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review 2018-10-19 15:46
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson

I'd really enjoyed this author's previous book, Alif the Unseen, so was delighted to see she was back to writing novel-length work again, though I have to say I've also been loving her work with Ms Marvel... All of which meant I was more than delighted when my Netgalley request for an ARC of The Bird King was accepted and happily settled down this week to reading it. 

 

The basic premise of The Bird King is that it's set in the time when the Moors were losing their grip on Spain, initially taking place in the court of the emperor in Granada. Our main character, Fatima, is one of the emperor's concubines - she was born within the palace's confines and has never known the outside world, her best friend being Hassan the cartographer who she visits illicitly. Hassan has a special gift, in that he is able to use the maps he makes to connect places together and Fatima uses this to obtain a little insight into the world outside the one she knows. 

 

When the would-be Spanish monarchy come calling, with the Inquisition in tow, Hassan's life is threatened and Fatima decides that the best thing to do is for both of them to run away. Aided by a djinn that they discover has been living in the palace, they decide to head for the island occupied by the eponymous king of the birds, the subject of a story they had both grown up with. Neither Fatima or Hassan are particularly equipped for such a journey, in more ways than one, but they head out anyway since they have very few other options that don't involve Hassan being burnt alive for sorcery. 

 

This is such a beautifully-written book, striking just the right balance between getting the details precise and making a drama of how much research must have been required. Fatima, in particular, is a great character and stands out from the page - she doesn't always make the right decision but you believe the ones she does make. Hassan and the other characters are strong too, including the main antagonist and that's not always something writers manage to do well. Moustache-twirling evil is much easier than banal belief that you're doing the right thing and everyone else ought to fall in line. 

 

Anyway, in short: I hope The Bird King is the first of many more novels from this author and I can't wait to get my hands on a paper copy when it goes on sale next year. 

 

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-10-16 02:44
not for me
Don't Lose Her (Max Freeman Mysteries) - Jonathon King

Diane was a forty three year old eight month pregnant judge. She felt huge and it was hard for her to get comfortable. Diane is looking out a atypical scene in her courtroom.  As usual a team of federal prosecutors to her left. Two of whom she had before in her past. But at the defense table s a bevy of lawyers and Juan Manuel Escalante who is a known drug cartel leader who was lured to Florida through a DEA scheme and then arrested by the Feds. There is no jury before Diane. The decision on this case was hers alone. Juan brought up Diane’s and her unborn child’s health.  Diane was not sure if it was a threat or not. The obstetrician said the only way he would let Diane keep working if she avoided undue stress. She needed to relax. Then she is going to a cafe for lunch and is pulled into a van. Diane is married to a lawyer , Billy who hires his close friend and former police officer -Max- turned private detective to find out what he could by any means necessary. Diane is determined to get away from her kidnappers and the baby be fine in her stomach. Diane has been a judge for several years and she has dealt with every criminal imaginable so being a hostage she is more aware.

I didn’t really care for this book. I just didn’t connect with it. That wasn’t the books fault it just didn’t catch or keep my interest. I had action right from the start. I don’t really know why but this just wasn’t for me. But I am sure someone will really enjoy it.

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text 2018-10-15 22:36
Reading progress update: I've read 35%.
Joyland - Stephen King

There are times when I wish that Stephen King didn't write horror.

 

"Joyland" hasn't had any supernatural content in it yet (unless you count a little precognition - in which case I guess "A Prayer For Owen Meaney" is horror as well - what a thought) but it is filled with whimsy, nostalgia and a well-crafted consideration of how our concept of grief or bravery or love or even common-sense change as we age. They may not get better but they change.

 

This would be reason enough to read the novel. 

 

I know there must be horror or at least spooky uncanny woo-woo stuff coming. I wonder whether it will the grated Parmesan that completes the flavour of the dish or the limp basil leaf garnish that most people leave on the plate?

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text 2018-10-15 19:04
Reading progress update: I've read 479 out of 897 pages.
Nightmares & Dreamscapes - Stephen King

enjoyed both ‘Home Delivery’ and ‘Rainy Season’ - zombies and toads with sharp teeth, respectively. somewhere, a handful of stories back, this turned into a collection I love going back to. at first, it seemed like it might be merely a dumping ground for King’s forgotten, short-story leftovers, and “stashed in a drawer” mediocre misfits, but overall it has stepped up its game, and though I wouldn’t say I’m traipsing through classic and highly original masterpieces, I would say more and more of these stories are perfect October reads, that are making up for the fact that I’m apparently not going to be reading a lot of Horror novels this Halloween season, but Crime & Mystery instead, plus some Fantasy picks.

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text 2018-10-15 09:13
Reading progress update: I've read 13%.
Joyland - Stephen King

I've had "Joyland" in my TBR pile for over two years now. The Creepy Carnival square on Halloween Bingo finally nudged me into reading it.

 

This is a short book by Stephen King standards but I like that he still takes his time settling into the story and the people. 

 

The story is told by a sixty-year-old man looking back on his twenty-year-old self, something that I am now able (but seldom inclined) to do. King does it with style. His prose is studded with phrases that please me in the same way that the subtle use of chilli does in food. Here's an example that says something I know to be true better than I would be able to say it and yet is still a phrase that fits neatly in the story and comes believably off the tongue of the narrator.

 

"When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction."

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