Thursday, 22 August 2013

Book Review: Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
By Robin Sloan
Published by Atlantic Books
ebook / paperback 

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a dangerous book. A very dangerous book indeed.

The reason why this book is dangerous because it makes me want to quit my job and go back to bookselling. But not any old bookshop but Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

The other reason - the bookshop has a ladder to the to shelves. I now want a ladder for my bookshelves...

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a charming story that combines the dust world of bookselling with cutting edge technology to tell a story of intrigue, mystery and code breaking.

Mr Penumbra runs a secondhand bookshop in a seedy part of town. His clients are only interested in the books which are full of code, are available for 'loan' and are tucked away in the back. The bookshop and its unusual clientele are doing fine until Clay Jannon, a redundant web designer gets a job working the night shift. Clay starts to wonder what the code means and find out more about Mr Penumbra. Along with his girlfriend, who works for Goggle, Clay sets out to break the code and work out what sort of secret society Mr Penumbra has become entangled with. There are twists, turns and cliff hangers ready to pounce out and pull you into the story.

Sloan is a writer that loves books in a big way and it shines through. Books can lead you to new worlds and in Clay's story he becomes involved with a secret society who are obsessed typography.

Tech geeks, book lovers, people who love Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere will love this book. This is an enjoyable and engrossing book. Go read it!

You can buy Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore from your favourite online or offline bookseller. 

Thank you to Atlantic Books for sending me a copy. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Writing competitions and opportunities

Writing competitions and opportunities are like buses - no deadlines for ages and then all of a sudden there are several that you want to enter. Here are a few great ones coming up over the next few months:

Summer competition with Authonomy
Authonomy, the writing community run by Harpercollins are offering the chance to for one lucky author to win a set of prizes to help them self-publish their book with a bit razzle and dazzle! You can win an editorial review, a professional book cover, a book trailer and an ePressKit. All you have to do is post the opening lines of your book on this blog post. You can also find out more details on the Authonomy website.

Mslexia Novel Competition
Win £5000 with Mslexia. If you're a woman and have a novel waiting in the wings then send it off to Mslexia. 

The Bath Novel Award
This competition for novels offers a cash prize and a top notch literary agent as the shortlist judge. There is still six months left to enter this competition

I would love to enter all of these competitions but I am a member of the slow novel writing club - I only have 22k of words. The another novel buried on my hard drive isn't coming out for these competitions. 

Maybe it's time to pull my finger out and set one of these as my target for finishing my book... 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Book Review: Black Bread White Beer

Black Bread White Beer
By Niven Govinden
Published by The Friday Project
Available as paperback and ebook

Even though Black Bread White Bread is a compact novel and covers a short time span it still packs the punches.

This book, short enough to be gobbled up in one reading session,  looks at the immediate fallout after a miscarriage and digs into the inner lives of a modern marriage, peeling away the veneer, watching the wobbles of marriage still in its early stages.

Amal and Claud have spent months preparing themselves for the pregnancy - going on diets, having a strict fitness and eating regime. They have even bought the family home. Their wish for a baby finally comes too but is shattered soon after their announcement. Through the eyes of Amal, the reader watches as their grief isolates the couple from each other and brings their marriage to the brink.

The reader follows them over 24 hours, as they head straight from the hospital, still numb with the news, to her parents house. On the way Claud decides that they will pretend that they are still having a baby. Govinden successfully captures the numbness, resentment and the slow realization of reality between the couple. At times the novel is raw. Amal is confused and hurt by his wife's coldness and distance. In a world where communication is everywhere this couple are unable to connect with each other. At the start this is physical isolation - Claud is in hospital and Amal has been sent home by the doctors but as the novel progresses the isolation becomes emotional and self inflicted.

The importance of family expectations and its guilt plays a big part in Black Bread White Beer as well as culture clashes. Amal comes from an Indian family who live in the North of England while Claud's family live in a chocolate-box type of village. All the villagers know Claud's and Amal's news. There is no escape. Her parents have even splashed out on expensive invites for a baby shower. Using humour to break up the tension and the reader's fear of an ugly ending for our couple, Govinden explores the conflict of generations between Amal and Claud against her parents with their out dated mannerisms and ideas.

There are not many characters in this novel - which is a good thing as the novel is short - I think this would make it a good candidate for transforming into a play.

Black Bread White Beer is an engaging read. Don't be fooled by its shortness - there is lots packed into those pages! I shall definitely be on the look out for Govinden's other books.

You can buy Black Bread White Beer from your favourite online or offline book retailer. 

The Friday Project kindly sent me a copy. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Swimming In Book Vouchers

I have some good news!

Last month Waterstones (UK bookseller) ran a competition alongside their 'The Book That Made Me' promotion. They asked bloggers to talk about the book that made them. I picked Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes.

My little blog post only went and won it! Here's the announcement > Click Me

The prize is a big tasty book voucher so I'm looking forward to spending it and trying to find homes for all of the new books! I already have a little list but I'm open to suggestions. So, if you have read a great book recently then please let me know!

I will be back soon with a book review or two. I am currently struggling to get back into write as I have not written any 'creative' words for over three weeks. Chapter ten is being a complete bitch - it won't play nicely. I might need to scrap the idea for chapter ten.

I am definitely a member of the slow-writers club. How do people bash out a novel in six months? How do you do keep going with the writing when you've had a long break? Or more importantly, find time to write when you have a full time job? Answers on a postcard.