The Papyrus Empire

***All the Stars***

Niels Saunders

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This one is not like the author’s other two books. While it’s as well written and hard to put down, it’s far darker and without the fluffiness, leaving me feeling the same as when my cute little kitty comes for a cuddle with her claws out. While the writing remains the same, the depth isn’t hidden behind humour.

On a night out, Tommy finds ‘perks’ instead of cash at the cashpoint. While he’s sure it’s a joke, he has a go at spending them anyway… and the story flies away from there. It gets more and more extreme, darker with each page, and while any single event, to describe on its own might sound ludicrous, within the story and seeing how events unfold, everything works. It all makes perfect sense.

Of course, there is more to the story than the story being told. The way the characters see each other, how they interact with each other and the way they choose their sides, follow their leaders sometimes rabidly, showed not just a conspiracy-nut dream but a society within society, functioning the same way, and showing the maggot-rotten side of us we don’t like to admit exists.

It’s set in the same universe as Grand Theft Octo, and leaves me wondering/hoping we’ll see more of those characters in the future.

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Sleepover

* * * * * * * 7/10

Pat Black

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Sleepover is an over-the-top horror-murder which is more fun than scary. It escalates to an extreme, leaving you checking behind the door for Dapper Davey, the well dressed killer on the loose.

The story is well written and drew me in right away.

An Alien’s Guide to the Human Species

* * * 3/10

Deb McEwan

Alien's Guide Cover

While the idea behind the book is a good one, the writing itself is very matter-of-fact and flat.
There’s a subtle but important difference in being told a story and being told of a series of events. The characters may as well be cardboard cut-outs they are so 2-dimensional and the plot is lost in a tedious list of things these characters do. They don’t do much.
The plot itself is an interesting idea, it is well-edited with no errors, but the writing needs a lot of work and perhaps some rethinking.

Pencil Lead

* * * * * * * * 8/10

Fran Heath

pencil-lead-book-cover-largeLyle was a character I found surprisingly easy to sympathise with. He’s uncertain of what he wants, in life or anything, with no hope or prospects coming his way. This is of course mostly due to lack of effort to make anything of himself, but then, what do you work toward if you don’t know what you want? He’s a character so uncertain of himself that he comments on how he is a different person for certain people, because that’s who they think he is. He makes a show of his life and makes a show of being… himself.

A good deal of the book is getting to know Lyle before he meets Holly, and from there focusses on their destructive relationship which doesn’t really get any oomph until they involve escorts. While anyone else might look at that as being the beginning of the end and unhealthy while it lasts, neither of these two are able to see beyond their own confusion and certainly in Lyle’s case, selfishness.

I wasn’t very fond of the ending. It went quite quickly and suddenly from a couple hell-bent on ruining their lives as fast as they can, to a rather heavy moral lesson on the dark side of ‘escorts’. I wouldn’t describe it as a happy ending in particular, though I suppose that would depend on how you see happiness coming out of a relationship like that. I’m not too sure the choice Lyle and Holly made in the end was to the benefit of either of them.

Little Red is Coming Home

* * * * * * * * * * 10 / 10

Angelika Rust

Litte Red Cover

A book of short stories inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, ranging from cheeky, bloody, impolite to considered and moral. You wouldn’t think there were so many different ways to go with one story but there is, each one an utterly unique take on one basic plot until each is a story of its own.

There’s remarkable talent here, a book that you’ll think you’ll take a few days to read before you realise you just spent your evening turning pages, disappointed that there’s not more.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

* * * * * * * * * *  10/10

Douglas Adams

200px-Dirk_Gently_front_coverI was utterly delighted with the brief reference to Hitchhikers.

It’s been sat for so long on my to-read shelf, I ended up watching it on Netflix before I ever got near it. Then I googled it and found out there’s a British TV show which I still need to sit down with, and finally I remembered I have the book, gathering dust.

Svlad Cjelli, otherwise known as Dirk Gently is not a psychic, not even a little. Definitely not. It’s just coincidence.

He is a holistic detective who will find your missing cat through proving the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

It’s exactly the kind of book you’d expect from Douglas Adams, and every bit as good as Hitchhikers.

Killjoy

* * * * * * * 7 / 10

LeVar Ravel

517uZolDueL._SY346_Elizabeth, known better as Gwen, has been made a fool of. Her husband and their business have been made fools of. The only reasonable way to deal with the cause of their unhappiness is with a hitman.
The best man for the job is the man who makes his hits look like suicide, making certain that his employers are never implicated in the death at all. No one knows how he does it, they just know he’s the best.
The story starts off well and is hard to put down. The characters interact well, Gwen and Charles in particular, and in a way that while it’s easy to see how they got where they are, it’s still frustrating. By the end of the book, it was like I’d known them for years.
It does come a little heavy on the moral lessons, the ending a little cloying. The story itself is good, though.