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review 2018-10-05 01:11
Book Review: A Springful Of Winters by Dawn Sister
A Springful Of Winters - Dawn Sister

It's not easy to write a compelling story about a neuro-divergent character that at once rings true and never veers into stereotypical territory.

It is clear early on that Kit is not neuro-typical. A bit socially awkward, as most social norms don't make sense to him, he has come to rely on a plethora of lists and contingency plans that allow him to venture into the world without becoming entirely overwhelmed. 

The book opens with a quick introduction to Kit, where we find ourselves seeing the world from his POV. The past year has been difficult for Kit. He lost his mother, who was his champion, and then his boyfriend, who was a bit of a jerk. And now Winter isn't quite done yet, even though the calendar says Spring has sprung, and Kit just cannot with the snow that's falling on this first day of Spring. 

I immediately loved Kit - his sweet and gentle nature, his love for his dog, his sadness, his outrage at the betrayal of snow in Spring, all served to make me want to hug him and tell him it would all be okay. 

Kit's neuro-divergence (he's on the autism spectrum) is never presented as a hindrance. It is, it exists. He makes it work for him, he tries to find reason and sense in an unreasonable and non-sensical world. He relies on Bessie, his service dog, and Yenta, an older woman who's his employer/landlord, and who treats him as the treasure he is. It is immediately clear that Kit loves Yenta, and Yenta loves Kit. 

Early on, a scene involving his service dog, who mostly listens, but in this scene doesn't, brings Kit to a location for which he has no contingency plan. This particular adventure serves as the catalyst to Kit meeting the man with eyes like the Spring.

And then he meets him again, during an unfortunate accident involving Kit's bike and the man's car door, and a bruised backside. 

While both incidents are humorous, they never felt as if we're expected to laugh at Kit. I giggled at the situations he finds himself in. He gets flustered because he's intrigued by the man with the eyes like Spring, and all of his contingency plans didn't prepare him for falling in love. The book gives insight into what may be termed the struggle neuro-divergent people have to deal with - not only because they have to make sense of a world that doesn't, but also because the world doesn't usually accommodate that what is not typical. 

Stephan, the man with eyes like the Spring, isn't portrayed as a hero who saves poor Kit - not all all. I think Stephan recognizes the beauty within Kit, the amazing person he is, and he falls just as hard. He rolls with the punches, he fits himself into the world Kit has created for himself, he listens intensely, and he celebrates Kit as a person. 

It's a poignant story, at novella-length, and I enjoyed it immensely. The writing is superb, and the author packs a fabulous story into a few pages. It's a quick read, but it stayed with me long after I closed the file on my e-reader. 

Fabulous, just fabulous. Recommended.

 

 

** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-10-01 12:49
"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" by Joanna Nadin - Highly Recommended
The Queen Of Bloody Everything - Joanna Nadin

"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" is an astonishingly good novel that tells the story of Dido Jones and her relationship with Edie, her unconventional mother.

 

Daughter of a flamboyant, convention-challenging. larger-than-life mother and absent any knowledge of her father, Dido has no greater desire from the age of six to thirteen than to be normal and in a "real" family. She satisfies this desire initially by adopting the family next door, weaving herself into their lives so thoroughly that her presence is taken for granted.

 

Starting with six-year-old Dido moving from a London squat to an Essex village in the exceptionally hot summer of 1976 and carrying on into Dido's adult years, "The Queen Of Bloody Everything" captures the language and attitudes of the times perfectly, displaying them to through the eyes of a child and the adult remembering being that child.

 

The storytelling is very accessible despite following a clever and complex structure. It starts in the present day, with Dido talking to her hospitalised mother, and reveals itself through a series of recollections of Dido's life in chronological order, interspersed with commentary in the here and now.

 

It is a riveting read, filled with strong, believable characters, realistic dialogue that is crammed with life and truth and scenes that capture moments of triumph, deep cringe-worthy embarrassment, abuse and loss and sometimes, a little bit of hope. 

 

Dido's understanding of herself and her mother is deeply shaped by her reading and the gap between the worlds she reads about and the life she's lived. In the beginning, the chapters have names that refer to children's books: "Heidi" or "Third Year At Mallory Towers". Later, the literary signposting of the chapters becomes more adult with titles like "The Bell Jar" or "Brighton Rock".  

 

My heart was captured by the characters but what really intoxicated me was Joanna Nadin's ability to help me to see the same thing from multiple points of view at the same time: how I felt then, how I feel now, what I failed to see then, what I wished I could do now and so on. She embraces the complexity of real life where questions have more than one answer and narratives overlay one another over time like layers of lacquer on our lives.

 

Both the ambition and the craft of this approach are shown on from the first page of the book. It starts:

Now

So how shall I begin? With Once upon a time, maybe. The tropes of fairy tale are here after all - a locked door, a widower, a wicked stepmother, or a twisted version of one at least. But those words are loaded, tied; they demand a happily ever after to close our story, and I'm not sure there is one, not yet.

 

Besides, Cinderella was never your scene: 'Don't  bank on a handsome prince, Dido,' you would sneer through the cigarette smoke that trailed permanently in your wake; that cloaked you, tracked you, like a cartoon cloud in Bugs Bunny. Like Pig-Pen's flies. 'If they bother to show up it'll be late, and then they'll only beg or borrow. Or worse.' And the twelve-year-old me would roll her eyes , like the girls in books did, and think, Those are your princes, Mother, not mine. And I'm not you.

 

But I am, aren't I? Though it's taken me four decades - half a lifetime - to admit it.

I fell in love with the tone of this writing from the first page and stayed faithful to it to the last.

 

"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" was intense, sometimes funny often painful but always felt like the truth to me. The ending is perhaps a little more hopeful than one finds in real life but even that felt like a benison of sorts to the characters and the reader.

 

I strongly recommend the audiobook version of "The Queen Of Bloody Everything". Kelly Hotten's narration is perfect. You can hear a sample of it below.

 

I liked the book so much that, having listened to it happily, I went out and bought I a hardback copy so I can keep it to hand.

 

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text 2018-09-17 16:49
Audible Sale
The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter, Emilia Fox,Richard Armitage


 
Do you remember when I said I was searching for a book for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Challenge? I found bins of books I forgot I owned but couldn't find the one book I was tracking down. Well, THAT BOOK WAS THIS ONE AND IT'S $2.95 @ Audible today. And, yes, I am screaming with joy! Go get yours now. The sale ends at midnight tonight.

 

 
Blurbage:
 
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is a titillating series of dark, sensual and fantastical stories, inspired by well-known fairy tales and folklore. 
 
Dissatisfied with the unrealistic portrayal of women in these legendary fables, Carter turns them on their head, introducing subversively dark, sensual and gothic narratives. 
 
Breathing new and unexpected life into favourite childhood characters such as Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast, Carter shocks, seduces and amuses the listener with her unique, iconic and surrealist reimagining. 
 
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review 2018-09-03 23:49
(Audiobook) The Bloody Chamber
The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter, Emilia Fox,Richard Armitage

Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

 

I enjoyed every story in this collection, save for one. The first four were my favorites, with the fourth--"Puss-in-Boots"--the absolute gem of the book. "The Snow Child" was the one I didn't much care for. It was a bit too disturbing for my taste.

 

The writing was lovely, very flowing and lyrical, and in the hands of narrators, Emilia Fox and Richard Armitage, it truly came alive for me.

 

I have to especially commend Richard Armitage here for his narration of "Puss-in-Boots." I laughed so hard at times I had to back up because I had missed some of the story.

 

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text 2018-09-03 23:16
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter, Emilia Fox,Richard Armitage
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