Book Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth Book Review

The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable…. This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn’t Joshua’s world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn’t have a world; he had all of them.

ALL OF THE LONG EARTH.

This is a Terry Pratchett, who is/was one of the few authors I generally buy their books in hardback. It’s been a while since he did a collaboration, but it was around the time that this series was announced it was also announced that Pratchett had early onset Alzheimer’s, which he subsequently died from. There are 5 books in the series, and this is the first, where the whole thing gets started.

Continue reading

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Book Review: Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook by Terry Pratchett

Mrs Bradsaw's handbook discworldAuthorised by Mr Lipwig of the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway himself, Mrs Georgina Bradshaw’s invaluable guide to the destinations and diversions of the railway deserves a place in the luggage of any traveller, or indeed armchair traveller, upon the Disc.

*From the twine walk of Great Slack to the souks of Zemphis: edifying sights along the route
*Ticketing, nostrums and transporting your swamp dragon: essential hints on the practicalities of travel
* Elegant resorts and quaint inns: respectable and sanitary lodgings for all species and heights.
* From worm-herding to Fustic Cake: diverting trivia on the crafts, foods and brassica traditions of the many industrious people for whom the railway is now a vital link to the Century of the Anchovy

Fully illustrated and replete with useful titbits, Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook offers a view of the Sto Plains like no other.

This is a “Terry Pratchett Presents” book, which indicates that it’s one of the Discworld offshoots (from the book “Raising Steam”) and written by others in the Discworld Emporium collective. It’s no bad thing for all that, and presents a nice little addendum that is actually more absorbing than such a slim book could usually warrant.

Written by one Mrs Bradshaw, this is a traveliing guide a la Bradshaws, Lonely Planet etc, which gives a description of the various stops along the line and a brief summary of the guest houses, primary local events etc. I have seen some complaints about how boring it is to get the same repatitive style of 2 line entries for each stop across the line, but this is a throwback to the types of travel guides I was brought up with, long before the internet allowed to you to compile your own travel guide!

This has maps and pictures galore! It’s easy to skim pages, but you run the risk of missing the odd fabulous joke lurking in the middle of the page – the Effing Great Tit, an inhabitant of Effing Forest, being one such example.

You will either love this book or think “why did I spend my time”? Buy it if a fan of Discworld and want to fill in some of the gaps, otherwise it’s not the best entry into the series

New Acquisitions – December 2013

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

A lovely paperback version sent to me by Harper Collins (I must stop interacting with Publishers on twitter!)

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose. But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death…

medeaThe Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

An ebook version obtained free from Amazon.co.uk.

1885. Anne Stanbury. Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems? Edgar Stanbury. The grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage. The well-respected psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.

burnablebookA Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger.

Another book received from HarperCollins, due out at the end of January

In Chaucer’s London, betrayal, murder and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. A Burnable Book is an irresistible thriller, reminiscent of classics like An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose and The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an
ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low.

manningsistersThe Manning Sisters by Debbie Macomber

When Taylor Manning accepts a teaching job in Cougar Point, Montana, she discovers that life there is very different from life in Seattle. So are the men She soon notices a handsome, opinionated, stubborn rancher named Russ Palmer, and he notices her. In fact, they more than notice each other…. After only a few months, Taylor’s certain of one thing. Despite their conflicting backgrounds, she’d love to be The Cowboy’s Lady.

The first day Christy Manning visits her sister, Taylor, she meets Sheriff Cody Franklin. To Christy’s shock–and Cody’s–they’re immediately attracted to each other. Intensely attracted. There’s a problem, though. Christy’s engaged to someone else, someone back in Seattle. So what’s the solution? See what happens when The Sheriff Takes a Wife…

On loan from another Macomber fan (with warnings about being rather “romance-y”….!

strangenorrellJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Read this years ago, but found a copy in a charity shop over the Christmas period, so brought another copy

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England—until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

 

And coming into the books I received at Christmas!

12251225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.But…someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.As always in life ? and in Cedar Cove ? there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending What would the holidays be without a newChristmas story from Debbie Macomber?

