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I read a lot of books and I write about them on here. Mummy Geek is sometimes a guest blogger....people seem to love her.....Oh and you can find me on Twitter.....@book_geek_says. Shortlisted for Blog of the Year by the 2015 Love Stories Awards...THANK YOU!!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Review: Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula

Publisher: Titan Books
Price: £ 7.99

I read a new Sherlock Holmes novel from Guy Adams a while ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was far better than anticipated and ended up being a pleasant surprise. Now....let's move on to this one.

There was an excellent set up for this book with the foreword etc, I was pleased with that. LE has great Holmes knowledge and has obviously done his homework. HUZZAH! The voice of Watson was also superb. Again, this was a clear indication of the amount of research LE has done. However, you could tell on occasion that this was written by someone of American persuasion due to the turn of phrase.

I sadly was not convinced by the relationship/inclusion of Van Helsing with Holmes. Or to be honest, vamps and Sherlock. I know that this is a new spin on Holmes and all that jazz but I do feel that this is a bit too far fetched for the world of Holmes. Holmes as a bounty hunter type figure didn't work for me.

The novel was indeed a page turner and yes it was fun to read, however, I would not recommend it for anyone who is a die hard Holmes fan. It's worth a read but you will have to try to forget the fact that it is a Holmes novel!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Review: Spilt Milk

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Price: Hardback £ 12.99

As an old man lies in a hospital bad, he tells stories of his life and his love in a beautifully tragic way! That is the premise of Spilt Milk.

The whole thing is in first person so you feel very very sad from the beginning! It wouldn't work in any other person, of that I am sure. I was wondering if this is a translation as the author is Brazilian. If indeed it is, it is an excellent one! However I really hope that nothing has been lost due to it being a translation as so often happens....that makes me sad!

I worried for Eulalio the whole way through, I worried about him having someone to love him, I worried if people actually were listening at all or if he was just coherent in his head. I worried that no one really gave a crap about him. But, I also selfishly worried that I would be like him one day. I was truly terrified and deeply scared!

Eulalio's whole life seems tragic and misguided. However, some stories he tells seem very blunt and he seems very detached from them. The tone and sentiment conveyed between stories such as these and those full of passion were written so well that I just couldn't believe it! The ramblings had some of the Catch 22 about them and I began to feel a little bit loopy myself but, again, I take that as a sign of excellent writing! 

Overall, this is a heart wrenching and beautiful book that is not one to be missed. It is eloquent and sublime and should be on any avid readers list. Also, the word Pusillanimous is used and that is not used enough in my opinion!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

P.S. When I realised why it is called Spilt Milk, my stomach did a flip....urrrrgh!!!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Review: Winter Warmers

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

First of all, sorry to the people of Little, Brown who are lovely and sorry Carole Matthews. I am afraid that these really were not for me at all!!! I don't mean to offend and I am sorry, but as you know, I am always honest in my reviews...brutally sometimes.

This is a collection of 'heart warming' Christmas stories, and as I am NOT a chick lit fan...I hated them and I am delighted they were short....VERY SHORT.

All I Want For Christmas Is You
The only bit of glimmer I saw in this story was that the girls in it worked in publishing. Not my realm of publishing but publishing none the less...this hope did not last long! It was so predictable and naff that this story fell in to the realms of tedium and made me think, WHO ACTUALLY READS THESE AND HAS NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN???

Cold Turkey
This story made me immediately think (as if followed the first one) where the hell are people's families in these wretched stories. Again it was annoying to see what saps people can be. I admit I can be one sometimes, but seriously, do we need to read about how we can all be complete idiots? The cliched thing happened again! I found myself wishing that the bloke would chop her head off and replace it with the Christmas turkey just so something interesting would happen. Basically this was another cheesey crock!

About Gardening
Finally, I saw something to get my teeth in to here...I embraced the narrators bitterness....however this was VERY short lived as it ended with happiness and flowers and cheese! (Sorry if that was a spoiler, but really...if you couldn't work that out from the beginning then what is wrong with you???).

Anyway, once again, sorry about the negativity surrounding this collection. Many people do enjoy chick lit and all it apparently has to offer but I really am not one of them!

Happy Reading (if you must)

Book Geek

Monday 17 December 2012

Review: The Quaint Christmas

Publisher: The Friday Project
Price: Free ebook...ATM anyway

Ahhh, it seems I have read another little festive shortie, and as I always do, here is my quick little sharing review. The lovely people of The Friday Project highlighted the freeness of this via twitter and as I loved Mr Craske's ebook Above His Station I thought why the hell not!

