Review: The Secret Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman (Spoilers)

‘You won’t understand anything about the imagination until you realise that it’s not about making things up, it’s about perception.’

****Trigger warnings for rape, mentions of abuse and physical assault. This review will also contain spoilers for His Dark Materials, La Belle Sauvage and this book.****

Noone is more disappointed than I to be giving this book a negative review. I honestly think the rating I gave is down to Michael Sheen’s narration alone, for being back in this world and seeing Lyra and Malcolm again. Pullman has taken this series down a very dark road which does nothing for the world and strikes me as a gamble that won’t payoff. This is gonna be a hard review fellow readers.

It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence.

Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child.

The second volume of Sir Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed.

Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right.

Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost – a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust.

So to keep some kind of coherence to this review, let me just break down the main reasons I had so many problems with it. As a quick summary, I thought the plot was very weak and used unnecessary moments of trauma to move it forward. The characters on a whole are totally nothing like themselves from previous books for one and for series named ‘The Book of Dust’, we still know nothing new about Dust. Be warned, the spoilers are about to begin.

Lyra and Pan were always going to have conflict and trauma to explore after the results of what happened in The Amber Spyglass. Daemons and humans separating isn’t a common practice and takes a great deal of pain to manage the process and survive it. However, this goes way beyond everything that was already established for both. Pan is convinced that Lyra has lost her “imaginations” somehow and leaves her later on to go find it. This only really functioned as plot device but it was a bit of a slap to the face to anyone who loved these characters to begin with.

Malcolm is a welcome return I will admit, as well as Alice who is the best damn thing in this entire mess. But I do have to question the decision to have Malcolm fall in love with Lyra? It’s an uncomfortable experience to read to be honest, especially since the last book made it very clear that Malcolm has been in her life since she was a baby. Alice though, is truly the best. As well, the Gyptian people are the best family Lyra could have.

****Trigger Warning, the rest of the review will be discussing an attempted rape scene.****

I need to talk about the fact that after 4 books, Pullman has decided the next thing that was going to happen to Lyra, was assault and attempted gang rape. This is the most unnecessary scene I have ever read. For a start, there is no warning for this so this is very triggering material. It’s also lazy writing and serves no function only to alienate readers further. I’m left to wonder since Lyra is ‘no longer a child’ and other plot details I will get to are meant to be the thing that distinguish this series ‘adult’. The one thing that His Dark Materials always managed to do was appeal to adults and children both. Regardless of both, this sucks and I hated it.

The only thing I will say that saved me from leaving this as one star was the amazing narration from Michael Sheen once again. I would kill for an audio book of him narrating either a Discworld novel or a new Good Omens with him and Tennant. Every single character has a distinct voice, accent AND personality and this is all while he manages to maintain the tension of the plot where necessary. There is not a moment I didn’t know who was talking (both human and daemon) and I that is a testament to the narrators skill.

Again, the plot is a bit of a mess. Like I get that in the issue with rose oil, and the people being uprooted from their lands is meant to make some message about the refugee crisis but it never really gets to there it’s supposed to. Not only that but I really don’t get why the events from His Dark Materials are being discussed like they happened 30 years ago. From the end of The Amber Spyglass, I was willing to believe that the Magesterium would now lose some of their hold and things would change for the better. However if anything, this story shows how they are just creeping further and further into the network of society to suffocate anything that is not part of it’s regime. All this culminates in an ending that is just a massive cliff hanger with no answers and leaves you no option but to finish this series with the last book.

I also just want to repeat my comment at the stat, for a book series dedicated to Dust, we don’t see very much of it. Same can be said of the Secret Commonwealth. There is not much in the way of discussing where this book will stand in both these titles or how they will add to the world here.

Again, this was a hard review to write. I had initially rated this 3 stars but there is no need for the third one. I will finish this series since I have come this far but I don’t deny that the bad taste in my mouth. I might just pretend that the original series and La Belle Sauvage are all that exist in this world. I miss Will. If you read all this, thank you so much and I can only with you happier reading this week.

★★/5

Extract Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

‘Piranesi. It is what he calls me. Which is strange because as far as I remember it is not my name.’

This was a nice, short and sweet extract from one of my most anticipated releases this year, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. Thank you to both Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the exclusive extract of this book!

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I think this is the perfect little taste to get of this book. but it’s also agonising since September feels so far away! From reading here we get a clear view that the House mentioned, is a bit of a TARDIS case. It looks to be bigger on the inside. Our narrator, the man of the title Piranesi, mentions halls of statues, rolling tides flowing through the House and secrets he ponders each day as he explore the House.

I’m fascinated by this introduction to Pitanesi and what possibilities lie behind him as a character. There is very big potential here that he could be either an unreliable narrator or that this book is possibly one that could break the fourth wall after concluding on this wonderful line:

The Sixteenth Person.

And You. Who are You? Who is it that I an writing for? Are you a traveler who has cheated Tides an crossed Broken Floors and Derelict Stairs to reach these Halls? Or are You perhaps someone who inhabits my own Halls long after I am dead?

I can’t wait to read this and September can’t come soon enough. Piranesi is out on the 15th of September from Boomsbury. Check back in here for my inevitable review.

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.

I think we all have those books sitting on out shelves for a while that we all KNOW we will love but we don’t read them right away? It’s almost like a stubbornness from people suggesting it or hearing about it all the time? I bought Howl’s Moving Castle almost a year ago, and have only got around to reading it now as the lockdown in Ireland continues. And yes I did love it.

“How about making a bargain with me?” said the demon. “I’ll break your spell if you agree to break this contract I’m under.”

In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, Sophie Hatter attracts the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help – the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.

But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls..

Can I start off with Sophie being the eldest and just say SAME GIRL. Diana Wynne Jones is also the eldest of her siblings and a lot of what she writes into Sophie, I felt was very applicable to me. I’m not cursed, neither have I sought my fortune but there is still a strong feeling of being seen. The more I sit on this, the more I feel I needed this when I was younger.

I went into this totally blind. I have not seen the full movie and I only knew vague plot elements about Howl mostly and that really did help here. This is another well loved fantasy classic that I feel has stood the test of time. I am currently focussing on women fantasy authors and older, back listed titles a lot more and this was definitely up there in that category.

The world itself is wonderfully painted and so whimsical it was heart warming. As said in the synopsis and the quote from the book, this is a world where seven league boots, witches and wizards who eat girls hearts live among us. There is however a nice tie to the world as we would know it, “the real world” even which I thought was written really well.

I really love Sophie. She reminds me a lot of Daine in The Immortals Quartet in the way that she is so incredibly caring, mostly towards her sisters and step mother, but she is not at all willing to accept things just as they are. She it outspoken when she needs to be and I feel she really embraces that side of her when she goes to Howl to seek help.

We have to talk about Howl Pendragon. What a dramatic, man child who can’t cope with any kind of inconvenience. Another thing I didn’t know at all was the kind of character Howl was. I think I got the opposite of what I was expecting but I’m kind of glad I did? He’s this powerful wizard who always avoids a direct answer and you never truly know what he is up to. Sophie is not taking his shit at all either which is so entertaining to read, especially when they bicker.

This is a great story, no doubt about it and there is a sense of the story being complete with how everything turns out. This is a book I would have happily recommended to anyone at the start of the pandemic as a book where nothing really bad happens and it is a pure piece of escapism. There are 2 sequels but you could totally read it as a standalone story but I do intend to read more of Diana Wynne Jones so will probably read them.

Now I shall finally watch the movie as it is my day off and might so another blog post on that. Happy reading folks!

★★★★★/5

Blog Tour: The Wrongful Death (The Great Devil War III) by Kenneth B. Andersen

Hello fellow readers and yes, I did accept all my blog tours for one single week it seems! My organisational skills aside, today on the blog I am on the tour for The Wrongful Death, the third book in the Great Devil War series!

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

Well this one really took me by surprise. This is a series I have really enjoyed since the first book and this being the third, I was worried that I was going to have to expect the same plot beats but kind of hoped if it was, it would be in the way that this book was parodying itself. Holy shit I was so wrong.

WE GET TO GO TO ANOTHER UNDERWORLD. I’m sorry, did I say that out loud? Yes. I was thrilled. I am not even mentioning where or why or how but this is something my little heart jumped for. I am a long time fan of chthonic Gods, Goddesses, underworlds, necromancy (GIDEON!!!) and just anything like that, my gothy soul calls for it. This was such a great surprise and I hope we get to visit more.

