Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Princess of Mars

I loved this book!  I picked it up in the first place because it's a Mars book, and it  was a favourite of Ray Bradbury's.  It really wasn't complicated, there isn't a load of scientific mumbo jumbo to make your eyes glaze over, but there is lots of action, amazing martians and Dejah Thoris.  Of course, you have right here before you a John Carter fangirl... I can't help it.  He just kicks ass.  And how fortunate for me that there is an amazing movie called John Carter?  I know there has been a lot of criticism over it, and as far as following the story goes it is a bit different.  But I still love it.  As far as I'm concerned the movie has the important bits.  I felt shivers the first time I saw John jumping towards that ship...
It's always great to have images that you love that can be paired to your reading.  John Carter (and many others in the movie) will for me always be the ones I picture...
                        
As with Tarzan, there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the book, and I don't really mind.  I can't wait to get on with the next book to find out what happens next.  I love Burroughs' Mars and his martians.  Woola is pretty cool too...there is something irresistable about a big  creature that has the unfailing loyalty of a dog.
The Barsoom novels have earnt their place on my Mars shelf. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Big Sleep


Enter The Big Sleep.  Can I use this made up verb " Wodehousesque" for every book that makes me feel this way?    It flowed.  It had a life of it's own with simple language that described an atmosphere unmistakeably Hollywood.  This book was Hollywood to me, and there are only an extremely small amount of writers that can do that for me (Ray Bradbury being the only other...see? That small!).  I am extremely ignorant of many things, so when I begin to read or even write about things I hardly ever do any research (no risk of spoilers that way!), so I really did not know that this book had been made into a movie and that Humphrey Bogart was the protagonist.  All the while I was reading it, I pictured, and heard Humphrey in my head.  And it was not until I was looking for a picture to post with my blog entry that I saw that was the case.  Funny how that happens eh?  Usually though, my modus operandi is to research the movie, and not watch it until I have read the book. 
 
Next in the series (isn't it exciting to discover a new series that is already complete?).  With the set-up already in place ( The Big Sleep), it was so easy to just slide in to this world.  Some guys are just heroes, without really saying anything at all, and Philip Marlowe is a man of action.  His moves speak volumes which is pretty fabulous to come across in a novel.  I was reminded of  Ray Bradbury's "The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair" when I read this book, and it gave the story an extra dimension, and an emotional attachment to me because I love all things Bradbury.  I have ordered the next in the series, and look forward with great anticipation to revisiting Philip Marlowe's world again.  It was after reading this book that I began The Last Policeman trilogy, and I am pleased to say that the contrast between characters was pratically non-existent.  Both protagonists are true heroes and real men in  my eyes (well...not real men, I mean ideal men, my definition of men with strength of character and convictions... you didn't think I thought they were real honest to goodness people did you?)

World of Trouble

I was having a difficult time sleeping last week, and on this particular night, as it was a weekend, I decided to stop just lying there tossing,  turning, and twitching, so I finished this book.  I was close to doing so, but had decided to hold off until the next day and give it my complete attention ( I was getting pretty tired...).  So I did, I stayed up and read on until it was finished.  Guess what I dreamt of when I finally went to sleep that night?
Which brings me to my next thought.  While I read these books, every now and then mild curiosity would graze my consciousness about what I would do if I were in the same situation?  I tried not to spend any thought on it at all... I am the kind of person who prefers to deal with it if it comes, and not imagine desperate scenarios.  Why waste time on something that may not ever happen? While I do not live as if every day is my last, I sure as heck don't like to waste time, so I live my life doing what I love doing best.  My dream showed me what I would do.  I was in a room (with loved ones supposedly, but as it is with dreams, there is not really anyone specific), but I knew I was with people I loved, and I was getting annoyed, because as the time grew closer to the inevitable, these shadows would keep on closing the curtains, and I would struggle to open them again, because I wanted to see!   In lots of my dreams there are bizarre obstacles to overcome, and I struggled through each one to make sure that I could see what was happening...kind of like a Robert Munsch book, where I repeated actions over and over again to get to the end result.  Finally, after pulling down curtains, breaking blinds, and ripping apart with my bloody hand,s storm shutters, I saw.  I saw an eclipse, then some spectacular aurora borealis, and then a rapidly brightening light in the sky...which was when I woke up. 
Wow!  How's that for a book that made a powerful impact? (and I totally did not mean for that to be a double entendre, but clever me anyway har har!).  I wish I could speak to Ben H. Winters in person and thank him for such an amazing tale.  An adventure that had me fan-girling Hank, thinking in ways that had me reaching conclusions and seeing things that I have never considered before.  
So if you are looking for an apocalyptic crime fiction which will lead you through to the end of the world with lots of adventure and food for thought along the way, a story that feels real, this is the biscuit!  I mean it.  I can't wait to see what Winters does next as you know I will be first in line to buy it!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Coping with Abibliophobia

Abibliophobia as some of you may know is the fear of running out of something to read!  And yes, I was worried before I went away to Australia for six weeks.   With a limit on my luggage weight, and a reluctance to have to buy anything I would need, I stuffed my suitcase pretty full, was only a pound or two overweight, and was really over-taxed to haul the big beastie around with me from airport to airport.  That is just the big suitcase, there was my carry on as well, and my purse which held all important documents, bank cards etc., and a book!  I worried about this for a few weeks before I left, what if I read something too fast and then was caught between flights without something to read?  With only two previous flights to refer to I had not taken into account the perks of a more modern plane, and I was also anxious about the battery running out on my Samsung tablet before I got to where I was going.  I had bought the tablet last spring with the idea of using it to communicate with my family while I was gone, I had decided against buying a new cell phone for the time I was there not wishing to use up my money on something I didn't think I would use very much, and that would be obsolete by the next time I came back to Australia.

