This is not, by far, the best Agatha Christie book. It is a collection of short contrived stories that are interesting as historical literature, or exThis is not, by far, the best Agatha Christie book. It is a collection of short contrived stories that are interesting as historical literature, or examples of writing exercise, but are poorly written otherwise. Parker Pyne puts an advert in the paper announcing that anyone who is unhappy should consult him and using statistics and his knowledge of human behaviour he would sort them out. Fanciful.
My first impression was that these stories are written in a totally un-Christie fashion. They are repetitive, naive and an ersatz Conan Doyle. Reminiscent of many police procedurals on TV today where there is always one photographic memory/autistic/maths genius/know-it-all on the team who just "happens to have" experience of that particular culture/lock/fragrance/exceedingly rare antiquity/shoe polish/family history, over and above just always being in the right place at the right time. Parker Pyne was maybe a precursor to Poirot although without the roundness of character. Of more interest were the latter stories where PP travels to some rather exotic places. Implausible and rather silly, these stories are almost notes or story boards for longer complete stories, and as such contain some wonderful ideas. For die-hard Christie fans this is an unusual example of her work, for fans of tightly written mystery and suspense, I'd say this is a book to be avoided....more
I enjoyed this book. Once again Christie writes with a psychological understanding of the human psyche that was almost ahead of its time. It's a littlI enjoyed this book. Once again Christie writes with a psychological understanding of the human psyche that was almost ahead of its time. It's a little known story of hers, one I'd not heard of before, but well worth the read. There are a few phrases and attitudes that grate a little, to modern readers (attitudes towards women, persons of mixed race etc) but these are clearly the views of the characters rather than Christie herself, and are devices for moving the story along. My edition of the book has The Independent's quote, "more twists and turns than Hampton Court maze," which I thought was rather charming and also accurate. I kept going back and forth on who I thought "dunnit," which is always a good sign. If you look past a few repetitive phrases, usually employed by lesser authors than Christie, you have yourself 192 pages of indulgent armchair sleuthing! ...more
What a wonderful charity shop find! I'd - ashamedly - never heard of this poem, but had heard it quoted although didn't realise. It's a beautiful, touWhat a wonderful charity shop find! I'd - ashamedly - never heard of this poem, but had heard it quoted although didn't realise. It's a beautiful, touching, philosophical poem, even funny in places, asking the big questions in life and praising good wine! So ahead of its time. The Fitzgerald "paraphrase" is reminiscent of Harry Eyres translations of Horace - of their time but up to date to the time of the translation. ...more
JG Ballard's The Drowned World is prescient and original. It is a dystopia fiction that instead of taking you into an arid or technological future takJG Ballard's The Drowned World is prescient and original. It is a dystopia fiction that instead of taking you into an arid or technological future takes you into a regressive future, where nature is devolving into a prehistoric state as global warming means the worlds water has risen to the point of near total human destruction. Given that this was written in the 50s it is ahead of its time and relevant to today's thinking and imaginings of the global warming nightmare. JGB writes a ferocious a angry tale, with little to "like" in terms of characters or sympathetic plot, but it is the originality of the idea, his beautiful use of scientific words and the frantic and tortured psychology of the characters which entices and entertains. A fast book to read but not a particularly fulfilling one as the it isn't that deep and the characters are largely unlikable, or at least you don't really care for them. Although futuristic and forward thinking, it is a book of the 50s and the adjectives of black people is woefully archaic and uncomplimentary but looking past that, judging the story on its thought experiment type of narration, it is a brilliant piece of science fiction. ...more
This is by far one of the most well written, beautiful and helpful Christian books I've ever read. Often I find these sorts of books trite and just reThis is by far one of the most well written, beautiful and helpful Christian books I've ever read. Often I find these sorts of books trite and just regurgitating common sense, and rather over simplistic and condescending. Not so this one. The author Joanna Weaver puts herself firmly in the reader's shoes and you can easily identify with what she says. She identifies with you, and doesn't judge, even though she has a thoroughly important message. And, whilst the message is simple - based on the few verses that tell of the difference between Mary and Martha when Jesus visited them; one sitting at his feet in the living room listening and one busy in the kitchen, it shows how we - mainly women, though applicable and relevant to men too - need a "Living Room" experience of God. Familiar, friendly, intimate ... Which is what He desires.
Written conversationally, with humour and sensitivity, and with many personal anecdotes, Mrs Weaver, a busy Pastor's wife, church leader, wife, homemaker (as Americans say), mother, author etc etc doesn't make you feel inadequate, but takes the reader on her journey of discovery of these wonderful insights, which she shares, and cites many other well known authors as she does so, so it is written intelligently too. An easy fast read. Whilst written in an American style, it isn't too much for British (other) readers to enjoy/relate to, and is written cross-culturally. I especially like Mrs Weaver's observation about how much of the Old and New Testaments speak to anxiousness, stress, and depression etc ... We think of these as modern afflictions but clearly "worriers" are a universal and all-time phenomenon, and that is remarkably reassuring, given how many verses in the Bible speak to that and offer respite.
I challenge any Christian not to take something from this book, but it is especially written for women. In fact, I would go as far as to say something could be gleaned for ANY searching woman, no matter what faith, if they are open minded. I think Muslim ladies who follow the Koran's reverence of Jesus would be blessed by this book too, and Jewish ladies with Messianic curiosity would find much in these pages as whilst it focuses on a few verses of the New Testament, it is essentially about a woman's personal relationship with God (often overlooked in patriarchal religions) and I can't see why any monotheists wouldn't take something away, especially those of the Abrahamic Faiths.
This is a book that really spoke to my heart, and I'm rather cynical if I'm honest. I'd go so far as to say that this lady is firmly in her Living Room and this book is inspired, it certainly passed that inspiration on to me. A must-read for all Christian women, a book to keep around and re-read periodically! This book can also be studied in a group setting, but equally solo-study.
The Symposium (or Dinner/Drinking Party) was a fast, informative, absorbing read. I have not read Plato before nor much of Ancient Greek literature (eThe Symposium (or Dinner/Drinking Party) was a fast, informative, absorbing read. I have not read Plato before nor much of Ancient Greek literature (except the Iliad and Odyssey) so this was an interesting, easy, first step. Socrates of course is well known as a historical figure (even so far as being in popular culture ie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure!) but it was great insight into his life and philosophies to read of him in this. Plato's story - or rather recitation of an event (be that fiction or non-fiction) - is built around, leading up to Socrates' statements on the subject of Love, and his genius is clear.
The book takes the form of a table of friends, and a dinner party, and instead of the usual carousing and entertainments, on account of hangovers from the previous night's revels, the "master of ceremonies" proposes that each man praises Love - in panegyric - each to his own inclination.
As well as taking advantage of the notes at the back of the book, it is important for the reader to put aside modern, "moral" and personal viewpoints, as the Love that is spoken of most is that of homosexual love, and by that it doesn't necessarily mean physical sexual love. Sexual attraction, yes, admiration of beauty, yes, but not "being gay" as we would know it today, Platonic love, if you will. In The Symposium, the highest form of Love is that of wisdom, and procreation; and by procreation that doesn't mean of one's genetic material but procreation of creativity itself... ideas, thoughts, poetry, art etc. Love that manifests these things, as well as meetings of souls and wise minds for the purpose of spiritual growth is the highest form of love and this - again - is homosexual ie between two men and non-sexual, where sexual desire is noted but not acted upon, or actually superseded and evolved past, and women were not capable of such. Apparently, according to the informative Introduction (that I read secondly), Plato himself, whilst admiring handsome young men, was - at least by later writings - anti physical aspects of homosexual Love and one of the orators around the table stated that love of "little boys", something that many critics of homosexuality and Ancient Greek/Athenian culture focus on - should be against the law and again taking advantage of weaker/younger minds or a man entering into a sexual relationship for money, status or anything other than the expanding of his mind and for lofty and high philosophical reasons was also seemingly frowned upon. Women make little wave in this book, despite Plato being an advocate of equality, and are seen only as vessels of procreation (not contributors to) and not even as companions of man. Perhaps this was Plato's opinion or just a snapshot of Athenian Society at the time, or even just a fiction. Never-the-less this book hailed as philosophy on Love is better aptly titled philosophy on Homosexual Platonic Love - or the Desire of Beauty and Wisdom.
Fascinating as an insight into Athenian life, philosophy and remarkably gripping, relevant and poignant to read approximately 2500 years on. This translation by W.Hamilton was clear and understandable (the Introduction noted this was Plato's least technically worded work), and a pleasant read. (C)1951 it is noteworthy that the work nor the introduction has aged in terms of cultural perception on homosexuality at that time - the 1950s - and it was sympathetically explained. I would be surprised if more modern translations could do any better....more
I love William Gibson's work. I love how he draws word pictures, writes strong women and his narrative is detailed and intelligent. I don't understandI love William Gibson's work. I love how he draws word pictures, writes strong women and his narrative is detailed and intelligent. I don't understand all his cultural references, sometimes I have to look stuff up; but I get what he's saying. His writing style is quite original, pleasantly disjointed and so conversational or following a train of thought, he doesn't waste words. Blue Ant No. 1 - Pattern Recognition - is about marketing and trend in the modern world, the heroine is allergic to certain brands and aware of what trends will sell and how they be marketed. It shows brand and status with brand realistically as all pervasive and society is addicted to it. There are similarities to Neuromancer, and the feel is sci-fi in the future but it's actually set now (a little in the past). The footage is an good analogy of how internet images, stories and memes take on existences of their own and followers are obsessed with the sound of their online voice or misguidedly think their opinion is important and what they think is hyper world is actually not even real. Gibson highlights the cult of internet identity, online fiction and the shadowy real world underbelly that manipulates everything we see and do. Whilst we use the web for social media platform, this, it is also infiltrated to watch, record and market. I'm sure that reviewers more intelligent or well read than me will be able to comment on economic-first-third world differential in marketing or the philosophical nature of image identity and a need to make sense of what seems trivial, the need to finish a quest, obsession etc but I just liked the pace, interest and yarn of this story and am intrigued to read books two and three, I have NO idea where this story is going....more
I really wanted to read this as I've often thought about writing a comical expose of my job, which is also supposed to be rather serious and people miI really wanted to read this as I've often thought about writing a comical expose of my job, which is also supposed to be rather serious and people might not immediately think there's much room for giggles, so thought this might be good inspiration.
I wasn't disappointed with the laughs in the book, there were laughs a plenty, but after a while the humour got a little samey and shallow, and predictable and didn't really go anywhere; sometimes the stories didn't actually conclude, which was a little frustrating. I'd also heard some of the jokes/stories before from elsewhere so wondered whether they were all genuine or at least original. That said, it didn't distract from the easy-reading of the book, and I liked how Donoghue was quite honest about his thoughts and feelings and what was going through his mind, internal monologues are usually rather amusing especially about serious stuff where you aren't supposed to find it funny. It also highlighted some of the difficulties faced by Police, which was eye-opening.
It wasn't the most literary genius book, or particularly well written, but I liked the conversational style and the "but I digress" comical interludes. Enjoyable and distracting. A fast read. ...more
My first dip into the zombie genre-pool (I lean the vampire-genre way) and a great introduction recommended by a few friends. A truly original book, wMy first dip into the zombie genre-pool (I lean the vampire-genre way) and a great introduction recommended by a few friends. A truly original book, written in the style of interviews and an oral report of the Zombie Apocalypse which actually describes what happened in such a real, arresting and affecting way, it haunts your mind long after you put the book down. Written in many voices, you have first hand accounts of a fictional event, with details thrown in such as footnotes to explain terms, and even "name withheld for legal reasons" as if it were genuine. Genius writing.
The story, woven through the interviews, takes the reader from "patient x" the first zombie through to the clean up and it is not like the film. I had started reading this before seeing the film, and I can say that only in name are the two really connected so if you have seen it, the book will be a different experience, but the two work well in partnership. Thankfully, the zombies in Brooks' book world are "proper" slow zombies - none of this running around and a human to zombie turn-around of 12 seconds silliness (but wow that made the film scary) which despite being a hell of a premise for a CGI-fest-film would actually have been logically daft, but never-the-less the book is a tense read. The film is brilliant too if anyone cares to watch Brad Pitt do a fine job. I don't think his character is even in the book though.
Brooks creates (knows) lots of technical details and information, using real or imagined histories including music and film references that we can relate to which make the idea of this being a future event and we are reading about it afterwards very believable and absorbing. He creates a world we know, and it seems like he has done research rather than make it all up. Like books such as The Historian, that uses historical documents that you aren't 100% aren't out there somewhere, or Dangerous Liaisons and Bram Stoker's Dracula that uses letters and diaries it gives you a front and centre view of the action, puts you right there, intimately with the characters and as such stays with you. By the end of World War Z you are thinking, "come the apocalypse, where would I go? What would I do? How would I get supplies? Should I take helicopter lessons?" An excellent book choice for Sci-fi fans, older young-adults and up, and the must-have go-to reader for any zombie genre fan....more
Agatha Christie was a literary genius, ahead of her time and clearly a mastermind. This story was one I'd not seen before televised and not one that MAgatha Christie was a literary genius, ahead of her time and clearly a mastermind. This story was one I'd not seen before televised and not one that Miss Marple crops up in until more or less the end. The story isn't written from her point of view, but a new-boy coming into a village with his sister. Jerry and Joanna are the focus of the story. The plot hinges around a small village in which poison-pen letters are going around and everyone is talking about. Then death visits.
I usually have an idea of the murderer before the end but this one had be transfixed and guessing right up until the few last pages. I found this one a little confusing as many of the characters had similar names but that was probably me just half asleep, and all of the characters were really well drawn. I like that Christie writes about issues and characters that are recognisable today and isn't prissy about sex, sexuality, religious antipathy, infidelity, avarice, lust or any other modern recognisable storylines; it could be a soap opera set in a small village in the country. I like that about her writing, despite being set and written nearly one hundred years ago, well the 1940s so a bit less than that, is still relevant and relatable today. You can imagine the characters so clearly and it's a genuinely gripping book. I enjoyed it and got through it in a few hours....more