Review: The Heather Blazing

The Heather Blazing
The Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colm Toibin’s ‘The Heather Blazing’ is a masterclass in understated prose. The book follows the High Court judge Eamon Redmond, with flashbacks to his early years. The writing is sparse, lacking any emotion, mimicking Eamon’s state of mind, despite several key events in his life. I liked it and would recommend the book, but did feel a little bit of purple prose wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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Review: Jamrach’s Menagerie

Jamrach's Menagerie
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another good read from the Man Booker 2011 short list pile (a year behind but at least the bottom is in sight…) The book starts with a ‘coming of age’ for cat food wannabe Jaff, and ends with a touch of culinary experimentation of his own. Not my favourite of the short listed titles, but one I’d certainly recommend.

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Review: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like this book. Guy’s writing style is informal and chatty, but concise and to the point. This is the first book of his that I’ve read, though oddly enough I was looking at another when I was sent this copy to review. After completing this, I’ll certainly look for others. Much of this information is also available in Mark Coker’s (Smashwords founder) ‘Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success’, but Guy has presented the information better and strengthened it with examples.

I felt the most useful aspect of this book was his use of links to illustrate a point. The book is riddled with them. Some are witty asides, but the majority are interesting and informative. The one I loved the most was when he demonstrated how professional editors work, by showing a marked up version of a Raymond Carver short. Others point to social media sites, others to useful tools, and however informed you believe are, I suspect that many of these will be new to you.

My only negative comment is that the book was trying to do too much. The first forty or so pages were discussing whether you should write, and explaining the differences between ebooks and paperbacks. If you wanted to be an author, I’m fairly certain those early chapters could be taken as a prerequisite. Similarly, many sections were glanced over when they could’ve easily formed a complete book in their own right.

Still, it’s an informative book, and one I’m certain I’ll be returning to!

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Review: Snowdrops

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, another one finished, my Man Booker 2011 pile is getting lower! This one, without a doubt, is my favourite yet. The writing is succinct and full of great descriptions: “With a boy-band fringe, a ten-thousand dollar suit, and a murderer’s smile. He was equal parts twinkle and menace.” I would’ve given it five stars, but the end it needed didn’t appear – it was clear where the book was going very early on, the characters did their part and stumbled towards their finales and as I put it down, I felt more of a “pfft” that an “aah”! That said, I haven’t enjoyed an authors voice so much since Anne Michaels’s “Fugitive Pieces”. A very impressive debut novel and, in my opinion, worthy of the praise, which is why I’m somewhat curious about the number of one and two star reviews on this site – different things for different people I guess…

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Review: The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book at the weekend, having only pulled it off of my Man Booker pile during the middle of the previous week. This says a lot; normally books take me weeks to complete, but this one got me hooked and kept the pages turning. It’s part road movie (on horses), part western (gold prospectors and saloons) and part buddy buddy (well, except the buddy is his brother). There’s also a touch of magical realism (Gabriel Garcia Marquez doesn’t have to get worried yet), double dealing and bad boss men, and all told with a unique and interesting voice. I liked it a lot, so much so, I finished it in a handful of days. I’ll certainly be looking out for other works by the author!

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Twisted Tales

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, so I’m pleased to say I’ve got something new for you all. The novel was taking up a large part of my spare time so I decided to take a little break and return to writing a few short stories.

‘Twisted Tales’ presents eight unique stories united by endings with a twist. It features three new short stories and edited versions of his existing five shorts.

This collection contains the following stories: ‘Wind in the Trees’, ‘Old House’, ‘The Man Who Could Replicate Himself’, ‘Dying With My Children’, ‘The Operation’, ‘To Kill the President’, ‘Extramarital’ and ‘Body Recyclers’.

Distraction over, it’s back to the novel. I hope you enjoy!

Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Moonstone is a who-dunnit, told through various people’s diaries and reminisces. I loved the start of the book. Betteridge’s descriptions were excellent, especially when he briefly talked about his wife, but once his voice was reduced, the story started to plod and I did find it quite a challenge to finish. That said, it is a novel of its time and is still worth reading.

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