bullet lodged in her neck, near the bottom of her skull. This is a huge shock as she has no memory of ever being shot and there seems to be no scar. When she confronts her family about this she discovers a number of significant facts – she is adopted, her birth parents were murdered in front of her when she was 3 years old, she was injured in the attack and apparently left for dead, and worst of all (in my mind anyway) the person who did all this was never caught. So, this being a thriller you just know what she’s going to do; yep, you’ve guessed it, she starts rummaging around and puts herself in danger. Of course. I think I might have done the same, to be fair.

I’m not going to say much more about the plot which unfolds in a very satisfying way. It moves at a fair speed and stays on the right side of being far-fetched. It is a first person narrative which for me succeeds or fails on the likability of the character and happily I liked Caroline very much, especially her interaction with her (adoptive) brothers; I have two brothers of my own and this rang true. And yes, there’s a bit of romance but at least she doesn’t rely on him to sort this all out for her (very much the opposite in fact).

So all in all a very satisfying reading experience. Recommended.

 

sunday-salon-2Happy Valentine’s Day, if you mark that sort of thing. I’d love to be able to say that I got chocolates and flowers, but the reason we haven’t done much to celebrate the festival here chez Bride is because I am shortly about to start fasting – nothing but water for 12 hours in advance of a blood test tomorrow morning, and bringing chocolate into the house would just have been adding insult to injury 🙂

I’m possibly in the early stages of another reading slump which will be very disappointing if it comes to pass. I’m going to try to set myself a minimum number of pages a day to read as this technique seems to be working with the book on Anne Boleyn I’m studying, where I have set myself two chapters every Sunday and so far (except for one weekend when I was unwell) I have stuck to it. My intention to read a lot in the hospital waiting area early this week came to nothing because they actually dealt with me pretty quickly so I didn’t really settle down with a book. This week I have a couple of days in London and a trip to Manchester so commuter reading is a distinct possibility and usually works.

I may not have finished reading anything this week but I’m still buying, though all of these are eBooks so no need to find space for them.

  • Olivia Manning biography by Deirdre David – I love the Balkan and Levant trilogies and was interested in this recommendation from another blog (I think it was Dovegreyreader but as usual I failed to take a note of where I saw it and am too lazy to go and look)
  • Data: A Love Story by Amy Webb, purchased because I heard her very enjoyable interview on The Allusionist podcast and had to find out more (you should check out the podcast if you are at all interested in language, it’s never less than fascinating)
  • Fashion Victims by Alison Matthews David – recommended to me by my husband who read a review in a history magazine. Looks likely to be full of fascinating facts including the hazards of storing felt hats in museums because of potential toxicity.

But can’t touch any of them until April! Which shockingly isn’t actually all that far away….

sunday-salon-2Didn’t do as much reading as I would have liked to this week but I did make progress with all of the books that I’m currently reading (see sidebar), so that’s pleasing 🙂

I did buy a couple of new books(both for my Kindle app):

  • Imprudent King by Geoffrey Parker – a new biography of Philip II of Spain, really looking forward to this, may make it the next 16th century study subject (as that doesn’t count for the Triple Dog Dare because, studying)
  • The Beauty of Murder by AK Benedict – absolutely no idea where I saw the information for this but it looked interesting – “a serial killer wit all the time in the world” – who could possibly resist.

I will be spending most of Tuesday this coming week sitting in various hospital waiting areas as I go through the various stages of my regular retinopathy scan (or having my head examined as I prefer to call it). I will therefore have heaps of time to read, so not all bad (plus making sure your eyes work properly is generally A Good Thing). Hopefully more to report on the book front next week, hope you all have good one 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20518872What’s it all about?

Kicking off during the Cultural Revolution in 1960’s China and moving rapidly into the present day, The Three-Body Problem is a sci-fi novel which explores the impact of a major event on one individual and the repercussions that can have for the whole of mankind. A spate of suicides amongst scientists. A strange immersive online game. Conspiracies. And lots and lots of science.

Why did I want to read it?

It just sounded so intriguing. I love science fiction, especially when there’s lots of hard science in it, and (as this is translated from the Chinese) I was interested particulary in reading from a different cultural background. Plus it was of course the winner of the Hugo award for best sci-fi novel in 2015 (and rightly so IMHO)

What did I think of it?

Oh, this definitely delivered on its promise! I knew a little bit about the actual three-body problem because my first husband’s degree was in theoretical physics, so I understand enough to know that it’s about the mechanics of celestial bodies and how they move in relation to each other, especially under the influence of gravity (eg Sun + Earth + Moon) and how it can be unpredictable. That’s the extent of my knowledge though!

I liked the mystery element of the novel – what is the countdown that Wang Miao sees that no-one else can; is the Trisolaran system in the game based on reality; what really went on at the Red Coast Base over all those years and what was Ye Wenjie’s part in it?

Of course I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy (as long as it’s fiction; I get mildly cross with claims of huge conspiracies claimed for real life – see my last review for thoughts on that) and this one reveals itself gradually throughout the course of the novel. I was also interested in the idea (which I’ve come across elsewhere) that humanity is a disease or infection and some feel that removing us from the Earth is a Good Thing (I do not of course agree with that nihilistic view).

This is a really excellent novel, beautifully translated and giving me at least something fresh and different while still firmly within traditional sci-fi. If I tell you that I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t realise I had reached the end of the line on my morning commute that should give you some idea of how good I thought this was. I’ve already downloaded book 2 in the trilogy. Highly recommended.

sunday-salon-2It’s my birthday today, so of course that means presents, and presents mean books!

Main things to note before we get to the really good stuff is that I finished my second book of the year, The Three-Body Problem, an excellent (and award winning) piece of sci-fi translated from the Chinese. If you like lots of science in your science fiction then this is one for you.

It was so good that one of the three books I bought myself this week was the sequel:

And now to the pressies!

  • The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin – “as inventive as Agatha Christie, as hilarious as PG Wodehouse”
  • God’s Traitors by Jessie Childs – terror and faith in Elizabethan England
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – “Berlin 1933, William Dodd is America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany and is about to witness a turning point in history”
  • Numero Zero by Umberto Eco – “fuelled by conspiracy theories, Mafiosi, love, corruption, and murder”
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – “not everyone has to be the chosen one”
  • Mr Gaunt by John Langan – and other uneasy encounters

So feeling very pleased with myself as you can imagine and hoping to do quite a lot of reading this week 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday Salon.com

Goodreads

My Tweets

  • RT @PaperFury: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl doesn't want a husband. She wants floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a magi… 4 hours ago
  • Life. It's Alien, Jim, just not as we know it 5 hours ago

Brideofthebook

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz

Blog Stats

  • 38,712 hits
March 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Categories