Days of Blood and Starlight

There is no way of getting around it. This is a love story. You see, once upon a time an angel and a devil fell in love and imagined a new way of living and so far that dream has caused both of them nothing but pain. At least that was how Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended and in Days of Blood and Starlight that feeling continues.

Not so strangely in the US this is released through Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and I’d place it, if labels are important to you, in that YA category. Though saying that if you’ve read the first book then you’ll know what to expect and the labelling will be irrelevant.

Please though don’t let the YA/love-story elements  put you off the idea of reading it but read Daughter of Smoke and Bone first. Laini Taylor is telling a big story through the relationship of Karou, currently almost human, who is trapped into rebuilding an army (by placing saved souls in newly formed bodies) and Akiva, an angel, who along with the rest his kind, has the sole mission of destroying Karou’s race.

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone there was a stalemate of opposing armies (Angels vs Chimera) with neither side gaining ground which was then shattered and we deal with the aftermath here. Laini Taylor isolates her two main characters and shows the conflict from their opposing sides but they both have their own internal conflicts, not only in their personal relationships, but the role they play in the war.

And for a story which has two heavy threads Taylor has a light touch with both giving you enough of each to keep you wanting to know more rather than wanting to stick with one or other. Saying that though the plotting and the conveniences in events aren’t so smooth. But somehow that doesn’t matter because if you’ve made it this far and become reinvested in their plight you’re happy to follow along even wishing some scenes would end before anything too horrible happens (Taylor on the whole doesn’t pull back on those).

I like Taylor’s take on angels being the more horrible of the two and that the ‘beasts’ are mostly defending themselves though that view is harder to stomach with some the events now gathering little sympathy in their retaliation .

But each time we see Karou and Akiva representing a different way. It’s not a spoiler to say that things get worse and not better throughout Days of Blood and Starlight and part of me missed the sense of fun that was strong element in the first book, mostly it is missing because Karou doesn’t spend time with her friends, though the scenes where they do make an appearance brings back that lightness before again being swallowed up again by the dark.

 

Overall, rather than turning sickly sweet Laini Taylor takes us to a darker place than the original in this sequel but at the same time giving hopes that everything is not doomed just before raising the stakes at the last minute.

Luckily Dreams of Gods and Monsters is out in a few days so I don’t have long to wait to see how it all ends.

www_moriarty-book_co_uk_resources_Anthony-Horowitz-New-Book-Announcement_pdf

Well this was a surprise. I’d seen Horowitz post some teaser tweets but I wasn’t expecting that he’d flip from Holmes to his nemesis Moriarty.

With The House of Silk he managed to work the line between honouring someone else’s creation but telling an interesting and worthwhile story.

This time though he’s leaving those safe waters for something else entirely. I have everything crossed.

I guess we’ll all find out on the 23rd October 2014.

mitchell_mystery_of_a_butchers_new

When Rupert Sethleigh’s body is found one morning, laid out in the village butcher shop but minus its head, the inhabitants of Wandles Parva aren’t particularly upset. Sethleigh was a blackmailing moneylender and when the peerless detective and renowned psycholanalyst Mrs Bradley begins her investigation she finds no shortage of suspects. It soon transpires that most of the village seem to have been wandering about Manor Woods, home of the mysterious druidic stone on which Sethleigh’s blood is found splashed, on the night he was murdered, but can she eliminate the red herrings and catch the real killer?

Gladys Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley is a wondrous creation. She’s gnarled, rich and wickedly humoured. She’s also interfering. These qualities makes her a perfect candidate of a detective. And like Christie or Doyle Mitchell was quite prolific.

To give you an idea Vintage have already published 13 books featuring this devilish detective and and this month are going to be releasing 20 more (4 normal paperbacks with 16 as print on demand and all are available as ebooks). They’ve been coming out quite sporadically up until now with Vintage choosing their favourites before filling in some gaps.

This is to explain why I’m now reading Mrs Bradley’s second appearance (my next read is the first  the series Speedy Death) but from the ones I’ve read so far it doesn’t seem to matter what order you read them in as Mrs Bradley doesn’t have any development but is more a mechanism to let the other characters kill each other and then nose around until she finds the murderer.