So the tablet was the plan, my main means of communicating.  It has  a great, long-lasting battery, but I didn't want to be without it whilst traveling as it was my means of checking in with DH and the rest of my family.  Of course, once I had loaded on it the important applications, banking  etc., I had some space for music and books, but that does use up power, hence the need for an actual book to keep me company as well.
As it turned out I had just begun Catch 22 by Jospeh Heller, a week before I left, and I didn't want to leave it behind (it is a thick and somewhat heavy book, which made me hesitate), but take it I did, with  A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marian Lewyka as a backup in case I finished the first one.
Laugh at me if you must (I can laugh at myself now...almost), I should have remembered this from the last time I went home eight years ago.  When you travel it is not as easy as you think to carry so much luggage about, and really, some books just aren't the travelling type.  Catch 22 was one of these.   My first lesson; it was hard to get into in a busy airport, I couldn't focus on it as much as I needed to, which tells me that when I travel again and insist on bringing a book, I will limit it to just one book, I will make a protective bag for it so that it will not recieve damage in my well stuffed carry-on luggage, and lastly, I will choose something that does not require a lot of effort to read, something smooth and amusing like say P.G. Wodehouse or, as I discovered when I could read on my tablet due to the fact that the seat in front of me had a plug so that I could charge my tablet and read, listen to music etc., that Doctor Who and The Dresden Files were great reads for long flights, or for travelling in general as they were easily engaging, didn't require to much mental effort and were just comfortable reads in general for the person who doesn't know when next they can settle down to a good book.
Even after I got to my destination, reading Catch 22 was still a difficulty due to my mind being very occupied by the events that happenend on this last trip, and whatever I had read I don't think I had really registered at all ( I will be revisiting this book next month).
So.  these are the lessons that I have learnt from this last trip.  There are provisions for travelers who have electronic devices to charge up when they need to, a small, easy-to-read book is best, and some sort of protective casing for your book to avoid those dings and folded over edges etc., and the very last thing, you can always buy a book where ever you go so just budget for it!

Countdown City

The second installment of The Last Policeman trilogy, it does not disappoint.  I have sometimes found that when a trilogy is planned, the middle book is mostly stuffing, a little bit of filler before the exciting stuff happens in the last book, not so with Countdown City.  The protagonist Hank Palace is to me, a very 'Harry Dresdenesque' character (the kind my best friend and I fan girl about).  He fights the good fight no matter what, he cares beyond the reason of his peers, and he suffers for his attempts to do the right thing.  Enmeshed in the drama of this amazing policeman's life is the other drama surrounding him, of the world about to end.  This book packed a powerful punch and in all the right places, and I'm looking forward to and dreading at the same time what happens next in World of Trouble.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Last Policeman

                                    
I first read this two years ago and them promptly forgot it.  Why? Because it was  going to be a trilogy and I was not going to think about it again until I had the complete set beside my reading chair.  And it worked!  I actually did forget most of what happened (though really, after reading at least four hundred books between then and now, I guess it wasn't something I had to put too much effort into...).
I have, since the first time, developed a strong fondness for Ben H. Winters (well...Quirk Publishing in general).  Okay, I can even go as far as saying that I love this guy!  Since my first reading of The Last Policeman I have also read, Bedbugs, and Android Karenin (which was no small feat of adaptation!).  So I feel that I have come to know the author a little better.  Coming back to The Last Policeman was a treat (and considering that I had just finished Farewell, My Lovely by the great Raymond Chandler that's really saying something!).  I really paid attention to all the details, noticed more than I had forgotten, really got to know the protagonist Hank Palace. 
Now that the other two are published Countdown City and World of Trouble, I freely recommend this pre-apocalyptic, police detective series, it's a different spin on chaos, on humanity in a crisis, with a plot that is engrossing, and not too hard to follow.  Getting close to the end of Policeman I really felt the excitement, the build up to the finale which was not disappointing and it left, naturally, questions which I look forward to getting the answers to in the next two installments.




Friday, September 5, 2014

My Apologies...

It has been a difficult couple of months, starting with my laptop frying and losing all of my notes for the  many books I had read and not posted yet.  It was a severe blow.  Then about the same time I was working on filing a grievance against someone for harrassment at work,  which was excruciating to say the least.  Then I went to Australia for the summer, and found out that my mother had passed away six years previously and that we (my brothers and myself) were not to be notified as "she hated the lot of us".   This is where you can see why I have always been able to sympathise with my characters in books with terrible parents...
I had made a few attempts when I was a teenager to free myself from the influence of my mother, and someone at the time asked me how I would feel  if she died.  Well I can honestly answer that now.  Terrible.  I feel terrible.  But it is not  for the reasons that you might think.   I do not feel regret that I kept her from my life for the past twenty three years... she was toxic and I could not allow her to come anywhere near my family.  My heart is broken.  I mourn for something I never had, never could have had, because no matter how well I have lived my life, or suceeded in things that my own mother failed tragically in... she still would not have loved me.
So it has been a stressful couple of months, but I am through the other side of my troubles now, and ready to start talking again about one of my great loves...books!  That is not to say that there is still a great deal of sadness here in my heart, like I said, I am broken, but I think it might perhaps make me more compassionate in what I read.  My world view has changed.  I have a hankering for something profound to dig in to.  We will see.  I promise a new entry soon.  Have a nice weekend!