What I’ve been reading – The Street That Wasn’t There by Clifford D. Simak

The Street that Wasn't ThereThe Street that Wasn’t There by Clifford D. Simak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very dry, flat style of writing, but still a very interesting idea and leads to the conclusion with a lot of apprehension and suspense.

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What I’ve been reading – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read it a long time ago, and to the best of my memory I just didn’t agree with at least half of King’s assertions. But you can’t argue with his sales, and The Dead Zone is one of my favourite books ever. He’s got to know what he’s doing!

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What I’ve been reading – Blackmail Boy by Parker Avrile

Blackmail Boy  (The Runaway Model, #3)Blackmail Boy by Parker Avrile

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some nice musical detail for verisimilitude, not to mention sleazy music biz detail too. Very kitchen-sink and realistic, in a rather melancholy and downbeat tale. (That’s a compliment.) Not much in the way of fluffy hearts and flowers here – this is gritty RL, and real people’s sad little motivations and sadder lives. But the touch of hope at the end was very sweet.

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What I’ve been reading – Crazy Vanilla by Barbara Wersba

Crazy VanillaCrazy Vanilla by Barbara Wersba

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I expected a little more from this than I actually got – it felt as if at any moment a profound epiphany might appear, but that promise was never quite made good. Still, I did enjoy it. The best thing was reading about Tyler’s love of nature and animals, which felt deeply real. His opinions and reading about the anthropomorphization of animals in human culture was especially interesting – more so than his personal relationships, really. I found his issues with his older brother’s sexuality a bit tacked-on and not really credible. Still a worthwhile read though.

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What I’m reading – ‘Shifting Shadows’ by Patricia Briggs

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I’m up to page 133 of 451 of Shifting Shadows, having finished ‘Gray’ – vampire story, quite sad, touches of hope. I’m only really touched by a small number of Ms Briggs’ characters. This didn’t really do it for me, though nicely written.  She has a tendency to provide rather indeterminate will-they-or-won’t-they endings for potential romantic couples, and frankly I find it frustrating.  Tell us!  Is it all on or not?

It’s a cock-tease literary tactic, when really the reader wants a romantic, er, happy ending.

 

image – keeping down the underground https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepingdowntheunderground/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

me and Pam: a New Year project, Week One, Day One

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image – Inga Vitola https://www.flickr.com/photos/360around/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I got Pam Grout’s new book, ‘Art and Soul, Reloaded‘ for Christmas.  Lucky me!  And since it’s structured in the form of weekly projects, I figure I will make a serious stab at them, and at finishing them by next New Year.  Gotta try, right?

The first week’s project, as advised by Ms. Grout, is simply to log amount of time spent on social media for the week.  Then to cut it in half, and spend the freed-up time on creative pursuits instead.  And in addition, to come up with three new ideas a day.  No matter how ridiculous!

Well, we’re already halfway through the week.  So I’ll come up with my best estimate of the time I waste daily – say two hours.  And, yes, make an effort to cut it down.

And today’s three ideas?

i) write a Gothic novel summary with a clown as the hero

ii) decorate a mug to celebrate a national holiday that doesn’t exist

iii) build a ladybug house.

 

What I’ve been reading – Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really love this book, although I’m not sure why considering just how depressing it is. I think perhaps just because of that. Ehrenreich truly tells it like it is, and there’s none of the sugarcoating of economic abuse and exploitation that you get with even supposedly impartial media like the BBC and UK liberal press these days. Also I’m into it just because I love memoir beyond any reasonable point and every detail of Ehrehreich’s wilfully grim and dispiriting experiences is fascinating to me.

There is a temptation, as a reader, to keep second-guessing her choices, and the choices of her more truly blue/pink collar colleagues. To think and hope, wishfully, deludedly, that given the same circumstances one would do better, would rise above somehow and bootstrap one’s way up. It’s perhaps the same ‘blame the victim’ mentality associated with rape, bullying or whistleblowers – it feels so much safer to convince yourself that the system works, the target slipped up and was at fault somehow, and it could never happen to you. But it ain’t so, bud.

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What I’ve been reading – Bethany by Anita Mason

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BethanyBethany by Anita Mason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sly, subtle portrayal of the implementation of cult structures and procedures in a social grouping. Complete with an abusive, narcissistic bully posing as caring commune leader, and submissive devotees serving dual function as enforcers – and all without ever being so crude as to explicitly state the purpose of the narrative. Compliance is rewarded, and consent vigorously manufactured to Newspeak assertions that up is down and the earth is – metaphorically – flat. Resistance and dissent are vehemently discouraged. But will one prospective mug/mark manage to evade the net?

Clever. And unsettling. Not a jolly read, but a memorable one.

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Image – Jenny Mackness https://www.flickr.com/photos/jennymackness/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

What I’m reading – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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Finished ‘Fairy Gifts’ in this collection of short stories – the story of Thomas (vampire) & Margaret (fae) from the Mercy Thompson universe (Moon Called et al). The story is a vast improvement on ‘Silver’, Thomas in particular nicely characterized and believable. The twist in the tale is not very unexpected, but this still makes a satisfying story. The historical element is also realistic and interesting, and without the annoying ‘mythic’ quality of Silver. (I didn’t like Silver!)

 

Image – Just Another Shot https://www.flickr.com/photos/wideopencode/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/