24 Jan 2020

ILLUMINATION.


ILLUMINATION by MATTHEW PLAMPIN.


1870. All over Paris the lights are going out. The Prussians are encircling the city and Europe’s capital of decadent pleasure and luxury is becoming a prison, its citizens caught between defiance and despair. Desperate times lie ahead as the worst winter for decades sets in and starvation looms.


One man seems to shine like a beacon in the shadows. Jean-Jacques Allix promises to be the leader the people need, to save the city itself. Painter Hannah Pardy, his young English lover, believes in him utterly; taking up arms for his cause, she is drawn into the heart of the battle for Paris. But as the darkness and panic spreads it is harder and harder to see things as they really are, and Hannah struggles to separate love from self-interest and revolutionaries from traitors.

Faced with impossible decisions, Hannah must confront the devastating reality of her beloved Paris to establish what truly matters to her – and what she will do to protect it.
- Inner Front Cover Blurb

Hannah entered the drawing room and froze: what appeared to be a miniature kangaroo had climbed up onto a chair and was nibbling at a vase of lilies.
- First Sentence; Prologue; Venus Verticordia, London 1868

She lay down, resting her head on the ice ground. Slept crept through her, warming her, sinking her into the earth.
A tapered toecap poked against her hip, testing for life; a pair of patent bottines, scuffed and crusted with mud, completed a sauntering circuit of her body.
- Memorable Moment; Page 289



SOURCE ... Ex-library stock

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... A laborious plot, for the most part lacking in historical accuracy.

The dialogue, stilted and oddly unemotional to say nothing of, at times, confusing. Given that the main female protagonist (Hannah) always referred to what turned out to be her mother not as mother/mum etc the relationship wasn't clear; were they somehow related or merely friends? It took me a while to work it out. 

As for the characters, cardboard cliches, the females one of two types; like the afore mentioned Hannah, as the author was constantly at pains to point out, a 'nice' girl or, like Laure a 'tart', something I think the author wasn't just happy to point out at every opportunity but I actually felt was judgemental about. Then there were the male characters who without exception I found insubstantial.

Largely unmemorable. Alas I fear that the only thing that will stick in my mind are the awful passages involving the zoo animals. Its true, no scenes involving harm to animals sits well with me but these scenes??? OK so historically accurate and therefore something we'd arguably expect to find within the pages of this novel but why the need to make the depictions so graphic when graphic depictions are hardly a trademark of the book as a whole?

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Another book cover that seduced me (I really must remember to take my reading glasses with me when I go out) ... if only the book itself had done the same.

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21 Jan 2020

(AKEA 2) AKEA: HIS MOTHER'S SON.

Having shared my thoughts on the first book in this series, Akea: the Power Of Destiny, written by the then fourteen year old author (read more of her story here), today I'm delighted to share my thoughts on the second book in the series ...


ISBN 978-1916228597
AKEA: HIS MOTHER'S SON by ELIZABETH JADE.

The heart-wrenching sequel to Akea - The Power of Destiny. Akea is no ordinary husky and taking her place as Wolf Queen was just the first step in the journey set out for her by the Great Wolf. Akea's world turns upside down when humans raid their home, scattering the pack and capturing her hybrid son. Salvador struggles to adjust to a life in captivity quickly realising not everyone approves of his mother's rise to Wolf Queen. When the Great Wolf sends him warning dreams, Salvador discovers his true purpose for being there.
- Amazon.Co.UK Blurb

A great snowfall had held the vast and pleasant land within its wintery grip for what seemed like a lifetime.
- First Sentence {Chapter 1}

He had taken the first steps along his unique journey, but she was not about to leave him to face it alone. Akea raised her head and stared out into the distance, beyond the mountains and forests fading into the night.
Memorable Moment {Page not numbered}

MY THOUGHTS ... Having predicted in my review of her first book, Akea: The Power Of Destiny, that this talented young author 'had a wonderful future ahead of her', if this, the second book in the series, is anything to go by it would seem I was right.

With all of the ingredients that made the previous books so special ... and more. 

Written with both skill and insight. Beguiling, I loved the charm with which Akea: His Mother's Son is written; the descriptions of the wolves and the world which they inhabit beautifully portrayed. However, as with its predecessor, what really appealed to me was that, yes, anthropomorphic,
but, pack mentality having obviously been researched, not so much so that they lost all of their animal identity, I loved that it was the voices of these animals that truly brought the story to life in such a way.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Featuring hunting and life in capacity ... to say nothing of the battles for supremacy, Elizabeth Jade doesn't shy away from the, shall we say, less cuddly aspects of being a wolf and yet, for all of that, ideal reading not just for its target audience of children but for all of those with a love of great animal stories.

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16 Jan 2020

BEFORE THE COFFEE GETS COLD.

ISBN 978-1-5290-2958-1
BEFORE THE COFFEE GETS COLD by TOSHIKAZU KAWAGUCHI.

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer's, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .


Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story – translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot – explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
- Inner Front Cover Blurb

'Oh gosh, is it that time? Sorry, I have to go,' the man mumbled evasively, as he stood up and reached for his bag.
- First Sentence (Chapter 1: The Lovers)

He held up the brown envelope to show her. He was planning to tell her that he had Alzheimer's in this letter.
But I don't need to read it ... I already know. It would make more sense to give it to me in the past. The 'me' that Fusagi can't bring himself to give it to ... I guess if he can't pass it to that version of me, it's OK that I take it. That's just the way things are.
- Memorable Moment (Page 100)

MY THOUGHTS ... Oh dear! A time travel novel ... I'm afraid I'm totally thrown by the whole concept. Maybe this novel will be different though; maybe the penny will drop and I'll get it. Then again, maybe not.

Not a novel I would have chosen but its the latest book to be read by the reading group that I'm part of. I guess that partly what its all about though, right? To read books that we might not have otherwise considered? To read books that take us out of our comfort zone? 

Certainly a book that took me out of my comfort zone; alas there was to be no dropping of the penny that would see me understanding time travel as a concept. Other than that ...

Hmm! 

More a collection of short stories all of which have a special seat in an extraordinary cafe at the heart of them. As with all such books there were some 'stories' that I enjoyed more than others, some characters who touched me more than others (namely chapter II: Husband and Wife which extended I actually thought would have made a readable enough novella), as a whole though ...

Translated from its original Japanese. I sometimes think its all too easy to 'blame' things as being 'lost in translation' when it is in fact something about the writing itself that is the 'problem'. In this instance whether it was the episodic nature of the story-telling, whether it was the fact that the narrative was not that of one person but four, whether it was that some of its essence was indeed lost in translation; whatever was to 'blame' I found the plot disjointed and the characterisation lacking in depth.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Each to their own; ultimately for me personally though just like coffee itself, Before The Coffee Gets Cold, simply wasn't to my taste.

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14 Jan 2020

SHE RAN AWAY FROM LOVE.

She Ran Away From Love BannerToday I'm delighted to be sharing my thoughts on She Ran Away From Love by Mawson. One of several bloggers to be participating in this Book Tour capably organised by Rachel's Random Resources, you can find the links to the other blogs below.


She Ran Away From Love Cover
ISBN 978-1-925652-54-3
The Light of Love pours down on Frilly. It shines so brightly that she quails and runs away. Upset with herself for feeling scared, she wakes her good friend Mawson and pours out her confusions. She wants to learn how to be bold and is convinced that she can do this by going on a quest. With muddled help from Mawson she sets off into the great Out There. But is a quest to find oneself really the answer?
- Back Cover Blurb
(My apologies but because of the nature of the book I won't be sharing the First Sentence nor my Memorable Moment)

MY THOUGHTS ... Well! Certainly very different from my usual kind of read but surprisingly good.

The story of Frilly who is frightened by the idea of love, She Ran away From Love follows the adventures of a cute little teddy bear as she bravely steps out to conquer her fears ... and who knows maybe even finds herself in the process.

Marketed as being suitable for both children and adults, on the face of it every thing about the books shouts 'children' and yet ... 

And yet, what is basically a picture book, whilst younger children will doubtlessly love the pictures of Frilly (who wouldn't?) and the brightly coloured child-like font that tells the story, its my humble opinion that the concept as a whole will be most understood (and appreciated) by older children and in particular those of us who though young at heart have been around the block a few times as my nana would say.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... A small book with a big heart ... and a universal message; would make a great Valentine Day gift.

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from Rachel @ Rachel's Random Resources.

ABOUT THE BOOK ... 
Target Age: Children / Adult
Genre: Gift book, ‘Picture book for grownups,’ ‘novella with pictures’
Publication Date: 15 Oct 2019
Formats available: PDF or Paperbacks
Standalone Book
Estimated Page Count - 55

Mawson PhotoABOUT MAWSON ... Mawson, a big hearted, soul searching teddy bear, is here to help. He is one of this bright world's few Writer-Bears. He speaks about Being One's Best in an world that is often baffling – and not only for bears. He is often muddled about things (well, he is a bear). But he is always confident that things are going to turn out All Right.

FOLLOW MAWSON ...
Mawson’s Own Web Den: https://mawsonbear.blog
Twitter   Instagram



BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE ... 
10th January
Jane Hunt Writer
Babydolls and razorblades
Linda's Book Bag
11th January 
Four Moon Reviews
Jazzy Book Reviews
Books and Bargains
12th January
Brmaycock's book blog
My Reading Corner
Luna's Little Library
13th January
In de Boekenkast
Book Me Some Time
The Magic Of Wor(l)ds
14th January
Herding Cats
Felicity Grace Terry
B for bookreview
15th January
No Shelf Control
Splashes Into Books
Laura's Interests
16th January
Hina Loves To Read
donnasbookblog
Kraftireader

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