April 16, 2013
A brilliantly funny (and very crude) musical which I got to on the West End see as my main birthday present. I was very impressed at how they balanced between making fun of Mormons who have gone out to Missions and treating those Mormons as good people who try to rationalise their own beliefs. Apparently they did this so well that the Church of Latter Day Saints actually likes the musical (and the program includes adverts for the actual Book of Mormon).
The music has good repeated themes throughout to tie the production together, as is sufficently catchy that when I hear “Hello” I now automatically follow it up in my head with “…my name is Elder Price”.
April 16, 2013
Issola is one of the Vlad Taltos Novels, after his separation from normal “human” society. Its a fast easy read with fight scenes, old friendships, magic and a hint of romance. I’ve read this several times (as with all the Vlad Taltos novels) and a new ship occurred to me on this read.
Bits of this are just plain weird as Brust indulges in some new world-building, I’d forgotten how alien his first world was as its now as familiar place for my lightweight reading as the Tortall-verse.
January 15, 2013
The WIndup Girl is a good piece of hard sci fi. Set in a future where we have no oil and the food companies are controlling much of the planet due to their ability to let populations starve and control diseases. Set in Thailand where foreigners are distrusted and new technology more so, and rival government bodies and companies via for power.
The Japanese have solved their ageing work-force population with “New People”: designed to be better than human, to live longer, move faster and be less susceptible to diseases than the normal people. But these people have become a new underclass, trained from birth to obey their master. Emiko is one of them, left behind by her master and struggling to survive in this hostile world.
This was a very gritty book, with a look at how an underclass would survive as technology changes, new diseases spread and people become expendable in the fight to keep power and keep Thailand’s independence.
December 31, 2012
Not a great year for reading between time spent working on my MSc and having a new baby. Aside from papers to review and baby books, only managed to read 15 “proper” books.
I have returned to my Alexander McCall Smith and Tamora Pierce habits though, and have been devouring old favourites, especially as Mark Reads has been working through the Tortall books and I’ve been loving the chapter-by-chapter discussion of these books.
Need to whittle my pile of books which I’m halfway through down urgently now as I’m due to restart the MSc (and thus have no time again) and I can take advantage of the book club book being 44 Scotland Street which I have already read twice this year so don’t feel I need to read again.
And quote of the week has to come from watching the Da Vinci Code:
I need to find a library, quickly!
November 4, 2012
Got a couple of more serious books on the go, but have been rather sleep-deprived this week, so fell back to Alexander McCall Smith for more comfort reading.
44 Scotland Street was written as a daily novel in The Scotsman so has wonderfully short chapters which stand alone well (did I mention this was a sleep-deprived week yet). And of course its a beautifully gentle novel in which the most serious offence is a bit of lying and narcissism. And how can you fail to love a book in which one of the characters spontaneously makes up “Chinese Scottish” poetry?
October 21, 2012
This was a very sweet collection of poems about the early days of motherhood. From the waiting of late pregnancy through to toddlerhood.
The early poems capture well the overwhelming nature of a newborn baby and how fragile and helpless both mother and baby are, and then this develops into a relationship where both parties are busier and happier in a love of balloons and very visual poems.
October 21, 2012
Jacob Jankowski is an old man, living in a residential home and the circus has just come to town. This triggers memories of the days when he accidentally jumped aboard a circus train in the middle of the Great Depression.
The level of violence in this book was shocking, along with the gritty characters who were just struggling. The contrast between the glitter of the ring and the day-to-day struggle of a circus operating outside the low, travelling between towns on a long train with animals packed into cars and men who the circus can no longer keep being redlighted.
Then there is a the care home life of Jacob, who is worried about losing his memory and feels institutionalised by a home which only ever serves soft food in spite of the fact that he still has his teeth. He misses his dead wife and his many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and has a few like-minded souls and one nurse who realises he is still human.
Love how the two timelines tie together and the misdirection in the prologue.
Also this is a success for the Libraries West book reservation system. Ordered it from home (online) and it appeared at my village library within the week for a very reasonable fee. Good system and supporting the community library.
September 28, 2012
This is a collection of poems about an abusive relationship between father and daughter as the father is dying. There is vivid imagery of the Amazon rainforest and a thread of healing through the rainforest.
I’m never quite sure how to read poetry, read some of these aloud, which definitely helped with the “rhythm” of the poems, although I feel a bit foolish reading aloud on my own (and didn’t want to read poems this violent with my son in the room).
August 26, 2012
This is a lovely lightweight novel lent to me on holiday (when the book group book was too heavy going). Its a story of how to hold together a young family ok the face of death, old love and community tensions.
Samantha is a wonderfully flawed character, doing the best she can in often hilarious circumstances, and the images that Cavendish describes are vivid. Whilst this isn’t a challenging book it is a particularly good example of “chick lit”.
August 25, 2012
The Elephant is a collection of short stories in the form of parables to illustrate the surreal nature of life in an European police state. Mrożek uses metaphors involving animals for some of the stories, to show how people were treated as animals by their own government.
The image of political dissidents being trapped in cages is far more vivid for the parable of how dissenting views were treated than just the knowledge that they were censored. It gives a real sense of how it would feel to be unable to talk freely about politics, the government and individuals in powerful and privileged positions.
Being of an age that means I cannot remember the time before the Berlin Wall fell, the idea that half of Europe was under this type of government in the modern age is something that needs remembering especially in the light of the move towards anger in politics.