I read this one in two parts. The first half I read last year (around Halloween) but I picked it back up a few days ago and devoured the rest. Partly what I struggled with in the first half is the habit Mitchell has of dropping you into a scene with lots of dialogue but not grounding you in the scene by having the characters give some context to the scene.

It’s not something I struggled with from reading her other books and I think Mitchell got lots of  opportunities to practice her technique. But maybe it was me as well as I was much more comfortable with the cast of characters and what was being described when I picked it up again. Maybe it just took some time to get up to speed? As for the murder itself as it says in the blurb it looks quite simple but pinning it down takes Mrs Bradley some time.

The cast of characters here is entertaining with their personalities all quite different. Mitchell is great at exploring motivations and giving them layers of problems and interest so that no character feels like a cardboard walk-on. And when I got to the end I was annoyed in a good way as Mitchell manages to keeps you on your toes. Mrs Bradley is no goody two-shoes and the ending proves it.

As a book which is 84 years old you may think it would have dated but it doesn’t really. It doesn’t have modern obsessions with gore, flawed detectives, and its glamour is understated rather than gaudy. It feels classical if that makes sense.

I honestly can’t wait to see where Mitchell places Mrs Bradley next.

Not that I feel like I’ve been away as I’ve been having a lovely bookish time elsewhere. I’ve been chatting lots on twitter, doing a monthly book club podcast with Rob, Kate (both from Adventures with Words) and Simon (of Savidge Reads) and doing my bit for genre with my other blog No Cloaks Allowed. I also get the privilege of making sure The Readers and You Wrote the Book go live every other week to their respective growing and loyal audiences.

Now, No Cloaks Allowed was bit of an experiment for me as I wanted to spend time ‘selling’ the idea that genre fiction as a diverse and wonderful world to explore. And it truly is but it’s a lot for one person. So I’m going to use No Cloaks Allowed to review and show off the wide range of SFF shorter fiction and nag some of my friends into joining in. It’s selfish really as I love SFF and it’s an excuse to keep buying collections and anthologies (Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft’s Monsters is supposed to ship any day now.)

Blogging has always been about my own loves and then trying to make the idea of reading as infectious as possible. And it’s easy for reading to be infectious – being on twitter has been the worse thing for my TBR as you get to see so many people’s latest loves as they happen and then they push books on you! It’s wonderful.

But then you also read tweets like this:

And a couple of days earlier a female reader said they’ll never read another bloke.

I  don’t get it. It can’t be narrow-mindedness, can it? I just don’t why you’d be proud of not reading something on purpose? I can understand if the work itself is dire (or if you don’t like horror/gore as not everyone has a strong stomach) but apart from that no excuse really.

TBR

It’s not that hard to make a diverse TBR (admittedly this is SFF-heavy) but it didn’t take me more than 30-seconds to put together.

That was the tipping point. Just talking about SFF for me feels a little closed in and I’ve had this review of Gladys Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley half-written but nowhere to post it. So now I’ve not really got an excuse have I? I’ll have to finish it.

And now  the damn is broken I’ll have to just keep going and talking about different types of books because sometimes all you need is the gentle encouragement of someone showing you how to do things another way.

Nocloaksallowedlogo Hearreadthislogo YWTB PodcastThe ReadersBoxlogo3

Each of the logos above shows a project that I’m involved in and in order of appearance they are: No Cloaks Allowed, Hear…Read This!, You Wrote the Book!, The Readers and handebooks.co.uk.

The first one and the last are the most time consuming at the minute.

handebooks is my freelance (e)book creation/conversion service and I’ve been working hard on projects for FoxSpirit and Jurassic London. I’m having a great doing it. It’s brilliant seeing new books start of as one thing and to get them ready for the (e)reading world.

No Cloaks Allowed was a bit more spontaneous. It’s launching tomorrow but basically it’s a blog/podcast project spotlighting the diversity in readers and what SF&F covers. Click here tomorrow to find our more including who has written some great posts to kick it off.

Hear… Read This! is a monthly book club and November we’re reading I  Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir and House of Rumour by Jake Arnott.

I also produce HRT and YWTB! and The Readers making sure they all go live on time edit and packaged.

What does this mean for GavReads?

I’m putting GavReads on hiatus.

