Tagged: David Mitchell

Game On

I reckon about a third of my life is dedicated to books and another third to my toddler but that last third is taken up by gaming. I’ve always had a console, my mum got me a Sega Megadrive when I was tiny and I haven’t been without a console since. I’ve never considered myself a gamer as growing up it was always a mild interest but in the past few years I’ve fallen in love with RPGs. I love the epic sprawling ones that take way too much to complete like the Final Fantasy games, Kingdom Hearts, Bioshock and the Tales series.

This week I finally caved and got Persona 5. I’ve played the others and I avoided getting this one as I knew it’d take over my life. I only started Persona 5 a few days ago and I’m already nine hours deep, it was while I was playing I was mulling over why I got so absorbed in these types of games and it’s obvious: they’re great stories.

The story writing and editing of these types of games parallel the best novels out there. Bioshock Infinite for one left me shook and years on I’ll still go back and watch the ending on Youtube just to fathom it once more (and tbh I’m still trying to get my head round it). More recently I’ve devoted a large portion of my life to Final Fantasy XV. I bloody love everything about this game, I haven’t been as emotionally invested in a FF game since FFX which left me in bits by the time I got to the end. The fact that each part of the game is divided into chapters says that you’re not just playing a game, you’re taking part in a story that a team have put their heart and soul into.

If like me you love a game for it’s story you might find these books right up your street.

Lyonesse by Jack Vance – I read the first book in the Lyonesse trilogy about six years ago. I picked up a copy purely because the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks edition has a stunning front cover and I wasn’t expecting much from what sounded like a paint-by-numbers fantasy novel. This book is very epic considering it’s the first in a trilogy, it’s a heady mix of fantasy, fairytale, myth and legend. I’ve not made it round to books two and three yet but I managed to get copies with the original 1986 cover.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Taylor’s previous series was wonderful escapism so obviously this new novel was going to be just as ace. Strange the Dreamer starts with Lazlo running away from his abusive life and he takes refuge and solace in a library where he becomes to inhabit. Lazlo’s love of books is so beautifully written and as he starts to discover that there’s a strange truth to the books he considered as fairytales you find yourself being sucked into an emotionally deep fantasy. It’s got really brilliant characters and some wicked cool Gods, have a read.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – OBVIOUSLY THESE BOOKS WOULD BE MENTIONED! I think everyone should read them, not only has King created an epic intricate world that could rival any Final Fantasy game, he also gives readers an amazing journey. Seven books (and Wind Through the Keyhole) which leave you wanting so much more and a cast of characters so rich you can’t help but agonise that you hadn’t read them sooner. This is must for Bioshock fans, the complexity of the story is outstanding. Most of The Dark Tower books read like really cool RPGs and there’s so many chapters and fights that you can’t help but think “this would make an amazing video game”.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – It’s magical realism at it’s finest. 1Q84 is a book made up of three volumes and from the start you feel your world changing around you as you become so completely involved in Aomame and Tengo’s story. When her taxi becomes stuck in a traffic jam Aomame is warned by the driver that getting out of the cab could change reality the world, not wanting to be late for her meeting Aomame gets out of the car. 1Q84 is one of the greatest novels I’ve ever read. It’s long, it’s complicated but it’s as close to perfect as a novel gets. It’s David Mitchell meets FFXV.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – Now this is a bit of a life-ruiner of a book. It’s weird, really weird and mind bending and amazing and just head-shattering. I finished Annihilation about three months ago and I’m still numbed by the ending. I can’t bring myself to even consider book two in the Southern Reach trilogy yet. The story follows a nameless biologist and her companions as they set out to explore Area X. That’s all you need to know about Annihilation, just go and read it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This is one of the best road stories out there. After being released from prison Shadow ends up travelling across the States with a ‘man’ only known as Mr Wednesday. American Gods is beautifully written balance of travel, mystery and mythology. This is a must read and I’m about to re-read this as I first finished it about five years ago. I just finished the television show (which was brilliant) and after watching I had the strangest sense to play Devil May Cry for the billionth time.

Honourable mention – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

I hope you enjoy these recommends for gamers and give me a shout if you know of a stand out RPG I must play!

Time Is, Time Was, Time Is Not

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Next to my bed for the past two months there has been a proof copy of Slade House by David Mitchell. I read the first chapter of Slade House four times. Why read the first chapter of a book four times?

