Ben Aaronovitch’s FOXGLOVE SUMMER

9781473208971After the cliffhanger ending to Broken Homes Ben Aaronovitch changes things up for the next book and takes us away from London and its history and magic to the countryside, which it turns out is of course an even richer source of history and magic.

Peter Grant is still trying to come to the terms with the betrayal he experienced at the end of Broken Homes. When two children go missing in rural Herefordshire Nightingale sends Peter on an errand to interview some former practitioners just to make sure none of them are involved. Peter, needing a distraction, jumps at the task and when there doesn’t appear to be any leads volunteers to help with the case.

The two eleven year old girls have been missing four days and the local police have no leads. They are so desperate they ask Peter to go over the case to see if he can find anything “supernatural”. What Peter discovers is almost unbelievable, even for an apprentice wizard. Peter discovers that the boundaries between our world and the magical world are far more porous out here than in London which also means far more dangerous. Peter must find the missing children, work out what is at play and keep himself in one piece all while trying to navigate two foreign environments; the countryside and what maybe some kind of fairy land.

Aaronovitch takes the series to another level in this book. The fact that he leaves the cliffhanger still hovering on a precipice is inconsequential because he opens up a whole other realm of the magical world for Peter to get his head around. We do get some answers to some other burning questions, in particular Ettersburg and some sexual tension that has been building up finally snaps.

I have binged on this series this year and don’t know what I’m going to do while I await the next installment in this brilliant series. Probably just pester as many people as I can to read the books too!

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

Listen

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100 audible
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9781473208971
ISBN-10: 1473208971
Classification: Fantasy
Format: Paperback (179mm x 116mm x 27mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Gollancz
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 8-Jan-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Catherine Lacey’s NOBODY IS EVER MISSING

9781783780877I grabbed this book solely on the back of a tweet from Joss Whedon but it then languished in my TBR pile for months. With the book finally being released in Australia I thought it was time to pick it up and was immediately sucked in.

Catherine Lacey’s writing style is electrifying. She skillfully balances between stream of conscious and almost manic narrative to intimately capture the unravelling of a person. Our narrator is Elyria who has, almost on a whim, left her husband and life in New York to travel to New Zealand where she is trying to hitch her way to an artist’s farm. Elyria has lost all regard for her own well being and safety and is focused on the one task she has set herself. As we travel with her we learn of tragic events in her life and her relationship with her unnamed husband.

Elyria is lost. She wants to be lost. She wants to go missing. Missing from her husband. Missing from her life. Missing from herself. Catherine Lacey captures this sense of running in prose that is charged with so many different emotions. Her sentences are long but frantic, her dialogue short and hidden. Elyria is spinning out of control but is just hanging on and Catherine Lacey manages to infuse this into her writing.

This is a novel that grabs you by the shoulders, holds on tight and gives you a good shake. It will captivate you, it will grab you and will not let you go long after you’ve put the book down. Nobody is ever missing because you can’t go missing from yourself. Even if that is what you want to do.

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9781783780877
ISBN-10: 1783780878
Classification: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Paperback (216mm x 135mm x 17mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publish Date: 5-Feb-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Ben Aaronovitch’s BROKEN HOMES

9780575132481The fourth instalment in the Peter Grant books continues the upward trajectory for this fantastic series, figuratively and somewhat literally. This time the case involves a repository for possible magic truly terrifying; London’s architecture.

Peter and Lesley are trying to track the whereabouts of their now nemesis, known as The Faceless Man, and his ‘off the books’ magicians he has been training called The Little Crocodiles. Their poking around leads them to a gruesome murder in Sussex, a stolen book and the apparent suicide of a town planner. The only link seems to be a council estate tower, Skygarden Estate,  which developers have been circling for years which was designed by a German architect with a taste, sense and possible knowledge of magic.

Peter and Lesley must go undercover to work out what makes Skygarden Estate so special and why it is an intrinsic part of The Faceless Man’s plans. The more digging Peter does the more he learns about the wider world of magic. And as he gets closer towards the truth the more lives he puts at risk, including his own. But there is an even greater loss he is about to suffer.

This series just gets better and better and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I catch up with the series at the end of the next book. This is also crying out to be made into a television series. It has been optioned but doesn’t seem to have advanced any further than that at this stage which is a shame because there is a perfect arc for a tv season plus the potential for separate one-off cases. The dynamics between Peter, Lesley and Nightingale would be superb not to mention Walid, Molly, Zach and Peter’s Mum! Until then if you have read this series, DO IT!

