The Source is a journey back in time to the very creation of life on Earth. A hunt for the fabled Garden of Eden. The book follows Ross Kelly as he tries to find this mythical garden, hidden deep in the Amazonian forest in Peru. His motive? To find something that will save his wife and unborn children's life.
I love books of this kind, but some of them aren't well written or have such fanciful plotlines that you end up frustrated in reading them. As with all writing there's an art to writing them. They get dismissed as 'Dan Brown' rip offs by readers who sneer at the content. That's a real shame because there's lots to love in this genre. So which side of the divide did this book fall?
The Source is an unmitigated success. The storyline is tight and the tension and writing doesn't let up from the beginning. I always know when a book has my full attention when I spend more time devouring the facts than usual. Michael Cordy has written a plot that whilst might appear farfetched, you want to be true. You really want Ross to find this garden that's been hidden away before the inscrutable priest.
There's a lot of real world objects, like the Voynich Book, in the storyline that add and excite the reader. I personally really enjoyed this book. It's a cut above the usual books in the genre. It was a real joy to read.
D - A Tale of Two Worlds is a book it's hard to pigeonhole. Is it a teenage/children's book or is it meant for adults? Well after reading this wonderful book I still can't make up my mind. Instead I'll say the both adults and young adults will enjoy this highly unusual story.
Dhilkilo is a thirteen year old girl from Somaliland now living in Kent. Her adoptive parents are typical middle class and Dhilkilo is happy. Her life is fairly straight forward. That is until the day she wakes up and finds all the D's in the world have disappeared. Yet she seems to be the only one who has noticed.
There are no more ogs, olphins swim in the seas. Arts in the pub are cancelled as they are mistaken for art. Her friends now call her Hilkilo and talk with all their missing D's. The death of a former teacher Professor Dodderfield (or oerfiel as he is now known) dies. This starts her on a quest to find where all the D's have gone and to a strange world.
This book is simply brilliant. It borrows from so many sources, yet manages to integrate them well into a unique story in its own right. There are the obvious Dickensian references. Yet there's a smattering of CS Lewis and others buried within the story line.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. It's a light hearted read, not demanding yet it manages to weave a great story together. There's a great friendship story, coupled with an epic quest. Another story that would be great read out loud to a rapturous audience.
Wow, The Night Bus Hero is a stunning book that entertains and educates, all at the same time. This is a book that demands to be read out loud to children, or sneakingly read by the child before the reader has finished.
The Night Bus Hero isn’t an easy book to read at times. The protagonist, Hector, is one of the worst sort of person, a bully. The way at times, his actions are brushed over, even celebrated by those of his friends makes the first few chapters uncomfortable. It’s only when he starts to realise the direction he’s been going that you sew him in a better light.
The story really has two parts, the bullying and the way he terrorises the entire school and then his caring side which is brought slowly to the surface by his interactions with Meilei, the teacher’s pet. After attacking Thomas, the homeless man in the park, pushing his trolley into the water, his character improves.
With homeless people being blamed for the theft of statues across London, Hector witnesses the theft of a statue. The perpetrator he recognises as Thomas, but is he right?
This book is a triumph, a brilliant story that I’m sure will be enjoyed by 7 to 11 year olds, as well as parents and grandparents. There are many heartbreaking moments, as well as guffaw laughs. The issues it raises are important today and fiction, especially this book, helps raise them in a rewarding way. It doesn’t lecture, just places the facts and the story at your eyes.
Now to start and read a few more of Onjali’s books…
It's eight years since I visited Belgium to go to the war graves. Looking back on this Remembrance Day I can still feel the emotions that I had that day walking among the graves and walls of Tyne Cott cemetery.
The first thing that struck me was the vastness to the place. It seems to go on forever. These were men who died in a single battle of the First World War, yet there are so many names. So many lost their lives and are laid to rest in this piece of Belgium. Then there are the ones who were lost, but their bodies were never found.
The Menin Gate in Ypres was built originally for the names of those who had fallen but never found. When they finished it, they found that there wasn't enough room for all the dead. The walls around Tyne Cott contain the rest of the names of those fallen whose bodies were never recovered.
To put it into some sort of context, Meni Gate was full at 54,000 names whilst the remaining 35,000 names are on Tyne Cott. When you see all those names row and row on marble it brings forward emotions that just flow.
Some might be uplifted by the sacrifice that these young men made for their country. To me it shows the tragic waste of a generation of youth who answered their countries call and were killed. You look at the towering edifice of the Menin Gate and see the true horror of war in each inscription.
It made me glad I was born at a time when war didn't ravage throughout Europe and the World. It makes me angry that these young men's lives were used at the whims of generals who can't have thought about the tragic actions of their soldiers. If they had of thought, maybe so many lives would not have been lost in the war.
Would you buy your own book to get it into the charts? I'm not sure it's something I ever thought about before, but Mark Dawson, author of The Cleaner, has done just that. The story in the Guardian (link) prompted me to think about whether I'd do just that. Could I put my own money up front to purchase enough copies to get my book on the book charts? It smacked of hearing stories of people rigging the music charts to get records up to the top.
Publishers have huge budgets to put into book promotion. They have enormous power to influence what we buy in the shops or online. Self publishing is becoming a big thing however. It can be a way of getting the products of your imagination out there onto the shelves. I can really see how self publishing is a legitimate route into releasing your books. In fact I think in the world where lots of ebook sales are done through Amazon (love them or hate them), it's a way to shake up the traditional routes. It might even lead to a book deal from an established publisher. So how do you get your work under your prospective readers noses? One way is to discount the book to draw in readers, another is to pay money for advertisements.
According to Mark Dawson, he took orders from his self published book to send to buyers around the world. It's a brilliant way of actually getting your book into the hands of your readers. Before Mark made the move to buy 400 copies of his book, it was already at number 13. This week it entered the top ten, which is where it will get more exposure. These books bought by Mark, are not in his hands but in the hands of grateful readers. All Mark has done is act as middle man. No one is hurt by this, yet it's been announced that the book has lost it's spot in the top ten.
I'm saddened by this news. It seemed a way that a self publisher could get sales. I'm not a big believer in being guided by the charts, especially in music, and pick books away from charts, judging them by merit and not what others think. Looking at the YA/Children's charts for example is disheartening with books from years ago mingling with celebrity 'written' ones. Don't get me started on David Walliams... However I know there are people who will take notice of the charts.
To me I see nothing wrong in what Mark Dawson has done. Ironically the publicity he's got from buying his own books and it being denied a top ten chart spot has probably bought him some wonderful publicity. I wish him well.
If you'd like to buy a copy of his book then follow this link
There's a storm brewing over Eerie-on-Sea, and the fisherfolk say a monster is the cause. Someone has woken the ancient Gargantis, who sleeps in the watery caves beneath this spooky seaside town where legends have a habit of coming to life. It seems the Gargantis is looking for something: a treasure stolen from her underwater lair. And it just might be in the Lost-and-Foundery at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, in the care of one Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder. With the help of the daring Violet Parma, ever-reliable Herbie will do his best to figure out what the Gargantis wants and who stole her treasure in the first place. In a town full of suspicious, secretive characters, it could be anyone!
I have to say that Malamander was my favourite children's book of last year. I recommended it to everyone who'd be interested. I was eagerly looking forward to the release therefore of the sequel, Gargantis. There's a freshness about Thomas Taylor's writing yet it mingles with the past. I guess it's the sort of adventure book that was common years ago, but now given a new life in the modern world.
Gargantis is a wonderfully written. Like a storm, it sucks the reader in at the beginning and spits them out at the end, exhausted and wanting more. The adventure is permeated with humour and cultural references. The Star Wars one had me cackling aloud, as did the flux, sorry flow capacity and reversing the polarity. Eighties cult classic films being placed within the magical weird world of Eerie on Sea.
Eerie on Sea is just the place I'd love to holiday in. To me the Nautilus hotel conjures up the Grand Hotel in Scarborough. It's a wacky, yet magical world that any self-respecting tourist would be happy to visit. No trip of course to Eerie would be complete without visiting the mermonkey and getting him to dispense a book or two.
The story isn't predictable as well. There's enough in here to keep any adventure, fantasy fan happy. Not one but two maps, yes two! Each of them drawn in beautiful detail, they enhance the experience of this book. For someone who's found life a little tough at this moment, it really made me feel happy reading this wonderful book.
So, if you're aged over about eight, then you should buy this book (as well as Malamander). If you have a child, then it's an ideal book to read to them. Gargantis is one hell of a ride.
To me a book isn't complete without a map. Narnia is tons better with the map, Middle Earth looks really inviting from the map at the beginning of the book. It used to be a trend in books to put a map to help the reader navigate themselves around a fantasy world. No self-respecting fantasy book would be without one.
As a child I would look at these maps imagining the places in my imagination. It helped to place events in the book as well as being a piece of art. It has even encouraged me to buy books. If there's a map in the beginning, I want to have it. Happily, authors and publishers understand the lure of cartography and more books now have the map in the front.
The most recent book I've finished, Gargantis by Thomas Taylor, even has two maps contained within its pages. At the same time as I was devouring (book review to come), the latest adventures in Eeire on Sea, that I came across a new 'game' on Steam. To call it a game is a bit of a stretch, it's more of a toy that you play with. Yet it's simple methodology reminded me instantly of the aforementioned Eerie.
Put simply Townscaper by Oscar Stalberg is a relaxing and yet fascinating way of building a town. No complex functions, no micromanagement, just an amazingly uncomplicated way to build a 'fishing village'.
I was hooked with the first click of the mouse. It's so simple to put together a village or town and it looks so gorgeous. Left click build, right click remove. Within minutes I'm sat marvelling at the houses I'm creating. Certain clicks bring you arches, hidden gardens and much more. It's all procedurally generated, yet the results are wonderful.
I started to see the applications this could be used for. The quirkiness of the graphics and the reading of Gargantis (by the way read it please), made me want to create my own town, along with a series of inhabitants, yet to be named. I though how it could be used to create a map and base a story, or even a series on the town I created.
Tempus Fugit, time flies, when you're using this game. A couple of hours and I'd filled all the available area with a hotchpotch of brightly coloured cottages and homes. I'd added a couple of lighthouses, a church, and a dock area. It felt good. My soul has been lacking succour the last few weeks and this game was filling me with a warm glow. It sparked the stories inside my head or ideas that should be.
Townscaper is in early release, which means it's still in development. Hopefully, it will be expanded, larger areas, assorted colour schemes (a dull one would be good), a workshop to share buildings. As it stands it's well worth the £5 it costs. A wonderful experience, an imagination sparker or just an engaging way to spend a few hours of your time.
Hopefully, I can go on and make a series of stories, short ones about the life in my initialled named St Olaf's on Sea. Townscaper and Thomas Taylor have inspired me to write something a little different this time.
I guess this argument has been going on as long as filmmakers used books for their productions. Which is best, films or the medium that are based, books. In a way it's easy for us to say books. As writers and readers, that medium is the one we turn to first. Films can never be as good as books as someone else has made their imagination the source for the film.
The other day, I watched a film based, I say based loosely here, on one of my favourite children's series. The film of Artemis Fowl, I'd anticipated from the first time I'd picked up Eoin Colfer's brilliant book. After the first few chapters, I knew this could be a brilliant film. Yet how could Disney of all people get it so wrong? It's hard to think they could have produced the twaddle that was on the screen.
Ok, being charitable, it sort of followed the book, yet it failed to keep me amused like the book. There wasn't the depth to it. It was a triumph of CGI over story. Sometimes films can be a catalyst for getting children and adults to search out the book after seeing the film. I can't imagine this adaptation will have that effect. It will go down as the worst film adaptation since the Cirque de Freak film hit the cinemas. Another great children's author, Darren Shan, work being bastardised.
