I read this after my partner finished it. He found it hilarious where as most of the time I nodded sadly thinking, yes – I remember times like that. Whether you enjoy the humour or find some solace in the pain, the book is definitely worth reading. There is plenty of easy to absorb science to help the reader understand why they might keep making terrible choices in partners, and why the world can seem a terrible and oppressive place. It covers love, sex, marriage, genital mutilation, consent, rape and age of consent (which vary hugely and remain absent in some countries).
I'm currently reading the second book of this series and just got the third one. Fourth is out on Kindle so I went ahead and added it but I'll be getting the paperback.
The quality of the stories I've been reading is really outstanding! I've discovered a few new authors to follow through these.
Considered by some to be Daphne Du Maurier's most feminist novel, "My Cousin Rachel" follows the story of wealthy orphan Philip Ashley, and his two cousins - Ambrose and Rachel.
Due to health, Ambrose spends his winters in warmer climates, leaving his cousin (young adult, Philip) in charge of his vast estate. While in Italy Ambrose falls in love with and marries Rachel, but letters sent home suggest that Rachel may be trying to poison Ambrose. Philip heads to Florence only to discover Ambrose is dead and Rachel has gone.
Rachel arrives in the Cornish estate soon after Philip's return. She appears to be a lovely woman, cultured, intelligent and unlike the few women Philip has encountered. She overcomes his anger at Ambrose's death with her intriguing gentleness and Philip finds himself falling in love with her.
The tension comes from not knowing whether Rachel is manipulating Philip or Philip is misinterpreting her words and actions. In many ways it's a tragic love story, while in other ways it's a story about a woman trying to negotiate her way in a world determined to misunderstand and control her. I enjoyed it very much.
This gloriously angry book rages at modern day consumerism and asks what a society ruled by a corporation might look like. At the centre of the tale are two misfits. Harvey Kidd is the paper eater of the title, an orphan who created his own family from his fractured mind after a trauma, and Hannah Park with a complex and rare social disorder. Both are fascinating characters in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens both their lives. Excellent read.
What's incredible about this book is the gentle build up of tension. It feels like someone playing an instrument off key, until on p.111 hell breaks loose. Audition (another book by the same author) did a similar thing to great effect. Once the violence kicks off it becomes one of the nastiest and most disturbing books I have ever read, up there with Frisk and American Psycho. But it also has some pretty huge themes running through it: humans' unexpected reactions to trauma, the insular nature of Japanese society, and boredom. Sheer existential boredom to which any distraction, however ugly, might seem like a relief.
My favourite lines -
"When the body's constrained, so is the spirit."
"[W]e always have to picture ourselves doing something before we can match the image with an action. And that was what Frank had made impossible - he'd destroyed our ability to visualise a course of action."
"Before Frank had turned up, this pub was like a symbol of Japan, self-contained, unwilling to interact with the world outside, just communing with itself in every breath - mmm, ahhh. People who've spent their lives being in that kind of bubble tend to panic in emergencies, to lose the ability to communicate, and to end up getting killed."
"That's the real reason we have horror films - they act as shock absorbers - and if they disappeared altogether it would mean losing one of the few ways we have to ease the anxiety of the imagination."
What a great event! Yes I know it doesn't end until tomorrow, but I've read my final book for this year's Halloween Bingo. I called Bingo four times and spent two months submerged in horror. I'll blog about the experience on my website later.
About half way through this novella (or short novel) I was all set to write - "To those of you who claim indie authors are not worth your time, I give you "Reception" by Kenzie Jennings. This story is tightly written and full of powerful imagery, better than many traditionally published books in the genre. Words are never wasted and Jenning's descriptions are beautiful and evocative, guiding you through the first person narrative."
Unfortunately, the second half wobbles somewhat. The narrative rambles and phrases are repeated taking us away from the action. Even so it is worthy of the four stars I've given it. Jennings handles the horror well, making this a visceral ride, psychological and murderous, full of humour (occasionally ridiculously timed). The dialogue between the sisters is full of wit, and that WTF end. Wow!