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

Listen

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100 audible
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9780575132481
ISBN-10: 0575132485
Classification: Fantasy
Format: Paperback (198mm x 132mm x 24mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Gollancz
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 8-May-2014
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Roxane Gay’s BAD FEMINIST

9781472119735An Untamed State was an unforgettable novel that was brutally honest, confronting and powerfully written. In this brilliant collection of essays Roxane Gay applies this same style to the modern world in essays that cover everything from gender, race, politics and popular mainstream culture.

I have to admit to some hesitance in reading this title. My perception of what feminism means was narrow and frankly ignorant. I firmly believe in equal rights regardless of gender, race and sexuality but have never explored or given much consideration of what feminism means, to me or other people. As a father of two daughters this is woefully negligent.

What I love most about Roxane Gay’s writing is her honesty. She applies this honesty both internally and externally. She readily admits to her own biases and contradictions but clearly points out that they shouldn’t and don’t change what she values. She calls a spade a spade; good spades and bad. And does so with a critical eye that is frank and engaging.

I most enjoyed her deconstructions of books, music and movies; in particular The Hunger Games, The Help and Django Unchained. Her perspective on and the way she conveys this in her essays is nuanced and powerful. She has an innate ability to see both sides but doesn’t let that make excuses. And by relating her personal experiences and feelings acknowledges there are no easy fixes to some of the problems we must confront and address.

Roxane Gay may call herself a bad feminist but she is a fantastic writer, commentator and storyteller. She may disagree with people being put “on a pedestal” for a movement but as a reader that is where her writing belongs. Or at least as a minimum on top of your TBR pile.

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

Listen

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100 audible
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9781472119735
ISBN-10: 1472119738
Classification: Feminism & feminist theory , Memoirs
Format: Paperback (234mm x 155mm x 26mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Corsair
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 21-Aug-2014
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Jill Leovy’s GHETTOSIDE

9781847923622True crime books get a bad rap, usually deservedly so. They are often sensationally or salacious written, pandering to a voyeuristic nature that plays up the monster angle of those who have perpetuated horrific acts of violence. Those books that look into the real impacts of crime on the victims, perpetrators and investigators, or examine the cause and effect that social policies have on these crimes or examine and question our attitudes to crime and punishment are few and far between.

One of my favourite crime books, fact or fiction, is Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. This book was the basis for the television show Homicide: Life on the Street (Killing was considered too dark for a show about murder) and was the core basis along with his other non fiction book The Corner for the greatest TV series of all time, The Wire.

Jill Leovy’s book follows in the same tradition as David Simon. Leovy was a crime reporter for the LA Times and spent various periods embedded with Los Angeles Homicide Detectives. Ghettoside is centred around one murder, one among many. That of 18-year-old Bryant Tennelle who happened to be the son of a homicide detective. The book painstakingly follows the investigation all the way through to the end of the trial of his killers two years later. In the process Leovy shows how endemic murder has become, particular the murder of young African-American men in Southern Los Angeles.

Leovy does a fantastic job in showing the whole social picture of the crime. Not just what was going on in Southern Los Angeles in 2007 but back through the decades. She shows that what looks like out of control gang violence on the surface is in fact the result of systematic indifference to black-on-black murder going back years. What is causing the massive spike in murders in the southern areas of Los Angeles is not race, it is not drugs and it is not poverty. It is the fact that these murders are more often than not unsolved and the example and expectations that this sets.

Leovy argues that by ignoring crime and treating it as less important a void is created in communities that erodes that community’s sense of justice. That these attitudes not only infect those that live in these communities but also those whose job it is to police crimes in these communities, further perpetuating and fuelling a circle of violence and injustice. This indifference is intensified when it is ignored. When the media fail to report on the crime that is occurring, when the media misrepresent the crime when they do report it is just further proof that these communities are left to their own devices. This void is then filled by a culture of revenge, mistrust and fear where problems are dealt with on the street, not by police. Police are then hampered not only by this culture in which ‘snitching’ is severely punished but also by their own bureaucracy which leaves them under resourced and under trained, further sustaining the problem.

This is exactly what a true crime book should be. It is insightful, constructive and an indictment on what is happening in the world around us. Like any crime story there are heroes and villains on both sides. And there is also overwhelming grief. Grief and pain that is too often ignored. Grief that gets lost in the endless numbers that get pushed from desk to desk, report to report. The book is billed by the publisher as being about “a senseless murder”. It is only senseless if we allow it to be senseless. And that is the true tragedy at the core of this brilliant book.

