Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh Margaret, Margaret!!

My Editor Ponders my Literary Skills
I don’t know ~ there’s something about those young women back in the 1800’s.  In novels anyway…. they beat around the bush and cannot see what is staring them right in the face!!  Look at Jane Eyre, she drove me nuts!  Now Margaret is pushing away John Thornton who loves her, and is offended when he proposes to her.  How haughty can you get, she needs a good slap!  She didn’t even say much at the dinner party which really annoyed me, but she did get a pebble in the head trying to protect John Thornton from the striking rabble at the mill and yet she still reckons she doesn’t love him. Now old Mrs Thornton says she hates Margaret for breaking her son’s heart and John says this only makes him love her more. Cripes!! 
Poor Bessy died, it was consumption, brought on by the harsh working conditions in the cotton mill when she was younger.  She was the same age as Margaret, and adored her.  Her dying wish was to be buried in something of Margaret’s.
Mrs Hale, Margaret’s mother is close to death’s door and John Thornton brought her a basket of fruit as the doctor said it would help ease her suffering.  When he delivered it he ignored Margaret completely as she sat sewing.  Margaret thinks that he just didn’t see her. Oh, the games they play..... I'm loving it!
Somewhere in Time
I’ve also started Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson.  The protagonist is dying from a brain tumour, and he is dictating thoughts onto a Dictaphone whilst travelling.  Taking a detour from his planned destination he stays at an old hotel where there is a small museum dedicated to the famous people that have stayed there.  He sees a photo of an actress who was born at the end of the nineteenth century and immediately falls in love with her.  Recognising the obsession but not being able to do anything about it he buys a heap of books that have some information on her – there isn’t much.  She was outgoing, then she became introverted and then reclusive.  He doesn’t like some of the photos but the one that he saw in the museum still attracts him greatly.  That’s as far as I have got.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – yes, I’m still listening to this on and off.  I actually forgot about it for a few days whilst I was really busy but listened to some on the way to work this morning.  I see that Harry’s starting to get a bit of an attitude – must be his age.  He’s had his first kiss though, and he and his friends are getting ready for Christmas with his uncle.  Hermione is pretty funny in this one; I think I prefer her in the novels rather than the movies.  The actress, in my opinion, isn’t particularly good.  In the books she’s a bit of a giggle, though impossibly bossy.  Ron’s good too, he’s pretty dim but a loyal friend – a bit like Frodo's friend Sam.
I’ve read some more of Flatland.  It’s not a novel you would pick up to enjoy for a quick read, even though it’s only a 100 pages or so long.  It’s more like a geometry lesson, but it is very clever.  It’s hard to explain all, but we’ve just gone through the Colour Revolution and how it was mishandled and abused – a bit like our Insulation Scheme debarcle…..?!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There's Trouble at T'Mill!

North & South ~ The men of Milton are going on strike.  The Masters want their workers to take a pay cut that brings their wages back to less than what they were earning two years ago.  Things appear to look good to the men so they can’t understand why they would be asked to take a cut, with most of them already living on the breadline.  John Thornton, one of the masters, has his reasons but he doesn’t believe that the workers should be told about the higher workings and finances of his company. 

The Hale’s have been invited to a dinner party hosted by the Thorntons, and Margaret will attend with her father, her mother being too ill.  Margaret has seen something of the plight of the strikers through her visits to Bessy and is troubled by the knowledge of the starving families.  Margaret has a tendency to speak her mind so the dinner party scene will be most interesting……  I really like the way this is written, and the narrator for this audio book is extremely good.  I find that I am thinking about the characters all the time.

Flatland ~ I'm currently going through the laws of nature, and how the Flatlander’s recognise each other – bearing in mind that most of the time they look like straight lines as they are only two dimensional.  The story is narrated by a Square, and he tells us that the law of nature states that each male child of a professional or gentlemanly Square will have one more side that his father and in this way the descendants will progress to a many sided or Polygonal shape and this ranks very highly along with nobility, who are Circles.

