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Everything posted by MissRibena

  1. Another vote for the guiltily underwhelmed here. I think I have a Spanish Civil War block. I made concerted efforts to come to terms with its history while reading Hommage to Catalonia and but am still fairly confused. If you don't understand something, it's hard to really feel strongly about it, other than in a general anti-war kind of way. I had the same problem with For Whom the Bell Tolls; although the war was more of a backdrop in FWBT, I still lost interest and felt bad. I also agree that it is more a reflection on me than Orwell as his passion shows through just as strongly as in his other works. In fact, his other stuff has made such a huge impact on me at different times, that it almost feels like a betrayal admitting that one fell a little short for me.
  2. I replied to the first post Adrian posted on this book and am an owner of the book (as opposed to someone who has read it all). I've been a huge fan of Escher for years (a tattoo isn't a bad idea!!) and that eventually led me to this book and I totally love it. I'd be lying if I said I understood it all or even half of it but in any case, I can still recommend it for anyone vaguely interested in either Escher's works or books like '1089 and all that' because the ideas it expresses are so mind-boggling interesting. I think our society does far too much specialisation and I love that this book brings disciplines back together in a modern renaissance humanism way.
  3. This is a great thread! I too think de Berniere is fantastic and Wuthering Heights is the only book I have ever read more than once (about 8 times but all of them before I was 18, which might be part of the problem - teenage melodrama and all that). Wasn't mad about the Time Traveller's Wife and as beach reads go, I thought there have been worse than The Da Vinci Code, though the OTT hype/cult around it is just plain bonkers and the snob-lit backlash is a bit cringe-making too. I just wish it would go away now. Books I hate but others love: Birdsong (arrggghhhh). Apart from the tunnels bit near the end, I thought it was total muck and was one of those books, I wanted to throw against the wall for wasting some of my precious time on earth. Maybe it was because I'd read Pat Barker's WWI trilogy around the same time which is (are?) so much better, that the two should not really be mentioned in the same breath. I was so convinced that I'd missed something that I made the fatal mistake of reading Charlotte Gray afterwards - not quite as bad but still completely over-hyped. Another one was Never Let Me Go. More holes in the plot than a banjaxed sieve - completely distracting and drove me demented and I quite like my dystopias, I do. Another wall-basher, I'm afraid. <ducks, chortling menacingly> People usually get offended about these two. Chocolat! I nearly forgot about it; I don't know what I was expecting with this one but it was definitely more than I got. Mind you, Johnny Depp was in the (even worse) film, which nearly excuses everything. Rebecca
  4. I'd just like to second the recommendation. This is an outstanding book and I can't believe I bought it make up the numbers in a 3 for 2 deal. I had never heard much about Cormac McCarthy before, perhaps because I'm not a sci-fi fan but this is certainly not just for trekkies. It's a difficult one to describe because the plot is so etheral and yet still central. The characters are everything but we know very little about them. Maybe it is such a success because it makes it so easy to put yourself into your own version of the hell they are caught up in. It's not sugar coated or unrealistic - there's enough information to believe in and it's certainly not overly contrived. A far superior dystopia to me and definitely blows Never Let Me Go (for example) out of the water. Rebecca
  5. I think Lolita was one of the best books I have ever read. I can still remember reading the first page and being completely spellbound at the beautiful use of language (and I'm not really the type to say that). To me there's no comparison with Conrad from a language point of view. I find Conrad's prose like wading through quicksand at times, which is something I definitely wouldn't say about Nabakov. It's very rare that I read a first page and know I'm embarking on something that's going to say with me a long time. I felt uncomfortable too and it reminds me of how I feel when watching Tony Soprano. One minute I see myself in him, the next he makes me sick. It's a testament to how good the writing and character profiling is in both cases I think. Rebecca
  6. It's ok RR, I'm over it now. A few years ago I'd have kicked her in the shin. All the same, I'm glad she sounds like she's gone a bit leathery Rebecca
  7. My first one was a large one of Michael Jackson in the white suit reclining on his side from the cover of the Thriller album. The next was was Simon Le Bon but he soon got the heave-ho for Morten Harkett of A-ha who remained for many years with icky lipsticks all over him! In fairness, I'd still land a few smackeroos on him. He's aging very well; must be all the Omega3 and fish up there in Norway. At one stage Morten was facing a full wall of Madonna posters, pictures etc cut out from Smash Hits. I never had enough money for the proper posters so most of mine came from Just17 or Smash Hits or Jackie (actually that's a whole other thread!). Rebecca
  8. What a lovely thread! I was lucky that we received the UK channels in my house as well as the Irish ones during my eminently eighties childhood. I loved Mr Benn and the Trumpton et al stuff. Bagpuss was my favourite but I also liked; Let's Pretend Why Don't You (I can still sing the "rap" on the opening credits and hum the one for Heidi) Jackanory (sp?) (Was that the one with opening song with John in different langauges; Johann and Ivan etc) The Famous Five Postman Pat Super Gran Gran Pigeon Street You and Me (or Me and You) Byker Grove Grange Hill Fingermouse HartBeat (or anything Tony Hart related) Thunder (thunder thunder thunder!) cats Dungeons and Dragons (There was a cartoon but also a kind of virtual reality board game one with a Dungeon Master - would have killed to be on it) Roland Rat (for shame) Wide Awake Club/Wacaday with Timmy Mallett (Mallet's mallet, word association game, mustn't pause or hesitate or get a bash on the head like this or like this). I think the liverpudlian Art Attack! guy did WAC before Mr. Mallett was unleashed. Number 73 (and I vaguely remember other stuff with Sandy Torksvig-something-Scandanavian in ) TV AM (Wincy Willis, Rusty Lee, Lizzie the exercise woman, Ann and Nick - ah those were the days) The Mr Men Jamie and his Magic Torch David and the Gnomes Philip Scholfied and Gordon the Gopher and then Andy Peters Live and Kicking (I really loved Philip ) The Care Bears The Smurfs Bananaman Jimbo and the Jet Set The Jetsons Dogtanion and the Muskahounds Poll Position (and LOADS of Japanese (?) imported cartoons like The Cities of Gold and The Story of Life). Can't think of the name of the robot guy who used to trace the letters on the screen to teach you to right a la "up down around and over". I was a bit scared of Dr Who and hated Dangermouse, Willow the Wisp, The Moomins (grrrr), The Magic Roundabout and The Pink Panther There was a great drama series about a girl who used to go down to a Moon/Sun Dial in the middle of the night (reminiscent of Narnia or the Secret Garden) and also another one which was about a boy called Silas and now reminds me of Thomas Hardy novels. I actually found time to read a lot as a kid - how did I fit it all in! I think it must have rained a lot in the summer before they invented all these camps the kids go to now. Rebecca
  9. This book helped cure a bout of "reader's block" for me and I would definitely recommend it on the basis of it being a suspense-filled page-turner. It had a few flaws, which although fairly prominent, didn't stop me from roaring through it. The story is cluttered by too many half-explored characters and sub-plots at times and I would have much preferred if the editor had done away with the superfluous Mr Dansey or the references to Fanny for example. The whole love triangle between Shield, Mrs. Frant and Miss. Carswell just didn't hold water for me and it would have been far better to develop a more credible the relationship between Mr. Shield and Mrs. Frant. As others have mentioned, the Allan Poe connection is very flimsy and at times can seem contrived. I was a bit dissapointed that plot had not been centred about him, as I like his poetry and was aware of the mystery surrounding his death. In that respect the title/blurb is a bit of a false promise. Apart from that it was great fun and a nice light historical novel (more novel than historical IMHO). Just what the doctor ordered. Rebecca
  10. Thanks a million everyone. I'm going to take your advice about some best-selling easy-to-read stuff at the weekend. Hopefully that will do the trick. Thanks again Rebecca
  11. Hi everyone I'm going through possibly the worst dose of Reader's Block that I've ever experienced. I've just moved into a new house, having spent a month living with my parents when my old house sold quickly. So when my interest in reading first waned, I wasn't worried. However, I'm a month in my new house now and while I've been doing a bit of gardening, it hasn't been completely draining. I've tried everything to get back reading but all I can manage to muster up any interest in is short articles in magazines and at this stage I'm beginning to panic. I've tried dipping into my tried-and-tested authors like John Steinbeck (Cannery Row) and Alain de Botton (Essays in Love) but to no avail. I only have 2 TV stations in the new house, so I can't even blame Big Brother. I really feel like my brain is turning to mush. Does anyone have any ideas on how to shift this blockage? Rebecca
  12. I second megustaleer's recommendation of A Night to Remember. I think the fact that the film is old makes the tragic drama all the more realistic. I thought I posted on Pompeii before but I guess not. I have been fascinated by the Vesuvius erruption and the preservation of Pompeii since I was a kid, so I was delighted to see a novel about it. And it all went downhill from there. I had to drag myself through the novel. I didn't really care that much about the aquaduct and don't think the era or the circumstances were evoked very well and the human angle wasn't up to much either. I have Fatherland at home on my TBR shelf but it will be a looooooong time before I am sufficiently recovered to waste any further precious reading time on Harris. Rebecca