The characters as always are a dream. I’m delighted Sam finally had his moment. I always found his and Philip’s relationship both fascinating and very real. Yes Sam is a bully who is utterly horrible to other kids but it’s like Philip brought out an element of warmth in him somehow. It is comedic as well at times how well they work too and how they balance each other out. Also can I please have dinner with Satina’s parents? They are so wonderful.

Now, the main event. Out of all these books I have read so far in this series, I did not expect this one to go how it did. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I expected something similar where each book might be a Groundhog Day/Spinal Tap and their drummer style set up where the same thing happens but that is part of the enjoyment. BUT NO. NO. I’m not saying how or where but this story and how it all wrapped up has me so pumped to read book four.

This series is definitely taking a wonderful turn that I think is necessary but also right up my alley so if you wish to know which book is the best in the series is so far? It’s definitely this one. Thank you so much to Dave at the Write Reads and Kenneth Andersen for having me on these tours and an ecopy of this book for review!

The Wrongful Death is out now!

About the author:

Kenneth B. Andersen (1976) is an award-winning Danish writer. He has published more than forty books for children and young adults, including both fantasy, horror, and science fiction. His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and his hit-series about the superhero Antboy has been turned into three movies. A musical adaptation of The Devil’s Apprentice, the first book in The Great Devil War series, opened in the fall 2018 and film rights for the series have been optioned. Kenneth lives in Copenhagen with his wife, two boys, a dog named Milo, and spiders in the basement

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

Hello everyone and welcome to the first day of the Random Things Tours Blog tour for The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence!

East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown.
On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. Noone survives alone. To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different. Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger. Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars.

During these very strange times it is difficult to get totally lost in a book, especially one with as grim and bleak a setting as Abeth. Nothing can take away from Lawrence’s writing being utterly captivating, even a global pandemic. This is my first Mark Lawrence book and I can’t deny how utterly impressive this book is. This book is set in a previous world of his, namely the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, but I haven’t read it (I own it, shut up) and I still had no problem getting into the book.

What we have here is a remarkable first book in a new series that sets up a brutal world with a true survivor leading the story, Yaz. The world building here is truly incredible and it is so dense that you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the bleak reality of the ice, both above and below. I really enjoyed learning about underneath the ice, especially why these children are thrown into the hole in the first place. Reasons vary from unnatural speed to working the ice like clay but then Yaz has a power that allows her work with the ‘stars’ under the ice. The stars sounds SO interesting, being these objects that are a cross between rock and kind of reactor cores.

I really thought Yaz was an excellent female lead with a very well rounded arc and some very genuine personality traits. She is powerful, caring and very flawed. While Yaz’s mission of rescuing her brother is a very clear indication of how far she is willing to go to save her family, it also is just as much of a mission of her learning that the reality of the world she has come from is very wrong. She comes to realise how flawed the society of Abeth is and she is very angry for how children are just thrown away. She also has moments of very human emotions and a bit of a selfish streak almost but she is a breath of fresh air.

I will say the plot is a little slower in places for a longer fantasy book but it is clear that Mark Lawrence is dedicated to creating this bitter, cruel world and building it for the books to come as well which is where a lot of fantasy can crumble. Here that won’t happen since we are led to a finale that is sudden as it is expected. I loved this book, I can’t deny it and can’t wait to finally read more of the authors work.

Thank you for Anne as always for having me on the tour and to Harper Voyager for the very pretty proof of this book in exchange for review! The Girl and the Stars is out the 30th of April!

★★★★★/5

Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK,
he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

5 Comforting Fantasy Books

Once again, I do apologise for the silence on here. This time, it wasn’t actually anything to do with lockdowns or anything like that, I was just fucking busy. Working from home or not, still busy when it is busy. This week do go a little faster than past ones though so for that I am grateful.

Last week saw a lot of people really liking my list of Immersive SFF so I’m going to try and keep the ball rolling here with a list of comforting fantasy books. I hope to have a scifi one too but this week I wanted to focus on fantasy. These are some books that made me feel that little bit better in darker times, and I want to share them with you too in case you need that kind of comfort right now. So here we go;

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:

This is not an underhyped book. This is for sure a book that is very popular while being on its way to be being a modern classic. It is however based on totally valid reviews since this book is wonderful. Its atmospheric while also being very easy to read. There is such a warm feeling with this book that makes reading feel so cozy and you feel like you are part of the circus followers. I know that is vague but I would recommend checking this out for some cuddly feels.

