Saturday, November 03, 2012

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Been a bit slack with the book reviews of late - but every so often a book comes on the radar and it's so startling  that it's worth mentioning.

Prince of Thorns is one of those books.

 Now don't believe the "Excellent - on a par with George RR Martin" on the front cover.  Couldn't be further from the truth.  This is an easy read.  Quite deep in content but the language is plain and simple - sometimes to an extent where I found it lost it's mark just because of a lack of a certain richness I crave in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure.  Startling.  I'm going with startlingly good, a gripping read that will keep you turning the pages and finally when it is done - cursing the end of the book

The Plot

Young prince Jorg, determined to be king,  is a ravening fiend out on a blood and revenge fuelled rampage across the countryside - deter.  Yes I know, rather awful, and normally I wouldn't be endorsing a book with a character so unlikeable and downright evil.  But against all my better value judgements - this one somehow hits the mark and this is because the young prince and his motivations are somewhat humanised by the back story and a wayward contrariness that seems to fuel his every action.  Of course at some point Jorg needs to go back home and confront his father - and while it is obvious that is not going to be a happy meeting the sheer scale of the disaster is great, and played with the same very subtle black humour that threads it way through the story like a piano-cord - as if waiting to tighten the noose.

Well that's it I'm afraid folks - if you like dark fantasy this book is unmissable.  so read it!!!!  And if you write I suspect copying this simple and dramatic style will be far easier than the more accomplished, but sometimes cumbersome storytelling of the inestimable George RR

Another slightly more comprehensive review -

Until next time (probably the King of Thorns) but I'll try to finish NaNo Wri Mo first.  I think can hold of reading it - possibly - until the end of the month!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween is coming early to Rona Gallery 2012

Yes, Halloween came early to Rona Gallery this year, Mary and Joanna came down with witch's disease - seriously cool - but they both could have done with hats to complete their ensemble - and we all had a wonderful evening with the creepy heart of Mansfield's stories turned into something more - more evil, more wicked, and more exciting - but still containing the beating heart of the originals.  Enough to keep not only the teens in the audience fascinated - but also the Mansfield purists. 

So thanks to everyone who came, you were a great audience, and thanks also to Matt and Debbie Cowens for unearthing the macabre in these New Zealand masterpieces and then sharing the process with us.

Be prepared to get scared - and maybe learn a little bit too with Matt and Debbie Cowens and Rona Gallery, Friday 26 October - 6.30 - and yes there will be a couple of spot prizes for the best dressed.
The book is awesome - some great twists make the atmospheric Katherine Mansfield stories into something - just a little scarier.  Don't believe us? Why not read the New Zealand Herald Review here.

"The authors leave much of her sentences intact but they fill her gaps with blood and gore, bloodsuckers, aliens, otherworld creatures, zombies; and they twist the detail here and there to summon the shocking."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grandma McGarvey's Christmas - Book launch and fun!

So much fun thanks to Jenny Hessel and Grandma McGarvey.

We hope everyone who came all enjoyed the occasion - we did - and mostly because we had such a  fantastic and well behaved crowd - so thanks everybody!

  We had a great time at this event - and here's the proud winner of the Grandma McGarvey Book Collection worth over $200!   - here's the fantastic flier - so all that's left to say now - is why not find out just how cool this book is too. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

RONA SALON: Peasant Society in the Peruvian Andes with Ray Watters

Don't miss one of our last Rona Salons for 2012.  We're particualrly looking forward to this one, Ray Watters is extremely well regarded in his feild of Geography and has undergone many projects both in the pacific and the wider world to improve the living standards of the local people. So don't forget to put this date in your calendar August 31 6:30 And come, travel up the Amazon with Ray Watters...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Margaret Mahy Day in Eastbourne Sat 11 Aug

Don't miss Jenny Hessell, Jill Harris, Maggie Rainey-Smith and Mary McCallum reading their favourite Mahy books at Eastbourne Library, then a short trip down the road to Rona Gallery at 11.45 where Joanna will read "Down the Back of the Chair" - and then onto the serious making of TREASURE BOXES

549678 10150987770531794 1512876274 n

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

When you open a Frances Hardinger book there is this sense of anticipation, the pages beckon - something noteworthy is about to happen - and as you sink into the especially designed prose - for each world has it's unique style - the world enfolds you in its own bizarre and haunting way until you feel you could never have lived in a world without having read that adventure, explored that place, known those people.

Now this one took a little while to really get the feel of - but I happily took that in my stride after all the bizarre world Neverfell lives in is inhabited by people who are truly different from surface dwellers.  They have no expressions apart from the ones they are taught - making them expert liars and manipulators.  Neverfell is warned by the curmudgeony cheese maker who took her in and raised her never to take off her mask.  She is also warned not to get involved with the court - but of course she does - and of course she runs into so much trouble, and so many fascinating characters every bit as flawed - if not more so - than she is - slightly mad and skittering from trouble to deeper trouble in a desperate effort to make things better.

The Guardian review, 'Inventive, gripping and well imagined, this is a brilliant and suspenseful tale. It is exceptionally well written and a must read for all fantasy lovers'  

 What else can I say - Frances is a talent the likes of which we haven't seen since Ursula le Guin - if ever - and her followers are every bit as rabid - maybe more so.  And deservedly so, who else could create such a crazy fantastic world and reveal it through exciting character driven plot and all with prose that is not just flawless but perfectly apt.  Maybe I preferred "Verdigris Deep" because that was a modern day fairy tale - and by far the best I have ever read - but this - this is completely crazy, completely amazing and totally fun.

I would recommend it for extremely good readers - so you are probably looking at adults who like children's stories - or children who read adult books for the challenge.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I couldn't wait to read this book.  Everyone told me exactly how great it was, refusing to give away any story information with all the furtiveness of secret squirells unable to give away where the nuts are hid.

The protagonist seems likeable enough and is in the horrendous situation of having her boyfriend die... and then it all unravels just like the rest of her life of lies.  At least that's possibly how it was supposed to work.  But for me it just didn't.

Micah seems pathologically unable to tell the truth - and I love that because it keeps a reader on their toes, but what I don't love is...
SPOLIER ALERT - read no further if you hate spoilers - (and those people who read my reviews know I normally go out of my way not to divulge plot - but while enjoyment possibly doesn't need detailed explanation, I beleive criticism should be as specific as possible.)
...that nothing really seems to be the truth, and then suddenly in what seems like a perfectly normal mainstream book suddenly we are supposed to believe even for an instant that the main character is a werewolf.  Not on your life.  I read that part of the book completely without my usually ample willing suspension of disbelief and it all crashed downhill from there.   I mean if she really was supposed to be a werewolf where were the signposts previously in the story to indicate it was a fantasy?  At no point was I convinced or even willing to contemplate the idea was true, and the whole section fell down around its ears - or its fangs if you prefer.  

All in all there is no guiding rudder, at the end she could have said the whole thing was a lie and her boyfriend didn't die and it would have been as believable as anything else.

So no, I don't think it was a great story showcasing how an unreliable narrator should be written, but on the other hand it did illustrate very well for aspiring authors both the benefits and the pitfalls of the unreliable narrator and of how to write a character driven story.  In that respect it was right on the button.

Review by Alicia Ponder


Related Posts with Thumbnails