A great story, which could have been close to perfect if the second half had followed the same structure and brevity of the first.
I used the transfiguration spell to change a square to new release. I could have sworn one of the squares was Cannibals, but I was wrong. A Cannibals square would have been perfect for this book.
In the last few days of Halloween Bingo I hope to double my number of bingo calls with my final read.
Durtal is an atheist who envies the bell ringer, Carhaix's, faith. Des Hermies is a medical doctor with an interest in alchemy and homeopathy, who mourns the loss of traditional remedies and despairs at the specialism of modern medicine. Both feel they would be better suited to life in the middle ages when peasants were simple, gracious and devout.
The story is set in Paris at a time of political upheaval. Democracy, reviled by Des Hermies and Durtal, is what the working classes are fighting for in post-revolutionary France. They talk about the stupidity of the poor while at the same time elevating the old Marshall of France, Gilles de Rais and marvelling at his excesses. They even hold the Satanic Canon Docre in high esteem. Although Durtal has only meagre wealth, both men are very class conscious and their love for the bell ringer is in contrast to their feelings about the rest of Paris's poor population. They see Carhaix as exceptionally well-educated, pious and, perhaps most importantly, satisfied with his life and work.
Durtal's affair with a married woman and its effect on the writer shows how easily he idolises things at a distance and how quickly he becomes disillusioned with reality. It's an odd story, but a fascinating one. Huysmans does the sort of things writers would be hung, drawn and quartered for today, including a four page description of a painting in the first chapter. Some of my favourite passages include -
"Money attracted money, accumulating always in the same places, going by preference to the scoundrelly and the mediocre."
"On bright nights one part of the castle was thrown back into shadow, and the other, by contrast, stood forth, washed in silver and blue, as if rubbed with mercurial lusters, above the Sevre, along whose surface streaks of moonlight darted like the backs of fishes."
"[D]aydream is the only good thing in life. Everything else is vulgar and empty."
"For a man in his state of spiritual impoverishment all, save art, was but a recreation more or less boring, a diversion more or less vain."
Look at the lovely gift I received this morning from the awesome Kenzie Jennings. It's moved to the top of my TBR list; I'll start it as soon as I've finished "La Bas". A review will follow. "In the Miso Soup" will have to wait.
An idyllic town plagued by darkness. A perfect woman with a terrible secret. Ash arrives to investigate paranormal phenomena at Sleath. Before he arrives in the village the sceptic encounters the first of many ghosts. Figuring out what is happening in time may be the difference between life and death.
It's a fast-paced book, full of disturbing scenes. The characters are rarely simple and the secrets stretch back for centuries. Having read this one I have ordered the prequel and the third book in the series. So yes, I definitely liked it.
I may have been a bit stingy with the stars on this one. I guess it could be bumped up a bit, but there are some real problems with the book. The story is good. The secrets/mystery are good. The story is nicely resolved at the end. BUT I honestly think the author chose the wrong character to narrate with. Nick is, by his nature, an emotionless character who has a limited ability with and no love of words. Although the story is about him, it would have had far more depth. warmth and feeling if Alan had told it. I was glad to see that the sequel is told from the POV of Mae (a secondary character in the first book) who has a lot more vibrancy than Nick.
I am coming to grips with the fact that books for teens and young adults don't have the same depth and layers of meaning as those designed for adults. Maybe judging this from my usual experience with books is unfair. Maybe we aren't supposed to see and understand intricately drawn characters. But if so I think YA and teen readers are missing out, because isn't that why most of us read, to understand and experience the lives of others?
I'm almost ready to call another bingo though.
I actually think this might be better than most of the old Point Horror I read as a teen. Sure Reggie/Regina is a little too perfect, but characterisation is often one of the things missing in books for younger people. She's a cross between Cinderella in the fairy tale and Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. She kicks ass and comes back for second helpings. It's tense, exciting and frequently scary. Great stuff. I will be checking out more by Simon Holt.