Bookish Beats: Bonobo – Black Sands

Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 

Black Sands


Listen to with:

An atmospheric science fantasy

Such as:

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Black Sands is the fourth studio album from Bonobo, the stage name for musician and DJ Simon Green. Following on from the success of his previous three albums, Black Sands, with its combination of electronic beats, world music – in particular its eastern and afrobeat inspired tracks – and jazz, is a beautifully composed chillout album which succeeds in transporting you to another place.

Black Sands opens with Prelude, a beautiful and soaring track whose violin melody exhibits the eastern influence which is drawn throughout the rest of the album. This atmospheric melody is similarly picked up by other tracks and remains one of my favourite Bonobo tracks to date. Kiara samples Prelude to maximum effect, using electronic beats and distorted vocals to create an addictive track which retains the beauty and atmosphere of the original whilst adding dynamism and pace to an otherwise perfect melody. Similarly, Kong uses a repetitive melody which continues to build on the atmosphere in a supremely chilled out track which resonates with positive beats.

Eyesdown introduces some vocals into the mix with the soulful sounds of Andreya Triana, whose vocals are featured in a number of tracks throughout the album. With its repetitive and paced beat and electronic underscore, Eyesdown is another track which instantly takes you out of this world. Triana’s vocals return in The Keeper, a track which succeeds in slowing the pace of the album right down; and again in Stay the Same, which showcases the beautiful tone of Triana’s voice in this jazz and soul inspired track.

Black Sands builds on the success of these tracks with a number of instrumentals which set the tone and pace of the album, introducing new themes and diverting it where necessary. El ToroWe Could Forever and Animals are upbeat, jazz influenced tracks which revel in their own beat. 1009 uses traditional electronic beats to create a dance inspired track which remains tied to the rest of the album through the use of a steady electronic violin overtone.

All in Forms is another favourite from this album; an upbeat track which retains a haunting quality through sampled vocals which create an eerie and distorted atmosphere, both complementing and setting themselves apart from the rest of the track. This atmosphere is picked up again in Black Sands, the titular and closing track of the album; a beautiful, slow and haunting track which has an old world quality to it, playing off a sad melody against a positive beat.

This is a beautiful chillout album which provides a wonderful backdrop to reading. I wouldn’t normally have paired an album with such a positive overtone with a heady and atmospheric book such as Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, but its success in transporting you to another world only emphasised the strange of this novel. They say opposites attract, I guess they’re right.

Favourite track

01 – Prelude

Top track for action

02 – Kiara

Top track for tension

08 – All in Forms

Top track for emotion

12 – Black Sands



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Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Heligoland

Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


Massive Attack

Listen to with:

A thrilling urban fantasy

Such as:

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

This week we’re taking a break from my love of film and game soundtracks to listen to a band which have topped my list of favourites for an inordinately long time. Massive Attack have repeatedly produced incredible album after incredible album, and their perfect fusion of wildly differing beats and melodies have made them industry leaders in the rise of trip hop.

Heligoland, released in 2010, is Massive Attack’s fifth studio album and, with its seriously chilled out, downbeat vibes and lazy electro undertones, is the perfect backdrop to reading – and to urban fantasy in particular. This is an album which is soulful and atmospheric, and only gets better with each successive listen.

The opening track Pray For Rain, with its gentle vocals and rolling, lazy beat, sets the tone for the rest of the album, and fans of the brilliant crime drama Luther will instantly recognise its theme tune in the deceptively haunting Paradise Circus. Heligoland, which with Girl I Love You has produced one of my favourite Massive Attack tracks of all time, is a triumph of downbeat, rhythmic tracks which only become more addictive the more they are listened to.

This is an album of halves, an album which celebrates the fusion of different sounds and tones for maximum effect, and an album which makes one brilliant and mesmerising whole. Babel, a long-time favourite, succeeds in combining a fast-paced and tuneful melody with an understated and relaxed vibe made apparent throughout the entire album. Splitting the Atom contrasts a deep male vocal with an insistent, repeating melody which has a similar effect to Rush Minute, a track which combines a fast paced backing track with a soft and creeping vocal.

