Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Buying Ban 2013

The question was put to me a few days ago - how many books do you have on your shelves that you haven't read yet? I looked a little bit sheepish, thought about it, and replied with what I honestly thought to be the truth, "About 30." At home, I tested out my answer and actually counted the books I have on my shelf that are unread. I have 64.

64 is probably the number of books that I will have read by the end of this year. Therefore, next year, I technically don't need to buy any more books, and I'll still have plenty to read to keep me going. But the idea of not browsing in a bookshop (because I can't go in and come out empty handed) is just horrible! Urgh, it gives me the shivers.

So, here's the rules:

01 Jan - 31 Dec. I am not allowed to pay my own money for books - not online, or in a book shop.

The exceptions: books I have to read for my class/for school, and any anthologies that I might be printed in next year (fingers crossed!)

Other ways that I might be allowed to acquire books:
1. from publishers. ARCs are fine.
2. as gifts. If I have book vouchers at Christmas, or for my birthday in July, then I can use these.
3. borrowed. From a library.

Determined to do this.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: 20th November

I liked this and wanted to share it. Sharing words is a favourite thing.

My poems do not turn out to be about Hiroshima, but about a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark. They are not about the terrors of mass extinction, but about the bleakness of the moon over a yew tree in a neighboring graveyard...
For me, the real issues of our time are the issues of every time  - the hurt and wonder of loving; making in all its forms - children, loaves of bread, paintings, buildings; and the conservation of life of all people in all places...
          'Context', Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Sylvia Plath (92)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For Review: Not Dead and Not For Sale ~ Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland - for me, the name brings to mind a fantastic voice, and an impressive front man. Understandably, for others, the name is associated with bad judgements and heroin. I've even interviewed a band who bewailed a missed opportunity to meet with him due to his addictions. To be honest, I think that for Weiland to be associated more with the latter is a pity, and more so after reading his memoir.

The concept of the talented musician who wrecks their life into destruction is not an unfamiliar one, and there's not any point in listing names here. So from the off-set, the reader knows what they're getting themself into with Not Dead and Not For Sale. Weiland recounts his life from early childhood up to the point of publication. I was unsurprised to read of a troubled childhood and difficult teenage years. But, interestingly, Weiland never says - this is why I took drugs. Of course, he does accept that he felt a need to escape his thoughts and feelings, but from the first to the last, Weiland only blames himself for his addiction. It's an admirable admission, and perhaps something that grew from rehab and therapy.

Not Dead and Not For Sale was an interesting read, and htrough I don't usually read the memoirs of musicians or actors that I admire, I was intrigued to learn how music shaped Weiland's life, and to know more of the relationship between addiction and fame. Weiland's an intelligent man, and it comes through in his memoir. More so the pity following his journeys in and out of addiction, and in and out of a successful career. Like many of his friends and family, I 'm sure, I just wanted to shake him and make him realise just what he was doing to himself - breaking relationships, his career, and himself, with addiction.

Sympathy loomed large with me in reading this memoir, but I'm a reader coming to this as a fan of Weiland's work: I've been to some incredible Velvet Revolver gigs. Still, to use a word that Weiland highlights himself, I admire his tenacity.

Memoir aside, the book itself was gorgeous. I'm not a great lover of the hardback, but the pages in these were textured differently, and the text was sandwiched with photographs and lyrics. It was enjoyable just to have the thing in my hands - and they say that print is dead.

Not Dead and Not For Sale
, and I recommend the soundtrack too - putting on the STP and Velvet Revolver tracks as we speak.

Canongate Books; July 2011

238 pages

Friday, November 09, 2012

For Review: The Healing of Luther Grove ~ Barry Gornell

Laura and John are moving into their new home - an idyllic highland retreat, built to their spec. With their tiny toddler, the three are the perfect family ready to lead the perfect life. But there's a neighbour to deal with. Luther is cold and withdrawn, and has issues with John the moment he sees him. Bigger than that is his fascination with Laura, and all the memories she awakens for him.

A highland thriller, full of conflict from the get-go, The Healing of Luther Grove is one of those novels where it really is difficult to predict what might happen next. Despite the beautiful setting, there's nothing 'airy' or 'fairy' about this book - it's gritty, and brutal at points. The introduction of John's brother Frank pulls the trigger on a nasty story line. In my error, I read this book a few times before going to bed, and had some pretty disturbing dreams as a result. All the same, I can appreciate that.

There's a lot going on in Luther Grove, including more action than I'm used to in my novels. There were places I had to read over- the writing was confused or a little clumsy and I wasn't sure what was going on - but there were also some point of real originality.

The reader is suitably disgusted by Frank quickly enough, and willing to give John the benefit of the doubt, just as Laura might. But Luther is easily the most compelling character: who isn't intrigued by a man who has decided to spend his lifetime alone in a remote part of the Scottish countryside? Pieces of Luther's past are revealed gradually to Laura, and it's not hard to understand how Luther might be the way that he is. The main events of the novel take place only over a few days, but in that time there's enough violence, abuse, and tragedy, to keep things moving to a brutal end.

The Healing of Luther Grove excited me, and really was one of those 'I'll just read to the end of this bit..the next bit..or a few more pages...' kind of reads. Gornell has a good thriller of a debut here, and I'm keen to read more of his work, even just to see what else is inside his head.

Freight Books
193 pages

Thursday, November 01, 2012

For Review: The Wizard of Oz ~ L. Frank Baum

The story of The Wizard of Oz is one that I grew up with (and many other young girls and boys besides). But I thought of Dorothy with Judy Garland in mind, and had never read the book. Or, if I have, it was a sufficient number of years ago that I'd completely forgotten.

So I picked it up again. The well-known and loved MGM version is pretty close to the narrative of the novel, though I was struck at the colour of Dorothy's shoe. Those red sparkly shoes have been an icon for years, but in Baum's novella, Dorothy is given silver shoes. That was probably the biggest shock of all things.

I would read this story to a small child, even if the flying monkeys are weird (though that might just be me remembering the film). The pictures are cute - though a kid would probably prefer a prettier, more colourful version of the cheap copy I bought.

The Wizard of Oz was nice. Just nice. And there were a couple of places where I laughed out loud at the whimsy of it all.

I just hope that Baum's family got a mega load of money from the MGM version.