The lower class of society are Isosceles triangles, but even these can advance though it is at a much slower rate.  Their points can increase by degrees and minutes over each generation, and the birth of an Equilateral triangle is cause for a great celebration. (The Square’s own father was an Equilateral triangle).           

Women are pretty dangerous in Flatland, they are needle sharp straight lines and when facing you head on they are extremely difficult to see, and therefore deadly.  They must hum a continuous ‘peace-cry’ to alert those around them of their presence.

The University in Flatland is called ‘Wentbridge’, this being a pun on Cambridge and Abbott was also making the point that Cambridge was behind the times.  Abbott was a big advocate for women’s education which was not a priority back in the 1800s.

This is fun, but it’s also a very though provoking social commentary of the times.  It’s not long, and I’m about half way though it.

Yesterday I went to see The Expendables at the movies.  It was truly awful, though my other half thought it was great – full of action, explosions – that sort of thing.  I came out of the cinema with a raging headache!  We picked up a couple of DVDs too and they were better – The Hurt Locker which wasn’t bad but I still think Avatar should have got the best picture Oscar, and a French movie called A Prophet which wasn’t really as good as the critics had made out.  It was watchable however and very well acted.

Our book club meeting on Thursday was fun, and we welcomed new member Helen.  As next month is our 2nd birthday, we’re holding it on the Sunday following our usual club night at one of our member’s places and we are to dress ‘Valentino’ for it.  There is currently a Valentino exhibition in Brisbane, and one of our members bought the movie so we shall be watching that too.  Maybe we’ll even get to talk books!  The theme for the next two months is Same Title Different Book.  I’ve done Book of The Dead by Preston/Child and I’ll do another Book of the Dead for this.

Started reading another Richard Matheson about midnight last night and will write about that during the week when I’ve read a bit more!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Great Race Vs The Daleks

During my lunch break today I started the short story The Shadow out of Time by Lovecraft.  The description that he gives the Great Race brought to mind Dr Who’s Daleks.  (Now who wasn’t frightened by these exterminating villains when they were 10 years old?  I know I was!).  Lovecraft’s Great Race are massive ten feet high conical beings with flexible appendages which end in eyes, or terminate in massive claws or nippers for holding things.  Okay so the Great Race are biological, and the Daleks were horrible quidgey things living in a mechanised body but even when the Great Race goes to war they use camera like weapons which produce tremendous electrical effects……. sounds like a Dalek to me!
My next audio book was to be Carry Me Down by M J Hyland but I just couldn’t get it to load in sequence into i-Tunes so I gave up. Instead I loaded Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and it’s really grabbed me. As well as being beautifully read, I really like the characters.  The haughty Margaret Hale whose father’s crisis of faith leads him to leave the church and take his family to the manufacturing district of Milton.  Dixon, the faithful but equally haughty servant.  The nineteen year old Bessy, who is dying because she was sent to work in the cotton mills and has damaged her lungs from breathing in the cotton dust. 
There was (and still is to some extent) a great divide between the North and South of England, as well as the class divisions.  Margaret has spent time in London with wealthy relatives in society, and is quite mortified when she finds out that the wealthy manufacturer her father has befriended originally worked as a ‘shop boy’.  In her eyes he’s is more lower class than she, even though he is much wealthier.  I suppose they will eventually fall in love.  I read Gaskell’s Mary Barton a few years ago and that really opened your eyes to the plight of workers prior to the trade union movement, and what true poverty meant.  Gaskell was a friend of Charles Dickens, and is also well known for her ghost stories, though I can’t recall any at the moment, I’m pretty sure I have read some.
I did pick up Flatland, and am reading through the introduction at the moment.  It will be interesting reading this at the same time as North and South as it is a satire on society during the 1800’s with it’s class distinctions and racist outlooks.  Abbott is asking the reader to look beyond these boundaries, take off the blinkers, and to accept people for more than what they seem to be.  In modern times this book can be read within the realms of the science fiction to accept that though we are three dimensional beings that does not limit other possibilities.  There can be a fourth dimension, and just because we can’t experience it doesn’t mean it’s not there. 
I’m still dribbling through The Time Traveller’s wife.  Clare is 16, and Henry is fading in and out through 1987.  He’s just beaten up a dud date of Clare’s…… I will finish it but it’s just hasn’t caught my interest just yet.  
Well, here's to a good weekend.........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Bit of a Mind Bend