My first excuse was “my baby doesn’t let me read!”, it’s true that during the daytime it’s full on baby mode so the chance of stopping to have a cup of tea and a read is non-existent. My second excuse was less of an excuse and more of something I was a bit scared of. I knew that Slade House was something to do with The Bone Clocks and last year The Bone Clocks was the most outstanding books I had read. I LOVED The Bone Clocks. What if Slade House ruined it or didn’t live up to the enjoyment of The Bone Clocks. And a little part of me thought, once I finish this book I’m going to have to wait years until the next David Mitchell book!

So after two months of putting off this mysterious short novel, I settled in with a glass of wine and finally started Slade House.

The novel begins in 1979, with a drugged up thirteen year old Nathan Bishop on the way to the lavish Slade House with his mother Rita. Upon arrival at Slade House Nathan is introduced to Lady Norah Grayer and young Jonah Grayer. After a few pages readers will realise that something strange is afoot. Much like it’s predecessor, Slade House then jumps forward to 1988. Unlike Mitchell’s other novels that brush with fantasy and strangeness, Slade House goes full on bizarre and eerie. I consider myself a semi-grownup and I’m only phased by spiders but as I was reading Slade House I got genuinely freaked out.

The latter parts of Slade House will have Mitchell fans bubbling with excitement. There’s about five “oh my goodness” moments in the third chapter alone. You suddenly realise exactly what direction this novel is going in.

This is a David Mitchell book for David Mitchell fans and he indulges us by making what I personally think is his best story to date. It’s the sort of book you can tell he enjoyed writing.  Slade House is certainly the most chilling of Mitchell’s novels and reads like a gothic mystery at some points. When you’ve finished Slade House don’t forget to check out the twitter feed for @I_Bombadil

BEST BOOK EVER.

An Unexpected Journey

I’ve been away for a long time. Not too long after March I took an unexpected hiatus from blogging, reading and life in general.

I had just finished Sarah Lotz’s chilling latest novel Day Four when the I got caught up in the woes of moving house. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of moving you’ll understand how truly horrible it was. Add in the hassle of setting up broadband in a new home, I knew I wasn’t to get much reading or blogging done. After I had settled into my new home I picked up Stephen King’s Wind Through the Keyhole. I wanted more than anything to become lost once again in Mid-World.  Roughly 30 pages into The Wind Through the Keyhole something very unexpected happened… my baby arrived a whole two months early. Thus to say I did not finish this final dip into Mid-World.

So, catching me off guard I found myself so overwhelmed with life, reading had to go on the back burner. Over the past two months I managed to read one book in full and that was Stephen King’s follow up to Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers. Finders Keepers got me through the toughest three weeks of my life. I spent between 10 and 12 hours a day sitting next to an incubator in a hospital waiting for the the fantastic doctors and nurses to let my daughter come home. It felt like I was waiting forever but I passed the time by ploughing through Finder Keepers. The day I finished Finders Keepers I got the fantastic news that my daughter had gained enough weight to come home. That’s when the reading stopped.

Some insane logic had made me think, “I’ll get so much reading done with a newborn baby in tow”. As any parent will tell you, you’ll get absolute nothing done. During her first few weeks home I tried to finished Wind Through the Keyhole but I could only get about 10 pages in before another baby related issue arose. I then came to the conclusion that it wasn’t me, it was the book! I needed something I could be completely swept up in. So I started Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, this was one of the stupidest ideas I’d ever had. At over 700 pages there was no hope of me finishing this book. I then figured I needed to read an author I was more familiar with.

That’s when I started David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, this is a book that’s defeated me before. And it defeated me again.

But yesterday something magical happened…

unit

Friend and colleague @CatrionaRoseann (follow her, she’s got some great recommendations) told me about one of her much loved reads. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. I could honestly say I had never heard of this book, but this was the book that got me back on track.  This is a dark, dystopic and bleak to boot. The Unit tells the tale of fifty year old Dorrit who is forced to leave everything behind when she becomes a resident of the Second Reserve Bank Unit. For the first time in that felt like forever I devoured this book. I started The Unit just around 3AM as I couldn’t get back to sleep after my daughter’s feed, I finished The Unit at 10PM the same day.

Get a copy of this book! And in short… I’m back!

Up next is The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley.

The Bone Clocks

On the 2nd September 2014 the literary world will change.  The Bone Clocks will be David Mitchell’s sixth published novel and in my opinion his best so far. I could barely contain my excitement back in May when a proof copy of The Bone Clocks crossed my path.  

I planned to publish my review of The Bone Clocks on the 2nd September when the book is published but due to all of the excitement of David Mitchell writing his short story The Right Sort on Twitter, I figured I would go ahead and post my review now.

I can’t class myself a hard-core David Mitchell fan as I haven’t read his entire backlist, in fact I’ve only read two of his previous novels both of which were brilliant. Number9Dream was stunning and Cloud Atlas changed my reading habits forever.

