Monthly Archives: July 2017

A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire #3.2)

A Storm of Swordsby George R R Martin

And the fun and laughter just goes on!

Or it would of there was any. One thing you can say about the epic Songs of Fire and Ice series is that they are neither funny or fun. If you have already read the preceding books, you will already know what to expect, if you haven’t then don’t bother trying to pick up the story at this stage. 

The squabble over the Iron Throne of Westeros continues unabated. And as the death toll continues to rise amongst the story’s leading characters, their relationships and allegiances becomes more complex and fragile.

Young Robb Stark seems unassailable as he leads his army of northmen inexorably south towards Kings Landing. But all is not as it should be back home, with Robb’s enemies hatching plans of their own. 

Beyond the Wall another war is brewing, but this time against an enemy that seemingly cannot be stopped. Jon Snow faces enemies on both sides of the Wall as he returns to Castle Black.

In the east, Daenerys Stormborn continues her campaign against the slave traders even as she prepares her return to Westeros to reclaim her father’s throne.

This is one of the most intense and complex series of books I have read in a long time. The carnage amongst the leading players in this deadly game is particularly unnerving as you never know who is going to fall next. This volume has a few surprises for those who have not already seen the TV series, with regicide seemingly becoming something of a pastime in Westeros. 

The Songs of Fire and Ice has become a modern classic, even though the last book(s) have yet to be published. The immense scope of the story itself is staggering and this book is just as intense and driven as the previous volumes. The characters around whom then story is told continue to be as bold and well-structured as the tale they tell. It is common for mid series books to falter a little as the plot hits a kind of lull before the climactic ending, but in this case, there are no signs of slowing down the pace or compromising the integrity of the characters.

Sex in the Title

Sex in the TitleA Comedy about Dating, Sex, and Romance in NYC (Back When Phones Weren’t So Smart)

by Zack Love

I suppose there is a kind of art to coming up with book titles. They should covey the essence of the story; they should be snappy, memorable and, above all else, they have to grab the attention of the potential reader. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be drawn to a book called “Sex In The Title”, even if it’s just for the sake of curiosity? But does it tell you anything about the book it is trying to sell? In a way yes, it does. That is not to say it is either erotic or pornographic. It is a romantic comedy, and a very funny one at that. What the title does tell you is that this is not a run of the mill rom-com. 

Set at the turn of the new millennium, Sex In The Title follows the loves, losses and dating disasters of five young men, newly arrived in New York and seeking fortune and love. It is a time when the internet is still trying to find its feet and mobile phones were, well, just phones. For these intrepid wannabe executives, the dating game is not always one they seem destined to win.

The characters and their stories are both engaging and believable. Each has their own hang ups about sex and romance. For some, the attempt to follow the stereotypical macho path society has set out before them is not leading them where they want to be. For others, their own past and family commitments make dating in New York city fraught with dangers. On their own, each struggles to find and maintain any kind of lasting relationship. But, when a freak (and I do mean freak!) incident brings them all together, that all begins to change.

The support they find in each other’s experiences and strengths lead them all on a path of self-discovery that ultimately helps them discover now only who they are, but what they truly want from their lives.

For me the book is pretty much a first. I have read plenty of romantic comedies, but I have come across very few that are written from the male point of view. That alone makes this a book worth trying, but add Zack Love’s honesty, wit and engaging style, Sex In The Title is a unique insight into the male view of the world. His characters are engaging and tragic and the story itself compelling and at times, laugh out loud funny. There is a gentle humour that makes even the most extreme character traits endearing. I loved the way these diverse and rather mixed up individuals come together to support each other in their pursuit of love. 

There are moments of introspection sitting alongside slap-stick comedy. The plot does on occasions veer towards the absurd, but I think it is a very accurate reflection of the period, and a painfully accurate look at the anxieties of twenty-something males trying to make their way in a world that is more competitive than they would like. 

A very enjoyable read from a writer from whom I have come to expect nothing less.