Sunday, 28 July 2013

Shepherd L 2012 Tom-all-alone's

This is good! Witty, literary, arch, engaging. I read the first 200 pages at a gallop, then slowed down to savour the writing before it was over all too soon.

It's not quite a detective novel, although the hero is a detective. It's not quite a historical novel, although it's firmly set in Victorian London.

The only aspect of the book I'm not completly sold on is the references to authors who weren't writing at the time the novel is set. It's smart - but maybe a bit too smart? - every time I spot one I lose my immersion for a moment. As she says:
'Only connect' is proving a difficult aphorism to follow.
Yet I defy you to read this and not revisit Dickens.

First line:
The young man at the desk puts down his pen and sits back in his chair. The fog has been thickening all afternoon, and whatever sun might once have shone is now sinking fast.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Davidson MJ 2007 Drop dead gorgous


Don't do it. You wouldn't like it.

Davies DK 2011 True things about me

From the beginning the author plays with the reader's feelings. On the one hand, here's a silly and self obsessed girl who over emotes about a casual fuck. Woman, get a grip and move on. On the other hand, the sense of developing menace makes you worry for the frivolous and vulnerable girl and hope that with her family and friends she finds the strength to stop the descent which is overwhelming her.

Ths is Bridget Jones without the laughs. But the charming bastard who turns her life upside down is less charming and much more bastard than Darcy. Much more bastard.

He took me down the steps into the car park, and led me to a dark area. I could smell damp concrete, oil, exhaust fumes. He backed me up against a pillar. Take your underwear off, he said, and grinned, showing his teeth.

It's a tale of domestic violence. There are strongly written consensual sex scenes, and there are strongly written non-consensual scenes that are hard to read. It's a compelling book. Saying I enjoyed it seems like the wrong word. But I am glad I read it. I won't read it again.

First line:
I pressed the buzzer for the next claimant.

Last line:
So I left him in the bedroom.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Bateman, C 1995 Divorcing Jack

This is how to write a crime novel. Set your book somewhere vivid. Create a flawed protagonist who has enough virtues that the reader cares. Have interesting times happen to your hero, and lay the clues to the mystery so your reader always wants to read just one more chapter.

Bateman works this formula wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a couple of days in Belfast with a disreputable journalist.

If anyone out there's writing Bateman fan-fic I'd be equally happy to spend more time with the Mrs, who takes no shit. Mess with her; she melts your record collection. And, in my opinion, she's well within her rights to do so. Unfaithful husbands have lessons to learn.

First line: I was upstairs with a girl I shouldn't have been upstairs with when my wife whispered in my ear, "you have 24 hours to move out".

Last line: "No", she said.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Butcher, J 2011 Ghost story

Confession: I gave up on this one. I did read to page 466 (of 611), so I suppose I could have powered through, but by then I couldn't remember who the characters were, I didn't care, and it was convenient to take it back to the library.

If you like the Dresden Files series, this is another one. You'll probably like it. But, for me, too long, over complicated, bit dull.

The last few books I've read have been 600 page marathons. I think I need a few quickies.

First line:
Life is hard. Dying's easy.
last line (yes, I peeked!)
There is much work to be done
I'm guessing that means there's another sequel coming soon?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Am a bit slow, sometimes

So reading the last third of Stross' excellent The Revolution Trade I was reminded thematically of the not-excellent-but-great-fun novel by Heinlein, To Sail Beyond Sunset. A little more thinking and it dawned on me that both are Exodus. A chosen people, fucked over by the majority population, starting again and having some tribulations en route.

At least I think thats what happens in Exodus? I havent actually finished reading it...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Stross C 2013 The revolution trade

Part three of the trilogy, and unlike part two (when I was mostly figuring out who's who and what's what) I'm powering my way through the story and enjoying the factions and the politicing.

My thoughts about the earlier novel apply to this one too. Great writing. Strong central idea, explored in interesting ways. Characters I believe in - I welcomed more of Lady Brill & her kick ass ways this time. Writing that's a pleasure to read.

War is a central theme. There are two civil wars, and an interplanetary one. I'm writing this review half way through the book, and I've been expecting a third civil war to kick off for the last 100 pages. It seems having world-walkers is, um, destabilisng. I'm hoping the book returns to, and explores the moral dimension of, what I'm going to call the BIG KER-BLAM!!! moment. It feels like there's more that shoud be said about the BANG that happens.

I'm also very entertained by the firm views on contemporary Americn government that the author isn't shy of sharing. This is my favourite line:
You know how the Americans respond to attack. They are relentless, and they will slaughter millions without remorse in the name of vengeance.

First line:
The inspectors arrived before dawn.
PS: took my own anti-brick advice. Kindle, baby.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Stross, C 2013, The Traders' War

"It's never treason if you win"

Had I realised in the library that this brick of a book was part two of a trilogy (more accurately, parts three and four of a sixology), I'd have put it back and started at the beginning.  But I didn't realise, and the first thirty pages had me intrigued enough to read on and work it all out as I go. My way requires concentration, but it is doable. I imagine that linear types would be less confused by starting with book one.

The story? Modern Miss finds herself living a luxury medieval-ish life on a parallel earth. Time passes, more worlds ensue. There is a War. This isn't a spoiler: the set up is in book one (I guess), and the war is in the title.

I'm already a fan of Stross' excellent Laundry series - although the stories often confuse me and I only get about 3% of the geek references - he's a writer I enjoy. The Traders' War is a different genre, and I'm delighted to discover I'm a fan of this Stross too. So much a fan that I'll be reading books one and three as soon as I can lay my hands on them.

Handy hint: it's a brick. Buy on Kindle or get in some training with light hand weights.

First line:
Nail lacquer, the woman called Helge reflected as she paused in the antechamber, always did two things to her: it reminded her of her mother, and it made her feel like a rebellious  little girl.
'I think we might be able to deal with the enemy without mounting a frontal attack on those guns: and in the process, inconvenience the pretender mightily...'