Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Here's a mixed bag ...

I haven’t been chatty much on this here blog of late. Sorry. My three regulars may be starting to worry about now so I thought I should stop by and say hi.


Books as usual are on my mind, so here’s a glimpse of what’s on the top of my To Be Read pile ...

Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power - with just a touch he can see peoples' darkest desires - to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due.

To borrow the cliché – the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – a quick scan of this in the bookshop and Joe Hill promises a talent every bit as formidable as his old man. (If you don’t know who I’m referring to, find a pic of Joe and then guess.) Horns offers an intriguing premise worked by someone with one of the most interesting “voices” in fiction. I loved his earlier book “Heart-shaped Box” and I’m REALLY looking forward to reading this.

Now for a horn of a different hue ... (did you like my attempt at a link? Did ya? Did Ya?)

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

The blurb ...

Young marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company 
have been dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam, combatants in an increasingly desperate war. Standing in their way are the North Vietnamese, the monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, and disease and malnutrition. 

As racial tension and competing ambition build, the group threatens to crack at any moment. When the company is surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.

First sentence ...  “Mellas stood beneath the grey monsoon clouds on the narrow strip of cleared ground between the edge of the jungle and relative safety of the perimeter wire.”

Down these Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century – edited by Declan Burke charts the evolution of the Irish crime novel since of the inception of the Irish state through a series of essays, interviews, personal testimonies and short stories. This collection offers a unique insight into the phenomenon of Irish crime writing, which Fintan O’Toole describes as “arguably the nearest thing we have to a realist literature adequate to capturing the nature of contemporary society”.

The editor, Declan Burke has gathered together some of the most fascinating voices in modern literature – they all just happen to be Irish. Included are John Connolly, Tana French, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Ken Bruen and more.

Fascinating just about covers it. Can’t wait to read more.

No More Mulberries by Mary Smith

This is a bit of a departure for me but as I know the writer and I’ve heard her talking about the book AND she was on the telly this week I got me a copy.

The blurb?

Miriam loves life as a health worker in Afghanistan but her marriage to her Afghan husband, Dr Iqbal is heading towards crisis.

Ignoring his anger at her attending a teaching camp as a translator without him, she travels into a remote region hoping time apart will help her understand where their problems lie.

As she undertakes a journey into her past, to confront the devastating loss of her first husband, Miriam realises how her own actions has damaged her relationship with Iqbal.

Set in the rugged grandeur of the Hindu Kush foothills, No More Mulberries is about love, commitment and divided loyalties.

I’ve only had a quick glance so far but I’m already impressed with the quality of the prose, the complexity of the characters and the sense of place offered in the first chapter. And Mary’s a lovely wummin (and she was on the telly) so go buy a copy already!


  1. ah, you came and brought us adverts for books :)))

    I think I might like NO MORE MULBERRIES, the title is lovely and the setting as well, but I'm a bit skeptical since I really don't trust western writers writing about foreign cultures. They tend to be biased and kinda ignorant. Hope this one isn't like that.

  2. fair comment, Dez but this is not my impression so far. The writer spent a few years in the country she writes about and I note in the blurb that her western character is blaming herself for the problems in her marriage rather than cultural/ religious/ gender issues.

  3. Have only read No More Mulebrries out of those, Michael - wonderful book as it really gets into the life of the real people there before the Taliban arrived.

    Dezmond - this is as authentic as it gets as Mary actually lived and worked there.

  4. The Joe Hill book sounds interesting, I fancied heart Shaped Box but never got round to it.

  5. Get yourself a copy, Ricky. You won't be disappointed. Some deliciously sick thinking and some surprisingly tender moments.

  6. let me know how the joe hill book is. it sounds like it really could have a happy ending.

  7. I really enjoyed the Joe Hill, Thea. And the ending (were you being ironic?) was, in a strange way, a happy one.