Saturday, January 3, 2009

So Long, Farewell

I've decided not to continue on with my blog anymore. I've always struggled to keep it updated and frankly I can't be bothered any longer. I have too much else going on to be able to dedicate enough time like I wanted to.

So...adieu, adieu to you and you and you (I think that may be overstating the number of people who read this blog!) I'll still be checking into other blogs and commenting occasionally.

So long!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Gem Collector by PG Wodehouse

Rating: 8/10

Published: 1909
Number of pages: 208

Started: 19 August 2008
Finished: 28 August 2008

Summary (taken and edited from Wikipedia):

Sir James Willoughby Pitt, baronet, a former jewel thief who was expelled from Eton and has since inherited wealth, is in London and bored with life. Seeing a stranger in need in a restaurant, he comes to his aid, and so befriends Spennie Blunt. He later encounters Spike Mullins, a former American criminal associate, who has fled to England and fallen on hard times. Pitt takes him in.

From there on it's a typically Wodehousian romantic farce, set at the stately Dreever Castle, overflowing with imposters, detectives, crooks, scheming lovers and conniving aunts.

A reasonably short story and very enjoyable. Wodehouse is terrific and I've been building up quite the collection of his works of late. This one is actually an earlier, serialised version of a story that became the longer A Gentleman of Leisure.

A terrific read; light and funny. Recommended.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Rating: 7/10

Published: 2005
Number of pages: 413

Started: 15 August 2008
Finished: 21 August 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):

This stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognises that his daughter has Down's syndrome. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own.

This book is quite a downer. It's hard to feel sympathy for any of the characters. Although I understand the reasons behind David's decision, it's still hard to comprehend. And he had so many opportunities to rectify it, but he chose not to. It's very frustrating and depressing to read about these people living their sad and difficult lives because of one man's decision.

I read the book so long ago that the details are a bit hazy. Despite my gripes I apparently thought highly enough of it to give it a 7, so it must have had some good qualities. Interesting to see how one decision can so deeply affect your own life and that of everyone around you.

The Most Brilliant Library Ever

Check out Jay Walker's library (puts my humble library to shame).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recently Acquired Books

Been a while since I've updated. I have a stack of reviews to do but life is hectic and my reading has come to a virtual standstill. I've managed to find time to buy more books though!

JG Ballard: Empire of the Sun
Pearl S Buck: The Good Earth
Peter Biskind: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Alexandre Dumas: The Last Cavalier
Gregory Maguire: Mirror, Mirror
Scott Westerfeld: Specials
PG Wodehouse: Carry On, Jeeves
PG Wodehouse: Money for Nothing
PG Wodehouse: Right Ho, Jeeves
PG Wodehouse: Something Fresh

I have another stack of Wodehouses on their way to me, and I bought a box sest of the Complete Sherlock Holmes, which incorporates:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes
The Valley of Fear
A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of Four
His Last Bow
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recently Acquired Books

Today I picked up:

Kyril Bonfiglioli: The Mortdecai Trilogy
John Brunner: The Sheep Look Up
Raymond Chandler: The Lady in the Lake and Other Novels

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TT: Favourite Bookstores

(From 12 August 2008): What's your favourite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favourite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favourite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?
I must admit that I'm fan of big bookchains. In Australia, they're represented by Dymocks, Angus & Robertson and Borders. All 3 have huge stores in Sydney which I frequently visit during my morning tea and lunch breaks (although A&R is currently shut due to the redevelopment of Pitt St mall).

Borders is probably my main haunt, largely due to the fact that they cunningly send me vouchers every week for a certain % off books and most weeks I can't resist heading in to pick up a bargain. Both Borders and Dymocks have a pretty good selection of books.

I've also recently discovered Kinokuniya - they have a great range of books and are very good value, plus their website can tell you if they have the book you're searching for currently in stock AND it will provide you with an exact map of where the book is located in the store. Very cool! And it works: I tested it when I went to buy A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr.

There are quite a few secondhand bookshops that I love too. Too many to list here, but I've found a lot of great stuff when browsing through those shops.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BTT: Gold Medal Reading

(From 14 August 2008): Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both? And, Second: Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
I have a book about cricket (the greatest sport ever) that was written by a guy at my work. I didn't know who he was at the time - I received the book through a mutual friend - but I've now moved into his department and see him daily. I haven't actually read it yet, but I'll get to it one day...And I have another book about cricket called No-Balls and Googlies by Geoff Tibballs. It's a terrific little read full of interesting facts about the history of the game. I read it in a day or two while watching the cricket on TV. Pure bliss!

As for sport in general, I don't watch a huge amount. I see a little bit here and there, but if it's not cricket, I'm generally not interested (I'm especially not interested in soccer!) As far as cricket goes, I've been known to take multiple days off work in order to sit home and watch it. In fact, the next lot of holidays I have coming up (3 whole days) were chosen specifically because there's a test match on that I want to watch.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Rating: 9/10

Published: 1957
Number of pages: 160

Started: 8 August 2008
Finished: 14 August 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):
Timofey Pnin, a St Petersburg bourgeois until the age of twenty, has had to struggle most of his life - with foreign languages he can never get the better of, with foreign transport he always misses or arrives several hours too early for, and with foreign people whom he invariably misunderstoods, and who usually misunderstand him. But his principal protagonist is modern, gadget-ridden America, and the love-hate relationship between Pnin and his adopted country is the main theme of this very funny book.

Pnin is the second work of Nabokov's I've read, after Lolita. I find that Nabokov is not an easy author to read; despite the short nature of Pnin, it took me a week to get through it. Nabokov needs to be read slowly in order to appreciate the true brilliance of his writing.

Timofey Pnin is a wonderful character; one of the best I've read in literature. As a Russian professor living in America and bumbling his way from one situation to the next, it's hard to know whether to pity him or think he's a fool. Either way, you can't help but love him in all his quirkiness and foibles. Sheer brilliance!

Thank You, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Rating: 9/10

Published: 1934
Number of pages: 275

Started: 31 July 2008
Finished: 8 July 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):

Thank You, Jeeves is the first novel to feature the incomparable valet Jeeves and hist hapless charge Bertie Wooster - and you've hardly started to turn the pages when Jeeves resigns over Bertie's dedicated but somewhat untuneful playing of the banjo. In high dudgeon, Bertie disappears to the country as a guests of his chum Chuffy - only to find his peace shattered by the arrival of his ex-fiancee Pauline Stoker, her formidable father and the eminent loony doctor Sir Roderick Glossop. When Chuffy falls in love with Pauline and Bertie seems to be caught in flagrante, a situation boils up which only Jeeves (whether employed or not) can simmer down...

Ah, the joy of discovering a new author! Wodehouse's brand of humour is right up my alley and I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Jeeves and Wooster. Since finishing this book a few months ago, I've gone and bought a couple of dozen other works of Wodehouse. If that doesn't tell you how much I enjoyed this book, nothing will! A light, entertaining read and highly recommended.