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4.3.2.1........and having writ, keeps on...

When I was younger, I read Paul Auster's " New York Trilogy" and thought it was a good , succint and  interesting read, but didn't follow his novels after that. I really tried with his new book " 4 3 2 1" and I must admit I found it quite a struggle to keep up the pace of his 866 page mammoth novel, all the while thinking he was trying hard to outsmart( outwrite and outwit) John Dos Passos( " USA"). That isn't really possible because Dos Passos is in a league of his own when it comes to writing. Then I thought back to Charles Dickens and his 10 page description of a puddle( which is brilliant by the way).  But I digress. Coming back to Auster....some of the literary and historcial ramblings are interesting and the description early in the novel of how a man got his namesake on Ellis Island  as an immigrant is funny...but, protracted ,because Auster keeps repeating the same tired joke over and over,( like an acquiantance of mine who tells me the same Yom Kippur joke every time he sees me .  I acquiesce and smile  because I like the person and have repect for him) like ' do you remember the time etc etc etc'. Seriously ,the novel  is too long for the subject and I respected Auster for " The New York Trilogy" long ago and was really disappointed at the attempts to write an autobiographical novel . I expected a lot more from Auster from the calibre of his other books and he falls short of 866 pages in trying too hard to be too smart. I see that other reviewers are not really taken with "4321" and the ending which is crucial to any book, is inconclusive, elusive and meanders with characters in search of repose.  When I recieved this novel from Dymocks Booklover( thank you) I wondered what I was getting myself into: seriously  disfunctional family members and a boy who seems to have a  split personality in four lives, in search of some respite from each other. I just want to read about normal people when I read novels and not feel I am burdened with the world's psychological and emotional crises( yes, we all have our quirks but that is different from being  this dysfunctional)  On the up side, this novel will certainly keep the reader entertained. One really just needs to persist  with the door-stopper issues and size. I'm sure this will appeal to readers of Paul Auster fans and others. I would have appreciated this novel better if he didn't try so hard to be brilliant and the book would have held together better if it was around 360-400 pages. He wouldn't have been searching for an ending.. I'll give it another read at the end of the year.

RE:The Girl Before by J P Delaney

Have you read this month's He Said She Said? I'm reading it at the moment and loving it.

One to look out for later in the year is Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica. I read it in a single sitting over the weekend and it was so, so good. I had a couple of issues with the story overall, but I raced through it to get to the end!

RE:A Potted(Potter) Life of Wilfred Owen

Hi History Lover, Nice to be back on Bookmarked again after  such a hiatus. Ehh. I saw that book on the Australian Commanders in the Great War and really didn't stop to give it a look. I'll check it out. I feel a little embarassed  for myself because I've ordered some many books lately, among them Robin Gerster's " Big-Noting: The Heroic Theme in Australian War Writing, Melb  Uni Press . It was a long-ago title of mine and I was wandering around the internet and found a h/c copy in perfect condition, very inexpensive, (with plastic book wrap) in Gympie, Qld. All mine in a few days! While on Abe I saw a few second hand bookshops in the UK that were offering some Waterloo and Napolean books published  from waybackwhen.  Well done on " All For The King's Shilling". The  historical development of the army is so important and don't you love the changes in uniforms and accroutements.This Wilfred Owen Conference in London next year, I was telling you about, is speeding up with some interesting guest speakers, I think Santanu Das is attending as well. The university is putting up some big money into it . Tis a pity that Jon Stallworthy, and Dominic Hibberd aren't around to participate i the conference. I'm hoping there will be a publication of the papers or some such thing after it.  Good reading !!Cheers

RE:A Potted(Potter) Life of Wilfred Owen

Sounds like an excellent addition to your library Ghost Writer! I'm not too sure if this link will work but is this the photo you mentioned of Wilfred Owen:

https://au.pinterest.com/pin/515591857310198237/

​I just came home from morning tea and a visit to my local Dymocks and picked up this new release: "Sword and Baton: Senior Australian Army Officers from Federation to 2001, volume one: 1900 to 1939" by Justin Chadwick. It's a nice volume of bite sized bio's on some of our senior officers who led our troops during the Great War.

​I am currently reading a pretty interesting book on the British Redcoat; "All For The King's Shilling: The British Soldier under Wellington, 1808-1814" by Edward Coss.

