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VELOCITIES BY KATHE KOJA BLOG TOUR


Hello everyone, it’s been a while and what a time we’re living in.

If, like me, you’re looking for distractions from our current situation, then I have a recommendation for you 🙂

I was so pleased to be selected to be part of the blog tour for Velocities by Kathe Koja. I love sci-fi but I feel that for me, the writing that I enjoy crosses those roads of sci-fi, horror, fantasy and speculative fiction. It’s all interconnected to me and that’s certainly the type of fiction that I write myself.

“Velocities” is an awesome collection of stories, some of them are like a steel trap, drawing you in until you realise that you’ve been reading something quite different from what you thought you were. Here we have tales of a man seeking healing, an artist haunted by a house, a future where everyone is under surveillance and many more. Those are poor descriptions of those stories really because I don’t want to spoil them. And then there’s my current fave – “Baby”. This is the type of story that slips into your brain and keeps you awake at night. That’s what happened to me anyway. It was so creepy. It’s now one of those tales that I can’t stop thinking about, I’m just fascinated with it.

Here’s an extract:

From BABY by Kathe Koja

“It’s hot in here, and the air smells sweet, all sweet and burned, like incense. I love incense, but I can never have any; my allergies, right? Allergic to incense, to cigarette smoke, to weed smoke, to smoke in general, the smoke from the grill at Rob’s Ribs, too, so goodbye to that, and no loss either, I hate this job. The butcher’s aprons are like circus tents, like 3X, and those pointy paper hats we have to wear—“Smokin’ Specialist,” god. They look like big white dunce caps, even Rico looks stupid wearing one and Rico is hot. I’ve never seen anyone as hot as he is.

The only good thing about working here—besides Rico—is hanging out after shift, up on the rooftop while Rob and whoever swabs out the patio, and everyone jokes and flirts, and, if Rob isn’t paying too much attention, me and Rico shotgun a couple of cans of Tecate or something. Then I lean as far over the railing as I can, my hands gripping tight, the metal pressing cold through my shirt; sometimes I let my feet leave the patio, just a few inches, just balancing there on the railing, in thin air . . . Andy always flips when I do it, he’s all like Oh Jani don’t do that Jani you could really hurt yourself! You could fall!

Oh Andy, I always say; Andy’s like a mom or something. Calm down, it’s only gravity, only six floors up but still, if you fell, you’d be a plate of Rob’s Tuesday night special, all bones and red sauce; smush, gross, right? But I love doing it. You can feel the wind rush up between the buildings like invisible water, stealing your breath, filling you right up to the top. It’s so weird, and so choice . . . Like the feeling I always got from you, Baby.

It’s kind of funny that I never called you anything else, just Baby; funny that I even found you, up there in Grammy’s storage space, or crawl space, or whatever it’s called when it’s not really an attic, but it’s just big enough to stand up in. Boxes were piled up everywhere, but mostly all I’d found were old china cup-and-saucer sets, and a bunch of games with missing pieces—Stratego, and Monopoly, and Clue; I already had Clue at home; I used to totally love Clue, even though I cheated when I played, sometimes. Well, all the time. I wanted to win. There were boxes and boxes of Grampy’s old books, doctor books; one was called Surgical Procedures and Facial Deformities and believe me, you did not want to look at that. I flipped it open on one picture where this guy’s mouth was all grown sideways, and his eyes—his eye— Anyway. After that I stayed away from the boxes of books.

And then I found you, Baby, stuffed down in a big box of clothes, chiffon scarves and unraveling lace, the cut-down skirts of fancy dresses, and old shirts like Army uniforms, with steel buttons and appliqués. At the bottom of the box were all kinds of shoes, spike heels, and a couple of satin evening bags with broken clasps. At first I thought you were a kind of purse, too, or a bag, all small and yellow and leathery. But then I turned you over, and I saw that you had a face.”

This is a brilliant collection and if you’re a fan of weird fiction you really should add it to your reading list. And Jeff Vandermeer’s blurb is on the cover! Need I say more?!

This is the prefect time to treat yourself to some strange tales.

Meerkat Press supplied me with a digital arc of the book in return for an honest review.

Contains Amazon affiliate links which help support this site.

Books! All The Rage by Cara Hunter

I’m so proud to be part of the blog tour for Cara Hunter’s All The Rage. This is the first book of hers that I’ve read but it won’t be the last.

Here’s the description “A girl is taken from the streets of Oxford. But it’s unlike any abduction DI Fawley’s seen before . . .

Faith Appleford was attacked, a plastic bag tied over her head, taken to an isolated location . . . and then, by some miracle, she escaped.

What’s more, when DC Erica Somer interviews Faith, she quickly becomes convinced that Faith knows who her abductor is.

Yet Faith refuses to press charges.

Without more evidence, it’s looking like the police may have to drop the case.

But what happens if Faith’s attacker strikes again?”

I think I read this over a few days. I do love a good crime novel and this was excellent. I’ve read so many of them over the years, though that they have to be exceptional for me to really enjoy them. Honestly, there’s nothing worse for me than knowing whodunnit early on. Part of the enjoyment of reading crime novels is trying to do the detective work yourself and work it out, but I love it when books can really surprise me and “All The Rage” did. There are certainly twists and turns and they are all very impressive. There’s also a witness called Gerald Butler! But I should add that this is a dark book, it’s certainly not a cozy mystery.

Documents like case notes and news reports are displayed as graphics in the book. This isn’t unusual for books these days but on the whole, I thought that the graphics were well done and immersive.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is part of series but at no point did I feel that I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the previous books.

I’ll certainly be picking up Cara’s other books, and reading more about DI Adam Fawley, Somer, Everett, even the annoying Quinn, and the rest of the team.

If, like me, you’d like to keep up with Cara Hunter, maybe find out when the next Adam Fawley book “The Whole Truth” is out, you can sign up to her newsletter.

Viking Books supplied me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Contains Amazon affiliate links which help support this site.

18th Blogiversary

I can’t believe that my humble blog is now old enough to take up an apprenticeship, go to to uni or legally drink alcohol in the UK. 😀

Of course when I began writing here about my knitting and other interests, all those years ago, I had no idea that it would still be active, or even a thing, all these years later.

I embraced social media but, like others, I’ve found its algorithms frustrating and restrictive. With a blog you can always the latest post and there’s no worry that you’ve missed one just because enough of your mates didn’t click “like”.

Over the last eighteen years, I’ve moved house twice, fallen in love with my American, Eric, and got married. I’ve loved and lost, many cats – I miss them so much, especially Clyde who used to begrudgingly model some of my knits here. Sabre, Jake, Pushkin, Emma and Billie are never far from my thoughts.

I do still knit, and build computers, and sometimes sew and make jewellery but not as much as I used to. I’m still in a big reading phase. My blog helped my old American penfriend Kirsten track me down several years ago and now we always try and meet whenever I’m in Boston.

I was remembering the days of the Knitting Web Ring and how you could read all of the knitting blogs in an evening. Those were fun times. I see that my old web ring neighbour, The Keyboard Biologist Knits, hasn’t blogged for a while but I expect that’s for similar reasons as to why I haven’t blogged for a while. You get busy. But while I can’t always promise that I’ll be blogging every week, I think I’ll always have a blog 🙂

End of Year Books

It’s the last day of 2018 and it’s one of the few years that I feel satisfied with the amount of books I read. 109 this year although that does include a few short stories.

You can see them all on Goodreads – I do enjoy the reading challenge over there –

www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/10250466

As always I hope that I’ll write a bit more on the blog in the next year! But I mostly post on Instagram these days. I’m writing this post on my phone and it’s annoying the hell out of me so I’ll finish now!

’til the next time, I hope that where ever you are,  you have a good end of year.

Liquid by Mark Miodownik

 

 

Have you ever wondered if peanut butter is a liquid? Before reading “Liquid – The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives”  by Mark Miodownik, I assumed that it was more of a solid, a paste really but no, as Mark writes, it “flows and assumes the shape of its container – that is what liquids do”.

You’ll learn so much from reading this book: how planes are glued together, what causes a tsunami, why your spit varies in consistency throughout the day (no, really!), how oil lamps work, why waves flow in and out a beach, how biros work; and why tea brewed on an air plane tastes foul; just to name a few.

If the idea of reading a science book makes your eyes glaze over, please give this book a try because it’s such a fun read. Mark Miodownik has a warm, witty, writing style and he’s just an excellent science communicator.

Mark also addresses one of the most contentious questions in the world – do you add milk first or last to make the perfect cup of tea? I wonder if the age old “do you add jam or cream first on a scone?” is as contentious as this one!

 

 

I was asked to conduct an experiment of my own, with a lovely test tube of tea from Rosie Lea Tea, to answer that question. I have to lay my cards on the table here – I’m milk last all the way and both Mark and George Orwell(!) agree with me on this, so I’m in good company.  But in the interests of science, I gave the experiment a try.

I used my For Life teapot – this has the best tea filter I’ve ever used with no danger of errant tea leaves getting into the pot.  First I warmed the pot, then I put one and a half tea spoons of tea into the filter and poured on boiling water. I left it to infuse for five minutes as Mark suggests in his book.

Firstly I tried with with milk last – OMG! A gorgeous cuppa! So, so good!  I then brewed another pot and this time poured in milk first into the cup and then added tea. Bleaugh! There’s no way to control how much milk you’re adding and mine had more than I would normally have. It was weird, I could taste that there was indeed a difference and I didn’t like it! So I conclude that Adding Milk Last = The Perfect Cup of Tea. Your mileage may vary of course,  so why not try the experiment yourself?

Liquid – The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik is out now.

 

Penguin Books supplied me with a copy of the book and a sample of Rosie Lea Tea’s Breakfast Tea in return for an honest review.

 

 

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

In the future you can be one hundred years ago and yet look barely fifty. It’s all thanks to innovations like Smart Blood and Diamond Skin. Alcohol is restricted, coffee is banned and meals consist of nutripacks or perhaps a “trad food” like a salad. The most popular mode of transport is walking. You might even live forever under the Third Wave of Maintenance but in a world where arts and music are forbidden, will you want to?

When Lea is accidentally hit by a car she finds that her life is suddenly under observation by the Ministry. She manages to infiltrate the Suicide Club, a group of people who have had enough of this endless life with little pleasure who revel in pleasures like eating meat and listening to jazz. Some ultimately choosing to end their life.

Suicide Club is a very dark novel but I was fascinated with the world Heng has conjured. It’s like a nightmare stereotype of LA, people who all look a little similar, have perfect skin and hair, drink green healthy drinks and exercise all the time – because they’re not really allowed to do much else. None of the characters are desperately likeable but that doesn’t matter because the story really pulls you in and holds you there. Disturbing and compelling. Another one of those books that I’ll be thinking about for years.
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng is out now.

 

 

 

Disclaimer – I received a digital galley of Suicide Club by Rachel Heng in return for an honest review.

Books! Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel – Yokits good!

The conclusion of the Themis Files trilogy.

 

 

Well, I did have to wait a year to get the conclusion to the cliff hanger ending of the last book but it was worth it.  “Only Human” is set ten years after the events of “Waking Gods” and a great deal has changed on earth since then and not for the good.  Earth’s reaction to the discovery that a great deal of humanity had alien ancestors has not resulted in celebration and street parties. Instead we see a frightening, and not without precedent, vision of the future.

We do find out what happened to Vincent, Rose, General Govender and Eva at the end of the previous book and we slowly learn about the culture of the planet that Themis and the other giant robots originate from.

I’m trying not to give much away here. I did really enjoy reading the book, although I was horrified by a lot of it. But that’s a good thing. It also wasn’t quite as action packed as the previous books but I think you’ll enjoy it despite that.

It’s written in the same interview style as the previous books and I don’t know if it was just a quirk of the Galley copy I was reading, but I found that it was really difficult to keep track of who was speaking in some conversations. But the actual finished book may be quite different from the galley.

Only Human is out now.

 

Disclaimer – I received a digital galley of Only Human in return for an honest review. 

Books! Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

 

When I first heard of Sylvain Neuvel’s novel Sleeping Giants: Themis Files Book 1 (Themis Files 1) I was wary of all the hype surrounding it. It couldn’t be THAT good, could it? When I eventually picked it up I was swept away by the twists and turns and unanswered questions of the book. It was an action packed reading experience. Today I can easily say “Giant Robots! What’s not to like?”

The sequel  Waking Gods: Themis Files Book 2 takes place ten years later when an even bigger robot materialises in London with devastating consequences. Dr Rose Franklin is still coming to terms with the events of the previous novel and the mysterious unnamed interviewer is still there asking questions. Soon more robots arrive…

I don’t want to give much away here, especially in case you’ve not read the previous book, but Waking Gods: Themis Files Book 2 is even better than Sleeping Giants. There is a third book on the way, as well as two other stories from the Themis Files. I only hope I have enough patience to wait for the next book!

New Books! The Girls by Emma Cline

There’s been such a buzz around Emma Cline’s first novel The Girls, that when I started to read it I wondered if it would be disappointing. It’s worth all the fanfare. Set in the late 1960’s, fourteen-year-old Evie is bored with her life and becomes fascinated by Suzanne who is a member of a Manson Family type cult. The story flips between Evie as an adult and teenage Evie and I was struck by Cline’s ability to tap into exactly what it means to be a girl. The self conciousness, the willingness to please, the power that a crush can have over you. It’s all here and in unflinching detail. It was uncomfortable to remember those times through Evie and other characters.

In some ways I wondered if it should have been called The Girl because Suzanne casts such a long shadow. The Girls is very dark and not an easy summer time read but it is an exceptionally well written book. I can’t wait to see what Emma Cline writes next.

Emma Cline wrote this book in a tiny writers shed. You can check it out here

The Girls is published in the UK on June 16th.

Disclaimer – I received a digital galley of The Girls in return for an honest review. 

New Books! Some Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips

If there was a machine that could tell you the exact date that you’d die – would you use it? Would you tell your spouse what it said? What effect might it have on your marriage? That’s just one of the premises in Helen Phillips’ new short story collection Some Possible SolutionsIn another, time freezes at a dinner party and a woman decides to kiss her friend’s husband. A young woman suddenly finds her love for her parents tested when she stops being able to see people’s skin. Her mother’s embraces seem far less welcoming once she can see her muscles, blood vessels and eye balls. A young mother starts to see her doppelgänger all over town. Intrigued? I hope you are because this is a great collection! Phillips stories feature science-fiction and dystopian futures but they’re also tales about marriage, friendship and family.

I don’t know if this was some sort of issue with my digital galley or not, but some later parts of the book were streams of consciousness and it was difficult to understand what was going on. It might be that my copy was corrupted in some way but I’m not sure.  It didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book, anyway. Phillips writing is wonderfully creative and weird. She really tests boundaries and I found that I read this collection rather quickly. If you want to have a taster of her work, she has several free short stories on her website.

Some Possible Solutions is published in the UK on the 13th of June.

 

Disclaimer – I received a digital galley of Some Possible Solutions in return for an honest review.