Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

men at arms

Synopsis from Amazon:

Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!

But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detrius (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).

And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…

Ankh-Morpork is in trouble. There are a series of mysterious murders, a student who wants a king put on the throne and the “Gone”, a very dangerous weapon with a mind of its own. So who is there to solve this mystery? The Night-Watch, consisting of an adopted dwarf, a real dwarf, a werewolf and a troll. How will pan out….?

This is another Discworld classic. It is number 15 in the series. I found this book just as enjoyable as the others. Pratchett’s writing was engaging and inviting. As ever, Ankh-Morpork is described so well that you lose yourself there. The characters have been seen in other books, and were hilarious at times. My favourites were Death, who makes a  couple of appearances, with some very witty one-liners; Corporal Carrot, a very simple human who was adopted by dwarfs and Gaspode the talking dog. His manipulation of humans was classic. The conversations between Cuddy and Detrius were amusing, as trolls and dwarfs traditionally dislike each other, so they rivalry had to continue for show. Detrius learning to count and his use of numbers had me laughing too. Pratchett is very original with his ideas of a Fools Guild, an Assassin Guild and even a Dog Guild. This is a very well thought out and well written book.

I recommend this book because it is engaging, full of danger, and adventure and hilarious. This is a grea fantasy book and well worth reading.

9/10

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Speaking of Love by Angela Young

speaking of love

Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

When human beings don’t talk about love, things go wrong.

If a mother had told her daughter that she loved her, they might not have spent years apart. If a man had found the courage to tell a woman that he loved her she might never have married another man. And if a father had told his daughter that he loved her when her mother died, she might not have suffered the breakdown that caused the rift with her own daughter.

But if you are born into a family that never talks about love, how do you learn to say the words?

SPEAKING of LOVE is a novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so. It deals passionately and honestly with human breakdown. And it tells of our need for stories and how stories can help make sense of the random nature of life.

This is Young’s first novel, and in my opinion it is a success. The book follows three people: Iris, Vivie and Matthew. Iris is Vivie’s mother and suffers from mental health issues and suffers a devastating break down. Vivie is only young when this happens and it emotionally scars to the point she feels like her life is collapsing around her. Matthew is a few years older than Vivie and they grew up as next door neighbours. Matthew is in love with Vivie but cannot tells her how he feels. In fact, none of them can voice their feelings; leading to heartbreak and separation. But in a special twist of fate, a storytelling event where Iris is speaking brings all of them together…will feelings be voiced and hurts mended?

This was a beautiful book. It took a little while to get going, and to be honest I did think about stopping reading it; however I am so glad I pushed on. As the story unfolds it is gripping and real. I would not class this as chick-lit or romance fiction because the main theme alongside love is mental health. Most of the consequences in the book arise from Iris’ illness and Young honestly explores the repercussion of being so ill and having a breakdown.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Iris was a story teller. Not just that but some of her stories are published in the book, and they were lovely to read.

The book flits between Iris, Vivie and Matthew; and it flows easily between the three. Alongside that, they all slip into memories gracefully and this explains how they were feeling, recalls events that changed their lives and gives an insight into Iris’ illness.

This is not a fast read, however it is a wonderful book and I recommend it for everyone.

8/10

Published by: Beautiful Books

RRP: £7.99

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

heavenly

Synopsis from FantasticFiction:

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister’s guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoë’s sister darts in front of cars. Her brother’s a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don’t see Zoë lost in her broken life. Zoë escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoë’s autistic sister. After Zoë is convinced he’s legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can’t last forever.

This book is released in August 2009, and well worth reading. Zoe is an 18-year with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Ever since her younger sister was diagnosed with autism her life started to go downhill. Her parents became wrapped up in their concerns for her sister, her brother has turned to drugs and Zoe has begun to party and seek out boys. Until one day when she is out at the park and her sister runs off. After frantic searching she finds her, with Matthais. A few days later she runs off again, and again Matthais finds her. Who is this guy? Her sister’s guardian angel. With him around life changes for Zoe. She starts to grow up and she falls in love, but how can love survive between a human and a heavenly being?

This is a younger adult book, but I recommend it for everyone. Laurens is an amazing writing. I read this book in a day – the story just flowed off the pages, drawing you in. Laurens explores many difficult issues, from autism, to drugs, and she started to explore the idea of Heaven and God. All of which were done sensitively and well.

The characters were lovely. Abria, the autistic sister, sounded lovely, even if she was hard work. And I too fell in love with Matthais. Calm, sensitive and caring, he sounded perfect.

And of course, there was a bit of a cliff hanger at the end of the book, which I didn’t anticipate. And it has made me eager for the next installment.

I cannot fault this book. It was a gripping, enjoyable, great read, and I highly recommend it.

10/10

The Last Good Man by Patience Swift

the last good man


Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

His solitude is broken by the discovery, one early morning on the flat sands of a low tide, of a child washed up on the beach. Somehow, she is still alive.

In the village, a woman reflects on a lifelong fascination with an ancient love story as she faces an unknown future.

The new arrival on the beach sets in chain a sequence of events that no-one can alter, and in this mystical and powerful novel, we witness a man experiencing our world as though for the first time.

Discover Sam: the last good man on earth.

