Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

18th October, 2008
Read-a-thon: I wish I didn’t know how to quit you
— Saddam @ 15:26 Comments (9)
Filed under: October 18th

I am really sorry, guys, but I am going to have to step out of the event. I’m feeling tired and queasy, so I’m going to focus on getting better. It’s not unlikely that I will do some reading in the process, but it’s no read-a-thon for me this time around. Hopefully I’ll feel better and be better prepared for the next one!

To all those of you who are participating: good luck and have fun!


18th October, 2008
Read-a-thon: The prep post
— Saddam @ 11:42 Comments (1)
Filed under: October 18th

For the June Read-a-thon, I signed up weeks in advance and spent a lot of time planning what to read, what to eat, how to get home in time for the start of it &c.

This time around, I signed up just a few days before the event, and I didn’t actually discover the date of it until extremely late. This is, of course, because I have been completely out of the book blog loop since the summer. The only reason I discovered it in time is because I found my friend Sam’s book blog and he’s signed up to take part as well. (It’s definitely worth checking out his blog—he reads a lot and he writes great reviews of what he reads.)

I have done some prep work, though. I’ve set up my internet so that I can surf from my bedroom (which is convenient as that’s where I tend to do most of my reading), I’ve bought snacks (and coffee!) to get me through the night and right now I’m about to go make a big batch of fruit salad, so I have something healthy as well, not just the usual crap. ;) I also need to clear some stuff out of my bedroom and go dig up my camera so that I can show you my books and anything else I might feel like.

I have assembled a huge pile of books to choose from. Most of it consists of the old murder mysteries from my grandfather’s house, but there is also some Douglas Coupland, a book by Alan Cumming (yes, the actor) and my Collected Poems of AE Housman, to get me through those patches when I don’t feel like reading much. I also have a couple of volumes of manga, in case I get really tired. They tend to be easier to get through.

I am missing my copy of A Strong and Sudden Thaw a little, though. I lent it to my friend Banquo when she was here this summer and I don’t at all regret that, it’s just that right now I have an incredibly powerful urge to re-read it. I miss David and Callan!

Kick-off in just over an hour. I better go get those last things sorted!


16th October, 2008
Read-a-thon
— Saddam @ 19:16 Comments (1)
Filed under: General booktalk

Read-a-thon I just signed up for the Read-a-thon which is being held again this weekend. You can read all about it over on Dewey’s blog, and the sign-up page is here (and if you click on the image, you will get to the Read-a-thon FAQ, just in case you don’t know what it’s all about).

I really enjoyed this last time, so I’m looking forward to it a lot, especially since I haven’t really been reading a lot lately. Maybe this will get me back in the saddle, so to speak. Because I haven’t read much lately, I am going to set my goals a lot lower this time around.

Last weekend I visited my grandfather’s house with the rest of my family and ended up coming back home with a bunch of old murder mysteries, mainly British ones. You see, my greatgrandmother was a great reader in general, and of murder mysteries in particular, so there were a bunch of those old books in my grandfather’s bookshelf. He’s moving from a big house to a small apartment, so he really wanted to get rid of stuff. Me? I was only too happy to oblige. ;D

Those murder mysteries are going to be my chief Read-a-thon fare, I feel relatively sure about.


15th August, 2008
July Book Blow-Out: Wrap Up
— Saddam @ 12:23 Comments (0)
Filed under: General booktalk

I am kind of late with this. I blame internetlessness. I might not have time to post my list today (I’m blogging from work and I have limited time. Very limited). I will attempt to come in early tomorrow before work and post the rest then.

1. Did you discover a new author?
Libba Bray

2. Where was the most unusual place you found yourself reading?
I read where I usually read — in bed, on the balcony or the sofa.

3. Did you read more than usual?
Yes and no. More than the average month, but about the same as the last few months.

4. Did you give up anything in order to read more?
I spent a little less time on the internet.

5. If you won the Amazon voucher what would you spend it on?
Probably the sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty.

6. Would you like to see a 2009 Book Blowout?
Definitely!

My goal was to read 20 books during July and I ended up reading 31.

  • Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island – Mike Tucker
  • Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction – Stephen Cole
  • Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise – Colin Brake
  • The Underdog – Markus Zusak
  • Tro, hopp och burnout – Johan Unenge
  • Torchwood: Something in the Water – Trevor Baxendale
  • Vadå feminist – Lisa Gålmark
  • Torchwood: Trace Memory – David Llewellyn
  • Homofamiljer – Sara Stenholm och Cecilia Strömberg
  • Making Money – Terry Pratchett
  • Castle Rackrent – Maria Edgeworth
  • Moab is My Washpot – Stephen Fry
  • Torchwood: The Twilight Streets – Gary Russell
  • Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World – Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
  • Betong, fjäril, betong - Ingrid Olsson
  • Torchwood: Border Princes – Dan Abnett
  • Torchwood: Another Life – Peter Anghelides
  • Torchwood: Slow Decay – Andy Lane
  • Vegan Freak – Bob Torres & Jenna Torres
  • Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
  • Vegan Virgin Valentine – Carolyn Mackler
  • Emily of New Moon – LM Montgomery
  • Emily Climbs – LM Montgomery
  • Emily’s Quest – LM Montgomery
  • The Blue Castle – LM Montgomery
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
  • From the Inside Out – Morty Diamond (ed.)
  • The History Boys – Alan Bennett
  • Life on the Refrigerator Door – Alice Kuipers
  • The Commitments – Roddy Doyle
  • Historier om ett brott – Lena Lennerhed

17th July, 2008
Internetlessness
— Saddam @ 11:22 Comments (15)
Filed under: General booktalk

My internet has broken down and I haven’t had a chance to get it fixed yet, thus the lack of updates.

I just thought you might want to know.

Since I can’t really do much else right now (I’m logging in, very briefly, from work to type this. Internetlessness has freed up lots of time for reading, though. Twenty-two books this month so far and still going at it!), I had an idea that I would ask the same question that I asked back in November:

Who reads this blog?

Even if you never, ever comment and plan on never, ever commenting again, won’t you make an exception just this once, so I get a little picture of who reads this. I’m curious sometimes, y’know.

 


7th July, 2008
Speed reviews: part I
— Saddam @ 08:43 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Book Blowout, C, Classics, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, History, Lifestyle, Mystery, Religion, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, sexuality & gender, Speed reviews, Swedish, To Be Read, Young Adult

Since I’m sick* and way behind on reviews, I’ve realised the only way to catch up is to make them speed reviews and post a whole batch at once.

The Age of Napoleon; Alistair Horne, eng, 235 British
Interesting, but a little choppily written, and also the author assumes you know certain things and never explains them, while others he explains over and over again.
C

Cold Comfort Farm; Stella Gibbons, eng, 253 British
Funny, though I accidentally didn’t read the preface, so I wasn’t 100 % how much of it was intentional (all of it, as it turns out, and as I suspected). Flora Poste is kind of annoying, but all right all the same.
For the TBR reading challenge and as part of the BBC Big Read.
B

Rebecca; Daphne du Maurier, eng, 410 British
A re-read, not as good as I remembered it, but still lovely. Maxim is both wonderful and creepy.
C

Med uppenbar känsla för stil; Stephan Mendel-Enk, swe, 128 Swedish
Interestingly written about men and what’s considered masculine. References Morrissey at some points, mostly in connection with a man who went berserk and killed people. Lovely… not!
C

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East; Brian Whitaker, swe, 230 British
Interesting, scary and occasionally a little bit hopeful.
C

Ingen behöver veta; Christina Wahldén, swe, 139 Swedish
About male rape and how it does exist, but people find it hard to believe. Kind of a non-ending, but then I suppose that’s sadly the case in most instances of actual male rape also.
C

Ingen grekisk gud, precis; Katarian Kieri, swe, 217 Swedish
Kind of brilliant tale of a young girl who falls for a teacher. Kind of brilliant mostly because the main character is into Morrissey, but for other reasons also. I was a bit worried where it was going to end, but it’s kind of perfect, really.
B

Sandman: The Kindly Ones; Neil Gaiman et al., eng, 335 British
I wouldn’t say Sandman is Gaiman at his best, but I do like the stories and so also in this volume. Not my favourite, though.
For the TBR reading challenge.
C

Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island; Mike Tucker, eng, 255 British
Scary monsters and kiddies with nightmares. I liked it, but not as much as other DW books.
C

Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction; Stephen Cole, eng, 256 British
Farming in Africa, golden statues and creepy aliens. Good, but not great. Doctor’s always nice, though.
C

Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise; Colin Brake, eng, 255 British
References Franz Ferdinand and other pop culture a time or two. Not the best of the DW books I’ve read—I don’t much care for Colin Brake’s style of writing it, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.
C

Tro, hopp och burnout; Johan Unenge, swe, 228 Swedish
YA story about a guy who’s really into cars and death metal, who ends up going on a confirmation camp. It’s a decent story, and I was happy to see it didn’t end up quite where I expected it would, but the writing style is very, very choppy and not at all my cup of tea.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
C

Vadå feminist; Lisa Gålmark, swe, 188 Swedish
Basic guide to feminism. I wasn’t too keen on the writing and didn’t like the book all that much. Mostly it made me a little annoyed with the author, though it did contain sections worth thinking about. It bothers me that there is no question mark in the title.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
D

Homofamiljer; Sara Stenholm & Cecilia Strömberg, swe, 312 Swedish
About rainbow families and different ways to get one. Interesting, especially the personal stories, but not fab.
C

*Just a cold, but a bad one. I hate colds. And I’ve run out of Kleenex, which means my nose is very, very sore from regular paper towels. Woe.


5th July, 2008
Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale
— Saddam @ 15:20 Comments (0)
Filed under: Book Blowout, C, English, GLBT interest, Science Fiction

Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale Torchwood: Something in the Water
by Trevor Baxendale
British

English
255 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 978-1-846-07437-0

First line: The Late Bob Strong.

Back cover blurb:
Dr Bob Strong’s GP surgery has been treating a lot of coughs and colds recently, far more than is normal for the time of year. Bob thinks there’s something up but he can’t think what. He seems to have caught it himself, whatever it is—he’s starting to cough badly and there are flecks of blood in his hanky.

Saskia Harden has been found on a number of occasions submerged in ponds or canals but alive and seemingly none the worse for wear. Saskia is not on any files, except in the medical records at Dr Strong’s GP practice.
But Torchwood’s priorities lie elsewhere: investigating ghostly apparitions in South Wales, they have found a dead body. It’s old and in an advanced state of decay. And it is still able to talk.

And what it is saying is ‘Water hag’…

Thoughts: This isn’t the first of the Torchwood books, but it is the first one I’ve read. I liked it well enough, even if I was freaking out a bit due to the fact that I’ve caught a cold (stupid crowded plane cabins) and was consequently hacking up my lungs as I read it. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m reading a book wherein the majority of the characters are suffering from a strange affliction which starts with a tickle in the throat and leads to massive coughing fits, complete with blood and great quantities of green phlegm being expelled, I don’t particularly want to be suffering from a bad cough myself. Not that there are times I would want to be suffering from a bad cough, but y’know, there are degrees of “do not want.”

Apart from the cough coincidence, it was pretty all right. Darker in tone than the Doctor Who books (just like the series is darker and more ‘grown-up’ than DW), but I think I actually prefer the Who books. At least some of them, and possibly not to all of the Torchwood books (time will tell).

My one biggest complaint is that there was much too little of Ianto in this. Ianto Jones is effin’ brilliant, so he deserves more page time than he got here, but what little he did get was pretty snarky, which was nice. I love snarky!Ianto. I also love Jack/Ianto, which there wasn’t much of in this particular book. I am told that there’s more of it in some of the others in the series, though, so I’m not giving up on that yet.

I’m giving this a C rating. Had it had more Jack/Ianto, or just more Ianto, I would have given it a higher rating, most likely, but as it is, a C is just the right one.


4th July, 2008
Hundår; Markus Zusak
— Saddam @ 06:14 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Book Blowout, D, Fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

The Underdog; Markus Zusak Hundår
by Markus Zusak
Original title: The Underdog
Australian

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
128 pages
Richters
ISBN: 91-7130-027-9

First line: Det var medan vi tittade på teve som vi bestämde oss för att råna tandläkaren.

