Saturday, February 28, 2015

Grimm Tales: For Young and Old

The cover on this book is an absolutely stunning papercut masterpiece. 
I'm loving the tree knots that are eyes!

I was fascinated by Philip Pullman's Golden Compass series of books, so when I saw this one I had to have it. Here, Pullman has rewritten fifty legendary Grimm's tales, with commentary at the end of each story about the influences on his version, and links to the different versions. Fairytales absolutely intrigue me with their ingenuity and magical elements, and I fell into this book wholeheartedly. What a joy to rediscover old rarities such as One Eye, Two Eyes and Three Eyes, twists on familiar favourites such as Thousandfurs which is a take on Cinderella, and the classics such as Hansel and Gretel with the infamous Gingerbread House.

Fairytales are so ingrained in our psyche that when you read them in this context you recognise the tale "types" easily, and you realise how these types have influenced story writing ever since.

A fun and entertaining read!

My rating *****

Sunday, January 18, 2015


This is not quite as an exciting read as the Divergent series because it is the same content from a different point of view. However, I did enjoy it, because I just love the story. This is a good one to read if you have already read the Divergent series and miss reading about that world. Possibly a good way to get boys into the series, as it is from a male rather than female point of view.

My rating ****

On Beulah Height

Now this is a great detective book! I can absolutely see why they made Hill's writings into the popular Dalziel and Pascoe on the small screen. This book is clever and witty, with Latin, biblical, mythical, literary and historical references peppered throughout.The characters are highly visual and their conversations full of amusing banter.

The story is about the search for missing children which makes the heart want to read on to discover a solid conclusion. The ending is quite startling and was not what I expected at all. 
Creepy to the extreme.

As my mum would say, there is a lot of reading in this story, which means you can't gloss over it if you want to enjoy all the interesting detail. I was fascinated by the way this book was written and will add it to my collection of authors to study when I get a moment to write my own novel. :) 

My rating *****

Something Quite Peculiar

In the early 90s I spent much of my time going to see bands like The Church, Hunters and Collectors and Crowded House. It was a very music-filled time of my life and I was even in a band for a moment myself! This book, by the lead singer of The Church, took me back to those times, and reminded me why I didn't go all out to achieve the musical dream. Living in hotels, making dodgy deals with bureaucrats, creating music that wasn't quite how it was meant to sound, are all experiences described by Steve Kilbey in this book that made me not regret my choice to be a teacher rather than a singer.

 I enjoyed learning about Kilbey's childhood, his personal musical journey and his determination to write a good song after many false starts. I was sad to hear of his addiction to heroin which overtook his life and made him lose virtually everything. But I loved reading of how he came through that time and discovered he didn't have to be bombastic and arrogant to be seen as a highly intelligent musician and songwriter. While reading, I spent a lot of time popping over to YouTube to watch videos of the songs mentioned, revisiting favourites and discovering new ones, such as the music by his twin daughters, and their band, Say LouLou, and also watching his infamous Aria award speech which I had never seen before. The band's lead guitarist was obviously mortified by Kilbey's new found candour during this speech, but it was so refreshing to see Kilbey animated, passionate and not ho hum bored which is how he had always previously been in the media. It was quite a revelation!

Still, I was left a little wanting at the end of the book. To me, it felt like there were a lot of loose ends, particularly about his family life. There was a photo here and there, a comment here and there, but nothing really substantial, for example who is the mother of his younger children, and what are those kids like? Maybe I'm being too much of a busybody, but I just felt it was a bit lopsided when he talked about the achievements of his older twins and not the others. Anyway, I discovered his personal blog which has some of that detail, so if I read a bit more of that I'm sure I'll get the full picture. The blog is written in a more Kilbeyesque style too with stream of consciousness style prose and poetic musings. How I expected the book to be, really.

If you are a fan of The Church and/or Kilbey or you are a muso, you will have a blast reading this book. It is very inspiring for budding musicians and songwriters and certainly took me back to my younger days. Two weeks after reading it I am still humming Church songs.

My rating: ****

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Twist in the Tale

This one has been sitting on my shelves for a looooong time, but I held onto it because I had a feeling it would be good, and it was. A Twist in the Tale is a collection of 12 short stories, which I usually enjoy because they have such great twists at the end. I guessed the twists of some of the stories, but it didn't spoil them. Most of them just made me smile at the cleverness of the author. This is the only Jeffrey Archer book I've read, and I enjoyed his intelligent use of language and his knowledge of a vast range of topics. This book was written in 1988, so it is ancient, but the content hadn't dated too much. An amusing and entertaining read.

My rating ****

The Greatest Lover Ever

I was convinced this book was going to be a load of saucy rubbish, but actually, it was quite good! At first glance you'd think this was just going to be a Fifty Shades of Grey semi-porn piece of pulp, but I found it quite amusing and well written. The story is set in Regency England and involves the redheaded and beautiful Georgiana Black, and her betrothed Marcus Beckenham who separate after a misunderstanding. Six years later they again cross paths and realise they are still wildly attracted to each other, but refuse to get together. Beckenham invites a group of ladies to his home in a similar style to The Bachelor, getting to know each woman and deciding who he will choose to marry. Georgiana's sister Violet is one of them, and she convinces Georgiana to accompany her on the week long stay at Beckenham's where, of course, Georgiana and Beckenham are torn between resistance and submission to their true desires.

This book was such a pleasant surprise with its well-developed characters, romantic setting and the author's impressive vocabulary.
 I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My rating ****

Kick Back

This book has been on my shelves for a very long while, but it looked like a quick read so I finally gave it a go. Val McDermid writes well. Her P.I. Kate Brannigan is a determined character, and manages to put up with her partner Richard, who is a pain! Brannigan's quips are amusing and made me laugh. However, the thing with this book is that for a mystery story it is too tame. I think, if you are going to write about crime it has to involve murder, which I know sounds morbid, but otherwise it's just too run-of-the-mill. There is a spectacular death in the book, but it is only really an aside. The three crimes in this story involved stealing or fraud which, while probably exciting in the average Joe's life, were too dull for a detective story. was amusing, but forgettable.

My rating **