Sunday, 28 October 2012

Book Review: The Understanding of Women

Don't you just hate it when you are reading a great book on your lunch break and you're only twenty pages left until the end but it's time to head back to the mountain of emails?

It's even worse when you then leave the book at work because your newly repaired watch is slow and it's time to leave before you get locked in for the night.

That happened to me on Wednesday.

I needed a stop gap.

So I decided to pick something from my Kindle.

The book I picked was The Understanding of Women by Janina Matthewson.

I had downloaded it the other week because it had a great front cover (do we still call it front cover even though it's an ebook?).

I read it all in one sitting. It was fabulous. Possible my book of the year.

The Understanding of Women is an quirky story about James, who wakes up on the floor of a private library. All he knows is that he is still in love with this ex-girlfriend, Imogen. But he doesn't know where she is. With the help of an imaginary ex-girlfriend named Maybe-Meg, he sets off on a quest across London, trying to find Imogen.

Even though it's quite short, The Understanding of Women shakes you in questioning reality, as well as tackling lost love and regret. This novella is thought provoking and stays with you for days. I know I will definitely be re-reading this sooner rather than later.

I also loved the fantastic line drawings between the chapters.

Matthewson's confident voice held me captive and didn't let me go until the ending. Fans of Andrew Kaufman and the recent film Ruby Sparks will love The Understanding of Women.

And it's less than one pound to buy. So you have no excuses! Go and buy it. 

You can follow Janina on Twitter. Her website is over here.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Published: Clawing Back the Glory

Back in January, I entered Reader's Digest's 100 word competition. I didn't hear anything for a while but a few days before I jetted off on my honeymoon, I had an email telling me that I had not win (boo) but then they asked if they could publish my story on their 'New story every day' page (yipee).

My story is called Clawing Back the Glory and it's about unwanted superheroes in a therapy session.

You can read it here > Clawing Back the Glory.

You will need to scroll down (or even read the stories above me) to find my story and mini interview.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Book Review: Blue Friday

Blue Friday
Mike French
Published by Elsewhen Press

Mike French's dystopian novel, Blue Friday, is a great mix of humour and sinister 'what if's'. French successfully takes the 'work-life balance' that most of people worry about on a daily basis and takes it to the extreme.

In 2034 society has gone as far as possible with protecting family values. You must be married by the time you are 25 or a marriage will be arranged, you are not allowed to work over time and must finish work at five or they will send agents from the Family Protection Agency to drag you from your desk, which will end in violence. Even the television schedule is family-friendly with repeats of the Generation Game, Bewitched and cheerful sitcoms.

"He probably didn't even watch Bewitched, the little shit."

But Leviticus, Covenant the controlling computer and the Overtime Underground Network help overtime-starved workers to dodge the system and carry on working at their desks. They hack their way through security so workers can avoid heading home to another re-run of The Generation Game. They even hand out drugs to workers who want to work into the long hours of the night. If you have a look at the linked article then you can see that it is already starting to happen over in New York. The future that Mike French has predicted is already starting to happen. The Overtime Underground Network think working 250 hours per week is still not commitment for their organisation!

Modern science-fiction has played a major part in inspiring French. The two agents, Mr Stone and Mr Brittle, who sling out workers who insist at staying at their desk after five, reminded me of the agents from the Matrix. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seems to have been a big influence on French's humour and style, combining light-hearted comedy with the big questions we face in life. There are even a few virtual whales and a bowl of petunias floating around in Blue Friday.

"The Generation Game was on in an hour's time; if she was quick she could make it. She watched it religiously..."

French cleverly weaves Biblical references through Blue Friday. We have a set of characters called Adam and Eve who seem to enjoy living in the virtual world, created by the obsessive computer, Covenant. Reality becomes blurred and sometimes it is hard for the characters to work out if they are in a fantasy or reality. The struggle between humans and computers is quite chilling. The reader sees this with Covenant manipulating Leviticus and eventually manifesting in his psyche. It makes you wonder if the new world that the Overtime Underground Network wants to create would really be paradise? I doubt it.

Blue Friday is currently available as an ebook from Amazon and is published as a paperback during November.

Disclaimer: I know Mike French as he is the Chief for  The View From Here Magazine and sends me books to review for his website. I'm glad he has written a great book and I could write a positive review.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an electronic version of Blue Friday.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Arrival Lounge

Books, Books, Books

This is my current 'to-read-for-review' pile on my desk.

On the Kindle, I have Mike French's Blue Friday, which I finished reading at the weekend and will write a review as soon as I stop looking at new quirky floor lamps on ebay.

The lovely folk at The Friday Project sent me The Evolution of Inanimate Objects by Harry Karlinsky. The hardback version is the perfect size as it fits into my handbag. If only they started making all hardbacks in friendly-handbag sizes then I think people would definitely start buying hardbacks again!

James Smythe's The Explorer was an unexpected surprise and was waiting for me when I got back from my honeymoon.

I will be reviewing Buddhaland Brooklyn by Richard C. Morais for The View From Here Magazine.

And Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark, which has a gorgeous front cover.


I need to finish J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Yes, I followed the hype. My first impression - does J.K. have her own brand of paper? The Casual Vacancy smells just like a Harry Potter book. mmmm book glue. The smell also reminds me of bookselling and those midnight openings for the new Harry Potter.