Finally I finished The End of Mr Y In the end all that metaphysical talk got on my nerves and bored me.  I enjoyed the first half, and it was well written, but I didn’t like the character of Ariel Manto. She was self destructive and I think I got the message by her lifestyle choices, but the obscene language got a bit too much in the end – it was unnecessary.  It was a bit of a mind bend, but became pretentious, annoying and too long.

But, one thing I like about reading is: one book generally leads to another.  In this case I have been led to Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland. I had heard of this book in another novel, but for some reason I thought it was made up for the storyline.  Having heard of it again I thought I would see if it was at the library.  It is and hopefully I can pick  it up on my way home tomorrow night.  Apparently Carl Sagan liked this book so much its ideas were utilised in his series Cosmos.

Book of the Dead ~ Diogenes' plans all went to hell, but he still managed to cause death and destruction beforehand.  The mysterious Constance has realised that he has played her for a fool and is pursuing him with the intention of assassinating him.  However, Pendergast is fast on the trail……. I like the way story has panned out.  At the beginning we’re under the impression that we’re in for a ‘curse of the mummy’ style novel when it’s not like that at all.

Harry Potter & the Order of The Phoenix ~ The trio are back at Hogwart’s but where’s Hagrid….?  Hermione, Ron and the loathsome Draco have been made prefects so I expect we’ll be having some fun with that throughout the novel!

I need to find out what is going on with i-Tunes.  It’s listing the bookmarks on each disc I'm uploading as 1, 10, 11, 12……19, 2, 20, 21………  it’s driving me nuts!!  I’m starting from scratch loading individually. It’s taking me all night. Help!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Y is Annoying Me!

I’m not so sure about The End of Mr Y now…. it’s starting to annoy me to the point I wish it would finish.  I don’t like the character of Ariel Manto (apparently an anagram for I’m not real) it’s just ‘blithering’ on and I’m losing interest!  I was hoping to finish it today whilst I was cleaning the house but my iPod went flat (again) so I’m giving it a good charge whilst watching the Federal Election results on the Teev.

The Book of The Dead is heading towards its climax – it seems Diogenes is planning his big crime at the grand opening of the Tomb of Senef which is also being broadcast so that the exposure to his crime will be tenfold; and apparently it all relates back to a terrifying experience from his childhood. 

I actually feel like I have been bogged down by these two books, I haven’t ticked anything off the list for a little while so I hope to remedy this next week with some exciting reads lined up.  BUT I am enjoying Book of the Dead, it’s easy to read at the end of the day…….. I just seem to have trouble finding the actual time to read it!

Lemming is on the Teev in a minute and I remember that it got really good reviews but it wasn’t on general cinema release so I didn’t get to see it, so will sign off for now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mousing Around, by Coincidence!

Well I paid the price for having a break from the office yesterday to attend the QHA 125th Anniversary Luncheon at the Hilton.  I was absolutely flat out all day.  Too busy in fact to even attempt listening to Harry Potter.

Mr Y is becoming most unusual and intriguing.  It’s very sexually orientated, but  it also dips into Quantum Physics, Wave Theory, religion and drugs.

Ariel finds the missing page from the book whilst packing away her mentor’s office.  It flutters out of a book that he’d told her to forget using for her thesis indicating he was actually giving her a clue.  The page contains the recipe for the elixir and after some research into the archaic instructions, homeopathic remedies and some trial and error Ariel finds herself in the ‘Troposphere’.  Her first experience is quite frightening as she finds herself sharing the mind of a mouse that has become caught in a Perspex trap.  The mouse is terrified and thinks of her nest.  Later Ariel finds herself in the mind of a cat that is ready to kill a mouse.  She is able to interfere and confuse the cat giving the mouse enough time to disappear.  She loves the feeling when the cat gives up and leaps up onto a wall.  When Ariel 'comes too', she thinks that she has been dreaming but when she goes into her kitchen she notices one of her humane mouse traps contains a victim and she remembers how it felt to be so frightened that she sets it free then and there. Their eyes meet for a couple of minutes and there is a spark of recognition before the mouse scurries away.

On Ariel’s second attempt with the elixir, she finds herself in the mind of a very angry German homosexual .  As she is privy to his thoughts and memories, she realises with horror that it is Wolfgang, her neighbour.  She tries to leave his mind immediately but is unable too…. That is as far as I have got.

Book of The Dead ~ Pendergast has been liberated from his maximum security prison and Diogenes is wooing the mysterious Constance.  She is taken in by his suavity but we know that he has an ulterior motive.  It’s a bit of a coincidence that this novel also contains a mouse.  In the future my memories of these books will probably become merged!

Have you had a coincidence with your book choices? I recently read The Testamament of Gideon Mack and Gideon made references to his late wife reading Bleak House, and I was also reading Bleak House at the same time. Last year I read Of Human Bondage and my audio book choice was Philip K Dick's Dr Bloodmoney where one of his characters was also reading Of Human Bondage – so there ended up being plot spoilers for me!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

At the End he was Nobody, but at the Beginning he was known as Mr Y

Ariel has read all but the last chapter of the book (minus the page that was torn out of course).  Mr Y has gone to the Goose Fair and whilst taking in the sideshows, he comes across a ‘doctor’ who gives him a strange elixir to drink.  Upon drinking this he finds himself in a place where he can enter the minds of other people (a bit reminiscent of Being John Malkovich?).  Once he returns to reality he is standing alone, it is late, dark and the fairground has packed up.  He cannot get this experience out of his mind and he burrows into various books trying to discover what the elixir could have contained.  Mr Y has an ulterior motive you see…… he is in the drapery business and his competitor, who is up to date with the modern methods of production, is rapidly putting him out of business.  Mr Y wants to enter this mans mind, find his inner most secrets and blackmail him.  Desperate to obtain the formula he finds the fair which has since moved on and speaks with a fortune teller whom he has been told is the doctor’s wife.  At first she denies this, but the doctor appears because he has read the mind of Mr Y and knows what he wants.  The price is thirty pounds – all that Mr Y possesses.  He refuses and leaves, but the next day returns with the thirty pounds hidden in his shoe.  Because the next page of the book is torn out, Ariel is left wondering what happened at this second meeting as the following page states that this was the beginning of the Mr Y’s downfall.
Back in the real world, Ariel has been informed that she must share her office at the University with a couple of ‘refugees’ from the collapsed Newton Building.  Ariel isn’t terribly happy with this news, as the office is her warm refuge from her cold empty flat, plus she needs to hack into her mentor’s computer to see if he kept notes on The End of Mr Y so that she can find out what was on the missing page……… You know, I would not have thought this novel would be as good as it is considering the author’s first name is Scarlett, which put me off several times when picking this up off the library shelf, plus the blurb on the back doesn’t do it any justice. I only selected it in the end as I had very little to choose from.
In The Book of the Dead our dapper pommie Egyptologist Wicherley appears to have been taken over by some entity…… he had been asked to go into the exhibit by Menzies (Head of Anthropology) in the wee hours of the morning…… I think Menzies might actually be our bad guy Diogenese because early on in the book Menzies killed a woman in her hospital bed (she was a survivor from the 2nd book of the Pendergast trilogy).
The Time Traveller’s Wife, I’m taking very slowly – when you get chapters headed Henry is 36 and 9, or Henry is 15 and 15 you can’t rush through it! It has yet to completely grab me, so it’s just my pick up put down book for now.
I have also just started listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix whilst working on my own in the office.  Up to chapter five and it’s so nice to be back.
It was a glorious morning this morning, spring is on its way.  Mind you we don’t really get spring.  It’s a flick of the switch – winter or summer, like our evenings… no dusk; it’s either light or dark!!  Anyway, I digress; I just wanted to share this photo which I took on my back deck whilst feeding my little darlings (Black Death and Big Red) about 7am this morning as the hot air balloons flew over.  If you are wondering on the names, it’s just their nicknames.  Black Death is actually Tenshi, and Big Red is Missey.  Tenshi actually lives up to her nickname; she also gets called Pestilence and Spawn of Satan, but I love her all the same.
Missey & Tenshi

Monday, August 16, 2010

Would You Go Out of Your Way to Read a Cursed Book?

