Thursday, 10 November 2011


I just finished Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones the other day and I was thinking. So many adult books are about anti-heroes now. It is not trendy to write about heroes these days. What is trendy is to write about the most unlikeable, repulsive, horrible human beings possible. Heroes won't win you a Booker and frankly belong in "genre fiction" which us educated people know is fluff and not worth our time.

And you know what I think? Fuck it.

I picked up this "kids" book and loved it. Mainly because the fact that the good guys were good. And likeable. And I was on their side. They were flawed like all humans but they worked through things, or overcame their flaws and did good stuff. And the bad guys weren't all bad. They were understandable, and not just an arse for the sake of it.

I finished the book with a large smile on my face and a sense of satisfaction and I worked out why. The people I meet everyday, 90% of them are good people. They aren't perfect but they try to do the right thing. If we were all thrown into a bad situation, I'm pretty sure most of them would try and help everyone as best they could. Only a small amount of people I meet are completely and utterly reprehensible. And I hate that 90% of our fiction talks and glorifies this type of people. In fact, I move on from these people as quick as I can in life. Why on earth do I want to read 500 pages of wank about them in my down time?

Well you know what? I'm not going to any more. I am embracing the hero. Bring on the kids books, the Austen-esq literature and the genre fiction. Embrace that goddamn neglected hero and make him or her the most valued thing in your reading for a while. It may not be trendy but it will make you feel better as a human being.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Catch Up

Post from the 27 October 2011

I've got a Feeling...

1 week to go! Thank you to everyone that has come in help us raise some more money in the last stretch. And thank you to those who have donated twice! You’re generosity is overwhelming!

I can talk about “We Need to Talk About Kevin” now. It was an unsettling book. Not just because of the teenage murderous rampage, but all the characters where all just a little off. It was a good read, but not one I need to relive again and therefore I think I will skip seeing Tilda Swinton in the movie. But as she is unsettling in general, I think she is a perfect fit for the part of Eva.

Maybe the most unsettling thing was I could understand where at least Eva and Kevin where coming from. Eva wanted to connect with her son and be a good mother but never could. Whether that caused him to become a sociopath or whether he just was one doesn’t really matter to me. The fact that she was longing to be a good mother and have her child manipulate her life to show that she wasn’t was distressing. The fact that this child destroyed a relationship was understandable as well. Although from Kevin’s point of view, all he wanted was a reaction and in some ways to feel something. He seemed to be so emotionally numb that I can understand trying to do something so horrible in order to feel something.

A world without feeling seems like a horrible place to be in. Thank goodness we all have at least books to help us feel something, even if it is unsettling.

Post from the 15 October 2011

Close to the Finish Line

So, I really want to talk about "We Need to Talk About Kevin" but I can't. Book Club embargo. Which is why I haven't posted in so long as I had to read something else to post about.

I chose Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, because I have meant to read something of his for years and haven't gotten around to it. Maybe I had my expectations set too high for Jules Verne. I have him categorised in my mind as steampunk/adventure/sci-fi and I wish this book had lived up to that expectation.

I spent the whole 180 odd pages waiting for the twist or the adventure, and am still left wanting. Although it sounds like I have picked the wrong Verne book to start with, and will try again once I'm over this disappointment.

I will say though I have sourced a brilliant quote now because of this book. 'When science has uttered her voice, let babblers hold their peace'.

Now this being all said and done, I honestly probably only have time to read one more book for October. I think I shall throw it open to the masses to decide what that should be. Let me know if you have an idea.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


I've been so busy at work I've been slack on this blog. So catch up.

The Finkler Question was disappointing. I was excited to have a "humorous" read for Book Group. But this book was neither humorous nor deserving of a Booker imho. Most of the characters were unlike-able, the story went no where and it didn't really do anything good for Jewish people living in London. Just made them all look like knobs.

Lemony Snicket was one I have been meaning to read for years after being recommended it by one of the many nephews. Unfortunately it didn't translate into an easy read for adults I felt. It used big words and then stopped the flow of the story to explain the meaning. Which would be a great way to teach an 8 year old what the words meant but for an adult (well, one who was familiar already with the words) it was clunky.

Nick Hornby started bringing the level back up after 3 shit books in a row. However, I still find him overrated. He's fun and fluffy but not as spectacular as I am led to believe. That being said High Fidelity was a nice change and pretty decent read. I think I have seen a grand total of 15 mins of the movie which I found out is at the business end of the book, so that was slightly annoying. But it was a fun look at being 30something and waking up and realising that you have no idea how your life has quite got to how it is.

Finally we get to the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This book flicked between a YA read and an adult read for me, but both of them were welcome. Christopher is both someone I understood and was bewildered by. Obsessed by the logical but his life was driven by illogical impulses. What differentiates him however most people was he could recognise he was illogical and fallible. Not the nicest story in the world but one that endeared you the main character and made you want to keep on reading to find out what happens to Christopher and how everything turns out.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Grrrr... Argh...

From 4 August 2011:

I've been busy. Mind-numbingly, exhaustingly busy. The only reason I'm posting is because I have time to waste while I copy files to entertain an Visiting Fellow who has fallen ill on their first weekend she has in a new city. This tells me things could be worse, but my body isn't buying it.