A Potted(Potter) Life of Wilfred Owen

Jane Potter's book " Wilfred Owen: An Illustrated Life", Bodleian Library 2014, is a wonderful introduction  and addition to the genius of Wilfred Owen, one of England's greatest Great War poets. I think he is THE greatest.  Lavishly illustrated with photographs, Potter recreates the life and times of Owen, dotted with anecdotes and poems throughout. This book, of 144 pages ,should be used in conjunction with Stallworthy, Hibberd and Cuthbertson( more detailed biographies) and not really as a stand-alone. I noticed this book has come under  intense  and heavy artillery  fire from readers who think it shallow and somewhat purile. Potter will become the next authority on Owen in the coming years if she persists with her ongoing research of Wilfred Owen. The  best grab in the book is the very smiling and beguiling Owen in uniform taken in 1915 by John Gunston. For a poet who wrote about the 'pity of war' so often and so intensely, it is really 'that melt your heart moment' of how so young the soldiers were and how so many did not come back home to grow into old men after a lifetime of experience with family, work and peace. This is a nice volume and would sit well next to other books on Wilfred Owen.

Duskfall by Christopher Husberg

So I just got done with this novel this morning and I absolutely loved it! If you're a fantasy lover like me this one is an absolute must, it's so unique - I loved everything about it! Below is my review, which you can also find on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1876334346
 

Hold on to your hats, fantasy lovers, because this is one wild ride. From the first pages of the prologue the reader is swept up into the action and the deluge doesn't let up until the very last page - and only then because there's no more to read until the second installment is published. It's going to be a long wait, my friends.

Knot, our hero, is dragged from a freezing sea pierced with arrows and with no memory of himself. The mystery is consuming and creates much of the pace of the novel, with glimpses of his past propelling the reader further to find out more. Despite his lost memory, Knot is a likable character separate to the person he once was, so that we get the impression that we might not like him to recover his former self. It creates a quiet suspense throughout the novel that hovers underneath the non-stop action.

Duskfall is a refreshingly unique creation in the world of Fantasy. It combines familiar elements in unfamiliar recipes, making old ideas seem fresh and full of new flavour. The action comes fast but is dynamic, so that it's not all sword fights and epic chases. There is intelligence in the storyline, and it's crafted cleverly so that the reader is never bored by repetition. Much of it travels unexpected paths, making it hard to predict what comes next; imagine speeding down the ski slopes with no warning of the layout and obstacles to dodge the entire way - the rush is hard to beat. That thrill of not knowing what to expect makes this novel stand out in a genre overrun with stereotypes and cliches. 

The mix of characters is bizarre yet they complement each other nicely, making it hard to choose favourites. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, which gives them depth and layers that are fascinating to peel back. There is a mixture of hard and soft, but there is no black and white - the characters in this novel are very much in the grey area. This realism allows the reader to connect on a deeper level, and feel a lot more through the written eyes of multiple viewpoints. 

The writing is commendable, and it's apparent that a lot of thought went into producing work of a very high standard. It's not just the pace, or the perfect balance of action and description; the true mark of brilliance is in the small details. For example, the new terminology that spawns from words we know: new names for well-known fantasy elements. There's also the very real, present-day themes that enter this novel under the guise of fantasy. The reader is confronted with issues like racism, substance abuse, and warring religion, and the deep thinkers will appreciate this subtle inside view on such topics. The dynamics between different opinions and beliefs give a lot of heart to the novel, making character exploration as important a factor as the fluidity of the story. 

An absolute rush to read, and a refreshing addition to the world of fantasy, Duskfall had me hooked from beginning to end. A quote on the cover from Steve Diamond states that this novel has him 'thrilled for the future of Fantasy' and I can't help but agree. I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book in my new favourite fantasy series.

Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley

I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of this novel and absolutely loved it. My review is fairly short but hopefully it conveys how much I enjoyed it! :)

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare disorder: she's allergic to humans. 


It makes for a fascinating premise, and this novel deals with the issue elegantly, slowly releasing the multitude of emotions Jubilee inevitably feels. It begins with Jubilee living as something of a recluse, when a change of circumstances forces her to leave the house for the first time in nine years. What follows is the thoughtful portrayal of a woman blossoming into a self-assured woman in spite of the cards life has dealt. Close Enough to Touch is, at its core, a warming exploration of the human heart.

