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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!!

Thursday 26 February 2015

A non-fiction book: A Street Cat Named Bob

Publisher: Hodder

I've had this book on my shelf for a while now and not read it! I know, mental! But anyway, when I was looking for a non-fiction book for the challenge, there could only be one choice!!!!

It took me a while to get used to the style of this book as it felt a bit like a school essay but, once I got in to it I found it very honest and endearing and felt it must have been VERY cathartic for JB to write as a whole. A chance to release a load of emotions and tell a lot of stories of times that were obviously very difficult to deal with. It was also totally heart warming and as I spoke about it, Boy Geek couldn't stop reading it over my shoulder and also seemed to find it addictive and lovely!

I did feel anxious throughout a large portion of the read and I also felt really nervous when reading some of it and then so warm and fuzzy at others.

This book really does show you that there is more to the tale of these two than you think and that they are bonded for life!

Read it and love them!

Happy Reading


Monday 23 February 2015

A mystery or thriller: The Murder of Patience Brooke

Publisher: The Mystery Press

Patience Brooke is dead and Dickens and Jones are on the case!

Right then, there was one major thing about this book that I have to comment on that I didn't like and that was the fact that Charles Dickens was involved at all!!! It really seemed totally unnecessary to me! I mean, it would have made a really good story even without him being in it...and to be honest there is the possibility that this book would have been better without him 100% as it wouldn't have felt so bloody daft. That's my big sticking point..sorry! I will say however, that the author's knowledge of CD, his life and works is very impressive.

The child parts were incredibly disturbing and the singing was really creepy. The book really did push me over the edge on these two points....well done indeed! Sufficiently freaked out!

The ending of this book is very satisfying and I enjoyed the plot and what was happening.

I know this is a short review, and I'm sorry, I just couldn't get over the CD part and the fact that he was there. This would have been a cracking book without him!



Wednesday 18 February 2015

A book I own but have never read: Odds On

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Right then, as I have had this on my bookshelf for a while but hadn't read it, then it qualifies for a book I own but have never read for my 2015 challenge! I've read a couple of these which have been republished by Hard Case Crime and they never really fail to do the job of easy and fun reading!

This is about three men who are on one mission but have three very big distractions! 

I'm going to start with my one quibble...the sex scenes in this book were a bit gratuitous. I know I comment on sex scenes a lot...and it's not because I am a pervy pervert or because I am a prude...I'm just normal...well I think I am...I just find that sometimes sex isn't needed to 'enhance' a book!

Moving on...

This book seemed more like a farcical heist than a con job, and that was great as most of these books do seem rather tongue in cheek which is awesome! I'm sure you are familiar with this comment from me if you've read a review from me of these books before. However, it just seemed even more tongue in cheek than usual, but that was fine by me!!!!

Miss S is the absolute best thing about this book and I loved her dearly! She was bloody, bloody awesome!

Oh and some more things to point out! The book had more than one hero/anti hero which was a bit different from the others and it wasn't as cheesy or James Bond feeling than the others but it was far more silly.

Overall, another cracking little quirky read. You can easily polish this book off in a sitting or two and it's fun to boot!

Happy reading


Monday 16 February 2015

15 Questions with Richard Smyth

Morning all!!!! Here be 15 questions with Richard Smyth, author of Wild Ink!

Richard Smyth is a novelist, nature writer, cartoonist, historian and one time Mastermind finalist. His first novel, Wild Ink, was published in 2014; his short fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Fiction Desk, The Stockholm Review, Litro, Riptide, Firewords, and a few others. He's also written three books of popular history. He posts short stories at https://richardsmyth.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @RSmythFreelance

1. What made you write Wild Ink?
It began with a man in a hospital bed and just... kept going. I wish I knew where it came from. There was one particular moment of inspiration (but it's a bit revolting): my brother's girlfriend at the time was a student nurse, and one day she accidentally left a set of revision flashcards in my parents' spare room. Each card showed a different sort of bedsore. That, I think, had a big part to play in the birth of poor old Albert Chaliapin. So there you go. Wordsworth had his daffodils, I had a book of bedsores.
2. Any advice for budding authors?
Take it terribly seriously but at the same time don't take it seriously at all.   

3. Tell us about your publisher, Dead Ink.
Dead Ink are one of those very small, very exciting publishing operations that seem to get by on nothing but big ideas, adrenaline and an unholy lust for literature. They're great. As the name suggests, they started out in the e-book market; Wild Ink, along with SJ Bradley's excellent Brick Mother, was their first venture into print. 

4. What's your next book?
Something completely different. It's about an American rogue who turns up in a small English fishing village in the 1920s with the aim of building a new Coney Island. It's got sex, drama, death, shipwrecks, and a surprising amount about limpets.   
5. What made you turn to novel writing?
It just came naturally, I think. I started out writing stories, which as I understood it was the only way to get into print. Then the stories kept getting longer, and eventually, to my alarm, novels started happening.  

6. What was your Mastermind specialist subject?
I had three: British birds; Captain Scott's last expedition; and Russian novels 1830 - 1890. It was that last one that did for me.

7. How did it feel to get a nod from the Not The Man Booker Prize?
Well, the nomination was only a first step (you can nominate yourself, after all, if you've got the brass neck - which for the record I haven't). But it did open the doors to a load of people who went on the Guardian website and said really nice and insightful things about Wild Ink, which was just fantastic.
8. Which contemporary author do you most admire?
I hate and fear this question, because it exposes my utter, embarrassing ignorance of the present century. The writers I really love and consider 'modern' are now pushing seventy... which isn't very modern at all. So I'm going to duck this question like the snivelling coward I am.   

9. What was the best book you read last year?
Including non-fiction, probably Jenny Uglow's Nature's Engraver. Of fiction, I think The Jewel In The Crown by Paul Scott. Of new fiction, probably Carys Bray's A Song For Issy Bradley (there's a good comparative article to be written about that book and A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, which I'll write if anyone wants me to).   

10. Where is your favourite writing spot?
Inside my head. 

Now for something completely different..

11. Red or white?
Red, please.

12. Cake or death?
Is this a trick question? It would have to a pretty ropey bit of Battenburg for me to consider it a fate worse than death. (I have since shared the Eddie Izzard sketch with RS)

13. Would you rather be attacked by 100 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?
I think one horse sized duck. But a lot depends on the temperament of the duck/horses.  

14. If you could go back in time, when would you go back to?
Edinburgh in the 1750s or New York in the 1920s. 

15. What's your least favourite food?
The only foods I don't very much enjoy eating are cucumber and celery. So I suppose it'd have to be some sort of cucumber-and-celery salad. With a Coca-cola dressing. 

BIG Thanks to Mr RS and here is what he looks like....
Sorry it's not the one you sent me, that one wouldn't work!

Friday 13 February 2015

A book published this year: Death In The Rainy Season

Publisher: Panmacmillan

So then, I read this book when on holidays in January. There is a dead chap in Cambodia and Morel is there on his hols, so is of course asked to help solve it.

I didn't feel like I was lacking not having read the first book that Morel had stared in so that was a bonus indeed! It was cool that it was set in Cambodia. The horrible wall which was used to kill children is the only thing I really know about the country but this book has indeed inspired me to learn more as it has such an incredible history! Well done, book!

I really liked Morel and Sarit. They made an awesome pair and were good characters. Pran was a total dude however and kind of stole the show for me!!! YAY! The fact that the author is female and the characters predominantly male worked. I always wonder if an author with lead characters of the opposite sex is going to cock it up, but AJ certainly didn't! Also, the sex scenes were not over bearing and gratuitous like many a sex scene I read. Sometimes they are just not necessary, but this one worked and fit nicely.

Finally, the ending...it was ok. It worked, however, I think I would have preferred more politics and less scandal. Hmmmmm!

So, for crime and mystery lovers, give this a go! Also, you may learn things about Cambodia!

Happy Reading

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Book over 100 years old: 3 Men in a Boat

Publisher: Pulp! The Classics

So then, I chose this as my book over 100 years old, firstly because one of my mates (too cool for school mate) keeps constantly telling me I have to read it, and secondly because the kind publishers sent it to me. I have one main point to say...THIS COVER IS BLOODY AWESOME!

Now...this is a book about three chaps who are going on holiday down the Thames on a boat, with a dog...we can't forget the dog!

There were some VERY, VERY funny passages, lines and conversations in this book. I know some of them are very traditional and, of course there is that one hugely iconic passage about work, but it was all rather amusing and made me chuckle! Also, there was some fantastic sarcasm, and I'm a huge fan of sarcasm, and not just that, there is farce and I love farce also on occasion!

I haven't read such an old book for years. I've mainly been on the newbies, however, I have to say that I enjoyed every bloody second of reading this and it really did make a lovely change. I'm also hoping that it will encourage me to read more old books. I have been avoiding them like the plague (except Holmes) since I finished my degree nearly 8 years ago.

So, pick it up and have a gander! A classic indeed!

Happy Reading

Monday 9 February 2015

Book by an author I've never read before: Wild Ink

Publisher: Dead Ink

We are living AC's memories and his slow decline in to oblivion. Sad times!

This book felt a bit like a life flashing before the eyes of AC. We go though his memories, his acceptance of his situation and his amends making (to an extent) with friends and colleagues. It's really rather tragic and for a book that is touted as a dark comedy, I really found it hard to laugh (often I laugh at dark comedies in parts I'm not even sure it's OK to laugh at).

The characters were varied and a bit cool and you could see them being a group you see down the pub or in your local 'specialist' book shop. That was pretty funny. The nurse was rather awesome too and I fell in love with her a bit due to her overwhelming care!

I'm not 100% sure I was old enough or intelligent enough to get this book to its fullest, and for that I am very disappointed. I wish I could have grasped it more. Or maybe, I am just looking in to it more than one should.

Overall, I liked it though. The ending was very final in many ways and that really suited this book. I've not read a book like this in a while and I think people should give it a go. It kinda makes you feel...I don't know how else to explain I'm afraid!

Anyway, happy reading


Friday 6 February 2015

A graphic novel: Storm

Publisher: Orion

Now then, this graphic novel is based on one of Tim Minchin's glorious works that was originally immortalised on YouTube with cartoons and everything. This is it's book version!

I love Tim Minchin so I was ready to start crying if this was shit. Thankfully it was awesome! I could imagine Tim reading it out loud to me whilst I got stuck in and that was darn awesome!

The artwork was amazing. I loved the fact that it was all slightly dark, all slightly shadowy, and looked somewhat like a dream kinda thing. Here is some for example:

In this GN, TM does what we all want to do when that one knobber comes along and decides to ruin everything for everyone. So, I say, read this book and if you know that knobber, then bloody well give it to them and hope they take the hint!

I know this was short but the whole thing is short. But get a copy and enjoy!

Happy Reading


Wednesday 4 February 2015

A book a friend recommended: A Bright Moon for Fools

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

This book falls under the 'book a friend recommended' category, I feel, as @bookcunt gave it to me for my birthday and she loves it!

Harry has gone to Venezuela to, well, to escape and it's mental, and endearing and horrible and funny and heartbreaking!

This book was very, very, very funny in places. It really was in many instances Funny with a capital FUN! However, there were portions of it that made me feel desperately sad. Obviously there was Slade with his very prominent psychological issues and then there was Harry who really didn't have a person! :-(

I adored JG's writing style. It was so absorbing and the dialogue between Harry and others and his thoughts in general were just gorgeous. You really could get under his skin and imagine him in the flesh...not very pleasant flesh, but flesh nonetheless.

I will give this book one other thing, it has made me rather terrified to go to Venezuela. People there seem absolutely bat shit and not in a 100% good way!

In all, a stunning read that I may not have even looked at twice if BC hadn't given it to me for my birthday! I want you all to read it as it is wonderful!

Happy Reading


Monday 2 February 2015

15 Questions with Orenda Books

Here we are ladies and gents!! See what Orenda Books and the lovely Karen Sullivan has to tell us!! YAY!

A bit of an overview
Orenda Books is a brand new independent publishing company focussing on literary fiction, with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, about half in translation. We do and will, however, publish anything that resonates, and are particularly interested in debuts – authors at the beginning of their careers, or a series, or being published for the first time in English. I love the idea of 'growing' with our authors! 2015 books signed up so far are Paul E. Hardisty's The Abrupt Physics of Dying, David F. Ross's The Last Days of Disco (the one 'non-crime/thriller title on the list at the moment – but it 'resonated'), Ragnar Jonasson's Snowblind (trs Quentin Bates), Gunnar Staalesen's We Shall Inherit the Wind (trs Don Bartlett) and Kati Hiekkapelto's The Defenceless (trs David Hackston). 

Now to the Q&A

1.Why did you start Orenda?
I was at Arcadia Books when the decision was taken by the shareholders to restructure the list. As this meant most books being postponed or cancelled, it seemed the right time to strike out on my own and do what I do best and love best – for myself. I decided within 24 hours that Orenda Books was a viable proposition, and haven't looked back since!