If you’re looking for an album which instantly gives off a city vibe and provides an effortless backdrop to any urban fantasy, then give Heligoland a listen. I can’t imagine reading Rivers of London without it.

Favourite track

04 – Girl I Love You

Top track for action

02 – Babel

Top track for tension

01 – Pray For Rain

Top track for emotion

08 – Rush Minute



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The Monthly Round-Up: November 2015

The Monthly Round-Up - NovWelcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| Books Read |

Ahh November, the craziest month of the year! Not only was this Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow, but I started a new job! This meant I was unable to post as much as I had wanted to as I hadn’t prepared in advance (tut tut!).  I’m only just getting used to my schedule – or in other words: If I want to post anything at all I need to prepare in advance! – so hopefully December’s posts will be a little more organised.

Onto the overview. I read five books in November, none of which featured on my Sci-Fi Month Introductory Post! But they were all excellent reads and reviews for the unreviewed will be cropping up in the next few weeks. I managed to jump on the Sci-Fi Month Read Along of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (hello Book of the Month!) and I also reached my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 100 books in 2015 after finishing Superposition. Hurrah!

So without further ramblings, here are the books I slowly devoured in November:

| 1. |

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

| 2. |

Down Station by Simon Morden

| 3. |

Superposition by David Walton

| 4. |

Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

| 5. |

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Book of the Month


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

by Becky Chambers

| November Goals |

To finish all the (poor neglected) novels I’m currently reading

1 of 4 | Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Status: Incomplete


To hop onto sci-fi month over at Rinn Reads

Status: Completed


| Goals for 2015 |

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge: 100/100 Books Read (100%)

Status: Completed

Dragons and Jetpacks 2015 Reading Challenge: 41/50 Books Read (82%)

Status: +0% during November

| Reviews Posted |

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch


Down Station by Simon Morden

| Other Posts From November |

The Monthly Round-Up: October 2015

The Month Ahead: November 2015

Sci-Fi Month: November 2015 – Introductory Post

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Read Along Week 1

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Read Along Week 2

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Read Along Week 3

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Read Along Week 4

Cover Reveal: Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe

Tough Travelling: Military Genius

Tough Travelling: Tricksters

Bookish Beats: Inception OST

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Book to Movie Adaptations I’d Love to See

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Thanksgiving Bastards

Teaser Tuesdays: November 03 – NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

Teaser Tuesdays: November 10 – Emma by Jane Austen

‘Sci-Fi’ Teaser Tuesdays: November 24 – Superposition by David Walton

Review: Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Broken Homes

Book Four of the Rivers of London / Peter Grant Series

by Ben Aaronovitch

Urban Fantasy | 357 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2013

| Rating |

Broken Homes continues the story of Peter Grant which began with Rivers of London/Midnight Riot and continued with Moon Over Soho and Whispers Under Ground.

Finally! After a several-year-interlude, I got around to reading the fourth book in Ben Aaronovitch’s excellent urban fantasy series, Rivers of London. Set on the dark and dangerous streets of London, Broken Homes is an exciting and addictive tale, where the schemes and plots of rogue magicians and a faceless enemy endeavour to make life difficult for Police Constable Peter Grant. With a backdrop of brutalist architecture, grimy streets and urban sprawl, Broken Homes is a fun and refreshing read, and an excellent addition to the series. And, having read the first three books in this series whilst on a university field trip to London where I visited a brutalist architecture exhibition, this entire book was clearly meant to be!

A mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection? And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River.

As usual, Ben Aaronovitch manages to plot a very witty and highly gritty tale of magical misadventure vs. the strong arm of the law. London is brilliantly illuminated and Aaronovitch manages to capture the magical and whimsical side of urban fantasy whilst throwing you head first into a dark and unsettling tale of rogue practitioners, mischievous fae and The Faceless Man. Broken Homes is a tale of strange magics and even stranger characters where trust is hard to come by and loyalties are too often tested.  This book, in all its urban glory, is easily devoured, thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly hard to put down.

