Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice- Laurie R. King

I stumbled across this series when hurriedly purchasing a book for a lengthy train journey recently. The title, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, caught my eye as I have long harboured ambitions of owning my own hive- but this is a side note and not a sensible hobby for someone who currently lives in a small flat with no garden to speak of.

The books are narrated by Mary Russell, an orphaned heiress who stumbles across the retired Sherlock Holmes when out reading one day on the Sussex downs. Quickly proving that she can match the detective wit for wit and has a tongue as sharp, if not sharper than his own, they become firm friends and he slowly begins to involve Mary in his cases where she finds herself a more capable version of Dr Watson. This unusual partnership is soon tested when nineteen year old Mary finds them locked in a battle of wits with a deadly enemy, as Holmes, Mary and Watson become the targets of assassination attempts.

As a fan of the original Conan Doyle stories, I freely admit that I did not expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did, but the books are absolutely fantastic, constructed by a master. The author writes with an assured style and dry humour in the vein of the original stories, but cunningly allows herself to embellish upon the original oeuvre by having characters exclaim that they thought Sherlock was a fictional character, and having the great man himself lament Watson’s romantic sensibilities.

As soon as I was able I went to my local bookshop and ordered all the other books in the Alison & Busby series, including a copy to give to my father, and as soon as I got them home proceeded to devour them.

As soon as I did however, I noticed a big problem, albeit not the fault of the book shop or author. There are ten books currently published in the Mary Russell series, with an eleventh due in September this year, but if you look at the series page in the Alison & Busby books it appears that the series jumps from book one to book seven in the series. For some bizarre reason, A&B only appear to have bought the publication rights to some of the series, meaning that books two to six are published by other publishers. This in itself isn’t a problem, but it does mean that unless you know this beforehand (which you can’t reasonably be expected to) you end up reading the books out of sequence and encountering some major spoilers.

I will not share these with you here, but be warned ready for your own foray into these books. This hasn’t affected my enjoyment of the novels so far, though I am reading The Language of Bees at the moment and there is a character who may well ruin an earlier book for me when I go back to two to five… we shall see.

Go out and find them- in the correct order is preferrable they really are too good to miss.

Passion- Lauren Kate

Something of The Corpse Bride about this...

Passion, the third book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, opens with a meeting of the outcasts, the Elders of Zhsmaelim and a man who sounds curiously like the man who joined Cam on parents day at Swords and Cross meeting at a horse race in Kentucky. But their minds are far from matters of equine form and more closely focussed on the whereabouts of the missing Lucinda Price. Someone isn’t happy, and he’s taking matters into his own hands…

Picking the story up where Torment left off, Passion follows Luce through the announcers and into her past lives as she struggles to find answers to the questions which have been plaguing her since she learned the truth about Daniels identity. Why are they cursed? Is there a way to break it? Does he really love her? And can her mysterious ally be trusted?

Flashing through various periods of history, the book glances on key moments in the saga of Daniel and Luce, to give a more rounded picture of their love. Instead of receiving the narrative solely from Luce’s point of view, her narrative is alternated with that of Daniel, so we get to hear more of his characters voice, and it is with some relief that I am able to report to you that he is a little less irritating than in previous books for this.

With only glimpses of some of the more interesting characters from previous books (Cam, Arianne. Roland..) fans of the other fallen angels may be slightly disappointed in this book, though there are some tantalising hints at the story which may yet develop in Rapture due to be released in the Spring of 2012.

An intriguing place holder, but only when counting on the power of the series. It lacks punch in its own right, in my opinion failing to conclude the business of the book and serving only as a link between the content of the first two books and the final book.

Nonetheless, enjoyable and an entertaining enough way to while away a few hours.


J.K. Rowling-In It

Will be tomorrow’s headline in The Sun (rolling in money, geddit?) Not that she wasn’t already, but you may have already heard that J.K.R did not sell the digital rights to her books to Bloomsbury, and I’ve been waiting for some time for her to make a move in this direction.

Following much speculation in the press that Pottermore would be a world-wide treasure hunt for hidden Harry Potter wands (sounds like great fun, if a bit unwieldy) and my own secret hope that this would be a move to a UK theme park, the Pottermore website revealed today that Pottermore would be a free website building an interactive experience around reading the Potter books. Screenshots suggest that there will be opportunities for readers to play games like wizard chess as they read about these in the books.

I’m sure that this will be a great resource for people reading the paper books who want to get more involved in the world of Potter, but it’s certain to bring the books back into world-wide focus if these features are available with the eBooks for download…

Pottermore is currently  jammed with people trying to enter their email address for updates, but you didn’t need to be a professor of divination to know that would happen. Sign up when you can for updates though, as there will be an announcement on Harry’s birthday (July 31st to muggles) to let you know how you can trial the system early.

The Return of Harry Potter?

The Owls Are Gathering (photo by A.J. Hand)

Like myself, J.K. Rowling isn’t dead, but has been busy…

Unlike myself, she hasn’t been busy with house-buying paperwork and other trivialities (as far as I know at least) but has been twiddling her wand fingers to conjure up some more Potter related excitement. I’m sure that you’ll understand my excitement, and forgive my flowery language, when you check out Rowling’s newly registered website where Owls are gathering ready to deliver some big Potter news in 5 days time.

If you can’t wait that long for your next Potter fix, why not relive those heady days as a Potter virgin by reading through this great online journal.

In less exciting news, I’ve been quiet, but I’ve been reading, so expect more from me soon.

Books Burn Badly- Manuel Rivas

Despite working in an office full of books, I should be relatively safe if a fire breaks out at work because the burn very badly. It’s something to do with the tightly packed pages preventing oxygen circulating and slowing the reaction. So now you know.

Manuel Rivas’ Books Burn Badly tracks the slow, smouldering events which follow a fascist book burning in Galica in 1936, and the knock on effects that they have upon those who witnessed them, transforming a generation from hopeful to broken overnight. A boxer called Hercules, a facist judge who collects bibles and a superstitious gravedigger; each is affected by the event in their own way.

Though there was some unity to the story in the end, and I enjoyed the folkloric elements of the novel, it was a bit too loose and meandering for my tastes. There was a wonderful bunch of characters with their stories intertwined, but I felt there was insufficient resolution. This is a matter of taste, it was beautifully written, but I felt that the characters deserved three books which explored their lives in more detail than one bulky novel which only touched on elements of these.

Gorgeous cover though!