In a network of lines that enlace

20-something Londoner with a tendency toward book ranting.

If you love books enough, books will love you back

Among Others - Jo Walton

Mor, after the death of her twin sister and months in care, moves from the Valleys of Wales to an English boarding school where she is immediately an outcast. Having just met her father for the first time, whose care she is now under, she finds solace in the worlds of Science Fiction novels. After all: Mor’s mother is a witch and she can see fairies, so it makes sense that fantastic writings have appeal.

This book is absorbing, charming and extremely real. Being Welsh and having been to most of the places mentioned, I can understand completely how jarring it would be to move from the valleys and the Welsh way of life to an upper class boarding school in the late seventies. Mor is a teen obsessed with literature and the fantasy world; which instantly bonds you to her character. It’s a coming-of-age story, as Mor works out both who she is and who she will be; learning to lead her own life and break through the painful life she had before.


Mor’s full name is Morwenna, and her twin was Morgana, which again was shortened to Mor. This adds another level of discovery, or breaking free. As a twin, she always had another ‘self’ another person constantly with her, both in looks, in like and in name. Now that person has gone, will forever be stuck at 14: she even sees her sister’s ghost proving this. Mor will grow, change and become a different person alone. And this book is the story of her coming to terms with this.


Then there’s the element of the fantastic. Can Mor actually see fairies? Is her mother really a witch? Or, seeing as her childhood with her mother and the loss of her twin were extremely traumatic, is this her coping mechanism. We’re never sure, and the novel ends almost of a final show down that would free her from this past. Has Mor chosen to face reality, to ‘grow up?’ Or is everything she tells you completely real?


It’s a clever book, which references a huge amount of science fiction classics. So as a bonus, it gives you a fantastic reading list to work on. This is a good piece, one I’m glad I read.

My Ford, the future is terrifying

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

A world without art. A world without religion. Without science, without love, without monogamy, without murder and without individual thought. Everyone is born to their station, artificially created into their job, their places in society and therefore their role. Everything is happy and as it should be, and if you feel sad you take the corresponding amount of a drug to make it go away. You do not have relationships or emotional attachments. Everyone belongs to everyone, and nothing is out of place.


This is genuinely disturbing piece and a quick read. The writing pace and description is excellently done, until the final part of the novel. I felt that the conversation between Mr Savage and the Controller was a little too lecture-style in comparison with the rest of the novel’s format.


All in all, one I would recommend to anyone. It’s more than worth its reputation and standing.

The night maybe dark and full of terrors, but I've got a big stick

Foxglove Summer: A Rivers of London Novel - Ben Aaronovitch

It’s been over a year in the waiting, but here we have the next Peter Grant novel. These are always a joy to read; fun, well-written and contain a fantastic comedic element that actually appeals to my sense of humour. I raced through this, enjoying Peter’s ‘escape to the country’. I did miss the London centric focus, but we’ll be getting that in the next of the series.


The story is interesting, hilarious and full of enough geek references to keep me happy and smiling. But in terms of the overall plot, the book fails to advance us in any direction at all. And considering where we left the last one, this is frustrating. I personally am far more interested in Nightingale, Molly and Leslie than I am in Peter’s love life.


So a good fantasy fairytale with a lot of classic lore. But if the next novel doesn’t progress the overall plotline, I don’t think I’ll be as keen on this series.


Shock value

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

I liked Gone Girl, and I'm half way through Dark Places and so far think it's brilliant. However, Sharp Objects is a classic shock value novel. It's very disappointing. I felt as if this was the author trying to show she could write dark and edgy; and what I read was a series of cliches, horrendous description and metaphor taken too far.


The main character is unlikable. In fact, everyone in this book is a shock character and unlikable. It's therefore hard to really connect with the world. It's unreal and out of a low budget gore film. The self harm, if I'm honest, is written in an almost offensive manner; I say this working for a mental health organisation (although I am by no means a specialist). She took a concept too far, and seemed again to use it for shock value.


The story boarders on offensive at times, which is why I don't rate it highly. The writing is wonderful, and you can see her growing as a writer in her two later novels. However this one, I would not recommend.


Uniquely ununique

The Passage - Justin Cronin

There's nothing truly original about The Passage. It's tome of a read, broken up into distinctly separate stories of what is essentially a post-apocalyptic disaster story. Yet it's this that somehow makes it stand out from the crowd.


The first book is the classic science gone wrong. A well meaning scientist test a virus to extend human life which backfires and destroys humanity. It's what makes up countless science fiction stories. The details are impressive; the dreams and different styles of writing and multiple perspectives. It keeps you intrigued in what is an otherwise overdone plot line. The death-row inmates as test subjects was a twisted touch that seemed scarily possible. That was part of the intrigue of this novel; you could suspend disbelief easily, and see this happening.


Post apocalypse we move forward in time to where humanity's last colony is attempting to survive. It's very Attack on Titan meets World War Z, and the characters were all individual enough for you care what happened.


It could have been more concisely delivered, and the stories are not new; I just haven't ever read them in the same over-arching plot line. You are in for the long-haul with this one, but if you're okay with that, it's worth a go.


Worth the hype

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

I usually avoid the bestsellers. I have a habit of hating them, of not understanding why so many people adore and promote them. But this time I gave in and bought it; the summary was intriguing and I was in a real novel slump.


I spent the first part interested enough. Her writing is very impressive and accessible; and the story had enough mystery to keep me going. I wanted to know what happened to Amy, and the obvious undertones of 'everyone is hiding something' was good enough to keep me turning the pages. I guessed that Nick had a mistress; that I saw coming from the start. By that point I was close to calling it quits. However I am glad I kept going.


Girl meets boy was a shock. I have to say it; while it was obvious that Amy was not what she seemed, that level of intensity and madness was completely unexpected. And brilliant. It was extreme, but real. I can see how a person being brought up in that environment could feel as if they had no identity, so simply assumed one. I think everyone at some point has felt that someone in their life has treated them badly, and gets away with it; or even gets rewarded. I know I have. But turning that feeling into Amy's precise, planned out vengeance is a brilliant feat of writing, and was done magnificently.


The ending left my stomach churning. The sign of good, dark story.


The fae world in central London

Sixty-One Nails (Courts of the Feyre (Numbered)) - Mike Shevdon

When a book is promised to follow in the footsteps of the marvellous Neil Gaiman; I’m always wary. There’s very few who can justify that claim. While I understand how that comparison can be made with this book, Sixty-One nails is an excellent fae fantasy story in its own right.

It is a similar vein to Neverwhere; centring upon a middle-aged man, who is accidentally brought into a world of fairies and magic that is quite simply outside of his comprehension. The plot leads us around London, with much of it tied into the setting. While the history of London is a key element of the plot, it doesn’t have the same symbiosis Neverwhere does; although if you enjoyed Neverwhere, this book will probably have the same appeal.

Folklore is intricately tied into the plotline; travelling via lay lines and fairies being unable to touch iron are a few examples. However the relationship between the human world and the fairy world isn’t explored well in this book; it seems to be too at odds. It was hard to understand how a semi-harmonious state had been achieved. The close of the novel though suggests this will be explored in the second of the series.

Niall is a good lead character, with enough disbelief and common reactions to the strange events that befall him to gain your trust and sympathy. Blackbird is less easy to connect with, and I still find it difficult to picture her completely. Although her strength, power and wisdom can be seen clearly, her vulnerability appears suddenly, in an almost cliché way. Not enough time is given to her as a character, so when the relationship begins between them, it’s difficult to understand the connection.

I did enjoy this novel, and the plot was strong throughout; will be reading the next in the series.

Computer hackers in fairyland

Snow White And The Seven Samurai - Tom Holt

With a title like this, I just had to buy the book. In this world, fairy tales are all part of one universe, made possible by the Mirrors 3.1 system governed by the Evil Queen. Two teenage hackers break into the system, crash it and then everything starts to go very, very wrong.


The diverse range of the plot is incredible. You have traditional Arne-Thompson classified tales such as Snow White and Beauty and the Beast, mixed with The Wind in the Willows, Dragons and even a H.P Lovecraft reference. It hilariously plays on the tropes of various genres; the characteristics that make characters stock and therefore controllable, as well as being a reflection on technology.


It was clever, and enjoyable but did boarder on a little too much technicality. However it’s a wonderfully unique novel that deserves reading.

Too much hype, not my sort of book

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - Rachel Wilson-Broyles, Jonas Jonasson

I was persuaded to buy this as part of a deal at Waterstones. I’d heard of the author, and thought I’d give it a try.


I personally did not get on with this novel. It was interesting to begin with, and involved history is a fantastic way. But after a while the semi-comedic but serious writing style started to grate. It isn’t my humour. It’s a little dark, but not enough to really embrace it, sarcastic, brilliantly so at times, but mostly not quite hitting the mark, and then at other times it’s just strange. I think the concept is fantastic, but it didn’t quite work with my tastes.

A good first novel

The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon

I picked up the Bone Season not knowing it was a young adult novel, so this soon raised concern. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The novel is not particularly original; the story screams of The Saga of Exiles. A strange other race that uses humans as slaves and have otherworldly powers. They are also strangely beautiful, and extremely cruel.

The novel is limiting; it is obvious the author is young and this is her first time writing. The setting is constrained to London and Oxford, the only places in her experience. There isn’t much risk in the story. It is formulaic, safe and isn’t challenging. However, the writing is wonderful. She is exceptionally talented, and can tell a story well. Paige is an interesting character, tough but with emotion. Her world, while not original and limited in setting, is interesting. As a British author, the story has far more depth than a lot of her peers, and the emphasis on history is a fantastic element.

This is worth reading, and I look forward to the second in the series. However I also look forward to what we will see from this author over the next few years; as she grows, I am sure her stories will too.

So far, so addictive

The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon

Starting reading this at the beginning of the week, and I am amazed.


You can tell this is a young, first time author, but it's still very good. A lot of talent, and at half way through, I am excited to see how it continues.

Pretty good for a zombie novel

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

As far as zombie novels go, this is the best I’ve read. I’m saying this as a person who in general, does not enjoy zombie fiction, or really zombies in any media. However I was persuaded this was worth my while, so decided to give it a go.


The method is fantastic. It’s a medical disaster novel rather than the traditional fiction you’re used to. To start with, it was very interesting and I liked the way we witnessed the war from multiple perspectives. The way the author has anticipated the reaction and methodology of how different countries and areas respond is intelligently done and intriguing.


However, I just got bored. For me, this method worked for about three quarters of the plot, then just fell flat. It could have done with something else, a different perspective. It’s still a good book and if you like zombie fiction, I think it would tip into being a great book. It’s worth a go.


Too much character, not enough plot

Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie

I did enjoy the second instalment of The First Law trilogy. Joe Abercrombie is a fantastic writer, and his characters are marvellous. In the second of the series, we follow three very distinct strands: Glokta’s struggles against the Gurnish, West’s fight in the north, and Ninefinger’s grudging quest following the first of the Magi. We learn so much about all of the main characters; Luthar learns about himself and the value of trusting others (a mace in the face will do that to a person), Ninefingers and Ferro try and fail to build a relationship and West…kills the prince. Which, I have to admit, I was not expecting.


We also learn more about the pasts of each character; and why they could be important in the future. But this is where the book falls down. Other than a lot of interesting character exploration, nothing else actually happens. The plot does not develop at all, and by the end of the book you have no idea where it’s going. It could have been half the length that it is, and still contain the same information. There are a lot of battle scenes padding this out.


I will be reading the last in the series; I’m still interested in seeing where it’s going. But after the first book, this was somewhat of a disappointment.

Perfect for younger readers

Terra - Mitch Benn

I’m not great at enjoying novels for younger readers or young adults. I don’t know why, but something about the genre doesn’t stick with me. However Terra was delightful. It was very much like reading a Roald Dahl novel; the same sense of humour and vivid storyline. It’s definitely one for a young audience, all about the power of imagination, storytelling and the value of being different.

The power of words

Lexicon - Max Barry

Lexicon is once again a novel I picked up on a whim. The summary was vague but interesting, so I wasn’t expecting it to be as marvellous as it was. As can be judged by the title, language is the plot of the story. Emily is recruited from the streets by an organisation who use words like no other; they persuade people by understanding how the mind processes language. Those who can master this skill are known as poets, and with their mastery they are given the name of a famous poet. We come across Eliot, Plath, Woolf, Yeats and Bronte during the course of the novel.


The imagination that has gone into this work is brilliant, and the characters are real and engrossing. I did guess what was happening at points, but this didn’t detract from the story. In fact, it made me want to understand and find out exactly what had occurred.


I thoroughly recommend this novel, it’s a brilliant read.

Page 88

Lexicon - Max Barry

I might be a little obsessed. So far, so brilliant.

Currently reading

Dangerous Women
George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois
Progress: 201/800 pages