July 26th, 2012

Red Sag

Books #29-#31

#29 The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross

I began this year reading Stross's Laundry series, horribly excited for this new book and it does not disappoint at all. the wit and intrigue I expect from Stross is there. And the bad guys? are really. Really. CREEPY. even if you take away the Lovecraftian machinations, the things they do... hoo boy. *shudder* What gives me nightmares about this book is not the eater of souls, it's the lost girls ward... Cultists in guise of a fundamentalist mega church about to bring apocalypse on us.

#30 Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

After the Apocalypse Codex, I needed some good clean fun about the apocalypse. And this, being Good Omens? I can't say anything about this book that has not been said before and better yet. But it was the first book by either Gaiman or Pratchett I read, all those years ago, and it kindled a love that will never fade away. This is also the book I handed out on World Book Night.

#31 Darkly Dreaming Dexter

As a fan of the show, I took he chance on the books. It was a very fast read, and I enjoyed it a lot. the prose is crisp and witty, although having watched the show some of the suspense was missing. Enjoyable and recommendable

#32 Dexter in the Dark

THird book in the series - I didn't find the second at the charity shop, alas - is again very enjoyable if a bit.. odd. it goes into something of a supernatural horror territory which in my opinion took away from Dexter's character. Not a bad book, however.

Up next: Dune. Blame DJ Mentat.

That Summer, Sarah Dessen

That Summer, Sarah Dessen
2/5    -nothing special
angst, coming of age, family

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.


Not really what I was expecting. It felt different than other Sarah Dessen books, it didn't follow the same formula. Mainly there was no love interest. I didn't like how nothing was resolved with her father. And the whole Sumner thing felt a bit too predictable.

book and cup

#76 The Gipsy's Baby - Rosamond Lehmann (1946)

As it is the Rosamond Lehmann reading week, and as I have loved reading her work so much in the past (I’ve yet to read everything she wrote) I decided to take a short break in my month of re-reading when I found this in Waterstones just waiting for me. I popped in (never usually going to full price book shops) just to see if they had a copy of one of the Rosamond Lehmann books I hadn’t read – they had, this one – I decided it was meant to be.
This short collection of stories Rosamond Lehmann wrote during the Second World War. They concern primarily the minutiae of everyday rural life. These stories do seem to offer the reader a different view of the world than Rosamond Lehmann’s novels which are more concerned with romantic love and the women who are hurt or betrayed by it. The war looms large particularly in the last of these stories, the families are socially speaking like those of the novels I have read – yet their worlds have been shrunk by the war. A lost trunk could prove disastrous- there is no chance of just replacing everything during such times.
The title story – and “The red-haired Miss Daintreys” are narrated by Rebecca, the memorable narrator of Rosamond Lehmann’s brilliant complex novel “The Ballad and the source” which I read about a year ago. In “The Gipsy’s Baby” Rebecca and her sisters strike up a fragile, unlikely friendship with the Wyatt children, who live in a tiny cottage at the end of the lane. The social gulf however is just too hard to bridge and when the gypsies arrive the scene is set for tragedy.
“In October, the gipsies came back. They came twice a year, in spring and autumn, streaming through the village in ragged procession, with two yellow and red caravans; men in cloth caps, with handkerchiefs knotted round their throats, women in black with cross over shawls and voluminous skirts, some scarecrow children, and several thin-ribbed dogs of the whippet race running on leads tied, much to Jess’s disquiet, under the shafts of the caravans.”
In “The red-headed Miss Daintreys” Rebecca and her family meet the four Daintrey daughters and their parents while on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The relationship with the family continues for some years – seeing the eldest Miss Daintrey the subject of an unlikely romance.
The next three stories: “When the waters came”, “A dream of winter” and “Wonderful holidays “are each about Mrs Ritchie and her children Jane and John. A bee man arrives during winter to take the swarm living in the walls of the house; there are village amateur dramatics during school holidays, while a WW1 veteran misses his absent wife.
“I wrote to her yesterday and told her she better come back. I don’t like the idea of her being up in town. Those last raids were child’s play to what’s coming, so I hear. They might start any moment. I can’t have her exposing herself to them. Besides’ his voice went up his nose, weak with self-pity – ‘I can’t see to everything myself day in day out like this. There’s all the potatoes to go in. It means too much stooping for me”
I loved these wonderful stories – they are quite different to the novels of Rosamond Lehmann that I have read – but they are beautifully written, the characterisation just as well developed. The world of adults seen mainly through the eyes of children during those war years is brilliantly portrayed.

Book #49: Catch as Catch Can by Joseph Heller

This is an enjoyable collection of short stories by the late Joseph Heller (he died in 1999), published posthumously. It combines several previously published stories, with other ones which were written in the 1940s but never actually published, and it was really enjoyable to read.

I liked the way that Heller’s stories tend to be quite simple ones, often little more than conversations between two characters, but you find yourself drawn to them. The best parts of the book, however, are those that involve his most famous book, the war satire Catch-22, including several “missing” chapters from the book, which are all written in the typical style of the book, which is often hilarious and completely absurd, but often tragic at the same time.

There were some fascinating chapters at the end about how the movie of Catch-22 got made, and the book’s inspiration, as well as Heller’s own childhood in Coney Island.

Next book: Sourcery by Terry Pratchett