I’m rather annoyed at myself today.  I really wish I would take more care when selecting audio books from the library and make sure that they are the unabridged books and not the radio plays.

I have listened to some excellent radio plays, the BBC’s are unbeatable.  Solaris was amazing, with a wonderful score.  The Kraken Wakes was another notable one, and the brilliant Woman in White with it’s original haunting musical score.  I don’t complain about any of these but I can’t tick them off my list if they are plays!!  I started listening to The Time Machine and the fact that it was only three discs should have alerted me………  oh well, I will listen to it at some stage but I really wanted the book. 

So..... I started listening to the End of Mr Y instead by Scarlett Thomas. So far I am LOVING IT (although it does contain a bit of swearing and for some bizarre reason it’s offending me slightly.  Now I’m no prude, I read Clive Barker and Stephen King for God’s sake and they’re full of expletives.  I think the reason is it’s a very English female narrator and it just doesn’t sound right rolling off her tongue!).

The story is told by Ariel Manto who is doing a PHD at University.  On the day that we meet her The Newton Building on the campus has collapsed into a disused tunnel.  Unable to collect her car due to the dangers of further collapse she must take the bus or walk.  Opting to walk she pops into a second hand book shop on her way home and discovers a rare copy of The End of Mr Y by Thomas Lumas, a nineteenth century writer she has been studying.  The book apparently is cursed and whoever has read the book has disappeared, including Lumas himself.  It might seem that her mentor has read it too as he disappeared a week after she started her PHD (which he had talked her into). She reads the preface of this book, and it asks the reader to consider the work as a piece of fiction only… which has got Ariel intrigued.  So far she has just flicked through the book and noticed that one of the pages has been torn out........

In The Book of The Dead, we’ve had a rather nasty killing in the museum.  Two people went missing – the computer whiz and his offsider who were setting up the special effects for the Tomb of Senef Exhibition.  The offsider was found in the sarcophagus, ripped open with his entrails dumped unceremoniously into a couple of large canopic jars.  After sealing off parts of the museum the ‘murderer’ was apprehended, naked and covered in blood.  However once the blood was wiped away from his face – shock, horror, gasp - it 's the computer whiz. This is quite good fun!

Poor Lovecraft has taken a backseat.  His is my lunch break book and I haven't really had time for a proper break recently.

Talking of lunch breaks though, on Wednesday I have been invited to a Luncheon (through work) at the Hilton Hotel!  It's an industry thing BUT the food should be really good.  It will be nice to get out of the office for a change.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Damn Batteries!

I wish I was more vigilant when it came to keeping my toys charged up.

I went to Dreamworld yesterday to try out their Carvery and to take in the Australian Show.  Before we left we thought we would spend some time with the tigers.  Sita was there being menaced by the four juveniles.  One of the juveniles slipped passed a trainer and there was a bit of a scuffle and some roaring on Sita’s part - would have made great video footage…… only my battery was flat….and the opportunity was missed.

Today I had just started my ironing when I decided to finish listening to Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  I was on the last chapter so knew I only had half an hour to go with it. I just got to the part where Hermione was about to explain how Rita Skeeta managed to get all her inside scoops at Hogwarts…….when my iPod stopped because my battery was flat!  Can you imagine the agony, it was hours before I remembered I had been charging it up and finally found out she was an unregistered Animagus and had turned into a bug!

I’m also a bit fed up how iTunes catalogues the discs to my audio books.  The amounts of times I start a book and find that Disc 3 has been catalogued first grrrrrr.  As we speak I am reloading HG Well’s The Time Machine for that very reason. 

