You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2015.

herbertThe first James Herbert Award for horror fiction now has a shortlist:

I have half of the shortlist. Cuckoo Song and An English Ghost Story are on my TBR pile, and I read (and loved) The Girl With All the Gifts (my review is here). The others are unknown to me but I’ve gone off to have a look. I will be very interested to see what will win.

Advertisements

IMG_0216What’s it all about?

Well, what does the blurb say?

When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again.

Live. Die. Repeat. As the movie poster has it.

Why did I want to read it?

Well. This is a bit embarrassing. I saw and loved the film Edge of Tomorrow which was an Americanised version of the story told in All You Need is Kill and which I reviewed here. I knew that it was based on a novel but I was more interested in the graphic version, which is what I thought I had downloaded (I think that’s an easy mistake given the cover), so imagine my surprise when I opened it up and there were no pictures. What an idiot.

What did I think of it?

I really didn’t think I was in the market for Japanese military sci-fi but how wrong was I? I was drawn very quickly into Keiji’s story which is told mostly in the first person and describes his bewilderment at his situation in the first, instance, then his growing skill as a warrior determined to defeat the alien invaders. I’m not sure if it was a help or a hindrance knowing the story in advance; although the core is the same, the film and book are very different in many respects, though the character of Rita, the Full Metal Bitch, is consistent and of course totally fabulous. I liked the structure of the novel and thought it was really gripping. So a happy accident. Though I still think I’m going to get my hands on the graphic novel at some point, just to compare.

As well as the reasons given above, I read this for the 2015 Sci-fi Experience.

IMG_0214What’s it all about?

The Fuller Memorandum is the third in the series of novels set in The Laundry, the really really secret bit of the British Civil Service that deals with nasties from other dimensions, the Old Ones and their ilk.

This time Bob Howard, our hero, is contending with secret dossiers, the odder-than-usual behaviour of his scary boss Angleton, zombie killers, Russian counterparts, apocalyptic death cults and the end of the world being a bit more imminent than originally thought. But at least he has an understanding manager.

Why did I want to read it?

I’m working my way through the series in order (as is only right and proper). Thoughts on The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue have already been shared as linked. And it’s paranormal-civil-servanty-espionage after all.

What did I think of it?

I think this is probably my favourite of the Laundry Files so far. Bob has a bit of a problem at the beginning of the book which means that he isn’t working as normal when all the oddness starts happening, so that adds a slightly different perspective as he has to do quite a bit of sneaking around.

But what makes this a particularly fine entry into the series is that we lean more about Mo, Bob’s wife, who also works at the Laundry, and the toll that her duties take on her (she sees some really really nasty stuff as part of her day job) as well as finding out quite a bit about Angleton (one of my favourite characters), information that serves to explain a lot about his position int he organisation.

Chuck in some authentic Russian history with an occult twist, a very unpleasant cult who are actually dying (in more ways than one) to get those other-dimensional through to our side to wreak havoc on the world, season with really black humour and some proper horror and you have a gripping story that I couldn’t put down. Made all the better for an old civil servant like me because of all the bureaucratic nonsense, which is not that far from the truth (except for the zombies of course). Looking forward to continuing with the series.

IMG_0207What’s it all about?

I described this in an earlier post as an academic-investigating-the-life-of-a-long-dead-poet novel, which is exactly what it is. Murray Watson is taking a sabbatical to explore the life of the poet Archie Lunan who drowned at a young age leaving behind a slim volume of poetry and an air of unfulfilled promise. Murray wants to write the book that will bring Lunan back to prominence once more (and establish his own reputation in the process, of course).

Why did I want to read this?

I’ve been working my way slowly through Louise Welsh’s back catalogue and she is rapidly becoming one of my favourite modern authors. I just really like her books 🙂

What did I think of it?

I am an absolute sucker for stories about academics doing research on anything (see my review of the John Langan collection recently where my favourite story was about that very thing, though in the context of a horror tale), and when coupled with being set in Glasgow (virtually my home town though I went to the other University) this was a no brainer for me.

It helps that it’s a really strong story with a mystery element as well as lots of personal stuff about Murray’s family background and collegiate rivalry and a climax set on a fairly remote island, all adding up to a very enjoyable read. I really liked Murray, flawed though he is, and the other key characters were just as fascinating and true to life. And there was enough sense of Archie Lunan to find him believable as a real person overtaken by his own legend, but avoids the trap of representing too much of his work so you don’t get caught up in whether it’s actually any good or not.

I’m looking forward to reading the other books by Louise Welsh that I already have in the stacks. The Bullet Trick and Tamburlaine Must Die are the only ones left, and I think I will then have caught up, annoyingly. Recommended.

IMG_0213What’s it all about?

North American Lake Monsters is a collection of horror stories set in the modern USA. I described it in my reading notes as

horror at the periphery of everyday lives of working people, mostly men

The description I’ve seen elsewhere (and not until after I’d finished the book) is

In this striking, bleak yet luminous debut collection, Nathan Ballingrud, winner of the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award, uses the trappings of the Gothic and the uncanny to investigate a distinctly American landscape: the loneliest and darkest corners of contemporary life.

So better put but fairly similar *phew*

Why did I want to read it?

I had come across a couple of Ballingrud’s stories in other collections and want to give his wider work a try. I hadn’t realised how many awards he had been nominated for until I got my hands on the volume (though nominations or award wins don’t always affect whether I want to read something).

What did I think of it?

Hmm. This was really a bit of a mixed bag. It contained the two stories I had read elsewhere, one of which didn’t stand up to a second read; the other, The Crevasse, was wonderfully Lovecraftian in its Antarctic setting and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. As for the others, I could appreciate the skill but they just didn’t connect with me; perhaps they were just too bleak (not that I mind bleak usually, but there was no relief at all here that I could see), and *whispers* too masculine for me. That’s not something I think I would have noticed if I’d come across any of these stories mixed in with the work of others, but it just leapt out at me reading them in a single volume.

Glad I gave it a shot but I don’t think I’ll be actively seeking out any more of his work.

I read this as part of the 2015 Horror Reading Challenge.

sunday-salon-2I didn’t write a Sunday Salon post last week because I was recovering from illness; being unwell helped with my reading a little bit though I have slowed down since then.

Challenges:

My participation is going fairly well

  • the Sci-Fi experience – I have completed one book, yet to be reviewed, and as the experience covers more than just books the movie I’m going to see later today will also be included in my stats for this challenge
  • the Clear Your Reader challenge – all six books I’ve finished this month so far have been on the Kindle app, and I hope to complete at least one more before the challenge finishes next week
  • the TBR Double Dog – the six books read this month all count towards this; the buying embargo is firmly holding except for a couple of e-books I pre-ordered before the end of last year (and which will remain firmly unread). I’m also expecting/hoping that I might get one or two books for my birthday next week 😀

In progress

All my current reads are shown on the blog sidebar; I’m dipping in and out of five at the moment, three non-fiction, one book of short stories and a the fourth in Charles Stross’ Laundry Files series, which I’m not quite halfway through.

The Jonathan Strange Update

I’m still where I was on Christmas Eve, page 134. I am going to give myself until the end of February and if I haven’t made much (or indeed any) progress I’m going to add this to DNF

Abandoned

Nothing abandoned since my last post.

So well ahead with my goals for January.

IMG_0205What’s it all about?

The latest novel from David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks is another tour de force of interwoven stories with multiple characters told over several timelines. Ostensibly (mostly) about the life of one woman, Holly Sykes, and the people she meets and forms relationships with throughout her life, it’s also a story of a time war that plays out through the lives of (perhaps not entirely) ordinary people.

Or as I flippantly described it in an earlier post “the one that’s a timey-wimey-metaphysical-thriller”

Why did I want to read it?

I enjoyed Cloud Atlas once I got into it (you can read my review of that here and the film version here) and I always full intended to read more of Mitchell’s work but haven’t got round to it until now. As well as being well-received by reviewers this was long-listed for the Man Booker so a good place to start in catching up with his work.