2.What do you think is biggest challenge for indie publishers?
Probably discoverability. We don't have the money or the might of the big publishers (generally speaking) to put together high profile marketing and publicity campaigns. We need to make sure that readers and booksellers (and even the press) know our books are out there, and that can be a challenge. Organisations like the IPG help, though, as we have a collective voice that can be heard!

3.If you had to work for another publishers, who would it be?
Oh, good question. There are some great publishers out there. I like being hands-on, so probably something small, where I can take a book from manuscript right through to sales and publicity. I love the lists at Fitzcarraldo, Atlantic, Cannongate, Harvill and Faber. I admire the crime lists at Hodder and Macmillan, among others! Black and White seem lively and great fun! Too many to choose from!

4.What's the number 1 thing you look for when considering a book for publication?
I look for a story. Even badly written books can be rescued if there is a strong voice and a compelling story. If a book grips me, it's worth considering. I also think it is important to have authors who are enthusiastic and willing fully to support the book's promotion. It's the only real way to sell books these days!

5.ebook or hard copy?
Hard copy. Every time. I am a book cherisher!

6.What is your favourite book?
Oh that is nearly impossible! I absolutely loved The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, a fellow Canadian. Every book on my list would be a favourite, or I wouldn't even have considered publishing them. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Anne of Green Gables. Anything non-sci-fi by Margaret Atwood. Anna Karenina. The Catcher in the Rye. Heart of Darkness. Nabokov, Norman Mailer, Richard Yates, John Cheever. Away by Jane Urquhart. I could go on and on and on!

7.Any advice for people seeking a publisher?
Make sure you have a good 'blurb' or pitch – I must have 400 submissions here at present, and very little time to read them all. If the pitch sounds interesting, I'll pick it up. An agent is helpful, because they work with authors to fine tune the presentation (not to mention the book itself) before it hits my desk. I have a number of agents whose taste I trust completely, too, and will always make time to read their offerings carefully. I would also suggest that authors do not rule out self-publishing in ebook. Getting in some reviews, a ranking, some feedback from readers, can be invaluable. One of my authors self-published first and I was interested to see what the reviewers had to say.

8.What is in Orenda's pipeline for 2015?
I've got authors from Scotland (David F. Ross's heartbreaking and hilarious The Last Days of Disco, set in 1980s Ayrshire), Canada/Australia (Paul E. Hardisty's stunning, beautifully written thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying, set in Yemen), Iceland (Ragnar Jonasson's brilliant, atmospheric crime thriller, Snowblind, the first in the Dark Iceland series, translated by Quentin Bates), Norway (the Father of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen's We Shall Inherit the Wind, translated by Don Bartlett, next in the Varg Veum series and absolutely unputdownable) and Finland (Kati Hiekkapelto's The Defenceless, the sequel to The Hummingbird, which I published at Arcadia. Translated by David Hackston, it's a gritty, thrilling crime thriller, and second in the Anna Fekete series). The first two books are out in March, the second two in June, with Kati bringing up the rear in September. I will be publishing one more book, and I think I know what it is. Watch this space.

I've got them all coming over for CrimeFest, so we'll have a celebration!

9. Are there any controversial books in Orenda's collection?
There are controversial elements to The Abrupt Physics of Dying, as the story is based on real events in Yemen. The others all have good, contemporary themes. I love books that entertain while making you think, or see things differently. All of my books have that.

10. Which book did you first accept for orenda to publish?
There was a flurry at the outset, and I made offers for all five books (and their sequels) almost at the same time. The first to jump on board was David Ross! Closely followed by Paul (two books) and Ragnar (two books). After a bit of negotiation I was thrilled to sign three books with Gunnar and then Kati's!

Now some just about you! This is Karen----->>>

11.Your favourite food is...
Middle Eastern, all the way!

12.Your fave place to holiday is...
Greece or Canada

13.Your fave film is...
Pollyanna (just joking). Mildred Pierce, To Kill a Mockingbird, Amelie, The Shawshank Redemption, Titanic, Silence of the Lambs, Apocalypse Now – no theme there at all!

14.The soundtrack to your life would be...
Everything is Awesome! Thank you Lego Movie!

15.Red or white?

I hope you all enjoyed!!! Thanks to Karen for being a victim of my 15 facts!

To find out more about Orenda go here or to Twitter! @OrendaBooks