Gideon and the Crimson Samurai by Ricky Baxter

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Helllllllo readers – it’s Monday which is always a bit of a struggle but I have a really exciting and interesting book for you today. Many of you will know how much I adore reading books for the younger reader because 1) they tend to be quite exciting, and 2) they often have some wacky, crazy characters. Many of you will know my Mumma B works in a primary school and when I used to help out you would often find me poring over the books when I should be cleaning up glitter or photocopying music (oops.) Without further reminiscing onto le review.

Gideon Joust is your average twelve-year-old boy, with all the growing insecurities one would expect, following the mysterious disappearance of his father. On one fateful day, the boy’s world is turned upside down – leading to a chance encounter with a brash child warrior: Kibishi the Crimson Samurai.

Gideon and the Crimson Samurai is uniquely written in play format – suited for teens and adults alike.

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As the rather short blurb suggests the book follows the adventure of Gideon Joust who is, on the surface, a rather average twelve-year-old boy. However there has always been a question that has concerned him – what did happen to his father? Why and how did he disappear? Where is he now? As he begins his quest to find out what really happened he meets another young boy named Kinishi  who turns out not to be a regular boy as like Gideon, but instead a warrior. They go on their mission together – one that will change Gideon’s life forever.

Enough of the blurb, onto my thoughts on the book – the format is really interesting as it’s written in play format which I  was really surprised to see. I think the book is targeted at 14/15 year old’s and for me, although I found it a little difficult to get through (namely because I’m not used to seeing a children’s book in this format) I think would really work with the book’s target audience. It definitely allows you to get more into the action and get straight into the tale. The author additionally adds a lot of detail around the writing to help give more of a description and flavour to the book as a whole – for example.

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After many long hours of aimless searching and journeying though much greenery and fields, the young Gideon falls flat to the ground, devoid of strength and motivation.

Gideon: I give up – what was I thinking? How big is the outside world anyway? I really need to find that crazy samurai before he gets any further, but how am I supposed to find him when he is probably miles away by now? As Gideon lay on the ground, he smells a delicious and sweet scent that lasts for only a fragment of a second. The young boy leaps to his feet in excitement, as he smells the scent once again. Gideon races onward, following the direction of the scent – desperately traversing over many hills, gasping in awe at the lush scenery of the landscape, filled with rich grass and nearby wildlife under the bright and blue sky.

As you can see this helps to flesh out the book and make it more of a story than just a play script that I think will help to engage readers .

The characters are really well-developed throughout and the friendship that develops between the two is a lovely read. It does have suspense, action and a lot of adventure and I can imagine action loving readers getting incredibly excited about the plot and the quest stile plot. For me the writing was a little basic at times and there lacked a little pizzazz. It felt a little simple and I thought more strength could have been added to the spoken parts however I do understand the target age so it does fit. I also thought the cover worked incredibly well with the story inside and definitely would intrigue readers.

Overall a lovely little read – for me a little predictable in the plot-line and in the telling and I thought the spoken parts could have been stronger but definitely an interesting book. I have heard that this is going to be made into an audio book which I think will work much better in terms of the format! One to definitely get your YA reader getting stuck into an adventure.

Linnnnnks

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Gather sticks along the way by Tyler Mills

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Helllllllo readers – bit of an apology review. This was supposed to go up last month and was all scheduled and written up and wordpress decided to delete it and leave me without a back-up and I just haven’t got round to re-writing up which is a bit slapped wrist for this blogger – however I finally managed to recover my notes and get this all written up for the second time. Apologies to the wonderful author Tyler Mills for understanding my techno-fail; enjoy the review bookworms.

When God commanded Abraham to carry Isaac up the mountain, the boy was told by his father to gather sticks to build an altar. With each piece he gathered he unknowingly contributed to his own sacrifice. But before the blade would fall an angel of God would appear. The entire parable hinged on Abraham’s faith in God’s plan and his determination to carry it out with his own hands.

Charles is an average man. He has a loving family and is solid in his own beliefs. But his faith is soon tested with the loss of his son and Charles becomes a man driven by the need for answers. He needs to know what happened to his child and is prepared to do anything to find out. As simple actions by multiple individuals begin to unfold, a tragedy is formed and Charles is caught in the middle. Throughout it all he knows he is not alone. He knows God is with him. As Charles begins to see signs of what he believes to be the truth behind his son’s disappearance, he’s unsure if these come from God or if they are just coincidences. Is it his vengeance that propels him or is he just doing God’s plan? His faith will either see him through this catastrophe or cause him to lose all he has left.

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I’m not going to write too much in terms of the blurb because I think it’s quite well described there which is always wonderful. Blurbs are really tough to write and it’s a fine line between too much and too little but I think that sells it without giving too much away just perfectly. The plot line follows the disappearance of a pastor’s son and the way that he deals with his faith during this time and the honest and heart-breaking reactions and feelings of his lovely family. The plot line revolves around the location of a known sex-offender and the added anguish this adds to the already upsetting story.

I thought this book and story line was really powerful – I don’t read a lot of books that focus so strongly on religion because it’s not something I tend to enjoy but  I wanted to see how well the religious side was weaved into the story and it was managed so not to overwhelm the original plot line. Most of the content follows the idea of being challenged throughout our lives and we see Charles as he struggles at times to understand his faith through the misery he is feeling through the loss of his child. It was interesting to see the relationship between Anne and Charles change and grow through this and reading along I was really pulled into the story as a whole. I thought that the idea of the pastor being a normal human with flaws and struggles was really well voiced; we see Charles struggle to tell the truth to the police and dealing with his own guilt – it is a really well established story.

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 The writing is quite concise and overall not overly descriptive although it does engage the reader. For me it could be a little more evocative but it does move with pace (seeing as the book is only a mere 96 pages it kind of has too) but that doesn’t mean you feel you’re missing out. Instead it’s the perfect book to get read on your lunch break or on the train journey home/. This does mean that the book tends to focus just on this plot line and it just works because we’re so focused on this but I always like a few interweaving ones to really engage the reader especially if the religious story line doesn’t really appeal but that’s just me. Couple of tiny grammatical errors that could be ironed out but another small point.

Overall a lovely little read especially if you’re looking for something that pulls on your heartstrings a little. The writing is simple but effective and the ending is brilliantly thought through and definitely made me sit up and remember this book. Not perfect for me because of the religious themes but overall something I’m very happy to have read.

Linnnnnks

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Becoming Unique by James Charles

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Goooooood Morning readers, it’s a Thursday so the weekend is nearly upon us which is always a lovely thing. I love a really lazy weekend just reading and writing. Blogging can be incredibly therapeutic and writing and just getting all things out can lift a weight from your shoulders. On My Little Book Blog I get a lot of really interesting review requests and this one really struck a chord. This blog over the past two years has become a way of my sharing people stories – happy or sad, heart-breaking or joyful and today’s is extra special. I really hope you’ll stay for the review.

Becoming Unique looks at someone only made aware of being possibly Autistic in late adulthood. Living a life of unknown Autism meant struggling with bullying and despair while growing up in Ireland, as well as struggling academically at school. Like many young people in the 1980s James left Ireland to seek employment and new life in England.

Over the years James experienced struggles and misunderstandings in different workplaces, as well as struggles in relationships and with his Irish identity. James struggled with his faith but finding his faith again was a big spiritual awakening. Over many years, supportive friends, family and work colleagues helped James believe in himself and achieve a worthwhile career. Becoming Unique looks at the many misunderstood struggles of Autism, but also shows “Autism can be wonderful

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As the blurb suggests the book plot follows the life of someone coming to terms with their autism; namely the wonderful James. Throughout we learn about James and his autism and the struggles that he deals with throughout his life alongside the people that he comes into contact with. We learn that certain aspects of autism cause different emotions that during his school years were heavily misinterpreted and the incidents lead to caning and upset. Following this we see James grow and strive to make a place for himself; the book documents how he does this and the ways he finds to cope in the world. Throughout the book we learn more about James and the struggles that for many of us wouldn’t come to mind. We follow him from school through his life, his love of football and his adoration of writing.

Being someone who knows very little about autism and the traits and characteristics that are associated, I found I learnt so much and really got an insight into the struggles. From the first few chapters I was really hoping that James would succeed in finding his way with words and it is really lovely to say that I hugely enjoyed the book. The book is very thoughtful in the way that the author explains different parts of his life, finding his identity, university, and marrying Helen but throughout it feels very positive and very self-contained. It’s not angry but it’s informative and for someone that knew very little before reading this book I feel I have learnt so much about the lack of understanding as to autism and how we can change that whilst also offering support to those that have autism.

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In terms of writing style it does follow chronologically to a point but does whizz in and out with other stories, tit-bits and added comments. However throughout there is a definite feeling of structure and order which I thought really helped to cement the reader into the book in terms of staying engaged. It is very factually based, the writing is what I would describe as tightly written – there are next to no descriptions but this is something that makes the book even more special. It is James, and James’s way of communicating and it allows us to really experience the traits that are communicated through words and then shown through the writing style. It’s not one I experience too often but I thought it worked here perfectly. It feels at times that the author is getting things out, much like a healing process and it is wonderful to be allowed to share that journey.

This isn’t a book I would normally read but I found it very enjoyable; I will say it’s not for everyone and I think you definitely have to be in the mood for a book like this. I did find it took me a little while to read because there is a lot of information conveyed; a lot of dates and information so it’s not a lazy read, it’s something you have to concentrate with. However I thought the message was beautiful, the idea behind it even more so and I’m very happy to have the chance to read it.

Linnnnnks

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The Pitfulls and Perils of Being a Reader

Readers be warned; reading is a dangerous hobby. Yes, you read right, forget base jumping, sky diving and go karting reading is a hobby riddled with potential wobbles, trials and tribulations. Don’t raise an eye brow at me, there are many quibbles that come with being a reader. If you’re still a little confused read on.

(Although I must admit base-jumping, sky diving and go karting are all very dangerous and potential life threatening activities: Be careful out there)

Looking up what you’re currently reading on Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook

*SPOILERS* are alllll over the internet, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just avoid said spoilers by avoiding certain hashtags or not searching for the book you’re currently reading. Stay away, turn off your phone and stick your head in that book; everything will be okay. I think.

Getting too many books out from the library

Afajgajhjah library fines get me time, after time and it’s no longer discount charges as they used to be as with your university library. No more Mr Nice Librarian. Fines are pricey and if you forget to renew or take those bad boys back it’s only going to get worse. Period.

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Telling Somebody What You’re Reading

Luckily my friends that read the most are also book bloggers so they understand the pain of discussing a currently read book, but once you mention you’re reading the new John Green or J K Rowling book you can be sure to hear the terrifying words ‘have you got to the part where….’ Before you can scream ‘goddamn it stop it,’ they’ve told you ***** or that *** ***** (no spoilers from me, I’m a nice blogger you know.)

Get (and keep) a bookmark

This is the one I fall for every, single, time. You start reading a book very happily and then you have to stop and think I will 100% remember that I am currently on page 1865547. Then you come back to said book and you have skim forward a couple of pages and then back a couple. Before you know it, you’ve realised that the killer was the young girls mothers, aunties sister and that you’ve ruined the final plot twist right before you got to it. Rookie mistake. Carry multiple story savers with you to avoid said awkward situation.

Forgetting to bring a book to a festival/beach/coffee shop

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This one could also be labelled as forgetting to charge up your Kindle or E-reader, but make sure that wherever you are going you bring your trusty, currently reading book. I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation when you sit down to open up your current tale of adventure and you’ve left the damn thing at home. You never know when a train will be late, a friend will not turn up for coffee, or you’ll wake up the earliest at a festival,  having a trusty book will always save you in these awkward or mind-numbingly boring situations. There’s nothing worse than thinking you can just turn to the next page and continue on the tale to find you’re book-less.

Number five and our final bookish warning is potentially controversial but

Finishing Every Book You Start

This used to be me, but readers you need to stop saying that it’s not okay to put down a book and leave it. If it’s not that good you need to put it down. Yes, give it a couple of chapters, pop it down have some tea, try again but then leave it. Do not toil through till the cows come home and when done think, thank god that is over, it’s unhealthy, a time waster and a big mistake. I can vouch for this. Take your pride and buy a new book and devour that one instead.

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Reading is a dangerous task but with these little tips you should be onto a healthy relationship with your beloved books *cheers.*

Water Minute Mysteries 1-10 by P. Aaron Mitchell

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Hellllllo readers, it’s October where is the year going? It feels like only yesterday I turned 22 and yet, it’s been a month or so. This author sent me a lovely email that said he knew I was a big fan of Sherlock Holmes books, and that if I liked them I should read this. That is definitely a way to get my attention and after reading I thought wow, there is definitely an inkling there.

