Saturday, May 17, 2014

a book at bus time

hello there

i had, all things considered and everything in context, a good life in South Africa. it would have been even better, however, if i had not needed to drive. a push saying "it is time to go home" was the large amount of time i had to spend driving each day - same distance taking longer and longer due to really, really bad road construction, repairs and maintenance. and no, there was no public transport, at least in the safe and reliable sense.

there's a lot of moaning and whining about the e-toll system they have introduced to try and fix the roads. a lot of the whining is from rather pompus, pious types, in particular the self-styled "martyrs" of the people at the head of OUTA. as in the people who stepped back and did nothing when suggestions other than tolls were asked for, stood and watched them get built and then demanded that they do not have to pay for them as they "did not ask for them". because that's how the world works.

what they miss, in their whining, is that SA was promised safe, proper and reliable public transport to be provided as an alternate to using the toll roads. this did not happen, and this is what they should all be complaining about. i, for one, would have been delighted to not need to drive. would it have made me decide to stay in the country? probably not, no.

anyway, now that i am in a life where i have no need to drive, i get to enjoy that which i really love a great deal, reading. 80 or so minutes of my day is on a bus, providing the perfect chance to do some reading. and here, since some of you get upset if there's too much text without pictures, are the books i have read in the last few weeks or so.

oh yes, reviews to follow here. i suppose there's a touch of audacity and arrgoance attached to me writing reviews of books here. i mean, do i presume that anyone is going to read or not read any of them on the basis of my comments? not really. if any cause someone to look at, or rather read one, well then nice one.

but let's stop messing about and get on with the actual books. i shall try, as far as possible, to avoid any spoilers beyond that which you would read on the jacket of the book. so no flashing or scrolling spoiler alerts. actually, can you do flashing text on a blog?

yes if this is flashing

but it wasn't on preview.

anyway, on to books, and Ford County Stories by John Grisham. althought you will note that the "stories" part of the title on the cover is made as small as possible. it is actually a little bit of a wonder they even bothered to have the word "stories" right there on the cover.

why? because publishers reckon that volumes of short stories do not sell as well as novels. they probably don't, but they must sell in a reasonable amount, otherwise publishers would just refuse to handle them, surely? even if it was to appease the wishes of a big, big seller like Mr Grisham.

but if i were Mr Grisham's publisher, i would have got quite cross with him about these books. not because they are short stories and they don't sell as well, no. because, honestly, the short stories included here could have been given a dose of fat, waffle even, and been far, far, far better novels in their own right than the drivel he was producing as novels at the time. The Last Juror was dreary, and The Broker was arguably the worst novel in the history of books. neither had the substance or potential to have even more substance that these short stories all have.

so for a nice and neat review if you are a Grisham fan and skipped this collection, or have never read this stuff but are at least mildly interested, get this as soon as you can and enjoy.

and here's the bio of John Grisham from inside the cover of Ford County Stories, rotated by blogger for reasons that only blogger would know.

yeah, as you have noticed, all the pictures here are in the glory of Commodore 64 mode. one somewhere features dithering, but otherwise it is all scan line action for you.

very much in scan mode is the list of seven stories in this book, collection, anthology or whatever the proper word is to use here. i imagine someone will tell me.

each was excellent, with a few being even better than that. if that makes any sense. well, not one story fell below "above average" in review terms.

which was my favourite of the lot? tough call, really. Casino was excellent fun, and Blood Drive was highly amusing. Fish Files and Fetching Raymond show of Grisham's well established flair and skill at making the law both interesting and showing how it bears on life. Michael's Room was a dark, heavy and moving story, whilst Funny Boy was a heavy handed but still noble attempt at a prototype A Time To Kill sequel of sorts,  one that would have been an interesting sub-plot in any other novel. Quiet Haven is almost certainly a story that should have been given the novel treatment, and if Mr Grisham still sells film rights, then someone could do a lot worse than obtain the rights and make a movie of this one.

ah, here's that "dithering" picture i mentioned for your viewing pleasure. yes, oh yes, if you had not for some reason noticed, these pictures were all taken with my class Star Wars bedding as the background. well not all of them.

in general, John Grisham are books that i suggest anyone who loves reading has a go at. many are put off by the idea of a "legal" thriller being complicated, or needing a lot of legal knowledge, but not all that many are put off, going on his sales. i would not say he "dumbs down" the law for the sake of a story, rather he simplifies things, taking all the complex issues involved and putting them in an easy enough to read and follow way.

so yeah, whatever poor or weak sales short story collections are subject to, this - perhaps out of all books here - is the one i would really suggest you pick up a copy of and enjoy. if it leads you to reading the better novels he has done, well then so much the better.

whereas Grisham pretty much has the market for "legal thrillers" cornered, this isn't to say others do not try to write books to compete. or, as is the case with our next one, is marketed in a way to compete, even if that's a touch misleading.

