The mysterious queen summons a scribe to her, and entrusts her with a task. To find out the story of what happened to four of her friends, many years ago, to solve a current problem. The scribe travels between the friends: Micaela, whose Father’s interference into their planet’s water system got him killed, Sujith, the visitor from another disk who found himself embroiled in the action, and Quentin, well-meaning, but the most intractable of all. With dragons, coding, controlling governments, time-travel and more this is a vast world that we start to discover.
I’ve actually read this one and a half times. The first time was online, as Brian Guthrie, who stayed with us once, told me about it. I was suspicious, as I usually am with self-published books, but I had a look. And I got hooked. It was an extremely annoying way to read: tiny thin paragraphs on busy pages that I had to click through often – and yet I was hooked. I finally tore myself away before the end because it was too annoying to read like that – and the way it was, I had no way to see how much longer it was going to be – but when the book came out, I thought I’d give it another try.
Young Ah Ling, son of a prostitute and white man, lands in 1860s California and navigates his way through the laundries of his Chinese heritage and the railroads of the white men; never quite at home with either people. Years later Anna May Wong; Hollywood’s first Chinese film star, must take seductress roles and cannot kiss a white man onscreen – visits China, and her father, and feels alien. Years later again, Vincent Chin is murdered in a bar because he looks Japanese. And years later again, half-Chinese writer John Ling Smith visits China to adopt a baby girl.
Though in style this book was like a fictionalised documentary, it got me completely. I was hooked on every story, and so enjoyed the experience of entering into each of the four worlds it portrayed. And I think the fictionalisation probably made the points the more poignant: we were taken intoworlds and saw different themes and ideas that run through the whole thing. Like being offered the proof rather than the conclusions. I really enjoyed it!
I had so so many imaginary friends. I’d say ‘growing up’ but I can’t really bear to think of them ceasing to exist so I haven’t culled them. They’ve probably just moved to a different country… mostly.
But fictional friends are different. These four are the ones I did important parts of life with, shared the journey with. I’ve probably moved on now (to real friends, phew!) but these have still got a special place in my heart.
Anthony lost the medallion his fiancee gave him before she died in an accident, and ever since he has collected any lost things he can find in hope of atonement. Laura, his cleaner, finds solace in his house, and inherits his quest when he leaves it to her, along with Freddie the gardener she can’t help fancying and Sunshine, a young girl with her own special way of thinking and Downs Syndrome. Meanwhile many years ago, Eunice saw a man drop a gold coin on her way to the job interview that would shape her life, and the long, fulfilling friendship with the man she loves but could never marry. The lost items and stories they tell bring together these and more characters with just the right amount of hope.
This book was lovely. Full of real characters, interesting stories, satisfying relationships and the stuff of live woven together to make something very beautiful. Like Anthony’s collection of lost things, here we find lost stories; people whose lives are the ones that people ignore rather than write about, collected together and woven beautifully into one tale. I loved this.
I find Kezia playing with books so so much of the time, and when we sit down to read a couple of times a day she absolutely loves it. As do I! It seems so mysterious: what is it that makes them so exciting? I’ve done a quick run down and this is what I reckon:
Vasya knows the spirits and traditional folklore creatures are real – she speaks to them, feeds them, harbours them in exchange for their protection. But there are other creatures too – and one in particular who threatens their village, their lives and much much more. Vasya must fight alone against an enemy no one else believes in, under increasing pressure from her family and the fanatic priest who is determined to abolish old superstition, especially when he hears a voice speaking to him from the darkness…
I A D O R E D this book!! Hooray! It feels so good to start of the year with two glowing reviews! It’s out very recently, and is a retelling of a Russian fairytale which I didn’t know beforehand. Thankfully it’s spoken at the beginning of the story, and you can see the parallels as they occur. But gosh! This book has pretty much EVERYTHING that I love – and in no way did it disappoint. I got a kindle review copy free but I’m going to have to buy it too because it’s so lovely – and gosh, that cover!
Oliver and Kate met officially one afternoon in Oxford when they were young, she fell off her bike and they snuck a look at Kate’s creepy aunt’s house. Oliver’s family moved to Milton Keynes before they get to say goodbye, but they meet and get together years later at a party when Kate has just inherited the house amidst some controversy. After quitting his city job that he hates Oliver goes to Oxford to do up the house and finds himself enchanted by it and the diaries he finds in the books there. These engrossing letters tell of a woman in an unhappy marriage seeking comfort at the Bodlein, and an unlikely guide. The story Oliver chases has direct impact on the present for both his life plans and the ownership of the house.
I don’t know why but I kind of put off reading this book. I can’t believe it – it’s definitely in the top books I’ve read this year! So much so that I’m skipping all the other reviews I need to write to give it a shoutout. A beautiful sense of place, compelling dual timelines, lovely sympathetic characters, opposition of old and new and overall a sense of trust. I knew very quickly that this narrator was not going to mess me around. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. I enjoyed this thoroughly!
Last year I took a risk and made my New Year’s Resolutions very public! It’s beyond time to check back in and see how I’ve done. I’m about to paste the list in and comment. I’m expecting a mixed bag. There are some I definitely didn’t do, but I’m pleased with the effect the ones I did manage have had on my life. Here goes..
An illness hits earth, and 99% of men die. And 99.8% of women die. The remainder of humanity wander and scrounge from the earth, women enslaved and objectified. And endangered – if any of them become pregnant they and their babies die. An ex-midwife is one of the few to survive, and soon finds her mission; to travel in disguise helping the women she meets as much as she can; distributing advice, medicine and contraceptives as she falls in and out with various peoples trying to make a life.
So, here we are again. Most humans have died from a disease. I’m sure I’ve read at least two of these recently in the last couple of years. This one appealed to me because of the midwife: a profession that after having my baby I greatly admire. And it was interesting
As I said in my post the five books to buy your reading friends this year, for me there’s nothing quite like getting a book for Christmas. But a few years ago one of my friends went above and beyond and made the whole thing a thousand times better!
Rather than just a book she got me a whole reading experience… a bag with a book, scented candles, chocolates and probably something else that I don’t remember. What a treat! Rather than just a book you are providing your friend with at least one evening’s luxurious, Hygge filled entertainment. Here’s some quick ideas of what to add to your book gift to make it extra special: