Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blogging Break - Seasonal Greetings and Best Wishes For 2016

I am taking a break from blogging for the next few weeks, until after Twelfth Night. I will however continue to post as often as I can on my Instagram account.

I look forward to returning next year to share many more Book Reviews with you all. Thankyou so much to my followers here for your continuing support.

Wishing you all Seasonal Greetings and Very Best Wishes For 2016

Photo was taken by me at The White Hall Hotel in Tywyn and then edited in Picasa

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

Paperback: 291 pages

Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2014
Source: The author's publicists in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence:Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight.
Favourite Quote: “That's a very strongly defined term, dear, 'wrong choices' and i'm not sure it's helpful. There are no wrong or right choices, necessarily, just those you make or don't make and the consequences. And by extension, how you deal with the consequences.”
Review Quote: 'I wanted to read this quickly but it kept making me stop to think. I love this stunning collection of quirky ideas, skillfully told and any one of them could happen to any one of us, at any time.' Cecelia Ahern.
My Opinion: Set in the real world but with ridiculous things happening I struggled to read this. Do not get me wrong this a well written and quirky novel dealing with loss. As I am not generally a fan of fantasy fiction this was no great surprise to me, but I do like to take the opportunity to read things outside my comfort zone. Although it did not work for me it will I think  appeal to 'real' fans of this genre.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads :

On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.

Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realize that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his father, is slipping away from him.

Of Things Gone Astray is a magical fable about modern life and values and finding the things that really matter

Author Profile:

Janina is a London based writer of novels and plays. She is ill equipped to deal with domestic concerns and almost always kills her plants.
Of Things Gone Astray is now available in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. Published by The Friday Project at Harper Collins.
Her first novella, The Understanding of Women, was released world wide as an eBook in October 2012 and her play, Human and If, had it's first public reading in July 2012.
She will never get used to Christmas being cold as she was born in New Zealand.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads Author Profile    Amazon Author Page   Janina Matthewson Official Website

Twitter Profile

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Paperback:  336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Serpents Tail, 2014
Source: Purchased from Amazon.
First Sentence: Those who know me now will be surprised to learn that I was a great talker as a child.
Favourite Quote: Language is more than just words, he said Language is also the order of words and the way one word inflects another.
Review Quote: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but. This novel is deliciously jaunty in tone and disturbing in material. Karen Joy Fowler tells the story of how one animal-the animal of man-can simultaneously destroy and expand our notion of what is possible (Alice Sebold)

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2014)Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2013)PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2014)California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction (2013)John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee (2014)
My Opinion: .The strangest book I have read this year!

Well that was indeed a different read! A very odd and strange narrative, that first appears to be a traditionally told family story. However it is far from that, very difficult indeed to say much without spoilers, which I always aim not to do. 

Very briefly then, this novel starts out very normally and I thought I was going to enjoy the account of life in the Cooke household where the three siblings Lowell, Fern and Rosemary were growing up. Personally I found Rosemary to be extremely annoying, what a misery she was, making her life far more hellish than it needed to be surely. What a dysfunctional family unit they were and being used by one's parents in such a strange way obviously had a very bewildering effect on the children. When you come to the twist you will start to realise why!

There is no doubt that the author is a talented writer and in theory the plot is a very clever one and the novel is well deserving of it's short listing for the Man Booker Prize. However it was just not for me, I found the concept completely unappealing, maybe I was meant to, it is certainly a disturbing one. With the strong themes of grief, loss and animal experimentation this is not a novel for the faint hearted. 

Précis: Courtesy of Goodreads:

What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment?

Rosemary doesn't talk very much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother Lowell.

Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can't go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone

Author Profile:

Karen Joy Fowler was born in n Bloomington, Indiana, USA, on  February 07, 1950 .   
About this author
: in her own words.
I was born in Bloomington, Indiana. I was due on Valentine's Day but arrived a week early; my mother blamed this on a really exciting IU basketball game. My father was a psychologist at the University, but not that kind of psychologist. He studied animal behavior, and especially learning. He ran rats through mazes. My mother was a polio survivor, a schoolteacher, and a pioneer in the co-operative nursery school movement. Along with basketball, my family loved books. The day I got my first library card there was a special dinner to celebrate. And before I could read myself, I remember my father reading The Iliad to me, although really he was reading it to my older brother, I just got to be there. A shocking book! And I remember Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh in my father's voice and a bunch of other things that weren't movies yet. My parents strongly disapproved of the Disney version of things. Pooh believed in a spoonful of honey, but Mary Poppins did not.

Biography courtesy of  Goodreads where the full article may be read.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile    Karen Joy Fowler - Official Author Website    Amazon Author Page

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cross Roads by Wm Paul Young

Paperback: 286 pages
Genre: Christian Fiction
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library 

First Sentences: Some years in Portland, Oregon, winter is a bully, spitting sleet and spewing snow in fits and starts as it violently wrestles days from spring, claiming some archaic right to remain king of the seasons-ultimately the vain attempt of another pretender.

Favourite Quote: “There is always risk in relationships, but bottom line? The world has no meaning apart from relationships. Some are just messier than others, some are seasonal, others are difficult, and a few are easy, but every one of them is important.” 
My Opinion: 
 Comforting at the time of reading.

My Review :
Prior to being given this book to read for one of the Book Clubs I belong to I had never heard of this author and my initial reaction was that this was a book I very much doubt I would have read from choice.

Like many of us I struggle to understand the world and the meaning of life, so when I first read the blurb for this novel I felt it may be a comforting read. Indeed it was but only at the time of reading, not in a life changing way. A story of  relationships, participation and the choices we make at the crossroads in our lives.

A very complicated story but simply put it is about a businessman who after being involved in an accident is left in a coma.  The protagonist Tony is broken and bitter after the loss of a loved one, he does not really have any faith. Even without a strong belief in God, he finds himself not just meeting him but carrying out a mission on his behalf.  Mysteriously inside other bodies, yes they know he is there, he is able to examine his life in retrospect.  Difficult to comprehend but then so is life, The one thing that slightly concerned me is that maybe some devoted Christians may well find this 'possession' offensive.

A Christian book but absolutely no need to be a believer to benefit from reading.  The author writes (obviously his own beliefs) about life and death in a compassionate way.

You really do need to read this for yourself!

Précis: Courtesy of Goodreads:
Anthony Spencer is egotistical, proud of being a self-made business success at the peak of his game, even though the cost of winning was painfully high. A cerebral hemorrhage leaves Tony comatose in a hospital ICU. He 'awakens' to find himself in a surreal world, a 'living' landscape that mirrors dimensions of his earthly life, from the beautiful to the corrupt. It is here that he has vivid interactions with others he assumes are projections of his own subconscious, but whose directions he follows nonetheless with the possibility that they might lead to authenticity and perhaps, redemption. The adventure draws Tony into deep relational entanglements where he is able to 'see' through the literal eyes and experiences of others, but is "blind" to the consequences of hiding his personal agenda and loss that emerge to war against the processes of healing and trust. Will this unexpected coalescing of events cause Tony to examine his life and realize he built a house of cards on the poisoned grounds of a broken heart? Will he also have the courage to make a critical choice that can undo a major injustice he set in motion before falling into a coma?

YouTube : Official Book Trailer

Author Profile:

William Paul Young was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada on May 11th 1955. The eldest of four children but the majority of his first decade was lived with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a technologically stone age tribal people. These became his family and as the first white child and outsider who ever spoke their language, he was granted unusual access into their culture and community.  An extended biography can be read here

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

YouTube - Book Trailer      Goodreads - Author Profile    Paul Young - Author's Official Website

Facebook - William Paul Young     Wikipedia Profile      Google Search Page