To be fair it's hard for a filmmaker to transfer the book to film. Books are written as books and films are screenplays. They are two completely different mediums. Authors put a lot into making the scenes come alive in your heads. Your imagination is pushed so we each have our own idea of the scenes in a book. Film makers use their imagination to bring the world to life. Sometimes it works, at others it doesn't.
I sat for ages after watching Artemis Fowl, my anger seething inside. That wonderful world that Eoin Colfer had created inside my head was laid in ruins. The memories of the book bruised and battered. Yet I knew I still had the books. No bad film can ever take away the hours of joy I had reading the series. They would always have a place in my heart and on my shelves. The film? Well one I will never watch again.
I know that book rights are sold without the author being involved. I always remember Darren Shan telling the tale of how the film version wasn't his vision. When they pass out of their creators hands, they are at the mercy of those who may not have the same imagination and enthusiasm for the project.
Are there any films that enhanced the book? I'm not talking the classics here. Romeo and Juliet, for example, was much more accessible on the screen than in its original form. The Harry Potter ones were OK, The Order of the Phoenix, even being possibly better than the travesty of the book. Field of Dreams and Moneyball were two that sprung to mind. Lord of the Rings series were both overblown as a book as they were on film.
I'll still carry on watching films based on books. I'm sure I'll come across one that will work in both mediums.
Rarely there comes a book that makes you go wow. When it does you want to treasure every word, savour the book, never let it end. Feathertide is that book. It’s a wonderful story accompanied by the most wonderful vocabulary that makes you feel you’re experiencing the journey of Marea.
Marea is born into a brothel, a girl different from all the rest. She’s kept away from the world and brought up by her mother, who obviously love her. Marea is different from everyone else as she has feathers on her back. She learns that her father had feathers and sets out to find him.
This is a tale of discovery, of wonderment, of fables. Mermaids live in the oceans, birdmen fill the skies. It mixes Japanese culture with Italian style. Marea’s journey is not an easy one as she heads for the City of Murmurs. It’s a coming of age tale told with the most exquisite language possible.
Each page is full of what I would call prose-poetry. Each scene carefully constructed so that at times you live and breath Marea’s journey. The story is excellent, the world seems far from the one we know, yet it’s rooted in real places that keeps the book from being too fanciful.
As you can see I really enjoyed the book. It had everything I love woven into a story that is timeless. The writer has produced something very rare, a literary work that’s worth the re-read.
Ever since I read VOX, I’ve been waiting in anticipation for the next Christina Dalcher novel, Q. With a debut so strong, could the follow up live up to its former. Well the wait is over, I managed to get hold of a copy through Netgallery and leapt into it with gusto and a little trepidation.
The new novel is another dystopia set in the near future. This time it centres on education. Everyone has their ‘Q’ measured. They get ID cards assigned to the value they attain. Gold is the top level and means that they get preferential treatment in every area of life. Score down in yellow and you’ll have to queue everywhere. It’s the same in schools where tests get you into the gold, silver, green or worse yellow state schools.
Elena is one of the elite, able to jump queues and gain better service by showing her gold card. Her husband is one of the ruling party, pushing always new policies that enforce these levels. Their two daughters, Alice and Freddie, are different. Alice is sixteen, secure and bright. Freddie is anxious and worries about tests all the time. When Freddie fails a test, their world is turned upsides down.
At first I had the nagging feeling that the book would follow the actions of the first and was a little disappointed. Reading on though the feeling left me, and I was sucked into the new world. The book never drops pace and the story keeps giving more.
I have to say whilst it may not be as earth shattering as VOX, it still had me thinking about if this was possible. Looking at the current leadership in the USA, then I could readily believe the ideas that bring the horror in both her books are very real and plausible. This books looks at the shady world of eugenics and the way they could be used today to split society.
Books like Christina Dalcher writes are so important as they show consequences of our actions or the actions of others. I look forward to the next book.