Today on Chuck A Book we have Ian Kenworthy, a children’s author amongst various other things. Ian can be found at www.iankenworthy.com and on Twitter as @whisperingsand.
1) The best book you have ever read.
Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett.
I discovered Terry Pratchett’s work when I was about thirteen through the fantastic Only You Can Save Mankind. I swiftly moved onto the Discworld series devouring each in turn. Loving the mix of humour and fantasy. My friend wasn’t a fan of this book and so on his advice I read it last. And I’m glad I did, I was completely blown away. Elves invade the quiet kingdom of Lancre and it’s up to the witches to save it. It’s the third book about the Witches so it’s not the best place to start the series. However what you are treated to is a plot inspired by a Midsummer Night’s Dream that allows characters from the city meet those from the countryside. There are jokes, a clash of cultures, inspired moral choices, insights into the characters and the wonderful magic of common sense ‘Headology’. There are so many fantastic ideas in this book. All of it played out by characters really showing who they are. What I really love about it is the folklore. Things like horseshoes, standing stones and the power of iron that, even in the real world, I’d never thought about the meaning of. Even the Elves are brilliant, making the hairs on my neck rise. Unlike the more ‘Tolkien’ view of the race, here they are terrifying, horrible creatures. A really bad sort of baddy. Mortality comes into play in a big way as the characters do battle and make life-changing decisions. There’s also a surprising amount of darkness for what people call ‘comic-fantasy’. How best to describe it? Like a duck pond. Fun on the surface but deep and dark below. Part comedy, part unsettling, there’s tension and romance and a sense of peril and I could talk about it for hours, but I’d rather be rereading it.
2) A book you loved from your childhood.
Which Witch? By Eva Ibbotson
Arriman the Awful is searching for a bride, but Which Witch will he choose? Originally I came into contact with this story when it was read to our class at Primary school. Even now I vividly remember sitting around and listening to the teacher, enthralled as to what would happen next. A recently reread it and yes, it still holds that same, ahem, magic.
3) A book that made you laugh.
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fford
Okay, now this book wins my award for being inventive. How to describe it? It’s unique. This is the third book in the Thursday Next series. It’s about a detective named Thursday who ventures into Book World, a place where books, characters and literary events exist. In this adventure Thursday finds herself in the Well of Lost Plots, a sort of cellar where all the plots for books never written end up being stored and...
You’ll have to read it as all sorts of craziness ensues and none of it really makes sense out of context. However in Fford’s capable hands it’s not only very well executed but is also hilarious. For example there are strange little creatures that change Book World by altering the spellings of whatever they come into contact with. For example by turning grass into glass. To deal with them dictionaries are deployed. It may sound a little confusing and weird but it is so cleverly done and very funny. Made more so by plays on words, allusions to famous works and other wonderful literary humour. My favourite part is where a very riff about unicorns, is followed by a high class pun and then finished by a good old use of profanity. Three levels of comedy in three short sentences. I was in stitches.
4) A book you could not finish.
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
Oh how I hate you epic fantasy. Tempting me with your sweeping landscapes, wealth of characters and fascinating story arcs. It all begins so well. We meet our protagonists, they begin their adventure. There’s magic and wonder and an ever expanding cast and then...
Suddenly I’m four books in, floating lost in great big sea of literacy and totally totally lost. Who’s this? Who’s that? Where are they? And just what the Hell is going on?! And heavy of heart, burdened by the wasted hours spent in this weird and wonderful world I abandon the doorstep of a book. Retreating to a trashy thriller, knowing that at least the bad guy really is the bad guy and not a good guy I’ve gotten confused about by a similar sounding name. Okay, so that doesn’t always happen but you know what I mean, right?.
Whilst this situation applies to a couple of fantasy series I’ve tried the one that I’ve always wanted to really enjoy is Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Over thirteen highly revered books the fascinating concept of the Dragon and an eternal battle is more than fleshed out, but oh boy do I find it tough going.
The first book I’ve read a couple of times. I understand that one. I like that one. The second one, hmm it’s a bit hazy but I liked it. The third? Yes I really liked that one too. Then somewhere in the fourth it all gets a bit confusing. Too much happens, the stories become overwhelming and I find I’ve lost my way, again. I don’t think I’m designed to read this sort of thing, but maybe I’ll have another stab. And maybe I’ll finish the fourth book. Maybe I’ll even work out what happened in the one before it...
