Fabulous Fantasy from Naomi Novik.

Spinning SilverSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished Spinning Silver last week. I can’t bring myself to take it back to the library just yet. Such a wonderful story, so well written. There are a lot of characters and sometimes I was a bit confused as to who did what to whom – but I puzzled it out in the end!

Naomi Novik is an amazing storyteller. I’m not sure how she keeps track of all the plot lines. Ursula K. Le Guin says of Naomi Novik that her writing is “vividly believable”. I don’t know if she’s talking about this book Spinning Silver in particular or another title – it doesn’t matter because it is true of this book and also Uprooted.

I would recommend Spinning Silver to any reader who enjoys fantasy. So good.

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Fabulous Fantasy from Naomi Novik.

Review and discussion: China Miéville, The Last Days of New Paris.

The Last Days of New ParisThe Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ursula K le Guin says, “You can’t talk about Miéville without using the word “brilliant”. I concur!

Falling into a maelstrom best describes my reaction to this book. The whole notion of Surrealism has fascinated me for many years. I am probably, along with most people, familiar with the work of Salvador Dali. However, reading The Last Days of New Paris reveals so many more of the Surrealist artists, writers, and sculptors. Their creations take form and manifest in the story. The creations are the story.

This is a new universe. It is terrifying and unpredictable.

Once again, Miéville confounds me with his wit, intelligence, and his vocabulary. Here are a few that I had to research. I have put them in context and followed with the definition and some explanation.

Vocabulary

“He spoke in passé simple and imparfait: he was never other than ambiguous about whether what he was telling me a story, though his explanations of the city’s quiddity, of its history, his descriptions of the streets and landscapes of New Paris, were completely vivid” (pp174-175).

Quiddity: 1 [mass noun] chiefly Philosophy the inherent nature or essence of someone or something.
2 a distinctive feature; a peculiarity. In scholastic philosophy, “quiddity” (/ˈkwɪdɪti/; Latin: quidditas)[1] was another term for the essence of an object, literally its “whatness” or “what it is”.

“About New Paris itself, he never spoke with anything other than the most wrenching oneiric.” (pp176).

Oneiric: adjective, formal relating to dreams or dreaming. The study of oneirology can be distinguished from dream interpretation in that the aim is to quantitatively study the process of dreams instead of analyzing the meaning behind them.

“I would ask questions, and he might answer and our interaction became an interview of excursuses, at times for an hour or more, before returning to the main track of Thibault and Sam’s journey through the ruins of New Paris” (pp176).

Excursuses: noun, a detailed discussion of a particular point in a book, usually in an appendix. • a digression in a written text. (It is worth looking excursuses up in full. I wish I’d had this word in my vocabulary when I was writing my thesis)!

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Review and discussion: China Miéville, The Last Days of New Paris.

Review: To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear. #14 in the Maisie Dobbs series.

To Die but Once (Maisie Dobbs, #14)To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is #14 in the Maisie Dobbs series and one of the best. I did get a bit confused with all the names as so many characters from the previous books made their appearance in this volume. Nevertheless, this is an excellent story and the way is open for another book.

Jacqueline Winspear’s research means that every fact checks out. She speaks of her own family’s experiences in the Great War and the Second World War. She seamlessly segues this knowledge into the story and this, of course, enriches and supports the plot. I learned, again, about the Dunkirk evacuation. Many years ago I read The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico and I remember weeping as I turned the pages. Here, in Winspear’s book, the story of Dunkirk becomes so personal. I feel sure she also read The Snow Goose.

In Winspear’s To Die but Once I learned about the connection of Whitchurch in Hampshire, England, to the Bank of England during the war. I learned of the fake airfields set up to fool the Luftwaffe; all this and so much more.

I learned of the young trainee soldiers who didn’t survive their first parachute jump. Their bodies were collected from Salisbury Plain by the WAAF ambulances. I realise again and again the futility of war.

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Review: To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear. #14 in the Maisie Dobbs series.