Ghostwritten – David Mitchell

David Mitchell’s first book, and what a masterpiece of a short story collection it is.

I’ve now got ‘Number9Dream’, also by David, lined up, then i plan to read the rest of David’s books in order and when David’s added a few more to the pile i’ll definitely be coming back to re-read them all over again from the beginning.

I’m definitely a huge fan of David’s writing and can truly see why he’s been shortlisted with two books for the Booker Prize already and has won other awards for his writing also.

I’ve added a comment down below this post which is a little bit of a spoiler, and if you are definitely going to read the book then do that before scrolling down there as you’ll spoil it.   Then, when you’ve read the book, come back and read the spoiler and let me know what you thought.

David’s Page

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Spice Alchemy – Neil Cowling

If you like food with flavour then this is a great book.

If you have high blood pressure and want to get rid of salt out of your diet, then use spices and herbs to replace it — this is the book to show you how.

No, i’ve no idea how authentic the spice mixes and recipes are, but to be honest, they’re all really nice so i don’t actually care if my cajun spiced high carb salad dressing is authentic or not, it’s delicious and that’s all i wanted from this book.

The book has lists of various spice recipes from around the world, and also complete recipes in which to use those mixes, if you chose to.   Personally, i just take the spice mixes and make my own things with them as i’m vegan.

My only complaint is that the spice mixes are listed in tsp and tbsp, some ingredients are listed as pre-ground, others are whole, so it all gets confusing in that regard.   I found i had to go to ‘Cronometer’ and use their ‘Add food’ thing with what was stated in the spice mix ingredients and then change the output to grams to get the exact weight.   That way i could use whole coriander seeds by weight to the same amount of ground coriander by tsp that was listed in the recipe. But if you’re happy using the pre-ground spices then all that won’t be a problem.

But, if you’re going to all this trouble of making your own spice mixes then do yourself a favour and buy whole spices with as far away a ‘sell by’ date on them as you can find in the shops to make sure they’re as fresh as possible — you can even splash out and get organic ones.   You’ll notice a huge difference.   Pre-ground spices are stale by nature as once you grind a spice it starts to degrade rapidly, with fats oxidising and going rancid and essential oils evapourated away.   Most whole spices, that you grind fresh each time to the exact amount you need, are living seeds that you should be able to plant and grow — they’re very fresh!!!   If you do want to get into the weighing whole spice thing then you’ll also need a micro scale (ebay) that weighs to 0.1 grams or finer — well worth a few pounds if you want to make some seriously consistent spice mixes that are repeatable.

That all said, even if you do just want to use tsp and tbsp with pre-ground spices, this book is very much worth the 99p to begin your journey into mixing spices and having some real flavour and health in your food instead of just salt and high blood pressure.

Neil’s Page

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Lost For Words – Stephanie Butland

A most lovely book in its own right, but especially if you like books about book shops.   If you do like books about book shops then this ones a good ‘un, it’s like a mix between ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ and ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’.

But as well as being a lovely book in its own right, it really spoke to those of us who have been through the ‘Care of the Local Authority’ system (or at least it did to this one of those ‘us’).

And then there’s the added bonus that was all the Whitby stuff.   I used to go there a fair bit in my teenage years and if, like me, you remember Whitby from your childhood, then that’s another reason to read this book.

Did i mention the mystery thing?   Yeah, there’s the usual mystery going on for you mystery readers — will it be solved or won’t it, what’s it all about, etc., etc..

Oh, and before i forget, there’s even a love story thing as well?   Yeah, one of those, but, don’t worry, it won’t distract you from the best bits.

So it’s pretty much got a bit of everything going on in it, and it’s got it going on really well, so it’s definitely a keeper.   One day i plan to get around to reading it again.

Stephanie’s Page

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Lil and Coop – Joseph R. Lallo

The second short story in the ‘Free Wrench’ series that is currently only available to Joseph’s Patreon subscribers.

The first short gave Wink’s history and how he came to be on the crew of the Wind Breaker, this time it’s Lil and Coop’s turn to get the treatment.   In the main books it just brushes over how the crew came to be there, apart from Nita, so it’s great to have these shorts from Joseph giving a lot more detail.   Definitely not to be missed by fans of the series.   Looking forward to the rest of the crew getting laid bare.

Joseph’s Page

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The New Inspector – Joseph R. Lallo

Although this delightful little short is the sixth book of the ‘Free Wrench’ series, i feel it can be read at any time once you’ve got settled into the series.