  13. This sounds really interesting and reminded me of my reaction to another book. A few years ago I read Charles Handy's The Hungry Spirit, which advocated taking more control of your destiny in life and probably concurs with How to be Idle, although I imagine the former is a much more pro-active approach! I can't recommend The Hungry Spirit enough. It changed my outlook in life entirely and helped make me much more content. It's the kind of approach to life that would be taught in schools if we wanted to produce better human beings, rather than better workers. Rebecca
  14. Thanks Starry. It was the Tiny Tearaways that I didn't know. I don't have BBC3 As for putting "intelligent" people into a Big Brother scenario and seeing what happens ... I would guess that nothing new would happen. In closed quarters with minimal stimulii, the pressures on a well-educated person are the same as those on a less well-educated person and the behaviour patterns are likely to be similar. There have been quite a few well-educated people on Big Brother - Jon Tickle was voted back in by popular demand, for example. He could have bored the socks off you about Einstein, but people prefer to remember the Heinstein gaffs, I suppose. Germaine Greer didn't show any particularly exemplary behaviour when she was in Celebrity Big Brother. After walking out, she ranted about Big Brother being a bully etc. etc. but it just sounded like hollow excuses to me from someone who made a mistake in going in. To me, the intelligent people, are the ones who go in and come out without allowing the program or the public make fools out of them and get some financial reward for it in the process; probably someone like Caprice. Even on panel shows, like Newsnight Review, you can see that articulate, academic, well-educated and presumably well-rounded contributers often let their egos shine through. Scratch the surface and we are all the same ... Rebecca
  15. I really like Jamie Oliver and admire the good he does training kids to be chefs and trying to improve school dinners. However, his recipes are almost always a dissapointment. The exception to this is his Roast Chicken recipe in The Return of the Naked Chef, which is so good it excuses all the other ill-thought-out recipes I've tried. Jamies Dinners was on special offer and I had enjoyed the series so I tried him out ... again. There are a couple of very handy ideas about packed lunches but the rest isn't up to much. The roast chicken is nowhere near as nice as the old one (probably cos he's trying to be low fat, in fairness). Stewed fruit, toasted sandwiches (from a sandwich toasters!!) and carrots and orange just don't cut the mustard. Even if he was aiming at beginners (which he is not) they would be much better off with Delia, who may be a bit stuffy, but at least she is precise. Jamie's glugs of this and dashes of that are bewildering to a learner. So, I think Jamie should stick to theoretical food and lifestyle programmes and leave recipe design to the pros. Rebecca Rebecca
  16. I read this a couple of years back and really liked it too. I was surprised at how open he was and in hindsight I think he did himself a disservice. I think he came across as sneering and superficial and while I admire his bravery in a "no holds barred" approach, I find him distinctly distasteful now. I don't watch the Unplanneds with the same enjoyment at all. I do remember the football. I still keep an eye on West Brom for him (and I haven't the first clue about football). I can also see how some people might find it offensive in places (e.g. he constantly refers to particular sex acts). Rebecca
  17. I think publishers have the hardback thing the wrong way around. I would only ever buy a hardback of a novel I truly loved or of a reference book that is going to get used regularly - one that had already proven its worth in other words. So I can really understand the concern Kate expresses on behalf of new authors. The only reasons for hardbacks in early editions that I can think of are for the collectors' market or libraries. I don't know about the UK but in Ireland libraries are dreadfully undersubscribed and mostly function as internet cafes (without the coffee). I hardly ever buy a hardback. The last one I bought was Jamie's Dinners and it was on special offer. I don't know anyone who buys a hardback except in the case of a discount or lack of paperback availabilty. The strange thing is that it's hard to find hardback copies of the books I treasure like Orwell's 1984. Rebecca
  18. Oh Starry! What's this, a reality show I'm not a aware of (even if it's as bad as you say)?! Impossible What channel/when is it on? Rebecca
  19. I love Reality Telly. I don't take it seriously. I don't watch it for self-improvement. It's bubble gum for my brain. I work, I study, I read loads, my mind is constantly running and Reality TV is great for chilling me out. I don't watch everything but I lap up Big Brother and sometimes get into other ones like I'm a Celebrity. I find a lot of the criticism of Reality TV to be pretty snobbish and hypocritical. Fans of the stuff (i.e. me & co) are often referred to condescendingly; as though we can't figure out for ourselves that the storylines are manipulated or we are mindless idiots. It's just another form of drama to me. It's not high art, but then neither are any of the soaps nor many of the dramas that take up so much of the rest of TV airplay. The quality of many news and current affairs programs is fairly questionable too; but inclusion in the "news" category seems to exempt many programs from such close criticism. And why is it ok to sit on a sofa and watch sport all day? How is that possibly any more desireable than kicking back with a dose of Reality TV? Rebecca