You can see in some ways that this was written by DC as there is the same tongue in cheek aura around  the story. Also, the characters and total caricature and I do love a good caricature! There was the feeling of a Dicken's stylee Chrismas in this shortie once more...I can't seem to get away from that world ATM and I am certainly not complaining. The story felt old, however, there were a few elements of the modern world apparent on the odd occasion and there were a few moments of contemporary language. However, I didn't mind that at all..it worked!

There was a lot of humour and I loved its subtlety as much as the not so subtle moments. A particular comedy highlight was the staring moment! That was totally superb! There was an element of the Sherlock Holmes around Quaint which I liked too as you may well know from previous posts that I do love Mr Holmes!

At the end you feel all warm and fuzzy so this is defo a nice quick Christmas read...specially as it is free!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Sunday 16 December 2012

Review: A Treacherous Likeness

Publisher: Corsair
Price: I am unsure I am afraid as it isn't on my bound copy

First thing's first....you need to watch this if you don't know a great deal about the Shelleys http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isjSHdsIGf4 It helped me a great deal and enhanced my enjoyment of yet again another great book from this very talented lady!

I read Tom-All-Alone's earlier in the year and thoroughly enjoyed it all and I am thrilled that the world is back! We are back in the Dickensian-esque world of Charles Maddox! YAY! There are a few recap bits but you will be delighted to hear that they are subtle! YAY!

The changes in voice for letters etc were wonderful! The great uncle Maddox writings were amazing! The tone was so blunt and to the point but slightly amusing. The flash back was great also. It made me fall in love with old Maddox...as well of course Charles....yes, yes I am still in love with him! The subtle author voice that popped in every now and again was delightful...completely wonderful. It adds humour and brings you back from the novel and reminds you that you are separate from it, I actually enjoy that in LS's books...which is unusual for me!

The plot was dark and twisty and tragic and compelling and gripping and amazingly enjoyable! I knew bugger all bout the Shelley's and I'm not an expert now but they seem mighty interesting. It is clear from the whole thing that LS has done, once again, epic amounts of research! I would recommend reading Tom's first, then this as you will loose a certain something. But, read both of these! READ THEM!!

OOO, Also, that was a Christmas bit! YAY!!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!


Book Geek

Review: Two Short Things

Publisher: Vintage
Price: £ 1. 99

I was sent this by the lovely Vintage people! I have no real idea who Julian Barnes is...I'm sorry! I know the name and I recognise his face but I have no real idea of why he is so regarded. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this essay. I love his love of books! The whole piece is funny and entertaining and written in a wonderfully engaging friendly and conversational tone. YAY! This piece made me feel totally totally happy that people in the world love books for all the AMAZING reasons there ever were and are and will be! YAY I feel delightfully happy after having read this! Also, this quote rules 'To own a certain book - and to choose it without help - was to define yourself'.

Publisher: Mantle
Price: Free ebook

Downloaded this free after a Tweet recommendation and I enjoyed it a lot. It was good. It was gritty, and not Christmassy at all..even though it is a Christmas-ish story, however I enjoyed it LOADS! I don't know much about Inuits but I think I want to learn more about them now. They seem pretty interesting indeed and their culture is intriguing! It was very sweet and a tad upsetting too! Lots of love in it!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Friday 14 December 2012

Review: 21st Century Dodos

Publisher: The Friday Project
Price: £ 9.99 (also an ebook)

Mr Stack did some kind of crazy experiment with this book and offered it as a free ebook. I took advantage of this and have read it...and here is what I think, along with a few other bits and bobs.

21st Century Dodos is a collection of musings about things our society has lost or made extinct! From the very dedication I was already off to a cracking start and it amused me greatly! I was only one entry in and was already loving it! The happy nostalgia was great! Loads of memories were brought back from the offing and things I hadn't recalled from my memory in years...I am however hoping this isn't in a Jason Bourne way!!!!

I loved the conversation tone and the feeling of reminiscing with a friend. It was completely honest and true to life! But, by the end I felt a little bit sad about all the things we have loved and lost over time! *sob*.

Now, I have to provide you with a few comments on a few nostalgic things about this book...please stay with me!