London is described in effortless detail and the premise of the story is so rooted in our own past and present (minus the hocus pocus… perhaps) that you could almost believe it was real. The narrative is fast-paced and humorous, the dialogue snappy and to the point and Aaronovitch writes an incredible action scene – I can almost see the walls cracking, glass shattering, bricks crumbling and dust choking the air. The narrative also manages to  convey the social and environmental impact that numerous brutalist architectural schemes have had on the urban environment with attention to detail and a good dose of  magic and humour.

Peter Grant is a fantastic protagonist whose narrative gives an excellent portrayal of his character, and Nightingale’s role as resident antique and gentlemanly badass provides a perfect and often hilarious contrast. These are characters who always keep me reading, and always leave me wanting more. Plot might be the driving force behind these novels but the other characters, both magical and mundane, are captured with that ready wit and with the brief descriptions required to provide an accurate snapshot for a fast-paced and fantastical tale.

Ben Aaronovitch is an author who can weave the fantastic through a very human world and, though the subject matter was right up my alley, I would recommend his books to all those who love their urban fantasy gritty and real, yet fast-paced and funny. Broken Homes is an inventive and fun read which leaves you on a cliff edge for the next novel… now I just need to get my hands on Foxglove Summer!

Bookish Beats Suggestion
Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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The Month Ahead: November 2015

The Month Ahead - novIn The Month Ahead, I will be rounding up the books I am currently reading, the ones I will start this month, and the ones I intend getting my mitts on… if I haven’t already! I will also be sharing any news about features or posts on Books by Proxy, and anything in the book world that has me all excited!

| Currently Reading |

Oh no! Two of the above books were on October’s Month Ahead post! How very, very shameful. Poor Emma is such a small book that I lost her in a coat pocket! But after a daring rescue she’ll soon be on the read pile (unlike The Daylight War! Oops!). The end of October and the start of November have seriously reduced my reading time (yet it didn’t stop me picking up Broken Homes before I’d finished the other three) and I didn’t even finish NOS4R2 in time for Halloween! For shame indeed. Will definitely make a concerted effort to not start any more books before finishing these four!

In other news, a while back I put my name down for Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow, and still haven’t hopped on-board that ship! So once I’ve worked on some posts and rifled through my science fiction collection, expect some sci-fi goodness this November.

| Book Haul |

Oh Gollancz Book Festival, you broke me! Look at all these bad boys. With the exception of The Relic Guild by Edward Cox; Simon Morden’s Down Station (which I received through Netgalley), and A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (which I won), all these books were acquired there. And Simon Morden was actually at said festival so if I hadn’t already had one waiting at home I probably would have ended up with one then and there. So my book festival acquisitions are: Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains, Aliette de Bodard’s House of Shattered Wings, Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self, Ben Aaronovitch’s Broken Homes, A.J. Dalton’s Empire of the Saviours, Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House and Al Robertson’s Crashing Heaven. Phew.. just a few books to be getting on with.


| November Goals |

To finish all the (poor neglected) novels I’m currently reading

Status: 0 of 4 Complete


To hop onto sci-fi month over at Rinn Reads


Have you picked up any great books lately or read any of those mentioned above? What are your goals for the month ahead? 

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Teaser Tuesdays: October 27

Teaser TuesdaysWelcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Expect a new teaser every week!

| Teaser Tuesdays: Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch |


“London jumped towards me, King’s Cross, the green rectangle of Lincoln’s Inn, the river and, beyond the river, the studied dullness of the King’s Reach Tower and, beyond that, right in the centre of my field of view – the grim brutalist finger of Skygarden Tower. Had Stromberg been a practitioner as well as an architect?”

~ p. 106, Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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