Month: April 2014

BOOK REVIEW – The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a rebel, plain and simple. She’s gone where no other Bee has gone before, she’s acted on her instincts and gone against the herd (swarm, I suppose it would be, for Bees). As a sanitation Bee in her hive, she’s the lowest of all the ranks available, the bottom of the pile and last hope. This doesn’t stop Flora, she knows what she wants and knows that she isn’t meant to conform with the crowd. She’s different and now is time to show it.

The idea for this book struck me as original and was in essence the main reason why I gave this a read. Aside from the striking almost-luminous yellow cover, this book is a feat of written engineering, with very short chapters, throwing you right into the main story arc showing us really what Flora is made of. I’d rather not put anything here that could spoil the early-going for new readers, but this is actually a very good book. Intensely gripping and highly emotional in parts, who’d have thought I’d be writing that a book about bees is emotional, but it just is!

The only thing that really struck me as odd is the strange and sometimes disjointed anthropomorphising (take a breath!) of the bees themselves. Their ‘claws’ are clearly their version of human hands, but in some parts they’re using normal human-type objects, such as plates, etc, which just didn’t sit right with me for some reason or another. However, as I’ve said in other reviews, this is really only a minor thing and doesn’t take anything away.

If this doesn’t look like your typical read then give it a go anyway, challenge your ideas and just give it a try. That’s what I did and I loved it. Dystopian fiction at is peak.

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The hardback is out 08/05/2014 from 4th Estate (Harper Collins imprint)
ISBN: 9780007557721


BOOK REVIEW – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr Penumbra’s is not like any other book shop you’ve been in before. Okay, well perhaps it is…in some ways. That typical over-run book shop that every bibliophile dreams of, piles upon piles of books, high shelves, the sliding ladder…the whole works. However (this is where the cliché strikes) things aren’t what they seem. Clay is a young guy, looking for a job when an advert catches his attention for a night clerk, no specifics, no particular sector, which only heightens the interest in the job advertised. Naturally, Clay goes to find out more.

Thus starts the bumpy ride from relative nobody to mystery cracking extraordinaire.

What started off a small idea, grew and grew for Sloan until he found that there was tremendous interest in his fledgling novel and the rest, they say, is history. Receiving a US release in 2012 and finding a new resurgence in 2014 as it featured in Watertstones’ Book Club, the novel features elements of fantasy, adventure, sci-fi and all-round brilliant writing. The book’s namesake, Mr Penumbra is a character for sure, highly secretive, wise like an owl, crazy as a crazy person, an unimaginable boss for Clay. The bookshop itself is seldom visited by a ‘regular’ customer. However it is frequented by a select group of individuals with a seemingly similar ‘borrowing’ pattern. Mr Penumbra’s is, to Clay, more of a posh library than a book shop and he is about to find out why. Can he single-handedly crack the code that lies within the shop or will he need the assistance of a group of Google employees? You bet!

This is almost the perfect novel, smart, witty, fun, mysterious and wonderfully structured. The only thing that I found to be difficult was that it seemed to lose some steam towards the end. I am not sure if this was intentional, but even if not, it didn’t detract from the narrative and is only really a minor grumble on my part I think.

One thing I will say is that throughout reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It has a similar (albeit tenuously) story of sorts; Clay is reminisent of Parzival, Kat reminds me of Art3mis, a young guy looking for the elusive end to a means. However, this only improved it for me, as I loved Cline’s first offering. If you haven’t read it then I’d highly recommend them both!

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This paperback is out now from Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781782391210

BOOK REVIEW – Thou Spleeny Swag-bellied Miscreant by Royal and Hofer

This book is hilarious. Well, it’s less of a book and more of a three-part flip chart, complete with a series of Shakespearean insults in each of the parts. Remember those old flip books you used to get where you could select a different head, torso and then legs and create a new character each time? This is exactly that, but for insults lifted from Shakespearean works. Brilliant!

Now, I must admit that I got this on a bit of a whim. I’m a Shakespeare fan as much as the next person, but this seemed too good to pass on. Not only that, but my partner is an English teacher and I knew that she’d love to use this in her lessons also. However, since this came for me in the post, I think I may have had a change of heart…she’s going to be lucky if she even gets to take it into school!

My favourites so far are: Monstrous – Tedious – Hag and Weedy – Lumpish – Strumpet.This is a brilliant little book that I honestly can’t believe hasn’t been made before now!

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This hardback is out now from Running Press
ISBN: 9780762453214