- I bloody loved a good cassette tape! Used to record pretend radio shows with mates.
- I no longer own a VHS player which means I cannot play many an EPIC film I own on VHS.
- I think 2 dodos is for polaroids...I see them muchly!
- Squeeeee arrrrghhhhh reeeuuuurrrcchhhssschhhh bllloorrgghhh muuccrrrggpphhhggg
- When really small, Mummy Geek once found me talking to someone on the rotary dial phone. Apparently I had picked it up and called a totally random stranger.
- I am only 26 and remember white dog poo....however I am Welsh.
- The publisher of my publishing house ALWAYS whistles the same tune....we believe it is his warning signal.
- Captain beany of the Monster Raving Loony Party used to drive round my childhood town with a loudhailer from his car. I found out last Saturday that he is still alive.
- 5 dodos should be awarded to the thanks gone, scary arsed non secure train doors!!!
- I think Mummy Geek still has a Midland Bank cheque book cover somewhere in her house.
- There is an Athena in Exeter! In my uni days I bought many a gift for people there!
- I remember a school supply teacher throwing a bit of chalk at the class shit and then upgrading to a board rubber when he didn't shut up.
- Like a bit of a loser I can still sing/recant with the exact intonation and tones many of the advertising slogans mentioned in Dodo.
- Last film I saw with an intermission was James and the giant peach...the cinema doesn't even exist anymore. :-(
- If you want crap local ads in the cinema then hit the Apollo on Aberavon sea front!
- I used to love a good 10p mix from the paper shop. It was all about pink milk bottles and chocolate mice.
- I was not aware that the paper around chocolate cigarettes was in fact inedible and NOT rice paper....bugger!
- I write to Godmother Geek a few times a month and she writes back to me! Whooooo for snail mail.
- Two spaces after a full stop is the bane of my career as a magazine editor!

So, yes, my general ramblings aside, this is a great book for general wonderment and will appeal to people of all ages....however, you will find it more of a history book if you are now in your teens as you probably have no idea what half of the stuff mentioned is or that it even existed.


Happy Reading

Book Geek

Monday 10 December 2012

Review: Dark Chocolate: A Tale of Christmas Fear

Bums! I can't get this the right way round! SORRY PEOPLE!
Anyway, the lovely @brainconfetti sent me this lovely pic:

And with it came the above comic book and a cute little business card!

I am sure you will all agree that she is one talented lady! However, I wanted to give the comic book a quick review/mention as it is a totally unique delight and a cracking group effort!

It was put together by @brainconfetti and three other tweeters, entirely via twitter who have never met before. And let me tell you it is a funny and cute little tail with some absolutely AMAZING illustrations! It's festive also which actually makes my life happier as I love Christmas! 

Each illustrator has a totally unique style and that is totally clear in the book, however it detracts nothing as it makes the collaboration even more amazing!!

If you do get to read this then enjoy and laugh and get a warm fuzzy feeling!

I did!


Happy Reading

Book Geek 

Monday 3 December 2012

Review: Once in Golder's Green (sampler)

Publisher: Duckworth
Price: £12.99 (hardback)

This was a Sampler of the stories from OIGG so I only have three to comment on, but I will comment none the less! BOOM!

The fact that I was reading this book brought up a discussion in the man office about anti semitism and if it is a prevalent today as it once was. Also we discussed other racism etc and it was rather enlightening and interesting indeed! Anyway...on I go.

I haven't read a short story collection by one person before so I was most intrigued.....

Once, in Golder's Green...
I didn't realise it was going to be autobiographical...I am hoping that the author was pulling from real experience and not just using his name for fun. The story was a bit of a journey of self discovery and set up the whole selection with a bang! The Rabbi was Very stereotypical and I thoroughly enjoyed him also, there was an AMAZING bit...I will say no more though.

The suitcase by the door
I didn't really feel comfortable with this story as it didn't really seem like the author's style. If it is to say that story one is indeed true. However, it did draw a great sadness from me for Aaron and I also pitied him!

The miraculous Rabbi Feldman
The tone/style of this story felt far more comfortable I was so so sad for the Rabbi in the beginning but delighted by the very end! WHOOOOOP! The question of what do you do when your very being is being scrutinised? However, the comedy element saves you from the gloom!

Happy reading

Book Geek

Thursday 29 November 2012

Review: War School

Publisher: Matador
Price: £ 11.99

This is exactly how I would imagine a teenage boys mind to be! But, maybe I imagined more sex! This is the story of Jake and his mad ass adventures in and around Warworld. I didn't really know what to expect from this book at all. Mr Ramsden had said to me on Twitter that it is like Narnia on drugs and I think that that is indeed a fair description! 

This does indeed feel like you are trapped inside a teenage boy's mind. The only criticism I would have is that the language is very eloquent and mature and the observations far too intelligent for any real teenage boy who isn't some kind of literary prodigy...but I can let that slide as I think I am just being picky!

There is a feeling of escapism about the whole thing and the book defo seems to me to be a tale of morals and lessons learned. The observations of mundane and normal life are very impressive in their insightfulness and their sarcastic and quickly done off the cuff amusements. 

