The Woman in Cabin 10 ~ Ruth Ware

woman-in-cabin-10ISBN ~ 9781501132933
Publisher ~ Gallery/Scout Press
No. Of Pages ~ 352 pages
Links ~ Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, Target

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

2 Thumbs-UpThis is the first book I have read written by this Author.

I have to start out by saying that I found the main protagonist the least likeable character I’ve read in a very long time, and despite the traumatic events she experiences at the beginning of this book does not improve as the storyline progresses.  I have no insight into why an Author would write a character in this manner; she is blatantly rude to everyone she comes across, including the man she is supposed to love, and then shocked and surprised when they refuse to give credence to her claims.  The supporting characters are dealt with less harshly, and some of them are far more likeable than the main, who seems to find a reason not to like or trust anyone.  I can only assume that the Author including a drink and mental health problem to the main character is their way of trying to explain away the bad behaviour.  She is not a strong woman in any sense of the word, and rather than showing an empowered woman who is holding her own in her chosen profession, the reader is subject to a woman who falls apart at the slightest noise, and sees dangers lurking in every shadow and corner.

The book itself is nothing new plot wise, in fact it read pretty much as a modern-day rehash of the old Agatha Christie ‘locked room’ cosy mystery; just not as well penned or suspenseful.  It is also full of implausible moments and bad dialogue to boot; after all how many times does the reader need reminding that the main character did not read the press package?  This book could have been so much more given the setting and its starting out well-paced and somewhat suspenseful, it is a shame that the Author could not have kept this tone throughout the novel.

If you enjoyed this Author’s debut novel, you may well enjoy this offering; as for myself I can’t, in all conscience recommend this book and will not be reading anything else by this Author.

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Louise’s War ~Sarah R. Shaber

Louises WarISBN ~ 9780727880406
Publisher ~ Severn House Publishers
No. Of Pages ~208 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books

The first in a new series from the author of the ‘Simon Shaw’ books – 1942. Louise Pearlie, a young widow, has come to Washington DC to work as a clerk for the legendary OSS, the precursor to the CIA. When, while filing, she discovers a document concerning the husband of a college friend, Rachel Bloch, – a young French Jewish woman she is desperately worried about – Louise realizes she may be able to help get Rachel out of Vichy France. But then a colleague whose help Louise has enlisted is murdered, and she realizes she is on her own, unable to trust anyone . . .

4 Thumbs-UpThis is the first time I have read a book by this Author, and I was pulled to it by the subject matter; I have read many books about the SOE and their operatives, I was interested to read about the American equivalent, OSS.

I was initially disappointed by the fact that this was not an OSS book, but rather a novel that revolved around the life and experiences of the title character who worked for the OSS.  Very much like the real women in the book The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II, the main protagonist was firm in her belief that any little she could do would help win the war.  Despite not being a war widow, she has taken full advantage of the war to expand her horizons and make a new life for herself.  The whole story is told from her point of view and, despite living in a boarding house full of other war workers in DC, it also manages to highlight the mistrust that so easily arose from the slightest thing, and how everyone had secrets.  Apart from the main character, those others mentioned in the book were not given as in-depth a back-story, and even in this I felt there was something in Louise’s story that the Author was holding back, or has not quite decided on making a part of her character yet.

I particularly liked the descriptions of live in the capitol during the war years, and had a wry smile at the mention of rationing in a country that was capable of producing food for themselves.  It is apparent that the Author has meticulously researched this book as it covers things from victory gardening to the insufferable heat that was documented for 1942, and how the inhabitants of Washington DC coped with it.  This book actually became quite sluggish in part (maybe a reflection of the hot summer), but it left me feeling that the pace of the action could have been picked up to add to the flow and tension of the book.

I would recommend this book to any reader looking for a quick but enjoyable read on a rainy day; I read it in one sitting.  I will be reading others in this series as the fate of Louise and the OSS has me curious.

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Trial of Intentions (Vault of Heaven #2) ~ Peter Orullian

Trial of IntentionsISBN ~ 978-0765325723
Publisher ~ Tor Books; First Edition (May 26, 2015)
No. Of Pages ~ 672 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortal kind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures.

But there is dissent. One king won’t answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse.

Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.

And his choices may reshape a world . . . .

The second title in the Vault of Heaven series, Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions is a mesmerizing fantasy epic that turns the conventions of the genre on its head

5 Thumbs-UpYes, this is the second instalment in the Vault of Heaven Trilogy, and yes I have read the first book although I did not review it on here; the reason for this being it is a major player in my English Literature thesis.  Unfortunately though, for this book, it is not a standalone read and therefore the first must be read to make any sense of this one.

The main protagonists are many in both books, and their stories continue in this one; we see them grow from the children we first met in The Unremembered to adults that are still connected to their inner children at times.  I usually go into great detail about my likes and dislikes of characters in the books I read, but with this cast of characters I felt the mixed emotions one has when confronted with Family and all the imperfections they bring with them.  At times I just wanted to shake some sense into them and ask ‘why?  Just why?’ and at others I was in my full cheerleading garb, pom-poms and all doing high kicks to spur them on.  One thing I did find disappointing was the forced humour in the dialogue, this had come so easily in the first book as it does between friends, but in this one it seemed as if they were just trying to keep the humour going at all costs.  I am hoping that this stilted humour is more a result of the events the characters have been through up to the end of this novel, and not an indication that the Author has lost his humourous pen.  Rather than just continue expanding on characters from the first novel, the Author brings new ones into the storyline, and some that were introduced in Book One become integral to the storyline in this novel.

Unlike Book One, Trial of Intentions is up and moving from the very first chapter; the reader has moments where the pace slows down enough for them to calm their racing pulses before picking up and propelling them through to the very end of the book.  Something I was pleased to find in this second instalment that was present in the first was a musical quality that accompanies the writing of this Author; in gentle areas easy listening folk music is brought to mind in the way the language is placed on the page and I found myself reading everything rather than skipping the ‘song’ sections as I do in Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit; even when the action really picked up it was as if somewhere just out of view there was a rock guitarist playing some riff to accompany the action.  Whereas Clockwork Angels by Kevin J Anderson was music (an album of the same name by Rush) to words, this is a book that could be translated from words to music.

All of the major plotlines end on a cliff-hanger that leaves the reader waiting with baited breath for the final book in this trilogy, hopefully it won’t be as long as the wait has being for The Doors of Stone, book three of The Kingkiller Chronicle.  Despite the cliff-hanger endings, unlike so many books that finish in this manner, this one does not leave the reader feeling that the book is unfinished and that the Author decided they’d had enough and sent it off to the publisher as is.

I highly recommend both this book, and the first in the trilogy, for those who love to read this genre.  It was expansive, it was epic and it was rich with hidden things that come out when the novel was reread (I have to say I am on my fourth reading of this book).  Like an onion with its layers, this second instalment added a depth and richness to the world in which it takes place, and I hope that the Author continues in this way in Book Three.  I will definitely be waiting to read the next novel by this Author.

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David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

David Bowie

Waking up on Monday to find this music icon has passed away may have come as a shock to many, but behind the musician and actor was a literary man.  To bring recognition to his love of the written word,  I thought it would be a great tribute to show what a prolific reader this man was.

On October 1st 2013, openculture.com posted this article written by Josh Jones:

“David Bowie Is,” the extensive retrospective exhibit of the artist and his fabulous costumes, hit Toronto last Friday …, and as many people have reported, in addition to those costumes—and photos, instruments, set designs, lyric sheets, etc.—the show includes a list of Bowie’s favorite books. Described as a “voracious reader” by curator Geoffrey Marsh, Bowie’s top 100 book list spans decades, from Richard Wright’s raw 1945 memoir Black Boy to Susan Jacoby’s 2008 analysis of U.S. anti-intellectualism in The Age of American Unreason.

Bowie’s always had a complicated relationship with the U.S., but his list shows a lot of love to American writers, from the aforementioned to Truman Capote, Hubert Selby, Jr., Saul Bellow, Junot Diaz, Jack Kerouac and many more. He’s also very fond of fellow Brits George Orwell, Ian McEwan, and Julian Barnes and loves Mishima and Bulgakov.  You can read the full list below or over at Open Book Toronto, who urges you to “grab one of these titles and settle in to read — and just think, somewhere, at some point, David Bowie (or, to be more accurate, the man behind David Bowie, David Jones) was doing the exact same thing.” If that sort of thing inspires you to pick up a good book, go for it. You could also peruse the list, then puzzle over the literate Bowie’s lyrics to “I Can’t Read.”

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, 2007
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997
A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes, 1997
The Insult, Rupert Thomson, 1996
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon, 1995
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, 1994
Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard, 1993
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C. Danto, 1992
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990
David Bomberg, Richard Cork, 1988
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick, 1986
The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, 1986
Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd, 1985
Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey, 1984
Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984
Money, Martin Amis, 1984
White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1984
Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, 1984
The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White, 1984
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, 1980
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, 1980
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 1980
Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess, 1980
Raw (a ‘graphix magazine’) 1980-91
Viz (magazine) 1979 –
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, 1979
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz, 1978
In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan, 1978
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976
Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders, 1975
Mystery Train, Greil Marcus, 1975
Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara, 1974
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich, 1972
In Bluebeard’s Castle : Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner, 1971
Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky, 1971
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillete, 1970
The Quest For Christa T, Christa Wolf, 1968
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn, 1968
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967
Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg, 1967
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr. , 1966
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965
City of Night, John Rechy, 1965
Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
Puckoon, Spike Milligan, 1963
The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford, 1963
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Yukio Mishima, 1963
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, 1963
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell, 1962
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961
Private Eye (magazine) 1961 –
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding, 1961
Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage, 1961
Strange People, Frank Edwards, 1961
The Divided Self, R. D. Laing, 1960
All The Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd,1960
Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse, 1959
The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958
On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957
Room at the Top, John Braine, 1957
A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno, 1956
The Outsider, Colin Wilson, 1956
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949
The Street, Ann Petry, 1946
Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945″

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The Great Unread

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This is an interesting article that made me wonder why some of our newer ‘classics’ tend to be reread whilst others are cast into obscurity

The Great Unread.

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Joël Champetier 1957 ~ 2015

220px-Joel_ChampetierCanadian author and editor Joël Champetier died on May 30. Champetier’s first story, “Le chemin des fleurs” appeared in Solaris in 1981 and his first novel, “La mer au fond du monde” appeared in 1990. In 1983, he helped organize the first Boréal Congress and was on the board of directors for several years. Beginning in 1990, he held various positions at Solaris and was managing editor at the time of his death.

His other works included  ” The Dragon’s Eye”, “La taupe et le dragon: Roman” and “La mémoire du lac”.

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Review: Poetics ~ Aristotle

poeticsISBN ~ 978-0486295770
Publisher ~ Dover Publications
No. Of Pages ~ 60 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Among the most influential books in Western civilization, the Poetics is really a treatise on fine art. It offers seminal ideas on the nature of drama, tragedy, poetry, music, and more, including such concepts as catharsis, the tragic flaw, unities of time and place and other rules of drama. This inexpensive edition enables readers to enjoy the critical insights of one humanity’s greatest minds laying the foundations for thought about the arts.

3 Thumbs-UpThis little book looks to address the different kinds of poetry, the structure of a good poem, and the division of a poem into its component parts. Aristotle defines poetry as a ‘medium of imitation’ that seeks to represent or duplicate life through character, emotion, or action, he defines poetry very broadly, including epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and even some kinds of music; however it also serves as the basis from which all literary criticism arose and it is apparent that some of his ideas have survived the centuries when reading reviews from well-respected personage in this field.

Not my usual book review but I feel that all lovers, be they readers or writers, of literature could benefit from reading this short treatise on literature, rather than it being reserved and known only to those who are studying English Literature at whatever level.

It is not an easy read, but it wasn’t so hard that I felt I was drowning in syrup and, although I did not pick this up for enjoyment I did find myself enjoying most everything in it.  Whilst reading through the pages, it made me begin to examine the yardstick I use for my own review of books, and also the reasoning behind my choice as to whether I read a certain book or not.  From reading this I have come away with the feeling my scope is too narrow, and I need to broaden my reading horizons.  As much as this little book made me think, I can only give it a 3 thumbs rating as there were times when, as much as I liked Aristotle’s point of view, I wanted to choke him like a chicken.

This is a must read for anyone studying literature and literary criticism, but also for those who write as it may open a new direction and thought process to them that they can then apply into their works.

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