Wild Magic/ The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce:

I am a die hard of Tamora Pierce’s work since my read of this entire series since last year. This is a wonderful series that is very easy to get through with books that aren’t too long but what makes it so comforting to me is Daine and her relationship with animals. As an animal lover and a vegetarian the fact there is someone giving a shit about the animals and has magic based entirely on connecting with them made me feel so safe and happy. The conflict is also not really that scary or very heavy so definitely a good read for people who want fantasy with a low threat.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman:

Did you really think I would put a list together that DIDN’T have Neil Gaiman on it? I read this book many years ago and was a teenager with chronic anxiety when I did. This book changed my reading taste forever but also gave me a lot of comfort in a time when I couldn’t find it anywhere. I honestly think its the fact this boy is just cared for by the dead far better than the living and that they intend to keep him safe no matter what. Also has a nice spooky feel to it for the horror lovers out there.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury:

This is a book I met first as a very distant memory of the movie that would show every Halloween on Cartoon Network. I read the book as part of a worldwide readalong in 2018 and I was crying by the end with sheer joy. This is another one with great atmosphere while also capturing that feeling off veing a child on Halloween without being really nostalgically sad. The plot moves really quickly as well so it is also great for anyone who is in need of a focussed book too right now. I might be biased but the movie is also still wonderful if you can find it!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik:

Funnily enough, I very rarely talk about this book. I’m not sure why. This book is a wonderful example of how well standalone fantasy can work while also being very heartwarming in the face of genuine peril. There is such an emphasis in this book on the value of friendship, of family and not giving up in the face of adversity. I would highly recommend this book for it’s beautiful writing. There is so much rich magic and adventure happening here that I feel like I need to reread it right now. A must read as well for fans of elemental or nature magic.

I’ll try an do another list like this for some scifi recs as well. I am aware I didn’t put either Harry Potter or Discworld on this list as well but I think we all know how much I love those already and I think everyone returns to Hogwarts at some stage for that feeling of home.

What are your comforting fantasy books? What books would you at to the list? Feel free to share them below and most of all, happy reading to you all!

Review: Eric by Terry Pratchett

Welcome back to the Discworld Project! We have shorter distances between reviews this time around since I have wanted to throw myself head first into the project this month to make some progress. Today we will be reunited with an old character, learn why teenage boys shouldn’t summon demons and just how much everyone hates memos.

Here we meet Eric. He is the first teenage demonologist on the Disc! He isn’t very good at it however, since he manages to summon Rincewind instead. Rincewind, thrilled to be back in the right reality, is now subject to Eric and his whims. What follows is a journey across space, time, the Disc and three wishes that don’t exactly come true but do all the same.

This is definitely the shortest Discworld book I have read before. I have also managed to mix up my chronological continuity that I intended to do from the start. I am currently reading Guards! Guards! and Eric is actually after this. No matter, I still had a great time with this one.

The advantage here is definitely the fact this book is illustrated by Josh Kirby. His illustrations are a little bit dated and not fully to my own tastes (Paul Kidby would be for example, would be) but it really helped to supplement the story. I liked being able to follow the story and see some of the more of the more unusual characters and places within the plot.

Is it me or does anyone else love Rincewind for the utter disaster he is? I was thrilled to see him return! The Discworld characters are famously some of my favourites but Rincewind was the first I ever met reading these books. He does have a bit of a different arc here, looking after a young teen who he is kind of responsible for but overall the outcome is spectacular.

Illustration by Josh Kirby

The plot varies at times, between jumping into sporadic world building for places we haven’t seen before, back to the intense situation of the Faust like journey the characters are taking. It is slightly unnerving but it does overall work out very well and there are parts that are expanded upon slightly from previous locations. I love as well that the ‘hell’ location is made all the more insufferable with office jargon, memos and unnecessary potted plants.

So yeah, I screwed up my own reading order but it was still a great reading experience. I would highly recommend the illustrated edition of Eric, just to help enrich the experience. This is also great fun and a bonus if you are a fan of the disaster artist that is Rincewind.

Thank you for taking another trip across the Disc with me and I hope you will join me for the next leg of the journey! Happy reading folks!

★★★★/5

Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

‘One Flesh, One End. Say it loser.’

Have you ever had a book rip a hole in your very soul? Have you ever had a book that you threw (softly, because you love it and it has feelings) across the room for the damage it inflicted on you? Have you wept for your favourite characters because you want them to be safe? This was my experience of reading Gideon the Ninth.

