Thursday, 28 February 2013

Book Review: Where the Devil Can't Go

Where The Devil Can't Go
By Anya Lipska
Paperback published by The Friday Project 
Also available as an ebook
ISBN - 9780007504589

Where the Devil Can't Go starts when a woman's body washes up on the bank of the River Thames. The only clue to the identity of the body is a tattoo heart with two Polish names. It sounds like a typical murder story but you would be wrong. Where The Devil Can't Go is a book that's aware of itself and the crime genre and tries to go beyond the norms of crime fiction.

Where The Devil Can't Go is a gritty story about Janusz Kiszka, our reluctant hero, a Polish immigrant who has lived in London for several years and is passionate about maintaining the standards of the past. His priest asks him to investigate a young waitress who has gone missing.

The story also follows feisty police officer, Natalie Kershaw, who wants to show that she's worthy of her job and sets out to prove this by finding out who killed the girl in the river. Both stories intermingle with unexpected plot twists. I enjoyed the dual perspective as it offers a view from the 'right' side of the law and also the 'wrong' side of the law. The reader is left to decide which way they would pick to reveal the killer. Where the Devil Can't Go is a refreshing read. In the past, I have read crime novels that usually have one or two 'perfect' and normally middle class characters but this book doesn't - the characters are well drawn, have flaws and anxieties.

Lipska writes a great story and also delves into some great themes. Lipska explores Polish immigration to England and the way that multicultralism is changing society. Anya Lipska reminds me of Marina Lewycka in the way that she explorers a community that is generally ignored in fiction. The political subplot is fascinating and adds an additional dark layer to the story.

Power struggles play an important part within the plot. Janusz struggles to get younger, more care-free immigrants to realise their history and the importance of freedom and respect. While Kershaw struggles to get ahead with her boss who lives for the old days of policing in a male-dominated department.

I don't really read much crime fiction and I tend to avoid crime dramas on TV but I would definitely read more crime if it resembled Where the Devil Can't Go.

Where the Devil Can't Go is available from your preferred online or offline book retailer.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Book Review: Watering Heaven

My review of Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu is up at The View From Here Magazine.

You can read it here > Watering Heaven.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Bell Jar and also the death of Sylvia Plath. I'm not here to compare her writing with her life. What is reality and what is a myth has been tackled by other writers. I'm here to talk about her books on me.

Reading all of the recent coverage on other blogs and newspaper articles has made me want to go out and buy yet another copy of The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite authors. I love the themes, I love her honest and sharp writing style. Her short stories and her poetry are powerful too.

I read The Bell Jar for my A-Level English Literature course and I loved it from the start. It was refreshing to read a book that was honest about life. I reread the book so many times that the pages came away from the spine. At one point I owned three copies. All were plastered with notes in the margins, folded down corners, hi-lighted sections and doodles.

The Bell Jar is set in the 1950s when women were able to start making choices about their life - career or housewife. Esther, the protagonist is at a cross roads with her life: career or settle down. The search for balance and perfection is overwhelming as she balances with her fragile mental state. Life and all of its possibilities can become overwhelming to the point where you can not make a decision. Even though the book is set in the 1950s it still has relevance today. Society's expectations on women is still the same. We are being pulled in all directions and yet, we must always be perfect.

Most people focus on the mental breakdown parts of The Bell Jar, which at times are horrifying (Electric shock treatment) but there is also alot of humour too. I like my humour dark and Plath delivers in The Bell Jar.

At university, I set myself a challenge of reading her journals as I hoped it would inspire me to keep long-term journals. Which it didn't unless you count this blog. I have always been keen to keep a journal but I always give up or forget after a week. But they are insightful and inspiring for a writer and reader.

I kept forgetting to renewing the book at the university library and ended up paying several fines. Luckily, I came across a hardback edition in a second bookshop and my bank account was saved. I still need to finish reading her journals because the volume is a big beast - it's heavy like a doorstop and as thick as a doorstep ... maybe a challenge for later this year.

The thing that reminded me to write this post was The Paris Review posting one of my favourite quotes on Facebook:

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ―Sylvia Plath

The title of this blog post is also a quote from Sylvia Plath. 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

New Arrivals

Lots of good reading coming up!

So here's my current 'to be read for review' pile at the moment:

Republics of the Mind by James Robertson and published by Black and White Publishing - technically this isn't a 'new arrival' as it arrived before Christmas but it's the next book I am going to be reading and reviewing for The View From Here Magazine.

Where The Devil Can't Go by Anya Lipska and published by one of my favourite publishers, The Friday Project. You can watch the trailer for this book here.

Entertaining Strangers by Jonathan Taylor and published by Salt Publishing. I'll be reviewing this one for The View From Here Magazine

The Machine by James Smythe arrived today. I have enjoyed his previous two books so I am looking forward to starting this one.

The three books standing up are ones that I have bought and I hope to read soon(ish).

I'm looking forward to reading each of these books over the next few weeks.