What I’m Reading Now: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.56.04 AMSome books are very subtle when it comes to theme; sly hints from the shadows at the message they carry, whereas some books take a more direct approach, that of a military commander screaming insults mere inches from your face; which is the case for Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay.

The message is loud and it is very real.

Kay delivers this within the world he created (pulling much from history) for his previous novels Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors, though placed some 25 years later.

Few authors can capture intrigues and cultural prejudices better than Kay, and he is doing it from ancient history! Kingdoms, religions, warriors, politicians and merchants are all caught within a web that Kay, acting as fate, weaves. I am half way through this book and it has already delivered tragedy, love, intrigue, battle and more. A thrilling read!

With Children of Earth and Sky Guy Gavriel Kay proves why he remains one of my favourite authors.

 

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Book Recommendation: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.11.59 AMSome books are a gift; some of which are simply re-gifted or lay forgotten on a shelf. Some such as Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are to be treasured, brought down several times a year to be marvelled at yet again. Gift this book. Give it to that girl you have always wanted to impress. Gift it to your arrogant friend who only shuts his opinionated mouth when captured by a good book. Send it to your Grandma to read while she bakes the next batch of cookies to send back to you. Present it to your friend who has ‘always wanted to read’. Gift it to yourself.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie manages to do what very few writers can, she changes how you view the world. With Half the Yellow Sun she not only opens your eyes, she challenges you to leave them that way.

In Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda gives voice to a violent world filled with seemingly undying hope captured within the love and conflict of her very real characters and their very poignant lives, made all the more real as this fiction was set within actual world events.

I hated war before this book; I hate it more now. Yet I am left with a deep satisfying love for the characters who allowed me to witness them as they struggled through this war. Nigeria was once just a name on a map for me, now I realize some of their struggle and can do my little part to ensure such evils are limited today, at least within myself.

Like I said, some books change the way you view the world.

Life is a Journey… Books I’m Reading Next!

IMG_1965My favourite coffee cup reads: life is a journey. Which it is but when it is not you can always read!!

Big thank you to Amazon for delivering to my door the most recent release from  two of my favourite novelists, Guy Gavriel Kay and Steven Erikson!!!

I cannot wait to get into these novels!

Fall of Light by Steven Erikson is book two of the Kharkanas Trilogy. I have written about the work of Steven Erikson and Ian C. Eslemont before. Simply stunning in voice and the sheer scope of the world the co-created.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay is a return to historical fiction at its best! No one does it better than guy Gavriel Kay, which is why he may be my favourite novelist of all!

Reviews will be forthcoming!

What I’m Reading Now: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Sometimes someone knows you so well that they can mysteriously pick a book better suited to your taste than even you can manage. Which is the case with the person who gifted me Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I cannot thank you enough!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.11.59 AMChimamanda transports the reader to Africa during the late 1960’s. He captures the voice and spirit of that time with prose that is unmatched and almost spellbinding. His characters and their voices are complete with the tiny nuances that make all of us uniquely human and alive. Only just over 100 pages in yet each time I pick up the book I feel like I am sitting across the table from new friends that somehow have the familiarity of old; whose company I not only cherish but whose very presence makes me a better and more whole person. Pure magic.

Thank you Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! I cannot wait to finish this novel and check out your other work.

Other Novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Americanah
We Should All Be Feminists 
Purple Hibiscus
The Thing Around Your Neck

 

Book Recommendation – Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra

Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra was a gift both in actuality and for the lessons it left me with.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 9.43.00 AMThis is an interesting work of historical fiction as it follows the life of a saint which many o us know little about. Though to be honest after reading the book I am not sure I know much more, though I got a taste of what his life must have been like. This novel has certainly intrigued me enough that I want to learn more, which I gather from the epilogue was the author’s intention.

For me the best part of this novel was when we followed the monk Gautama. The lessons he learned as he searched for enlightenment will stay with me, particularly the harsh lesson regarding saintly behaviour in Chapter 12.

All in all this was a good read which gives a brief and fictional glimpse into the life of one of the most peaceful men who ever lived and the beginnings of a religion based around lifestyle instead of worship. Thus I recommend it.

What I’m Reading Now: Buddha by Deepak Chopra

Buddha by Deepak Chopra was the final element to the most generous and thoughtful bag of birthday gifts I received this year; the moment when I got to peruse Indigo and choose any book that caught my fancy. I think I spent over an hour selecting novels at random to read a few paragraphs, checking out favourite novelists sections to see if anything new came out and just wandering before I headed over to the self-development section and found Buddha (the final part Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 9.43.00 AMof that sentence was fun to write).

I think I have mentioned before that I love historical fiction both as both a great case study of character and as (for me) the best and most enjoyable way to learn about our shared history.

Thus the incredible appeal of this book: character case study, Buddha! Shared history, the story of Buddha! Now take the author, Deepak Chopra, into consideration; a modern day Buddha – translated to mean someone who is awake – artfully telling the story of THE Buddha in all three stages of his storied life; Siddhartha the Prince, Gautama the monk and finally as Buddha the Compassionate. Win, win!

