October 19th, 2010

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Before I fell asleep, last night, I finished reading another of the Leary series of space operas written by David Drake, who admitted to me that he's emulating Patrick O'Brian's series of Napoleonic sea stories in this series. This book was called What Distant Deeps, and it was a quick, pleasurable read about brave spacers fighting a pirate queen. Yes, that does sound like a pretty ancient theme for SF, but when you boil it down, that's just what this book was about. However, it's done very well, with interesting characters that have been fleshed out over the series. I'd recommend starting at the beginning of the series and work up to this book, but that's up to you guys.
muse 2

Books 102-103: I Am the Messenger and Things Can Only Get Better

Book 102: I Am the Messenger.
Author: Marcus Zasuk, 2003.
Genre: Comedy-Drama. Coming-of-Age. YA.
Other Details: Paperback. 357 pages.

The gunman is useless.
I know it.
He knows it.
The whole bank knows it.
Even my best mate, Marvin, knows it, and he's more useless than the gunman.
- opening I Am the Messenger.

This YA novel has won a number of awards since its original publication in Australia under the title, The Messenger. Its protagonist and narrator is Ed Kennedy, a nineteen-yea old 'slacker', whose life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence. He lives in a shack with his smelly, coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman and has an unrequited crush on his best friend, Audrey.

It opens with a very funny bank robbery that Ed accidentally manages to foil. He finds himself proclaimed a hero in the local paper and shortly after receives an Ace of Diamonds in the post from an unknown source. On the playing card are three addresses and times. He soon realises that these represent a series of tasks that he must complete though he has no idea why. As Ed completes one set of tasks, he receives another card with increasingly cryptic clues. Through these tasks Ed slowly changes, though who is behind Ed's mission?

Ed tells his story with a great deal of wry humour and the novel is full of laugh-aloud moments, quirky situations, memorable characters and a great deal of warmth. This was a delightful book that was very well received by everyone in our reading group.

The Hold-Up - excerpt from 'I Am the Messenger'.

Book 103: Things Can Only Get Better.
Author: John O'Farrell, 1998.
Genre: Memoir. Politics.
Other Details: Paperback. 284 pages.

Subtitled: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, 1979-1997, this was a very funny memoir though also had a serious message about the need for political awareness and activity.

It was another reading group selection and I wasn't at all looking forward to it. However, I found myself enjoying it very much. Aside from the humour it evoked many memories for me as I had experienced those years first hand, many of them also in London. O'Farrell was one of the lead writers of ITV's satirical puppet TV programme, 'Spitting Image', as well as writing for comic shows. He downplays this some in the memoir, focusing instead upon political events during these years.

He is a marvellous writer and though there were moments when the narrative got a bit too bogged down in the minutia of various campaigns, overall it was great fun and quite inspiriting too. It proved very popular with our reading group. However funny it is, its tight focus on British politics of the period and unabashed left-wing sympathies may limit its appeal.

Books 32 - 37

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - I did not know anything about the Dominican Republic at all before reading this, so it was very interesting in that respect. I am glad I knew a little Spanish, or else I would have missed out on a lot of untranslated dialogue. This is also more of a family saga than the story of one dude (Oscar), which is why I found the choice of narrator a little strange - Oscar's sister's ex-boyfriend. I LOVED the use of footnotes. (I am a sucker for footnotes.)

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner - I found myself really liking both the main character, Addie, and the love interest, Jordan, but not the best friend, Valerie. She seemed so one dimensional compared to Jordan and Addie - and I know this is because we have sections written from Jordan's POV & Addie's POV, and the only information we get about Valerie is from Addie's perspective. So I as the reader feel that I do not know her as well. So the "long lost best friend" plot was a little unbelievable. I thought this was an okay book, aside from that, up until the last chapter. I hated the ending. Too perfect & unbelievable!

Soulless by Gail Carriger - I liked this romance a lot - fantasy steampunk, set in a victorian comedy of manners. Loved that. I hope the sequels live up to it.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Very good. Had to go buy the sequel after finishing this. I had actually never heard of this book before I saw one of my Goodreads friends had read & liked it - I guess there was a lot of hype about it?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - I liked this one just as much as the first one.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I read all three of these within 4 days, which is unheard of for me. I liked the end alot. The author really didn't pull any punches, which I appreciated.