Friday Face-Off – 16th August 2019

Friday Face-Off – 16th August 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a book cover featuring feathers: “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes.” For this theme I picked The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson.

Cover A:

feather1

Cover B:

feather2

Cover C:

feather3

Cover D:

feather4

Cover E:

feather5

And the winner is… COVER B!

This was a closer one for me. A came close, the colours are wonderful. Cover B took the spoils for me however, that amazing blue colour, the lone feather on the stark black background, simple but effective.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that is a movie tie in.

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Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue by Iain Reading

Following in the footsteps of her hero Amelia Earhart, Kitty Hawk sets off on an epic flight around the world and arrives in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik where she finds herself immersed in a beautiful alien world of volcanoes, Vikings, elves and trolls. Before she knows it Kitty is plunged head first into an amazing adventure that sweeps her across a rugged landscape where humans and nature exist side-by-side in an uneasy truce and magical realms seem to lie just out of sight beneath the surface.

Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue is the dazzling third installment of the Flying Detective Agency series featuring Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenaged seaplane pilot with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into – and out of – all kinds of precarious situations.

This is a perfect book to fire the imaginations of readers of all ages – armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike. From dangerous criminals and corrupt government officials to mystical beings and clashes with the elemental forces of nature, this book has it all. Come and join Kitty Hawk as she experiences the strange and extraordinary world of the Icelanders, and unravels the Icelandic Intrigue.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

The third book in the Kitty Hawk series follows on where we left Kitty in The Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost, preparing to depart from Florida to start her around the world adventure proper. A short layover in Newfoundland sees Kitty learn about the history of the earliest Viking settlers to land on the continent before setting out to Iceland, a land of ice and fire. An uneventful flight over the Atlantic, with a brief stop to refuel in Greenland and Kitty arrives in Iceland to meet up with the family of a friend back home who will be her hosts for the stay.
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As is now commonplace in these books, Reading takes readers and his characters on a well-researched guided tour around the locations of the book with interesting facts and insight into the history and culture to be found in the locations his books are set in. Having just booked a holiday to Iceland it made this a wonderful read to hear about places we will be seeing. Kitty’s enthusiasm for travel is infectious as she explores destinations, and joins in with the family she is staying with as they go about their daily tasks.

Where Kitty is involved, adventure is never far away and she finds herself drawn into a plot to bring down plans for industrial expansion on the arctic island. Finding herself kidnapped and in serious trouble our intrepid traveler has to keep her wits about her to unpick the threads of this nefarious plot and bring the perpetrators to justice before they can cause any harm. Enlisting the help of a cast of supporting characters Kitty saves the day, allowing her to enjoy the remainder of her stay before continuing her epic around the world flight.

Kitty Hawk and The Icelandic Intrigue once again makes for an enjoyable and entertaining read. The sense of menace and danger is never too intense making a safe read for younger readers, and the well-researched nature allows anyone to enjoy the book safe in the knowledge the descriptions of Iceland are accurate and informative.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 9th August 2019

Friday Face-Off – 9th August 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a book cover featuring pirates: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” This week I went with Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton.

Cover A:

pirates1

Cover B:

pirates2

Cover C:

pirates3

Cover D:

pirates4

Cover E:

pirates5

Cover F:

pirates6

And the winner is… COVER A!

There was something about cover A – the skull and crossed swords in the water is haunting, alluding to something sinister. Cover B came close for me this week, with another dark, atmospheric cover.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features feathers: “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes.”

Friday Face-Off – 2nd August 2019

Friday Face-Off – 2nd August 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a book cover featuring children. I’ve gone with Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

Cover A:

children1

Cover B:

children2

Cover C:

children4

Cover D:

children5

Cover E:

children6

Cover F:

children7

Cover G:

children8

And the winner is… IT’S A DRAW!

Covers A and B tied for the win for me this week. Cover B has the Quentin Blake feel that I love in children’s books, I’ve always loved his art style. As for cover A, it is simple but definitely puts me in mind of the titular “It”, otherwise known as the Psammead.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features pirates: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.”

Friday Face-Off – 26th July 2019

Friday Face-Off – 26th July 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme was meant to be a cover that is upside down. I struggled when I ran a cursory search, and with a busy week at work time ran out on me, so in recognition of recent UK temperatures I have made a unilateral decision to make the theme for this week as a cover that looks hot.

For this week’s theme I have gone with Wilbur Smith’s Desert God.

Cover A:

hot1

Cover B:

hot2

Cover C:

hot3

Cover D:

hot4

Cover E:

hot5

Cover F:

hot6

Cover G:

hot7

And the winner is… Cover A!

The flames on the landscape are a fairly accurate representation for how hot my house feels right now. That and I love the scene of the pyramids with the sun glowing from behind.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features children: “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.”

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Uncommon Type is my second short story collection in a row. This book is a series of 17 stories from the mind of Oscar-winning silver screen legend Tom Hanks. Each in some way, shape or form connects to the common theme of typewriters. In some cases these wonderful mechanical devices from the heart of the story, in others they appear as a cameo. I’ll be reviewing this book in a different way to my normal reviews, reviewing each story to rate the book overall.
34389773._SY475_Three Exhausting Weeks
I really enjoyed this as an opener to the collection. When two old friends with very different perspectives on life enter into a relationship built almost entirely on lust, something has to give. Hanks builds relatable and likeable leading characters. The clash of polar-opposite personalities is well crafted, showing the issues when a relationship forsakes the important elements of the people within. An enjoyable opening gambit to the collection.

Christmas Eve 1953
This tale opens with a family man returning home on Christmas Eve. Family traditions unfold around him: the placing of family gifts under the tree, sharing dinner, enjoying Christmas records together before leaving notes to Santa alongside a glass of milk and a plate of cookies. As a massive Christmas lover the depictions of this most wonderful time of year left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. The story takes a deeper, more emotional twist when our protagonist takes his annual phone call from an old friend, a fellow ex-soldier where they catch up. Throughout the call we here an internal monologue of sorts, a recounting of the man’s personal, dark experiences of the war. This story was a real thinker, one I felt was deep and wonderful at once.

A Junket in the City of Light
This story follows the less-than-famous co-star in the latest in a franchise of international blockbusters. It follows his tours around the globe to promote the film, the hectic schedule of a secondary character always in the shadow of his far more desirable leading lady. I found this story a bit more drab, sluggish and less entertaining than the previous two, but still something of an insight into the life of an up and coming actor.

Our Town Today with Hank Fiset – An Elephant in the Pressroom
I quite enjoyed this story. It felt like a wistful look at the industry of newsroom publishing. A discussion on the future of news media moving in to online or digital outlets, the medium of print dying out. It recounts the tale of the narrator’s old colleague and his old habits even as modernisation reigns around him. A warm, cozy story looking back to days gone by in the face of progress.

Welcome to Mars
Another warming story, at least in the most part. Welcome to Mars sees a father in an unhappy marriage want to take his son surfing on his 19th birthday. Memories are recounted about some of the troubles the family unit have seen, so this seems a positive, heart warming event. When the father has to go and make some business calls however, the son injures himself out on the water. In seeking out his dad to help, he discovers an unsavoury secret about his father’s relationship adding a sour twist that made this an intriguing story.

A Month on Greene Street
A single mother of three moves in to a new street after the collapse of her marriage. She seems to have a special talent, the ability to see a brief flash of events in the immediate moments surrounding them. As her husband arrived home late from work one evening, she saw that he had been seeing another woman. In her first month she sees a few other pops relating the creepy neighbour who turns out to be a decent guy trying to make a better life for himself. The story ends with a happy final flash, possibly of her future here on Greene Street.

Alan Bean Plus Four
This was a bit different. I couldn’t make up my mind if it was the product of overactive imaginations on the part of the characters or actual events, but was entertaining nonetheless. It follows the four lead characters from Three Exhausting Weeks as they work to build their own spacecraft to travel around the moon. The story charts their journey to construct the vessel, along with their trip through space and around the moon. It’s a fun tale, though just seemed a little random compared to others in the book.

Our Town Today with Hank Fiset – At Loose in The Big Apple
While his wife visits New York for a college reunion, her husband tags along to take in the sights and sounds of the big city. He takes in all the big hitters, but finds himself homesick, comparing everything to his home town and realising bigger isn’t necessarily better. It makes for a warm tale of the joys and comforts of home.

Who’s Who?
Sue is an aspiring actress who has up and moved her life to New York to chase her dream of starring on Broadway. Hanks paints a picture of shattered dreams, how she started out as a young actress back home in Arizona, and her pursuit of the dream. A chance encounter from an old face from her past leads to a change in her fortunes.

A Special Weekend
This one was a bit less entertaining than some of Hanks’ other short stories here. It follows a boy heading out for a surprise weekend for his upcoming birthday with his mother. The trip involved a big surprise for the birthday boy. Sadly, his mother had to work so the surprise got put off and pushed back, while she avoided mentioning her new boyfriend to her son. He finally gets his treat right at the end of his weekend.

These Are The Meditations of My Heart
I think this is my favourite story in the book. A romantic ode to the typewriter. After purchasing a cheap typewriter at a swap meet, a young lady takes it off to be repaired back to a working order. The proprietor of the repair shop refuses to repair what he says is essentially a toy, stating it is not a true typewriter. The man digs in to the motivations for owning a typewriter, going through some of his restored vintage machines, waxing lyrical about each and their romantic virtues. Given I would love to own a typewriter myself, I found this story to be beautifully written – a wistful look back to simpler times.

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Back From Back in Time
Our now good friend Hank Fiset returns. Sat at the table with his trusty old typewriter, Hank takes us on a meander down memory lane – recounting just some of the key events in his life that he has shared with his typewriter. Another warm, wistful look back at simpler times.

The Past is Important to Us
An elderly, eccentric billionaire spends his fortune on a procedure allowing him to hop back to June 1939, New York so he can experience World’s Fair. Initially he visits with his young wife, though she loses interest pretty soon in time travelling to the same date over and over. On a solo visit the old man spots an attractive young lady that catches his eye and he becomes infatuated. This leads to repeat visits until he is told his health only permits one final visit to a nostalgic past. 

Stay With Us
I struggled with this story. It seemed to be written in the style of a screenplay complete with stage directions. It follows a wealthy man and his assistant as they take a trip to the heart of nowhere USA, under the premise of buying up land. Masquerading in his view of the common man, he ends up at an old, struggling motel on a now-silent highway. The owners recount their memories of their establishment back when the highway was thriving and the rooms were always full.

Go See Costas
A meek immigrant from Eastern Europe makes the journey from Greece to New York. Having lost everything – his family, his life, he hopes America offers a new start for him. This story is a tale of multiculturalism and the strife those less well off face – something of a timely tale in today’s world.

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Your Evangelista, Esperanza
This is our final visit with Tri-Cities roving reporter Hank Fiset. Here he extols the virtues of the priceless black liquid – no, not oil, coffee. He regales us of the best coffee outlets in the area, but one seems to take the cake. It also acts as an office space for Esperanza, a bank worker who has forsaken all smart technology, the trivialities of social media too, in lieu of a good old typewriter. Here she can type up her bank papers, as well as love letters, notes and all other manner of documentation for coffee shop clients for the small price of the occasional mug of coffee.

Steve Wong is Perfect
The final story in this collection sees a return to the crazy characters we met in Three Exhausting Weeks and Alan Bean Plus Four. This time the gang head out for some light-hearted ten pin bowling. Steve Wong manages to bowl the perfect game. Then repeats this feat on the following two visits. This sets off a chain reaction leading to an appearance on ESPN with $100,000 at stake if he could achieve this feat once more on TV.

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Tom Hanks is clearly a man with a love for the simple things in life, and this book demonstrates that not only is he a fantastic actor, but a pretty good wordsmith to boot!

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 19th July 2019

Friday Face-Off – 19th July 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover that is grainy or looks like white noise: “You can’t choose between life and death when we’re dealing with what is in between.”

For this week’s theme I have gone with Don DeLillo’s White Noise.

Cover A:

white noise1

Cover B:

white noise2

Cover C:

white noise3

Cover D:

white noise4

Cover E:

white noise5

Cover F:

white noise6

Cover G:

white noise7

And the winner is… Cover D!

This one was a stand out winner for me. It was simple, but the silhouette intrigued me greatly.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that is upside down: “Ludo ….. down.”