Bookings are now open for my three 2020 residential writing retreats, co-tutored with RNA Chair Alison May. Details can be found here.
My turn for reviews
After my rant last week about spoilers in book reviews – I thought it was probably time I did some reviews here… and I promise – not a spoiler in sight….
I’ll start with one of the most surprising (and biggest) books I’ve read recently…
Stephen King 11/22/63
We’ve all heard the question posed – what if you could go back in time and kill Hitler – before he came to power. Would you do it?
Now it’s King’s turn to pose the question. As an American he’s sending his time traveller back to Dallas to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before he can assassinate President Kennedy. King (or rather his time travelling hero) seems to think that American history – world history for that matter – would change dramatically if JFK had stayed at the helm of the USA. He might even be right…
But – although the time travel seems to put this house-brick of a novel in the genre of Sci Fi… it’s not until the last pages that I realised it’s actually a love story.
And the real question King asks is… How far would you go.. what would you sacrifice for someone you loved? Would you risk the whole world?
Stephen has long since grown past the ‘horror writer’ genre label. He writes intelligent, thought provoking fiction – and some of it (like this one) doesn’t have much in the way of the supernatural about it. King’s horror ultimately is found inside people.
Love it – recommend it. If you’ve never fancied Stephen King because of the horror side of his work – this might be a good place to start reading his ‘other stuff’.
Susanna Kearsley – The Winter Sea
This had been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while – in paperback. I’m not going anywhere for a few weeks, so decided it was time to go back and read some physical books.
The lovely cover has always captivated me. I have hesitated because it is (partly) set in the midst of the Jacobite rebellion. My Australian education didn’t dwell on such matters, and I was a little concerned I might not enjoy the book.
I was wrong.
The book has two stories running parallel- one modern and one set in 1708. The Jacobite rebellion is the focus of the story. The research I am sure is impeccable, but it didn’t intrude. I learned enough to understand the motivations of the characters, without ever feelings as if I was at a history lecture. And the research never impinged upon the main story – which of course was a love story.
I really enjoyed this one… and have already added another by the same author … this one on my Kindle.
Encouraged by the feel of reading a ‘real’ book again, I went back to my pile of unread paperbacks and took another historical that dealt with a time period about which I know next to nothing.
My Fair Concubine – Jeannie Lin.
This is a Mills and Boon historical that I collected at a conference once.
I am not normally a reader of category romance, but l liked the cover and the fact that it was set in China in the Tang Dynasty. Not a common setting.
I enjoyed this far more than I anticipated.
The uncommon setting was really well drawn and I found myself really interested in the customs of the time and place.
It’s not a heavy or challenging read – but it is an enjoyable one, with likeable main characters and enough subplots and secondary characters to give it depth.
Vampire State of Mind – Jane Lovering
Jane is a friend (full disclosure is good for the soul) so I went into this expecting to like it. I didn’t like it – I loved it.
It’s a book full of vampires – sexy, very well-dressed vampires. Dangerous ones too.
The universe this book is set in gives us a different interpretation of the vampire mythos (no spoilers here – remember) and I liked this new vision.
I found the heroine very appealing – the writing fast and funny… but the emotional payoff at the end wasn’t light at all… the end was deeply emotional and gripping.
Enuff said – just read it.
Here’s another book by Choc Lit – I read a lot of books by my own publisher – but there’s a reason for that. Choc Lit publishes really good books. That’s why I wanted to be published by them.
To Turn Full Circle.. Linda Mitchelmore
I have always said I am not a big reader of historicals – but I think I am going to have to stop saying that… because here was another historical that I immediately liked.
I think the main reason was the heroine – she is so engaging and likeable. I was rooting for her right from the first chapter.
The hero was pretty fine too – I could see Henry Cavill playing him in the movie ….
I had this book with me at a music festival and started reading it in the queue for the showers. When I finally got to the front of the queue an hour later, I was reluctant to put the book down… that says it all really.
I shall leave you with the book that put the biggest smile on my face.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
I am a HUGE Neil Gaiman fan. HUGE!
I love his dark adult fantasies – and I also love his children’s books. There is a sense of magic and wonder about them that captures me. That’s not to say his kid’s books don’t have darkness in them – they do – but ultimately, they are uplifting and just … well … Wow.
I read this in a single go. I just couldn’t put it down. It made me smile. It brought a tear to my eye – and it made me fall in love with Neil Gaiman’s mind all over again.
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