The Tenth Justice, the book blurb and that say, is the second novel by someone called Brad Meltzer. the first, and they seem rather proud of this, was rejected by every publisher in the world. if it's as readable and enjoyable as this one, that first one, then perhaps they made a mistake.

readable and enjoyable this book is, but also rather preposterous. the premise, plot and action of the novel all involve people having extreme, no-sense-at-all-made reactions to events and responding in a way that doesn't seem right or realistic. if you try reading this and your response is like mine, you will find yourself shaking your head a bit, but all the same continuing to read as it's simply that enjoyable.

i would argue strongly with the idea that this is a "legal thriller". the protagonist happens to work for the Supreme Court, right, and a law (or two) is broken. that's the only real relation to the law that you get, with the rest being just plain standard "normal" thriller stuff. you wouldn't, for instance, call Die Hard a legal thriller, would you? well it is one according to the standard set here.

Brad Melzter, i believe, has another book or two out, but from what i recall of what i read on the net, he went off to do fantasy hero TV shows and that, Green Lantern or Green Hornet or other such sh!t. i would be tempted and happy to read his other books, if that is a clue as to how much i enjoyed this one.

all of these books cost 50p each second hand, by the way. or maybe third hand, who knows, but they were and are in top quality. i think my (considerably) better half may be reading one or two of them, and yes, if you are reading, yes Aunty they will be coming your way eventually.

here's the backs of them, if interested. and yeah that is the eye of Yoda.

one more book to go, then. picture enthusiasts are in for a treat, by the way, as i seem to have "upped" far too many pictures for my text. hey ho.

Sword of God, then, by someone called Chris that has a surname that begins with K.

yeah, that is Boba Fett in the background. no he has no involvement with the book. at least not that i spotted and i am pretty sure i read all of a complete text.


this ties in nicely with an idea off of The Tenth Justice, actually. whereas that one should not really have been passed of as "being like John Grisham", Sword Of God really has no business at all as being presented as being "a bit like Dan Brown". it sounds like a hunt for religious relics that will "change the world", it starts off like that, right, and then it changes direction somewhat.

in which direction does it go? in a way that means the plot, style and story owe a lot more to one Tom Clancy than they do to Dan Brown.

the book starts off, right, with the discovery of, well, of what is suggested by the title of the book. aye aye, you think, this is all going all secret organizations, religions scrambling to ensure that a relic that could "shatter their foundations" is destroyed, all that sort of thing. it turns out, actually, to be just setting the grounds for some fancy military action later that is not in any way directly related to the sword of the title as such. a little annoying that it went that way at first, to tell the truth, but then again the way that it does go is so much fun, even if in a Boy's Own adventure sort of way, that it was not all that bad.

no, as i think i mentioned before, no i don't go and take an e-reader on the bus with me. can't be pestered, really. i do have the e-reader on a go of an evening, look you see. presently i am going through an insane, 1000 page plus volume / anthology of short stories called The Time Traveller's Almanack, or however you spell almanac. i don't care. i will let you guess the common theme that the stories have, and so far i am enjoying all of them.

a major issue i am facing with my joy of reading on the bus is that summer is pretty much here. as shown off by the post celebrating cricket yesterday, it's really rather warm. this means i have little or no reason to wear my class rain jacket to and from work, bar the idea of people calling me a "dick" for doing so. the rain jacket, you see, has the most perfect pockets ever for keeping a book in.

i will have to find one of my class "man bags" or something, then. i didn't spot my ace Che one what my sister got me today whilst up at storage, but that was mostly to get our summer range of clothes out. perhaps i will take a turn past again soon and see if i can find it.

or i could just carry them, i suppose. or use a plastic bag or something.

anyway, there's what i think of them three books. basically all worth a look at and indeed a read.

as for next, well, here's a preview.

the Elmore Leonard i am presently busy with, and will probably finish by Monday or Tuesday. there's one more not pictured here, and then it will be on to the other three here.

i am quite interested to learn in the differences between the Book of the Dead and the Bible of the Dead.

anyway, off for a nice sit down with my eyes closed. something called Lockout, starring Guy Pearce, arrived on DVD today, so i wish to have a bit of a rest before watching it.

hope these reviews have been of interest to someone!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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