Great Gerta and the Mermaid — Mari Ness

For all fans of Peter Pan and Neverland.

A fun story about one of Hook’s pirates, Great Gerta.   It’s also nice that we finally get some mermaids taking a more prominent role in a Neverland story.

Definitely deserves a place in the “Peter Pan and Neverland” hall of fame.

Best of all, you can read this for free at Lightspeed

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You can also listen to it:

Mari’s Page

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Red Sister — Mark Lawrence

The first book in a trilogy that leaves me reaching straight for the next book, Grey Sister.

Admittedly, it’s mostly about a bunch of young girls training to become warrior nuns, wielding weapons both corporeal and magical, so it might not get the hard core fantasists satisfied.   But the book ends really well and we can hopefully move on now to a more grown up story.

Set on an ice world with a dying sun that uses a large mirror satellite to focus the suns meagre rays onto a thin band of area around the equator where most of the people live.   The world was populated by a diaspora from space and the remains of the ships that brought the various peoples to the planet are enviously fought over by warring factions.   Somewhere amongst the remains lies the ability to take control of the satellite and therefore control of the whole planet.

My only real issue with it was that it was a bit long winded and one does get the feeling that a good editor would have trimmed this down quite substantially.   Still, it was worth enduring for the end bit which turned the speed dial up to 11 after being at 5 for the previous several hundred pages: the contrast was quite something.

Fingers crossed for the next book then.

Mark’s Page

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The Book of Tea — Kakuzo Okakura

In direct contrast to The Wisdom of Tea, in which we are taken on a 25 year journey of a Tea practitioner from their very first lesson, in The Book of Tea we are given the history of Tea itself and its associations through the ages with Eastern religions and philosophy.

As such, this book is wonderful and it makes one realise that there is so much more to Tea than simply throwing some tea leaves in a pot.   There are some great passages in this book where Kakuzo has some wonderful rants about western culture which are a delight to read.   One can really get a vision of just how coarse the Devon Cream Tea in a sea side cafe — not forgetting morning tea in mother’s finest china with a biscuit — is when compared to Japanese Tea in a traditional tea hut, even though the English will proclaim these two tea ceremonies of theirs as the height of culture.

A must read for all who enjoy reading about Japan and its culture, and anyone who enjoys a cup of tea, however you may take it.   Written over 100 years ago and is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Kakuzo’s Page

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Guinea Pig Apocalypse — De Kenyon

De Kenyon is the name DeAnna Knippling publishes her children’s books under and Deanna sent out a free copy of this in her newsletter.   Normally i wouldn’t bother with some random children’s book, but i’ve enjoyed DeAnna’s grown up books and the title of this intrigued me.   When i read the synopsis and found out that it was about squirrels taking over the world, i just had to give it a go.

To begin, if you’re a grown up and wanting something grown up to read then move along, this ain’t for you.   But if you’re like me and occasionally like a bit of silly sci-fi-ish stuff to keep us young at heart then this may be just what you’re looking for.   Note: when i say silly i mean good, fun silly, not stupid silly.

Basically, it’s about a young boy, Galileo, whose parents are mad scientists who make a replicator that makes guinea pigs out of sewage.   What they don’t realise is that it’s all part of the squirrels’ big bad plan to take over the world by using said guinea pigs to wipe out all the humans — because, as we all known, squirrels are the most evil creatures on the planet.

I have absolutely no idea if this book is suitable for a child near you, you’ll have to read it yourself first: go on, you know you want to.

I would probably aim it at around 10-11 year old but don’t quote me on that cause i’m useless at guessing these things.

All in all, i quite enjoyed it, but then i enjoy some good, fun silly now and again.

De’s Page

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Portrait of a Girl — Dörthe Binkert

I really enjoyed She Wore Only White so i followed Dörthe on Amazon and when this came up on sale for £1 i really couldn’t resist.

And what a bargain.

It’s similar in a lot of ways to She Wore Only White in that we have a true historical setting, with true historical characters, that Dörthe uses as a canvas upon which to paint her fictional story.   And also in that we have a young woman who is adrift in the world trying to find where she can belong.

All very well written with good characters, a good plot, and the perfect level of scene setting.   Dörthe does a wonderful job of taking us back in time, to Switzerland in late 19th century, and giving us a glimpse of the disparity of wealth between the local peasantry and the rich and wealthy, European elite who descend upon the valley each summer.

This is the second book that Dörthe has had translated into English and i do hope that there will be many more in the future.

Dörthe’s Page

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