Archive | November 2010

Thoughts on reading: Slights

Slights is the debut novel of Kaaron Warren, published by Angry Robot, that came as part of my welcome pack from joining the British Fantasy Society.

The protagonist is a serial killer and the blurb implies that the story will be a gruesome serial killer horror. Instead it’s somewhat of a hybrid. It’s part psychological horror, part ghost story and part mystery. I enjoy some genre-bending and I was pleasantly surprised that the novel was more complex than the blurb gave it credit for.

It is written in a really engaging voice and over the course of the story the truth about the protagonist’s father is revealed. One of the stand-out features of the book is the way the protag comes to awareness about herself and her relationships. At the end, nothing is what it seemed to be at the beginning and the changes are handled very skillfully.

It’s worth reading, especially if you’re on the lookout for something a bit unusual, and I shall look out for more of Warren’s work.

Thoughts on reading: some non-fiction books

I’m a bit behind on my book posts. I have a tallish pile of books sitting on the desk waiting for me to say something interesting about them. We can only hope…

Several of the books are non-fiction so I thought I’d bundle them all together.

Bad Samaritans: The guilty secrets of rich nations and the threat to global prosperity by Ha-Joon Chang. A good discussion of the real strategies the rich nations used to grow rich and dissection of the myth that free trade encourages econominc development.

The New Rulers of the World by John Pilger. This is a bit old now, having been written in 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11, but it’s interesting to see how many of Pilger’s analyses still hold true.

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: And 99 other thought experiments by Julian Baggini. This was a freebie with a magazine ages ago. It’s very short essays on philosophical questions applied to everyday life. Very thought-provoking – and potentially full of ideas for speculative fiction stories.

Pilgrims by Paul McDermott. Another freebie, given away by the author on the South Bank. This is the ‘true’ story of a young man who volunteers to spend time with a terminally ill elderly woman. It’s quite moving, but perhaps not as transformational as the author would have us believe.

Some questions….

Martin said I could steal this, so I did. I needed to ease myself back into blogging regularly, so what could be more lightweight than a getting-to-know-you-questions meme.

1. What do you consider your hometown to be?
Stevenage, I guess. I’m not sure I really feel the concept of hometown though. I wasn’t born here, and I spent my formative years in lots of places, but I’ve lived here for most of my life now and I’m pretty happy here.
2. What’s the hardest part of your average day?
I don’t really think anything about my average day is hard. I have an underactive thyroid and sometimes I get depressed, so when I’m feeling ill it can be hard to get out of bed. Occasionally, I don’t manage it. Sometimes I have things to do at work that I find challenging. I don’t see those things as average though.
3. The easiest? Why?
Lunch? Sitting on the sofa watching TV? Reading? Snuggles with my cats and rabbit? Things that are not overly demanding of my energy and make me feel good, I guess.
4. What beverage do you reach for to quench your thirst?
Sparkling water.
5. What is one not-so-secret goal you have for your life? I’ll let you keep your secret ones to yourself.
To publish novels and drink some very fine wines.
6. What physical pain do you fear most? For example, I’m trying to decide how bad my jaw pain needs to get before I risk a potential needle from my dentist. So, for me, throbbing is preferable to jabbing.
7. Where do you find solace?
In books; in music; in the smell of incense; in a warm fire in a dark, cosy room; in solitude.
8. What makes you the saddest when you read/see the news?
The lies and propaganda make me angry. What makes me sad is knowing how much important news isn’t covered because it happens to ‘unpeople’.
9. What do you eat for a favorite snack?
Chocolate!! Ha ha.
10. What movie(s) could you/would you watch more than two or three times and still enjoy just as much as the first time?
Loads. Bladerunner, The Company of Wolves, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pitch Black, The Hitcher, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and so on. I can happily watch things over again.
11. What boy/girl first made you cry?
Aside from my family? I don’t know. I’ve always cried easily.
12. What brand of coffee/tea do you drink most often?
Twinings English Breakfast Tea
13. Dig in the dirt with or without garden gloves?
Without, definitely. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually do gardening because it needs doing all the time. If I could garden once a year, that would be fine, but it’s like outside housework and needs redoing continuously. But back to the question; if I’m going to plunge my hands into mud and dig around I want to feel it. I like getting my hands dirty.
14. Strictly Come Dancing or The Apprentice?*
How could I choose? I love them both!!
Blog your answers and put the link in the comments!
*I changed this question because the original didn’t mean anything to me.