Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

11 02 2011

This was another pick from the Book Circle and one I was looking forward to. I have always loved the Jane Austen classic and I love fantasy and SF as well (although not horror) so I thought this one might be a bit of fun. I have to admit, it took little getting into. Although the zombie side of the story fitted in surprisingly well, I still found it somewhat jarring at first. I found myself more absorbed as I got further into the book though (the attractions of the lovely Mr Darcy are irresistible). I especially enjoyed the various euphemisms that the characters used for the zombies and the necessity for the Bennett girls to maintain their modesty while they fought off undead hordes. Lizzy Bennett was very convincing as a deadly zombie destroyer. Some interesting twists on the minor storylines too. Not my favourite read but I ended up enjoying it.

Two Book Circle Books

26 01 2011

I finally got back to the book circle list. I just finished September’s selection, Novel About my Wife by Emily Perkins and prior to that read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Ina Rilke (trans.)

Novel About my Wife was an interesting read. The narrator, Tom, is a screenwriter who is struggling to deal with the loss of his wife, Ann. The novel describes the last few months of her life from Tom’s point of view. Tom’s career has foundered and he becomes increasingly desperate to get work, eventually making a decision that has tragic repercussions. I have to admit I found the protagonist irritating and rather shallow but I suspect this was the point. He loves his wife but never really knows her and he pays a huge price for his failure. The ending was somewhat ambiguous and a bit frustrating, leaving the reader to fill in gaps that Tom only sees when it is too late. Well written and a good read.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress also deals with a man who ultimately fails to know the woman that he loves. Set in communist China at the time of the Cultural Revolution, it tells the story of two young men who are sent to a remote rural village to be “re-educated”. The education that they receive is quite different from what was intended when they find a collection of Western books and one shares them with his girlfriend, the Little Seamstress of the title. The harshness of life in the village is well described but I found the characters a bit one dimensional. I found myself wishing it had been written from the point of view of the Little Seamstress, since she is the character who changes the most in the course of the novel. But it was an interesting look at a time and place I don’t know much about and a pleasant change to read something that wasn’t 700 pages long.

Reading Frenzy

30 12 2010

After a year of reading little but study related books and articles, I have had a little “reading for pleasure” frenzy over the last few days.

First up was Wolf Hall, my book circle book that has only taken me six months to read. Really enjoyed it. I didn’t know a lot about Thomas Cromwell and I found it incredibly interesting that someone from such a humble background could rise to such great heights. I found it a little hard to follow at times (Cromwell is only ever referred to as “he”) and the list of characters at the front came in handy more than once. There were some gorgeous descriptions. One I particularly liked was:

“There is a tentative, icy sun; loops of vapour coil across the river, a scribble of mist.”

I am looking forward to the sequel.

Next, for a complete change of pace, I read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (pinched from my son’s Christmas presents). A nice, light read, I found I didn’t get into the characters as much as the Harry Potter series. Having said that, I will probably read the other ones (if the boy lets me). More importantly, he seems to be enjoying them!

Continuing on the young adult fiction theme, Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld was next on my list. This is a sequel to Leviathan which I read some time ago.  It is a rollicing adventure set in an alternative 1914 with two spunky heroes (one boy, one girl) and lots of weird and wonderful technology of the mechanical and biological kind. I like how the author has used the real events of the time as a springboard for his fantastic story. I am eagerly awaiting book number 3.

Finally, on a more serious note, there was Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. It is a moving story about loss, love and women’s lives. Sounds heavy but isn’t. I loved it. It is another young adult novel but there is plenty in there for older readers. Bring a hanky for the ending.


11 12 2010

Finished a busy year of study. Finished reinstalling everything on my laptop (after a hard disk crash). Not yet finished Wolf Hall (but will – eventually). Book Circle fail…..

Comfort Food

1 10 2010

With the school holidays upon me, I have been feeling in the baking mood. Googled “chocolate caramel slice nz” and found the Curious Kai blog – and the most decadent slice recipe I have ever seen, Had to make it. Have now tasted it and can attest that it is delish (I cut it into VERY small pieces). I also confess that I halved the caramel. The amount in the recipe looked to much even for me! Looks like there is a lot of other yummy stuff on his blog –gorse flower cordial anyone? Great to see a noxious weed being put to good use!

Why Studying Literature is Important

24 09 2010

So you can understand jokes like this:

Alternative Energy Cartoon

Very Cute Video

16 09 2010

Been too busy to do much of anything that is not an assignment or family related but had to share this cute video we saw in class the other day: