23 March 2011

Review: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

Paperback, Orbit Books, 2009

Not part of the TBR challenge this one, just one of those books you read and are desperate to tell people about. I've already bought a second copy and sent it off to the US as a gift to a friend.

While a-lurking on twitter recently I saw the campaign to help the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green. Now Wood Green is not a million miles from me, and the BGB is probably the closest independent after the Chorleywood Bookshop, so it seemed only right to do something to help them stay afloat. I picked through their recommended reads and mail ordered this one and Weirdstone of Brisingham (haven't read that one yet - soon my pretty, soon).

Oh my. This is the point where I should give an accurate precis of the plot and say what I liked and what I didn't. However, I'm a lazy so-and-so and a terrible reviewer who just wants to immerse myself in a book without sitting outside it and noting what I liked and what I didn't. I'm just going to copy and paste the blurb at the end of the post and squeal, you have to read this book. London just pops off the page at you, the way it does in China Mieville's Kraken, even more so. It becomes a character itself, and if you have ever lived in London you will recognise it.

And now that I have got that out of my system maybe I do have a few little objective comments. Some of the sentences are huge and would earn a beginner writer like me a swift kick in the pants, but they work. The prose is dizzying; it drew me in and painted me a picture, and I found myself embracing the style and running with it, and so what if I'd be wheezing if I was reading it out loud. I loved Matthew Swift, who remained so very ordinary despite being anything but, and who made the very ordinariness of London work for him.

Most of all I loved that sense of place, the use of the real London and not just the shiny bits in the guidebooks. To me, books like this and Kraken are what urban fantasy is all about.

I think karma gave me a big kiss on the cheek with this one. Help an independent bookshop and be rewarded, because clearly those guys know their onions when it comes to recommending a good book. I'll be buying the next two books in the series from them too and reading them as soon as they get here.

A Madness of Angels, by Kate Griffin (as lifted from Amazon)
When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford - Samuel Johnson In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in London much more than life - there is power. It ebbs and flows with the rhythms of the city, makes runes from the alignments of ancient streets and hums with the rattle of trains and buses; it waxes and wanes with the patterns of the business day. It is a new kind of magic: urban magic. Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels. Enter the London of Matthew Swift, where rival sorcerers, hidden in plain sight, do battle for the very soul of the city ...

16 March 2011

TBR challenge March: Humans

Tor books, 2003

Humans is the middle book in a trilogy by Robert Sawyer, the others being Hominids and Hybrids. It tells the story of a parallel world to Earth, where Homo Sapiens was the human species to die out and the Neanderthals went on to become the dominant, technically advanced, species. In the first book, which I haven't read, an accident with an experimental machine on the Neanderthal world led to a Neanderthal scientist, Ponter Boddit, becoming stranded on our version of Earth.

In Humans, Ponter reopens the portal and revisits the friends he made in the first book. He also rekindles a friendship with Mary Vaughan which becomes a romance.

This is very much a hard sci-fi book. It spends a lot of time exploring the differences between the two worlds, and the Neanderthal world was fascinating. A world where you live apart from the men for most of the month then get together for a few days of  'Two Become One'. Hmm, I could live with it, as long as somebody was around to do the heavy lifting.

I found it a bit sermonising in places, and although I saw it described as a sci-fi romance in one amazon review, I don't think it was. The romance was more of a hook to hang any number of scientific and social observations on than what a romance reader would recognise as a romance.

Not a page-turner, but interesting, and aspects of the Neanderthal society have stayed with me and given me a certain amount of food for thought. Of course, that might just be the prospect of not having a husband under my feet for most of the month then the fun of squashing a month's worth of happies into a few days. On second thoughts, sons live with their fathers. Cancel that plan. I couldn't live without my Boy, even if he does borrow my computer when I want to write.

Hey, I was actually on theme this month. Robert Sawyer was a 'new to me' author. How 'bout that, go me! On to April.

09 March 2011

Sexytalk is sexy, right?

In the meeting of the chatroom coven last night, beloved writing buddy Mud mentioned a book that she was enjoying, Pack Challenge by Shelly Laurenston. She liked the banter, and I have to say, any book with a discussion about werebunnies has something going for it. After all, why just have predator weres when you can have werebunnies or werebovines.

MUD: Never walk under a tree containing a werebovine at full moon.
ROSIE: Unless you're wearing a really big hat.

So as well as werebunny discussions, apparently there is also lots of sexytalk in the book, which got us to wondering, do lots of people talk during sex? And is it sexy? We came up with some of our own sexytalk to test the theory. Thank you ladies for letting your creative efforts out to alarm and disturb the real world:

1.  "Did you pick up milk?"

2.  "F*** me hard, big boy"

3.  "Where did you put that saucepan lid the last time you did the dishes?"

4.  "Shut up, you're interrupting my fantasy..."

5.  "Where's the remote? Leno's almost on."

6.  "What the f*** is that?"

7.  "Ow, you're on my hair." (borrowed from a twitter post)

8.  "That reminds me, we need to buy noodles."

9.  "These sheets really need washing."

10.  "I think I hear the dogs outside."

11.  "I think it's time to paint the ceiling. There are 123 cracks."

12.  "When are we getting rid of your mother?"
13.  "While you're there, could you take a look at that mole on my neck?"

14.  "Dya think you're gonna be much longer? I had beans for lunch. Fair warning."

15.  "Does this pillow make my butt look fat?"

16.  "That reminds me....I think the car's misfiring again."

17.  "Hey. Make that sound again and watch the look on the dog's face."

18.  "The nose hair trimmers are in the medicine cabinet. Right beside the mouthwash."

19.  "Do you smell something?"

20.  "Sorry, I kinda nodded off there."

21.  "How many gallons would it take to do the ceiling, dya think?"

My conclusion: sexytalk is possibly not sexy the way we do it. C-, could do better, and it's a good job none of us write erotica.

I think my personal favourite is no.17. Congratulations En, your reward is for us all to improve our sexytalk ready to try it out on you when we meet up in June.

07 March 2011

En's link of the week

My good buddy En finds the best stuff on the internet. I have no idea how. This week, she found a new way to help me put off revisions, playing

Circle the Cat

Can you catch the cat? He's a crafty beast. It did occur to me that maybe in the next edition the game creator could make it more like real life. In real life if you pin a cat somewhere he can't escape, he comes at you claws first. Maybe the kitty could launch out of the screen, which gets splattered with blood or carved up with claw marks.

Maybe not.

I promise I am thinking up a new blog post which has something to do with, gasp, writing. My take on the werewolf alpha male, coming soon.