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The Bone Clocks opens with Holly Sykes, a 15 year old girl who life unfolds in unimaginable twists and turns.

The start of this novel has a lot of the nuances of Number9Dream and Mitchell dabbles with whimsy, fantasy and love. Compared to Mitchell’s other novels (that I’ve read so far) this is a unparalleled beauty.  I’ll happily admit that Cloud Atlas is a novel that tried and tested me, I struggled with the opening chapters of Cloud Atlas, I struggled to connect to with the novel until I reached a third of the way through. The Bone Clocks is in a totally different world to anything I’ve ever read, it really is a labour of love and a truly unique masterpiece. I tend to avoid prize winners and authors deemed as ‘very literary’, I’m not that kind of reader and often these authors suffer from style over substance. The Bone Clocks is style, substance and a powerful novel that encapsulates the human story. Mitchell shows readers how beautifully subjects such as grief, guilt, love and adventure can be written, he pieces together how the briefest encounters can have the most dramatic, rippling effects across the years.

The first part of The Bone Clocks had me sold within pages, it was almost though David Mitchell was a 15 year old girl in a previous life. As someone who grew up as a teen two decades after Holly Sykes, she is easily one of the most perfectly written teenage characters I’ve ever read.   Within the first 100 pages Mitchell writes a character that starts off as an impressionable teenager rebel but then begins to shred her adolescent skin. By the end of ‘Hot Spell’ I felt a twinge of concern and maternal love for Holly.

Then I pulled myself together, made a cup of tea and delved into the next part of The Bone Clocks.

One of my favourite things about The Bone Clocks are the chapter titles, my choice being ‘Myrrh Is Mine, It’s a Bitter Perfume’. This chapter introduces the reader to some pretty repugnant characters but as the bigger picture starts falling into place I found myself being less sympathetic towards certain characters because I was completely taken in by the story. There’s small clues littered throughout this chapter and the reader will become slightly obsessed with the hints surrounding our main characters.  At the end of the second part of The Bone Clocks Mitchell has the reader plunged deep into a pool of intrigue and just when you piece a few things together you finish ‘Myrrh Is Mine, Its a Bitter Perfume’ and you realise that your life has changed ever so slightly.

There’s a point in the third chapter where Mitchell fans will gasp out loud and then realise that you are reading one the best books you’ll ever read. When I reached half way I wanted to put this book down, I had read something so beautifully written that I felt broken by this outstanding book. David Mitchell is obviously some sort of which, how else can a human being create something so incredible. It’s a novel that escalates quickly after the first half and the characters become engrossing to the point of obsession. I read the last half of The Bone Clocks with a heavy heart. I couldn’t help but speed through the last leg of this book, I felt an certain urgency to know whether the ending of The Bone Clocks would be as sublime as the rest of the book. 

This is first time I’ve cried finishing a novel since 2007.

The Bone Clocks is clearly fiction but had wishing that every sentence were true. This was a piece of work that made me laugh, cry and fall in love with reading all over again. If you haven’t read a David Mitchell novel before then pre-order a copy this book. In the mean time treat yourself by reading any one of his other works. This is a modern classic and a true example of fantastic storytelling.

Something Exciting

There’s very few authors that make me go totally ‘cray-cray’ when I hear that they have a new novel coming out but David Mitchell happens to be one of them.

Last year it was announced that in autumn 2014 David Mitchell would be releasing a novel called ‘The Bone Clocks’. My heart missed a beat and that’s when I realised that 2014 would be one of the most magical years ever. Stephen King, Haruki Murakami AND David Mitchell would all be releasing new novels.

Now unlike other David Mitchell fans I haven’t read his entire back catalogue, I’ve only read Number9Dream and Cloud Atlas. If I’m being truthful I enjoyed both of these books so much I’m a little scared to approch the rest of his back-list. I can honestly say I wouldn’t know what one to follow up these with?

Number9Dream is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read, my only regret is that I didn’t read it before my travels to Japan. Cloud Atlas was more a challenging novel but one that I finished thinking “I just finished a book that’s changed my life.” unlike other novels Cloud Atlas has reshaped how I read, it’s not an easy book and after finishing a masterpiece like this you become a lot more pernickety about what you read.

On 2nd September 2014 Sceptre will publish what I hope will become a modern classic. The Bone Clocks is a novel about… well why don’t you left David Mitchell tell you what it’s about?

So after hearing about this book last year my fingers were itching to turn the pages of this book and finally after what seemed a life time an advanced copy of The Bone Clocks arrived.

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And as for my review, I’ll release that on the 2nd September 2014.