Tagged: Terry Pratchett

re:View – The 2015 Bookshelf
August + September: slow progress

The 2015 bookshelf continues to grow slowly. I haven’t really had a lot of time to read over the summer as I spent my time raising six kittens. More on that later. First, it’s time to catch up on some reviewing while I still remember what I’ve read. My summer reading has been quite random so no major themes going on this time…


Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson
The first book I ever picked up because the author followed me on Twitter. Good promotion strategy, really. I guess he found me because I tweet about books, fantasy, Pratchett and Gaiman. This book tries to position itself as “a spiritual successor to Good Omens”. Well, let’s start with a reality check: It’s not Good Omens, nor does it play int he league of Gaiman and Pratchett in terms of depth, literary achievement or legacy. And just the fact that it has an angel and a demon bitch-fighting over who wins the apocalypse doesn’t quite make it a successor to the great classic. However, it is a bloody good, funny fantasy novel that sees a cast of absolutely loveable characters going on a mad adventure to save the world. I like that kind of stuff, so I breezed through this thoroughly enjoyable book in a matter of days. And I sincerely hope there will be a sequel. I just don’t agree with the publisher pushing it from the Good Omens angle, but then that’s a sales strategy and has no impact on my rating of the book itself. (And as someone whose life was changed by reading Good Omens, I am really hard to please on that front…)
Pens: 4 out of 5

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I don’t tend to pick up over-hyped books, but a friend recommended this one (and I mean by putting the actual book into my hands) so I gave it a go. Turns out the hype is justified – this is a wonderful, sad but uplifting story about life and death and getting a second chance long after you’ve given up hoping for it. Harold Fry is one of the most loveable characters I’ve ever met in a book and with every step he takes on his impossible walk across the length of England, you feel more empathy with him, until his journey pretty much becomes your own. I laughed and cried and cried some more, and closed the book with a smile and the feeling that people maybe aren’t all as bad as I like to think. What more could you want from a book…
Pens: 4 out of 5

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The anticipated, the dreaded, the devastating final book of Discworld. I know a lot of people who haven’t been able – for various reasons – to read this yet, so I’ll keep it spoiler free. Whether Pratchett wrote this book knowing it would be his last or not, I don’t know. But I can see him tying up a lot of loose ends, as well as opening new doors – which will now lead to the forever unknown as his daughter has announced the series will not continue. When Pratchett passed away this year and it was revealed that he’d left behind a manuscript for another Tiffany Aching book, I felt immensely comforted, because she was one of the characters who got me hooked on Discworld in the first place and her storyline will always have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. However, when the book arrived, it turned out that the end was bittersweet. While I don’t agree with the direction Pratchett decided to take with the characters in The Shepherd’s Crown, I can also see that it was necessary and how the circle has been closed. But that doesn’t mean I will ever get over it. And neither will I get over the fact that this most gifted of storytellers is no longer among us, because he clearly had so many stories left to tell.
Pens: 4 out of 5

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor
This book came through as a free review copy from NetGalley at a moment when I needed something light and sweet, and for that kind of mood it is spot-on. It reminded me a lot of Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in that it’s mainly told from the perspective of a little boy who tackles the big problems of a grow-up world. Milo is an absolutely adorable little boy who wont’ let his difficult family life and debilitating eye condition prevent him from uncovering a misuse scandal in the local retirement home while helping a Syrian refugee and sorting out his mother’s love life. It’s one of those innocent, feel-good stories for a Sunday afernoon when the world just needs to be put right.
Pens: 3 out of 5

re:View: A Bookshelf special – the complete Discworld reviews, in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett

My first Terry Pratchett book was The Wee Free Men.

[In fact, reading back through my reviews I just realised that this is a fact I’ve mis-remembered for years. My first Discworld book was The Truth. But somehow, even though I enjoyed it, it didn’t stick; maybe I wasn’t ready. When I read The Wee Free Men some time later, however, that stuck – so much so that it made me read the entire series and actually became my first Discworld book in my memory. So we’ll go with the heart over logic version for the sake of this article.]

A good friend had been recommending Pratchett’s young adult books for years, and when I couldn’t get round to reading them she eventually just bought me two as a present. That’s a very effective way to force me to read a book as I can’t leave books lying around unread for long, or give them away without at least checking them out.

So I read The Wee Free Men, and then I immediately read A Hat Full of Sky. And so began the biggest reading journey of my life. Straight after those two, I read the remaining Tiffany Aching books. Then I read every Discworld book involving the witches. Then I moved on to the Death storyline. Then I went back to the beginning and read all the remaining books in chronological order.

Four years later I had made my way through 40 Discworld books and my world was changed forever.

Terry Pratchett, by Paul Kidby

Terry Pratchett passed earlier this week and in his memory I wanted to make something. You know, paint a picture, build a statue – whatever. But I’m no good at drawing or sculpting or building things. I do all right with words, though. So these are my reviews of all the Discworld, and an account of most of my reading journey of the past five years, collected here as a tribute to the man who created this beautiful world and shared it with everyone willing to open their minds.

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Farewell, Sir Terry, and thank you for giving us a whole world of magic

The world has lost a very particular something today. If you look closely, you can see that a fine coating of sparkles is no longer there. It was swept away by the departure of a man who has added a little bit of magic to a lot of people’s lives.

Image from www.dignityindying.org.uk

Sir Terry Pratchett has left us. The news spread today like a shockwave, certainly in my social circle, which is filled with people who love him and have grown up with his books. The first reaction, from most people I spoke to, was simply: No.

NO. It cannot be. After spending years, if not decades, in the company of his books, travelling his worlds and meeting his characters, nobody seems to be able to imagine a world without him yet.

Texts, emails, Facebook messages started flooding in and out. Have you heard. Very sad news. Noooooo! I can’t even… And each message, each person adding their voice to this gathering wave of mourning, brought more tears.

Meanwhile the people who aren’t familiar with the Pratchett phenomenon looked at me somewhat blankly, feeling visibly awkward about the fact that I was crying in the office about the death of an author as if I’d lost a friend or family member.

Because it is more than the death of a hugely loved author. It is the loss of a man who has given me worlds, universes, a whole different layer of reality where I have spent hours, weeks, probably moths of my life and where I’ve met creatures and characters who have become so real that I have long ago accepted, as a personal truth, that they really do exist. They are real because Terry Pratchett, with his incredible imagination and his unmatched gift of language, has not just created them but brought them to life.

Discworld, for me, is a place. It’s somewhere I can go anytime and hang out with old friends – Granny Weatherwax and the witches, Rincewind and the wizards, Sam Vimes and the City Watch, the dwarfs, the trolls, the lot of them – and after 40 books spent in their company, they really are old friends to me. Going into Discworld is as real as going on a holiday – flying out to Sardinia or to Spain, where we tend to go in the summer. True, it doesn’t involve quite so much packing and travelling (and it’s certainly improved by the absence of the Ryanair Factor), but it really is the same thing. Discworld is a real place for me; it exists without a doubt.

And that’s why Terry Pratchett means more to me than a favourite author. Great authors give us wonderful books that we read, and return to, and that we take things from and treasure forever. But never in my life have I come across any other author who has given me a whole world. So far, with him still being active and writing several books a year despite the grip of Alzheimer’s tightening on him, this world has been endless. No matter how many books I read, I thought, there will always be more. After all, I still have quite a few of his non-Discworld works to get through.

But now his death has put a border around this endless world – or maybe a rim that you might fall off if you venture to the very edge. And that breaks my heart, because now there will be an end to reading his books. Even if I take it slowly, each remaining unread book now a treasure, I will arrive at the last book written by Terry Pratchett. The sand is slipping fast through that particular hourglass on Death’s shelves.

I will miss his wisdom, his wit, his imagination and most of all his incredible understanding of what makes us human. His books are largely categorised as fantasy, but I’ve always found that they are first and foremost about humanity. Terry Pratchett wrote about human nature with the insight of a philosopher, the warmth of a father and the wit of an Englishman. I have always considered him one of the great philosophers of our time, a hero whose superpower was to see right into the soul of human beings.

I’m unbelievably sad for this amazing human being we have lost today, and so, so grateful for all the magic Terry Pratchett has given to so many people around the world. And I’m grateful that he was allowed to go to sleep surrounded by his family, with his cat snoozing on the bed (probably positioned to cause the greatest possible discomfort to everyone, as good cats do), escaping from Alzheimer’s before it had a chance to destroy his wonderful mind.

Farewell, Sir Terry. Thank you forever for giving me a world. I hope your onward journey is safe and joyful, and involves at least one pint with Death in the pub at the end of the black desert under the endless night.

Check Mort by Paul Kidby

re:View – The 2014 Bookshelf VI

Just to tie up the loose ends, here’s the last of the 2014 Bookshelf – books new and old by some of my favourite authors. While some of these guys never fail to impress (Ellroy, Pratchett, I’m looking at you!) others didn’t exactly blow me away this year.

I’m currently reading Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation but this will be one for next year’s shelf. Which means my Goodreads challenge closes at 106% or 55 of 52 books.


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re:View – The 2014 Bookshelf IV: The last leg of the Discworld-a-thon

Level up: After four years I’ve finally finished my Discworld marathon. There has been a lot of Discworld reading going on this year, so I’ve decided to bunch them all into one big, final super-Discworld review before I move on to new adventures – that is, the zillion other books that have been piling up on my shelf for the past six months.

Get ready for time-travelling monks, vampires, werewolves, talking rats and cunning cats, dragon-powered spaceships, coppers, crooks, AUSTRALIANS (except they’re not really Australians because Terry Pratchett is good at this diplomacy thing), public services and new technology.


Oh, a note: These are in chronological order but with some novels missing as I started reading some of them out of order before I went back to the beginning and did the rest properly…

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re:View – The 2013 Bookshelf V

The final one! This batch completes the 2013 bookshelf and contains Hobbitses, Dunces, Jeeves and Pratchettses, among others. Amazing books, weird books, and books I should have read decades ago. (I’m approaching 30. I can actually say stuff like “I should have done this decades ago” now.)

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re:View – The 2012 Bookshelf VI:
More favourites

It’s almost March and I still haven’t reviewed all of last year’s reads. But here, finally, is the last batch.

I’ll have to come up with something a bit shorter for this year’s bookshelf to resolve the constant compromise of whether to spend my lunchtimes reading or writing…

Some more books by some of my favourite authors

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re:View – The 2012 bookshelf IV: Pratchett and Bavarian Mysteries

I’ve been lazy. So, with a massive delay, here’s the first bunch of the Bookshelf from the second half of 2012!

The usual health and safety warning applies: May contain spoilers.


Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett’s take on the music industry: Somebody finds a magical electric guitar and soon the Disc is turned upside down by Music With Rocks In It. It’s basically a condensed history of everything that happened in music since the first rock ‘n roll tune was born – rockstar tantrums, shady agents and crappy punk bands are just the start, and of course the traditionally Pratchett-esque digs at musical celebs and the industry they feed are spot-on as ever, and laugh-out-loud funny, too!
Pens: 4 out of 5

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re:View – The 2012 bookshelf III

So, here’s the last batch of books I’ve read in the first half of 2012. More to come as soon as I’ve had a payday and can stock up the bookshelf…

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman | Amazon (UK)

Although Neverwhere had left me pretty disappointed, I decided to try another Gaiman, and I’m glad I did. Written for a young audience, the story of an orphaned toddler being adopted by a bunch of ghosts and raised in a graveyard is as morbid as it is touching. The Graveyard Book reminded me very much of the movie version of Coraline with its wacky characters and magical excursions into fantastically scary worlds. It’s the kind of book that is full of characters you’ll want to pluck off the page and add into your real life. It’s the kind of book I would have read over and over again as a girl, feeling the characters become more real every time, until I’d convinced myself that they actually do exist somewhere in a graveyard just beyond my reach. (I was a bit of a loner, as you’ve probably figured.) The Graveyard Book took me right back to my early reading days and reminded me why I’ve never been able to live without books.
Pens: 5 out of 5


The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde | Amazon (UK)

Oh-kay, weirdness alert. I wasn’t really sure about the whole Thursday Next series, but decided to give it a go after several friends recommended it. And I’m afraid it ends for me with volume one. Although the meta fiction thing grew on me about halfway through the book (when the actual plot finally kicks in after some over-indulgent introductory rambling), the concept behind it seemed just a bit too chaotic. Special detectives protecting our literary heritage? Cool. Real people and fictional characters jumping in and out of books? If we’re going that way, fair enough. A Nineteen Eighty-Four inspired setting? Well, if you must crush us with references, okay. It was when the time travelling came in that I got a bit of overload, and when it moved on to the vampires and werewolves, I finally had enough. It’s a shame that Fforde had to hopelessly over-clutter The Eyre Affair by cramming in every possible aspect of fantasy literature he could think of. Because the bit about moving between the real world and literary world would have been pretty awesome without all the rest annoying the hell out of you.
Pens: 3 out of 5

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