Reading the Booker Prize winners (4): In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul

Title: In a Free State

Author: V.S. Naipaul

Genre: Fiction

Year: 1971

A nameless traveller who faces human cruelty on his way to Egypt; an Indian immigrant searching for freedom in Washington; a West Indian man sacrificing everything for his little brother; and two English people travelling through an unnamed African country on the cusp of revolution.

In a Free State is a cynic exploration of the meaning of freedom, belonging, alienation, and the prize of colonialism.

Continue reading Reading the Booker Prize winners (4): In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul

The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence

Title: The Liar’s Key

Series: The Red Queen’s War #2

Author: Mark Lawrence

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2015

Prince Jalan Kendeth has spent the winter in the north, hiding from the cold – and from the husbands of his conquests, until the day comes when he is forced to leave and embarks in a new journey with Snorri, this time heading south – music to Jalan’s ears, already dreaming of home and all its comforts.

But comfort is the last thing on Snorri’s mind. Now in possession of Loki’s key, he only needs one more thing before he can bring back his wife and children: to find death’s door, and open it.
But their enemies have eyes on the key, and they won’t make his search easy.

Continue reading The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Title: The Year of the Witching

Series: Bethel #1

Author: Alexis Henderson

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

Blood. Blight. Darkness. Slaughter.

Immanuelle Moore only wants to be a normal young woman in Bethel’s society and follow Protocol and the Prophet’s word just like anyone else, but she has always been frowned upon for being the result of a union between her mother and an outsider.
When a mishap lures her into the dark forest that surrounds Bethel, she encounters the spirits of four witches that were slain on those grounds by the first Prophet, and they bestow a gift on her: her own mother’s diary.
Immanuelle sets to reading her mother’s words, but what begins as the diary of a young woman in love soon turns to something darker and worrisome. Immanuelle doesn’t understand everything, but one thing is clear: if she wants to save Bethel, she needs to get to the bottom of what happened before she was born.

Continue reading The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Seep by Chana Porter

Title: The Seep

Author: Chana Porter

Genre: Science Fiction

Year: 2020

It’s been twenty years since the alien entity called the Seep infiltrated human society. In the Seep everyone and everything is connected: no more capitalism, wars, diseases, even death. The Seep allows everyone to be who and what they want to be: it just wants humanity to be happy and content.

Trina was happy as well, until the day her wife Deeba started dreaming of being a baby again, and finally decided to move on to this new existence without her. Heartbroken, Trina embarks in an unexpected quest, a desperate attempt to overcome her grief and find a new purpose in life.

Continue reading The Seep by Chana Porter

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Title: The Devil and the Dark Water

Author: Stuart Turton

Genre: Mystery

Year: 2020

‘Know that my master sails aboard the Saardam. He is the lord of hidden things; all desperate and dark things. He offers this warning in accordance with the old laws. The Saardam‘s cargo is sin and all who board her will be brought to merciless ruin. She will not reach Amsterdam.’

Samuel Pipps, the most famous detective of his age, is being taken to Amsterdam to be executed for a mysterious crime he might, or might not, have committed. With him is his friend and bodyguard Arent Hayes, determined to prove his innocence.

But before the ship sets sail, a leper places a curse on the ship and its voyage and then bursts into flames, and soon after the departure mysterious things start to take place on the ship. Rumours of a devil stalking in the darkness start circulating among the crew, and with Pipps locked up in a cell, it falls to Arent to find out what’s really going on and solve a mystery that seems to tie all of the passengers in one way or another.

Continue reading The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

When the Tiger Came down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Title: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

Series: The Singing Hills Cycle #2

Author: Nghi Vo

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

Chih, a cleric from the Singing Hills, is on the road again, collecting knowledge to bring back to their order. This time they’re hiring a scout to guide them through a mountain pass, but along the way they are chased and trapped by a small group of hungry tigers. The only way to survive is to gain time until the arrival of mammoths, and so Chih starts telling them the tale of the tiger Ho Thi Thao and her lover, the scolar Dieu.

Continue reading When the Tiger Came down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Reading the Booker Prize Winners (3): Troubles by J.G. Farrell

Title: Troubles

Author: J.G. Farrell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Year: 1970

“How incredibly Irish it all is!” thought the Major wonderingly. “The family seems to be completely mad.”

Major Brendan Archer has survived the Great War and he believes it’s now time to meet Angela Spencer again, the young woman who wrote him letters every single week and signed herself as his “loving fiancee” in every one of them. Determined to understand the truth of the situation, he finds himself in front of the Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough, a once-grand building that is now slowly collapsing on itself. The Major soon realises that Angela is not the person he remembers, but he gets entangled in the hotel’s life nonetheless: the guests obsessed with gossip and games of cards, the herds of cats who have taken over the upper floors, the wild plants that threaten to take complete control of whole rooms, inside and out. At the same time, he starts falling for the beautiful and bitter Sarah Devlin, while outside unrest threatens the rule of the British Empire: Ireland is ready for independence, and the troubles are brewing.

Continue reading Reading the Booker Prize Winners (3): Troubles by J.G. Farrell

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Title: The Drowned World

Author: J.G. Ballard

Genre: Science Fiction

Year: 1962

Soon it would be too hot.

Global warming has messed up the planet’s equilibrium. In less than a century, the polar caps have melted, most of the planet is engulfed in violent rains, and man’s largest cities lay at the bottom of huge lagoons, with the top floors of skyscrapers lining their edges. Gigantic tropical plants litter the few strands of silt and ground still above the waterline, while reptiles are reclaiming the planet for themselves.

Dr Robert Kerans is a biologist working with a team to analyse and categorise the changes, but the quiet peace of the submerged cities seems to call to him, and strange dreams afflict everyone who spends too long in the lagoons.

Continue reading The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Best Served Cold

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2009

Conscience is an excuse. Mercy and cowardice are the same.

Monza Murcatto has everything she wants. At the head of the Thousand Swords, winning a battle after the other, she has money, respect, and a name: she’s the Serpent of Talins, the Butcher of Caprile. Her employer’s enemies curse her name, while his people cheer her when she walks the streets.
But they like her a bit too much for her employer’s taste, and so he decides to take her out of the picture – literally. If only he had checked that she was actually dead…

Broken and alone, her only desire is to take revenge on the seven people responsible for her demise. With a totally untrustworthy but deadly group of allies, she will hunt down her victims to the end of the world if she must, and let no one stop her.

Continue reading Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Fiction

Year: 2020

Nora is 35 years old. She has no stable relationship, no stable job, and she feels like she has wasted all the opportunities life has offered her in the past. She will never know what could have happened if she had made different choices, and after a really bad day, she decides she has had enough.

That’s how she finds herself in the Midnight Library, a huge building where time doesn’t flow and all the books on the shelves are other lives that she could have lived, if only she had acted differently. She can try on each and any of them, if she wants, and if she finds one that satisfies her on every account, she can just keep living it instead of her original life. But is any of them really going to be the perfect one?

Continue reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig