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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!!

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

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Mummy Geek's Faves

A few of Mummy Geek`s favourites -

The Mill on the Floss - The first book which made me cry as a young teenager.

Love Story - Indulging in tragic romance in my early twenties (Geeklet might have been called Jennifer if two friends hadn`t used the name for their babies first!)

The Great Gatsby - Studied on my English course, identified with characters, so wanted to be cool like Jordan (another name I considered calling the Geeklet before it became "popular" - imagine!!!!). 

Any Sherlock Holmes - Fantastically constructed.

The Colour Purple - Read it in a day, gets into your soul.

The Bluest Eye - The same.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass- The first `proper` novels I read, scared the life out of me, obviously too young for them!

Uncle Tom`s Cabin - The first novel my mother read, with no understanding of its political purpose of course.

A Tale of Two Cities - Still at school with a very idealistic view of heroism.

The Catcher in the Rye - Brilliant portrait painting in words, unexpectedly amusing.

Watership Down - If you don`t cry you`re a hard person!

Post Mortem - The first of a long series, still think it`s the best (read when alone ill in a Spanish apartment one sunny afternoon - locked all the doors and windows and slept with the light on even though the family had returned by then!)

Dr. Xargle`s book of Earthlets - Ddult humour in a children`s book, very welcome to a parent when repeated recitation of stories about fairies and talking animals have made her brain cry out in pain.

The Wild Swans - Riveting, don`t usually go for factual but liked the insight on events.

Angela`s Ashes - Written with no judgement of, nor bitterness about, the past, couldn`t put it down (ignored the family whilst reading it at dinner in a restaurant in Greece - manners!!)

More to come....?
Favourite poems perhaps....?

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Review: Nod

Price: £ 7.99
Publisher: Blue Moose

If you want an apocalypse styleeeee book that is in no way run of the mill or formulaic and all that jazz then this is the book for you! Move over tedium of the genre....NOD IS HERE!

The book is Paul's diary from when the sleeping stopped and the world began to crumble. The entire thing is in first person (obviously) and Paul's job as an etymologist clearly comes through in the choice of words and style of writing. I did wonder on occasion if there was part of the author in Paul! Tanya's description is rather like how I look...it drew me to her and made her parts in the story very tough on occasion. Relating to characters in even a small way can be very hard at times when you become very involved in a book.

I started reading Nod on Sunday night, I never really sleep all that properly on a Sunday night and my reading Nod made me notice that fact even more! It really did give me the heebie geebies and I started to think that maybe the whole not sleeping thing was beginning ARRRGH!!! Also, Nod made me think about how in all books, tv shows, films etc about apocalypse-ness, once it all begins the world slowly descends in to total chaos! I hope that people don't really behave like complete dicks if such an event does happen and that we are all far more prepared and sensible about it all! Surely fiction is carrying some warning for us all here.

Charles was a good character. Not in a, oooo I really liked him way, but he was a good asset to the novel. He really embodied the phrase, 'the one eyed man is king in the land of the blind' for me. I don't want to say much more about him as I do not want to spoil a thing.

The power of language was, I think, a powerful message in this book and I hope I haven't read too much in to that. I hope it is there as it was a very poignant part of the whole book that I loved. There were several religious themes in places also (I believe) but, I don't think I have enough of a religious understanding to appreciate all of that aspect.

After page 100 things got a bit headed up and some action arrived. To be honest, I was glad that that aspect didn't last very long. The book didn't need it! The words are all that matters.

A fantastically written book, both elegant and addictive in content and style. Blue Moose really do know how to publish a great read! THANKS

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Sunday 14 October 2012

Review: Cold Killing

Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: I have no idea sorry

This is another of those books where you are thrust in to the action from the word GO! The first few pages set the whole tone of the novel as you are placed in the mind of the killer. The entire thing is unnerving and horribly creepy from the beginning. When Sean (the good guy) comes in, he is just as creepy and dark as the killer and this sadly meant that I didn't really have a character I liked at all! But this did not detach from my enjoyment of this book one bit. I think it enhanced the reading experience as you were never comfortable.

The contract in 1st person killer and 3rd person everyone else was great. A very stark contract was provided and the writing styles changed dramatically. I do feel that Luke Delaney is a very clever man or actually a twisted murderer himself as the passages in 1st person are so scarily brilliant. I is really very scary that a killer can be portrayed as a highly intelligent and perceptive person, yet, the disturbed lunacy of the 1st person killer sections makes the novel truly unsettling. 