Back cover blurb:
Cameron Wolfe är en ensamvarg och underdog som slår i underläge. Alltid i underläge!
I Hundår berättar han om några månader i sitt liv. Inte för att det hände något särskilt. Bara hans försök att hitta sin väg genom livet. Och några boxningsmatcher på bakgården.

Thoughts: I don’t know if it was because of the translation, my mood at the time, or because Zusak is just not my cup of tea, but I didn’t like this book. I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff about him, so I think I’ll probably try The Book Thief anyway, though not by buying it. If I’ll read it, I’ll borrow it from the library.

A D grade. It just wasn’t interesting to me.


3rd July, 2008
Oh dear, I seem to have done it again
— Saddam @ 19:21 Comments (1)
Filed under: Shopping

This morning, when I was on the Amazon.co.uk site to send a gift certificate to Banquo, I sort of strayed onto the other sections of the site. Y’know, where they sell actual books. And, um… now it appears that, oh, nine or so of them are heading this way.

Then my family came to visit (and to bring my cats. It’s a long story) and we went shopping for a bit. Of course, since they had never been to the used book store here, I had to take them. And, um… suddenly I seem to have added another four books to my collection. I don’t understand how these things just happen! ;D

Coasters and mugs The thing about that book store is that, in addition* to selling new and used books, they also sell movie icon related stuff, most of which is pretty nifty. In other words: not only did I add to my book collection, but I also ended up with six new coasters and a tray, all with old style Hollywood stars on them. (And earlier in the day, I’d found two mugs with Tony the Tiger as he used to be.)

The books I ordered from Amazon.co.uk are:

  • Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Emily Climbs by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Emily’s Quest by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Generation X by Douglas Coupland
  • Torchwood: Another Life by Peter Anghelides
  • Torchwood: Slow Decay by Andy Lane
  • Torchwood: Border Princes by Dan Abnett
  • Torchwood: The Twilight Streets by Gary Russell

The first five are all for a Canadian reading challenge I’m about to join, the last four is because of that Who kick I’ve been on/am on.

Impulse buys, sort of The four books I got at the book store were:

  • A History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom
  • The Underdog by Markus Zusak
  • Tro, hopp och burnout by Johan Unenge
  • Vadå feminist? by Lisa Gålmark

I’ve been eyeing the first of these four since September, but never got it because it was a tad on the expensive side the first time, the second time because I couldn’t find it, the third time because it was too expensive. Then today I decided I would get it, and now it was half-price! Brilliant that, I thought.

I can use that book, and the other three, for the A-Z reading challenge, which is the biggest reason I got most of them (another reason I got the Zusak one is because I’ve been curious about Zusak for a good while now). They’re all for pretty tricky letters of the alphabet, which makes it all the better. The one, slightly not cool, thing is that the two first are in translation, rather than original. But I hope they’re okay anyway.

*I totally spelled addition** as addiction at first. Freudian slip?
**And there I did it again. Double slip?


3rd July, 2008
Epic fail and epic win
— Saddam @ 17:30 Comments (3)
Filed under: Contests, General booktalk

I am made of epic fail. This is a fact that most people know about me, but perhaps Kim L and Banquo know it more than most. See, back in April there was that quotation contest I held. Let me remind you—April. Do you think I sent out the prizes back then? Exactly. I didn’t. But today I finally did, so I’m a little less epic fail right now. (Kim L, Banquo: let me know if you haven’t received your gift certificates. I sent them to the e-mail addresses you used to comment here, so they should have got there safely, but if not, I need to try to fix that.)

In other, somewhat related news, I won the Read-a-thon post-event survey prize drawing, which is a subscription to Bookmarks magazine. I was pleasantly surprised to learn this.

I will have a post with June stats up at some point soon, maybe by the end of the weekend. I have yet to post reviews for a few books I read in June and I want to get those done first, but I have no time for it until the weekend, basically. (This is yet another reason for the epic fail.)

Still on a Doctor Who kick, which will soon also be a Torchwood kick (I’m about half-way through my last Ten+Rose book, and so shall have to turn to Torchwood for my Who-verse fixes. Well, until Saturday, that is).