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Showing posts from March, 2017

The Italian Job

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So, every year I set myself various challenges. This I do primarily to stop myself from getting bored and also to give myself something to do in between writing, reading, teaching and dancing.  This year, as readers of this blog will know, I’ve decided to learn Italian.
Step 1:          Come down from my crazy Christmas high which was created by spending way too much time with fantastic friends, eating great food and generally imbibing outrageous quantities of mulled spirits.
Step 2:          Run around the house screaming in panic as I realise I’ve set myself yet another insane challenge.
Step 3:          Take several deep breaths of lavender aroma therapy oil then trawl through the internet to find a site to help me complete my challenge.
There was of course Babble. I shied away – the biblical image the name invoked was too strong and made me envisage failure even before I’d begun. Then there was the very useful Foreign Office site which provides a wealth of resources but contains a lot…

#Review: Señor Vivo & The Coca Lord

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Señor Vivo & The Coca Lord by Louis de Bernières

Incredibly, I first read this book 19 years ago. The main reason I felt the need to revisit Señor Vivo & The Coca Lord is because I was recently asked who my favourite literary couple is. Anica Morena and Dionisio Vivo instantly came to mind. The first time I read this book I vividly remember reading a particularly dramatic moment while on the bus and bursting into tears. A man came over to console me and was thoroughly disgusted that my outburst was related to fictional characters. I didn’t call him a Philistine, but I thought about it.
REVIEW


It’s funny this book. The humour jumps out at you through the dialogue and descriptions of ridiculous situations at the highest levels of government. The book overflows with deep insights about human nature but more particularly, the mind-set of the villain. But lurking beneath the humour is the weight of governmental corruption and how its collusion with the villains infests every aspect of…

#Review: The Light Fantastic

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The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett




The Light Fantastic is just that – light. The reading journey is an easy one with plenty of laughs along the way.  We are back with our unlikely hero Rincewind and his task of keeping the tourist Twoflower alive. As in the first book (The Colour of Magic), Twoflower makes this job an arduous one for Rincewind as he regularly finds himself in DEATH’s company. Rincewind, though shy of DEATH, often passes closer to HIM than he would like.
The Luggage, another favourite of mine, continues to feature heavily and gives excellent value for money. But now other characters enter the story to delight and entertain in a manner so very appropriate to Pratchett. I can now add Cohen The Barbarian to my list of favourite Pratchett characters. His toothless wisdom had me rolling so much in my bus seat on one particular journey that I missed my stop.
As the ‘event’ which gives this book its title gets ever closer, Pratchett intersperses paragraphs about Great A’Tuin…

The Ides of March

XVAn antique Coliseum arch frames the scene of this long forgotten crime
Your toga rising at the shoulder you lift your arm muscles tensing
In flagrante delicto paparazzi snap the shot your guilt for all to see
The dagger sits between his blades and Caesar’s lips gasp one last breath
Reflected in his eyes the shock of your betrayal His whispered words echo down the corridors of centuries Et tu… A bubble of blood emerges on the blue tinged lips … Brute
His final words no-one records but you see them written out in blood stains no remover can ever clear
Mio amico… He sighs inside his silence his disappointment ringing loudly in your ears clanging on and on
and on

Written in 2007 but edited more recently

#Review: The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Every once in a while I feel compelled to reread a book I read years ago. This was indeed so in this instance as I’ve had to read Of Mice and Men so many times during my teaching career that I may possibly know passages off by heart. I’ve also read The Pearl for work.  But The Grapes of Wrath is one I myself read when I was at school. It touched me so deeply that I painted a picture relating to it in my after-school Art workshop.  I believe I still have that painting knocking about somewhere. Now a book which inspires in that way surely deserves a reread even if it isn’t considered a classic.


REVIEW


The Grapes of Wrath is as compelling as when I first read it as a teenager.  So many quotes kept jumping out at me because they were apt and brilliantly expressed a salient point. To see these please look at this blog’s #amreading page.
What I find even more interesting is how relevant the writing is right now, particularly in view of what’s happening in …

#Review: A Storm of Swords II

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A Storm of Swords II by George R R Martin

After starting on the set in September last year, I’m getting through the Game of Thrones series at quite a clip now. This is no doubt due to their intriguing nature and Martin’s writing style which makes reading this collection of books so easy.
So far, my favourite character in every one of the books in this series is Tyrion Lannister. I find myself rooting for him at every step on his life journey.  He works so hard to be a better man despite people’s preconceptions. When he was made The Hand in the previous book I was not at all surprised that he did a good job of it. Tyrion reminds me of some of the talented yet underrated children I’ve taught in the past. Once they were given a task which excited and involved them they relished the challenge and surpassed all expectations. Unlike my students though, Tyrion receives no praise for his efforts and achievements.
Perhaps I like him so much because he almost always has his now severely damaged no…