2008 May archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: May ‘08

31st May, 2008
May stats
— Love @ 23:27 Comments (2)
Filed under: Stats

I never posted my reading stats for April, mostly because I didn’t read more than two books that month, so I didn’t feel like there was a point to it. In May, however, my lust for reading came back with a vengeance. The monthly total for May ended up forty books, and I don’t know about you, but I think that’s quite a lot of them. True, May was also a month for YA and kiddie lit, which meant that a lot of those forty books were quite short, but all the same! It’s a personal record.

I have all of June off (actually, that’s not quite true—I go back to work on the 30th), which is going to leave me with a ton of time for reading. In fact, I went to the library today and picked up fourteen books (seven of which I have now finished) for some summer reading, and I’ve got a parcel of twelve books due to arrive in the post sometime next week. Not to mention all the books already on my TBR shelves, of course.

May books:

  1. Rockabilly; Josefin Ekman, B
  2. 102 Minutes: The Story of the Fight to Survive inside the Twin Towers; Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn, B
  3. I Am America (And So Can You!); Stephen Colbert, B
  4. My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell, B
  5. Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman, B
  6. Atonement; Ian McEwan, C
  7. Kometen kommer; Tove Jansson, B
  8. Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson, C
  9. KÃ¥rnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson, B
  10. Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen; Tove Jansson, C
  11. Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund, C
  12. Does My Head Look Big in This?; Randa Abdel-Fattah, C
  13. Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm, D
  14. Ior och hästarna; Renata Wrede, C
  15. Lugn för dej, Gelika; Olga Wikström, D
  16. Marsmädchen; Tamara Bach, B
  17. Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson, A
  18. Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson, A
  19. Trollvinter; Tove Jansson, C
  20. Tjuvlyssnat; Damon Rasti & Gloria Hedman, B
  21. Det osynliga barnet; Tove Jansson, C
  22. Pappan och havet; Tove Jansson, C
  23. Den som inte tar bort luddet ska dö; David Batra (not reviewed)
  24. Sent i november; Tove Jansson, C
  25. Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Roberts, C
  26. Daddy-Long-Legs; Jean Webster, B
  27. Dear Enemy; Jean Webster (not reviewed)
  28. Knappt lovlig; Katarina von Bredow (not reviewed)
  29. Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers, B
  30. Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned; Stephen Cole, B
  31. Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad, C
  32. Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead, D
  33. Språket; Lars-Gunnar Andersson & Anna Lena Ringarp (not reviewed)
  34. Persepolis: volume 1; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  35. Persepolis: volume 2; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  36. Persepolis: volume 3; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  37. Persepolis: volume 4; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  38. Bögjävlar; Stefan Ingvarsson (ed.) (not reviewed)
  39. Han sa ja!; Bo R Holmberg (not reviewed)
  40. Älskar han mig?; Bo R Holmberg (not reviewed)

Challenge stats:

27th May, 2008
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead
— Love @ 06:57 Comments (4)
Filed under: Back to History, D, English, Historical, Romance

Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride
by Helen Halstead

For the Back to History reading challenge.

310 pages
Ulysses Press
ISBN: 978-1-56975-588-4

First line: What a joy it is to have a worthy topic of conversation, to hold the power to amaze!

Back cover blurb:
In Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen brought together one of the most beloved literary couples of all time—Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Now, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride continues the story of these passion-filled newlyweds as they enter London’s glamorous high society.

This page-turning novel finds Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy entangled in the frivolity and ferocity of social intrigues. Although Elizabeth makes a powerful friend in the Marchioness of Englebury, the rivalry and jealousy among her ladyship’s prestigious clique threatens to destroy the success of her new marriage.

Written in the style of Jane Austen, full of humour and sardonic wit, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride brings Regency society vividly to life and continues the romantic, sometimes tragic, stories of other popular Pride & Prejudice characters including Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet.

Thoughts: This is the first sequel to Pride & Prejudice that I have ever read (I tend to go for re-workings of the story, rather than continuations of it) and I can’t say I liked it much.

One of the reasons why was that the author felt that she needed to include explanations of who original characters were, and reminders of events of the original novel. It might just be me, but I would think that, if you decide to read a fan-written sequel to a well-known novel, you are probably quite a big fan of said novel already, and would know such basic facts as who Sir William Lucas is, &c.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I quite like Halstead’s take on Miss Anne de Bourgh, for example, and Lord Maddersfield (that’d be Lady Catherine’s brother and Darcy’s uncle) was quite amusing.

On the whole, though, it was not the best of reading experiences. I might add to this later (I have seven minutes before I have to leave for work), but for now, I shall leave it at this and give this work of fiction a D rating.

25th May, 2008
Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad
— Love @ 19:51 Comments (2)
Filed under: C, Classics, Decades '08, English, Historical

No cover image available Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1902).

111 pages
a Project Gutenberg e-book

First line: The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.

Back cover blurb:
In this tale of colonial exploitation, the narrator, Marlowe, journeys deep into the heart of Africa. But there he encounters Kurtz, an idealist apparently crazed and depraved by his power over the natives, and the meeting prompts Marlowe to reflect on the darkness at the heart of all men.
This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.

Thoughts: I’ve heard this book mentioned again and again, and I’ve always sort of meant to read it, but I’ve never really known anything about it except the title.

This afternoon I took the time to read it and it was an interesting story. Very dark, but I should maybe have clued into that from the title, had I not been a complete idiot. I did find the narrative a little hard to follow at times, but I’m not sure how much that had to do with the format I read it in (e-book), and how much it was due to the actual writing.

Heart of Darkness receives a C rating. It was an okay read, but I had some issues with the flow of narrative, and at times I was made exceedingly uncomfortable by the blatant racism. It’s true that it was written over a hundred years ago, when racism was more accepted, but I’m reading it now, with 21st century sensitivities, and of course that’s going to colour my reading experience.

25th May, 2008
Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned; Stephen Cole
— Love @ 12:18 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned
by Stephen Cole

254 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48644-9

First line:How can something so big sink so fast?

Back cover blurb:
When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances in the North Sea, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to hear that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead. And yet he appears to them as a ghostly apparition, begging to be saved from the coming feast, the feast of the drowned.

As the dead crew haunts loved ones all over London, the Doctor and Rose are drawn into a chilling mystery. What sank the ship, and why? When the cruiser’s wreckage was towed up the Thames, what sinister force came with it?

The river’s dark waters are hiding an ever darker secret, as preparations for the feast near their conclusion…

Thoughts: Since Eurovision was on last night, it pushed Doctor Who off the air and there was no episode this week. To get my weekly Doctor fix, I decided to read the second of the DW novels I bought the other week.

This one was loads better than I Am a Dalek, but if that’s just because this was a “proper” book, or because it’s written by someone else, I don’t know. Either way, Cole captures Ten perfectly, as well as Rose, Mickey and Jackie,

I’m giving this a B rating, because I think it deserves it, and now I’m itching to get the other Ten and Rose novels. And to think that, before I started watching new Who, I was so certain I’d never in a million years like Rose. Shows what I know!

22nd May, 2008
Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers
— Love @ 11:48 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, English, Historical, Mystery

Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers Strong Poison
by Dorothy L Sayers
261 pages
Harper Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-06-104350-5

First line:There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

Back cover blurb:
Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancé died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman’s noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to find her innocent—as determined as he was to make her his wife.

Thoughts: The back cover blurb lies. Harriet Vane was never engaged to the murder victim in this novel, and that’s the truth. I’m just sayin’.

This, then, is the story where Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane first meet. And it’s brilliant. Not as fantastically brilliant as Murder Must Advertise, Unnatural Death or Whose Body, but still loads better than a lot of things out there.

Here’s a few quotes from Wimsey’s first meeting with Harriet Vane, in which he’s just proposed to her:

“I wish you wouldn’t sound as if you thought it was rather funny. I know I’ve got a silly face, but I can’t help that. As a matter of fact, I’d like somebody I could talk sensibly to, who would make life interesting. And I could give you a lot of plots for your books, if that’s any inducement.”
“But you wouldn’t want a wife who wrote books, would you?”
“But I should; it would be great fun. So much more interesting than the ordinary kind that is only keen on clothes and people. Though of course, clothes and people are all right too, in moderation. I don’t mean to say I object to clothes.”

“People have been wrongly condemned before now.”
“Exactly; simply because I wasn’t there.”
“I never thought of that.”
“Think of it now. You will find it very beautiful and inspiring. It might even help to distinguish me from the other forty-six, if you should happen to mislay my features, or anything. Oh, by the way—I don’t positively repel you or anything like that, do I? Because, if I do, I’ll take my name off the waiting-list at once.”
“No,” said Harriet Vane, kindly and a little sadly. “No, you don’t repel me.”
“I don’t remind you of white slugs or make you go gooseflesh all over?”

“[…] It’s my hobby. Not proposing to people, I don’t mean, but investigating things.

Because this is not the best Wimsey-book, I don’t want to give it an A rating, but since it’s still brilliant and all, a B is a must.