I’ve Been A Very Bad Blogger – Part 1

Just looking and my last update was last September so I am annoyed with myself for not staying on track but to be fair a lot has happened in my personal life it’s been a bit of a whirlwind… and also normal picture service will resume again in April’s blog.

This blog will cover that and also all the books I read through Jan to March

So the positives: –

The biggest and best is that myself and Mel are now engaged which even now a few months on is an awesome feeling very much looking forward to her becoming the future Mrs Eaglestone as we are now in the process of planning our wedding.

We also moved house – it was very short notice but luckily not to far but still busy and stressful. The new house is really nice, bigger than old place and we are now happily settled. We had no WiFi for a month and already need more bookcases but that’s not really such a bad thing.

I also managed to read 61 books in 2015 I had set myself the challenge of 52 so I am quite happy that I managed to do it with everything going on

The negatives (booooooooooo!): –

It’s only one – my health once again took a turn for the worse whilst away seeing family and Mel’s birthday. I missed out on so much and it hadn’t got any better whilst being away and Mel had to call out an ambulance when we got home.  I was admitted into hospital for over a week! I’m feeling much better now thought am looking forward to carrying on with my reading challenges for this year.

On with the books – this blog which is going to be divided into two parts covers January to March:

Phantasmagoria by Terry Breverton

First book I decided on for 2016 was one I was immediately drawn to and luckily I got it for Christmas. Phantasmagoria is a quirky compendium of monsters, myths & legends which has a good balance well known myths mixed in with lesser known ones. One thing I particularly enjoyed was that it had the odd Welsh myth or legend thrown in which firstly given our current location in Cardiff and secondly later finding out that Breverton is Welsh I enjoyed just that little bit more.

The book is more of coffee-table book. Not something to read in few sittings but something that you pick up, read a few pages or a chapter at a time and read again later. It’s well presented and the artwork is also really enjoyable so it’s one of those books that you will come back to in the future.

Alice by Christina Henry

I have always enjoyed the story of Alice in Wonderland and after our trip to Alice Underground in London last year it reignited my interest in all things Alice. I was really happy to pick up a copy as it had been on my TBR wish list this is book 1 in a 2 part series Red Queen is released in July this year.

Alice is being held in an asylum as her memory is shattered by dreams of a vicious rabbit who does nothing but bring her glimpses of her troubled past. She has struck up a relationship with another patient named Hatcher, who when there is a fire in the asylum manages to escape with and begins the journey back to old city in search of answers. Later on it gets a little bit darker as Alice’s memories are triggered and she is in danger of once again falling down the rabbit hole, familiar characters start appearing and doing things quite unexpected – let’s just say I will never think of the Cheshire Cat in the same way again.

This book is dark, broody and violent it’s not easy to retell a classic, not going to be for everyone but it captivated me enough to want to read book two.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Another book from my ever increasing Goodreads wish list was this – really like the cover and how bad are the monkeys? Turns out there’s no actual monkeys it’s the name for the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons – try saying that aloud a few times whilst trying to type it at the same time!

The book opens with Jane Charlotte who on her arrest for murder tells the police she works for a secret government agency: cue Bad Monkeys. The police immediately call the police psychiatrist to interview her to determine the state of Jane’s mental health as she has a substance abuse problem. The book is essentially made of exchanges between Jane and the police psychiatrist and as the story progresses I found myself that it kept my interest as sometimes I would question Jane’s reliability as a narrator but then curve balls were thrown in that would make me sympathise with her.

The book had the quirkiness of a Robert Rankin novel but not enough character development, elements could have been elaborated on and if so I think it would have made the overall story stronger and more enjoyable to read.

What She Left by T.R.Richmond

Following on from Bad Monkeys I moved on to What She Left which is the story of Alice Salmon and the circumstances surrounding her death. It’s again essentially made up of essays, letters, forum posts, blog posts and so forth which leaves very little space for actual storytelling. Because of the format it has multiple POV’s which makes it  confusing as there seems to be no real order or timeline and to be honest I really lost my patience with this book and it turned into a real chore to read.

The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao ( Kindle First )

Another year another bout of insomnia crept in so I decided to start using my Kindle again. I don’t use it that much but it’s a handy thing to have. As I don’t use it that often I’ve only just discovered Kindle First – every month you have a selection of 5 or 6  upcoming releases for the discounted price of 99p they all have a brief synopsis so you can get a feel for the story. It sounded promising so I parted with my cash.

The book is set in Singapore and starts with a man who disappeared in 1939 then reappears out of nowhere where he sets up an ice cream shop, he then befriends the main character of Murgatoyd Floyd who at the time is eight years old. Murgatoyd is the not his birth name but a cruel pet name given to him to his quite frankly aloof expatriate parents. Over a period of time the ice cream shop owner and Murgatoyd strike up a bond and friendship and the owner is on the verge of sharing a monumental secret with the boy but dies before revealing it.

The story then moves to 2004, Murgatoyd is working in a restaurant assuming the persona of Shweet Foo in an attempt on his part to fit in which then leads to even more ridicule. In this time he meets a one-eyed lady who offers him the chance of an adventure – an adventure to the More Known World rather than the known world that we are accustomed too.

During this time you really feel the struggle of this young man who is still held down by his parents who have cheated him, lied to him and he is desperate for change and the voyage of discovery he wants to undertake is just compelling reading.

As I have mentioned before I tend to use the Kindle at silly times in the morning this may have been quirky but at times I felt it would have been better to read it when I wasn’t trying to get back to sleep.

it’s still a book that one day becomes a physical copy on the bookshelves.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

I like a good gothic horror book so when I saw this doing the rounds I must admit it peaked my interest as I really haven’t read any horror for a while and was *inserts horror pun* itching to sink my teeth back into the genre as it something I used to greatly admire. Obviously it was frowned upon in the bookshop if you bit the customers. It has also won the Costa Book First Novel Winner – and as I have a weakness for debut books it had to be purchased.

The book is set on a barren and almost desolate stretch of the North Lancashire coast known locally as the Loney. Set over Easter the story follows a devoutly religious group who are making their regular pilgrimage to a shrine on the Loney that they believe heal a mute, young man with a disability called Andrew who is referred to as Hanny. Hanny’s older brother and narrator of the story Smith is really the only person who understands Hanny. They only communicate via a unique code involving objects that Hanny keeps close.

The group stay in the house of a taxidermist which is stuffed with corpses, then there’s a makeshift Jesus in the woods, completed with a pig’s heart that has been studded with nails.

The book is at times a little creepy for sure but fundamentally it’s a exploration religion, faith and miracles with a bit cause and effect of human desperation thrown in for good measure.

Reading this was a strange experience for me – I really wanted to enjoy it more than I did.  Maybe unfairly I was wanting this to be a mix of The Woman In Black and The Wicker Man sadly it wasn’t the case and just didn’t hold my interest.

All The Lasting Things by David Hopson ( Kindle First )

All The Lasting Things is the story of the Fisher family who lives seem to be unravelling from the outset. Henry once an acclaimed novelist is now a recluse mostly because he is slowly loosing his battle with Alzheimer’s and his son Benji who was an 80’s TV star is struggling in an industry that has clearly moved on with the times and is no longer interested in who he was. This is something Benji struggles with as he is convinced he is a big deal still and forces this opinion on everyone he works with, he is barely still an actor and has a drinking problem and substance abuse problem to boot. His sister Claudia is left to swoop in and pick up the pieces of her shattered family as she too is dealing with her own secrets.

During once of Benji’s drug induced incidents which is almost a cry for help due to an unfairly comical suicide attempt he commits to a role that he convinced will save him and well as his family. during this time he discovers that his sister Claudia had a son who she gave up for adoption and is now musical prodigy whose appearance makes this seemingly dysfunctional family question whether keeping secrets from each other or is this the thing that is tearing them apart.

Heartbreaking and Heartwarming in equal measure.

Phew !!! part one done now onto part two then I am up to date

Sorry it took so long

Have you read any of these titles ? Have them on your TBR or Wishlist ?



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