H(A)PPY

1785151142.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 12/01/2019-17/01/2019

Rating 5 stars

I follow Nicola Barker on Twitter. She posts infrequently, but when she does it’s usually oddly satisfying pictures of her view from various London public telephone boxes or things she’s found while mudlarking along the Thames. There’s nothing in her feed that suggests she’s an author, and I didn’t know her as a writer until H(A)PPY was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018.

The blurb for H(A)PPY intrigued me. The reader is invited to imagine a utopia in which all knowledge is open, and doubt, hatred, poverty and greed no longer exist. Everyone lives within a System that nurtures and protects, part of a Community that nourishes and sustains. There’s no sickness, no death, no fear.

Sounds good? I wasn’t so sure. I like my privacy. I also like that it’s our differences and individualities that cause the negative things that Barker’s post-post-apocalyptic society has banished. I don’t know that I’d enjoy a world without individuality or opportunities to learn.

This is Barker’s twelfth novel. It seemed like as good a place as any to introduce myself to the writing style of the woman who is mildly obsessed with phone boxes.

It’s slippery at times, the tale she’s written, but it kept me wondering what was going on, curious to find out how it would end. I know how it ends now, of course. I’m saying nothing. I’m glad that I didn’t read any reviews, any judging comments, any opinion pieces before I read it. I imagine it might have spoiled the experience. I enjoyed it greatly. I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. If you want to read it with no prior knowledge, don’t read any further here. My reading experience and my reactions to the book might take the edge off the pleasure of this unusual novel. Continue reading

A Closed and Common Orbit

147362147x-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 08/09/2018-16/09/2018

Rating: 4 stars

My friend Dip lent me this book, as she did the first in the series. She’s just read the third installment which reminded me that I needed to crack on with this one.

A Closed and Common Orbit picks up one of the story arcs from the end of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Ship’s AI Lovelace has been reset and its box fresh operating files installed into a Human kit body. Lovey is in a shuttle with Pepper, the tech expert and merchant, leaving the Wayfarer behind, and is now an illegal entity learning a new way of living. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to The Mill on the Floss

 

I’m sitting in a freezing cold departure area (I can’t dignify it by calling it a lounge) at Dublin Airport, waiting for my connecting flight home. The café, which is more of a hot beverage kiosk, is closed. There is a pillar that invites travellers to use three smiley face buttons to express your satisfaction with the facilities. I might warm myself up by hammering on the red sad face button later.

Meanwhile, to pass the time, I thought I’d do this month’s Six Degrees of Separation. Continue reading

The Power

0670919969-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 22/12/2017-28/12/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Naomi Alderman’s Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning novel The Power has been talked about so much, that I felt like I knew it before I started to read it. The book wasn’t the speculative dystopian novel that I was expecting it to be, though. Instead, I found a political crime thriller that is exciting and tension-filled, making for a pacey and entertaining read. Continue reading

Saga Volumes 1-5

1607066017-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_ 1607066920-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_ 1607069318-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

1632150778-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_ 1632154382-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 28/06/2017

Rating: 3 stars

There’s a war raging across the universe, started by hostility between the winged inhabitants of the planet Landfall and the horned residents of its satellite Wreath. To prevent the destruction of their planets, both sides have outsourced the war, so now it is fought everywhere else but Landfall and Wreath.

I borrowed the first five trades of the comic book series Saga from a friend a while ago. Every time I’ve published a review in the interim, he’s been disappointed that it hasn’t been about Saga. We met up recently and I felt bad about not having read it yet, so I brought it up the list. My husband was out on a work do, and the football had replaced Coronation Street, so I binge read all five in one evening. Continue reading

Winterhill 2: Ghost Requiem

b00koj7s8y-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 27/04/2017-28/04/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve made a return to the Winterhill series. I picked up the first volume on a whim and enjoyed it. I decided I was going to whittle down my TBR before I invested in any more in the series, though, but then last month the author announced that any profits on sales of the book would be donated to the charity Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas. So I bought the next three.

Ghost Requiem is the second book in this pop culture sci-fi series about amnesiac archaeologist Professor Rebecca Winterhill. It opens with Winterhill and her travel mates Madagascar Talifero and Tareku Wamae resting up on a mini cruise on the planet Kalumpah. Continue reading

Winterhill: The Wreath of Dreams

b00ihticfg-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 29/11/2016-30/11/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This is fast paced science fiction split into episodes like an unillustrated graphic novel, or a radio serial that hasn’t been broadcast. The Wreath of Dreams is the first in a series of books and introduces us to amnesiac archaeologist Professor Rebecca Winterhill. Across the six episodes she hooks up with two travelling companions, Madagascar Talifero and Tareku Wamae, and has various hair raising and blood curdling adventures.

It’s clear that Iain Martin has a plan for the characters. He builds their back stories gradually, drops them in and out of the narrative, and doesn’t tie things up too quickly. It made me think of episodes of Doctor Who. Each episode in the book is a complete story, but it leaves a door open for something else to develop down the line.

I enjoyed the cheekiness of the writing, the occasional nod to the reader that life can be corny at times, the occasional meta reference to life being like a sci-fi film. I liked the characters. Winterhill and Madagascar reminded me of Halo Jones and her friend Rodice in their no-nonsense reactions to the things life throws at them. They’re feisty in different ways.

If you’re after something with a bit of pace, a bit of suspense, a bit of intergalactic police procedural, and a bit of space adventure, this could be the series for you.