The entire police aspect seemed more realistic than many other crime novels I have read as it was not glamorised at all. Things were tough, bleak and difficult as you would expect a copper's life to be. As well as a copper's surroundings, life and situations. 

The section based in Holborn and Shepherd's Bush scared the complete shit out of me. Not only because I spend a LARGE portion of my time on those areas and that portion of the district line, but when I read it I was on my way to that very area and VERY LINE!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Initially the conclusion didn't sit well with me as it seemed wholly predictable, however, don't think the intelligent writing and plot line stops there. at the last minute it all changed and I changed my mind. The conclusion was cracking. I also feel that Delaney has left himself a window for another book in this series.

If you like crime writing then do add this book to your collection when it comes out in January! I know it is a long time to wait but do try and manage it as this is defo worth it!!!!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Review: Gatecrasher

Publisher: self published by author
Price: on kindle at 77p

Some of you are going to hate me and I am sorry!!!! The author sent me the link to this ebook for free and asked me to review it....I then downloaded the Kinde app to my iPhone and read it! Sorry for turning to the ebook and not sticking with paper!!! It will not happen often.....

Now I have got that off my chest, on with the review...

The whole thing flits between several groups of characters and several POVs and that certainly keeps you on your toes in a good way. The story is intertwining from the offing and I always enjoy a good collection of intertwining plots! The whole thing started to remind me of Lock Stock/Snatch at the beginning but with out the comedy edge as the novel does cover some rather serious topics.

As a character, Campbell offered you pretty much everything. You can empathise with him, be on his side, doubt him and feel sorry for him. There is a cracking contrast at points between his edginess and frailty and the coolness of the gangsters. You get pretty attached to Campbell by the end...or at least I did.

The parallels between police and gangster investigations was a most enjoyable! Also, as I said earlier I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple plots that were all joined in some fashion. I didn't however like the fact that there was a cliff hanger at the end of every single chapter. It reminded me too much of Dan Brown and the serial school of writing! BOO!

The political and geopolitical aspects of the plot as it progressed were great. I won't say too much about them as I don't want to give anything away, however, they were a great addition and made the whole thing far more complex. The topics up for discussion are of interest to me anyway so I was delighted when they came along.

About 3/4 of the way through the action is incredible and the story starts moving at a mile a minute and continues to do so pretty much until the end. You certainly are kept on your toes and things get pretty mental. The story ends up being far more complex than you first think it will be but the bad guy was a bit too twiddly moustache for me!

On the whole the book does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a pretty compelling and gripping page turner and is worth the read if you like crime, have an ereader and 77p to splash!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Sunday 7 October 2012

Review: Bello, The Best of British Crime

Publisher: Bello
Price: I can't remember sorry!

Good evening allllll! Boooo, work tomorrow! This is a collection of rediscovered British crime stories and I will review them as I do short story collections and I will be doing the points thing sorry as I read this also when I was away and have to refer to me notes! Sorry the last few have been a bit of a cop out like that!! I promise the next ones will be back to normal!

Murder in Moscow - Andrew Garve
- The language felt old and so did the tone in the whole story.
- The small character studies were fantastically amusing indeed!
- I learnt a lot about Russian history and shizz like that which was pretty cool.
- In my head, I imagined the scenes in the style of a black and white film. I could not see it in colour at all as it was very of a period in its entirety! 
- The whole thing was a tad misogynistic! 
- I did enjoy the story more as it went on but I was not gripped and completely compelled to pick it up and read it.
- I did find it a bit racist and xenophobic from time to time but this was expected due to the year of writing.

David Williams - Prescription for Murder
- This story piqued my interest from the very beginning and kept it the whole way through!!
- The story felt far more modern than the first despite the fact that it was written in 80s. I can see it being easily translated to today.
- I also preferred the author's writing style compared to the first one!
- The references to 'The Woman Medical Director' did drive me a bit loopy! Get over it!!! Dudes, women can be shizz too! I know it was maybe new for the time in which it was written but I can't help but be annoyed at times.
- I am interested to find out more about the political context of the book. I will say no more than that as I don't want to give anything away.
- Blooooody loved Doris! She RULES!!
- The witty and funny light moments were great!
- Great grasp of how a Swiss-German person would speak English. The sentence structure was perfect.
- This was thoroughly enjoyable!

Francis Durbridge - A Game of Murder
- Once again you could tell that this story was written by a dude due to how women were written about.
- I think a few bits of the story were missing from this proof copy as it was very disjointed in places and didn't make total chronological sense.
- This was enjoyable enough but didn't read all that smoothly. The story didn't read like it was planned prior to writing commencing.
- Defo better than the first story.

