Wednesday, 9 October 2013

2013 Reading Part 7

This one comes round quickly again as many of the books read this time were only short and one, to be honest... was a comic... But hey, this is about reading and therefore not limited to books, though I will limit it to printed matter for leisure or you'll be getting all blogs and stuff I read for work as well! So here we go for 2013 entry number seven.

I was in the local library during my holidays, looking for something else that I didn't find and saw one of the Marvel Collections series - this one being the She-Hulk. She's a lawyer cousin of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, who gets shot and the only way he can save her is to give her a blood transfusion from himself. So naturally she turns green and runs amok.

Actually the Collections series is the naff British version of the far better quality Marvel Masterworks series that present ten consecutive comics in full colour on glossy paper between hard covers. All you get in the Collections series are the line drawings wth no colour at all except for the front cover which is card. So she doesn't turn green in fact. Just grows a lot and rips a lot of clothing (but obviously wears sensible very stretchy non-rip underwear).

I'd never read her origin story so I just stood in the library and read the first comic out of the ten and sheepishly slid it back onto the shelf. I'll read the second one next time I go in...

And now for something sensible... Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my fondness for the puns and antics of the Confessions series. Again when I was on holiday in August I had a mooch round the second hand stalls on Preston Market one day and came away with a load of 1960s science fiction and this serious investigation into the goings on of the music industry. As a muso myself I can attest to its... er... accuracy may be the wrong word...

I love Bill Bryson's work. He has a sense of humour similar to mine, in fact one comment years ago compared my writing to his ("Next to Bill Bryson, your writing is crap...") When writing travel stories you make them entertaining by ignoring the many many good but ordinary people and report the funny, the tragic, the downright stupid. You don't mention the good and satisfying things you see or events that happen but mention instead the great, stupendous, extraordinary, the dangerous or the extremely wonderful things. Consequently this book about his travels through small town America is hated by Americans who feel they are misrepresented, that he does them down. It makes hilarious and thought provoking reading for anyone else. I have been to America, though I admit probably not real representative-of-the-whole America and I loved it. I've also had the good fortune to have met lots of Americans either here or in other countries and almost invariably have found them to be intelligent and fun people. But whilst I applaud their love of their own country, I felt myself feel a touch of incredulous recognition when he tells of foreign visitors expected to agree after a short period in the country that they would rather live there than go home again. It's a great country. But not that greater than anywhere else. Well... I could think of a few places over here... Anyway, he has a new book out now - 1927. I must add that to the Kindle soon.

Miss Franny is outpacing me on the Famous Five books, she's at least four in front so I raced through this one. The four teenagers and Timmy the dog go off on holiday wondering whether there will be another adventure. (Read the above comments - if there was to be no adventure, it wouldn't have been a book!)

So yes, the kids with the bad parents - "Back from boarding school already? Well make yourselves scarce for a couple of weeks!" - find themselves staying on a farm and entertained by the wondrous travelling troupe, the "Barnies" (they sing, they dance, they smuggle...). The farmer seems suspicious but is really (I suspect this of most farmers) working for the secret service or something similar. The pantomime horse, Clopper, gives the best performance, oh dear, pass me a ginger beer someone...

Back to the Wild West, where men were men and women chew tabaccy. The book opens with Sudden escaping from a posse whilst chagrined that he has shot a mate by mistake. The mate turns up later to his immense relief (he has a noose around his neck at this point and the corpse turning up puts the legitimacy of the hanging in doubt...)

There's no mistakin' the varmints here, but Sudden's the man to clean up after 'em. An' nope - he ain't gonna use no tissue...

The next one in my Sherlock Holmes collection turned out to be a short story. The King of Bohemia comes looking to Sherlock to get him out of a fix. Wearing a mask to disguise himself, he is astounded when Holmes knows who he is. "The crown gave it away, your Majesty..."

Loved this. Chris Popham is a sales rep for a magical company and finds himself in that position that almost all users of SatNavs have imagined. Where the SatNav begins a conversation with him! Only this SatNav is not a recorded voice device, linked to a satellite as much as a containment device for a demon criminal. And it wants Chris to set it free... I don't think I've ever read a Tom Holt book without seriously (totally the wrong word...) enjoying it!

I've looked at these books for years without being tempted. The cover, whilst attempting to look like a medieval piece of art, seemed to convey dreariness. Far from it. There's eighteen or more in this series and dreary books don't run to that long a series. Besides, they are coming out with more modern covers now. So this is number two in the series and following the Black Death (which seems to be cropping up in a few books I've read this year!) Matthew Bartholomew is teaching aspiring physicians at Cambridge University and gets drawn into investigating more deaths, thefts, a man masquerading as a woman, a missing body and a corpse found in the treasure chest. Should be enough of a puzzle to keep him going for a few hundred pages and indeed it is! I do like his sidekick too - Brother Michael, a monk with an eye for the ladies and a good appetite for food!

Part eight will kick off with Bernard Cornwell's 1356, which I am currrently reading.

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