I have just begun this book and have met Buddha’s warrior king father, his mother who was the absolute object of his father’s love and a host of other characters, some who lived and some who Deepak Chopra created for the telling of this story. I am beyond intrigued.

Sometimes as a reader I pick up a book and realize that it is going to be wonderful. I feel that now. It could be the topic. It likely is the blending of my two main reading interests: historical fiction and self-development. It could just be the first few pages of Deepak Chopra’s writing. Whatever it is I am eager to get into this read.

 

 

What I’m Reading Now: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell opens as slowly as the BBC series that can be found on the Canadian Netflix by the same name but as a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s other works and if the BBC series I knew that it had to get better.

It does.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.00.41 AMI am about a hundred pages into this, the first book of the Saxon series, which follows the life and struggles of the Saxon Uthred who oft times finds more in common with his Viking capturers and of the frail yet devious King Alfred of Wessex.

At this stage in the story Uthred is still a young man barely out of childhood and has only just now met King Alfred. Bernard Cornwell, an artist when it comes to multifaceted characters, already hints at the many layers of distrust, machinations and intrigue that these two characters will go through together. How he knows to capture this so early (this series goes on with another 10 or so books) is beyond me. I only know it as I have read ahead, which I allude to in my earlier recommendation What I’m Reading Next…

This is a short read of some 300 pages which I suspect I will be finished shortly. It is not Bernard Cornwell’s best work (at least at this stage of the novel) yet it does showcase his skill as a writer of historical fiction, of which there are few equal. I recommend The Last Kingdom without hesitation.

 

What I’m Reading Next: The Lost Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

I was recommend Bernard Cornwell by a colleague who I cannot thank enough. I have read at least half a dozen of his novels since and have some 20 or so to go! That is enough great reads to last me over a year! Complete treasure trove!

The Lost Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell is the first book in the Saxon Chronicles. I have to admit that I have read ahead (something I unapologetically do) and have finished several books in the series as I waited for my copy of The Lost Kingdom.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.00.41 AMThe main character in this series, Uhtred is masterfully crafted, full of passions, desires and later on, regrets. I am a fan of fiction mostly because it allows me to look within others and see how my fellow man operates and why. Uhtred is a case study well worth investing my time in.

This story is set in the 9th and 10th centuries when the Vikings had invaded and occupied much of England (not that it was known as England then). As such it is full of religion (very real and important to the people of that time), battle and court intrigue as well as painting a wonderful picture of how life really was during those dark days: Everything I love about historical fiction!

For my Canadian readers you can find the onscreen adaptation for The Last Kingdom on Netflix. I’m not sure whether the BBC series is available elsewhere so here is a link to the DVD set. Is this as good as the books? No. But still a great show!

Bernard Cornwell is a master of his craft, as such I am truly looking forward to this read.

What Are You Reading Wednesdays The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly

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What Are You Reading Wednesdays #WAYRW is a weekly feature on It’s A Reading Thing. It’s fairly straight forward. Just answer a few simple questions about the book you are currently reading and the post it. If you use the image above, please make sure you link it back to It’s A Reading Thing.

1. What’s the name of your current read?

The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly

2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.

 

Teza’s songs became a manifestation of the country transforming around them, in Rangoon and its townships and dozens of cities and villages all over Burma, in the singer too, a new country was being born. The words swept through Teza’s mind and flew from the mouths of the protesters, men and women and children in the streets shouting Doh ayey, doh ayey, doh aye. Our business, our cause. It was the old dream, the oldest music, written again in human blood, soiled by human excrement, with shoes bereft of feet scattered all around. The chorus of a single word: freedom.

3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?

No. This book is set in war torn Burma where students and teachers are labeled as dissidents and locked away in cages where they are tortured, malnourished and left without hope. Karen Connelly gives a glimpse into a very real world that is far from modern society yet all too near. I would not choose to risk my freedom there with my all too often loud voice.

What I’m Reading Now – The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly, Chapter 14

lizardcageIn The Lizard Cage, Karen Connelly does not spare us a moment, no matter how private, of her prisoner Teza’s life behind bars. In Chapter 14 the author bares Teza’s soul as he recalls his courting and love for Ma Thazin, or as he puts it, he tries to find her.

Karen somehow reveals Teza’s pure love while mixing in lust smeared by imprisonment and shame. I have seldom felt a more contrasting mix of emotions nor such a strange building of tension, and she does not let up as Teza, himself, fuelled but a very human need could not let up until the very end, which prison and this candid novelist somehow turned into anything but the release expected “as though the wall itself has clenched tight and crushed them all.”

Maung-go lo-ba-deh. Chit-pa-deh. “I’m afraid. You’ll hurt me.” Ma Thazin whispered to Teza during their first love making.

I feel the same about this book.