So last week, I made a mistake, by which I mean that I went to Foyles and spent £50. This doesn’t count as a mistake in my opinion (the books needed a loving home where I could care for them properly), but my boyfriend and my flatmate shook their heads at me nonetheless. As much as I had been trying to get through the books I already owned, I couldn’t resist going into the shop when we were walking RIGHT BESIDE IT at Stratford Westfield. For everyone who isn’t a Cool East London Kid like me (I am very definitely not this), Stratford Westfield is a huge shopping centre near the Olympic Park, and the chance of happening to walk past one particular shop off the main section is slim. So clearly the universe wanted me to have those books.
Anyway, I’m sure that none of us need excuses to buy more books, so let’s get down to which book babies I took in. I bought five novels in all: two fantasy, one horror, one magical realism, and one modern classic. Without any further ado, here they are!
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch – “Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire. The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist… but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.”
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – “Locke and Jean barely escaped with their lives from what should have been the greatest heist of their career, in the port city of Tal Verrar. Now they head north, looking for sanctuary and an alchemist who can cure the poison that is slowly killing Locke. They find neither, but with their luck, money and hope exhausted, they receive an offer from a power that has never had their best interests at heart: The Bondsmagi of Karthain. In exchange for the chance that Locke might be saved, the Bondsmagi expect the two Gentlemen Bastards to rig an election in their home city of Karthain. They will be opposed. The other side has already hired the services of Sabetha Belacoros, the one person in the world who might match Locke’s criminal skill, and the one person in the world who absolutely rules his heart. Now it will be con artist against con artist in an election that couldn’t be more crooked, all for the benefit of the mysterious Bondsmagi, who have plans within plans and secrets they’re not telling…”
If you’ve been reading my Top 5 Wednesday posts recently, you’ll know how much I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora – elaborate heists set in fantasy Renaissance Venice starring a criminal gang with hearts of gold? What isn’t there to love? I’ve been meaning to pick up the second and third books for a while, so when I saw them I swooped in and nabbed them. I partly wanted to pick them up to continue the series while it’s still fresh in my mind, but I also want to read them before the awaited fourth book, The Thorn of Emberlain, comes out later this year. Lynch’s writing is witty and enjoyable, and I am hugely invested in both Locke and Jean (Jean is one of my characters I’ve read in recent years, I want all the good things for him), so I’m planning on reading these soon.
‘Salem’s’ Lot by Stephen King – “‘Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course there are tales of strange happenings—but not more than in any other town its size. Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen: a child disappears, a dog is brutally killed—nothing unusual, except the list starts to grow. Soon surprise will turn to bewilderment, bewilderment to confusion and finally to terror . . .”
One thing I do not talk about enough on this blog is how much I love Stephen King’s writing. In my opinion, his horror isn’t one of rising tension and quick jump-scares (or the literary equivalent) but of slowly consuming existential dread. It’s also to my shame that I haven’t read much of his work, and this is something I’m trying to remedy. Off the top of my head (ok I also had a quick look at Goodreads, I’m trying!) I’ve only read Carrie, The Shining, and several of the short stories in Everything’s Eventual, but he’s the master of horror for a reason. Horror is a genre I’ve only really gotten into in the last few years, as I always hated horror films when I was younger, and therefore didn’t want to read horror books either. In some ways, reading horror isn’t as scary, as you can just stop reading whenever you want, but I’ve always found imagining the scene within my mind to be more terrifying in some cases. I read The Shining about nine months ago and I haven’t read since then, and I don’t have any horror books on my TBR. I asked my flatmate for a recommendation, and he said ‘Salem’s Lot, as he had very much enjoyed it as a vampire novel. We’ve been recommending a number of books to each other recently so I trust his judgment, plus it’s hard to go wrong with Stephen King.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – “Born at the stroke of midnight, at the precise moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai is destined from birth to be special. For he is one of 1,001 children born in the midnight hour, children who all have special gifts, children with whom Saleem is telepathically linked. But there has been a terrible mix up at birth, and Saleem’s life takes some unexpected twists and turns. As he grows up amidst a whirlwind of triumphs and disasters, Saleem must learn the ominous consequences of his gift, for the course of his life is inseparably linked to that of his motherland, and his every act is mirrored and magnified in the events that shape the newborn nation of India. It is a great gift, and a terrible burden.”
I bought this book because it’s a modern classic, and I’m ashamed that I haven’t read any Rushdie before. I am also writing a magical realism novel, so I want to expand my knowledge and read one of the most successful magical realism novels ever written. I basically picked this up because I wanted to buy another book and I’ve had it on my radar for ages, and I was never going to read it if I didn’t have access to it!
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis – “A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fearmongering demagogue runs for President of the United States – and wins. Sinclair Lewis’s chilling 1935 bestseller is the story of Buzz Windrip, ‘Professional Common Man’, who promises poor, angry voters that he will make America proud and prosperous once more, but takes the country down a far darker path. As the new regime slides into authoritarianism, newspaper editor Doremus Jessup can’t believe it will last – but is he right? This cautionary tale of liberal complacency in the face of populist tyranny shows it really can happen here.”
Wow, so this doesn’t sound familiar at all! Like most young adults, I am of the opinion that we are in dire political times at the moment, both here in the UK with Brexit and the looming election, and across the pond with the election of Trump (who will hopefully be impeached soon, considering his recent activities). I read this blurb, and my first instinct was to laugh, and to then feel very sad, because when dystopian ideas start happening in real life, it’s clear we’re living in some pretty dark times. This book looks extremely relevant now, and hopefully we’ll be able to combat what our great-grandparents fought so hard against.
There are all my new book babies! Let me know if you’ve read any of these or whether you’re tempted to read them. Also, feel free to check out my new Facebook page and give it a like to see my latest content. I can also be found lurking on Twitter and Goodreads. Until next time, may your plots be satisfying and your characters get what they deserve.