The ShuttleThe Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Shuttle is about American heiresses marrying English aristocrats; by extension it is about the effect of American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class. Sir Nigel Anstruthers crosses the Atlantic to look for a rich wife and returns with the daughter of an American millionaire, Rosalie Vanderpoel. He turns out to be a bully, a miser and a philanderer and virtually imprisons his wife in the house. Only when Rosalie’s sister Bettina is grown up does it occur to her and her father that some sort of rescue expedition should take place. And the beautiful, kind and dynamic Bettina leaves for Europe to try and find out why Rosalie has, inexplicably, chosen to lose touch with her family. In the process she engages in a psychological war with Sir Nigel; meets and falls in love with another Englishman; and starts to use the Vanderpoel money to modernize ‘Stornham Court’.

twomrsabbottsThe Two Mrs Abbotts by D. E. Stevenson

Mrs Abbott is flustered at the thought of putting up a lady from the Red Cross, but is happily surprised when she turns out to be an old friend from her previous life as Miss Buncle, infamous writer.

Of course, she’s now far too busy with her children to write, not to mention helping out in the lives of the villagers. And with a possible spy in their midst, evacuated families, potential love matches and a visit from a famous writer, she’s got her work cut out for her. Luckily for her, the other Mrs Abbott is around to help.

My Review of Miss Buncle’s Book

highwagesHigh Wages by Dorothy Whipple

Read this recently, but didnt get my own Persephone edition, so this is it!

It is about a girl called Jane who gets a badly-paid job in a draper’s shop in the early years of the last century. Yet the title of the book is based on a Carlyle quotation – ‘Experience doth take dreadfully high wages, but she teacheth like none other’ – and Jane, having saved some money and been lent some by a friend, opens her own dress-shop.

My review of the book can be found here

greenbanksGreenbanks by Dorothy Whipple

An early novel by Persephone’s most popular author about an early 20th century family and, in particular, the relationship of the grandmother and granddaughter.

Greenbanks was Dorothy Whipple’s third novel – her first was Young Anne and her second High Wages (see above!)

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

raising steam #discworldTo the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital… but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse…

Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails…

This is number 40 in the discworld series and we’re back in Ankh-Morpork, with the the usual suspects, and the tension betweens the humans, trolls, dwarves continues with the added complication of goblens. Once again the Dwarf state is in shards, each faction splintering into smaller pieces as soon as two or more have a disagreement, and there is an attempt to overthrown the Low King, who appears to be too progressive. Meanwhile, Mister Simnel has found out how to harness steam, and the railway is not far behind, with impetus to have a track to Uberworld to resolve the Dwarf Question.

This has everyone in it (even DEATH gets a one-liner) and could be viewed as the start of Practhett’s handover of the world to Rosanna before he becomes unable to continue. With so many presiously established characters making an appearance, it’s certain that some favourites will not get the exposure that some people want. It could be seen as perhaps too-crowded with characters, and could one or more of them have been dropped without anyone noticing? I dont know.

Anyway, story covers change, factionism, new technology, religious doctrine, feminism, being true to ones self, bigotry, racisim, in such a way to still make it enjoyable to read. Plus plenty of footnotes. Whilst we still have him, Pratchett’s at least working at his best here.

New Acquisitions – November 2013

steam

Raising Steam: (Discworld Novel 40) by Terry Pratchett

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear. Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails..

Still late in reading previously published Terry Pratchett books, but he is still one of the few authors I will buy in hardback. Ordered via the Waterstones website, who have an option to pick up a book from one of their local stores. Because I tend to order hardbacks, these rarely get through my letterbox, which means I have to go to a local post office delivery office. This is not too onerous with simply an additional bus journey (and the girls in there are a hoot), but this store is on my way home and is simply easier to get to. Plus it allows me to support my local bookstores!

daffodil

I picked up The Daffodil Library by Charles Mosley from Hopcyn Press last month and the review is here.

