American Gods — Neil Gaiman

I had a quick look at the TV show and very quickly decided that i wanted to read the book instead, and i’m rather glad i did.   I absolutely, totally enjoyed ‘Stardust’, which was the only one of Neil’s books i’d read before, so i was hoping i was in for another super reading treat with this.

So, suffice it to say, i still have no idea what the TV show was like, and having read the book i really have no interest because the book is so good i just don’t want to spoil the memory of a great story.   But i’ll most certainly be reading more of Neil’s books though.

This book really has just about everything going on in it.   There’s a dark satirical edge to it, a murder mystery thing, a love story, folklore, lots of action, lots of gods and goddesses and other mythical creatures, and many other things besides.   How Neil managed to tie it all up into one complete story is outstanding writing to say the least.

What struck me most about it was the dark satirical edge that i found within it.   How so many modern countries are turning their backs upon the old ways and enslaving themselves to modern ideas and ideologies.   The continuous tension between those that would hold us back and those who would drive us forward, and the battles that happen when one or both push it too far.   Yes, we all see it played out in the political realm every day, conservatives v modernisers, but underlying all of that are the beliefs and ideals of everyone in society and who gets to control and dictate them.

And in the middle of it all is our protagonist, Shadow.   What a character.   He’s thrown into this world of gods and goddesses as each side attempts to attract him to their school of thought.   Just like the political classes, the corporatocracy and religions as they all attempt to enslave us into their ideologies and use us in their battles for ultimate power.

So yeah, super duper read.   It’s a big, big book but well worth the time.

Neil’s Page

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The Woodcutter — Kate Danley

This is like…   ‘How many fairy tales and folkloric things can you fit into 346 pages and still manage to create a well structured story?’

From ‘Odin’ to ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to ‘Baba Yaga’, and everyone in between, this is none stop from the first page to the last.   And somehow Kate has managed to make it all work in this wonderful story about a Woodcutter — who doesn’t actually cut wood.

If you like fairy tales, folklore, or are maybe looking for something different in a fantasy story, then i don’t think you’ll be disappointed with ‘The Woodcutter’.

My first Kate Danley book, it won’t be my last.

Kate’s Page

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The Bees — Laline Paull

Now that was quite a strange experience.

To begin, this is listed on Amazon as ‘Dystopian’ and ‘Dystopian Science Fiction’, it is neither of these.   How anyone can get to class the typical life cycle of a hive of a honey bee hive to fit either of those genres is utterly beyond my comprehension.

If i were to genre-ise this book then i would put it firmly in the children’s fantasy and children’s education section.   Why?   Because if you have a child who is getting to the age where you have to have that conversation about the birds and the bees, then i think this book would be a great way to broach the subject, both literally and metaphorically.   It pretty much covers everything there is concerning the life cycle of bees but presents it in an anthropomorphic way that i would consider appropriate for children learning about these things.

If i was home schooling a child then this book would definitely be getting read and explored a lot further.   If it was juxtaposed with a genuinely accurate text about the life cycle and habits of honey bees there would be a great deal to discuss with a learning child.   One could also take nature walks with a child to spot the various flowers and trees mentioned, maybe even visit a real bee hive.   I remember when i was a child my local museum had a beehive in a big glass case with the entrance through the back wall behind the case.   It was incredibly fascinating.

But as a book for adults alone, no, it’s just far too childish for my tastes.

The main character, a honey bee that is a freak but isn’t killed by the other bees at birth for being so, becomes some new kind of super bee that seems to be able to resist the hive mind and do whatever she wants and goes through most of the jobs in the hive doing them all better than the bees whose sole job they’ve been bred for.   On top of the childishness of this aspect is the childishness of heavily anthropomorphising this character far above the general anthropomorphising of all the other bees.

Not that i mind a bit of anthropomorphising, but for a honey bee it does get overdone to childishness, which is why i consider this a children’s book.

Other than that, i have to say that it is very well written, with a flowing style and easy language — again, making it very suitable for children.

Rather disappointed, but for 99p i shouldn’t really moan.

Laline’s Page

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The Raven Tower — Ann Leckie

No idea how i came across this, but it sounded rather good so i added it to my wish list and it got put on sale for only 99p — i didn’t need asking twice.

Ann’s Page

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Yarrow, Sturdy and Bright — Devon Monk

The first tale from the anthology… ‘Once Upon A Curse’

It’s like… ‘Whatever happened to the Pied Piper afterwards?’.

It’s a very short tale but with 17 tales in 416 pages one can’t expect long ones.   It’s well written though, and i quite enjoyed it despite its short length.

If this is setting the standard for the rest of the anthology then i shall be very pleased.

Devon’s Page

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