Friday, April 29, 2011

Ruth Readalong (Elizabeth Gaskell)

I haven't read Ruth yet, it's one of the few Gaskell works I have left to read, so this read-a-long at Gaskell Blog sounds ace, care to join up?

The annotated discussion starts May 15!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lost in a Good Book, and the rest of the Thursday Next Series, Jasper Fforde

Lost in a Good Book was, as Jasper Fforde shares on his website, an unplanned sequel, demanded by his publishing company.  So, it takes a different angle to the first book, much expanding the available world to explore.  Basically, it is possible to jump into fiction, or Bookworld and bookjump between fiction.  Thursday Next becomes involved with Jurisfiction, the fiction policing agency.

This is a whole world of awesome right here, and Fforde explores it with style.  I love the bookworld, and Jurisfiction is just a genius idea for exploring it.  Any book that can convincingly include Miss Havisham as a main character has my vote.

I love the political and social commentary in the alternate Britain "real" world, too.  The Goliath Corporation is particularly awful (ly hilarious).

I've cheated somewhat by smooshing the rest of the series into this review.  Once we get to Lost in a Good Book, we've got the gist of the rest of the series from here [which are: The Well of Lost Plots; Something Rotten; First Among Sequels; One of Our Thursdays is Missing].

What more to say?  These are great fun, smart, witty, page turners, with plenty to think about and feel cool about knowing (did I mention there are classics littered all through these?).  Most bookish peeps are going to enjoy them, though you don't have to be bookish to like Fforde's style.  Thursday Next is one awesome heroine, she's smart, funny, and solves everything.  In the series she also has kids.  So it's quite the feminist win, too.

Read 'em.  They're fun.

7.5/10 overall (none are as awesome as the first).

These were a range of purchased "real" books, and Kindle ereads.

[All pics are from Jasper Fforde's site, click through to view]

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next Series, Jasper Fforde

I've been reading the Thursday Next BookWorld series as some great bookish entertainment for the past few weeks, when reading has been slow and life has been busy.  The Eyre Affair is everything the blogosphere says it is, witty, entertaining, literary, laugh-out-loud funny.  If you haven't read this already, put it on your list.  And click here for Fforde's site [seriously, click there, it's hilarious].  Take note that the book contains total spoilers for Jane Eyre, so if by chance you've not got to that one yet, and want to be surprised, don't read The Eyre Affair. 

I don't have a lot to add to a strong recommendation to read this one, really.  It's a snappy, clever book set in an alternate reality Britain, where book people are real.  The central character, Thursday Next, works for a Special Ops unit in Literary Detection.  The classics are front and centre in this version of reality, and when circumstances unfold that threaten the very existence of Jane Eyre (from the novel, that is), it's high crime indeed. 

Definitely check it out. Fforde is a prolific author, and has a number of other series I'm going to check out, his style is witty, well read, and snappy, reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide.  Good stuff, and British not American, which is nice to see occasionally.  (Is it just me, or do all the best comedies come from the UK?).

This was a library read.

9/10 for a great idea, snappy plot, clever dialogue, and awesome use of the classics.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Memory Lane: Dune, Frank Herbert

What are the books that stand out the most in your memory?  Your favourites?  That you re-read?  That you most wish you could chat to others about?  I'm reminiscing about some of my faves here. 


Let's start with the book I've read most in my life, on average I'd say I'd read this once a year at least since I first cracked it's spine (yup, I'm a spine bender) when I was 12.

What's not to love?  Dune is sweeping saga of family, love, betrayal, triumph over oppression, and giant worms that live in the sand.  I still love it's adventure, deep philosophy, and escapist magic.  If you haven't tried it yet, give it a go.  It's the original and the best.

[image source 1]
[image source 2]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith

85% Austen, 15% zombie, this mash-up of the original book was published in 2009. Did I read all of it, yup.  Did I love it, was alright, but relying on the strength of Austen to get you through is simply not enough.  I think this kind of book actually has potential to be a lot of fun, and yes, I got some laughs out of it as it stood (mostly the first few chapters, the mix-up of genres is lovely and fresh here), but I felt the author just didn't work hard enough for those laughs.  I know this is comedy, but why not take it another level, be smarter about it, weave it in a litte closer.  Too much of it felt like what it was, paragraphs added to another book.  Adding more backstory, making it more consistent, showing some more of the brilliance of the original, would have got my admiration more than some zombie story added in, and sometimes sitting awkwardly, waiting for laughs.  It went on too long, basically.  The initial idea is great, you enjoy the first few chapters, then it feels too much like the author went "oh, and now I've gotta keep this going for another 200 pages, crap!"

I know, I know, perhaps I cared too much, but I've read some great humourous work over the years, some smart stuff, and I wish one of those writers had got their hands on this idea.  I'm not sure I'll bother with any of the other mash ups, this is a cute idea, probably only worth a short story length of attention, that had some promise but relied too heavily on the brilliance of Austen to see it through. 

5/10 (with a 10/10 for the original idea itself, which is hilarious, well worth reading the first few chapters for the initial chuckle, then putting it down at that).

Another eRead on Kindle for iPad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West

I've been busy of late, and away with family, here's a post from a book I read last month!  I'm back to normal now, here's to more posting!

The Return of the Soldier was an unexpected book, a moving story about the tragedy of war and lost love.  Another author I'd never read, but who is just so amazing that I've already ordered more of her work.  Rebecca West is a great find, and given she's a major feminist literary figure, again, I'm kinda embarrassed that this is my first encounter with her!

The Return of the Soldier is one of her first novels, published in 1918, it is a beautifully told story of a "shell shocked" man, who develops amnesia, thinking that he is only 20, and in love with a woman other than his wife.  Our narrator is There is some shocking classism in this book, at first I was a tad jaw dropped over it, but as the book goes on, quickly realised that this was an essential part of its message.  The woman Chris thinks he is love with is now a middle-aged married woman who is barely middle class (apparently) and the scathing descriptions of the narrator were pretty grating at first.

This book is really about love, responsiblity, and the horror of war.  The importance of class in the novel is smoothly explored, from the jarring descriptions at the start, to the narrator (Chris' cousin, Jenny) coming to side with Margaret (the long lost love).  This is a beautifully written novella that was an unexpected joy, highly recommended!


This was an eread on Kindle for iPad.