  20. I used to be hardy but now I cry at any old thing on the TV. Sure bets to see me blub are: Brief Encounter - I am almost snivelling just thinking of this now! Love Story - I can still hum the theme music through the hyperventilating. Dr Zhivago - ditto re theme music, which is spookily similar now that I think of it. Gladiator Il Postino The Colour Purple Rebecca
  21. I finished this last and thought the time travelling structure was well constructed and provided a great hook and I raced through the book. And there the praise ends ... This was just another daft romance. Boy meets girl, they marry, have trouble conceiving, boy dies, girl sees him in her eighties when she's presumably kicking the bucket too. Nothing exciting in that plot at all. The author completely wimped out of using the time travel idea as an intrinsic part of the story because Henry couldn't change anything he found out about in the future. The other characters in the book were pretty pointless and seriously under-developed. Even the main characters had traits that came and went; the bad violent Henry just vanished. On a minor note; I don't mind bad language in a book at all (most books I read have much more than this one) but this book was just so nicey-nicey that the bad language used seem really jarring and inappropriate. So it would seem that The Time Traveller's Wife is a beach read with a gimicky narrative device and I was expecting a bit more. Rebecca Ps I don't seem to be able to vote but I would have voted to sit on the fence. It's not bad at what it is (a beach read), it's just been mis-sold.
  22. I really wish I had the discipline to make a note of the lines that strike me as I read novels. Most of the ones that strike a chord, I simply allow to slip through my fingers, which is a real shame. However, a few do stay but most of them are from poetry, which is a bit strange since I don't read poetry all that often. The line 'I have measured out my life in coffee spoons' from The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufock by TS Eliot has stayed with me all my life. The general anxiety expressed in the poem is probably the nearest that any writing (or anything else) has ever come to how my mind works. Or at least how I believe it works on bad days. Rebecca
  23. This isn't really a history book but all the categories mean Ihave to pigeon-hole the book to write about it (I won't rant, don't worry ). Stasiland is more of an investigation into life for "ordinary" people in GDR under communism and particularly focuses on the part played by the Stasi (secret police) both from the perpetrators' and victims' points of view. Funder writes very well and tries to balance her investigation by covering both sides of the story and by her own commentary (which can be a bit much sometimes). She also draws parrallels with the explicit restrictions of communism and identical implicit restrictions of capitalism; such as freedom to travel, but not if you have no money. I really enjoyed the book and am fascinated by the subject matter. However, there is a problem in that Funder gives the impression that every life was irrevocably tainted by the Stasi. There is no place in this book for the everyday life of millions of East Germans who lived under communism and who presumably have emerged unscathed. I just don't buy that everything about communism was bad and evil and that it brought absolutely no benefits or even humdrum-ness to its subjects. Rebecca
  24. LOL Sherman. That's such good timing. I'm wondering how to return my mother's copy of Peter Sheridan's Big Fat Love, which she found hilarious but was one of the worst books I've ever encountered (see my warnings here). I will probably just tell a big banal lie like "Thanks Mam, left that book back on the shelf. It was great." and then distract her somehow. I know, I'm a wimp but to be fair you've never met my Mammy Rebecca
  25. Since this post is about a book it probably should have gone under one of the other categories but it's about creativity in general so I just couldn't figure out where to put it. I started reading it a couple of days ago and today was my first day attempting to put the exercises into practise and I already feel a little more positive. The book is about unlocking the creativity in everyone by following simple exercises laid down over the course of twelve weeks. By creativity, the author is not necessarily referring to painting/writing/sculpture, though I'm sure these artists form the majority of readers. The kind of creativity the book refers to uses the word in its loosest possible sense and from what I understand relates to a fresh way of looking at your life and what you want from it and actually getting out there and doing/being whatever it is you really want. Just as well really, as I'm not artist/writer etc.; I just have the feeling that I'd like to find some way to express myself better. I'm surprised I'm even giving this a try because the spiritual-hippy-dippy language is not really my thing and it is no mean feat to remain "open", as Julia Cameron advises. Anyway, I have my doubts in my ability to remain disciplined enough to actually finish the twelve weeks, but the positive first morning is a start and I'll post back on how it goes. Has anyone else tried this book? Rebecca
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