Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page


In Book Reviews on March 30, 2014 at 6:00 am
Macdonald & Co 1981

Macdonald & Co 1981

To Cujo, the words coming from THE MAN meant nothing. They were meaningless sounds, like the wind. What mattered was the smell coming from THE MAN. It was hot, rank, and pungent. It was the smell of fear. It was maddening and unbearable. He suddenly understood THE MAN had made him sick. He lunged forward, the growl in his chest mounting into a heavy roar of rage.

I’ve re-discovered my love of Stephen Kings’ work and am making a point to read the books of his that I’ve never read. When I look for his books, I am always struck by how many he has written. I have a lot of catching up to do.

This time around, I decided to kick it old school and read a classic. Therefore, I give you Cujo. (No seriously, you can have him. This dog freaks me out.)

Nutshell blurb: Cujo is a 200 lb Saint Bernard who gets bitten by rabid bats. Thus begins his descent into madness. And his mauling of people.

I must say that the body count in this story is surprisingly low, especially for a Stephen King novel. That certainly didn’t keep it from scaring the pants off of me though.

My favourite thing of any King novel is the way he focuses on characters and their interaction rather than on just the blood and guts. There’s a marriage on the rocks due to infidelity, another marriage on the rocks due to domestic violence, a spurned lover who wants revenge all thrown together with a rabid, man-eating dog.

We all know that there is no cure for rabies and that the only way one can deal with a rabid animal is to kill it. Unfortunately, Cujo wasn’t as easy to deal with as Old Yeller.

I did feel sorry for the dog. Before he went rabid he was the gentlest and most loyal dog who would never dream of hurting anyone.

We do get to experience things from Cujo’s point of view occasionally and like any good villain, he has a reason for doing what he does that goes beyond the need for mindless violence. He becomes convinced that people are responsible for making him feel ill which drives a need inside him to kill those people.

This is actually one of those books that I wish I had read in one or two sittings rather than on my commute and during my lunch hour. Let me tell you something folks, it’s hard to leave the break room when someone in your book is trapped in a car by a slavering, blood-thirsty beast and then have to wait until quitting time to pick up the story again. Talk about painful.

A lot of tension came from not knowing who was going to die. No one is safe in a Stephen King novel and you never really know whose number will come up. The end left me feeling sad and a bit antsy. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t read it but it wasn’t what I expected.

I was also thinking about getting a dog, but perhaps I’ll just leave it for now.


Birthday Loot

In Library Day on March 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm
London Aquarium

London Aquarium


On this day, thirty nine years ago at 3.33am EST, a miracle was born. Or rather, I was. It was a pretty big deal. At least it was for me. While I’m not a big fan of aging, I’ve gotta say that I love it when my birthday rolls around. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had jobs that have allowed me to have the day off (as a holiday day, of course). When I was a little girl, my parents used to let me and my sister have one day off per year, providing that that day didn’t fall on a day when we had a test or a project due. (Please note that my parents DID NOT advocate truancy. They’re just really cool parents who wanted us to have one special day off from school each year.) I always chose my birthday.

Anyway, I’ve managed to keep it special this far through my adult life and hope to do so for the rest.

On my birthday, I like to do stuff that I haven’t done before. Go someplace I’ve never been. This year, I decided to channel my inner 12 year old girl and go to the London Aquarium. It was a really fun day. I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed with the aquarium as it wasn’t as majestic as I hoped that it would be (especially considering how much they charge you to get in!). It was very cramped and you had to fight with school children to be able to see any of the exhibits. Because, yes, today was field trip day for a few schools. *sigh* Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun and saw a lot of cool stuff. Including this:

Photo bomb!

Photo bomb!

No trip into central London would be complete for me without a visit to Forbidden Planet. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it a time or two but it’s my favourite place to shop. Yes, that’s right, I would rather buy books than shoes. I picked up some goodies from there which I’m sure I’ll review fairly soon.

Birthday loot!

Birthday loot!

I’m especially looking forward to reading The Empire Striketh Back! I read William Shakespear’s Star Wars ages ago and it was a hoot.

So, that was my birthday! I must go now. We still have birthday brownies to eat and Netrunner to play.


I, Claudius

In Book Reviews on March 23, 2014 at 6:00 am
Arthur Baker 1934

Arthur Baker 1934

Nutshell blurb: Claudius is the grand-nephew of the emperor Augustus. He walks with a limp, stutters and is considered to be feeble-minded. He fancies himself a historian and takes it upon himself to record the events of the imperial family in all of its blood-curdling splendour.

Can I just say that this is one of the densest books I’ve ever read? Ye gods, it took me over a month to read it. I know that it’s not a race and that I don’t have to read every book within 3 days of starting it, but I like to feel that I’m getting somewhere when I’m reading. I read this book on my commute and found that after 40 minutes on the tube, I had only gotten through 10 pages.


Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it but it really messed up my progress on the massive backlog of books I have to read.

Anyway, on to the book.

I actually watched this series years ago at uni and loved it. At the time I didn’t even realise that it was based on a novel. So I was pretty excited to find out that there was a book.

The thing that I liked about this novel was that it felt as though it was actually narrated by Claudius. It felt like a real account of his life. I think that is indicative of great story-telling when you forget that you’re reading a novel and forget that it’s fiction.

Claudius is a very likable fellow. I really admired him for being so adaptable and for surviving when people were murdered left and right. He did what he had to do to ensure his survival. Namely, he acted like a half-wit and stayed out of everyone’s way when possible.

The thing that I didn’t like about it was that Claudius had a tendency to waffle on or go on long-winded tangents about excruciating topics like military tactics or a detailed account of what’s happening with the economy. I was loathe to skip these parts though, in case they contained important information about the characters. Of which there were many.

It was oh-so difficult to keep track of who was related to whom in this story. Luckily, there was a handy-dandy family tree at the back of the book which I frequently consulted.

Overall, I really did like this book. I’m just ready to read something that’s a bit less dense now.

Also, I really want to watch the series over again.

Dune Messiah

In Book Reviews on March 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm
Victor Gollancz 1971

Victor Gollancz 1971

Nutshell blurb: Paul Atreides is all grown up and ruler of a vast amount of planets. And now, pretty much everyone is out to get him.

I was decidedly underwhelmed by this book. I was completely blown away when I read Dune and was super excited to read the follow-up book. I looked for it every time I went to the library but finally ended up breaking down and buying it.

The premise sounded great. Plots upon plots, the return of a friend as a ghola and a rich world with interesting characters. But somehow I felt that there was something lacking in the execution. It just didn’t grab me.

This could be partly why I’ve been going through a reading rut lately (as I mentioned in a previous post). This book was a hard slog for me, but it was deceptively exciting. I kept thinking that something was going to happen if I just read a few more pages, but alas…

I’ve heard that the next book is better so I think that I’ll give it a chance. It seemed to be the general consensus (according to the reviews on Goodreads) that this book is a somewhat weak bridge between the first book and the next.

I certainly hope so.

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