It was a quiet Sunday all up, but I was busy on the Book Army site getting my ranking ‘up there’.  I went through my bookshelves and have registered those that I have read.  Then I noticed Enid Blyton is on the site, so I went through all the Famous Five and Secret Sevens that I remember reading plus The Three Detectives by Alfred Hitchcock.  I remember reading one Enid Blyton book about two cousins spending the summer on a farm.  I couldn’t be bothered ploughing through 62 pages of titles, I went through 12 and nothing rang a bell so gave up.  Anyhoo, my ranking is now 90 so very happy with that.

I’ve uploaded a new Dean Koontz to listen to (Whispers) – yes, I am a glutton for punishment – but I’ll do The Time Machine & The End of Mr Y first.  Plus I need to get some 1001 reads done otherwise I won’t make my target.  I found another ‘Book of The Dead’ hidden behind my Stephen Kings, so will do that one instead of the awful Patricia Cornwell that I gave up on.  

Off to finish cooking my roast now........

Friday, August 13, 2010

No More Soggy Sandwiches!

I know I should have thought of this sooner, but I didn’t. Sometimes the most obvious solutions are hard to find. However after reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the problem was solved. If you want tomato in your sandwiches, blot the sliced tomatoes in paper towel first!! I was cutting out the middles of the tomatoes, or putting them separately in a tub – which was taking up the room for chocolate in my lunch box - I’m so happy, my sandwiches today were yummy and not a bit of ‘sog’ anywhere!

My reading came to an abrupt halt for a couple of days thanks to the pressures of work, however now the weekend is upon us and I will do my best to catch up.

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire ~ Poor Cedric has been killed by Lord Voldemort, and I’m at the big reveal near the end of the book. I’ve really enjoyed this fourth instalment and only have one criticism – the characters look ‘wildly about’ a little too often. I find the phrase midly annoying, maybe it’s because it is the sort of thing I would write (I have no talent!), and I’m sure J K Rowling could give us a better adverb. However, she is the millionaire and who am I to criticise?

The Book of the Dead is what I call my bit of ‘fluff reading’. It’s just a bit of nonsense, but good for a light read and a bit of time out from the heavy stuff. It’s well written and the characters are promising to be interesting. Constance has got me intrigued. This is the last in the Pendergast Trilogy, and I should have read the others before hand but I’ll see how I go. So far we have a mysterious murder in the Egyptian exhibit at the museum, plus Agent Pendergast is in prison (he was framed) and is about to be liberated. His brother Diogenes (the bad guy) has just given Constance a white mouse but she lied about who gave it to her when the group who are going to break Pendergast out of prison saw it. What’s her motive? Why was she wearing a crinoline in the previous chapter…….? I don’t want to Google it as I’ll spoil the novel but if I’d read the other books it would be obvious I guess.

Have done a couple more chapters of the Time Traveller’s Wife too. I’m going to take this one slowly, but where I was confused before it is now all clear……. it’s a bit of a mind warp this one you have to keep stopping and reminding yourself what’s what!

Anyhoo, I'll sign off for now.

Happy reading and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ooh Child, Ah Just Lurve The Lady Chablis!

The Lady Chablis – what a character. Only she isn’t a character, and she isn’t a she! Chablis is just one of the wonderful people that John Berendt met whilst living in Savannah. She is a beautiful black drag queen, still with her male accompaniments, but lives as a woman and even has a good looking young white boyfriend (eek!). She is outrageous and socially dangerous if you spurn her. Berendt enjoys her banter but not when she gatecrashes a black Debutante ball where he is the only white invitee. The results are absolutely hilarious.

Another character I love is the eccentric Minerva who is doing everything within her voodoo power to help Jim Williams who has been convicted of murder after a second trial. Hiding behind her purple glasses and carrying graveyard dirt (which she takes from the graveyard at midnight and carries in her trademark shopping bag) she leaves twigs and roots in the courtroom and claims that a long dead Delia still has some work to do on the D.A! A great collection of unforgettable people, no wonder this book was on the New York Times best seller list for 216 weeks.

