Holiday reading

20 Jan

One of the joys of being on holidays is, of course, reading. Here are my highlights (and lowlights) so far. All authors’ names from memory. I am too lazy to walk to the other end of the house and read them.

  • Dead Line (Stella Rimington). This is the fourth or so in a series about Liz Carlyle of MI5 – but the first that I’ve read. It was a Christmas gift to me from Otto, who liked the picture on the cover. There were a few massive leaps of faith along the way (and a few times where I just wanted to clunk her over the head to point out the blatantly obvious) but it was an enjoyable beach read, and I might even pick up some of the others. (Lorne Beach Books has at least one of them). Fraser enjoyed this too.
  • Suffer the Little Children (Donna Leon). Donna Leon is one of our traditional beach reads. She does not disappoint.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth. A childhood favourite, re-read for the first time in years. The Bigster also enjoyed it.
  • Jeux dangereux. Finally finished this DELF A1-A2 French novel. Hardly in the same class as the other things I have been reading.
  • Gegensaetze ziehen sich aus (Kerstin Gier). German chicklit. I picked it up on one of my two large bookshop raids. Really enjoyed this one and figure it’s a good way to keep reading German without actually having to notice that I am reading German (and therefore concentrate) … do I smell an order or can it wait till the middle of the year? I still have Der Schwarm at home, which might be a tad more challenging. This is the third in a series, so I might even look up the other two.
  • A life in time and space: The biography of David Tennant. A christmas gift from the Bigster. What a dud. This is one of those unauthorised biographies that is hastily cobbled together from trivial internet research and a few newspaper articles (which are probably also on the internet), padded with a “glossary” of film, tv and acting terms that are, for the most part, not even used in the book. It reads like a bad literature review, and I wanted to throw it across the room. Not even remotely recommended.
  • Trixie Belden #18: The Grasshopper mystery. Or #19, or something. Biggie loves these.
  • Le roi Arthur et les chevaliers de la Table ronde. This one is easier, I think (DELF A1) and I have the CD with me. OMG French people speak fast! I could cope if it were only slowed down by 50%!
  • Staying alive in Year 5 (John Marsden) – found this for 50c or so at the book exchange. Biggie enjoyed it, as she is going into Year 5.
  • The Burglar who quoted Kipling (Lawrence Block). This was fun. Good beach reading. A semi-retired burglar runs a used book store – except when he comes out of retirement for “special” jobs. I’d read more of this series.
  • Babar’s Travels. Here’s the danger of buying books without reading them through. I remember the Babar books – good clean fun, monkeys, etc etc. Except for this one, which features OMGCANNIBALS! (although I am not sure that people eating an elephant is technically cannibalism …) and a very bloody war. I suspect the books were toned down after this one. Otto did not particularly enjoy this.
  • My Little Pony Colouring and Activity Book. shudder.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine wipe-on wipe-off activity book. The maze is broken. I am going to write and complain. omgrly.
  • Complete French Grammar. Still deciding what level I should re-enrol at. I’m thinking of repeating the second half of the last intensive course I did, because it was about then that I lost the plot as far as homework goes. 
  • The Tomorrow Code. One of Biggie’s – a gift from Auntie’s boyfriend. This was OMGSOGOOD. I was dubious about the Heckler & Koch on the first page (that’s a gun, right?) and even more so about the explosions and mass carnage on the next – but it’s just great. Super-smart teens in Auckland do what no adults can and find a way to decipher messages from the future – and work together to save the world. The author doesn’t pull his punches, and the ending is just terrific. Some big plotholes (what happened to the fog after the first two incidents?) but it’s fun enough that you don’t notice them at the time – which is the essence of action writing, I think.
  • Insight Guides: Continental Europe. Otto likes the bits on Spain. Really.
  • My Naughty Little Sister. Reading this with Otto. Lovely stories which still appeal today.
  • 500 places to take your kids (before they grow up). Discussed earlier. Only of value as a preliminary list – more information needed to make good decisions. But that’s what I figured when I bought it.
  • The Club Dumas. A style of book that I am always dubious about. Too self-consciously ‘literary’ – it would probably have been good to have a copy of The Three Musketeers handy as I read it. I couldn’t accept the business of the girl with green eyes, and the book seemed to kind of splice on the supernatural parts in a not-entirely-believable way. Was the author too adventurous with this one?

I am sure that, when I get to the Internet, I will read that Babar’s Travels is a famous classic, The Tomorrow Code has been slammed by critics, and the Club Dumas has won every literary prize imaginable. Oh well.

I also picked up a copy of Weasel Words, by Don Watson, in a slipcase with Death Sentence. Both are about the decay of public language and the rise of “consultant speak” (which, I acknowledge, I do too). I’ve been wanting to read these for ages.

Remaining in my bag, so far, are:

  • Le Club des Cinq en randonnee (yes, it’s the Famous Five in French … I figure it’s probably about the best I can hope to understand so far)
  • Lonely Planet: Eastern Europe
  • A concise history of Germany (bit heavier than usual beach reading, but when else will I get the chance?)
  • Queens consort: England’s medieval Queens: Harlot. Warrior. Witch. Crusader. Queen. (Lisa Hilton) – a Christmas gift from Fraser. We are particularly interested in Eleanor of Castile (by all accounts a horrible woman) but we have an interest in visiting the remaining Eleanor Crosses when we get to the UK (Charing Cross, Banbury Cross, Lincoln, Coventry?, Bath?, St Albans, Cheapside, Westminster (is one of these two Charing Cross??) – there were 12 of them originally plus two “fakes” erected later – need to research these). Hardbacks aren’t good to take to the beach.

Posted by on January 20, 2009 in books


3 responses to “Holiday reading

  1. guenny

    January 20, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    “OMG French people speak fast! I could cope if it were only slowed down by 50%!”

    You’re preaching to the choir, missy… FtF interaction with people that speak French really fast is no better, sadly. And sometimes slowing them down just isn’t an option. I *really* wish my parents had chosen to send me to immersion school!

  2. Keith S

    January 21, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Having stumbled across Lawrence Block through Bookmooch Im making my way slowly though the burglar series. Good plots & sharp sense of humour – very enjoyable.

  3. Fraser

    January 24, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    “Some big plotholes (what happened to the fog after the first two incidents?)” The first two incidents were in Siberia and Alaska in winter. I think it was mentioned that in Alaska the fire sprinklers had set off as well, so a double whammy for the fog.


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