Gideon Nav has a sword, some dirty magazines and serves the Ninth House. Gideon wants out of the Ninth and their necromantic business. When the ninth heir, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, is summoned by the Emperor Undying to take part in a trial that will secure her future, she summons Gideon to be her cavalier. As Gideon reluctantly follows her nemesis to the First House under a promise of freedom from the Ninth, both soon realise that some things are truly better off dead.

I am not exaggerating. This is my favourite I’ve read so far in 2020 and its only February. This is the gothy, mouthy SFF book my soul wanted so desperately. What Muir has managed here is a genre mash up with vibrant, memorable characters and a spinning plot. Like what is not to love, this is necromancers with swords people locked into a mysterious, empty house with one instruction; do not enter any locked door without permission.

Each of the houses are on different planets, all having to travel to the First house (Canaan House) for the trial. I do feel the world building lacked a little here but since the majority of the plot happened in Canaan House I didn’t mind as much. Hell sometimes I didn’t even notice because the house became its own character and was basically a giant puzzle box to be solved. Just think The Hellbound Heart but with no cenobites and skeletons instead.

Muir really shows her strengths here with her characters. Gideon as a protagonist made this such an enjoyable read. Readers may not gel with the sarcasm and sheer level of attitude that Gideon and Harrow have, but I am a sarcastic twat who always wants the last word so I can well and truly relate. The other cast of characters to begin with are very forgettable, since like Harrow, they have long aristocratic names that sound amazing but can blend together especially in the first half. This is why I would highly recommend the audio book of this since the narrator distinguishes each character beautifully. I’ll gush about Harrow and Gideon in a second but honestly outside of both of them I loved the members of the sixth house, Palamedes and Camilla his cavalier.

Something I loved as well the necromancy. For a start there are different types of necromancy. This blew my mind since my experience with necromancy in books is limited to Garth Nix and some DnD one shots. Palamedes, and the entire sixth house, is an agent of medical necromancy. There are others, including soul siphoning (creep central), flesh constructs (also creep central) and so much more I can’t wait to learn about.

Gideon and Harrow. Holy shit. Watching both of these women who grew up together with a very distinct power imbalance along with lifelong trauma, learn how to trust each other and confront their own egos. Once the plot gathers into what is a murder mystery (more genre mashing!) they both have no other choice but to stick together. Muir has created some absolutely devastating character moments in this book, by the time the book reaches the final act you are totally connected to them.

The ending is a total payoff. The one common thread I think many who have finished the book and who didn’t enjoy the first two thirds is that Muir wraps up the plot wonderfully. I found myself in tears and well and truly shook by it. Before finishing this review, I read the last 100 pages again last night. I am still shook by the conclusion.

Have you read this? Are you going to read it? Are you someone who started this and didn’t finish it? I need to discuss this with someone and I love a good discussion of a book that people didn’t like but that I loved wholeheartedly. Thank you for checking in folks, happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Sunday Shorts: 3 Mini Reviews (09.02.20)

Welcome back to Sunday Shorts! This is my first write up of shorter works in 2020 so far. Just in case anyone wasn’t aware, I changed job over the holiday period so most of January has been a settling in period for me. And being a typical Hedwig, I had four blog tours. No matter, lets talk about the shorter pieces I have read so far this year.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth

Title: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries)
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction

I’m not gonna lie, I read this between jobs in work. I couldn’t put it down! I don’t think I have ever related to a character as much as I did Murderbot. I too want nothing more than hours of books, TV shows and movies while avoiding all humans. This is a very touching story with really great characters. Its also definitely also one of the the most quotable scifi books I read in a while. It’s also an incredible start to a series. I’m definitely aiming to catch up for the new novel in May.

★★★★★/5

Coffee, New Orleans & Zombies.

Title: Bitter Grounds
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Dark/Contemporary Fantasy

This was an interesting one. I read this one afternoon while nosing through tor.com and remembered vaguely from one of the short story collections. I read it in about a half hour but it gave me such strange feelings. The summary of the story is minimal for reason, to interpret this story is to spoil it. All I will say is, from judging online, everyone has a similar and different explanation for it. Fantastic structure, memorable imagery and a very lasting mood.

