Review: Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

This is one of those books I read to just shut up a friend that was insistent that I read the novel. Every now and then I read a novel and I feel the exact same way…Going between feelings of wanting to bully or beg someone to read a novel that moved me a great deal, so I truly do understand why she demanded I read it. I usually ignore these pleas…but not this time…I went straight out and bought the book and proceeded to read it. Maybe partly to shut her up…hahahaha…but also I wanted to be moved as well….

Well then…this novel did move me. I loved these characters. Especially the Nan. Birdie broke me heart over and over again, and once I knew it was completely broken she would do a fast jig on top of it to make sure it was well and truly crushed!

We know from the very start how this book ends. No need to read the blurb (but if you do, it’s right there as well), it is on the very first page. Knowing the ending didn’t stop me from hoping against hope that it was just some bad dream and that it would all be okay. Not only did I love the characters and not want them to suffer, I loved the son and wanted him to know not only the inside of happy. I wanted him to know it inside AND out. I wanted him to grow up and do great things, as I know was the only option for him as an adult. What a wonderful lad and caring lad!

McPartlin has written such a wonderful and moving novel. I look forward to reading more by her. She engages us in such a way that we are not just bystanders at a terrible train crash, unable to look away, but she leads us from a happy place to the site of the crash and not only does this, but makes us willing to follow her…We do not follow her blindly, we go willingly.

Awww…man, lots of really feel good moments in her writing, but it’s all just so bittersweet…

Don’t miss out on this one…it’s worth your time…and your tears…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

Review: A Game of Ghosts (Charlie Parker #15) by John Connolly

What I love most about Connolly’s Charlie Parker Books is that they are becoming more and more supernatural…or maybe it’s just that Connolly has done such a great job of making these books real that I no longer question the veracity of them. They are just as believable to me as the sun in the sky…and that is also why they are more and more terrifying as the series goes on…Connolly has managed to mesh the very ordinary world of former policeman Charlie Parker with the spectral world where some things just can’t be explained until suddenly they are all one and the same…but he does so in a way that keeps the real world the focus and the paranormal in the shadows. This isn’t some attempt by an author to create an alternative world or universe or future time period. Connolly isn’t asking the reader to suspend what they know…only that you open your mind to the possibilities…and with your own imagination the possibilities are infinite…which explains the vast amount of fear I experience whilst reading them…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Awww…this book was yummy! Oh so yummy. It doesn’t matter what type of book you read. Romance, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical…it doesn’t matter what type I’m currently reading…this is the type you want…The kind that it’s past midnight, your eyes are burning, your head is all fuzzy, but you JUST HAVE to push through and finish it! I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it at 2:08 am. I haven’t been so proud and so ashamed of myself in so long! Bliss!

This was a totally g rated book as well…well, maybe pg-13…but it didn’t need lots of steamy sex to hook you or make you go weak in the knees…All of the characters were likable if not lovable.

If I had one complaint (and I must confess, I was a bit off put at it) it was that the ending was too much HEA too soon. Once you read the novel and the characters are speaking at the very end perhaps you’ll understand. I would have much rather Maxine Morrey added an epilogue if she felt that she needed to progress the HEA that far ahead…One had to take in to account that for all purposes, even though they knew one another longer, they had only reconnected for two weeks at this point..a nice half page epilogue would have set any irritation on my part aside and made this a perfect book…

Even as it is, I still loved it…and couldn’t wait to zoom through it…and am already looking for more to read from this author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Review: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

If you can put the “gross factor” out of your mind this is absolutely fascinating. I liked it so much more than “Stiff”. I loved “Stiff” at the start but soon found myself loosing interest and felt it a bit long drawn. With Gulp I was sad to see it end. I wanted more! All I will say is that having read this I am sure I shall never ever ever use another tablet of alka seltzer.

As in the past, Mary Roach proves herself to be very funny and her curiosity knows no bounds. She doesn’t hesitate to show and share her excitement no matter the subject. No question she can dream up is too embarrassing for her to ask. I can’t imagine what a nightmare she was to her mother growing up (hahahaha, I mean that in the best way possible).

Just keep in mind that they book is aptly named “Gulp” but what goes in must come out as well (or else there are lots of problems!) and this book goes into great detail on both processes! Having said that, don’t let that put you off…this really was fascinating, and quite funny at times as well…and I bet you have at least one jaw dropping “Whoaaaaaa” moment as well!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Review: Stoner by John Williams

Bollocks!!!!

That’s all I can think of about this book. Yet I give it 5 stars! Ha!

I know people like Stoner exist. You have a young man who is, if not happy to work on his family’s farm, he is at least not unhappy. There’s not much doubt that his parents are the same. That their parents were the same as well. Hard workers and not much for complaining. Then Stoner goes off to college and a simple reading of literature changes everything. I found it a bit sad that Stoner couldn’t even imagine a new life until someone said it out loud first.

That’s due to my own personal experience. Books have always been what sparked my imagination and desires. Then there is Stoner. Moved as much as he can be and still left for someone else to imagine a different future for him.

Then there is his wife. Eyy eyy eyy. How I did not like this woman. But yet again, you see Stoner, more or less resigned to his fate…until once again, someone imagines a different life for him and he suddenly moves ahead and makes a change.

The entire novel is like this. Who am I to feel sorry for Stoner? Any disappointment he meets in life he just gets on with it. He doesn’t dwell on it time and time again. He is just resigned to his fate. He doesn’t shake his fist and yell at the Gods.

He proves a man strong in his convictions. He doesn’t back down. But nor does he make waves.

What makes this book such a compelling read? Was it my desire to finally see Stoner stand up and wave his fists in defiance?

Well I certainly hope not, or else I would be well disappointed.

I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator did a superb job with the reading. However, John Williams is an amazing writer. How the hell do you evoke so much emotion from what you do not write as compared to what you do write. Somehow, Williams does exactly this. That is why the narrator is so brilliant as well. Stoner, the narrator and Williams himself leave it to the reader to be outraged and to wave their fists at the Gods, whilst all three of them just simply carry on. If anything we are like the hare, flighty and weaving all about, whilst they are the tortoise that just plods along steady as they go.

I have wanted to read this book for about 5 years now. All the while I was angry at myself for not being motivated to actually start it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more angry at myself for not having started it sooner. And yet….

I am disappointed that I’ve finally read it. It really is something to be savoured. It’s such a difficult book to pin down. It’s difficult to explain. It’s difficult in so many ways…

But it’s not difficult to love…even though it might be very difficult to explain just why…

As you’ve always heard, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…Stoner is that quiet one sat in the corner. That person whose story is bigger than they let on…

This story is one that is so much bigger on the inside of your mind than it appears on the pages of the book…and isn’t that the very best kind?

Don’t put it off…read this one…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Stoner by John Williams

Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

100% my type of book. I loved every single minute of it and hated for it to end.

Oh. My. Word.

Sometimes I look at my library and despair at ever finding a book to read. I have thousands of books in my TBR pile. No, I jest not. My “to-read” list on Goodreads is currently at 9,886. These are books I own in one format or another (audio, DTBooks or Ebooks). I don’t have them all listed of course. so you could probably add a couple thousand more. My cloud on Amazon alone lists over 6,000.

I can spend hours trying to decide what to read next. I am always trying to find the perfect book for me. I hate to know that I can pick a book that, although a good book, isn’t a great book.

The book I am forever searching for is THIS TYPE OF BOOK! This is the type of book I live for. Some people live for chocolate. I live for this type of book.

Just oh my word. What did I NOT love about it? Ummm….I can’t think of anything…except maybe that it ended. Some say it has a fairy tale sort of feel. Yes, I can see that. It also has that fable type of feel as well. It has moral conflicts scattered throughout. It has old folklore scattered about as well. It has strong secondary characters that one finds just as intriguing as the main characters. And oh my dear lord, Chava and Ahmad. *swoons* Talk about two halves of a whole. Two creatures that mirror and reflect off each other. I’m not talking romance here. This novel isn’t a romantic type of read. Please don’t think this is some hot and steamy romance. It’s so not. This is…well it’s just what I said…It’s two halves of a whole and reflections off one another that go on to shape who these creatures are. What does it mean to be human?

This is one of those novels that you have to stop and leave all your expectations at the door. This isn’t a novel that you go into imagining it to be some sort of read…because what you imagine won’t be true…you just need to let the story unfold and let it be your guide…not some preconceived notions of what a story is meant to be.

I can’t express enough how much I loved this book. If a jinni came up to me and granted me one wish of a book I would like to read…well, I would be completely unable to tell them exactly what I wanted/needed/craved…but if I were able to tell them and express every desire…

Well here you would have it…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker