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Lips Touch
Lips Touch
Price: 6.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three exquisite stories, 7 Jan 2014
This review is from: Lips Touch (Kindle Edition)
Laini Taylor's collection of short fiction centres thematically around the moment when - you guessed it - lips touch. The world moves, something changes. It may be a small disturbance, ripples spreading out towards a new and foreign shore. Or perhaps the change is electric, the spark that starts an inferno.

In Goblin Fruit, a story inspired by Christina Rossetti's fantastical poem, 'Goblin Market', the moment heralds a fall into damnation. Whereas in Spicy Little Curses Such As These, the touching of lips is the shift, like the volta line of the sonnet, which signifies a change of direction. Hatchling is different again. The act of lips coming together haunts the story like memory, a nostalgic symbol of what has passed and what could possibly be again.

In fact, what I liked about Hatchling - apart from the sumptuous world-building - was the resonant presence of Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I found obvious parallels between the tribal Druj and the Chimaera of Eretz, not to mention the double lives idea employed so effectively in Daughter.

My favourite story, however, is Spicy Little Curses. I adore fairy tales and the fairy tale literary form, which Taylor uses to brilliant effect. The story has a multi-mythical feel, with strands pulled from mythologies as disparate as Greek and Indian. The structure is tight, the pace fluid, and the narrative embodies a perfect balance between immediacy and distance.

If I had any criticism to make at all, it would be that Goblin Fruit ends too abruptly, perhaps because Taylor spends so much time painting Kizzy for us. It actually reads like the beginning of a novel, rather than a short story. You're lulled into a feeling of length, which the sudden end quite jarringly destroys. I was a little disappointed, but only because I'd come to like Kizzy as a character and didn't want to say goodbye just yet.

Overall, Lips Touch is a beautifully crafted collection. Taylor's writing is intelligent and imaginative, delving beyond the physical act of kissing into a subtle world that is as rich and strange as the human heart.

This is the kindle edition, but I have the Hodder hardback, sumptuously illustrated by Jim di Bartolo, which is the perfect book for anyone with a love of fantasy or fairy tales.


Secrets of the Sea House
Secrets of the Sea House
Price: 2.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, moving début underpinned by a rich mythology, 14 Oct 2013
'Secrets of the Sea House' is an elegant and sophisticated tale of the ways in which lives interact and the strong skeins of memory that tie us to the past. The narrative swings masterfully between 1860 and 1992, linking the nineteenth century PoV characters of Alexander and Moira with Ruth, who moves into the Sea House over a hundred years later. I was impressed with the ease of this dialogue; the chapters are interwoven beautifully and the pace at which the secrets of the book's title are revealed is cleverly controlled.

There are several elements and themes that run through both time periods, strengthening the overall impact of the novel: a powerful sense of place, characters scarred by the events of their past, and of course the book's central motif: the mysterious mermaid child.

It is clear from Gifford's vivid portrayal of the Scottish Hebrides that this is an area of the world close to her heart. The setting provides more than just a backdrop against which the story unfolds; it is a physical part of the narrative, woven deeply into both plot and characterisation. By the end of the book, I almost felt as if I had seen the islands first hand, so richly had they been described. Not only are we drawn into the rugged, coastal wilderness, but we are engulfed in its sounds, its smells, its customs, which even today appear to be profoundly different to life on the mainland.

The individual stories of the three key characters are woven into a tapestry quietly epic in its scope. Ruth is deeply scarred by her mother's death and her experience of being an orphan in care. Alexander is a rather confused young reverend, desperately seeking recognition in the eyes of the world. Moira (my favourite) is a fiery young woman consumed primarily by two things: revenge on the landlord responsible for the death of her family, and her love for Alexander. Gifford's decision to let both Moria and Alexander speak for themselves (Moira especially has a unique turn of phrase), serves to deepen the reader's understanding of these two individuals and the disparate social classes to which they belong.

Gifford's use of fable within the greater body of the novel was one of my favourite things about Sea House. Each little tale is deployed carefully, in scenes where it will have the greatest impact. And each tale sheds light on the psychological states of the main characters and the trials through which they suffer...and strive to overcome.