Sam is a loner, but he likes that. He enjoys his own company, and the company of nature. His life is shaken up when he finds a girl washed up on the beach. He takes her in and looks after her. Isobel is also alone, back in the village to deal with her mother’s estate. She has been looking for love that she has read about, but without success. She crosses Sam’s path too, and things start to look up. Sam takes in the two ladies and his life changes for good….

This is a short book. It is descriptive and enjoyable. It is an easy read, with short, simple sentences. The book flowed and was a lovely read, even though it is a tragic read. It is beautiful read. Swift writes gorgeous characters, and wonderful scenery. Sam was sweet and caring. Isobel was vulnerable, with a troubled streak. The girl is silent, but was happy and a lovely read.

I found the ending a bit strange. The majority of the book was written in third person and then in the last few pages the book switches to first person. The ending is sad, but I felt it was a bit inconclusive. However, I do recommend this book, I really enjoyed it.

9/10

The Ingenious Edgar Jones by Elizabeth Garner

the ingenious edgar jones

Synopsis from Amazon:

Set in nineteenth-century Oxford, and shot through with a powerful sense of magic, Elizabeth Garner’s new novel will appeal both to fans of historical fiction and to the huge Susanna Clarke/Philip Pullman fanbase.

In nineteenth-century Oxford, an extraordinary child is born – Edgar Jones, a porter’s son with a magical talent. Though his father cannot see beyond his academic slowness, his abilities as a metalworker and designer are quickly noticed, and become a source of tension within the family. When Edgar comes to the attention of a maverick professor at work on a museum of the natural sciences, Edgar is at once plucked from obscurity and plunged into the heart of a debate which threatens to tear apart the university. Edgar’s position is a dangerous one – will he be able to control the rebellious spirit that fires his inventiveness, but threatens to ruin him, and to break up his family once and for all?

I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know what to expect from the blurb, and in fact it is a lot more complex than the blurb lets on. The star of the show is Edgar. He is an exception in every way. He is a genius. From a young age he is creative, exploring the local neighbourhood and inventing all kinds of things. He catches the attention of an Oxford professor, who uses Edgar for his needs and then dismisses him. Edgar, just a child, seeks revenge, which could cause mayhem and destruction wherever he goes, but can anyone, or anything really keep him down?

This is an exciting, gripping book. Garner is a literary genius. Her descriptions are full and rich. Her writing style is easy to get into and enjoyable. She is imaginative and creative. I liked her characters, how each was different and how they all fitted together to make this wonderful book. She explores history, God and science and family values. All of which she does successfully.

I don’t think the ending was particularly convincing, but that is the only compliant. This is a must-read book.

8/10

Love Begins in Winter by Simon van Booy

love begins in winter

Synopsis from http://www.harpercollins.com:

On the verge of giving up—anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives—Van Booy’s characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

This book contains five short stories. In all of them the protagonist is lost and looking for love. They all find it, but the journey each take are individual and life-changing. The characters are all likeable, and you find yourself wanting the best for them. The outcomes are not always as you expect, but that just adds to the joy of this book.

This is a beautiful book. Everything from the cover design to the stories is just gorgeous. Van Booy explores the power of children, growing up and the power music can have. The sentences are short but the stories just flow from the pages. It is a quick read, gripping and thrilling. This is a real page-turner. As I sit writing this I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I was hooked right from the beginning. All five stories are different but with one theme: love. This is an uplifting book, and I highly recommend it.

10/10

Blest Atheist by Elizabeth Mahlou

blest atheist

Synopsis taken from http://www.blestatheist.com:

As a young child, outraged by the hypocrisy she finds in a church that does nothing to alleviate the physical and sexual abuse she experiences on a regular basis, Beth delivers an accusatory youth sermon and gets her family expelled from the church. Having locked the door on God, Beth goes on to raise a family of seven children, learn 17 languages, and enjoy a career that takes her to NASA, Washington, and 24 countries. All the time, however, God keeps knocking at the door, protecting and blessing her—which she realizes only decades later. Ultimately, Beth finds God in a very simple yet most unusual way. A very human story, Blest Atheist encompasses the greatest literary themes of all time – alienation, redemption, and even the miraculous. The author’s life experiences, both tragic and tremendous, result in a spiritual journey containing significant ups and downs that ultimately yield great joy and humility.

This is the story of Elizabeth Mahlou’s life. It is harrowing and encouraging. She is honest, realistic and humble. The book begins with Beth telling us about how she spoke at a Russian Orthodox church about her role as a Good Samaritan in helping Shura, a boy in Siberia with Spina Bifida. The book is full of how she meets people, how she connects and copes in different countries and how her contacts and friends enable her to help many people. She has multiple degrees, can talk a range of languages and has many fascinating stories, such as how she was one of the only American’s allowed in Russia during the Cold War. Yet she does not brag and is not big headed. She is honest and humbled by her truly amazing experiences. She sees all of them as a chance to help others. She talks about her family and the abuse all her siblings suffered from different family members but how they supported each other and looked out for each other, and ultimately survived.

The second part of her book examines how she changed from an atheist to a practising Christian. She talks about how God has always rescued her, had a plan and loved her. How all the “coincidences” in her life were likely to be from God. She relays miracles she has seen, the faith of others and how ultimately her life was changed.

This is an amazing read. Even if you aren’t interesting in God or religion this book is inspiring and beautiful. Many lives have been changed through Mahlou’s work, and I think maybe will be changed by this book. This is a must read.

9/10