Death, Flex and Clakkers

Art it Up.  This is a meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read.  The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. My recent reading includes Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, The Death House by Sarah Pinborough and I’m currently reading The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis.  This weird little picture is a strange mash-up!

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‘My own brother, a goddamn shit-sucking vampire’

This week over as the Fantasy Review Barn Nathan is taking us Tough Travelling looking at vampires:

VAMPIRES are increasingly rare on the TOUR.  They have been attracted over to the Horror Tour by offers of better pay.  Where they appear, you will find up to date Vampires wear expensive sunglasses and wish to drain you of energy rather than blood.

  1. Dracula from Bram Stoker – you have to have Dracula on this list he’s one of the originals
  2. Iuda from Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet – this is one nasty sucker (had to go there)!
  3. Fort from Generation V by M L Brennan – one of the younger vampires
  4. Joshua from Fevre Dream by GRRMartin – based on board a steamship that sails the Mississipi
  5. Eric from Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series – a rather fine specimen of towering viking vampireness!
  6. Stefan from Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson – how can you resist a vampire who rides around in a Scooby Van!
  7. Barlow from Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – that’s one vampire that scared the bejeebers out of me!
  8. Lestat from Ann Rice’s Interview with a Vampire – ‘ClaudiaYouve been a very, very, naughty little girl.’
  9. Constantine from Sunshine by Robin McKinley – a very good story, set in a world where vampires and humans went to war, Sunshine has a rare ability that she uses to help Constantine
  10. Quinn from Kathleen Tierney’s Blood Oranges – part vampire part werewolf

And I’m drawing a line under it as I could go on and on!!

Quick update: readalong of Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead: schedule and dates

Short and to the point.  I posted this recently about a readalong by myself and the lovely Susan over at Dab of Darkness. Below is the schedule and list of bloggers taking part in case you want to join in.  There’s plenty of time to get on board and we’re all quite nice really – we don’t bite, well, not often!! *just kidding*

Schedule as follows:

Post Date Monday March 9, Prologue up to Chapter 8 – week 1, (up to page 113) (page count 113) hosted by Lynn’s Book

BlogPost Date Monday March 16, Chapter 8 up to Chapter 15 – week 2, (up to page 223) (page count 110) hosted by Dab of Darkness

Post Date Monday March 23, Chapter 15 through Epilogue – week 3 (up to page 333) (page count 110) hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Participants:

Me – obviously!
Lisa – Over the Effing Rainbow
Lauren – Violin in a Void
Anya – On Starships & Dragonwings
Heather – The Bastard Title
Lynn – Little Lion Lynnet’s 
Susan  – Dab of Darkness
That is all  :D

You’re simply the best

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This week over at The Broke and Bookish the topic for Top Ten Tuesday is:

‘ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS (from the past 5 years)’

Well, I suppose they’re not ‘all time favourites’ if I’m just looking over the past 5 years but here goes and these are reads that if somebody asked me to recommend something they would probably spring to mind:

  1. Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien- which I reread in 2011
  2. The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence – bit of a cheat as this is 3 books!
  3. City of Stairs by Robert J Bennett
  4. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  5. The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
  6. The fairytale retellings by Sarah Pinborough – Poison/Beauty/Charm
  7. Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series
  8. Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive
  9. Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series
  10. M L Brennan’s Vampire series – Generation V/Iron Night/Tainted Blood

Difficult to narrow this down to 10 as I have managed to read a lot of good books over the past few years.

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is an emotional and dark story.  A story that puts the focus on life and death and how people cope when faced with their own mortality.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult review to write and I’ve been mulling it around in my brain some.  Firstly, I’m aware that I won’t be able to do the story justice and, secondly, given the nature of the book I don’t want to portray this as really gloomy and put people off. It is undoubtedly a dark book and just a look at the cover alone gives you an idea that it’s going to be somewhat bleak, however, it’s so much more than that.

The story is set in the future although as a reader we find out very little about the time or lifestyle. We really only catch glimpses into the world when Toby takes a trip down memory lane, and these are only snippets designed to give us a small insight into what is going on.

Okay, this is my take (and I have been wrong on occasion). In this particular future it seems that children are given blood tests up to the age of 18.  Up to that age, if they’re going to develop a defective gene, it will show up in the blood.  After that they’re clear.  Not many people seem to have this defect and that would explain why all the children are so relaxed about the regular testing.  However, if the defect appears, well, the child is removed, immediately!  It’s very odd.  What is this defect. Well, I can only think that disease has been almost eradicated, however, maybe sometimes it rears it’s ugly head and it seems to manifest in all sorts of different ways – it could be worse than that but we don’t really find out! Anyway, defect equals incarceration. Why, not really sure – maybe there’s a great fear of disease once again taking a hold.

So, Toby, has been taken from his family and taken to a remote island where he now lives with a number of other inhabitants in an old mansion known as ‘The Death House’. This is a pretty horrible existence.  To a certain extent the boys and girls live a sort of boarding school existence with lessons in the morning and other activities that they can take part in to pass the time.  The problem is – they all know why they’re there and what could possible be worse than counting down your own existence never quite knowing when the grim reaper will show up. On top of that, you could call this a care home – except nobody really cares about their charges – it’s just all a means to an end. Cold and sterile and actually a little bit forbidding in the shape of Matron!

Okay, you’re probably thinking where’s the good.

Characters: I know I’m always banging on about characterisation but I do love good characters when I’m reading and this book has good characters in spades.  I mean, they’re not all as well developed as each other but we pretty soon get a good idea of the dynamics and different groups.  Toby, has become almost like a carer to the younger boys on his ward.  Jake is the tough guy and seems to have attracted the wannabee toughies.  Ashley turns to worship and given how scared they all are he also develops something of a following.  Then we have The Matron – everybody is trying to stay under her radar.  She is over starched to say the least.  Nurse Ratched could take a few lessons from her!

Plot: well, it’s all like a mystery and it’s compelling to read about.  You feel in the dark as a reader – which is somewhat ironic as Toby does like to spend most of his time wandering around by himself at night alone.  This is until the latest new additions to the house which include a young girl who is about to upset the tentative status quo. Clara.  She has an undoubted love of life that not even being brought to the Death House has squashed.

Setting: A dilapidated mansion on a remote island with lots of unfurnished, unused rooms.  It could be incredibly creepy but Toby relates the story in an unaffected manner.  He doesn’t believe in ghosts and is happy to spend time alone at night in what really could be a bit of a spooky setting.

The unexpected.  I sort of spent most of the novel gagging to find out what was going on.  What was the Sanatorium where the sick children disappeared to.  What actually happens there.  What I actually received instead was a captivating tale of love.  The love and care that some of the inhabitants found for each other in spite of such dire circumstances, the love that some of them managed to find in the most simple things – such as snowfall, and then the relationship that developed between Toby and Clara.

I will say that this is an emotional read.  I’m not going to lead you astray on that point.  But, it’s also intriguing and mysterious. You start reading and you don’t want to stop.

Pinborough has a way with words.  She’s the word master!!  I’ve read quite a few of her books now and she defiantly manages to evade genres skirting around on the edges of contemporary and speculative fiction. I love it!

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