The actual writing is assured, a fresh, clean prose reminiscent of Susan Hill. The narrative never dragged and I felt that the varied chapter lengths were tailored well to each piece of exposition. Steeped in a rarely depicted, haunting mythology, Gifford's début is a moving and poignant novel about identity, and the challenges we face when, as adults, we must find our place in the world.

Highly recommended.

Visit my blog for the full version of this review.


How to Be a Good Wife
How to Be a Good Wife
by Emma Chapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will stay with you long after the last page is turned, 19 Jan 2013
This review is from: How to Be a Good Wife (Hardcover)
I bought this book yesterday at work. Lately I haven't been in the habit of finishing books in one sitting, as I used to (probably because I feel guilty about neglecting my own novel), but How to be a Good Wife was impossible to put down. It tells the story of a woman we are introduced to as Marta, whose ordered and placid life begins to unravel when she stops taking the medication given to her by her husband. The reader soon realises that Marta's past may not be as innocuous as it seems. Neither is Hector, her rather sinister husband. I have to say I am deeply impressed at how skilfully the simple narrative handles the complex emotional consequences of post-traumatic shock.

A small cast of characters allows for some excellent characterisation, and the setting is perfect. The empty, echoing beauty of Scandinavia rather brilliantly complements the solitude in which Marta lives, teetering between past and present. Her painful, eerie journey towards a possible truth is quite chillingly evoked through sharp dialogue and stark imagery. Though a fairly short novel, it clings to you after the end; I kept wondering what effect the conclusion would have on the other characters, and couldn't help `writing' more of the story in my head. I don't mean of course that the story required further development. Its ending was such that you didn't want to pull away, to lay it down. You wanted to talk about it, reflect upon it - and that is the mark of a story well-told. That and its legacy - a distinct and unique haunting. Highly recommended.


S Line Gel Case For Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus S7500 With 2 Screen Protectors / Blue
S Line Gel Case For Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus S7500 With 2 Screen Protectors / Blue

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy if you own an Ace 2 i8160, 25 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I do like this cover. The colour is great as is the style of the case. It does indeed make the phone much easier to hold. Unfortunately I thought I could cut corners (foolish on reflection) and buy it to fit my Ace 2 i8160 despite the product description clearly saying it was for a slightly different model. It's not a terrible fit, but not perfect either. I have to take the cover off to charge it and the screen protectors that came with it are the wrong size entirely. Just thought I'd make a note of this in case anyone else (unlikely!) thinks it'll fit the Ace 2. Otherwise this is a solid product at a competitive price.


Alphabet of Thorn (Mckillip, Patricia a)
Alphabet of Thorn (Mckillip, Patricia a)
by Patricia A. McKillip
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Again, what can I say?, 14 Feb 2005
After reading my third book by author McKillip, it is safe to say that she remains amongst the most talented writers of this age. As with 'Winter Rose', this novel sweeps along elegantly and of course, is branded with her trademark of evocative imagery, which I have so come to admire.
The protagonist, Nepenthe, and her obsession with the book of thorns is portrayed with a vivid, clear and often startling understanding of human nature, which draws the reader ever deeper into the plot, all without loss of pace or clarity.
I loved the corresponding plotline of Axis and Kane - this added to the main storyline while simultaneously introducing two characters who deserved to be known.
This book also had a wider stage than several other McKillip novels, and as always the scenes were described with the professionalism I have come to expect from such an accomplished writer.
Overall, what I find so unique about this author is the way in which she achieves that essence of the unreal, while keeping the story very believable. I'm sure there is more I could say, but these books exude a quality which is almost undescribable. You simply have to read them yourself. Like any of McKillip's books, I reccommend these to everyone, but particularly to those who want to escape conventional fantasy and to those who love colour and the power of imagination.


The High Lord: The Black Magician Trilogy Book Three
The High Lord: The Black Magician Trilogy Book Three
by Trudi Canavan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost there..., 2 Nov 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I must admit, I have really enjoyed this series. The characters - particularly Akkarin who was my favourite! - kept the reader engaged throughout the action of the story and were successful in drawing me into the world of Imardin.
The pace was swift, and if the writing wasn't always fluent, there were many excellent places where the author conveyed exactly what I hope she wanted to.
A satisfactory conclusion - at least from a writing/sequel POV (but not from a personal one!) The only criticism I have to make concerning the ending was that it flew by in less detail than the rest of the story was told, and could certainly have focused more on the emotional dilemma of the central character following the concluding events.
Nonetheless this was a good trilogy with strong characters and a convincing plot-line. Definitely recommended!