The key characters are intriguing and well-developed, and relationships are built cautiously, creating realism through layered characterisation. Eric is likable enough but the true charmer is troubled son Aja, whose quirks endear him almost immediately. The rest of the ensemble round out the story giving it variety without too much to keep track of.

The alternating chapters from both Jubilee and Eric add extra depth to the tale, and insight into two very different dynamics. While Jubilee is somewhat timid and naive, Eric is dealing with pieces of a broken family, and has almost a wearied quality to him; you can clearly picture the frazzled father struggling to keep control over a rapidly unravelling thread. This contrast between the two is the soul of the novel.

Overall a fantastic read with delightful characters and an intelligent story. Highly recommend for lovers of atypical chick-lit. Enjoyed it immensely and my sincere thanks to Allen & Unwin for the advanced copy!

The Girl Before by J P Delaney

This one has finally hit shelves so I figured it's time to share my review! :)

Being compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train leaves one with big expectations for this novel and it does not disappoint. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of the novel through a Goodreads giveaway and I'm so excited to see the reactions when the novel receives the inevitable momentum it rightfully deserves!

This is a tangled web of complex characters running quietly rampant with the inherent flaws of humankind. The alternating stories of 'Then' and 'Now' thread together seamlessly, crafting suspense through the slow release of suggestions and the accompanying chills. As the reader learns more about each character, the mystery of The Girl Before becomes increasingly convoluted, surrounded by deception and gradually darkening until its thrilling conclusion. The depth of these characters allows the reader to feel their experiences and react viscerally to their vices. Their layered formation allows one to, if not sympathise with, at least understand the nature of these flawed beings.

The writing is solid, building the story with small, quick, steps into a crescendo of suspense. The similarities between the alternating stories unite the two narratives brilliantly, creating the connection between the two women and permeating their stories with recurring characters. That being said, the subtle difference between style and the slow release of information forks the narratives elegantly, allowing each to take on their own life as the novel gains momentum.

Absolutely loved it from start to finish, as can be assumed from my finishing it in a single day. There's not too many novels these days that sink their claws in quite like this one did!

Highly recommend for fans of suspense and an absolute must for anyone who enjoyed The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. Get it as soon as it hits shelves - this one is going to be big!

RE: In Between The Lines....Of Men. Poetry and War,and Homecomings...

I like books without markings in them, however,  some of my books are heavily annotated in pencil or with stick- it notes inserted in the pages by me. Your current purchase sounds like a real boon. I bought Kershaw's Hitler: Hubris and it had someone's markings in it, in biro(gughhh!!) . When one finds personal letters in books it does add another dimension as to the history and  previous ownership. Glad to hear you " Hold At ll Costs!" arrived. Surprisingly, the postman came to my door this  morning with my copy of " The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth- Century  British and American War Literature" ed. Adam Piette& Mark Rawlinson . I wasn't expecting it until late next week when the POffice goes back mid-week. Nice surprise. What am I reading? " Bloody Good( as in medieval terminology ) : Chivalry, Sacrifice and The Great War" by Allen Frantzen , Chicago University Press, 2004. I had wanted this for a long time as I had Stefan Goebel's book on the subject " The Great War and Medieval Memory", Cambridge University Press 2007. Let you know more when I've finished. Just begun. Thank you, I am well. Not too flash on this hot weather heading our way. Hope you are well. 800 pages spred over four volumes ,on Stalingrad! That is dedication to a subject, History Lover.

RE: In Between The Lines....Of Men. Poetry and War,and Homecomings...

I usually don't like buying second hand books with markings inside the covers but occassionally I pick up a book published in the 1800's with the previous owner or owners names inside the cover along with the dates. I reckon that is a piece of history in itself. In one book on Napoleon that was published in the 1880's there is a lovely hand writen letter between the the book owner and the author, very nice :)

​My copy of "Hold at all Costs: The Battle of Delville Wood" finally arrived, not sure when I will get around to reading it as I have just started the second volume of David Glantz four book series on Stalingrad, over 800 pages!

​I hope you are well and enjoying a good book :)

 

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