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Joined 1 year, 2 months ago

Book consumer without portfolio. Reading too many books at same time and get twitchy if away from books for protracted periods. Rehabilitated from fantasy books, and successfully fallen from the wagon many times since. Bombadil advocate.

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stozzer's books

To Read (View all 6)

Currently Reading

Mark Twain: Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (Paperback, 1993, Wordsworth Classics) 4 stars

Tom Sawyer, a shrewd and adventurous boy, is as much at home in the respectable …

Rapscallion romps

4 stars

Inspired to pick this up as a primer before reading Percival Everett's James.

Twain's writing breathlessly draws you along the intertwined story arcs for Tom and Huck with a flair for pace and effortlessly delivered cheek. The setting follows life along the Mississipi in the mid 19th century and is inescapably awash with reference and attitudes to slavery. These would not be the same stories without this ever present factor, and the reader may struggle to balance the pure joy of the heroes' exploits with how they themselves interpret the world as protagonists very much of their time.

HENNIGAN: Ghost Signs (2022, Bluemoose Books, Limited) 5 stars

When Covid struck in early 2020, librarian Stu Hennigan volunteered to deliver food parcels to …


5 stars

Very moving account from the point of view of a librarian-turned relief volunteer during the opening months of the covid pandemic. It is a mercifully short potrait of the state of deprivation to be found in the uk. The covid element lends sharp focus on what was already a runaway problem before the virus arrived.

The writing is direct and well composed given the tricky subject matter. The chapter structure makes good use of key dates when particular government press briefings were given.

There is a lot of humanity in the retelling of these stories. The author keeps everything anchored in such a way as to ensure the victims of poverty are not easily disimissed as statistics.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: City of Last Chances (EBook, 2022, Head of Zeus - an AdAstra Book) 4 stars

There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The …

Fresh fantasy page turner

5 stars

First in a series, but reads very well as a stand alone story. There is immediately a sense of depth and perspective in the setting without labouring detail. The characters have plenty of interesting angles without feeling imbalanced. The use of the overtly magical is handled with deft restraint.

There are enough facets to the plot that it would be boring to try to list them all. Reads like Pratchett and China Melville had an impromptu spawning. Hooray for this writer.

Neil Gaiman: Ocean at the End of the Lane (2020, Headline Publishing Group) 4 stars

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a 2013 novel by British author …

More than the sum of its parts

5 stars

I am a bit late to the party with this book. It has been converted for the stage by the time I am finally reading it and there is already a tremendous weight of positive feedback wherever you care to look it up. What I didn't expect was the simplicity of delivery which a story with this much dimension can be executed. Those who have read enough horror or fantasy will implicitly know the stakes and the types of supernatural players involved, yet the story is noteworthy in being so delicately imparted through a seven-year old's innocent point of view. The story follows the systematic isolation of the hero by a sinister imposter in the family home, which authentically reeks of any young nightmares I certainly remember having at this age. Unlikely alliances, consequences and lingering magic bolt along and the story is suddenly over with an aftertaste of hope/haunting/regret. …

Matthew McConaughey: Greenlights (Paperback, 2020, Crown) 4 stars

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle …

Rollickingly true to the blurb

4 stars

McConaughey's recent memoir. The blurb on my copy promised a certain level of buccaneering content. The experience was a pleasantly surprising adventure of madder than fiction whimsical wanderings, philosophy and a refreshingly chaotic approach to career-management. His parents and siblings also deserve a nod of recognition for being truly memorable people in their own right.

Memoirs frequently don't live up to the mystique of the teller, but this categorically does not happen here. There is close to the bone honesty that is difficult to exercise skepticism for given how frankly the writing comes across. Given some of the subject matter, I struggle to picture what content discussions had to have crossed between him and any editor. I want to believe there was no ghost writer involved too, as the delivery is just edgy and rough enough around the edges that it does feel genuinely our guy's own words.

I don't …

Min Jin Lee: Pachinko (2017) 3 stars

Manageable epic

4 stars

We inherited this book from a generous fellow train passenger who had just finished it. My thanks to her!

The story follows multiple generations of a Korean family, spanning their resettlement in pre-WW2 Japan through to the early post-war decades. There are spadefuls of tragedies and poignant events as the family members' lifetime trajectories trace out examples of what it may have been like to move in with your colonisers and reconcile sense of place once the boot has been ungracefully lifted off your ancestral origin.

Elegantly written and absorbing. Possibly not one for people who demand explicit closure on a story arcs, but impressive in use of pace.

Karel Čapek: War with the Newts (2018, Penguin Books, Limited) 4 stars

Unalloyed vintage sci-fi

4 stars

20th century mankind discovers another species on Earth that is capable of civilization, but it needs some assistance from us. It is going to get messy.

Almost an antique, this story was written in 1936 and may initially give the sense of not having aged very gracefully. Taken as a whole, it proved to be a refreshing and balanced vehicle for delivering a lorry-load of deadpan black humour with a relentless focus on ethical, economical and geopolitical norms that have not lost any currency with the antics of current times. The author makes use of multiple perspectives to put flesh on the bones of a wide cast of players, and quite casually denies the reader of any heroes whatsoever as events inexorably move from quotidian to epic.

Initially the pace seems a bit slow, but this relatively short book suddenly covers a lot of ground without breaking a sweat. I'm …

Polly Barton: Fifty Sounds (2022, Liveright Publishing Corporation) 5 stars

Why Japan? In Fifty Sounds, winner of the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, Polly Barton …

Adventures in language and personal demons

5 stars

The book is an essay charting the author's personal odyssey to master Japanese. She starts with a daring jump into the deep end, learning on the job as an English teacher in a remote corner of the country. Witty, insightful and sometimes painfully frank, this becomes a story of an imperfect heroine finding her place in the abyss between the two cultures she originally expected to bridge as a translator.

Beautifully written and not overbearing on the technical, the book uses a clever hook to theme each bite-size chapter on a specific memetic formed of two syllables in Japanese. These titular 50 Sounds enable deeply nuanced understanding between native speakers, but rather than simply being a dictionary of terms, the book's chapters spin the definitions for each sound as a cipher for understanding the many escapades our hero has crashed through on her quest.

The author's bravery in cataloging her …

Allison Markin Powell, Kaoru Takamura, Marie Iida: Lady Joker, Volume 2 (Paperback, 2023, Soho Crime) 5 stars

Intricate slow burn

5 stars

I love this book, and its equally absorbing first volume. I suspect the translators were on their tiptop A-game here as a story of this length could be expected to sag under its own weight if not delivered with the finesse found in these pages.

Based on a real, unsolved case that transfixed Tokyo. The story is delivered through shifting perspectives across a broad cast of protagonists on various sides of the law. Character story arcs will intersect, or tragically miss, but never feel clumsily dropped in. The driving events and reveals are subtly introduced with a sense of due pace, such that you feel an authenticity of investigative process, and corrupt practices.

Hoping that more works from this author get translated soon.