In the Forests of Serre
In the Forests of Serre
by Patricia A. McKillip
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.92

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful and enchanting..., 11 Oct 2004
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Although 'Winter Rose' remains my very favourite McKillip novel, 'In the Forests of Serre' is woven with every magical drop of colour and life that makes her story-telling utterly unique. It is the author's way with words that elevates this book above others. That and the way in which she seems to see things that lie beneath the surface of fact and fiction.
The emotional choices characters face are portrayed with feeling and elegance, leading to conclusions that seem more truthful and realistic than those reached in many other fantasies today. This book is not overly long; McKillip finds that balance between economy of words and lyrical brilliance by choosing her phrases with care.
The plot winds its way - with never a predictable moment - through the story action at a steady pace. The briskness at some places is made up for by the author's detailed descriptions of the scene.
One of the things that impressed me the most was McKillip's ability to retain the enigmatic air and mystery surrounding the character Gyre. Although at the end of the book, we have learned more about him - as he has learned about himself - I came away with the feeling of never truly understanding who and what he was, something I felt the author wanted to achieve when dealing with the wizards; setting them apart from other humans.
All in all, McKillip's books are certainly worthy of attention. When reading through her words and while looking back at the end of her stories, I feel there is an element of didacticism there, that plays an important role in the way a reader views the story as a whole and ponders lessons learnt by the characters.
As with all McKillip's work, a magical read, flavoured with myth and lore and exploring the complexities of life.


Winter Rose
Winter Rose
by Patricia McKillip
Edition: Paperback

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful winter tale from a lyrical teller, 6 Oct 2004
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This review is from: Winter Rose (Paperback)
I enjoyed Patricia McKillip's 'Winter Rose' immensely. In fact I only received it this morning and finished it in one day - I couldn't put it down.
If you like poetry and descriptions of nature which are breath-takingly beautiful, you will love this book. The story follows a unique protagonist, Rois, in a tale that weaves its way through love, the passages between worlds and the harsh trial winter imposes upon an agrarian community. The atmosphere of the novel is completely surreal, seeming to flit from reality to dreamscape in a seamless and lyrical way, which kept me wanting more until the very end.
McKillip's characters are believable and fascinating and the pace of the story is smooth, never dragging. As an aspiring writer myself, I hold nothing but admiration for the beautiful twists and turns of the language and the lasting imagery the author conjures from the written page.
Highly recommended in every sense, especially if you are looking for unconventional fantasy.
An original tale, superbly told. One can only be enriched by the experience!


Wild Magic (Fool's Gold)
Wild Magic (Fool's Gold)
by Jude Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.86

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different and a good story!, 25 Sep 2004
'Wild Magic' is the second book in Jude Fisher's 'Fool's Gold' series. What I enjoyed most about the novel was the diversity of the characters, many of which are far from stereo-typical, as can sometimes be found within the fantasy genre. There are plenty of weird and wonderful personalities here - particularly Virelai - who take time to fully appreciate and understand. This was certainly very refreshing.
The pace skips along nicely and the book is packed with strange settings and societies and writing techniques that keep you glued to the plot. Perhaps there is a tendency to flick between the character groups quite systematically with each chapter and occasionally I found myself skipping forward to see what another group were doing!
All in all, although this series does not stand out as truly memorable, if you're between stories and are looking for another series to dig into, then I would certainly recommend 'Fool's Gold,' as Jude Fisher tells a rather good tale.


Sorcerer's Legacy
Sorcerer's Legacy
by Janny Wurts
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and original: a stand-alone to be recommended!, 6 Sep 2004
This review is from: Sorcerer's Legacy (Paperback)
This is the first novel I have read by Janny Wurts and if 'Sorcerer's Legacy' is anything to go by, I would gladly consider picking up several more.
What struck me most about this story was its originality and imaginative settings, through which the fiery protagonist, Elienne struggles to come to terms not only with the ashes of her past, but also with the alien society she finds herself now trapped within.
A quick and exciting read that transports the reader deep into the author's world where the plot twists and turns with the experienced ease of an excellent story-teller.
Highly recommended!


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