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Let’s Predict the Future

Good Omens Book Cover Good Omens
Terry Pratchett &Neil Gaiman
Horror Parodies & Satires , Contemporary Horror, Occult Horror (
Corgi
(11 Dec. 2014)

Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don't let you go around again until you get it right' According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch, Judgement Day is almost upon us and the world's going to end in a week . . . Now people have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it's only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea? You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it. It's a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They've been living amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse. And then there's the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

NB I read this before the TV series came out! But was prompted by hearing about it.

I thought that Terry Pratchett was on form with Neil Gaiman’s extra touch. Note that this one of Prachett’s early books (written about 30 years ago) that I missed – don’t know how, as I thought I had read all of his books, including the ones aimed (so they say) at children!

So, the Apocalypse is nigh! Or is it? Agnes Nutter certainly thought so when she wrote her book of predictions several hundred years ago. Not only did she predict when, but also the special signs – saffron and holes for instance – and even knew exactly where it would be started.

And sure enough that was where HE lived – as a nice small boy, playing in the way all boys did, with a vivid imagination, and an unfortunate stack of magazines lent to him by Anathema Device.

I thought Crowley was a brilliant character, and especially liked the adjustment to the M25. On a bad day it certainly seems like he might have done this..

The friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale was nicely detailed, even if they weren’t ‘real’ theological characters, they certainly seemed like they could be. And the whole of the book is a nice adaptation of the Book of Revelations with a couple of vivid imaginations thinking outside the box.

I wish there were more stars to give this book!

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Be a painter… have some debt!

Mrs Whistler Book Cover Mrs Whistler
Matthew Plampin
Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
03 May 2018

Chelsea, 1876

Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.

As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.

Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion, art and power.

A nice blend of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions and feelings were never documented at the time.

It seems clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.

Personally though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.

I am great fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable – the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.

I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.

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Cultivating What?

The Farm Book Cover The Farm
Joanne Ramos
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
07 May 2019

THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.

A book that makes you think about your own moral code and just when you might be tempted to farm out a body! Yes, a body – perhaps your own body, or perhaps you might farm someone else’s?

And what would you be cultivating? Why a baby?

So The Handmaid’s Tale with a twist and actually something that is all too likely to be inexistence, and as it would be very secret, we would never know.

We all know that people use surrogate mothers when they can’t have babies for themselves – male couples for instance, or perhaps when they can’t carry a child themselves due to illness or…

But the premise in this book is that the uber-rich may want to use surrogates for other reasons. Perhaps they are too old have a child, perhaps they are too busy, or perhaps they just don’t want to ‘spoil’ their figures? Or just go through the grind of pregnancy?

And how to choose your surrogate? What would motivate them? There are good reasons why in the UK you cannot pay the surrogate expect for reasonable expenses, and also, even with a contract, the child is still the ‘property’ of the person who carries it through pregnancy. In Australia the law prevents commercial surrogacy, and this is the case in most countries. In some even altruistic surrogacy is banned, eg France and Germany; but in the US it is decided by the State. States generally considered to be surrogacy friendly include California, Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Washington D.C., Oregon and New Hampshire among others. Both New Hampshire and Washington State have laws permitting commercial surrogacy from 1/1/2019.

So a very timely book on a subject that is very controversial still. Well written and one that I couldn’t put down – I wanted to know what happened to the young women who contracted out their bodies for pregnancy and still think that Jane was badly treated despite what she thought!

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Which day is it?






Yesterday Book Cover




Yesterday





Felicia Yap





Fiction, psychological, thrillers, mystery, fantasy




Wildfire




May 3, 2018




432



A brilliant high-concept debut thriller - just how do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday? the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband's mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago. You can't recall what he did that day, because you only remember yesterday. You rely on your diary to tell you where you've been, who you love and what you've done. So, can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

In this alternate Britain (world?), there are 2 types of people. They are differentiated by what they can remember in short term memories.  Monos, can only remember what happened today and need a reminder of what happened yesterday; duos can remember both days. Bot people  use Apple idiaries to record the important happenings of each day. Duos are only 30% of the population but hold the best jobs, monos are limited to lower paid often manual labour. The two types don’t marry each other, except that the couple in the story have – and for 20 years.

I found myself strangely reluctant to read to the end as the novelist is clearly writing it as a political statement – see the section about the 10 things you must know about a world where people would have full short term memory recall. Not all of which statements I agree with, but some certainly resonate.

The premise of the novel about the issues and short term memory just didn’t grab me as a metaphor for religion, race, ethnicity, skin colour or whatever Yap was intending it to be. I prefer these stories to be more straightforward.

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Where is she? Who is she?






My Name is Anna Book Cover




My Name is Anna





Lizzy Barber





mystery, thriller, literary fiction




Century




(10 Jan. 2019)



When your whole life is a lie, can you trust anyone? Even yourself?

ANNA has always been taught by her mother that cleanliness and purity are the path to God; that her heart's desire to visit Astroland, Florida’s biggest theme park, is ungodly.

But it’s her eighteenth birthday, and Anna’s feeling rebellious. But on arrival at Astroland, everything feels familiar. Almost like she’s been there before…

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of a missing sister she barely remembers. Her parents’ relationship has been fractured by fifteen years of searching for their daughter – abducted at Astroland as an infant.

Now Rosie is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how painful it is, before it tears what’s left of her family apart…

Beautifully told from the different teenage girls’ perspectives.

The narrative to this story is told in two voices – Anna and Rosie.
Anna lives with her mother in small town Florida. Her mother is a cleanliness fanatic – cleanliness of the heart, mind and body, also very frugal and constantly praying.
Rosie lives in the UK and lost her elder sister in a Florida amusement park when she was a baby. Her sister was stolen in some manner and may have been killed but no-one knows the real circumstances behind her abduction.
The 15th anniversary of the abduction rolls around and Rosie finds herself increasingly frustrated at not knowing the truth, whilst Anna wants to find her father and to discover who is sending her messages.
Slowly the story explores the lives of these two girls, holding the reader in suspense. The power of cults is also explored through the story.

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