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Showing posts from December, 2012

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

...And to apologise for the slight delay in reviews. I do have plenty to catch up on, but it's been a busy few weeks. I have another couple of very busy weeks ahead, then it's all change for me. My branch of Waterstones is closing tomorrow, which is incredibly sad. I've worked there since it opened in 1995, with only a brief foray into the Piccadilly shop during 1999-2000. So, it's a huge emotional thing, to say goodbye to this part of my life. Tomorrow will be my last bookselling shift for the foreseeable future. We have a little time after Christmas to pack up the stock, then that's it, the end of an era. But, change also creates opportunities. I'm planning to spend more time working on my thesis, and I have a couple of little projects up my sleeve. I will definitely be reading and reviewing. If I get a mo, I'll post a review before New Year, otherwise I'll be back very shortly afterwards. I have …

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

I love December, I really do. The dark wintry nights lend themselves to snuggling up on the sofa with a good book. The days are full of Christmas planning and shopping - the only shopping I enjoy except for book buying. It's a twinkly, sparkly month culminating in that most perfect of days, Christmas Day itself. For me and mine, it's a family day first and foremost, full of pleasure and good cheer. In amongst all the present-giving, eating, playing and watching Doctor Who there's not much room for thinking about the family upon which the Christian festival itself is based. This year I may just take a moment to ponder the lives behind the legend.

The Testament of Mary is a slim volume. As the title implies it is narrated by Mary, as she tries to understand the events surrounding her only son's crucifixion and her own actions and reactions. It is not a straightforward recounting of the steps towards a necessary and determined sacrifice. Rather it is a series of memories, …

Wine of Violence by Priscilla Royal

Last month I spotted an intriguing tweet from new publisher Head of Zeus. Book bloggers who liked historical fiction were encouraged to get in contact about a history mystery project. It sounded very intriguing, and something that might suit me very well indeed. So I did get in contact. This was very much the correct move to make. Head of Zeus are publishing three series of historical mysteries, all of which look great. The first that caught my eye is the Medieval Mystery series by Priscilla Royal. Wine of Violence is the first book, set in a religious house in 1270. I love the medieval period, and think it makes a great setting for a murder mystery. Think Ellis Peters' Cadfael novels and you're not a million miles away. But, the extra twist here is that Tyndal Priory is a joint house, home to both monks and nuns, and it is presided over by a Prioress. A female main character is manna to my soul, and Prioress Eleanor is a worthy lead. Despite her youth she is wise, thoughtful,…

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

It's the nativity, but not as we know it.

As you may well expect from the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this is a rather different version of the Christmas story. Instead of the three wise men we get three thieves. Yep, thieves. Not kings or holy men or even noble men, but lowdown dirty thieves. Fabulous. The trio meet up in a dungeon, awaiting execution. It is a complete accident that they become mixed up with Mary, Joseph, and the little baby Jesus.
The brains behind the escape plan is Balthazar, or the notorious Antioch Ghost, a nickname in which he takes some pride. He's been the scourge of the rich for years, stealing whatever and wherever he wanted, then vanishing without trace. The story opens with a brilliant chase sequence as Balthazar is pursued across the desert by 'a cloud of indeterminate wrath'. He can't tell exactly how many soldiers are after him, but it is a lot. Too many even for an escape artist of his calibre. And so he ends up in t…