I do like crime novels however, not all three of these stories were for me. But, worth a quick read none the less.

Happy Reading!
Book Geek :-)

Friday 5 October 2012

Review: The Evolution of Inanimate Objects

Price: £ 12.99 (hardback)
Publisher: The Friday Project

I am afraid that this is in point form also....but you will know I thoroughly enjoyed this read by the end!

- Just from reading the prologue, the question posed in the blurb 'could any of it actually be real?' was indeed in the forefront of my mind. 
- My knowledge of history and science is totally shit so I am sorry for the dumb ass comments in this review!
- I thought the images of crying kids were pretty funny...I know, I'm a bitch!
- The beginning biography was pretty routine and mundane BUT I found it hugely compelling and bizarrely gripping to read!
- Emma and Charles' parenting skills seem to be far more hands on than it was in those days and compared to other 1800s things I have read. It was nicely reassuring that not all parents were cold! I never would have placed Charles Darwin as such a caring parent. His place in history as the Father of Science as we know it doesn't seem to go with the Darwin portrayed in this book. It is lovely, warming and enlightening.
- The writing tone was that of a novel which I am sure helped contribute to my enjoyment. Not the detached factual tone it could have adopted.
- I want to be in the gourmet club!!!
- The Bucke/Whitman section was fantastically entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. It was written dryly and intelligently which I adored.
- I do have to admit that the evolution of objects such as cutlery does make perfect sense to me! I would never observe objects such as that in the light of an evolutionary process...but now I do!
- The barcode design RULES!!!
- The hybrid section was a great example of the slippery slide to madness. Or was it merely eccentricity!? 
- Reading the letters in the back felt a bit like trespassing and I felt rather voyeuristic....not in a very kinky way though!
- The 'I are an extraordinary gooseberry finder' section reminded me of brother geek! He once ran round the house shouting 'I are a winky, I are a winky' and Mummy Geek said to him, 'it is not I are a winky, it is I am a winky.' Will never forget that, EVER!
- The stigma surrounding those with mental health problems and the care they received in days of yore were discussed and I found them both interesting and upsetting in equal measures. I love things like that.

I found the entire book thoroughly compelling to read and totally entertaining. I have never read anything like it in my whole entire life and I don't think I will come across something like this again any time soon! It provides you with fantastic food for thought when it comes to evolution, mental health and whether this is fact or fiction! If you don't think you will like it, still give it a go as it is worth it, I promise!!!

Happy Reading!

Book Geek

Review: A Discovery of Witches

Price: £ 8.99
Publisher: Headline

Hello alll!!! I AM BACK!!!

I read this on my trip and made a few notes so I'm going to be doing this one in my bullet point paragraph style as I read it 2 weeks ago now!

- Didn't totally know what to expect as the blurb doesn't give much away. All I knew about it was what my bezzie said! The blurb does say that it is a book for twilight lovers, that did turn me off a bit!! BALLS!
- There was a creepyness in the novel from the start and I love a bit of creepyness! It was also a total page turner!
- I think Matthew looks like Trampolining Boy from Uni, that was a bit distressing! However by page 403 I had changed my mind and thought more Justin from Brothers and Sisters.
- Bloody loved Hamish from the offing!
- I didn't even contemplate the TV or films on the flight to US as I was totally engrossed in the book. I read it for 10 hours!!! I even didn't watch Brave and I really want to see that!
- Enjoyed the breaks from first person narrative (Diana) to 3rd person (Matthew). It provided a break form the intensity.
- Harkness must know LOADS about everything!!!!! So may topics and disciplines discussed!
- All vampire novels seem to have slightly different portrayals of vamp traits and stereotypes and this one was no different! The simple, underlying fundamentals were there though so do be rest assured!!! They are also still bloody sexy!
- I did wonder on occasion what the book would be like without the romance aspect...I thought in the beginning it could work, but towards the end there was no way in hell! I VERY integral part of the plot.
- I found the time frame rather short for the intensity of events and escalations of emotions......I think it needs to be explained a bit more??
- The unexpected defo happens and it is great!

In conclusion! I am MOST excited to read the next one (which was kindly given to me by @thetattooedbook) and this is a good read for those who love the vampire genre. Totally different to TrueBlood series but no idea if it is like Twilight as I haven't read it. Gripping page turner from the start with violence and gore and everything in between!


Happy Reading

Book Geek