The Under Her Spell sections are very dark and very creepy as well as intimidating and set an entirely different tone compared to the rest of the novel. They also seem far more off the wall than the rest of the book which I believe is saying something!! Hee hee!

This was, for me anyway, more of a YA novel than an adult novel but I would like to read more of Mr Ramsden's stuff to see what else his mad imagination can create for our enjoyment. This won't be for everyone, especially not the girly girls but it is a different, interesting and fun read!

Happy Reading

Book Geek


P.S. I KNEW all the best stuff was in hell!!!

P.P.S. Mr Ramsden has informed me that this is indeed a YA novel! (updated 2 hours after posting)

Friday 23 November 2012

Review: The Understanding of Women

Publisher: Self I believe
ebook Price: 96p

First off I must say that Miss Matthewson is lovely!! She can be found on twitter @J9London and she is a bloody daemon at Words With Friends.

Now, on to the important part...

Mummy Geek read only the first page of this novella but she was intrigued to read more. I thankfully read all of it and I was delighted to do so!

I thoroughly enjoyed the style of this piece. The sentence structure and language are very precise, to the point and somewhat blunt but with an edge of sarcasm, there is almost a tone of superiority but with a tongue in cheek edge and it is thoroughly enjoyable! The whole thing is written as if you are looking at it from a slightly higher plateau of knowledge and superiority.

The flashbacks are fantastic. They are written so well that you can see them very clearly in your head. The character descriptions are almost film like and you can almost see the person pop up and sort of stand around in their unique way for you to give them the once over!

With regards to the characters, Maybe-Meg is a total babe! I love her! She rules! James made me feel like I was on the edge of madness. The dude had a bit of a Catch 22 element about him which was unnerving but kept me on my toes. The characters as a whole really hit a cord with me and they reminded me of very specific friends of mine. I would name them but then that would be mean and my anonymity may be gone forever!!

The story felt like it should be sad but, it made me feel hopeful. In a word, this novella is, beautiful!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

P.S. I wish all tube drivers were like the one in this story!!

Thursday 22 November 2012

Review: Ecko Rising

Publisher: Titan Books
Price: £ 7.99

I hadn't ever read a sci-fi book by a female author before. Don't know why, just never had so I was most excited! And by gum did Ms Ware do a wonderful job! 

The novel is a clash of titans, sci-fi gets plonked straight in the middle of fantasy! It is like a genre head to head mash up and it is fantastic! So cleverly done and so well executed that you aren't sure on occasions which genre this book is actually meant to fall in to! The sci-fi elements are bleak, dark and futuristic but the fantasy elements are full of quest, adventure and olden timey fires, swords and heros on horses. 

Looking at the characters this mash up is pretty obvious also. Ecko is your sci-fi man and a total marmite character, well he is for me anyway! I don't know if I want to punch him or love him but he is great and provides a bit of a parody element to the fantasy feel of the novel. He pokes fun at the formulaic aspects of fantasy novels and the quest element that usually unfolds in books of the genre. It is very entertaining, yet, I hope I haven't read too much in to him. Another character I'd like to big up whilst I am on characters is Redlock! I loved him, he is a total dude! He is my falling in love character for this book!

When it came to the plot the phrase totally bat shit crazy works well. It was mental! You have no idea if you are coming of going, who to love, who to hate, who is good, who is evil or what exactly the plot is on occasion. However, all the to-ing and fro-ing and craziness just makes this book more compelling and even more of a page turner. You are gripped from the off and have so many different questions floating around at one time that you need to keep reading! But have no fear, the clouds do part and the whole thing is hugely fulfilling!

This really is a cracking read and if you are a fantasy fan but not a sci-fi fan I urge you to give this a go. I've always swayed to the world of fantasy but I think I need to broaden my sci-fi horizons a bit more after reading this. Ms Ware certainly has the bogey man's luck with her! And there had better bloody be another one!!!!

Happy Reading

Book Geek


P.S. There were are two TOTALLY amazing quotes in this book:
'The magic far away pub' and 'cleavage you could park a bike in.'

Friday 16 November 2012

Review: Mr Bison's Journal

Ebook: £5.15
Self published I believe

So, you've seen my previous school of Mr Bison posts as many a thing are pointed out in this 'ere ebook. However, here is my proper review.

This appears to be a collection of ponderings and short stories from a very crazy and odd mind! Many are funny, however some are funny in an obvious way...maybe that makes this appeal to a wider audience. However, with the repartition of some story lines/thought trains things get old on occasion! The collection is defo NOT for the prudish and weak of stomach and you will find this funny on the whole if you are of the right sense of humour and are in the right mood for it! 

My one big criticism is that some entries were blatantly full of homophobia and racism. These stories did spoil the odd bit of the collection and have tainted my whole view of this book. Bison does say well tough shit if you think I'm homophobic, and if that is his stand point he is entitled to it. However, I don't condone such rants at all! (I had to point this out as it really did get to me and disappoint me, even though I did enjoy the majority of the book and find it funny).

I particularly liked the parodies of fairytales! They were pretty clever as well as hysterical! The whole thing is kind of like having a really weird uncle who tells inappropriate stories in your pocket at all time!

OOO I have to mention the illustrations. They are amazing! I love the retro feel and their cuteness. They are a total contrast to the crude humour of the book. I would even like prints of a few of them on my wall.

All in all, a funny read the majority of the time. You just have to ignore the entires you will no doubt find a bit offensive.

Happy Reading

Book Geek 

Thursday 15 November 2012

The School of Mr Bison: Part 2

Those of you who are avid readers and mega fans of this blog will have noticed that Part 1 of this school of wisdom appeared earlier in the month. I was just under half way through when I shared 50 factoids, tid bits, nuggets some may say from Edward Bison and the things I realised whilst reading his ebook. I AM STILL NOT FINISHED but, here are 50 more things I have learned/had reinforced:

51. Mummy Geek and Brother Geek are loo roll fiends
52. Bison is loo roll obsessed
53. Bacon or Sex is the new pub debate
54. Becoming your parents is inevitable
55. Bison is toilet obsessed too
56. Gay marriage is not there for comedy purposes
57. I stand for minimal chest hair
58. You can laugh a woman in to bed
59. Dogs are cool
60. Men are perverts in the summer
61. Avoid Ambien
62. Novelty ties are not welcome gifts
63. There are serial cat murderers in this world
64. Porn is a rite of passage
65. Never rent shirts
66. I am so excited for Christmas
67. Trilby hats are for winners
68. Some docs tests are more upsetting than words can describe
69. Budgies are not proper pets
70. Kids are way smarter than you think
71. Everyone should read the etiquette book 'Four Weddings, A Funeral and When You Can't Flush The Loo'
72. What's wrong with mascara?
73. People can really surprise you with their intolerance and closed mindedness
74. There is actually an American who doesn't love the UK
75. Shaving is the invention of Satan
76. Don't create unnecessary embarrassment for yourself
77. Humour is lonely when it is repetitive
79. People really do collect any old shit
80. There is more than one Nurse Bridget
81. I will never have flat mates ever again
82. Oust is helpful sometimes
83. How does one look like a fish in a dress?
84. You're is you are. Your is your!!!!!!!
85. If you send a Christmas letter you are defo a dick
86. What's wrong with a shovel?
87. Water bars sound boring
88. Civil rights are thrown around far too much
89. Hopper is another word for loo
90. I hate the phrase 'back in the day'
91. Bison is a dentist wuss
92. The loo roll obsession is serious
93. There are seasonal knit ware catalogues
94. Poo is for the loo
95. I will never think of Snow White in the same way again
96. Naturists are brave
97. Humans just don't bend 'that way'
98. Activia yoghurts make me ill
99. Toilet obsessions scare me
100. It is true, foreign sweets often ming.

The next one will probs come with the review

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Thursday 8 November 2012

Review: Shadow of Night

Publisher: Headline
Hardback: £ 16.99

I read the first book in this trilogy about 6 weeks ago (Discovery of Witches) and despite initial reservations loved it. Alas, I am not totally enamoured with part 2!!

I will start with what I did like.....

  • The recaps were minimal and that was pretty damn good as I get annoyed when they are very obviously thrown in your face. 
  • Phillipe is a total and utter beast, a great character and I loved him.
  • Gallowglass was also an AMAZING character and I want him to be my friend.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters plonked back in the modern day. They were few and far between but they were totally fantastic and provided a great line of intrigue to spur me through. 
  • The last quarter was great and totally worth reading the other 3/4.
What I didn't like....
  • Diana was a door mat and Matthew was a total dick for the majority of the book.
  • The amount of time spent in 1590 seemed a bit excessive....I agree with my bezzie on this point.
  • The past chapters/portions were VERY hit or miss up until the last 1/4 when the fun started.
  • The very last chapter was odd beyond belief and didn't really fit in.

Yes, I enjoyed the book to an extent but I did not love it as much I hoped/expected. Harkness is indeed a VERY intelligent woman to delve in to such history so successfully and create not only the characters but the attitudes, fashions, manners and locations with such skill. I will of course read the final part when it comes out as I have to know what happens next. But, if this was the first book, I don't think I would have moved on to book two...however, as with many trilogies, book 2 is always a let down.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Monday 5 November 2012

The School of Mr Bison: Part 1

At the moment, on the Kindle app for iPhone I am working my way through this little gem:

Whilst this is not a proper review (one will rock up somewhere in my musings upon Mr Bison's book), I thought I would share with you the stuff I have learnt, gleaned, discovered, decided so far. I am doing this in instalments as I am not even half way through but have already expanded my self knowledge a great deal and I would like to share the nuggets with you!

Hope that is ok....so here we go:

1. There is farting advice to be found everywhere
2. Red riding hood is a slut
3. Always avoid erectile disfunction meds
4. Everyone hates airlines
5. Toilets in Japan sound awesome
6. There is an alternative use for shower caps
7. Boxer dogs are not for me
8. Boobs aren't everything
9. Stories about nose picking make me feel sick
10. Hannibal had a friend
11. Farting in public really can silence a crowd
12. Big Ben doorbells are for losers
13. Harry Potter could have been good if JKR had made an effort
14. Dog penis soup exists
15. The boy would fit in well in the Mid West
16. Part of me misses school dinners
17. Money for losing weight sounds great to me
18. All airplane loos stink
19. It is of course universally easy to pull drunk girls
20. Purchasing toilet paper should not be done lightly
21. I hated Wednesday afternoons when I was in 6th form college
23. I want to see a bat up close
24. American marching high school bands are as weird as I thought
25. Time dysphasia sounds funny
26. What is all this about Richard Gere having animals up his bum? If someone would explain I would be thrilled!
27. Seen one safety demo, seen em all
28. Balance is necessary
29. Toilet roll companies actually have websites
30. Man draws/cupboards are universal
31.Valentine's day is for chumps
32. What is London Broil?
33. Groundhog life isn't always bad
34. Men have menopause too
35. It's good to say fuck
36. Always get a man in
37. Men think they are the only people who read on the loo
38. Dog poo can look like a stick
39. I really don't like the word clunge
40. Winde chimes are average
41. Snickers will never be the same again
42. Don't drink and write
43. Snoring is evil
44. BHS
45. Yay for the NHS
46. Don't push yourself too hard on hot days
47. I don't know what a traditional Chinese New Year gift is.......Help welcome here too
48. Drunk friends are equally funny and annoying
49. The Mona Lisa was a bit more than a craft project wasn't she?
50. Razor choice is overwhelming


Book Geek

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Review: Malice

Publisher: Tor
Price: £ 16.99

I will admit straight off that in the beginning I wasn't totally convinced by this book. I thought the names were all too similar and the story lines too thin as there were so many different POVs that jumped about too much. I was struggling to pick the book up. HOWEVER all of that changed!!!

This novel is action packed, it is politically interesting (made up politics I admit) and shocking in the twists and turns that it takes. You have no idea which side you are actually meant to be on or if the side you have allied yourself with is in fact the correct one.

I will say that the book does feel like it has many influences and maybe borrowed an idea or 3 from other fantasy authors. Those who are fantasy fans like me, will be able to spot who the influences are and which ideas have indeed been borrowed.

Brina was indeed my favourite character. She is so fantastically sarcastic and a bit of a loon.....somewhat like me. Veradis was also rather popular in my eyes along with Marrock (that could be that I both imagine them as rather attractive young men though).

I thoroughly enjoyed the Welsh name influences when it came to places and characters...this could be because all the best things are Welsh! (Not that I am biased or anything).

All in all, I know this is a short review but I really don't want to give anything away as I know that this book will indeed be enjoyed by all when it is released in December. It is a page turner, the action is great and the twists and turns are something to be enjoyed! I cannot wait for part 2! WHEN IS IT OUT???

Happy Reading and Happy Halloween

Book Geek

Monday 29 October 2012

Review: Above his station

This is my second plunge in to the ebook world....yes I am still reading books VERY slowly on the Kindle app on my iPhone. Anyway, this was recommend on Twitter by the ever entertaining @meandmybigmouth. And my my my am I glad I listened!

I loved this book just from the description of a person who works in sales! I don't want to spoil the joy you will experience by reading that line by quoting it here! The book is also funny, and laugh out loud funny from the offing.