I read it after Cipher Hill and it totally worked for me reading it then.   And i’m actually quite pleased that i didn’t read it until then because i really enjoyed the change in my feelings towards Wink.   I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say, if you’re a fan of the ‘Free Wrench’ series by Joseph R. Lallo and its resident little furries, the Aye Ayes, then this is an absolute must read.   After reading ‘The New Inspector’ i really do hope Joseph writes more Aye Aye stories, they’re awesome little fuggers and easily deserve their own spin off series.

So how do you get it?

It’s currently only available to Joseph’s Patreon supporters.   Sign up today and get some book’s, support our favourite independent writer and keep on keeping it real against the big corporate nasty publishing houses who want to control everything we read.   Independent writers are well worth supporting, me thinks.

Joseph’s Page

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Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence – Michael Marshall Smith

I noticed this book in the ’12 Days of Kindle’ sale that Amazon were having for the 2018 winter hols and it made me think of a friend named Hannah who spends most of her work days in a rather mundane looking cupboard (yes, actually in a cupboard), and the title of this book instantly made me think of her.   And so, with me being hooked on the title, and also suitably impressed by the cover art, i had a quick look at the reviews and they seemed rather positive as well — and at £1.49 one can’t really go wrong.   And so, with all four check boxes (cover, title, reviews and price) ticked, i went ahead and bought the book.

Of course, i had to go and tell Hannah about my fiendishly brilliant book purchase, while she was at work, sat in her cupboard.   I know, i’m bad, but it put a smile and a giggle on Hannah’s face.

So, you’re probably wondering, when’s he gonna get onto talking about the actual story and doing an actual review?   Like, was it any good?   Was it worth £1.49?   Did it come up to the standard of the cover and the title?   Was Hannah’s existence, really, ‘unfeasibly mundane’?

The answer to all the above, is yes. More than yes, actually.

It was brilliant, it was worth more than £1.49, it surpassed its cover and certainly matched its title, as while Hannah starts out with quite a feasibly mundane existence, of which she wasn’t too impressed although she did enjoy some of it, it soon begins to spiral rapidly into complete unfeasibility of mundaneness when Hannah’s parents split up and she goes to stay with her granddad for a couple of weeks and the devil himself turns up at granddad’s house with an accident imp in tow because… well, you’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

I know what you’re thining.   You’re thinking it all sounds incredibly silly, ‘the devil himself and an accident imp’?   But it isn’t at all silly, there’s a real underlying serious side to this book.   It’s about the stories of our lives, who gets to write them, who we’re in them with and who we write them with — which would be incredibly dull and tedious if you just wrote a philosophy PHD thesis on the topic, but Michael manages to make the points he wants to make while packaging it all up in an a story that is quite giggle-icious.

I would also add that i think it’s very suitable for both adults (especially parents) and teens alike and, IMHO, speaks incredibly well to each about the other — something for us all to learn.

So yes, at the end of the tale, i can honestly say that it’s a really wonderful book that i’m very glad to have discovered (thank you Hannah and your cupboard ), with a nice easy flowing style that just lets you fall inside the book and enjoy a story about the stories of our lives.

Michael’s Page

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Lost Boy – Christina Henry

After my recent dive into Peter Pan’s history i was so looking forward to this.

And i can happily say it was everything, and more, than i hoped it would be.

Everything in the sense that it was up there with at the level of ‘Alice’, but instead of the violent schizo escaping from a high security mental hospital, rapidly withdrawing from her anti-psychotic meds leading to a total psychotic meltdown while running around town with a mad axeman on a murder spree, this one’s delving into the realms of psychopathy.   Of course, like ‘Alice’ you can just read it as a straight forward story and not get too into the mental health side of what’s going on, but it’s all there if you want some depth to it.   Christina is one brilliant writer.

That’s everything i hoped it would be, the more than i hoped it would be was the similarity between Peter Pan and his Island and a person and place i found myself in several years ago.   It was at times quite disturbing in how similar it all was, to really understand how the protagonist, Jamie, felt and to be able to put myself in his place, because i’d found myself in a very similar situation with a very similar person.   But as much as it was disturbing it was so because it was so incredibly cathartic and i’m really pleased to have had the experience of reading this book, so thank you Christina for that as well.

On top of all that, i certainly felt it showed respect for J.M. Barries’ work, and built on that really well giving it all a whole new dimension to consider, one only hinted at in the original works, and i definitely recommend reading those three original books by James before embarking on this one — although this can be read as stand alone if you so wish, i just feel you’d be missing out a great deal by doing so.

For now though, this brings an end to my current Peter Pan binge, but i’m sure i’ll be back to Neverland in the future, there’s just too much been written around the original story for me to ignore for long.

Christina’s Page

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Note to Self – Joseph Lallo

Note to Self, written by Joseph R Lallo.This short was only ever available in the ‘Orphans in the Black Anthology’.   I believe that Joseph is going to release it for his Patreon supporters some time in the future.   There may also be some used paperbacks come up on eBay if you’re wanting a copy.

I bought this book over 8 months ago and didn’t realise until 2 days ago that Joseph had a story hidden away in it — so i dived in and read it straight away and totally enjoyed it.

It’s another temporal sci-fi tale, which, like ‘Temporal Contingency’, Joseph does incredibly well — he just seems to have a way of avoiding the mind fucks that most sci-fi writers get you into with this sub-genre.

So it’s been well nice to find this little Lallo bonus book.   And so now it’s back to Peter Pan and Neverland in Lost Boy, written by Christina Henry — another awesome writer.

Joseph’s Page

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Chocolat – Joanne Harris

I thought i’d take a break away from the Vic Lit and dive into something a little more contemporary, and i wasn’t disappointed.

This one has only been sat in ‘The Pile’ for just 4 months, so it’s jumped the queue by quite a bit (the other books will undoubtedly be feeling a little annoyed).   I came across a really good review of this on social media and i took that as a message that it was time to read it.

So yeah, where to start with a review of this book.   Well, the obvious one is, don’t read this if you’re a devout catholic.   There’s a fair bit of catholic bashing in this book — which one might say is well deserved.

Mostly, this book is a criticism of the old ways of the catholic church and the sanctimonious, holier than though hypocrites, who sit in self appointed, holy judgement over us heathens.   And i must say, Joanne does a wonderful job of it, and some might say, a much needed job considering the recent past.

All in all, a delightful story set in a small French village whose inhabitants were in desperate need of some good chocolate and an alternative view on life, other than the miserable one being suffered at the behest of aforementioned, sanctimonious crowd and their church and priest.   And what better way of telling that story than setting up a chocolaterie directly opposite the parish church in the centre of the village.

I especially enjoyed the way Joanne alternates throughout between 2 completely separate protagonists’ narratives from 2 very different opposing protagonists, the chocolatier and the priest, and she makes that work really well, although it does make you pause a little when they swap over on occasion.

At the end though, am i going to read the next books in this series?   As soon as i get a good price on them at Amazon i’ll definitely be adding them to ‘The Pile’.   What hope is there when i read one book off ‘The Pile’ and all it does is inspire me to add two more books to it?

Did the book inspire to consume more cocoa products?   No, i already consume too much already. #chocolatelove

Too many good writers and never enough reading time — or chocolate.   All good fun though! 

Joanne’s Page

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Margaret Ogilvy – J.M.Barrie

Having just read ‘The Little White Bird’ and ‘Peter Pan’, it struck me that there may have been a little more to the characters than at first appears.

The character of Peter Pan was based on James’ brother, David, who died aged 13 (so never grew up), leaving the 6 year old James having to try and fill his shoes for his mother.   So it made me wonder who Hook was based on.   At first i thought Hook represented the parents but having read this book i’ve totally had a change of mind.

So my thoughts on the matter are thus… I suppose the clue is in Hook’s first name, also James.   The hand that gets cut off by Peter, a metaphor for the part of James’ childhood, and life, that was taken from him the day his brother died.   The hand is then fed to the ticking crocodile that follows Hook around wanting to consume the rest of him because it likes the taste — so is this another metaphor concerning the inevitable ticking clock of life, and that James felt the loss of his brother was continuously haunting and wanting to consume more of him and his family?

Then there’s Wendy, which having read this book cannot be based upon anyone other than Margaret Ogilvy herself.   He mentions in the book how after his brother died, other local women who lost children would come to her to talk.   Again, Wendy and the lost boys — the lost boys representing the children of the other women who went to join his brother David in heaven (Neverland).

But all that aside, this book was a heartfelt view into James’ home life and very much his relationship with his mother — who he obviously cared about immensely — and is an absolute must read for all fans of J.M. Barrie’s writing.   The book also covers James’ early literary career and what made him want to become a writer.   So a very worth while read.

So what’s next?   After 3 books in a row, i’ll be taking a literary break away from Peter Pan, Neverland and J.M. Barrie as i’ve got a load of books on ‘The Pile’ nagging to get read.   But i’ll definitely be coming back to these three topics in my reading in the not too distant future.

Some more ‘Peter Pan and Neverland’ books.

J. M. Barrie’s Page

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