What did I think of it?

I really loved this, was so happy that my first full novel of the year was such a pleasure. I found it much more readily accessible than Cloud Atlas but I don’t know if that’s just because that I’m more used to the way Mitchell structures his novels, or whether the timeline was just more chronologically straightforward. But the main thing is that I really liked Holly as a character, the strange things that happened to her, and enjoyed waiting to see how (or even whether) she would appear in those sections of the story narrated by other characters.

And there is a such a lot to enjoy; the five narrators who bring their different perspectives to the table, the nature of love and friendships and how they develop and change over time as the same people drift in and out of our lives at key points. And how the connections we make can come back and have an unexpected impact.

The speculative elements of the story – the struggle between two views on how those who are effectively immortal should behave towards others, and the vision of our own world in the near future – worked well and the whole thing is just so beautifully written and constructed that I read it in several enormous chunks as I got sucked in, desperate to know how it would all work out. Very satisfying indeed.

WORAT_Jan2015A monthly event hosted by The Book Vixen

By the end of this weekend I aim to have written and published or scheduled the following book reviews:

  • The Bone Clocks
  • North American Lake Monsters
  • Naming the Bones
  • The Fuller Memorandum
  • All You Need is Kill

as well as a film review, The Monuments Men.

May also finish The Apocalypse Codex (I’m 39% in so definitely a possibility given train journeys tomorrow) and will have watched (possibly) Sin City 2 and (definitely) Ex Machina but it may be asking too much to have written those up 🙂

happy-birthday-chocolate-cake-4Yes, astoundingly Bride of the Book God is 8 years old today. I having been trying hard to remember what I might have been doing when I was actually 8 way back in 1970 but it made my brain ache so I’ll postpone that sort of thing to my actual birthday in a couple of weeks’ time.

But 8 years of blogging, still at it, still enjoying it and still reading up a storm though currently (due to illness and work and life and stuff) I’m currently behind with my reviews. I have still to tell you all about:

  • the one that’s a timey-wimey-metaphysical-thriller
  • the one that’s a weird-horror-short-story-anthology
  • the one that’s an academic-investigating-the-life-of-a-long-dead-poet-novel
  • the one that’s paranormal-civil-servanty-espionage
  • the one that’s Japanese military sci-fi

Anything there pique your interest? I’m off to have some virtual birthday cake. Thank you for reading. 😀

sunday-salon-2This week has seen me getting into gear after the New Year break and the shock of my return to work.

Challenges:

My participation is going fairly well

  • the Sci-Fi experience – I haven’t read anything for this challenge in the last week, though I’m still happily working through a book of sci-fi short stories
  • the Clear Your Reader challenge – all three books I’ve finished this week have been on the Kindle app, including The Bone Clocks which I loved and will be reviewing soon
  • the TBR Double Dog – nothing new has come into the house so the three books read all count towards this; the embargo is firmly holding largely because I’ve promised myself a bit of a spree in April 😀

In progress

All my current reads are shown on the blog sidebar; I’m dipping in and out of four at the moment, two non-fiction, one book of short stories and a novel by Louise Welsh, Naming the Bones, which I’ve just started.

The Jonathan Strange Update

I’m still where I was on Christmas Eve, page 134. Still struggling to understand what my block is here. I enjoy it while I’m reading it but once I put it down I have to make myself pick it up again, but I’m working on a plan….

Abandoned

I’ve been doing some more sorting out of books and added a couple more to the abandoned pile:

  • Effendi by Jon Courtenay Grimwood – I got about 10% of the way in when I realised it was so long since I had read the first volume in the Arabesk Trilogy that I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening so I have set it aside
  • A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd – more than a quarter of the way through but having read so many Maisie Dobbs books in August I realised that my taste for historical crime novels featuring WWI nurses had been satisfied for the moment, but I may come back to this one

So quite pleased with where I am as we head towards the middle of January.

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

Brideofthebook

All the fun of the Fair, including Hotel Psycho

Blog Stats

  • 39,113 hits
January 2015
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Categories