The main character (we never learn his name) is wonderfully constructed form the word go and you get a clear image of him in your mind. The section where he talks about his late wife is beautifully written and was truly touching. The book is written in the first person, but rather than feeling like a boring narrative, it was really conversational in tone. I felt as if the main dude were recanting this tale just for me! Nick/the rat was a great addition to the story as he brought in a big dose of sarcasm and contemporary satire. The two together are a brilliant pairing!

I had no idea what at all was happening and was likely to happen for a large portion of the book and I loved that! The whole thing is completely bloody mental and off the wall and I don't know if it will be for everyone but, it was defo for me!! There was a certain children's story feel to some of it and that was great. However, do not read it to children as there is sex and violence! However, I don't really know what kid's TV is like these days so, that could be fine.

A contemporary parody is what I think I would like to call this book. I am hoping that labelling it that doesn't make me sound like a pretentious nob and I hope you will see this categorising as correct when you read it...FOR YOU MUST READ IT!!. 

Anyway, in conclusion, a fantastic book, even the end post story bit was great with character studies and the joyous news that Rat and main dude will be back later this year. I for one will be keeping an eye out and defo reading it when it hits our screens??!?!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Friday 26 October 2012

15 Questions with Gavin Weston

Gavin in a most excellent hat!

Gavin in another spiffing hat with his lovely pet parrot! 

Gavin Weston was born in Belfast in 1962. He is a multi-media artist, writer, lecturer and inventor and lives on the Ards Peninsula with his two children, a fostered child and various animals. He studied Fine Art at Saint Martin's School of Art and Design and Goldsmiths' College, London, and subsequently worked and taught in West Africa.
In 1995 he completed an MA at the University of Ulster, where he has also worked as a visiting lecturer. He was an Associate Lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College for many years and a regular contributor to The Sunday Times from 1994 to 2002. He is a former prize-winner of the Claremorris Open and Iontas, a recipient of The Tyrone Guthrie Award and was nominated for The Becks Futures Award in 2002.

Here, Gavin answers some questions about his book Harmattan and its context as well as few about him and his general life!

1. Describe Harmattan in 7 words
Holding child marriage aloft and shaking it.

2. Is Haoua based on anyone in particular?
Haoua is based on any (or all) of the 25,000 girls around the globe whose childhoods are stolen every day. However, the book is dedicated to Ramatou Hassane, a Nigerien girl whom my family and I sponsored for six years before she was married off by her family at the age of twelve.

3. Did going to Niger as an aid worker change you?
Absolutely. There would - in my opinion - be something wrong with anyone who could witness outrageous inequalities in the so-called 'developing world' and return to the so-called 'developed world' unchanged. We have so much stuff. So much crap. We waste so much, without a second thought. It's
obscene, really. I know that sounds like a cliché, but as I get older and crotchetier I do think that national service might be a good thing. Not militia based. I mean a conscripted army of young, strong people. A little like the US's Peace Corps, but obligatory rather than voluntary. (Wow! That's possibly the most right-wing thing I've ever said!)

4. Why is the book called Harmattan?
The Harmattan is the famous, dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara across West Africa. In some parts it is known as 'The Doctor', but it can also be extremely destructive. The word comes from the Arabic 'haram', a forbidden or accursed thing. I used it as an analogy of the events and forces which ultimately send Haoua's life spiralling out of control.

5. What can readers do to help child brides?
Whatever access readers have to social networks, use it to make a bloody great racket! Bombard your local mayor, counsellors, MPs, MLAs - whoever. Send e-mails, letters, postcards, 'tweets', 'likes' or all of the above. A lot of people tread gingerly around the matter of age-old 'traditions'. It's time to stop being afraid of upsetting these 'traditionalists'. We're talking about the squandered potential of 10 million girls every year! If we don't take drastic action - some risks - this will continue for a long, long
time. Governments, NGOs, communities, families all have to pull together to rid the world of this scourge. It just can no longer be acceptable for us to look away. If someone was abusing your  neighbour's child you'd be outraged.
These are our neighbours!!

6. How has the book been received?
Well, it's a taboo subject, so it hasn't settled on Richard and Judy's coffee table yet. But I'm honoured, pleased (and still a little gobsmacked) that it has been endorsed by FORWARD UK (a London based African Diaspora support charity that campaigns against child marriage and FGM). We started
working in tandem about a year ago and I am now one of their ambassadors and am fully committed to doing whatever I can to help. As a writer, obviously I want the book to be thought of as an artwork, a good read, but if Harmattan can continue to help raise awareness about child marriage then I'm cool with that too. I have no idea how sales are going, but reviews have been fairly positive so far.