Short stories of enigma with The Professor, who provides all the clues for you to figure out each story’s one and only explanation. Solve them yourself, or read the solutions.

That’s a very succinct blurb there and it’s very easy way to show you the writing style of said author. The books are very short tales where the narrator (The Professor) tells the story of an event or a story and gives us a number of secret clues woven into the tale. After we finish the story there is a solution, or an explanation of what’s just happened and it’s all wrapped up rather neatly at the end. Some of the stories understandably include deaths but others are more subtle relating to family traumas, objects and the like.

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So what did I think? Well I’m pleased report I liked them a darn lot. Told in a simple style that suits the mysteries each is written with a real understanding of how to confuse the reader. Although the stories are short they are told with lots of little inner workings that you can assume is going to add up to the solution but I was hopeless at getting to the bottom of many of them. The pace is written well, they bump along a little slowly but often then are set in one of two scenes rather than a long drawn out but that works because they are short tales. I was surprised how much the author managed to pack into the stories and found it really nice that they were so detailed.

In terms of the writing style it isn’t my cup of tea but here it worked. It was short, sharp and to the point and it helped to make the stories more like riddles. Long flowing descriptions of the surroundings and the characters involved wouldn’t have worked here and the tighter writing style is definitely brilliant here. Despite this over the ten stories we do get an inkling of the personality of the Professor. A little more suave than our Holmes and with a small adoration for young women he is a bit of a sweetheart. He has a charming side, and he comes over a lot more friendly I think although we only get glimpses of him as a character. He has a sense of humour although a little mocking but he comes across as a kind-hearted fellow.

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My only wobble was that many of the solutions require knowledge relating to guns, car and aeroplanes. Although this is necessary to create the mysteries some of the stories although made sense didn’t give me that mystery satisfaction when the ending was revealed. Sherlock although does know knowledge of said things tends to rely on human nature, blemishes on the characters and physical attributes so I could solve them a lot easier. But, I liked the difference and I was really impressed at the level of detail shown by the author. Some of the stories are a little difficult to believe but they are really good to read and think about whether something so shocking could have happened.The only thing I really didn’t like was the cover and it was such a shame because the book was so lovely to read.

Overall a really quick read although it may take you a little while to get to the bottom of the stories. The writing style although not normally my idea of reading fun worked well here and helped to make the stories really memorable. I think a few more that were based more on domestic clues would have helped readers to guess the stories but maybe it’s me and my terrible general knowledge. A great deal of fun and mystery that I really want to read more of.

Linnnnks

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Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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Good morning readers, the slump is nearly over and I’m getting back into reading again *cheers.* It’s taken a little while this time to snap out of it, but, I’m getting there and it’s having an effect on T. He’s a little proud of his stack of books and we’re reading the same novels lending each other books and discussing more. It’s our thing and lazy Saturday morning’s reading in bed are perfection. Today’s book is one I read a little while ago but one I really enjoyed unravelling.

The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into an insect. Critics have interpreted Kafka’s works in the context of a variety of literary schools, such as modernism, magical realism, and so on. The apparent hopelessness and absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism.

A guess this is another classic book to add to my resume? I think that Kafka has really a interesting way of writing and I’ve toyed with reading more from this author. As you may know the book follows Gregor who wakes up to find that he has become an insect. The book follows Gregor as he struggles to live with his new body and identity and follows the themes of abandonment, alienation and human behaviour.

As you can imagine the book takes on a surreal and imagined world where it is quite normal to turn into said insect. Despite the shock of such a transformation Gregor is surprisingly accepting of his new appearance but it is instead his parents and the other people that he encounters that find it so difficult to come to terms with. As Gregor’s family become more frustrated, blaming Gregor for their financial problems and their inability to move to a smaller  house, their attitude towards him turns cruel and helpless.

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This book is studied a lot in terms of its meaning and it’s because there are many different interpretations. For me I think the book represents a long term illness, either mental or physical, and how as it continues feeling of trying to help said individual can turn to rage or helplessness. This is masked through Kafka’s literal writing of such an absurd situation. For me there’s some satirical about it, but it hides a darker, very important message. There are questions that arise through reading; why do Gregor’s parents seem far better off after the transformation? Were they reliant utterly on Gregor? If so why did it take the alienation of their son to take some weight from his shoulders. What does it all mean damn it!

You could go round and round in circles with this book and that’s why it’s so wonderful. There are so many different meanings and alternative thought processes as to what is really going on. In terms of the writing it’s a little basic but it’s about making the reading think for themselves. The ending truly is bittersweet and if you are yet to read this I will attempt not to spoil it but it truly is a very sad and ironic metamorphosis.

If you’re thinking of reading this book but are yet to get online and find a copy, it’s a very short read and it will make you think. I adore books that don’t give the reader exactly what they need to know but instead leave it open for the reader to pull apart. It’s a saddening tale but one that definitely speaks true in our current community; the feeling of alienation whether it’s homelessness, poverty or mental and physical health problems and the hollow feeling it creates. I hope this book is a warning and a lesson as to what can happen if we’re not so understanding of each other’s situations. A book with a real message and one you should definitely take some time to explore.

Linnnnnnnks

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Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover

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Hellllo readers, another day another review; today’s book is a really interesting novel that I picked up when at my local library. Libraries are brilliant for us who hoard books (book bloggers I’m looking at you.) Quite often I read books and although I enjoy them, I’m not truly happy with them and I don’t feel the need to necessarily keep the books. The memories of reading the novel are enough and this was one of those books. I can’t decide whether I *liked* this book yet, but it was certainly an experience as such. My review of Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover

Robert Coover’s wicked and surreally comic novel takes place at a chilling, ribald, and absolutely fascinating party. Amid the drunken guests, a woman turns up murdered on the living room floor. Around the corpse, one of several the evening produces, Gerald’s party goes on — a chatter of voices, names, faces, overheard gags, rounds of storytelling, and a mounting curve of desire. What Coover has in store for his guests (besides an evening gone mad) is part murder mystery, part British parlor drama, and part sly and dazzling meditation on time, theater, and love.

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Gah I think I might have gone classic crazy; I’ve gone from detesting them to utterly adoring them in a matter of months. Little Women, and Ulysses are both on the cards although we’ll have to see how they go. In terms of today’s book the narrative follows the almost hallucinogenic nightmare of confusion and turmoil of the rather simply named Gerald’s Party. The book follows the absurd affair as we follow Gerald and his unnamed wife as they entertain dozens of different character. There’s Vic, Dickie, Kitty, Iris, Lloyd, Patrick, Allison and her husbands and numerous others but you would need a checklist to keep an eye on all of them.

Additionally as the blurb suggests there is the body, curled up on the floor amongst the partiers that belongs to the actress named Ros. With a gushing hole in the centre of her chest the mayhem is stirred and her jealous husband Rodger gets a little frantic. With the Police called; (Fred and Bob) and their homicide detective (Nigel Pardew) a rather odd character who immediately demands the watches of all those that have entered (later deducing that the murder happened half an hour before they arrived.) It sounds pretty normal but the writing style is anything but. Dialogues over-lap, characters movements do too. We’re in the garden, bare feet against the grass, then suddenly in the kitchen seeing Gerald’s wife cooking more and more food for the stacked table, then with his son Mark and his mother and law. It all overlaps haphazardly and confusingly. Characters melt into one.

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The thing is that ‘Gerald’s Party,’ is noticeably about time, quite obviously shown in the removal of the watches. The party seems to stretch for hours whilst the guests waver in and out of drunkenness. They’re also piles of sexual activity. Each of the couples appears to have at least one other sexual partner at said party and at one point we see Gerald wiping the bottom of a woman who has to put it nicely ‘lost control of her bounds.’ The sexual energy during this is scene is both baffling and amusing. It is riotous read that ploughs through taking the reader whether they want to or not.

I must admit I think I will one day when older I will maybe try this novel again. The effect of the writing for me becomes a little too excessive. The repetition at the beginning is exciting and intriguing but it quickly wears off. The startling acts of the characters becomes too over the top and audacious. For me it is a very evocative and fascinating book that was a bit to jolty to really carry it off and although the idea of time being non-existent at the start was exciting two hundred of so pages in I was starting to lose my stamina. I found that the book felt like a jigsaw puzzle I had to put back together again but had no chance of doing so.

Overall I will probably look at this review in a few years and feel silly but right now this book was really difficult for me to read. I found it really interesting to read and I would definitely recommend but it is honestly nothing like I have ever read before.

Linkkkkks

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