American Interior

I first read this book last year because it was on the Guardian first book award longlist, and from the initial description (lead singer of super furry animals goes on road trip of discovery) i thought i would hate it. However the initial description sells it really short, it’s actually about Gruff Rhys (lead singer of super furry animals) following in the footsteps of John Evans an explorer from the 1600’s who tried to cross america to find a tribe of welsh speaking indians. He aimed to meet up with the Mandan indians as they were believed to be the most likely candidates.

So the book follows Gruff and a Felt puppet John Evans recreating the real John Evan’s journey I loved the book, first because it taught me somethng new i had never heard of the myth of welsh speaking indians or of this explorer, but he made some important contributions, including some of the maps that the fabled Lewis and Clark used to help them find the northwest passage. In the Modern roadtrip you also get to meet the modern representatives of some of these proud indan nations and to reflect on what is happening to them as a people now. The book is written really well and because the author performed concerts on the way you can also get an APP and a CD and a Film  believe of the book. This irritate some people having extras but not me.

The reason it has taken me so long to post my review of this book is because i bought tickets to see the American interior tour right here in Leeds and i really enjoyed it, You can take two views of this book, read it as a book and it is really enjoyable, read the book and look at the media associated or go check out the tour and have an entirely different experience. In my mind Gruff rhys is simiar to some of my other favourite musicians (like Harvey andrews) in that he tells stories with his music and this makes him the perfect person to tell this story, if you are lucky enough to see the tour you get music and a lecture combined told with a subtle humour that is almost like what storytelling should be and what it used to be like before books, ok you wouldn’t have the awesome powerpoint presentation but the whole american interior experience feels to me like storytelling in its purest form, This book was my winner by far for the Guardian first book award and one of my favourite books of last year. If you havent already read it do yourself a favour and check it out, to enliven the experience i have included a picture of felt john evans and one of the american interior songs.

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No Name Lane

I got an ARC of this book off the real readers website, if you haven’t checked this out it is worth doing so. They send you copies of books to review and the sooner you post your reviews the more points you get and the more likely you are to get new  ARC’s sent out.

No Name Lane is Howard Linskeys third book, and is the story of a missing girl and a child killer in the north east of England alongside the story of a cold case from 70 years earlier. There is a lot going on in this book but the stories interweave really well and complement each other in allowing you to learn more about the key characters and the town the novel is based in. This feels like the work of an accomplished writer it has really well developed characters and a twist you do not see coming.

i like the fact  that the crime is unpicked by 2 characters who are not involved in law enforcement, they are both reporters and their burgeoning relationship adds another interesting thread to this novel. I am a fan of good crime fiction, the kind that makes you think and has really strongly developed ideas and clues, i also like ones that delve into the past and combine the past crime and the future crime to tie the story together.

Howard Linskey could become one of my new favourite crime authors, i would definitely be keen to read more of his books featuring these two main characters and if you are a fan of Peter May, Ann Cleeves or Kate Ellis then this could definitely be a book for you


Debut Books

Courtesy of some snow days at school i just finished reading some debut books neither one of which was awesome although one is definitely more promising than the other

The Minaturist,

I read this for my book group and i am still not quite sure what i think of it, the core idea of the story is a good one and in the hands of an accomplished author like Neil Gaiman or Susan Hill would be a genuinely creepy amazing book. The issue i had with it was that although the story ideas was good all the plot twists were amazingly obvious, i never work out what will happen in books, not even Hamish Macbeth books but i knew what was going to happen in this. This kind of obvious telegraphing of the plot combined with the authors almost naive characters made the book a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong i didn’t mind reading it but it was a bit like salad, it might be good for you but it’s also really unsatisfying in the long term.

and Elizabeth is Missing

I bought this because i heard good things about it and this is definitely a better read than the minaturist, Again the core idea of the story is good, a lady with alzheimers is convinced her friend is missing and in the end is actually trying to solve her sisters disappearance many years before. This again is not quite there, it was an enjoyable read but again flawed in points i wanted to know more about the ending, instead the book took an interminably long time to build up to the climax and then just finished with no tying up of loose ends, there could maybe have been a shorter run up and more time exploring what actually happened. However this authors characterisation is much better i believed the main character had alzhemeirs and i was invested in the story but again i felt like something was missing, this is a good book and i would definitely buy something else by this author as they definitely have promise but this wasnt quite there yet. I feel there are some comparisons between this and the Lewis man by Peter may both have crimes where a character with alzheimers has the answer but the Lewis man just feels a little bit more well crafted. Maybe because this is a debut the author still has some way to go and it is hard to say what is wrong with this book, it’s a good read it’s just not an awesome tell all your friends about read