The Graveyard Book was beautiful. I opened it after The Great Gatsby and my partner found me smiling broadly to myself while reading it in bed. Neil Gaiman has a wonderful way of whipping you away on a magical journey with a few pages absolutely dripping with description. But not in a Dickens-ish way where there is an over description about everything. Everything is necessary. It places you directly in his world. I have a big crush on Neil Gaiman and this book did not disappoint.

Angela Carter however. Her editor, if not her should be shot. Retelling of fairy tales are all well and good. But not when you tell the same story you just told again. Twice. Boring and repetitive. Not terrible writing though, so I shouldn't whinge too much.

I started The Finkler Question, and I'm enjoying it. I tried to read it on the plane yesterday but didn't get very far. My boss kept on remembering things I needed to do and so I kept on trying to remember to remember them. Not sure if I succeeded in that either... Maybe I'll get some more reading in again soon.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


Not much to do this weekend. Yum cha tomorrow which will be delicious. Otherwise I think I will spend the afternoons reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, playing some WoW and drinking more of our the latest discovery, known around our house as Wood Fairy Juice:

It tastes like these guys (from Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairies Book):

EDIT: To fit with the Fairy theme, we sat around for an hour to witness the Easter Egg in the Trisfal Glades of Fey Dragons dancing around a mushroom ring and a beautiful piece of music.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Mediocre Australian Post about The Great American Novel

I finished The Great Gatsby early last night but wanted to digest before I posted, and am slightly annoyed it has taken me so long to read it. I had a slightly different idea of the story from popular culture than the actual story. This was great as the twists in the plot were still surprising for me. I liked Jay Gatsby. I thought I wasn’t supposed to. But I do, even with his slightly dodgy past and naivety, however this like is probably helped as I imagined him as Jude Law. I found myself despising most of the other characters instead. It’s short but fantastically written. Definitely a book to recommend, even if you’re not a classics reader read this (and The Picture of Dorian Gray, my two you have to reads).

The Great Gatsby has been described as “The Great American Novel”. Why, I’m not so sure. As described above though, I think it was brilliantly written and a great read however what is it that makes it more Great or more American than the rest? One could also argue at only approx 110pp long it may not even be a novel at all. But besides that, what constitutes the “Great American Novel”? And why do Americans have the need to call everything that is good writing the “Great American Novel”? (Mind you, the person who called The Corrections that deserves to be stabbed in the face repeatedly with a pen.)

And it seems to be an American phenomenon. I promise I am not getting on my anti-American high horse here, this is honestly an observation. There seems to be this need to define writing as exceptional, without letting the writing speak for itself.  I am happy to be proved wrong here and am actually really interested to know. Does anyone else know of another book described as “The Great ....... Novel”, that is not American? Australian, British, French, Russian, Indian, Japanese, Canadian, etc. Please let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tortoises are cynics. They always expect the worst.

From 14 July 2011:

Finally finished Small Gods last night. Stupid work cutting into my reading time drew it out a bit. Ever notice this always happens towards the end of the book, when you just want to keep reading with the momentum? Or is it that we only notice then because the want to read is so much greater.

But I enjoyed the book immensely. I must say as much as I like Ankh Morpork, I prefer his books set outside it such as this one and especially Good Omens (co-written by Neil Gaiman). The Pratchett outlook and analysis on religion, ritual and philosophy was refreshing. The stupidity of it all was cleverly displayed, without Prachett smacking you over the head with it. And the idea of how much we influence and change the gods to fit our moulds was fantastic, with the example of Patina – goddess of wisdom who was supposed to have owls to do her bidding but now had penguins due to a crappy sculptor’s representation of the bird in a statue. Philosophy didn’t get away unscathed, with the quip by the philosopher Didactylos standing out - “logic is only a way of being ignorant by numbers.”

So onward I go, leaving the Great God Om behind (although my attempts to be allowed to buy a tortoise as a pet and name him Om are still occurring. They are being met with a resounding “No” however). I’m starting The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald at lunchtime today. We’ll see if it’s as good as everyone says it is.

One Book Down, Fires and Turtles

From 8 July 2011:

Finished Hand Me Down World yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised. However, I will not discuss it here. I get in trouble for discussing Book Club books before Book Club. I recommend it however, and promise I will talk about the embargoed opinions at some stage.

I’ve been slower out of the blocks on this "Challenge” than I would have liked. However, I do need to remind myself I am not Mrs Langford, who inhales books. I shall focus on actually reading instead of meaning to and then rarely doing it.

With the weather at the moment I remember a winter holidays in Uni, where we were living in a house where the central heating broke for June/July (the fact that we had no oven in the house for 6 months is another story).  Luckily we had a slow combustion fire, and it was in front of this, I plonked myself for those 6 weeks with book after book. I got up from my leather chair to sleep, work, wash, cook and eat. I think I need one of these again. Not sure the gas heater is the same, and I think my partner would be grumpy with the leather chair plonked in the middle of the room and corridor.

Here we all are...

So I have no idea what this blog is going to be about really. I think it will end up being an amalgamation of so many things in my life that I am interested and passionate in and about. Books, food, music, science, politics, video games and much more I've forgotten.

Two reasons for doing this. I started blogging on our Novel Challenge website and kinda enjoyed it. However there are no comment abilities so if people did want to debate with me they can't. I will post the first two real posts up here in a sec.

The second is that I am sure my Facebook friends are completely and utterly sick of having all my rants and soapboxing directed to them. This may give them a break.

So welcome to the unknown. I hope that it evolves into something readable and something I actually update.