7. Do you see yourself in any of Harmattan's characters?
Sure. Haoua's dreams are mine. The scene where she meets her mother in the blizzard; I had that dream, but it was about my late father. I asked him where he'd been. He said he didn't know; that he didn't want to go. I asked him to stay. Then I woke up. A lot of this book wrung me dry emotionally. I
also used to dream about Haoua's family like they were real people. There's a bit of me in Abdelkrim too perhaps, and maybe in the cheeky Irish chappie, Archie Cargo.

8. When did you decide to write Harmattan?
I started working on the book about eight years ago, not long after we received a letter telling us that Ramatou had been married off and therefore was no longer part of the sponsorship programme. It just seemed unbelievable. I assumed that all children who participated in such NGO led schemes were protected and would be able to stay in school, come what may. Naively, I hadn't realised that many of these girls need to be protected from their own families - and the 'traditions' we've already talked about. I tried to find out what had happened, where she'd gone. We never heard of or from her again. My own children were really shocked. I really wanted to know what had happened. Or what could have happened. It was then that I started to consider trying to find a 'voice' for such a child. Finally a woman
writer I met proclaimed that men can't write as women and that got my heckles up. The book kind of started to write itself after that.

9. Do you have any other books in the pipeline?
Yes. I have a new novel well underway: Tin Town. It's set in and around an Irish caravan site in the 70s. It's a kind of parallel universe Northern Ireland. I'm still toying with the idea of 'The Troubles' never having happened. (I keep changing my mind.) Gary Glitter is at Number One: It's a very different era... the one in which I grew up, ('as it happens'). I'm having fun with it, although I like writing 'dark' tales. There are a lot more laughs in this book (than in Harmattan) but it's definitely not slapstick. I'm also a big fan of the short story format. I have boxes full of them! I kind of have this fantasy that now that I've 'banged out' a novel, some eager publisher will trip over him-or-herself to get these 'gems' into print. The reality, of course, is that most of them are rubbish. Art school scribblings full of angst and Kafkaesque twaddle. (There are a few that I could stand over.) But I've been writing for as long as I've been making visual art - which is for as long as I can remember basically.

Now a few about you if that is ok??
D'accord. :)

10. What is your favourite book?
Sheesh! Impossible to name just one, so I'll cheat! Here are a few favourites: Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', Emma Donaghue's 'Room', 'Bliss' by Peter Carey, Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club' and anything/everything by Raymond Carver.

11. If you could go back in time, which period would you go to?
I like boats, a lot, so I kid myself that I could have been a mariner on the high seas. (My grandfather was a RN officer and my dad was a boat builder.) You know, at Nelson's beck and call, or whatever. But I don't think I would have handled all the gore very well. I have romantic notions of the American
West too, mostly because I grew up on a farm and my brother and I had Shetland ponies and lived for cap gun fights and grainy Friday night black-and-white episodes of 'The Virginian'. (Check it out on Youtube!) I'm increasingly interested in living off-grid, and I'm pretty good at building things, so maybe I could have hacked it as a pioneer. I would miss Twitter though - despite the fact that I was initially nagged into using it by my publisher. (That's kind of a joke.) - You can follow Gavin via @WestonOfTinTown

12. What do you like to do in your free time?
I seem to have less and less of that! Anyway, there's no such thing as 'free time'. One has to spend time. I have a small fishing boat which I keep on Strangford Lough, about twenty miles south of Belfast. A lot of people don't know just how beautiful this part of the world is. Being able to access little islands and coves, watching seals and porpoises etc., that's the appeal for me. Unfortunately it's cold and wet a great deal and I want to go and live in Greece. I have an old rickety boat there too. (It will be taking water as we speak!) I love hanging out there and think it is a beautiful place despite the recent tribulations. I've had a vague master plan to dispense with mortgages and bricks and mortar for some time now, but it hasn't quite come together yet...

13. What do you want for Christmas?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing. Just the company of a few people I love. Enough food. A little wine. That's it. (And maybe for my boat not to sink!) These days the more I have, the more enslaved I feel.

14. Do you have a pet?
I do! I have two dogs and a crazy parrot who calls my name when I'm trying to work! I kid you not. The dogs are regularly perplexed by this 'talking hen'. He's the 'guvnor' around here!

15. What was your first job?
I used to have to get up and feed 10,000 battery hens before school. Five days a week at one pound per day. We had around 50,000 birds in total. A horrible business. Auschwitz for chickens. For years I've had a few free range bantams picking around my garden by way of an apology!

A few of Gavin's Niger pictures
Village Elder, Goteye, Niger

Village shop, Goteye, Niger

Most of the girls in this picture had to leave school before they even hit puberty to become child brides