Search This Blog

Friday, February 21, 2014

This Week's Random Read...Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil

I picked it up from my display table at work on the way out the door. I know it has done well since it came out last year, but this is the first time I've gotten around to taking a look. I am not far into it yet, but I think there are some of my students who will enjoy it. The language is a bit hard for reluctant readers, but my book clubbers and fairly good readers should get something out of it.

It's an Australian book and seems to be set in Melbourne, though I haven't been in a school without uniforms, as this one, for a very long time; we had no uniforms at Flemington Secondary College because uniforms are expensive, most of our kids couldn't afford them and there were a lot who passed through rather than stay. The school in this novel appears to be a middle class state school. Well, I'm enjoying so far, so will do a review when I've finished.

I've just downloaded the works of Ovid, though I have read the Metamorphoses and the Heroides(got that one on a remainders table and great fun it was, the "letters from the heroines" of Greek mythology). We rarely realise how much influence Ovid's stories have had on our literature, and I did it on an impulse as I've been reading books that mention his works. I'm about to get hold of James I's Daemonologie, to go with Leanda De Lisle's After Elizabeth(also downloaded this week). I'm reading that right now and oh, my, weren't these Tudor era politicians nasty! Mind you, so are today's, but at least we can get rid of them eventually, unless we're living in a safe electorate(mutter, mutter, boundary changes and I'm now in a safe Liberal electorate, Aaargh!), and they don't execute each other. I mean, back stabbings aren't literal!  If you had a political enemy, you gave him enough rope to hang himself and then got the Queen to hang him(or cut his head off or whatever). When Elizabeth was in her last years and hadn't named an heir, there were those who were sucking up to James of Scotland and hoping she don't find out... It's the first book I've read which suggests James might have had ADHD! Very interesting!

So, any of you reading something fascinating? Do tell!

PS I do have some review books which I will describe anon.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Finished Reading...1632 by Eric Flint

The Baen website has a free ebooks section, which changes from time to time. I'm not sure exactly how it works - some are classics by golden age authors, others are by modern writers but published several years ago. The authors concerned seem to be fine with it; perhaps it promotes them so readers will buy their newer books. Most books I have downloaded were by the golden age writers - Andre Norton, Murray Leinster and the like - but I was curious about this one, which I believe is the first of a series that has a fandom.

In it, an entire town and its surroundings are transplanted from modern West Virginia to Germany during the Thirty Years War, the setting for Brecht's play Mother Courage. Not at all a nice place to live. But these folk are good American coal miners and their families. Members of the union! And, importantly, gun lovers who know how to shoot. They know their current technological advantage over seventeenth century tech won't last forever, but it's a good start and there's time to gear down to technology that will still be better than anyone who might attack them. They make friends and allies, including a band of  Scottish mercenaries working for the Swedish king and skilled tradesmen who can help them adapt to the era's tech while learning how to make improved versions thereof. Suddenly there's a new Republic in the middle of Thuringia and the world's politicians have to pay attention...

I liked the premise very much, though there was a small hint of flag waving till Mike, the American leader, sees that going the wrong way will make them no better than the Nazis. It was an entertaining book that kept me reading till the last page.

The only problem I had was that there were a number of times when entire chapters failed to move the story along. There was a character whom I thought might become the novel's villain, but who ended up doing very little and could almost have been left out.

Still, well worth a read. If you visit the Baen web site, it's still free and then you can decide if you want to buy the rest of the series.