A confession

I have a confession to make. And it’s embarrassing.

Are you ready?

Ok, here it is:

We’re four months into the year and l have read only four and half books.

I know, I know. It’s dreadful. My sorry excuse is that I’ve been spending an awful lot of time reading blogs. And watching Fringe. But that’s all I have to say for myself really.

Rest assured that I plan to get right on with rectifying this situation. In the meantime though, here’s a summary of the very short list of books that I HAVE read in 2011. They’ve all been different and they’ve all been great.

1. Insomnia, Stephen King

While I was on holidays in January, I read my first ever Stephen King. He’s my friend Lyndall’s favourite author and she was mortified when she discovered that I hadn’t read any of his books. She practically forced Insomnia upon me, promising that it was one of Mr King’s least scary books. And seriously, if this is Stephen at his least scary, then I’m definitely not planning to read any of his other work! Which is a shame really because I loved his writing style.

So, the protagonist in this novel is a 70 year old man named Ralph Roberts. After his wife dies, Ralph finds himself waking up earlier and earlier each day. Eventually he stops sleeping altogether. Then he discovers that his lack of sleep gives him the ability to see people’s auras. Each person’s aura is a different colour representing their emotions their and their state of health. They look like balloon strings that rise from the top of each person’s head and act as a sort of life line. How cool is that?!

Ralph also begins to see some creepy little men wearing white coats that he starts referring to as bald doctors.  I can’t resist a Fringe reference here. Even though I didn’t know it while I was reading the book, these dudes are a lot like the Observers!

The little bald doctors act as the givers of death, visiting the homes of the dying. One of them is evil and goes around snipping people’s balloon strings, causing them to die shortly after. Ralph eventually realises that it’s his purpose in life to stop this evil, balloon snipping, baldy.

Something I really loved about this book was all the different layers in the universe that rested on top of each other (also a bit Fringey). What I didn’t love was the two nights of unexplainable insomnia I experienced while reading the book. It made me worry that I was going to start seeing people’s auras as well as little bald men! I also stayed at Donna’s house one night while I was reading it. I slept in Lucas’ room and was totally freaked out that his toys would turn into bald men while I slept. My imagination is far too active I think!

I give this book at 7.5 / 10. Read it if you love dreams and aura bizzo like I do.

2. Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre

I borrowed this book from Leigh and David. They’d leant it to Ian a few years ago
and he really liked it so when I was perusing one of their many book shelves and spotted it, I took it home with me.

This novel won the Booker Prize back in 2003 and I can see why. It’s a great take on American society and also shows how evil the media can be and how voyeuristic we all get when tragic events happen.

The main character is a 15 year old boy called Vernon who  lives in a small town
in Texas. His friend Jesus Navarro commits suicide after killing sixteen bullies at their school. People think that it was Vernon who murdered everyone and the entire town turns on him. He’s tossed in jail and ends up facing the death penalty.

Vernon is of course innocent, so you feel immense pity for him all the way through.

In some reviews I’ve read about this book, people described it as funny. I really didn’t find anything funny about it. I thought it was upsetting.

Vernon’s Mum doesn’t really support him and I found  this lack of support devastating. All of the other characters seem out to get Vernon and frankly, they seem like a pretty uneducated, distasteful lot.

I could only read a few chapters at a time because I was getting so worked up about it. It’s also quite tense and suspenseful because you’re kept guessing right up until the very end about whether he is going to get off or not.

I’d rate this a 7 out of 10. Read it to experience a very different writing style.

3. JPod, Douglas Coupland

This book is random. And oh so funny.

It’s the story of six geeks who all work at a computer game company. They’ve been sat together in a ‘JPod’ because all of their last names start with J. I kind of related to this, because I too, used to sit in a JPod.

The main character, Ethan Jarlewski is the narrator of the story. And his family? Well they are insanely INSANE! His Mum grows pot for a living, knocks people off, then forces Ethan to bury them and she has affairs left right and centre.  Even funnier is his brother who is involved with an Asian crime lord Kam Fong.

At work, Ethan’s stressed out because the JPod staff have been forced to insert a turtle character into the skateboard game they are developing. The marketing manager is making them do this for no other reason than because his son likes turtles. Noone in Jpod team can argue with him, because Steve is the hot shot who turned toblerones into more than just a mini bar chocolate.

The author himself, makes a cameo appearance in the book. Can’t say I’ve ever read of that happening before!

I give this book 7 out of 10. I really can’t do its randomness any justice, so just read it for lots of laughs.

4. Soulless, Gail Carriger

Now this fabulous booky was leant to me by Lis. It’s the first in a five part series called The Parasol Protectorate.

According to Miss Carriger’s website, this book is a steampunk paranormal romance. I have no idea what the hell that means but its super fun so that’s the main thing!

The novel is set in Victorian England. But it’s not the Victorian England we know. In this version, werewolves and vampires are accepted members of society.

Back when I was in high school, I loved reading books about vampires, witches and ghosts. I think that between Alissa and I, we probably read every book Morisset library had on offer in that genre. Since then though, I have managed to avoid the vampire obsession that’s been taking over the world. However after this novel, I’m back on board! I may even read Twilight…

The leading lady in Soulless is Alexia Tarrabotti. At the ripe old age of about 27, she’s considered to be a spinster. This amuses me.

I have to say, given that she talks about her feelings so much, I’m not really sure how the soulless bit works. But what she does seem to be able to do is withdraw all the powers of the supernatural beings that she comes into contact with. Vampire’s fangs retract when she touches them and werewolves turn back into humans.

The first scene in the novel sees her accidently killing a baby vampire. Then the rest of the book is about helping out the head investigator (who is also a werewolf) to determine who this rouge vampire was. They’re also trying to establish where some of the other non hive related vampires and werewolves are.

Alexia is fabulous. She’s sharp, fiesty, quick witted. She and I became fast friends and I can’t wait to read the rest of the novels in the series.

I give this 7.5 out of 10. Just read it!

5. The Breadmakers Carnival, Andrew Lindsay

So there’s random, and then there’s RANDOM.

E & I (courtesy of Leigh and David) have both read Andrew Lindsay’s second book ‘The Slapping Man’. It’s a weird story about a man who literally makes his living by allowing people to take their anger out on him with slaps. He lived in a strange town of carnies. It was odd. But we both really liked it.

This first book of Andrew Lindsays – ‘The Breadmakers Carnival’ is again courtesy of Leigh and David. And it’s.……..quite….odd.  Ian quit about a quarter of the way through. I’m halfway through now and I intend to push on but gee I hope it starts coming together soon.

What seems to be going on so far is this:

The book is set in the fictional Italian town of Bacheretto. It starts with a dude called Ernesto being bitten by a tarantula. He has to dance the tarantella to sweat out the poison and while doing this, he befriends another dude named Gianni. Together they dance all night, and when Ernesto survives he takes Gianni in as his apprentice in a bakery called (of course) La Tarantula.

Then the book skips to years later. Gianni has taken over the bakery and he has a 13 year old daughter named Francesca. Her mother has died and she doesn’t really get on with her Dad so she moves in with a priest to do all his cooking and cleaning. He is one of those agry, self flagellating types who beats Francesca sometimes..and does other horrid things to her.

There’s also a one legged lady sleeping with a one handed man. And some other that runs a pub that’s called Amaretto.

And…that’s as far as I’ve got. Not sure how it’s all going to come together. I have to say
that once I finish this, I’m going to try and read a book with the most normal characters I can find.

I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10. Maybe ask me another time how it finishes before you decide to read it.

Now I really must go for this post is seriously long. And I have reading to do.

Cleptopenia and other urban phrases

I’m an Urban Dictionary subscriber and I love the word or phrase they send me each day. Along with the next day’s weather report, I usually read them to Ian in bed each night.

A few of my favourites are:

Cleptopenia –  The unconscious theft of pens. Also known as Cleptopenamania.
The person who steals pens from the grocery store, bank, or post office must have cleptopenia (Klep-toe-pen-ee-uh).

Spoiler alert- term to describe when crucial elements of a movie, TV show or book are about to be revealed, like the ending, character deaths, a twist, etc.Example – Spoiler alert! The girl in million dollar baby dies.

Screen saver – the blank expression that comes across a persons face when day dreaming.
Example – “Dude, check out Dave day dreaming. He looks miles away.
“Yeah mate I know, he has his screensaver on”.

Backseat browsing – Anyone who sits behind a someone who is browsing the internet while continuously instructing them on what to click on or what to type into the address/search bar. Most appropriately applied when the advice or commands are unsolicited and/or unwarranted.

Friend high – The pleasant ‘high’ feeling one acquires around close friends, often compared to being on some sort of drug. Accompanied by lots of laughing, stupidity, excitement, good conversation, and loud obnoxiousness, ie the act of getting “high” off another’s good friendship vibes.