I was recently summonsed for jury duty. It was a responsibility I took very seriously, as that is how I would want any juror of mine to behave, and it gave me a new perspective on how the justice system works (slowly…very, very slowly). There is a LOT of sitting around waiting for people to tell you what to do and where to go. The silver lining was the amount of book reading time I suddenly found myself with. Below are my reviews of the books I read whilst people in wigs pondered legal arguments:
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
‘It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes. Such prophecies could be dismissed as trickery and nonsense, yet the Golds bury theirs deep. Over the years that follow they attempt to ignore, embrace, cheat and defy the ‘knowledge’ given to them that day – but it will shape the course of their lives forever.’
Where is it now: Being donated to charity – I am very glad I read it, but it is doubtful I’d read it again.
Review: This is an engaging tale with characters written well enough that you feel you are getting separate and individual views into their worlds. The order that their stories are told in draws you in and keeps you interested. Well-paced and enjoyable, recommended.
Rules For Mavericks – A manifesto for dissident creatives by Phil Beadle
‘A guidebook to leading a creative life, to being a renaissance dilettante, to infesting your art form with other art forms, to taking a stand against mediocrity, to rejecting bloodless orthodoxies, to embracing your own pretension and, most of all, to dealing with your failure(s). ‘If you make any stand against power, then power will stand against and on you. And it will do so with centuries of experience and techniques in how to do so effectively: you will be painted as barbaric, dismissed as stupid and insane, be told to know your place.’
Where is it now: On the bookshelf, awaiting re-reading.
Score: ? (I need to read it again to settle on a score)
Review: Unusual and challenging style, constantly changing backgrounds and fonts which make you work for the information. I finished it though, which is usually a good sign, but I’m worried about whether the style outweighs the substance. Not worried enough to donate it, intrigued enough to re-read it, so leaning more towards a positive recommendation…sorry (although I’d probably get kicked out of the Maverick club for apologising…)
The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
‘When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much.
The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer.
The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running.
Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants. Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet.
They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.’
Where is it now: on the bookshelf with the sequel I immediately ordered upon finishing this one.
Review: This may not be gory, technically mind-boggling or trippy enough for some sci-fi readers but the plot is good, the writing is excellent and the characters are diverse and interesting. It snuck up on me that I was reading about characters with nuance and flaws which were not necessarily plot driven. It was read quickly and will be read again. Recommended.
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
‘What if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…,
Where is it now: waiting to be borrowed by a Buffy the vampire slayer fan.
Review: I did not realise this was a YA novel until I had already picked it up and started reading, by which time I didn’t mind and had decided to finish it. With it being YA it was a speedy read. It is not set in the Buffyverse but it is an original perspective on a story that will feel familiar to anyone ever exposed to Ms Summers and her gang. I wouldn’t normally read YA but I have picked up a copy of A monster calls and I recommend this one.
If any of this has stirred you into book buying mode PLEASE consider NOT using Amazon.
To be all environmentally friendly and recycle there is: World of Books
To be all environmentally friendly, recycle AND support a charity there is: Oxfam (or your local charity shop)
But if you are able and willing to support the writers there is: Hive books.