Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 books, #6-10

Dancing with the Virgins, by Stephen Booth. London: HarperCollins, 2001.

The stone circle known as the Nine Virgins has stood on the Derbyshire moors for centuries; a National Parks warden comes across a tenth figure in the circle, a young woman who has been stabbed. There are echos of an attach a couple of months earlier where another woman, a lawyer, had her face slashed open in an incident she prefers not to remember. Diane Fry (newly promoted to Acting Sergeant but waiting for a post elsewhere) and DC Ben Cooper have to put aside their personal differences to work on the investigation; as ever, the dynamic between them adds an extra element to the story.

Liars all, by Jo Bannister [audiobook]. Read by Patience Tomlinson. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2010.

I got this and wasn't able to remember whether I'd read this one in the series before; turns out I had, but way too quickly to be able to retain it.  I agree with what I said at first reading, except that I think I like Brodie even less at second reading.  It's interesting that Jo Bannister hasn't come back to these characters since - I wonder if she's managed to put herself off Brodie, too, or whether she just doesn't know what to do with the plot at this point!  She's still writing though, just not in this series...

Shane, by Jack Schaefer. [S.l.]: Random House; [n.d.]

We picked this for book group as a classic Western.  The publication details above might give you an idea of how difficult this title is to obtain - the county library system had no copies, and Random House's technical information page (copyright, CIP etc.) concludes with "Random House Children's Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read" while giving neither a place or date of publication beyond the original in 1946.   Has to be said, this is not your standard children's book of today; there's meaningful violence, language, a very interesting undertone about the relationship between the three adults... And it's immensely enjoyable, and honourable, and brave, and somewhat tear-jerking...  If you'd like my copy, leave me a comment with some information on how I can get in touch with you; I think more people should be able to read this book.

Tigers in red weather, by Liza Klaussmann. London: Picador, 2012.

Another book group book (difficulty in getting hold of Shane meant we had two discussions on that one). Nick and her cousin Helena grew up together sharing long summers at Tiger House, (which I believe is on Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard);  they keep going there with and without husbands and children, but the cracks keep forming.  This novel is written from several different perspectives; and I think the character I most dislike is the focus of the first section, so I did question my sanity in reading it for the first few chapters. Thankfully, nobody else in the book much likes that character either... There's some genuinely sinister stuff here.  The shifting perspectives mean that each narrating character can defend her/himself, and this may be contradictory to the previous narratives; and at book group discussion, we had sharply differing views as to the characters we did and didn't find sympathetic.

The facility, by Simon Lelic [audiobook]. Read by Paul Panting. Isis: Oxford, 2011.

Dystopia. We start with a man being threatened, interrogated and held for an undisclosed offence. He's put on a bus and admitted to a Facility at an undisclosed location, but has no idea why or what's going on.  It's Kafka in the security age.  I sort of don't want to say more because it takes a while to work out what on earth is happening (the Home Office statement on that happens at least a third of the way through).  I would say that if you're OK with conspiracy theories, read or listen to this book. And if you're not, read it anyway because it rattles along very nicely. There is some gruesome stuff, but you'd probably expect that from the title.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Poetry for St Brigid

St Brigid's Day, and while I'm not sure posting a poem is still an internet Thing, I had a Collected Robert Frost for Christmas, and this one remains a favourite.

Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

And if that one's a bit sad, Frost can be lighter...

[Forgive, O Lord...]

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.