I finished a Tranquil Star, but I didn’t enjoy this selection of short stories as much as I had anticipated I would. I think it was the beautiful title that attracted me, but the selection of stories were just too weird. I almost laugh at myself when I say this, as I love weird fiction but I just could not relate to these at all. There is one story about a kangaroo that attends a buffet and it was absolutely ridiculous………I’ll review this for the newsletter so won’t say too much here. It was well written, and I did like some of the stories but I think that they would be more of interest to people who know of Levi and his past work.

Talking of weird fiction, I also finished Button, Button by Richard Matheson which is definitely more along my lines, though I must admit I didn’t ‘get’ some of the stories. The creepiest, and one of the best, was in poem format and was called The Jazz Machine. A white guy develops a machine that can translate the emotion of Jazz. He invites a black musician to give it ago, but after being shown a demonstration the musician is horrified and smashes the machine to pieces. He says:

“……….Take everything you want, man
You will because you have
But don’t come scuffling for our souls”.

Powerful stuff, though Pattern for Survival was the best of the lot in my opinion because it was cleverly constructed.

Still listening to Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, it’s like going home every time I switch it on.

I need to start hunting for some more reading material. I’ll get cracking with the Time Traveller’s Wife now as I’ve only done a few chapters so far and I think my next audio after Harry Potter will be the End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas.

I'm off to do some ‘twittering’ now to try and promote the book club.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tiger Tiger, Burning Bright

Aha!  The penny has dropped.  Koontz's 'variation on a theme' in Darkfall is his use of Lovecraft's 'Great Old Ones'.  Shame, Lovecraft should not be messed with.  A tribute yes (refer Stephen King's 'N'), but not as part of a corny novella such as this.

However, throughout the novel are quotes/poems from his fictional 'Book of Counted Sorrows'.  These are excellent, and should he ever publish them I'd be very interested.

We had a lovely day at Dreamworld again yesterday.  I could sit at Tiger Island all day, they are just beautiful.  The female Bengal tiger was a little cranky with the four juvenile Sumatrans, so we had a little bit of roaring which really made you realise that these are dangerous wild animals!

You should have seen how interested they were with Inga, the beautiful Cougar that was brought out for her demonstration, they are just merciless hunters and make my two little darlings look like pathetic little pip squeaks!  At one stage, one of the trainers was watching a visitor collect a thong his son had kicked over the fence, and as such he had his back to one of the juveniles.  This tiger ran up behind him and put his paws on his shoulder's almost knocking him over.  This was probably a playful act, but it could have had serious consequences and the trainer was visibly shaken. 

I was out all day and evening yesterday so there has been a bit of slippage on the reading front! I read Mute from Richard Matheson's Button, Button about 1am this morning so only have a few more stories to go. I'm three quarters of the way through Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and I hope to have that finished this afternoon.

I'll be starting A Tranquil Star tomorrow, and really looking forward to this one.  It was publish in 2007, 20 years after Levi's death and all these stories were previously unpublished in English.

From looking at the premise of each story, these are going to be quite different and unusual.

I had a query yesterday for Book Club via the Community Website, so hopefully we sound interesting enough for a club night attendance.........? 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No Such Thing as a Vampire

Phew, it’s nice to have five minutes to write again.  I’ve been pretty busy at work and at home.  I’ve just done my weekly shop on-line, and now I want to talk BOOKS!

I was quite amazed that the last time I logged into my profile at the Book Army site, my last log in was a year ago and I was just about to head off to the UK after 18 years.  So, I spent a couple of evenings updating and reviewing and at my sign off my position as being most read was 150.  I’m not sure out of how many, but I was 222 before my update.  So as well as getting through the 1001 book list, I also want to be in the top 20 by the end of next year!  Might have to start reading some 100 page books instead of the 600 I like to sink my teeth into…… oh well!