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

Listen

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100 audible
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9781847923622
ISBN-10: 1847923623
Classification: True crime
Format: Hardback (240mm x 156mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: The Bodley Head Ltd
Publisher: Vintage
Publish Date: 5-Mar-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Kazuo Ishiguro’s THE BURIED GIANT

9780571315048This is only my second Kazuo Ishiguro book following on from Never Let Me Go. For me, coming off a novel about cloning, I had no expectations about where he would go next. Much has been made about this novel being a “departure” for Ishiguro but I would argue that he has gone back to something far more traditional.

This novel is seeped in myth and legend. Ogre’s are referred to and a strange spell seems to hang over the land. There are mysterious warriors and a renowned Knight of the Roundtable. There are superstitions and folklore to be obeyed and to be wary of. And there’s a journey a couple must embark upon…. (Psst…and there’s a dragon).

We meet the main characters of the novel, Axl and Beatrice, as they go about their daily lives in their village. The narration of the story is at first quite unsettling but you get used to it as the novel progresses. Events are told in a kind of immediate past tense. Rather than the traditional past tense of a story being told after a significant amount of time has lapsed everything is told almost in the direct afterwards of the events occurring.

I wouldn’t call this a fantasy novel, instead this is a novel about legends. The mythical creatures referred to are more often than not off page. Which means that their existences is always questionable. And when they do finally appear on the page there is still sufficient question marks around them.

When you get down to the nuts and bolts of this story it is the classic journey. A journey into a great unknown. A journey into memory and love. It is a post-Arthurian tale that is perfectly apt for this post-9/11 world where the peace and harmony has been built on tenuous foundations. Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether this is a departure or a fantasy. This is classic storytelling told by a complete master.

Buy In Store

Buy Online

Download

Listen

pnpcurl boomerang icon kobo_icon-100x100 audible
FREE Shipping
Use promo code
bitethebook

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 9780571315048
ISBN-10: 0571315046
Classification: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Faber & Faber Fiction
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 3-Mar-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Monthly Blog Round up – February

My blog posts from February

9781471149047Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE

I missed this Pulitzer Prize winning novel the first time around and after watching the first 15 minutes of the new HBO mini-series I know I had to read the book. Reading a book whilst simultaneously watching the television show has its own challenges but for the most part I managed to read behind watching the TV show which just finished screening here in Australia. Read more here…

9780385618717Kate Atkinson’s A GOD IN RUINS

My first impulse after starting this book was that I had to go back and read Life After Life again. Kate Atkinson has written an extraordinary companion novel to her previous masterpiece returning us to the world of the Todd family and Fox Corner. This time to tell us Ursula’s brother Teddy’s story. Read more here…

world-gone-byDennis Lehane’s WORLD GONE BY

I have to admit I was a little thrown by Dennis Lehane’s last book in the Coughlin series, Live By Night.The Given Day is Lehane’s best book and when he wrote it  he said it was the first in a series which would follow multi-generations of a police family through Boston in the 20th century. Live By Night took a u-turn and instead followed one of the Coughlin clan as he became an outlaw, a bootlegger and eventually a gangster. It was a great read and Lehane ended up becoming a consultant on Boardwalk Empire because of it…but it wasn’t the book I was expecting. Read more here…

9780575097629Ben Aaronovitch’s MOON OVER SOHO

Peter Grant is beginning to find his feet again after the events of his last case and is more than used to be called up by the Metropolitan Police for any weird cases they come across. With his supervising DCI (and his magic teacher) Thomas Nightingale and his best friend and occasional partner Lesley May still recovering from injuries Peter must juggle two strange cases on his own where magic seems to be involved. Read more here…

9781444782936Jamie Kornegay’s SOIL

There is something about stories set in the American south, particularly those in and around the Mississippi. Whether they are classic American Southern Gothic, contemporary fiction, crime mystery or a combination the confluence of history, atmosphere and long-held beliefs makes for rich, dark, fertile storytelling. Jamie Kornegay digs into this tapestry with a debut about the environment, end-of-the-world paranoia and a family in break down. Read more here…

9780544315495John Vaillant’s THE JAGUAR’S CHILDREN

John Vaillant’s debut novel follows in the steps of two exceptional non fiction books. The Tiger still resonates with me. Not only was he able to recreate the events of a series of tiger attacks in south-eastern Russia with suspense and fear permeating off the page but he also weaved together a history of the region and all the myths that surround tigers in various cultures. Vaillant takes the same skills to his first foray into fiction and the result is remarkable. Read more here…

9780575097667Ben Aaronovitch’s WHISPERS UNDER GROUND

I cannot get enough of this series! It is such a wicked combination of history, police procedural and of course magic. This time we explore London’s underground where not only are secrets buried but something DC Peter Grant can’t even imagine. Read more here…