Monthly Archives: July 2012

Book 24 – Globish

“Globish” by Robert McCrum (2010)

So here we are, back at the non-fiction place – a place I have been finding increasingly frustrating these last few laps of the book loop.

This book is not so much about the global conquering of the English language as the creation of a new language, ‘globish’, which fits within a person’s native language rather than sitting alongside it and allows us all to be members of multi-lingual world…

But you don’t really care, do you?

It was dry, quite dull and I am going to admit it, there were some bits I skimmed through… sorry.

Next! YA fiction again. Woo hoo.

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Book 23 – 50 Shades of Grey

“50 Shades of Grey” by E L James (2011)

I know what you’re thinking. No. Really. I do. But I have a very strong view that you cannot criticise a book if you have never read it. So. Now I’ve read it and it is absolute, unmitigated garbage. If you don’t know about the plot or the point or the scandal or its popularity or why I expected to dislike it… lucky you. This is porn in print… and not good porn, either. It is a story promoting the idea that true love is about lots and lots of really good sex in lots of different positions. Um. Der. But love is about much more than that.

The thing that really concerns me about the popularity of this book is that, at its core, it is suggesting that a man can treat a woman very poorly just so long as he can find her g spot. I’m assuming that by the end of the third book in the trilogy, Ana will have made Christian realise that she deserves to be treated a little better. Yawn. I don’t intend to find out.

I’ve said it before, many times – I like a character-driven story. If you deliver me characters to care about then I can imagine the dirty bits, thanks any way, I don’t need them clinically and agonisingly, explicitly described, page after sweaty-gymnastic page. I refuse to accept that this is erotic fiction. I am horrified for what this book’s success suggests about the lives of the millions of people who have read it.

No. don’t read this book. I apologise for even subjecting you to this review.

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Book 22 – Rangers Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

“Rangers Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan” by John Flanagan (2004)

I read this book as a direct result of my OCD. I picked up a book a few weeks ago, called “Brotherband”. The blurb appealed to me, so I bought it. On closer inspection once I was home, I realised that it was the first book of a new series, a spin-off from the Rangers Apprentice series. I’ve always avoided fantasy novels, much to my husband’s consternation, as I have never found one that drew me in after giving it the chance of 50-odd pages. Nevertheless, something about “Brotherband” made me want to read it. But now I was faced with a dilemma! Unlike many of my friends, and, especially my mum, I can’t read books out of order. If it is a series, or even if it is a collection of books featuring the same character/s (Lee Child and his Jack Reacher books, for example), then I have to read them in the order they were written. And so “Brotherband” waits on the shelf and I went and purchased “Rangers Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan” to start at the start.

At last! A fantasy book that captured and held my attention throughout. At its core, this is a formulaic ‘hero’s journey’ tale, but the characters are appealing and the conflict is believable and exciting. There are 11 books in the series before I can move on to “Brotherband”. It will be my pleasure to buy book 2, and hopefully to continue on right through the series.

If you are looking for a good resource for year 7 or 8, get this book. If you already teach it, can I have your resources?

If you have a child or need a gift for a child in the 10 – 14 age range, get them this book. I loved it, and, as an added bonus, hubby loves that I loved it too!

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Book 21 – Various Pets Alive & Dead

“Various Pets Alive & Dead” by Marina Lewycka (2012)

I often encourage people to read Lewycka’s first novel, “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian”, which is one of my 5 all-time favourite books (at the moment) (with “Cloudstreet”; “Water for Elephants”; “The Orchard”; and everything by Markus Zuzak) (yes, I know that’s cheating) (no, there aren’t any classics, so shoot me). There’s a common theme, actually. Each of my favourite books is character-driven and employs a simple narrative regarding simple folk. It is the absurdity and extraordinariness of ordinariness that delights me in a novel. And a descriptiveness that leans towards sparse rather than flowery, I suppose.

Lewycka creates characters that take a little warming to, a little getting to know. They are always flawed and their experiences are always a bit complicated. This is her fourth novel. I thoroughly enjoyed her second, “Two Caravans”. I found her third, “We Are All Made of Glue”, hard to take. Too much sorrow, I think. This novel is like the other 3 in that it introduces a collection of complicated characters, all of whom have a range of issues to work through. They muddle on and somehow manage to find some resolutions, mostly, by the end of the novel.

This book, beyond the characters, is an examination of 60s, free-love, dope-smoking, bra-burning, carefree, left-wing, commune-living ideals and noughties greed, individualism, and the almighty dollar. Set in the months leading up to the GFC, I probably understand the absurdity of the world’s finances better for having read this book than I did reading newspapers at the time or since. Although, if I’m honest, some of the mathematical stuff went straight over my head. Serge is the math whizz, but it is Clara I liked the most, perhaps because, like me, she is a teacher with good intentions.

Should you read this? Sure. But if you’re choosing to discover Lewycka’s writing, read “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” or “Two Caravans” instead.

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