And finally a trip down to my local comic book store that resulted in me picking up Slaine: Demon Killer.

demonkiller

New Acquisitions – October 2013

Actually picked up a couple of these at the end of September – after my previous post – so I decided to add them here instead
drsleepDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals called The True Knot who travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

King rarely does sequels (The Last Gunslinger books are the exception and more of a series than a set of sequels).  This is what happens when we check on Danny, whose already been through the nightmare of The Shining, and all grown up now.  Preordered in my local Waterstones store and actually picked up on the day of release (so a September book really!).  Took part in a readalong so you may have seen the posts from me elsewhere

ftmFortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

A little boy and his little sister awake one morning, milkless. Their mother is away on business, their father is buried in the paper, and their Toastios are dry. What are young siblings to do? They impress upon their father that his tea is also without milk and sit back to watch their plan take effect. But something goes amiss, and their father doesn’t return and doesn’t return some more. When he does, finally, he has a story to tell, a story involving aliens; pirates; ponies; wumpires (not the handsome, brooding kind); and a stegosaurus professor who pilots a Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier (which looks suspiciously like a hot-air balloon). There is time travel, treachery, and ample adventure, and, fortunately, the milk he has procured is rescued at every turn. Gaiman’s oversize, tongue-in-cheek narrative twists about like the impromptu nonsense it is, with quick turns, speed bumps, and one go-for-broke dairy deus ex machina. Young fills the pages with sketchy, highly stylized images, stretched and pointy, bringing the crazed imaginations to life with irrepressible energy. 

KilingiriKilingiri by Janna Gray

1968, Srinagar, Kashmir and Nina is devastated by the death of her new-born baby girl. Sister Angela and Father Michael at the mission hospital step in to nurse Nina back to health but when the friendship between Nina and Father Michael turns to love, Michael makes a decision which will resonate through the years. It is 1981 and in Kinsale, Ireland, Nina, devoted to her son Joshua, lives a loveless existence, but a chance encounter changes everything. Michael is back in her life, he leaves the priesthood and happiness is within their grasp.

But when past and present collide, their whole world is turned upside down. Only by facing the consequences of what has gone before, can Nina and Michael embrace the future.

Picked up in ebook format from http://www.netgalley.com

untitledladyAn Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila

Shocking family news forces Madeline Wetherby to abandon her plans to marry an earl and settle for upstart Manchester merchant Nash Quinn. When she discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide which family she truly desires, the man of her heart or the people of her blood.  An earl’s second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can’t make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.  As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash: Family or justice. Love or money. Life or death.

Read, and the review will come out in December.

preservationPreservation by Rachael Wade

Kate has no time for meaningless romantic charades, and definitely no time for hot college professors who are full of themselves and smitten with her. Constantly battling eviction notices, tuition she can’t afford, and a sick, dependent mother, the last thing she needs is to be distracted with someone else’s complicated baggage.  When she stumbles into Ryan Campbell’s creative writing class, he is only “Mr. Campbell” to her, until Ryan finds himself captivated by her writing and she is forced to face their mutual attraction. His cocky know-it-all syndrome is enough to send her running in the other direction, and his posse of female admirers and playboy reputation are enough to squander any odds in her favor. But underneath Ryan’s abrasive facade is something to behold, and she can’t stay away for long.

The Antiquarian by Gustavo Faveron Patriau

Three years have passed since Gustavo, a renowned psycholinguist, last spoke to his closest friend Daniel, who’s been interned in a mental institution for murdering his fiance. When Daniel unexpectedly calls to confess what really happened, Gustavo’s long-buried loyalty resurfaces and draws him into the center of a quixotic, unconventional investigation. As Daniel reveals his story through fragments of fables, novels, and historical allusions, Gustavo begins to retrace the past: from their early college days exploring dust-filled libraries and exotic brothels, to Daniel’s intimate attachment to his sickly younger sister and his dealings as an antiquarian book collector. As the clues grow more macabre and more intricate with every turn, an increasingly skeptical Gustavo is forced to deduce a complex series of events from allegories that are more real than police reports, and metaphors more revealing than evidence.

Ebook from http://www.netgalley.com
SeventeenSeventeen by Mark D. Diehl

Corporations control all of the world’s diminishing resources and all of its governments, dividing the world into two types of people: those who unquestioningly obey, and those who die.  Most of the world’s seventeen billion humans are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, naturally growing plants have been declared illegal, and everything from food to housing to medicines must be synthesized from secretions of genetically modified bacteria. Only corporate ambulatory workers can afford patented synthetic food, and non-corporates fight for survival in the city’s sprawling, grotesquely violent ghetto known only as the Zone.  Nineteen year-old waitress Eadie challenges the hierarchy when she assists a bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet, drawing massive social-control machinery into play against her. The Prophet predicts she’s the general who will lead a revolution, and a few desperate souls start listening. How can she and her followers possibly prevail when she’s being hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?

Ebook from http://www.netgalley.com

passionAll About Passion by Stephanie Laurens

When Chillington is elected an ′honorary Cynster′ at the end of All About Love, he knows he needs a wife, and an heir. His goal; a simple marriage without romance. He agrees to marry a woman he believes to be pliant and quiet. Unfortunately for him, the woman he thinks is Francesca Rawlings is really her cousin, Franni. Francesca herself is proud, passionate and opinionated in short, the perfect bride for a Cynster..

Picked up at the Bookcrossing Uncon 2013 in Leeds as we were bagging up books for the release walk. Because you cant have too many romances, right?

hiddendragonHidden Dragon by Irene Radford

Acclaimed author Irene Radford returns to her beloved Dragon Nibmus universe with book one of The Stargods. Here is the tale of the first Terrans, gifted with both psi powers and technology, who discovered a world where dragons are real…and are worshipped as gods.

After reading so many of her books as ebooks via librarything, it was nice to get one in paper at the Bookcrossing Uncon in Leeds

 

 

genesissecretThe Genesis Secret by Tom Knox

A gripping high-concept thriller for fans of Dan Brown and Sam Bourne.

In the sunburnt deserts of eastern Turkey, archaeologists are unearthing a stone temple, the world’s most ancient building. When Journalist Rob Luttrell is sent to report on the dig, he is intrigued to learn that someone deliberately buried the site 10,000 years ago. Why?

Meanwhile, in London, a bizarre attack is baffling the police. When a weird killing takes place on the Isle of Man, followed by another in rural Dorset, DC Mark Forrester begins to discern a curious pattern in these apparently random murders.

Because you cant have too many conspiracy thrillers, right? Again, from the Uncon

expertwitnessDeath of an expert Witness by P. D. James

Dr. Lorrimer appeared to be the picture of a bloodless, coldly efficient scientist. Only when his brutally slain body is discovered and his secret past dissected does the image begin to change. Once again, Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh learns that there is more to human beings than meets the eye — and more to solving a murder than the obvious clues.

Picked up at the Uncon again, and whilst I suspect that I’ve read this one before, it will have been so long ago, I know I wont remember it!

brideforkeepsA Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

After three failed attempts, Everett Cline is not happy when another–uninvited–mail-order bride steps off the train. But is she the wife he’s been waiting for?

Ebook from http://www.netgalley.com

This book has been read and reviewed, and can be found here

 

 

 

lostfoundcedarcoveLost and Found in Cedar Cove by Debbie Macomber

Jo Marie has big plans for her bed-and-breakfast. With the help of handyman Mark Taylor, she intends to plant a beautiful rose garden in time for her upcoming open house. Jo Marie and Mark rarely see eye to eye—especially on matters of home improvement—but she knows he has her best interests at heart. After the two walk the grounds, Jo Marie realizes that her beloved rescue dog, Rover, is missing, and at a time when she most needs a friend, Mark abruptly leaves. Confused by Mark’s behavior and worried for Rover’s safety, Jo Marie searches for her precious dog all over Cedar Cove. But Rover is on an adventure of his own—one that will lead to a delightful surprise for two unlikely people.

A novella by Macomber from www.netgalley.com. Review can be found here

Current Established Author Reading

Current Writers TBR
Current Writers TBR

Once again it seems that I’ve been focusing much on ebooks for new writers to the detriment of those current writers that are still publishing almost annually. So I’m going to dedicate much of July (and maybe some of August), working my way through the books as portrayed above. It’s a mix of writers: Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, Jasper Fforde, Debbie Macomber and Terry Pratchett (with at least one, if not two books he’s written with Stephen Baxter).

Wonder how long my commitment will last before I feel guilty and go back to reading the stack of galleys etc I have piling up – we shall see!