I’ve had a great time here and I’m having a great book time in general.

Well as the post says, ‘something has got to give’.

I’ve updated my Review Copies page but I don’t know what I’m doing with my non-SFF reviews as I’ll have some books that I really want to share at some point. 

Sorry for the lack of updates but I’ve been busy on other booky things:

Cover  book of the dead

I’ve been doing lovely ebooks for Jurassic London’s new mummy books The Book of the Dead and Unearthed


Vulpes logo

Fox Sprit has branched out  and created a new imprint, Vulpes, to cover historical european martial arts. I know but listen:

It might seem an odd move for a genre fiction publisher but we think it makes perfect sense. You can hardly swing a sabre at a genre event without hitting someone who would know how to use it

And as head typesetter and ebook maker for them I’ve been working on it. If you’re a fan then you’re going to enjoy this one.  

Nocloaksallowedlogo

Something else I’ve been involved in is No Cloaks Allowed - a new blog & podcast and this tweet probably sums it up:

I’ll be contributing reviews and things as well as hosting the podcast so I’m really excited about showing another side to SF&F  More news on 1st November

To try and get back into a bit of a regular blogging habit I thought I’d write a little weekly post to have a bit of a catch-up and I quite like the idea of being thoughtful on a Sunday. 

New Book Club

Hearreadthislogo

On The Readers Bookclub we’ve had some amazing books and some lovely author chats since it’s inception last summer but all good things must come to an end. The book club is no more. Long story short. Logistical issues. 

But don’t worry as Simon and I have joined forces with Kate & Rob from Adventures with Words. We had a great time when they popped us as guests last month when we discusses the The Explorer and that chemistry is being used to launch a new monthly book club: hear… read this! 

The first episode is live at hearreadthis.com and brings a discussion of HHhH, the book but not the author, that  was to be this month’s book on The Readers. Kate and Rob have kindly agreed we can discuss  I  Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. 

The new format is two books and we also discuss Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and if you’ll list you’ll see why I was glad the author wasn’t on the show this time. 

We’ve submitted it to iTune, it’s not live yet but you can listen and download directly from our new shiny website:

http://hearreadthis.com

We’ve also on Facebook and twitter

Though I am going to miss chatting with authors about their books I’m also excited that we can now talk about books by authors who aren’t accessible especially the dead ones (I know that sounds bad but I have a thing for older books at the minute).  

But not next episode as Kate and Rob have kindly agreed we can discuss  I  Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir which we’d already announced and they’ve suggested House of Rumour by Jake Arnott. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages as I enjoyed The Devil’s Paintbrush so high hopes.

 

Spilling Tea

Tea Spill

I think this is the second time I’ve spilt tea over a pile of books. The first time I had a pile on my desk and knocked my tea over. The first time I ruined the cover of the bottom book and stained a copy more. This time I launched a mug from a side table next to my reading chair splashing a few spines and causing a few dribble marks. 

Not so long ago this would have really upset me – flaring a strong OCD response – I keep telling myself it’s just a book and they’re objects to read no to keep pristine but I’m still a little sad. And unlike last time I didn’t run out and  buy undamaged replacements.  

Fantasy Masterworks

Fantasy Masterworks

 I do feel like I’m sponsored by Gollanz. I’m not I swear. But they are taking up a lot of my reading time and book budget not only have I got a nice pile of Moorcocks to work through with Von Beck landing this week (Elric: The Fortress of the Pearl is read next) I’m collecting (yes, collecting) their new yellow SF Masterworks: I’ve just added Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Synners and The Demolished Man. And now we’re heading into Fantasy classics. Last Call I’ve been meaning to read for an age – I’m nervous expectation as I know a couple of people that really love it. Aegypt just sounds right up my street and well if I end up making them a collection I might as well read The Dragon Griaule  and it’s a collection of short stories, which is always good thing to support. 

You excited by the new Fantasy Masterworks?  

Off to Brighton 

In less than three weeks I’ll be taking my first trip to Brighton to hang around with a bunch of book lovers at World Fantasy Con 2013! I’m very excited and very nervous all at the time time. Joe Hill is going to be there, which means I can’t put off reading NOS4R2 until christmas but if I can finish Broken Homes I’m going to let Kate Mulgrew read it to my instead. I’ve got four hours of trains so I might get a good bit listened to on the way. 

 

Books in the Bath

Broken Homes

I’ve said this before but I can’t multitask when listening to an audiobook. I can drive, or I can exercise or relax in the bath but that’s about it. I needs my full attention over wise I block it out when my focus shifts. It’s one reason I listen to music when I’m writing. It’s peripheral.  I’d love to by able to listen to a podcast/audiobook and take it in but I can’t. Now that winter is coming it means relaxing baths and audiobooks with a beer. Bliss or what?

A Time Traveler’s Tome


The Time Traveller's Almanac

 

Some books leave you in awe. The Time Traveler’s Almanac like the two books I’ll be talking about next is one those books.

Actually the Vandermeer’s, in the form of Jeff, have been involved another book called Wonderbook, a creative writing handbook, which is illustrated throughout with amazing things like this:

Wonderbook

I was lucky enough when their other massive anthology, The Weird, came out two years ago to interview them both and I’m hoping they’ll do the same again. I’ve already spotted a Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-related short story by Douglas Adams that I didn’t know about. I wonder what other gems they’re going to have?

Lost Art of Letters

Love of Letters

 Speaking of gems Letters of Note and To The Letter seem like perfect companions. Letters of Note is a popular blog crowd funded with Unbound and now coming from Canongate. One of the lovely things about this almost A4 volume is the facsimiles of letters from such a cross section of people. Emails of Note isn’t going to be the same I don’t think and To The Letter looks behind letters and gives some practical tips on writing your own (or so the press release implies). I’m looking forward to these I have to say.

Current reading

I’ve just finished Feet of Clay as I needed something familiar after reading for the book club, which means I can post my next review in the City Watch Re-Read can be posted. I’m almost done with The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop, a very bizarre Mrs Bradley Mystery by Gladys Mitchell. I have a feeling they’re going to very – stopping myself from ordering the new ones coming in December and going to be good and ask Santa instead. 

I’ve read the opening to Ancillary Justice and it’s really refreshing for a SF tale especially as the language makes you reconsider why you have a certain default narrator. It’s getting a lot of positive and few negative comments. But either way it’s nice to see more female SF getting a push. 

What  you been reading?

Next Week

I want to talk about ‘crowd control’ and ‘The Austen Project’ as I’ve run out of time on this post. 

What you been up to this week? Anything caught your eye?

 

Alms Vol I

A review in 200 words or fewer:

This is an example of judging a book by a cover and trusting Vintage Classics.  I’m glad I did as between the comic-book art covers of Alm For Oblivion Volume 1 are four short interconnected novels.

It opens with The Rich Pay Late: Jude Holdbrook has a proposal for his business partner, Donald Salinger, for their advert distributor business to buy a magazine called ‘Strix’ so they can grow their empire. We follow how Jude persuades Donald and how successful they are at this endeavour.

It delves into the lives of the rich and privileged. Simon Raven is quick witted, great with dialogue and able to turn scenes on a pin. It’s like reading a scandal unfolding. I got invested in the characters and their dramas and their various connections. Raven gives all of them a nice story arc and the ending is satisfying and ties things off nicely with people getting what they, more or less, deserve.

All this was unexpected as I usually need a murder or man with a sword or a nice spaceship to keep me interested. This had purely Raven to keep me going.

I liked it a lot.

Anyone have any similar works they’d recommend?

… I read this:

 

Now is this a spoiler?

Fast forward 15 years, readers will be shocked to find out (early on) in the latest novel that Bridget is now a widow, looking after two little Darcys.

Still worried about her weight, how much she smokes and whether one more glass of wine would be too many, it is in many ways the same Bridget who has built up an adoring fandom since coming to life in 1995.

(Via Mr Darcy is dead: Bridget Jones returns as a single mother of two – News – Books – The Independent)

Of course, it’s sad that Bridget Jones is now a widow but as a fictional character I’m excited how she’ll be living her life after time and the world has moved on since The Edge of Reason especially as Mark Darcey will play a different role in her life.

Madabouttheboy

Bridget Jones
Mad About the Boy
by Helen Fielding

Out 10 Oct 2013