February 1st, 2011

reading is cool, books are good

Book 10: Mrs Fry's Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry

Book 10: Mrs Fry's Diary.
Author: Mrs Stephen Fry, 2010.
Genre: Memoir. Satire.
Other Details: Hardback. 352 pages.

Stephen Fry's secret wife speaks out at last!

Enjoyed a nice cuppa this morning with a HobNob and Jeremy Kyle. There was a woman on there who'd been married 16 years without realising her husband was gay. Extraordinary! Which reminds me, it's our 16th anniversary in a few weeks. What a coincidence.

Stephen Fry - actor, writer, raconteur and wit. Cerebral and sophisticated, a true Renaissance man. Or is he?

Well who would have imagined that Stephen Fry was harbouring a secret wife and a half dozen (or more) children? Or that he had a taste for karaoke, kebabs, lager and her down at No 38? This book contains the daily reflections of an unwitting celebrity wife, including her ventures onto the internet and desire to broaden her horizons through a book club and creative writing classes. Of course, one has to wonder if she wasn't Mrs Stephen Fry would this have become such a runaway best-seller in the UK? It can't have hurt though she is very funny and has now become a celebrity in her own write, or rather on her own blog and Twitter. So it looks like the Fry family now contains two National Treasures!

A delightful fun read that at times had me doubled up with laughter. OK, some of the double entendres made me groan but just for her poem Bohemian Spam for Tea this was a clear winner and the perfect antidote to dip into on dull January days. I am not sure how well Mrs Fry's Diary will do outside of the UK given how much popular culture is referenced. In the USA at present it seems only available as an import or on Kindle.

Edna Fry has encouraged me to get my Twitter account out of mothballs and I hope to read further instalments of Mrs Fry's Diary in years to come.

Mr. Stephen Fry on Twitter.
Mrs Fry's Diary Blog - contains extracts from the book.
Pass notes No 2,835: Mrs Stephen Fry - you know you've arrived when 'The Guardian' dedicates one of these to you.
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Book #8

Title: One Foot in the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Pages: Paperback, 357
Published: 2008
Opening Line: "I waited outside the large, four-story home in Manhasset that was owned by Mr. Liam Flannery."

"Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help is the vampire she left behind.

"Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head -- wanted: dead or half-alive -- means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won't let her get away again."
~ Jacket copy


Thoughts: I don't have too much to say. I have really been enjoying this series. Unlike certain other books, this one actually has a plot!

My biggest problem was the length of time Frost skipped in the beginning of the book. To get where she was going, there needed to be time jumps. However, several one right after the other was a little overkill. Also, Cat's reaction at the wedding and to Annette seemed way over the top.

The sex in this book was ramped up to another level. The scenes were longer and very graphic. However, while there was repressed sexual angst and outrageous scenes, I felt that Frost still tried to stay true to the plot and storyline. I will say that the intense sex scene was not really needed. It didn't add anything to the story. But, as it says on the spine, it is a paranormal romance, so I expect some level of sex.

All in all, I enjoyed this book as much as the first. It tore through it in a matter of days. The other books are sitting next to my computer waiting to be devoured.

Rating: 5/5
Currently: At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
Pages: 2734
Horror/Urban Fantasy Challenge: 7/24
Current Progress:
 
8/50 books


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Books 3 and 4

#3: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore (2002, 417 pages)

For years I have been pretty outspoken regarding my love of all of Christopher Moore's novels. And I've been pretty outspoken regarding this particular novel, even going so far as to record a review of it for the podcast Books You Should Read on the Simply Syndicated podcast network. So yeah, I'm a little biased. :D

I must first start by saying that Lamb is a fictional look at the life of Jesus, or Joshua as he is called, told from the point of view of his best friend Levi, aka Biff. And because it's fictional, I would hope that readers realize that there are going to be some things going on here that clearly didn't happen. But I tell you, it all makes for one heck of a read.

Not much is known about Joshua's life for a period of about 30 years. But with Biff's input, we learn that the two of them set off to find the three magi who attended Joshua's birth to learn their secrets. And with that knowledge comes many hilarious adventures, such of Biff's teaching Joshua about sex, since the Savior can never know a woman; Biff and Joshua's encounter with a Yeti; and Biff's journey through the Kama Sutra.

I laughed, but then again I'm a heathen. I also cried, but then again, this is a wonderful story of friendship, and you know going into it that it has to end a certain way. And I learned. No, I didn't learn secrets of Joshua's life; I learned that each life is a daring adventure and we should live it to the fullest.

So sentiments aside, I say read this book. If you're familiar with Moore, you'll laugh at his trademark humor. If you're not, maybe you'll discover how great a comic writer he is and be inspired to pick up his other books. That's why I give this a perfect five out of five journeys of a lifetime.


#4: Homer & Langley - E.L. Doctrow (2009, 208 pages)

Homer and Langley Collyer were two of New York's most eccentric residents in the 20th Century. In E.L. Doctrow's historical fiction account of their lives, the original story is changed, but it is no less fascinating.

The Collyer brothers became recluses following the deaths of their parents in the early part of the century. Homer's is due, in part, to his blindness, while Langley's stems from madness due to his surviving a mustard gas attack during his service in World War I. But while they close themselves away from the world, they still manage to have many adventures, including encounters with hippies and gangsters. Langley's madness adds humor and heartbreak when he does things like install a Model T in the dining room and collects useless junk that piles up throughout the home and unfortunately becomes their downfall.

Written in E.L. Doctrow's beautiful prose, the book is set with no chapters, and the dialogue is written in a style similar to what Cormac McCarthy used in The Road. There are no direct quotes, but you still get the story and the language, beautifully so. I didn't know what to expect from this novel, but I found myself really enjoying it, which is why I give it a strong four out of five hoarders.

Total Books Read: 4 / 50 (8 percent)
Total Pages Read: 1,751 / 15,000 (12 percent)
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Book 4 of 50: Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale

Book 4 of 50

Title: Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary (from amazon.com): Finding your place in the world is no picnic at the best of times, but pixie changeling Kaye finds it tougher than most. Collapse )

Comments: I can't lie... I'm not sad to be done with this series. Maybe it would have been better if there had been less time between the time I read Tithe and the reading of the subsequent two books. I did like this book a little better than Valiant because there wasn't gratuitous drug use. I just really think urban fantasy isn't my thing. The books were quick reads, but I really didn't care about them after I finished them. The whole idea of faeries living among us, unnoticed, is interesting, but I guess I want the prose to be more... archaic. And less teen-ish. Of course this is a young adult book, but it seemed MORE young adult than many. This is definitely a series I won't be rereading.

x-posted to cmmunchkin
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Book 11: The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

Book 11: The Death Instinct.
Author: Jed Rubenfeld, 2010.
Genre: Historical Thriller. 1920 USA and Europe. Psychology.
Other Details: Hardback. 455 pages.

This follow-up The Interpretation of Murder opens on September 16, 1920 as a quarter ton of explosives are detonated on Wall Street. Witnessing the blast are two of the fictional protagonists from the first book: Dr. Stratham Younger, now a war veteran, and his friend James Littlemore of the New York Police Department. Also with them is Colette Rousseau, a beautiful French radiochemist who is in the United States on behalf of her mentor, Madame Curie, to assist in raising funds so that Madame Curie may be able to purchase the increasingly expensive radium.

Littlemore becomes involved in the investigation of the bombing, which soon takes him to the corridors of power in Washington D.C.. Meanwhile a series of inexplicable attacks upon Colette occur, and Younger seeks to both protect her and to discover who is behind them and why she is a target. The setting is international incorporating flashbacks to the Great War in France and a journey to Europe which sees Younger visiting Dr Sigmund Freud, his former mentor, in Vienna.

Whereas the first book was a murder mystery this is very much a political thriller though murders do still figure in the plot. Rubenfeld does a great job of weaving in his fictional characters with real-life historical figures and events. I had not heard of this bombing before and did appreciate Rubenfeld's end notes that placed it in its historical context and also explained where he has taken liberties.

While I appreciated the reappearance of Dr. Freud, I didn't quite feel that Rubenfeld was able to integrate Freud's theory of the death instinct successfully into the plot. It felt a little awkward. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Frank Tallis' depictions of Freud and his theories in his Lierbermann Papers. Being a clinical psychologist as well as a writer of non-fiction on Freud's theories, Tallis just seems more comfortable in utilising them in his story lines.

Still this is a minor point and overall I found this an intelligently written historical thriller with well developed characters and a satisfyingly labyrinthine plot.