With this is mind and a boring task that took me all day at work, I put on my iPod Nano and listened to some of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  As usual, I’m really enjoying the plot line and characters.  The plot is simple but not, I can understand why it’s been so popular with our younger generation as they can relate to the school-theme and the general goings on.  Most of the story revolves around that, but it’s the dark subplot that is always so clever.  I’m about half way through it now.

I’ve almost finished Dean Koontz’s Darkfall, and it’s a heap of nonsense.  It could be a short story but he’s filled it up with pretty mindless dialogue to pad it out to novel size.  I’m disappointed Dean…… in the forward he says it’s a variation on a theme.  What theme?  I’m still trying to work it out.  In my minds eye it’s a load of gremlin type creatures that are being controlled by the voodoo……?

Now, Button Button by Richard Matheson.  These stories are simply told but I’m loving them!  I read two last night – No Such Thing as a Vampire which has the most wonderful twist at the end, and the other was Pattern for Survival.  I read that one twice, it’s brilliant.  It’s about an author and the pattern of people his manuscript goes through to the final publishing and the first customer who buys it.  However at the end you realise that he has played the role of all those people himself, because he is the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust!

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt is still enthralling me.  I lament my lack of a lunch break today as I really wanted to read some more.  The extremely wealthy Jim Williams has shot the young man who lived with him.  It turned out that the young man was his lover.  A scandal for some, but not for others who were close to them.  The young man was very volatile and a drug user and some say it was just a matter of time ….. Williams is indicted for murder…….. will he get off?  I must get the movie out some time. I wasn’t particularly interested in it when it was first released, but now I know this is all true, I’m fascinated.

Last night I uploaded a couple more books to my iPod Shuffle in the hope that I finish Darkfall as soon as possible! These are A Tranquil Star by Primo Levi and The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas I’m looking forward to starting them.

I’m also still reading the odd page of Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, the characters are just opening up an old Egyptian Tomb exhibit in the basement of the museum and they have read aloud a curse from the Book of the Dead…. Well, we know what’s going to happen now don’t we?  Oh well, it had better be good and blood thirsty…….

Until next time……

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thoughts on Therese Raquin

I finished Therese Raquin today.  I thought that it was a wonderful read although it did drag out towards the end and became repetitive.  However, the whole feel of the novel was one of oppression and darkness, and to keep that imagery going throughout the whole book I thought it was very well done..

Therese felt oppressed in her marriage to Camille, by her overbearing aunt, in the dark shop and then by what she and Laurent had done.

Laurent felt oppressed having to work every day waiting for his father to die so he’d have his inheritance and live the idle life, but when he can live the idle life after murdering Camille and  marrying Therese, he is oppressed by it because then his thoughts always turn to Camille, as he has nothing else to occupy them.

Madam Raquin never recovers from the shock of Camille’s death and declines into an invalid state to the point where she can only move her eyes.  Eventually the truth of the murder slips out and Madam Raquin is in a state of perpetual torture, being cared for by the murderers of her beloved son.  Unable to tell anyone of this dreadful truth, trapped in her own body, all she can do is wish for death.

I won’t divulge the ending as this really is worth reading.  The first half of the novel was very well done, but the second half as I said dragged on a bit.

I’m enjoying Button, Button by Richard Matheson. These stories are very easy to read and I look forward to the twist at the end of each.  Dying Room Only is the best so far, although I was disappointed with the ending on this one as it fell at bit flat.

Still enjoying being introduced to the bizarre inhabitants of Savannah They are funny, but rather alarming at the same time! I've just been introduced to The Lady Chablis.  What a character!

For my next audio read I decided on something light, and I know my daughter will be annoyed that it’s not Harry Potter (I’ll read the next one soon, I promise!), so I’ve chosen Darkfall by Dean Koontz.  It started off okay, but the banter between the cops is annoying me already!!

I’m also reading a few pages now again from the Book of the Dead – it’s obviously a sequel to another novel but I will continue with it, it’s about a museum that decides to open up an Egyptian exhibit that has been closed for some time to distract the public from a scandal that has loomed over the museum’s Management.  It’s easy to read, and I don’t mind it so far for a bit of distracting ‘fluff’.