★★★★/5

Lord Daniel’s absence triggers a series of crimes and calamities that consume the lives of those already tangled in his fate. Until he is found, his realm’s residents must protect its broken borders alone. But the most senior storytellers are tormented by invasive secrets, the warden Lucien is doubting his own mind, and beyond the gates, something horrific awaits with tooth and talon. Only Dora, the monstrous, finds opportunity in madness, stealing dreams for the highest bidder. But she has no idea how deep the danger lies. Meanwhile, in Daniel’s gallery, something new is growing…

Title: The Dreaming Vol. 1: Pathways and Emanations
Authors: Simon Spurrier, Bilquis Evely (Illustrator), Neil Gaiman
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, horror

Okay, if for some daft reason you are not after reading The Sandman series, you are wandering into MASSIVE SPOILER TERRITORY. This is your final warning.

I am trying to catch up with all my comics recently and this is one of my main series I have on my pull list. This was a wonderful reread but again, I feel so many complicated things towards this continuation. Daniel being absent, Lucien literally falling apart and to be honest that ending too? I am very stiff to accept it but I’m in no way dis encouraged to keep reading and get up to date. I did like seeing more of the nightmares and the art by Everly is AMAZING.

★★★★/5

That’s all I have this week for Sunday Shorts! I do have a plan to do a series comparing the new Sandman Universe to the original series but that won’t be for another while. Also, is it really a Sunday Short if I don’t discuss one Neil Gaiman work?

Have you read any of these? (Please say Sandman) Do tell me in the comments! Happy reading everyone!

Review: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

‘We weren’t invited. People don’t have to invite witches, they just know we’ll turn up if we want to.’

Good evening fellow readers and welcome back to the Disc! Today in the Discworld Project we will have witches, a murder most foul (that didn’t happen) and the return of my favourite Discworld matriarch, Granny Weatherwax.

All in one night in the kingdom of Lancre high in the Ramtops, three witches gather on the moors (quite to the confusion of one Esme Weatherwax), a king is brutally killed and a child is stolen away to return when the time is right. When the witches are drawn into this brutally ambitious plot and forced to meddle, which is not a witches business, it is down to Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Margarat Garlick and a ghost or two to save the Kingdom.

I think it’s clear to everyone now that I love the Discworld and most of all I love the witches. This book pulled in many elements of Macbeth, Hamlet and most of all Pratchett’s wonderful storytelling. I thought I would enjoy this one the most so far out of all the books but this one fell a little flatter than usual for me. I did however still have a great time reading it.

We get to head back to the Ramtops, last seen in ‘Equal Rites’ in the village of Bad Ass. We also finally get tot meet more of the neigmatic witches of the Disc. Adding to the cast is Nanny Ogg, the opposite of Granny with her many partners, children and grandchildren who loves a drink. We also meet Margrat Garlick for the first time, the youngest of the witches with her own ideas of covens and wearing occult jewellery.

Seeing the witches together on the page was honestly the best part of this book for me. The sheer contrast of Granny and Nanny makes you even wonder how they are friends in the first place. Granny is very clearly in charge of the situation however, Nanny being more of a family orientated witch. There is even a distinct comment about Granny’s leadership within all the witches’ circles;

Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have.

I was delighted to have finally come across Nanny Ogg and Magrat. There was also the cameos of other Discworld’s greatest, Death and the Librarian included. Pratchett’s characters will always have very important places in my hearts and as usual, the humor and banter between them all had me overjoyed at every stage of the book.

The plot this time for me felt a little bit weaker than usual, especially for a story about the witches. The pacing seems to be the issue more than the actual plot itself. Like i said earlier there is a strong satire of plays like Macbeth and Hamlet. This is actually half the fun of the plot, especially when a drama group arrives towards the end of the book, but there is a stage the book got to at about half way into the book and it felt like this was the climax. It threw me off slightly and kind of messed with he pacing overall.

This being said you can still see the growth of the Discworld as well as Pratchett’s writing. The plot as always is tidied up and brought together very well at the end of the book. I was very happy seeing Granny again in particular and look forward to my next outing on the Disc.

Have you read this book? I am now 7 books in to the Discworld series and I’m still really enjoying myself. I recently watched the Back in Black documentary again and was left an emotional wreck. I also got an exciting email this week about my DVD of ‘Troll Bridge’ that I backed in August. Up next, ‘Pyramids’!

★★★.75/5 (Constantly struggling with 4 or 3 for this one!)