Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly #2) by Gail Carriger

"Dimity was clearly embarrassed to have such an intimate item mentioned at tea, but no one except Cris was listening to their conversation.”

Alas dear reader, in my haste to enjoy the latest instalment of the wondrous Gail Carriger's series of fabulousness, I jumped the gun and bought the e-book rather than a real life book. Because of this ridiculously short-sighted behaviour, my bookshelf is leering at me in disgust as it would love to display the fetching green cover and my literary twin, Nicki, will now forgo a lend of my copy. I feel I should also invest in the actual copy to even out my bookshelf of gloriousness.

Returning to work is not unlike infiltrating an unknown vampire hive and so I was a little distracted from pages 1 to 5. Then lunchtime landed and bam, I was swept away with Dimity's adventures and swooning over the well put together Chris. I don't want to give too much away, however, if you love Ms Carriger's super-duper parasolverse adventures, well do not pass go, do not collect $200, just jolly well jump online and order this terrific treat.

I suspect if this is your first foray into the fantastic steam punk world where a woman can be both beautiful and deadly, but always effective as an intelligencer; then this might not be the best jumping off point. Then again, it might just do fine. Let me suggest a wealth of wonder awaits you as you look into the pure delights of Soulless (the first of the Parasol Protectorate stories) or Etiquette & Espionage the first of the Finishing School series and the amazing tales which follow in their stead. In short you have some fantastic times ahead.

5 out of 5 because life is more fun without a nightie.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

“A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house. Except for the chrome hooks, he was an ordinary-looking man of fifty or so.”

The lockdown really changed my reading habits and often I found I had a really short attention span. I had this fabulous idea to involve my mother with my reading and given the glacial pace with which she completes a novel, I thought.... let's dive into short stories. I'd picked up this book of Carver's stories on sale randomly and sent Mum a copy also so that we could compare notes.

It is perhaps a testament to our opposite personalities that we had very different experiences in reading these tales. I admired the passionate intensity that always seemed to go wrong, while she fixated on the violence and alcoholism. 
Despite that, many of the tales had a visceral reaction for us both, which was interesting as we were coming at them from different angles. Surprisingly I really enjoyed our different points of view in our mini, virtual bookclub (albeit without the wine and cheese that a real life bookclub might incorporate).

If the title makes you think you're in for some kind of romantic interlude, I'd suggest you will be sorely disappointed. The sad tale of a mattress for sale, the gruesome story of what could happen when hitchhiking, are delivered with an almost cinematic quality, with images that may haunt your dreams (or nightmares). My only quibble (and why this isn't a 5/5 score) is that I feel some stories work far better than others.

4/5 short stories can still pack a punch.