5) A book that made you swoon.
The Watchman by Chris Ryan
Swoon? Funnily enough I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant. Wasn’t swooning something you did when a hunky guy strode past? Yes, yes I know, but I looked up ‘swoon’ just to be on the safe side and discovered it actually means ‘faint’, which is funny as I did actually faint whilst reading The Watchman by Chris Ryan. Now don’t get me wrong the book isn’t gratuitous or filled with wall to wall evisceration but one of the scenes is a little ‘uncomfortable’. With me not being very good with blood sometimes description makes me feel a little queasy. However during one scene something about the atmosphere, the sheer hopelessness of the situation being described, I could just picture it and went very light headed. Then made the rather unfortunate move of standing up rather quickly...
Anyway, back to the book. The Watchman is a standalone novel and in my opinion Chris Ryan’s best. Other than the swooning incident it was a very enjoyable read. Certainly my favourite in this SAS thriller genre.
6) A book you can’t wait to read.
Reading through here you may have noticed a few series with further entries on the horizon. Of course, I can’t wait to read those to see what happens next. Christopher Paolini’s final entry into the Eragon series has finally come out in paperback so I’m really looking forward to that. Whatever Marcus Sedgewick’s next project happens to be will be on my reading list. Having been a fan of his for a long time his latest Midwinterblood has set the bar even higher. However I’ve chosen by Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon, why? Because it’s a bit different to the other entries here. It’s the sequel to Dead Beautiful, a ‘paranormal romance’ or whatever you want to call this sort of story. A bit like Twilight only it’s not got vampires or werewolves in it, which is a refreshing change itself. Why I’m so interested is because having enjoyed the first book I have no idea where the series will go, there are a great many options and what few details I know sound promising. I can’t wait to discover what will happen.
7) A series you have read and loved.
Jack Reacher. One man and his toothbrush. He’s a loner with a moral code. Going where he pleases and ending up finding trouble that he can’t help but sort out.
Each book begins with a question or problem and Reacher sets out to find the solution. I really enjoy these books. Like with most thrillers they are excellent to take on your holidays but I always found there was something better about these books. I’m not sure I can put my finger on what. It’s possibly the questions. Always needing to turn the page to find out why. They’re a great travel read. My favourite entry in the series is The Visitor.
8) A book that made you cry.
Heavier than Heaven by Charles R. Cross
This is a wonderfully written biography of Kurt Cobain. One I just had to get to the end of. I read it shortly after it was published and there are very few things I’ve read so feverishly. I am a fan of Kurt’s music but I’ve never been obsessive or anything. So I still can’t quite fathom why this upset me so much. I mean, I knew how it was going to end. Everyone knows how it is going to end, but when I finally reached that last page I couldn’t help crying my heart out.
I’d also like to give a mention to The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Not because I sobbed like a child, but because the book unpicks everything that has been created in the series, and I found that genuinely upsetting.
9) Your guilty pleasure book.
Ice Station by Matthew Reilly.
It’s more like an action movie than a novel. It has breakneck pace and not a lot else. Every page is a cliff hanger. I love the setting and the action. Most of Matthew Reilly’s other novels I find go completely over the top but this one just about stays in the realms of plausibility and is all the better for it. Just don’t be expecting any character development other than ‘survives’.
10) A book that took you out of your comfort zone.
The End by Lemmony Snickett
There are spoilers ahead so beware.
I enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events, but why have I chosen the final book as an uncomfortable read? Not because it was unsettling, or that it was a challenge to read, but because it does things that most books don’t.
The series itself starts out with a generic tale in each book, containing familiar elements, but in a different context. However as the series progresses it starts to flip itself on its head, adding more and questions and overarching elements. Until the final book...
It’s a strange tale compared to the others. Enjoyable but at the end, there’s no happily ever after, no line drawn under things, and no real closure. Questions are posed throughout the series and only a few are answered leaving you to make connections or decide for yourself. That takes me out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong there are some great revelations in this book. I enjoyed what happened and how Daniel Handler (writing as Mr Snickett) chose to end the series, but overall it left me in discomfort. More about myself than the book. Do you need to understand the mysteries? Do you need answers? And it turns out I do. I wanted answers wanted spelled out and on a plate. I wanted to be told ‘This is what happened...’
Thanks Ian for taking part in Chuck a Book. If you would like to have a go at this feature please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org