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Showing posts from September, 2012

Tutankhamen's Curse by Joyce Tyldesley

This is a brilliantly accessible book from the splendid Joyce Tyldesley. She has written an engaging tale  that encompasses the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, the afterlife of the supposed curse, and Tutankhamen's place in Egyptian dynastic history. And the best part is it's all true!

I have been somewhat interested (obsessed) with Ancient Egypt since I was a very small child. When, at infant school, we got to choose the subject for our first ever project I knew exactly what I'd be writing and drawing about, no hesitation. Pyramids, Pharaohs, dog-headed gods, I couldn't get enough. My gorgeous parents took me, and my sisters, to the British Museum to stare in awe at the amazing relics of a long-lost age. I think I can trace my beginnings as an historian to that day; mum bought me this book, a proper grown-up history book, so much more interesting to me than any children's book. It is a treasured possession.

There was a small hiatus when I watched a film that …

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

The Edge of Nowhere is the first in a new series, aimed at teen readers. The Saratoga Woods series is set on Whidbey Island, and promises to be entertaining supernatural crime/thriller. I hadn't heard of Whidbey Island before so was imagining an Isle of Wight type place, good for a family holiday (oh the childhood memories!) But, things are an awful lot weirder on Whidbey Island even than at Blackgang Chine. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our hero is Becca King, living under an assumed identity and in hiding from her seriously dodgy and dangerous stepfather. Her mum's a bit of a flake, couldn't tell a good guy from a wrong 'un, but throws herself into doing everything she can to protect Becca and herself once she realises just how bad her husband really is. She arranges for Becca to stay with an old friend of hers on Whidbey Island. It should be a relatively safe place, cut off as it is from the mainland and accessible only by ferry. Becca reaches the island saf…

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

Excuse me while I morph into a crazy fan-girl for a moment...

I love love love this book, it is cool and fab and lots of other gushy words, and I heart Bobby Dollar so much it hurts...

Right, back to normal now, although I truly did love this book. It saw me over a couple of ropey days when I desperately needed something to take my mind off other stuff. It is a proper storyteller's story, packed full of plot and character. Now, I haven't yet read any of Tad Williams' other novels, which are full-on fantasy, but this does seems like a bit of a new angle for him. The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a supernatural-crime mash-up. I rather enjoy a good mash-up, playing with genres gets the thumbs-up, especially when something as cool as this is the result.

Our hero, the yummy Bobby Dollar is a P.I. with a difference; he's an angel. A bona fide angel, with access to the other side but clothed in human form so as not to startle the natives. Along with his angel buddies his job is …

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

I heard about this book through David Hebblethwaite who rated it very highly indeed. I read his review and decided it was definitely for me. I am very interested in fables and fairy tales and love a good retelling or re-imagining. Redemption in Indigo begins with a Senegalese folk tale, then takes the story much further creating something new and exciting.

Paama and Ansige are the mismatched couple at the heart of the tale. Ansige is a foolish man, tragically unworthy of his wife. They ought to be better suited; Paama is an amazing cook and Ansige truly loves to eat. But his devotion to his belly is so overwhelming as to be all-consuming. His gluttony is symptomatic of his character, so is compounded by other vices:

'arrogance complicated by indolent stupidity, lust for comfort, ire when thwarted, avarice in all his business dealings, and a strange conviction that always, somehow, there was some undeserving person who had more food than he did.'
Paama runs away from her unsati…

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Top of the Pile

Like avid readers everywhere I have the most enormous piles of books scattered liberally throughout my house. Occasionally I feel overwhelmed by the number of books I want to read compared to the amount of time I have to read them in. Generally though I am very quickly distracted from this unhappy thinking by another book I am sent or just happen to spot.  I do try to keep track of what's in the 'to read' pile(s) by noting down publication dates of books that I am lucky enough to get advance copies, and by keeping a notebook of books I buy and acquire (thanks Dad!). I also arrange and rearrange stacks of books in the order that I want to read them. All of which I enjoy doing; I like a system. Today, however, I am going one step further. I am putting the four books that have reached the top of the reading pile on my blog. I know this is in no way original, but it looks like the kind of fun I want to join in with. So I will.

First up is a book I received yesterday. It is my …

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson